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Continue with Park Tool classes?

Old 04-02-04, 11:41 AM
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I really do think the Park Tool classes are excellent BUT if you have never seen the mechanics of a bike, and you are not mechanically inclined, it does make the course more difficult. I am in that situation. There is another woman there who doesn't even own a bike, and she's feeling as lost as me. The other two guys taking the class are very experienced, and one is a mechanic at a bike shop. So at times, I feel a bit lost. And this past Wednesday, I totally felt like I wasn't getting it at all- we did the rear derailleur and we also got practice with how to break open a chain link and remove extra chains, as well as how to check for chain wear. There was no advance warning that we were going to learn about chains, so I didn't read up on it. So when he started talking about it, as usual, I had no idea on how to retain the information. Plus, I clutzed my way through it, which didn't help. Then when we got to the rear derailleur part, he said that everything we read in the book was wrong, and he would teach it correctly, which meant all the reading and studying up that he told us to do that I did was out the window. I ended up getting confused again. And then, I had real problems with adjusting the brake cables too, and I couldn't tighten it up, and I fumbled through that and missed the explanation about the H and L stops, so I was behind with trying to figure it out, and by the end of class, I think we were all a bit frustrated there. *sigh* So I wonder if I'm really going to get something from this class if I'm just hearing a lot of this material for the first time, plus, where am I gonna get the practice to learn this stuff? By the time the classes are over, I will have forgotten half of what I struggled to catch, and the other half will fade away as time goes on and I have no way of getting in the practice. And it's definitely not my plan on retaking the class, since it's at an inconvenient time and at an inconvenient location. I'm getting tired of struggling to get up there.

So anyways, I'm just wondering what I should do. I definitely think it's an excellent course, but as I'm unfamiliar with all of the terminology, it really puts me behind, which makes me struggle all of class. I never feel like I can truly catch the material, and I'm just tired of being frustrated all the time. My other option is to finish off the classes and then... I don't know. I feel like I will have more of a knowledge base, but without knowing where to go from here, I'm thinking that I will lose the little I learned, plus I won't be able to learn what's been taught because I just don't know how or where to go to get familiar with all the stuff that so far, is over my head. Does anyone know of some kind of mechanics co-op in the Chicago area I can go to, or a place where I can practice my skills where they aren't going to lose patience with me if I don't know the technical term for things or they can explain the gaps I have in my education? I mean, I know how to do a lot more than I started with- I can take the crankarms off a bike and change a bottom bracket, I can change the hubs, I can do a little repair of brakes, and I can grill a bottom bracket if necessary. I know some stuff, but I feel like at this point, if there's no way for me to take this anywhere, I'm going to feel pretty frustrated in about a month. Any ideas?

Koffee
 
Old 04-02-04, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
..and I can grill a bottom bracket if necessary...Koffee
This skill will come in very handy if you are lost on a bike tour and starving. It may also get you invited to lots of BBQs.
 
Old 04-02-04, 11:53 AM
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maybe you need a more basic class... something more geared the the recreational rider... the park school, although I'm sure top notch, and super in-depth, may be more geared for someone who is looking to be a mechanic...

maybe tlak to the guy teaching the class and see what he says... tell him where you are, and where you want to be... maybe he can suggest something

jeff
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Old 04-02-04, 12:00 PM
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Too bad that the instructor told you to read up on something that he subsequently told you was all wrong. Maybe he's a little short on the skills there.

I'd love to take a class like that. I think that the only way you're really going to get comfortable with what your learning is to apply it at home. I'm really just a tinkerer when it comes to bikes, but the more I play with them, the more comfortable I get.

I think you should keep up with the classes and learn what you can. If you're not doing it because you're looking to land a position somewhere (or are you?) then relax and enjoy. And what's the guy like who's already a mechanic in a bike shop? Maybe the buddy system would work for you.
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Old 04-02-04, 12:08 PM
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I would talk to the teacher. He should be willing to spend a little time with you to clarify things.
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Old 04-02-04, 12:58 PM
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Koffee,

I'm confused, the Park classes around here, you work on your own bike taking it apart, adjusting it and putting it back together, not necessarily in that order of course, but it sounds like you aren't working on your own bike, (based on the your statement of not being able to apply what you have learned and forgetting it before you need to use it) is that the case?

