Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That worked so well, let's try it again. Remember this when Team Shack hits the road next year

Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business

April 23, 2007 | Issue 43•17

FORT WORTH, TX—Despite having been on the job for nine months, RadioShack CEO Julian Day said Monday that he still has "no idea" how the home electronics store manages to stay open.

RadioShack CEO

CEO Julian Day

"There must be some sort of business model that enables this company to make money, but I'll be damned if I know what it is," Day said. "You wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must, or I wouldn't have this desk to sit behind all day."

The retail outlet boasts more than 6,000 locations in the United States, and is known best for its wall-sized displays of obscure-looking analog electronics components and its notoriously desperate, high-pressure sales staff. Nevertheless, it ranks as a Fortune 500 company, with gross revenues of over $4.5 billion and fiscal quarter earnings averaging tens of millions of dollars.

"Have you even been inside of a RadioShack recently?" Day asked. "Just walking into the place makes you feel vaguely depressed and alienated. Maybe our customers are at the mall anyway and don't feel like driving to Best Buy? I suppose that's possible, but still, it's just...weird."

Enlarge Image RadioShack

A RadioShack store that somehow manages to bring in enough paying customers to turn a profit.

After taking over as CEO, Day ordered a comprehensive, top-down review of RadioShack's administrative operations, inventory and purchasing, suppliers, demographics, and marketing strategies. He has also diligently pored over weekly budget reports, met with investors, taken numerous conference calls with regional managers about "circulars or flyers or something," and even spent hours playing with the company's "baffling" 200-In-One electronics kit. Yet so far none of these things have helped Day understand the moribund company's apparent allure.

"Even the name 'RadioShack'—can you imagine two less appealing words placed next to one another?" Day said. "What is that, some kind of World War II terminology? Are ham radio operators still around, even? Aren't we in the digital age?"

"Well, our customers are out there somewhere, and thank God they are," Day added.

One of Day's theories about RadioShack's continued solvency involves wedding DJs, emergency cord replacement, and off-brand wireless telephones. Another theory entails countless RadioShack gift cards that sit unredeemed in their recipients' wallets. Day has even conjectured that the store is "still coasting on" an enormous fortune made from remote-control toy cars in the mid-1970s.

RadioShack Revenues

Day admitted, however, that none of these theories seems particularly plausible.

"I once went into a RadioShack location incognito in order to gauge customer service," Day said. "It was about as inviting as a visit to the DMV. For the life of me, I couldn't see anything I wanted to buy. Finally, I figured I'd pick up some Enercell AA batteries, though truthfully they're not appreciably cheaper than the name brands."

"I know one thing," Day continued. "If Sony and JVC start including gold-tipped cable cords with their products, we're screwed."

In the cover letter to his December 2006 report to investors, "Radio Shack: Still Here In The 21st Century," Day wrote that he had no reason to believe that the coming year would not be every bit as good as years past, provided that people kept on doing things much the same way they always had.

Despite this cheerful boosterism, Day admitted that nothing has changed during his tenure and he doesn't exactly know what he can do to improve the chain.

"I'd like to capitalize on the store's strong points, but I honestly don't know what they are," Day said. "Every location is full of bizarre adapters, random chargers, and old boom boxes, and some sales guy is constantly hovering over you. It's like walking into your grandpa's basement. You always expect to see something cool, but it never delivers."

Added Day: "I may never know the answer. No matter how many times I punch the sales figures into this crappy Tandy desk calculator, it just doesn't add up."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blog Post Stolen Directly from The Onion

Non-Doping Cyclists Finish Tour De France

August 30, 2007 | Onion Sports

PARIS—A small but enthusiastic crowd of several dozen was on hand at the Tour de France's finish line on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées Tuesday to applaud the efforts of the 28 cyclists who completed the grueling 20-stage, 2,208.3-mile race without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

Enlarge Image Non Doping

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins finished the final 56km time trial in a respectable and drug-free 4 hours and 38 minutes.

