The minute CTA anounced a fare hike, I decided right then and there I would ride my bike through winter. Pay $6 a day to ride the train? No. Pay nothing to get some good excerise? Yes.
Although CTA has now announced they won't increase fares, I'm already commited — to something I am not prepared to do. I really don't know how to take care of my bike. I don't know how to change a flat. I don't even know how to grease my chain. Winter in Chicago means dirty snow and slush, potholes, salt, and whole bunch of other things that can hurt and rust and do other mean things to bikes.
So last night I took advantage of West Town Bike's Women's Night. As long as you're a girl, you're free to come work on your bike under the helpful eye of female mechanics. Dudes tend to dominate the world of bikes, so this was an opportunity for me to learn a thing or two in a low-pressure environment.
As I predicted, I was not a fast learner. I couldn't even get my wheel off at first. But with some good old-fashioned elbow grease and some patient guidance from the mechanics, I successfully removed both tires, took them apart, and put everything back together. Two and a half hours later, I was coated with a thin layer of bike grease, my thumbs felt like putty, (27-inch tires are TIGHT) and I had broken a nail. It was a good night.
Unfortunately, I must have tightened my brake pads or one of my wheels too tight, because I then rode home against some sort of resistance, which kept worsening by the block. Those five miles were tough. But hey, I made it. And now, I know which tool to take to my bike to fix the problem. Thanks, West Town Bikes.