Can a Bike Service go OFF SCRIPT and be a Cycling Benefit?
Can something as simple as a bike service put you in a better, calmer, less worried or anxious state of mind? And if so, how on earth does that work and is it repeatable? Find out...

Can a Bike Service go OFF SCRIPT and be a Cycling Benefit?

Well, giving your bike a service, specially at this time of year during the wetter, and often saltier months, is never a bad thing. Your bike runs cleaner and smoother and you’re doing your bit to prolong the service life of often expensive components… Well, not maybe in my case haha, but yeah, it’s a no brainer, even a quick service is a cycling benefit. So what you talking ’bout David? Make sense man 😀 Yes, I’m just composing myself… It’s what we meditators do… Aw man, I’ve given the game away! pffft 😀 Actually not quite. This article shows one small, almost banal way that cycling (okay a bike service) can, when we know what’s happening, help us with worry and anxiety. Yep, true! Read on 🙂

Hello, Dear Reader, it’s great to have you back, thank you for looking in. Yeah so I’m looking to utilize any opportunity to turn mundane tasks into something I can benefit from. This is one! But yes, of course, servicing, cleaning and re-greasing the bearings around the bike has its benefits and rewards in and of itself. But I noticed (albeit only after the fact) that I’d been in quite a meditative place on my trip around the bearings ha. Actually in doing this quick service I was able to get some headspace, some distance between my self and a couple of minor but worrying issues rattling around the inside of ma brainhole lol. I can’t really say how much that helped!

In just one hour! 🙂

But and as you’ll see from the vid, there was nothing protracted about the service. It only took around 60 minutes. Well, fair enough, it took 60 minutes to strip, clean, grease and re-assemble the bike. But it also took another hour of looking at vids on YouTube and racking my brain trying to figure out why the non-drive side cone on the rear wouldn’t go back in properly and left me with only like 2mm of axle to fit in the rear dropout eeek! lol. But that’s another story. And in fact was another vid too haha.

As I say, in that hour, I found my self away from my problems. Okay so it was just an hour for that service and therefore just an hour away from those problems. But actually, that hour was massively therapeutic in allowing my ruminating mind to go on a temporary pause. Stop.

In actual fact, I had intended to just do a quick run through of how I give my bike a mid-to-end of winter check-up. But this sense of a gap between my self and my day-to-day problems was so appealing to me that I’m interested to know the wherefores of it so that I can determine what went on so that I can deploy again if needed.

My bike on the stand for the service. I hadn’t intended for it to be anything other than a simple strip, clean, grease and reassemble… Who knew! 🙂

As for the bike service…

Well, I mean I clean the bike after each ride. If it’s been a wet-weather ride, I’ll give it a quick wipe, put some water-dispersal agent (WD-40 etc) on the chain and a few other spots I’ve noticed tend to be rust-prone such as the exposed parts of the pedal axles. And then I’ll leave it to dry. I’ll give it a proper wipedown and lube later post-ride when I’m cleaned up myself. But after a few months of this I do like to put the bike through a bit of a mini-teardown so that I can clean the bearings and re-grease both them, the threads on the bottom bracket and the seatpost / seat-tube interface.

As well as that, I like to strip the rear derailleur down as much as I can and get the accumulated ride-gunk outta there. If possible I’ll disassemble the brake calipers too. My current bike is rim-brake equipped. I bought Ultegra calipers as I just can’t get braking to the level I’d like. But that’s an aside for another time! The Ultegra calipers are fairly complex bits of kit so whereas I’d like to completely dismantle the calipers to individual parts, that didn’t happen. Consequently they got a caliper clean in the form of “squeeze and wipe” lol.

Everything got fitted back fine, with the usual fettling with the front band-on derailleur grrrr. I can’t believe I’m still wrestling with band-on front derailleurs in 2019! I haven’t been out yet and I’m still not convinced the front is shifting properly. With this Claris groupset, it’s an endless procession of trimming the front! Having come from a 1×10 flatbar road bike, I’m certainly looking forward to when 1×13 becomes popular and affordable on road bikes! I’m not holding my breath haha.

New wheelset?

The only other thing was the rear hub. The problem it turns out is that there’s a little bearing “seal” that the bearings were getting stuck in meaning the cone wouldn’t seat down properly. As I say, that left very little axle exposed on the non-drive side. Just pressing the seal in further seems to have rectified the situation. It doesn’t look right though. So I’m not certain if it’ll last. But maybe I’m subconsciously manifesting a new wheelset haha. I believe the problem with braking that I mentioned earlier (having replaced pads and upgrading calipers) can only be down to the rim and its continuous shedding of metal “grit” that gets continually stuck in the brake pads rendering braking almost non-existent! And I’m not comparing that to my former disc-braking adventures. No, I’m comparing to my cheapo singlespeed off of Amazon. Which brakes just fine, no worries or issues!

