Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Standover Height

I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully understand most cyclists, and especially mountain biker's, obsession with stand over height.  In the interest of true disclosure, I'm a fair bit over six feet tall, so stand over has never been much of an issue.  I always wonder though, how many times are cyclists needing to put both feet down flat while straddling the bike?  I honestly can't remember a specific time when I've needed to instantly put both my feet down flat. The only time I could envision it would be if things went horrible pear shaped while mountain biking and I'd have to dab with both feet to avoid a long drop, like if I clicked out with the downhill foot first on a steep sidehill trail.  I think the thought of falling like Hans Gruber in the end of Die Hard would quickly overpower any fear I had of slightly racking my nuts on the top tube.  I can pretty much assure you that even if I did graze my stones, the slight discomfort would be a worthy tradeoff versus a nasty fall.

Bike designs are getting ridiculous enough.  With 29ers and full suspension, frame designers are squeezing more things into an increasingly small space.  It's gotten so bad that most full suspension designs don't include provisions to mount one, let alone two water bottles.  How is it that the vague threat of getting a shot to the balls plays a greater role in determining proper frame design than the ability to carry water?  It's especially an annoying fault on bikes that are marketed at back country travel and endurance racing.  Am I going to schlep all my water in a Camelbak?  What happens if I like to use a electrolyte drink like Cytomax or Nuun?  I guess now I have to choose whether or not I want my backpack bladder to have just water in it, or be a sticky, contaminated mess that has to be run through the dishwasher between every use so mold doesn't grow in it. No thanks.

I have a theory that the average male mountain biker has been fed a line about needing decent stand over in a mountain bike so long that they are now incapable of rationally measuring the actual amount of stand over a bike has.  I see it all the time in the bike shop.  A dude will first assess the quality of the suspension by pushing up and down on the handlebars while standing in front of the bike.  Next a quick squeeze of the brakes with the thumb before clicking whatever type of shifters the bike is equipped with.  Armed now with absolutely no more information than he had before he started the bike version of tire kicking, the final task is to throw a leg over and yank up on the bars until the top tube touches the pants yabbies. Of course, the front tire now is approximately six to seven inches off the ground, which would imply that there is a fair amount of stand over clearance.  But this is where you would be wrong to assume so.  At this point, a weird inverse, dick measuring takes place in the bike tester's idiot brain.  Normally, the same moron would have their three to four inch member in their hand and swear up and down that that length is easily six inches, if not more. But plant the same person over a top tube of a bike and suddenly, their previous ability to take a measurement and multiply it by two to three and come up with a distance is reversed and they start dividing by two or three to come up with their new stand over amount.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Test. Test. Test. Is This Thing On?

Awright, let's see if any of the few that ever read this manage to check back on my sorry ass from time to time.  A lot has went down in the last couple a years, job wise that has made it tough for me to bloggy blog blog.  I used to use this as a bit of a forum to spout off and vent, but when the employment world keeps going in the shitter, sometimes I found it easier to maintain radio silence than spew out something on the inner-webs that I soon regret.  Fuck it though, I figure I wanna spout, so Ima gonna.

I used to work at a bicycle parts distributorship.  We were the middle man for a lot of manufacturers and put the goods in dealer's mitts.  When I was hired, the business was partially owned by a large online retailer and was completely disfunctional.  I started in sales, and proceeded through various ownership changes to do absolutely everything there was.  After a few years, I was fired.  I was told to meet my boss before work and we'd grab breakfast.  I shoulda seen it coming.  Here's a month's pay, and don't bother coming in anymore.  At least my in-laws were visiting.  That was a great conversation.  I was let go because the business was continuing to slide away and to sell it, the owner needed to trim every last bit of payroll possible.  I was doing sales, warehouse management, purchasing, and shipping and I had developed and implemented a new inventory control system.  But I was expendable.  Only the book keeper made more than me due to seniority and he knew where the skeletons were buried.   Trust me, it was really fucking hard to keep my mouth shut.

