Monday, June 30, 2014

Out to lunch

Maybe I am too good at my job. Otherwise I have no other explaination as to why people feel they need to talk to me and me alone. It's as if the other technicians and sales personel are not standing right there waiting to help customers. I have litteraly seen them stand there, ignore the tech that asks them if they need help and say, "oh I talked to him on the phone..." just waiting for me to lay my hands on their bike. Am I grateful that they value the service I offer? Sure. But not while I am eating lunch.
I do not go out to lunch but rather sit in front of this computer, typing a blog, reading Bike Snob, and checking out all the bike porn that you can find on sites like Bike Rumor and BRAIN. I deserve that time. I earned it. I stand all day. Sometimes I just want to sit. Sit and eat, and read, and be left alone for 30 minutes. Is that too much to ask? Yes...yes it is.
I sit at my work bench because that is where my computer is. Rather then seeing a dude stuff his face and thinking, "oh, he's eating..." somehow, my mouthful of food acts as an ass hat magnet in such a way that, upon entering the store, Fred here, 
just has to come over and ask me if I can look at his Carbon Whos-a-whats-it Bicycle.

No Fred, I can't. I am eating lunch. If you can come back in an hour, sure. But for now, one of the other guys would be happy to help you.
I can assure you, that does not sit well with a Fred. But I got news for them... I don't really give a shit.

Read the sign Jack...
(smiley face :)

...oh, that's right! I forgot they didn't teach reading at (name of Ivy League school redacted).

Clearly that is the case too because here is another sign that is written entirely in Chinese...
(Google Translate: Please drag your pile of crap through this door)

The other door causes some confusion as well as it clearly says 
"Customer AND Service Entrance"
Meaning, go through what ever door you like so long as you are not dragging a rust bucket across the showroom floor. There is a separate door for that.

Not only can they not read, but they also breed! That means we have a whole new generation of illiterate, entitled Fred's to deal with in the future. With that in mind, let's take a moment for a special announcement:

I don't mind the incessant bell ringing that comes after you pointed out the pink bike bells to them, I mean they make noise. Yea! If it keeps them occupied, Great! Go ahead. But PLEASE, don't let them shift the gears and climb on all the bikes in the showroom. They could get hurt, or they could mess something up. You don't want to be put in that position and I don't want to be the one to put you there when they break something. What I am trying to say here is, give a shit about what your kid is doing when they are out in public. By teaching them some proper manners once in a while, they may end up decent kids and not mini-me douchebags that we see on the news. Also...don't let them finger the sunglasses, they are expensive and it fucks them up. I mean, yeah, they are all, "Dad, don't I look cute?" Sure you do kiddo, but don't make me punch you in your stupid face. 

Just kidding ;)

...but seriously.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bike Porn: This is how I roll.

Yeah, I have been pretty lazy lately. I have also been kinda loud and negative as well. While I have no intention of changing, I consider this my attempt at getting the Anger Monkey off my back for a day.

I figured today is a good a time as any to dig through my personal bike porn folder and show you how I roll.

Working at a Waterford dealer has its perks. Not only do I get to build some of their most beautiful custom bikes, I also get to build my own.  In December of 2012 I placed an order for my first Waterford product. A Gunnar Roadie. It started as a diagram on a piece of paper and became more than I could have ever hoped for. Let me take you on the journey...

It was the day after Christmas, and we closed up the shop to take a field trip to Waterford, Wisconsin.
The home of the Schwinn Paramount, this facility (who's proprietor shares the legendary Schwinn name) is still turning out some of the finest, hand made bicycle frames available. From full custom tubes, lugs, paint, and assorted sundries, to simple, yet elegant TIG welded frames with stock geometry, there is a Waterford product available for just about any budget.

Without deep pockets I had to choose wisely. I wanted performance with all around good looks, so I chose the aforementioned Gunnar with stock geometry, but opted for custom paint to "make it my own."

When we visited the factory, I must say that I was stunned at its size. Having seen so many beautiful things come out of there, I could only imagine it to be a very large and busy place. It was quite the opposite. There was an intimacy there, a place small enough to feel like home, yet large enough to build and house hundreds of frames, both new and old. As they not only build their own products but also offer restorations of classic frames. From concept to reality, painted and shipped in house, this was a neat little outfit.