Finland's Piet Kvistik, a domestique with the Crédit Mondial team, was this year's highest-finishing non-doping rider (142nd overall). Kvistik claimed the maillot propre, the blue jersey worn by the highest-placed "clean" rider, on the ninth stage of the race when the six riders who had previously worn it tested positive for EPO, elevated levels of testosterone, and blood-packing.

"This is a very, very proud day for me," said the 115-pound Kvistik, who lost 45% of his body mass during the event, toppled from his saddle moments after finishing, and had to be administered oxygen, fed intravenously, and injected with adrenaline by attending medical personnel. "They say it is physically impossible to ride all of the Tour without drugs, but we prove them wrong this day."

"What day is it, anyway?" asked Kvistik, his eyes rolling wildly in his head. "I can no longer tell."

Kvistik's overall time for the Tour was 571 hours, 22 minutes, and 33 seconds, beating by over an hour the previous record for a non-enhanced rider, set by Albrect Påart during 1923's infamous ether-and-morphine-shortened race. Kvistik finished a mere 480 hours behind Alberto Contador, the overall winner, making 2007's margin between doping and non-doping riders the closest in history.

"It became most difficult for us on the 7th stage, which was almost 200 kilometers and the first stage through the mountains," Kvistik said while accepting the non-doping victor's 100-franc check from his stretcher. "Not only did the excruciating pain and weakness in my legs make it difficult to walk my bike on the steeper stretches, it was mentally very hard to know that half the other clean riders were dead or dying. Also, the other 141 riders finished the Tour in Paris that morning, which made it all that much harder."

"It's rather a shame that the Tour's 'clean' riders, or 'lanternes naturelles' as the fans call them, receive so little attention, for their monumental achievement," said cycling commentator Phil Liggett, reporting on the non-doping riders' finish for Versus-2, the little-sister network to Versus, who carried the main Tour de France coverage. "It's nearly impossible to compete in the full Tour while shot full of human growth hormone, erythropoietin, testosterone, glucocorticosteroids, synthetic testosterone, anabolic steroids, horse testosterone, amphetamines, and one's own pre-packed oxygen-rich red blood cells. To do it on water and bananas is almost heroic, no matter what one's time is."

While Kvistik's achievement is being celebrated by cycling insiders, critics of the Tour de France maintain that not enough is being done to combat the use of performance-enhancing substances in cycling's premier event.

"Nonsense—pure nonsense," said Tour general director Christian Prudhomme, who was vacationing in Switzerland as Kvistik crossed the finish line. "We have done everything we could imagine, both in terms of prize money and other incentives, to promote riders who compete without pharmaceutical aid. But we simply do not have the resources, nor the viewers the interest, to televise the entire two months it takes for a normal, unadulterated human to circumnavigate an entire nation on a bicycle."

Kvistik remains in critical condition at the Hôpital Neuilly-sur-Seine, where he was placed in a medically induced coma to aid his recovery from exhaustion, malnutrition, and loss of bone density. Attending physicians say he is not expected to return to cycling.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fun

Fun for me will be making the final tweaks on my new bike this evening.

Also, just found out that there's a hillclimb and a crit in Wallace, Idaho this weekend. Nice combo in the town famous for its brothels, its silver mines, and of course being the self-proclaimed "Center of the Universe." Too bad I can't make it. Wallace is very funky and would be an awesome place for a fun crit. I'm seriously bummed, although 6 weeks without racing (and barely riding) would be brutal. Not sure that a downtown crit is the best place for the new bike's maiden voyage, anyway.

And here's some goofiness to get your weekend started. Have fun and good luck at the races, if that's your thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2010 Trek Madone - Early Happy Snaps

So I just got back from Two Wheel Transit with my co-worker Nick. Good news is my new bike came in today, two days early. Very cool!

It's only mostly assembled--I'll set it up tonight, but in the mean time, here are a few pics. For those of you who care about this kind of thing, it weighed in at 14.1 pounds without pedals (those are at home), but including bottle cages. Not bad for a bike with aluminum clinchers.

More to come...including actually riding it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

OK, even though Two Wheel Transit isn't a Cervelo dealer, I need to give them a plug. This doesn't have anything to do with their bikes, although I do think they do a good job. I've had the chance to ride them quite a bit over the past couple of years and I like them, although I decided not to buy one over the Trek (which will be here this Friday).