So I tried to buy a local small shop.  She wouldn't sell.  "It wasn't making enough to support my family".  "I couldn't sell it to you like that".  No shit.  I didn't have the coin to buy a fully profitable shop.  Although it would have been if it had been mine and not run like an insane asylum.

The new owners of the old distributorship are also importers of some off brand stuff.  If you had Planet X or any of the Taiwan/Brit shit in your stable, they imported it.  They would then sell it to distributors to sell, or maybe directly to shops, or consumers.  Maybe that's why they bought a distributorship.  All the others they had done business with stopped working with them for undercutting their sales by going direct to the delaers and consumers.  Also, as importers of frames and bikes, they could get OEM pricing on parts from various manufacturers.  These were supposed to go on the frames they were bringing in.  Most of those boxes were re-labeled and put back on a truck to various mail order companies.  You ever wonder why you can get an XO derailleur online for damn near the same price your local shop pays?  It's because SRAM sells at OEM pricing to importer, importer passes along a sweet price to the internet guys and they sell it to you for better than full margin.  The dealer and distributor get left out and fucked by the gray market.

Anywhoo, the new bosses had a little side job, online retail site and they hired me to run it.  Problems were many.  Most inventory was old and incomplete, the site sucked, and I had no ability to forecast when new stuff was coming.  I was expected to "pre-sell" it without knowing pricing and availability.  No advertising budget was never good.  I was also tapped to help out with all the other shit they had their fingers in.  So basically I was being set up for failure.  I was technically working for company A, but always was assisting with companies B and C.  None of which had clear direction.  It made it really hard to go into work knowing your boss who was almost never there, was going to come in an chew your ass for slacking on projects because he forgot to tell you that focus had shifted or something else was now a priority.  Fuckers.

At the end, they had me and another guy interview for one sales job to cover all companies and then compete for it.  He quit and I rode it out until they fired me.  At the same restaurant the previous boss had.  At breakfast.  No, I've not eaten their since.

Tried again to buy local shop.  Yeah, the same one.  Same response.  Fuckit.  I'm moving on.

Got a job at a local shop.  Wound up basically running it with the owner.  But that  person had lotsa personal debt and cash was really tight.  Hell of a salesman though.  I was convinced that I was gonna buy in and we were gonna dominate.  He kept stalling and hemming and hawing and I finally figured out that any money I put in was gonna be swallowed up by his debt and we'd still be cash poor as a shop.  How cash poor you ask?  When I left, I hadn't been payed in a month.

So that pretty much brings me to now.  I'm starting my own shop with a partner that worked with me at the last one.  It's gonna rock.  It feels like an eternity to get this bitch up an rolling, with all the lawyers and accountants, and property managers, and city, and state, and everyone else, but it will be worth it.  I'll slap a few more when I have more to say, but now I'm going to bed and then flying off to Lost Wages for Interbike.

C-Ya, suckers!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Winter Weight

Well, I've never been much of a climber, but I think you have a better chance of seeing me in one of these this year

than one of these at any of the road races I do.

The closest I'll come to wearing polka dots is the cellulite dimpling that I'll have. If I keep drinking the beer like I've been, I'll look like a 6'4" golf ball and Zipp will be looking to me for patent infringement.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Season Wrapup

Well, everyone else is doing it, so I might as well. Although, like the last drunk at the party, I'm still not done. There are a couple of races left to do in Redding, so I guess a better title would be "End of Year Wrap UP". Whatever.

I don't know exactly where to go with this post. I could do the blog-o-sphere standard and tell you how my races went vs. my expectations and how I plan to do better, but that falls dangerously close to a touchy feely cross version of a New Year's Resolution and I don't make those. I could do something along the lines of a top 10, but that would do two things I'm not prepared for. The first would require me to sit down and think about what I'm typing and maybe even edit it. Bleh. The second is that the interwebs love a top 10 and I might attract more readers.

Of course, anthing I say, I can and probably change my mind about tomorrow. It doesn't mean I'll do another post about it, but I'd mean to and wind up putting that effort off until something else bright and shiny and new entered my line of sight.

