As far as bike maintenance goes, I’m afraid I’ve let the side down a bit over the years. I am much more likely to reach for my phone than my multi tool in the event of a breakdown. And while, on a good day, I might have taken a pump and an inner tube out with me, if push came to shove, I’m embarrassed to say, I’d have been struggling to know what to do with them.
With many hours training on the bike ahead of me, not to mention race day itself, I thought a bike maintenance class made sense. Skilling myself up would, I hope, put an end to my “fingers crossed” days of cycling not to mention improve my performance and ultimately keep me safer.
I chose a beginner’s course at a local BikeRight Centre. I arrived on the day along with a small group who came with a range of different bikes and motivations.
We started with the basics and the first exercise of the day was actually to label the various parts of the bike. Beyond the fundamentals – pedals, tyres, handlebars, I must admit I was struggling to start with. However I could soon tell my seat stay from my chain stay and my rear derailleur from my cassette. In fact, 1 hour in to the day I had already doubled my bike knowledge and was really getting into the zone.
Our mechanic, Seb*, was great – knowledgeable and patient. He was keen to see all of us doing each task unaided. We moved on to changing a tube, repairing a puncture and then fixing a broken chain – all bike maintenance essentials for triathlon training.
At the end of the afternoon we got our bikes on stands and cleaned them. Mine was shockingly dirty. I think I may even have viewed this muck as a badge of honour and testament to my cycling hardiness. As the clean bike emerged, however, I could see I’d done it a disservice. It deserved better – I even felt a teeny bit proud of my old MTB despite the fact that it was the oldest in the room by a mile.
We finished up by cleaning and lubricating the chains – who knew that a chain bath was even a thing? Definitely one for the Christmas list next year.
The day was fun, I met some lovely people and I ended up with bags more knowledge and confidence by the time we left.
Without wanting to labour the point, doing the triathlon is just as much about building confidence as it is about building strength and stamina. Enlisting a bit of help has certainly taken my confidence up a notch and even given me a taste to learn more; so much so that I came straight home and signed up for the intermediate course in a few weeks’ time.
*Seb Gray is a Mechanic at BikeRight