Good evening, and hello. I'm new to this place..
...and I am here because I recently gained a free bike. Well, about three weeks ago to be truthful. I'm a poor, poor student and a friend generously gifted me her road bike, since she no longer has use for it and I live five or six miles along the coast from where I need to be every day.
Just to be clear, I have no idea about these things you call bicycles, other than the basics.
Anyway predictably (I guess..) for I bike that has been out of use for a while (and knowing my friend, probably never saw any professional maintenance) it is a little, shall we say, rough around the edges.
Now I've taken it in to bike shops and been told that it must immediately be booked in for a complete service, and that's marvellous, except that at upwards of £50 not including parts I most certainly can not afford it.
So I thought I'd turn to the massed knowledge of the interweb and combine that with my superior mechanical skills (read: completely average mechanical skills) in order to address the most pressing issues. Which, now that I've waffled on about other things for what seems like weeks, are these:
 - Sometimes (not always), putting a lot of weight on a pedal (either one) causes the rear wheel to become mis-aligned, to the point where the tyre comes into contact with the frame on the left hand side, causing rubbing and slowing down and anger and fury. This has happened several times, and each time I have managed to 'fix' the problem by flipping the bike over and realigning the wheel and re-tightening the quick-release etc. However it seems very random as to whether it will work immediately, and I have to try several times to get it to stay. I'm never sure what changes when it does work. I replaced the spring in the quick-release thingy on the back axle, and the problem seemed to go away for a while...
 - Probably related to . Occasionally, instead of twisting the wheel as mentioned above, my hard efforts in the pedalling area will re rewarded with what feels like chain slippage (as if the chain comes off for a second and then catches again with a bang).
Now the gears are also fairly reluctant to change, but I suspect the wires need changing or something to that effect. Having said that, I almost never cycle anywhere where there is a significant hill to be climbed, so I have entertained the crazy notion of removing the derailer and shifting gubbins entirely and just leaving it in one mid to high gear (much like the one it stays in now).
So...if you made it this far...do these things sound like things I could fix? Is it sensible to go casting away gear-changing equipment? Am I stupid for riding almost 300 miles on this thing in it's current condition?
Thanks for any help