Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Some key Fulbright quotes cited by Soglin are listed below.
- We have the power to do any damn fool thing we want to do, and we seem to do it about every 10 minutes.
- We are trying to remake Vietnamese society, a task which certainly cannot be accomplished by force and which probably cannot be accomplished by any means available to outsiders.
- The rapprochement of peoples is only possible when differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned, when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.
- The cause of our difficulties in southeast Asia is not a deficiency of power but an excess of the wrong kind of power which results in a feeling of impotence when it fails to achieve its desired ends.
- The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust our own government statements. I had no idea until then that you could not rely on them.
- Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations - to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.
Monday, August 20, 2007
At the bike shop we work on all bikes. Old, new, big, small, road, mountain, etc. We take pride in the fact that our mechanics are fully capable of resuscitating the dilapidated carcasses of long ignored metal skeletons and turning them into sparkling, working, bicycles once again.
On occasion, however, some folks of newfound ambition want their old, forgotten two wheeler resurrected for their wonderful, doe-eyed, grandchild that will expectantly take their money on holidays but never call or visit them in the hospital. Or, as a reminder of those good ol' days of yore when they could still get a boner and didn't have a 300lb wife that smelled like warm bologna.
I can usually spot the culprits as they pull into the parking lot because they all seem to drive the same squeaky Dodge Caravan with one working door that also serves as the family recycling bin. Hidden in back amongst half empty Pepsi bottles, paper cups, and old newspapers is a sad heap of rust and cobwebs that was once a bicycle but now more closely resembles the melancholy remains of a washing machine in the front yard of an Indiana doublewide .
The grave robbers that have delivered this corpse to the door of the bike shop never actually end up touching it because they recruited their 40 year old son that still lives in the basement to do the dirty work of jamming it into the back of the minivan. And they'll be damned if they're going to be the ones to pull it out. Firstly, because Junior was busy pwning 12 year olds in Halo online when he was told to get the bike, and in his rage, wedged the goddamn handlebars between the seat and roof. Secondly, because their arms are so atrophied from years of sloth that they couldn't possibly gather the strength to even lift the cob webbed leviathan's front wheel off the ground. Thus, it is the bike shop condemned to extraction. In such a case, I will call upon the newest employee within earshot and command him to bring me the sorry beast.
When we observe the remains of the once proud bicycle, we silently tabulate what it will take to get the damn thing out of there as fast as possible. As one who has seen these scenarios play out time and again, I have put together a list of sure fire strategies for repealing many hours of blood, sweat, and curses for little to no monetary gain.
- The formula 3x+100 is a good start. Thus, whatever price you come up with for the repair, multiply by 3 and add another $100 to cover band-aids, gauze, antiseptic, and beer. This will typically shell shock the poor bastards into seeking a more reasonable solution.
- "The soonest we can have this done for you is approximately fifteen to twenty weeks...probably longer." Make sure you stress the word "probably". When dealing with ridiculously long time frames, it's always a good idea to promote the possibility of being even more ridiculous long.
- "You know, Bill's Bike Shop across town is really good at refurbishing old bikes like this" That's right. Pass this loser off to another shop. Be sure to push the bike toward the door and offer directions when saying this.
- "We only work on bikes sold at this shop" Dishonest? Yes. Cruel? Yes. Effective? Yes.
- If pressed for a rundown on what it'll take to get it running, be vague. Throw in alot of "if's" and "maybe's". This will allow you to inject some serious doubts about your calculations. For example: "You obviously need a new chain, derailleur, and maybe shifters too. If the parts are available, which I doubt, they'll probably cost around $80. Maybe more."
- Be frank. "Sir, this is not a bicycle. It is a piece of shit".
- Humiliate them. "Are you serious?"
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I've always liked Chris Horner. Ever since he showed me many years ago at the Downers Grove Criterium that I hadn't anything on a euro-pro no matter how much I dreamed I might. He was moving from front to back of the Pro-Am race like it was some kind of Sunday morning group ride for uber clydesdales. I was at my limit hanging on watching Chris effortlessly make me feel like a two bit pretender. I finished with my lungs completely turned inside out wondering how I barely survived the last two laps and Horner was pretty much fresh as a daisy chatting with some other mates. He made it look easy. That pretty much marked the end of my life as a "results" racer and ushered in the era of the racer for "good times".
