Thursday, June 17, 2010

A blushing bike

Wednesday ended up being an unexpectedly stressful bicycle day, what with the sudden news of the lady Raleigh's infirmity.  Fortunately, the day didn't end there.  Wednesday was also the long-anticipated first meeting of my five-week bicycle maintenance class at Broadway Bicycle School here in Cambridge.

I was the second to last of seven students to arrive, and all eyes were immediately on me as soon as I rolled in the door.  Okay, not me, Frida.  With everyone else riding some variety of hybrid or road bike, Frida came along with her giant handlebars and full chain case, looking like some kind of beautiful alien, apparently.  The room was full of questions about how the ride was and what kind of bicycle was that exactly and wow it's big, isn't it, and where did it come from again?  One person actually said, "I don't think I've ever had bike envy before this!" and got an "I know!" response-- awww.  I tried to keep Frida from preening too much, but I think I spotted an extra glimmer in her rear fender...  After the crowd reaction, our instructor came over and gave his own version, which was more along the lines of, "I'd better take a look at this.  Oh boy, this... is going to be different..."

The first class was on changing a flat and had us learning about such things as tubes and tires and bicycle nipples.  Mr. BroadwayBicycleSchool mentioned the process of changing out a rear tire on a bicycle with a chain guard and internally geared hub with a distinct tone of dread; but we were only doing front tires today.  Perhaps as Frida's way of making up for her "difficulty," I found it super easy to get the tire off and on and was done long, long before many of the others with their quick-release levers.
I did it!  And I replaced the rim tape.
I'm sure that had a lot more to do with the particularities of our individual tires and rims and whatnot, than with any preternatural mechanical dexterity on my part, but it still felt a little good to make it look so easy in front of all the guys (plus one other girl).

Throughout the class, the nice Air Force man working on the other side of my stand kept asking me questions about how I liked the Brooks saddle and the hub brakes, and it just seemed like he was so curious about the Dutch bicycle in general.  So I offered to let him test ride her after we got out.  He took a little zip around the block, and when he came back, he explained that he would've gone farther except he thought he would get "too jealous" if he kept riding!  So much Frida love!  Then it was a quick trip to the pet store to buy some ridiculously expensive but eco-friendly cat litter (a portion of which, it turns out, was spilling out of one of my bags the entire way home; look for the trail on Cambridge Street tomorrow!), and Frida was in for the night.

Now, I don't at all mean to say that my bicycle was "the best" out of any of the others there, or that quick-release levers are "bad" and bolted-on wheels are "good."  I mostly certainly had the hardest time lifting my bike onto the repair stand, for instance.  But it should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that I've decided that my gigantic, heavy Dutch bicycle is the best bicycle for me, and I've accepted all the various trade-offs involved with bringing such a creature into my life.

She was definitely the prettiest, though.


Sox said...

It is always good to shake up the instructors once in awhile and it sounded like he appreciated the new knowledge. (I took a small gas engine repair course once. The instructor, who had never had a female student before, was rattled for the whole six weeks of the course. I don't know if he thought I was frail, or if he had to tidy up his language, but he did not seem to relax once, the poor man.)
All learning is good.
I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

cycler said...

I'll be curious to hear how the class goes-
I have not taken any of the BBschool classes because they seem so oriented towards a "normal" bicycle with derailleurs etc. Unfortunately the "basic" class is a pre-requisite for the class on wheelbuilding which I'd be more interested in taking.

Good luck with the rear tire- I will guarantee that you will not be the first one done with that project. Good to learn it before you have to do it "for real" though.

Lou said...

I'm about to buy a bike with an internal gear hub too--no full chain case though. I'm a little nervous about changing a rear tire! I should really take one of these classes.

Your bike is lovely, by the way!

Herzog said...

Hehehe awesome story. You're a great storyteller.

somervillain said...

heh, i sooooo know that feeling of "dread" when it comes to changing a rear flat on a full-chaincase bike! oy, in fact this is something i need to do on my DL1... last night i noticed the schwalbe delta cruiser was mysteriously flat!

i will be posting on retro wheelmen shortly on all the precautions one can take to minimize the chances of flats (and maybe i will take my own advice for once).

a side note on cat litter-- we used "the world's best" (which equals "the most expensive") cat litter for years and years, until we finally were fed up with the lack of odor absorbency (everything else, we loved about it). we switched to something made from fine pine mulch, and the odor control is so much better... our pantry smells like a pine forest!

Anonymous said...

Our Raleighs get very similar comments. Often we'll have them parked and people will make a point to ask about them and comment on them, and even just riding around town, I'll have other people comment on mine :)

I don't know if your Batavus has a chain tensioner on the rear wheel, but that's usually the main problem when removing the rear wheel - the chaincase and internally geared hub aren't really much problem. In fact, I'd imagine the internally geared hub makes it easier than with derailleurs. On my Raleigh, all you have to do is disconnect the shift cable, remove the back piece of the chaincase (just one screw and it slides off), and then loosen the axle nuts. On my Electra it was a major pain though, as the back piece of the chaincase was pinched inbetween the frame and axle nuts (horrible design), and it had the added issue of the hub brakes, so you had to disconnect the brake cable as well, and the little lever that clamps onto the frame.

You can also often repair a flat on the rear wheel though without removing it by just finding what punctured the tire, letting any last air out, and then popping the tire off near the puncture, pull the tube out at that spot, patch it, then stuff the tube back in, pop the tire back on, and pump it up again.

Anonymous said...

Also, nothing like some brass nipples to brighten your day, right? :D

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