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Confessions of a novice biker

I’ll be the first to admit that bike commuting can be intimidating—with crazy car traffic, steep hills, rain, stoplights, flat tires, and neon spandex bike shorts, I was certainly a little intimidated. But when the Bike to PSU Challenge rolled around this past May, I figured I’d give it a shot.

So I picked up some free bike route maps from the PSU Transportation and Parking Services office, invested in some rain pants—it was spring in Portland, after all—and strapped my brick of a backpack onto my bike rack. It was great; even in the drizzle my three-and-a-half-mile commute was fun and energizing.

But then I got a flat tire. Big bummer. I didn’t have a tube, and hadn’t a clue how to change a tire.

Luckily for me, the PSU BikeHub offers a free Bike Maintenance 101 workshop (among others). So I headed over there with some hesitation—bike shops can be daunting places, with hard-core bikers jeering at you because you don’t even know how to change a tire.

But the BikeHub was nothing like that. They directed the group of people who had begun to congregate at the door to the back of the shop. Then the bike mechanic began to slowly but thoroughly go over the basics of bike maintenance, from checking the brakes, to cleaning and greasing the chain, to changing a tire. All the fundamentals to keep you rolling smoothly down the road. And he made it clear how simple all this really was—no need to be intimidated. If you still aren’t sure how to change that tire, just bring your bike back to the shop and they’ll help you. Done.

With the tire changed, I was back in the bike lane. And I haven't turned back since.

A fellow PSU student changing her tire at the PSU Bike Hub, a DIY bike shop that provides tools, resources, workshops, and instruction to help PSU students and employees maintain their bikes.