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Early May: Cleaning up some loose ends

A spring-cleaning attempt to rid my desk of sticky notes:

– The hardest thing about bike racing? Staying at the front. Nothing is easier than letting your mind wander and falling back 40 spots unawares.

– The #1 way to make your bike feel new: Replace the brake pads. The runner up? New cables. But fresh brake pads are guaranteed to re-ignite your love affair with your bike. Leave your drivetrain overhaul & bike wash for a 3-day weekend. When you need new and you need it NOW, brake pads overjoy.

– You asked for it, so now we’re doing it: We now have 4 different ways to send you the latest news and specials: (1) Our email list. (2) Twitter (we have both road and MTB feeds). (3) Text messaging. (We’ll send only one text a week, and it’ll be for a killer special that will be a text-only special.) (4) RSS. We’re still working on smoke signals, but we’re not quite there yet…

– Etienne De Wilde is a sure-fire pick for the top-10 list of baddest late-20th century Belgian bike racers. His mammoth and diverse palmares are easily found on the web. Less easy to locate is the late 80’s magazine interview with him where he said that whenever he needed his bike cleaned (which was often, of course) he sent a fax to the head of his fan club to fetch it and take care of it. A fax. It was the 80’s, so the pre-historic technology is understandable. But does a more insultingly impersonal mode of communication exist? It was hilarious when we first read it, and it still cracks us up to think about it now. Maybe the best line ever. I wish I could find the article…

– Pet-peeve of the moment: Wheels with internal nipples. People worry to death about getting a flat on a tubular. But the inconvenience of truing up a clincher with internal nipples is arguably 10x worse. I ride them everyday. We sell them, nearly everyday. But I think I’ve had a light-bulb moment. I think I’m done with the world of internal nipples. Part of it is because it’s a pain. Part of it is pure protest. It’s a rim design that needs to go bye-bye ASAP.

– Do you remember the FitStik? It was a cool apparatus that allowed you to fairly easily replicate your bike position from one bike to another. If you dread the idea of trying to re-create your touch points between Old Faithful and a new bike, the FitStik is (to my knowledge) the only device that makes it easy. It was a tool that got some traction in the late 90’s, then one day it just disappeared. We heard a rumor once that QBP bought the company and its designs, but we’ve heard nary a peep about it in years. We bought one on Ebay but an elemental part of its design is to screw it into the crankbolt threads of a tapered bottom bracket(!) Most of the folks I ride with gave up tapered BB’s back when Lance won his 2nd or 3rd Tour. Does anyone know what happened to FitStik? Will we ever see it again?

– If you are the bitchface who stole our 53cm Neon Yellow Pinarello Prince demo bike via an admittedly clever bit of identity theft in early April, a few things to consider: Do you know how many 53cm Neon Princes exist in the US? Of those, do you know how many are built with SRAM? Do you know that we know that your IP address is at SMU in Dallas? We’re closing in…

– The almighty Lance apparently believes in compression socks.

– When pissy people say ‘I’m never gonna buy from you guys again’ chances are that they never bought from you in the first place.

– The world is full of freaky folk. Some refuse to vaccinate their kids. Others think it’s totally Orwell to put fluoride in drinking water. And others, apparently, fear that Assos Chamois Cream leads to sterility or death. For you, some reading that will either (a) put your mind at ease, or (b) give you fuel for your cries of ‘Cover-up!’:

– For the last year Assos Chamois Cream has been blue. For the decade prior, it was French Vanilla-colored. Some folks claim they feel a material difference between the two versions. Some aficionados have called us looking for the French Vanilla. FYI: We don’t notice the difference, and we’re blue-only here, sorry.

– Assos Chamois Cream, pt. 3: I was about this close to seeing if Assos would sell us cream in bulk, so we could source fancy stainless steel, wall-mounted institutional hand soap dispensers and fill them with 40oz of Chamois Cream and sell them so you’d have a one-stop crotch-frosting machine. And I shared the thought with some staff here and they did some research to make me think otherwise.

– I now know who The Bike Snob NYC is. I have zero interest in naming names, but the discovery makes me wonder if his status as cultural critic gets diminished if he’s no longer anonymous? Omerta is the rule & not the exception here, but someday somebody’s sure to break the silence and I wonder what the impact will be.

– Allen Lim is doing some cool photographs with his iPhone.

– Let’s talk about dog people. Years ago when I watched ‘Best in Show’ it seemed like a documentary, not a parody. To this day when a conversation happens about kids and a dog person chimes in about their precious pup…it’s like a 3rd eyeball emerged from their forehead. It’s not bad or evil, just weird and perhaps a small bit amusing. But, as it pertains to dog people, I’ve discovered real evil lately and it’s the godforsaken retractable leash. Someday I’ll clothesline one whilst in the big ring and it’ll kill the dog and none of it will have been intentional and in the leash-induced carnage I’ll get up and brush off the gravel and wish I’d killed the owner instead.

– Way back in the day, like in the late 80’s, I was a hardcore junior racer and because of that I got invited (along with almost any 17 year old boy with a USCF license and a pulse…) to a summertime USA Cycling junior training camp at Lake Placid, NY. I think it was their attempt to ID bike racer diamonds in the rough, and based on my middling performance in the all-important final-day-of-camp TT I think I was judged to be all-rough and no-diamond. I did take one life-changing thing from that camp, which was the lifelong memory of a camp counselor-type -- he was Belgian and chunky and late-30’s -- and he awed us with stories of doing races like Ghent-Wevelgem and his secret (for both racing and in training) was to eat only Mars bars, and with his accent and his vivid tale-telling it sounded like a revelation of sacred text. Nutrition advice was non-existent in the late 80’s and it’s something I’ve ignored ever since, and because of all this I’ve had this crazy thing about Mars bars and at mid-ride stops on 4hr rides it’s what I always get. It’s not superstition and I don’t crave the taste, but just as Bernard Hinault said ‘As long as I breathe, I must attack…’ my mantra is ‘As long as I breathe, I must eat Mars bars.’ FYI, in a New Coke moment, Mars/M&M changed its name a couple of years back to ‘Snickers Almond’, but it’s still hugely PRO to me.