An Idiot on a Bike

I thought about titling this post Frustration.  But that was my last title.  Maybe I complain too much?  I briefly thought of turning this whole blog into a triathlon based version of An Idiot Abroad, with me as Karl Pilkington.  As funny as I think the show is, I even get annoyed with Karl’s dim outlook on everything.  There’s no sense in being annoyed with yourself, so unless Ricky Gervais is going to pay me to travel the world and complain about everything, I’m just not gunna go there.  At least not permanently.

So last week I was traveling for work, missing workouts and feeling miserable about it.  During a break in our conference I received the call every triathlete (and cyclist) dreads the most.  It was the bike shop.  They found CARBON DAMAGE.

Now obviously, I can imagine hundreds of life altering phone calls that would be far worse.  But for the part of me that spends hours upon hours upon the saddle its hard to imagine two worse words.  As the conversation went on, things just sounded worse and worse.  I kind of got that sick to my stomach feeling.  Not quite like getting punched in the nuts, but I definitely lost my appetite for several hours and had a hard time falling asleep that night.

First of all, at least part of it was my fault.  At some point I had over torqued the two tiny little bolts (like 2.5 mm) that hold my seat post in position.  Guilty.  No one to blame but myself.  I have since learned that by itself, this wouldn’t be all that bad.

The real problem is that my bike was never assembled properly.  Its one of those new funky designs with the integral stem/basebar/aerobar set ups.  My previous coach built it with me because I wanted to learn more about bike mechanics in general.  He’d worked for a bike manufacturer in the past building hundreds of bikes and still does a lot of mechanic work on the side.  Unfortunately, neither of us realized that adding a couple of spacers to help the fit meant that two additional bolts didn’t line up and were never installed.  This led to, as the bike shop put it, ‘a totally, structurally unstable front end’.  They even threatened to not give it back to me in ‘this’ condition for fear I would ride it, kill myself, and they would be culpable.  For a minute, I thought I was going to have to call the police just to get my bike back.  Never mind the fact that its been in and out of their shop a handful of times over the last year and a half and nobody noticed.  Maybe I should just be happy to be alive.

The conversation went on, replacement parts would cost me roughly $2100.  But there is a guy in Boulder who does carbon repair and may be able to help for less.  I did my best not to think about it for the rest of my trip.  Its funny, a month ago I would have told you that I really liked my bike.  Now, all I can think about are the things I don’t like about it and the list is surprisingly long.

This weekend I surveyed the damage in person.  Some of it is obvious, some is debatable, some repairable.  There is a plan in place to make it structurally sound with minimal cost, but there is no way its ever going fit me again.  I’m resigned to shopping for a new bike, again, and quickly.

Now it seams I’m more concerned with finding a bike shop I can trust than anything.  I’ve tried few local shops and generally been underwhelmed.  Sometimes with timeliness, sometimes with service, sometimes price, sometimes with technical issues.  Generally speaking, I’d prefer to learn how to do most things myself.  The only reason I took the thing in this time was to have this place fix some work they screwed up a month ago.  Clearly though, if I’m starting this all over again, I need a place that has some degree of vested interest in me and my next bike.  Any suggestions?

I’m guessing there will be a lot more complaining.  I’ll try to leave it to the professionals, like Karl.  But I think I’m pretty good at it.  I’ll let you know if the studio calls.  On the bright side, the tax return is on the way!  Probably just ruined any chance…

We hardly knew ya...


About acbeeson

Professional engineer, passionate triathlete, once a runner always a runner, Husker fanatic but CO is the place to be!
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3 Responses to An Idiot on a Bike

  1. Michael says:

    Bummer, at least bike shopping is fun! Was that Boulder Res to Estes Park the last ride with her?

  2. Jamie says:

    That SUCKS.

    While it sucks to have to part with an otherwise nice ride that you’ve had plenty of good memories with, hopefully you’ll find a new steed to spend lots of miles with. Safely.

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