8 weeks with no cycling (plus 6 to go)

It might be a bit longer than 8 (it was in France in September when I last rode my bike) but 6 is fixed (because that is Christmas). The re-roofing job at my house must be finished by 22nd December or else. I have not ridden my bike because I am doing a lot of the work myself, and it has turned out to be more than a mere re-roof. I had thought it might take a couple of months at the most, but in Grand Designs fashion, things have slipped, or expanded. Not that the design is particularly grand as it affects only one third of the house, but it has to be done right. Anyway, if I ride my bike it will take longer. If I had gone cycling as I normally do I would be just starting parts of the job that are now complete.

On the plus side, I have probably saved a lot of money by not paying people to do things I can do myself. Enough money to buy maybe six carbon racing bikes (which of course I won't be buying). I have acquired a number of tools I didn't have, such as a plaster mixer, a large angle grinder to cut through bricks and concrete, and an electric multi-tool. I am learning to plaster, sort of. I have discovered that when something looks easy, it means it is.

I reckon the key to DIY – this applies to bicycles as well – is to sort out the requirements for success:

(1) The knowledge required for the task (anyone can acquire knowledge).

(2) The right tools. It is no use making do without (like trying to change headsets without a proper headset press).

(3) Time. I am lucky enough to have plenty.

(4) Some skill for the task. This is the interesting one.

With (1) (2) and (3) the need for (4) can be surprisingly small. The thing is pretend you've got lots of skill and proceed with confidence. Do not say to yourself "if this goes wrong I can always call in a professional" but say "I know how this is done and I am doing it." If it goes wrong, do it again. If scaffolding is required, hire some, just as a builder does. I am not trying to belittle the value of skilled tradesmen (or bicycle mechanics). Not everyone has the time or inclination for DIY, and some trades (eg plumbing and electrics) need more knowledge than is practicable to obtain, not to mention some legal requirements. Plasterboarding and skimming ceilings is too physical for most people, including me.

I don't particularly enjoy it either. Often, little DIY jobs are left unfinished for years. Cycling is much more fun. For once, roll on Christmas.

8 comments on “8 weeks with no cycling (plus 6 to go)”

  1. Hilary wrote:

    Patrick wrote
    I don't particularly enjoy it either. Often, little DIY jobs are left unfinished for years. Cycling is much more fun.

    Amen to that! 🙂

    I think the most important thing is to actually want to do it otherwise its just an unpleasant chore. Personally I find nothing is more likely to cause arguments than DIY – I want perfection, Dennis isn't fussed. Much easier to live with things as they are (unless essential of course) and get out on my bike!

    You're a brave man Patrick!

  2. Patrick wrote:

    It's definitely a chore. So is cleaning a bike and fixing punctures. I went for at least ten years with my LBS doing literally everything. Now, that just seems daft. I must have taken the view that fixing bikes is for bike fixers. In this case (the roof) it was needs must. Sandra reckons men are poor at multi-tasking and there is some truth in that I think.

    However, it's nice to note that perfectionism is not just a male thing.


  3. Hilary wrote:

    However, it's nice to note that perfectionism is not just a male thing.

    Its certainly not in this house! Quite the reverse! 😆

  4. Kern wrote:

    Cycling is winding down over here as well, for a variety of reasons (none of which has to do with perfectionism). On my last DIY job I managed to drill into an electrical wire and cause a short circuit. That one is still waiting to be repaired.

    You hit the mark, Patrick, on needing the right tool to do the right job. It is surprising how much time and effort is saved when properly equipped.

  5. Patrick wrote:

    Well, there's a tool for detecting electric wires in walls. I forgot to mention the chalk line BTW – they are cheap, useful, and lots of fun.

    I haven't actually got a headset press. The one I made with a long piece of thread and some washers and nuts didn't work very well so the bike shop did it!

  6. Chris wrote:

    My DIY jobs tend to take me considerably longer than they ought. I've never dared take on anything as big as your rear extension re-roof, or that very tidy loft conversion. I managed to cause a leak at my parents-in-law when I was asked to remove a radiator prior to the decorator putting up wallpaper.

    My thing at the moment is painting. I think that infuriates others as I like to rub down with wet and dry and cold water between coats and make sure the paint has hardened first. Chapeau for taking on such a big project. Oh, when you get round to decorating I recommend a vapour box if you haven't already got one. Just don't put undercoat/gloss brushes in it that have previously been washed out with turpentine substitute or white spirits. No more mess or time wasted cleaning brushes out after a job. That's even more of a faff than the job itself.

    I've had the wheels from three of my bikes worked on by bike shops in the last few weeks (bearings and a broken spoke on the rear wheel – drive side). I enjoy the satisfaction of doing jobs myself, but I have too many tools that I've only bought and used once, cycling and non-cycling, such as this one from my tool bag:

    Bailey clamp - Stanley tools

    I think I was swayed by the name there.

    Good luck with the rest of the job, but surely you could get out for a ten-mile spin just to keep the pedals turning and before the weather robs you of options 😕

  7. Patrick wrote:

    Ah yes, the DIY loft convertion... easy peasy (with some assistance from my son Nick):


    I did get some professional help with the re-roofing job as well.

    Chris wrote: when you get round to decorating I recommend a vapour box if you haven't already got one.

    Thanks Chris. I haven't and I will. Cleaning paint brushes has to be one of the worst jobs. I have thought about a quick spin but I think it would just remind me what I'm missing. Soon though... soon.

  8. Dan wrote:

    Patrick, I feel your pain, but must admit, I agree.. get the big jobs out of the way first, the roads (and the desire to cycle on'em) will still be there when you have the time to enjoy them! Well done, and I hope that new-found knowledge is of further benefit at some stage! You did mention a shed.. 😉

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