A nice bit of surface rust on the bottom bracket. I’m not bothered, ‘cos now I’m stress-free haha #kidding

But it’s about that space…

Yes, service aside, it was only in hindsight I realized that the hour’s bike service had kind of given me permission to not think, or perhaps more accurately not ruminate over the problems I’ve been having. Don’t worry or anything, for me no problems are too major, these are just day-to-day stresses and issues giving me minor concern 🙂 #allgood.

So basically the bike servicing time allowed downtime from all this rather unhelpful rumination over issues.

I want to know the wherefores

Yes, in order to replicate this, what I’d like to understand is what was it or is it about servicing the bike in particular that permitted this freedom from problems? I’d like to know because it’d come in handy – I feel as if I’m dealing with a bunch of minor concerns that often have a way of seemingly conspiring together or unionizing haha into one grand problem! 😀

A meditative state of mind?

I don’t know exactly if I’d say I was in a meditative state of mind. But it was very close to it. Maybe the same thing but not by that name. I recall saying the same thing in my article about cycling and meditation. Normally you see, I find it difficult to just put my self into that meditative state. I do often realize I’m in one when, for example, I’m climbing a steady climb on the bike. But I’m not so great at saying, right, I’m gonna do some meditating. I find it easiest when I give my monkey brain something to play with, some task to be completing first. Then I guess my calm, inner self can just be in that meditative state without all the paraphernalia, the ritual, the incense and all the rest of it. Not that I’ve any problem with paraphernalia and ritual has its place. If I sound slightly disparaging I don’t mean to, well, not beyond the fact that I’ve been unable to bring about that state with conscious aforethought. For me, it happens on the bike. And now, as I’ve discovered, something similar, if not in name! by fixing the bike? How odd.

What’s going on? I figured – and I wrote in that article on a cycling meditative state here on CyclingQuestions – but I figured when hill climbing, it’s that my monkey mind is occupied by the repetitive nature of the pedals spinning… Well, I say spinning, probably with me it’s more likely pedal-stomping or pedal-grinding haha, but you get my point. Could that be happening here? Is there repetition in servicing the bike? Maybe I missed it. If so, maybe you can enlighten me some? But I don’t think so though? What else might bring about that meditative state from a simple bike service?

Probably coming due for a replacement chain. I’ll see how it fares after a thorough clean though

During the hill climbing I think physically, my body – I say my body as distinct from “my self” – is occupied with the effort of the cycling task. Certainly breathing is relevant here. I know the breathing itself is a doorway into that meditative state in a lot of modes of meditation. The difference is that that’s calm breathing. On the hill, it still seems to happen with VO2Max heavy inhalations too though! I’m also aware of this protocol in ritual gnostic use too, but maybe that’s a bit #woo for here haha 😀 But breathing to a meditative state during a bike service? Hmmm… That doesn’t seem too likely does it? What then? I spent the day in between clients wondering about this. I mean, it worked, that’s the thing! And I wanted to know why it worked. Who knows, I thought, it may even be something I could use for helping clients, in particular, I reckoned, those with anxiety-related issues… Ah… And then it occurred to me…

… Not part of the CBT protocol for anxiety-related conditions!

No it’s not part of my way of counselling, but something I’ve found useful and in fact clients have told me has helped them in dealing with their anxiety issues. That thing is simply “doing something else“. That’s all! Indeed, it seems facile, perhaps even a banal suggestion for folk dealing with debilitating anxiety conditions. And of course that’s not part of the regular CBT protocol. I mean CBT is a practical solution by definition. But the do something else idea, well, It’s simply a kind of a hack or trick that accompanies it.

What, no magickal invocations?

Nope, in fact, when I realized the only magickal thing going on during my 60 minute bearings, hubs and bits bike service was that I was doing something else, at first I was like aw, is that it? Just because for me cycling is almost a panacea in its way and this wasn’t really anything to do with cycling. Or in fact anything to do with anything! Like… At all! Haha 😛 It was just doing something that wasn’t ruminating on issues that were “gonna get the better of me!” So, naturally as always, wanting to get to the root of why this worked, I looked at it again. I mean I’ve done other distracting things before and those have simply felt like obvious distractions – as if my inner self were sneering saying, yeah, we can see what you’re doing, you’re trying to distract from the issue, well aha… the issue remains! Muahaha… Etc 😀 But the ol’ servicing the bike didn’t feel like that. It didn’t feel as though I were trying to trick my worrying self away from worrying. It just happened like that. That still didn’t answer the question; my eternal question: why?

