Monday, November 16, 2009

KP....A mechanic in the making...well maybe :)

I love mountain biking, road cycling (when there are no cars around) and of course my new addiction to the Cotic >X< . What I don't like is feeling stupid and completely out of depth when it comes to the mechanical side of mountain biking, road cycling and now cyclo cross. I just don't seem to remember biking related jargon and this is very apparent when trying to explain to Ian who has always been my mechanic that something just doesn't feel right. Even though I have only been riding a bike for 6 years, In those 6 years I have probably only had 6 days off the bike and I know, I really do KNOW (well I think I know) when something just doesn't feel like it should. But the problem is I speak my own unique biking jargon, that only Ian is starting to understand after all these years of togetherness.
I will quickly fill you in on some KP bike babble that I can certainly call my own, firstly the one word that has really stuck in the Potter household and that even Ian doesn't mind using from time to time (when not in the company of biking friends of course), is what I like to call the Tyre Digger, instead of the tyre lever.Then there are all the little thingies that twist, the knobs that need adjusting, and the thingy-me-joggles that need to turn....and that squidgy feeling is there again, when it should feel like a spring-a-ding...of course I include plenty of hand gestures too so that my biking jargon is fully understood to those of you not on the same biking planet as moi. But the problem is when Ian isn't around to interpret my language to the outside world, I end up totally tongue tied and lost without a clue.
Now this year I have had some mechanical challenges which I have had to overcome all by myself. I have been thrown in the deep end on more than one occasion and forced to start thinking mechanically rather than relying on Mr Potter. I admit there have been times of stress and freak outs, like how you might feel when in a foreign country and nobody speaks the same language as just want to be understood and accepted. It can be mighty frustrating and a tad lonely, but no one is to blame. You either learn the language and life becomes more bearable or continue to live feeling isolated and not part of the community.
Therefore I, Kate Potter, have taken it upon myself to become a mechanic and actually learn a thing or two about my bike, rather than just admiring my Cotic Soda's beauty and being the only person (apart from Mr Potter (sometimes)) who actually knows what I'm going on about. As I said before from a rider/racer point of view I do know what my bikes should feel like, or rather how I like them to feel, but I need to learn how to solve mechanical issues myself or at least explain in proper biking jargon what needs sorting out or I can be fully accepted and understood as a Mountain Biking Brain.
I was over the moon and around the mountain when Tony Barton from Magura UK offered to teach me how to service my forks and bleed my brakes, as well as spend time working on my suspension settings and finding out exactly what works best for me on different types of terrain. This was the start of my New Year's Biking Resolution, a tad early I know, but I need every head start and extra day I can sneak in if this resolution of mine is going to be successful.
Tony Barton from Magura gave up two days of his time to help me take those first steps into the mechanical world of suspension and brakes. Tony is an expert in this area, and also a wonderful teacher who actually interpreted my KP biking jargon by reading my facial expressions and watching my body language as I felt the forks and brakes after different adjustments had been made...but more importantly by also looking closely at my forks and brakes and knowing straight away what needed work and what didn't. If only I could do that :)
Within 5 minutes of meeting Tony the little problem that I couldn't sort out for the past few months was fixed and I realised how unlogical my brain is and probably always will be. It turns out the valve was completely undone, and all I needed was to turn it with this thingy-me-tool...I forgotten the name already, and voila all is sorted and ok. Grrrrrrr! If only I had taken it upon myself to learn more about my bike a year ago. But as they say through mistakes and problems you can only become a better biker, so long as you take it upon yourself to LEARN...and in my case REMEMBER what the experts teach you....this doesn't count if your husband thinks he's an expert because as a wife it can be so easy to switch off and forget those things he has taught you :)
The rest of the day involved LOTS more biking (which I can say I'm an expert in or perhaps just addicted to) and working out my suspension default setting and rebound. I then tested the Soda with different settings and realised that I could feel the exact air pressure that suted me and what rebound I liked best...which only confirms that I have learnt a thing or two over the past 6 years....I just didn't trust myself to sort it out and always needed Ian to check it in case I was wrong.
I have finally learnt how to bleed brakes. I actually did it MYSELF...very slowly I might add, but I did it. I also realised I know more about brakes than I first thought I did. But as they say the more you learn, the more you realise there is to learn....I guess that is why most people can only be an expert in one area, because it takes time to become an expert and you have to make mistakes along the way in order to progress.
Anyway I have made my New Year's Biking Resolution early this year because I'm determined to go into my third year of world cup racing with a mechanical head on my shoulders, one that talks the talk, walks the walk and does her darnest to be a real mountain biker with a biking brain to match....just need to learn some proper mechanical words that don't start with 'THINGY'
THANKYOU TONY (MAGURA UK)....really appreciate all your help!!!!!
I have some >X< Rated racing reports that will be live soon....I have raced so much in the last few weeks that haven't had the time to write any racing reports just yet....but let's just say I'm addicted to CX and will have such a lovely complexion soon with all the mud I have been riding around in....promise to have them up to read by end of week.
Cheerios for now

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