A Semi Fictional Day

While this account is somewhat fictional, a mechanic will experience each of these things every day. From time to time, a day will include all of these situations. This story was submitted from another angry bike mechanic… somewhere far, far away.

Here we go, One Hell of a Day

Telephone rings…. “Hello. What time is packet pickup??”

Answer: “Between 4 and 6.”

“Okay. Thanks.” Click.

Customer walks through the door, has a tricycle from the 1960’s in her hand. I look at and am thinking deep down, “You’re not going to ask it.” I was proved wrong. “Do you still fix these? Can you get parts?”

Successfully ruining her day, “Nope. Sorry. All that stuff is so old you might find a collective of people hanging onto what you need on the internet.” We can’t fix everything.

Telephone rings…. “Hello. What time is packet pickup??”

Answer: “Between 4 and 6.”

“Okay. Where do we get the race t-shirt?”

“Packet pickup.”

“What kind of a race is this? Is it mountain or road?”

Everyone knows that there wasn’t even a dirt road on this course route, a route that wasn’t a race either. It was a century. Which means that you attract a bunch of recreational cyclists. Which means that you get a lot of seemingly stupid questions. “I’m sorry, what?”

“What kind of bike do I need?” As if to say, I am awesome, I have a mountain bike and a road bike, but I don’t know what either one is for…

“So it’s a road bike century. Bring your road bike.”

“Can I have someone bring my mountain bike for the road construction part, so I can switch??”

While the answer should have been “Certainly not” it was going to be hilarious for someone: “Yes, that’s fine but you’ll need to arrange it yourself. You still have to keep the course rules.”

Placated, “Thanks!!”

Customer pulls into the parking lot, and I swear this happens once a week, in a truck with a payload of junk bikes. Comes in the door, kind of distressed, “Hey man, you gotta help me out.” Not wanting to deal with it but reluctantly ask the question that feels like volunteering to test a shark bite suit, “What’s the matter?”

“I’ve got a couple of bikes with flat tires. They need fixin.”

“Bring em in..” exasperated.

“Can ya help me bring them in?”

“How many are there?”


“Well, shit man. You can’t just bring in 6 bikes at a time in the back of your truck!” is what every mechanic wants to say. But the problem is shop or no shop, tires need to be fixed and money needs to be made.

“So how much am I looking at here… fix all them flats?”

“On average, each bike will be 23 dollars in parts and labor..”

“Can’t ya just see which one’s need to be replaced??” Phone rings..

“Hang on, sir..”

Looking flustered he watches me answer the phone.. “Hello, You’re awesome local bike shop. What can I do for you?”

“What time is packet pickup?”

“Did you find it on the website?”

“Yes, but I wanted to make sure it hadn’t changed.”

“Nope, that’d be really weird if it had. Anything else?”

“What kind of nutrition will be on the event?” A seriously tough question that I, the awesome local bike shop mechanic, had no answer for because I was not part of the event, or the organization of the event.

“It’s going to the best food you’ve ever had on course.”



“What exactly?”

I had no idea how to handle these questions, looked back and hollered for Carol, the event coordinator. Told her I had a question on the line about the food for the century. She looked back, shrugged, “I don’t know.” I say, “Take the call.”

Carol: “Yes. Yes. Coke.”

The gentleman with the truck was patiently waiting.. “Sorry man, that’s something you should have done. We only charge minimum labor to replace tubes. We can’t go through and check 6 bikes to see if they’ll hold air. Either we replace all the tubes and you pick up the bikes tomorrow or we sell you some tubes and you do the job yourself… It’ll be 130 dollars.”

“What?!” shreiking a little.

“Six bikes sir.”

“Can ya give me a break?”

“If I give you a $45 break will that work?”

“Yeah man!”

Intolerant of swindlers: “Ok, then I can fix 4 of your 6 bikes.”

Telephone rings…. “Hello. What time is packet pickup??”

Answer: “Between 4 and 6.”

“Okay. Thanks. What should I wear?”


I glance at the guy with 12 flat tires.

“What?? I guess I’ll fix ’em.”

“12 tubes. Seventy-two dollars please.”

Mountain Biking Vernal

Got up this morning with one thing in mind, “I need to ride my bike.” With household approval to take off for the next 30 hours I packed up kissed my lady and again I was off to adventure, much like my bike packing adventure.

