If you can’t stand the heat…

After a month of blogging, I’m finally ready to join the LA Bike Culture. The bike my wife picked out for me arrived a couple of weeks ago, and today I had a chance to drop by the Bicycle Kitchen for bike assembly and to get some tips. If anyone doesn’t know what the Bike Kitchen is, it is a non-profit dedicated to providing space, help, and tools to people that want to work on their bike or are just getting started on cycling. I guess I’m somewhere in between but its been so long since I’ve done anything on a bike besides ride it, that I’m closer to newbie than to veteran.
My cook for the evening was Mike Hammer, who may be one of the few people in the world to have a cooler name than I do. I got permission to take some pictures while they worked on the bike. They gave me permission, and then informed me that I was working on the bike, they were just giving advice.
Honestly, it was much cooler to do a lot of the work myself, although it probably would have been impossible without Mike’s help. The bike was in good shape to start with, so I just got to do things like attach the pedals, handlebar, wheels, quick releases, seat and such. The tricky stuff was already taken care of…and I learned a few new things.
Mike guided me through stuff and didn’t get annoyed when I forgot instructions he gave me 10 seconds earlier, which happened twice. Ok, three times.
While helping me, Mike was able to handle two other people AND answer a couple of phone calls. Once the bike was put together I just headed out the door and biked down the street. The $7 "suggested donation" per hour for use of their stuff and advice was more than worth it. Honestly, I would have paid a lot more for help and advice that good (not to mention the tool and rack rental.)
When I expressed nervousness about getting on the bike for the first time, after all it had been over a year since my last ride, I was reassured that "don’t worry, its like riding a bike."
Afterwards they sent me across the street for some bike accessories, some of which are legally required (headlight) and some just suggested. I found the folks at Orange 20 Bikes just as helpful as the folks at the kitchen. If I hadn’t forgotten to write down the name of the gentleman that helped me (unless his name is also Mike Hammer) I would be singing his praises as well. I’m told that the founders of Orange 20 are also Bike Kitchen alumni and man did that show. The staff helped me put on my new lights (because I was busy fumbling around in the dark trying to get them on) and helped me out with directions for the safest way across Melrose. I liked them so much, I’m voting for them on the Fox LA’s "Hotlist" poll for the best bike shop in LA.
Here’s some other pictures from the evening on Heliotope. A post on what my ride was like is in the works for Wednesday:

The partially assembled bike goes up on the rack.

Cleaning off some of the newly applied grease.

Mike said this particular safety device was idiot proofing the bike.

Well, just give me some time to test that theory out.
And we’re done! Wait, whadda ya mean I need to buy lights? Who’s crazy law is that?

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