The normal day-to-day life of working in retail is pretty good; nice people appreciative of whatever we can do to help them. They like bikes. We like bikes! And we’re appreciative that they choose us for that help.
Today Becky, my daughter, almost 25, who knows more about apparel, accessories and helmets than I do, is helping a guy (with a couple girls in tow) with a helmet. He’s having some trouble with it, so Becky offers to help. “I don’t need help from a stupid girl.”
Becky was dumbfounded. She didn’t say anything, just left the scene. After all, she’s just a stupid girl. What can she do? I told Becky afterward, too bad I couldn’t come up with something to say that might have implied it was her store. That actually wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind; I was thinking she could have replied “Sir, please don’t confuse me with your wife.” But you wouldn’t say that to someone with their kids around. Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.
Some days, you just scratch your head and wonder. Thankfully, such experiences are the exception, and I think we keep such situations to a minimum by being personable. But for some, it just doesn’t matter. Whether just mean or forgetting that their “cloak of anonymity” doesn’t extend beyond their computer, the only way I can justify their right to come into the store is to give us an example of personality and actions that should be the polar opposite of how we act ourselves. –Mike–
So how many years will buying or leasing a car take off my life today? (This was updated live through the process)
12:30pm- Arrive at dealer. Went through formalities of finding the car we’re interested in, discovered it’s missing a key, all sorts of things that won’t matter unless I actually leave with a car. Then about 10 minutes describing and filling out paperwork on potential trade in.
1:03 hand over keys so they can inspect the 2001 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan (doesn’t seem all that “mini” anymore!).
Thought I had current registration but turns out that was actually a receipt, which caused the words I hate to hear most (at a car dealershop) come to the front- “We’ll have to see if that’s an issue for the finance guy.” Hopefully not the first instance of good-cop bad-cop situation. Nice guy salesperson followed up by mean guy manager who says this or that can’t be done, how could the salesperson think that, etc. Been down that road a few times before.
1:35 Things are going too smoothly. I’m concerned. But still haven’t discussed trade value. I “prairie dog” now and then but don’t see anyone looking at the trade in.
1:45 Salesperson (Troy) is wondering why nobody’s looking at the car yet. Ah, it’s gone. Someone either stole it or they’re checking it out.
1:55 Moment of truth coming soon- paperwork from trade-in inspection
2:02 Virtually no credit on old car but good enough lease that it works out. The way they justify the lack of value (for the trade) is more than a bit insulting if you actually read it… $425 for a “Service/Safety inspection”??? $750 for “body work” to pull a small dent out of the rear bumper? It’s an 11 year old car, and low blue-book assumes a fair amount of wear & tear. On the other hand, it’s not worth it for me to go to a lot of trouble trying to get rid of it for potentially not much more than that, and I don’t care how worthy any “donation” organization might actually be, but 1 877-kars4kids has totally turned me off from such things.
What made sense was that, for $324.88/month, I could be almost gas-free. There’s still a possibility something could go south. Haven’t signed and paid yet!
2:21 More info given, car gone back for detailing.
2:56 Paperwork signed; I’ve just leased a car for the first time in my life. Guess its nice to know that, at almost 57, there are still new things to experience in life. No funny business, or not much I should say. The price had go up $500 from an earlier email but that was backed out. Lots of interesting stuff in the lease details but it makes sense when you work it all out. We’ll see how the Volt works over the next three years. But first a bit of self-humiliation because I agreed to a video review of the experience. I figure I ought to learn as much about marketing from the pros as I can!
3:09 Still waiting for the videographer. Hope I learn something from this! Otherwise I could have been done with this before 3. Still might be under 3 hours total. Could be worse!
3:19 This is getting old real fast. Quite a buzz kill, having me wait for 20 minutes so I can say nice things about their dealership. As I told my staff at yesterday’s pre-opening meeting, sometimes the only thing remembered is the first impression and the last.
3:27 Short video interview over, now just waiting for the keys!