The drive from Heber to Vernal in Utah is only 2 hours and on the way out along US Highway 40 I can watch Utah change back into what it mostly is. Good fortune has allotted that I live in a tourist driven area where folks come to take advantage of a largely unmined landscape. By this I mean, none of this:

oil derricks
All along highway 40 you see these things on the horizon

Yes, Utah is a lot of oil and gas drilling. I guess there’s money in it. While it’s not east Texas, it seems like oil is the name of the game out here.

The drive out was dreary until the clouds started to break apart. Then for hours on end there were some cool opportunities for amazing contrast shots. The ground was lit, being reds and yellows, it contrasted heavily against the deep gray clouds of the northern skies.

Around sunset, the contrasts between earth and sky were amazing
What happens when you want the picture but the clouds keep the sun in

The Riding:

What leads someone to consider mountain biking Vernal, Utah, you ask? Well this:

While these aren’t all the trails, I covered a few of them and they are stellar

McCoy Flats has always been spoken of as the riding in the Vernal area. There are plenty of other fantastic places to ride; however, this is simply off the highway on the way into town arriving from the rest of Utah.

It’s some of the best desert riding single-track around. When you go to Moab, the rock is nearly stiflingly awesome and there’s usually a lot of double track as many of the existing trails are mine road remnants. After some time on it you’re ready for dirt again, single-track dirt. The trails at McCoy Flats are full spectrum: easy to technically challenging. There is dirt here, not so much sand. Talk about refreshing desert riding!

While all seems ride-able, there are few obstacles that trick the eye. I got temporarily hung up on some of these. But oh such great riding. My new favorite line is called “Fire Sale” which branches off of “Retail Sale”. Ride it from West to East. It takes up all the available real estate on two hills.

A few of these trails are directional. It makes for a nice consistency. You can’t ride up certain rock drops. Also, you won’t find yourself riding up a skid. All the trails are well marked and circumnavigate the parking area. This added convenience is nice for a pit stop, snacks, and refreshments.

This is why folks pack their bike and head to Vernal.

Continued Discussion – Bicycle Commuting

Somebody please fix these numbers:

87% of daily trips take place in personal vehicles
91% commutes take place in personal vehicles
(Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

“…Each gallon of gasoline burned creates 20 pounds of carbon dioxide…”
“…Every mile pedaled rather than driven keeps nearly one pound of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Even a short, four-mile round-trip bike ride keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe…”
(Conservation International – What You Can Do)

Search on Google to see how efficient your auto is. I haven’t driven my car for a couple weeks and it feels so great! I ride all over. See my recent post on riding (bicycle commuting) home from the car service center 50 miles from my house. I’ve car pooled some places, with my wife to go see family or friends. Riding my bike to work and the store is simple and requires little more time. Of course, I admit, that my small community makes it easy to spontaneously go to the store on my bike.

Making it happen:

Some communities aren’t so small and require more planning but that shouldn’t stop you from being able to ride a bike to fulfill your daily chores including work. Bikes come in such a vast variety that you can literally find one that mozies around or one that rides like a bullet to do the job. From Touring bikes to competitive road bikes, you have your choice. If you work in a mountain town there are great trail bikes around.

a touring bike
road bike


I guess, the hardest part is building it into your day. I once had a customer that was busy enough with family and work that his daily commute was his exercise plan. He built it into his day and each way was about 17 miles through traffic. He was an investment officer. Every person has to figure how they are going to make it work if they decide to do it.

Bicycle commuting is the kind of thing that promotes good health, both physically and mentally. In articles all over the web you can read about how exercise improves mood and productivity at work. The increased blood flow to the brain and body may have something to do with this. Here are a couple articles about exercise and one specifically about exercise before work, 5 Reasons to Exercise Before Work and 7 Benefits of Morning Exercise. Think of the morning commute to work as this way to exercise and brighten your day.

Bicycle Power!

Obviously there are times when we require our auto but I believe that most of the time we can do the work of the auto under our own power and gain massive benefits for our bodies and environment as a result.

I suppose I’ll make an argument for using cars less and less in the next part of the ongoing discussion about bicycle commuting.

A Discussion – Bicycle Commuting

Yesterday I drove 50 miles to the car dealership to drop off my car for service. Rather than having my wife follow me in her car I decided to make a day of it and ride my road bike over our mountain passes to get home. I’ve never been afraid to use the bicycle as a means of transportation; bicycle commuting is my most common way to get to work. With fuel prices and the resulting pollution, riding a bicycle is much more friendly on both environment and wallet.

