OA workshop Thursday

Sorry for the late notice!  We have an additional workshop this THURSDAY (the day before Friday, as duly noted by Ms. Black) at 6:30pm at Outdoor Adventures (336 Hill St).  My (Eric’s) plan is to cover hub adjustment, wheel truing, and brake alignment, but of course we’ll adjust the material based upon the number of people who show up and their interests.  No RSVP needed, but if you know you are coming you can help me keep track of numbers by emailing me here. The workshop is free and you need not bring anything except a bike or wheel if you like. We probably won’t be able to get to everyone’s bikes, but we can probably make it through a dozen or so wheels.

EMU Workshop sign-up

After a small rest we’ve got another workshop at EMU scheduled for Sunday March 27 at 3pm!  It is free, open to the public, and we invite tinkerers of all skill levels.  Space is limited, so if you would like to attend please email Heather to sign up.  As usual, if you don’t email fast enough to get in we will save you a spot at the front of the line for a future workshop!

Spring planning meeting, 2011!


Change of location: We are meeting at the Jolly Pumpkin tonight, upstairs. 311 South Main Street. Same time, new place.


I think this post deserves an exclamation point — Common Cycle had an amazing kick-off year in 2010 and we’re hoping to ride some of that momentum into 2011 as we plan our upcoming events and activities. We’re going to meet this week Tuesday, and that’s “we” as in you and me (I’m Piet) and volunteers and the Common Cycle board, and talk about what’s going on with Common Cycle, how we can improve, and what we’ll focus our work on in the next year.

The meeting plan is to do the following things:

  1. do a recap of last year’s awesome start for Common Cycle;
  2. grab suggestions of how to improve on what we did last year;
  3. give a rundown of and discuss proposed activities for 2011;
  4. plan for the mobile repair stand and other activities; and
  5. brainstorm other activities.

If you’re at all interested or have input to share, make some room in your schedule for 8:00pm Tuesday March 15th and come down to Sweetwaters at 123 West Washington St. in Ann Arbor. Feel free to email me if you have questions or ideas beforehand: piet AT commoncycle.org

Work work workshops!

With a successful first winter workshop under our belt, it’s time to announce tons more!  First up, winter workshop #2 is confirmed for Jan 30th.  It’s currently full, but you can email eric@commoncycle.org to get on the wait list in case anyone drops out, or to sign up for workshop #3 on February 13th.  Also, if you haven’t joined our email list yet, navigate over here to get on it!

You’ll also be able to find us at the winter ReSkilling Festival on February 5th, where we’ll be talking about winter commuting, gear, and maintenance.

But wait, there’s more!  We’re pleased to announce a budding partnership with UM’s Outdoor Adventures, with the first of many workshops scheduled for March 31st.

We’re able to announce all this excitement because of the hard work of our wonderful volunteers- if you love bikes and want to help us offer up even more fun, please let us know!  We love students and teachers of all ages- kids get your parents to bring you to our events, and parents don’t think twice about hauling the family along!

Winter Workshops!

We’re pleased to announce the first of our regular workshops that will be offered throughout the winter.  The workshops are a partnership with BikesEMU and are on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.  We will begin each day with 30-minute tutorials in small groups so you’ll have plenty of opportunity for hands-on learning about a particular part, tool, or technique.  After the tutorials, we’ll switch gears and focus on fixing the bikes collected by BikesEMU.  This will allow you to hone your newly minted skills, test the knowledge of our mechanics, and help get a gaggle of great bikes working again!

Space is limited because we want to be able to give our participants undivided attention, so we have a 15 person maximum.  The first workshop will be at 3p on Sunday January 9th.  Email eric@commoncycle.org to get yourself on the list and he’ll give you the top-secret location.  You can come for the tutorial, the open workshop, or stick around for both.  All you need is a bit of curiosity and a free afternoon, we’ll provide everything else!

You can count on a workshop approximately every-other weekend (Saturday or Sunday afternoons), with additional workdays as dictated by demand.  The weekends of January 30th and February 13th are tentative 2nd and 3rd workshop weekends.  See you there!

So much stuff, so little time!

Despite the paucity of posts, we’ve been up to TONS of stuff lately!  The shirts are in, the stickers made, the spoke cards laminated, the custom engraved bottle openers have been machined, and we’ve got new trailers and tools.  Phew!  The mobile repair stand has been rockin’ hard with all of our new gear, sheltered by our second tent, and the new trailers are fantastic.  We can’t say enough great things about all of our Kickstarter donors, Kickstarter itself, and all of our volunteers.  We CAN say that all of your prizes are in the mail and should be arriving soon.  Thank you all so much!

