Written by Allie Hurtgen, Stoke Manager for the NW Trail Sisters
“Plugging tires is so fun; I can’t wait to get a flat on my next ride!” This comment was echoed by many participants after attending our mountain bike maintenance clinic at Cyclepath.
When planning this event, the Cyclepath team and I thought it might spark some interest, but we had no idea how popular it was going to be. Almost immediately, it sold out, and the waitlist hit capacity. Humbled by the response, we scheduled a second session to accommodate the demand. In total, 30 women came out to learn about bike maintenance over two nights (November 14th and November 28th).
We kicked the nights off with a happy half-hour, complete with drinks, snacks, and laughs. Our friend Cierra (SkratchLabs Field Rep) even made a surprise visit with Skratcharitas, which were as good as they sound (seriously, Google the recipe and make one before you continue reading)!
At the end of the happy half-hour, Sarah (one of Cyclepath’s amazing mechanics) led a discussion on how to complete a pre-ride bike check and what to carry in your pack. After the discussion, we divided the women into small teams and sent them to one of two stations: tires and drivetrains. Each station was led by a Cyclepath mechanic, and teams spent about 35 minutes at their station before switching to the other.
This is where the real fun started!
Have you ever intentionally punctured a tire to see how the sealant works? Or to practice plugging it? We did! For many participants, this was their first time plugging a tire, and the stoke was high. Sarah and Marty also had teams practice taking tires off (with and without a tire lever), setting the bead, and removing/replacing valve cores.
At the drivetrain station, Michael and Lucas demystified the derailleur by having participants adjust the cable tension to see how the derailleur moves and how that impacts shifting. In our first session, they also briefly covered suspension, and a few women got their hands on a shock pump for the first time! And if that wasn’t enough fun, we also broke some chains and installed quick links.
While teams were at their stations, I had the pleasure of walking around and overhearing all of the conversations. There were so many great questions asked, and the Cyclepath team didn’t skip a beat in answering them:
· How do you check your brake pads and when should you replace them?
· When should you bleed your brakes?
· How frequently should you replace your sealant?
· How do you know if your headset is loose, and how do you tighten it?
· What is a bottom bracket?
My least favorite part of the evening was having to tell everyone time was up. We easily could have spent another 2 hours learning.
We wrapped up the evenings with, in my completely biased opinion, the best raffle ever. Thanks to generous donations from DumondTech, Dynaplug, SRAM, and Stan’s, everyone went home with a prize (chains, quick links, plug kits, chain lube, sealant, and more)! Having support from these companies means the world to us, and we’re stoked to get more gear in the hands of our NW Trail Sisters!
We also want to say thank you to SkratchLabs for providing snacks and Skratcharitas (did you drink one yet?). The Skratcharita might need to become our official NW Trail Sisters drink.
Last, but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to NWTA Sponsor, Cyclepath and its incredible team of people: Sarah, Michael, Lucas, Marty, Lewis, and Mitch. When we pitched the idea of this event, Cyclepath immediately said yes, and supported it in more ways than one. Thank you to this team for hosting the NW Trail Sisters, creating an atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable asking questions, and throwing some swag into the raffle!