Category Archives: Bike Shop

Been a While

It’s been almost a year since I last updated this blog.  In that time a lot of things have happened.  They are as follows, in no particular order:

My wife and I had a little girl.

Jane

I became the store manager at the shop where I work.

My car needed a repair that would have cost more than the car did originally.

I picked up a BMX bike.

I picked up some new shoes and Speedplay Zeros.

I picked up a new frame for my wife.

I stabbed my leg with an XT brake lever during a Pivot demo.

I raced the RAGNAR Miami to Key West race with my entire immediate family (and a few other people).

Team Much Dutch

I raced the RAMBO 4 Ways in a Day race again this year and placed 6th in my division…out of 6.

On the big bike.

I stopped riding my road bike in favor of my mountain bike.

I rode my mountain bike while Atlanta was shut down because of snow and ice.

I continued to switch between clipless and flats on the mountain bike.

I was featured in two online newspaper articles.

I ran my mountain bike into the roof of my garage.  Twice.

I rode one of the most expensive mountain bikes I’ve ever put a leg over.

Nickel. Full SRAM XO 3x10, Easton Haven wheels, 130mm Rock Shox Revelation fork with carbon steerer tube, Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shock, Truvativ stem, bar and seatpost. Maxxis tubeless tires, ODI lock on grips

I participated in a trail day or two.

My plan is to start contribute to this blog more often.  Since my leg injury healed I’ve been getting outside more and that’s a positive change.

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It’s alive…IT’S ALIVE!

Meet the Frankenbike. Well, technically it’s Frankenbike 2.  My old GT (now designated Frankenbike 1) has seen better days.  Most of the parts on it were already trades or donated from guys at the shop and some of the regulars that have gotten to know me.  After blowing up the second shock on that frame, I decided to swap everything over to a hardtail.  One of the guys at work gave me a ’05 Trek 4300 frame to build up, but I wasn’t too happy with the condition of the paint on it.  A few sanding blocks and one can of matte black spray paint later, Frankenbike 2 emerged.  Changing only the frame and the wheelset from my GT, the new iteration of the Frankenbike dropped about seven pounds…mostly from the frame.  Feel free to ask if you have any questions about the components.

After the first ride around my local trails, it because obvious that the FS frame was allowing me to cheat my way through some sections without a very good set of bike handling skills.  It accelerates a ton faster than the GT, but I feel like I’m slowed down by any obstacle over 2 inches tall.  I clear my front wheel just fine but don’t get the back wheel up and over as well as I previously thought I was the the GT.  Someone suggested running flat pedals would work on my technique.  So that idea, coupled with the new pump track at Big Creek has me running the bike in skate shoes, something I thought I’d never do.  Anyone else have any suggestions?

Is It the Engine or the Equipment?

So I crashed on my mountain bike a few weeks ago and the damage to my knee totally took me out of the game (both physically and here on the blog).  No running, no riding, and with the slump in activity, even my swimming felt the hit.  But I’ve started PT and hope to fix my knee for good.  And then this situation came up and I felt it was certainly worth sharing…what do you think?

Lately I’ve started coming to the realization that it’s not always about the equipment but more about the engine behind it (i.e. me and you).  It’s interesting to me, because I’m coming at it from the perspective of someone who works with the newest cycling technology every day.  My job is to convince people that the newest cycling technology will make them better riders.  And I believe it will.  Mountain biking went from rigid clunkers to carbon full-suspension 29rs to DH bikes with more than 10″ of travel.  Road bikes started about as steel and since then have been made from aluminium, scandium, carbon fiber, heck even bamboo!

But the other day I got to ride a tricked out version of the aforementioned Santa Cruz Tallboy 29r owned by one of our regular customers.  This sub-25lb. bike had everything: Edge (now called  Enve) composite wheels, SRAM XX 2×10 drivetrain, carbon handlebars and a Rock Shox XX Sid fork.  Everything, that is, except clipless pedals.  That’s right; the guy who owned this bike worth over $5k (and that’s just at dealer cost) didn’t even clip in.  After years of riding, he’d just never gotten the hang of it.  But that didn’t stop him.  His regular circuit at Big Creek would turn my legs and lungs into a lump of jelly.

