Going AMA

2017 has been a shit year for me so far on the bike, but not for the same reasons as years past where I just wasn’t motivated. This year, I’m in a pretty good space mentally, and have actually been really jonesing to ride, but I’ve been sidelined with injuries keeping me off the bike … which is actually making me want to ride even more, despite how much I know it’s going to hurt.

Thus far this spring I’ve had a couple bulging discs between C5/C6 and C6/C7 in my neck, and associated radiculopathy down my left arm … this has been going on since early February. After physical therapy and a couple of steroid injections in my neck and left wrist, that seems to really be improving. But, about a month ago, on May 21, I was trying to balance on a balance board, and failed miserably, falling and breaking my right arm (a closed fracture at the radial head), which technically is supposed to have me off the bike until July. And finally, I had a gout attack, swelling my right foot enormously, and causing a lot of pain. More steroids, more treatments.

Today, however … today is absolutely beautiful outside, not too hot, and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to go AMA (against medical advice) and ride.

And it hurt.

A lot.

And that’s okay, because it felt so good getting out there and turning my legs over for an hour, I didn’t care about anything else.

That was today’s ride. I’m hoping to have a lot more this summer as the season progresses.

An Open Letter to the KRCL Board of Trustees

It’s no secret that I’ve been critical of the way that KRCL 90.9FM has been programmed and run over the past several years since the Board of Trustees hired on Vicki Mann. Since Ms. Mann has been on board, the station declined immensely in the quality of the music being played during the weekday programming hours.

In early April, I sent a letter to the Board of Trustees to try and enlist their aid in turning things around.

It is also no secret that I have long been a fan of LITTLE BIT LOUDER NOW, w/ Bad Brad Wheeler; not so much because of the specific music that Brad played on his show, but because he took chances, he thought about the events of the day, and curated his playlist accordingly, whereas the rest of the daytime DJs played the same saccharine “adult album alternative” music as local commercial stations.

There is a reason why Brad was always the biggest on-air fundraiser. And with Brad’s announcement of his resignation today, the station has just lost my support.

I am cancelling my current pledge. I urge others who feel the same way that I do to do the same. If you are unhappy with the direction that the station has been going, then why should you continue to financially support the station.

The only tool that we have at our disposal is our dollars. If you are an underwriter, know an underwriter, or patronize the business of an underwriter, I urge you to cancel your support, let the underwriters know how you feel, and urge them to reconsider their financial support as well.

Vicki Mann has successfully drained all the lifeblood out of the station. Perhaps it is now time to either put the station out of its misery, or to pressure the Board to do whatever is necessary to revive the station by cleaning house amongst the management, starting with the immediate termination of Ms. Mann’s employment.

It may be too late to convince Brad to stay on at the station … and that’s okay. It’s not about Brad, it’s about the station making a connection to the community; and the last thread tying me to station has just been cut.

To read a copy of the letter I sent in early April, please click the link at the bottom of this post.

And please contact the station and the members of the board to express your feelings.

Email: chip.luman@gmail.com (Chair, Board of Trustees), board@krcl.org (Board of Trustees), vickim@krcl.org, Vicki Mann (Station Manager)

KRCL Daytime Programming Letter

And please sign the petition:

REVIEW: Sidi Shoes

DEDICATED SIDI WEARER

I’ve worn Sidi Genius Mega shoes almost exclusively for the past 15+ years on the road, and Dominators for off-road/cyclocross. Prior to that? I wore Sidi Genius/Dominator regular fit shoes … essentially, I’ve been wearing Sidi shoes since the original buckles, the original soles, and since they only had one Velcro strap. Suffice it to say that I am well versed in Sidi.

Light, stiff, and form fitting, no shoe has ever fit my feet as well, which is why I keep replacing older Sidi shoes with newer ones … until now.

EVEN BETTER THAN BEFORE

For my most recent pair of shoes for 2017, I opted for the Ergo 4 Mega on the road, and Dragon Mega for CX. Same fit as the Genius shoes, but with a pair of Sidi’s Tecno 3 dials instead of the buckle and one of the Velcro straps.

Initial impressions are that they fit exactly the same as my older Sidi shoes, but with a bit finer adjustability at the top of my foot. I’m also digging the Adjustable Heel Retention Device at the back of the shoe. It’s not like heel slip was ever a problem in any of the Sidi shoes I’ve worn in the past, but it’s even less of an issue in these.

I’m looking forward to spending a lot of hours in these shoes.

My only quibble? The insoles are almost nonexistent. As I’ve gotten older and my arches have collapsed, I need more a little more underfoot support inside the shoe, so I’ve had to start using aftermarket insoles.

That said, I’ve still never found another shoe with an upper that better conforms to the shape of my feet or that cups my heel as well with no slip than Sidi. Since the way a cycling shoe’s upper fits is just as important what’s underfoot, it’s going to take something amazing to convince me to change.

