Monday, October 31, 2011

L'Orange

I love my Peugeot fixed gear.  It is a 1974 UO-8, which I bought from the original owner (who never rode it), and converted to fixed gear 4 or 5 years ago.  It is bright orange, and the prettiest bike I have ever owned.

It is striking enough that it seemed everyone I knew started looking for orange Peugeots after I got mine.  I had found another one, and ended up selling it to Tracy.  Then, Brad started searching for one, and eventually bought one from a guy in California (then painted it black, later!).

One day, Randy called me up and told me that he had found something for me.  He brought it over, and it was a 1976 (I think) Orange Peugeot mixte.  Carol ended up with that one, as a fixed gear conversion.  I keep it in my shop building, so she always has it available if she wants to go for a ride and doesn't have a bike with her.

I even found with a folding Peugeot bike, with 24" wheels, in orange.

While I seem to have cornered the market in orange Peugeots, that didn't stop me from buying the orange Handsome XOXO, as soon as it was available.

A day without an orange bike is like a day without sunshine!

x

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cross Check

I had one of the original generation Surly CrossCheck framesets, eleven or twelve years ago.  I bought it because it was just about the only reasonably-priced true cross frame/fork combination on the market, at that time.  I think I paid $225, or thereabouts, for it as an employee.

I built it up with my Campy Racing Triple group, which I had put together through the years, and used it as a commuter/mountain bike.  I only raced it once, though, mainly because I found it to be a bit heavy.  As a matter of fact, I never really got the bike set up to where I enjoyed riding it.

Eventually, I had cantilever mounts added to my LeMond Zurich frame, and put a cross fork on it.  Then, I transferred the Campy equipment to it and built the Surly up with assorted parts I had lying about in my parts stash.  I sold it to a kid who worked with me at Campus, for $250.00, and put it behind me.

Now, before you get all upset that I am trash-talking Surly, keep in mind I have only said that I couldn't get satisfied with it.  I don't think it was a bad frame.  The kid I sold it to lost it to his dad.  Dad took a ride on the Surly and pretty much just claimed it for his own.  I still bump into him at the coffee shop, occasionally, and he always tells me how much he loves that bike.

It's funny how some bikes are just perfect for some people, but just really don't float the boat for others.

I guess that's why there are so many different bikes on the market; huh?

x

Saturday, October 29, 2011

South Platte

I learned, a few years ago, to not ride the South Platte Trail during certain Spring and Summer months.

I had always known that bugs could be a problem on that trail.  I grew up around rivers and lakes, down south, so I am familiar with how the insect crowd loves the shoreline.  But, I never experienced the sheer number of bugs per liter of atmosphere that you can find along the South Platte Trail.

I left my house, one afternoon, to take a quick ride down to Chatfield Dam, and back.  I was living on Sherman Street, at the time, and the ride to the top of the dam and back was about 25 miles.  It made a nice little "stretch my legs because I haven't been riding enough, lately" kind of ride.

I rode the streets to the west side of the river, then turned south on the trail.  As I rode along, I noticed a few gnats in the air.  I didn't think much about it.  Then, a couple of miles south of Highway 285, I looked ahead and I could see what looked a cloud of smoke hanging over the trail.

I entered the cloud and realized that it wasn't smoke.  It was gnats!

I pressed my lips together, and tried to not breath too deeply through my nose.  Still, a few got into my nostrils and I had to sneeze them out. 

I cleared the swarm, and thought to myself that I didn't relish having to run through them, again, on the way home.  I was hoping they would be gone, by the time I headed back. 

Then, I saw another cloud up ahead.  Dammit!

All told, I probably ran through a couple dozen of those insect clouds on the way down to the dam and back.  Luckily, I had a bandanna with me, and I was able to wear it as a mask and keep the infernal pests out of my mouth and nose.

But, by the time I got home, my hair was lousy with them (pun intended).  I showered, and combed the bastards out of my hair as I shampooed.  It took two shampoos before I stopped getting combs full of bugs out of my hair.  (And, my hair was short, not over 1-1/2 inches long at any point.)

Ugh!

I avoid the South Platte Trail during the fishing season, now...

x

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Get Better Mileage, Too...

I was riding to the coffee shop, one snowy/rainy February morning.  I was on my teal Jamis fixed gear mountain bike, the Miami Vice, with two blinky lights flashing on the back and my Cygo Light on the front.  I got behind a Prius, on Iliff, and followed it through the neighborhood as it made every turn I make to get to Kaladi Brothers.

The car went straight on Warren as I turned up the alley to get to the coffee shop.  I parked the bike, turned off the lights and went in.

As I stood in line, a lady walked in the door and took her place in line behind me.

"Is that your bike?" she asked, pointing out the window.

"Yes," I replied.

"Wow!  Your light is brighter than the headlight on my Prius!" she exclaimed.

"I find it cuts down on the collisions with other vehicles if they can see me,"  I said.

