I have always known my limits when it comes to bike mechanics. And when I reach those limits, I am more than happy to take my trusty steed down to the local bike shop to get it repaired.
Over the years I have learned how to repair many things on a bike, from simple punctures and snapped chains to broken spokes and installing new headsets.
When I first started cycling a lot of these repairs seemed like a dark art that only the initiated were able to complete, but over the years I have picked up tips, hints, and techniques to bring my skill level up to a reasonable level.
Now the internet is awash with how-to videos that cover every aspect of fixing a bike that you could wish for. Sometimes I wonder how much that helps budding mechanics; it is possible to watch three different videos to learn how to change a tyre and find three very different approaches.
However, I will never be proficient in the art of bike mechanics. It is not that I am not capable, more that I really can’t be bothered.
I have often told people over the years that one day I am going to learn how to build wheels from scratch, but as yet I have never even vaguely tried to do this. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, I would rather be on my bike pedalling than tinkering in the workshop. While it can save money to do your own repairs, I would rather see my local bike shop profit from my inadequacies as a mechanic than head out on a bike with a half-hearted and potentially faulty repair.
That doesn’t mean I take my bike to the shop every time it has a fault. There are some repairs that are just part and parcel of everyday cycling and need to be learned. These repairs, such as changing tyres, fixing punctures and putting on new brake pads, are essential skills to keep your bike in safe working order.
Being able to perform a safety check on your bike will highlight many of the basic issues that occur with cycles and then having the knowledge and ability to be able to fix them may mean the difference between being able to ride that day or not. If you are not sure about how to perform a safety check on your bike, do an internet search for Bike Safety M Check at www.sustrans.org.uk.
There is a difference, however, between being able to do something and actually enjoying it – I can do the dishes and they need to be done, but that doesn’t mean I look forward to tackling that greasy pile of plates facing me after dinner. I have the same attitude to bike mechanics. I recently had to change the disc-brake pads on one of my bikes (a five-minute job), but, according to my wife, you would think I had been asked to get down on my hands and knees and cut the grass in our garden with nail-scissors, such was the grumping and groaning I carried the task out with. Ultimately my heart is not in it. I’m not sure if that puts me out of step with other cyclists. Most of my friends seem to revel in stripping their bikes down, rebuilding them and building wheels and such like.
Maybe one day I will get around to taking that wheel-building course, but I suspect I may be too busy out riding my bike.
Join the Blazing Saddles Strava Club at: www.strava.com/clubs/BlazingSaddlesWeekendCourier
Where to ride:
The Cowal Way Chase – Lochgoilhead – Argyll
Saturday 14th July 2018
Gravel Ride Event
60km – 900m of ascent
Gravel bike events are becoming increasingly popular. The routes take in hard-packed paths, forest roads and loose gravel trails and are generally ridden on gravel-specific bikes with wide tyres, but you will see lots of people riding them on mountain bikes too.
This event, although not for the absolute beginner at cycle events, is a great introduction for those wanting to try out gravel riding for the first time.