1st Ever Fall Sale, Oct 5th and 6th

Details, then flier:

When: This Saturday and Sunday, the 5th and 6th.  Saturday we’re open from 10-6 and Sunday from 11-5

What’s on sale: 2013 bikes are marked way down.  2013 helmets, shoes, pedals.  We’ll have select tires on sale, lights, clearance clothing, new clothing will be buy one get one 1/2 off.  Lots of other stuff too.  It’s not a ‘everything is on sale sale’, it’s a ‘the things that are on sale are really on sale, sale.’

 

 

 

 

 

On Socks

If you are the sort of person who buys high tech socks, you might be excused for thinking we have entered some sort of sock golden age.  Look at the high tech materials, the comfort zones, the looped fibers next to your skin.  Look at the impressive patterns that fun socks have woven into them.  Look at how well they deal with moisture and odor.  They come in sizes!  They have compression qualities to help with blood flow!

Of course, none of that is new.  None of it is even remotely new.  We just have packaging to tell us what features socks have had for hundreds of years.  People didn’t have packaging for socks in the 1800s.  If they did, the socks would have looked very similar to the socks you wear today.  Maybe more white, less colors.

A midcentury sock, pictured above, features pretty much everything we think about when we think ‘high tech sock’.  A blend of silk, wool and nylon, ribbing for a tight fit, a thinner instep and thicker pads at the toe and heel and a tight fitting top.  It even has non functional colors and patterns to help differentiate these areas, like a contemporary sock.  Obviously, before the nylon fiber was invented, this same sock would have been made of just wool and silk.

Socks don’t have a clear day o’ invention.  They are from that time in history when things evolved, they didn’t just hatch, fully formed, like say, the light bulb or the pneumatic tire.  Dating the original sock is pretty close to impossible, like dating the first human.  Both rely on finding remains that might not have be preserved over the years, and so the record is prone to occasional updating.  Socks have a tendancy to get lost and to wear out.  They were made of natural fibers, and therefore prone to decomposing over a period of time.

The first socks that we can point to and say: ‘these are definitely socks’ are from sometime around 300-500AD.  They are a pleasing red earthen color, and have a handy split for wearing them with sandals.  They were created using a precursor to knitting called naalbinding, which was an incredibly time consumptive way to create a sock, or anything else for that matter.

I’d wear those socks.  Before the Egyptians were rocking the two toe’d naalbinding sock, Greek and Roman folks covered their feet in strips of leather or furry animal skin as a protosock, and bound them at the top.  The foot wrap concept was carried into the late 20th century by Nordic armies, who only recently replaced the foot wrap with normal socks.  We owe the name sock to the Roman term Soccus (a type of light shoe), which of course is an adaptation of some inpronounceable Greek name for a similar piece of footwear.

The modern sock was born with the advent of the sock knitting machine, in the mid-1500s.  The machine could crank out six socks in the time that it took to handknit one sock.  Remember: no electricity yet.  But even before socks were produced on a machine, many of the high tech features and even patterns we associate with today’s wonder socks were available.  Dig these socks, from the 12th century.

Way more advanced than 1980’s tube socks!  This particular specimen has a strike against it, though: it’s made of cotton.  It was made to be a servicable sock, though, with a replaceable heel.  It has a constricted arch, to help with sag, a tapered ankle and extra material around the top to prevent slippage.

They remind me of contemporary socks in pattern, as well.  Check the new socks below, and compare to the socks above.  The impressive thing is that the socks above were done by hand, and have more intricate patterns!

For years, cyclists wore thin wool and silk socks.  Nylon was absent from cycling apparel until the late 1970s, even though normal people had been sporting nylon since the 1940’s.  Dig Eddy’s socks up at the top of the article.  Clearly his mom knit those for him.  They aren’t sagging, he’s pushed them down to get some air flow.  Colored socks were defacto banned from the Pro Peloton until recently.  Even today, looking at socks in the Peloton, 97% are white, with maybe some light printing going on.  Black socks are few and far between, and look like sore thumbs in the sea of sparkling white socks.  Wiggins looks like an outcast in the 2012 Tour with his black socks.  Like someone gave him those to punish him.

Personally, I like semi tight socks with dark, nature based colors.  The higher the wool content the better.  14 years ago I put on my first pair of Merino wool socks and threw out all of cotton socks shortly thereafter.  I strayed from the path occasionally, trying synthetic socks (not absorbent enough, stinky) and cotton blend socks.  But today my sock bin is 100 wool based.  I would wear 100% wool socks, but they wear too fast, so I stick with wool/nylon blends.  A good wool blend sock will outlast whatever shoes you are currently kicking around, unless they are Vasque Montanas, or vintage Scarpas.  Look for ones with a high wool content.  It’s always listed, and more is always better.  Sometimes folks come in and tell me they have found these great wool socks for say, 5 bucks each.  And then we look at the packaging, and it’s 5% wool.  That’s not a wool sock any more than a frappuccino is a coffee drink.  60% minimum.  75% is better.

Here’s a poem by Pablo Neruda about some socks someone made for him. It’s a good, free associating poem that underscores the magical properties of a good pair of socks.

Ode to My Socks

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.

Who you jivin’ with that Cosmik Debris?

Zappa clears the room of Cosmik Debris

If you were going to get a friend who only listens old time country into rock and roll, you would not make them a Frank Zappa mixtape.  It would be hard to listen to, confusing, annoying, and cheezy, often all at once.  You would not lend them your stack of Lou Reed’s wandering 70’s output, nor would you let them borrow your treasured tarnished copy of King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon.  You don’t convert people to your cause by giving them the most outrageous, over the top intro you possibly can.  You slowly indoctrinate them, and when they are hooked, well into the indoctrination process, that’s when its ok to pull out all the stops.