"Well, I could certainly see you in my mirror," she said.

That's why I run the big lights.

x

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Red Menace

I have always been partial to the color red, on vehicles.  First, I had Big Red, the Western Flyer bike I got at 10 years old (and still have).   Then, I helped my daddy pick out the second Big Red, a 1975 Chevrolet Impala. 

When I was 16, I got a motorcycle rather than a car.  It was a 1977 Suzuki GS-400.  Color?  Red, of course.

Since then, I have owned a number of red bicycles.  The reddest of these was a carbon fiber Gary Fisher mountain bike which I called The Red Menace.

It started out as a gold Paola Pezzo World Champion model, which Brad bought new.  He had it painted blue, to match his SID SL suspension fork.  Unfortunately, the blue ended up closer to Poppa Smurf than it did to SID.  So, he had it repainted red.

I bought it from him to replace my stolen DiamondBack, before he ever built it up.  I had planned on building up an aluminum Gary Fisher, but eventually decided that I didn't like the fit of that frame.  It was blue, and I had bought red components to contrast with it.

I ended up with a red frame, festooned with a red and yellow saddle, crank with red bolts, red tires, red grips, red spoke nipples and yellow brake pads (which matched the yellow decals I applied to the frame). The effect was somewhat overwhelmingly ...well...red.

So:  The Red Menace.

It was a nice bike, and I ended up rebuilding it and passing the frame along to Carol's oldest son when I was done with it.  He still has it, and it is still an impressively light bike, even at this late date.

Since then, I have had a number of red bikes come and go.  But, there will only always ever be one Red Menace.

x

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Favorite Campsite

When I first began to stop off in the Fruit/Grand Junction to ride my mountain bike, I typically did so on the way to Moab.  We would leave Denver early in the morning, get to Grand Junction late in the morning, and ride until the sun went down.  Then, we would camp out, and drive on to Moab, the next morning.

My favorite campsite was on the ridge along the area where Mary's Loop, Lion's Loop and all of those trails run.  We would take the dirt frontage road west about 2  or 3 miles from the Loma Exit off of I-70, then drive to the top of the ridge on a Jeep trail.  On top of the ridge, instead of following the trail down the other side, we would turn left and drive up a short spur to a stock gate.

There, we could pitch the tent, without blocking the trail, and build a campfire in my portable grill.

We had some good times at that camp.  Once, we sat on a rock and watched an aerobatic airplane fly some amazing maneuvers for about 2 hours.  I suppose the pilot was just practicing, but we really enjoyed the show he put on.  And, I think he was putting on a show for us, after he saw us sitting there. He waggled his wings at us on the way past, a couple of hundred feet off the deck but close to eye-level with us on top of the ridge, then really let it rip.

I still remember how good the bacon was, on another trip, when I cooked it over the coals on my grill.  I put the strips of bacon on the wire grill, and let it cook as I fried eggs in a pan. That might well have been the best bacon I've ever tasted.

There is a new trail-head parking lot in that spot, now.  No more camping on the ridge...

Bummer.

x

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is That A...?

Fifteen years ago, cyclocross racing didn't have nearly the recognition, here in the United States, as it does now.  And, it is still relatively obscure, today.  So, it was virtually unknown in many areas, back then.  One of those areas was, apparently, Jefferson County, Colorado.

I took my DiamondBack Avail, with drop bars, 700x35c cross tires and a road triple crank up the east side of Mt. Falcon, one Saturday, in 1996.  There were a lot of people on the trail, as usual.  Besides mountain bikers, there were trail runners, hikers, dog walkers and others.

I would say that full 60% of the people I met on the trail, that day (and 90% of the mountain bikers), asked the same question, in the same disbelieving tone of voice.

"Is that...a...road bike?"

"No," I answered the first dozen or so.  "It's a cyclocross bike."

Of course, the people asking the question had no idea what that meant.  If they had known, they wouldn't have asked what they asked.

Eventually, when someone would gawk and ask, "Is that a road bike?", I just answered "Yes," and continued climbing up the trail.

Now, I doubt that many people on Mt. Falcon would even notice or question the bike.

x

Monday, October 24, 2011

Studly

We did a lot of snow riding, back in the day.  We would drive up to the Forest Service gate on Jackson Creek Road, park the car, and then ride the bikes up to the Devil's Head area.  Snowmobiles kept the snow packed, pretty well, and as long as you stayed on their route it was possible to ride.  If you got off of the snowmobile trail, the snow was so deep as to be impassable.

Often, the snow would be a little icy, and it was difficult to make the turns without falling.  Plus, spinning out on the climbs was a pretty big problem.  I had snow chains for my tires, but none of the other guys did.

Ilmars got the bright idea to stud some tires, and he asked me what I thought about it.  I thought it was cool, so he brought a big box of self-tapping screws in, and we set the drill up with a nut driver to run the screws into the tire.