High Mountain Pass at 9000′

The ride home started off pleasant, as all rides do but I needed to climb 5700′ vertical over 43 miles. The pitch basically ramps up steeper and steeper as the day wore on, the cool air turning warm with sun and elevation thinning the available oxygen…

Seriously, elevation gain

Although I was home by noon, I was useless in regards to getting on with my day. The commute took 4 hours, the climbing unrelenting. But I made it home. Get this, I rode an 2001 steel Bianchi to do the job. Think of it this way, instead of using the bike for fitness and recreation, why is it not used more often as a primary means of mobility?

Bicycles can be more for just the occasional business professional or everyday college student. Bicycles should possibly be used every time we go out to dinner, the movies, shopping.. sure, it takes more time and more planning, but you end up with just the essentials when shopping, a bigger day floating the river, and a nice way to get home after sitting in a theatre for too long in one uncomfortable chair.

You and I might say that a lot of folks do this. Well it isn’t enough. Imagine having to go into the city with your bike from your rural home. It could be a long way off. You make a day of it. In Europe there are trains to help people move about in this way. Between Heber City and Salt Lake City, Utah, there are no such options. So.. We ride our bikes over mountain passes?

I don’t know the answer here. But I’d like to think that it’s possible, with proper planning to be able to do bigger and badder things in the name of simple economy and saving the world from the effects of all types of pollution. We might spend more time shopping local, buying much less of the things we don’t need, living healthier lives with our bodies in motion, and other things.

We could spend more time breathing the air rather than polluting it. Anyhow, check out The League of American Bicyclists page. It may help you out.

Let Us Speak of the Electronic Tonic (part 1)

Unless you’re living in the bushes in a desert alcove you’ve prolly heard about electronic shifting, first introduced by Shimano, then wireless-electronic shifting offered from Sram and the EPS groups from Italy that no one was ever too sure about. Shimano also brought us the first electronically controlled mountain drivetrain system.

XT Stuff (Shimano.com)
And who the hell is still using a front derailleur? Shimano offers this expensive tech for that one guy… but I guess if you’re on a road bike then sure, why not.

Now there are fully integrated E-bikes. These sometimes don’t use electronic shifting but they’re using a pedal-assisted electric drive, giving the rider uncanny range and extra pedal power.

Something Trek built; note the large bottom bracket and battery. Who wants a water bottle?
Two places that electronic definitely doesn’t fit, bike packing and bike touring. Both of these involve traveling long distances with as little electronic gear as possible. While it could be done, having to charge your drivetrain with a solar panel while you should be moving down the road seems a little off-putting. Do what you want, though. The charge on this stuff apparently lasts a long time. I don’t see a reason to add this tedious task to packing or touring.

Where it does belong: on a bike whose owner has a track record of bad shifting. The electronic stuff shifts precisely and completely; there won’t be any of this half shifting where the chain ends up on a bite on the next cog up the range, causing weirdness. If you don’t know how to shift and you blow through drivetrains, get electronic.

You don’t have to be a purist to want a standard, cable operated drivetrain. In fact, Pinkbike.com is doing a poll right now showing that most of us truly want a non-electronic bike. As for battery powered, pedal assisted mountain bikes we have a different beast on our hands. “In Europe, this is all the rage.” -Industry guy I know who’d just come to the US from an extensive eBike test in Europe.

I see the appeal. I also spoke with a guy on the trail who, with his rootbeer belly hanging over his shorts bragged about how his Specialized Levo made it so he could pass his super fit and lean son on the trail, and have to actually wait for him. Sweat was still dripping off his brow. “Congratulations bro, your battery powered biomechanical extension allowed you to win the group ride.” Good for you. And now, go away.

Bicycles are all about the conservation of energy. Since the inception in 1812 this has been true. Now it seems that it’s even more about conserving your own bio-energy and expending that of electricity, which, by the way, isn’t expelling turds and farts as bi-product, largely it’s expelling burnt coal and diesel fumes, dead fish and nuclear waste. That my friends is not the conservation of energy. Not to mention the lithium-ion batteries that are used to carried the energy supply on the bike.

If you can’t stick it in your mouth or up your butt safely, it’s prolly not a great source of fuel.