Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sales Technique

Customer  -  Why does the back of the frame look like that?

Shop Guy  -  This bike has elevated chainstays. It allows them to tuck the rear wheel up underneath you, real tight. 

Customer  -  What's that do for you?

Shop Guy  -  It makes the bike more responsive; real good for doing wheelies.

Customer  -  Oh really?  Show me.

Shop Guy  -  Umm, uhh, naahhh, I'm not a wheelie guy. I'm more of a jumper.

True story.  (Names withheld to protect the not so innocent.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weather or Not...

I look out the window at the gray day. Winter is finally showing in North FL.  The high today is far below what we've had recently, and the wind bites a bit at bare skin.  Yesterday, I got texts and emails, saying it would be okay if we cancelled the morning ride due to in-climate weather. It was cold for us. High 40's when we rolled out.

But when I look out that window, I imagine the lone figure plowing his way against the wind. Doing the work that others save for fair weather.  I romanticize the struggle against the cold.  Maybe it's the images of Andy Hampsten over the Gavia.

Maybe it's wanting to emulate a fraction of the perseverance of those hardmen that raced the 2013 spring classics.

Maybe it's just me enjoying watching the local skinny fast guys shiver and shake. They certainly showed me no mercy during the summer, when my clydesdale sized fame wilted with core temps in the millions. 

I think mostly, I just like the change.  Cycling can take many flavors in our home town.  The brutal oppressive heat and humidity of the Summer, gives way to golden yellow Fall light, and the smell of leaf fires in rural yards.  Winter brings the cold black of night rides, until Spring rolls around with all of its colorful visuals and the sweet smells of nature awaking from its slumber.

Each has its time and place in forging us in our pursuit of fitness, growth, perseverance, mental toughness, or simple peace.  Like any great new album, play it long enough, you'll be ready for a change. Right about now, I must be ready.  That cold gray road sure looks good to me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let It Go

Daylight savings has ended, and it's quite dark when I leave the confines of the office, at the end of the workday.  Last week I dug out my light systems, to see what was still functional, and what was in need of repair.  Repair is a tough call on these light systems.  We ride a lot at night, and the guys I ride with go damn near as fast in the dark, as they do in the light. Consequently,  the light systems have gotten expensive, to produce the light needed to keep up with these fast bastards. I try to take care of them, but during the long hot summers, cycling through battery charges is far from my mind, and the batteries occasionally come up short the next season.

Batteries have gotten outrageous!  A new battery for my HID light runs about $135, ON SALE!!! That kills me, as I can buy an overseas built, new school LED light, for about $85. The whole system for $85, and they work great. I have one now, and use it almost every ride. My hang up is with the waste. I cannot stand to toss a perfectly good light, that simply lacks a battery. In the appraisal business, we call this incurable functional obsolescence. The cost to cure the problem, exceeds the contributory value of the item damaged. Or in this case, it exceeds the value of the ENTIRE system.  But the waste....

I go through the same thing with cordless drills. I have two drills that I bought for about $135. But both batteries are roached, and no longer take a charge. New batteries run $45/ea. Here we go again....

I have two dead drills and multiple dead cycling lights, all sitting in no man's land on a shelf. I can't bear to toss them, but they don't work.  I have a few friends that have dared to call me a hoarder. These are close friends, and can get away with that, but still... Is it truly hoarding when you just don't want to be wasteful?  I have a shop full of 10 generation old cycling parts, and I'm a hero when I pull out that 1994 widget that saves your favorite ride's shifting.  But the rest of the time, folks snicker and point, and suggest that I should be on that damned TV show. I can see it now, bald and wailing as some bright shirt and glove wearing jackass tosses my first generation XTR cranks into a trash bin, and a counselor tries to discover what grave happening in my life triggered my salvation excess.

Maybe there is some great issue in my past, that my psyche decides to bury beneath bike parts. But mostly, I believe it comes from not having money as kid growing up. So now, when I have something nice, I intend to hang onto it until it rots away in my fingers. Even in my shop days, I was a fixer, more than a replacer.  I always tried to get that guy's shifter to kick out a few more weeks, because I knew his money was hard earned, too.

