I'm a jack of most trades (master of none) and am willing to attempt just about anything. However, trying to play mechanic stretches my abilities to the limit. Everything looks as simple as bolting and unbolting a few things to fix but in reality, it ends up a half day event full of cussing, trying every combination of tools, a trip or two to a store, strained muscles in places I never knew had muscles and eventually a completed repair or hauling the parts to a real mechanic.
Case in point. Our daughters were off at my parents farm for a week so my wife and I decided to dust off the old bikes and go four our first ride in a loong time. Actually I had dusted them off a month earlier anticipating this event and had spent a couple weeks repairing them and getting the shifter cables adjusted properly. We hauled them down to the river and rode some trails there. It was beautiful scenery and we had a great time but I realized, I'm not as flexible as I used to be. In fact, by the time I got bent over to reach my handlebars, my lower back felt like a poker was being stuck on it and my hands went numb almost instantaneously. I suffered through a short five mile ride but vowed that I needed to fix things before attempting a second ride.
Looking at my bicycle, I realized that my handlebars were about three or four inches below the top of my seat. For a young, lithe eighteen year old that I once was, not a problem. For the much older, stiffened back, with a gut of a man that I am now, it looked like a stress position that might be used with great effect at Guantanamo.
Never having working on handlebars before, I had to do some research but learned that I had an unthreaded stem which basically means, unadjustable, short of getting a new front fork and cutting it to size. Just before giving up however, I found that magical pill that was supposed to cure just this disease called a stem extender. It promised to bolt on with just a few fasteners and allow me to raise my handlebars up a maximum of three and a half inches or nearly even with the top of my seat.
The day after it arrived, I removed my handlebars from the stem and put the stem extender in place. I started tightening things up and was about halfway there when something gave and suddenly I had a bolt that I couldn't tighten or loosen nor could I put my handlebars back on or take the loose stem extender off. Short of sawing off my front fork and starting over with a new one, I was at a loss for what to do. After much sweating, grunting, straining a muscle in my lower back and trying a dozen different methods, I succeeded in ripping the threaded part in the stem out of the bike in two pieces.
Long story short, I made the trip down to the local bike shop for what turns out to be called a stem star nut, followed by a trip to the local hardware store for a new bolt since I had destroyed the other, and finally a trip to the ice cream shop that I had used as a bribe to drag the girls along with me on such a hot day since I don't yet trust them to stay at home by themselves.
Half a day later, I finally got everything put back together and a dose of advil in me for the sore muscles but I think my fix is going to work. I took it out for a quick spin down the driveway and my back didn't feel as strained (other than the recent strain from fixing the bike) and my hands didn't feel like they had as much weight on them from being hunched over so far. My earlier today self is telling my current self, I told you so.