Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Whole New World

I've been busily working away at the new Colnago Arabesque. In owning this bike for less than a week, it has taken me to places around San Diego County that I never new existed and I really regret I didn't know about sooner. I'll get into some of this new world later on in this post.

I had the guys at Nytro assemble it for me and picked it up Friday. When I dropped it off at Nytro on Wednesday I had my first chance to get all the packing material off of it and take a good look. Over all, I wasn't too impressed with the state of the bike. The guy who listed it on eBay described it as having "a couple scratches on the left of the seat tube". I'm not too sure what sort of drugs he's on, but there aren't any big scratches on the left of the seat tube. There are various dings all over the bike and a few well pitted areas of chrome (or at least were). I wasn't expecting the bike to be perfect. More so, I never wanted to buy a mint condition bike. My fear all along has been that if I buy a mint 80s bike, I'll never ride it because I'd be too afraid of doing damage to it. My hope however was that the bike would be closer to mint than it was when it came out of the box.

The good news is that there are no dents anywhere on the bike. It also has all the original parts and they're in amazingly good condition. When you look at the cogs of the freewheel they don't show any wear whatsoever. The bike is definitely a head turner. Everyone who sees it wants to take a closer look and talk about it.

The mechanic at Nytro had a couple pieces of advice for me that have since expanded into interesting experiences for me as a San Diego County cyclist. The first piece of advice was that if I ever wanted to restore the bike to brand new condition, that there is a place in Vista, CyclArt, that does top class restorations of bikes. The second piece of advice was that the freewheel on the Colnago might need to be replaced. Being that bike shops aren't putting a lot of 6-speed freewheels on bikes any more, Nytro didn't have one. They suggested that Pacific Coast Cycles might.

So, Thursday afternoon I checked out the CyclArt website and ended up giving them a call to get a better idea of what they were all about and maybe get some advice for how they would see things going with the Colnago. Jim answered the phone (I later found out that he is the owner). I was really amazed at just how much time Jim was willing to spend on the phone with me talking about the bike, sharing his experiences of what he's seen need work on 80s Colnagos, what to look out for, what to do from a maintenance perspective, etc. In the end, it all boiled down to:

1. Try to clean up the chrome with some chrome polish. Whatever corrosion doesn't come out is only going to expand in the chrome, so try to get as much pitting out as possible. Areas that do have some chrome corrosion (the only place with rust on the bike) are rusting from the outside, so there's not too much to be concerned about long term.
2. Put a good coat of wax on the paint.
3. Maybe bring the bike by, take a tour of the facility (which I'm definitely going to do) and we'll take a closer look and see what might be appropriate.

By the time I picked up the bike on Friday I still had it in my mind that I might just pack it back up again, return it to the guy I bought it from, and get my money back. On the way home I picked up some chrome polish and figured I'd at least give it a go and see where I could get things. I ended up spending about 3 hours Friday night, slowly working my way around the fork, head lugs, chain and seat stays. In the end I'd say that I got about 90% of the pitting out of the fork and head lugs. There's probably only one more session required on these guys. The chain stays are pretty much perfect. The one area that is still going to need a few sessions is the right seat stay. Bottom line here is that I'm really optimistic that the chrome is going to come out looking really good, maybe even to the point that if I do get 'er restored one day, the chrome won't need to be re-done, just the paint. The bike is definitely not going back to the seller.

On the freewheel front, I called up to Pacific Coast Cycles on Friday afternoon and ended up speaking to a guy named Chuck. Chuck definitely seemed to know his stuff and said he had some 6 speed freewheels if I did indeed need one. I said I'd come by on Saturday with the bike and we could take a look at whether or not it needed a freewheel and go from there. Before he hung up he asked me my name and said he was looking forward to meeting me.

So, today after my morning ride, I threw the Colnago onto the roof of the car and headed up to Oceanside to see Chuck's shop. All I can say is that this is easily the coolest bike shop I've ever been in. It's a tiny little shop on the corner of the 101 and Vista Way in Oceanside. If you're used to riding up the 101, it's a block north of the Angelo's Burgers that is just north of the lagoon between Carlsbad and Oceanside. What makes this place so cool is that when you go inside you don't see a wall of the newest carbon WhateverBrands. What you see is a wall of classic Masi's, many of which have been restored to beautiful condition. Chuck also has some classic Colnago's and the like floating around the shop. I arrived with two basic needs, a new seat binding bolt and freewheel for the Colnago. As soon as Chuck saw the Colnago heading his way he greeted me by name, came over and took a look and went about helping me with my "issues". After a quick ride around the block he was of the opinion that the freewheel was in perfect condition, suggesting that Regina freewheels just aren't that smooth. Chuck also did some quick modifications to my seat binding bolt. So, with my problems fixed in five minutes or so, I had plenty of time to talk to Chuck about his Masi collection.

