Thursday, June 26, 2014

Never piss off the dumb bike mechanic

Recently I had a flashback to the old bike shop days. I spent 17 years in the trade and never made much money and never felt like I had any say in the industry. But when I look back I realized that on a few occasions I wielded some serious weight with drastic consequences for one particular bike company. Here is the story that tells why bike companies should be kissing the collective asses of the shop employees.
The year was was 1986, I was a teenage kid making $3.15 an hour. I had just ordered an aluminum frame from a new start up company that was mass producing frames in Pennsylvania. I was excited to build up my first ever 20 pound bike with this new frame. It was Sea Sprite green and very flashy. I slapped a beautiful Superbe Pro grouppo on it with some Mavic 330 tubulars. Back in the day this would be the equivalent of a $11,000 race machine in todays standards, so suffice to say I was STOKED! But there  was a problem, a tiny error with huge implications. The rear triangle was not straight. WTF!
No matter how I tried the rear wheel would not sit properly in the frame. In the end the only thing I could do was overdish the wheel by nealry 3/4" to keep it from rubbing the left side stay. Then there was another problem, the rear drop outs were too soft, and every time I stood to sprint the wheel shifted.
 To say I was a bit pissed doesn't do justice to the situation. I of course contacted my rep and after a long process he only said there was nothing he could do, I was stuck with this P.O.S. I the vowed to do my best to never sell any product form this company again.  That company will never know just how much money they cost themselves by F'ing me over.
 To start with, I always recommended other brands to customers. I didn't bad mouth the company, I just steered them in a better direction. Then when I moved to Florida I took over the management of a bike shop. I had free reign to to as I pleased so long as I showed a profit. This shop was already a dealer of this aluminum bike brand, and had quite a bit of product on hand. I called the rep and told him never to come back in because I was dropping the line and clearing his crap out. I sold every bike just over wholesale and picked up other brands to sell.
 When I look back back over all those years I can say with conviction that I persoanlly cost that company well over $200,000 in sales, all because they wouldn't warranty my frame. So all you bike companies with an ear hear this, treat the shop employees well or you may just feel the wrath of the lowly bike mechanic.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

F.A.Y.D.

The Chief has been brewing up a new team jersey design. Pretty catchy I think.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I miss the care free bike shop days

On this gloomy ohio day I was just reminiscing about the fun times I've had as a dumb bike mechanic for 17 years of my life. You can't really make a living at it, but there are indeed benefits that go beyind the shitty pay. Here are a few things you should be aware of if you want great service next time you go to yor LBS.

1. Don't bother being chummy to the owner, he's not the one that will really take care of you. He is indeed there to make money, which is fine of course, but the mechanic in the back is the guy who really needs to like you.

2. Bring food to your mechanic. This is state law, and you will receive great benefits from this action.

3. Don't bring in  bike that looks like a a moose with just took a shit on it. Clean it first then wipe that nasty chain down. Also remove all of your stupid seat bags and water bottles.

4. Don't walk into the shop 5 minutes before they close. The employees want to go ride, and if you screw that up you will pay dearly for this infraction.$$$$$$$!

5. If you see your mechanic drinking from a plastic cup that he is passing around with the other mechanics don't question the contents. Just look at this as a great opportunity to get some great deals as his buzz sets in. But remember, don't hold him over, because drunk or not he still wants to get that ride in after work.

6. Don't fear that the mechanic has been drinking, if he is worth his salt, he will do a better job anyways because the buzz will take his mind off of his shitty pay.  But this is also where the food you brought comes in to help lower his BAC%.

7. Don't ask how to do your own repairs. You may watch if you are a well liked customer, but just observe in silence.

8.  Don't wait till the first nice day of spring to get your bike fixed right away. What on earth were you doing all freaking winter anyways?

This is not a complete list but a good start. What happens if you violate these rules? Well you don't really want to know but I can assure you that fire will be involved. Remember the years of low pay and working weekends has been eating away at the mechanics brain, therefore there are no guarantees for your bikes safety.




Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Bad boys bad boys, watcha gonna do when USADA comes for you!

I realized that I never wrote up a race season recap for 2013. Not that I had forgotten, I just had zero desire to even think about it until recently. Let's start at the beginning of the season breifly. I really wanted to win the 331 Series last year but knew it would be a daunting task given the riders I would be facing.

Nevertheless I set up a training plan that was the most regimented I have ever done in 30 years of riding. I had a personal trainer set up fitness plan for me and he devised a specific gym routine for me to follow with periodical assements. He targeted my weaknesses and had a goal of balancing my body out for optimal cycling.

Along with that I put in a large base in the winter months, and kept in some intensity as well. Most of my training was done alone, which is pretty typical if you want to derive the most out of your body. The diet was good and I also got plenty of rest which is ever important at my age. The only thing missing from my plan was a coach and a power meter, which just isn't financially possible for me.

I came into the season with pretty damn good form, probably my best since my younger years. The legs felt good from the Roubaix race all the way through to mid September when the fatigue was starting to set in.
Despite my good form getting on the podium was no easy task, and it seemed that a 3rd place was gonna be a best case result for me. The state race at chestnut was probably the biggest blow to me. I was riding well and could only muster 4th place that day.

