Customer Abuse @ Performance of Fair Oaks, CA

I know that you don’t go to Performance Bike for their great customer service, you go for the low prices and convenient hours. That said, you also don’t go with the expectation of being mistreated!!

My negative outlook on Performance started about six months ago when I went there with a friend to help choose a road bike. A specific Fuji bike was in the right price range and appealed on many levels. We had the bike out on the floor and she was looking at I was evaluating the fit. I held the wheel between my knees and the handlebars and had her sit on the bike while I evaluated the fit. While we were doing this a manager comes up and decides to take over. Without warning he forces himself between me and bike, nearly causing her to fall off! This upset me, but I continued anyhow. Later, when we were discussing the reach and the possibility of a handlebar swap he started moving the saddle forward. I told him that’s not how you adjust reach, but he got angry and said “just wait, I’ll show you!” I finally settled on the 47cm frame even though he was suggesting the 44. Interestingly, Fuji’s site suggests either the 47 or 50 for her height! Idiots…

So… last night I’m there with a neighbor. Everything is going fine at first. I pull out some bikes just to look them over with little concern about their size at first. My neighbor, being excited, is sitting on all of them, but I ignore it since that’s not what I’m looking at anyhow. We’re down to the last bike before we decide which one we should have him test ride when the manager (a different manager) comes over and says that the bike is too big (duh, thanks). I start to pull out the next smaller size when he immediately takes over and doesn’t allow me to see how that size fits. Deciding to avoid a confrontation I went away and started browsing the rest of the store while he gave his advice. Later, my neighbor calls me over to show me what they’d settled on. When I got there he said that this was the right size frame. I nearly laughed. It had a traditional geometry (horizontal top tube) so you’d go with a larger seat tube length than with a compact geometry frame. That said, he’d put my almost 6′ neighbor on a 54cm frame! I said something about the bike being far too small, that he was sitting nearly upright, far too cramped in the top tube, and besides the saddle was far too low. He said “no, the seat is in the ideal position! See how his top leg is horizontal, that’s ideal!” Top leg? Who looks at that? Then he went on about how the bike had a relaxed top tube geometry (huh? Relaxed head angle, relaxed seat angle, etc, but top tube?). I said no, that the saddle was at least 4cm too low! He started getting angry and barked “Fine, the bike is too small!” and stomped off. At the desk I could see him telling the other people something or other while staring at us.

There was more, but that’s the general gist of the experience. Amazing. I’m seriously considering contacting their corporate number, though I expect that they won’t have much concern.

For now, I’m done with Performance.

Basic Maintenance

Does it look worn out?Look at that pad,it still looks good, right?

I’ve HATED these pads ever since I bought the bike. They’re the stock Avid pads that came with the “Single Digit 5” V-Brakes that came with my touring bike. I replaced the front pad within a few days of buying the bike because they were removing aluminum flakes from the rim which would get embedded in the pad and make horrible scratching noises. I didn’t bother to change the back pad because I seldom use that brake, mostly just for slowing down lightly while looking back and signaling a left turn. For that reason, I didn’t really think much when they started making scraping noises again. It’s the rainy season and I figured it was just road grit. Besides, they still looked thick enough, I mean, look at the picture! The scraping was getting louder though, to the point where I completely stopped using that brake!!

Well, this weekend I finally got around to cleaning the bike up and decided to clean the grit out of the pad; instead, look what I found!!

Yikes!Yikes! Only 2600 miles of infrequent use and it’s already GONE! Down to the metal!! ACK, ruining my rims!!! The front pads, awesome dual compound koolstop pads, still have a lot of life left! I couldn’t believe that they were so worn out considering the circumstances! I’ll NEVER use these pads again! So, for now I stole the original front pads back from my fixed gear and am back rolling again, but even those will be going in the trash as soon as I have a new set (and a new set for the fixie!)

We’ll miss you Sheldon!

I don’t know where to begin. The cycling world has lost one of the greats. Sheldon Brown died last night of a heart attack after a long struggle with MS. When I first saw the Usenet posting I thought that the title had to be in jest, it HAD to be about something other than his passing, it just couldn’t be true! Sadly, it was.

Sheldon Brown will be remembered as a legend whose positive impact will be felt for many years to come.

