Friday, November 21, 2008

About what I said before...

I'm going to have to contradict myself today. I know this is setting a dangerous precedence, considering that I've only been writing this blog for about 2 1/2 month. It's a little early to be contradicting myself, but in this case, I think it's necessary. As a loyal reader of this blog, and how could you not be, you should recall that I have publicly stated that riding in cold weather is not something that I particularly enjoy. Not only have I stated that I don't enjoy it, I also have called into question the sanity of anyone who does. That statement not withstanding, I stand before you today to admit that one of my favorite bike rides of the year is coming up very shortly. I speak of the January 1st, Merry Fitness and A Happy New Rear Ride.

Each year, Bikin' Mike puts on this New Year's Day bike ride north of McKinney, TX. When you put on a ride on January 1st, you're pretty much asking for trouble with the weather. And we've had both the good, and the bad when it comes to the weather for this ride. We've ridden it on absolutely beautifully sunny days, with temperatures in the mid 70's, and we've ridden in cloudy, overcast, drizzly days, with bone chilling 30 degrees temperatures. Yes, in Texas, 30 degrees is considered "bone chilling".

Surprisingly, we usually get a good turnout for this ride. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure why. I have theories, not the least of which is the snappy name of the ride. Even I, as jaded and cynical as I am, have to admit "The Merry Fitness and a Happy New Rear Ride" is a pretty snazzy name for a bike ride. The name, along with the long sleeve t-shirts that Mike gives the riders for this ride instead of the usual standard issue short sleeves T's, get a pretty good turnout.

In addition to the really cool t-shirt, there are a few additional reasons that I think we get a nice crowd. For some reason, the riders seem to be in a really good mood for this ride. I've noticed over the years that regardless of the weather, people seem to really enjoy themselves. I think it's just that after a couple of months of riding in spin classes, they're just really overjoyed to be riding outside again. And come hell or high water, they're not going to let the weather ruin their day outside. I've seen them come across the finish line, teeth chattering, nose running, lips blue, and just as happy as they can be. I personally thinks that its a hypothermia induced case of mass hysteria.

Along those same lines, I've also noticed that the drivers that we encounter on this ride, seem to be in a better mood than they are the rest of the year. I think this is due to their surprise at actually seeing a large group of riders out on Jan 1st. By the time they actually comprehend that there are cyclist out, they don't have time to work up the proper amount of rage to honk, or shout, or throw a beer bottle at my head. It's either that, or they just figure that we don't have enough sense to come in out of the cold, and they'd feel bad about picking on the slow witted.

All that aside, I believe the real reason that we get a such good turnout for this ride, is that Mike always makes it a point to have black eyed peas and cornbread for all of the riders at the finish line. If you've never experienced the pure rapture of finishing up a 40 mile bike ride, in 30 degree temperature on Jan 1st, and sitting down to a piping hot bowl of black eyed peas and cornbread, you've really missed out on one of the great pleasures that a cyclist can experience. For me, I try and savor the experience. While some of the less learned riders just dive right in and start eating the peas, I first just sit there and enjoy the warmth of the bowl as it heats up my hands. Next, I kind of let my face hang over the bowl, and let the steam just float up to my nose. After a couple of hypnotic minutes of that, then and only then, do I allow myself to eat. As you can tell, I REEEALLY enjoy my bowl of peas.

And the best part is, it doesn't even have to be a good bowl of peas. More importantly, it just has to be hot. But that's somewhat true of all finish line food. I recall a ride last year were they served hot dogs after the ride. My wife will be the first to tell you, that I have a special relationship with hotdogs. I absolutely love a good hotdog. To the point of it being an obsession. So I was really looking forward to the end of this ride. I finished my 100k, parked my bike, and made a beeline for the hotdogs. The hotdog was about luke cool. The bun was somewhat soggy. And the only mustard they had was the kind in the little packages, that has usually separated into the clear liquid part and the mustard yellow part. Even with all of that, that had to be one of the best hotdogs I've ever had. Coming from a hotdog snob like myself, that's saying something.

