On Bicycles

NOTE: This post was written several days ago but is just getting posted now.

As you may all remember, and there is photographic evidence, I own a “shiny red bicycle.” I purchased said bicycle for the purpose of getting around the NYS compound easier (yes it is that big) and also for making it easier to get into Mtongwe from the NYS compound for when I need to pick up some items at a local duka. This bicycle has been nothing but headaches since:

  • I paid about $100 for this bicycle, which included some upgrades to the gears system, thinking that would alleviate some potential issues.
  • Within a day the front tube of the bicycle had popped, with a terrible gash down one side. The kenyans say it was because I was “jumping,” which is what they call any mode of riding that is faster than a walking-pace, as well as elevating ones bike to go over a curb instead of just simply hitting it with the tire.
  • Tube is replaced by a fundi wa basakeli (bicycle repairman), who charges a considerable amount for his services. This I know because David offered to bring it for me so that I would not get screwed, and even david got screwed.
  • The next day, my other tube breaks. This time, instead of bringing it to a fundi, I decide to be more self-reliant and wait until I can get into town.
  • Because in town, I am able to purchase tools (costing a pretty penny themselves), and a better tube. I repair the tube and everything is good, except the back wheel needs a little adjusting.
  • Until my chain breaks. Again, I must have been “jumping.” It’s like a sin to Kenyans to “jump,” one’s bike.
  • Shamefaced, I walk my bicycle home. Many kenyans inform me that I must have been “jumping.”
  • David fixes my chain. I helped a little, I promise. But he knocks out the pegs, removes the bad link, and reconnects the one-link-shorter chain. Back wheel is still wobbly, but everything else is ok. I promise David I will never “jump” again. I think I may have “jumped” in front of his eyes when testing the bike 5 seconds later. I don’t remember my tires leaving the ground.
  • This past weekend I decided to re-align the back tire so that it would not wobble. All is successful. Then just as I get off the bike and park it, the front tire deflates completely in front of my eyes. This was the tube the fundi installed, not mine, which I spent a bit more on.
  • The bicycle is currently sitting in my mud room with a flat front tire, waiting for a new tube.

I feel like one of those cartoon characters who is riding some sort of vehicle along as it falls apart from underneath them, and then just as they sense something is wrong they look down and fall to the ground. I also now have a better understanding of the whole “Made in China,” must be crap philosophy, which in America, just never really held true to this extent for me before.

BUT IN OTHER NEWS: I am hopefully going to be meeting the US Ambassador in a couple days in Nairobi. As well as getting a repeat visit to Google HQ. More on this exciting news as it develops 🙂



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2 responses to “On Bicycles

  1. kim

    Maybe you should just walk. Say hi to the Ambassador for us.

  2. Andrew

    Tsk Tsk, Jon Jumping how could you. Who told you that a bike was for jumping.