Anyway, I finally got around to checking out This is the home for Cervelo's series of documentaries (sort of) about their racing team.

In fact these shorts are extremely well done. The photography is gorgeous. The first time I saw them I thought for sure they were shot on film. The quality is that good. My guess is that it's not--rather it's shot on high-def video, but with a damn good camera.

And I think they found a nice balance between a look behind the curtains and a marketing piece. In fact it's an effective marketing piece because they DON'T hit you over the head with a "we're Cervelo and here's all the reasons our bikes are so great" agenda. Well, with the exception of the Paris Roubaix segment. We can let that slide though, right?

So the pictures are great, and so are some of the interviews. You get a sense anyway of how brutal some of the classics are (all of them, really) and I especially like the segment on Flanders. Plus, Andreas Klier has one of the all-time coolest nicknames--"GPS Klier." I may need to start calling Quicksilver that since he has a similar innate knowledge of roads. They just happen to be the roads around Spokane, not the roads around Liege. The discussion on the race radio between Klier and Daniel Lloyd during Flanders is awesome. I'd transcirbe it here, but it's not particularly safe for work.

But what's up with Henrich Haussler? He's exciting to watch race, but I'm not so sure about the man behind the helmet. Pretty boy? Oh yeah. But the dude can move on a bike, so that makes up for a lot of his apparent dearth of personality. I guess.

If you're looking for something to watch, check it out. Way more interesting than Grey's Anatomy, anyway.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Bike - New Seat

I recently regaled you with tales of my new bike. Short version - 2009 Trek Madone 6.9 from a warranty replacement. Speaking of which, here is a shout-out to Trek and Two Wheel. From finding the crack to having a new bike was amazingly fast and hassle free. Just what you would hope a warranty experience would be; except that I can't think of any that actually go that way. Love the bike.

But, my seat was broken down from many miles and hours, not to mention my Clydesdale Plus size heiny. I had been riding a Selle Italia Trans Am Gel Flow, or something. I started riding this seat a long time ago and actually bought three of them, so that I have one on my trainer, one on my rain/cyclocross bike and one on my main bike. So, deciding to try out new seats seemed like a big deal to me. I wanted to dive in and find what worked. And now, I am going to share my experiences with you except I want you to keep in mind one thing - you should ignore every word I have to say. Instead, you should just try a few seats and find what works. There are lots of different types of asses, bone structures and riding positions. As a result, there is no seat that "works" for everyone or even most people. You gotta find your seat through trial and error.

Here are my trials and errors.

Fiziks Aliante S - Rider 1 described his experience with this seat. It is part of the group of seats that Two Wheel has to test ride. Rider 1 described this seat as one that you sit "in", rather than sit "on". It has a bit of a hammock sense to it. I suspected that it would not work for me, but I also wanted to try the style, so it was the first seat on my new steed. This was a seat that I had to adjust and adjust and adjust. I couldn't get it quite right; it was either too nose up or nose down. With the nose down, I seemed to be falling off the front and had to forcefully push back up onto the seat. With the nose up, it became apparent immediately that this taint the seat for me. I mean, it put pressure on my perineum. When I finally got the seat in just the right place, it was tolerable, but it was obviously not the right seat for me. My guess is that this type of seat works for lighter people and I can see that the seat would provide a good base for the right person. I think the support would also help with the overall control of the bike, as you would be well connected to the bike with the contact of this seat.

Fiziks Arionne - This was seat two in my seat odessy. It was like Homer's Odessy, except much less adventure and notably less than 10 years. The Fiziks Arionne is a very "pro" seat. It is long and lean. For me, who is rather more long than lean, it was a bit too narrow. Unlike the Aliante it was very easy to adjust. It was "right" almost straight away, because the seat is very straight across the top. When I sat upon it, it was clear that it was in the right spot and reasonably comfortable. It was, however, not enough seat for me. The Aliante seat is 135 mm wide at the widest part. The Arionne is 128 mm wide. The Bontrager seat system suggested that I needed the widest of their three seats at 154 mm. Even though these pesky milimeters are rather small, when you add them up, it turns out that it makes a difference. In this case, I could rather noticably detect that I was sitting on the outside of the seat and that it was not offering enough support. Unfortunately, the longer I sat on the seat, the more noticable this problem became. In fact, I was rather looking forward to ending my ride. Rider 1 had a similar response and, in fact, if you look back at his description you will see that he felt compelled to mention his taint over and over. I would do the same if he had not done so quite ably. Again, this turns out it taint the seat for me.