I too, would talk to the teacher, and explain how you feel, it's my understanding those Park guys have a lot of empowerment to change the course around to fit a particular group of students. If you have problems with his teaching techniques it could really help him and students in his future classes.

I missed the most recent sign-up but will be taking the class next time it comes around. I know my older bike inside and out and can do anything but replace a BB and could probably do that too if I wanted. I want to brush up on new technology though, Honestly I have threadless headsets on both my bikes, and don't know SQUAT about them, and these indexed shifters..... eesh... it used to be so easy. LOL The way I see it, if I take the same bike for the whole course, I will save the price of a tune-up while learning more self-sufficiency.
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Old 04-02-04, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
...... I totally felt like I wasn't getting it at all..... we did the rear derailleur ....... he said that everything we read in the book was wrong, and he would teach it correctly, which meant all the reading and studying up that he told us to do that I did was out the window.
Koffee
Koffee, I think you need a NEW instructor! Anyone that would teach a course from a syllabus and then tell you the course materials were wrong...well IMO he's not a teacher. I'm guessing what he meant, and should have said, was: "Here, let me teach you another way".

The Park School is only a beginning. You are not familiar with what you are learning yet, but you will become more proficient with practice. The Park workbook is excellent, as is their website. Using either or both will give you a very strong foundation to repair and maintain your bikes. But it still takes experience to feel like you have "gotten" what you have learned.

In reading your posts for a long time, I have the perception that you have a tendency to carefully analyze things for quite a while. Putting yourself in unfamiliar territory (mechanical things) sounds like it may be uncomfortable for you. It appears that you might need an environment where the person teaching you will take the time to tell you what to do, and why it is done in such a manner. And repeat the lesson several times so you become familiar with the what's and whys of, say, dérailleur adjustments. And, meaning no disrespect, it sounds like you have made up your mind that you know nothing about bike mechanicals and it is simply beyond your grasp, and then everything else just piles up like a logjam.

All of this goes back to the person teaching the class. Typically Park Schools are given through an LBS by one of the LBS mechanics. Often people good with machines aren't necessarily good with people. Perhaps a change of venue would be beneficial to you.
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Old 04-02-04, 04:14 PM
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Well, I actually calculated the amount of time I have left with the classes, and I just have today and then Wednesday night, and that's it for me. So I can breathe a sigh of relief that I won't have to drag my tired carcass back out to the south side one more time. So it would not be wise to give up so close to the end of the classes.

I am the type of person who has to have everything explained to me so that I understand what I'm doing when I'm doing it. However, my problem is that the classess are not set up in that way. I did tell the guy at the beginning that it would help better if I could read beforehand so that I know what we're doing before the class, and that perhaps it would make sense to me. However, when the time comes for the class, it usually deviates from the book, which is fine, but then since I didn't understand the book, I would hope I'd get the explanation in class. Instead, I end up with an equally confusing explanation of what should be in the book but isn't. I can't follow along with the book, since he usually uses the book as a reference guide only, and what he says mostly doesn't appear in the book. *sigh* So I never get my confusion cleared up.

I definitely think I could get the stuff if there was someone I could sit down with and go through everything with. Perhaps I'm just high maintenance or something- I would love to take what I've learned and sit with someone and go through all the material slowly. I could ask questions whenever I was confused and get all my answers. I just don't think there's a place where I can go for this. In the meantime, more and more stuff gets added that I don't know anything about. I sometimes feel like I'm at the edge of a cliff trying to pull myself over the top, and then a big gust of wind somes and pushes me back down after I've managed to inch myself up a little more. It's frustrating.

I do use my bike to do the repairs, which is frightening- I usually don't know what I'm doing and I'm just afraid I'm going to wreck something and not be able to ride home. As it stands right now, I would NEVER take my good bikes over there- I have no idea what I'm doing. I even just remembered that I forgot to tighten my H and L screws on Wednesday, so I need to tighten those up before I leave out for class today. On Wednesday, I was so afraid I messed my bike up that I feared that I had wrecked it to the point where it was unrideable. I made the guy check my bike over before I left out.