But now I'm at a crux. These lights, they cost more to fix than a whole new light, so that runs counter to my saving the cash ideology.

But the waste...

I think I have a problem.  Anybody know a good hoarding counselor?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jive Turkeys and Crash Test Dummies.

The scratching chatter of knobs seeking purchase set off alarm bells. Something was all wrong, but the time for correction had passed. I jumped up and got sorted, before Lil Ball could catch me wallowing in the dust. I choked back the adrenalin shot, determined not to let the jitters steal what flow was left. This was mine. It felt good, and I deserved it, dammit.  I got back up to speed, and carried it through the last bit of trail, barely visible in the dusk.

Earlier in the ride, I'd listened as StorminNorman explained how he had been trying to improve his cornering, by trying to use his third eye, through his belly button. I get the principle, but the visual is much better.  I was trying to figure out how he was gonna get a belly mounted monocle to stay in place, as he ponch-pointed his way through the woods, like some kind of half blind, Star-Bellied-Sneech.  I guess my mental mocking earned me a stick in my belly eye, because I never saw that root, I cross rutted over.

Wrecking Ball had his moment too, but I missed the show. He caught back on, describing the  perfect wheelie over a root section. Followed by even more perfect placement of  the front wheel exactly where it needed to go....to stop dead. His body had its own ideas on inertia. He said the whole move felt so perfect, that he was quite certain that he could ride it out, even though his hands had already abandoned their posts at the grips. Luckily his sternum was there to take up the slack, and he chest pounded his bars and stem until they relented their ridiculous effort to keep him upright, and dropped him to the forest floor.  All I can say is, it's a good thing he has that Terr-ection stem that hit him way up on the chest. Otherwise, he might have gotten a black-belly-eye.

I've always heard that if you're not crashing, you're not pushing. And without the push, their is no improvement. Taking stock afterward, I'm not so sure I feel all that improved. Mostly, I just feel like I ran out of talent.  Personally, I think that belly eye StorminNorman was chattering on about sounds way easier, and maybe somewhat less painful than my alternative.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Palm Trees are Candles in the Murder Wind

Mayhem, Bedlam or Angry-Friends, it just doesn't matter.

Have bike. Will travel.

The world gets topsy-turvy, be it the big world, or just the little ones in our heads.  Relatively, it can all feel the same.  Lately, our duly elected politicians squabble like school children and hold our government hostage.  Everyone speculates at who is to blame.  Within the crew, tensions arise and poison the vibe.

He said / She said.....whatever.

I should probably be a whole lot more involved in the big picture, or at least aware of these sorts of things, but the truth is I struggle with it.  My OCD nature would dictate that if I start trying to follow or understand our political miasma, I must then try to fully follow and understand. I'm afraid that will take way more time and commitment than I am willing to give.

In my little world, I'll take care of business to the best of my ability. It can leave you feeling dingy at times.  In the interim, I'll wash away the dirty with a little sweat. I'll buff away the stubborn spots with trail grit and sand. And I'll do it all from the saddle of my bike.

During tonight's scrub down, this tune came bubbling up. Seemed fitting.

When the hills of los angeles are burning
Palm trees are candles in the murder wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And los angeles is burning

Monday, September 23, 2013

Anti-Monday Ride Stoke

As always happens when the races come through town, the local TB/Caddy race course gets ridden in, all the lines come clean, and it's just crazy fast/fun.  The weather had even cooperated, and it was just about to get down right dry out there.  I'd forgotten what that looked like.  I got a couple of good days out there, and now the rains have returned.  Get it while you can, right?  On the upside, this rain is actually a front trying to push through, and on the other side should be our first taste of Fall. 

To combat the Monday's, and just to keep the early week stoke rolling, check this out. Really makes me wanna be out on my mtb.  Rain should be clear later in the week, and temps dropping 10+ degrees....

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sexy Sucks!

Remember that title phrase. It may save you a lot of heart ache in your life. That's what was running through my head as I stood as patiently as possible, trying not to lose my cool with the 5,785, 862 gnats that continually stormed my eardrums, nostrils, and eye sockets. Their attempts at broaching my cranial orifices was unrelenting. Sexy sucks.

