Special Series: Alternative Transportation

By: Stefany Olivas, Business Manager | Photos By: Stefany Olivas, Business Manager


Many students, fac­ulty and staff com­mute to CNM by means of alterna­tive transportation. Bicycling is one of the many ways people choose to travel because it saves money and reduces pol­lution in the environment — now it is a lifestyle.

Liberal Arts major Jacob Hollenbeck has been riding his bike since he was ten years old and said he often rides his bike as a hobby and looks for places to take pictures.

He said bicycles are simple devices and things are usually very easy to fix when some­thing malfunctions.

“You don’t need to be a mechanical engineering stu­dent to understand how it works and understand how to fix things if something goes wrong,” said Hollenbeck.

He said the idea that people need a car to get around Albuquerque is a misconception. There are trails throughout the city that can be used to get any­where without trouble.

“Our transit system has improved tenfold from what it used to be. Why do you need a 3,000 pound car that can seat five and luggage to take you to work?” said Hollenbeck.

Another common miscon­ception is that bicycling is an expensive hobby and a cyclist is always the person wearing tight spandex while riding, said Hollenbeck. He said he does not want people to dismiss cycling because they think there is a cer­tain way to do it.

“You need the bicycle and you need you. And a fair sense of how to use it. Some people do and they find that more com­fortable or aerodynamic. The cycle community is supposed to save money and it’s supposed to save energy,” said Hollenbeck.

For individuals who prefer a bicycle with gears, Hollenbeck said bicycles with hub gears work best because the chain is protected and they are lower maintenance.

He also recommends using utility bicycles which come with hub gears or a single speed and are used widely in Amsterdam and the Netherlands.

“They’re sturdy old steel things that put you in an upright position riding them. You can carry everything,” said Hollenbeck.

He said he encourages individuals to ask other cyclists what they know about cycling or fixing their own bikes.

“They’ll be happy to show you. There is a lot of community among the cyclists in this town,” said Hollenbeck.

For more information on the city ordinance and for a map of Albuquerque bike trails, visit cabq.gov.

Knowing the Basics

Jacob Hollenbeck gave the CNM Chronicle basic tips on bicycle repair and maintenance everyone should know.

Tools to keep on hand:

  • Metric Allen wrenches, adjustable wrench, wire cutters and pliers
  • In order to perform basic maintenance on a bicycle, Hollenbeck recommends a few basic tools, many of which can be carried in a bag while cycling.
  • “A lot of folks want to carry around a lot of complex little tool kits with them, and that’s fine. I personally can’t afford those,” said Hollenbeck.
  • Hollenbeck uses an adjustable wrench to take the wheel off his bike when he needs to change a flat, or take his seat off the bike when leaving it locked up in public for a long period of time.
  • “Sometimes you may want to take your seat with you, because if you leave it chained up long enough, people might want to jack your seat,” said Hollenbeck.
  • He carries two sizes of metric Allen wrenches with him to adjust the brakes where they tighten onto the wheel and to loosen the handlebars if they need to be aligned.
  • “Almost all bicycle parts, all the bolts that use these Allen wrenches, are metric. They’re not standard,” said Hollenbeck.

Wire hanger

If a chain or brake cable breaks, a piece of cut wire from a hanger can provide a tempo­rary quick fix by reconnect­ing the two broken ends back together. The trick works espe­cially well on simpler gear sys­tems, such as a single speed bike.

“You’d be surprised how many things on a bicycle you can fix with a piece of coat hanger if it comes down to it,” said Hollenbeck.


A wheel with a slight wobble can be adjusted with a wrench to tighten or loosen the casing that connects the spoke to the wheel. Turn the bike upside down. Look the tire straight on, turn the wheel and observe the direction it wobbles.

If it wobbles left, turn the bolt to the right. If it wobbles to the right, turn the spoke to the left. Turn the wheel after each slight adjust­ment to observe the changes.

“If you’re riding the bicycle and the wheel is bumping into the brake pads and it’s annoying, the spokes have a spare case. In a pinch you can turn your spokes with a wrench and straighten the wheel,” said Hollenbeck.

Changing a tube

Know what size of tube the bike requires and be able to describe what the air valve looks like. The tube dimen­sions are printed on every tube. For example: 26” x 2.1”.

The type of valve and the tube size will vary slightly depending on the width and circumference of the rim.

Hollenbeck also recom­mends having a roll of tire tape, which can be bought separately. Tire tape sits between the tube and the tire to help prevent punctures.

The use of a screwdriver to remove the tire is not rec­ommended and a small plastic tire tool can be purchased for proper tube maintenance.

“Never use a screwdriver because you’ll mess your tube up when you put it back together again,” said Hollenbeck.

Adjusting brakes

Brakes must be in the best possible condi­tion. Brakes that do not work well are often just not adjusted properly.

Hollenbeck said that sometimes, when the brake is squeezed, the pads do not make full contact with the tire because the cable is too long and needs to be shortened.

“You’re going to want the brakes to be in tip-top shape. Obviously, if something gets in front of you, you want to stop. You don’t want to hit things. Always have your brakes prop­erly maintained, properly adjusted,” said Hollenbeck.


Wearing a helmet is not required by law, but Hollenbeck said it should be. The majority of fatal bicycle accidents involve head injuries. He recommends getting a helmet that has a for­ward lip to better protect the front and back of the head.

“A lot of times you can get your tire in a storm sewer… and you’re going to go head first into a curb and a helmet can really protect you in the event that that happens. A helmet is a must,” said Hollenbeck.


Having lights is a legal requirement to ride after dark in the city of Albuquerque. Hollenbeck runs his lights steady, instead of flash­ing, because he said a blink­ing light can be deceiving to approaching drivers.

“It is just common sense. People are not going to see you very well. Especially if I’m wearing dark clothing, my helmet is black so I just have lights on it. I light it up and people see me. You have to have lights,” said Hollenbeck.

Jacob Hollenbeck’s top picks for bike shops

High Desert Cycles

  • 909 36th Pl.
  • Rio Rancho, NM 87124
  • 896-4700
  • 8110 Louisiana NE
  • Albuquerque, NM 87113
  • 842-8260
  • Highdesertbicycles.com

Fat Tire Cycles Inc.

  • 421 Montano Road NE
  • Albuquerque, NM 87107
  • (505) 345-9005
  • Fattirecycles.com

Porter Custom Bicycles

  • 2909 Arno Street NE
  • Albuquerque, NM 87107
  • (505) 352-1378
  • Porterbikes.com

UNM Bike Shop

  • Johnson Center, Room B549A
  • University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131
  • Phone: 277-0178 recsvcs@unm.edu

Fixed & Free Bike Shop

  • 114 Tulane SE
  • Abq. NM 87106
  • 505-255-0586
  • fixedandfree@gmail.com

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