It’s in French, but doesn’t matter, no translation required. Sure, we’re mortal, but maybe, if we just keep moving, never stopping, we can be like this guy. So next time you wonder, is it too late to pull off something that maybe you should have done earlier in life… think about this guy. And go do it!
Just read that Bob Tetzlaff, a local racer from the way-back days, passed away yesterday. Hadn’t seen him in quite some time, but he was at the “Dino” (aka “Old Farts Ride”) that I didn’t make it to a couple weeks ago. Jenny, another (much closer) friend from the past, came by the shop the other day and mentioned how frail he had looked.
Bob was anything but frail when I knew him. At our racing club (Pedali Alpini) meetings we’d sometimes show films (almost called them videos!) of the more-famous local races, and I have vivid memories of Bob Tetzlaff riding up a steep grade no-handed… no-handed because he was using them to push down on his legs to help him climb!
What I remember most was a training camp he ran for juniors (15-18 year old racers), one day of which was held around Lexington Reservoir. He demonstrated to us how to throw an elbow and otherwise intimidate (and possibly crash) a competitor without being caught by an official (useful stuff!). This is where I should mention that Bob was a high-level ABLofA (Amateur Bicycle League of America) official. But as memorable was the crazy return from that ride, where we rode down 17, which is basically a freeway, down from the reservoir and take the first Los Altos exit. One of those rare exits from the left-hand lane. A mad-dog group of teenage competitive cyclists, racing the cars downhill and merging into the high-speed lane to exit. It was pretty amazing.
Interesting to think that I, and others, did have a history prior to digital cameras and internet ramblings. I should look through some of my writings in Competitive Cycling; I’m sure there’s something about Bob Tetzlaff in there someplace. But Bob has already found his way into oral history/story-telling, as my son has long known of the stories told here, without any audio-visual aids. Not even an 8mm projector. Just conversations about racing days past. –Mike–
What can I say that you can’t see in this video of our ride on west-side Old LaHonda? A beautiful day, quiet roads, fantastic views, good people to ride with. And a new toy (my Hero2 camera) to play with, because you just can’t have enough electronics on your handlebar!
My Contour video camera, which I’d previously used to “film” quite a few of our local and not-so-local roads, didn’t make it back from France, apparently a victim of the TSA or whomever does the security when flying from CDG back to the USA. Not sure if it was actually stolen by them or just fell out of the bike case and didn’t make it back in during inspection. Whatever the case, the Contour was pretty high on the “cool” factor, but what I’ve replaced it with, the Hero 2, is anything but. To say it’s “dorky” is an understatement. But, it does have the advantage of taking better video, especially when combined with an alternative bike mount, in this case, the K-Edge. Amazing what a different the mounting makes, especially on a bumpy road!
First time out with it was Sunday, with a bit of fine tuning for Tuesdays ride. Neither produced viewable video; way too much shaking. But yesterday my E-Edge Hero bike mount arrived and wow, what a difference! There’s no doubt this is a more-capable camera than the Contour but again, really, really dorky! How dorky? Well, it looks like you’ve got an import Instamatic (yes, there really were cameras made in the USA back in the day!) bolted to your bike. But I’ll be displaying results shortly that demonstrate how well this new gadget works.
Will you ever be able to buy one at Chain Reaction? Doesn’t look too likely; they don’t like to talk to you unless you’re going to be buying at least 10 at a time, maybe more. But we will probably sell quite a few of the mounting systems!
Out of the fog, into the clear blue skies. Pretty big change from the start of our ride to the top of Skyline. Nobody melted the asphalt today, although I can’t be absolutely sure of that since Kevin dropped off the lead pace pretty early on the climb, suffering a bit from what appears to be another kidney stone. He did prove that you can ride doped up on Percoset, but unfortunately there’s no evidence it’s likely to be banned for enhancing performance.
Late-arriving email from Nigel confirms that Kevin wasn’t in any shape to observe the goings-on at the front; the asphalt was being melted, as Nigel may have broken through the 24-minute barrier!
West OLH is getting more attention this week, with light gravel laid down along it’s entire “open” section but, thankfully, no oil. Not sure what the point to laying down gravel on a paved road that gets almost no traffic (more bikes than cars) and then have it gone over by the two street sweepers we saw today. It’s definitely ok to ride on, but a bit more slowly than normal.
Yet another “coastal classic” outing; Old LaHonda, Haskins to Pescadero, Stage Road and back via Tunitas. Normally not too challenging, but since I was dealing with a nasty cold, and Kevin hasn’t felt great the day before, I wasn’t sure how it would go.
In a nutshell, for me, it reaffirmed my belief that cycling cures everything. I held up ok on OLH (only a couple minutes behind Kevin), and had no issues keeping up on Haskins. It helped that it was a spectacular day, and I felt like I could actually breathe.