3:35 Sitting in car with Troy (Salesman), having the various buttons and displays explained (a Volt has a lot of them!). OK, that’s fine, but then begins the OnStar activation. Which should only take a short while, right?
3:52 OnStar finally set up. You’d think (and the salesman thinks) this should be automatic, since all the info is fed to them electronically at the dealer, but that’s not how things roll. Troy’s a very nice guy, but I think both he and I have better things to do than sit in a car, essentially waiting for it to do something. The OnStar/Volt combination is impressive; the car is constantly feeding data through a cell network to OnStar, so if you’re the sort that’s concerned about cars having “black boxes” that know your every move, this car is not for you! It also allows for communications between an iPhone app and the car as well. Someday I’ll figure it all out.
4:00 (approximately) It’s all over, I’m driving back, making wrong turns on super-crowded streets clogged with holiday shoppers and flooded by near-torrential rains. Not exactly what you’d like for your first drive in a new car! But mission accomplished.
Lungs suck, left hip socket has a dull ache from either tendonitis or a lumbar issue, but who cares? The old me (er, actually, by definition, I am the “old” me) used to worship pain, used to see pain as an indication that I was alive. And I was. But then something happened, about the same time I (voluntarily) saw a doctor for the first time in… you don’t want to know. It was confirmed I had breathing issues related to asthma, and at a subsequent appointment, that the pain in my left leg was one of those “getting old” things.
I gave in.
Not intentionally. I thought the point to seeing the doctor was to get better, but no, what actually happened was more on an intellectual level; instead of getting “better” (from using an inhaler for the asthma and Alleve for the leg), I ended up having a reason, a rationalization, for getting slower. I really should have thought about that going in; for me, in retrospect, this makes perfect sense. There really couldn’t have been any other outcome (unless I was prescribed something that both eliminated the symptoms and substantially improved my strength, which wasn’t the case).
Knowing what was wrong with me created a sense of limitation. There was a reason I was getting slower, an excuse to fall back on, and I believe that’s what I did. I got progressively slower not because my ailments got worse, but because I chose to deal with them in an entirely different manner that I’ve done in the past. I became, for lack of a better way to put it, “normal” in my response to pain. I backed off. I saw it as an indication that I was not capable of doing more, when in fact, that pain has been my fuel. For years. Probably since I was 14 or so, when my Osgood Schlatter disease was a painful companion that followed me everywhere.
I’m not giving in anymore. Dealing with pain is a significant part of what defines us. And of course, there’s a relevant Star Trek quote, from James T Kirk-
Damn it Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. [to Sybok] I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!
The reality, my reality, is that I haven’t deteriorated physically enough to explain my recent and substantial declines in my power on a bike. But mentally, when I discovered the reason for my suffering, I lost the rationale for embracing it. Beginning this past Tuesday, that’s over. I can’t describe how good it felt after Tuesday’s ride when, late that evening, my left leg started cramping up. It hurt. Which meant I gave it a real workout, because nothing’s really hurt after a ride for quite some time. This is the new (old) me. Embrace the pain, allow it to fuel what I intend to accomplish.
“Brave words. I’ve heard them before, from thousands of species across thousands of worlds, since long before you were created. And now, they are all Borg.”
Resistance is not futile. No future but what you make. –Mike–
You can read the full content here, but I’ll post an excerpt to give you an idea of what Joshua Fruhlinger, an influential blogger at Engadget (a website for people who like high-tech toys), thinks of his local bike shops-
This year, I was in the market for a new mountain bike. My first move, of course, was to look online where I found a multitude of great deals, free shipping and, of course, no tax. I then checked online communities like mtbr.com where I was guilted into checking my local bike shop. For not much more money, it was argued, I’d establish a relationship with a local dealer who would also service my bike and hook me up with equipment and accessories over the life of the bike.
This sounded nice. I like relationships. So I set out to visit two of the most reputable bike shops in the area, money at the ready, in the dead of Black Friday.
