Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shattered reflectors and shattered dreams

It's easy to get caught up in the news stories of cyclists and drivers clashing and the misinformed hilarity that ensues in the comments of those stories. Usually the hilarity involves misspelled comments, the reading comprehension of a challenged 2nd grader, and unfounded claims about each other's politicial party standings. So easy is it to get caught up in the hilarity in fact, that it could make life very unhappy, working yourself up in to a frenzy over the loss of faith in the human race. With every comment you read, you feel intelligence escaping from your brain never to be used again.

When a reader in Colorado sent me this story of a law in Colorado attempting to make things safer for cyclists. I thought to myself "a law requiring people to use common sense, finally a step in the right direction for cyclists". My sunshine quickly was clouded as I read the comments and learned that bike riders are liberal hippie socialists who "force cars to get in to head-on collisions in order to pass them". Pegging the redline on the bullshit meter and feeling myself on the road to getting worked up in to a frenzy, I decided to poke around on that site for awhile in search of comic relief instead of worrying about the comments of people seemingly barely intelligent enough to comprehend the contents of their spam containers.

That's when I stumbled on to this little story of buying a bike on ebay. Now admittedly, death threats are no laughing matter and neither is buying your girlfriend a bike, because odds are she'll leave you and still want to keep the bike. Nonetheless a $200 bike for the girlfriend was found on ebay, and one way or another I could tell this story had its roots in heartbreak.


"“We thought that one looked good because it said ‘brand-new,’ ‘spotless,’ and ‘perfect paint,’” he said. “But when it came, it was definitely not like that.”

When it came, Blackwelder said, there was a shattered reflector, scratches all over the frame and rocks in the treads."



Scratches all over the frame are heartbreaking, especially on a brand-new and spotless $200 bike, but a shattered reflector and rocks in the treads are where I draw the line. For something even more annoying, just ask the many Cannondale owners who had to return their Cannondales for lack of a pie plate, because it poses a fall hazard, why did they even buy it if it was missing a pie plate? I saw no mention of missing valve caps in the story, hopefully the bike came with those.

The story reminds me of the lemming's most priceless moment in a bike shop, I was in there getting my chain lubed (I'm kidding) when someone walked up behind pushing his bike, obviously upset. As another mechanic came up to ask if he could help him, the guy let loose a tirade. "I've had this bike for 4 months and this is the second flat tire I've gotten, what the hell kind of crap did you sell me?"

On the one hand it's hard not to feel a sense of awe for someone whose biggest troubles in life seem to be flat bike tires, on the other hand it's infinitely harder to not bust out laughing only to tell the angry man that you were thinking about a South Park episode when his anger turns to you.

Bike maintenance is comedy all in itself. I've obviously gotten in much deeper than my proficiency allowed on several occasions and had to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, only to make my "tuneup" worse. The next morning frantically calling several bike shops to beg someone to "look at it quick" before a race. Ironically, the races that are most prevalent in my memory are when a mechanical forced my bike out of the race, but still I'll never understand people who take their bikes to a shop and pay them to fix a flat.

11 comments:

bicykel.com said...

I knew you were kidding about the chain lube comment. Only because I have witnessed the bikelemming support car lube your chain in route to Starbucks.

Linda said...

Embarrasingly for me as a teenager, shortly after I bought my first decent bike I returned to the bike shop 3 times to complain about how the rear wheel kept going out of true. I was soon to learn that it was my own darn fault for backing out of my driveway with the bike on my rear-of-the-car bike rack, and the bike wheel would hit the ground. This was discovered when one of the kids that worked there saw me back out of my driveway one day while he was biking past my house. I was mortified. I felt a lot more stupid than the guy whose biggest problem was 2 flats in 4 months!

BikeLemming said...

Nick, lately I've been patronizing Caribou, they have better machiatos, usually we drive the team car there, you must have seen us on an off day.

Linda, that is awesome!

Psyclepathic said...

The first time I tried to change disc brake pads they wouldn't fit. They were aftermarket and of questionable quality. So, I carefully filed them down until I managed to jam them in the calipers. I had them in upside down, because my bike was flipped, but the instructions right side up. Good grief, the razing I got at the shop.

Then there was the 8 spd chain on 9spd drive train fiasco...oh and then the time....

I could go on

Katherine Stump said...

Before my cross-country bike trip, my dad bought me Continental Ultra Gatorskin tires as a going-away present. I had the fewest flats on the team (but would like to credit my handling skills as much as my super tires) but when I did, I couldn't change the flat myself. The tires were so stiff and tight on the rims that I didn't have the strength to pop them back on. Thankfully, three of my four flats were discovered in the morning before rollout or at a rest stop, so I got help.

But the fourth flat happened in Georgia. The team was riding in a rare paceline. I fell off the back after about 35 miles and no one noticed (the last person wasn't supposed to ride solo).

"Wouldn't it suck if I got a flat now that I'm alone?" I thought, rolling up to a stoplight in a tiny town. Just then I looked down at my front tire: FLAT.

#$@%!

I walked to the shade of a gas station and patched the tube, but I couldn't get the tire back on the rim. By this time, the team had surely arrived at the 40-mile rest stop where the SAG wagon was waiting. I looked around, but there was no one to be found in the deserted intersection. Finally, I had to break down and call a teammate. The driver for the day left the snacks at the rest stop for the team and drove out to put my damn tire back on. A ten-mile round trip with eight other people waiting on me.

There were lots of "#$@%!s" that day.

BikeLemming said...

Katherine, ouch!

Psyclepathic, mixing two brands of chain to "make one" when you have two too short pieces of chain and really just want to go for a ride usually doesn't work well either. :)

The Mayor of Drunkingham said...

I pay people to come in and turn my lights on in the morning.

BikeLemming said...

Mr. Mayor, is she hot?

The Mayor of Drunkingham said...

Yes. Yes he is.

331 Miles said...

Not sure of the nitty gritty details, but there's a sporting goods store in Austin that sells some sort of flat tire insurance to folks that buy bikes there. My boss and grandboss bought it when they bought their new Scott bikes. Talk about all hat and no cattle...

BikeLemming said...

Wow! Flat tire insurance? Now why didn't I think of that.... that's like selling swampland!