Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Bike Guy

When I first got to Tallil Ali Air Base, I met a sergeant in public affairs who rides daily and told me that if I ever had a problem with a bike, I should call/email Larry--a civilian computer technician who is retired military and really likes working on bikes.

It turns out Larry is also a very personable guy who is happy to help soldiers. Like most civilians here he works 12 to 14 hour shifts with a day or two off each month, so his time is limited. But when he can he works on bikes. While I was home on leave, Larry trued my out-of-round front wheel on the single-speed road bike and cleaned it up. Then when the mountain bike arrived, the rear disc brake rotor had been bent in transit. He could not straighten it completely with the tools he has, but it is nearly perfect now in a less-than-perfect environment.

Military communities like this one are very much communities in ways that most American communities are not. We need each other. And those of us who ride bikes are a small community within a community. One of our soldiers had a bike with its gears clogged with sand. I gave the bike to Larry. He will take all the parts from it to use to fix other bikes.

On another bike subject, today the air was calm and the sky was clear at 130pm when I rode to chow. The temp was 129. A half-hour later, the wind was a steady 20mph out of the west, the sky was full of dust, bluish brown with the sun's light going to orange. The temp got cooler. It was only 126 on the way back from lunch!!