I’m talking about lyrca.  Flashy helmets.  Carbon bikes, click in shoes.  Long horrible climbs in the heat of summer.  Heart Rate monitors.  When you want someone to get into cycling, get them into the fun part first, so they get to know how enjoyable a bike can be.  Here’s how:

-Dress down.  Looking like a cyclist might make you feel fast, but it also makes the ride seem like it’s all business, and will be conducted at a fast uncomfortable pace.  Dress like you are going to a barbeque.  Wear normal shoes and use normal pedals.  Tell them to do the same, the tight pants can come later, if ever.

DSC01092

Sander rocks the BBQ picnic look on an old, decrepit Trek single speed with horrible brakes.

-Pick a low traffic, super scenic route, without a ton of hills.  People seem to love covered bridges, so that’s an idea.  The ride, traffic wise, has to be as non-threatening as possible.  And if it just goes by a bunch of boring stuff, it will be blah.

-Rest at the top of hills.  Look at the sky, the cows, the flowers.  Don’t stare at your slow friend as they suffer up the hill.  When they get to the top, don’t shove off immediately, give them a few minutes to get their heart rate into the low 200’s.  Offer them a snack, not magic food like a gu, but a snack.  A cookie, or half a banana.  Magic food comes later.

DSC01114

takin’ a break by the river. who doesn’t like an abandoned building?

-Have a cool destination that is cheap and fun, ie Ice Cream, or an overlook, or a picnic table by a river.  Take 20 minutes and eat a sandwich, let your friend cool down.

-Let them borrow your better bike, and you ride the old crappy hybrid covered in cobwebs.  If you are riding say, a Cervelo R3, and they are riding a crappy steel French 10 speed with a mattress saddle, they are going to suffer horribly, and you are going to be riding with no effort.  Reverse that, so they can see the value of a good bike, and how easy a good bike is to ride.  If you have a bike with a basket, and one gear, perfect, that’s your bike for this ride.

DSC01105

Jay rocks a handlebar bag presumably filled with cookies and heavy cameras. Andre sports huge work out shorts that he stole from the 1990’s, a cotton t shirt, and a huge custom wooden box that brings the total weight of his UNLOADED bike to 35 lbs. But the pace was casual, and everyone did well.

-Tell them it’s ok to walk, and when they get off to walk, walk with them.

-Don’t talk about training, puking, sweat, chamois butter, lactate thresholds, hill intervals or cadence.  These are applied to cycling when people get serious.  People don’t start with race ambitions, and talking about it just makes people nervous.

Not an inviting look.

-Teach them how to shift, with patience.

-Don’t watch them descend, just lead by example.  Don’t constantly look over you shoulder at how slow they are.

-Tell them how good they are doing.  Take pictures and brag about how well they did on Facebook or whatever it is you use.

-Invite them back, repeat.

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Bike Doctor Shop Rides:

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way. 

Tuesdays:  8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street.  45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish.  This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow.  Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes.

Wednesdays:  Hill ride with Cory, Brian is on Vacation!.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

hittin’ the trails

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings: Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.  These rides are starting to get a good turn out, but the mileage will go up soon, so get in on it before it does, so you can start easy.

Slammed bars, sad bulldogs and the suitcase of painful paychecks.

The tour rolls around once a year and makes everyone who isn’t a pro Euro racer look like a slouch. The rolling soap opera that is the Tour speeds around France, with super fit riders riding tiny bikes in impossible aero positions.  John S., who works here, told me that Cadel Evans’ saddle to bars drop on his time trial bike was 23 centimeters.

Cadel’s position is crafted in a wind tunnel. How does it feel? See below.

That’s 9 inches, or 7.5 inches more than we would recommend to anyone in our fitting process.  He wears a skin suit so tight that riders often complain of difficulty breathing, like Victorian ladies on warm summer days.  He uses a water bottle that just has enough liquid in it so that it can be counted as a water bottle, not a liquid aero faring.  Read that again.  It’s not for drinking, its just there to make him go faster.  The man is paid to suffer.  That’s why he looks like a sad bulldog all the time.

Sad Bulldog Cadel Evans

Pros are not paid to look at the view, or to talk with their friends, or really to do anything that makes cycling enjoyable.  Often, to get more aero, they look at their front hubs, not even the road in front of them!  They are paid to go as fast as they can, no matter what.  If they go numb, or suffer tendonitus or have horrible hand pain at the end of a tour, but they won, that is what matters.  Saddle sores and foot pain are nothing compared to a paycheck and glory.

Don’t discount peer pressure.  When racing, even stateside, there is a desire to copy the fastest guys, and if they have an ultra agressive position, everyone else wants it too.  The fastest guy might do 300% more yoga, and have a lower back that is ‘strong like bear’, but there is also a copy cat environment in the peloton.  If rider A is riding a really aggressive bike, and wins, other riders will copy the position, even if it isn’t right for them.  They want to look the part, even if it means being less biomechanically efficient.  This of course makes no sense, except from a psychology standpoint. It’s all about feeling fast, apparently, not actually going fast.  There is a good amount of solid data showing that fatter tires are faster than skinnies, but loads of people still reach for the narrow tires, citing personal weight concerns, or just saying ‘it’s what i am used to’, which is like saying I am used to riding bricks around, and wish to continue, even if its less comfortable, less safe, not as fast, and harder on my race wheels.  Skinnies look fast.

So do slammed bars, and stiff aero wheels, and tons of exposed seatpost.  There are tons of blog posts and articles and comments in forums on how bad *** it looks.  Case in point, SLAM THAT STEM, a blog devoted to destroying your Ulnar Nerve.

