Where Did that Grease Come From?
I have done it.
Showing up at a family function, grocery store, or the office with a nice ol’ grease stain for everyone to see. At which point you utter, on queue, “where the heck did that come from?” Or the ever classy chain ring mark on the back of your right calf. These is not a single person out there, who at some point who has returned from a ride and looked down and went ‘crap, use your left leg when coming to a stop next time.”
When I picked up my new bike earlier this summer, the guys mentioned that as I shifted gears, the cable to the rear derailluer would stretch and simply enough I would tighten it. They made it sound so simple.
So about 20km into my third or fourth ride I started skipping gears when I shifted up to the 25 chain-ring. I stopped, tightened the cable slightly and it went away; for about 10 minutes. I decided that I would bring my bike in for an adjustment after work the next day. I loaded my bike into the back of my truck (can’t leave it on the rack while I was in the office) and headed to the shop after quitting time. They adjusted the cable tension and rear derailluer and I was back on the road with no issue.
4 weeks later, riding along one of my favourite routes, the problem came back. At this point, I am thinking everything is wrong from cable tension to a bent chain ring. Instead of packing my bike up again and heading to the shop, I decided that it was about time for me to learn to maintain my bikes by myself. I always had taken care of the simple stuff like changing a tire, cleaning, and lubricating but never dove into the adjustment and assembly side of it.
You know, it didn’t take me to long to figure everything out. Between manufacturer’s instructions (Shimano is awesome by the way) and YouTube I had my bike humming right along in about 30 minutes. That is equal to the time it would take me to drive to bike shop; one way.
The question; do you need to be your own bike mechanic?
If you bike a lot, which as triathetes we do, it will pay dividends to learn to fix your own bike. How far you take it is up to you but learning the basics, I feel, is a necessity for the amateur athlete. Here is what I perfected so far:
Cable Tension Adjustment
This all came in handy over the past month when my adjuster on the downtube popped out of the bracket. It took me 2 minutes to fix with no tools. I would file that under #winning. Only one downside to being your own mechanic; you now need to figure out a way to get the grease off of your hands, forearms, calfs, and if things go sideways, forehead. True story.
Oh, and don’t advertise your newly found skills to your buddies or neighbours as they will hit you up with every single creak. Actually, do it. No better way to fill the karma pool then helping a fellow roadie out.
Question: Do you maintain your bikes?