The other day, against my better judgment, I went into the basement.
The basement is my husband’s domain. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like we moved in and I sequestered him to some dark, damp, concrete-laden hole in the ground. Our basement is actually quite beautiful and would make a nice resting place to watch a movie or have an office. But here’s the deal, girls – you either give him the basement or you risk having tool, wheel, and grease spillover into the rest of your house.
In the winter, he dwells in it like a cave, surrounded by his own web of tools, wheels, and frames. In the summer, things get thrown down the stairwell in a rush, wheel bags are packed and unpacked, and the floor becomes a sea of brake cables, wrenches, grease rags, and tires.
The main room is split into two – with one side set up with our bikes on trainers and a television. This is not the side that scares me and quite often I will go down there to stretch or ride my bike.
The other side is an impenetrable fortress of frames and wheels. Two sets of roof racks sit on the floor filled with bikes. Bikes are propped against those bikes. A frenzy of aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, and steel frames hang from wall mounted racks. At one point, the number of bikes in our basement reached epic proportions as I counted 20 bikes on this side. Big bikes, little bikes, cross bikes, time trial bikes, mountain bikes, bikes in disrepair, bikes waiting to be shipped – I don’t even know who owns half of these bikes.
Look beyond the bikes, if you can, and you’ll find shelving units holding boxes of nuts and bolts, wrenches, extra seats, screws, wires, cables, headsets, stems, posts, pedals, shoes – it’s like a graveyard of bike parts that never were and components that one day might be.
Walk a few feet further and you’ll find a tiny workshop area. I don’t advise going in, but perchance you are brave and you are wearing socks – take a risk. The floor is littered with little metal things (I find these “things” all over and the vacuum refuses them), cables, towels, coffee mugs (with coffee), beer bottles (without beer, go figure), wrenches, chains, a black bag full of packing peanuts, a giant box of garbage (emptied at an interval I haven’t quite figured out yet), and socks (he leaves a trail of socks wherever he goes).
What started as a perfectly cream-colored and clean basement took only a few months to unravel after moving in.
The downward spiral started with a door. First, the door to the furnace room fell off the hinges. ‘One less door to open’, Chris said. It’s still on it’s side against the wall.
A massage table in the corner quickly evolved into the ‘items waiting to be sold or shipped on E-bay’ loading dock.
The carpet hasn’t fared well either. Not aware that my cleats had been regreased, I marched around the basement leaving little Speedplay circles all over. In an effort to fix it, Chris scrubbed Simple Green into the carpet. And now there are giant green circles marching all around the basement.
One day we had the brilliant idea to paint the stairwell – from white to smurfy blue. When we didn’t like that, we changed it to aqua blue. When we didn’t like that, we changed it to something similar to equatorial island ocean blue. When we didn’t like that we said ‘screw it, we’ll just always leave the basement door closed.’
The door to the sump – pump looks like someone is desperately trying to claw their way out. Too many spills on the rollers have left handprints suspiciously patterned all over the little door. Moreover, I am convinced that the door is some secret underground passageway to Fraggle Rock that my husband crawls into and disappears for hours on end on cold winter days, singing and dancing with his colorful little Muppet-like friends (more on Chris’ affinity for singing and dancing at a later time).
The ceiling tiles took a hit. Both literally and figuratively. We’ve lifted a few too many bikes a bit too high. Then there was the night when Chris spilled a gallon of milk on the kitchen floor and it crept down into the basement ceiling.
The milk didn’t stop there. It seeped it’s sneaky way into the track lighting and permanently shorted the circuits.
But despite the flaws, the explosion of equipment, the grease stains, tools, packing peanuts, and pumps, I can’t help but think ‘at least it’s not upstairs.’
So, back to the other day when I went into the basement to put my race wheels away. Convinced that I would be waylaid by centipedes, spokes, or Fraggles, I thought ‘let’s make this quick.’ I scanned the area looking for some indication as to where the wheels were stored. I panicked. From my freakishly organized upstairs world where everything has a place and there’s a place for everything, I had mistakenly stepped into my husband’s cluttered underground world of circular, carbon fiber-filled chaos. Wheels propped against walls, on the floor, in bags, out of bags, in boxes, hanging on the racks…..wheels were literally everywhere. Wheel bags in hand, I stood clueless and confused - my vision blurred by the smurfy aqua blueness of the stairwell and my head clouded by the abundance of all things wheeled, spoked, and trued.
So I did what any woman would do – I dropped the wheel bags and ran like hell back up the stairs.
And as I ran away, I thought I caught a glimpse of a tiny muppet with floppy red pigtails, pedaling a bicycle and joyously singing ‘Dance your cares away, worries for another day, let the music play, down in Fraggle Rock.’ I shook my head and closed the door, reminding myself next time - don't go in the basement.