Tom Boonen’s Spring Classics rig, taken from SLAM THAT STEM*. Do you think he won because of the position or the huge 30mm custom tires at 60psi? I’m guessing the latter. *caps lock from the blog’s title, repeated to illustrate the mentality of the author of said blog.

The sad thing with this phenomenon is how it shuts down a great place to ride: in the handlebar drops.  The vast majority of pro riders spend most of their time on the ramps and top of the bar, or hanging over the front, in a fake time trial position (needed because their bikes are too small).  When bikes are sized correctly, a few things happen.  One: you can breath better.  If you are in a horrible, crunched up position, with your diaphram completely compressed, breathing becomes a chore.  Two: the bike handles better.  Bikes are designed around certain stem lengths, and 140mm-150mm stems are outside of the projected range of what the manufacturer designed the bike around.  Wanna know why there are so many crashes in the tour?  They are going really fast and their bikes handle like a scared rabbit on crystal meth.  This does not make the bike faster, in fact, fighting the bike to keep it stable saps critical energy.

Eddy lays it out in Mexico with some long chainstays, aero Brylcreem and hand knit white socks. Gloves? Not Aero!

Eddy Merckx’s hour record bike had long, touring bike length chain stays, so he could go as fast as possible without fighting the bike, thereby putting all his energy in to going fast.  Three: you have less pressure on your soft bits. If you are crunched over, you hips are rotated and you are barely sitting on your sit bones.  We need to sit on our sit bones, not soft tissue, so that we can use our bone structure to put power to the pedals.  Soft bits are soft, and they squirm around, hardly a solid foundation to lay down some speed.  Lastly, Four: Little bikes and big riders make riders look like they are on clown bikes.  Like their parents couldn’t afford to get them the next size up.  Do we really want our heros riding circus bikes?

All of this of course relates to fitting, and if you are a regular reader of the blog, you know I don’t often plug stuff here at the shop, mainly because I am bad at it.  We do fits at the shop, we’re pretty good at it, Brian and I having done literally hundreds of them.  If you think your bike fits well, but could be a little more comfortable, or more aero, or you have an injury you are working through and want to adapt the fit, we can help you with that.  Check out our article on fitting, which is 87% complete, basically lacking in pictures and scientific looking diagrams.

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Shop rides:

It’s a huge summer o’ shop rides!

Riding thru the Wtfacolfsville valley, often visited by the Wednesday nite crew, and the Sunday nite crew.

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way. 

Tuesdays:  8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street.  45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish.  This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow.  Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes.

Wednesdays:  Hill ride with Brian.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Brian and Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings: Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.  These rides are starting to get a good turn out, but the mileage will go up soon, so get in on it before it does, so you can start easy.

The women’s ride is geared toward most ages and most abilities.  It’s still a road ride, not a casual family saunter though, so bring a road bike, please!

The Cycling Cap: a Statement of Intent

Goggles not Included

The rain has begun.  Drops fall fat on steaming forearms.  Tires on the pavement sounding like lost AM radio signals.  Dial it in.  Face drawn, eyes up, flip the brim of your cap down.  The connection is made.  Bikes are time machines.  Moving not like the reenactment of some Civil War battle, but like Marty McFly through the past.  They are direct conduits to times past, hardships endured, battles fought, won and lost.  A rider, subconsciously or not, moves with the same motions and facial expressions of the rider 100 years ago.  Sits in the same position, fears the same hills.  The hunger is deep at the end of a ride, the legs have the same feeling of day old room temp jello.  And the cycling cap is there, perched Belgian style, high atop the head, or pulled down low against the rain, or backward on a steep decent, or rakishly canted, a ship tossing on a storm writhed sea.  The colors and the pattern and even the origin of the hat are cues: teams supported, races ridden, swaps attended.  We learn the origin story through visual cues.  Is the hat dirty?  The brim sweat stained? Holes burned in it from campfire sparks?  Is it crushed? Threadbare? Perfect and crisp?  Not this authors.  The hat must come from a place to go to a place.  In other words, the cap must be procured for a reason, so that it may exist with reason.  Sometimes you are what you own.

Aero Tassle

The cycling cap has humble origins.  Original cycling caps where just appropriated from other walks of life.  Baker’s brimless skull caps, the chicken and egg problem of the Welder’s cap, knit alpine beanies for mountain stages.  The first caps were just whatever would get the job done.  There is validity still in the found cap concept: it’s hot, out, you need to get the sun off your face, almost anything will do, even a Redsox hat.  But the quiet grace of the cap, its packable construction, its minimalist fit, the telegraphed poise, these attributes elevate the cap to the level of gestalt.  Nothing can be added.  Nothing removed.

The casquette is in trouble.  How does perfect design fall onto hard times?  Progress means forward movement towards a greater goal.  In the case of professional cycling, this greater goal is the ability to plaster more sponsor names on any given garment.  So the small, quiet grace of the cycling cap is being supplanted by the gaudy Nascar-esque fitted baseball cap.

Andy, Al, and Lance wait for the 3rd inning

The podium is now mounted three men who look like rejects from the Class A Short Season Minor Leagues.  The compulsory helmet laws of the past decade in pro racing have also helped with the demise of the ubiquitous cycling cap.

Coppi and Bartali, on their way to a Gnocchi eating contest

The racers’ abandonment of the caps has caused a vacuum in the universe.  The universe, abhorring vacuums, (and house hold cleaning in general) gave us the hipster, who has appropriated the cycling cap.  The hipster, his world clouded by pastiche, wears the cap as a statement of fixed gear solidarity. Perhaps they don’t actually own a fixed gear, or, owning one, know how to properly ride one.