Masi is a brand that I've heard a lot of conflicting stories about. Obviously it's much sought after brand of Italian bikes. What I'd read once was was that the guy behind Masi (Faliero Masi) had left Italy and settled in Carlsbad, continuing to make Masi's here in California. The notion being that at one point, folks were still making Masi's in Italy while they were also being made in California, and that if you wanted a "real" Masi from this time period, you really wanted the CA version, rather than the Italian one. It turns out that Chuck actually worked in the Carlsbad Masi manufacturing facility himself. The real deal here is that Masi sold the rights to sell Masi's in North America to some guys who wanted to build a plant in Carlsbad. So he came to Carlsbad to set up the plant, then returned back to Italy and merrily went about continuing to make bikes back in Italy.

The bottom line here is that Chuck's Masi collection is amazing. If you're a fan of classic bikes and you live in Southern California, you really owe it to yourself to stop by his shop and check things out. Chuck is even selling some of his Masi's at some really great prices.

Anyways, it's bed time for me. I hope to have some pictures of the Colnago up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nice Trip Back Home

I spent the past 4 days back home in the Vancouver area visiting with family. Definitely a nice trip and time well spent.

I got to spend a couple days fishing with my dad. This time of year the salmon are returning home to spawn, so there is plenty of fishing in local streams. We spent an afternoon fishing on the Stave River, below the Hayward Dam. I had one good salmon, but it ended up getting away as I was landing it. Other than that, not too much to report on the first day.

The second day was a little more eventful as we first spent an hour or so trying to figure out where Inch Creek was, then after trekking through the forest, over fences, across the railroad tracks, etc. we finally found what we were looking for. We caught a couple fish on the day, so things ended up quite well.

I also got to spend some time with my sister and her family, visiting with my 16 month old nephew, Morgan. I've seen him a few times previously, but not since he's been up and walking/running. He's definitely growing up fast and it's not hard to understand why. For a guy who probably only weighs 1/4 of what I do, he eats pretty much as much food as I do. If my mom sends me any pictures I'll add them to this post.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mail Order Bride

For a long while I've been looking to buy a mid to late 80s steel lugged road bike. Preferably a Colnago Master, Colnago Arabesque, Colnago Spiral Conic, De Rosa, Cinelli, or maybe Merckx.

I really blew it something like 6 months ago when a guy put a mint 80s Colnago Master on eBay with a buy it now of $1850 (the same price he paid for it 20 years ago!). I should have just bought it the moment I saw it. When I look back, one of the things that held me back was that the bike was so beautiful and perfect that I would have felt bad riding it. Every time I had it on the road I would have been thinking that it should be in a glass display case in my living room. I say this with the knowledge that I'm usually good for at least one good crash per year (knock on wood I haven't hit the ground since I nearly exploded myself at San Marcos a couple years ago). Instead I pulled my normal procrastination routine and by the time I was ready to act, it was gone. Some guy got what is probably worth at least $3,500 or $4,000 for half price.

This past week some really nice 55/56cm Colnago Arabesques made their way onto eBay. I'm not too sure why it works like it works, but for some reason when it rains it seems to pour on eBay. You'll see no instances of a given bike for months, then all of a sudden there are 3 or 4 listed all at the same time. Anyways, I ended up winning an auction for one of the Arabesques. Original paint, only a few minor scratches, beautiful arabesque lugs, looks to have pretty minimal use, looks to be original Campagnolo Record parts, etc. In the words of the seller (this after he'd taken the bike down to his local bike shop to be packed up for shipping); "Funny story at the bikeshop, they didn't want to give the bike back?! Instead they were offereing me more money for it but I refused!"

So my mail order bride (she'll be my 3rd wife) is on the way to San Diego. Once she's out of the box and assembled I'll post some pics. Definitely looking forward to the first ride.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jim Lahey Explains It Like It Is

Whenever you're looking for a laugh you can always count on Jim Lahey to help things all make sense. Classic lines like "You know what a shit rope is Julian? It's a rope covered in shit":

Friday, October 9, 2009

Apparently I am an "Elitist"

This evening while I was having a drink or three at my favorite bar near work it was explained to me by someone I don't know that I'm an elitist. The context here is that we got started on a conversation related to the bartender, call him Brian. Brian was talking about what the situation is like when a recruited "shopper" comes into the restaurant and sits at the bar and evaluates how he does his job. If he does it well, he gets a $100 bonus. If he doesn't do it well, he doesn't get a bonus and may get heat from his boss. My point on this was that if I were Brian and some secret agent were evaluating me in my job and then turned around and started to rag on me, I'd tell my employer where they could stick it and find a job somewhere else.

