Dave in Colorado

July 27th, 2005 Posted in Travel


I’m back from colorado springs where i attended the barnetts bicycle institute for a two week mechanics course, a two day suspension service and rebuild course, and with a bicycle sizing and positioning session thrown in for good measure. Colorado Springs was an odd place where the people seemed to be competing over who had the biggest pick-up truck or 4wd. Apparently it is somewhat of a bible belt and i did notice an appreciation of the crucifix in the most unlikely locations, like on the top of a mountain.

I had a cool Japanese room mate who just loved bikes so much he wanted to do a mechanics course, he was a sonographer by trade, he had a posse in denver where he had studied and one of his mates lent me a bike, so he is tops as far as i’m concerned. It was pretty cold in december so we would ride to class, ride home inthe dark, eat, study and watch television. We only had one day off during the 18 day period so we had a good dose of cabin fever by the end of our time at the red wing motel. This was exacerbated by the fact that one of the seventy -two television channels promised the lord of the rings triology over three consecutive nights but proceeded to show the first instalment repeatedly over the course of three evenings. We were not happy.

The mechanics course started with all the bearing adjustments, hubs, headsets and bottom brackets, then it took two days to be taught how to build wheels the barnetts way, which was great except i already had a technique which I thought was pretty good. The spoke calculation we were taught involved a lot more measuring and calculating which i enjoyed as relying on a scientific calculator or computer to spit out the measurements can feel like cheating. Speed is obviously an issue in a commercial setting but learning a new method was fun. Rim brakes and gears took a further couple of days with assessments of our absorption of the bearing modules interspersed throughout the following lessons. I found myself quite nervous during the assesments as i had travelled so far and paid so much money for this oppotunity and felt like i froze when the pressure was on. I ended up being satisfied with my results which was fortunate considering the above

The suspension course was great as this was an area i had little to no experience and was curious to see if i could apply myself to it and maybe bring some knowledge to cheeky in sydney. It demystified a whole heap of terms for me and i was exposed to a range of technologies that all the major brands employed. I just have to convince adam suspension is appropriate for the shop and justify the expense in tools. Following procedure seemed to be the priority for working on suspension as well as always testing oil viscosity in house and clearly keeping track of parts.

It was a long way to go to simply compare myself to one of the best standards of bicycle mechanics but i think it was worth it I realised i had been taught well but i learnt some really valuable lessons.

america’s retail bicycle industry appears beseiged by a litigous trend which no doubt australia will follow so being taught about specific torque settings for particular parts seemed pertinent. A mechanic’s failure to attach a part properly can be the downfall of someone on their bike, a job or even a business. Striking a balance between the fear of making mistake and being confident in your oen ability to perform at your highest level when working on someone’s bike is a work in progress.

Anyway, enough boring bike nerd crap. Colorado Springs is just down the mountain from South Park which has been renamed something corny which i can’t quite remember Happy town maybe. Apparently, the creators’ inspiration for some of the show came from living in this place which i think refelcts rather scarily on south park. Heaps of crap food joints and not much stimulation for young people left me feeling like Colo springs was a bit of a dive. Summer brings a massive influx of tourists which must be horrid so being there in winter was a mixed blessing.

Next up is Tafe for a Mech Engineer/welding course  and then UBI for a steel frame brazing course