Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: Learning To Wrench

Last week I left off with the Klein Attitude purchase. Now it was time to learn how to take care of them....

After I dropped the big coinage on the Attitudes, I figured I'd better learn how to take care of the things. Lucky for me, Advantage Cycles had a mechanics 101 class in the evenings. I signed up and I was super stoked to find out all I could to get up to speed on maintenance.

I knew a few rudimentary things from back in my childhood. I was blessed by having been in the great tornado of 1968 in Charles City, Iowa. It was after that carnage that as a child, you could find a bike out in the weeds around the edges of town on any given day. They were like apples fallen from a tree. It was pretty amazing. We would take these things, disassemble them, reassemble them, modify them, and pretty much destroy them. Hey! They were free and a dime a dozen. At least for a few years afterwards.

That got me by with my old bike, but there was so much I didn't know about the new stuff. I wanted to find out what I could do to keep these Kleins going for a long time. It helped that they both were set up with Grease Guard stuff from SunTour, and Klein Attitudes had very forward thinking bearing set ups in the head set and bottom bracket. In fact, the Kleins were totally useless as a bicycle to learn on for the class, so I ended up doing maintenance on shop cast offs for the class. Old bikes that had what we were talking about- Serviceable bottom brackets, head sets, and quill stems.

So it was during these classes that I met a car mechanic by the name of Vance McCaw. He often came to the class still dressed in his work duds. Little did I know that years later, I would end up in the same outfit. But that's a long ways down the road yet. Vance's and my paths would cross again a few times, I just didn't know how or when.

All I knew was after the class was over, I was really interested in finding out even more. I gobbled up all the bicycle info I could get my hands on. I was "bitten by the bug", I suppose you could say. That said, I was also still very much a custom design jeweler, salesman, and gemologist. I wasn't planning on being a bicycle guy anytime in my life beyond being a rider. But even the best laid plans can go astray, and mine did one early November day.

Next Week: Big Changes

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