The first shop was set up for the big day with a clearance tent out front full of last year’s shoes and pedals. I sauntered past into the showroom and over to the mountain bikes. I stood, staring, waiting for help from one of the three unoccupied salespeople. After 10 minutes, not one approached me. Finally, I walked up to the counter to ask a young, Bieber-esque dude if I could get some help. Without leaving the comfort of the counter, he asked, “What are you looking at?”
“Well, I’m not sure, but I wanted to check out the Specialized and Yetis you have.”
“What’s your budget?”
“I’m still figuring that out.”
He was still behind the counter. I told him I’d come back when he wasn’t so busy.
Yesterday morning, on our way to the shop, my daughter (Becky) and I saw that Alameda was closed off at Jefferson, with two police cars, police tape, and, as we looked a bit closer, a bicycle pushed up against the curb. My heart sank. As we continued on Jefferson, it sank even more when we came across a large flatbed with a truck on it, followed by a police car.
It was some time before there were any news reports I could find on the accident, but eventually google came up with what I feared. A 14 year old girl, on her way to school (Woodside High), died in an incident with a truck. Both car and cyclist were making the same right-hand turn. You can view the intersection here, in Google street view. There are no sight line issues here, nothing to obscure the view of a cyclist making a turn in front of you. If that’s what happened; we know that both the motorist and the young girl were heading in the same direction, eastbound, on Jefferson, and both made the same turn, right, onto Alameda.
We don’t know if the truck had previously passed the cyclist prior to arriving at Alameda, with the cyclist then squeezing in between the curb and truck, taking an inside line to get ahead of it. This seems pretty unlikely, but it’s the only scenario I can think of in which the cyclist was at fault. Otherwise we have the girl ahead of the truck, sliding on the pavement and the truck too close behind her to stop, or the truck trying to make it around the corner simultaneously with the girl, who then slid out and went underneath the truck. With both truck and cyclist on Jefferson, approaching the intersection from the right lane, it’s the motorists responsibility to know where the cyclist is at all times and act accordingly. It’s hard to come up with a scenario in which the cyclist wasn’t visible to a motorist, and hard to believe that a 14 year old girl would be racing a truck to the corner and squeezing in-between it and the curb.
Complicating matters is the curb pincher; if you look at the street view again, you’ll see that, coming into the intersection from Jefferson, the curb moves out into the roadway a couple feet, causing a cyclist to have to move out into the lane, possibly unexpectedly to a motorist. This is a serious road defect in my mind; cyclists should not be riding (on the last couple hundred feet of Jefferson leading up to the intersection) in a position where they’re going to have to move further into the roadway, at the last minute, to clear the intersection. That last couple hundred feet (which has a curb striped red for a bus stop) should have markings on the pavement directing bikes to ride further to the left, so they approach the intersection in a predictable straight line.
Another thing to be aware of is that the girl slid out, prior to the collision with the truck. The area in which she slid has standard-issue white paint on the pavement, used to identify a bike lane. This stuff is extraordinarily slippery when slightly damp, as would be the case on a foggy day. Nearly every experienced cyclist has had a scary experience on painted lines on roadways or the tar stripes used to seal cracks in asphalt. I don’t understand why the materials used can’t have something added to them for improved traction; I know that, on the east coast, they actually add some sand to the tar stripes for just that purpose. The problem has been identified, so is someone looking at solutions? How much evidence do we need that painted roadways are often very dangerous when wet?
We visited the scene of the accident last night, on our way home. I was with my daughter again, Becky, who was crying. And I was thinking about someone else who’s daughter wasn’t coming home, and at dinner I was thinking about what that must have been like for her family, and as I went to sleep wondered if I could possibly sleep at all that night if something had happened to one of my kids. I remember, and wish I could forget, what it was like when my son, Kevin, had his first big seizure (the first one that I knew about), and being in the emergency room while they worked on him for two hours, trying to get his seizures under control, and remembering the last thing I said to him and wondered, seriously, if that would turn out to be the last thing I ever said to him. Nobody needs to experience that. For Kevin, it worked out. For this young girl, I wish I couldn’t imagine.
