Report: Maintenance Training Day

MB Swindon organised a mountain bike specific maintenance training day with Lew Lawton of Mobile Cycle Medic. Here’s what one of the attendees, Russell Harrold, had to say about it:

“I’ve been riding a mountain bike for a couple of years now but it’s only been this last year that I have started to look at it a little more seriously. Within this last year I have joined MB Swindon, started riding further and faster than ever before, met new friends and been to places I would never have seen if it wasn’t for the love of riding a push bike up some very steep hills and then riding down the other side as fast as possible.

There is one negative aspect to ‘all this cycling’ – I’ve forked out quite a few quid on maintenance. Although paying someone to ensure my bike remains road (ahem!!!) worthy can be justified, walking into a shop and asking a lad half my age ‘Please Mister, can you fix my bike?’, well there is only so much a man can take.

Add to that a small episode involving me, my trusted steed and a very cold wet miserable day, miles away from the car… Well maybe it was time for me to head back to the class room and learn how this blooming thing works.

Enter, stage right, an offer to MB Swindon members for a mountain bike specific maintenance course. Lew Lawton from Mobile Cycle Medic was to host and I signed up quicker than your average Bradley Wiggins fan jumping on the bandwagon, even when they have no idea what TDF stands for… Anyway, before I knew it I found myself with four other like minded MB Swindoners at the Croft Leisure Centre one sunny Saturday morning – said trusted steed in one hand and a willingness to learn in the other (along with my pack lunch and basic tool kit)

Tea and intros out of the way, Lew went through the normal admin, health and safety (fire exits are here, here and here) before tailoring the rest of the day to our needs. Suddenly we had a plan and our undivided attention turned to the dodgy looking Kona on the bike stand. We all huddled around and Lew pushed us all head first into the dark arts (also known as gear indexing).

The morning session was kept light hearted and we all took turns getting some serious hands on action – rear mech and gear cable all over the place.

We had a quick cuppa and dived straight into free hubs and cassettes. We even learned what that tool is called, you know the one with the chain thingy attached (Chain Whip). In fact several tools were introduced to the group. Coincidently most were the same type of tool that have lived in my little kit untouched because I’ve never known what to do with them.

‘Oh, so thats what this does.’

A spot of lunch before the afternoon session and before we knew it we were up to our arms in chains and chain splitting tools. We were given a lesson in working out whether your chain requires changing. This was a prime example of ‘Oh, so that’s what it’s used for!’ for the Chain Wear Tool (Flat metal thingy? Pointy bits at each end? No, me neither until yesterday). Needless to say my chain does need replacing but at least I now know how to do this. Yes it isn’t rocket science but we all have to start somewhere.

Following another cuppa and chocolate logs (thanks Matt), we dived back into gears. I doubt, as Lew showed us how to align the front mech’, I was the only one wondering why I had been struggling with gear indexing all my adult life. The theory behind how the mech works was taught in a very clear manner and little hints and tips were handed out like jelly babies on a mountain top. Who knew how valuable your mobile phone is for replacing a mech.

The final lesson of the day was how to bleed a hydraulic brake system. By now my confidence was bubbling and after a presentation from Avid on how to bleed an Elixir brake (thanks youtube) we were handed bleed kits and back to the ‘hands on stuff’ we were sent – with Lew keeping a very close eye on proceedings.

Lew was as friendly and as patient as he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. During the lunch period I questioned him on bottom brackets and he was happy to discuss the issues I was having with mine, even though we were not touching this subject in our crammed day. How very helpful.

So the question is, did we learn anything?

Well the answer is categorically ‘yes’. Ok, I don’t think any of us will be bleeding brakes like the pros for some time just yet (although I now have a clearer idea of what it entails). On the other hand chain replacement and maintenance, gear indexing and cabling changes have been covered enough to make me think my days of hassling the lads of the local bike shop on these basic jobs are long gone.

The course fees should be recovered in saved maintenance costs within the year easily.”

From Russell’s account & the pictures, it’s pretty obvious they all had a great day. If you’re regretting not going on this course then register your interest in another one by contacting us.

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