So without further adoo (adu? adou? ado? whatever) I'll ramble semi-coherently about the changes I made this year for cross and how that worked out.

I raced a full season of cross including traveling to Yreka, Merlin, Klamath Falls, Bend, and all of the Cross Crusade races except for Astoria. Last year I "upgraded" to the Master A's and had some mediocre and some pretty good results in Portland and a DNF, but I only did 5 of the races and did 4 out of the 5 Southern Oregon cross races. This year I backed off the summer crits and mid week intervals thinking I would need to be fresher to do the fuller calendar. Wrong. I needed to be in better shape to do better in the full calendar. There is no racing yourself into shape once cross season really hits. If you do two races a weekend, then at best you'll manage to get in a fairly tough ride Wednesday. If it doesn't happen by then, just write it off and move onto the weekend.

The plus side of the season was that I got to know some cool guys in the mid to back of the pack. It makes the 4 1/2 hour drive to Portland every Sunday morning alot easier when you can exchange mindless banter with some of your rivals. It also makes moving up easier if you've routinely beaten someone, even if your points don't allow for a call up(or so I hear). I also found out I can do a full season of cross and not crumble under the effort. The effort isn't the racing, it's the packing and laundry and the driving and the unpackig and the driving home for 5 hours with no shower and the hours in the garage getting the fuckups fixed(see below0 and being away from the family unit for the better part of the weekend.

I had numerous flats on tubulars this year. All were caused by me essentially treating my tubulars like shit and daring them to fail on me. I killed a set of Dugasts by not Aqua sealing them and then the sidewalls rotted. It killed me to toss an expensive tire that rode so fucking nice and still had so much tread left. They literally had maybe 10 races on them. Sigh. I also destroyed a couple (3)of my Grifos. Neither was as stupidly done as the Dugasts, but still were my fault. I'd put a good 2 seasons on one tire and a full season on the other and decided I need to start seeing how low I can run pressures. That's great if you are on some mostly grassy courses, but if your doing hot laps in an old quarry or anywhere in Yreka, then the pressures have to be a bit higher. One tire suffered a cut sidewall. No biggie, since that one was the older one with the most miles. The other ones I actually pinch flatted. I think riding them in to the pits for almost a full lap killed them off for good. I tried the Stan's fix, but the goop just poured out of everywhere. At least I can send them off to Tire Alert to have them fixed in the off season. Note to self, at 190-195lbs, you need to run higher pressures.

I'll finish on what was a high note. I went back to a double set up up front. I'd ran a single 42t and after dealing with clearance issues between the inner guard and the chainstay and in really muddy races for the guards and chainrings to fill up with enough mud to make the chain not sit securely on the chainrings, I went back to what had always worked in the past. A 38/44t combo up front. I almost never needed to get out of the 44. If I dropped down to the 38 and forgot to make the shift back up, no big deal. The difference was enough to give me a little extra spin in some really slow sections and still not penalize me on most of the open bits. No dropped chains, no missed shifts, and a left brake lever the same as my right.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Race Report Rant

You won’t find a race report on Blanco Suave’s blog anywhere. I’ve decided that for the most part, I hate reading them. If I wanted to know what happened in a Pro race, usually reading the race report from a journalist is better than listening to the Pro describe it. It’s the same reason ESPN has professional announcers and only a few athlete commentators. And that’s for the Pro’s races. I will read the Pro’s reports for the juicy bits of gossip that leak out from time to time or the sneak peaks at what happens behind the scenes. Very rarely do they ever entertain, let alone inform me.

As far as amateur race reports go, if I wanted to know what happened in the middle of the pack, I’d listen to my own bullshit. About the only time a race report is any good is if it has very little to do with the race at all. Describing to me how you felt on the third run up on the sixth lap doesn’t “put me there”, it puts me to sleep. Telling me about the beer handups and the pit hijinks at least establishes a type of mood I’m familiar with and can appreciate. And as you can tell, I’m not nearly a good enough writer to convey anything that happened in my race that makes me want to read about it. Why should you?

