Monday, June 21, 2010

An Education


I thought I was going to be writing about my discriminating taste in bicycle pumps in my next post, but twas not to be. You can't get too picky when there are only two or three to choose from and only one of them is the foot pump style you're looking for. I might've exercised patience and searched the boundless variety of pumps offered by the internet if Praline's rear tire hadn't also gone flat. At the library, to make matters worse! I had to walk/ride her back to the house which made me nervous every time I went downhill. I didn't want to have to replace a whole wheel!

Mad with desperation, I headed to my nearest purveyor of bike supplies--Walmart. I bought a Bell foot pump, went home, and hoped some friend with a Y chromosome would happen by. I think two days later a friend of my aunt's came by and he just happened to have a ratchet set in his car. He was able to remove the hex bolts applied with superhuman-bike-mechanic-strength to Brown Betty. I already had an inner tube for Betty's skinny tires. After that, I though replacing the tube would be a simple job. I thought I'd learn so much from changing Praline's inner tube and the Mr. Lavender mishap. Apparently not. Somehow I messed up the cassette joint/hub gear assembly/gear shifting thingy and now I only have first gear.

Frustrated and confused, I called the bike mechanic who assembled Brown Betty, but he said it was difficult understanding the problem without being able to see the bike. He suggested that I e-mail him pictures so I did. While waiting on a response from him, I decided to also look for information at the library. After searching two library systems (always have more than one library card, if you can) for books on bicycle repair, I located the rather generic-sounding, "Bicycle Repair Manual," published in 2008. Surely, I would find some answers here. I found bubkes.

Now, with a week of coasting behind me--because I can only really pedal uphill--I'm anxious to take the monthly basic maintenance clinic at Out Spokin' Bikes. I literally could not wait for the third Monday of the month to arrive. I've never been to an event like this so I wasn't sure if it was kosher to bring your own bike. After all, when you go to a cooking class you don't bring your own food. I called to ask if it was okay and the guy on the phone told me that it was fine. Maybe I'll be able to get a walk-through of Betty's hub assembly if I show up early. I hope that I learn enough to avoid this sort of situation the next time I change a tire on any bike. I plan on taking notes and, possibly pictures. Wish me luck.

3 comments :

Oldfool said...

You don't need luck. The hard part for most people is deciding that they can fix their own bike. So now the hard part is behind you. You will have fun.
There is nothing so satisfying as discovering the elegant simplicity of bicycles.
If you have not yet discovered Sheldon Brown here is the URL
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/
Have fun.

l' homme au velo said...

That is bad being stuck on the open Road and having to Walk and Scut Home on the Bike.

It happened to me long Years ago .I was 12 Miles away from the City up in the Hills of Bray Head in Wicklow Ireland. I discovered I had no Patches to fix my Puncture or Inner Tube. So I had to resort to keep Pumping up the Tyre and Gliding down the Hills and walking the rest of the way. I was hoping the Tyre would not fall to pieces from Rubbing off the Road,so I had to keep Pumping it up as best as I could.


That was then and times change and I have gotten clever with age. I always try to have Inner Tubes with me and Tyre Levers and some Talcum Powder to ease the Tyres onto the Rim.

I always put it into a low Gear and remember which Gear it was in. After I have finished I try to have Tissue Paper and Water with me to clean my Hands with of any Oil and Muck from the Chain.

I suppose if you are on a faraway trip and it is close to Evening time when any Bike Shops in the Vicinity are closed and you are in the Depths of the Countryside then Zip Ties would be handy for Tying your Spokes together if they Bent going over Potholes also spare Presta Valves for your Tyres might be handy.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

Oldfool: Thanks. I do feel a lot better about fixing my bike, but I still have a lot to learn!

L'homme au velo: Wow! Thanks for all the tricks & tips. I bought a portable patch kit with those little cans of air at the maintenance clinic and some extra tire levers. Now I have two sets of tire levers when I had none before. I'll have to get a travel sized baby powder for my kit and try it the next time I get a flat.