Sunday, April 29, 2007

Riding, Drinking and Working Mix Rather Well

The "Killer" at the scene of the crime. 2007 Liege Bastogne Liege.

I woke up early and rode with Feeves and Dr. Giggles. We got pulled over by the po-po on the way back because we rolled through a green arrow, not light. A couple of "Yes sir's" later and we were gone. No big deal. Hell, we deserved it for all the times we run stop signs and such.

Still, there's a hell of a lot more selfish motherfuckers out there getting away with driving autos in terrifically shitty ways than ever before. So, kind officer, how's about a concerted crack down on those assholes while you're servin' and protectin'? I could go on and on, but I'm actually in a pretty good mood today and nothings more inane than listening to a cyclist bitch about traffic. So, 'nuff said, as ol' Stan Lee used to say.

When I got back home it was a quick wash, computer check to see what happened in LBL (Hell Yeah! DiLuca takes the win!) and straight to the shop to open up. As soon as the doors opened the shit hit the fan in the way it only can on Sundays. Every goof and their turdball, mushy tired, ride came in wanting service. We served and they smiled. There was even a milf winking at us with her body of a twenty year old. Nobody paid attention to her daughter.

After an hour, the crowd simmered down. Feeves and I decided to replenish our bodily fluids with many bottles of beer. By closing time we were both pretty loopy and rode home with good vibes and sunshine. Now that's a Sunday I can be proud of.

Photo credit:

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Flying Scotsman

A new movie about enigmatic cyclist/tinkerer Graeme Obree is coming to theaters. Hopefully this won't be another American Flyers. Though, it's a pretty tall order to suck that much. Link below to see a trailer and site.

The Flying Scotsman

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mad Props

My old friend Edgar used to give out high praise to people who earned his utmost respect for something done in an extraordinary way. His eyes would light up and he'd say "Damn! He gets mad props for the way he's climbing the Galibier today." or "Shit! Did you see that? Mad props, man. Mad props." I always liked the ring of it. Especially the way his voice would shoot up a few octaves when he got especially excited about a particular moment in the race. He's probably the most oft quoted friend I've got.

I remember showing a videotape of La Course en Tete to Edgar back in 1994. I was a little hesitant because, in my experience, most of my friends were bored to death by cycling videos. The fact that most of it was in Flemish was even more of a reason to waver. Regardless, Edgar assured me he was interested and commenced watching. That videotape created a monster that day. Edgar sold his Gary Fisher mountain bike a few days later and bought an old Ochsner SL frame from an ad he saw in VeloNews. Soon after that, Edgar was putting in big miles emulating his new hero

As a nod to his verbosity and deep passion for all things spectacular in the world of bicycles I'm gonna start a Mad Props list of persons and moments in cycling that would whet the appetite of good ol' Edgar and whip him into a frenzy. I hope the knee gets better soon, pal. And we see you out there attacking once again until your last breath.

So anyway, the first "Mad Props" goes to the greatest cyclist of all time and inspiration to my good friend. The great Eddy Merckx. I don't need to reiterate all the phenomenal achievements Merckx accomplished, there are plenty of sites out there that document them better than I ever could. Rest assured though, there will never be another cyclist more deserving of Mad Props.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Short Rant on This and That

During a long day of working in the trenches getting my fingernails dirtied by the tetanus infested bicycles of my fellow Americans I sometimes let my mind wander and fixate on a few things that go against my romantic (some say geriatric) ideals of cycling.

As any boof in loose lycra and Nashbar shoes will tell you, we bike mechanics tend toward the surly lot in life. We like to rant about this and that, or any poor bastard that happens to run afoul of what we see as the integrity of two wheeled locomotion (which pretty much includes the entire recumbent riding population). Sometimes, it's merely a reflexive perry and thrust targeting the folks that chant the mantra "newer=better".

I'm sure this'll be a recurring theme here at the 'Spot. I never seem to run out of ammunition. I've also been a pretty contemptuous snob of late.

* Road frames and forks that lack clearance for more than a 23c tire. How hard is that R&D? Do you even ride?

*Sunglasses in the Pro peloton. Eye protection is important. So are sponsorships and looking cool. But it detracts from the power of the photograph. I miss the days when you could actually see the pain and suffering in their eyes. These days, their photographs remind me more of robots than flesh and blood. I vote for clear lenses.

*Race radios in the Pro peloton. There was a day when racers actually had to read races, keep tabs on breaks, and control their efforts without the constant buzz in their ear from the DS in the caravan. Lack of real time updates made races a little more unpredictable and the occasional suicide break (see Jacky Durand in the 1992 Tour of Flanders) more likely to succeed. I understand the need, but I'm kinda retro-grouchy today.

