It has been a while since the last post, so here is what I have done so far.
The afternoon of the same day that I posted the Introductory Post (January 28th), I had my first meeting with my mentor.
We spent almost three hours together in my mentor’s open garage/bike shop and crossed off the following from the agenda I had made:
- We went through my learning contract together and I shared my goal for this project (My goal is to apply ten bike maintenance/repair techniques to the four bikes we have in our shed. To demonstrate my learning, I will be posting photos and videos in each blog post of what I have done to each bike and the skills I have learned.)
- My mentor shared important information with me regarding basic bike maintenance, such as the ABCs of bike mechanics, a helpful book/manual that I could get, and other resources online. He also explained many interesting tidbits of the skill to me such as how I should not use WD-40 on bikes as it is more of a degreaser/cleaner than a lubricant, or how tubeless sealant automatically plugs punctures in tubeless tires as they happen. My mentor recommended GCN, Park Tool, and RJ the Bike Guy as very good YouTube resources that he has used and that I could use. In summary, my mentor sharing all this information with me marked the start of my knowledge in the field of this skill.
- We also went straight to doing hands-on work on my bike! This was an exceedingly interesting meeting because I watched, learned, and helped my mentor change the rear brake cable on my bike. Through his demonstrations and explanations, I also learned the gist of adjusting gears/the rear derailleur. I remember coming home from the meeting exhilarated at the new knowledge I had gained and the experience I had just had, excited for all the other sub-skills I will learn!
- We did some list-making—we finalized the List of Ten Bike Maintenance Sub-Skills I Will Learn for the project.
List of 10 bike maintenance sub-skills to learn for In-Depth
|#1: How to check a bike and do basic bike maintenance||ABC’s
How to assess bikes
What to do before/after every bike ride for maintenance
Bicycle Inspection Checklist for homework!
|Next meeting Sun 20th|
|#2: How to fix a flat tire!||Efficient ways on a ride
A skill any rider should know
|Same as above|
|#3: How to adjust/repair the brakes on our bikes|
|#5: How to adjust/repair gears|
|#6: How to service wheels|
|#7: How to tune/service suspension on my bike|
|#8: How to true a wheel|
|#9: How to clean bike properly|
|#10: How to lube/degrease bike|
For the next two weeks after this first meeting, I did some homework such as typing out the List of Ten Bike Maintenance Sub-Skills, researching the YouTube channels mentioned, and reviewing/redoing my notes from the meeting. My mentor also sent me an email regarding a question I had asked him in the meeting, about bike maintenance tools I should have. I made a budget for this project and concluded that as of now, I do not need to buy any new tools yet.
In addition, I went into my family’s garage and went about setting up my own makeshift “bike shop.” I pulled out a narrow table from the attic and carried it down there, installed a brighter light, then took out all four of the bikes in the shed.
I did all this on a Friday, on the fourth day of February, and I remember my toes were cold as it was rather wet and rainy. That was when I began to feel a little bit at a loss. Here were the four bikes standing in front of me, but I did not know where to start. I settled with making a couple of notes such as how the four bikes all need to be washed, or how I need to wear thicker socks next time, but ultimately, I concluded that I need to learn how to check each bike. My idea was that at the next meeting, I could bring two bikes, with one of which my mentor would teach me and on the other, I would replicate his demonstrations. The other way that I figured might be even better was I could try checking a bike on my own, then bring it to my mentor, see how he checks it, and compare notes.
That was all great, but then I did not touch the bikes for another week. Finally, on Sunday, February 6th, I realized that I needed to do something. So, I reached out to my mentor, and he responded with an even better idea: I could bring a bike every meeting and he could coach me through repairing them myself. As an example, he sent a YouTube video by a channel called Syd Fixes Bikes where Syd fixes bikes while her partner Mackie coaches her.
We scheduled a meeting on Google Calendar for Sunday, February 13th. This was the day of the first deadline I made for myself in the timetable part of my learning contract, to Learn two new sub-skills and apply them to bikes (which had not happened, so I was a little frustrated).
