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Single Mom Slice Of Life: So You Wanna Build A Better Bike?

So, in a promise to myself (NOT a New Year’s resolution) last year, I decided to begin taking steps to better my health. I began what was my third attempt to give up red meat, park further away from the building and take the stairs not the elevator. It really all began with putting together my new stationary bike. After all, when AREN’T lots of nuts, bolts, and a two-person job being done by one, mechanically-challenged woman with two XBOX obsessed kids and three hyper dogs, good for a few laughs? Getting the bike in the house, well, that was a workout in and of itself.

For starters, I’m five foot four (and three quarters) the pieces came in a box that was easily a lot taller than me, and weighed over 100 pounds with no handles. So, I did what I’ve done the many times I’ve moved large items by myself. I tipped it over on its side and pushed it in. Sure it took an embarrassingly long time, but it was in the house.

The directions consisted of one page of sketches of the parts, and eight pages of written instructions. Yeah, I’m a girl, a fact I’m about to prove in 3, 2, 1: Did you know there was such a thing as an acorn nut? A bent washer (as in on purpose)? There was some other name for it, but still.  It also didn’t help that at one point the directions called for bolt number 64, and there was no 64 drawn on the list! I’m willing to bet that some man who was mad because his girlfriend broke up with him for a stationary bike salesman wrote those directions! In any case, the first night (because, yeah, it took more than one night to put it together) was really just an inventory of pieces. I got them all lined up, I learned the difference between a small twisty thingy and a round topped doohickey, and I made sure that I had all the pieces I needed. The dogs ate the left over cardboard pieces.

The second night, I started the actual physical assembly. It took a bit of practice to learn how to stand a 50 pound piece of equipment on the very rounded edge and balance it with one hand while wielding an Allen wrench with the other. On a completely unrelated note, do you know if washers are REALLY necessary? Clearly a question for Good Enough Guy  because I seem to have quite a few left. By quite a few, I mean, I really didn’t know the difference between the skinny ones and the curved ones, and the pictures of the screws weren’t really even drawn to scale. Now, that’s not counting the one that I dropped that took me two hours to put together. F.Y.I.:  When directions call for two screws, if you drop one and are too lazy to take the first half of your night to get it back, one screw seems to hold just fine. I also had about six miscellaneous parts total left over. Is that bad? The directions didn’t say anything about there being extra, though, I did seem to have an additional weird tool thing that I never had to use, but it was kind of great to drop down the front part of the bike so I could grab the wires I’d accidentally shoved too far into the handle part. (Don’t be afraid of the technical jargon…)

All in all, the bike turned out to be pretty cool with all sorts of buttons and what I originally thought was a Tetris screen. It’s not though – just so you know. It’s the level that tells the bike how hard to make your work out. I learned the hard way that if you keep pressing the up button, it really is telling the bike to make you feel like you’re biking up the side of a mountain, not to turn the long piece sideways. Since then, I’ve read the instructions to prevent falling off of it (in my defense, I didn’t clearly understand that the ‘adjustable’ seat meant I could move it closer to the pedals…) and I have learned not to pet the dog, drink a cup of water and change the t.v. channel all at the same time. We’re going to call that poor planning on my part. Still, through the chewed up cardboard, the extra bolts, and the bent acorn nugget things, it was a step. A first step in what promises to be a long journey. Since the bike has settled into the living room (and not yet exploded or fallen apart), Justin has all but declared it his personal throne. I think he likes sitting up higher than anyone else. I am proud to say that not a single time have clothes ever hung from the handlebars, and it has actually been used seven days in a row, as it was intended. Chances are, as long as I do not consider it a New Year’s resolution it won’t be as easy to fall off the wagon as it was to fall off of the bike itself!

What about you? Did you make a resolution? Have you stuck with it? And furthermore are you available to tell me what to do with all the “extra” parts clearly not needed for the bike?

Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16.  Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year. 


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