I have a very limited and somewhat embarrassing amount of knowledge about bicycle maintenance. My mom and I, who have done some cycle-touring together, have a joke about our pretend bike maintenance sessions. Neither of us have any idea what anything does, and we are lucky if we even know what it is….. There is a do-hickey here which turns a thingy-a-ma-jingy over there… probably best not to touch either of those ever. So we just turn the bike upside down, maybe grease the chain and say “diddle, diddle, diddle” to each other a few times for good measure and voila! Bike is in perfect form. (Diddle, by the way, means to fool around with / to waste time).
In other words, we have always gotten lucky. I have never even gotten a flat tire. Well no, once I did, but that was because I let some air out of my tires thinking I could get better traction on a loose sandy path, but instead I let too much out – the bike became un-rideable. So I went to pump it back up and accidently broke the little brass bit of the top of my valve ruining my one precious tube. This story could have ended disastrously had it been any other day out on the Kettle Valley Railway, but luckily we were approaching Penticton where a lovely friend of mine was able to meet me forlornly pushing my bike off the trail.
So in case I haven’t made my point clear – I really need to learn a few things about bicycles.
Now, after class #1, I know that a cassette is not only a dying way of listening to music, but also it is an essential component in the operation of a bicycle. It is, I suppose, what I would have previously called “gears.”
We spent the majority of the class learning how to change a tire. I have already seen many, many ways I have previously wronged my bike. I never shifted down to the lowest gear before removing the wheel, I used metal tire levers which I then used to force along the section of the tire where the valve is – all no-nos. I discovered by inspecting my tire that I had about 5 places where small pieces of glass were slowly making their way through the thick skin to the delicate tube inside – flat tires just waiting to happen.
I am thrilled to be doing this class (and not to mention working towards checking off something on my To-Do List). Craig, our teacher, assures us we will know how to look after our bikes from top to bottom after this. Any problem that we encounter, we will know how to fix. We will hear a creak and know how to diagnose the problem. We will see a used bike for sale and know how to assess its worth. This is very exciting!
- Check out the bike school: Missing Link School