When I signed up to take IMBA’s Level 1 ICP course a few weeks back, I noticed that one of four Level 1 prerequisites was:
Ability to perform basic trail side repairs (flat tires, broken chains, and shifting adjustments)
I’m not bad at fixing my flat tires but I’ve got zero experience with broken chains. And it takes me forever to properly adjust my derailleurs.
So I decided to register for the Park Tool School novice bike maintenance class offered by Erik’s Bike & Board (one of six different courses available), as I’d heard good things about it from my buddy Curt Benson here in Northfield who took it last year. (He’s been generously loaning me his Park Tool shop repair stand and tool kit.)
Five of us took this week’s class (Wednesday and Thursday nights, 5:30-9pm) at Erik’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington. The class description:
Get your hands dirty learning more about bike maintenance. This is an excellent class for someone with a relatively modern or brand new bike who wishes to learn about maintenance. Attendees are expected to bring their own bike to work on. Areas of the bike that will be discussed:
Basic Bicycle Maintenance
Tires & Tubes
Hub, Rear Sprockets & Headsets
Wheel Truing & Pedals
Chains, Cranks & Bottom Brackets
Rim Caliper Brake Systems
Our two instructors (AKA service trainers), Brad Cole and JJ Robb, not only seemed to know their stuff but were not half bad at teaching. They used the “tell it, show it, do it” approach, and then coached as we fumbled our way through various tasks on our own bikes. I was the only one in the class with a mountain bike, and thus got more coaching from JJ who’s a mountain biker and long-time member of MORC. I liked that he gave me tasks and would step away, giving me time to struggle. He also asked me questions to test my understanding but had a way of not making me feel bad when I got it wrong. He also went out of his way to A) show me how to properly clean my hydraulic brake pads before class started on Thursday (everyone else had rim brakes); and B) show me how to replace my rear derailleur cable and housing after class. Nice.
By the end of the class, I actually started to feel a moderate degree of confidence in my ability to adjust my derailleurs, as well as a willingness to do a better job of doing maintenance on my bike. We’ll see if that holds up.
The $90 class includes a copy of Park Tool’s Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair (3rd Edition, 2013, normally $25), various handouts, and a coupon for a 10% discount on tools purchased at any Erik’s store or Erik’s Online. I definitely need brushes.