It started with a squeaky chain. My bike is still new, so it should purr and whir not rattle and clank, right? But I admit that I’ve been neglecting it. I knew virtually noting about bicycle maintenance. But I wanted to take care of my bike, so I returned to Erik’s Bike Shop where I bought it and was entitled to minor adjustments. It didn’t take them long to confirm that my chain was indeed dry and in need of lubricating. Nor did it escape them how dirty my bike was, and how low my tires were. My negligence was pretty obvious. I admitted not only my lack of care but also my desire to learn and improve. While they graciously restored my bike to its former glory, I received kindly advice and patient answers to my questions.
I’d already been thinking about taking a class in bicycle maintenence. Finding out that Erik’s offered such classes sealed it. I immediately signed up for the Novice Class. This past week I devoted my Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to this endeavor, and it was just what I needed.
Although the class held up to ten students, there were only five of us, which made for a great ratio with the two instructors. We brought our own bikes to work on, and each had our own bike stand, work bench and extensive set of tools. Not only were we taught for the advertised 6 hours of class, but the instructors made themselves available before and after each class for as long as we liked. I’m sure I availed myself of at least 8 hours.
Since I’m not exactly handy with tools and mechanics, I had no illusions about coming out of the class able to do my own repairs. My goal was to understand the major components of my bike, how they worked, and just what the issue might be if something went wrong with it. That and how to repair a flat – while I’d been lucky to date, I knew the day would come when I found myself in trouble out on a bike ride far from home. Due to the diligence and patience of the instructors, I exceeded my objectives. We covered basic bike cleaning and daily maintenance, tubes and tires, wheel truing, chains, deraillers and brakes. I got advice on types of biking shoes and pedals, and an adjustment on my seat height. I changed my front tire three times… admittedly it took that many times to get it right, but all in the name of good practice. I confess to getting somewhat lost in the intricacies of the two derailler systems, but I did glean enough to make a necessary adjustment to the limit screws at home this weekend. What a coup that was!
Even though my husband is capable of making most of the repairs we might need on our upcoming Trans-Superior Bike Tour, I feel a lot better knowing I am more self-sufficient than before. And truth be told, when he was frustrated by having multiple flat tires this past week, I was able to give him some good advice on his repair process. And it worked!