Fizik Vitesse - The Vitesse seat comes in a couple of versions, which are all women's seats. Unlike some seats designed for women, this seat does not obviously appear to be one for women. In other words, it isn't pink, it doesn't proclaim on the side that it was designed by and for women, and it doesn't have a vajayjay shaped cut-out. I have to confess that if I had known it was a women's saddle, I would not have picked it to try, but it didn't look gender specific and it looked like a shape that might work. In fact, a helpful Two Wheel dude told me that a prior employee at Two Wheel has one on his bike, as does every member of his family, male and female.

When I got on this seat, it wasn't love at first sit, but it was a long way from hate. I did a longer ride on this one, around 2 1/2 hours, than the prior seats and I was glad that this was the one for the longer ride. It fit me much better than the longer and narrower seats I had tried. This seat looks reminiscent of the Aliante, but less of the hammock approach. So really it rises towards the tail but is flatter at the nose. All in all, this seat was not a bad one for me. I finished the ride pondering whether to just ride this seat or whether to put on the last seat I had borrowed to try. It didn't seem perfect, but it was much, much closer. In fact, I found that I was riding for extended periods without thinking about the seat at all, which really should be the goal, and I thought I could work with this one. However, wanting to try the Bontrager seat, I removed this and moved on to the next saddle.

Bontrager RXL 154 mm - Bontrager makes three saddles for men, the R, RL and RXL, and it makes each of these in three sizes, 128 mm wide, 146 mm and 154 mm. Bontrager has a website devoted specifically to this seat (Link) and they have a study that says their seat distributes your weight better over the whole seat and still maintains appropriate blood flow, while cut-out seats concentrate weight in two spots which can lead to discomfort (even though they allow blood flow). This micro-website is very complete and reasonably convincing, but honestly, only after I rode it. Prior to that I assumed it was mostly marketing hype and that no matter what the study said, the only way to know if it works is to go ride it. And, to their credit, Bontrager offers a 90-day money back guarantee. If you buy one and don't like, you can bring it back for a full refund, no questions asked. That is impressive and important. I feel lucky that Two Wheel has some test seats and I have a good relationship with them so they were willing to work with me to try out a number of seats, but even if you don't have that relationship, the money back guarantee would make me confident of trying out one of these seats.

To get the right size, you sit on a bench that has a bunch of squishy white gel in it, which indicates where your sitz bones are (this is not a technical term, I don't think. I should check with Dr. Spalm, but he is in a no stimulation therapy pod today - don't ask . . .). The website says that your overall size doesn't indicate your pelvic structure, but I was not suprised to find I needed the largest size. This also confirmed my feelings about some narrower saddles.

So, the adjustment from the Vitesse to the Bontrager required me to raise the seat mast, because the Vitesse sits very tall on its rails, while the Bontragers are all low. The differences between the R, RL and RXL are 1) price, 2) overall weight, 4) materials (plastic base vs. carbon composite base) degree of padding. The more you pay, the less padding. I went with the RXL because the padding was more similar to my old saddle and I thought the stiffer carbon base would stand up better to my weight.

