I promised to post more about yesterday's Road1 class in Tulsa. The first part of this post is background information, followed by my thoughts on yesterday's course.
Last week, the Tulsa World ran an article about the Community Cycling Project and Road1. Part of it was misleading, but a careful reader would realize that the Tulsa Wheelmen's Community Cycling Project doesn't provide cycling goods worth $250 to every student. The project does provide a donated bicycle, instruction, and the necessary equipment to allow a student to use a bicycle as their primary form of transportation, and these recipients are referred through several social service agencies such as Salvation Army, Day Center for the Homeless, Exodus House, and others. Regardless, the article brought in more students, and for the first time, we reached the class limit of 15.
Here's the course description from the Tulsa Parks Department 2006 Fall Fun Guide:
Cycling: Transportation to Transform
(From page 19. The fee is incorrectly listed as $80 in the Fun Guide. The correct fee is $40.)
BikeEd, a League of American Bicyclist’s program, gives you the tips, tools, and techniques to safely and legally operate your bicycle anywhere you want to go. The Road I course (from 9 a.m. - 7p.m.) covers much needed information such as; traffic theory, equipment maintenance, operation and active practice. The special segment on Commuting (optional 7-9 p.m.) will include a night ride. Required equipment: bike, helmet, gloves, lunch money, and if staying for the special segment, lights on the front and back of your bike. Co-Sponsored by the Tulsa Wheelmen's Community Cycling Project. Ages 14 & older. Instructor: Brian Potter.
McClure, Sa, Sep. 9, 9 a.m.-8 p.m
McClure, Sa, Nov. 11, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Tulsa Parks 2006 Fall Fun Guide offers 3 different ways to enroll in any class. There's an online enrollment at: www.tulsaparks.org
Enroll by mail by sending the completed form from the Fun Guide with a check made out to “Park Revenue Fund” to the center where the class is being held. Center addresses are on page 5.
You can enroll in person at any Tulsa Parks Community Center. You may pay by check or cash.
Note that we have another class coming up in November. There's a tentative class for Tulsa Public Schools phys ed teachers coming up in October, too, but it's not open to the public.
Now, about yesterday's class. Lyndsay had to work from 7 to 9, though her manager wanted her to work until 10AM. She's still recovering from her illness and hospitalization. I went down to get her at 9, and it's just as well that I did. She was looking shaky and very pale. Coworkers were commenting about it, recommending that she go home early and rest.
Much as I like bike stuff, family ALWAYS comes first. I drove her home and saw that she was comfortable before leaving for the Road1 class. She said later that she fell asleep within a few minutes.
I arrived at 9:30 or so and class was already in session. I set up the repair stand and set to work, changing some shifters, installing reflectors, and swapping saddles between various bikes. It helps to have a few extra bikes because they often become parts donors for the ones we use.
Sandra said that I'd have to swap saddles between two bikes. I thought it would be a simple matter to just remove the seat posts and saddles as units, but the seat post diameters were different. So I disassembled the saddles from the posts, and started reassembling them, only to discover (after dropping parts all over the floor once or twice) that I'd reassembled the original saddles onto their original seat posts! Sandra watched all this in silent amusement. It must be one of those female things. She could have told me that I was being stupid, but noooooooo!
There were no major repairs to be done, but lots of little jobs. It's always that way when we work with donated bikes. We have to match up clients with suitable bicycles the morning of the class, and get everything set for their use by mid-day. To her credit, Sandra handles most of the basic repairs prior to the class and she does good work. My job is to adjust saddles and handlebars, install or remove toe clips and straps, adjust brakes, and the like.
It's minor work, but it all has to be done in a short time. That's one big advantage of having 4 instructors. Two of them are teaching while the other two set up bikes. For the Community Cycling Project, this is a workable format, and indeed it may be the only way to accomplish the task unless the class size was very small. I simply can't see how a lone instructor could do it. The Parks Department classes are limited to 15, and if all had shown yesterday, I may have been overwhelmed. As it is, 12 bikes provided plenty of work for me. Fortunately, the TPS classes don't have many mechanical issues since they're using new bikes rather than donated ones.
Sine I was out early, I didn't get a chance to do my spiel on flat tires, drive train maintenance, and locating problems. I truly hope Brian and Gary covered it. I was giving them a hard time about not allowing me to teach, when I know perfectly well that they've likely forgotten more about teaching than I've ever learned.
We did lose two students who were physically unable to complete the course. They were both social services referrals, so they get to keep their bicycles and equipment. Both had good attitudes and a willingness to learn, but their legs simply let them down. I hope we get to see them again in the future, and I really hope they develop into cyclists.
Finally, I heard from several students who've read CycleDog. In fact, one said she was persuaded to try bicycle commuting by some of these posts. I have mixed feelings about influencing people. Sure, there's ego-gratification, and that's a primary motivator for many writers. In the case of CycleDog, it truly isn't about the money! (I think the click-through ads have earned about $50 since this began.) The downside is that I worry about someone getting hurt as a result of something I've written. Much of my writing is meant to be light fun. I don't want to give the impression that riding a bicycle in traffic is a carefree, mindless activity. On the other hand, it's not a hair-raising, terror-filled, near-death experience either. That's one reason that I think bicycling education is so important, if only to dispel misinformation. Riding a bike should be fun, and learning about riding should be fun too.