*Bike companies that spec the heavy aluminum seatpost with the "carbon" wrap. Note to consumer: A shit load of popular bike companies are taking advantage of your ignorance. Ask your salesman "Where's the beef?"

*Pseudo "Pro" bike shops that rip customers off with cheap parts that they can't readily identify as cheap. Is that really a 105 bottom bracket on your new "full" Dura-Ace C-50? Yup.

*People that scoff when I suggest steel as a viable frame material option.

*The asshole who invaded my space last Saturday and attempted to hijack my tools to fix his shitty old chain with three master links holding it together. Note to Asshole: I don't invest in tools so dickheads like you can use them and try to save on labor while bending the fuck out of a perfectly good chainpin. From now on, you pay double.

*Parents that let their whiny brats rip around the store on new bikes while knocking over helmets and hitting displays and then asking for one that isn't "used".

*The caller that asks a billion questions over the phone about an item and ends the conversation with "I'm still checking around, but thanks for the help". I bet you spend more time masturbating to the Excel Sports catalog than you do riding your goddamn bike.

*Dudes that check frame tubing by thumping it with their wedding band. How about I "accidentally" drop my allen wrench a few times while installing the roof rack on your Lexus.

Well, I guess that's enough for now. I'll let 'er rip again when I feel sufficiently downtrodden.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Can I quote you on that?

The Park PRS-5 workstand. Also great for training for downhills.

Ever wonder why you occasionally catch the guys at the bike shop snickering when you walk in the door? Well, they're either drunk or are laughing at some poor son of a bitch that just made a fool of him/herself while engaged in a casual bike-related conversation. Or, maybe they're laughing at you.

No doubt about it, with the exception of the nude beach with weight limits, bike shops are the coolest place on earth to hang out. You can learn lots of neat stuff, meet interesting people, and get the inside dope on what's hot. You can also get into trouble and dig a hole so deep you have no idea.

People say all sorts of stuff. They have questions, problems, rants, suggestions, all types of shit. Some even feel the need to brag. We can spot a bullshitter a mile away. For instance, we know you don't average 25 mph because we just fixed your piece of shit bike and the computer said you averaged 17. We also know you don't ride "all the time" because that same computer has only 200 miles on it and the tires we put on last year still have the fucking injection whiskers on them.

Regardless, After a few seasons you find yourself with enough murmurings of random foibles swimming around your head that you could write a book. I've been in the bike biz for a little more than 16 years, so I figure I could write a novel. Just take a gander at some of these gems I've been privy to over the years. Fascinating.

"I've got more to give than this bike can handle." - Vitus 979 customer. We didn't tell him Sean Kelly won Paris-Roubaix on one. That would have been mean.

"I am rather well endowed" - On the need for a smaller frame

"Ooooh! Is this for training for downhills?" - Said while pointing to a Park PRS-5 workstand

"I'm not a racer" - Really? You're monstrous waist and pasty complexion are totally the norm for racers these days.

"I...I...I can't. I just can't" - Said while repeatedly reaching for the brake levers on drop bars and lamenting the fact that it didn't have the "sissy levers" so he could brake from the tops.

"How much does a Campa-nolo cost?" - Rich dude trying to impress his girlfriend with how much he knew about bikes.

"You race right? Lemme ask you something. When do you make (pause) The Move" - A serious question on the finer points of cycle racing.

"These don't seem to fit right." - Hmmm...Let's see. Try wearing the shorts
under your jeans.

"Can I get it back today? I have a race this weekend" - Every mechanic's favorite

"And when I stop, my wheels go like this (shakes head wildly while thrusting arms up and down and making siren noises through clenched teeth)" - You had to be there.

"I was just riding along..." - Almost every person that crashed a new bike and wants it fixed for free starts their sentence off with this. Known in the bike biz as a "J.R.A.".

"Consumer Reports said..." - It's time to walk away.

"Do you have those bikes that shift gears automatically?" - How the fuck do these people always find me?

"Why don't you guys carry recumbents?" - We're a bike shop, sir. Not a bunch of dorks.

"Why did you sell me a bike that I have to pump the tires up every week?" - Seriously. That one caught me completely off guard.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Bikes that Were and Are

*Big wheel - Red

*Green Machine - I don't know if it was the honeycomb wheels or the dual lever steering, but this was the first time in my life I experienced the feeling of "cool". And I most certainly was.

