Wednesday, April 29, 2020

some quick lessons

when your boss tells you that they "don't know if they'll be able to pay you"...yeah, it's time to cut and run. so I did.

a few things I learned rather quickly while I was running was that I am NOT made for a 3rd shift gig. I thought it would be good. I could work while everyone slept & I could sleep while everyone was at work/school. that did not go over very well with my mental state. I couldn't function and that's not a good thing while you're driving. the other thing I learned was that looking for a job sucked. plain and just sucked. I hadn't had to do that for a long time. I taught at colleges for 10+ years, and that process was simple. it really was. I have a degree. I have experience. i'm not a basket case and am very competent at my degree knowledge. boom. let's move on. working at bike shops I became a very proficient wrench. i'm not going to lie. i'm good. i'm not breaking my arm by patting myself on the back here. people sought me out. people only wanted me working on their rides. so moving in and around shops were easy as well. my reputation proceeded me. but now that the final nail in the coffin was laid and I left that comfort...I was lost.

I hopped on all the sites hard. LinkedIn. Indeed. where do you go when you're a competent human being. relatively smart. hard worker. excellent work ethic. on time. not a substance abuser. I looked at the local hospitals (some of the best in the country here in Cleveland), local universities; and I had some really close calls. so I began reaching out to people I knew, and had some close calls; but I have one major flaw. one problem in my wiring. I see the bullshit. from a mile away...I see the bullshit. the bullshit questions that employers ask. "what's your problems solving process?" "what was an obstacle that you overcame at work & what was the outcome?" -I din't get fired...haha

the psychological tests that are given that are presented as a "we'd like to get to know you more". when there are no "correct answers", but rather a psychologist designs a "test" around the whatever arbitrary concept the employer deems as what makes an ideal employee. "are you a team player?" "would you rather work alone?" we want you to be independent but yet need us at the same time.

video interviews that are just set questions are not, apparently, my strong suit either. there's no room to talk to a human being. that interplay. that dialogue. when part of the gig i'm applying for is that interplay yet is not there in the interview? wait...what? exactly. when a major part of the job is talking to people and having some kind of personality, the process to get that job has none. ok. makes zero sense.

so my wife and I were in talks about me just being a stay at home dad. which, truth be told, I love it. I love cooking, taking care of the house & of course our child. I enjoyed going to soccer practice for hours on end during a week. however there was a flip side to this, and that being that my wife picked up more hours; which would have made her cranky. justifiably so.

so I got a seasonal gig with UPS and I was really happy with myself that I passed their rigorous driving school. however; just like any other big corporation, they jerk you around as they need you. no set hours. no set time. and the big corporation overloaded employees because of the holiday season. so the search continues...

Monday, April 27, 2020

life changes in your mid 40s

I knew I needed a life change. I knew that much. that was all I knew.

bike shop life was sucking the happiness out of me. I was at a good shop that had promise of long term employment. something you can't bank on in that industry. but I walked away. I was getting angry at customers for the littlest things. it wasn't going to end well. so I walked away. not only for my mental sake, but also the sake of the shop.

I walked away with no plan. well...I had an idea, but no plan. I thought i'd try coding. I like logic. hell...I have my MA in Philosophy and I focused in logic. long story short...I was having a break down in 2 weeks of school. I wasn't eating. I wasn't sleeping. I was a wreck. my most wonderfully supportive wife said to walk away, we'll figure this out. I did.

I learned a great deal about myself in those few months. mostly the importance of a wonderful support system. my family. my ability to walk away to try something completely new, no matter the outcome.  a great deal of fear left me throughout this.

a great deal. not all...

I kept wrenching for a little bit for a mobile shop, but my heart wasn't there; but I pressed on to pay the bills. once that started to dry up...I jumped off a sinking ship. this is when life started to freak me out.

where does a guy with an MA in Philosophy (taught at the college level for 10 years), worked/managed in bike shops (for 10 years) go to get a gig that isn't either? how do I find what I want to do? scratch that...need to do. what was I looking for? no freaking idea. what did I want to do? pay my bills. I knew I wanted something where I could punch in. work and then leave. not think about the work after I punch out.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


I am not a roadie. This is an obvious fact. I’m not against road bikes. I’ve just never had a standing relationship with one. But cross…there’s a relationship that has endured. I can mostly be found on a cross bike. My oldest cross bike in my quiver right now is my Vicious Cycles Slider. This stead has treated me well throughout the years. She has gone through many changes throughout our relationship, but has been loyal every step of the way.