It was one of the first sunny days in a long time. I'd even snapped a pic half hour earlier, to prove to myself later that it wasn't just a dream.  I was actually riding a dry bike, in the sunshine!!! I suppose with the better weather, came upbeat spirits, and a general overtone of feeling good. Who doesn't feel good when the sun shines warmly on your face?  All these good feelings motivated my dumb ass right on into the A group ride, as it rolled from the parking lot. Now, I've not yet seen the end of this ride, while still WITH this ride. I take my beatings in stride, with a general understanding that these beatings should eventually lead to my seeing the end of the ride, at the same time as the rest of the ride, and not some mildly embarrassing moment in time later. The ride did it's usual, and I was redlining from time to time, but hanging on longer than I expected. Then sexy started sucking, and not in a good way.

PANG!!!!!! The front end shuddered, and I looked down to see the errant rock that had caused a lapse in my much needed concentration, were I still to be in contact at the top of this never ending hill. I see no rock, but notice, quite unhappily, that my front wheel is beginning the tell-tale wobble of one in which one of its spokes has suddenly become more passenger, than participant. It gets bad enough that I can feel the drag as the rim rubs the brakes with every revolution. I pull out of the group to assess the damage, and Mr Harvey stops alongside. I encourage him that I'm good, and that he should continue his campaign to hang with this bunch of skinny folk. He explains, through the same heavy breathing that I'm experiencing, that he's quite happy to see how my wheel is doing. I decide to disconnect my front brake cable to gain maximum brake clearance, and simply take it easy back the way we came, albeit with only a rear brake. Great plan, except that sexy really sucks!

It would seem that skimpy little 18 spoke wheels really do not like it when one spoke up and quits. The other 17 struggle to maintain a semblance of order but utterly fail .My rim was wedged tight against the fork blade, and would not roll. I accepted the evac offer of Mr Harvey, and watched as he rolled off to get his car.

I should know better. I DO know better. But the siren song of sexy has plagued men since the beginning of time, and I'm no desire free monk. I bought my first sexy wheels a long time ago. Dura Ace beauties, all low spoke count and deep rims. Spokes all in pretty little pairs, reaching from the hub to the opposite side of the rim. So much marketing mumbo-jumbo about lateral stiffness and low rotational weight.  My first sexy wheels made my old Ultegra hubs and Mavic CXP rims looks downright dull. I rode them happily, and tried to ignore the weak points as they arose. At first the black anodized rims faded to some obscure mint green. No sweat. Probably my fault for using some harsh cleaner. I wondered if the front end of my bike was getting soft in corners. Surely, it couldn't be all that sexy up front. Everyone knows sexy is intended to make things stiffer. Then I broke a spoke. Sexy would never use a standard spoke. That would be...well....not sexy.  So I head to the shop, and then another, and then  another. Nobody carries sexy spokes? Why the hell not? I NEED a sexy spoke!!

After waiting for 2-3 weeks, I finally got what I needed. During that off time, I noticed that those were some fugly green rims I was running, and my 32 spoke back up wheels sure did turn nice. Reality sets in, the sexy wheels were traded for my first hydraulic disc brakes, and I built some damn fine wheels with NORMAL, everyday, run of the mill, get 'em at any shop around, spokes. I was back where I belonged. I've been building wheels for a long time, and I know what works. Funny thing, I rarely ever have trouble, with MY wheels. So I was happy as a clam, and safe again.

 Hi! My name is Bigworm, and I am a sexy addict. Sexy just never lets up. First it's a stolen glance at the deep curve of a 40mm carbon rim. Then a friend gets a job at a sexy wheel manufacturer, and he tells you all the GREAT new ways that sexy can improve your life. But I do remember that sexy can bite, so I resist and resist, until I finally succumb to half-sexy. That's only half dangerous, right? These pre-built wheels have pretty bladed spokes, but at least they are not the DUMB aluminum ones. That's just silly-sexy!!! The rims are only a little deeper, AND they are aluminum, because carbon is just silly-sexy! My rationalization wins out, and I'm on a pre-built, wheel SYSTEM. Mavic takes us above and beyond simple wheels, into systems. How can you go wrong with a system?