I really think the guy is good- I'm just a little behind, and I'm not sure what I can do to catch up. He always said we could come to the kids class he runs on Saturday mornings and learn alongside them if we need additional practice, but I'm just hell bent on not going back to that workshop again- it's not even so much that it's a questionable neighborhood as much as I get headaches fighting traffic that's pretty hostile, and it's a difficult commute to make. It's also in an awkward location, so there are few direct routes to get there. Plus, the roads are terrible too- I got a flat the first time out, and I'm certain I've sustained some wheel damage from riding on such bad streets. And maybe this is just lazy, but Saturdays are the only days where I have absolutely nothing on my schedule, and it would be nice to be able to NOT have to go someplace. I have to hustle 6 days out of the week, and without that one day off, I feel like I'm run down all the time. I need my Saturday morning off. So there's just no chance of rolling over there. Maybe I'll just buy a really junk bike and take it apart and see if I can put everything together, use the Bartlett's manual, and rely on you guys on bikeforums to give me the theory behind the practice. (if that's ok with youall, of course)

Koffee
 
Old 04-02-04, 05:02 PM
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Here's the thing: you really can't learn everything about bike mechanics in one fell swoop. Well, you probably can't learn everything anyway. But even all the most important stuff isn't gonna sink in if you try and learn it all at once. I think if you have continuing opportunities to work on bikes, you'll wind up finding those classes useful in retrospect.

Thing is, if your bikes are pretty nice, you're not often going to have lots to do beyond the basics. I'd recommend finding a non-profit bike-recycling place to volunteer at. As far as Chicago goes, check out Working Bikes Cooperative, 927 S. Western, 2nd floor. I've never been there or met those folks, but if it's like some of the places I've been to (or the one I help run (https://planb.bikeproject.org)), there are probably always lots of bikes in need of work. From what I've read about the place, they need volunteers to work on fixin' stuff, and they'll probably have people that can give you some guidance on repair projects.

By volunteering there, you'd get the gratification of helping to rescue bikes from the trash and make them available affordably. Plus you can hone your skills without the time pressure of finishing up a repair project in time to get your bike running before you have to leave..

Check them out if you've got the time at let folks know what you think..

y.
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Old 04-02-04, 05:33 PM
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Koffee, I go to my LBS and have the kids show me how to do things when it is not busy. I've probably "tipped" them more than the cost of a Parks class. I started last year with brakes and derailer adjustments. I spent several hours this winter and on my first bike tour this year, I had to adjust everything after packing. Today I spent 25 minutes taking my bike apart (front brakes off, handlebars off, stem off, pedals off, all cables off (learning how to set the deralailer to unscrew the cables, rear derailer off, chain off, mirror and aerobars and water bottle cage off). I had my bike cut in half so I can travel with it. It says you should be able to do it in about 30 minutes. It takes me 30 minutes to just take the bike apart and then the fun of precision packing to fit into the 26 x 26 x 10 size box. I dropped the wrench about 10 times. I'm getting ready to go for a test ride. I asked my bike mechanic how he learned to fix bikes, he said he took his bike totally apart every day for 2 months. Now that you have all your new bikes, don't be afraid to practice on your first bike. (If you end up like me, it's hard to use the hybrid even as a rain bike, I much prefer my road bike and would rather replace components as they rust.) Also, today, I had trouble getting the rear deralier back on ---one simple screw. Took it up to the bike shop, they told me to NEVER remove it again. I almost stripped the droupout bracket. I still have trouble remembering what way is Righty Tighty or Lefty Loosey. In my notes, I write pull up or down. When I take the pedals off, I put the crank up front and push down on the pedal wrench, then do the other side. Last time I adjusted the derailer, the bike shop told me it was really messed up. I am going to learn, just not as fast as most people. That's okay, in two or ten years, I'll be able to fix most things. I'm patient.
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Old 04-02-04, 09:58 PM
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Well, I just got back from my classes- I definitely was a bit calmer when I came for this class. We worked on front derailleur, and replacing the cable housing and cables. I actually asked a lot of questions, then called him over to look at my work. I was very proactive, and the other woman there was a big help- she's about as lost as me, but she had picked up some of what he was talking about, and so had I, so between the two of us, we were able to figure out what to do. I even got my shifting to run pretty smoothly for the front derailleur, and it feels really nice and shifts well. But anyway, I thought about it, and although I didn't think I was going to walk out a fully certified bike mechanic, I had hoped that there would be more of an explanation and that I would pick things up a lot better. Instead, I find myself fumbling. I know I am sometimes a perfectionist- I want to know everything, not half ass my way through stuff, especially when I really like a subject I'm studying. But after listening to everyone here today, I know I need to practice a bit more patience and just somehow get in more time with doing repairs and stuff. Once my other two new bikes are up and running, I will definitely be taking this bike apart and putting it back together. And the other woman in my class is really cool- we're going to stay in touch and we're going to go to the wheel building class they are offering in about a month, but in the meantime, we'll be hanging out and figuring out this bike mechanics stuff. We were even wondering if we could get something up and running for women if we figure out all the terminology and how to fix stuff, since this kind of class can be intimidating to us. We definitely agree that learning by repetition for this type of class would have benefited us a whole lot more, and we both agreed that it was frustrating to read through stuff only to be told that we were going to be taught a different way, which led us both to not bother doing anymore reading of the book. We plan to just pay close attention in class and figure out where we can practice.