Another thing about me is that I am not a climber. I can’t climb for shit. I’m also not part of Team Stick Boy, never have been, never will be. Maybe that has something to do with it, and I’m o.k. with it. That being said…I never back down from climbing. I do go out on routes and look for climbs. Hell, I even do hill repeats once and awhile.

But this being said, the one thing in my mind when building up a bike is gearing. I’m kind of terrified about it to be honest. Will this be enough gears? What about this range? Do I have the right chain rings?

A quick history on the Slider…I’ve been running that bike on a 1x system for about 9 years now. I’ll let that sink in…yes! 9 years. I did that mostly because I wanted a simpler system for cross. I didn’t want to mess with a front shifter. I understood and listened to my riding that if I just put on a chain ring that was in between the current two chain ring set up, I could use the full cassette range without problem. Now…I’ve had drop problems for sure, and it wasn’t till my current set up with a Wolf Tooth chain ring are my problems gone. (currently running a 1x10 Shimano 105 set up) But my fear of gearing was still there, and how to get around that pesky road derailleur of a max range to 28 teeth?

Sometime ago with Shimano, their pull ratio was the same on their mountain and road shifters and derailleur. So with some 105 shifters and a sweet XTR rear derailleur my problem was solved. I could climb almost any hill, road or off, and be just fine. A simple solution to a simple problem. My gearing always hovered around a 42 up front and an 11-34 cassette. Now times and tech have changed, and on the Slider currently is still a 42 up front, but an 11-32 in the back.

Now what’s my point with this? That I’m ahead of the curve? Well…yes. History has proven this empirically. People thought my set up on the Slider was crazy. But now people are paying a lot of money to change over their bikes to a 1x set up; when all you need is the right chain ring up front with what the current road rear derailleur can do. I’m seeing more bikes come with a 1x11 set up. I’m reading articles were riders are ‘testing’ a 1x set up for riding, and how and where they are riding. And it’s just been another day in the saddle for me. Is it practical? Not sure. That’s up to the individual. The individual has to be honest with themselves. How they ride. Where they ride. Their strengths as a rider. And, honestly, working in a bike shop I don’t see too much of that coming from customers, but that’s another topic for another time. A 1x system will always be that; 1x. So is this current move towards these systems a fad, like single speeds were? Not sure. You’re also reading this from a guy who loves his single speeds.


Friday, August 21, 2015

come back....

i'm kicking this back into gear...again.

after a few conversations on twitter, and some other things; i'm going to try and post weekly.

i often take the summer off because of shop responsibilities, and those are still hot right now, but so are the conversations i've been having.

stay tuned, and hope all is well; and that i can put out some words that you'll enjoy.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Let’s take something fun & beautiful and complicate it.

That sounds like a few relationship I had, and to mirror that; it’s the way I feel about NEOCX and my love of SSCX.

I’ve been racing cross for around 15 years now. Most of that has been on a single speed. Mostly because of the fun of it. I’m not going pro anytime, so why not have fun with it. (I’m going to pause for a bit, and so should you and re-read my last sentence at least 5 times and let it sink in)

And as the Single Speeders increased, we were granted our own category. (and a special thanks to that individual, you know who that is….) I thought this was great. I would be racing with people all with the same ‘handicap’ as I. I’ve known the feeling all too well of a cross race hitting pavement and hearing the clicking of gears, and I’m left alone. Then after the race looking for the other people that raced SS and seeing where I stacked up with them. Now the playing field is even. Great idea….

Well; I took a few years off from racing because there are many more important things than racing bikes (I should take a moment here again as well for this to sink in, but I won’t. because if you don’t get it, then you won’t get this and you should stop reading now).

And as I was getting back into the swing of wanting to race, my buddy tells me about the SSCX class. I was stoked. I get to the line, and I’m surrounded by a bunch of really fast guys. My first thought…”what the hell?”  Then I thought that maybe they broke up the class into two…nope.

So now as the time has gone on, I’m still confused about the SSCX class. So now it is nothing short of guys (and some gals) racing in the SSCX class and then moving on to their geared class. So is the SSCX race just a warm up for everyone? And now that they have moved the time of the race to 9am for this reason, are we just creating some kind of sand bagging?