It’s interesting how you can form a strong emotional attachment to somebody without ever really meeting them.  Over the years I have interacted with Sheldon Brown on a number of occasions. His help in matters related to cycling has been invaluable to me and many others. His amazing website, a wealth of information more valuable than an entire library of books, has been the go-to source for cyclists the world over.

Thank you Sheldon! You’ll be missed.

HONK HONK HELLO HONK HONK HELLO!

Horn

Yesterday I was riding to work when a neighbor passed me. He decides to say hi by honking his horn when he’s right behind me!!! Come on people,a horn is NOT a proper greeting for a cyclist!!! Don’t people realize that a horn is designed to be heard through the metal and glass cage that they sit in with their radio on? Honking it when a few feet behind an unsuspecting cyclist is EXTREMELY RUDE!

Oh, and don’t expect me to turn around with a big smile and wave after startling me causing me to jump off my bike! Grrrrrrrr………..

We both enjoyed the rain…

Toad!Last night the skies opened up and dumped a ton of water in a short amount of time. I missed the fun of riding in that (honest, I considered that a bad thing), but did get to ride home right after the major rain. The lightning storm was uncomfortably close, but the lighter rain that followed was a nice change. I enjoy riding in the rain, it’s very refreshing! When I got home I found the little guy in the picture waiting for me!

Activism Opportunity

I noticed recently that there is a new sign on the bike trail near the Hazel Avenue bridge soliciting feedback from cyclists about improvements that should be considered in the upcoming construction work on the Hazel Avenue bridge. I wish that all construction projects would solicit feedback from cyclists! For example, I can almost always guarantee that when I see new pavement going in that all signal detectors will be well hidden once they’re done — grrr… If you have some useful feedback, shoot them an e-mail!

0910071928.jpg

My Bike Tour

Day 1:

[OVERVIEW MAP]

[TOUR PICTURE]I decided to sleep in. This is vacation after all. I woke up completely congested, unable to breathe, and with a headache. With the excuse that I’m waiting for rush hour traffic to clear I eat a leisurely breakfast. Strange that I was so anxious to go, yet now I’m taking my time! To complement my general feeling of malaise the weather reports from the week prior were wrong. It wouldn’t be mid to high 80s, but rather high nineties (102 when I was riding home on day three)! Woo Hoo!

[TOUR PICTURE][TOUR PICTURE][TOUR PICTURE]

[TOUR PICTURE]I finally get out, top off the tires, and am on the road at around 10:30. The first section of my ride follows the Adventure Cycling Western Express route (map 1) to Placerville, CA. It’s a fairly easy ride up to Rescue. The road is narrow, but traffic isn’t too bad. One black SUV passes close enough to elicit a verbal response, but overall it was peaceful. The further up I go, the steeper it gets, but still easy going. [TOUR PICTURE]The route is easy to follow for the most part, but there is one place where Green Valley road makes a poorly marked turn. I continued riding along the main road when I suddenly realized that I was no longer on Green Valley road, but was now on Missouri Flat Road. When I saw the street sign I flagged down a construction worker at the intersection in his pickup. He seemed reluctant to talk, but waited anyhow. [TOUR PICTURE]He said that he didn’t know the area, being from San Jose, but that the other workers just up and over the big hill where he’d come from would know. Anxious to climb a big hill for instructions I wasn’t, so I studied my maps more closely. It appeared that I’d just missed my turn, and looking around I could actually see where I’d gone wrong. Phew! At Placerville I diverge from the Adventure Cycling route and head into downtown Placerville. There is a vegetarian restaurant (they serve some meat) that I really enjoy there called Cozmic Cafe (http://www.thecozmiccafe.com/). Unfortunately I’d not looked closely enough at the elevation profile of the route that I chose and now looking at Google Earth with 3D terrain turned on I can see that I passed over one of the highest peaks in the entire town! I got a nice 11% grade to prepare me for the upcoming mountains! In downtown I was riding along in the center of the narrow lane avoiding the door prize and keeping up quite well with traffic, until I hit a slight grade that slowed me down. The idiot behind me decided to express his displeasure using his auditory warning device. An oncoming driver in the other direction took the opportunity to shout what I was thinking “SHUT UP YOUR *F——* HORN!”[TOUR PICTURE]I ate a great meal, their Righteous Rice Bowl, containing organic basmati brown rice, balsamic beans, tomatoes, red onion, carrots, cabbage, melted Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, sprouts, green onions, fresh cilantro and sesame seeds, served with salsa, balsamic vinaigrette and cilantro sour cream. mmmm… makes me salivate to think of it. Along with copious amount of iced tea I refilled my two large water bottles and was on my way.I looked around for a city park to sit and read while digesting this treat, but didn’t find anything shady enough, so I decided to just press on.

