Adventures of a Bumbling Mechanic

8 06 2013

Ok so I wouldn’t exactly call myself a bumbling mechanic… but I sure do come close to it, mainly because I learn from trial and error. Ever since I was little I’ve loved to take things apart and put them back together. I like to know how things work. For larger scale projects I will employ the use of Google and Youtube several times before touching my tools.

This next project I’m starting is to repair my 1970’s/80’s Fuji Boulevard Bike. It was my Grandmother’s but then she gifted it to me. I’ll admit that for the past 5 years or so it’s sat outside under the shed. I don’t really remember the last time I rode it. I remember not exactly liking it when I first got it, but I was in need of a bike and it fit the bill. But now that I look at it I have no idea why I thought that.

It’s a good bike. The frame is well built, solid and surprisingly completely devoid of rust. I plan on taking the whole thing apart, cleaning it up and putting it all back together. I’ve never done anything like this. But I did once watch my friend Jeremy take apart his bike down to the bearings and and reassemble it in 30 minutes or so. This completely qualifies me for this project (these words will echo in my head when I find myself tired, frustrated and surrounded by a hundred unknown bike parts, so no need to remind me of the aforementioned  statement.) He doesn’t know it yet but if I wind up totally over my head he’s gonna be the one to help me out. But hopefully it won’t come to that.

In general I know the names of most of the bike parts, where they go and how they work together. And yet I found myself in a bit of bike trouble earlier today… and I haven’t even started my project yet.

For the past year I’ve worked at this fitness center and have seen member after member pass by with their cycling shoes on the way to spin class. I understood the fundamentals of said shoes, but have never tried out a pair until today. We have had a spare pair of cycle shoes in the lost and found for well over two years now. They are just a smidge too small and having no prior need for them I’ve refused the offer to take them several times. But with my new project staring me in the face I figured it might be a good idea to try them out so I know how they work before I decided if I want to get clip on pedals.

I strapped into the shoes with confidence. I mastered the Velcro strap way back in kindergarten so this was a cinch. Clunking back to the group ex room (where we keep the spin bikes) I took note of the sign we have stating “please don’t wear cycle shoes on the hardwood floor.” It’s always bothered me how people just ignore this sign so I reverted to the tried and true walking-on-your-heels-to-avoid-gouging-the-floor trick. Looking like a dipstick I made it all the way across the floor to the nearest bike. The mechanics of clipping ones shoes into the pedals was pretty self explanatory. After careful examination I got my right foot clipped in without issue. But per usual my left foot is a little rebellious so it took a moment of fumbling to get him situated.

Triumphantly I began to pedal and noticed that is WAS easier and more efficient to use the cycle shoes, but then my mind began to wander…

What happens if you’re riding along and you start to fall? 

How do you put a foot down fast enough to catch yourself?

It seems like these would be pretty slow to get out of…

…. wait….

how DO you get out of these….. 

I gave my foot and tug and found that my shoe was securely attached to the pedal and wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. I’m sure that’s good in a regular riding application, but I had had enough now and this was no longer fun. Left, right, back-forth, up, down, nothing worked! I was just starting to panic a little when with a twist of the ankle I was free! (Of course it didn’t occur to me in the moment that I could just unstrap the Velcro. Yups, Momma raised a smart one.) I immediately put away the cycle shoes and laced up my good ol’ Pumas.

As I said I work largely through trial and error. It won’t be till a little later down the line when I have to decide about cycle shoes and clip pedals. I first have to make my way through the gear and break assembly which is my greatest apprehension. However I do love a challenge and look forward to once again cycling the roadways.

Here’s to eventually being one of those hated cyclists that motorists have to dodge.





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