Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Repairs

Date: Jan. 3
Mileage: 9.5
January mileage: 36.4
Temperature upon departure: 27

Good ride tonight ... less punchy because I made more of an effort to avoid the moose tracks, with snow so dry and clean that distant sparkles off my LED headlamp mirrored the pepper starlight in the night sky. It almost made up the massive computer meltdown at work today. As our missed deadline faded further and further into the past, we scrambled for solutions with an impatient pre-press operator bearing down from afar. I tell ya, I was this close to pulling out a typewriter, some glue and an exacto knife, and giving up on the whole computerized scandal of it all. But I guess that's the great peril of the digital age, isn't it? The more independence we gain from workaday labors, the more dependent we become on machines we can't begin to understand.

Me? I'm learning to fix my bike - one of the simplest machines available in the modern age. I need to master basic repairs as these longer, more remote rides become more common. Even simple things like changing cables or swapping out the chain frustrate and confuse me. I need to go through each step in slow succession, like a child learning to count to 10. Even then, my attention span usually prevents me from learning after only one demonstration. I have no talent for this stuff. I think this may be why hiking was my first and probably is still my favorite form of outdoor recreation. All you need is a good pair of shoes - and my early forays into the mountains are a testament that you don't even necessarily need that. All this gear just weighs me down. I am learning to live with it ... I do love cycling. And a bicycle, by definition of the sport, is a rather necessary piece of gear. If I want to ride a mountain bike 50 miles into the inhospitable Alaskan wilderness, I'm going to have to learn to fix the thing. But that doesn't mean my mechanical mental block isn't going to fight me every step of the way.

7 comments:

  1. Jill, here's a resource to help you get started!
    http://www.bikewebsite.com/repair-bike-index.htm

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  2. The Park Tool site is pretty good, click on the part of the bike you're trying to repair and it'll give you step by step guides on fixing pretty much everything.

    For books, Lennard Zinn's "Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" is one of the classics, I particularly like it because it covers every "style" of component - for example, for brakes it covers not only V-brakes but also U-brakes and calipers. The only downside is it's perfect bound (or at least, my copy is) so it's a bit of a pain holding it open at the right page.

    I see Zinn also has a DVD version now, too, for a full-on multimedia experience.

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  3. JoeDell7:39 AM

    Good luck with your bike maintenance and repairs. Some things take awhile to learn. Practice fixing things at home before they break, so that when you are out on the trail you'll have more confidence because you have the experience.

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  4. Greetings fellow winter bike rider! I second the opinion on the Zinn book. Also, if one just really looks and thinks about how things work it is pretty simple to fix most stuff once one has the few specialized tools needed.

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  5. I understand your comment about technology, I've had those days. I work in computer graphics. Somedays a pen, paper, ruler, exacto and glue will do the job just fine.

    I too am trying to learn to do my own bike maintenance. All I know so far is how to change my seat and clean my chain, oh and replace tires. I bought the book, Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance. It's a great book, but I'm definitely going to buy the DVD posted above.

    I always worry that I'm going to be walking into the bike shop with the parts of my bike saying, "help, I promise I'll never touch it again". I don't know why I'm so worried since I can service my car.

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  6. I'm learning also, I ride my local bike mechanic crazy. Sometimes he just tells me "DON'T TOUCH THAT, JUST BRING IT IN TO ME!" HA!!

    If you have Nokian studded tires, did you put them on yourself? I just about went crazy, they are soo stiff, broke my tire levers, pinch flatted my tube. Even my husband couldn't get them on. I figured I would die out in the frozen wilderness if I ever get a flat with those tire. Took them to Richard, my bike guy, he had them perfect in minutes. Sheesh. He said I was just having a "bad bike juju day". I hope that's all it was.
    I enjoy your blog! Good luck with the training. Ride up to Hatcher's Pass sometime when your in Palmer, its incredible!!

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  7. OH God! I ment I "drive" my local bike mechanic crazy!!! :)

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