We were greeted by Richard and Johanna and given a tour. They began with the office where it all begins. Once a design is submitted, it is poured over by the technical staff to be sure there were no mistakes made before being filed for building. That is where I saw on the wall, two or three plastic file boxes reading, "lugged frames," and "TIG frames." So of course, jokingly, I asked "where is mine?" Johanna indulged me a bit and pulled out a spec sheet with my name and bike on it. I got a kick out of that for sure and still think about it when I ride my bike, "I remember when this was just a piece of paper."

One of my favorite things that I saw while I was there was under the mitering table (yes, while everyone else was watching tubes being mitered, I was on one knee taking a picture of this...)

What appears to be a very old, and possibly very original power unit for the mitering table. Bearing a Schwinn serial number, this one piece of equipment has likely seen thousands of frames over the years, and I was tickled to death to have noticed it.

As it was the holidays and all, the shop was pretty void of employees, having just finished a very large and beautiful lot of frames for Shinola of Detroit, their rest was well deserved, as this was about the loveliest thing I had seen in a long while...

The trip was nearing its end, so we talked some more, laughed a bit, and then I, like a gigantic bike dork would, argued with Richard about where my Schwinn was made...

I was under the false assumption that it was made in Japan with Columbus tubes (thanks to Jeff for the incorrect info ;) but found out quickly that when a Schwinn tells you it was built in Mississippi in 1985, you just have no choice but to take his word for it ;)
(Thanks for setting me straight Richard!)

Anyway, our trip was over, we came back to the misery that is a snow covered South Bend.
A week or so later a picture popped up on the Gunnar Cycles Facebook page...

With everyone back from vacation, the production "line" was a buzz with new frames. This pic on it's own was an amazing thing to see, I quickly thought however, "Holy crap! I bet mine is in there somewhere," which of course led me to respond thusly...

Upon seeing that reply, I giggled like a school girl. Every day following, I was a fricken wreck let me tell ya. Every time UPS showed up, I was just waiting for a frame box to come off that truck with my name on it. When it finally arrived*, I wasted no time unboxing this beauty.

 Orange Glow over Sterling Silver

 *(It may be possible that Waterford has the BEST frame packaging available. Always packed safely and securely, suspended inside the box.)

Excited as I was, it was snowing out so the bike had to spend its first two months on the trainer. But damn did it look good...

As soon as the roads were clear, I took it out for the first time, and took the obligatory "bike lean" photo...

This bike has seen many changes since this photo, but at this point was decked out in SRAM Rival with carbon bars and Shimano Wheels. Not the world's greatest set up by any means, but road worthy for sure. Initially, it was a blast to ride. That never changed but I made a couple of changes over this most recent winter and then took this photo just a few weeks ago...

The Fred in me just had to make this bike a little more my own, so I ditched the carbon bars, and seat post, changed the saddle, went "Berzerker," and loaded it down with Campagnolo Athena 11 Speed with a Shamal wheel set. Just when I was starting to think, "alright, this thing is awesome." I decided dropping a pound of wheel weight would be awesome-er.  

Wonder what it would look like with a set of Campy Zonda's instead? I did too...

I wonder no longer, and I think I might be finished building it after two years. It has seen a new Brooks Cambium since this picture, but as of now, it's "finished" and here are the specs:

Gunnar Roadie OS2 54cm
Orange Glow over Sterling Silver
Chris King Sotto Voce "NoThreadset"
Easton EC70 fork (the only bit of carbon on this sucker ;)
Ritchey 4 Axis stem
Zipp SC 70 Ergo bars (42cm)
Thompson Elite seat post
Brooks Cambium saddle
Campagnolo Athena 11 speed. 53/39 crank, 12-29 Miche cassette
Campagnolo Zonda wheelset 

The absence of carbon was planned on my part. I have no need to make it the lightest bike ever so why pay ridiculous amounts of money per gram saved just to say, "my bike is lighter..."? 
Having a beautiful, reliable "whip" like this is something to be treasured. I mean hell, this thing is worth more than all three of my cars!
But having a steel bike that weighs in at 19lbs with pedals and bottle cages, is pretty fricken RAD!

(...Yeah, I said "RAD." I'm bringing it back.)

I want to say thanks to the folks at Waterford for being such gracious hosts' and can't wait to get my next one. 

...Be waiting for my call. ;) 

Cheers everyone! Thanks for reading. 

Love, Queso

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Road ID: Because Everyone is Trying to Kill You.

