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Calvin's Corner


The Park Tool distributor in Mexico, Benotto, sponsored a technical training seminar, held in Mexico City, July 16 and 17, 2009. There were one hundred twenty participants, all expecting an education nine hours a day, for two days. For me, it was quite an experience, as I think I learned as much as I hope I taught. Teaching is not a one-way street, as it forces you to clarify your topic in your mind before you even open you mouth.

Looking behind myself at the screen would give me a fright every time

Speaking of opening one's mouth, I am not afraid of any man's language, and in fact I count Spanish as one of my better tongues. However, keep in mind I speak what I call "Bike race Spanish". These were professionals, and I would not want them to suffer through my Spanish...es muy malo. Bennotto arranged for simultaneous translators. I felt like I was speaking at the United Nations. Each participant wore a wireless earphone. The translators sat in a glass booth and transmitted my lecture as I spoke to the mechanics, with only a minimal delay, which made my timing interesting. Jokes were followed with a 5 second delay before the reaction.

Translators were smooth and fast!


There was a live camera on my work the entire time, which made me very nervous. I had never taught this way before, and did not want to drop a part, or slip a wrench. The cameraman would come up on stage as needed to get right up to the component at hand while I was working.

Servicing a cartridge bearing hub.

What I took away from Mexico is simply this: There is no rest, for any of us. In other words, you must always try to keep on top of your game. Just sitting back on what you already know and are comfortable with is not good enough. There is new technology always coming out. You must dive right in and learn, and for teachers, you must also work to find new ways to reach people and to make a difference in their learning.

The participants made me feel very welcome.

Finally, if you get to Mexico City, try to get by Calle San Pablo. The street is lined with bicycle stores of all types. Large professional stores, small family run enterprises, packed with equipment of all sorts.