What I've learned

According to the latest figures I could find, it was estimated there were 47.5 million cyclists/bicycle riders in the United States in 2017. I would guess, without the aid of statistical analysis, that I probably ride more miles than 85 percent of those pedal pushers.

Yes, I know how to ride a bike, but I don't know bikes. While my percentage is very high when it comes to spending time on the saddle, it is extremely low when it comes to understanding the inner workings of a two-wheeled machine. As my friend, Jon, has remarked on more than one occasion, "You know Pat, you're not very mechanically inclined." And he's right.

My latest educational place of learning.

So that's why I'm thankful for having the opportunity to work at Mathieu's Cycle, to pick the brains of my co-workers by asking questions and just observing. The guys and gal — when Casey was on the team — really know their stuff and are quite willing to share their expertise.

I've been working at the Farmingdale bike shop for just over a year now. So what have I learned?

I know it sounds simple and basic, but prior to joining the crew at Mathieu's my confidence when it came to fixing flats was pretty much non-existent. If I was out riding alone and I had a puncture, it meant either a long walk home or a sheepish call to someone begging for a ride. So embarrassing ... but not anymore.

One duty I've really enjoyed is assembling new bikes right out of the box. In all honesty, it's not that hard as the majority of the work involves just attaching the front wheel and brakes, adjusting the stem and handlebar, checking the shifting of gears, and a few other bits and pieces. It gives you a good understanding about the basics of bikes.

Three other important points of my on-the-job training that I've picked up include:

— Knowing what to look for to determine when various bike components, etc., are worn out and need replacing.

— Learning what bikes are better for what kind of riding, and helping people select the right one.

— And more than anything else, service to the customer is what matters the most. Anyone can sell a bicycle.

And there's one last thing I'll admit to that really points to my previous ignorance when it comes to bikes. It has to do with the familiar clicking noise emitted from the rear hub while coasting. Yeah, it sounds cool, but why is it doing it? Making the rhythmic tapping are what's called pawls. Basically, they keep wheels going in the right direction and they serve as points of engagement that help power your bike. I just never knew.

Anyway, there you have it. I know a little more about the bikes that I love to ride. When it comes right down to it though, the dudes I work with at the bike shop have forgotten more than I'll ever know. But that's fine with me. I'm just glad the owners, David and Lisa, have given me the chance to keep learning. Thanks.

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