It's experiences like these that really make me wonder about those people I hear complaining about the food at the end of a ride. Generally, by the end of a ride I'm so hungry, that a shoe covered with the seperated clear mustard juice would taste pretty good. For those people who complain about bike ride food, if you just ride a little harder, the food probably taste a whole lot better.

Still yet another benefit to riding hard.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Experience plus math, equal the painful truth

I believe that I have mentioned in the past that when I'm not riding my bike in a bike rally, I'm helping Bikin' Mike Keel produce a bike rally. Each year, Mike produces four or five bike rides in the Dallas area. My job in putting on these rides is to supervise the course. My official title is Route Coordinator. I can tell you're very impressed.

The main responsibility of a Route Coordinator, (notice how I capitalize Route Coordinator to make it seem more impressive), is to prepare the course for the ride. That is, I'm the guy who paints the arrows on the pavement, and/or places the signs out on the course with the arrows to tell you which way to go. There's a little more to it than that, which we'll get into in a later post, but far and away, marking the course is my biggest responsibility.

In the world of Route Coordinators, there is one unforgiving reality, and two overriding guidelines that we live by.

The One Unforgiving Reality:
No matter how well you mark a route, if someone gets lost, it's your fault.

The Two Overriding Guidelines:
1. When marking a course, go in with the attitude that you've got to idiot-proof the course.
2. Just when you think you've idiot-proofed the course, they'll build a better idiot.

Please don't think that I am picking on cyclist, by pointing out that a certain percentage of them are idiots. It is my personal opinion, that 5% to 10% of the general population displays certain idiotic tendencies. Any group that you look at closely, will reflect that 5 to 10 percent Rate of Idiocy, or ROI as I like to call it. If you look at your local police department, you'll probably find a 5 to 10% ROI. If you sat down and talked to the faculty at your local high school, again, there would probably be a 5 to 10% ROI. A good example here in the Dallas area would be the Dallas ISD School Board. Actually, I'm guessing that they'd probably skew a little higher on their ROI, but you get the idea. There's idiots everywhere, and cyclist at a bike ride are no different.

So it is for this 5% to 10% that we, as Route Coordinators have to spend the majority of our time planning for.

We have to plan for the Collin Classic cyclist 3 years ago, who rode right past the right turn sign, that the other 2200 cyclist all saw, at the Northern most point of the course. That cyclist rode north for another hour and half, without seeing another cyclist, without seeing another route marker, and without seeing a break point, and still didn't know that she was lost. An hour and a half north of that turn, and your almost into Oklahoma. The only reason that she knew she was lost was when the Sheriff's Deputy stopped her and asked if she was part of the Collin Classic bike ride. The kicker of this was, that when our SAG driver went to pick her up, it was then that we discovered that she was a bandit. For those of you who don't know what a bandit is, a bandit is someone who rides in a ride, using the police support that the ride producer pays for, using the break points that the ride producer provided, but not bothering to pay the entry fee for the bike ride. She just showed up, started the ride, got lost, and figured she was entitled to use the SAG support that the ride producer had provided. Somehow, it was our responsibility to come and get her.

We have to plan for the Collin Classic rider two years ago, who decided that she needed to SAG in at the first break point of the 55 mile course. She climbed into the back of a SAG truck about 9:30am that morning, and proceeded to ride around in the back of that truck for the next 7 hours. Apparently, she didn't realize that when the truck got back to the start/finish area, she should get out. As she explained it to me later, quite loudly, we should have told her to get out of the truck.

We also have to plan for the Tour Dallas rider last year who finished the ride, laid his bike down next to his truck, and soon became distracted by a phone call. In fact, he got so distracted by that phone call, that he jumped in his truck and drove off, leaving his bike laying on the ground in the parking lot. By the time he realized that he had forgotten his bike and drove back to the parking lot, his bike was gone. He made his way down to the Communication Center, where we Route Coordinator's like to hang out, and explained what had happened exactly as I have explained it here to you. He wasn't even embarrassed. Like everybody just drives off and leaves their bike laying on the ground. He also seemed to think that it was our responsibility to locate his lost bike. Why he thought this, I don't know. I expressed the appropriate level of concern, all the while fighting like mad not to roll my eyes at him and pat him on the head like some poor idiotic dog. I started to take his personal information from him, so that if anyone turned in the bike, we could get in touch with him.