So I feel like a follow up to my explicative laced tyraid with a little more clear headed thinking may be in order. Not because I regret anything I said, oh gosh no. Only because I have a few more things to say. (...And also because my mommy did not like the naughty language I chose to use.) 
That said, this is the internet. Where people are free to say what ever they want, even if it is not true. The internet gives us a great outlet to say exactly what is on our minds in as colorful a way as we choose. With that in mind, if my language seems offensive sometimes, then I liken it to breastfeeding in public; if you don't want to see it, don't look at it, pervert. Simple as that. While I do not wish to alienate any readers (including my Mum), I also refuse to sugar coat my thoughts to make them more palatable for anyone. After all, I am not Willy Wonka, remember?

Today I simply want to make a case for wearing a Road ID. I will start by reminding you of a great person who was taken from us way too early. It is a widely held belief that she would indeed have been the next great cyclist to come out of Texas. While on scholarship to college, she had just been offered her first contract with team Kenda. Around that same time, she was on a training ride when she was killed by a motorist who had dozed off behind the wheel. He came across four lanes, hitting her head on. First, I cannot imagine what it is like to lose one of my children let alone having to help console a person who has. Nonetheless, I still found myself in a position where I had to find the courage and the words to speak to, and hopefully encourage her Father, my friend.
The conversation quickly went from simply offering my condolences to remembering this awesome person. Before I knew it, we were both laughing and smiling simply remembering the lives she touched while she was still among us.
Then her Father posed the question I had not given much though to.

"Jason, do you have a Road ID?"

"No, I don't. But I usually carry my license and debit card in my bag. Plus I always have my phone"
     (I always believed this would help me be identified properly in the event of an accident)

"Let me tell ya somethin' Bud... When they found her, her phone was busted, and her stuff was scattered for about a mile down the ain't that simple"

At the time this happened, she was going to school over 1,000 miles away from home.
Her Road ID identified her. She now rests in her hometown of Euless, Texas. While this ID cannot bring her back, it certainly brings back the memories of her and her Father every time I wear it. 

With that in mind, I did not purchase it for me, but for my loved ones. I have a wife and three kids that depend on my making it home safely. At least in the event that I do not make it home, my loved ones will be notified upon finding me, and first responders at least know something about me.

(not my actual one, of course but I am not willing to show my personal info on this blog)

I feel like all this needs be said, in order to put some context in to who I am as a person, AND a blogger. If you wonder why I "drop the F Bomb" without batting an eye it is because the public's attitude towards cyclists continues to be a negative one. One that is growing as our numbers increase. 
If you wonder why I sound so angry when I speak on the subject, it is simply this:
losing my friends because they were ridding bikes, is unacceptable. My children losing their Father, my Wife, her Husband, my Mother, her Son, etc... is unthinkable. 
My opinions on those things are further compounded by the fact that no one considers that the person they are yelling at, just may be someone's Father or Son, on their way home from work or school and the person they hit, just may have been someone's Daughter or Sister, who was just enjoying a nice day on her bicycle. I weep for humanity, in all it's vanity and selfishness. It's inconsiderate nature has taken loved ones and friends, without a second thought of the ramifications of its actions.

We cannot bring back the ones we have lost, we can only honor their memory.

If you ride, you should be identified. 

If you want a Road ID, follow this link... 

If you want to help ladies cycling efforts in the United States, follow this link:

Please be safe out there. 


Not sponsored by:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Motorists: The Worst Kind of People

I am a cyclist. Do I sometimes drive my car? Sure. But am I a motorist? 
Fuck. No.

The motorist, is an asshole. 
He is one of the best examples of what is wrong with the world.
He is the lazy douche bag that can't see far enough past the windshield of his two ton killing machine to understand what the cyclists in front of him are doing. No, he cannot fathom the idea of riding a bicycle out of pure enjoyment, for the simplicity of its utility, or just because the price of gas is fucking bullshit.

I am not some ass hat hipster messenger in the streets of New York, swerving in and out of cars, blowing through stop signs, and into pedestrians. No. I am the guy who is riding my bike in a straight line down the road. Seriously, how hard is it to anticipate my next move? I'm not going "come out of nowhere," just drive your fucking car in a straight line and don't try to box me out at the intersection. It's much the same when I approach a 4 way stop. At the moment they see a dude on a bike, come to a stop, and wave them on, their brain takes a crap and they forget how to operate their steel shit box. Do I appreciate it when they instead wave me on? Maybe a little, but really all they did was cause me the headache of breaking any momentum I might have had by forcing me to take my feet off of the pedals and then re-mount my steed. That's more of a hassle than a help. In reality, the only reason they waved me on is because that moment they should have been driving through the intersection was instead spent looking down at their smartphone checking their bestie's  Facebook status. When they look up they have that "oh shit" look on their face because they realize the cyclist has been track standing for 30 seconds waving at them. Then they panic, start to roll, then stop and instead, wave you on. Could I roll the stop sign? Sure, but then I become that ass hat cyclist that they have grown to hate, and if I did roll it, I would most likely end up on the hood of their car.