The rear axle, freehub body, cone and loose bearings. Filthy, but that wasn’t the issue – the freehub came right off, which wasn’t meant to happen! The whole process was an interesting exercise in reducing worry. Rust and all! 🙂

Something about mindfulness?

The bike service is the “something else”. But it’s something else that the mind focuses on right now, in the present moment. It temporarily halts the kind of future focused, fortune-telling that we do when we’re in the midst of anxiety-precipitating automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). It’s like, you just fix the bike. Each task happens in its right order. You take the pedals off before you remove the crank arms. And these tasks happen in pre-ordained ways with predetermined tools and techniques. You need the chain whip and the locknut remover, and for me the big adjustable wrench for leverage to take off the cassette locknut and cassette. And you have to do this first in order to gain access to the cones or bearing locknuts. Our mind is occupied with these orders of service, as it were. In being occupied thus, we’re not advancing off into the catastrophic future that our anxiety directs us to.

The idea of residing in, and leaving the conscious mind residing in the present (and not the catastrophic future of those of us worried with anxiety) is in keeping with the tenets of mindfulness. The idea of mindfulness is gaining traction alongside the regular CBT protocol for treatment of anxiety-related conditions. And I’ve mentioned cycling mindfulness before here on site because I’ve found it happening a lot when out riding.

Something specific to this bike-related task…

Okay so I’m hunting now. Maybe I’m in danger of reverse-engineering a solution based on my outcome haha. But see we can grasp how mindful meditation can happen when we’re out doing that steady climb or that 100 kilometre ride where we’re fully present to use the counselling phrasing. But this was just fettling with the bike itself. What I mean is, it wasn’t cycling related per se. I could’ve been fettling on the underside of the car and would’ve got the same “something else” result wouldn’t I? Or… Would I?

One last jigsaw piece

The answer to the above question is no. Not for me. Because I’m not a car person. I’d fettle with the car out of pure necessity. I’m not a fan of driving mostly because it reminds me of other negative self-beliefs deriving from being bullied as a kid haha #longstory #toomuchinformation lol. So no, that something else couldn’t be fettling with the car. Not for me anyway. What was specific about fettling with the bike? What was that last jigsaw piece? Well, the answer to that was in where my present-tense mind was when I was fettling. That’s the thing. When I was stripping the bottom bracket – and man did you see the rust on that lump? #surfacerustonly 😀 – but when I was taking the parts off all the while I was picturing being out riding the bike rather than in the shed servicing it. While my monkey mind was occupied with cone spanners and my logical faculty with whether the right pedal is left threaded or right threaded, my mind’s eye was painting me pictures of where I was riding. I damn sure wouldn’t be doing that when draining a sump or topping up brake fluid on the car! #nooffence

Here’s a link to the service vid, shredded latex gloves and all! 🙂

So in summary

Yes, there you go. Why a short bike service counted as a cycling benefit for me…

  1. It afforded me space between my self and the issues causing me some concern and worry.
  2. It did that, not exactly by bringing about a meditative state. I mean, come on, it’s just fettling with the bike! But it facilitated a mindset, let’s say with aspects of that state.
  3. More pertinently though, the benefit lay essentially in the bike service offering me a chance to “do something else” instead of ruminating on my issues
  4. Specifically, the task brought about a focus that existed entirely in the present moment among a series of orderly procedures one after the other. Residing in the present moment is wholly akin to the practice of mindfulness. And mindfulness is a way of thinking and acting that I’d gently guide clients to, particularly those presenting with anxiety-related issues 🙂
  5. Finally, time fixing the bike wasn’t simply a plain ol’ sleight of hand distraction from my worries. No, actually in the process my monkey mind was occupied with mechanical tasks, my logical mind was occupied with procedural models of bike fixin’ and my creative mind was actually somewhere out there riding this lump of aluminium, carbon and rubber (and various plastics but that’s eBay for you haha). So yeah, not just any old task. This is a cycling task. This is a cycling benefit. And that’s true because I say so! 😀 #theoraclespeaks lol

But it’s from these ideas that the process is repeatable, right? And that’s the whole aim here is in how to know how to use this idea to our own benefit in the appropriate circumstances. So now we know. If you’re worried, feeling anxious, ruminating on issues on your mind, had you ever thought of servicing your bike? 🙂 #canthurttotry

Hope all’s good with you, Dear Reader, hey I really appreciate you looking in, thank you! There’s just no getting away from it, for me, cycling really is the panacea. And if I’m caught evangelizing on that, so be it. I feel its benefits personally and the benefits per se are well documented, both here and far and wide online and in print. It’s something I’ll always do. I hope you too. See you soon I hope, meantime take care out there, ride safe and have fun. Kindest, warmest regards to you, Dear Reader, David.

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