Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Off cycle tripping

At this late stage in the summer (or is it early autumn already?) I've finally loaded up my bike to head off into the hills and eventually get back to Ireland. I'll be on the go for a week or so and will try to update you on my progress or at least let you know how it went when I get to Ireland. I'm sadly leaving the midlands for France in September but will be avidly keeping up with this blog and the progress of Birmingham Bike Foundry from afar.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Be a bike training guinea pig...for free!

Birmingham Bike Foundry are developing a new Bike Basics training course, and we are in need of some test subjects.

In exchange for three hours of your time, and a little feedback for us at the end, you can learn how to perform an 'M' check to ensure your bike is safe to ride and identify common problems, make basic adjustments to your bike, and repair a pesky puncture.

In future we will be charging for this course, so this is a great opportunity to get some essential bike maintenance training for free.

The session will be help at 1pm next Thursday (26th August) at the Birmingham Bike foundry premises: Muther's Studios, 14 Rea Street South, Digbeth.

If you would like to take part please email us at femmepedale@googlemail.com. We will take the first five interested and contact you to confirm your place. Men are welcome too!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

It's Puncture Time!

I've had a ridiculous spate of flats this past month so I thought it was time to update the old puncture repair kit. Afterall, it's impossible to do-it-yourself if you don't have the right tools for the job!

Things you might need:
  • repair kit which should contain, in order of use; a crayon to mark where the hole is, a small piece of sandpaper or other rough material to prepare the inner tube, rubber patches, rubber vulcanising solution (glue that sticks rubber together) and a little bit of chalk or talcum block to stop sticking to the tyre afterwards. Sometimes kits come with tyre levers, if not...
  • at least two tyre levers, maybe three if you have a tough tyre to get off
  • spare inner tube if the old one is beyond repair
  • 15mm spanner  to take off your wheel (most rear axles use this size, sometimes the front will need a 14mm. You can use an adjustable spanner if that's all you have but you will cause excessive wear on track nuts after a while.
  • then of course you will need access to a pump to inflate the darned thing again...

What every cyclist should know about flat tyres is a useful article if you're unsure of where to begin but expect a Femme Pedale guide to fixing your flats to follow! x

N.B. Pink was the available colour in decent tyre levers, this was not intentional to match my bedspread.

Our First Tool Club

On Thursday, Birmingham Bike Foundry had our first tool club (this is where for £10 a year you can have access to our workshop and tools for one evening a week and work on your bike under our mechanics' guidance). It's a really useful way of building up your confidence with your maintenance skills but not having to worry about messing up your bike or buying expensive tools. Anyway, this is an anecdote not an advert! I decided to help out at as many as possible to build up my own confidence and to be on hand for those ladies who want a bit of help or bike-related chatter. Our first customer was the lovely Kay, who had been bought a bike for her birthday but found that she didn't like the old-style gear setup and wanted to convert to a single speed to make life easier for herself on her short, flat commute to work. Kay decided she wanted to learn how to do it herself so she came along to the workshop to use our tools and get some advice. Not afraid to get her hands dirty, she took off her gear changers and gear cables and then using a chain breaker/chain tool she disconnected the chain to take off her derailleur. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to take off the cassette this time round but we have a shiny new freewheel to put on next time. Kay put her chain back on, wielding the 15mm spanner like a pro and is now happily cycling around (albeit it in the rain) on her new single speed!

The next tool club will be on Thursday 26th August from 5 until 8pm at our workshop in Digbeth, it's a drop-in session but it's always useful if you e-mail beforehand and let us know what you need help with. I'll be floating around, doing a good job of stripping stuff off and cleaning up old bikes whilst trying to learn how to put things together properly. Oh, and I'll definitely be getting some mudguards back on my two-wheeled friend!

Hope to see you there. x

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Reclaim the bad weather bike ride

The past few days have brought pretty unpleasant cycling. I took my mudguards off on Tuesday as they are a bit broken and have been rubbing on my wheels - I thought I'd cope with few days mud-guard free riding, to give me a chance to get hold of some new fixtures and fittings. WRONG. I spent the whole of a 2 hour meeting on Thursday night with a wet through, muddy bum. I'm just glad those chairs were wipe clean.

With the inevitable approach of another cold, wet autumn how can we keep our cycling momentum going and avoid leaving the bike in the shed until spring? This is my list:
1. Get some mudguards.
2. Get some waterproof trousers.
3. Get a bunch of girls to ride through the rain with you!

As such, please stand notified that the second reclaim the bike ride will take place on 10th September and we really hope it pisses it down!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Back for good

The Femme Pédale bike gang has been a little out of touch with our blog this summer. We feel pretty bad about it but wait till you hear what we've been up to! First of all we have all been learning new skills as mechanics and Bikeability instructors which has been very exciting; we're looking forward to delivering courses to keen cyclists in our city through Birmingham Bike Foundry. We have been working hard at getting BBF off the ground - you may have seen us out an about, at Stirchley Community Market or with our pedal powered smoothie maker at Cocks Moor Leisure centre. The Bike Foundry now has a workshop space in Digbeth and our mechanics are locked away refurbishing our first seven recycled bikes. We have a new website, which will appear in the next week, the address is www.birminghambikefoundry.org, you can find out about courses, see pictures of the bikes we have for sale and read about upcoming events.

We have also been enjoying a lot of sunny cycle rides, and are planning our next group ride. We hope that lots of you will join us, details will go up this week. Remember you can get in touch with us a femmepedale@gmail.com with suggestions and contributions, questions and comments. The five of us have taken a vow of weekly posts from now on, we promise! We'd also like to start a regular cycling group, for short rides, bike chats and maybe some polo - watch this space.