Apparently you can go so wrong, that you end up on the side of the road, on the first sunny day in weeks, trying to see just how long you can go with 252 gnats in each ear, singing a rousing chorus of "We will eat your sanity!!!", without running screaming into the woods, clawing at bug filled nostrils and eyes!  Seriously!!! Sexy sucks!!

Flash and I joked about it the next day, after I'd finally convinced my brain that there were no more small winged bugs deep in my ear canals. He offered up his back up wheels; the ultimate in un-sexy. He's got Ultegra hubs, Open Pro rims, and all silver. Not even some black laced spokes. Those wheels are the true blue granny panties of the wheel world. Nothing sexy whatsoever, but they offer full coverage, and they get the job done. I was so fed up with sexy at that moment, I almost offered to buy the damn things off him. 

Like I said before, I'm Bigworm, and I'm a sexy addict. I'm not quite fully clean and sober, but I'm working on it. Hubs were ordered. Rims sit patiently in a corner. I'll be back on 32, gloriously traditional j-bend spokes, none too soon. I've learned my lesson again.....for now.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Shout Out to Kevin

(This started as a comment on Big Jim Slade's piece about missing the Ride for Hope. As I recanted the story in the little comment box, I felt it deserved more. I know that words on this little piece of seldom visited internets isn't much, but it's what I have to offer. )

I had kind of lost touch with what this event was really about, this year. I was more worried about the logistics of herding cats, and getting myself and my crew on the same page.

I got to the event late, and missed the start with the century folks. I think that was a gift.

While I was chatting with everyone I know(Bigworm for Mayor!!), a guy on a trike smiles and waves. I just thought he was being friendly. Turns out, he was actually smiling at me, specifically. He rolled over and said, Hi. His smile was infectious, despite struggling to tell me who he was. I knew he was familiar, but I just couldn't quite place him. Turns out his name is Kevin, and he was a regular customer, from back in my shop days. At that point I remembered his smiling face, on top of a strong, 6' tall, healthy body. He told me he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and that being able to ride this day was a gift from God.

Kevin was on my mind a lot that day. A couple of years ago, all I could think about as I cramped and suffered in the heat, was my mother in law, that I had watched wither under the scourge of cancer and the dreadfulness of what we consider treatment for this disease.

Kevin was right about that gift. Thanks for reminding folks, Big Jim.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rain Day

This weather is kicking my ass. I tried to say it was kicking my "I wanna get faster" ass, but Big Jim Slade straight up called me out, and said he's pretty sure it's not the rain, kicking THAT ass.

That's why I don't really like Jim. I tolerate him, like you would tolerate a conjoined sibling growing outta your ass.

Anyway, I'll be sausage fest riding on Sunday. But, my legs have not had oppurtunity to turn a pedal more than once this week, as apparently, I have a whopping case of Norman's-Scared-of-the-Rain-itis.  I hate Norman's-Scared-of-the-Rain-itis, so I'll be seeking a cure tomorrow.

The doc says the best cure for this chronic 3rd placement, overbraking, slow turning, incessant whimpering malaise, is quite simple.  Wait 'til it's raining. Walk out to your bike. Climb aboard, and pedal off into the muck with your friends. Channel you inner little kid; the same one that still lets you make motorcycle noises when you hit that corner just right, or blast monstrous millimeters of air off that water bar.  Remember the unadulterated joy it was to take a HUGE FLYYYYYIIIIINNNNNG leap, into the nearest mud puddle. Then smile from mud filled ear, to mud filled ear, when you realize that you just wall of watered your closest buddy.

Mostly, just let go. It's why we do this anyway, right? We just wanna let go of all the day to day garbage that will suck your soul if you let it. Tomorrow, I'm gonna go play in the mud, and then I'm gonna wash it all off.

Just what the doctor ordered!

Friday, April 19, 2013

GA On My Mind.... and other stuff, too.

