Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bikes and Kids, Kids and Bikes...and Adults

Adult Basics Class (ABC) Instructor, Davey Oil, sharing a smile with wrench-in-training, Robert, left.

Bike Works, the local bike shop nearest our house (I can coast to it) is a non-profit designed to save us from ourselves by teaching kids about bicycles. I've written before about them (search "Bike Works" under topics in the right sidebar), and now I've finally dipped in my toes.

The official mission of Bike Works is to "build sustainable communities by educating youth and promoting bicycling". What got me hooked was that I wanted to learn to maintain my bicycles, the right way. Bike Works offers the Adult Basics Class for just that purpose...sort of.

They lure you in with the notion that you'll learn, but then they cut the cost of the class in half if you'll commit to twelve hours volunteering to help youth learn. Very clever.

I took the bait, and yesterday was my next to last class. After that, I'm committed to advancing this youth-saving-us-from-ourselves agenda by volunteering.

Matt, another student, has already started volunteering, and he told me that his own learning has advanced because of his volunteering with the kids. Hmmm. I can see that.

At any rate, I'm committed, and I have to admit: I enjoy the class. We learned the proper methods to overhaul wheel hubs, headsets, bottom brackets, and brakes. All good and essential stuff.

I especially enjoy working with hand tools on simple problems on a simple machine that is simply good for us...and of course, good for our kids. It is just deep down satisfying to disassemble, clean, inspect, adjust and reassemble a set of bearings and have them operate smoooooothly. Very saaaatisfying. That is if you know what to do, and you have a system.

And the Bike Works curiculum is designed to teach you a system that gives you confidence. Best of all, the class is totally approachable. Don't know a headset from a braze-on? Not to worry. Not only will you not be made to feel foolish, you will find yourself laughing so your fears vanish. I like that.

Here, Assistant Instructor Martín helps Ester with the brake adjustment, and as you see it is Ester's hands that are on-bike, not Martin's. (Martin's name is actually with an accented i, so his name is pronounced Marteen, but I'll be danged if I can make this program allow me an accented letter even if I can overhaul a bearing set!! Grrrr.)

The most famous former Bike Works wrench to long distance and randonneuring cyclists is Kent Peterson of Kent's Bike Blog fame. But that's another story, and he tells it best.

Keep it about the kids,


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