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Old 09-26-05, 12:46 AM   #1
Digital Gee
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Most of you know I returned to cycling just three months ago, with an entry level Trek 3900 xc mtb. I've been having a blast and even getting in shape.

The background on what I'm about to relate: I've been single (divorced) for six or seven years, and I've two teenage daughters and share custody (you know, every other weekend and every Wednesday). One of them is 13. Until three weeks ago, she'd never riden a bike. Her mom had bought one for her a couple of years ago, but no one at that house ever took the time to teach her to ride. And I wasn't cycling until three months ago.

Three weeks ago, I brought the bike to my place, filled the tires with air, and gave her a lesson. She learned to balance and steer and brake, but we didn't have time to get into shifting. The bike is a cheap Target kids bike, btw.

Fast forward to this weekend (just three weeks later). We bring the bike over once again, and she tells me she's been practicing and could we go for a ride. Making a long story short, we cycled twenty eight miles together over two days. I was in shock! I thought she'd be good for five or six at a clip, but no. If her butt hadn't gotten sore, we would probably have gone further.

Here's my point. Cycling with my daughter on a couple of beautiful September mornings was a such a complete joy I can't even find the proper words. No, we didn't win any speed contests. But I helped her learn some of the finer points of riding on streets, and on bike paths, and watched her confidence (and interest in cycling) soar. I was finally cycling with a "buddy," and she was my own daughter!

She even took a spill at the last mile (running into me, of all things, but at 1-2 mph.) She went down, my heart took a leap, but she got right up, said, "I'm alright!" and started cycling again.

I'm telling you, it was pure joy. I'm sure many (most?) of you might think this is a pretty minor deal to make such a fuss over, but to me, it was a highlight of the year. So thanks for listening!

And -- a quick question. When she fell, her bike was damaged. The left-side shifter cracked, the cable pulled out somewhat and she can't shift it now, the front deraileur got out of adjustment and now rubs the chain. I'm someone with the mechanical aptitude of a banana slug. Think this is something i can figure out and teach myself to fix, or does it sound like a trip to the LBS is in order? And, if so, two followup questions: are they going to split a gut laughing at the Target bike, and how much should something like this cost to repair? (Remember, $$$ are tight for me!)

Okay, that's it. Sorry about the long post!
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Old 09-26-05, 04:07 AM   #2
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DG, Great story...as a divorced father of a whole bucket full of kids I know what you are saying. Nothing as gratifying as passing the lifestyle along to a new generation. That is quality time you're spending that the daughter will never forget. Keep up the good work!

On to your question...you say the shifter cracked? That right there spells a trip to the local shop unless you have some salvage yard or spare parts of your own. The deraileur has two set screws that can be adjusted for inward and outward travel, and I would suggest playing with them just to see what you're up against. It being a Target bike makes it a good one to learn mechanics on, and you're not going to ruin anything that can't be fixed. Play around with it until you have it good and screwed up first...that's how you learn. If your LBS's are all a bit snooty about low-end bike fixes, then watch the classified's or Craigslist for a wrench doing tune-ups. Find you someone you like and be sure to take the daughter along when he/she does the fix. A good one will have some old parts to replace with and show you how they attach and adjust. Having the youngster there plys on their sense of sympathy and also teaches the daughter what a bike really is. Shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg. It'll be alot cheaper than fixing up her first car when she gets it, and it'll show her that ol' Dad can get anything fixed. She'll always remember that part of the ride too. Use it as furthering education in her bike world. If you can find a female wrench, so much the better for showing her that ladies are just as capable as men when it comes to fixing them. She'll love you all the more for it...
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Old 09-26-05, 07:39 AM   #3
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Gary,
Baggsy took care of the mechanics part. (Arrogant High End shops still like money...but there are "family biking" shops around that cater especially to the not-so-expensive bikes that kids and normal people ride more than we "serious" riders might know.

I've been divorced for 12 years with son and daughter every other week. They're 19 and 20 now. I know your joy at sharing something personal and hopefully lasting with your kids...especially focused because of single parenthood--with all the thoughts, concerns, worries, and special pleasures that brings. We hiked together, learned to cook together, etc. but my kids were never riders--still aren't. But they were proud that their dad was the neighborhood "wrench" for all their friends and have always respected Dad's "riding time"...they had the house to themselves--cool.