When I asked him for his rider number, he made the surprising confession that he too, was a bandit. Again, he said it without the slightest bit of embarrassment, like it's just crazy to actually pay to ride in one of these bike rides. I wanted to tell him that unless that bicycle fell from the sky and landed on my head, the odds of me finding it were pretty slim, because I wasn't going to invest whole lot of time in looking for a bandit's lost bike. I also wanted to tell him that he better find that bike before anyone associated with the ride did, because if we found it first, I was going to sell it to the first person who would give me $30 for it, to cover the cost of the registration that he didn't pay.

I wanted to tell him both of those things, but I didn't. I was polite and I pretended to be very sympathetic towards his plight. As a fellow cyclist, of course I feel sympathy for any cyclist who's lost his bike. Especially a card carrying member of the 5 to 10%.

And besides, I'm a Route Coordinator. I have to plan for these sort of things.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Caveat emptor

Today, we wrap up our series on bike shop service. So far, we've discussed how much attention you can expect from a bike shop, and what kind of service you can expect. Now let's look at how well our bike shops cater to the needs of their customers. That is, what kind of job they do in providing you with what you want, and just as importantly, providing you with what you need.

(That last sentence actually sounded kind of erotic, didn't it. Let's all try and be adults here, shall we.)

First and foremost, I completely understand that bike shops are in the business to make money. Not only do I understand this, but I wholeheartedly
endorse this goal. Making money is actually one of my favorite things. I don't make the commute from McKinney to Dallas Love Field everyday because it is such a nice drive. I do it, because if I don't, Southwest Airlines won't pay me. They're funny that way. So I do not begrudge a business making money.

If you've been keeping up with the first two postings in this series, you might have noticed that so far, things haven't gone particularly well for RBM. Don't look for things to take an upturn today.

As usual, I have examples to make my points.

Regarding Plano Cycling and Fitness. I was in one of Bikin' Mike's spin classes, when my trainer suddenly died. I'd like to think that the pure power of my spin just overwhelmed it. Truth be told, it was an old trainer and it just finally gave up the ghost. So I walk across the parking lot to Plano Cycling, fully prepared to buy a new trainer. As I walk through the door, I'm immediately set upon by a sales clerk, asking if there's anything I need help with. After telling him that my trainer just kicked the bucket, I indicate that I need a new one.

Now here's where it gets a little weird. Instead of immediately taking me to the new trainers, he says that he might be able to get the old one fixed by the manufacturer. No really, I swear that's what he said. Instead of just selling me a new one like I was fully prepared to do, he volunteers to try and get the old one fixed for free. I eyeball him suspiciously for several seconds, trying to figure out how I'm going to get screwed on this deal, but being unable to figure out his angle, I tell him to go ahead and see what he could do. But I also tell him to not try anything funny, as I'll be watching his every move. Turns out that not only was he able to get the broken part replaced for free, but Plano Cycling also installed the new part, free of charge.

Did I mention that I didn't buy the trainer in question from Plano Cycling? I bought it used from a friend. How's that for catering to the customer's needs.

Now, lets turn our magnifying glass to RBM. I actually don't have any personal stories to tell about my experiences shopping at RBM, as I can't remember the last time I bought anything from them. But I do have a story to relate, from of all places, The Dallas Morning News.

A couple of years ago, The Dallas Morning News did a story on how to go about buying your first bicycle. They sent mystery shoppers into several bike shops, including RBM. The RBM mystery shopper stated that she went into RBM and amazingly found someone to help her. The first thing she told the clerk was that this was her first bike, and she had a $500.00 budget to spend. After hearing this, the sales clerk immediately took her over and showed her a $1,000.00 Trek. Right there should have been your first indication of whose needs to bike shop was trying to satisfy. it certainly wasn't the shoppers.

