Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: Learning Curve

The stint at Campus Cycles being over, it was time for some "real" training to commence.....

Now that spring was coming it was time for me to learn a thing or three about wrenching on bicycles. Tom spent a lot of time with me going over how to do things. He even taught me some good "tricks of the trade" along with some philosophy on the business side of repair work. A lot of it I picked up on fairly quickly. I had taken auto mechanics in high school and had been selected to take part in a mechanics contest back then. So, I guess I had an aptitude for such things.

I remember in particular though that I was a bit intimidated by working on wheels. Tom eased my mind by telling me in plain terms what was going on with a wheel and then had me doing several exercises in wheel repair, truing, and building wheels that built up my confidence. I thought I was ready for any wheel by the time Tom was done with me. However; there is a bit more to it than just the knowledge and skill. There is a time and place for applying that skill, and I hadn't learned that lesson yet.

One day, while doing a repair job on a low end department store bike, Tom saw me futzing with the wheel, trying to get it to be really straight. He sauntered over and said something to the effect of, "Ya know, that ain't a $3000.00 XTR rig you're working on there. Ya know that, right?" Point taken. I understood that to make a buck, you had to know how far to go with the equipment you were working on. Tom also pointed out how trying to get cheap, poorly made and designed bicycle components tuned up was going to be a matter of knowing what it took to get it functional not necessarily perfect. A fine distinction there and one I appreciate to this day.

Things like that and more were imparted to me over the period of the next month or two before the season really kicked in and we got busy. Tom wanted to make sure I was adept at basic tune ups and building bikes before that happened. Was he successful? Well......I guess so. I'm not the one to ask that of though. All I know is I was happy to be learning new things and being surrounded by bikes was cool.

Next week: The Atmosphere...........

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