Over my 8 years of racing I’ve seen many people on the side of the trail trying to fix flats, broken chains and all sorts of other stuff. One of the skills my Coach/Trainer/Dad taught me early on was “Bike Preservation”. Paying attention to my tires, derallieur, and other components to avoid damage, and to ride within my limits. Another skill I was taught was how to fix my bike by myself so when I am in a race I could always make it to the finish line. Since my Dad taught me when I was young to preserve my bike, I have never had a DNF in my 8 years of racing. Learning these skills is important because they will make a huge difference throughout the long run in your race results.
Building out bikes is really fun, it’s like putting together a puzzle, getting all of the components precisely placed so that everything works in perfect harmony. After a few years of watching, helping and learning from our Dad as he fixed and maintained our bikes, Nye and I, at 8 and 11 years old learned how to build out our first bikes, our Jamis Dakota D 29’s. We began with just the frame and started building. I started with the fork, which was pretty easy. The handlebars were easy too, but the wheels were really fun learning to tape the rim and to make the wheels tubeless. Though we couldn’t have done it without our Dad who had years more experience than us and knew quite a bit about bikes, as he had ridden in southern Utah and Colorado since 1990.
Aside from it just being fun, it is very helpful learning about building bikes because during a race you can be confident that if you have a mechanical you will have the knowledge to fix your bike and make it to the finish line avoiding the dreaded “walk of shame“. This saves you and your bike! Even though learning to maintain a bike is great. Another great skill is to learning “Bike Preservation“. To learn how to preserve my bike my Dad taught me to be attentive to where I put my tires, like not to bomb down the trail without paying attention and run over a sharp rock or root. In just a split second of inattention you could have hours of work to repair your bike. Which can cost you a first place finish, or podium, not to mention the money you could spend to repair or replace it! That is why it is so important to preserve your bike and know how to fix it too!
Since I started riding and racing I have learned a lot about my bike, like how to build out a bike, how to maintain a fork and most importantly how to fix my bike during a ride or race. Learning about your bike and how to fix and maintain it is important to learn because if all you know is how to ride a bike you won’t be able to finish every race with Both Wheels On The Ground!