What happened next was my mentor thoughtfully notified me about how one of the mechanics he volunteers with at KidSport came down with COVID. Although my mentor’s test showed negative, we turned our meeting into a virtual one. Nevertheless, the virtual meeting was of indispensable value as we talked through our next steps. As of now, my homework from that second meeting is to use an Inspection Checklist that my mentor kindly emailed to me to try assessing my bikes at home, so at our next meeting coming up we can go through the assessment that I did over the week and that will be my first sub-skill. We are also planning to learn the second most important sub-skill, how to fix a flat tire—which my mentor agreeably says is “a skill any rider should know”—during the next meeting, which will be in person.
My mentor’s name is David, and he has been an amazing and helpful mentor to me so far in this project. I am very grateful to have such a knowledgeable person in the field as my mentor. Here are two questions and their answers regarding my mentor, answered in his words:
1. How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
“I gained my experience and expertise by taking one on one Park Tool sponsored Bike Repair and Maintenance courses at a local bike shop with a qualified mechanic. I then went to work part-time at the same shop under the guidance of an experienced mechanic. I have also watched hours and hours of Park Tool and other bike repair and maintenance videos.”David
2. What were those experiences like for your mentor?
“I found these experiences extremely rewarding. They gave me the opportunity to pair my innate mechanical skills with my love of cycling. I have always been someone who has wanted to know how things worked. I also thoroughly enjoy helping people get back on their bikes again.”David
Based on my progress report, I was, admittedly, afraid to email David as a follow-up to our first meeting/reach out asking for help. I overcame this obstacle when I read Ms. Mulder’s email with the “Something happens?…” prompts—Something happens: Yes. What happened: I do not know what to do next. So what? Reach out to my mentor for help. Now what? Muster up the courage to write an email to find time to meet. I did nothing for a whole week because of this.
Another obstacle I encountered was how David and I could no longer meet in person for our second meeting. This obstacle was ultimately overcome because I remembered it was a problem that I had listed in my learning contract! The solution I had listed to resolve the problem was to meet virtually, so that is what I communicated to my mentor and how we took further action. I made an agenda for the virtual meeting, where the focus was to update my mentor on what I had done so far and sort out the plan for the next meeting to catch up on the timeline of the project.
In terms of my original timeline (in my first post), the deadline of Learning 2 new sub-skills will be extended and modified to learning 4 sub-skills by around March 6th, as I am planning to meet with my mentor this weekend. After all, the timeline is only a guideline for me to stay on track, and I am confident that I will be able to accomplish this modified goal.
- What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
I have gained many tidbits of knowledge about the skill, such as why WD-40 does not work, or how brake cables are thicker and more flexible than shifter cables. I have also gained the wisdom, through David’s demonstrations at the first meeting, of how to replace an entire brake cable on a bike! Additionally, I have gained the wisdom of knowing exactly how barrel adjusters work. I have also had a taste in adjusting gears and I have gained wisdom on adjusting brakes. Furthermore, I think a piece of wisdom I have gained from my mentor is how important it is to contribute to the community because my mentor is a great role model of this (he volunteers for KidSport, volunteered to help me, and he even takes care of the city’s streets through the Adopt-a-Street program).
- What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?
In terms of facilitation strategies, I have learned that, firstly, setting up a good learning environment is important. My mentor does a good job of this because even on our virtual meeting, he set up a bike behind him so he could show me demonstrations on it, which he did. There was good lighting and he had desks and chairs set up at our first meeting, which I think contributed to how well I could learn because with the desk and chair, I could write notes and we could sit and talk, and with good lighting, I could see his demonstrations in detail. Secondly, I have learned that constant communication is vital in a mentoring relationship. For example, when I reached out to David for help, he offered the coaching approach idea. He also emailed me about tools and resources, and he communicated to me that he thought it would be best to postpone the second in-person meeting to next week. Finally, I have learned the value of getting to know each other, because, after all, my mentor and I started as total strangers. So, we must get to know a bit about each other before we can focus on getting the most out of being mentored/mentoring the skill.
- Report on any progress and sub-skills learned so far. Share photos, videos and sound recording where applicable.
Please see my progress report and media dispersed throughout the post. So far, I have touched on the sub-skill of basic bike maintenance, replacing brake cables, and adjusting gears. Next, I am focusing on how to fix a flat tire and inspect a bike.