Anyway, I came across this at Cyclingnews. It reinforces my opinion of Chris as one of the PRO peloton's finer gentleman.
Horner on Lance leaving
Chris Horner has never been shy about his opinions regarding Lance Armstrong in the past. And when he heard the news about Tailwind Sports ending its search for a new sponsor, he had some hard-hitting analysis of Armstrong's and the company's decision.
"I read what Lance has said about the sport, and it is just ridiculous to read something so stupid, from a guy who has made his career off the sport. Now they can't find a sponsor and say they are pulling out just because they don't want to look for one? I don't believe it. You tell me Lance is giving up money? He raced his whole career looking for it, because he was a businessman more than the love of the sport. Now he is telling us that it isn't a good place for the sport so we are pulling out. Are you really telling me that?
"All it is is he can't find a sponsor. Instead he's saying, 'I'm Lance Armstrong, I finally couldn't accomplish something so we're pulling out instead.' If I'm wrong, prove me wrong Lance -- go out and find a sponsor! Instead it was 'we're leaving, I don't like the sport anymore'. No, just leave and get out. I'm sorry if those weren't his exact words, but if what I am reading is, then it is ridiculous and irresponsible."
"It makes it a bit tougher for guys like myself, but at the same time I don't see that too many of those guys affect me. But some riders might not have jobs next year, assuming that more teams don't come in. Or they won't be with a ProTour team. That's a possibility, and that might be me too! Because Lance wants to get out of the sport he is going to unemploy half of his team. Personal opinion again, but that has to be the biggest bullshit story I have ever read!"
"All these people can say what they want about the sport going downhill right now... are they crazy? Were they not in London? Did Lance forget about it? How do you make those comments when you saw what happened there? To have a start and stage there, plus the stage in Belgium, that alone justifies the money to have a ProTour team. Nothing else even matters! Take those first three days of the Tour de France, and it automatically proves Lance wrong. Undeniable fact! I don't care what anybody wants to come back and say how much they love Lance, it's an undeniable fact that the first three days make it worth it. That's not even counting the people watching it on TV around the world! That is just the people who came out. In London they had Wimbledon, a huge concert event, Formula 1... and we did 125 miles the first day and there weren't 10 miles of a gap where if you stopped you wouldn't have been peeing on someone's foot!"
"Anyone whose job is to look at sports and find where best to put your money, and says it's not in cycling, has never been to a cycling event. Or maybe he went to Valley of the Sun! Maybe someone can go back and look at the different sponsors of Tour de France teams and prove to me they lost money from advertising at some point, but I don't think so. $3-7 million dollars for a sponsorship, and you cannot tell me it doesn't justify what the Tour de France brought you -- just the first three days! Anyone who prints what they want in USA Today or wherever has never been the Tour de France before or any race of value. Or is a complete idiot... probably the latter."Photo credit: Cyclingnews
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Anyway, no, you're not gonna die or have your legs turn black and fall off, but you will itch quite a bit. It appears that multitude of itchy red spots on many of the active outdoorsy people of western Chicagoland are the work of a type of mite. So far, the best solution I've found is the occasional application of anti-itch cream and a cold beer in a tall glass to dull the senses.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
The bike shop is a place of good friends and goof balls alike. It takes all kinds to mold a shop into the resilient crew that we all know and love. While many on the outside looking in think we have it made in the proverbial shade, it's not quite the cake walk you might think. We have our crosses to bear just like everyone else out there. The characters featured below are only a sampling of the multitude of freaks and losers we cater to on a daily basis.
The Blame the Bike Shop Firster
The BBSF'er favors the crude tactics of intimidation and incredulity to achieve his devious ends. Their goal is to never pay for anything. To do so would insult their twisted views of justice. There is no common ground to be found, only finger pointing and brazen accusations. The BBSF'er views the world as a battleground where everyone is out to get them.