If you have ever looked at studded tires, you might have noticed that they are typically studded at every third or fourth knob.  Ilmars decided that if a few screw-studs was good, a bunch would be better.  He spent the greater part of a day in the service area, running screws into his tires;  one screw in every knob on the tire.

Then, he lined the inside of the tire with duct tape and made a secondary liner out of an old tube.

Once he had everything put together, the tires weighed about 5 pounds each.  Traction was great, but the tires were so hard to accelerate that the ride was pretty miserable.

I'm glad that commercially-produced studded tires for bicycles came onto the market.

x

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Normal" Bikes

It's kind of funny:  When you think about mountain bikes, you typically think of 26" wheels. When you think of modern road bikes, the wheels are 700c.  These wheel sizes have acted as de facto definitions for bike types for 20 years.

Right now, I have two mountain bikes and five road bikes.  The mountain bikes both have 700c wheels (29-inch), and four of the road bikes have 26-inch wheels.  (The fifth road bike is an old 27-inch wheeled bike converted to 700c.)

To many people, it seems like my bikes are abnormal, because of these wheel sizes.  But , what is "Normal"?

Most commercially produced mountain bikes have 26" wheels, simply because the old Schwinns which the guys in Marin County used back in the 1970s had that size wheel.  Yet, Cannondale and Raleigh both produced mountain bikes, in the early days, which had 24" rear wheels and 26" front wheels.

A lot of downhill racing bikes utilize 24" wheels with 4" wide tires.

Touring bikes have used 650b wheels, 27" wheels and 700c wheels, through the years.  Burro Bikes mountain bikes used 20" wheels with 3" wide trials tires.  Time trial bikes with 700c rear wheels and 650c front wheels are fairly common.

Let's not even talk about the Georgina Terry-designed women's road bikes with 700c rear wheels and 24" front wheels...

Twenty eight-inch...?  What the hell is that?!   European touring bikes use that size, as did early (1890-1920) racing bikes.

Are my bikes normal, or abnormal?

Yes.

And...no.

x

Saturday, October 22, 2011

That's What Happens When You Know It All

I had climbed Mt. Falcon the week before Michael and I went up it.  The snow was mostly gone, even under the trees, but there were still icy patches in the shade, and the dirt under the trees was still partially frozen.

But, it was ridable, and we were having a pretty good time going up.

Michael was one of those guys who just had to be the best at anything you did with him.  At least, he had to convince you that he was the best, whether he was or wasn't.  Truth be told:  He mostly wasn't.

I had pointed out a couple of icy places on the way up, before they came into view.  They had taken me by surprise, on the previous ride, and I had spun out.  Michael had ignored my first warning, and spun out.  So, he grudgingly took my warnings to heed from there on.

Then, we got into the trees.

"Hang to the left, here," I called ahead to him (he had elbowed past me when the trail narrowed).  I didn't mind him being in the lead, if it made him feel better.

"Yeah, yeah..." he shot back.

We were approaching the log water bar at the right-hand switchback under the trees.  At that turn, the trail is off-camber (it is banked away from the turn), and the water bar is not perpendicular to the trail.  These factors make that water bar treacherous to ride over in the best of conditions.  And, these were not the best of conditions.

I knew that the wood had gotten waterlogged, and had then frozen, during the winter.  As we were getting the thaw, the half-buried log had a spongy, water-slick surface overlying a core of icy wood.  It had the frictional coefficient of owl poop.

"You'll want to square off to the water bar, to get over it,"  I called to Michael.

"I know how to ride this water bar," he shot back.  "I worked on riding over water bars until I became an expert at it, when I first started riding.  I always become an expert at anything I attemOOOF..."

Michael's oft-heard explanation of how he became better than everyone else at something was cut short by a rather sudden and painful meeting with the frozen ground.  He had ridden the "summer line" over the frozen log, which normally was the best way to set yourself up for the turn which followed it. And, due to the condition of the wood, his tire had slipped on the log as though it was coated in bear grease.

I squared off to the log, rode over it and, as I made my turn around Michael, who was still on the ground trying to get untangled from his bike, I said, "That seemed like a very expert crash." Then, I just kept riding.

I was a little afraid to stop, truth be told.  Michael was already mad about falling.  I don't imagine my uncontrollable giggles would have put him in any better of a mood.

x

Friday, October 21, 2011

Give a Hoot

I was pulling out of the Starbuck's parking lot onto Asbury, heading west as a Range Rover full of college-age kids drove by.  As they went by, the girl in the passenger's seat threw a McDonald's bag and a french-fry carton out of the window.  I pulled out into the street on my bike, and picked the trash up.

The Range Rover was stopped at the red light, so I pulled up beside it.

"Here," I said to the girl, who almost jumped out of her skin, "I think you accidentally dropped this."

"Oh!  Uh...thanks..."

