wrench-ed brought to you from the same mind that brings you Sprinting the Bell Lap. you have been warned

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cleanliness is next

Cleanliness is next to Clean-Living and Clean-Mouthed in the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary.  I would have to say out of the three I am probably not as clean-living/mouthed as I am close to cleanliness.  I can't stand for my hands to be wet or dirty.  Don't mind getting grease on them at work, but I have a toothbrush in the shower for under my nails.  True story.  This brings me to dirty bikes.  Dirty bikes are gross.  Clean your dang bike already.  You know who you are, you lazy so-and-so.  Just wipe that down every year or so.  No, really clean your bike.  Your bike takes great care of you, why not return the favor and give it a little love every now-and-then. 

Grab one of the hundreds of shirts you have from all the T-shirt rides you have piled in the back of the closet and cut it up to make some homemade rags.  Step two: get a beverage of choice (man sodas work best).  Take a seat if you don't have a repair stand to put your bike in, a bucket turned upside down works or use an ice chest full of man sodas -you could work up a thirst.  Clean your chain by wiping it down until it is no longer black, this might take some of you a lot of time.  If you wipe your chain down regularly this is not a problem.  Now clean the jockey wheels in your rear derailleur.  They are the little pointy wheels that the chain makes an S around a the back of the bike that kinda hangs down.  Yeah, that thingy.

Clean your crank.  I love saying that, and nipples -I just like saying nipples.  Clean your crank and the two or three chain rings on the crank.  Make sure and get the gunk off the teeth.  An old tooth brush can help get into little cracks and crevices.  Now use your rag to "floss" between all the cogs on the rear cassette.  Make it shiny.  This is also very time consuming if you have never cleaned your cassette before now.  Like I said before if you do this once a week or every two weeks -depending on how much you ride- it is pretty quick and painless.  If you wait to do it after it is too late, it is going to take a lot of your time, like a trip to the DMV. 

Now that the drive train is clean, just wipe down your frame with a clean rag and some sort of clean/shine product.  Pledge works, and leaves a little layer of wax.  Get crazy and wax your frame, car polish, bike polish, spray wax, etc...  Just a little preventative cleaning goes a long way.  Getting up close and personal with your bike you will notice little things, maybe a crack, maybe a cut in a sidewall, or maybe you will see just how awesome your bike truly is.  

If all else fails bring me your bike and I will clean it for you, oh yeah don't forget the ice chest full of sodas, man sodas that is.  

A clean bike is a happy bike.  A happy bike is a fast bike.  A fast bike wins.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Use your words

It's been awhile, but I have not had much to say.  I am still loving my life as a bicycle shop employee.  Can't stress enough about how much I enjoy talking to people about bikes.  I really enjoy trying to find the proper bike for someones "first" bike.  I say "first" because we all had a first bike, but now it is time for the "first" bike of adulthood.  First race bike, touring bike, commuter bike, cruiser bike...

Talk is cheap, and when rubber hits the road it speaks volumes that words cannot come close.  I can talk and talk and talk about the differences of steel, aluminum, and carbon.  Ride them and see for yourself.  Words are great and they are fun to use if you have them stowed away in a bag, but actions are worth more than words.  If a picture is worth a thousand then action is priceless. 

A bike sitting is the same as words, riding a bike is the action.  How does one tell another how it feels to ride a bike?  Oh, you can use words like fun, blast, joy, work out, freedom, pain, suffering, exercise.  You can't put a label on it.  There are really no words that one can use to explain how it feels to ride a bike.  "It's just like riding a bike".  Yeah, but what does that feel like?????  Maybe it is just that I don't have the talent to put feelings into words, to paint you a picture that encompasses what it means and feels to ride a bike.  

It is so many different things, to everyone who rides.  They are so different.  Yet.  They are all the same.  We try to categorize people and bikes, but when broken down to the base, they are all the same.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

But(t) it's killing me

You just bought a shinny new bike and you have been riding up and down the block.  You finally decided to check out a local bike path, possibly ventured into the street or out on some country roads.  If this sounds like you then keep reading.  Yes, I'm talking to you, yeah the one with the new bike.  You are still uncomfortable sitting for long periods of time on this masochistic torture device we call a saddle.  Seat is fine, after all we call it a seat post, not a saddle post?  Trust me your undercarriage just needs more painful miles and it will finally get stronger.  Really.  Think of it this way, if you are not used to standing for long periods of time, your feet hurt, your neck, back, etc... Same as your hind end.  You will build a tolerance.  Get some funny shorts, you can wear cover-ups, but stay away from putting a seam on your parts. 

