Friday, August 23, 2013

Don's Bike Store in Redlands

A few years ago Don's Bikes of Rialto opened a new store in Redlands. About six months ago I thought I would give them my business. I've have since decided this was a mistake.

In December of 2012 I had them build a 700c wheel around a Schmidt SON 21R dynamo hub with a 32 spoke rim. In August 2013 (six months later) a spoke pulled out of the rim because the nipple failed. They had the gall to charge me $32 to fix it - I complained and got $20 back. It should have been free. A week later two more spokes failed for the same reason. They replaced all the nipples with brass and didn't charge me. Clearly a bad build.

In March of 2013 they cleaned the drive train - no problems there.

In May of 2013 I had them replace my aging carbon front fork. This was a big deal because I have an old bike and they couldn't get a carbon fork with a threaded steerer tube (I hope I'm saying that right). Anyway, they had to replace the headset and that was difficult because I also have old aerobars that cannot be removed from the handlebars without destroying them.

Mike the mechanic did a good job - at least I thought so at first. Unfortunately he partially losened the aerobars so now they move around as I ride and they can't be tightened or losened - not his fault really. He also rewired my bike computer with no slack so when I pulled the aerobars up to a more comfortable position the wires pulled out and I had to buy a new wiring harness.

But the kicker came in August 2013 when I braked for a corner and my front brakes fell off the frame - MY BRAKES FELL OFF! They fell into the front wheel and bounced out. Thank God they didn't wedge into the wheel while I was braking on a 50mph descent. The brakes broke, a spoke broke, and the dynamo wire was damaged.

I took the bike to Don's and they were apologetic. They fixed the brakes and spoke at their expense and I fixed the wire myself (I knew that degree in Electrical Engineering would come in handy one day). They even loaned me a bike until mine was fixed three days later (see the previous review).

Despite the fact that they are prepared to admit and fix their mistakes, the fact they make so many of them means I will not be returning there. My wife and daughter both bought bikes there in the past year and they will not be returning either, even for the free tune-ups. With mistakes like this being made even a free tune-up could turn into a hospital trip or worse.

Note: My other daughter bought her bike at Don's Bikes of Rialto and I have never had problems there.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A reminder of why I love my Serotta

Roughly 12 years ago I shelled out $4000 for a new custom built Ti Serotta. That's easily the most I've spent on a bicycle. I've never had many problems with it, just a broken front derailleur during a 600k and a broken rear derailleur after a crash. I recently started taking it to Don's Bike store in Redlands and I've have a litany of problems all related to errors made by their mechanics. I'll be blogging on that subject later, after I get the bike from their latest attempt to make it right.

However, they were good enough to loan me a Giant composite bike with SRAM shifting and a Giant saddle. I only rode 30 miles on it but it was enough to make me appreciate why it was worth spending $4000 on the Serotta.

The Giant appears to have an aluminum downtube judging from the diameter. Once you have an aluminum downtube no amount of carbon is going to unharsh the ride. It was painful. Add that vile saddle (I ride Brooks) and my rear thought I had ridden a century.

A lot of people don't care for SRAM shifting. Fortunately I had no problems although I did find myself reaching for the Campy upshift lever a lot. I still prefer Campy but, at half the price, SRAM is good value.

We ate at Kokomo's in Huntington Beach - a great place to eat and watch the beach traffic.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Amazon's recommended reading

I got an automated email from Amazon today that shows just how far their automated recommendations software has to go to be useful. It included recommendations for the follow books...

Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh
Comeback 2.0 by Lance Armstrong
We Might as well win by johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong etc
Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, etc by Reed Albergotti
The Rider by Tim Krabnbe

Of these books I have already reviewed Seven Deadly Sins and gave it five stars.Why would they recommend a book they know I've already read?

I reviewed 'It's not about the bike' and gave it one star because it's a bunch of lies. For some reason Amazon thinks that because I reviewed a book about Lance Armstrong I must like Lance Armstrong so they're throwing recommendations for him at me. What they fail to glean from my review is that I hate Armstrong and everything he stands for.

So why would Amazon recommend the next three books which are sanctifying a man they should know I despise?

What would it take for Amazon to understand that a positive review of a book that attacks Armstrong is not a positive review of Armstrong? They need to understand there are negative correlations as well as positive ones.

Now if Amazon could take my positive review for Seven Deadly Sins and make recommendations like 'The Secret Race' or 'Rough Ride' I would be impressed. I would be even more impressed if Amazon could take my negative review of 'It's not about the bike' and recommend 'Seven Deadly Sins'.

Part of their problem is that it's difficult to determine how much of the review is on the subject matter and how much is on the book. For example, a non-Christian might give a new Hip-Hop Bible a poor review because they're giving Christianity a poor review. They would prefer to get recomendations for the Torah or Koran. A Christian giving the new Bible a poor review might be objecting to the Hip-Hop slang verse and constant references to the disciples as pimps and boyz. They would prefer recommendations for the King James Bible. It's hard to know without reading and understanding the text of the review.

Basing recommendations on stars alone is fraught with problems.

