Hand-me-ups

February 16, 2019 § 18 Comments

I’m not sure why women generally have worse bike equipment than men, but they do. It may be because they don’t see the value in spending a lot of extra money for things that have little or no added value. And women seem to ride their stuff for a lot longer. I know serious women cyclists who are riding bikes six or seven years old.

That’s a Stone Age bike to the average guy enthusiast.

When I got my wife her bike it was a pretty basic deal. Carbon frame, Shimano 105, and aluminum rims.

The first thing I upgraded were the wheels; a nice set of super light FastForward carbon climbing wheels. Why? Because wheels make a huge difference, but also because I ride the same wheels and they are very nice.

Why shouldn’t she have the same things I have, especially at upgrade time?

After a while the Shimano 105 thing wasn’t working out so well. She could shift okay but actually she couldn’t, and I quit trying to explain it. Part of it was because those levers aren’t easy to move. The other part is because at age 51 she wasn’t all that interested in gear-inches.

A month or so ago I scraped up all the spare change I had, sold everything I never used, and got her e-Tap. She loved it and it made riding so much easier. For both of us.

Then the other day, Baby Seal was riding with her. “Hey,” he said, surprised. “Are you riding e-Tap?”

“What’s that?”

“Your shifters. Are they electronic?”

“I think so. Seth had them put on. They are really easy to use.”

“Oh, he got a new set?”

“Yes.”

“And he just put his old stuff on your bike and the new stuff on his?”

“No, this is the new thing. He has the old thing.”

Later on, Baby Seal and I were riding together. “Dude,” he said. “You bought your Freddie wife e-Tap and kept the old stuff on your bike? You didn’t give her the old stuff and put the new group on your bike? It’s the NEW generation e-Tap, man!”

“Why would I do that?”

“Everybody does that,” he said. “Everybody.”

________________

END

Getting there is half the fun

February 8, 2019 § 10 Comments

Unfortunately.

I drove to Sacramento to meet up with friends for an annual ride. When we arrived I realized that I had lost the charger for my laptop, so we detoured to the Apple store.

There are no young customers at the Apple store. They buy their stuff online and fix their stuff online. The Apple store does have young people in it, though., the sales staff. They are there to guide the stupid old people through the circuitous maze leading to their credit card.

“I need an adapter charger thingy,” I said.

The chic Mac jock in hipster shoes and a ragged beard smiled. “Sure! Which laptop do you have?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

This fazed him exactly zero, and how could it? He hears it every day, a thousand times. “Does it have a magnetic connector?” he asked.

“I don’t know. What’s that?”

He knew that my very ignorance meant I didn’t have one. “So the power cord plugs into a little socket?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And when did you buy the laptop?”

“About a year ago.”

“Fifteen or thirteen-inch screen?”

“I don’t know.”

“Kind of big or kind of little?”

“Kind of big.”

“Here’s what you need,” he smiled, guiding me to the adapter charger thingy.

I stared at the $79 price tag and pretended that I hadn’t just been to China, the country of origin, where they were selling these in the street for $5.

“You’ll also need the cord,” he smiled, pointing me to a little box with a wire cord in it. $15. They’d had those on the street in Chengdu, too. One buck. For three.

Then Yasuko chimed in. “I need a new phone charging cord.”

“Okay,” the hip guy smiled again, pulling down another $10 cord.

I handed him my credit card meekly. He had gotten to the end of the maze so fast, almost as if he’d done it a million times before. The total was over $120, with tax.

Behind me some other stupid old people were speaking baby English to a different staffer, who had asked “What seems to be the problem?”

“Our Internet doesn’t work,” the stupid old man said.

“Let’s have a look,” he said, whisking them away to the Genius Bar, which is what they call the wallet vacuuming station. “And see if we can’t get this fixed.”

I half expected the stupid old people to pull the Internet out of their pocket to show the Mac jock, but they didn’t need to. He was already 99% of the way to the end of the maze.

____________

END

Floyd’s Pot Shop sponsors dope new team

February 6, 2019 § 2 Comments

After the bongshell announcement that former Tour de France ace and gadfly about town Floyd Landis had formed his own cycling team in cahoots with “Max Kash Aggro” beer peddler Roger G. Worthington, Cycling in the South Bay sat down with these two paragons of cycling wisdom and marketing wizardry to plumb the depths of their new plans to send cycling’s Ancien Regime up in smoke.

CitSB: You first, Floyd. What’s a nice boy like you doing in a shit-show like this?

Landis: It’s time to give back with more than just drugs. After getting that $750k from the Lance lawsuit, I wanted to help revitalize this sport that I love, or at least provide it with an alternative to opiates and manmade painkillers.