"Don't mention it," I said, as the light turned green.  I took off, on Asbury, as the Rover turned left.

x

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Roof Rackin'

I had a roof rack on my1985 Rabbit GTi, and I was pretty paranoid about low overhangs, garage doors, etc.  So, I managed to never scrape a bike off the top of the car.

But, one day I did have a bit of a scare.  I was driving to work, and I had my mountain bike on top of the car.  As I made the left turn onto Parker Road, from Quincy, there was a loud bang on the roof.

I cranked open the sunroof, and there was my bike, lying on its side on top of the car.  I reached up through the open sunroof and held the bike in place as I pulled over on the shoulder of the road.

The quik-release skewer on the rack had broken, and that had allowed the bike to fall over.  I pulled the QR from the rack on the other side of the car, replaced the broken one, and clamped the fork into the rack.  I kept my eye on the bike, the rest of the way in.

I sure was glad that, for once, I had fastened the little strap which held the rear wheel in the rack tray!

x

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Modern Fable

Once upon a time, in a land which worships Pro Sports, there lived man who really didn't care to be a spectator at sporting events.  It did not thrill him to watch strangers play children's games for obscene amounts of money, nor to discuss the performance of those strangers the next day.

This caused the man many hardships, throughout his life.  He often felt left out in work-place conversations, as everyone else discussed the previous day's stranger-efforts, or arcane trivia from the remote history of strangers playing games for money.  His masculinity and love of Country were questioned.  Many people pitied him, and some shunned him.

In the land of Pro Sports worship, the people held an annual celebration of the New Year called The Super Bowl.  The man who didn't care to be a spectator dreaded the Super Bowl discussions and media saturation, every year.  His spouse, and her family, simply did not understand this, and insisted on turning the observation of the game into a social occasion.

Super Bowl Party...

Eventually, this disparity in outlook, plus many other factors, resulted in the man becoming Single, once again.  Suddenly, he was no longer required to participate in the pagan ceremony of Super Bowl.  And so, he did not.

He found that, on the day of the huge game-watching ritual, that he could ride his bicycle anywhere he wanted to ride it, with very little interference.  He could ride on streets, on trails, in town or out and see very few other vehicles.  He found it refreshing to be able to move, with no resistance, through the world abandoned by the spectators.

Super Bowl Sunday became Low-Stress Bike Ride Sunday for the man.  And, he was a happy participant...

x

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Overkill

We had an employee, for a while, at the shop who was a bit...eccentric.  I won't call his name, here, but I will say that I have never seen anyone quite so obsessive about the finish on bike parts.

Now, a lot of people like to polish their parts to a mirror finish when assembling a high-end bike.  At least, we did back in the days of silver alloy parts.  Black-painted alloy or (shudder) carbon-fiber components don't lend themselves to this particular brand of TLC.

Our unnamed compatriot certainly was in good company when it came to polishing hub bodies, crank arms, brakes, etc.  But, he took it one step farther.

I came in one day to see him assembling the parts for a wheel build.  He had already spent a week of spare time polishing the Campy hub bodies, and I figured he was about to start assembling the wheels.  I was somewhat stunned, though, to see what came next.

He picked up a spoke and, yep, got out the polishing compound and started in on the stainless steel.

Two wheels.  Thirty two spokes per wheel.  Fifteen minutes of polishing per spoke.

That's sixteen hours of his life spent polishing those spokes.

Takes all kinds, they say, to make up this crazy world of ours.

x

Monday, October 17, 2011

Murder

That's what you call a group of crows.

There is a park on the way home from work, Crestmoor Park, which abuts a really pricy older neighborhood.  Crows, for some reason, particularly like that park.  Some days, I see literally hundreds of the big black birds sitting on the grass and in the trees.

One day, as I made the turn onto the street to parallel the park, a murder of crows was sitting on the yard of the house at the corner.  I saw them, out of the corner of my eye, start to fidget as I rounded the corner.  As I straightened up, from the 90-degree turn, they all took off and flew in the direction I was going.

They not only flew in my direction, they flew with me.  I had crows on either side of me, some of them 5 feet off of the ground and less than ten feet away.  I could hear the whooshing of their wings, and I could occasionally feel the air they stirred up.

They matched my speed, and flew along with me for a whole block, looking at me in a quizzical fashion as I pedaled along.  It was, at once, the coolest and the creepiest thing that had happened to me in a long time.

Eventually, the crows began to peel off, a couple at a time, landing on the grass in the park.  Finally, there was just one crow and me, traveling down the road together.  I stopped at the stop sign, and the crow banked to the left and landed in the grass with the rest of the murder.

I waved them a cheery goodbye, and continued on.

Muuurderrr....

x

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Up The Creak

We had been trying to find the source of Al's creaking for weeks.  He had first brought his M2 in to have the bottom bracket replaced, since he thought that was the source of the creak.  The bottom bracket seemed fine, so I reinstalled it with plenty of grease on the threads.  Cartridge bottom brackets will often creak if the threads are dry.