We’re planning on next Sunday, the 24th being the last Mobile Repair Stand for the fall, but will still be available for special events.  Don’t worry, we’ll be busting out the tools and tents next Spring!  Also, we’re working to get some workshops rolling through the winter.  If there is anything in particular you want, please let us know by sending an email to info@commoncycle.org.

Some of the other events we’ve been involved in lately have been the DIY day at Vineyard Church, the homegrown festival, and we even sent some racers out to the Dorais Park Thunderdrome who took silver in the road and mountain races, as well as a bronze in road!  Hopefully we see you next Sunday at the stand.  We can get your bike ready for Night of The Living Tread (8pm on the Diag, October 30th), and ensure you’re set for a happy fall and winter of commuting on your bike.  Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful fall!

Shirts are in

new shirts!

I bet you thought we’d forgotten to send you the prizes you won from our Kickstarter, huh?!  Don’t worry, they’re on their way- we just got a little delayed with minor hiccups like llamas.

16 hands to seat a tire OR Cub Scout Bike Maintenance

Last week, Eric, Piet, and I got a chance to travel down to Saline to help teach some cub scouts bike maintenance.  I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect; I thought maybe we would be standing in front of a group of kids inside, trying to keep their interest as we explained some simple things about bikes.  Luckily, it turned out to be a much more fun time than that, and I think that Eric, Piet, and I learned as much about the power of the bicycle as the cub scouts learned about bike maintenance.

We arrived slightly late, and we pulled up to lots of young folks tearing around a parking lot while other kids waited for their bikes to be unloaded from parents’ cars.  We had three stands, so the plan was to work one-on-one with the kids.  We set up next to the building under an overhang, and got to work teaching the scouts about bike maintenance, one at a time.  We would be working with kids in the 8-10 age range.  Let the fun begin…

My first scout had a singlespeed bmx coaster brake-equipped bike (for some reason I got to work on all the singlespeeds (thumbs up)), and we set to work safety checking the bike.  I had scout #1 start pumping up his own tires, and watched as he used all of his weight and all his strength to bring the tires up to a high pressure of 20psi!  I finished the inflation for him, and we moved on.  His main concerns about his bike were the rust on the chain and chainrings and his seat height.  I made him wait until we checked some other bolts until moving onto his main concerns.  I applied some lube to his rusty chain, and saw his eyes light up.  As I spun the chain with the bike in the stand, he said, “my bike is so much faster now!”  Then, I took the bike down from the stand and we adjusted the seat up up a few inches.  I put the bike back in the stand just to double check some things and to try to get more rust off the chain, and he began to shake, as if he had to pee.  While bouncing up and down, he was saying, “I caaann’t waaiittt to ride my biiikkke” over and over again.  It was awesome.  As soon as the bike was put back on the ground, he was off, racing around the parking lot.

The rest of the night was very similar.  We all worked one-on-one with varieties of kids.  Some kids were all about the tools and pulling every tool out of my bag and playing with it.  Some kids just wanted their bikes to be faster.  One scout, whose brakes were barely operable and whose saddle was way too low, told me that his bike was fine and in perfect working order.  How did he know?  He can ride fast, so it has to be working well!  Other kids just wanted to climb on the brick pillars as we worked on their bikes.  Piet had the opportunity of working with a girl (a daughter of one of the leaders) who wanted to know everything there was to know about bikes.  At the young age of 13, she was already able to explain to Piet how a freewheel works!

The cool thing was that no one cared what types of bikes they had…what mattered was that they were having fun.  They don’t know or care what a singlespeed is, what a fixed-gear is, or what brands are cool.  All they cared about was riding fast and tearing around the parking lot, free to do as they pleased.  As I rode later that week, I thought back to those kids and the joy that biking brings them; it made me smile and enjoy the ride that much more.

At the end of the evening, Eric gathered the scouts to learn how to fix a flat tire.  He deflated the tube, a couple of the scouts used some tire levers to get the tire off.  He showed the scouts the tube, and that you would have thought that they were looking at the coolest toy in the world.  They squeezed it and pulled it until one of them shouted, “lets try to pop it!”  The kid whose tube it was got worried, and Eric quickly then showed them how to put it back in.  Sometimes, getting the tire bead back on the rim can be a real struggle…no so with 8 or more cub scouts!  It was awesome to see as many kids as could get their hands on the tire working together to seat the tire.  Then, it came time to pump up the tire.  Every scout had to get a chance to pump.  Once it was inflated, the game became seeing how much pressure each of them could generate with the pump while I held my thumb over the nozzle.  It was just like a carnival game, but for kids.

On the ride back to Ann Arbor, we talked about how cool it was to work with these kids and to observe their love of bikes…not too different from our own.