REVIEW: Silca Perfection

SILCA SUPERPISTA & SUPERPISTA ULTIMATE PUMPS

Since 1917, Silca has been the pump of choice of the professional peloton because of their reliability and serviceability. They are the only pump manufacturer that has been offering fully rebuildable products for their entire existence, now approaching 100 years.

I’ve had a love affair with Silca pumps since I first started riding bikes some 30-ish years ago … in fact, my original Silca Pista from the late-1980s is still going strong with just a couple of overhauls to replace gaskets and the leather plunger in that time.

The only downside with my original pump is that the stroke is so short compared to many modern pumps; but modern pumps use a lot of plastic and wear out with heavy use, and when they do, it’s difficult to find replacement parts to get them back up and running again. One gets tired of having to replace chucks (or buying a new pump, because it’s only $5-10 more than buying the replacement chuck) every few years.

When the new owners of Silca moved production from Italy to the United States and came out with the new Silca SuperPista and the SuperPista Ultimate, I knew I had to have one. If it’s possible to have an airgasm inflating your tires before a ride, then these pumps are the way to do it.

The SuperPista Ultimate (MSRP $450.00) has a steel barrel and comes with a replaceable 0-160psi gauge; which can be swapped out with a separate 0-60psi gauge for low pressure uses, such as dialing in the pressure on cyclocross tubulars or fat mountain bike tires. With its steel barrel and heavy zinc base, the Ultimate feels really solid, stable, and steady when in use, more so than any other pump I have ever used. For an additional $50.00, you can get the pump with the award-winning HIRO Locking Chuck ($110 aftermarket) instead of an updated version of the traditional Presta Chuck that Silca has been known for nearly 100 years.

The Ultimate’s less-expensive alternative (the SuperPista) is 99% as awesome for high pressure at 55% of the price.

The SuperPista (MSPR $235.00) is made of aluminium and does not have a replaceable gauge for low pressure uses, so it’s not the best tool for getting those Dugasts dialed in at 19.5psi in the front and 20.5psi in the rear at your next cyclocross race. While the machined aluminium base is exactly the same size as on its big brother, it feels just ever so slightly less stable when pumping up your tires because of its lighter weight. But seriously, we’re talking about a percentage point here, and it’s still better than the vast majority of pumps out there.

Neither pump has any plastic in any critical areas, most notably on the shaft and plunger; in fact, the only plastic I can find on either pump is the lens on the gauges.

Like the original Italian-made pumps, all the critical parts including the heavy leather washers which comprise the plunger, are serviceable and/or replaceable, and both pumps come with a 25-year warranty. In the bicycle industry, where technology (and companies) comes and goes, it’s refreshing to know that there are some constants.

Did I need a new pump? No, because like I said, my original Pista is still going strong … but the new Silca pumps work even better than the original, and it’s nice knowing that I will never need to buy another pump again.

BEST HEX WRENCHES EVER

Hands down, the Silca HX-ONE Home & Travel Essential Kit (MSRP $125.00) includes the best hex keys I’ve ever had the privilege of twisting; these have been the most exact fitting wrenches I’ve ever laid my hands on, which when you’re tightening or loosening the titanium bolts on your Campagnolo Super-Record components is important … no chance of rounding off these keys or the bolts.

Included with the hex wrenches is Silca’s proprietary magnetic adapter, which turns the 6mm hex wrench into a 1/4” socket driver, which can fit any common 1/4” bit. Included in the kit are the 6 most common Torx sizes, 2 Phillips head, and 2 Flat head driver bits. It is doubtful that you will find a fastener that you won’t be able to remove or install with the tools in this kit.

With the beautiful beechwood storage box, you almost want to just put these tools on display rather than using them, but that would be a waste. They’re truly a joy not only to behold, but to hold.

Like the pumps, this is not an inexpensive purchase, but with the same 25-year warranty as all Silca products, they’re built to last a lifetime.

Silca products are available direct from Silca (www.silca.cc), online from Competitive Cyclist (www.competitivecyclist.com), and from finer bicycle retailers nationwide.

Service and Referrals

I work for a large mail-order company that sells outdoor recreational goods; one of those businesses that small retailers say are killing brick-and-mortar stores … and to some extent that might be true. I hope not though, because I sure do like having a local shop to go to for things.

I do realize that the brick-and-mortar stores might need to change their business model in order to survive, however … the best retailers always emphasize service, because there are some things that mail-order businesses like the one I work for simply cannot do … things like bike fits and position checks, boot fits, bike or ski tunes, and repairs.

I don’t think I’m a difficult customer when I’m on the buy side … I certainly hope I’m not … but I do have high standards for service.

So when I find a good shop that meets my standards, I try to give them as much business as makes economic sense. I don’t generally ask for, and don’t expect to get a deal. I ask “how much is it going to cost?” and pay what I’m told if the price seems good … especially on labor, because time is valuable. If I do get a deal, that’s fantastic, but if not, then so be it.