It still made the noise.  We checked the chainring bolts, the crank bolts and the seatpost clamp bolt.  I pulled the seatpost and regreased it.  No go.

Over the course of about three weeks, I either removed nd reinstalled, adjusted or replaced every component on that damn bike.  The problem was, I could never make it creak.  I would test ride it, and it would be normal.  Al would get on it, and the creaking would start.

Keep in mind, Al was 3 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than I was.

Finally, as I was once again checking the cranks, I saw it.  The paint had a telltale flake missing at the downtube/seattube junction.  I used the Park Tools frame straightener as a cheater bar on the crank and pushed it sideways.

A crack opened up at the edge of the weld, just enough to see it.

I've never been so glad to see a broken frame.  At last, I had an answer to the mystery creak!

Specialized warrantied the frame, and Al was happy.  I was happy as well.  I had become way more intimately acquainted with that bike than I ever wanted to.

x

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Banana Seat

My first bike had a banana seat on it.  It was, quite possibly, the most uncomfortable seat I have ever propped my buttocks upon.  The base was steel, and the cover was tiger-striped vinyl. 

In between was the thinnest, most ineffective foam known to man.  I think the Russians developed that foam for their space program, just like NASA developed Velcro for ours.  Velcro was developed to hold things together.  I suspect that the KGB had uses for the Russian space foam.

Still, I loved that seat.  The discomfort was fleeting, because I stood up a great deal of the time.  This was due to a combination of short crankarms, high gearing and the fact that I had legs like little toothpicks.  And, not nice new toothpicks, either, but toothpicks that some highway patrolman has chewed all through a car chase and then spat out on the road just as he was calling the ambulance to peel a couple of drunk-driving teenagers off of an old oak tree.

No yellow ribbon on that tree, either, let me tell you.

But, I digress...

Mostly, I liked the looks of that seat.  The tiger stripes looked bitchin' with the gold paint of the Spyder Bike, and the chrome sissy bar made me feel like a Hell's Angel (only without the drug dealing, senseless violence and social isolation).

I had a purple banana seat on my Buzz Bike, later.  It had a tufted cover with about 3 times as much Russian Space Torture Foam in it, but it was no less uncomfortable. 

At least it was a hideous color, though.

x

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gimme A Break!

I was thinking about broken bike parts, the other day, as I was sorting stuff out for my yard sale.  As I threw away a broken shifter, I started wondering if there was any part of a bike that I had never broken.

I've had pedals come apart as I rode.  My crankarm snapped on the way to work, one day.  I broken numerous spokes, chains and cables.  Seats have come apart, as have the clamps on seatposts.  I 've snapped a handlebar twice...

Freewheels have blown apart, and shifters have puked out small parts as I tried to shift.  Crashes have taken brake levers out.  I've had frames break (rear droputs, both times), and I luckily saw the cracked dropout on my fork before it could actually snap.  But, it was broken.

I've had sealed bottom brackets come unsealed and lock up, and a half-dozen axles have become two-piece units for me, through the years.

Apparently, I am a bit hard on the equipment.

I finally figured out that there were two pieces on the bike that I had never broken:  the stem and the headset.

Just give me time, though...

x

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Big Brother Is Watching

Jake was a customer at Destinations.  In his late twenties, Jake was divorced and took up weight lifting.  A couple of years later, he got into mountain biking.  He was a bit...bulkier...than the average mountain biker who came into the shop.  His biceps were huge, as was his chest. He looked a little like one of the Martians from "War of The Worlds".

One day, he came into the shop with a buddy of his.  They were both in a panic, because Jake had borrowed his older brother's mountain bike so that his buddy could go riding with him.  The problem was, the buddy had crashed the bike and taco'd the front rim.

"Can you fix it?"  Jake asked.  "My brother is going to kill me!"

I worked on that wheel for about an hour.  I laid it on the floor and stepped on it, banged it against the bench, and used every little trick I knew to bring that rim back to life.  By the time I was done, the wheel was true and round, and the spoke tension was pretty even all the way around.

"I can't guarantee it will stay this way,"  I said to Jake. 

"That's okay," he answered.  "My brother will never know that Jim, here, bent it.  I'll buy him  new one, after payday, if this one doesn't hold up."

The funny thing was, I had met Jake's brother.  As a matter of fact, I had sold him the bike that Jake had borrowed.  He was a little guy, smaller than I was.  But, he loomed large in his kid brother's eyes.

Funny how that works, sometimes.

x

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Of One-Handed Knives and Automatic Shifter

I am a pocket knife guy,from way back.  I got my first pocket knife when I was five years old, and I have carried one, ever since.  I snuck around with my knife in grade school(s), and actually got a pass to carry one in highschool.

When I first worked in a warehouse, I saw a need for a knife I could open with one hand.  I would hang from a warehouse rack, pull out a box I needed to open, and then fumble around trying to get my knife open so that I could cut the tape.