So the mystery shoppers takes a test ride on the Trek, and after some discussion, agrees to buy the $1,000.00 bicycle. As they start to head for the register, the clerk just happens to say, "there's another bike that I would like you to try. I just want to get your opinion of it." Because as we all know, the evaluation of a first time cyclist, is critical in getting a truly informed and knowledgeable opinion of a bicycle. The clerk goes in the back and rolls out with a $3,000.00 Bianchi. After insisting that the customer "just try it out", the customer takes it for a ride. Now you tell me, how are you going to feel about that $1,000.00 Trek, after trying the $3,000.00 Bianchi. The Trek would probably feel like the tires were square after riding the Bianchi. Not to anyone's surprise, the customer bought the Bianchi.

If you were teaching a class on how to "upsale" a customer, you couldn't come up with a better example if you tried. And I know what your thinking. All the customer had to do is say "No". That's not the point here. The point is that the customer specifically told the clerk that they wanted to spend $500.00, and they wind up leaving with a bike that cost 6x's that much. In my opinion, this is a classic example of a bike shop failing to provide a customer with what they need. Instead, the goal of the bike shop was to get that customer to spend as much money in the store as they possible could, regardless of what the customer actually needed. A first time cyclist, with 10 cent legs, does not need a $3,000.00 bicycle.

Truthfully, I'm all for someone making as much money as they possibly can. A bigger fan of money than me, you'll never find. But in my opinion, there is line that can be crossed, from making money, to taking advantage of a shopper that just doesn't know any better.

As for me, I like my chances at Plano Cycling.

Just in case you were wondering, "Caveat emptor" means "Let the buyer beware". I had to look it up too.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Monday, November 10, 2008

I do not suffer fools gladly

Continuing our discussion of bicycle shop service, today we look at what kind of service you can expect from our two bike shops. By that I mean, how can you expect to be treated. Do they treat you with respect? Are they nice to you? That may seem like a silly question. Bike shops are in the business of selling bikes. Therefore, they want to be nice to their potential customers. You'd think that wouldn't you? I can't speak for everyone, but that's certainly what I would have assumed. I freely admit, that if I had to rely on my ability to sell something to earn a living, I'd soon starve to death. But even I know that a customer that I've somehow managed to p*ss off, is much less likely to buy something from me. (I say "somehow managed to", like I have a really hard time p*ssing people off.) But I have been in bike shops where the employees act like bicycle retail would be really great line of work, if it wasn't for the customers coming in all the time, interrupting their day. Again, I won't mention any names here, but if you're ever in the Snyder Plaza Shopping Center here in Dallas, and you're looking for a bike shop, my advise would be to keep on driving.

But getting back to our two bike shops, that being Plano Cycling and Fitness, and the mystery guest RBM (wink, wink). I can relate a couple of stories about these bike shops, that I think best exemplify their attitude towards the customer. Again, these stories represent my own person opinions. (I just can't emphasis it enough, how suing me would be a complete waste of time).

As far as Plano Cycling goes, all I can simply say is that I have never been treated with anything but respect and friendship. Period. That's it. I'd like to be able to relate some amazing story of great customer service from Plano Cycling, but when that's the only kind of customer service that you ever get, it makes it kind of hard for any specific instance to stand out in your mind.

Now RBM, that's a different story.

I have a friend who I cycle with all the time. (No, really, I really do have a friend.) This friend has a weight problem, that I am happy to say, she is very successfully dealing with through her cycling. She's not there yet, but she's well on her way. She related the following story to me. One day she went to RBM to buy a gift card for a friend. The reason she was getting the card at RBM was that the friend lived close by, and wouldn't listen to reason. As my friend walked up to the counter, the salesman turned to another salesman and said under his breath, "Bet she's here for a gift certificate". He took one look at my friend, saw that she had some weight to lose, and just immediately assumed that there was no way she could possible be there for herself. Even if he thought that, why would he even consider saying it where she could possibly hear it. My friend went ahead and bought the gift card, because that's what her friend needed, but not surprisingly, she hasn't been back either. As she turned to leave, the salesman turned to the other salesman again, and said "Told ya". Nice.

My second example is my favorite bike shop related story of all time. I wear glasses. So, a couple of years ago, I decide that I need to get prescription cycling glasses. I go to Plano Cycling and purchase a pair of Tifossi sunglasses. These are the type of glasses that have the clip-in inserts that actually have your prescription lenses in them. Well Plano Cycling didn't have the inserts. They said they would order me a pair, but if I found them somewhere else, I wouldn't be required to buy them. I went ahead and had them order me a pair. As my wife and I were walking to the car, I told her that maybe I'd been a little unfair to RBM. It had been several years since my previous bad experiences with them. Maybe I should give them another chance to make a brand new bad experience. So I called them and ask if they have the prescription insert for Tifossi glasses.

