When I found Apollo he was crushed beneath the weight of about a dozen discarded pedal bikes. The only thing that stood out about him was his neon orange frame pockmarked with copper barnacles of rust, deposits of dirt, and multicoloured lettering on the side denoting Apollo and Kaos. Other than his frame's striking colouration — and even the paint responsible for that was beginning to crack and undulate due to prolonged exposure to North Eastern Scotland rains — it was evident why this bike had been discarded (donated) to this awesome community bike program.
Apollo was a vestige of a bygone era before a newer and better bike was discovered and purchased in his stead; a Capitalist derelict that once had value, but lost his value when a bigger and better thing came along and required less maintenance and care. And yet, Apollo still had potential. I saw that somewhere — maybe I felt it in his frame — so I decided to roll him out of the abandoned bike pen and take a shot at fixing him up. It was a battle even getting him out of there he was so buried and forgotten (out of the cave, into the light).
The first issue to address was the rust and dirt: I had to clean what I could to see what I was working with and what needed to be fixed. So I grabbed a bristled brush, a wet rag, and some variation of WD40. Then, I went to work. As it turns out, the brush's bristles were so coarse that I stabbed myself a few times in the left hand. Blood started to flow and grease started to mix into my skin and get beneath my fingernails. But I kept working. I needed a bike and I wanted my bike to be Apollo. Eventually, he became as clean as he was going to get, unless he was getting a new paint job, and though my fingers were aching from the effort and cold air, I had accomplished something. Now onto the next task (further diagnosis of my two-wheeled patient).
The second issue to address was Apollo's wheels: both of them were rusted out to the point that they wouldn't ride well, so I went back into the bike pen of chaos and searched for some usable wheels. That took me a while, naturally, but I eventually found what I was looking for. Pretty good find for a junk pile, actually. The front wheel went on without much effort, but the back wheel proved to be a tough exercise worth about an hour's work. Even after I finally had it affixed to its proper place and tightened, that wheel would rub against the frame as soon as I tried to ride the bike. So, I had to ask a friend for help and affix each bolt just right so the wheel would stay centred and rub free. Then, as it turned out, I had the wrong bolts and the wheel I had chosen had a messed up axle. So, it was back to the chaos pen for me to find another wheel, and fortunately, I found what I was looking for after a bit of digging. Then, it was a series of rides and recalibration to make sure the new wheel stayed and place. Finally, we found the sweet spot. The wheels were centred.
The third and last issue for the day was the brakes: the pads were so worn down that we needed new ones, and we went in search of the right size and shape. Sure enough, we found them after much digging through a massive bin of used brake pads, and it was back to the bike to fix them on. It was process of move, tighten, test, move, tighten, test, move, tighten, test, until they were where they needed to be and responded when they needed to. Then, the moment of final truth: would Apollo ride well and true? Apollo did, and a dead object of Capitalism was resurrected and brought its fixer and rider joy; more joy than he would have received from simply buying a bike.
More works needs to be done on Apollo, yes, because he's a bit of an eyesore and needs better parts, but he's a work in progress and he's going to be back to his former glory with time; maybe even better if enough care is put into him. These sorts of things... they really make you rethink common conceptions of value, don't they?