It was at that time that  I finally justified buying myself a switchblade.

The bicycle equivalent of a switchblade is a LandRider auto-shift bike.

If you have insomnia, you have probably seen the LandRider infomercial.  The makers claim that it is a pro-level racing mountain bike, and the answer to the prayers of all those who are too uncoordinated ot stupid to learn how to shift a real bike's gears.

We got a couple of these "bikes" in for repairs during the time I worked at Destinations Cyclery.  Not only were they crap bikes, but the auto-shift mechanism was, at best, randomly effective.

A $3.00 ebBay switchblade is more effective than these bikes.  And, it would be way more likely to entertain a bike shop mechanic..

x

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Guess You had To Be There...

I'm sure you've been somewhere with friends, when someone blurted out some non sequitur which, on it's own, was neither funny nor remarkable.  But, in that time and place, everyone found it hilarious.

One day, as the usual group rode down the E-470 Bike Path, on the way to the original location of Kaladi Brothers (outside the Park Meadows Mall, near Old Navy) for breakfast, we were close to the runway approach for Centennial Airport.  As we got even with the end of the runway, a Lear jet took off over our heads.

"Dammit!" I yelled.  "My plane took off without me!"

For some reason, everyone found that funny, and much hilarity ensued.  In fact, it became a stock phrase, whenever we saw a plane fly overhead, for quite a while.

I miss the regular rides and camaraderie that I took for granted, back then.

x

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sometimes, You Just Don't Know Any Better

When I went to Campus Cycles to interview for the job of Service manager, I rode my bike.  I was living between Parker and Aurora, on Parker Road, and I wasn't really sure how to get to Campus on a bike.

So, I looked on a city map and figured out a way to go.  I meandered my way over to the area where I now live, and just hit Evans Avenue to go west from Colorado.  After I went through the interview, I was talking to some of the employees and one of them asked me how I had gotten there.

I outlined my route and, when I got to the part where I rode down Evans, all of the guys went wide-eyed.

"I can't believe you rode down Evans," Ned Grant said.  "I would never get on that road!"

So, I asked them how they would go, and they laid out what I refer to as "The Bike Route", now, when I go south from home.

I was reminded of this, this morning, when I saw a guy on a Toys R Us bike riding down Evans between Colorado and University.   I thought to myself, "Man, I'd never ride a bicycle out in traffic on this road!"

Then, I remembered that, at one time, I had...

x

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Look, Up In The Sky...!

Lots of dirt bikers ride the trails of Rampart Range, but we always got along with them when we were riding mountain bikes up there.  We could hear them coming, and we would just stop and get off of the trail until the motorbikes got by.

One day, we were approaching a rock outcropping that we often rode on, on the way through.  The granite outcropping loomed over the trail, at that point, about 8 feet high.  As I was riding along, I could hear some dirt bikes messing around on top of the rock.  The trail led onto the rock on the far side of the outcropping, so access was simple for dirt bikes and mountain bikes, alike.

Just as I was making the turn around the corner of the rock, a dirt biker launched his bike off of the rock and flew right over the top of me before landing on the trail 15 or 20 feet away.

"Sweeeet!"  one of the guys behind me exclaimed.

The motorcyclist turned around and saw us.  He had that look on his face that said he was expecting a confrontation from me, since he had flown over me unexpectedly.  I just gave him a thumb's up and a smile, then continued on my way.

I was pretty impressed that he had the cojones to launch off of that ledge.  Plus, it was pretty cool to get that view of the bike, as he went over me!

x

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Dark

I was riding my bike on the rollers, one evening, when I had a problem I had never encountered.  This was not the first time I had been on rollers.  In fact, it was five or six years down the line since I had first started riding on them.

I was in the basement of my house in Elizabeth.  The time was sometime around eight o'clock in the evening, in the middle of winter.  There was no window to the outside, from the room I was in, and it was dark outside, anyway.

I was cranking along on the rollers, averaging about 20 mph, paying close attention to what I was doing so that I wouldn't ride off of the side of the rollers.  That was a real possibility when I was riding hard.  I would lose focus on the rollers because I was concentrating so hard on the effort to maintain my speed.

So, I was rolling along, paying close attention to my position on the rollers, trying to maintain a central position and avoid riding off of the side and crashing.

Then, the power went out and the room was plunged into cave-like darkness...

x

Friday, October 7, 2011

One Of Many

One difference between pro mountain bike racers and me, is how we each handle a flat tire in a short-course race format.

I have been in the middle of a 10 lap short-course race, or "dirt crit", and flatted.  What did I do, at that point?  I pulled over and replaced my tube, then took off again.  Of course, the entire field lapped me while I was changing the tube out, but I was back in the race as quickly as possible.

At Winter Park, a decade or so ago, Travis Brown had the same experience.  He came by where I was standing, and I saw that his front tire was going flat. What did he do?

