The lecture portion of the day included topics such as gearing, brakes, derailleurs, wheels, leveling screws, chain "stretch", removing the rear wheel and changing a tire. My brain was overflowing by lunch time and I'm very glad that I took pages of notes as well as received an instructional DVD as part of tuition cost. I also jotted down the names and part numbers of some useful looking tools.
|Park Tool Chain Checker|
After lunch was the lab portion of the class and we got to work on our own bikes. To be honest, beyond measuring my chain I wasn't sure what else I should do. I should have tried taking off my rear wheel and putting it back on as well as practice changing a tire, just to see if I could do it, but I can work on that at home. The first (and only, as it turns out) item of "maintenance" I did was check my chain length. One should replace a chain as it nears 1 so the chain doesn't damage the cassette (back gear wheels). According to the tool, my chain was between .75 and 1. I knit my brow and called over the instructor to verify that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. He agreed with my observation and told me that while I could continue to ride for another month or so, but I should get the chain replaced sooner rather than later. The lady next to me was shocked since she knew that I got my bike in July. I told her and the instructor that I'd put about 1,000 miles on the bike since then.
"Yep, that'll do it," replied the instructor. The lady was flabbergasted at the mileage and then said, "Oh, that's right: you commute."
I struggled getting my bike back up the steep staircase. To be honest, I was struggling before I even got up the first stair, and an associate ran over and carried Rose up for me. He set her up on a stand and showed me how to remove the chain and then how to replace it. It looked like a fairly easy process if it's something that one does fairly often. He patiently explained each step and answered my questions. After attaching the new chain, he checked over the other parts and declared my bike ready fit for duty.
At that point, I was ready to fall over. I decided that since my bike was already at street level, I would head on home. I said my good-byes to the group, paid for some new tools and the chain, and headed toward home. I hit a snow squall on the Dulles Toll Road which gave Rose an impromptu bath. This turned out to be a blessing because the damp made cleaning the grime off her frame that much easier. She's not showroom clean, but she's as clean as she's been since her post Outer Banks scrub. And I don't have to worry about her chain for a while.