The guy I was talking to said "Yes."

I say "You're sure?".

He says "Yes. We've got them right here."

I say "You've got them in the store?"

He again says "Yes."

So I say "Your not going to sell them all before I get there, are you?"

To which he says, "No, we've got plenty of them."

I say "OK, I'll be there in 20 minutes."

It wasn't a terribly spellbinding conversation, but I think I successfully relayed my point to him that I was expecting them to have the insert in the store for sale when I got there.

As Trish and I pull into the parking lot at RBM, I just start laughing. Trish asked me what was so funny. I told her that I was just thinking about the wild-eyed fit that I was going to throw when we get into the store and they don't have the insert. She said, as she has so often been quoted saying to me, "You're just being stupid".

We walk in, go right up to the glasses counter and I inquire where the prescription inserts were for Tifossi cycling glasses. I'll give you three guesses what the salesman's response was.

"We don't keep those in stock in the store, but I can order you a pair."

It was just about at this point where I unleashed a stream of vulgarity and obscenity that would have caused most peoples ears to start bleeding. I actually kinda blacked out, but I do remember questioning the intelligence of almost everyone who worked there, and I believe that I actually inquired if the sales clerks parents weren't somehow close relatives.

What was most upsetting was the response of the sales clerk. Or rather, his lack of response. Now you tell me, if you had a customer who had obviously been misled about the availability of an item, what would have been one of the first things out of your mouth. Might you have considered offering up an "I'm sorry" at some point. That's what I would have said. But no, not at RBM. He just stood there looking at me, like this sort of thing happens every day.

The only good thing that came out of this whole episode was, that because of my reaction in the store, my wife now refuses to go shopping with me anymore. Nor does she request that I go shopping with her anymore either. Find those silver linings where ever you can.

Next time, we discuss how these bike shops cater to their customer's needs.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The first cut is the deepest

I think I have mentioned in the past that I work a "real" job for Southwest Airlines. Whatever your personal opinion might be of Southwest, I think I'm safe in saying that Southwest is pretty much known for offering great customer service. So, having worked there for almost 12 years now, I think I'm qualified to offer my opinions on what constitutes good customer service. Actually, qualified or not, I'm going to offer them anyway. But, for now, lets go ahead and pretend that I am qualified.

Before we go any further, I need to include some disclaimer type statements. The opinions expressed here are my own, based solely on my personal experiences. The experiences are factual. Not "based" on fact, but factual. (I'm desperately trying to avoid getting sued.)

Over the next few posts, I would like to compare and contrast the type of service I have experienced, and offer my opinions based on those experiences, of the two largest bike shops here in the Dallas/Plano/McKinney area. For those of you not familiar with the area, the first shop would be Plano Cycling & Fitness. I'm not going to mention the second bike shop by name, because my opinion of them is somewhat less than that of Plano Cycling. But for our purposes here, we'll refer to that bike shop as RBM, (wink, wink).

We'll talk about how much attention you can expect from each of these bike shops, the type of attention you will receive, and how well they cater to the needs of their customers. Today, we'll talk about how much attention you get from each of these bike shops. Remember, these are my own person opinions, based on my factual experiences. (PLEASE, don't anyone sue me.)

I defy you to walk into Plano Cycling and Fitness, spend any amount of time there at all, and not have someone ask you if you need any help. And if all you want to do is just look around, all you have to do is say so, and they'll leave you alone. One day I stopped by to pickup a copy of a cycling magazine. Already knowing where the magazine racks were, I walked in, went straight to the magazines, saw that they were sold out of the magazine that I was looking for, so I turned around and walked out. As I was getting into my car, one of the salesmen came running out of the store into the parking lot after me. Thinking that I was about to be arrested for shoplifting, I prepared to defend myself and assumed a classic karate stance. I have literally no karate training, but I am big, and sometimes being big is enough. In actuality, he only wanted to make sure that I had found what I was looking for, but I'm pretty sure that I scared the hell out of him.