Travis pulled over, removed the front wheel, stripped off the tire and tube, popped the wheel back into place, and took off again.  He raced the next 8 laps on a bare front rim.

I wish I could say that his heroics got him a win, but they did not.  He only came in second!

x

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When Worlds Collide

One day, not long after I started working at Destinations, I decided to take a lunch break and go for a ride.  It was a slow March day, and nothing much was going on, so an hour out of the shop wouldn't hurt anything.

I took my mountain bike and headed across Cherry Creek.  There was some dirt work going on in one of the open fields, and the contractor had piled up soil into a large pyramid about 20 feet high.  There were a couple of packed tracks where the front loders had driven up and dow, so I spent some time riding up, then over this huge dirt pile. 

After that, I rode some trails which ran through a couple of fallow fields, and practiced getting air off of the humps in the trails.

I got back to the shop after an hour of this, pretty sweaty and tired.

"How far did you go?" Dan asked.  He was a road racer.

I looked at my cyclometer.  "Six miles..."

"A whole hour, and you only went six miles?  How can you be so slow?"  He couldn't comprehend that I had not gotten on a road and ridden as fast as I could, while I was out.  Dinking around on a mountain bike was not an arrow in his quiver.

"Just lazy, I guess,"  I said, as I walked away.

Dan just shook his head, slowly, and went on with what he was doing.

x

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We're Number 10!

You may have noticed a good number of lightning-related stories, here, in the past 9 months.  "Is Jon fixated on lightning?" you might well have thought.

Well, no...it's just that we get a lot of strikes, here in the Centennial State.  Colorado is 10th on the list for death by lightning, out of the 50 states.  (Oddly, the other two states in which I have owned homes, Ohio and Tennessee, rank 6th and 8th.)

Not long after I was knocked off my bike on Kenosha Pass, by a nearby lightning strike, one of the riders on the race team we sponsored was hit by lightning as he rode.  The bolt hit a metal fence, alongside the road, and the electricity arced over to him and knocked him senseless.  It took months for him to recover.

But, at least he did recover.  A motorcyclist on Highway 36 was hit by lightning, a couple of years later.  Other motorists were surprised to see that he just kept riding along like nothing had happened.  Then, he drifted off the road, a couple of miles from where he had been struck, and crashed in the ditch.  The bolt of lightning had killed him, outright, when it struck him, and he had been a riding corpse from there!

Watch the skies!  Watch the skies!

x

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Managed To Not Say...

...I told you so!

When people brought small kids into the bike shop, we always enjoyed watching the youngsters check out all of the brightly-colored items on the shelves.  Horns would get get beeped, bells would be jingled and the little ones generally ended up trying out the little training wheel bikes around the shop, with help from mom or dad.

Occasionally, though, a bad parent would bring their kid/kids in, and all hell would break loose.  I don't blame the children.  As I alluded to, before, there was a lot of kid-style stimulation to be found in a bike shop.  The problem was that the parents couldn't be bothered to keep up with what the kids were doing.

Some of these bad parents expected us employees to babysit for them, while they shopped.  Others apparently just forgot, altogether, that their offspring even existed.

One day, a couple came in with their 3-year-old daughter.  Mom deposited the little girl on the floor, near the kid's bikes, and walked away with hubby to check out the adult bikes.  Of course, being a 3-year-old, the girl immediately began pulling items from the display hooks and throwing them in the floor.

I walked over to her, and squatted down to talk to her.  I calmly spoke to her about not making a mess, as I hung stuff back up.  Then, I took her hand and led her over to mom and dad.

I left her with them, and went back to what I was doing.

The scene was repeated twice more, once by me and once by another employee.  Mom and dad weren't taking the hint.

Eventually the bored little girl began running around the display racks, going "Whee, whee, whee" like the proverbial little pig.  I looked over at her parents, and mom just gave the "What can you do?" shrug.

Just then, a thump and a blood-curdling scream came from the sales floor.  I turned back, and there was the girl, blood flowing down her face, screaming her head off.  She had run headlong into the corner of a display shelf.

That, at least, got mom and dad's attention.

And it got the girl some stitches.

But, it didn't sell any bikes for us...

x

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Hoarder

The first couple of years that I worked at Destinations, we had a sales guy named... let's call him Bruce...who had been laid off from some high-tech job.  He had been well-paid, and got a generous severance package, so he was in effect, retired.  He worked at the shop just to have the first line of new bikes and parts.

I noticed, after a while, that he bought an awful lot of stuff.  He bought whole Shimano groups, as soon as they were available, and he bought frames, and he bought bikes.  But, I never saw him ride any of the bikes, nor did I ever hear of any of the parts ending up on frames.

Eventually, Bruce invited Dan and me over for snacks and drinks, after work one night.  Bruce's wife was out of town, and he wanted to have a little bit of a boy's night.  We both accepted, and Bruce gave us directions to his house. 

