Several Bicycle Shops from all around Ohio travel with GOBA providing repair service in camp and along the route.
Most Bicycle repair vehicles do not have an amateur radio operator to provide communications. In the past, only one repair vehicle, whose mechanic is a ham, is available to respond via the radio. Because of this, it does not make much sense to call net control with a report of a bicycle in need of repair. Usually, the best response to a bicyclist requiring a repair is to advise them to find a shady spot and wait for a repair vehicle. If the bike is still safely rideable, it may be best for the bicyclist to proceed to the next Official GOBA Food Stop where repair vehicles are likely to be found performing other minor repairs.
The most common necessary repair is fixing a flat tire. GOBA riders have been advised to carry the necessary equipment (tire irons, spare tube or patches, and a pump) and to learn how to repair flat tires on their own. Despite this advice, and despite training sessions available to GOBA riders, many GOBA cyclists do not know how to fix a flat and don't have the tools they need to do so. Most of the time another bicyclist with the tools and know-how will be willing to assist a rider unfamiliar with how to accomplish the repair. This is almost always the quickest way for a rider to get a flat repaired. An experienced GOBA rider, with the necessary tools, can easily fix a flat in 10-15 minutes. Bicyclists with pumps attached to their bikes are the ones most likely to have the other tools and to know how to fix the flat. When a bicyclists approaches an Amateur Radio Operators seeking assistance with a flat tire, the best advice is to encourage the bicyclists to elicit the aid of another GOBA rider. Waiting for a repair truck can take a long time.
The second most common mechanical problem is a broken spoke -- this is hard to fix without a spare spoke. Few riders have them. A repair vehicle can fix this problem quickly, but it is likely to be a long wait for a repair truck to arrive. A bicyclist with a "spoke wrench" can sometimes straighten the wheel so that the bike can be ridden to the next official food stop where bicyclists, and repair vehicles, tend to congregate.
Other repairs can sometimes also be accomplished by an experienced GOBA rider with the proper tools. Riders with a broken chain need a "chain tool".
Repair vehicles are assigned designated portions of the route to cover -- but they usually remain in camp each morning, fixing bicycles, until approximately 8-9 am. Bicycles along the route requiring repairs before then are likely to have a long wait, sometimes several hours.
When a repair vehicle stops to repair a bike, its mechanics are usually swamped with requests for minor repairs and adjustments, or nothing more than oil, making it difficult for the repair vehicles to proceed along the route looking for bicycles in need of more extensive repairs.
A rider whose bike cannot be repaired by a repair vehicle along the route, will need to be sagged into camp. Net control should be called and provided with information regarding the rider in need of a sag vehicle.
Bicycle mechanics working on GOBA's repair vehicles are some of the hardest working people on GOBA. They are frequently up working on bikes at 5 and sometimes do not get to bed until 1 or 2. There are 3000 bicycles on GOBA and only 10-12 bicycle mechanics.
Original content by Jeff Ferriell,
K8ZDA. Revised by Jeff Slattery,