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Bike repair workshop hosted by Appalachian Understories at the Athens Community Makerspace, 751 W Union Street, Athens, Ohio, Feb. 10, 2024.

Appalachian Understories hosts bike repair workshop

The general rule of thumb when cycling is commonly referred to as the ABCs of biking: air, brakes and chain. The idea is to ensure before every ride these three bike components are working properly to not cause issues while riding. Although these rules are important, some may want to dig deeper into the mechanics of the bicycle.

After being rescheduled from Jan. 20, Appalachian Understories held a bike repair workshop Saturday at the Athens Community Makerspace, 751 W. Union St. The event was rescheduled due to inclement weather and no initial sign-ups. The purpose of the workshop was to teach participants basic bike maintenance.

Appalachian Understories is a division of the nonprofit Rural Action, focusing on tourism in Southeast Ohio and bringing benefits to the local communities. 

It is the second year in a row the organization has held this workshop, hosted by Lucas Blankenship, a first-year graduate student studying parks, hospitality, leisure and tourism and sociology. They said Appalachian Understories is doing good for the region with these types of events.

“I think it fits within a vision for the region and the surrounding counties of tourism, and especially tourism around outdoor recreation,” they said. “I think it also keeps the focus on creating opportunities for local folks to gain the resources to go out and explore the tourism assets that are being developed for folks that come outside of the community to enjoy.” 

The event was open to people of all skill levels, no matter how much they knew about bikes and bike maintenance. Blankenship said it was more hands-on rather than a lecture.

“It's one on one,” they said. “It's participant-led so we can go as specific and deep into one topic as we're able to, or also keep it surface level, like more bike anatomy level and just really home in on those (things) like changing flat tires and chain maintenance.”

LaRanda Piatt, a tourism specialist with Appalachian Understories, said she knew little about bikes going into the event.

“Originally coming into this I was like, ‘Man, I don't think that this is going to be comprehendible because I don't have any experience,’” she said. “But actually, I'm looking at bikes in a new way. It's very eye-opening.”

Coming into the workshop, Piatt did not even own a bike but was inspired to consider purchasing one after the event.

“With this position as the tourism specialist for Appalachian Understories, there's going to be a lot of bike tours coming up, and I'm going to help plan some of those,” Piatt said. “I actually don't have a bike so my options would be borrowing bikes, and I feel like it would be more fun to have my own.”

Some participants brought their bikes, hoping to learn how to work on them if something were to come up while out riding. 

Julie Finlay said she was passionate about bikes as a child but needed a reason to own a bike as an adult.

“(I was) an avid bike rider when I was a kid, of course,” she said. “When I was working when I lived in Texas, they gave us an incentive to spend healthy money and one of those things they could buy you was a bike.”

Finlay wants others to be aware and participate in events such as this.

“I hope more people will take advantage of stuff like this because it's not very expensive to keep yourself safe,” she said. “You can avoid mishaps. You can avoid danger. You can avoid issues if you just make yourself smart.”

Blankenship said knowing how one’s bike works and how to keep it in working order can make the act of riding much more enjoyable and accessible.

“Whatever way it feels good for your body to exist in that space, and then explore that terrain via bike,” Blankenship said. “So, if it’s a bike path, road, a gravel road, a trail – so (many) wonderful ways to get out and explore.”


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