My point to the guy sitting beside me was that Brian is a great bartender. If he doesn't get respect from where he's working now, so what; he can get a job at the bar down the street, all his customers will figure it out and go buy liquor from him down there and he'll make just as much money as he does here. What's $100 to a great bartender? A great bartender probably earns 3x that in tips each night. The guy sitting beside me's point was that, in this economy there won't be a job for Brian down the road, because they won't be looking for a bartender.

So here's where I become an "elitist". My whole thinking on this subject is that if you're good at what you do, you're passionate about it, and you have a drive to succeed you'll find a place for yourself. For example, sure the bar down the street might not be looking for a new bartender; however, once they gave Brian a chance they'd quickly discover that the guy paid for himself because he's so good at his job. Brian's talent and aptitude for his job would mean that people would buy more liquor from the new bar, Brian's customers from the previous bar would move to the new one, maybe the new bar would even discover that they could dump one of their existing bartenders and give Brian his job instead.

My over-riding philosophy in all of this that each of us has a talent. Whether we realize what our talent is and where we can apply it to our maximum benefit is another question. Personally, I've been in jobs that I absolutely sucked at. My time at Xerox was a good example. Yes, I had some big months, but I had to work like a dog in order to achieve those big months. I wasn't talented at sales. After being there for 6 months I saw that the people who really did well at the job were working 20 or 30 hours a week and making twice as much as I was. These guys would actually go watch movies during the day. On the other hand, I was working 50 hours a week and making half of what they were. The thinking of the guy sitting beside me at the bar was that I should have just stayed working at Xerox, worked 50 hours a week and earned way less that what felt like equal compensation to the effort I put in. I'm sorry, but I just don't get it.

These sorts of experiences should be a signal to people that they aren't in a position that is in alignment with their skills. Yes, it sucked when I realized that I wasn't cut out to be in sales. At the same time however, I was realistic with myself and realized that I needed to go in another direction. If I really loved sales:

1. I would have done better at it.
2. I would have felt like I was being paid a reasonable amount of money for the skin I put into the game. i.e. If you love to flip hamburgers (fyi - a job I did once and I'm not looking down on it) and you get paid $5/hr, maybe that's just fine. If you're doing something you love, what you get paid to do it, shouldn't be a deciding factor.

In my case, I went back to school, got a post grad degree in IT and never looked back. I look at myself just like I look at Brian. If my current employer were to treat me in a way I found inappropriate I'd quit and within a week or two be employed somewhere else, probably making even more money.

The guy sitting beside me at the bar however didn't see it that way. His thought was that if Brian left his current job he'd have to now slide in at the bottom of the totem pole at his new job. He'd be taking a cut in pay and it would take him years to recover. This kind of thinking I don't get. If Brian is good at his job (which he most definitely is), sure he might have to start at the bottom; but so what? Through his aptitude for tending bar, he'd quickly be back to where he was when he left his previous job.

In the words of Eric Cartman, "follow your dream, you too can reach your goals, Beefcake! Beefcake!!!"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Up then Down

I took off from work in good time today, completed my massive 10 minute commute home, got saddled up on my bike and went for a 2.5 hour ride up the coast and back. As I was riding I was thinking to myself how these sorts of rides are what it's all about. Get away from work, get outside and do something I love to do, and enjoy the suddenly cooler weather we're finally experiencing here in San Diego.

Then, when I was less than a mile from home, I somehow dumped my chain off the top of my biggest gear, into the space between my cassette and my hub. I have no idea how that happened, I don't even think I was changing gears. The net result was a near instant stop. My chain was jammed into that gap so tightly that as my rear wheel continued to turn it ripped my chain right off my front chain rings with enough force to slam it right through the bottom of my front derailleur. After spending 5 minutes on the side of the road ripping my chain out of there I was able to ride the rest of the way home, very slowly however.

BTW, I love how you can be broken down on the side of the road for 5 minutes, be passed by 20 cyclists and not one of them even asks if you need any help. It's bad enough that people can't even seem to say hi to you when you say hi to them as you pass them on the bike path, but not offering to help someone who could well need it really bothers me. I've gotten to the point with people on the bike path that when I say hi to them and they don't even react, that I now yell a second hi at them, just to make my point. Note however, that my more aggressive action with the hi's doesn't appear to be making a difference; at least not yet.

So now it looks like my powertap hub is messed up, my front derailleur needs to be replaced for sure, and who knows what else is done for. Stay tuned for another $400 trip to the bike shop. Dammit!

Highly Recommended Movie

If you know my taste in movies, you know I love a great documentary. The other night I watched "American Drug War: The Last White Hope". This is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen, not so much because it's the best production you'll ever see in a documentary, but because it covers material that I think the vast majority of America just can't get their heads wrapped around. It also exposes things about the American government's role in the war on drugs that most people don't even know about.

