September 6, 2005

Responding to the bike shop rant and other randomness

So, I have to be honest and say that it has been one doozy of a week.
I am infuriated with the response our government has had to the hurricane; I am angered at Barbra Bush’s announcement that for many of these persons, living in the Astrodome was a step up (thus losing their homes is probably not that big of a deal). “Let them eat cake indeed.” My sister lives in Mississippi, in one of the most affected spots and I feel just horrible for her. She spent the week not knowing if she still had a home, not knowing if her friends or the parents of her friends were okay, losing her job, and not knowing if she would be able to attend college this semester. Sadly, she was lucky as compared to the thousands dead, stranded, attempting to find clean food and water. I cannot help imagining what would have happened if this hurricane had been heading to Jeb Bush’s state of Florida, if the federal response would have vaguely resembled something adequate.

My mother and sister and sister’s boyfriend drove down to MS this past weekend and took gasoline, food, water, and other items. They co-ordinate this with a local sheriff and had a lot of help from police officers and members of the National Guard down there. Even though the FEMA and federal government response has been ridiculous, my mother reported that the highways were filled with people like her who had organized with their businesses and communities to bring donations to New Orleans and Mississippi. I was very very proud of my family and am pretty actively encouraging people to donate any amount you can to people down there.

And not to be a horribly callous debater about it, but if the democrats can not use this in the 2008 election to condemn the Republicans for sending more and more to Iraq while people were suffering here, utilizing some of the more conservative values of nativism and a slight isolationism to their advantage, then they are dumb. We sent more and more person-power and money to fight a fruitless war, while allowing the poorest Americans to suffer. For the love of all things good and holy, Democrats please get your persuasive act together.

I have been sick all weekend and was really looking forward to getting some riding in, since the boy had been sick for a week. To make up for being sick, I bought a CO2 cartridge to carry on my road bike, since I can not really get the tires up high enough with the hand pump (and yes, that makes me feel wimpy, but I don’t have much of that upper body strength going on) and have been looking at the engagement photos of the boy and me that includes our bikes (yes, we are that couple, I know).

Eric asks what bike he should buy. I am a big fan of the Trek 7000 series. I like Trek’s a lot; there is a lifetime warranty on the frames, I think the hybrid bikes are designed to be incredibly comfortable, while not being complete tanks. I would start looking on . This month’s Bicycling magazine offers the Kona Smoke, the Specialized Hardrock Sport Disk, and the Bianchi Rollo. I have absolutely nothing worthwhile to say about Konas; I have never ridden one and know very few people who ride them. I know they tend to be more popular out west, so maybe they are more popular in AZ. I don’t ride Specialized, but the boy had an old rigid fork Specialized bike that was from 1995. He rode it up through this year commuting in the winter and taking it on some fairly rough terrain. In June, he took it too Lebannon Hill’s XX loop and cracked the frame. Specialized replaced the frame for free, which I think is pretty awesome. This does not however stop it from occassionally being called the Special-Ed bike. I have a Bianchi that I have been working on, but I am guessing that they have changed a few things in the past 30 years. The magazine does point out that the Bianchi has a horn, which I guess is good.

Thinking of other comments from the past post, I agree that bike shop employees should say what a product is or includes, so as to avoid the “this has a shiny shifter set” problem, but should not just leave it at that. If people know why Dura-Ace is better than Ultegra in terms that explain how the rider will feel or recognize a difference in bike feel or speed or weight or whatever, they will be able to make a choice concerning their needs and preferences. I also want to emphasize that I know for many consumers, the drop through bar for women’s bikes are important; my frustration is more on the “this is silly” front.

On WSD design bikes, I have some general agreements with Jim and disagreements. First, I agree with him that WSD bikes work for some guys and do not for some women. At 5ft 10, this is something that I am pretty sure of. The WSD geometry doesn’t work well for me; even the 56 cm ones still feel too small (though if someone wanted to throw me a 56 cm WSD Trek 5000, I think I could make an exception). However, there are frustrations on the guy designed bikes. The first is the saddle. Oh the pain of not riding on a WSD saddle. THE AGONY!! (I will stop here before I start going into a way TMI zone). Suffice to say, after riding for less than 30 minutes on one of these, I have the feeling that I would prefer to spend the rest of my life celibate. Now, many here will respond that saddles tend to be very individual and that it is common for people to have to try many seats. (Which reminds me, NGS, I hope the saddle I brought over is working well). However, the WSD bikes start out from a better place (with a WSD saddle). The other issue for me is on the shifters. I have already whined extensively about the saga of the shifters (the WSD bikes include the adjustable Ultegra shifters, my non WSD had the regular Ultegra ones, and the replacement cost was about $250). I am going to say that this one is pretty universal simply because I know very few women who have longer and larger hands than I do, and I have obviously met all of the women in the world and compared hands. Perhaps, what I think would be the best response is to allow more original customization from the start. Many bike shops are pretty good with this, fiddling around with stems, allowing people to return saddles, etc. However, a lot of time this seems to be pushed on the expensive bikes and less on the cheaper bikes.

A lot of this applies to guys who might better fit on a WSD bike. However, I never had much luck getting many guys to ride a “girl’s bike.” This leads to the question of whether or not these bikes should be labeled “WSD” or if different frame geometries should be introduced. I am pretty pro the directed advertising that “WSD” does to women in a lot of ways actually. I like that they are doing research into what women are looking for in bikes and changing designs specifically for that. I will be honest here and say I also like having a butterfly on my saddle, but the fact that the saddle doesn’t make me run screaming in pain is even better.

For MaxieB, yes, please feel free to rant. Obviously, you are supposed to put the Camelbak on your handlebars! (though if you are carrying 3 liters of water and doing that, I really strongly urge you to not just apply the front brake… though I guess it could work like a water balloon/airbag… this sounds like something one of the boy’s friends would do…). The only other thing I have to add is on the joy of women’s bike shorts. Yes, I realize almost all of this post is about things that either hurt or help my crotch, and I am sorry. I do love good bike shorts though.

Finally, I went and bought the boy’s birthday present’s today and would post them, but he reads this. Also, I was very very excited to be reading a blog I have liked for awhile, First and Last and Always and recognized my blog linked off of it. It pretty much made my day. Also, if you are an iTunes user, they now have bicycling related free podcasts. Bike Talk out of California is really good, though I have been incessantly listening to the one about biking related songs while I have been paying bills. I also bought the ugliest pair of shoes on sale at R.E.I. and wore them to school today just so I would laugh everytime I looked down. They are ankle-boot Ugg style boots with the wonderful shearling inside. They are also pink. Ridiculously, bizzarely pink. In my defense, they were 75% off and very soft and comfortable. I almost feel like putting rhinestones or something on them though…

Posted by woodw032 at September 6, 2005 9:18 PM