Having just bought a Dokken album, Larry remembers his record player is still in his mom’s basement. Then he realizes: that’s perfect, I live in my mom’s basement.

It is time for real cyclists to reclaim the cap.  Pull it low, hide the suffering, and destroy the mountain.  Dip it in a silty drainage ditch and let the muddy water cool your broiling head. If you race, take the podium in a cap, not a hat.  If you race in the rain, wear it under your helmet.  If you go out to eat, wear something decidedly unhip, and a cycling cap, to undermine those who wear it with senseless irony.

what podium winners should look like

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Shop rides:

We’re about to embark on a huge summer o’ shop rides. Join us for a few, maybe you will get hooked.

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way. 

Tuesdays:  8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street.  45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish.  This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow.  Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes

Wednesdays:  Hill ride with Brian.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Brian and Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings:  (starting June 10th) Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  10am (I think, check Facebook for details) 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.  She’ll have more details in next week’s post, so stay tuned for that.

On Pink

Pink, rose, rosa, pienk, vaaleanpunainen, pinc.   America’s pink is for girls and golden age non-existent princesses, pink for breast cancer awareness, pink as a marketing ploy by clothing companies, pink as the opposite of manliness, pinko commies are the anti-Americans, the haters of freedom, pink walls in a jail cell to calm the nerves of those wrongfully imprisoned, dull pink cotton socks washed with a new red sweater, Elvis’s pink Caddy, the symbol of all that is right and wrong with American culture, memorialized in Springsteen’s song ‘Pink Cadillac’.  Bruce’s double entendre was lost on FM radio culture and Mary Kay, who had her car painted ‘Mountain Laurel Blush’ to match a color of makeup she had in her purse.  Top Mary Kay sales personnel still channel the Boss and the King to this day, driving a cultural burden with the aplomb of a color blind man sporting red and green socks.

Elvis embracing Japanese warrior culture

French Rosé is for pink macaroons, which, let’s face it, are just whoopie pies with a beret, French rosé clay for spa facials and skin restoration, apparently the mildest of all the clays, debutante pink, also know as La France pink, is a moderate rosé that “is yellower and darker than arbutus pink and bluer and deeper than hydrangea pink.”  But what of course, is hydrangea pink?

Let us not forget the Pink Panther, a series of slapstick detective movies featuring (and only watchable because of his presence) Peter Sellers, in a roll he came to despise so completely that his last movies as Inspector Clouseau are memorable more for his unrestrained loathing than any semblance of plot line.  In the psychedelic opening of the series, the seemingly flawless diamond has a tiny imperfection at it’s core: a tiny leaping panther.

Peter Sellers looks for clues as to where he put his dignity

This was 1964, so the tiny panther needed be animated and have a top hat and a Henry Mancini song to dance to.  Spanish rosado, Italian rosato, regional names for a style of wine popularized in the late 70’s, a time of growing taste for wine redolent of Hi-C.  Fittingly the wine is often created through Saignée, French for ‘bleeding’, where the pink juice is left over from the creation of real red wine.  The name ‘Blush’ was coined, and became synonymous with cut rate California table wine.

Rosa is the pink of Italians.  Parma’s Baptistery, an strangely proportioned octagonal Medieval folly, constructed in the sunset of Romanesque architecture, is clad in Verona pink marble and houses a beautiful series of fraudulent frescoes, which modern science has been forced to restore using state of the art technology.  Historians armed with syringes and spatulas add to the culture of God, graft and craft that created the building.  Parma Ham, aka prosciutto crudo, thin sliced translucent meat, quinacridone pink, is cured on huge curved hooks.  Parma hosted the Giro d’Italia in 2011.  The regions other famous food caustically commemorated by BikesnobNYC: “…one rider became three, and three became eight, and soon a breakaway was thrumming along like an eight-cylinder engine—until it sort of threw a rod in the form of a Katusha rider, who touched wheels with the rider in front of him, careened out of the break, and did his best Parmesan cheese imitation on the abrasive road surface.”  The raw salmon color of the La Galletia Della Sport newspaper gives the pink hue to the winner’s jersey of the Giro.  The winner has worn the pink Maglia Rosa since 1931, a tradition as venerated as the yellow jersey of the Tour de France.

The 1946 bid for the Maglia Rosa: interrupted by pinko communists throwing sticks and stones and eventually bullets. Idealists and Allied forces dragging a finished conflict into a dim post-war spot light; the broken flesh of riders and spectators,  the violent pink of azaleas in the spring, the wounds of a war that have left Italy in a state of perpetual confusion and conflict.

Gino and Fausto

Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, suffering and cycling, the spring air pregnant with sudor, oil and dirt. The woolen jersey saturated in salt, the pink hermosa of the fabric wrapped in webs of brine and strada. Riots in the port of Trieste at the news of the gunfire and violence. Unstable times, the pink carnation of the winner’s shirt an unwavering beacon, the rally point of a quivering nation.  Gino won, the last time the pink wool would grace his shoulders.

The Indian city of Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’, with its wide boulevards and stately grid, was painted a rich perylene crimson. The planned city’s liquified terracotta finish honored the 1876 visit of Prince Albert, who is know mainly remembered for having a beard that did not meet his mustache, but rather hovered under his chin like a shade loving azalea.  The Teej Festival of Jaipur is a women’s fasting festival, resplendent in poppy and pink hermosa dresses decorated with gold filigree.

Japanese cherry trees, blossoming in the aftermath of winter, pink flowers symbolizing the fallen warriors of the homeland.  A culture converse to the Euro-centric view that pink is feminine, the Japanese associate it, rightly so, with muscles, heroism, and valiant death in defense of valiant ideals. A different spectrum of light is shed on the gift of the cherry trees on the National Mall.