Those funny shorts have a chamois in them that helps, I said helps -not cures, the interface between bum and saddle.  This chamois is in your crotch area to reduce the amount of friction that happens down below.  If you are a modest person and think you should wear underwear with your cycling shorts, DON'T.  You might as well just wear sandpaper.  Al Fresco, is your friend when it comes to pain free cycling.

PRO tip:  Only wear your shorts as long as you HAVE to.  Try and limit the amount of time that your chamois and your naughty parts have contact.  When you are finished with your ride, get your nasty stinky shorts off as quickly as possible.  This is so important for the health of your posterior. This has more to do with skin care than anything.  Most soreness you get from riding a bike is skin chaffing or irritation, and let's be honest that is some pretty sensitive skin/area.  Take care of it. 

There are some crutches you can buy for your pampered pooper.  I'm talking about Chamois Cream.  There are tons on the market, they are to reduce the friction even further between rider and chamois.  Two schools of thought on cream: 1) it is a crutch and you will get addicted to it [can't ride w/o it]  2)  not sure what the other school is [I'm addicted to the stuff].  Heck it's like chapstick, you have chapped lips use chapstick.  I'm gonna use products that work for me.  You need to find what works for you, and take what people tell you as their opinion.  -It's not gospel. 

I'll talk about saddles (seats) in the future.  Just remember that there is not magic built into saddles, and what works for your friend might kill you.  The human body is incredibly adaptable and will eventually adapt to whatever you put it through.  Saddles are about minimizing, not about curing.  Improvise Adapt Overcome


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Motivation

One of the most simple forms of motivation is trying to achieve a goal.  Setting a distance goal is usually the first that a cyclist sets.  "I want to ride X miles".  I still remember calling my wife at work to tell her that I just rode 6 miles.  I remember my first 15 mile ride, and the time I almost had my posterior combust on my first 50milier.  It has been a few years since the light started going dim at mile 85 of my first century.  I finished, but probably almost died a few times only to be brought back to life by a higher power.

What does this have to do with working at a shop?  Selling you stuff, that's what.  If you don't have a handy-dandy computer on your bike you are missing out.  I'm talking Speed-o-meter with an odometer.  Simple.  A magnet goes on a spoke, a pick-up on the fork or chain stay, and a small head-unit on the handle bars.  Wired, wireless, or my favorite the GPS.  Heck, there is an App for that now.  Tracking millage is simple, and it can be very rewarding when you have a graphic representation of your goal. 

Up-loading your metrics onto a computer or into the cloud is the new way to track your cycling fitness goals.  This brings us to StravaStrava.com is a social site that allows one to up-load your rides into the cloud, and compare it with your friends and other Strava users.  Strava requires a GPS or strava app on your phone.  After that it is easy.  It is part twitter, FB, and workout log book.  Strava also has the KOM.  King of the Mountain.  KOM's are segments that users can define or that Strava defines.  When your GPS points enter a KOM the system will put your time against every user that has been on that segment.  You can see your performance against everyone who has ridden over the same segment as you.

I don't have the time to explore all of Strava's bells and whistles, but check it out and look up some of the people you know.  They offer a free service and a premium pay service.  I use the free, 'cause I'm cheap.  Right now there is nothing out there other than Strava.  If you are not on Strava get with the program, use your phone or go buy a Garmin.  And for you sick-o's that run, Strava has you covered.

That's it for now.  Get out and ride your bike.  I will be at the shop for any questions you might have, or email me, tweet me, ect....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bikes are like

I spoke with a customer yesterday, and she said how it had been a lifetime since she had ridden a bike,  "Everyone is telling me that it's like riding a bike".  "Yeah, you don't forget" I added that bikes are like time machines, they can take you back to when you were a kid.  We all have different reasons for riding bikes, but it always comes down to the bike.  Race, Road, MTB, Cruiser, Comfort, TT, the list goes on and on and on.  The thing is, is that they are all different types of bike, but they are bikes.  It is the same for the people who ride, they are all different, but they (we) all ride.  The who, how, when, where, or what doesn't matter.  Remember that the next time you see someone on a bike.  Give a wave, a nod, a friendly hello, hey, or hi.

