Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I complain some, I guess, but there's not another job I'd rather have. The finest people frequent my bicycle shop, brothers and sisters all, a list by no means complete:

C, who brings me cookies every Christmas.
D., who knows that cycling is beautiful.
D., who helps the unfortunate.
C., who lives to ride.
H., who rides to live.
B., who is sharper than you think.
S., who is always right.
P., who keeps me in home-made jam.
D., who has turned sadness into hope.
H., who pushes through adversity.
P., who has never seen a storm he didn't like.
T., who understands.
P., who rides anyway.
E., who can't stop.
T., who always keeps me late.
X, who buys anyway.
S., who always has a good story and a laugh.
F., who crashes too much but keeps on riding.
X., who won't stop despite the surgery.
D., who respectfully disagrees.
X., who teases me.
R., who is too old to ride but to hell with it.
J., who is patient, demanding, and appreciative.
X., who prays for me.
Y., who also prays for me.
T., whose enthusiasm is boundless.
E., who got right back up again.
G., the old coot.
R., the champion
B., who likes my car.
D., who wants my bike.
S., who loves French bicycles.
S., who has more bicycles than he can count.

And some only in memory:

H., killed by an enraged driver.
X., killed by a drunk driver.
J., killed by a texting driver.
J., heart failure while riding.
T., killed in a collision with another cyclist.
X., aneurism while riding.
M., surrendered to chronic depression.

The athlete must love his bicycle. -C.O.N.I.
Love one another. -J.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. -D.T.

Another Crazy

Hello, how can I help you out?

Hi. I think I want to buy a bicycle to ride around...I want to test-ride that bicycle (road bike) and ooh, look at that one, I want to test-ride that one (too big), and that one (fixed-gear), and that one too (comfort bike). And I like that color (white), I want to test-ride that one (town bike, too small).

What do you think you'll want to use the bicycle for?

-blank stare-

Do you have a bicycle now?

No. Why do you think I'm here?

Well, there are different bicycles for different uses, for example, a road bike like this is for long or fast rides primarily on pavement, mountain bikes are for off-road use, and comfort bikes like this one for short rides around town and are also a good choice for people new to cycling. And they all come in different sizes; I fit all my customers to the proper size for comfort and performance. I'd like to start by showing you a bicycle that is the right size, and most importantly of the type that might meet your needs.

Well, I just want to test-ride a bunch of bicycles, to see if I like them.

OK, what bicycle would you like to try?

All of them.


Uh, well, where will you be riding your bicycle?

-blank stare- (aroundyoustupidmanhaventyoubeenlistening?)

Do you think you'll want to just ride around the block, or to the market, or perhaps commute? Triathlons? Will you be riding with other people? Ideally, you should have similar bicycles for riding together. Would you like to test-ride around the parking lot or go on a longer ride on the Platte River Trail?

I just want to see if I like riding a bicycle. (imheretowasteasmuchofyourtimeaspossible)

Here, how about if we start you out on one of these, it's a pretty versatile machine, good quality and easy to use...let me get one ready in your size.

I don't like that one.

What don't you like about it?

What's your problem? I just want to test ride a bunch of bikes.

(what's going on here?)

I'd rather not waste your time with test rides on bikes that aren't the right size or type-if you could give me a little guidance, I'll try to move you toward a bicycle that you can like.

-incredulous stare-

-pregnant pause- (I'm looking at her, waiting for some sort of coherent information. Something? Anything? What now? Hello?)

All I want to do is test-ride a bunch of bikes, and I don't know what your problem is but I don't think that this is going anywhere and I just don't know why I can't just ride some bikes I haven't ever been treated like this ever I just can't believe you won't let me ride some bikes I just wanted to test-ride some bikes I'm never coming here again I have to go now I don't think I can buy a bike here I (sob)....

I think she's crying. What the?

And then she turns away and leaves.

And I'm dumbfounded. There's a factory rep (who will remain nameless) who has witnessed the whole thing, and he asks, "What was THAT?"

I don't know. I don't think she's herself today.

And a minute later, she runs down my sidewalk, pushes open the door and yells, "You're an AsshxLE, FxxK you, I hope you DIE you ASSHxLE!, etc. etc." And then she's gone again.

This has been a couple of years back. I seem to get one of these people every season, or maybe two in three years, for the whole time I've been working in a bicycle shop. Seen it happen to other salespeople, too. Boy, I could tell you some stories...I don't know just what to do about it, maybe nothing can be done. Study sales technique? Take a counseling class? Talk less? Listen more? Is it possible to be more understanding with incomprehensible people? I don't think I'm a scary or rude person, or insensitive necessarily, or a bad salesman, and I definitely don't call people names or swear at them. I'm just trying to help...where do these poor people come from? Do I need them as customers? Can I help them at all? Is it worth the effort?

The rep and I look at each other, and neither of us knows what to say. What can you say? Maybe I should have let her test ride a bunch of bikes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Suicide Bike

A machine recently posted on Craigslist:

vintage raliegh 54cm frame and fork 52:15 gear ratio fixed with wienmann dp18 deep v 700 wheels, no brakes the hub is threaded on both sides for freewheel

No brakes. No toe straps. Gear too big to control. Cog that spins off when I stop pedaling. Gotta get me one.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Smooth rolling

Two more surprising traffic occurrences today: driver A, we shall call him, yielded to my right of way and waved as I went by, and Driver B didn't cut me off.


Waiting at a stoplight, sitting perfectly comfortable on my top tube, fat and cable-less so it doesn't pinch my loin, no saddle poke, no silly wobble. Looking down my line, ready to take my lane. At ease, but ready. Look out the corner of my eye at the traffic light. Green? Yellow? Flashing ped? Don't turn your head, they'll think you are signaling. Hello? Should I use my "go straight" signal now? Anybody in there? The attentive ones judge me. Staring. Geek. Nice paint. Will he go straight? Fast? Can I beat him through the intersection if I stick my foot in it? Will he kick my car? Duh?

My shifters are finally working right, which, they being a fickle mix of Campyshram Noplastic, is a kind of predicted surprise, a light snow is on everything above road level, dry and clear, with no wind or heat or cold or rain or dark, all in perfect mid-season grey neutrality. Still. Quiet. Nature could care less, and lets me slide right on bye. Finally.

For now.