Frederick: think local. The spring farm fields burgeoning with tiny vermilion shoots and thick terra cotta, applied with the heavy hand of Clyfford Still, rolling bands of earthen corduroy, plowed ridges fringed in follicles of pink, the dry brushed ground in nature’s painting.    100 liters of ox blood skimmed to 30 liters of syrum after a week standing in a cold barn, add clove oil to prevent spoiling, slaked lime and iron oxide.  Linseed oil for the medium.  Paint applied 100 years ago to oak boards faded to the color of raspberry sherbet, the barn sagging under the weight of a lichen laced slate roof, the protector becoming the oppressor, slate slowly returning to the earth as its adiposity bends the barn wood earthward.

An alizarin sun sets behind the Catoctin mountains, back-lit and Prussian blue against the sky, fields full and darkly silent, the air ripe with the low yowling of farm machinery. The sky spreads wide, a welcoming cloak of coming dusk, the sky thickens: Robbins egg blue melts into a burnt rose hue, clouds hovering like lost airships. Tail lights flick on in the ride group, raspberry eyes floating in the coming void of night. Tires whisk along the pavement, the earlier chatter giving way to contemplation and internal conversation. Dying rays pierce a water bottle, the last drops of liquid the color of a pink seashell at a tawdry tourist shop on a sandy road in some forgotten ocean town, swallowed by time like Hollywood Cerise swallows Scottish Heather.

A climber attacks a hill, with the whole body, a salmon swimming upstream for the last time, his pink underbelly flashing against the sun like a beacon of suffering and commitment. The mask of pain, the twisted lips of the climber, pale mauve with corners drawn into tight points of puce, veins on the forehead like a roiling post-flood brook, blood pounding beneath quivering dermis, lifelines the chroma of winter blackberry.  The climb snakes into the woods, the top hidden by thick foliage.

We commemorate the color and its meaning in our Frederick Bike Doctor Jerseys.  Pink for the life of cycling, for the images it conjures, for the climb, for the descent, for the skinned knuckles from the brush with the tree, for the sports drink crusted on the top tube where it dripped from your gaping mouth, for the dry tongue at the end of a century, for the ride of your life.

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This Tuesday, join James and the Don BranDon down at Schaeffer Farms in Germantown for the regional Salsa mountain bikes Demo tour.  Every mountain bike design they sell will be there, in a few sizes, including the Mukluk.  Come try a few models out, and eat some hot dogs with the Bike Doc crew.  We’ll be there from 2 till 7pm. More info here.

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Shop rides:
Sunday evenings, at 5.30, meet at the shop for a group road ride.  We’ll head out and explore some less traveled roads in the Frederick area.  You’ll need: a spare tube and something to pump it with, a tail light and possibly a headlight, and a road bike you aren’t afraid to get dirty on.  Almost all of these rides have at least one dirt road on them.  It goes till around dark, sometimes a little after… Casual pace but hard roads…

Tuesday mornings: Meet at the 7th street Starbucks at 8am for a mixed surface road ride.  We’ll go from between 40 and 70 miles, depending on various variables.  Not a fast ride, a chugging ride.  Climbing, dirt, some place to eat something, even if it’s a gas station…

Wednesday evening shop ride with Brian.  This is THE CLIMBING RIDE, pretty quick pace.  The route is up Hamburg road, a real corker of a climb, and then decisions are made from the top of the climb as to the route. Back to the shop at dusk.  A tail light isn’t a bad idea.

Thursday evening mountain ride at the Frederick Watershed with Brian and Team Flying Dog.  Meet at the maintenance shed at the foot of mountain dale road, right where it goes from paved to gravel.  Call at the shop if its been raining: we don’t like to ride on wet trails because it leads to damage.  5.30pm.   Lots of climbing and tech rock sections.  Experienced mountain riders…

Follow our twitter feed for up to date info on ride cancellations due to weather, illness, alien abduction.

Thanks for reading,

The Bike Doctor Crew of Pernicious Purloined Pink Poppies.

Dan the Elder’s Trek Bike, with an interview with the Elder himself

Quick post to give a shout out to Dan the Elder’s Trek Bike, which we helped him put together, and which looks great and rides like a truck, but in a good way.  Solid, comfortable, no frills.  Definitely a wind up windows truck, if it was a truck.  This article is a quick read, and features an interesting bike. It’s put up by some localish rando riders, who are worth looking into if you are into that kinda thing, and even if you are not, so you can see what it’s all about.

 

Dan the Elder's Vintage Trek

My truck has a non functional stereo, which causes me to make up songs on the spot and sing them at high volumes, or to try to remember every song on a given album, and sing it, in sequence.  So if you see me in my truck, and it looks like I am yelling, crying, or coaxing, I’m actually just singing.  I swear.

-James

A Tale of Two One Point Fives

For New Readers: If you don’t want to read all of this (even though you might be entertained or even learn something) just skip down till you see a page break.  That’s where the news and events live. 

Mel pushes out of a valley. Photo from Jay's Flickr Stream.

My cue sheet couldn’t help me anymore.  I was looking for a section of trail called “The Wall”.  Talking to riders in town, I learned you knew you were at “The Wall” when the trail pointed toward the sky and a wooden sign said “The Wall”.  I only had a vague idea of how to get there.  One of those “it’s halfway between the first and second pond, near a clearing, with some big rocks” things.  I dig directions like that.   It means at least three wrong turns.  I heart a good wrong turn.  After wandering down a few dubious paths off the gravel road, I stumbled on a  field of yellow wildflowers, preternaturally still in the early afternoon sun.  As I made my way between two likely looking boulders, the sound drained from the air.  Birds evaporated.  Leaves ceased motion.