I think I will run over to that place over on Western- thanks for the tip. I have a couple of days off, so it would be nice to spend an afternoon over there doing some bike repairs. That would give me a ton of extra practice. And that idea of hanging around the bike shop and learning some stuff sounds like fun too- there's definitely a shop up there on the north side where I know a couple of people (barely), and I bet if I hung there for a bit, I can probably pick up some ideas and stuff.

Thanks to everyone for your advice. I was feeling pretty torn about what to do.

Koffee
 
Old 04-02-04, 10:13 PM
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Personally I have just learned through trial and error. The first time I tried adjusting the shifting on my mountain bike it took me 3 days to get the damn thing working again. And other similar problems... Now, it all comes pretty easy. I would say the class is probably useless, but thats just me. I think the best way to do it is just learn as you go. When you need to replace a bottom bracket read up and do it, same with everything else. So far I have found it is pretty hard to break things as long as you pay attention and dont force things.

Also, if you and another person are struggling in the class I would tell the teacher to either slow down or help you before or after.
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Old 04-03-04, 09:08 AM
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Koffee may I reccomend that you go to a local LBS that will let you learn from hands on experience. I never took any clas whethter Park or UBI or anything else. Hands on IMHO is the only way to get it right.
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Old 04-03-04, 06:54 PM
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I am going to most likely go to that Working Bikes Coop. I dunno- I can't see any LBS saying "yeah, come on in here and mess up all the bikes and we'll pay you for it!". Besides that, a lot of the LBS in the area I can't stand. There are definitely a couple I would love to work at, but they are pretty small operations, and I'm sure they wouldn't be able to take me on, novice that I am.

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Old 04-03-04, 08:50 PM
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Koffee, if you think back on how much you have learned in this course, you will realize that you have learned a lot. Granted, much of it may have been what the guys learned messing with their bikes when they were 9 or 10, but think of it as a crash remedial mechanical knowledge course. Whether it is worthwhile or not you will realize the day that you fix something on your bike that you would have gone to the LBS for previously. I doubt that I will ever lace my own wheels, but the night I bent my axle, came home and replaced it with one from an old wheel so I could ride to work the next morning, I decided I had earned the price of my Park course. When I took the bike in for a complete overhaul a thousand miles later I asked the wrench to look carefully at the wheel, explaining what I had done. When I picked up the bike, his report was "well done, no work needed on front wheel." That gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
Remember, on trash days those thrown out wheels are perfect to practice on.
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Old 04-04-04, 12:46 AM
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Koffee,
You really need to get over the fear of your lack of ability. If you are spending money on a class but do not feel you can use it effectively then it is a total waste of money. Also I did say a LBS "that would let you learn" compensation was not in the statement. I should have said volunteer your time. You will do extensive work on bikes in the class you are taking, if not then you need to bring it up.
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Old 04-07-04, 06:58 AM
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Well, tonight is my last official class with Park Tool, and I am going to be glad to reclaim my Wednesday and Friday nights. However, I really want to hone what I've learned, so I've decided to head over to that co-op over on Western Ave. I spoke to the other woman in the class, and she wants to go with me to the co-op and see if we can tinker on bikes over there. We both agreed that it would be nice if we can learn by repetition and on someone else's bikes while we were at it, or at least until we feel confident enough to start taking apart our own bikes! It's good to know I have a partner in crime. She is really cool, and I'm glad we're getting to know each other better. It's also good to have someone around that I can talk to easily who's in the same boat as me.

