Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bike repair course

Yesterday, I loaded Bella (my road bike) up and headed to the University to learn how to take care of her. The most complicated maintenance I'd done prior to this course was pumping up bike tires. Although I'd been shown how to change a flat, I had little confidence in my ability to actually do it if I needed to.

My husband had suggested bringing Heidi (my hybrid) along instead, but I figured that Bella was the one that I really needed to know how to take care of. I could still apply everything to Heidi later.

When I got there, I ran into Nicole and her husband, Jarrett.

Nicole and I. I wasn't having a very photogenic day, but she looks great.

Nicole was taking the course because she had about the same level of repair experience as I did, and Jarrett was taking the course because he wanted to see how fast he could change a flat. ;)

Turns out my fears of being the only female and the only one over the age of 22 were quite unfounded. Aside from Nicole and I, there was one other female in the class of 7. I would guess that nobody was under the age of 25, let alone 22. This wasn't a class of university students.

When the instuctor, DJ, started, I wasn't too sure initially. He seemed really nervous and I wondered if this was the first class he'd ever taught. Within a few minutes though, he got into a groove and seemed more comfortable. He knew his stuff, and was good at explaining it. I asked all kinds of basic questions while he was showing us how to change a tire. Possibly annoying some others in the class, but such is life.

The lights kept going out. They were on a motion sensor, so whenever there wasn't enough movement, they'd turn off. They required large movements of people walking around, rather then just smaller movements of us bent over our bikes working on them. Whenever they'd go out, we'd all wave our arms in the air and they'd go back on.

It took me a bit of time to change my tire. I had to redo it, as I was almost done and DJ came over and did something that pulled the valve out a bit. I didn't mind though. I don't remember things from seeing them. Doing them is what cements it in my mind. I actually believe myself capable of fixing a flat now, and since I still have a trainer tire on my bike, I'll practice at least one more time before taking Bella on the road.

After that, we were shown how to break and put back together a chain. Then on to cleaning and lubing.

I'm glad we covered this, as I really had no idea what you lube other then the chain. Again, one of those basic things that I needed to know. The bike he showed us on had Shimano Ultegra components. They were shinier and more expensive then my 105 components, but they looked basically the same, so I was able to clearly see and understand what he was talking about.

I kind of got lazy on the degreasing job. Since Bella has never been on the road, she's pretty darn clean. I didn't bother using the chain cleaner and only did a very basic job on the gears. I'll practice this job on Heidi though, since she's not nearly that clean.

Me pretending to degrease Bella with a rather crazed look on my face.

Overall, I'm really glad I did the course. Basic? Yes. But exactly what I needed. In many ways, bikes aren't really that complicated and I'd like to gain the ability to take care of my own. For now, this course will get me through the season and let me deal with emergencies on the road. In the future, I hope to learn more and possibly take a more in depth courses.


  1. Isn't it funny how complicated they seem to be until you actually get to know them? Good job on taking the initiative to learn more!!

  2. Thanks so much for telling me about the course! I had lots of fun and I feel way more confident about taking care of my bike now.

    And I think our instructor was under 22...

  3. I just found your blog- I love it! What an inspiration! I can't believe there's so much to know about bikes.

  4. Way to go! Now you've inspired me to learn how to take care of my own bike. Will have to look for courses in Toronto.

    PS - Hope your family is feeling better!

  5. Nicole, you're right. The instructor was almost certainly under 22.

  6. I really need to do one of these classes. I've got very little knowledge but I'm working on it. :)