Published: 14 March 2013
Report: Lorna Johnston
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Too long cast as the self-styled 'damsel in distress', our sportive blogger Lorna finally decided to enrol herself on a British Cycling Bike Maintenance Workshop. Here's her account of the day.
I’ve always prided myself at being pretty good at putting biological matters back together - which, let’s face it, is fairly crucial in my day job - but show me in detail how to take apart something mechanical then hand me a set of Allen keys and there is not a cat in hells of chance of it ever taking it’s previous form.
My poor long suffering riding partner Ross is quite a dab hand at fixing bikes - he has the patience to learn from books and videos and has been my saviour on many an occasion when there has been a clunk or rattle emanating from my bike. He has also tried on many occasions to impart his knowledge to me - with the patience of a saint I hasten to add - but as yet I have retained none of it.
Being one of only a handful of girls in a large bike club does have its advantages as the guys are only too happy to help out a damsel in distress but there are occasions when I do actually ride on my own and I would still, even at the age of 31, have to call my dad to come and rescue me.
I decided enough was enough and enrolled myself on a day-long British Cycling Bike Maintenance workshop in Glasgow in the hopes that at the very least I could go home with the ability to change an inner tube! It turned out we were in good hands as the course was run by Peter ‘Spike’ Taylor - mechanic to the stars for many years and now head of the mechanic team with Rapha Condor JLT.
An icebreaker to start involved attaching tags to the various parts of a road bike and I was pleasantly surprised that I did in actual fact know the correct terms for the anatomy of the bike - all was boding well! The team provided bikes for us to work on and all the necessary tools. We paired up to begin the first task of the day - change a headset bearing. My head did think ‘talk about throwing us in at the deep end’ but the show and tell by Spike with his very simple explanation in his dulcet Lancastrian tones just made it all seem to make perfect sense and I set about piecing everything back together with relative ease.
We removed tyres and changed tubes with not a tyre lever in sight - a much more simple technique than I ever imagined possible. We adjusted derailleurs, indexed gears, changed brake pads and even got down to the nitty-gritty of replacing a bottom bracket. I was amazed with how easy it all seemed and this is testament to Spike’s teaching ability based on his service in the industry.
I suspect I am not alone in the desire to rush home from such a day and set about taking the bike to pieces, feeling guilty at having neglected its most basic needs over the last year. I knew I didn’t have the right armamentarium of tools yet and resisted temptation for a whole five minutes… …but that clicky gear just needed some attention before the club run the next day. Except my bike wasn’t quite as clean as the ones in the workshop and my bike wasn’t on a workstand. And I got frustrated very quickly. Cue the phonecall to Ross, ‘See when you come over, you might want to bring your tool kit....’
But I can change a tube at the roadside and I can repair all the little things that will safely get me home from a ride instead of having to call dad. For now, I’m more than happy with that!!
Many thanks to Spike and the team for what was a fun and informative day. All information was provided in an easy to understand manner and step by step instructions for everything covered was contained in a manual which we took away for future reference. A course that I highly recommend to get you started on your way to keeping your bike running smoother for longer!