In a few weeks, we're going to attend a wheel building class given by the Park Tool guy. We'll probably pick up some pointers before we go into class so we aren't totally deficient before we walk in the door, and I think I'm going to buy some really cool wheel components so I can build a really solid wheel. I can finally say I'm looking forward to class!

Thanks to everyone for their advice.

Koffee
 
Old 04-14-04, 04:37 PM
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Well as an update, I spoke to the woman from my class- we're heading out to the Working Bike Co-op on Saturday, then afterwards, we're going to bar hop for a bit and have some fun. There's a 10 year old kid that I talked about in another thread who is obsessed with fixing bikes (very good at it) that I met at the Chicago Bike Show, and I spoke to his mom last night, and he'll be joining us. Working Bikes needs as much help as they can get because the guy said they have a bunch of bikes going to Angola, so they could use as many hands as they can spare. I told him we didn't have a lot of experience (well, the 10 year old boy does), but the guy said no problem, just come over and we can work there. So it should be good stuff. This will effectively round out a very good day for me- I normally lift a couple of hours on Saturday, then I have dance lessons a couple of miles away from Working Bikes, then I have half an hour to get to Working Bikes. And it should be fun to hook up with the woman from my class- turns out we are closet Sox fans, so we're going to make plans to introduce a couple of our obsessed Sox fan friends to each other and get some free tickets to one of the games one of these weekends.

All's well that ends well!

Koffee
 
Old 04-30-04, 09:39 PM
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As a further update-

I went to Working Bikes twice. The first time I went, the 10 year old and the other woman from my class went also. The place was on the second floor, and it was a maze of small rooms with old, battered, beaten up bikes heaped in piles almost to the ceiling, and there were also some areas where there were bikes that had seen better days that were marginally to adequately repaired for sale to the public. Throngs of people carefully inched their way through the maze looking at bikes, while in the back, other people were loading up bikes on chains and lowering them from the window to the ground below.

They almost didn't let the 10 year old in, but then they agreed to let him help load up the trucks with the bikes. He was just happy to be there, so it was good fun for him. Still, he was frustrated because he really wanted to work on bikes. I assured the people at Working Bikes that I would be there by his side, and once I agreed to supervise, they said that he would be able to come back. The 10 year old left early because he had his baseball practice, so that left my friend and I. We asked if we could help at all, and they pretty much declined, except they said there may be work for us if we could help out with loading up the truck, which we were happy to do. We got to the truck, and it was like too many cooks in the kitchen. Bikes were being lowered from the window, and we had to take the pedals and the rear wheel off and tie it to the body of the bike. No problem, except there were already so many people there on both ends, that there was nothing for us to do. We were able to get our hands on two bikes, but then after that, there was simply no work. We talked to the guy in charge, and he told us to come back next week, when they would have their next load of bikes needing repair for the next shipment, so we left.

The next weekend, I rushed over there with my friend again. This time, there were definitely less people, but no less chaotic than before. We walked up to the guy in charge and said hello, and to our surprise, he said hello back, then walked away. We were kind of surprised... we thought they would put us to work, but it seemed more like we were being ignored. We walked around to different people there who we'd met the week before, and they too ignored us as we attempted to talk to them and find out if there was anything we could do. After a little over half an hour, we decided that we shouldn't have to beg to help out a charity who was supposed to be looking for volunteers. So we left.

