Monday, August 20, 2012

What's a Company Picnic without a Bike Care Class?

I recently had the opportunity through Team LUNA Chix San Diego Cycle to conduct a Bike Care Class at the URS Corp company picnic. It was a great experience, and the second year Team LUNA Chix has been invited to participate.

I was to present a 20-minute Basic Bike Care presentation followed by a Hands-on Flat-changing Clinic. But with all the distractions of a company picnic like hamburgers, the shade tree, and jumpy houses (seriously, there was jumpy that looked like a small version of American Gladiator), I knew I needed something to generate interest in my clinic. So I devised a contest for anyone to enter, and announced that the first correct answer drawn at random would win a new multi-tool, courtesy of Steve Richey at (thanks for everything you taught me, Steve!).

I put two similar road bikes side-by-side with a sign:

You are commuting to work and expect to arrive home just before dusk. 

Which bike is ready to ride?

Submit your name and answer (Bike 1 or Bike 2)
along with a brief description of why you made the choice you did. 

We announced the contest, and stated that the drawing would take place just before the Basic Bike Care presentation. It worked like a charm, as people began coming over to look at the bikes, feel the tires, test out the lights, feel the brakes, etc. 

checking over the two road bikes

filling out an entry card to win the mulit-tool

When it came time to draw, there was a crowd of about 15-20 people. A woman who had answered correctly, "Bike 2 is ready because Bike 1 has no rear light" won the multi-tool. I asked the crowd what else they had noticed that might render Bike 1 not ready to ride. I was surprised that none of them, not even the seasoned riders in the crowd, noticed that the front brake caliper of Bike 1 was wide open. With steam from the drawing, I was able to segway immediately into the Basic Bike Care presentation, and the A-B-C's of riding.

A - Air. Always make sure your tires have sufficient air before you ride. On a road bike, if you can put any dent with your fingertips into the sidewall of the tire, the tire needs air. 
Before group rides, I will always go around and feel the tires. It's remarkable the number of people who think they have 100 psi when they have no more than 75 psi. Riding under-inflated tires is a quick way to get a pinch flat. Road tires should be pumped up almost every time you ride.

B - Brakes. Always spin the wheel to make sure it is not rubbing, and then grab the brake lever to make sure the brake is working properly. 

C - Chain and Cables. Make sure the chain runs smoothly across the teeth of the front rings and rear cassette. If you touch the chain and get blackened fingers from grease, it's probably you are using too much chain lube. Wipe off the excess. If you tough the chain and it feels dry, you may need to use a bit more chain lube. 
Cables are the lifelines to smooth shifting. If your cables are starting to get rusty from exposure, or you notice an end that is starting to fray, it's probably time to get a new cable installed. If you need your bike seen by a professional, do your mechanic a favor and clean up your bike before taking it in for repairs. It's a courtesy that will be greatly appreciated.

Before every ride, take 30 seconds to check your bike's A-B-C's. 

how to clean a chain

I took a moment during the presentation to show the crowd how easy it is to clean a chain, and quizzed them on the things I had just told them. Anyone who got a correct answer got a cassette brush, courtesy of Pedro's Bike Care Products

The Basic Bike Care presentation was followed by the Hands-on Flat-Changing Clinic. Although I only had three takers for this portion, they were eager to learn, and very excited that they could learn to remove and replace a rear wheel so easily. As a thank-you for attending, they each got either a multi-tool or a chin tool. 

Big thanks go to my "Janie-on-the-spot" LUNA teammate Cindy, who has helped me with several clinics and is always a great support! Thanks, Cindy!

Team LUNA Chix San Diego Cycle presented the Bike Care Clinic as part of an ongoing fundraising effort for the Breast Cancer Fund. I'd like to thank URS Corp, on behalf of Team LUNA Chix San Diego, for their generous donation to the cause. If you would like to make a donation to the Breast Cancer Fund, please see our donation page

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