Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday News And Views

Fat bike in a hotel room
Feelin' Crusty: 

This week was dominated by the after-effects of  the Triple D Winter Race. I was tired and lethargic all week. Having my birthday on Wednesday didn't help matters any! Cold, cold weather didn't help any either. That will eventually pass, but I must have burned a few matches last Sunday.

Next up on the list of things to look forward to is the Renegade Gents Race. That will be in early April. It is a team gravel road event, and I will definitely need to be hitting the gravel roads again here soon. I have the new, (to me), Vaya frame to get built up and if that pans out well, it could be the rig I ride in the event.

But first I need to start getting back into the swing of doing some regular riding again. the Triple D training was a success, and the strategy used worked all right, but I see some room for improvements on both fronts. Hopefully this year will see better strategies and results throughout the coming months......

Penny, the shop dog does a final inspection.
Going Far:

The other big deal this week was getting a titanium Fargo built for local rider, Mike, who is going to attempt Tour Divide this summer. (Talk about your strategies and looking for results!) Anyway, it was a joy to work on some fine components and bolt them to such a beautiful frame. I'll have more on the bike and frame on the bandit shop blog, but what really gets me about doing jobs like this is how I sweat all the fine details.

I don't build it like I would for myself- oh no. If that were my bike, I wouldn't have cleaned and inspected every component that came off the old Fargo. I woulda bolted that stuff on dirty! But I went beyond what I would do for myself. I also worry about how it is going to work. I guess maybe I am a bit of a worry wart, but even with my own builds, I am rather cautious the first few times I ride a new build, because I don't trust the bike just yet. Is that weird or what? I mean- it's a freakin' bike! Either it will work, or it won't work. It doesn't have "evil intentions", despite my own misgivings about such things!

So when a new rig goes out the door, I kind of feel like a bomb might go off at any minute. I shouldn't. I double check everything. I test ride the bike, but I guess I have a weird superstition about that. I mean, I've seen weird stuff go down before, so maybe that's where I get that from. Who knows. Probably just me.....

What's In Your Toolbox?
I Am A Mechanic:

Over on the Black Mountain Cycles blog,  proprietor and opiner at large, Mike Varley, sent out this salvo recently on his take concerning the differences between a "tech" and a "mechanic".

Well, you could go there and read that and my commentary, or read the following.....

Essentially, I feel that there is a tendency for some folks to "throw parts at" the problem, or just accept that "there are no user serviceable parts inside". Maybe some out there can't find the time to be creative, or to modify something to work for a certain purpose. Mechanics do not do any of the above. Ever.

To me, a mechanic knows enough about the basic workings, (rules if you will), about a machine to know that moment when creativity, a bit of digging, or extra time can make something work, and when it is time to throw in the towel and start with a new part, or entire bicycle sometimes. It is a fine balance between getting paid, making the money the shop needs to stay afloat, and servicing the customer in the best possible way too. It also may entail doing diagnostic work on the fly, while a customer is there, to better manage customer expectations.

In other words- it ain't easy. You actually have to be good at not only fixing and adjusting a bicycle, but you need to be a good salesperson, not a clerk. You need to be willing to think outside the box sometimes, and you need to be efficient, consistent, and reliable. Anyway, I do not believe a "tech" person is any of those things. Being a mechanic is complex, it requires a skill set beyond knowing how to turn wrenches or write up a repair ticket. I'm not sure it can be taught to someone from a book, or online either. I'm pretty certain it can not.

Well, that's my take, for what it is worth, and I've been doing mechanic work in various settings for almost 29 years. If that means anything......

Have a great weekend! Hope ya get outside for a bit!


MG said...

Great post, all around... Mike's new Ti Fargo is a beauty. Will be the perfect ride for him on the GDR.

Have a great weekend, bro!


Mike Johnson said...

Thanks for putting the Ti Fargo together. I'm able to rest better knowing who did the assembly and the extra attention that was taken. Much appreciated.

Travel Gravel said...

MIke's bikes have come a long way since the DR.pepper bike he won at Fareway as a kid! Nice one MIke. "Trust it or bust it" I always say.