Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tips while working in the shop

Each year, the CBC hosts the "Bike Monkeys" program, an intensive bike mechanics training class for 6 young people. At last night's session, we continued our conversations about rotational systems, finishing up bottom brackets and moving on to the front hub. We had a lot of fun, and a few tips and concepts were brought up that you might find helpful.

The first has to do with keeping your workspace organized: Fixing bikes requires a lot of disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling -- in a hectic shop, it can be a headache when parts get lost. Try keeping all your parts on a rag -- it'll keep those bearings from rolling around, and it's helpful for remembering how a part goes back together.

No parts lost here!

Secondly, never recycle a part before you find a replacement, even if it's not working properly -- often a worn-out part is better than no part at all.

This cup and spindle are really worn out, but do we have the parts to replace them?

Thirdly, use the appropriate tool, in the appropriate way. There are lots of tools in the shop, and lots of If you have a question, just ask! We staff are here to help you.

Fourthly, and lastly (for now) , think about where the tool is going to go if it slips. Injuries may occur if a tool accidentally strikes you or another person.

What other tips have helped you work more efficiently and safety in the shop?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Volunteering with the CBC's Bike Art Program & the Biddeford Art Walk

In these colder months, we have seen many of our participants have participated in programming that doesn't directly involve bike mechanics. The Bike Part Art program, facilitated by Ann Thompson (Wednesdays 2-5), has been particularly popular, serving to increase confidence and promote self-expression. In addition to creating beautiful art, participants are quite proud of their creations and their relationships with the Community Bicycle Center. Volunteers are always welcome to help with the Bike Art Program (any afternoon, not just Wednesdays!).

If you enjoy art and would like to help with a community event, come join us at this month's Biddeford Art Walk, Friday, February 26 (5-8pm) at the North Dam Mill off Main Street. It is a wonderful opportunity for children and youth who participate in bike center programs to interact with thecommunity and demonstrate the skills they have acquired. Tasks during the Art Walk may include setting up, taking down, escorting children around the venue to meet the other artists and participants or to view performances, facilitating inclusive art making activities or talking to interested folks about the mission and programming at the Community Bicycle Center. We invite you to join us for any part of the evening for a wonderful night downtown!

Our display board at the January Art Walk -- check out the animal heads made from bicycle seats!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leading an Adult Bike Ride

I have led a adult group ride for my cycling club for several years and wanted to share some of my thoughts. Some of them may be applicable for group rides of younger folks.

A group ride leader is part Nascar race spotter and part cowpoke on the trail. During a Nascar race, a spotter will sit at the top of the grandstand with a view of the track. The spotter is in contact with his or her driver and will be communicating constantly with the driver. You can hear "Wreck in turn 3, go low", or "Junior's on the inside!" coming over the radio during a race.

I will sometimes give out warnings like "watch out for car doors" while riding along a beach in the summer, or "there's usually sand on the road coming up" to give a heads up to my group. I try to focus further down the road than the rest of the group to spot problems as soon as possible.

In the old westerns, the cowpoke on the trail is watching the herd, looking for strays. While my riders don't usually stampede (except for the coffee at the end of the ride) I usually will try to keep track of the cyclists. Every ride will have cyclists of different abilities and mindsets. I will usually announce a drop policy which can vary. I might issue a "no drop policy" if its a ride on an unfamiliar route. If a rider is off the back, I'll ask the riders in front to soft pedal until everyone is riding together. If the route is familiar, and especially if its hilly, I will give locations where everone can get back together, usually at the end of a road. Hilly roads are almost impossible to keep riders together.

When a ride starts, I'll get a count of the number of riders. I'll also look for new faces and in the first few miles of the ride try to guage their fitness (I'm not sure if rider profiling is legal, but...) to figure out if they will be scooting off the front, hanging in the pack or out off the back. If a new rider is off the back, if no one else is back with him or her, I will drop back and help them catch up, or give directions back to the start if the rider is not up for the group ride. Younger riders will need an escort if they have to turn back.

Riders off the front can be troublesome too, often going all out in the wrong direction. I may be able to "bridge the gap" and reign them in, but often I will have to let them figure it out for themselves. Young riders should be able to be chased down fairly easily, but I would recommend not giving them much of a lead.

This was an excercise mostly in blog posting, but I hope folks will give some thought to the dynamics of a group ride as we get back on the roads this spring.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Some bike crash stats and common biking errors

According to the League of American Cyclists (League Cycling Instructor Manual version 2/14/05), and somewhat surprisingly, 83% of all bike crashes do not involve cars. Falls due to loss of control, flats, mechanical failure or hazards constitute 50% of all crashes, bike vs bike crashes 17%, dog vs bike crashes 8% and other crashes 8%.

Among cyclist vs motorist crashes, the causes are varied:
  • Wrong side of the street riding -- facing traffic (14%, cyclist at fault)
  • Left turn in front of the bicyclist (13%, motorist at fault)
  • Right turn in front of the bicyclist (11%, motorist at fault)
  • Left turn from the right side of the road (11%, cyclist at fault)
  • Failure to yield from driveway (9%, cyclist at fault)
  • Running a stop sign or signal (8%, cyclist at fault)
  • Running a stop sign or signal (8%, motorist at fault)
  • Error while overtaking (8%)
  • Opening a car door in the path of the bicyclist (7%, motorist at fault)
  • Failure to yield from driveway (6%, motorist at fault)
  • Bicyclist swerves in front of a car (5%, cyclist at fault)
  • Motorist doesn't see bicyclist (3%)
  • All others (5%)

After a car hit rider Felix Sellier, 1920 Tour de France
(uploaded to Flickr Commons by Nationaal Archief)
Surprisingly, car vs cyclist collisions make up only 17% of all bike crashes!

During group road rides with our participants (mostly 10-14 years old), we've definitely noticed some common mistakes that have led to some close calls (and a few accidents). Avoiding these common mistakes (and reminding others) helps to keep everyone safe -- here goes:
  • Riding too close to the road lip between the road and the gravel shoulder resulting in lose of control as the front wheel crosses the lip.
  • Loss of control and crashing as the front wheel crosses into a gravel or sandy shoulder. This risk happens most often with narrow tire road bikes.
  • Riding too close to the rider in front so as when the front rider slows down or brakes the following rider slams into the front rider.
  • Not understanding that all passing of other riders happens on the left so forward riders get startled as a rider unexpectedly passes on the right.
  • The front tire of a rear cyclists crossing into the rear tire of the forward cyclist resulting in the rear cyclists bike going down. Never ride with the possibility of wheels touching.
  • Hitting mailboxes with a fist causing erratic bicycle movements followed by crashing.
  • Pulling out into traffic without checking for fellow cyclists and/or cars behind resulting in following cyclists and cars having to jam on their brakes.
What are some other common mistakes you have noticed among group bicycle riders?