Thursday, March 27, 2014

#3, 4, 5, & 6: Bike Maintenance

The goal - 27 instances of Learning Something New From - OR - Trying Something New With - Someone Else. 

During the month of March I spent my Thursday evenings (well 2 hours of them anyway) at Cycle Sport of Media learning how to take care of my bike.
Week 1: How to change a flat tire. Sounds easy enough and truly it was but I've never had to actually change a tire before and I was nervous at the thought of having to do it on the road. I've watched many how to videos but it's not quite the same as actually doing it. I felt much better after this class. I need practice still but I least now I feel confident to try it at home.

Week 2: Gear shifting. We learned how and why gears worked and replaced our own cables. I only did the rear ones on my bike. I was so intimidated by it that I decided not to try the front during class. I had trouble getting the cable tight enough on the rear. My fingers would not cooperate. :(

Week 3: Brakes. I did mange to replace both front and rear brake cables this week. I also think I understand better how they are supposed to work. I learned that it's more than just brake pad on wheel.

Week 4: Drive train cleaning. Part of our tuition for class included a bike maintenance book. Mike Allen, our instructor, highlighted the parts we would need to know for each class. And yes, I did read the appropriate sections before each class. I was more than a little intimidated by the drive train sections. However, after reading it, listening to Mike explain things and removing, cleaning, replacing and lubricating my own chain I feel rather impressed with myself! (Even if my chain does have the easy link piece. We all watched while Mike took the sprocket set off one wheel.

Of course the trick is remembering all of what I learned.

I really enjoyed the class. It was fascinating to learn all these things but also to see the different bikes that each of us had. Mike explained and sometimes demonstrated the differences. Mike is obviously very knowledgeable about bikes. I'm sure he could have done a lot of what he showed us in his sleep. He has a ton of patience and then some.

I'm counting my 4 weeks at Cycle Sport as 4 of my 27 things. Because well, it WAS 4 different things. And also because I really do need to pick up the pace!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Horseshoe Trail Hike: Opperman's Corner to French Creek Elementary School

A 9+ mile hike in early March on snow packed hills when one has done almost zero miles since the second weekend in January probably was not the brightest idea I've ever had. It's probably not the worst either. And now that I'm home, showered, fed and comfortably ensconced under an afghan on my couch I can say that all in all it was a great day! Toward the end of the hike, though, it was difficult to keep smiling, keep moving and not whine. 

The date was originally chosen after checking in with Mike K. We had done the first two sections together (with others on each section). Unfortunately, Mike was not feeling well today and had to skip. And for various reasons from illness to child care issues our group went from 10 to 3 before it began. 

Maggi, Russ and I met at French Creek Elementary School at 9 am then carpooled to a parking spot lot on 113 just west of 401. The first 4.5-5 miles were mostly on the aptly named Horseshoe Trail Road. Not all that exciting from a hiking perspective but there were some nice views and ridiculously large houses. And if I had known what awaited us when the trail would go off road later I might have been a tad less anxious to get off the road. 

At Green Lane we went off road for good. After a short more or less flat section the trail began climbing and descending. The snow made for some slow going. Where others had gone before us their tracks were slippery. In new snow it was tough to get a good rhythm going. If your feet sunk it was ok until the one step when your foot didn't sink and then you were thrown off balance. At some points the snow was mid-calf deep on me. My hip flexors - which have always been a weak spot for me - were not happy. Climbing over the many downed tree branches became a real chore for me. 

Despite all that it was a real adventure and I'm glad we did it. An argument could be made that I was wearing the wrong shoes. I opted for sneakers over hiking boots. I don't like the boots they are too heavy and I end up with shin splints. Yes my feet were numb by the time we were done but Russ said his were too and he had hiking boots on. Given all the high stepping we ended up doing I think I made the right choice for me. 

We crossed a few creeks which were swollen from run off. All were manageable until the last one. Russ jumped and Maggi one hopped it. My shorter legs were so tired and by that point I knew if i tried to jump I wouldn't make it. My feet were getting pretty numb by now too so trying to balance across the narrow branch was not going to happen either. I couldn't feel enough to balance well. so I crawled over and under brush to a narrower point. Russ found a tree branch and three it across the width. Maggi stood on the end to hold it relatively still and I was able to get across.

Trying to cross the creek and struggling through the last two miles or so of the hike made me feel really old. But I made it - there wasn't much choice, LOL. I'd like to think that the long period of inactivity and the snow were more significant factors than my age though. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Looking forward to part 4. Maybe in May.