MKA: Hey, shut up, Floyd. It’s my turn to talk. Look, Wanky, your blog sucks, okay?

CitSB: We’ll get to you in a moment, little fellow. Floyd, you and Worthington have been friends a long time. How has that worked?

Landis: We go way back. Rog was one of the first people who believed in my innocence.

CitSB: One born every minute, right?

Landis: Pretty much.

MKA: Remember that time after you got banned that I had you announce at the Dana Point GP and you got hammered and sang all those Johnny Cash songs from the booth?

Landis: That was a gas, Rog. Good times! You are the best!

CitSB: Floyd, you’re on record as saying with regard to young people racing that “I would never encourage kids to get into it. It’s a catastrophe. It’s awful.” Has that changed?

Landis: Oh, absolutely. I totally encourage kids to get into bike racing now. It’s amazing. It’s fantastic.

CitSB: What’s changed?

Landis: The unicorns. They are everywhere now, with rainbow farts that smell like licorice and cetewale.

CitSB: Cetewale?

Landis: Middle English for “zedoary.”

CitSB: Zedoary?

Landis: Never mind.

CitSB: Okay. So back in 2017 when asked about the potential for change in cycling you said, “No, there’s no hope. There isn’t any. That’s just a fact. We can sit here and be pie in the sky, but they’re not changing.” And you described the U.S. governing body as “These are the same people, the same officials, the same USA Cycling. It’s all still just infested with disgusting people.” But things are different now?

Landis: Oh, absolutely.

CitSB: How?

Landis: Unicorns are in charge now and they are all eating Floyd’s Pot Shop cannabis products. Look! There goes a unicorn now!

CitSB: Where? Where?

Landis: Oh, dang it. You just missed it.

CitSB: Crap. Anyway, a couple of years ago you said, “In any case, the sport will never be clean and the guys who take the products will always be one step ahead.” Thoughts?

Landis: When I said “always” I didn’t add “and forever.” What I meant was “always” like “I will always love you, honey.” You know, one of those things no one believes. Come on. I was KIDDING. What I should have said is that the sport will never be clean until I and MKA get our own pro team and the riders are drinking Worthy Beer, the finest craft beverage currently produced in America.

MKA: It’s better than that!

Landis: You are the best, Rog. You rock, bro!

CitSB: A quick check of Beer Advocate has Worthy Brewing at 3.66 out of five. Just sayin’.

MKA: Those worthless sacks of shit at Beer Advocate wouldn’t know good beer if you poured it up their butts with a siphon.

CitSB: Sorry?

MKA: It’s all a joke. Those beer rating things are scams. He who pays the most, wins! And I play to win. Our marketing budget for 2019 has quadrupled, with glossy back cover buys for 12 issues. That will increase our taste rating by a full point, you’ll see.

CitSB: MKA, in addition to your extensive background as a leaky prostate masters racer, what are you bringing to the effort?

MKA: I’m not a megalomaniac. I have, however, performed lung surgery, founded a Nobel Prize-winning institute that has cured mesothelioma and bunions, built a 50,000 square foot, zero-carbon footprint home in Bend, taught Chris Botti how to play trumpet, developed the best tasting beer hop on earth, won several football championships for Clear Lake High back in Houston, written a New York Times bestseller about hair regrowth in older men through pilates, recovered over $4,000 billion for deserving asbestos victims without ever setting foot in a courtroom, devised a plan to stabilize and re-freeze the Thwaites Glacier, mastered the comb-and-tissue paper, and personally delivered Christmas presents in a magical sleigh to over a billion people in Africa.

CitSB: So you’re thinking the bike racing venture should be pretty easy?

MKA: Who’s the winningest masters cycling team of all time? Labor Power, brought to you by MKA. Who’s the greatest brewer of all time? Worthy Brewing, brought to you by MKA. And who’s gonna win the Tour next year? Floyd’s Pot Shop, brought to you by MKA. I’m like Ceasar. I come, I see, I conquer. Got it?

CitSB: Yes, sir.


END

Apology from the heart

January 11, 2019 § 51 Comments

I did it. I am sorry.

Sorry, honey. I really am.

Sorry, mom. I couldn’t control myself.

Sorry, dad. I know you had higher hopes for your son, one who would have discipline and taste.

Sorry, children. I raised you to be better than I was able to be. May you never wear this badge of dishonor yourselves.

Sorry, grandchildren, living and unborn. This a shame you will carry forever. Hide it well.

Sorry, dearest friends. You trusted me. I betrayed you. You will never look at me the same way again.