When I got this saddle on, I almost immediately forgot I had a new saddle. I rolled out and after the first five minutes I kept forgetting that I was trying out saddles and found myself thinking about all the random and specific things I usually ponder on the bike. This saddle looks wide at the back and very flat. For those of you who need visual cues:

From Product Testing

I thought that after trying multiple saddles that I would either have a hard time deciding or ultimately decide to special order the latest version of my old saddle. I was pleased and surprised to find that I found a new saddle that was immediately comfortable and, at least for the two 1+ hours rides I have done, still comfortable. I think the proof will be a 3-4 hour ride, but that will have to wait a couple of weeks while I do some family vacationing without my bike. In the meantime, I have the comfort of my money-back guarantee to know that when that ride comes along in August, September or October, I still have the option of taking it back and starting over. I'll let you know.
Rider 3

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Random Thoughts: Part Deux

To piggyback on Rider 3's post from earlier in the week, I too have some random thoughts. In a way it's a sad state for me when it comes to riding. I don't have a bike to race on, and often lose focus on riding when I'm not working towards something/want to avoid completely embarrassing myself. Of course working like crazy and being up to my neck in dust during a massive house remodel doesn't help. Anyway, here's a cornucopia of bullets from the cacophony of my mind:

  • On Alberto vs. Lance: How dare Alberto ride for the win! Didn't he learn from the times in Lance's career when he worked hard to make sure teamates ended up on the Tour podium? Like that one time Lance pulled Acevedo up to...never mind. Or that time he helped Floyd win the stage to...uhhh. Or when Lance tolerated dissension and the opinions of his domestiques...ehhhh.
  • Then again...Whatever you think of Lance, he still did a mind-boggling ride. Seriously, three years after retirement, at his age, and just a couple of months after breaking a collarbone? Unbelieveable. He's two weeks older than I am, but a world more talented.
  • On what you see riding: If you ride enough, you invariably come across cool, often crazy, and sometimes disgusting sights. In the last few months I've been within 100 feet of a moose, a bald eagle, a red-tailed hawk carrying a snake in its talons, five blue heron (my vote for the coolest bird ever), a 30 year old rusted shell of a car along a mountain bike trail, a guy with his aerobars 20 inches or so above his seat, a couple of hypodermic needles, an ashtray (evidently someone couldn't stand to have it in their car for ONE MORE SECOND), what I think was human feces, and someone plowing their field with a donkey.
  • On sucking ass: I freaking HATE getting dropped. I'm known for being mild-mannered to a fault and don't think I've ever lost my temper. Seriously. If I were a killer, I'd be a stone-cold killer. But my form has gone to crap and lately I get very, very angry every time I go uphill. I don't think I can fake it much longer. Sooner or later the older gents are going to realize I'm not hanging back just to be nice and pace them back to the faster guys at the top of the hill. In short, I hate sucking ass.
  • On ultra-hot days/nights: No, this isn't the buildup to an announcement for a new FOX reality show. It's been hot in Spokane lately. 100-degrees hot. Our 97-year-old house doesn't have AC, which is fine with us. Usually. Its deep eaves do a good job keeping things cool, but after a certain number of hot days it magically turns into a heatsink. So after weekend days where I've been uncomfortable all day and an evening of fitful sleep on sweaty sheets, nothing feels better than an early-morning ride. The descent out of my front door, when it's still cool enough to get goosebumps from the cold? Bliss.
  • On making a cyclist happy: One of my best friends rode for U.S. Postal Service for a few years. And no, I'm not here to name drop. But I think he was still riding the same bike he did the Vuelta on in '97 or '98. Seriously, the thing is a wreck. Anyway, I helped him source a new Trek Madone 6.9 for a good price, and he rode it for the first time earlier this week. It's amazing to hear the joy a new bike can bring, even for those of us who have been on many, many bikes over the years, with a majority of them coming for free. Of course it cracked me up when he called on its maiden voyage as he was walking the last mile to work. Evidently he ran over something that put a giant hole in one of the tires.
  • On my own new bike: Not here yet. But to say I'm looking forward to it arriving is a massive understatement. Last night my wife asked if I was more excited for the new bike, or for our remodeling project to be complete. I replied that I was excited for both of them, but in different ways. Is it bad to tell this kind of white lie?
  • On Clunkers for Cash: What if the Fed put 1/100th of its proposed $2 Billion into the bike industry, subsidizing the price of emissions-free bikes anywhere from $300 to $1,000 (or whatever) depending on the price of the bike. It's a relatively paltry sum, and would do a hell of a lot more for reducing carbon emissions, oil independence, improving people's health, etc., while also supporting strapped manufacturers and local retailers. If you want to get patriotic about things, the program could be limited to bikes that are built or assembled in the U.S. How is this a bad idea? Even the Italians pulled off something similar.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Bike - Madone 6.9

I have a new bike, sort of. I have been meaning to write a review of my old bike, which isn't that old, because it is a great bike. I don't know why I haven't, because it isn't as if Bike Polo is more compelling.