What we ended up deciding to do is go back to Working Bikes on Saturday (tomorrow) and purchase one of those beat up bikes. We figured probably the best way to contribute is to give them money by purchasing a bike. We plan on buying a bike in a state of disrepair and fix it up. I bought the PCS-9 Park Tool stand, and the Park Tool tool kit (I think it's the 32 piece set). We are going to use that Barnett manual, and we also have a bike maintenance book that gives pictures of every piece of a bike, and then we have another repair book that talks about how to repair bikes. We're going to tear it apart and put it back together and fix it too- we'll be going to a place called Urban Bikes on the northside and getting some of their parts they've gotten from recycled bikes. Once we've fixed it up, we'll sell it for whatever price to someone in our building and then take the proceeds to buy another bike. We're going to meet up every Saturday and do this until we're comfortable with bike anatomy and just bike repair in general and see how it goes. So I may post questions here in the Bike Mechanics forum. Hopefully, I'll get some sage advice that we can use to hone up our limited skills! We are also going to attend the next wheel building class the Park Tool guy is holding, and that should be the end of our Park Tool education with him- after that, it's just practice, practice, practice!

I can't believe I put the bike repair stand together by myself! I'm not usually mechanically inclined, but by taking things slow and not panicking like I usually do, I was able to put it together in a few minutes. It's not a big thing, but it's a step towards what is shaping up to be a fun summer with a new friend. Tomorrow we get the bike, then we're swinging by her coffee shop where she works and we're going to have coffee and pastries and figure out what our schedule for repair will be for the summer.... well, repair and Sox games, that is.

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Old 04-30-04, 11:40 PM
  #20  
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One thing I learned in the past few years was when reading or doing something new not to worry if I don't understand it all (or anything for that matter), or remember it , just keep going. Hopefully you can come back and read it again, and again, and sometime later I am suprised to find I know it all.

My brother taught himself electronics as a 14 year old from some books. Ten years later I picked up the same book, read the first two pages and I hadn't a clue what was going on. I closed the book and decided I wasn't the genius my brother was, and went and shot baskets, and never learned electronics. 30 years passed and I asked big brothr about it.
He said the first time he read the book it was the same. He went on to reread the book every few months and eventually picked up something that he could use. That repeated itself for a few years until he was able to repair TVs. He applied that all his life and not until I was 40 did he share that AND it has helped me learn all sorts of stuff.

I would think the course was worth it. Now when you read the Barnett manuals something will click.

I also think what you are doing with old bikes is the way to go, after a few bikes, adjusting a deraileur on someone else's bike is going to be like washing dishes, a chore only.
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Old 05-01-04, 12:06 AM
  #21  
jeff williams
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Koffee..you rock.

I've never pulled a bb, guess I'll be asking YOU for advice.
Read about X now that you've been instructed...I input visually, but still go later over the tech info.
We learn differently, but it's not S.A.T. or such, you're not after a LBS job.
Play with your bikes, bet you will have your moneys worth in saved tunes and repairs in NO time.

AND there is nothing on a bike that requires guy strength. Women who work on gears are so cool.

And you probably know more about bike mech than I do now.
Full on bike grrl.
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Old 05-01-04, 06:33 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by KoffeeB
Tomorrow we get the bike, then we're swinging by her coffee shop where she works and we're going to have coffee and pastries and figure out what our schedule for repair will be for the summer.... well, repair and Sox games, that is.
Here is an idea for ya KB, whay not try and find someone who knows how to fix/repair bikes, have them meet you at the coffee shop and show you and your friend how to do the work. You guys buy him/her breakfast and he/she teaches you the fine art of bicycle mechanics and hone what you have learned. When done then you can go for a ride.

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Old 05-01-04, 11:47 AM
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I did exactly that, dirtbikedude, but I went one step further!

Thanks to everyone for the responses. I didn't want to seem like I was wussing out- I really do like bikes, and I think this may be the best way to go.

Well, this morning, after my weight training, I went back home and dropped my bike off. Then I went back out to the train and went back to Working Bikes. When I got there, I immediately went up to the guys working there and said this time, I was just wanted to buy a junky bike. They said they wouldn't be able to sell me anything that couldn't be ridden, but all their bikes would need some kind of work. Another guy took me to the 400+ bike room off to the side and told me the order of where the bikes were (10 speeds, 3 speeds, mountain bikes, etc). He asked me how junky did I want it, and I replied immediately with "6 Million Dollar Man before condition". He laughed and led me to the worst of the lot.