The One Word Answer Man
Talking to OWAM is like trying to force a conversation on the works of Hemingway with Ivan Drago. OWAM enters the shop with wheel in clenched fist and jams his deflated trophy into your unsuspecting hands uttering one gutteral vocalization: "tube". OWAM is grim faced and avoids friendly banter like the black death.
The Skeptical Magazine Whore
The SMW views his exchanges at the bike shop as debates. Thus, he walks into the shop armed with the "facts" he's gathered from Bicycling, VeloNews, and everyone's favorite, Consumer Reports. The great thing is that SMW always gets it wrong eventually and sulks around the shop for ten minutes thinking of a hopeless response before finally limping out with his pride masterfully rebutted up his ass.
The Weaver of Tales
There is no PRO that he hasn't partied with, no speed he hasn't attained, nor race he could have won. This pygmy Mark Twain of the bike shop world sows the seeds of comic relief with deadpan sincerity. Sure, the sorry dipshits spin yarns that are as believable as me growing fangs in my bunghole, however, the reason we let them carry on with their intricate tapestry of lies is every bike shop's best kept secret: They are the unknowing jesters performing for the multitudes of dour, underpaid bike shop brothers and sisters worldwide. And, we merrily recant their amazing exploits over countless beers and long winter days.
The Expensive Car Driving Cheapskate
The ECDC is no doubt the biggest bastard to walk the earth. Not only do they not "get it", but they complain every step of the way. To them, a bike is a toy. A tawdry mix of gears and metal to allow them the honor of pointing to the name brand bike like Lance's in the garage with the shitball ride that comes with rock bottom level Ping-Pong bikes (I'll explain Ping-Pong in a later post, it's time the word got out). Because with them, it's all about image. I always have to laugh at these douchebags when they sigh aloud about the price of a car rack and then jam their two wheeled turd into the back seat, gear side down, to go home and "think about it".
The Brain Picker Who Buys Online
BPWBO feigns interest in buying high end parts from your shop only to waste three hours of your life by using the information he deviously extracted to buy them online. The only positive is the fact that he also fancies himself a mechanic and usually mangles the new part to virtual uselessness in his frenzied attempt to install it.
The Hand Wringer
The victim of fearmongering run amok. The Hand Wringer lives in a perpetual state of worry and dread. Fielding the panicked querys of HW is akin to having your ears slowly chewed off by a horde angry poodles. Is my seat too high? Handlebars too low? What about tire pressure? Torque settings? What's that noise? My bottom bracket? Chainring bolts? Headset? AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUGG!
The Inept Retardo
Everything he does is wrong. Your children would be safer with a deranged grizzly bear as baby sitter than the IR. The only thing he is good at is breaking stuff. And when it comes to explaining how to operate a quick release skewer or lube a chain, it's something best done in semesters.
Nothing throws new employees into a psychotic frenzy faster than the suffocating obstinance of the CEO. He's used to having subordinates grovel at his hooves all day, so he expects the same treatment wherever else he prances. However, don't let the pompous attitude fool you. The manicured nails and faggy smell of boutique cologne spell it out pretty clearly. P-U-S-S-Y.
Friday, August 10, 2007
From the Cartier eye glasses to the signature ponytail, Laurent Fignon was one hell of a dapper racing gentleman. While he's synonymous with his 8 second loss in the 1989 Tour de France to Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon was a seriously accomplished rider of the PRO peloton. He won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, the Giro d'Italia in 1989, Milan San-Remo in 1988 and 1989 and he also won Fleche Wallone in 1986. Filet Mignon ( a friend's nickname for Laurent) also finished atop many a podium and captured numerous stage wins throughout his illustrious career.
I remember Fignon for his grace and elegant style on and off the bicycle. His calm demeanor was in stark contrast to the other great Frenchman of the time, (no, not Charly Mottet) Bernard Hinault. Thus, Fignon earned the nickname "The Professor".