Sorry, cycling buddies. You thought I stood for something bigger. I didn’t. I fell in with a bad, bad crowd.

Sorry, blog subscribers. You thought you were supporting decency, goodness, and truth. You weren’t. You were supporting a sham.

Sorry, Big Orange. You embraced me. I fouled your nest with the opposite of Orange.

Sorry, Velo Club La Grange. You welcomed me as a member. I have besmirched your true-blue reputation forever.

Sorry, in-laws. You never fully trusted me. You were right. The minute you turned your back, I slithered into something horrible.

Sorry, on-line Chinese teachers. You believed I was dedicated and dependable. I was fickle. Just another faking poser.

I did this thing for which there is no atonement, I ventured to a dark place from which there is no return. I have no one to blame but myself. Henceforth when I look in the mirror I will only see the horror.

Why horror? Because I did it, with intent and full knowledge, knowing that my life would never again be the same and not caring about those who had loved and trusted me to be better. Yes, I did it. I bought Rapha.


END

Choose your notebook well

December 8, 2018 § 3 Comments

I know that no one reads anymore even though more books get published now than at any time in human history. Clearly, my two subscribers aren’t reading this either, and for sure Mom isn’t.

The way that you document things in the cycling world is with your phone, I mean, with your personal movement/thought/purchasing tracker. When things happen on the bike that are noteworthy, you whip out your 
personal movement/thought/purchasing tracker, take a photo, and upload it to your favorite voluntary monitoring and personal data donation service, be it Facegag, Instagratifcation, or The Stravver. (FYI: There are no others).

Here are the crucial cycling moments you will need to record on your 
personal movement/thought/purchasing tracker:

  1. Cool pose leaning next to your expensive bike.
  2. Cool pose in your expensive outfit.
  3. Cool angle on your expensive bike.
  4. Cool angle on your expensive outfit.
  5. PR on that driveway-to-bush segment behind the security gates.
  6. Selfie atop a tall mountai.
  7. Selfie of some uber-cool socks.
  8. Selfie chillin’ by the pool.
  9. Selfie enjoying the good life in [Cancun/Bahamas/Omaha].
  10. Cat photo.

Sometimes though, when I want to really disturb people I show up without a helmet. And then when I want to drive them over the edge, instead of pulling out my personal movement/thought/purchasing tracker, I pull out my notebook which is equipped with a pen.

[Note to potential notebook/pen purchasers: My notebook has never crashed, been hacked, phished, or accidentally deleted, although one time I did drop it by mistake into a port-o-potty.]

A good notebook should be durable, small enough to stow but big enough to write on, it should have good paper that doesn’t bleed easily, a hardy outside cover to protect it from blood, sweat, gunfire, and tears, and it should look #superpro, as if you’re jotting down notes for your upcoming tome on the history of ceramic bearings. Pro Tip: Leave it on the window sill for a couple of months in bright sunlight to give it that weathered, been-round-the-world look that will totally intimidate everyone at the airport as they furtively glance up from their Black Friday wish list and note with horror that you are, like, writing.

Best of all if you can pull it off is to finish a hard climb, take out your notebook, jot down your data, tear out the page, put it in a stamped envelope, and drop it in the next mailbox you pass, addressed of course to Strava.

END

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Jot it up. Jot it down. But please, jot it. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Deep thoughts profoundly recorded in your notebook. Forever.

Don’t Do-It-Yourself

December 5, 2018 § 4 Comments

Lots of things have changed since I first got a sporty bike. One of them was that back in those old days I couldn’t work on my bike because I was an idiot. When anything broke or got out of adjustment I would hurry down to Freewheeling and Uncle Phil would fix it while Uncle Jack looked on and commented on the state of the union, the state of the pro cycling scene, and the state of the bike shop.

Nobody ever made me feel like an idiot; it was self-understood that anyone who couldn’t adjust a derailleur or brakes or swap out a crank or brake cables or a chain was a congenital idiot.

Plus no one wanted to offend you directly because if you stood around long enough you would eventually buy stuff. The bike shop used to be a place where people hung out because they didn’t have phones or Internets or any information other than what they could glean out of Uncles Jack & Phil. That’s another reason we respected our elders. They had info and they weren’t sharing unless you sucked up to ’em just right.

No one ever offered how to show you how to fix or repair anything because you were an idiot, a customer, and likely to ruin it and blame it on them.

The only exception was truing stands. “Love to sell truing stands,” Uncle Phil always said.

“How come? Is wheelbuilding easy?”

“Fiendishly difficult; takes years.”

“Then why do you like to sell them?”