I think my t'aint may fall out Sunday afternoon.  I really don't want it to, but I'm not sure I'll have a choice in the matter. Sometimes t'aints just do what they want, regardless of their host's wishes.  I suppose it's like any relationship, though. If you ask too much of your partner, they may just decide enough is enough.

I've never been the cyclo-touring type. But, this year, the local TOSRV double century event has offered a clay road version. The thought of two days of new to me clay, sounded appealing, so I'm in. It looks like there are 35+ other like minded souls, who wish to anger their t'aints as well. Should be quite entertaining, by sometime Sunday afternoon. I wonder if Cairo, GA has a t'aint trauma center...

On another front, the 2 of you who actually read this, may have noticed that the Bikeposse Ride Info is stuck on 3/21 ride info. It's not that that was such an epic day, that it should never be changed, left to remind those who missed out, of their now clearly, purposeless lives. It was more a matter of nobody actually cares. I honestly have no idea whether or not folks actually referenced that little ride info tool, but I kept it up, so that it made an easy place to find out the plans. Now however, there is no need of plans, as Bikeposse is dead. Like most great tribes, it died from inside. No overthrow. No hostile takeover. No coup. Just quiet diminishment of interest until it withered and the wind blew the dust in many different directions. I know that diminishment may not be an actual word, and that some of you may not want to hear my whining. Whatever. It's my place, my rules. If you wish to read happy things, go here.   He does good things, and tells of them quite eloquently. Me, I'm just crabby, right now.

Not really crabby. Actually, I'm quite excited to get my tourist on. Very much looking forward to 2 days where my main focus is turning the pedals, and eating food. No mowing the grass. No dishes or laundry. Just pedal, shower, eat, sleep, pedal home. And of course eat, shower, and sleep again. Then Monday comes and my soul goes back into hiding. Though the bikeposse regulars think that they belong in a Kansas video, there are still a few old friends and a couple of the new faces doing this ride, so I look forward to the weekend.

Maybe if my t'aint actually dies, I'll change that Bikeposse Ride Info tool, to some kind of T'aint Memorial.  I wrote this blog in loving memory of...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jinx! Jinx! Voodoo, Jinx!

Depending on who you talk to, I may have asked for it. If you ask me, I blame jealousy!

You see, I have a couple of friends. Well, I have more than a couple, but these two in particular, are quite particular. These two call me more than all the others combined, when it comes to chasing down bicycle imperfections. Don't get me wrong. I'm not griping about these calls. In fact, I somewhat enjoy them. It's something akin to the involuntary laugh that we all let escape, when your buddy, who just happens to be putting you in a bit of distress on your own favorite singletrack, blows the next corner and yard-sales through the woods. Sure, I don't want them dead, but a little bruising never hurt anyone.....much. Builds character!

Even more than the guilty pleasure that comes from watching these friends struggle with their demons, I honestly hope to take a counseling approach. Either these guys have way more issues with their bikes, due to some sort of horrible luck, or they pissed of somebody in a past life. Or, and here's where it gets sticky, maybe these guys are just so particular, that no bicycle with the complex moving parts of today's dual suspension, multi-geared machine, will ever meet their standards of bicycle decency.

I may have gone so far as to suggest to one, or both, that maybe they would be happier on full rigid singlespeeds. Of course I said this with only their best interests at heart, and in no way intended to be jabbing at their exposed weaknesses. Everyone who knows me, knows I'm all serious, all the time!!

And then it happens. Slowly at first, but it's gaining momentum, and I don't like it. First my main bike begins a creak that lets all nearby, feel fairly certain that a pregnant goose is giving birth to a cow sized, man baby. The racket nearly drove me to tossing the offensive squawker straight into a creek at Redbug, and then hitch hiking home.

No sweat, it can be sorted. In the shop, I'm working through the exorcism of the goose demon, and I realize that my rear shock, apparently now has more air than oil in its damping mechanism. As it cycles through, it sounds like small pebbles pushing through an AC vent. And I'm not talking pretty little riverbed pebbles, that you decorate your fishbowl with. I'm talking hate filled, sharp toothed, rocks that later break down into ferocious sandblasting grains, and eat holes through your favorite metal door on that cherry '40 Ford you WERE restoring, until that malicious rock-sand made swiss cheese of that panel!

