Odd prices for repairs

I noticed some odd behavior when shifting, so I decided to take my bike in for a tune up at one of the local bike repair shops. Local may be difficult to prove. This chain has over 100 stores in 20 states. There are six branches of this store a bike ride away from my place. It’s possible that what I experienced may have to do with the fact that policies are set from on high and must be implemented locally.

I go to the store and they list a tune up for $80 (roughly) and a cleaning for $60. Combine the two and you save $20. Parts and labor are extra. Ok, but wait a minute. When I ask for a tune up, what am I paying for if parts AND labor are extra?

I talk to the counter person at the maintenance window. He examines the bike and says that the cleaning and tuneup will require new bike and shifting cables. That makes sense, since I have been using the same cable since I bought the bike 4(?) years ago. The grip tape is also unwinding, so I’ll get that fixed at the same time.

OK. Let’s get an estimate. Base cost: $203 for parts and labor. However, if you pay for a two-year service plan, today’s work will only cost $207 will include free labor for the tuneup/cleaning and you get another tuneup and cleaning at no charge. That sounds good. What that total cost? $274. … Wait a minute. How did $207 turn into $274? Well, you have to pay for the service plan now and we’ll get a final price when the work is done. How much is the service plan? $159. … Uh, OK. I’m still confused how $207 turns into $274, but I want the work done so let’s do that.

I don’t think the clerk was trying a bait-and-switch. I think he may have been confused about the pricing scheme and presented them improperly. I was unhappy at the confusion, but I needed the work done by Wednesday. When I asked when it would be ready, he said Thursday morning, which was close enough.

As it turned out, I picked up a stomach virus and could not ride on Thursday anyway. I called late Thursday about my bike. They said it would be ready by 6 pm. I got the feeling they had not started working on it, but if I could get the bike by 6, that would be OK. I show up to pick my bike and it’s on the stand. The mechanic is testing the shift levers. He stretches them as best he can, then puts on the grip tape. I walk out of the store with my bike by 7 pm. Total cost: $159 for the service plan and $108 for parts and labor. At least I can ride my bike again.

Posted in equipment, repairs | Tagged

Too late for training, but I’ll try anyway

I signed up for the local version of the Tour de Cure, a fundraising ride for the American Diabetes Association. This ride takes place at the end of April. I always sign up for the 100-mile ride. In the five years I have participated in the ride, I have never ridden 100-miles. Most of the time, I ride 50 miles. Usually, this discrepancy is due to training.

It’s difficult to get excited about training, especially for something that won’t happen for weeks and months in the future. Riding 100 miles for me means sitting on a bike for about seven hours, not counting short nutrition and “natural” breaks. Most people, including me, cannot fall out of bed and ride a bike for seven hours. You have to train for a ride that long.

I know I can ride without trouble for two hours. The rule of thumb for safe bike training is to aim for a 10% gain in distance/time each week. That means (roughly) 4 weeks for a three-hour ride, 10 weeks for a five-hour ride and about 13 weeks for a seven-hour ride. I don’t have 13 weeks; I have less than 20 days. I’m sorry to disappoint everyone, but I won’t be riding 100 miles by the end of the month.

I’m still going to train. It’s important to me to participate in this ride. It’s also important to me that I not hurt myself doing something like this. Right now, I feel good after the short training rides. I have to do longer rides on an accelerated schedule to feel comfortable enough to ride the next step down, 100 kilometers / 62 miles. I’m going to try.

If you want to contribute to my fundraising bucket, go to http://main.diabetes.org/go/rachavez. I will definitely appreciate the motivation.

Posted in Fitness, Rides, Tour de Cure | Tagged , , , ,

A short note on recent training

I’ve decided to ride the Tour de Cure again this year. Every year, I sign up for the 100-mile ride. Every year, I don’t train enough and end up riding the 50-mile ride. I think it may happen again this year. It’s rained a lot and has made road training difficult. I’ve done work in the gym with weights and intervals on the stationary bike, but it’s not the same. We’ll see how it turns out.

In the meantime, I was excited to finally have a weekend without rain. I grabbed my gear and drove down to one of my favorite spots, the Oceanside Bike Trail. It’s about 7 miles of a paved trail used by bikes and joggers only. It’s somewhat secluded and not too hilly. It’s nice.

I was surprised to find out that I could not find parking at the trail head this morning. The trail head is an Oceanside city park, with lots of ball fields. Apparently, today was a day for girls’ soccer. I completely understand why girls should have ball fields to go to practice and play. However, my nieces were not at those ball fields, so I was a little unhappy at the lack of parking. I turned around and headed back home. What I should have done is driven down to the trail exit by the beach. At that hour, with those clouds, I’m sure I would have found parking. It did not occur to me until I returned home.

I still wanted to ride, so I decided to run some intervals. I was only able to complete two laps. My chain slipped off again at the end. I wonder if the chain has stretched enough to require replacement. That would be bad, considering how much it cost me the last time I needed a new chain. I also ran over several potholes and cracks in the street. I suspect one of those cracks lead to my flat tire, also discovered at the end of my second lap. I felt great and could have done more laps, but the flat tire was a sign that I should stop for the day.

Posted in Uncategorized

Bike the Coast, 2015 Edition

I participated in the most recent “Bike the Coast” event over the weekend. (5th? 6th annual?) I signed up because an old friend has started cycling and wanted to do the ride. I figured it might be interesting to do that ride again. My friend and her friend signed up for the century. I was not in shape to ride the full 100 miles when they told me they were riding, so I signed up for the 50-miler.