(This chick deserves 
the ass-kicking of a life time) 

How the fuck can people be so brash as to
A) Take hurting a person so lightly and,
B) Automatically assume that cyclists don't pay wheel tax?

I got news for ya there Cunty McTwatt, I have 3 cars, so I pay for those fucking roads as well. Roads, mind you, I have no rights to. Oh, and roads that my bike does ZERO damage to. You know why YOU pay wheel tax? Because your petroleum spewing, exhaust belching, Crap Factory on wheels destroys every environment it comes in contact with. Including your precious roads.  They have to pay to fix them because YOU destroy them!
I'm Serious, I hate my car. I would never drive one again if that were feasible. Yet I look around at all the cars lined up in the Starbucks parking lot in front of our store, and it is nothing less than a constant parade of over sized, over priced, dick measuring sticks. It's like wearing your genitals on the outside, saying to everyone around you, "Look at my cock! Look at it!! It's bigger than yours!!"
I'll take the most beat down piece of shit if it gets me from A to B and fits a bike rack on the back of it. I see no need for the fruitless endeavor which is paying the same amounts for both my mortgage and my car.

With the exception of actual bike lanes, there is not much in the way of safe passage for cyclists. Shared Use paths? Forget it! If I (the little more than casual cyclist) ride in the same lanes that people are walking, I put them and myself in danger; me, going too fast, them, drifting left and right as they walk and not looking behind them. Dogs on leashes running back and forth... It's not their fault. They don't expect a cyclist to be going that fast. So shared use is out of the question for me. As far as the roads that are signed "Share The Road," well it's more like this:

They simply cannot be bothered to be patient enough to safely move around a cyclist that has the right of way. "COME ON ASSHOLE, I'M DRIVING HERE!!" Or my personal favorite, 

Side walks are just as, if not more, dangerous than the road. 
Since it seems as though I am the only person that remembers driver's ED, let me give you a refresher:

When you approach an intersection with a stop sign, you are to STOP before the side walk, look left, then right, then left again before moving out in to the intersection. There are a couple of problems with this for the thick headed, GET-OUT-OF-MY-FUCKING-WAY-I-HAVE-IMPORTANT-SHIT-TO-DO 
A) STOP is not a word in their vocabulary, and
B) BEFORE clearly means, "Where ever I damn well please" 
This creates a situation wherein the cyclist cruising along the sidewalk becomes the "Mallet" in that "Whack a Mole" game we all know and love. Meaning, as you cruise along, you see all these holes where the moles are eventually sure to pop out. The problem is, you never know which one it will be and when you do see the mole, you hit it with your mallet. Like this...

Granted, it's a clip from Wayne's World and it's out if context, but that car sure as shit is parked on the sidewalk now isn't it?

So, even in the case of designated bike lane, they are usually located right next to a parking lane where motorists always seem to fling their door open without first giving any thought to looking in their mirror. This is not isolated to areas like mine, that are trying, but still have yet to build a proper infrastructure. It happens everywhere. If you live in a big city you are lucky if you have them at all, but hell, even then you are bound by them. 
Meaning the mentality seems to be "HEY! LANCE ARMSTRONG!!...GET IN YOUR LANE!"
Yes, you are right. It is my lane. It is my lane full of road debris, glass, and storm drains. God forbid I swerve out of it to avoid a door, debris, or a douchebag.

With the exception of this guy's smug, "saving the planet" argument, which does nothing but anger drivers when evoked, this dude hits the nail on the head. It's not that bad here but in cities like this, you are screwed if you are a cyclist outside of the bike lane, but NOT if you are a cop, or a double parker, or a jerk that mistakes the gas for the brake and drives through a crowded store front or on to a curb taking out pedestrians. (Too lazy to link something here, just do a Google search. It happens every damn day)

 The point is: I have to ride my bike in the road sometimes. You motorists need to get over yourselves and the Jack Wagons you drive, and give me some fucking room to ride my bike with friends. If you rode a bike, you would understand. But you don't, so you can't. 
And until you can, YOU are part of the problem. 

I pay for the roads to. 

So how about YOU
 get on the fucking side walk.