Fine! I'll just ride my hardtail. I go to throw my tires back on, and my compressor won't go above 25psi, which is not anywhere near enough to mount those tubeless tires. Whatever. Grab some tubes, and 2 of the last 3 I have, have holes in them. So with one 26" tube stretched to fill that 29" tire, and the other just as flat the St Mark's Trail, I hang it on the wall, hang my head in dejection, and return to my dinner.

The day dawns anew, and I write off these problems to coincidence. I take the cx bike with, knowing that she's trustworthy and versatile. I roll out after work, enjoying the crunch of gravel beneath my tires, and the smell of a false spring, as temps are far too warm for this to be February.  As soon as it's too dark to see without lights, fate drops a hammer on my ride, yet again. I break my chain, and realize that I have left my chain tool in the truck.Once I borrow a tool, and set about the repair, I notice that my chainring has teeth nearly as sharp as those of those damnable rocks we discussed earlier. You know, the ones swimming through my rear shock and eating holes in '40 Ford doors. That means that I've gotten lazy, and let my chain wear beyond simple replacement, and a full drivetrain is in order, and soon to be on order.

Now all of these occurrences can be spun.  What's that old saying about crisis and opportunity having the same symbol in ancient Norse Mythology, or some other culture that folks get tattooed without actually knowing that they just got "washing machine" permanently inked on their forearm? Anyway, the creak can be corrected, AND I learn more about the inner workings of my new steed. The rocks can be removed from my rear shock, and sent to some primal feeding pond, where they can eat all the metal they want, AND, my shock can be rehabilitated a'la the 6 million dollar man. When it returns to me, it will be custom tuned, systematic, and hydromatic! Why, it'll be Greased Lightening! The need for a new drivetrain  has prompted me to move beyond the 9+ year old, 9 speed system, to the newer 10 speed hotness. Now when the guy at the gas station parking lot says he likes my 10 speed, he'll actually be right for a change.

So, I'm looking on the bright side and not trying to give too much credence to the occult, but just in case, Lil' Ronnie, will you PLEASE take the pins from all those little voodoo dolls you made, that not so mysteriously resemble all of my bikes? I'll TRY not to ever tell you you need to be on a single speed, again. I'll be here for you in your time of bicycle need, and I'll do my level best not to smile too much.

Friday, January 25, 2013


With all that has transpired in my life over the past few years, I find far too few moments of inner peace.  These moments have not eluded me altogether, they just seem to be more scarce. My patience is short, and my temper quick. I wear these traits like an ill fitting suit.

This morning, I've been trying hard to simply let things go, and relax. In the process, I created a new Pandora station, based around, of all artists, Neil Young. I blame Joe!  After 5 years of turning wrenches under his shingle, I apparently developed a place in my heart for his tastes for classic vinyl.

This was always my favorite time of year, at the shop. Doors wide open, and the cool winds blowing through the shop kept us sane after the hateful heat of the summer. Saturday mornings, it was Click and Clack coaching us through car repair, followed by the reggae show. But most of  the time, Joe would crank up some classic or another, many I'd never even heard before. Mornings at the shop were spent on the porch, discussing whatever. Lunches were spent on the porch, discussing whatever. Afternoon breaks were spent on the porch, discussing, yet again, whatever. All to a backdrop of tunes so loud that customers were forced to shout their needs.

I remember Big Ed coming by, a few months after he quit the shop to go work elsewhere. He came in the back and his face was so earnest, as he said, "Don't ever quit, man. You don't even realize how good you have it here. It sucks out there, and you'll hate it.".  I knew how good I had it. It all seemed so much more simple then.

Eventually I left, too. Growth, temporary insanity, maturity, whatever it was, it came time for me to fly the coup. I miss it.....a lot. Joe's family, and I've been remiss in my reunions.

I may not make it by there today, but in the meantime, I'll lounge in the happy memories in my headphones. Today, my past will bring some peace to my future.

Thanks, Joe.