I was rummaging around, and my eyes suddenly landed on this baby pink road bike. It was OLD, but I just loved the retro look of the bike. I checked the gears and saw it was a 12 speed ladies bike, and I was just lovin' it! It has a Shimano drive train (that's about as much as I know about the drivetrain right now), and it was a bike made by Montgomery Ward! I just laughed and cackled as I held the bike and imagined myself riding this bike down the bike path. It was the bomb, so I gingerly extracted it from the heap and rolled it towards the front of the store. And when I got there, the guy that helped me out was standing there staring at me. I asked him for a total, and another guy came up and examined the bike for a few long moments. He knelt silently at the bike with his index finger on his lips and hesitated. Finally, he stood up and told me that the bike was definitely junk- in fact, they were going to throw it out next week because no one went for it, and it was so junky. I asked how much he'd sell it for, and he said they bought it for $5 from a recycle shop, so he would sell it for $10. "FIVE DOLLARS!", I exclaimed as I began to smile at him. "Man, you got ripped off!". Everyone in the store stopped and laughed. I paid my money gladly, and as I grasped my bike, another guy asked if I were sure I didn't want them to fix it up any more. I assured them that no, this is the whole point of getting the bike to begin with! I'd fix it up myself.

When I got back, I talked to my doorman. Turns out he used to be a bike mechanic for about 15 years (a long time ago, mind you), and after I told him my story about getting my own bike and learning to fix it up myself, he told me that he works every Saturday, and when I need help, just call downstairs and he'll help me out with repairs. In fact, he said he still has his tools, and that he would dig them out of wherever he dumped them in his house and GIVE them to me. He has professional tools, so he is going to save me a ton of money. He was very reassuring- he said every bike has the same basic parts, so once you figure out how to fix the basics, you've got it all under control. So I'm all good now. I just got back and parked my bike at the door, and now I'm getting ready to head out to the northside to meet up with my friend and sit down to some pastries and coffee so we can high five ourselves and slap each other on the back for a job well done.

The best part is that I can go back to Working Bikes and get the parts for super cheap- they have a huge scrap pile of salvaged parts they said they sell, so I figure I'll probably spend another $60 for a retro, baby pink, 12 speed bike that looks like it's from the late 70s/early 80s. I'm sure I'll be able to get it in good working condition, and then I'll be the belle of the ball putting around Chicago on my new fixed up bike!



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Old 05-01-04, 12:37 PM
  #24  
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Thats an awesome story, Koffee. You actually learn the most just by diving in and getting your hands dirty... I started out about 6mo. ago not knowing a damn thing about how to repair bikes, but the guys at the shop started letting me use a stand and tools to work on mine, and giving me pointers. It helped, but when I really started to learn was when I figured out things for myself, after I had the general theory of repair down pretty well. Now, I don't think I have encountered a job I can't do, except wheelbuilding!

Anyways totally cool that the doorman is donating his toolset to you... some of it will probably be outdated, but much should still be the same, and the old tools will be great for working on those old bikes!
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Old 05-01-04, 07:24 PM
  #25  
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Yeah, thanks. I just got back from the coffeeshop with my friend, and I got first dibs on the pink bike, so I will pay for all the parts. After we do mine, she'll pay for a bike for herself and we'll fix up her bike and she'll be responsible for paying for all the parts for her bike. We are pretty excited. We will meet up next Saturday for our first self-lessons.

I figured the tools I'll be getting from the doorman will be outdated, but the good thing is that it'll make us learn even more, and if we ever get our hands on the newer tools that make things easy, then it will be that much easier for us to do the repair.

I spoke to the Park Tool guy today- sometime in the next three weeks, we'll have the wheelbuilding class. I'm mostly worried because I'm going on vacation in three weeks and a few days, so if he pushes it back one more time, it'll be in early June, and that means I'll miss the class. I will keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't go down like that.

Hopefully, this will be a good learning experience, as well as a fun time for the both of us!

Koffee
 

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