I've long been a proponent of the complete legalization of drugs. The reasons being pretty simple:

1. Since the beginning of time, you've never been able to stop people from doing something, simply by enacting a law. Making drugs illegal doesn't do anything to stop their use.
2. Look at all of the crime that is created simply due to the fact that people can make huge money selling something that people can't buy anywhere else. If people could walk into 7-11 and buy their drugs for probably 1/10 of what they pay now, drug related crime would end instantly. Seriously, instantly!
3. America spends billions of dollars each year funding the war on drugs, when the war on drugs is the stupidest idea in the history of war. Even a retard can figure out that you can't kill an industry by trying to eradicate its supply. The way to kill an industry is to control its demand. On the other hand, one can easily also see how it is in the best interests of those who make their hay "waging the war on drugs" for the war to never be won. And there's the rub.

Whether you think that drugs should remain illegal or not. Even if no one can say anything that will change your mind, you owe it to yourself to watch this movie and learn what the war on drugs is really all about.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kinda Wonder How it All Worked

I question how it was that I used to be so good about sticking to my 10+ hours a week training program. I had a really good weekend last weekend, getting out for 3+ hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Once the work week started though, I'm again stuck in the mud with little happening on the cycling front.

I don't really feel like I'm necessarily more hectic at work than I have been in the past. I am seeing more unpredictability in the time requirements work is throwing my way. I'm also seeing some of my time being sucked up by my responsibilities as Sponsorship Director for the bike club. This time of year is the time when we need to get sponsors finalized for the 2010 jersey, so there is a lot of pressure to get deals closed.

In some ways I think the work variability is a big part of the problem. I do well with predictable plans that I can stick to and follow. For example, each year when I put together my training program it went onto my fridge, onto my office cork-board, and onto this blog. I knew what I needed to do each day and I seemed to find the time to do it. Now I'm in more of a pattern where on a slow work day I need to be able to have the variability to swap out what might have been a 30 minute speed workout for a 3 hour aerobic ride and vice versa. That's where I'm struggling.

Anyways, things are headed in the right direction. I just need to close the gap from the "somewhat got it together" pack that I'm riding in now, up to the "got it together" pack. Maybe I need a faster bike or something ;-)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Trailer Park Boys - I'm Hooked

A few years ago my sister gave me the 4th season of the Trailer Park Boys as a gift (Christmas or my Birthday, I can't remember - sorry). When I first tried to watch it, it never really made too much of an impression on me. With the new TBP movie, Count Down to Liquor Day coming out and all the previews on the Canadian web sites that I frequent, I gave the 4th season a more serious look. I've gotta say, this show is one of the funniest things you'll ever see!

Caveat - If you are my Mom, and you're reading this post, now is probably a good time to stop reading, or at least, proceed at your own risk!

The story line of this show is pretty simple, at the start of each season some combination of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles gets out of jail. They then go back home to their trailer park (Sunnyvale) in Nova Scotia. They then spend a couple episodes with Julian pontificating about how he's going to go clean, get a real job and not go back to jail. By episode three, Ricky is back to growing dope in one of the trailers in the park. They then spend the rest of the season trying to avoid getting busted by Jim Lahey, the drunk trailer park supervisor. By the final episode they're getting busted by the cops and heading back to jail.

When you watch the show, you're reminded of the differences between Canadian and American senses of humor. Just my impression, but most American comedies are all about relating to the characters and laughing along with them as they go through life. Canadian comedies are about something different, they're about laughing at some sorry SOB as he goes through life. The Trailer Park Boys fit this perfectly. You don't laugh along with these guys, you laugh at them as they grow dope, steal and re-sell meat from the grocery store, open up a used furniture store where they sell stolen furniture (stolen from a hotel and a government office), make pornos starring people from the trailer park, steal shopping carts from one mall and sell them to the other, etc. All while trying to out fox the permanently drunk Jim Lahey and his side kick, burger boy Randy.

The other thing that you're reminded of when you watch this show is how things are a little different in Canada. Since I've been watching this show I'm back to swearing a lot more, urinating in public as appropriate, and having a general sense of dislike for The Man.

If you haven't ever watched this show, I highly recommend giving it a shot. After watching season 4, I hit Amazon and bought the entire series. Definitely money well spent.

Here are some funnier clips from the show:

After dishonestly letting Bubbles take the fall for his own work of burning down his dad's trailer, Ricky is convinced by Julian that they should do Bubbles a favor by doing what he want's to do for the day. Starts out as badminton, ends in playing space.

Shit Hawks, they're flying in low:

Never Cry Shitwolf; Lahey thinks he has the boys nailed, it doesn't quite turn out that way:

Problems with the cable guy:

Lahey and Shit Moths:

Ricky destroys Lahey's place over a chicken:

5 swear words you didn't know: