Saturday, April 3, 2010

19. Learn to change a bicycle tire

It's funny to come face to face with my own blind spots. I like to think that I'm a feminist, but I've spent my entire life expecting the men in my life to deal with cars, home repairs, bicycles, and basically anything mechanical. Yesterday I finally took my first baby step to reverse that when I got a lesson from my friend and student Nigel in basic bicycle maintenance, including changing my own flat tires.

During the winter, when Nigel, a nationally-ranked bi athlete, had given me my second-ever lesson in skate skiing, he told me about his other athletic passion -- biking. In addition to racing, Nigel has worked in bike shops for years, and in that context, taught countless classes on bike maintenance. I am blessed with several friends who not only race, but know bikes and bike maintenance very well, and my friend Dan H. had also offered to help me learn some basic bike skills. So with this embarrassment of riches, I knew that I needed to get this lesson in absolutely as soon as possible (since my tires also really needed filling if I wanted to use my bike at all), and Nigel was gracious enough to offer to teach me yesterday, after his 63-mile ride.

I was pretty lucky to have such a patient teacher, because as I warned him, he was working with a true novice. Before I could learn how to change the tube in the tire, I had to learn how to take the tires off my bike. I also needed a basic bike anatomy lesson, and I learned some new vocabulary words --like cantilever brakes (the kind I have), derailleurs, beads (the wire that runs around the outer tire). Then I learned how to actually take the wheels off, then how to pop off the tire (and that another thing I never knew existed -- a tire lever, which I didn't have, makes that easier) and take out the tube within it. I learned how to put the new tube in and fill it, and the importance of making sure that the inner tube is not protruding through the bead of the tire. And I got a shopping list -- now I need to go get 2 spare tubes; a set of tire levers; a hand pump; and some lubricant for the chain.

As far as bike maintenance is concerned, my learning curve still has some very steep rising to do. But as the cliches point out, all journeys begin with the first step, and that one's done. And a major bonus is that my bike is ready to go. Thanks to Nigel, I now feel officially ready for summer!

52 Ways to Say I Love You

As my friend Henry recently pointed out, there was a time (summer of 1988 to be exact) when I knew all these phrases in Greek. I searched my memory banks, and retrieved hello and good by (especially good by, because our foreman on the cement crew I was on used to say it every day when we were winding up for the day) . For the others I had to cheat -- thanks to Pat for one, and to Madison for suggesting a cheating method for the other. Greek (using the English alphabet because I can't write it in the Greek letters).

hello yasus (informal: yasu)

good bye avrio

May I have two beers, please? Boro na echo parakalo dio bires.

I love you. S'agapo.

Coming Attractions

This afternoon I'm getting my chocolate souffle lesson from Zan, which means that I'll be doing another post very soon. I think I'll wait and write up the next new things in that post.

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