Now contrast that with my first experience at RBM. Seven years ago I was looking to buy my first bike. Being inexperienced and not knowing any better, I went to RBM. I walked around for an hour, literally with my checkbook in my hand looking at bikes. No one said a word to me. Being understandably upset, I left. The next Saturday, I decided to give them another chance, so I went back. One lonely hour later, with no one to talk to, I once again stormed out, swearing to never darken their door again.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out why I couldn't get anyone to help me. As a new cyclist, I was looking at the relatively cheap bikes. In my opinion, no one was interested in selling me a $500.00 bicycle. On both days I was there, there were plenty of sales people around. I could see them all over by the $2,000.00+ bicycles.

You shouldn't have to spend $2,000.00, or $3,000.00, or more on a bike to get good customer service. Over the last seven years, I've probably spend $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 on bicycles and bicycling related stuff. If RBM had expressed any interest at all in selling me that first $500.00 bicycle, I probably would have spent a good portion of that money there. But they didn't, so I haven't.

Next time, we'll discuss the type of service you can expect from each of these shops. Until then, I'll be retaining legal council.

(I have nothing. You'd be wasting your time by suing me. Please leave me alone.)

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is it cold, or is it just me

Now that we're into November, it's kind of a sad time for the enthusiastic road cyclist here in Texas. This is the sad time of the year when it starts getting too cold to ride outdoors. Once again, those readers who live in Colorado, or Utah, of Montana, probably consider we Texans to be the ultimate weather weenies. To those people I say, meet me in Wichita Falls, TX next August, when the temperature is 105 degrees, and ride 100 miles with me at the Hotter-n-Hell 100. Then you can call me a weather weenie. Everything is relative.

This is that frustrating time of the year when we still get those days from time to time where the weather is just perfect for a bike ride, but more and more, we get those days that it's either too cold, or too windy, or both. Oh sure, we all say to ourselves, "I can ride in this. This is why I bought all of that cold weather gear. So I can get out and ride in just this type of weather". For me, that devil-may-care attitude typically last about 3 or 4 really cold rides. There's just something especially miserable about your snot freezing to your upper lip, and the sharp stabbing pain that you get in your toes when they get really cold. After I endure those types of rides a few times, I'm generally ready to start exploring my other options as far as riding goes. At that point we're left with one of three choices; bundle up and ride outdoors anyway, head inside and spin, or not ride at all.

Not riding at all really isn't an option, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing it. I think I've mentioned before that there was a time when I could have politely been described as "hefty". "Big Boned" is a phrase that had been used to describe me in the past as well. There was one year where I gained 25 pounds of bone. My problem was that I really enjoyed food. That's a problem that I haven't completely conquered yet. But since I ride my bike pretty much every day, then eating like it's the last day to eat for free really isn't a problem. I take the mantra of "ride to eat" very seriously. So not riding at all for 4 or 5 months just isn't doable.

Next option is too bundle up and ride outdoors anyway. This is an option that I do take from time to time. Usually, it's when a group of us from Team Bikin' get the itch to get back out on the open road again, and that's typically when it's been just long enough for us to forget just how miserable we were last time we road outside in the cold. I don't know about you, but if it's the slightest bit cold, my nose starts running like my brain is melting. This leads to all sorts of uncomfortable situations, especially when riding in a nice, tight pace line. Please see my posting on riding etiquette, Specifically, see Rule #5. Along with these mucus problems, I face another problem with riding on a particularly cold day. When riding on a really cold day, the only time I really feel warm is when I'm on the bike and pedaling. So stopping and resting, and allowing myself to get cold again is not something I look forward to. That puts me between a rock and hard place. Call me undedicated if you must, but I generally enjoy stopping from time to time and resting. Being caught between wanting to stop and rest, and not wanting to stop and get cold, complicates things for me. Most people who know me will tell you that I try and keep my life as simple as possible.

