I have a guest post over at Commute by Bike!
I wrote a basic maintenance article that also included information when parts should be replaced. When you buy a new bike at a bike shop, the sales person should inform you that your cables (that make your brakes and shifters work) will stretch out and need adjusting (and then offer a free tune-up). However, the bike purchasing process is so long, there usually isn't time to also bring up the other maintenance issues that will pop up in the future. My intent in writing this article was to address those parts of the bike that need regular replacement. If you know about these parts in advance, you can keep an eye on them and replace them timely. Unfortunately, for many-- they don't find out until the part is already worn out and has worn out other parts in the bike in the process. For instance, if brake pads aren't cleaned and/or replaced regularly, the rims on your wheel will wear down faster. To read the article, click HERE.
The article was surprisingly hard to write and I still think that it could be done better. I tried to make the article brief, informative and not intimidating-- which was hard to do!
Something else that surprised me (well, not really) was the comments section. Here's how it went down (in my own words), though from another perspective, I acknowledge that it could be described differently:
Someone accused me of writing an article that DISCOURAGED new cyclists, because it suggested that people don't have the skills they need to ride a bike. He said my article focused on the negative, not the positive, and suggested lower-maintenance commuter bikes (internal gears, chain guards, etc) as the solution.Then someone disagreed with him and said that the article was more about the "do it yourself" mentality, which is empowering. He also likes bikes that he can fix at home.AND THEN, the other guy whipped out some statistics with links and everything! Because clearly, HIS bike is the way to go.And then my eyes glazed over a little..And then a mechanic chimed in as to what a commuter bike should be..etc.
I don't take any of these comments personally, as clearly the conversation has become a tangent far away from my article. It is possible that this is simply a level-headed, polite debate for fun; but something bothers me about these conversations: the hot debates about what gear, bikes, practices are right/wrong/best/dumb. While on one hand, these conversations can be good-natured and lively... unfortunately, they often turn righteous, snobbish and angry.
I have unsubscribed from bicycling blogs that go beyond celebrating something wonderful about a bicycle and go so far as to tell me that this bicycle is the only bicycle and all other bicycles and their riders are inferior and stupid.
Instead, the philosophy I subscribe to (pun intended), is touched on by John of the Cycling Spokane blog in THIS article. It's an appreciation of ALL THINGS BICYCLE. Sure, you've got your preferences. You've got things that work for YOU. But something else works for somebody else and THAT IS OKAY.
The secret mission of this blog is to prove just that. Follow this blog over time and you see posts on:
RACING (yes! In the much-ridiculed spandex! On carbon fiber no less!)
TOURING (wearing both spandex and loose clothing at the same time! On steel!)
COMMUTING (on an Xtracycle, a folding bike, a touring bike, an old mountain bike and more!)
MOUNTAIN BIKING (in wool and full suspension!)
So that's my message: ride and wear what works for YOU, because THAT is what is so special about bicycles-- they are as diverse as we are.