[TOUR PICTURE]Leaving Placerville, I headed north on hwy 49 towards hwy 193. At hwy 193 I called home to let everybody know that I’d survived this far and that I would probably not have cell coverage for a while. The 11% downgrade was a fun rush. Unfortunately I couldn’t let it all out since I was afraid to let the loaded bike go above about 35 MPH. Turns out that I actually hit 38.4 somewhere along there, even though I was feathering the brakes most of the way. At the bottom of the grade, hwy 193 crosses the south fork of the American River. [TOUR PICTURE]I was looking forward to a refreshing dip in the river, but unfortunately at the bottom I found one side was a quarry, and the other side of the road had a private resort that was tightly fenced off. Darn. Since there was no shade here anyway I decided to just begin my climb back out of the river valley.

[TOUR PICTURE]The climb out of the valley was long and hot, though not nearly as bad as I expected. Living in the flatlands near Sacramento I don’t get a lot of practice hill climbing. My 20 mile RT commute has maybe 400 feet of climbing over 10 miles, so climbing isn’t my strong point! I spent a lot of time in my low (26/34) gear and just spun on up. The sun was beating down on me such that I was actually wishing more for shade than for flat/downhill. No uncomfortable run ins with cars, even on the blind corners, though a few drivers shouted out encouragement “You can make it!”. The views back down into the valley were breathtaking, though honestly I spent far too much time with my head down trudging away to enjoy it as much as I should have. Dismounting from a loaded touring bike on a steep hill isn’t exactly trivial, so I was very happy to have my well broken in Brooks saddle since rests usually consisted of locking the brake and putting a foot up on a guardrail.

[TOUR PICTURE]At the top of the big climb, things leveled out a bit (still uphill) the rest of the way into Georgetown. It was a nice quiet ride most of the way. One SUV passed me a bit too closely (pattern emerging?) and was pulled over by a CHP officer. Wow! Who’d have expected one to be sitting out there? I spent the next few hours worrying a bit about retribution, but it never came. Georgetown is quite small. I stopped at the first gas station that I encountered and bought a ginger ale. Real, brewed, ginger ale, the kind that burns on the way down. Yum, though difficult to drink after cycling. The gas station reinforced every stereotype of Georgetown that I’d heard. Guys wearing jungle cammo clothing, cammo face paint, and covered in tattoos were the majority of the customers. The others were tough looking girls with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. I managed to drink about half of my ginger ale, then went looking for a restaurant. There were only three that I could find. Mexican, Chinese, and Pizza. The Mexican place was closed, so I finally settled on pizza.

[TOUR PICTURE]While locking up my bike in front of the pizza place, Hungry Dog Pizza, I asked a lady who was smoking out front if they made good pizza there. She said yes, then put out her cigarette and went inside. It turns out, the place was empty except for her (the waitress), a cook (her husband?), and myself. I ordered a veggie pizza (smallest size, 10″) and iced tea. While waiting for my pizza to cook I pulled out my book and started in on it. Copious amounts of iced tea (yes, there IS a pattern fully emerged here), a completely consumed 10″ pizza, and three refilled water bottled later I was on my way. She was quite surprised when she came over to offer to box up the leftover pizza and there was none. <grin> Oh, and she was right, the pizza was good.

The ride from Georgetown to Cool[TOUR PICTURE] was nice and easy, mostly a gradual downhill ride. I was looking forward to finding my campsite and things were looking good. My intended campsite was a few miles off of my planned course, but on the satellite map it looked really good, a group of trees near a small lake on BLM land. Reality didn’t quite match the mirage. The entire area was tightly fenced off with only a small gap for hikers. Many signs were posted insisting on no camping and that the park closed at 9:00 pm. Darn. Not wanting to risk problems I pressed on hoping to find something better. [TOUR PICTURE]A long descent to the confluence of the North and Middle forks of the American river found nothing. The land was too overgrown and steep to set up a tent on, and besides, it was all fenced off with no trespassing signs.