Finally at the Reagan TT I managed a 2nd place, only because Suppan had ridden a hard week in the mountains that had obviously left him very tired. Franek still managed to ride away from me that day on a course that totally suits me, and after that I entirely gave up the idea I would ever win a race again.

My legs were really coming into form in August, and at Royalview I probably had me best legs of the year. It was one of those rare days that pedaling just seemed effortless and there is always gas left in the tank. I had a good battle with Lorson but Suppan literally destroyed the field, beating me by nearly 7 minutes.

The Findlay TT came around and was my only win of the year. Its a course that totally suits me, and with Suppan and Franek not racing I knew it was my only chance of the year. This was the last race I had good legs and the rest of the season spiraled downwards.

I launched myself over the bars at Alum creek. And at the last Knob race I crashed during warm up, then crashed really hard on the big jump during the short track. The next days XC was a disaster. I had no legs at all and even though I took off fast it didnt last long at all. After the race when I got home I was unloading bikes into the basement and literally collapsed. I spent about ten minutes on the concrete floor crying. Not really sure why, but I was just physically and emotionally drained. It was a very long season and I had nothing left. I crawled upstairs and got onto the couch. I was shaking unctrollably from head to toe, even though I was covered up with 4 blankets. The family wanted to call 911. Thinking back I might have had some mild hypothermia, but who knows. At that moment I had resigned to never race again.

Some months later as the darkness of last season has worn off, my attitude is changing a bit. The 2014 series is much more shorter, and it seems the emphasis is even more on fun than ever. And as I think back to 2013 it really was a good season for me. Even though the results showed otherwise, I was stronger and faster than I had been in many years. The only real mistake I made was trying to be on form in April for the Roubaix race, which would be why I was totally fried about a month before the season ended.

So who knows at this point, the first race isn't until July so I've still got time to decide. And maybe the environment I live in will get better and there won't be so many T-storms out there.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hey JV you got some splainin to do!






A letter to JV,

You are probably the biggest hippocrite in the cycling world right now. If you even remotely care about this sport you need to exit stage left. When you quit racing it was obvious to me that you left because of the doping culture, and as far as I could tell you no longer wanted to be part of it. For that I commend you.
However the past few years have shown that evil side of you still lurks in the background. You probably made more money running a "clean" team than you ever did racing. And despite the recent doping allegations you stick to your guns and make no apology.
Well I have a little insight for you about cheaters. If they do it once, they will most likely do it again. So by that logic hiring ex-dopers to ride for your team only sets you up for more trouble. It's time to do the right thing...get out of cycling, admit your transgressions, and then maybe American cycling can start to move on. And if you ever get the sack to do this you might as well come out of the closet too. Nice suit.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Unreasoned Decision

Disclaimer: I'm gonna swear...a lot.

Censored







I am officially announcing that I will no longer be racing bicycles. My brief return to racing the last five years has been fun, but I have had my share of the enormous physical and emotional drain that it places on me.I have accepted my gradual decline in performance as I age, that's part of life, and I wont be going to my doctor and asking for testosterone.
I still plan on riding a bunch, but with no specific goal, other than to have fun at Raystown of course. Not to mention I will have more time to get back to bashing the doping scum that has invaded my sport like a cancer that wont go away. This cancer has spread to every part of bike racing now and I want nothing to do with it.

I must admit it was a lot more fun bashing dopers back when bashing dopers wasn't cool. I will also say this to my credit: Every asshole cyclist that I suspected for doping over the last decade eventually got busted. The cheating has evolved with the science. And before you know it they will be doping at the genetic level, if not already.

I want to extend a big thank you to 331 for great racing, and to Rody for creating a machine that literally helped my performances. I also want to thank Jon Lorson...many an epic battle we have had over the years. I trained many a hard, miserable mile thinking of him, and I'm sure I have given him great motivation as well.
 And one last thank you to Travis Tygart, the man who took on the armstrong machine and brought him to his knees.

Now I will go ride my bike hard. Not because I have to, but because I like to. And sorry for the swearing, but I do feel much better now.










Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Alum Creek P2 TT


Cheeseball still happy after breaking his wheel and clavicle!





Looks like I'm ready to hurl.



 Despite a virtual tropical storm dumping an inch of rain the day before, the P2 was pretty dry for this years TT. P2 is pretty short but has some super twisty singletrack. I had only ridden here once before so I wasn't all too familiar with the trail. This is the type of place that can really be an advantage to a local guy but since Kardas wasn't  racing I figured I had a chance.
 Lucky me I got to go off first in my class so I had Jeff Cochran and The Chief chasing me, yeah! You can only push so hard in this place without eating a tree. I could hear some bike noises behind me about a mile into it so I stepped it up a bit to stay out of site from Jeff. This was not good because I slammed a root at the top of a climb and hit the deck.
 I played it cool and got going again, which would have been fine had I not sent myself flying over the bars again about 1/2 mile from the finish. I knew that there was no way to recover the time from this one but still sprinted toward the line. Jeff came across the line less than 30 seconds after me which meant he got me. We sat and awaited the arrival of the Chief, but he never showed. About ten minutes later we found him with a destroyed front wheel and a broken clavicle, which for the Chief is nothing new.
 The real amusing part was that Chief had checked his garmin time when he crashed. He was almost at the finish and would have likley won the race had he not bit it. But at the end of the day its the guy with the best combo of skills and speed that wins, and Jeff had the total package.
 The real misfortune about this whole event is that the Iceman tandem quest will have to wait for another year since I no longer have a captain.

