There are people who are fond of repairing things. I have met such people and know them very well. One summer day a friend of mine by the name of Ebbson suggested going for a bicycle ride. I agreed. The next day Ebbson came very early. The first thing he did was to take my bicycle by the front wheel and shake it violently. “This wheel wobbles”, he said. “Tills is dangerous. Have you got a wrench?”
I had never noticed that either of the wheels wobbled, but I thought he really knew something about it, so I went to my room to se what could I find. When I came back, lie was sitting n the ground with the front wheel between his legs. He was playing with it turning it round and round – the rest of the machine was lying beside him.
He said: “Something has happened to tills from wheel”. “It look like it”, I said but he could not seethe joke.
He said: “I think the ball bearings are all wrong. We must see what the matter with them”.
I could not stop him. He unscrewed something somewhere, and many little balls rolled over the grass. “Catch them”, he shouted. “We mustn’t lose any”. We began looking for them and in half an hour found sixteen. I put them in my hat on the door step. Then he began taking off the gear-case. I tried to stop him but he would not listen to me. “It is very easy to take off a gear-case” ,he said.
He was right. In less than five minutes he had the gear-case in two pieces, lying on the path, while he was looking for the screws. He said he could never understand how screws disappear.
I began to feel tired of standing there and looking at the fool who was breaking my bicycle. It was clear to me that he knew nothing about the business. I was about to tell him so when Ebbson said that he going to put the wheel back in its place and that everything would be all right. He hurt his hands while doing it, but at last he managed somehow to put the wheel into position. Then came the turn of the gear-case. We soon found out that it was a much harder job to put it back in its place than to take it off. It took us a whole hour to get the thing into the position, and then it was on position, Ebbson suddenly exclaimed: What fools we have been! We have forgotten the ball-bearings.” I looked for my hat- it was lying on the ground and my wife’s little dog was quickly swallowing one by one.
“He will kill himself”, shouted Ebbson. “They are of the hardest steel”.
“I am not worded about the dog”, I said. “He has eaten a packet of needles this week, I am thinking about my bicycle”.
“Well, we must put back all we can find”, said he. We found eleven balls. We took off the wheel again and put six of them on one side and five on the other. Half an hour later wheel was in its place again. It really wobbled now. Then Ebbson tried to put the gear-case back again. I held a bicycle for him, while he lay on the ground with his head between the wheels, and worked at it from below, and dropped oil upon himself. More than fifteen tunes he said: “No, it’s not after all”. At a quarter to one, dirty and tired he said: “That will do”, and rose from the ground.
Neither of us had any wish to go for a bicycle ride now, and so Ebbson go home. After he was gone I took the bicycle to the nearest repair shop. The man looked at it and said: “It won’t be easy to repair tills bicycle, but I shall do my best”. He did his best, and I paid two pounds for it. But it was never the same machine again and at the end the summer I sold it. Yes, there are two ways of getting sport out of bicycle: one can repair it. But it is impossible to get both forms of sport out of the same machine: no machine will stand it.