Short and sweet today.  So, how about something more shop related?  What type of bike do you ride?  How old is your bike/bikes?  When was the last time you had someone look at it?  Changed Cables?  Pads?  Chain?  Tires?  How about bar tape on your road bike?  Seriously, new bar tape is pure magic for your hands.  Throw some nice padded tape on the old rig and you can reduce some of the evil vibe that chip-n-seal radiates up your arms into your neck and shoulders.  We are talking about a $15-$20 expense that makes a huge difference.  Plus you can pick up a color that matches your bike, shoes, helmet, or whatever.  Accessorize!  It can change the whole look of your ride.  You know you want to.

If you are in Tulsa come see me at the shop, or the other guys.  We are here all week, except Monday (who wants to work on a Monday?) and we are even open on Sunday.

I'm sure you have already seen this, but it is too funny not to share again.  You know you have said at least 5-10 of those... (sorry for the title, not mine and I'm not tech savvy enough to fix it)

Monday, January 23, 2012

The shape of things

Neglect

What a horrible word, it does not even sound nice.  Say it out loud and you will probably make a face.  A face like you just smelled something wrong, or felt a pain in a bad place. 
verb) to give little attention or respect to: disregard
noun) the act or instance of neglecting
A lot of what we see at the shop is the product of neglect.  Too many bikes have been cast aside and left to rot, to die, to become useless.  You have to use something to keep it in working order.  Well, and add in some regular maintenance and you will have something that is ready to use when the need arises.  

If you neglect your body, your health, it will decline.  Your fitness will be close to absolute zero and your body will pack on food stores to the tune of fat.  Your muscles and joints will be weak and ache.  Leave a new car in a garage, or outside for a year and then try to start it.  The old saying comes to mind, "use it or lose it".  This is so true for so many things.  That bike hanging in the garage, the running shoes at the back of the closet, the dusty gym equipment all have a direct correlation to that bulge around your midsection or your flappy arm skin.

Use, you have to use it so that you don't lose it.  Uncle Rico could have gone Pro, but now he is soft and throws like a girl scout.  What does this have to do with working in a bike shop?  Everything.  The old rusty bike is a metaphor for what happens to the human body, if you allow your bike to become old and rusty.  It does not take much to keep a bike riding smooth.  It's not like you have to go out and ride two hours a day, I'm talking a couple of rides a week.  Walk your overweight dog.  Chase your kids.  Be active.  Turn off the TV.  Stop reading stupid blogs on the internet.  Challenge yourself to be a better you.  And for the love of all things holy, if you are not going to ride that bike -give it to someone who needs it or someone who will use it.

Freddie Mercury said it best, "get on your bikes and ride"!

Friday, January 20, 2012

gettin learned

One of the cool things about working in a bike shop is learning.  There is so much to learn, even when you think you know, you don't.  I am learning all kinds of things, and one of the most important, when dealing with turning wrenches, is how the experts do things.  The guys I work with know.  They know what they are doing, and have been doing it for some time.  Working on your bike in your garage drinking beers is light-years away from doing it in a shop setting for customers.  I'm not saying I don't like it.  It is different, and I will become more efficient at what I do, now when I spend time in the garage wrenching on my own livery I will be able to get more done and have the knowledge to back it up.  I will be like an up-graded me, bigger, badder, better.  Glenn Duh 2.0h!

Most of the skills required to work on bikes are more like art.  To true a wheel is not as simple as turn here and turn here.  It requires sight, touch, hearing, and the artistic ability to make something beautiful.  As beautiful as a perfectly true wheel.  No bounce, no wobble.  It is an artform to get it to look like you want it.  Spinning perfection. Art. 

I've witnessed the resurrection of the dead.  Truly an art to see.  A neglected bike, rusted and worn, in the workstand in the beginning.  Trued wheels, new rubber, cables, brakes, adjusted here and there, some cleaning, more lube, and we have life.  A bike that started it's life as someones toy or transportation, it gets pushed aside and dies a painful death of rust.  One day someone takes pity on this poor machine and brings it the local bike faith healer.  Hands are placed, wrenches and screwdrivers turn, and miracles do happen.

I want to be one of the chosen few who can work miracles.  I will have to do my penance and gain my knowledge, but learning the art is suffering for the art.