Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Do You do Requests?

My family's spent a lot of money here. Why CAN'T you suspend the laws of physics for me?

Economic Problem

With ever more sophisticated componentry, bike maintenance and repair calls for skill and intelligence. But it still only pays wages you'd have to be stupid to take.

Here in Resort Town, we get to see people who could buy my house with the loose change they dug out of their car upholstery. Most of them are nice people, but then you get that rare visit from His Mighty Eminence who wants to hear you say, "yassuh, Boss." Or you get The Deal maker, who wants to move his rush job ahead of the other rush jobs by offering to let you do MORE work to it.

Hunt while the herds are running. Don't ask it to make sense.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Stupid Bike Engineering #100324987

Road brakes with a quick release that doesn't open up enough to allow the tire to pass through. What's the point?

Road brakes with no quick release are worse, but the quick releases on the most common so-called high performance brakes are like an 18-inch doorway. Technically you can get through it, but you curse the builder every time.

I'm assembling someone's fancy Klein after it was shipped here for his vacation, and enjoying all over again the poorly thought out parts that pass for the best.

Why doesn't the bike industry itself just get out there along the highway and throw things at cyclists?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Too Busy to Blog

This is our equivalent of wildfire season. Broken bikes are breaking out all over the region, merging into one great conflagration in the workshop. Grimy, exhausted mechanics go from one crisis to the next, keeping summer cyclists riding.

In a resort town you really have to meet demands as quickly as possible. It's bad enough in any bike shop, because most people only ride for a very small part of the year, but when you work where they play they need you when they need you. The bike is broken NOW, and NOW is when they came to play.

More hose, here. I'd say pray for rain, but we need the work.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ah summertime

Summer time, and the decks of the workshop are awash in metaphorical blood. We battle away with wrenches for cutlasses, as the bodies pile up. They're coming aboard faster than we can hew them down, but we're still on our feet, swinging grimly.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


is Japanese for "complicated." Can also be translated as "Gotcha!"

Just try buying the special connecting pin for your new 10-speed chain. Wait! Is that a 6600, 7800 or 7801? If you get the wrong pin, your chain will pop apart as soon as you try to pedal hard.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Megalopolitan Holiday

Laurie wanted to take one more quick ride before we packed the car to drive home, so we set out around 3:30 p.m. Rush hour was already starting.

I'd started every ride the same way, bailing off General's Highway to the left on a small road called Honeysuckle Lane. Cars do use it as a shortcut, but not many.

This time we decided to go down a road on the other side of General's Highway, River Road. It drops down a fabulous twisty descent, for which I discovered I no longer have the sack. I hadn't gone down it in at least a few years, possibly 18, and always on a racing road bike.

Unfortunately, River Road goes toward communities with water frontage. Strings of cars kept whooshing by, too fast for the road. Alone on a racing bike I might have gone fast enough to be able to herd them, but at sedate touring speeds we depended entirely on their skill and generosity. What I used to rate a great training road I would now call only a good training road. The sports drive too fast on the narrow road full of blind curves. If I only drove, I would drive it exactly the same way.

That's the major problem with overpopulation. Unless we make it legal and downright casual to kill each other, we can't help but restrict each other's freedom. The motorists can't blast along as if I'm not there. I can't ride at whatever pace suits me, taking any part of the lane I need. Neither party comes away satisfied.

Rush hour makes drivers impatient, too. But that's when a lot of people have the chance to ride their bikes.

I would try to ride anywhere I lived. But I have also tried to live in places where it's nicer to ride. I moved back to Naptown from northern Virginia because the roads in NoVa were already choked with impatient drivers by 1980. By 1987, the Annapolis area was well on its way to the same crowding. It's all that and more, now.

Ironically, just when the population gets so large that cycling is somewhat unpleasant, the percentage of the population that rides becomes a large enough number to get some attention. "Share the Road" signs are all over. Most drivers appear to try. There are just so damned many of them.

It's good to be home. Summer brings a taste of megalopolitan population density to the Lakes Region, but I just put on my "Screw You, I Live Here" tee shirt and slap them around. It's fun.