What I do most of all when I find a good shop is refer, refer, refer …

Eric Flynn’s shop, Flynn Cyclery is one such business, and I have posted about him and referred people to him on many occasions … but today, it’s about someone else.

For the past 4-5 years, I’ve skied very little … and the main reason for this is because my boots were killing me. I had a bad boot fitting experience, but didn’t realize it until after the fact when my boots never felt comfortable, even after what seemed to be a reasonable break-in period while the liners were allegedly getting packed in even after heat molding.

I’m not going to publicly post the name of the shop where I had this bad experience. I’m going to talk about the shop that’s helping me rediscover the love.

I bought new boots today through my employee deal; I’ve asked friends and colleagues for recommendations on where to take the new boots to get them fitted, and the answer almost universally was to take them to Muskie at Sports Den on Foothill Drive … so I did.

I told Muskie who I worked for and that was where I bought my new boots. I tried my new boots on for the first time with him, and tried on a pair of different boots that they had in stock, just for comparison. Ultimately, between the two brands, I decided the ones that I had originally chosen were the right ones for my feet, and we started the fitting process by heat molding the shells and liners.

Once the molding process was completed, there was still one small area of discomfort, so Muskie worked on getting that taken care of until we got to a point where I decided that it was good. The boots I’ve worn for the past 8 years or so never felt as comfortable as my new boots do.

While still wearing my new boots, I started asking him questions about potential new skis … I want something fatter than my current skis for when I get back into Honeycomb Canyon, but I also want skis that will still be good carving groomers on the front side, so we talked about some options for at least 45 minutes. Yeah, the boots were comfortable enough that I didn’t bother unbuckling them and taking them off until I was ready to settle the bill and head home.

Muskie knows that I will not be buying a set of skis from Sports Den; it really makes no financial sense for me, working where I do, to buy big product hardgoods from them. I get the deals, I’ve got to use the deals.

What Sports Den will be getting, however, is my dollars for service. I will spend money renting demo skis from them. Once I decide on skis and bindings, the Sports Den will get my labor dollars for mounting the bindings, and they will be getting my ongoing dollars for ski tunes and any necessary repairs and those “oh hey, while I’m here, I need XYZ” last-minute/spur-of-the-moment purchases.

Most importantly, however, is that they will also be getting my referrals. If people ask me where in Salt Lake City they should go to rent demo skis, to get boots fitted properly, etc., you can count on the fact that I will be telling them to go to Sports Den.

USA Cycling does it again …

USA Cycling does it again, and what “it” is is making decisions that really don’t make a whole lot of sense from a quality of racing or rider development standpoint, but purely as a way to shore up finances.

I read the press release. I read the article on Cyclingtips.com. I’ve thought about it for a few hours, and I’ve got some serious issues with a few of the new policies.

A fondo is not a race. It doesn’t teach you about race tactics, and for many people it doesn’t teach you how to ride in a group.

I think even the current upgrade requirements for Cat 5 to Cat 4 are too lenient. You should be required to participate in new racer clinics, and you should be required to participate (and finish in the field) in several crits and road races before upgrading.

The vast majority of people in a fondo are recreational riders, not competitive riders … it isn’t about beating that guy over there or “winning”, it’s about finishing and hopefully improving your own time compared against prior years. Most of these participants are only “racing” themselves, not anyone else. And the rider who is “racing” is likely doing so against people who are not racing them in return, and that does not sound like a tasty recipe for success to me. It sounds dangerous.

Also, why add a women’s Cat 5 category when you can’t get enough women racing in the current category structure as is? Nothing like fragmenting categories even more … maybe USAC should expand the men’s categories to 8, and masters fields to x0-x3, x4-x6, and x7-x9.

It seems clear to me that with USA Cycling’s recent financial woes, that the expansion of their Ride membership program and these new changes are about bringing new people into the USAC-fold … which is not bad thing … but without developing those riders to ensure that they are actually ready for their upgrades.

By allowing riders to use Fondos for upgrades, you might as well allow them to use Strava results and training logs showing how much power they put out, and thus how “good” they are.

A rider can upgrade from 5 to 4 by finishing 10 races. There’s no requirement on where you need to finish. So I could start 10 races, soft-pedal, and finish way behind the field. As long as I’m classified as a finisher, it counts. A rider can also upgrade from 5 to 4 by earning 10 points in races. If I enter a single road race with a 50 rider field, sit in, and take the sprint for the win, I’ve just earned my 10 upgrade points. Neither of those situations would illustrate that I’m actually ready for a Cat 4 upgrade, just that I’m eligible.

Just because you can upgrade doesn’t mean that you necessarily should upgrade … so maybe instead of adding more categories, they should tighten up the upgrade requirements to ensure that riders are ready for the upgrade before they actually get the upgrade, and that’s really my point; riders shouldn’t upgrade until they are actually ready.

I understand trying to improve your financial outlook by growing membership, but this particular tactic for doing so? Not a wise decision.