The DIY Chronicles: Bicycle Repair for the Incompetent

My ongoing efforts to become more DIY in advance of the zombie apocalypse continued last week. Last time I learned to make marmalade--so my brain will be sugary sweet when the zombie hordes break down my door. After writing that post, however, I got to thinking that perhaps I shouldn't so willingly offer myself as luncheon meat. The odds of me fighting off a bunch of zombies doesn't seem particularly likely at this point in my DIY training. But perhaps I could at least try to get away from them.

I have a beat-up old ten-speed sitting in my garage in need of repairs, so I paid a visit to the Bicycle Kitchen to see if they could help me tune it up. I admit, I was kind of dreading the visit. Any task involving a tool more complicated than a toothpick intimidates me. To put it delicately, I'm not so good with things.

For example, my bike was not in riding condition and I live about 7 miles away from the Kitchen. So I needed to drive. But despite an hour or so of trying, I couldn't figure out how to get the front tire off so the bike could fit in my car. I finally figured out a way to cram it in the backseat, but I sliced up my upholstery, scratched my paint and got grease all over the car in the process.

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Not off to a good start.

I imagined showing up at the Bike Kitchen and seeing a bunch of gear heads retch at the smell of incompetence as I walked in the shop. Thankfully, everyone was cool.

After a brief assessment the "cook" helping me, John, told me my bike looked to be in fine working order. I just needed to change the tubes in my tires and I'd be good to go. He handed me a couple of wrenches, explained how to take the tires off, told me to holler if I need him and left me to my own devices.

It took me an hour--with help--to figure out. Not great, but not too awful either. And I think I could actually change the tire again if I had to.

I may not be a fearsome zombie hunter yet. But I'm definitely far better prepared to flee in terror.


The L.A. Vitamin Report is a column about quality of life issues by Matthew Fleisher. It is brought to KCET's SoCal Focus blog in partnership with Spot.Us, which receives support from the Cailfornia Endowment.