Monday, July 9, 2012

Learn to fix your bike: the Bike House at Annie's Ace Hardware

If you need to get your bike fixed or want to learn more about it, there's a great neighborhood option: The Bike House.

On Saturday I decided to check out them out. They're a non-profit bike clinic. They're open every Saturday at Annie's Ace Hardware (1240 Upshur Street NW) from noon to 3 pm and Sundays from 11am-1pm at the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market at 1st and R NW. They've also started up a mobile clinic with a bike trailer to go to Wards 7 and 8.

In short, I had a great experience. They're staffed by volunteers and they'll help find what's wrong with your bike and teach you how to fix it. There's a host who will greet you and ask about your bike, and then they pair you up with an expert. They're knowledgeable and friendly, which is key -- I'm no bike expert, and so many times I've been to bike shops and the staff have had really bad attitudes because of that. I don't know what I'm doing -- if I were an expert, why would I be going to a bike shop?

The Bike House folks are great. I needed a new tube for a tire and the bike seemed sluggish. Bo, the volunteer who helped me, saw that one brake was too tight and rubbed the wheel, and that the chain was gunky. He showed me how to loosen the tension on the brakes and how to clean off the chain. They have a lot of tools with them, and you can buy parts at Annie's. In my case, the entire cost of my visit was $4 for a new tube (though I also donated some money to the clinic, because they were awesome and are doing it for free.) Then I tried riding, and the bike rode perfectly.

I can't recommend them enough. You can also just show up and use the tools if you know what you're doing, and they have pumps and things too. They also offer classes, and are always looking for more volunteers.

Pretty cool stuff. Stop by and say hi (and tell them you heard about it from this blog!)

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