Added 3/22/13- The police investigation has determined that the cyclist was at fault. To say that I’m at odds with this is an understatement; reading the on-line reports detailing the reasoning, I first notice a lack of detail, and second, nothing that contradicts anything I wrote the day following the accident (all of which survives above, intact, without further editing from 11/27/2012 at 6:32pm). Here’s a link to the “new” information. There will be further investigation, as the family has retained an attorney whose specialty is bicycle accidents, Gary Brustin. I’ve known him for several years; he’s been a tireless advocate for making things better for cyclists, not just in courts but through advocacy groups as well. I have hope. –Mike–
Lance Armstrong at 2009 Nevada City bike race, final tune up before his comeback TdFs.
The Internet has this way of bringing things back to you at peculiar times. Tonight I was researching something called “flip book” software, for our next email flyer. It’s a way of simulating turning pages on the ‘web, useful for advertisements and presentations. In searching for the most-approrpiate software for the task, Google+ reminded me that someone made a remark regarding one of my photos from the Nevada City Criterium in 2009. Someone who apparently didn’t bother to read the caption was asking where the photo was taken.
Lance coming through with 1/2 lap to go, is family cheering from the sidewalk. Should have been the stuff of life-long memories, not an endless nightmare.
Worst-case scenario, and pretty much what many, perhaps most of us, were thinking at the time? That Lance was coming back to prove that he could win “clean.” Somehow, some way, that’s how we read it. I can’t really come up with any good reason to support that thinking, but the fact that that was what we were thinking gives pretty strong credibility to our claims of earlier cynicism (regarding Lance being “clean”).
Lance probably was the best TdF racer there ever was. In a clean race, many (including myself) feel that the organization behind him and his own personal talent and drive would have prevailed, without doping. But instead we’ll have a history with 7 empty spaces, as if those tours never existed.
The ASO, the organization that runs the Tour de France, is not without blame in all of this. Their attitude, for years, had been that a positive doping test was indicative of a world gone wrong, a race out of control and in danger of becoming irrelevant as a sporting event and spectacle. Is it any wonder that, with such an attitude, they didn’t catch many dopers? Ideally, we need to recognize that it’s normal, not such a terrible thing, that those who promote the sport aren’t so good at testing for doping. Ideally, it should be the responsibility of the USADA or WADA to do the testing and sanction those caught. It just makes sense.
We’re closing out our books, all of them, every single book except the Blue Park Tools Repair Manual, in both stores. That means every book (except the Park book mentioned), every video, everything in stock that’s not special-ordered, is on sale for 50% off.
Save even more on books written by, for, and about doping cyclists and their staff, whether it be the various Lance-related books, Floyd Landis’s lying diatribe or Johan Bruyneel’s “We might as well dope” (er, I mean, win, not dope). These books are all 75% off, Tour de France videos 50% off. Like it or not these are part of cycling’s history, something that someday we’ll look back upon and think how naive we were to believe anything would change, or thank goodness that era came to an end and we now have a clean(er) sport.If you’re interested in my personal “history” with Lance and doping, my thoughts and how they changed over the years, I’ve written about it here.
No returns or exchanges on closeout books & videos.
With the continuing revelations of cheating (doping) in bike racing, the movie Breaking Away continues its hold on relevancy for me. Except that, unlike Dave Stoller, I’ve always has my suspicions that it wasn’t possible to win at a high level without doping, at least in the past. But that came at a much later point in my life than it did for Dave Stoller in the movie, and at that age, I, too, was remarkably naive. As I think most of us were. In fact, I think we would much rather raise our kids in a way that keeps them somewhat naive rather than exposed to all the cheating and back-stabbing that is so much in the news these days. We get on their case for not being “up” on world events, but do we really want them to have to think about such things?