Anyway, your daughter sounds like a great kid: thoughtful of you, spirited, and wanting to emulate her old man. Keeping in mind that divorce, friendly or not, adds some real challenges to parenting....we should all be proud of ourselves and our kids at such special and revealing moments........................Hmmm, maybe you've found a partner for next year's Tour of Poway.
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Old 09-26-05, 08:07 AM   #4
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Especially as kids become adolescents, it's harder to find activities that they are willing to share with parents; cycling is wonderful in that way, because it's something you can do with kids of any age, if you can get them interested.

When I started cycling seriously back in March of this year I rode alone for a couple of months, often wishing I had someone to ride with. Then my 18-year-old son got a new bicycle to use as transportation to work, and to my surprise, wanted to ride with me one day.

We ended up doing two or three rides a week together for the whole summer, and it was wonderful. He'd even get up at 7 in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday to go for a ride, no small thing for a teenager.

He started college a few weeks ago and so it's been harder for him to find the time and our rides have been less frequent, but we took a great 50-mile ride together just yesterday along the American River bike trail up to Folsom Lake.

It's great fun; we pace each other, take turns leading, and sometimes we just ride along chatting about this or that. Yesterday I smoked him on a couple of hills, to my great amusement; he's a good sport and good company, and it's just all pure pleasure.

I think it's a great way to spend time with your older kids, so I understand your happiness, Gary. Enjoy.
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Old 09-26-05, 09:10 AM   #5
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Since it is a low end MTB I suspect that the shifter is one of these:

http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=

They are really easy to replace. I think that all you need is a metric hex wrench.

The front deraileur being "out of adjustment" is almost certainly related to the left (front) shifter being fubared. Once you get that fixed you will probably be good to go.
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Old 09-26-05, 11:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Here's my point. Cycling with my daughter on a couple of beautiful September mornings was a such a complete joy I can't even find the proper words. No, we didn't win any speed contests. But I helped her learn some of the finer points of riding on streets, and on bike paths, and watched her confidence (and interest in cycling) soar. I was finally cycling with a "buddy," and she was my own daughter!
Great story, Gary. Thanks for sharing it!

Steve
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Old 09-26-05, 12:30 PM   #7
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I have two daughters now aged 24 and nearly 22, Both have at some time or other been bought bikes of respectable quality, but the elder one never got into bike riding. Mind you her boyfriends went through hell out riding with the GF's father just to try and get in with him. My younger one though had a spell where she would go out with Dad when she was about 15/16. She joined in with our group, and although we were somewhere near the back of the group, she enjoyed riding but other interests then took over with a driving licence and new boyfriend.

I still rebuild old bikes occasionally, and recently my oldest asked If I had a spare bike. 3 weeks later and I presented her with a Good quality Raleigh that was in her favourite colour, and with good sensible bits on it and it was her size. That was about 6 months ago and she still rides it to work every day. I only see the bike when it needs attention, but I did ask her to check the bike out once by taking it for a 5 mile ride. Her bike is one that was thrown together with bits out of the spares box, and I was riding my mountain bike. If 4 miles a day is going to put that much fitness into a young girl, then I am going to get riding more often.

Nothing more enjoyable than riding with your family, but hold on, I AM THE CYCLIST. Why are they able to just jump on a bike and Go, wheras I need that warmup, and at least 3 cups of coffee before I am ready to go as fast as they can.
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Old 09-26-05, 02:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollusk
Since it is a low end MTB I suspect that the shifter is one of these:

http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=

They are really easy to replace. I think that all you need is a metric hex wrench.

The front deraileur being "out of adjustment" is almost certainly related to the left (front) shifter being fubared. Once you get that fixed you will probably be good to go.
Yep, that's the one. Thanks!!! I'll probably order one in the next few days.

Meantime, I can see how things are going to go now. I found a Diamondback in the exact same size as her Target "Magna" bike on Craigslist today for $40, so I snapped it up. Now my dining room has THREE bikes in it -- mine, the Magna and the Diamondback.

Only thing wrong witht the Diamondback is some rips in the saddle. I can swap that out easily. I will see how she likes this bike, and if she does, take my time fixing the Target bike with a new shifter. I can see that I'm going to become a weekend wrench, DESPITE my mechanical aptitude challenges!

