It's easy to learn a little basic bike maintenance, and knowing how your bike works makes the ride more enjoyable.

At the first of our summer bicycle workshops, two mechanics showed us some simple bicycle maintenance. These are best learned in person or video, but I will briefly describe the process with links to videos.

Pedals & Spokes bike shop owner Rick Green demonstrated how to clean and lube your bicycle chain. First, spray a gentle detergent like Simple Green on a rag. Lightly wrap the rag around the chain with your left hand while using your right hand to turn the pedals backward. For a more thorough clean, using a chain cleaning tool. Once the chain is clean, let it dry, then add oil by spraying or dripping it on the chain while turning the pedals backward. Finally, wipe off the excess oil using a clean part of the same rag, again holding the rag to the chain and spinning the pedals backward.

Use a bike-specific oil such as Tri-Flow (which can be found at Farm and Home or Westlake). Don't use WD-40 or 3-in-1 oil. Even though they are sometimes marketed for bicycles, they are not appropriate types of oil for protecting your chain.

After we cleaned our chains, local bike mechanic Kirk Ranson demonstrated how to change a flat tire. Take your wheel off your bike. Let the air out of the tire. Use tire levers to take one bead of the tire off the wheel rim. The other bead can stay on the wheel. Pull the flat tube partway out of the tire and add a little air so you can find the hole. Keep the tube partly inside the tire so that you will be able to match up the hole in the tube with the same location on the tire. Look or carefully feel inside the tire in the vicinity of the hole and try to find the cause of the hole. There may be a piece of glass, a thorn, or a sharp rock stuck in the tire, and if you put a new tube in without removing it, you will just get another flat tire.

You may be able to patch the hole, but personally I prefer to use a new tube because my patches tend to fail. Remove the old tube all the way and put the valve stem of the new tube through the valve stem hole in the wheel. Add a little air to the tube and push it into the tire all the way around. Use your hands to put the bead of the tire back onto the wheel. Finish airing up the tube to the recommended pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire.

Carry a spare tire, tire levers, and a small hand held air pump or CO2 cartridges on your bike in case you get a flat tire a long way from home.

At our next class on June 13 in Brashear Park, we will discuss the best routes for getting around town on a bicycle. Discover the secret byways and highways of the bicyclist!