Well its about time!

Well y’all, its confession time. I can ride like the wind (well a summer breeze maybe). I can crank out 100 miles a day easy, and 200 in a pinch. I can survive rainy weather, windy days and crazed  spandexed matching pelatons.

However, one thing I can’t do is service my own bike.  Oh I can change a tire, and clean/lube a chain.  But anything more than that, and I likely to do more harm than good. (NOT that it’s stopped me from trying!)

Wednesday night, I took the first step toward fixing this short coming…

Early this year I made a list of things I wanted to do in 2015.  Looking back I have NOT done that well at completing the list (not surprising for me).  However, signing up for the Disc Brake Maintenance course DOES qualify.

I am a member of the Cascade Bike club here in Seattle. For me, though, membership normally entails riding the organized rides they put on, reading the monthly newsletter, and paying my yearly dues. However, this year, they sent out a coupon for $10 off any class, and this class was available, I grabbed a spot immediately.

This is the first bike I’ve owned that has disc brakes.  The first time I rode it for a long ride was the Crater Lake Century back in 2013.  Two miles from the finish line there was a loud “POP!” and the back brake seized.  I couldn’t pedal if I had to.

I first kicked it, then yelled at it, and then took an allen wrench to each and every bolt I could reach to get it to let go. As I hadn’t had time to bond with the bike yet (and yes, over a period of time a rider DOES become one with his bike) I feel bad about all the names I called it in my frustration.

With nothing working, and being stubborn, I called Michelle, who took the trunk bag off my hands, and I started carrying the bike to the finish line.  A half mile later, there was another “POP!!” and the wheel was free!  Of course, with all my fiddling, I no longer had back brakes! But, why would that stop me?  I crossed the line in the saddle and dragging the feet to help stop me!

Since then, I’ve wanted to learn more, so this class was perfect!

Now, I know not all bike clubs are created equal. so I know I am damn lucky to be a member of mine.  At the club headquarters this was the set up for class.


We had room for 8 bikes, each having a dedicated repair stand to hold the bike.  All bikes were welcome!


The three people conducting the class did a great job of explaining brakes, pads, and walking us through some generic info about disc brakes.  Shoot, I learned there is a doohickey called the barrel adjuster that lets you easily change the tension on the brakes. I had no idea! (Which does help explain why my tune ups cost more when I work on the bike myself first!)

It was even better when we started getting our hands dirty.


Justin helped me remove the front pads first.  When we inspected them, they still had some life in them, so we replaced them.  That was a bit tricky for me, but with an extra hand from Justin, we got it done.

Then it was my turn to do the back on my own! Here we will see that I got the spring and pads out!


However, as my buddy Dave will tell you, Tony breaking  disassembling things is easy. Putting it back together again is a different story.  Looking at the pads, I decided switching them around would help them wear a bit more evenly.  So doing do, I started reverse the taking apart process.

There was a bit of cussing, dropped parts, and giggles from the one lady assisting in class, but in the end, it was all back together! More importantly, I am very confident I can do it again! Confident enough that I will buy new pads and replace them next month.

Editor’s note: A big chunk of my confidence is the fact there is a bike shop just a block away from the office if I mess up….

I will say there was a also benefit I hadn’t expected from the class.  I was with my own people. Folks who enjoyed riding as much as I do, and more.  The guys putting on the class mentioned they didn’t get to do the RAMROD this year.  I was able to answer all their questions about the ride. and in turn, gained some street cred with real riders for finishing one of the toughest rides in WA.

As the class took a break, we all sat and told stories. compared routes, and bike bucket lists. It turns out I have completed a few of rides others have on the ‘to do’ list and I added one or two as well to theirs!

All in all, it was a great night.  I will now be watching more closely for other classes in the near future!

OH, and I am also happy to say I DID put the brakes back together correctly! Thursday morning I was on the way to work, as usual.  Just as I started down the very steep hill in the dark I remembered “OH CRAP!! I haven’t tested the brakes!!!!”  Luckily, not that I was too worried, I slowed when I was supposed to, and there were no issues!

Shoot, a few more classes, and I just might be able to do my own tune ups!

5 thoughts on “Well its about time!

  1. Woohoo! Call me silly, but I think this is one of your most important accomplishments of the year. I think you’ll really appreciate having a greater understanding of how your bike works as well as greater confidence that you can fix your bike on your own. Congrats, Tony, I’m mighty proud of you! 🙂

  2. I need one of those disc maintenance classes. I haven’t done maintenance on mine .. I just bring it to the shop. You are a couple of steps ahead of me!

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