Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road1 mini-lesson

Matt, one of my co-workers, has decided to take up bicycle commuting. For the first week, he rode his old mountain bike, but quickly discovered that knobby tires and low gearing aren't a 'go fast' combination. He bought a new Specialized road bike.

And I'm answering lots of questions. It's like teaching Road1 5 minutes at a time.

Yesterday he wanted me to look at his tires. He had questions about proper inflation. I did the spiel about keeping tires at the right pressure in order to prevent pinch flats and have the tires last longer. When I looked at his new bike, a prominent bulge jutted out from his back tire. I pointed it out to him and he took the bike into the shop for a replacement.

This morning, he hit a drainage grate and flatted coming in to work. Of course, he doesn't have a pump, spare tube, tire levers, or patch kit. He called his wife to pick him up and get him to work.

It's a teachable moment.

I told him to see that his tire label lines up with the valve hole. Then, when he has a flat, He can use the punctured tube to determine where to look inside the tire. If the puncture is on the outside of the tube at 2 o'clock relative to the valve, for instance, look inside the tire if nothing is apparent on the outside. Sometimes a tiny glass shard or piece of wire will be found inside the tire though there's no obvious hole on the outside.

I warned him about punctures near a mold line in the tube. Even if you carefully sand it down, most patches won't hold air.

I offered to give him a tire boot for those long cuts through a casing. Simply installing a new tube won't get you home because it pushes out through the cut and punctures immediately. I told him that he could boot a tire with an old piece of another tire, a length of duct tape, or even a dollar bill if it's not wet.

He bought a floor pump, so I ran him through the ABC Quick check. A = air. Check your tire pressure because they leak down quickly, sometimes overnight. B = brakes. There should be a finger's width of space between the brake lever and handlebars when the brakes are fully applied. If it hits the bar, the brakes need to be adjusted. C = chain and cranks. See that the chain is in place, and pedal very gently at first to see that nothing is misaligned. Finally, Q = quick releases. Put them in the same place every time so you can see at a glance that they're still closed.

Gosh, we're having fun!



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