Bike shop vagaries and other oddities

Bike shops can be a pain in the ass. While there are few things more satisfying than a mutual exchange of competence, experience, and respect between bike shop employee and customer, this is in my experience the exception rather than the rule. To whit, my own local options and the alternatives:

1) Small one-man local shop. Excellent knowledge, doesn’t look at me oddly when I request strange parts. Owner has his eccentricities which are usually quite tolerable. Is essentially never open when I can go visit, so not so good.

2) Generic “local” shop. My default for tubes, etc because they are closest. Put an order in last week for a Surly chainring and new WTB tire. Was assured they’d be in today. Response on calling today: “I don’t know if they’ll be in this week…..” Mounting frustration and indifference.

3) Local shop that is stuck in a time warp, with no vaguely contemporary knowledge. Essentially useless.

4) Nice, mountain bikecentric shop populated chiefly by teenagers. Hit or miss. Not worth the drive.

Failing this, the options are order from one of the two excellent shops in Flag and visit on the weekends. Good, I may rely more heavily on this in the future. There is also Speedgoat and the other lower ranks of onliners. I’ve had perfectly fine experiences here, and some truly dreadful ones.

It may in the end be a conspiracy to keep my crap-buying in check. Maybe I just need to tell M to call off the dogs. It’s bad juju to be so negative about something so fun, but the contrast drives me up the wall, and M’s eyes glaze over when I talk too much about this stuff.

Moving on, today was official Presidential Fitness testing at work: campus wide, all students. Our population admits few exceptions to the axiom that the lower down the social ladder one goes, the less fit, athletic, and health conscious the individual becomes. For reference, our campus record for the mile is 8:18. We are talking about teenage girls, but I still find that a bit much.

Nonetheless, my crew for the day was open to being sufficiently motivated, and except for a few trying to “forget” their lap count all went very well. They all tried to do pullups, tried really hard in the shuttle run, and almost all set PRs for the mile. I unveiled my secret weapon, sour jelly beans, at strategic moments, and kept motivation high all morning. I even did 10 pullups myself, along with 60 situps in a minute and a 9.4 shuttle run (faster than I ever did in middle school). The ole sit-and-reach was always my downfall, and while I’m also more flexible than ever I can’t come within four inches of my toes. Doing that and a proper front lever remain unfulfilled goals.

[Boss just called, we knocked 3 minutes off the campus average for the mile, and made overall huge improvements, so not too bad. Also I apparently did well lecturing them about nutrition. Hard to not be strident and arrogant on that one.]

My fried legs from Sunday did not allow for a mile, I have classic day-after the day-after syndrome, and find my knees buckling while going down stairs. A good beginning for a week off. Lots of stretching, some easy spins, then some canyoneering this weekend. M is 85% bought in to making the haul up to Zion to meet friend, the promise of blooming desert flowers being the crucial decider. Variety is key, though more vigorous rehab for the knees will need to happen to stay ahead of the curve through the summer. For next week I’ve got some climbing-intensive rides on tap to maintain the kick for KTR.

Which brings me to the last point: lights. I’m leaning towards the P-tec Swithback, II or III. I like LED’s, and I like the quality of my wee little Corona bar light. Thoughts? Is the III really worth another $110? This would be a primary helmet light for KTResque stuff. 24ers really have almost no appeal for me.


  1. Depends on how fast you wanna go…If you only gonna get one i’d do the 3….Man to get teenage girls to run… Sounds like more then a little cheerleading…For ktr i’ll be using the p-tec on my head and the home brew that alex made me on the bars or front rack….

  2. I hear you on the bike shops. I get tired of educating them on what I want or need.Ed is fun to talk with, but I can only make it over there on lunch, luckily it is only 10 minutes away from work for my by bike and makes a nice outing.Larry at Mountain High Cyclery is who you need to know. Cheap, no tax, shipped right to your door. He has taken good care of me many times.Very nice if you know what you want.

  3. PT stuff…the II is very bright on its own. It is good on the helmet, it is light, and a bit more focused the the III, but it works well on the bars also. I haven’t tried my III on the helmet yet, but the combo of the II and III is dynamite.The battery for the II is smaller and lighter, but if you get the III and later add a I or II, the bigger battery can be used on the smaller lights, getting you more run time.The quality of the lights is top-notch. And you get everything you need in the box.LBS–there is really one one shop now in town where I can go and not find contempt or incompetence. And sometimes both. I still don’t understand the mentality that some teenage shop rats have. They point there nose down at me, grin smugly when I ask about an obscure part, and then do more harm than good when they wrench on my bike. I went in to use some tools to teach myself how to swap cogs on the SS, and to my horror, the shop DID NOT HAVE a chain whip or wrench to remove the lock ring.Mind boggling.

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