Well…I can’t win in my category, but I may have a shot in this one & I really want the points in my category as well…so I’ll do this.

Is it NEOCX again catering to the 1% of racers in Cleveland that care about points? Is it a way to kill attendance? To kill off spectators? To kill off the participation in SSCX as a whole? I know half the SSCX field has a hard time getting moving so early in the morning esp to race.

I welcome any discussion….

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

tin foil Jens...

My tin foil hat looks good on me now…doesn’t it?

I made the prediction earlier this year that Trek was going to get their hooks into Jens. Some people thought I was crazy. But look at the logic here…

Jens has a outspoken personality. His interviews are always entertaining. He’s known for attacking in the break aways. Putting out a monstrous effort. His great one liners of ‘shut up legs’, ‘suffering’…

He’s marketable, which in Trek’s eyes means money. Plain and simple. Put him on a shirt, maybe even a make a Jens edition bike…people will buy it.

He’s going out on top, so why not make some money off of him.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not blaming Jens. It’s a paycheck, and every damn one of you would take it as well. I mean look at Ray that started Ray’s Indoor Mtn Bike Park. Trek got him, and now he’s retired riding bikes all over the place. Not a bad way to spend retirement. Again…I don’t blame him.
Trek needs someone to lift their brand up after the whole Armstrong thing. Who else are they going to go after? Fabian? He still has years to ride, and could be on another bike in a year or two. Trek is scrambling for something. Did anyone even pay attention to the team this year at the Tour? Other than Jens…me either. I didn’t know the Schleck brothers were racing till mid way through the race ;) And when Fabian leaves mid way through to go ‘train’ for another race, what does that say about the faith of the team doing something, or even your teammate hanging out for Jens’ last ride on the Champs?

But one thing sticks in my head…he had a very long career. This career in cycling started in 1994. He rode throughout the Armstrong era. This era was plagued with doping. It’s been proven by independent laboratories.

It has also been proven that during the seven wins (yeah, I said it…wins) of Armstrong that no one was found to be clean. Unless you watch this:

Although he denies ever doping, there are a multitude of evidence that states just the opposite. So my personal question then is, why do we raise up riders like Jens but not Armstrong? Was Armstrong a dick? I wouldn’t expect any less. During the height of Led Zeppelin, do you think those guys were ‘cool’? Doubt it.

So why give this guy (and many like him) a free pass? If doping is wrong, it is wrong. Or is it just a case of who is more marketable at the time? Open your eyes kids...

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Habit. We are creatures of habit. In some sense habit and route make our lives make sense. We understand our surroundings just a little better with these two things. If things do not go according to this route/habit, then our day seems off. Seems wrong.

What if you do not get your morning cup of coffee? And if you do get it, you have to stop somewhere or get it from somewhere else? Your morning may feel different. Ever forgot to brush your teeth in the morning?

We feel comfortable in our habits. Aristotle believed our ethical virtues arise from our habit. Who we are, ethical; is determined through our habits. Our habits are acquired by our own choosing. Our habits determine who we are. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle.

Want to change who you are? Change your habits. Change your route.

The problem with this…it gets us out of our comfort zone. The habits that we have acquired so far become comfortable to us. However; if we expect any change, we must change our habits. If we want to become anything else, then we must step outside of our comfort zone.

This applies to cycling as well. Want to be a better cyclist, then step outside your comfort zone. As we do this, we begin to push our limitations. Taking your cross bike onto a mtn bike trail. Your skills will increase exponentially after repeated habit. Without your mtn bike you do not have the luxury of wide tires or suspension to get you over/through rocky sections, roots, going down bumpy hills. If you take these luxuries away you are forced to think about the trail more. Think about the line. Think about how to get through a tricky section. Instead of just ‘jamming’ through it without thought. To just ‘float’ over the objects.

This goes the same for riding a single speed or fixed gear bike.

Know that hill that you always have trouble with, even with gears? Hit it with a single speed. See what happens. I’m sure the first few times will be horrible. They always are as we move outside of the comfort zone. But as you continue to ride on the single speed/fixed you will notice improvements in your overall general riding.

Now try this practice on a local mtn bike trail with a SSCX... ;)

What I have noticed from this practice, is that I started getting PR on some of the local Strava segments; either on my single speed or geared bikes.

Maybe in some way we understand the greater complexness of it all when we really take the time and understand the simplicity of it all…

And remember; who you are is determined by what you do…