If You Can’t Fix it, Don’t Ride it

by Melissa
(Vancouver, BC)

If you can't fix it...

If you can't fix it...

When my sister and I were growing up, our dad had a saying: if you can’t fix it, don’t ride it. He meant our big wheels, scooters, bicycles and so on. If you did not know how to change a tire and the oil at least, you were not allowed to drive a car, especially not one that belonged to him. It’s not like he just shoved a wrench and a manual in our hands; he showed us the steps and walked us through procedures a time or two. We got it into our heads that we could fix stuff. One day, my sister and I got the notion that taking apart the lawn mower would be a good idea. Hours later, we stared at the remaining parts we could not find places for and prayed for a miracle. Somehow the mower started the next time the old man went out to cut the grass, but it never ran quite right. Paranoid, we buried the parts in the backyard and vowed eternal silence. As far as I know, she has never squealed.

When I turned 18, the desire to buy a used motorcycle got into my little old head. I approached the man that we all refer to as “the Old Bear” with my news and my battered bank book in hand. I was all prepared for a battle royale to break out, convinced that the old man would battle me on the issue, that he would start with no and then drag me up and down varying levels of the word. I was ready though; the Old Bear had never raised any stupid cubs and I, his first born, was ready for him. Not only did I have the guts to stand up to my dad, I had the research and the information that he would be asking me for. I had done this rodeo a time or two, after all. My sister, as much as I love her, was always a wimp when it came to the Bear and would rather do without than have to deal with him directly.

And so, I marched up, spine stiff, lips set and started. He blinked those impossibly blue eyes a few times and stared at me. In my mind’s eye I was transported back in time to my youth- when I idolized the Bear above all men, even more than Davy Jones. I waited, vowing to stand my ground, come what may.

I was shocked when instead of a flat out no he started asking questions. It was a few minutes in when I realized that we were having a real, honest to goodness conversation. Slightly stymied, I tried to get past this amazing fact and get to the heart of the issue. If that was shocking, imagine how floored I was when the final thing the Old Bear said was “if you can’t fix it, don’t ride it.”

Comments for If You Can’t Fix it, Don’t Ride it

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Jul 09, 2010
The Old Fart
by: Aili

I didn't get along with my Mom. My Dad, a "chevy-man" would get me out from under her thumb by "needing me to reach into tight spots" on what ever he was tinkering with in the driveway.

He complained loudly when my older sister brought home a Ford Mustang. He wasn't much more pleased with my brand-new Toyota pick up, I bought when I was 21.

He said, "I'm not fixing it!" I replied, "You think I learned nothing by helping you all these years?" (I cheated and bought a Chiltons Repair Manual when I broke things I didn't know how to fix). What I learned best from Dad was stubbornness and pride.

I think my husband first fell in love with me when he saw me swap my own axle shafts (I have an off-road Jeep). I changed HIS oil for years. Now I have him keep my bike tuned up, not because I can't, but because he likes to.

Apr 29, 2010
I love it!
by: Robin C

Thats awesome! I enjoy taking things apart and working on them, and love tinkering with my bike. One of my very first purchases after I bought it was the matching Clymer manual, something I highly recommend for those of you who want to learn to do your own maintenance. Very simple to follow, with great pictures. Then get your own toolbox with a lock, because God knows the kids and husband will "borrow" your tools if you don't lock them up!! Also, invest in high quality tools that have lifetime replacement. You will bond with your bike on a whole new level!!

Apr 16, 2010
Fix It?
by: robin

Oh my gosh....I am so clueless with fixing my bike but your story is turning that around...really. Just bought my first bike a couple of months ago....now it is time to learn how it works...thanks for the inspiration!!!


Apr 16, 2010
by: kenberlyc

what an inspirational story and a great tribute to your father for having a daughter who not only can ride but fix her own bike as well. Sounds like he raised you to be self sufficient and a survivor as well.

Apr 16, 2010
Timely for Me
by: Judith

The motorcycle I bought had sat awhile and the battery is dead. This is after recharging. I also am afraid to let my hubby mess with it or myself for fear of breaking something without ever having ridden it. Never had to fix anything always took to a mechanic. Seems this message is an indicator maybe it's time I got my hands dirty if I really want to ride. Don't get me wrong, on a car I can do oil and fill up windshield fluid with the best of them. lol

Apr 16, 2010
FiX it, Ride it
by: Doreen

Ya know what I am now inspired. I purchased a new Honda Shadow a couple of years ago and have been reluctant to get my hands dirty for fear of breaking something or messing something up. I have always tooled with my cars, changing carburetors, filters, light bulbs, etc. now after splitting from my boyfriend I have not been able to get the bike going because the battery is dead. I know last year he jumped it and got it started and I can't wait for him anymore. I am going to get it going myself after reading this post. Thanks

Apr 15, 2010
Totally Agree
by: Debbie

I was raised in a mostly female house till I was 12. My mom instilled it in us all.. YOU CAN FIX ANYTHING, with a hammer, and some duct tape.lol.. not literally of course.. But by the time I started riding/driving.. it never occurred to me to have someone else fix my ride for me. To this day.. I change all my own fluids and run all my usual maintenance. Peace of mind for me.. to know for sure ,, ALL IS GOOD>

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