We showed up, after closing the store, and Bruce met us at the door.  He had a drink in hand, and pointed us toward the bar.  Once we all had settled in, talk turned to the usual things.  We complained about work and wives, the weather and anything else that bugged us.  We told jokes and stories, and just generally had a drinky evening.

As we left, I mentioned to Dan that I had not seen a single bicycle-related object anywhere in the house, even in the garage (which I had glimpsed when Bruce carried some empty wine bottles out.

A few weeks later, Bruce invited us over, once again.  The situation was the same, and the evening panned out as it had before.

Finally, after we had downed a good bit of cheap red, I just came out and asked Bruce where the hell all of the bike stuff was.  Had he been buying at employee cost, then reselling stuff? 

That was a big no-no, by the way.

By way of an answer, Bruce got up and told us to follow him.  He led us to the basement stairs, and down we went...into King Tut's bike shop.  There, in his suburban basement, Bruce had at least one of every Campy group introduced since 1965, in the original boxes.  One whole cabinet was dedicated to all of the different versions of Shimano XTR.  Again, all of the pieces were in unopened factory boxes.

It went on and on.  There were ti frames in boxes, half a dozen Eddy Merckx road bikes still in the box, dozens of Brooks and Ideale saddles...It was crazy.

"What the hell are you doing with all of this stuff?"  I asked, agog.

"Saving it," Bruce said.

"From what..being useful?"  I asked.  I hate seeing stuff go to waste like that.

"This stuff'll be worth big money, some day,"  he retorted.

"So," Dan piped up, "are you planning on selling it?"

"No."

Hoarders confuse me. 

From then on, when Bruce wanted to order stuff, I made sure I got mine first if it was something I wanted.  I knew that if it went out of stock, it would annoy me to no end to know that whatever new piece of bling I wanted (to actually use) was sitting on a shelf in Bruce's basement, never to see the light of day, again.

I wonder if he still has all of that stuff.

Probably.

x

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nerve

The second time a bike got stolen on a test ride, while I worked at Destinations, was a nice little scam.  The first time was more just a dine-and-dash:  The guy went on a test ride and never came back. 

At that time, we were following the mom-and-pop, we're all in this together, model and we didn't ask for an I.D. before a test ride.  That guy took off on a StumpJumper and just never came back.  By the time we figured out what was going on, it was too late.

The second time it happened, though, we were requiring I.D. for a test ride.  It was a busy Saturday afternoon, the store was crowded and everyone on the sales floor was dealing with multiple customers, at once. 

The guy came in, along with 4 or 5 other people, and politely said he could wait.  No hurry.  Here to buy a bike, so no rush.  He chatted with people, and commented on their purchases.  All the while, he was checking out the medium-priced mountain bikes on the sales floor.

Eventually, the time came for him to take a test ride, and he was looking at at a $450.00 DiamondBack.

"Oh, man," he said, looking in his wallet.  "I don't have my driver's license.  How about if I just leave you the keys to my car?"  he asked, glancing toward the parking lot.

"Oh, okay," the not-to-be-named salesperson said.  "That'll work."

The keys were deposited under the sales counter, and the "customer" took his test ride, while the salesman kept an eye on him.  He came back, and chatted about the bike, and mentioned a few concerns.  So, he tried another, slightly more expensive model.

Again, he came back, and decided to try out the top-of-the-line model, just for comparison's sake.

Needless to say, that test ride is still going on, 15 years later.  We never saw the friendly "customer" again...or the bike.

His keys, of course, didn't match any car in the parking lot.  Most likely they were stolen, or just random keys that he had gathered up to use as a decoy.


I'm glad I didn't send him out on that test ride.  The sales guy in question didn't really get in any trouble (the guy had taken us all in), but he felt bad about losing the bike.  Insurance covered it, but our rates went up (again) because of the loss.


I always thought that it took a lot of nerve to stand around for an hour, talking to people and keeping up the friendly act, knowing that you were about to steal $2500.00 worth of bike from the people you are joking around with. 


x

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tossed Salad

No, not in the prison-sense...

The first time I went to Moab, in the late 80s, Val and I rode the Slickrock Trail on a rainy cold day.  We both knew that we would be out on the trail for a while, and it seemed like a good idea to carry lunch with us;  not just snacks.

So, we went to Subway and got a couple of 12" subs.  I stowed them in the trunk bag on my rear rack, and we took off riding.  After a couple of hours, we decided to take shelter under a rock ledge and eat our lunch.

We pulled up to a handy overhang, and settled in.  I unzipped the trunk bag and pulled out two bags of what had once been sandwiches.  Now, they looked like salad made in a food processor.  All of the bouncing around on the trail had done a number on the hoagies.

We managed to eat the shredded sandwiches, though.  And we enjoyed them, too.  It's funny how some good-old physical exertion on a cold day can make food seem pretty good, no matter what it's form.

x