Today was the last four hours of an eight-hour bike maintenance class at a local sporting goods store.
When I signed up for this class, I thought $100 was a bit pricey, but now I think it's worth every cent and I'll definitely save that much in the next year by being able to do a little maintenance on my bikes myself, instead of dragging them in to the shop for every niggling thing.
We picked up where we left off, at the front derailleur, and adjusted the way it pushes the chain back and forth. Never again will I have to be one of those poor women whose chain constantly falls off because her husband tightened down all those "loose screws" on the derailleur!
I also asked the instructor about how I would go about swapping out my double front chainring for a triple, and he told me I'd have to change a bunch of components and I'd be better off just putting in a different cassette in back with a few more teeth for spinning up those big hills. That made sense to me - and now that I know how to change the cassette, it doesn't sound too difficult.
Then the brakes. I got a little worried when he told us to replace one of our brake cables - hey, mine are brand new! And it threads this weird way through the top tube. Why should I replace it already? But once I got my shift handle taken apart to access the end of the cable, I realized it was absurdly easy. Another bike part de-mystified!
Then the instructor "sabotaged" our brake pads and had us re-adjust them. He showed me where the shop had set up my bike with the pads rubbing against the tires, so I corrected that (and while I was at it also corrected the position of one aero bar pad - they had been set up by the shop an unequal distance from the center of the bike).
He showed us the differences in headsets and head tubes and how to adjust them, although the newer types don't adjust much.
On to wheels. We worked on truing wheels and he showed us what to do if we break a spoken out on the road (slightly loosen the adjacent spokes on the opposite side enough to true the wheel and then head home - even though the tire will now be slightly out of round). Then another part I had trepidation about - repacking wheel bearings. Fortunately for me I have sealed wheel bearings on my bike, but I got to practice on another bike.
That took up the four hours! I left the class feeling MUCH more confident about my upcoming triathlon season, and feeling much more capable of handling most emergencies that I might experience on the bike.
I loaded up my bike in my minivan and headed back inside for some quick shopping before heading home. I got a new pair of flipflops for summer, some Ironman running socks (it's only legal for me to wear those now as a non-Ironman because the Ironman logo doesn't show inside my shoes), several yummy Larabars for early morning pre-swimming nutrition, and got myself a nice chocolate treat for finishing the class! :)
I also received this weekend a shipment of some bike accessories I bought online, so now Buttercup is fully tricked out with all the things I'll need during triathlons:
- a multitool with all the Allen wrenches and screwdrivers I'll ever need, which also has tiny tire levers
- 2 bigger plastic tire levers that weigh nothing
- a spare inner tube
- a teensy tiny patch kit
- an "Ultraflate plus" (air cartridge thingie)
- extra air cartridge
- a teensy red behind-the-seat wedge pack
All together that weighs almost exactly one pound. I can handle that! I may add on a bento box later to carry some Triathlete Chow along on the bike, but that's all I still need (along with the 3 water bottle mounts already in place).
I also indulged myself with a pair of armwarmers and a QR seat cover. The jury is still out on whether this saddle will work with my particular anatomy, but I'll keep, uh, working at it for a while yet.
Now all I have to do is get out there and TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN!! My first little sprint triathlon of the season is less than 4 weeks away!! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a place to buy a new engine for the bike.... ;)