Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bike repair class

I think I'm a poor student. Or maybe it's that I'm an obnoxious one. I've been in a number of classes lately, short, half-day things, and each time I find myself resistant, rebellious, and generally annoyed at the procedings. I don't know if this is simply my (not very nice at times) personality, or if my years as a teacher have made me extremely sensitive to less than perfect teaching. Not that my own teaching is perfect, by any means, let me be clear; it's just that I'm very tuned in to what's working and what's not.

Yesterday evening I went to a bike repair class and had a mixed experience. I think I learned some things, so I'm not unhappy I went, and I got a pretty cool bike repair book, but there's a lot the class covered that I didn't really learn because I had a hard time seeing what was going on and I didn't get the chance to try it out for myself.

The class was at the "novice" level and some of it was review for me; I already know how to fix a flat for example, although I did learn some tricks to make it easier, such as shifting the chain into the smallest cog to make getting the rear wheel back on a bit easier. I had a bad moment when we were practicing fixing a flat and I was struggling to get the tire off the wheel and the instructor, trying to be nice and help me out, took the wheel from me and took the tire off himself. That's exactly what I don't need! But he was just trying to help out. And as a teacher, I know it's hard to figure out when to let students struggle on their own and when to have mercy on them and provide assistance. But as a difficult student, I got irritated at this.

And then we went over some maintenance things like making sure the stem is on tight and adjusting the brakes and the cable tension. This part really irritated me because I didn't get a chance to try it out myself. But then again, it would have been very hard to have everybody try these things out without enough instructors to really keep an eye on each person to make sure nobody did any damage. We didn't really have enough time for all that.

The Hobgoblin has very nicely tried to teach me some things about bike repair over the years, and I've learned some things from him, but if I was a bad student in the bike repair class, I'm a truly awful student with the Hobgoblin -- for lots of complicated reasons, it's probably best that we not try to teach each other things. It just doesn't work.

But the good thing about the class is that it's motivated me to continue to learn more about bike repair and maintenance. I think I really do enjoy working with mechanical things when I have some sense of what I'm doing; up till now I've been reluctant to learn much about bikes because how they work seemed so mysterious.

I'm also very bad at regular maintenance; I just don't like the constant cleaning and fiddling and adjusting and testing that keeping a bike (or a car or a house, for that matter) in good shape requires. This is one area where I'm decidedly lazy. I know that good maintenance can extend the life of bike parts and save me tons of money, but it's still so hard to drag the bike outside for regular cleanings and to check the tires for wear and do all those things I'm supposed to do.

Anyway, there will be follow-up classes to this one, which I am going to try, partly because I heard they will have only 4 students in them, which will make it a lot easier to really learn stuff.