Tuesday, May 17, 2011

LBS: the good, the bad, and the fugly

An episode in which our heroine visits her Local Bike Shop (LBS).

The first time I went there with Binchy, my Bianchi Eros Donna road bike. I was wearing my "It's definitely Rainy/Winter/Nasty weather" jacket, which admittedly does cover me like a tent. Still, I'm not used to having someone address me thusly "Hey, man!" I mean... man?? I don't think I've been able to pass for a male since I was 10.

Still, a Merry is the forgiving type, as a rule. So I went in again, to ask them what they could do for my poor Iron Horse, the hybrid/mountain bike that I use for about town. The trouble is, riding this bike is hell on my knees. It wasn't always thus: I've ridden it to work for years; I've ridden 50 miles without a problem; I rode a few Bike Pedals without a qualm. And I haven't gained a noticeable amount of weight since then. So why, now, do my knees absolutely scream when I ride the Iron Horse?

The guy-up-front frowned. Then he said, delicately, "Well, knee problems are always caused by the bike not being sized right. I was thinking... maybe something in your position had changed recently?"

Wasn't until I'd left and headed home before it clicked that he was implying that my weight was causing the knee problems. This might be a reasonable suggestion if I hadn't ahem quite clearly mentioned that it was a recent problem -- quite recent -- and I'd been riding the bike regularly.

Anyway.

Went back again, this time with the bike in question, and took it straight to the Service department. They looked at the bike more than they looked at my hips, which I liked. They said what they saw was wrong with the bike. (Again, no hips were mentioned.) And they said that the bike did not need the Full I-mean-the-whole-enchilada Tune Up, which costs approximately 200 times more than the bike itself. (Okay, that's mostly because I got the Iron Horse for free, but even so-- a few full tunes ups and you'll start wondering if it might not be simpler to just buy a new damn bike already.)

"What's wrong with it?" I asked.
"Your bottom bracket is totally shot," was the reply. (Only in a bike shop would this be a response that didn't call for a slap across the face.) "Other than that, it looks pretty good."

I got the Iron Horse back tonight. Though I only rode it a mile home, the knees seemed to feel pretty good about the experience. We'll see how they feel tomorrow, after I ride to work.

Exercise du jour: Walked a few miles, i.e. walked to and from the Max station. One of these days I'm going to take a walk at lunch rather than work through that alleged 'rest' time. (My cynical self adds: yeah, and then I'll go dance with unicorns in a magic forest before riding off into the sunset with Prince Charming.)

May 18: Huh. Cycled a few miles. I spent the whole day stressing out at work -- another co-worker quit today -- and stayed so late that by the time I finally went home I didn't want to ride. Or walk. Or do anything but curl up in a ball and whine. Or wine. Whatever. Really, I need to work on my attitude. Whoever said it was going to be all fun? Tomorrow, 2 goals: ride to/from work and take a walk at lunch. Maybe I'll look for unicorns in the nearby forest.
May 19: Well all right, maybe the walk at lunch was a bit optimistic. But I'm planning on taking the weekend off, so I need to get things done while I'm there. Still managed some to and some fro cycling. Much easier to get 'er done when it's so absolutely beautiful out. [Merry Makes a Brilliant Discovery. No Film at 11.]

14 comments:

Xenia said...

Ugh. At least the issue with the bike has been sorted now. Long live the knees!

Laura I. (G.G.) said...

Wow! You're going to dance with unicorns in a magical forest AND be riding into the sunset with Prince Charming? Cool for you:-)

LaShaune said...

I am loving the bike shop better than the auto mechanic. I took mine to a local shop thinking I needed a full-on tune-up/overhaul (novice biker over here) because it felt as if the gears were jumping (I just dont know how to shift gears). Was told I needed a new helmet. Note to novice riders - you should change your helmet every 6 years - mine is as old as my bike (6 years!).

Glad yours was a simple fix too!

Andrea Davis said...

Ah, the bike shop drama...I cringe everytime I have to take mine in for the squeak it makes when going slowly uphill (who doesn't go slow up a hill)...that sounds just like metal on metal (not good) and which is impossible to replicate in repair shop.

messymimi said...

Bike shop, car shop, plumber, a/c guy, it's all just code words for this-is-going-to-cost-you.

Glad it didn't cost much this time, and hope it fixes the problem.

Gina Fit by 41, Maybe 42 said...

I didn't know that about knee pain and bike problems... good to know.

McB said...

Congrats on your bike. I really did not know that they were such complicated machines. I don't even know what a bottom bracket means, unless we are discussing my income. But seriously, bikes get tune-ups?

The Merry said...

Well, they call it a tune-up. Basically they add grease to areas that need it, take grease away from areas that don't, and make sure the cables and such aren't frayed. Pretty simple. Most of it is stuff that I plan to learn how to do. I mean, if I actually did some maintenance once or twice a decade, it might help.

Dr. J said...

Whenever my knees have hurt from riding it was because my legs didn't straighten out at the bottom of the stroke. Raising the seat as high as possible was my solution.

The Merry said...

Dr J! Good to hear from you :)

Yes, the position on the bike is the usual culprit. But I haven't changed the bike's seat height in years ... neither have I grown taller (alas) or smaller (yikes!).

My knees seem to be happy with the fixed bike; today I'm going to try for a longer ride to see.

Shelley said...

My bike shop peeps are very nice but I still get extremely intimidated whenever I bring my bike there. Glad you got it fixed; hope your knees behave from now on. And my gosh, your workplace still sounds torturous. I'm so sorry.

London Mabel said...

Good story. Important story. (Haters!)

Ink Spiller said...

I'm with Dr J when it comes to the knee thing. Up until I thought I was a bit of a retard for using that solution but trial and error and degree of knee pain brought the seat to new heights.

So, I ride high. So, I can see better and I look bigger and more intimidating so less drivers feel the need to aim their steel traps at me.

Is my story and I'm sticking to it.

The Merry said...

I think it's terrific that you and Dr. J agree with each other, though it has no bearing on my situation.