That leaves us with spinning indoors. For the past several years, that means riding in Bikin' Mike's spin classes from around the first of November, pretty much thru the end on March. I should say right now, that Mike does a great job leading his spin classes. He has a plan to keep everyone as fit as possible thru the winter, but more importantly, he makes the classes as fun and as entertaining as they can be. The important phrase in that last sentence is "as they can be". There's only so much that Mike can do. No matter how fun and entertaining he makes the classes, they're still not going to be as much fun as riding down a quite back road, on a beautiful spring day. After four months of staring at the same four walls and watching the puddle of sweat grow on the mat underneath the guy spinning next to you, it's easy to see how someone could forget just how miserable they were the last time they rode out in the cold.

A quick aside here. It never ceases to amaze me how the girls in the spin class don't seem to sweat. Me and most of the guys in the class are just sweating like we're spinning on the surface of the sun, and I look over at the girl on the bike next to me, and her makeup isn't even smudged.

These are the kind of things that I wonder about.

Anyway, how long is it until April?

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Technical details, or lack thereof

I have a confession to make. This is actually quite embarrassing. It's a shame that I've been living with for the better part of 7 years now. A burden that I've been carrying, and I figure that it's time I put it down. Here it goes.

I really don't know anything about bicycles.

All those times when the really cool bicyclist are standing around and talking about "crank lengths", and "ceramic ball bearings", and "top tube lengths", and I've been standing there nodding my head with a real serious look on my face. All that time, I've had literally no idea what your talking about.

I can change a flat. I can re-wrap my handle bars. I can.....let's see, I can....... Well, I guess that just about all I can do when it comes to maintaining a bike. Oh, I can also wash, degrease, and re-lube my bike. But other than that, I'm pretty much taking the bike to my local bike shop.

It's not that I don't want to learn. I would love to be able to stand around with the cool cyclist and talk about all of that cool stuff that I mentioned before. And it's not that I'm incapable of learning. There's probably some very serious doubt that I'll ever split the atom, but I would consider myself to be of above average intelligence. I guess if I really was a moron, I wouldn't be smart enough to know that I wasn't that smart. But trust me, I'm fairly intelligent.

So despite what my 9 year old son might tell you, I'm not stupid. No, my problem with learning even the most basic of bicycle care is two fold. The first thing holding me back from performing my own bicycle repairs is laziness. I believe that I have made it fairly clear in past postings, that I am a notoriously lazy person. While it might actually be really fun to go out and work on my bike, I would just assume to fork over the money and pay someone else to do it. The way I see it, I'm supporting the local economy. I'm helping to pay someones salary. If we all took it upon ourselves to do things that we could just as easily pay others to do, the whole economy could collapse. I'm not being lazy. By God, I'm being patriotic. No need to thank me. Just trying to do my part.

The second thing that keeps me from learning just some basic bicycle repair, would be fear. I am terrified that I will take something apart, and not be able to get it together again. I'm also afraid of the embarrassment of having to take the remains of my bicycle into my local bike shop, along with a box of parts, and sheepishly ask them to put it back together for me. If they're going to have to put it together for me anyway, let the lazy SOB's take it apart too. No sense in me doing half the work for them.

So you might be asking yourself, "if he doesn't know anything about bikes, what does he do when it comes time to go shopping for a bike"? I have developed a very simple philosophy for looking for a new bike. I shop for a pretty bike. I look for a bike that I think I would look really cool riding on. Black is my color of choice. I currently ride a black Trek 2300, with black & silver wheels, black and
silver tires, black handle bar tape, and a black and silver saddle. I even have black and silver carbon bottle holders. This bike is b*tch*n. I look like I'm going 60 mph on it.

I was recently flipping through a recent issue of "Road" magazine, when I instantly fell in love with an Issac bike. I have no idea about what it's made of, or the components on it, or the aerodynamics of it. I don't know what kind of reputation Issac has as far as making a good quality bike. I don't even know what one cost. All I know is that it looks really good. I can't even begin to image how good I would look riding it. A bike that pretty, just has to be a good bike.

So the next time all of you cool guys get together and talk about all that technical stuff on your bikes, I'll just stand there and pretend to be really interested in what your saying. Not only do I not have any idea what your talking about, I really don't care. The only thing I need to know is, does it come in black?

Peace out.......Nearly Famous Fred