I got into cycling thinking it was just something for me to enjoy. Now I've got one daughter excited, and the other (16 and into cars) wants to ride with us too. She doesn't have a bike. So, once I get the Target bike fixed up, I'll have bikes for both of them (they're about the same size).

I can see it now: no more dining room table (hey, I can eat in the LR on the couch!). A bike stand in the dining room. A box full of spare parts -- chains, brakes, etc. A tool box. I never saw this coming! I don't stand a chance!!! Sure wish i had a garage!

Thanks for all the great stories above, as well. Sounds like I'm not the only one who loves being a Dad, and who enjoys cycling with one (or more!) of his kidlets!
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Old 09-26-05, 02:17 PM   #9
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Gary,
Riding with your children is one of those great things to do. Lately I have been riding with mine on Sundays. Yesterday we went 11 miles just tooling around town. My 12 year old son shoots ahead of us and rides loops here and there while I stay at the speed of my 9 year old daughter. I hope that someday they will think of it fondly. For me it's one of my favorite things to do! You're in for some good times!!
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Old 09-26-05, 04:31 PM   #10
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You got a spare shifter in your parts bin? If not, PM me & I'll send you one for the price of mail.
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Old 09-26-05, 05:46 PM   #11
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Ultra cool, Gary. Actually, so much bonding goes on when you actually do something active with them, rather than just hang out at the old homestead. And, I also think it is something they'll eventually pass on with their own kids years down the line.

Like Stapfam, my oldest daughter, now 18, will never be a rider, but my youngest, 13, and I go out all the time riding. Funny thing is that sometimes even her friends will call and ask me to go riding with them if they're home alone and I'm home alone.

Goes something like:

"Hi Keith"

"Hi, sorry, but Katie's not home right now. She's out riding horses."

"I know. Well, I'm kind of bored. Wanna go for a bike ride or something?"

I'm extremely flattered that they enjoy riding with the old man.
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Old 09-26-05, 07:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Yep, that's the one. Thanks!!! I'll probably order one in the next few days.
Glad to be of service.

I knew about these because I had to replace the broken shifter on my 13 year old son's mid-priced MTB. It really is very easy to replace. It took me about 5 minutes, but I'm an engineering prof that does all of his own bike and car repairs. You could say that my mechanical aptitude is somewhat greater than that "of a banana slug". If you need any help doing this send me a PM and I'll try and give you some help by email.

I ride several times per week with both of my boys (aged 13 and 9) when we commute by bike together. (Yes, I am over 50. My wife and I waited a LONG time to start a family.) Their school is pretty much on the way in to the University so it works out well. The younger one also like to ride for enjoyment and we often go out on extended rides on some of the local rails-to-trails around here. Good times! Unfortunately the older boy considers bike riding some form of torture. Perhaps he will grow out of that attitude. Perhaps not.
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Old 09-28-05, 03:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
You got a spare shifter in your parts bin? If not, PM me & I'll send you one for the price of mail.
That's quite generous and most kind! PM has been sent!
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Old 09-28-05, 05:45 PM   #14
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That's a nice story. Thanks. I consult where one of my sons (he's 32 by the way) works and we ride together 4 times a week at lunch. We start the ride talking about whatever comes up, but when we hit the hills, he usually takes off like a bandit. He waits at the top of our highest point, then we ride together back to the office, usually chatting up another storm. I can honestly say I've enjoyed every lunch ride we've taken.

My other son (he's older, 34) lives about 20 miles away, so we don't get to ride as often. But we do get together, usually on our fixed gear bikes, and I enjoy that immensely, too.

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Old 09-29-05, 05:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
I can see it now: no more dining room table (hey, I can eat in the LR on the couch!). A bike stand in the dining room. A box full of spare parts -- chains, brakes, etc. A tool box. I never saw this coming! I don't stand a chance!!! Sure wish i had a garage!

Lately my bike has decided that it needs more maintenance than I have knowledge to fix. Yesterday when I was at the shop, the owner told me about a class that he's going to offer in the Spring. I think he said 6 weeks, 5 dollars a week. Maybe that's something that you can find near you.
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