“Cause the idiots always fuck up the wheels and then bring them to us to fix. Best way to sell new wheelsets is to sell truing stands.”

New levels of incompetence

Nowadays I am still a first-rate Not Do-It-Yourself dude; I cannot fix anything that doesn’t require Old No. 72. But unlike then, when I could only not fix a few things, all of which were mission critical, today I can’t fix about a thousand things. Then, I knew what was mission critical, i.e. everything. Now I’m not so sure so I assume it’s everything

And what’s worse, I’m not the only Not-Do-It-Yourselfer. A whole bunch of other people, people who used to be able to fix bikes pretty good, are similarly stymied when it comes to bike repair.

Built-in idiocy is a key point to new bike stuff. Used to, you could straighten a frame by tying it to a tree, hooking it to your bumper, and peeling out. At least I think that’s how they did it, which doesn’t work so hot anymore with carbon. The only way you can fix carbon nowadays is to have the last name Lonergan.

I suppose it’s all for the best, though. By not knowing how to fix anything I can spend more time on the things that matter, like not wearing a helmet in the shower. Now that is mission critical.

END

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You can’t do it. We can’t help. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Old No. 72, for when the going gets tough.

More cycling heresy

November 26, 2018 § 8 Comments

It is difficult to get more heretical than suggesting that one needn’t wear a helmet all the time, and then actually riding without one.

However, there is for sure an area even more locked into orthodoxy than helmet use, and it’s the area of saddle height. Basically, the rule of saddle height is that it should not be too high and that it should not be too low, in effect it’s the Goldilocks Law: It better be fuggin’ just right.

Experimenting with saddle height is a no-no. You must find the Goldilocks and never vary it so much as a millimeter, especially a millimeter. Such varying will cause tendinitis, back spasms, pattern baldness, and death.

So crucial is the Goldilocks that in order to find it, you must have a scientifically based bike fit that meets all ergonomic and phrenological parameters. Otherwise you will fritter away watts, get even more pattern baldness in worse places than your head, and die.

What are friends for?

The other day I was riding with Friend and Friend was talking about how awesome Friend’s bike was. Actually, it wasn’t Friend’s bike, it was a bike Friend had borrowed from another Friend, and that Friend had sold the bike Friend was on to another Friend, such that Friend was actually keeping it prior to shipping to Friend and had decided to take it for a spin to make sure it was Up to Snuff for Friend and to adjust it and stuff.

I am not great with bike talk. “How come you like it?” I asked.

Friend said many things but my understanding of the answers was limited. “Is it light?” I asked, trying to be bike-intelligent.

“Crazy light.”

“Can I pick it up?”

“Sure.”

I picked it up. “It is a lot heavier than my bike,” I said.

Friend was disappointed and disbelieving until Friend picked up my bike. “Wow, your bike is a lot lighter.”

“Would you like to try it?”

“Sure. But the saddle is way too high.”

So I lowered the saddle and Friend tried it out. “Don’t you want to raise the seat on that?” Friend asked as we swapped bikes.

“No,” I said. “It’s fine. It’s just a bike.”

“How can it be fine? That is a 54 with the saddle mostly down, and you ride a 56 with the saddle up in the cumulonimbus and even then your legs are bent a little. How can it be fine?”

My knees were grazing the underside of the bars on the upstroke. “It’s just a bike,” I said. “It’s fine.”

Not fake news

We pedaled up Hawthorne, which is about 4 miles uphill. I felt a lot of leg muscles I didn’t know I had. Halfway up we switched bikes again, but even though Friend had shoved my seat post down all the way, I left it there. “Aren’t you going to raise it?”

“No,” I said. “It’s just a bike. It’s fine.”

I rode the rest of the way up Hawthorne all scrunched up, like a BMX bike. It felt weird but oddly it was easier to pedal. Partly that was because I was using lots of thigh muscle, and partly it was because when I am shoved down on my bike I don’t catch very much wind, and normally I stick up like a giraffe and can never get a draft off anyone except Davy and Pischon. I was down so low and tiny there wasn’t much wind down there in the scuppers.

Today I went out for a ride and raised the saddle, but kept it awfully low. My knees didn’t break and no male pattern baldness broke out. The absence of wind and the thigh-mashing seemed to work as well as they had the day before.

The only down side was the worst possible thing in cycling; it looked bad. So bad that I’d never get to buy one of those Team Fred Mackey jerseys with the coat of arms.

I decided to take it out on the NPR next week and see how things go. I will keep you posted.

END

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Some things you can mess with. Saddle height isn’t one of them. After all, what did Eddy know? Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

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