Oh I almost forgot, Zac bested my time by 2 seconds, thereby giving him a reason to go on in life. It's good to let the grasshopper feel like he is making progress on the wise master.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Keeping the Red Man in his place

 The Thorn TT at Findlay state park, my first win of the year. I want to start by saying thanks to Suppan for not showing up, and to Franek for breaking his hand in a previous race. Without your cooperation I couldn't have done it!
 I hadn't ridden here all year due to the wet conditions, but relying on my past knowledge of the course to see me through. Basically you just have to remember that around every turn, there is another turn.
 It had rained a few days leading up to the race and the conditions were mixed. Lots of tacky/dry sections, but plenty of slick turns too. The best part of this type of riding is that you are going all out and hit those surprise greasy areas without any warning. Many a rider came out of the woods dripping with blood. I managed to stay upright but there were so many close calls. In the end all the fastest times were over 43 minutes so obviously not course record conditions by any means.
 I'm not a big mud fan, but I had good legs this day and actually beat Clark here. He looked like he bit it pretty good afterwards. But that's part of the race, not going too fast for the trail.  Cochran and The Chief took second and third with a pretty close race. And like usual the Chief was bleeding too. He better get that handling under control before the Iceman for sure.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Royal baby? Who cares, this is Royalview!






The Royalview race was a freakishly fast race. The conditions were perfect and this course has turns! It started with a climb up the road around a mile I think, then into the tight singletrack. I passed Lorson on the road at the top of the road then he made a dodgy pass just before we hit the woods, the race was on! I had figured he wanted to be in front to slow me down a bit in my element but I knew of a passing zone up ahead and shot back around him in a similar dodgy fashion.
After the pass I picked up the speed and caught up to Rudy Sroka. Down the paved road again and into the yellow trail we went. Rudy knows this trail and was freaking nailing it. I thought he was gonna drop me in the first couple miles! He finally slowed a bit and I passed him, not because he was going too slow, but because I wanted to put some bodies between me and Lorson.
 I settled into a sustainable pace with a younger expert Jake Walters. We traded the lead back and forth. He knew the course pretty well but on lap three I felt the need to pick up the pace because I know Lorson always has a strong finish and every time I heard a noise in the woods I feared it was him closing in on me. 
 I finished 2nd with the obvious Suppan in first. I will be sending him an application for a pro license soon. He is racing with school kids at this point and he damn near stayed with Dave Walker the whole time! Franek gave us all a bit of a break by biting it on the first lap and jacking up his hand. Hopefully it wont affect the rest of his season. I would have loved to see what he could have done if he had started racing 20 years ago. Being the father of an Olympic runner he must have a pretty high VO2. But for me I just try and hold onto what I have and limit my losses as I age. I may never see the top step again but I still enjoy it so why stop now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ohhhh Andy, get busy livin'



It's been a pretty dismal season for me so far but the last couple weeks have been a bit more fun. The Reagan Park TT had been threatened all week by the weather, but surprisingly on race day it was fairly decent. Definitely not record breaking conditions but not the muddy massacre many had been expecting. I usually do well on this course and my Groovy is well suited for the tight turns. Suppan and Franek were off first and second so at least I didn't  have to worry about getting passed by those two.
On the Reagan side I was actually catching Franek a bit but after the road crossing he all but disappeared. Obviously he has figured out how to handle his machine now. I caught Suppan on the Huffman section and it was obvious his previous week in the mountains had left him tired.
Franek took the win and I got my first second place this year, which was a much needed confidence boost.

Then later that week it was off the Raystown for the second time this year. Zac and I found a climb even steeper than the Bigfoot vs. Steve Austin ascent. It topped out at 31% and was a mile long. Don't look for this on your Raystown map cause it ain't there, and I can assure you that you don't want to find it anyways. I rode it the whole way, and my bike was so vertical that the tip of my saddle was trying to penetrate me like a Shawshank family reunion.
The trails were dusty and fast and Zac tried desperately to beat Jeramiah Bishop's KOM on the Switch DH. Zac goes downhill with the reckless abandon that only a teenager with no job living at home could muster. Neither of us had the legs or willpower to attempt the Hydro loop KOM, I think it would take someone like Steve Twining to break that one.
We did meet up with Jeff Cochran for a ride there too. Jeff took off down Rays Revenge as if this was his last day on earth. He was absolutely destroying that section, all wilst  hooting and hollering like an amish kid looking at his first JCPenny catalogue. Alas his fun was disrupted as he sheared off his rear derailluer with a stick.
Up next will be the Royalview XC, a new course which I haven't much, but has some twisty stuff so we will see.

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