For now I'm unsubscribing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Herding Cats

Under the auspices of the PCHRandos randonneuring group, I organized a night time audax style brevet last Saturday night. I had never ridden an audax style brevet before, let alone tried to lead one. It was a little like trying to herd cats. In an audax style brevet the riders ride as a group and stay together. As this is antithetical to the American ethos, where individuality is encouraged, I think we did pretty well.

There's a 200k permanent that I host that has almost 100 miles of bike path. The 24 miles of road are generally very quiet. I decided to reverse it as that would make almost eveyone's drive home shorter. However it is a very hot ride in the California summer so I decided to make it even more interesting by riding it at night. Instead of highs in the 90s our high was about 70F with lows around 60F. As the route goes through some sketchy neighborhoods for night riding it made a lot of sense to ride audax style.

Only David Nakai had any experience with audax riding so I relied on him for advice. Apparently in Europe the group actually stays quite compact, although not necessarily pace lining. We had twelve riders and we tended to break into two or three smaller groups and regroup every 10 miles or so. Some sections of the route have a lot of turns so we stayed together through them and I'm glad to say I didn't lose anyone. Fortunately I can still count to twelve even when sleep-deprived.

Unfortunately the rest rooms at the start were locked. I gave everyone a 5-hour energy drink and we set out at 7pm. The pace was frantic because it's a fast route and we had a tailwind and we're Americans and Vickie needed to use the restrooms. Instead of the 15-16 mph I had promised, we were holding 20-22 mph. We made an quick pit stop at some restrooms eight miles into the ride. Then another at some restrooms 13 miles into the ride! As we rode along the bike path we could see the traffic on the 91 freeway was stationary even at 8pm - it felt good to be on a bike.

As we ducked under the gate to the upper SART Mel noticed he had a soft tire but he rode it to the turnaround at In-n-Out burger in San Bernardino. I announced that I would be paying for everyone's meal and everyone was very pleased. There's only one thing better than burgers and that's free burgers. I couldn't believe I fed 12 people for only $73 - seemed like a good deal to me. Mel tried to find his flat but couldn't find the hole or anything in the tire so he had to put a new tube in and hope. Just as we pulled away David noticed he had a flat tire too so we had to wait for him. No problem - we're riding audax and that's what we do. We started the return leg around 12:45am.

Heading back there's slightly more downhill (about 2250' climbing on the outbound leg, about 1250' on the return) and the wind had largely died down so we held a good speed on the way back. We tended to split up even more as the weaker riders started to get tired but we still regrouped at all the important turns. David stayed with the back group and I stopped at a few turns to make sure he saw which way to go.

The street section through Norco was almost completely car free at 3am. It was really nice. I think on the entire 62 mile return leg we were passed by maybe 10 cars total. At the Arco at the 94 mile mark Martins found he had a flat. I really should have allocated time for flats, but it didn't occur to me. Fortunately everyone had the good sense to have their flats at scheduled stops. Surely thats a sign of an experienced randonneur :-)

I managed to bonk about seven miles from the end. I did have food with me but as it takes about 15-20 minutes to take effect it didn't seem worth stopping to eat it. I just slowed down a bit and came in with the last group about two minutes behind the others. We all finished within a few minutes of each other at 5:20am - slightly later than I had expected, but then I hadn't allowed for any flats. It seems everyone had a good time and several people said they would like to ride more rides like this. There's a good chance we will see this one or something similar on the schedule for next year. Please let Greg Jones know if you would like this.

Congratulations to those who set personal distance records and thanks to everyone who came. I really enjoyed riding my favorite route with my friends.

PS. There a rumor going around that Willie Hunt rode this in his yellow submarine. I do recall seeing a yellow flash going the other way on the bike path just before we got to the turn-around point.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Running is bad for the knees

Every Wednesday I've been running five miles along the North shore of Big Bear lake. For the past three months I've been trying to get my time below one hour. Last Wednesday I finally managed a 58:55 time but at a cost.

I hurt my knee. I don't know how. I didn't twist or jar it, but I started to feel a sharp pain around mile three none the less. I thought I could run through it because I can normally ride through knee pain, but now I'm limping badly. Just pressing lightly on the skin below the kneecap is painful.

I have a 200k brevet scheduled for Saturday night. If my knee isn't healed by then I might have to take painkillers to get through the ride. By this time next week I could be I a wheelchair!

Remind me again why we do this?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Every ride is unique

Sabrina, Sherry, and I rode the top half of the SART which was a personal best for Sabrina - being 40 miles. She's planning on riding the Solvang Prelude metric century in November and she only put clipless pedals on her bike a couple of weeks ago. She did great, especially when you consider she's wearing borrowed shoes which are too tight and hurt her feet.

As I tightened the QR on my front wheel while preparing for the ride I snapped a spoke. I haven't broken a spoke in over five years. Fortunately I like wheels with lots of spokes so I was able to complete the ride with a wobbly wheel. That's one reason I don't like those ten spoke uber-light wheels.

As we were riding about 100yds from an apiary I was stung by a bee. It must be over 20 years since I was last stung. Fortunately I don't react much to bee stings so it was no big deal. To be honest I've had more painful blood draws.

Two very unusual things happening in one short 40 mile ride. Every one is different.