Recently I had the opportunity to take a hands-on, two-night bicycle repair and maintenance class. It looked like a perfect fit for me. Last year I attended an REI workshop that briefed cyclists on bike maintenance and tire repairs. However, without actually fixing a bike myself, I do not have the confidence to take a stab at it.
The week of the repair class found me working longer hours than usual. That, paired with the fact I was taking rowing class two mornings a week, I decided against taking the bike class. I did not have any regrets as it was a good decision … well, sort of.
A week ago my local bike club, the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen, hosted one of their weekly rides. This was my first time riding with the club and it was a great experience, once I got over the mild embarrassment of being applauded by 50 others for being a “new” rider with the group.
As I pedaled along the 35 mile route, I saw a member of the group on the side of the road. The chain on her bike had jammed and would not move. I looked at my own bike to do a comparison to hers. Part of the chain was not where it should be. We kept trying to fix it but it would not budge. Finally, someone else stopped and said there were other riders behind that could help her. Eventually they did stop and she caught up with us again.
This blog is titled ‘useless’, as that is how I felt. The other cyclist thanked me profusely for stopping and trying to help her, but I had regrets that I didn’t have the time for the repair class. Her bike wasn’t in need of anything too fancy, just someone with the know-how of making adjustments.
In the past I never cared if I got a flat or had some other bicycle mishap. RI is small enough that there is always someone you can call for rescue. Some of the routes, even rural ones, are either on a bus route or not too far away. I never had the interest in learning how to repair my own bike, until I saw the “hands-on” description of the class offered last month.
Readers and fellow cyclists, what about you? Are you an experienced tire-changer, maintain your own bike, or just go out there hoping nothing will go wrong? Any advice for newbies who want to learn bicycle repair?