James threads the needle on some singletrack and a roadish bike. Jay's photostream, again.

The woods took on a stillness reserved for off-color jokes at church suppers.  My quietly clicking freewheel and the soft crunch of my tires on the grassy path were the only sounds.  Even those minute sounds were far away.  Sounds of another time and place.  The woods often does this to me.  Hugs me with roaring oceanic silence.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.

The path wound down into a valley, surrounded by rough gray rocks tossed by an angry prehistoric giant, trees stunted and twisted as if vicious winds and vile cold were normal operating conditions.  I wondered when the Gnomes would make their appearance.  A mile of riding brought me to the foot of the climb.  It ascended into the weald, a series of mild steps, gradually gaining altitude, with plenty of places to catch my wind and prepare for the next incline.  Then “The Wall” came.  No warning, a sharp blind turn and it pointed up, rocky, loose, steep, with no time to even downshift.  I slammed my gearing down, gnashed my teeth, and still only made it a hundred yards before the assault failed.

Smooshed

I took to my feet, trudging up the mountain, rocks poking my feet.  I had never climbed anything this steep before, and I have climbed 27 percent grades.  The sign for “The Wall”, hand burnt and defiant, passed me on the right.  I had brought a camera, but was too tired to even snap a picture.  It seemed like the air was getting thinner.  The silence gripped me and took me bad places.  All I heard was the blood in my ears and my incomplete thoughts of general foreboding firing away like tiny bombs in my head.

I reached the summit.  The path, radiant yellow grass and terra-cotta stone, stretched flat and straight across the moraine.  I rode quickly, legs warm and ready.  The silence chased me like a mute Doberman.  The ground was rocky, loose stones and dirt.  My road tires sank and swam alternatively, skittering and sliding under my hands.  I was always told to hold my handlebars loosely, like they were 1.5 times bigger than they actually are. This way, the bike and rider could react to bumps, and small directional changes, and still sort of auto–pilot its way through stuff.

Jay's photostream, again. Brian keeps it loose on his Waterford and some rough terrain

In other words, a loose grip actually meant more control, less wasted energy, and a more ‘ready for anything’ stance. I took this bit of wisdom and applied it. I loosened up and found more control, less fatigue and more power for my legs, that otherwise would have gone to my hands and forearms. I rode a rigid road bike and wasn’t beat up. I rode skinny tires over undulations fit for fatter rubber. I descend really nasty rocky scree with crappy brakes and was OK.

Instead of increasing diameters on road bikes why don’t we re-teach this old chunk of wisdom. Let’s trade 1.5 inch headsets for theoretical 1.5x larger diameter handlebars. We could start by getting rid of all that gel tape, and foam pads and get people riding normal cork tape,  or (gasp) cloth.

This would expose undersized bikes, and poor riding positions. Lots of gel and saddle cut-outs do wonders for hiding bad bike fit. It’s a win win situation. Really.  People like to treat colds by addressing the symptoms of the cold.  Stuffy, runny nose, headaches… You have seen or heard approximately 26,894 cold symptom drug ads by the time you are 23 years old, and will have spent $1,872.21 on the drugs advertised.  I just made that up.   But the fact remains, Americans love this stuff.  Ignore whatever caused the issue, treat the stuff that feels bad.  Head hurts because you stare a computer screen all day?  Take a pill.  Acid Reflux because you ate at that cheese steak place again?  Swig some pink juice.  It’s easier to roll this way, which of course is why people do it.  No lifestyle changes necessary.  I’m guilty, so is almost everyone I know.  I only say almost to be nice.  Maybe there is an outlier out there.

I see this same symptom treatment going on with bikes.  We get lots of folks in here that have band aids on their bikes to address various issues.  Now, before I go any further: some people NEED, without a question, certain modifications to their bikes just so they can ride it.   Prostate issues, acute carpel tunnel, fused necks, etc.  There are real issues that sometimes need seemingly odd or unconventional solutions.  So no offense to those folks.  I get it, I promise.

Basically, my point is, good form and good bike fit are the keys to riding comfortably.  Fixing bad form shouldn’t be solved with technology.  It should be solved by fixing your riding form.  A sketchy front end is going to be sketchy if you death grip the bars and ride you brakes like Rick Allen rides a hi hat (does he even use a high hat?).  Fatter tubes, bigger bars and stiff brakes won’t help you.  Numb hands are numb because your bars are too low, not because your handlebar tape needs padding.  Painful pressure points in saddles are usually also because your bars are too low.

I kept a loose grip bouncing down the trail, floating with the bars, keeping my weight balanced between saddle and pedal.  The sound came back to the world, like a blanket being lifted.  The stillness dissipated, the world spun once more.  The trail turned down and I saw a pond through the leaves, hovering like a fallen slice of sky in the deep woods.  The pitch became violent.  I was being hurdled down the slope at a pace reserved for mountain bikers with suspension.  I kept it relaxed, forcing my face to move from grimace to slack jaw’d yokel. Let the front end do what it needed to, steer with the hips (this is huge) and slight finger tip touches.  I pumped the brakes, avoiding over-heating the rims, blowing the tubes up from the resulting heat, and being stuck miles from home.   Been there.  Gotta let that heat dissipate.

The bottom of the trail emerged onto a quiet dirt road.  I had just come down a rough, rocky trail with outmoded brakes, 60-year-old drop bars, and a steel road frame and fork, with skinny, bald tires.  My handlebar tape was cloth, basically a grippy surface for the bars.  But I made it.  My bike fits, my bars are in the right spot, and I kept it loose.  Ingredients in place, Omelet made.