At the river I started to worry. It was getting dark fast. Auburn was only about 3 miles uphill to the left with motels and all services, or the long empty road to Foresthill to the right. Deciding that I was out there for adventure and not going to carry the heavy camping gear for no reason, I took the unknown road that I’d never taken before. Up, up, up, about 8 miles up. It was completely dark and I was burning my headlight and taillight. More and more desperate. After many failed attempts (too steep, too exposed, gate too narrow,…) I finally found some mountain bike trails that had an opening wide enough for my bike, though I had to lift the entire load up and over a bar about 12″ off the ground that I think was there to discourage motorcycles. The areas was more exposed than I wanted, but it was late. Digging for my flashlight… can’t find it… OH NO! NO FLASHLIGHT, I FORGOT IT! Not wanting to expose my position I also didn’t want to use my 20 Watt headlight! Setting up the tent (second time ever) by the light of my cell phone screen I suddenly hear a voice. “Hello, hey, hello?!?” My heart rate shot through the roof for a moment until I realized that I’d somehow redialed the last number that I’d called and that the voice was coming from my phone. Pant, pant. Funny, when I’d tried to use it a moment earlier to check in it hadn’t worked! Worried about my position being exposed in the morning I set my alarm for first light.

[TOUR PICTURE]Sleep didn’t come easily. It was HOT, lumpy, noisy (some road noise, but mostly crinkling of weeds under my tent), and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with my location. Just to add some interest to the night I had a horrible sore throat. Not the kind that comes from being sick, but it felt more like I’d bruised my esophagus. I think that it was caused by huffing too much air and water too fast. The sore throat lasted until the morning of day 3.

— 68.5 miles, many more than I had planned for a single day!

Continue reading “My Bike Tour”

A Bit Inconvenient

Fallen Tree on Bike TrailIt’s hard to see, the picture isn’t that great (I was facing the sun, and it’s a cell phone), but on the way to work this morning there was a tree laying across the bike trail.  No warning signs, no detour signs, nothing.  Moreover, I was told that it had been there yesterday as well!

This is a major (as bike trails go) transportation corridor for cyclists in the Folsom area. Had this tree fallen across a road intended for motor vehicles it would have been removed immediately! I hope it’s gone on the way home, it was difficult to press through the branches!

Tour Preparation

Preparing for the TourI decided it’d be a good idea to do a shakedown ride before heading off into the middle of nowhere. I loaded up the bike just as I am planning to ride it off into the sunrise (I’m leaving in the early AM, headed east!) and set off on a 15 mile loop around the lake.

Good thing too, since it immediately exposed a problem with the new cassette. There was a horrible griding in a few gears. I turned around after about .5 mile and rode back home. At home I put the original cassette back on and rode it around, the noise went away. The chain and original cassette only have about 1200 miles on them, so a worn chain is probably not the cause, but I guess I have some investigation to do tonight. 🙁

Time to Hit the Road

bigclimbone.JPGI can’t wait. Concentration escapes me. I just about have everything ready. Have I forgotten anything? I’ve thought it over so many times that I can’t see how it’s possible.

The picture is a screenshot from Google Earth. I’ve turned elevation exaggeration all of the way up, but that’s about how it’ll feel on a bike anyhow!

0813071433.jpgI’m planning three days of riding. I’ll be riding my Trek 520; a great touring bike, but with a brain-dead gearing setup. I’ve made a few changes to the bike to get ready for the big climbs. I replaced the 30T granny ring with a 26T ring (look at that jump!) and replaced the rear 11-32 cassette with a 11-34 cassette. It’d be better to put on a mountain crankset, but I didn’t want to spend that much on a new crankset and bottom bracket. Someday. I also replaced the rear rack with a Jandd Expidition rack to prevent my new big bags from swaying into the spokes, which happened far too often with the stock Trek rack. I installed a front rack long ago.
bigclimbtwo.JPGI packed over the weekend (yeah, far too early, but I’m anxious!) and weighed the bags, tent, and sleeping bag. The total weight, before food and water, was 35 lbs. Water is heavy, so I’m expecting the total to be about 45 lbs. Interestingly, that makes the total weight much less than I used to weigh, even without a load!

0715072150.jpgI can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait… By the end of the tour I will be quite familiar with my friend named Brooks…