*Lime green bike with solid 16" tires that I taught myself to ride a "two wheeler" on

*Yellow racer style w/ probably 26x1 3/8 wheels - A bike that should have been put out of it's misery.

*Black Schwinn single speed w/ coaster brake - Once rolled over my glasses with it

*Faux blue Torker twin top tube looking BMX bike. Gotten cheap at a flea market somewhere near North Webster Indana.

*Light blue singlespeed cruiser frame with drop bars and coaster brake. A sweet (for the time) bike that I rode many, many hours on at the summer cottage.

*Black and Gold (I mean GOLD) Columbia BMX complete with pads and nut guard for the gooseneck. After getting his matching bike stolen, my brother destroyed mine by getting run over by a truck. Seriously. He's proud of his scar.

*1986 Raleigh Capri - Black. The 8th grade graduation gift. Also bought my first Campagnolo hat so I could roll completely Pro. Chic velcro running shoes by Puma.

*1991 Trek 1200 - Bonded aluminum. Ugh.

*1988 Gitane RS - Reynolds 531c steel. Buttery smooth ride. Seemed made of butter under more than a casual climb. Hit by car and became a banana.

*Late 1980's Peugeot 531Pro steel. Worn out. Shifted when I was "goin' for it".

*1991 Nishiki Pinnacle - Tange Prestige tubes. Suntour XC Comp. Elevated chain stay. Squirrel magnet.

*1992 Nishiki Colorado - Turned into commuting bike w/ rack, fenders, lights, etc. It served it's purpose but it could never be more than a Colorado. Given to brother who promptly was robbed of it. As seen by the pattern, my brother and bikes don't mix.

*1992 Concorde Squadra TSX - Learned to pay attention to c to c, c to t, and c to tt.

*1993 Colnago Master Olympic - Blue. Heavy. Still not for sale.

*1993 Gitane XO cyclocross - Safety orange. A crowd pleaser. Later became rent $.

*Late 1980's Peugeot Dolomites - Columbus SLX. Traded to Ringo for a Laser Disc Player.

*1988 Gitane/Vitus 979 - Nice. Light. Comfortable. Sold to Jim for more rent $.

*Mid 80's Hutch BMX- Bought to be used for certain "action" scenes.

*1995 Bianchi TSX Ultralight - First racing bike sponsor! Chrome. Nuovo celeste. Lugged steel. Beautiful.

*1991 Look KG 96 - Early lugged carbon wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either.

*1996 Steelman Stage Race - Current commuter

*2001 Bianchi XL-EV2 - The Pantani Bike. Recently sold.

*2006 Bianchi Pista Concept - Sold to someone who'll actually use it

*2007 Pegoretti Responsorium - Should be here by July

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Big Stu bashes the cobbles

Congrats to Stuart O'Grady. Winner of the 2007 edition of Paris Roubaix. Allez!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 9

Francesco "Il Sceriffo" Moser

Moser won PR three times in a row (1978,79,80). Nobody has bested that feat. To win once is to be marked for life in the race. To win three times in a row is superhuman, or, as Laurent Fignon liked to say "extraterrestrial". Moser was a bad ass x3.

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 8

Bernard "The Badger" Hinault

Hinault came out of the womb with a wry smirk and domineering disposition. He was perhaps cycling's most renowned bad ass. And, the last dude to win one day classics, grand tours, and world championships. Will we ever see a rider challenge the best in all of cycling's great disciplines? I doubt it. Shame...
Anyway, enough waxing nostalgic. Hinault won PR in 1981 and then ripped the race organizers in a tirade and comparing the race to a piece of shit (rough translation). Hinault also quite famously said "As long as I breathe, I attack." A bad ass with the moxy to back it up.

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 7

Peter Post

He's held the average speed record in PR since 1964. Even with the doping, high tech bikes, and fruity suspension gimmicks. Peter did it the old fashioned way. He's still PR's fastest bad ass.

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 6

Eddy "The Cannibal" Merckx

What cycling greats list is complete without dear Eddy. Eddy won PR along with everything else. The assholes and cynics of the world might point out that he never won Paris Tours. Puh-leeze. If I ever hear a comment like that I will undoubtedly have met the most retarded mongoloid the earth has ever seen. Merckx = ALL CAPS BAD ASS!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 5

The Cobblestone guy

If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have a Paris Roubaix. Give this bad ass all the pints, frites, and mayonaise he can handle. Just don't ask him to write his goals for the year, or to "stay on message" (corporate jokes- if you know, you know.) He's liable to pave' over your souless shell of a body so the cows and pigs can shit all over your lame, "I saw it on E!", Red 7 tousled hair.