Laurent Fignon was a class act, and he also had a way with words. He once described the great Miguel Indurain, who had recently demolished the entire peloton in a Tour de France time trial by stating "He is an extra-terrestrial!".
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
When I made my way into that bike shop known as BS, to plunk down the hard earned dough for my first "real" bike, I was immediately drawn into the deep and beautiful world of cycling. Four months after I payed my last twenty dollars (made in weekly installments for two months) I was getting paid to flounder about the very shop I had been frequenting/pestering. The whole crew at that shop rode and was passionate about bikes. Every damn one of them. It was the perfect shop to guide my ascension of the cycling tree of knowledge.
Nothing came easy in the first few years. I was a complete neophyte and was forced to understand that nothing in the bike shop world just gets handed to you without some form of payment. I remember using a crescent wrench to build one of the first bikes thrown my way. This humiliating faux pas of poor tool selection stripped me my privilege of bike assembly for two weeks. "The right tool for the job" they said, as I sat red faced and disheartened, "You're lucky Mel didn't see you". As traumatic as that episode was, it opened my eyes to realize that this wasn't my dad's garage where I only had a handful of primitive tools to work with. I actually had a large collection of specialized tools at my disposal that addressed all the fine details of bicycle mechanics.
As the years passed, I moved on to other shops and still carried the deep passion and curiosity of cycling with me wherever I went. I read books and magazines, watched videos, raced, wrenched, and basically did whatever I could to envelope my life within the world of cycling. I was passionate about bikes. They became a defining part of my life. I finally became like all those people I looked up to at that first bike shop.
While I moved from shop to shop in search of ever more bike culture, I failed to ever again experience the collective passion for cycling that that first shop embraced. I soon found that cycling is also a world full of very different people with a wide range of reasons for working at a bike shop. Thus, I began to formulate a theory that folks within the bike shop world can be matched up with the various types of phenomena in the universe. Here is what my unscientific mind has come up with so far:
These are the collectors (aka the equipment whores) that work at the shop so they can buy their parts on the cheap. Their nose is always buried in the QBP catalog plotting their next acquisition.They make it a point to always look the part, but they sure as hell don't ride much. They're the fabricators of the lamest excuses for only riding two or three times a year.
These are the guys that blast off into the cycling world and get all the bikes, clothing, sunglasses, and accessories possible and then ride like madmen for six months only to fizzle out with a quiet whimper. They can usually be found at the local race every year telling you how they're gonna get back into riding/racing next season. Next season never comes.
This is the funny, fat guy that comes in once in awhile to build the odd bike but spends more time waxing nostalgic about the good old days of cycling yore. He doesn't ride anymore because "Cycling has become a superficial sport of soft men with plastic bikes". Besides, he's "paid his dues". Still, he's fun to have around and is always good for a sixer of imports and chips.
He roams the shop aimlessly looking for something to do. Without fail, he will not do anything unless specifically told to do so. He also manages to take five times longer than he should to complete any task. Only threats of bathroom duty will goad him into any meaningful action. The only reason the boss hasn't fired him yet is because he'll take minimum pay and work a shitload of hours. He's something of an enigma in that he usually wanders in late and yet, is almost always the last one to leave.
Why does this bastard even work here? Oh, I know! He's the boss's old pal. This guy hates every soul that walks through the door and rarely lifts his gaze from the bike he's working on, which happens to be his own. He doesn't wrench, he doesn't sell, he doesn't merchandise, and by God, he doesn't fucking clean. He does, however, take massive shits in the bathroom that make your lungs bleed as well as drink all the beer.
Red Dwarf Stars
These are the people that keep the whole damn shop ticking. They've been around forever and continue to soldier on for the love of the bike. They are the rare constants that keep on keepin' on. Always the same old dudes you've seen riding for years and years in all sorts of familiar, different and unexpected places. They have their ups and downs like anybody, but they keep it centered. They also know that even though the faces change and most of their coworkers will go on in a few months or years in search of fulfillment elsewhere, every so often one of them will stick and find their passion for cycling in much the same way they did.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Sprinter's doping link