Sage Advice

When I was 15 and just started getting into bike riding and racing, I had a very good group of “older” guys who taught me a lot.  The typical stuff about how to ride in a pace line, training tidbits, etc was a given.  However, one of the key items I was once told was “learn to fix your own ‘crap’ (not their original word)”.

This is an expensive sport.  The equipment, racing entry fees, license fees, blah blah blah.  So why complicate things even more and not know how to fix your own crap.  I had some very good teachers too.  Freestyle (Scott D.), Jason P., Doug, Freddie just to name a few.  We didn’t have the luxury of You Tube back then.  It was learn from someone else, buy a good book (Zinn) or figure it out yourself.

Part of my routine is to clean my bike(s) often.  The motto I learned from Boobar was ” A clean bike is a happy bike, a happy bike is a fast bike, and a fast bike wins races”. So I regularly set aside some time to maintain the fleet.  The bike that has been getting the most use lately is the commuter.

I was doing the regular stuff such as clean the chain, wipe down the parts and frame, check the brakes, etc.  I noticed that the rear XTR derailleur had some odd slop to it.  There was some side to side play that just wasn’t normal.  The more I wiggled it, the more the lower pivot that holds the pulleys and cage moved out.  This was definitely not normal, nor good.

Turns out the bolt holding the whole assembly had worked itself free.  This derailleur was an eBay special and I didn’t pay that much for it, but instead of messing around with it tonight, I just took a spare XT derailleur from the parts bin and had that installed and tuned in about 10 minutes.

Spare parts can be a life saver

So while there are things that I still leave to the shops. Like overhauling suspension or building wheels, there really isn’t much else I won’t attempt to fix myself.  I do get a very large amount of satisfaction out of “playing” with bikes.  It’s relaxing and in reality it’s not that tough.

So if any young riders have stumbled across this blog, pay attention to those older guys on the group ride.  They know what they are talking about.  Yeah they may sound like a retro-grouch now and again, but they’ve been doing this for awhile.  Listen to them.

At a bare minimum you should know how to change a flat, replace your chain and cassette, properly adjust your derailleurs and brakes and for crying out loud, please learn to change your own bar tape.  One last tidbit is don’t throw out spare parts.  You never know when you might need something like a bolt, washer, chain link, etc.

Thanks to all the guys who have taught me in the past and keep teaching me new things today.  I really was listening.

Thanks for reading,



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