Two years ago, just as they were introduced, I got a very early Madone 6.9 frameset. I had recruited a new rider to the sport and promised to sell my frame at a reasonable price in order to lure them in. He was able to get an inexpensive grouppo and I had a handy excuse to get a new frame. Due to some luck, circumstances and a long-standing relationship with my local bike shop, Two Wheel Transit, who is a Trek dealer, I was able to get a Madone 6.9 when they were really cool. Here is my one sentence review - I loved it.

Trek did some new and some proprietary things on this bike. They changed the bottom bracket, they changed the head tube, and they added a no-cut seat mast. There are probably more things, but you will have to go elsewhere for the rest of the sales pitch. I will recount one conversation when I was considering this bike. I was talking to Rider 1 about the relative merits of the Trek vs. Cervelos and their engineering. Rider 1's comment was that Cervelo may have a really high percentage of engineers to sales people at their company, but the number of engineers at Trek is probably greater than the whole work force at Cervelo. In other words, don't sell short the ability of a big company to produce the goods. And in this case, they did.

This bike had the most solid bottom bracket I had ever ridden (my last bike was an aluminum Klein, which is maligned at times for being too harsh from stiffness) and it felt solid and comfortable. The bike was described as a great all-arounder, although some reviewers seem to say this as if it was a bad thing. Lacking the services of a full-time mechanic and a fleet of bikes and wheels, I have the crazy notion that it is a GOOD thing when your nice bike is a great all-arounder.

I read once that riders sense the flex in their wheels as a matter of confidence in descending. In other words, a rider may not "know" that they have a flexy wheel, but they will descend slower instinctively because that is what feels comfortable. I think the same thing is true with the whole bike set-up.

I was able to ride my 6.9 downhill faster than any bike I ever owned. I am not a daredevil descender, but I found that I was keeping up with even fast groups with confidence. I was not keeping up with the killer-racers-who-have-no-fear, but it felt great. I was also able to ride hands free as well on this bike as any I have owned. To me, this meant it was stable and had the right mix of characteristics to make a bike that handles well.

As for the stiffness and bottom bracket, up until this bike, I had measured how stiff a bike was by "how much flex" it had. I have had bikes with very little flex and one with a fair amount of flex. Keep in mind that I am a LARGE rider. I think Clydesdales are a bunch of underfed lightweights. I also, hopefully not to overstate things, produce a fair amount of power. I think I have to to move this carcass around, but in any case, I can put the wood to most frames. With the Madone, there was no flex, at all. It felt like the bottom bracket was attached to something solid. Frankly, I don't understand quite how they do this, but I was impressed.

The other side of stiff is usually uncomfortable. A bike that is just stiff is also considered harsh or uncomfortable. I am not the kind of rider who has really had bikes that are "comfortable" or "uncomfortable". I tend to get on with riding them and figure that getting tired or uncomfortable is just one of those things that happens when you frequently ride a bike 3-4 hours. Maybe I have been on the wrong bikes, but after having steel, aluminum and carbon, I haven't been able to detect a big difference between those that "soak up the road" versus those that are harsh. I thinks it relates to the same "sense" that I have previously described between Mr. Millimeter (Rider 1) and me. Rider 1 knows to the millimeter what is "right" on his bike. I ride mine in whatever condition until I detect a large problem. I have been trying out new seats and that process is obvious, but which will be described in a later post. My sense of these things is akin to getting the attention of a labrador retriever; as a dog trainer once said to my brother, "it'll take a 2x4 to get through to that dog". Anyway, I find the bike comfortable, but don't look to me to describe in exquisite detail the vertical compliance.