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There’s some stuff going on here at the shop.  As I noted last week, we’re expanding.  If you come in, it might be noisy, dusty, and generally ugly. We’ll try to make it go as fast as possible, but right now we’re a bit disheveled, so apologies for that.  We’ve lost 50% of our wall space, and all the things that used to live on the wall are scattered around.  We still have it all, it just might take a minute to find it.  We hope to have it all sorted in about a month and a half.

In the mean time, we are still doing rides and clinics.  We sponsor a mountain bike team, Team Flying Dog, and those guys do a night ride out at Greenbrier State Park, so I’ll give you details on that, below.

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First the clinics.  We’ll have a whole series of clinics this winter season.  We like to do them, and some times people even show up, and when they do, that’s great and fun, and everyone learns something useful.  They’ll be every Wednesday at 6.  Figure an hour or maybe a little more for each class.  All free.  Here is the schedule, which is pretty self-explanatory, I reckon:

2/8:  Clean your Drivetrain at home with not much time and very little money Clinic.  Self explanatory, that.

2/15:  Tuning your mountain bike for your riding style and location Clinic.  Adjust the suspension, tire pressure, gearing, bars, tire choice, etc etc, for where ever you are riding.  Jason will teach this, and it will be good.

2/22: Rebuild a rebuildable normal Shimano style hub clinic:  Shimano style hubs should be rebuilt occasionally, to keep the boogie man at bay.  We’ll show you how to perform this yearly ritual.  If you want to do it at home, you’ll need a few tools we can point out and source for you, including the elusive and under used axle clamp.

2/29:  LIMITED CLASS SIZE…. max five, TWO positions filled already, email us at bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (d0t) com to get in on the action:  James (that’s me!) will teach you how to lace a wheel (you pick, front or rear) and tension it so it won’t explode on you, or crumble like Michelle Bachmann’s presidential chances.  You’ll be buying some basic spokes (or really nice ones, whatever you want) a cheap rim, and a cheap hub to learn this skill.  Get something you can put on your commuter, so it doesn’t go to waste.  If you want to take this class, ya gotta buy the stuff from us, but we’ll point out OK cheap stuff.  Figure this class will go to about 9pm.  We need to hash out what you need soonishly, so let us know, with a quickness.

3/7:  First Wednesday, so it’s a fix a flat clinic.  Comprehensive, to say the least.

3/14:  How to overhaul and adjust a headset, assuming it can be overhauled and adjusted.  What’s a headset?  That thing that lets your turn the handlebars and therefore the front wheel, as well.  Sometimes these get coated in sweat and grossness and need a good wash and regrease.  If you generate lots of forehead sweat, or ride the trainer a lot, this is a great clinic for you.

3/21:  NO CLINICS.  Tent sale will be that weekend (thursday-sunday) and we will be busy and nervous.  Drop off comfort food and beer for bonus points.

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Shop Rides:

Monday evening Flying Dog rides from Greenbrier.  These are mountain bike rides, so you need a good bike and a good light and a good back up light.  Lead by Herb and Jay, both affable and good guys, and friends of the shop.  This is sanctioned by the park, so you won’t get arrested, because it’s legal.  More info here, as well as how to sign up for those.

Tuesdays Brandon and John are getting some big miles in.  Join them for a longish, semi fast ride of around 80 miles.  8 am at the 7th street Starbucks.

call ahead to see if we are doing a Thursday ride.  We might, we might not.  If we do, shortish, slowish, 7 am, from the 7th street ‘Bucks.

April 4th, which is a ways off, Brian will be starting his Wednesday evening climbing rides again.  So stay posted on that.

Follow us on Facebook.  Or like us, or whatever you do with that thing.

Read more on bikedoctorfrederick.wordpress.com

Email us with complaints about how pointless our stories are.  Bikedrshoprides (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks for reading,

The Bike Doctor Crew of Bearded Bodaciousness

Aggrieved Circumstances and a Final Ride

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Fixed road bike on singletrack. Typical Cory.

We like writing to you every week.  Maybe you like reading what we write, and maybe you just want to know news of the shop, or when a clinic will be held, or what is happening in advocacy.  It’s come to our attention that a few folks don’t know when things are happening here at Bike Doctor Frederick, because they start to read the story, it doesn’t hold their interest for whatever reason (which is fine, we don’t like everything we read, either) and then they close the email, and that is that.  So we’re just dropping this pre newsletter note to say: you don’t have to read the story.  Just scroll on down till you see a line like this:  _________________________

and keep reading after that line.  Basically the format is this:  Story, Shop Events, Shop rides.  Every article follows that format.  Except this one, because I didn’t want you to miss that bit of info.

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We knew Cory was planning something awful.  Climbs, impossible grades, dirt, pre ride consumption of frozen dairy… His email just told us where to meet, what bikes to bring (fixed gear) and that we might need “walking shoes”.    Nick and I discussed it the night before:

9:57 AM

me: I think we can talk him outta it.

me: by getting him really drunk the nite before

nick: you mean tonight

me: yeah

nick: that’ll just make him want to do it more

and earlier

and faster

me: yer right

damn

nick: and in more absurd outfits

Cory is and was known for his avant-garde dress sense.  Typical outfits might include a 200 dollar pair of tailored italian wool pin stripped dress slacks, a jersey patched with random fabric scraps,  a festive floral print welders hat poached from a farm supply store, Sidi shoes with toes dipped in tool vinyl (ostensibly for wind protection) and gloves so worn that a fortune-teller would have no troubles reading him palm.  His bikes often featured such innovative concepts as floor pumps taped to the top tube, non-functional “decorative brakes”  and saddle covers, once white, now embued with a distinctive dirt diaper hue.  Even his most sedate bikes featured stylistic outliers such as packing tape fender stays (lighter than metal) or bar ends in places nowhere near the end of a bar.  He is the only man I have met who has built a full XTR titanium mountain bike that weighs almost 30 lbs.  Presumably he reinforced it with rebar.