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 4

Johan "The Lion of Flanders" Museeuw

A bad ass based on this photo alone. Either way, he's got 3 PR wins in his back pocket. Big fucking deal if he doped. It doesn't make you suffer any less on those goddamn cobbles.

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 3

Roger deVlaeminck (here on the Koppenberg of the Ronde...not Roubaix)

He's won Roubaix more times than anybody (4) and finished on the podium (total of 9, with wins) more than anyone as well. He was said to float over the cobbles because of his mastery of bike handling. Roger was a beast you didn't want to tangle with. Fuckin' bad ass!

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 2

Andrei Tchmil, Paris Roubaix 1994

1994 saw another photographers dream in an apocalyptic maelstrom of mud, blood, and cobblestones. Tchmil's use of the Rock Shox Paris Roubaix SL fork launched an ad blitz for a product that really only had one use- Paris Roubaix. I don't abide with suspension in any form for PR. But that doesn't take away the fact that Tchmil earned every bit of his overwhelming victory. A bad ass? You better fucking believe it!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bad Asses of Paris Roubaix Vol. 1

Sean Kelly, 1985 Paris Roubaix.

Although "King" Kelly didn't win (third) PR the year this photo was taken (Marc Madiot took the win, Kelly won the year before and the year after), one has to agree that this captures him in one of his bad ass-est moments.

Holey Rollers

Maybe I'm being elitist, or maybe my chorizo is too damn small to make one necessary. Either way, I think they look dorky. You can put holes in your chainrings, brake levers... Shit. Put holes in your stem for all I care. But a saddle? Hell no.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Euro Femmes

What is it about the euro femme that looks so right on a bicycle? Damn it. Even helmets look good on 'em.
All those in favor of making white shorts de rigeur for all shapely femme cyclists say "Aye".

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Peenie Pucker

Wide eyed customer (the one with the Nashbar shorts) walks into shop and asks if you have new Campag widget. Disregarding the whiff of suspicion, you show widget and explain it's superfly features. Customer picks your brain with laundry list of prepared questions (he read Bicycling magazine, you see). You perry every attack until customer falls into an awkward silence. "Whaddaya say we wrap it up for ya?" Customer thanks you graciously and says he's "still looking", but he'll probably get it soon because he's "got a big ride coming up".

Old Bob-wan, a storied old hand that knew his fair share about both widgets AND the way the world worked, said I was a victim of a doofy consumer behavior known as "peenie pucker". Sixteen years later and I still haven't heard a better description.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Buy more crap and look like you really know stuff about bikes

There's something stinky in Dorkybikepartsland from Bicycle Doctor USA...

You just replace your current upper and lower pulleys with the FSA Ceramic Speed pulleys, and you immediately notice the difference."

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Folly of Wisdom

Today is Easter Sunday. I hope a lot of food drink blessed your tables today.

The weather is sitting in the upper twenties. I don't have the motivation to get out in the frozen tundra like I used to. Ari and Michael did, however. The taste of summer two weeks ago still hangs in the cobwebbed synapses of my memory. Global warming? Maybe. Strange weather is afoot around the globe the past few years. It makes commuting a drag too. There's nothing like rolling to work in shorts and a tee. And the token trade team cap to keep out the sun...

I told Miroslav yesterday we should move to Mallorca, Spain. I first learned of Mallorca from CycleSport magazine in the mid 90's. It looked like a paradise of blue skies, vast beach front, and smooth roads. Screw that boot camp, commando shit Bjarne Riis dictates. If Cipollini had frankensteinian training methods thrown at him like that, he'd send a can of Chef Boyardee and a postcard explaining very cordially how he'd rather be putting sunny miles on his legs and doggin' chicks in his spare time.

Ah, well, I complain too much, I know. I should toughen up and make a bold return to the wide eyed naivete that was my youth. I used to suit up in the winter kit and roll for hours with my racing mates, or alone in all sorts or nasty weather. I was immortal, I was tough, I was driving the break with Museeuw toward the invisible finish line just over the next hill. And the next. I came home exhausted, hungry, and satisfied with my courage and tenacity. I would wash off the embrocation (it was Lavit Warm-Up oil then) in the shower and grimace at the burn searing my legs and marvel at my Flandrian-like toughness. That was some time ago. A different me. Age hasn't made me wiser, it's made me average.

Here's to brighter, warmer days that don't end. And the tenacity to ignore the "yield" signposts of mental and physical age.