So anyway, my Madone 6.9 was a great bike, hands down. Until about a month ago, when an attentive mechanic at Two Wheel noticed I had a crack in the frame. Long story, short: Trek says there was too much resin in the paint mix so the cracks were cosmetic, but they would warranty the frame. Okay by me, except the same week this happened, they introduced a NEW 6.9, which meant that my new 6.9 would be the newly obsolete 6.9. It is hard to complain about getting a brand new bike, but I have to admit it take a bit of the high out of the experience.

So, that means two things: one, I have a new 2009 Madone 6.9 and it is a great, great bike, and two, most people won't really care to read about it because we are all bike whores and only want to salivate over the latest and greatest. So, if you are looking at one of the 6.9's that are left across the country in Trek shops and in particular if your dealer is discounting them, I would strongly urge you to jump in. You will not be unhappy with this bike unless you don't think a solid performer that does everything well is the right bike for you. As Rider 1 says, this bike won't be holding you back. It is a pro-tour team bike and my guess is that any reader here won't have greater needs than those guys.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Random Thoughts

A couple of quick, random thoughts.

1) You meet nice people on bikes. I was out a few days ago and ended up riding along with a guy named Lance from Texas. Seriously.

No, it wasn't that Lance, but it was a nice guy and we rode along for about 20 minutes talking about bikes and motorcycles. It's a reminder of why I like this sport so much.

2) I recently heard Rider 1 breathing hard. Now, I have always assumed that this happens, but it would usually happen when I was several hundred meters behind him on a hill, or when he is racing in a category above mine, or when he is out doing intervals on his own, but it has been a long, long time since I personally experienced this. I happen to catch him on just the perfect day; he had put in a long, exhausting day of physical labor the day before and was tired before he slung a leg over his bike. Perfect. We were rolling along, came to a rise and lo and behold, as we approached a turn we slowed together and I realized he was breathing hard. No, not really hard, but more than I remember hearing. Wow, I also saw Rider 2 use his small chainring this year, so I guess I have experienced it all.

3) I have now ridden six days in a row. I'm sure this is the first time in 2009 that this has happened and it is really nice. I have been trying out saddles (see Friday's post) and wanted to do it day after day to keep in mind the differences, issues, etc. Also, the new bike excitement probably helps (see Wednesday's post). Anyway, the hot weather we have been having leaves the early morning the perfect time to get out and ride. I have been by myself except for Sunday which is also nice.

4) I should remember to ride by myself. I don't have a hard time pushing myself when I am by myself, in fact I probably do it too much, but riding by myself means that I have had the leisure to futz with my saddle, bike adjustments and riding issues with no pressure to not hold up others. Also, I have been more thoughtful about things like pedal motions and various position issues. It's nice to get out on my own to remember these things.

5) I miss riding with groups. Because of my schedule, I haven't made many group rides lately and I miss rolling out with a group of 20-30 riders just because of the camaraderie, shared joy and misery, various BS that gets handed out, and knowing that the larger the group, the more likely that I will be able to hang until the end.

6) I don't have visions of Tour de France glory when I ride, but I have hit or narrowly missed a few bumps lately that gave me visions of Jens Voigt. There but for the grace of divinity go I . . .

7) Yes, in the 50's they told us to walk and ride AGAINST the traffic. The authorities stopped telling kids to do that a LONG time ago. Please don't do it and tell others when you have the chance. I nearly got into a head-on crash with an 800 year old woman (no, not a typo) because she was pedaling 2.5 mph against traffic and I almost didn't see her in time. Yes, I should have been looking up more, but I was tired, it was windy, it was slightly uphill and I DIDN'T EXPECT ANYONE TO BE RIDING AGAINST TRAFFIC ON THE SHOULDER COMING AT ME.

8) Speaking of old riders, saw one Saturday who I knew. He looks and acts at least a decade younger than he is. I hope to hell someone says that about me some day as I tool around on my comfort bike with the handlebars 18-24" above my seat level.

9) Speaking of young riders, my 14 year old is the proud owner of his first road bike. I have been out with him a few times, but I need to ride with him more. I took up this sport without any parental involvement, so I don't know what this will do to him, but I hope he has fun with it and that it is at least a couple years before I can't keep up with him.
Rider 3