It’s been hot for a few days here. Unfortunately, it never really cooled off Friday night. My friend and her friend drove down from the Bay Area Friday afternoon. They got stuck in LA during evening rush, so I did not get to see them before the ride. I did leave two bottles of Gatorade for them at their hotel and told them I’d see them in the morning.

It turns out that the friend of the friend needed to register, so they took off early the next morning to the registration table. I finally saw them at 6:30 am in line for the century departure. I remember them saying that it felt nice that morning. I replied that the sun was not up yet.

I went back to my car and got my bike ready. I was back in line for the 7:00 am departure, after going back to my car at least once for things I forgot. I did not get on the course until roughly 7:20, due to the amount of riders ahead of me in line. There were no real issues with the road conditions. The sun shone in my eyes during sunrise, which is not a surprise. The county sheriffs parked their cars in Encinitas and threatened to hand out citations to bikers who did not make complete stops, but I never saw them get out of their cars.

After the SAG stop in Encinitas, I felt the heat was started to become a problem. I have a thermometer on my bike computer that said it was 95F at 9:30 am. That’s obviously wrong, because I think the sun was shining on the temperature sensor. I still decided I had gone far enough in the heat. I was confident it was only going to get hotter, so I turned around and headed back to Encinitas, Oceanside beyond that and the finish line.

I rode 34 miles in 3:46, according to the biking app. That’s roughly 9 miles per hour, which is a terrible pace. However, when I removed the stops, I covered the distance in 2:27 or 13.8 mph, which acceptable, but still a little slow for road riding.

I’m not sure how I lost so much time. I know I was stuck in congestion getting to the start line. I stopped at two official SAG stops and one unofficial stop when I decided to turn around. There are stop signs and stop lights up and down the coast road. 1:18 lost at stops seems surprising.

I’m not sure how I could go much faster. I’m a terrible cyclist. I am a “secret drafter”, where I perch my front wheel two feet behind someone else’s back wheel. The person up front does all the work and I follow along in their draft with less effort. At the same time, I complain silently because the person in front is too slow. I will pass people if I’m not boxed in, but the only time I try is when everyone is going uphill. I don’t trust pace lines and they should not trust me. I’m a terrible cyclist.

It would be nice to ride a full century and get it out of the way. I am not used to 7-8 hour rides. I’m not a pro, but I don’t see the point in taking 13 hours to finish a century. (Not my friend this weekend, but I think she did finish DFL.) I’ll finish a century ride someday, just to get it out of the way.

Posted in Uncategorized

Rosarito to Ensenada tour

I found out recently that there’s a Rosarito to Ensenada bike tour. For those that don’t know, it’s a ride down the free road in Baja California that runs about 80 km or roughly 50 miles. I like the idea of another weekend in Rosarito, but …

1. No food is provided by the tour committee, only water. I’m sure the water is fine, seeing as a water company is part of the sponsorship of the tour. However, no food is dangerous for rides more than two hours long. My last fifty-mile ride took four hours. I relied on the food provided by the Tour de Cure volunteers to provide enough energy to finish the ride.

2. It’s unclear how to get back from Ensenada. The tour committee says that there will be buses to take you back to Rosarito. From what I know of Baja, I would not count on buses taking you back without some kind of additional payment to someone.

3. The ride starts at 10 am. That’s too late for the end of May. It’s going to be too hot to ride. Riders are going to have trouble with dehydration. There’s no good reason to put your health in danger.

It looks like fun. You’re welcome to go by yourself.

Posted in tours | Tagged

Non-bike exercise: the squat

I don’t have enough time during the week to ride after work, so I have to rely on the mini-gym at the condo complex to work out. There is a stationary bike, an elliptical machine, a weight machine contraption, and some free weights. Unfortunately, something happened to the leg press, so I had to figure something else. Luckily, there are weight plates and a bar, so squats will have take the place of the leg press.

It’s a week later and the weight machine has been fixed, but I’m going with the squats, in addition to the weight machine. With the machine, I can focus on the quadriceps and gluteus muscles on one station and the hamstrings on another station. With the squats, I work on quads, glutes, hamstrings, abdominal core, pectorals (a little bit), balance and I get to sneak in some good grunts, too. (Always important in a workout!)

I also found out I am doing squats incorrectly. The bar is supposed to go over my head and rest on my shoulders. For whatever reason, I lifted the bar to my chest and did the squats that way last week. I still balanced, but I did feel a little more unstable with the little weight I had up front instead of behind.

I’ve read that my feet should point out at a 45 degree angle. I did that once and pulled a quad last year. I can’t say foot angle led to strain. I can say I’m watching where my feet point this year. No strain yet.

Well, that’s the excitement for today. One of these days, I’ll get around to riding a bike.

Posted in Fitness

Tour de Cure ride canceled due to local fires

The local Tour de Cure ride, scheduled for Saturday, May 17, 2014, was canceled due to the San Diego fires. Bike to Work Day, scheduled here for May 16, 2014, has been postponed for two weeks for the same reason. It’s for the best, with the smoke particles in the air, but it’s sad, too. I realize I don’t have to do the ride. However, it was an easy course. I was confident I could ride the kilometer century and I did not get the opportunity to ride it with water and food support.

Thanks to everyone who donated with me. I’m sorry the ride could not be finished. I’ll might talk myself into a chopped up ride to make up for the missed ride.

Posted in Rides, Tour de Cure, Uncategorized | Tagged ,