by Learning Lead – Kristen Tymoshuk

Hey everyone! My name is Kristen and I am super excited to be a Waterlution Learning Lead this summer! I just graduated from Dalhousie University and I am currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia working in a fish genetics laboratory. I first became aware of the Cautious Optimist Legacy Project in March. Danielle Moore’s skill learning journey was extremely inspiring to me and showed that in the face of climate change it is important to have hope and make the most of the time you have. I think the Cautious Optimist is a beautiful way to celebrate the journey of learning, which can often be frustrating and difficult. Through my series of blogs, I hope I can share my learning journey with the Waterlution community and inspire others to learn something new as well

Let’s set the scene. It’s the year 2100, and the world is facing an irreversible climate apocalypse. You’re trying to reach a safe haven hundreds of kilometres away. Gas ran out long ago and the roads aren’t maintained anymore, so driving is not an option. It would take months to get there by walking, and you only have enough food left for a few weeks. When all hope seems lost, you come across an old bike shop with one bike left. It’s a bit run down, but luckily, there are a few tools left that you could use to fix it up. With a little bit of love, this beautiful piece of machinery could easily get you to the safe haven before your supplies run out. 

If you’re worried about finding yourself in this situation without the know-how to fix up a bike, no fear! Follow along with me as I teach myself the basics of bike repair. I will be attempting to fix my decrepit bicycle to working order. As a bit of background, I have a 15 speed hybrid bike that was abandoned outside for 2 winters in Nova Scotia, making it unrideable .

Photo of the bike which will be refurbished. Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

Through this series of blogs, I will be learning all about bike restoration and maintenance, and summarizing my learnings here for all to use. As someone who knows little about the mysterious workings of a bicycle, this will involve a lot of trial and error! But I’m super excited to learn and share my journey. 

Missing pedal on the bike. Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

What are the problems?

The bike: In general, the bike is in bad shape. The tires are deflated, the mechanisms are grimy, and one of the pedals is missing. Blog 2 will focus on general bike maintenance, and fixing these smaller problems.

The next blog will focus on fixing the chain. Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

The chain: Examining my bike for the first time since I abandoned her, it is clear the chain needs to be replaced. A little bit of superficial rust will not harm your chain, so if your chain is a bit rusty, but each link still moves independently of each other link, it is still usable, you’ll just need to give it a bit of TLC. The links on my chain are rusted together, so I will have to get a new chain . Blog 3 will focus on chain replacement and maintenance!

The next stage will focus on repairing the breaks. Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

The brakes: I tried to ride my bike a few metres down my street, and I can safely say they do not work. At all. From what I can tell, the brake lines appear to be in good condition, but the brake pads are quite worn down, so Blog 4 will focus on brake repair and maintenance. My gears are also super stuck, so I will be tuning those.

With the bike. Photo by Kristen Tymoshuk.

The gears: Currently, my bike will not switch gears either, so Blog 5 will focus on restoring those, as well as a final rundown of the main takeaways from my journey, and a fun ride on my newly fixed bike!

A few useful tools I will be using

I will be working with mostly the parts I have, and only buying new parts and tools as absolutely necessary, as I doubt the future climate apocalypse will have a good selection of bike related tools. I did a bit of preliminary research and decided that these tools would be the most necessary for the parts I am trying to fix.

Chain tool: Even though my bike technically has a quick release link, the mechanisms are so rusted together that it is almost impossible to remove the chain using that method. Many bike chains require a chain tool to break one of the links in the chain, and allow you to slip the chain off the bike.

Adjustable wrench: My bike is quite old. So most of its parts are fastened together with various sized nuts and bolts, making this adjustable wrench I borrowed from my roommate very important. Some bikes use bolts with hexagonal sockets instead, so a set of Allen keys would be more useful.

Tire pump: Imperative for blowing up flat tires!

Gear cleaning tool: The curved tooth end of this tool is very useful for cleaning out dirt between the gears, while the brush end helps get grime off the derailleur and chain.

Screwdriver: Another tool I borrowed from my roommate! There are a few flathead and Phillips head screws on my bike that I will have to get off.

Thank you so much for reading my first blog! I hope this inspired you to check on your own bike if you haven’t ridden it in a while, and maybe take it out for a little ride around the neighborhood. If you want to see more incredible learning journeys, consider joining the Waterlution community and reading more awesome blogs from the Learning Leads!