A few weeks ago, pre injury, I raced in the Big Creek Time Trial Series.  I felt alright about the time, it was slower than my 4 Ways time, but told myself that it could be better if I had a newer, lighter bike.  This was confirmed when a friend picked up my bike and called over to the officials, telling them to knock a few minutes off my time because of how heavy it is for a XC bike.  Later that same week, I was talking with one of the regular customers at our shop, mentioning my plans for a new bike.  He asked what my recent lap time was and looked at me in disbelief.  Even with his new bike that weighs four to five pounds less than mine, my slow time was two full minutes faster than his best lap time.

This caused my focus to change a bit.  Instead of worrying out when I’m finally going to scrape together enough cash for my new mountain bike, I’m going to focus on improving my body using the equipment currently in my possession.  Feeling sorry that I own a 35lb. XC bike – think of it as resistance training.  Still have a granny gear on my road bike – just means I need to hit up steeper hills.  Bum knee – more time to get back into swimming and rock climbing and build my upper body while I rehab the knee.

Lonnie Day

I had a good friend named Lonnie who used to work at our shop.  He died recently (more on that later), but he was and is an inspiration to me.  He rode his bike more than most people I know, despite working over 60 hours a week at two jobs (and one was a graveyard shift).  Now there are times where I’ll be having what I call a “Lonnie Day” or doing a “Lonnie Workout.”  If it’s nasty out or I’m feeling tired and lazy, I’ll remind myself how after work Lonnie would wait to sleep until noon just so he could ride in the morning with his friends.  If it’s good weather outside I think about how he’d be in the middle of a ride, smiling as he ticked away the miles.  He had a goal to ride a century a month in 2009 and he was going to be close.  My goal for 2010 is to ride just one.  But I know who I’ll be thinking about the whole time.

I Think We’re Going to Need a Bigger Bike

My friend Charlie, who is the mechanic at our shop, is into freeride and downhill mountain biking.  So while out riding the cross-country trails at Big Creek, I caught up with him in the freeride section and did a bit of filming with my cheapo point-and-shoot camera, threw the footage together and showed it to my family.  My grandmother was concerned that it was me in the video—she does want great-grandchildren in the near future—but I assured her that I was not the crazy person.  Maybe a little jealous, but not crazy.  I have decided that my next bike will definitely have more travel so I can at least consider the more technical terrain that is becoming popular.  Perhaps one day I’ll even voyage to a lift-accessed slope and rent a big squishy bike.  So, without further ado, I give you Charlie the Mechanic on the Sender at Big Creek.

Act Two – In which I begin to live the dream

So fast-forward to last year.  I’d continued cycling (now with my own non-pink Masi) and graduated from a sprint triathlon to an Olympic tri, but I was still topping out at about 25 miles a ride.  I was moving to Atlanta to be closer to my fiancée, and I had decided to try my hand at the cycling industry.  Plus, paying to get my bike serviced was getting old.

I walked into a bike shop, told them I wanted a job, and BAM—my foot’s in the door (well, it was a little less instantaneous than “BAM,” but you get my point).  I figure, I’ve been a cyclist for a year or two now, I like reading cycling magazines and getting out on my bike, and I know the different levels of Shimano componentry—I’ve got it made.

Wrong.  I never felt so humbled in my life than that first week at the bike shop. There are still days when my bike knowledge is totally shown up by a customer, but I also found out that cycling was way bigger than just the Tour de France and triathlon world I was familiar with.  Freeriding, pelotons, cyclocross, downhill, velodromes, crit races; the wide world of cycling was turning out to be wide indeed.

Every day I continue to learn something new about cycling.  I regularly conduct “market research,” or at least that’s what I tell my wife as I bring home scores of old cycling magazines.  The best part of working at a bike shop, aside from the discounted schwag, is getting other people excited about cycling.  I don’t care if it’s a soccer mom buying an entry level road bike for her first triathlon; a downtown hipster converting some old, rusty, vintage Schwinn to a fixie; or a full-face helmet, knee-pad wearing high-schooler. I love getting excited with and for other people.