APR 01 2014

Source: Biking The Big Apple

When Patty Chang Anker found herself in her 40s and still afraid of heights, water, and biking, she decided to do something about it. In her book Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, Patty recounts how she faced down myriad fears and came out the other side a braver, happier, stronger person. called her journey “downright inspiring.” Now’s your chance to join Patty on her next journey: training for the 2014 TD Five Boro Bike Tour. Check back here every month to read about her progress, follow her on Twitter @PattyChangAnker, and see what else she’s up to on her blog, Facing Forty Upside Down. This is her fourth entry. Click here to read her first.

A Bicycle Wheel

A Bicycle Wheel

So far, learning to bike and training for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour with Bike New York has been series of surprising (and surprisingly fun) lessons (Learn to RideBicycling BasicsHow to Buy a Bike). Controlling my anxiety while pedaling (potholes! ice! people! dogs! toddlers! cars!) is something I never thought I’d be able to do, and now at age 43 learning to do it has led me to incredibly rewarding rides with Team #SomeNerve.

As a beginner, overcoming the physical challenge of biking is one thing, but understanding the bike itself (how it works, how to maintain it and what to do if something goes wrong) is a whole other intimidating kettle of fish.  I’ve never been a Fix It gal – I grew up in rental apartments where if something broke the response was to buzz the super. My husband’s the one who fiddles with bikes, cars, and pipes in the basement. If my car broke down I’d call AAA – what would I do if I got a flat tire on my bike?

Bike New York’s Bike Maintenance 101 class has the answer to that and a whole lot more. I took the four-hour workshop (for $65 you get a patch kit, multi-tool, bike repair manual and your hands good and dirty) at Recycle-A-Bicycle in Brooklyn yesterday and came away with a much better understanding of how bikes work, how to keep them in good running order and how to tell if something needs adjustment or repair.

I replaced my vocabulary (“doohicky,” “thingy”, “out of whack,” “messed up,” “possessed”) with terms and phrases even grouchy bike mechanics would find acceptable (“My brake pads are worn,” “the derailleur isn’t shifting smoothly,” “the cable is frayed”).

In a scene my husband never thought he would see, I learned how to pump my tires, and how to fix a flat.

The class also went over how to adjust and repair brakes and fix problems with the derailleur, which gave me a better sense of what to look for to identify a problem but I don’t think I have confidence in my ability to fix them yet – I’d probably still take my bike in to a pro.

But more than anything I gained a new appreciation for how beautifully simple and efficient bikes are in their design. I know what every little component on my Giant Escape 2W does, and that makes me feel much more confident about riding it. So confident that after the class I went for a ride in the rain. Priceless.