It was on Stage Road where I began thinking of taking advantage of a rare day without headwinds and daring to consider a Strava run. I did get a personal best for the first climb on Stage, but I was looking for Stage from Pescadero to San Gregorio (and really thought I had it… but apparently not).
It was on Tunitas that I found myself dropping Kevin, a highly unusual situation on a climb. Even stopped about 2/3rds of the way up, on one of those hairpins where you can see way down the hill, to make sure he was ok. Killed my time, but probably would get in trouble from the wife if I came home alone. She’s funny that way.
All in all a pretty good ride, and I definitely felt fewer aches and pains from my cold after.
We might see a backlash with the iPhone 5. Maybe it’s too early to say, but so far, can’t say I’m that impressed. The new taller shape is harder to hold, it’s no easier for older eyes to read (would have preferred they went a bit wider, not taller), and nothing really jumps out at you as being cool.
A bit lighter, yes, but I’m also noticing battery life initially seems worse than the 4S. It renders web pages faster (but the 4S was pretty good). The new map option, that supposedly gives turn-by-turn directions? Doesn’t seem as intuitive as Google’s app, and if you really want to be disappointed, click on the “3D” button. Wow. Simulates the effect of tilting a map on its side. I’m guessing that some of my disappointment comes from features that are still works in progress, and some from not yet understanding all the cool stuff it can do.
Yet this gadget is going to continue to sell through the roof. Why?
What Apple’s been able to nail is the collective/community experience. Everyone’s got to have the same thing. You’re all in it together. It must be right if everyone else has it. And if everyone has it, everyone’s on the same page, then if you can’t figure something out, there’s always someone around who can help.
Contrast that to my business. What WE have going for us is the individual thing. You’re not like everyone else, so your bike isn’t like everyone else’s either. It reflects how and where you want to ride, and it’s fit like a tailored suit. It’s special & unique, and bicycle product cycles run about 3 years, not 12 months. That’s pretty cool! And your bike can evolve with you; you don’t have to toss it out if you want lower gears for climbing or smoother-riding tires. Nor do you have to spend $40-$80 (maybe more!) in monthly charges. When your bike needs something, you pay for it. When you’re not using it, it doesn’t keep running up charges. And our attitude towards our product is that, if it does something it shouldn’t, we’re going to find a way to get it taken care of. Once your phone’s a year old, nobody’s going to do any detective work to figure out why something happened and help prevent such things in the future. They’re going to sell you a whole new phone, at an inflated price.
I see a future for the bicycle biz. Not exactly a rebellion from the Borg-like mentality that Apple has brought upon us, but a realization that there’s something to be said for a product that, used as directed, is fun and good for your body and mind. And, used as directed, disconnects you from the Borg grid and allows you some time to experience the real world with all your senses, not just your eyes and fingers on a tiny screen. Nevertheless, in the spirit of full-disclosure, it’s likely I’ll be one of those guys that has to have the latest iPhone on the day it’s released.
I surprised myself this morning; my time through the park seemed pretty decent (Tripp Road to the upper park entrance in 9:30), but there’s not even an honorable mention on Strava. Similarly, it seemed like Nigel was hitting it pretty hard on west-side Old LaHonda, but no, quite a bit off my better times. Maybe it was the road surface (lots of loose gravel).
At least concerns that a couple days in Las Vegas might cause me to suffer were unfounded. I suffered anyway! But it seemed like suffering with a point, because I really did feel like I was able to get moving.
Todd, Nigel, Kevin, Kevin, Jan, Eric & Marcus today, with a moderate pace up Kings that allowed me to pretty much keep everyone in sight (very unusual!). Of course Eric was on his second trip up the hill; he and pilot Kevin are in training for the Everest Challenge the week after this, 28,000ft of climbing in two days. Ouch!
Most-interesting thing on the ride came during the Sky L’onda sprint, when it seemed that something flew off Jan’s bike. Jan went back to look but found nothing; we later concluded it must have been a pinecone hitting the road. Jan actually thought it was something from Todd’s bike and yelled up to him, but Todd had to get to work early today and had already turned down 84.
Two hours later I get an email at work from Todd, who’d lost his iPhone someplace between the start of the ride and getting to work. Aha! Jan had the idea of calling Kevin (pilot) who lives up that way, and sure enough, Kevin found it on the side of the road, still working. Todd and his iPhone, reunited. How touching, except that tomorrow his new iPhone arrives and he sells the old one.
On the internet, you can find virtually anything you want, but not all is as it appears. That on-line dating profile… says he or she is 39, but actually 43. Stretching the truth a bit. But what if they’re 56?. Today’s lesson- The “Grab yours NOW at our special price of $299 from $695 MSRP” road bike (Mercier Galaxy SC1), courtesy of bikesdirect.com. This is the 56 year old claiming to be 39.This bike came to my attention when I received an email from someone, asking for assistance in setting it up for him, saying that the manufacturer says it should only take “25 minutes.”
