Friday, October 28, 2011


In an effort to learn as much as I can about repairing bikes, I signed up for a wheel building course at "Bikeworks".  Gathered around me were seven other enthusiasts who seemed to grasp the very complicated instructions necessary to determine what parts are needed to build a wheel.

Oh sure, I  was okay at the beginning of the class when it came to asking questions like "In this example you're passing around, why is one nipple bigger than the other?"  Or "The longer it gets - the harder it gets?" - spokes that is.  But when our fine instructor Axel got down to the nitty-gritty of "SPOKE CALCULATION" that's when my eyes began to glaze over and I knew then that I shouldn't have dropped math as soon as I could in high school (grade eleven for those of you who care).

I looked around at the twenty-somethings and they were all nodding in understanding (except for the guy next to me who had fallen asleep and was snoring gently).  My friends Rob, Alex and Coreen were asking intelligent questions and making clever observations while I stared at my notebook and tried to make sense of my nearly illegible scrawl: on rims with a deep V-cross section, using hexagonal nipples, tensioning up to 2,000N can be carried out
Or this doozie: fewer spokes reduce weight and improve aerodynamic properties, but need to be given a higher tension, which on the other hand, require more, stable, and thus
heavier rims....
Glancing at my notes again, I couldn't fathom what I had written only moments before:

I'm so glad that Alex and Coreen were there to help my class partner Rob and I to do the actual spoke calculation for the wheels we were going to build.  In fact, the two of them seemd so non-plussed that I'm confident that with them at my side at next week's class I might just be able to build a wheel that won't collapse the moment someone climbs onto the bike that has my hand-made wheels.

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