The is the first in what I hope will be a four part series documenting my travails as I try to learn some bike maintenance. I hope that it's at least four parts (meaning that they didn't kick me out of the class for ineptitude) and I hope that it's only four parts (meaning that they didn't make me re-take the course on account that they were legally obligated to ensure I achieved an acceptable level of tool use before I could be released to the public).
I was running late at work, so I didn't change out of my work clothes before class. I had brought a pair of jeans, but I kept on the grey herring bone pants I was wearing that day. I also had on a checked blue top, which I covered with a grey fleece. When I arrived home later that night, my wife had some serious concerns about this outfit. She said something that I can't quite remember like "why did you dress like a hipster?"
I tucked my pants into my greenish-brown socks and rode to the bike shop where the class was taking place and when I got there I changed out of my bike shoes and took off my bright yellow jacket and moved my bike into the back area where the class was taking place. There were a few bike repair stands and I was told I could pick any one. I asked if one was better than another. Nope. I chose the one was sorta central, but still unassuming. I didn't want to be anywhere where I would be made an example for the class (on account of my surety that I would do something horrible and embarrassing), but I also didn't want to tuck myself off too much to the side or back because I truly did want to benefit from the up-close instruction that this class would offer.
I'm not going to comment very much on the instructors or my fellow students on because I'm sure they read this blog and they seemed like generally pleasant people. My classmates probably had nicer bikes than I did, but we all seemed to generally fit into the category of twenty to thirtysomething year old guys (except for George, who is that wizened old dude who's thin and athletic and has a carbon frame super bike and could probably out-ride everyone you know and who has a summer house in Utah where he plans to retire and maybe get into the bike/adventure tour game) of reasonable means and a commitment to biking.
|Tool instructions (I think)|
We were given tool boxes and aprons and repair books and told that we could open all of these things and remove them from their packaging. Succeeding in doing this, I then put on my apron, being sure to demonstrate my manual dexterity to knotting the apron in the back and not wrapping the strings around the front like the guy whose name I can't remember who works in "antitrust economics." (No one else indidcated their professions in the introductions sections. All I said is that I biked to work every day and that my name was Brian).
Since I aced the apron tying section, I was developing a bit of confidence. We were given rubber gloves since bike chains can be messy and gross. We were then asked to remove our front wheels (after deflating the tires) from the bike. I had done this before (in one of the many bike "repairs" that resulted in a subsequent trip to the bike shop to fix whatever I had just broken), so I promptly undid the quick release and had my wheel off maybe almost before anyone else. Next up was pulling off the tire. I was a little less familiar with the step, but I did attend a fix-a-flat class once and I sorta knew how tire levers work, so I gingerly started removing the tire from the wheel. No major problems there either. I got the tire off the wheel and removed the tube as we were asked. We then talked about patches and the different kind of burst patterns that can indicate different kinds of flat tires. It felt very Forensic Files. I remember that we talked about a "star" pattern that meant that you did something horrible with your bike, like a hit-and-run on a porcupine or something, and I remember that we talked about "pinch flats," but my primary takeaway is that if you see a problem with your tube, you should put a patch on it and then re-inflate it. Then ride to your nearest bike store and buy a new tube. You could also carry a new tube with you and not worry about patches. You could also only ride your bike where there are bus lines, which is my preferred approach, but I understood that having multiple strategies for dealing with flat tires is a good thing. We were told to re-inflate the tubes (after checking them for non-existent damage), but only enough to give them some shape, so we could put them back into the wheel. Oh, FYI, not to sound to sophisticated or anything, you can't be cavalier about the terms tire and wheel (like I am) when it comes to bikes. Tire means rubber part, wheel means metal thing with spokes. Anyway, I thought that I had given my tube enough shape, so I put it back in the wheel and started to try to put the tire back into the wheel. The tires are beaded, meaning that they kinda snap into place along the inside rim of the tire, or at least they should. I had a hard time doing this. At first I tried to snap one side of the tire into the wheel around the tube, but I could snap in more than a few inches at a time and I kept turning the wheel like I was snapping in new parts, but I was really just holding the same part of the tire and nothing more was getting into place. With some more diligence, I was able to eventually get all of the one side of the tire beaded back into the wheel. But when I tried to do the other side, I just couldn't do it. Not being overly familiar with the tensile strength of bike tires and wheels, I didn't know how hard I could push down on anything in order to make the tire snap into place. So I just wasn't really pushing that hard. And accordingly, the tire wasn't snapping into place. The instructor could see that I was floundering, so he came over and was all like "yeah, you've got hardcase tires (which I knew! yay me), so these are a little more rigid" while he simultaneously snapped the tires into place like it was no big deal (which to him it wasn't). Well, I didn't pay for bike class so the instructor could do my work (this is the pride that goes before the fall), so I took out my tire lever and undid what he just did. 7 minutes later, when the class had moved onto the other things and after my hands really, really hurt I finally snapped my tire back into place. All I had to do was re-inflate tube and remount the tire to the bike and everyone would forget my laughable struggling.
I broke my air intake valve. It snapped off when I went to re-inflate my tube. It had been bent for a while (I must have bent in when I was inflating my tire sometime, I don't know) and it just clean broke off. Permanent flat tire and the replacement tune cost $7.41, which I paid at the end of the night. They didn't charge me maintenance, though they also didn't let me replace the tube myself. I broke part of my bike in bike repair class.
|Book, with removed rear reflector.|
|Outside Kato's, Rockingham.|