If you pull it out of the box, throw on the pedals, tighten the handlebars and inflate the tires, yes, it might be just 25 minutes, and you’ll end up with a K-Mart quality bike with a few nicer parts.
But if you build it the way we (and most other competent bike shops) do, it will involve removing the tires & tubes to make sure the rimstrips in the right place and the tire & tube were correctly installed, lubricating all threaded surfaces (why they don’t come this way from the factory is something I don’t understand), truing the wheels laterally and inspecting them for deformities caused in shipping (happens more often than you think), making sure all bearings are properly adjusted, replace “factory” chain lube (which is often the consistency of light tar) with something that will allow it to shift better, ensure there are no kinks in brake or gear cables & housing and replace as required, and finally, the simple stuff like installing seat, pedals & handlebars. And then it needs to be test-ridden to settle things in, and checked again. And double-checked by another mechanic. That 25 minutes bikesdirect.com quotes just became two hours.
And the bike still isn’t fit properly to the rider.
Besides frame size (the easiest thing to figure out, but not as important to proper fit as what follows here), you’ve got stem length, handlebar height, handlebar width and handlebar reach. Because people come in all manner of shapes and sizes, and it makes a huge, not subtle difference, getting things right. Bar width should approximate shoulder width. Stem length should be set so the rider is in a relaxed position when using the brakes. Forward reach should be very short for those with smaller hands. Drop from seat to bars is determined partly by rider flexibility. All this stuff comes into play when a decent shop sells a road bike.
But the bikesdirect.com model has 40cm wide bars on the smallest frame (too wide for just about anyone who’d ever use a bike that size), and a 90mm stem (too long in nearly every case). Minor stuff compared to what comes next.
It “features” a standard, not compact, crank design with a 39/52 chainring combo. Exactly what a real racing bike has… which is great. If you’re racing. But if you aren’t strong enough to ride the Tour de France, and you’ve got hills in your area, that gearing’s going to kill you. Every legit bike company is currently spec’ing a “compact” crank with 34/50 gearing, far easier to get up hills with, on their entry and mid-level bikes. If it’s flat where you live, the bikesdirect.com model might be fine. Otherwise, it’s a very expensive change to get suitable gearing. How could you be expected to know all this stuff? You can’t. That’s how they get away with it.
And then there’s the pricing comparison. Aside from spec’ing the bike with parts that are often inappropriate and expensive to change, they also use a stem shifter. Yes, the same type of stem shifter you’d find on a K-Mart bike. Saving about $200 over the integrated brake/shift levers found on a quality bike in a local bike shop. Wheels? Cheap old-style freewheel, not cassette, leading to a very shortened lifespan.
They could reasonably claim their bike, fully set up, would rival a bike of approximately $400-$450 in a bike shop, but nothing close to $695 “MSRP.” Nor did the bike ever sell, anywhere, for anything close to that. But you still wouldn’t have a bike that’s been fit properly, nor a bike that has a local shop that maintains a sense of ownership of the bike if something goes wrong. No warranty except by phone and sending the bike back.
Can you save $$$ by buying a bike in a box on the ‘net? If you know what you’re doing, how to get properly fit, have the parts needed to make changes so it’s appropriate for the riding in your area, then yes, you can save a few dollars. But nothing like bikesdirect.com claims, which puts them into the category of misrepresentation, fraud or even scam.
There are reasons that companies like Trek and Specialized and Giant sell bikes only through local dealers. It ensures that you get a bike appropriate for the cycling opportunities in your area, properly assembled and fit, and a place to bring it back to in case something isn’t quite perfect (because yes, in the real world, there can be defective parts, and what seems to be a great fit at first might evolve a bit as you go on longer rides). A bikesdirect.com bike offers none of that. Which is fine, people deserve a choice. But what’s not fine is when they tell you it’s the same as buying a much-more-expensive bike, or that just 25 minutes work and it will be in great shape.
The bike of the future might not require as much expertise to assemble, might be more adjustable in fit, and more versatile in capabilities. But that bike isn’t here yet, and until it is, your local bike shop is offering you a whole lot more than what you find offered on-line. Better fit, better service, better components, longer life. –Mike–
PS: Bikesdirect.com even claims their sizing runs the same as a Trek, essentially encouraging people to find out from a local shop what size they take, so they can order their cheaper bike. But they do not size the same, nor do they offer any degree of customization that is standard with a local bike shop. Nor are the Mercier and Motobecane brands they sell in any way the once-great companies making them back in the day. Bikesdirect.com simply picked up expired trademarks and slapped them onto their bikes. Windsor too, but strategically that was a mistake; anyone familiar with Windsor back in the day would not likely have positive feelings about the name.