United Bicycle Institute

One of the first things I did to prepare for this journey was to commit to learning more about my bicycle. I've had my custom Vanilla Bicycle for over ten years at this point, but wanted to know more about how to maintain it (I'm not super great at that) and obviously fix it when possible. A clearer understanding of how the systems work and reasoning behind why certain parts/components are on my bicycle in particular would be helpful. The 40 hour Introduction to Bicycle Maintenance course was held in Portland February 4-8. You can find out more information here. There were 17 students, half of whom traveled from all over the US to take this course.  Among the participants were retirees who spend a lot of time bike-touring and want to know more than how to fix a flat tire, aspiring bike mechanics, current bike mechanics, people who ride a lot and want to gain the knowledge and skills to work on their own bikes and adults running bike programs for youth. It was a fabulous mix of people and I fully enjoyed working with my bike-stand-partner, Phil originally from Tasmania and heading back there from Vancouver, BC with his wife to be much closer to family!

The trainers were not just knowledgeable bike geeks, but made working on bikes fun and created an environment that was safe to learn and ask questions. Here was our workshop agenda, 8-5 each day:

Day 1: Wheels, hubs, tires and tubes

Day 2: Pedals, cranksets and bottom brackets

Day 3: Derailleurs

Day 4: Rim brakes and disc brakes

Day 5: Headsets, handlebars and stems

There was much more to what I just listed... we spent an hour talking about the geometry of bikes and how to best fit a bicycle. We spent time talking about cleaning and maintenance schedules, different types of brakes, seats, bike shoes, etc. It was just fabulous!  I feel much more confident adjusting and working on my bike. Hoping I won't need to use many hardcore skills I learned on my upcoming trip, but at least if I need to, I'm more well-equipped!

The UBI Classroom

The UBI Classroom

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You know, orange finger nails and bike grease? Sexy!

You know, orange finger nails and bike grease? Sexy!

Setting everything out so I put it back together the way it should be!

Setting everything out so I put it back together the way it should be!