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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

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Getting My Hands Dirty fixing Bikes
I've just finished a three-session bike maintenance course, that was run out of the Brunswick Neighbourhood House. It was run by a guy called John who is heavily involved in the Melbourne bike scene, and who it turns out knows a number of people I know. He's also heavily involved with the CERES bike shed, a place I will have to visit more. If you look at some of the pictures from the bike shed, our tutor John can be seen!

It was great fun to actually do something analogue with tools and oil and so forth. I spend so much time sitting in front of various computers (er, as I am now) in shiny clean places, it's nice to get one's hand's dirty.

We did lots of basic stuff - how to get a tyre off, and back on again - and some more complicated stuff like regreasing bearings. In fact, aside from setting up gear cables and building or re-aligning (truing) a wheel, I could almost build a bike from parts! Almost! We have a rusty BMX in the back garden which I'm going to experiment with. I've partially dismantled it, in fact my fingers still smell of WD-40!

There's a number of specialised bike tools, but not as many as you'd think. Modern bikes mostly need only hex keys, spanners and screwdrivers. However, there are some clever tools one does need, like the chain tool for splitting a chain, and the pedal wrench for, you guessed it, removing pedals. I'm going to start a small collection of bike tools. I was looking at one of the many sets of tools one can buy, up to a huge professional set I came across that retailed for over AU$1,800, but I realised that in fact I have a good proportion of the tools I need already. And many of the things I need, like bearing grease, can be had from any hardware store.

If I manage to get the BMX fixed - once I work out how to get the cranks off and do something about the rust - I'm going to try and build a spare bike for myself, probably based around a mountain bike frame. We'll see what happens after that :-)