I will however, jabber on about certain events I’ve attended. Yes, if you dig back through my past posts, you can find what would constitute a race report. If you are foolhardy enough to read those and the other craptacular submissions I’ve made, then you’ll clearly see that I am rife with conflictions and hypocrisy in my behavior and am generally okay with that. So much so that I won’t care too much with anything you might feel compelled to put into the comment sections. It’s a lonely place that very (and I mean VERY) few people wander off to. I figure that anyone comments about a post that hardly anyone if anyone at all reads, than they have bigger issues than the original poster. If you feel that strongly about something, then get your own blog that no one can pay attention to and stop cluttering up mine. Of course if I start to get hundreds of comments, expect me to take on a truly earned air of superiority and continue to ignore anything you might still say. Either way, I’m an asshole.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pre Registration and Timing Chips

There's a lot of talk on the web heading into the cross season about preregistration in regards to day of registration fees and timing chips. Personally, I think before someone starts spouting off about what promoters should or shouldn't do, they should have to put on a couple of races. Once they've done that, they can understand what a time and money suck most race promotion is. Until then, they need to shut the hell up.

First things first. Let's talk about day of race late fees. Let me tell you why a promoter does it(it's not to roll in piles of cash before race day.) There are two reasons. One is pre-race cash for the promoter to get things done and the other is to get the race infrastructure ready to handle a cetain number of racers.

Pre-Reg helps a promoter come up with cash to pay for a lot of stuff. The larger the race, then the more need for the upfront cash. Quite often, parks departments, port-a-john rentals, flyer and form printing companies all require payment up front, or at the least, a sizable deposit. It also helps the promoter in case the weather turns and nobody shows up. There are untold amounts of expenses that pop up in promoting a race. Websites, flyers, insurance forms, flagging, barriers, land use fees, insurance, officials, shitters, signage, etc. etc.

If you are promoting a mtb race that goes over a bunch of different properties, that cash can be very important. If you are putting on a cross race that only deals with one property owner, then usually the deposit isn't too bad. In mtb and road, the weather will play a huge part in determining the rider turn out. In cross, short of locusts, the weather isn't too much to worry about. Cross racers are plenty excited about getting muddy and destroying their equipment.

One thing to remember though, is that the larger and more established the race, the less the promoters need the upfront cash and the more they want to get a handle on the number of racers so they can set up the infrastructure to deal with a large number of people. If everybody registers at the last minute, the amount of volunteers needed to help registration goes up exponentially. The hardest part of putting on a race is getting enough volunteers. You never have enough. Never.

Late registration penalties and and early registration discounts will never go away. There are too many reasons for a large amount of promoters to use them. That said, not all races and promoters will use them, because in their circumstance, they won't need to because their situation doesn't require a large outlay of cash up front and/or they won't need armies of volunteers.

Racers will always say that if their weren't late registration penalties, more racers would show up and race the day of. Promoters always say that they get less racers when they don't make offer a pre reg discount, because racers will flake out the day of if they haven't already paid their entry fees. They are probably both right, although promoters have years worth of event numbers to review, where the individual racer's opinion is slightly less objective and scientific.

Timing chips have no good side in cross races except that it's pretty cool to see your lap times. That said, they flat out suck. They lose racers all the time. If you get too close to the sensor that picks up the chip when you aren't racing, it screws the times of the racers that are on course up and potentially fucks your race as well. The officials still have to spend the better part of a couple of days going over the tapes and reviewing numbers to make the results even close to accurate. The Cross Crusade series used them for a couple years and the results were always messed up. The head officials would spend a couple of days emailing around looking for missing riders and responding to the emails of racers who didn't show up as on the right finishing lap. And they always had to go over the tapes manually. Stop trying to bring triathlon technology into cross.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Night Before Cross

Combine this

With this

And you have a perfect recipe for enjoying the last warm days on the back porch.

If you think Buck Owens is just about HeeHaw, piss off.