Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Park Tool School at REI

Last Sunday I took an eight-hour Park Tool bicycle repair and maintenance class with Andy Phelps at the Brentwood REI. I was a bit tired, having ridden the Davis Double the day before, but the class was interesting and active enough that I hardly was aware of how beat I was.

There were only four other students, so there was a lot of space for us in the shop and a lot of time to pursue individual questions. Andy had a lesson plan, but he was really flexible and good at improvisation. He demonstrated things like pedal and crank set installation, then let us try it. He had a lot of little tips on where to grab the bike for leverage, how to do things more efficiently and what thing should feel like when you do them. He showed us how to get things just right. Some of what we learned will still take a lot of practice to become as fluid as he is, but at least we have direction now.

I've always been somewhat comfortable with the parts I can see, but nervous about the internal pieces. It was great to take apart my old hub and see the loose bearings, and later, to pull off a crank set, see the bottom bracket, and put it all back together.

We also got a short wheel truing demo. That isn't something I'll be doing on my good wheels, but it would be interesting to experiment on an old wheel sometime.

Tricia's bike got a lot of love. I'd taken it in instead of mine hoping to put new cables in for the deraileurs. We used it as the demo bike, so it got cables, adjustments, and the brakes set up up a bit more crisply. I think she's going to be happy on her next long ride.

All in all, it was a fun and educational day and well worth the money. And I even got a certificate, suitable for framing!


  1. Excellent. I thought you already worked on your own bikes.

  2. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Andy is my college roommate.
    Lost track of him a year ago.
    He was working at REI in Pittsburgh and came to visit me in Denver while attending a week long training in Colorado Springs. Do you know if he is in California permanently? Would like to get a hold of him.


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