I do most of my own bike maintenance, and by and large I think I do a pretty good job. I was pretty proud of myself on my last build when I successfully pressed in the headset with a homemade headset press. Nerve wracking, but successful. Friends and family seem comfortable hitting me up for advice or help when things aren't working properly on their rides. In fact I spent a good chunk of this evening on the phone and exchanging emails with my father in-law, helping him get his new cyclocross bike set up and dialed. I not a pro mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but my greasy old Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance manual and Sheldon Brown have helped me handle most of the bike maintenance situations I encounter.
Every so often I am humbled though, and I sheepishly walk into my LBS and dutifully exchange a few dollars for a small amount their expertise. The other humbling scenario is I'm out on a ride and I notice something just isn't quite right. That was my experience this week.
A few months ago I put a new bell on one of my bikes. My lovely wife had kindly bought me a replacement bell for one that I broke in a dramatic, solo crash riding home from work one day. Being winter for the past few months I haven't needed to use this bell, there are no pedestrians to alert when I'm riding around, and drivers all have their windows up and sealed tight, so they won't here my little 'ring, ring.' Fiddling around on my ride home this week I tried to ring the bell for the fist time while riding. I remember mounting the bell, and it worked perfectly while the bike was on the stand. Not so much while riding. Apparently I mounted the bell with the little thumb lever pointing left, on the right side of my handle bar.
Definitely could have set this up to be easier to use. Not a big deal, and certainly an easy fix, but it serves as a comical little reminder that as confident as I may feel at times I am still an amateur mechanic. One of these days I'll take a few weeks and hang out at UBI and really figure things out. Until then it is an awkward little reach to ring my bell.