My Love-Hate With the Local Bike Shop

Last week I noticed that my bottom bracket was having some mild grinding. No audible sound was coming, but it was definitely grinding on the down-stroke. I ride a 2016 Cervelo P3 which is fitted with a press fit BBRight bracket. And I’m completely incapable of performing this specific piece of maintenance.

Thursday before hitting the pool I went down to my local bike shop to ask some questions about it. The guys in there are usually pretty nice, but having not brought my bike with me (intentionally) there was only so much I could do. I knew that the grinding was a minor issue and that I still had three more days to ride before I had a day off the bike (the day off was Monday – today). So I asked about when to bring it in, about how long it would take, that kind of thing. They said bring it in first thing Monday – great.

Now I’ll mention that while I have no affiliation with the shop, they tend to be on the awesome side of things most of the time. A bit of a gruff exterior, but willing to bend pricing reasonably, easy to contact, and very convenient to my office. I bought my Cervelo from them as well as a variety of other items, and all with great experiences.

I should also mention that the city I live in is not small, but its not huge either. There are a handful of bike shops, but only one Cervelo dealer. So if I want an “official” mechanic, they’re my guys.

I arrived promptly at 9 am with my bike – so prompt in fact that the store wasn’t yet open. Sorry guys. I hate being that guy but I start work at 8 and had to leave to drop it for 9. Speaking to the staff it sounded like it would be towards the end of the week before I had the bike back. I had factored into my training plan to not have a bike from Monday until end of day Tuesday, and if I was able to swing that I’d not have to sacrifice a workout. But end of the week meant I’d have to change everything. I plan my upcoming weeks on Sunday nights, right around the time I have been posting my weekly workout logs.

Ok, well, I hummed for a second and decided it needed the work and I’d better just deal with it. It’s Base 1 Week 2. Loads of time to make up a day or two lost. Not the end of the world since my Form score is huge right now also. Etc.

Then I got to thinking “why don’t they accept service appointments?” It seems like a pretty trivial thing, especially for people that ride frequently. If I had an appointment, I could schedule around it. I’d absolutely be willing to pay more for that kind of thing. Then I remembered Velofix.

This is a relatively new service to our area, and I’ve yet to try it out, but the short version is they have a Sprinter van that is full of a bike workshop. Book an appointment with the service you want, and they show up at your door and do the work. There’s a $69 min charge for our area and I’d bet the labour costs are a bit higher than in a typical LBS, but they accept appointments.

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At this point, having now panicked about losing a bunch of days working out and knowing I had an appointment based solution available to me, I was grumpy. Cut to lunch, at home making grilled cheese sandwiches (yum), the shop calls and tells me that they’ve got my bike ready to go (!!….??). “All fixed up,” they said, and proceeded to tell me what the work was. “Great – I’ll be by after work to grab it – and THANK YOU!” I replied.

So now I know I’m not losing workout days, I’m pretty happy again. Head down to the shop after work & grab my bike, and here’s the kicker: they don’t even charge me for the work. I ask about appointments and they still say ‘no’ but I just keep thinking “I just saved $69+, and these guys are awesome!”

I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m happy. I’m lucky. I’ve got a great local bike shop that will prioritize work AND are great to their customers. And I’ve got Velofix, which also fits the ticket for when I’m in a pinch and need something quick. And the best part: I’ve got a sweet bike that I get to ask them to work on.

I’m not sure if there is a moral here, but if there is one I think it is to stick with what works, be good to those that are good to you, and trust in a trusted system. And of course, support your local bike shops. They’re great, even if they are a bit gruff sometimes.

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I hate Treadmills

They’re the worst. Treadmills are awful. I’m very angry with mine right now.

I’m skeptical at the best of times that I’m getting “as good” a workout from treadmills as I do from outside. There are obvious benefits – pacing being out of my control is one of them. I find it much easier to sustain a difficult pace on a treadmill than out in the real world. But that also has me thinking that I should be better at sustaining a pace in the real world, and that I need practice doing this – in the real world. Not on a treadmill.

I’m also skeptical that bio-mechanically, everything is sound while running on a treadmill. It’s a belt. It can slip. It does slip. That’s one of the things I hate about it. Even after tightening it so it doesn’t slipĀ perceptibly I’m still very skeptical that it isn’t slippingĀ imperceptibly and causing hellish problems within my knees. It wouldn’t take much to irritate the soft tissue beneath the patella. That’s a road that leads straight back to my winter injury. And I really think like my ground contact time is way longer on a treadmill than it is when I’m outside. I don’t have any way of measuring that with my current tools, and it doesn’t really matter, but if my stride is different on the treadmill vs. outside, that’d bad. I don’t fully understand the pure bio-mechanics of it, but seriously, how could it be good?

But what really grinds my gears is that I can’t get accurate distance/pace from the treadmill. Or rather, TrainingPeaks won’t accept an adjusted distance/pace and recalculate my IF to generate an accurate TSS score for the workout. My Garmin Fenix 3HR, which I adore – except on the treadmill – tries to estimate pace using accelerometers. If it worked properly that’d be great. Last night, however, it missed my pace by ~20-35 seconds per km, and missed my distance by over 800m. And it was on the slow side, so I looked even more like a weenie when the workout got posted to Strava!Strava - Fenix lies

800m is completely unacceptable. And from what I’ve read online the foot pod that Garmin makes is not a suitable solution – might be accurate at the pace it is calibrated but as pace changes the accuracy goes out the window. These new running power meters may also be a solution some day but for now it looks like they’re completely useless on the treadmill – more so than just a plain old foot pod.

But given the issues I have with treadmills I think my days using them are up. Later this week the temperatures are supposed to be above freezing, so I may actually have a clean sidewalk to run on. I have the gear for it. But I’m not a fan of slipping and sliding all over the place.

But enough is enough. As nice as it is to watch Jack Bauer beat up terrorists while sweating in my warm house, when the sidewalks are clear the treadmill is turning into a “last resort” tool.