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not recommended

We met at Cory’s downtown fishing shanty in the late morning.  The shanty, an offensive and dubious structures in the best of light, leered at us through the haze of the morning.  The salmon flesh-colored siding was so porous and rotten that a screw driver could pass through it with a gentle push.  A few cans of Sparks were consumed, to help hydrate for the ride ahead.  Four bikes were mounted to Cory’s roof rack, which officially only had two trays.  Faith and a few dubious and frayed bungies doubled its capacity.

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Cory, off his bike to snap this sympathetic looking picture, is at far left.

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Your author, shortly before collapsing, on Dahlgren Road.

Cory was leaving, heading to Prague with his wife, a tenacious and good humored Czech woman somehow ensnared into the concept of matrimony.  The biking community was going to miss him, and he intended show his gratitude by riding us all into the ground in a rapid fire series of climbs and descents designed to fry our legs and destroy our minds.   We started from the South Mountain Creamery, where we were obliged to consume delicious performance enhancing ice cream.  The cold sugar and dairy lump resting heavily in churning stomachs, we headed up Reno Monument road.  No warm up, no rollers, just start with a big climb and then keep them coming, sucker punch after sucker punch.  Reno, Moser, Zittlestown, Dahlgren, Frosttown and so on.  Everyone but Cory walked their fixed gear bikes up the dirt of Dahlgren.  Even Gary, a tough and resolute rider who shows no discomfort, ever, was forced to dismount and portage his bike up the murderous slope. He was recovering from a recent gun shot wound to the face, so we’ll chalk it up to that.   The summit, for those that are unfamiliar, presents about 25 feet of flat ground, then plunges into a series of S bend turns in a fate tempting descent.  Gary, misinterpreting fixed gear for fixie, had brought a brakeless fixie with chopped flat handlebars, half a headset and toe clip pedals.  Enshewing such things as safety and good sense, Gary wore a baseball cap ‘helmet’.  He prepared for the plunge by turning it backward.  His uncontrolled careen down the slope ended with Gary, looking very calm, launching up a steep road side slope, catching a modicum of undesired air, and continuing into a field where he abandoned his wayward bike to its fate.

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Nick wonders when Washington County will discover mountain top removal

Further climbing resulted in lots of rolling around on the ground agony, cursing Cory’s evil designs.  I was glad I wore my Birkenstocks, as the ride devolved into half hike, half ride.  We stopped at a friend’s (local frame builder Damien) house and gnoshed potato pancakes (very light) and a small number of Miller High Life beverages.   We crawled back to the creamery, Johnny Cash ringing in our ears, and suds and spuds rolling in our bellies.

We virtually never see Cory.  No one has the cash flow to go visit, and he rarely has occasion to visit.  Unfortunately this year he has a had a few family reasons to come back, and so time spent in the states is strained and cloaked in a sense of his impending departure.

 

 

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We have some stuff going on this week, rides, plus a free clinic on Wednesday.

First the clinics.  We’ll have a whole series of clinics this winter season.  We like to do them, and some times people even show up, and when they do, that’s great and fun, and everyone learns something useful.  They’ll be every Wednesday at 6.  Figure an hour or maybe a little more for each class.  All free.  Here is the schedule, which is pretty self-explanatory, I reckon:

1/25:  How to true a wheel on a bike, if it gets all out of wack.  It’s easy enough to true it in a truing stand, and this will help with that, too, but really, if you wack say, a really fat ground-hog, and your rear wheel goes catywhompus, then you might need to straighten it out, just to get home.  This clinic will be about that, not about making it perfect, at home, with all the right tools.

2/1:  Bring in the first Wednesday of the down-trodden month of February with a fix a flat clinic.  Not only will you learn how to shove a new tube in your tire, but also how to boot a torn tire, patch a hole in a tube, and how to use an old tube to make a really nice bungee cord for zero dollars.

2/8:  Clean your Drivetrain at home with not much time and very little money Clinic.  Self explanatory, that.

2/15:  Tuning your mountain bike for your riding style and location Clinic.  Adjust the suspension, tire pressure, gearing, bars, tire choice, etc etc, for where ever you are riding.

2/22: Rebuild a rebuildable normal shimano style hub clinic:  Shimano style hubs should be rebuilt occasionally, to keep the boogie man at bay.  We’ll show you how to perform this yearly ritual.  If you want to do it at home, you’ll need a few tools we can point out and source for you, including the elusive and under used axle clamp.

2/29:  LIMITED CLASS SIZE, email us at bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (d0t) com to get in on the action:  James (that’s me!) will teach you how to lace a wheel (you pick, front or rear) and tension it so it won’t explode on you, or crumble like Michelle Bachmann’s presidential chances.  You’ll be buying some basic spokes (or really nice ones, whatever you want) a cheap rim, and a cheap hub to learn this skill.  Get something you can put on your commuter, so it doesn’t go to waste.  If you want to take this class, ya gotta buy the stuff from us, but we’ll point out OK cheap stuff.  Figure this class will go to about 9pm.

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Ride Schedule:

Tuesday:  Meet at the 7th street Starbucks if it isn’t crappy out for a 8am ride of a super casual 40ish mile ride on a mixed surface.

Thursday:  Meet at the same Starbucks for a 7 am ride around our fair county.  40ish miles, moderate pace, led by our very own Dan the Younger and Don BranDon.  Back in town by lunchtime.

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Thanks for reading!

-The Bike Doctor Frederick Crew of Pulchritudinous Super-Excellence.