I ♥ a tailwind

I got my ass out of bed early this morning to get to a shifting clinic over at Full Moon Vista Bike & Sport. Had it not been for that, I don’t think I’d have braved the 48°F (9°C) temperature and 20 mph winds out of the northwest.

I also wanted to get over to Aldi for some groceries, which, like the bike shop, was upwind from here, and I figured it wouldn’t be too bad coming home. Boy, I was right about that part.

Fully-loaded with more groceries than I’ve ever carried on the bike before, I zipped right along home at over 20 mph for the most part. Even saw 25 briefly. The best part is, I wasn’t ever trying to ride fast. I was tying to ride easy and careful.

I felt the weight starting from a stop, of course. But once underway, it was Yee hah! And smooth too with all that extra mass on the tires.

I warmed-up on the ride home because I was moving at about the same speed and direction as the wind, so there was really no cooling effect from that. Plus I was under several layers, which were necessary for the upwind leg. But it was nice to get warmed-through on a cold day.

Had you asked me two months ago if I thought it would be fun riding a bike with 40 or more pounds of groceries attached, I’d have said no. It’s okay regularly. The ride itself on a grocery run isn’t “fun”, but it’s not generally a chore either. It’s just that usually the joy is deferred until after everything’s on the shelf at home, and at that point, it’s not much different than any other ride. Not today!

Too bad I don’t need more groceries today.

Anyway, when I bought my bike, I didn’t shop around. My ability to get to and from the shop quickly and easily limited my choices to just one, Towner’s.

They listened, gave me advice, and made a recommendation for a bike that would work for me and that I could afford. Since then, I’ve looked around online and spent a lot of time in several forums and have concluded that it’s the right bike for me. There are others that would probably work just as well, but they’re just a bit more expensive for no significant difference in equipment.

That said, I’ve not been quite as pleased with the selection of accessories at Towner’s. They didn’t have grocery panniers, or the cyclometer I wanted. The advice I got on fenders and the pannier rack was wishy-washy. There was an unwillingness to commit, to say, “As a professional, I think you should get this one.”

The fenders worked-out fine, but the advice on the pannier rack was not the best. (Not because of the modifications I had to make to fit it to my bike, but because it doesn’t keep the panniers out of the spokes very well. Although, now that I think about it, they were just fine today.) The guy who helped me buy the rack had probably never ridden a bike with 40 pounds of groceries in the panniers. Maybe all he’s ever used was a rack trunk. Who knows?

The service department has also been a bit spotty. They take me in right away, the finished work is okay, but the middle part, well, the wrench and I don’t see eye to eye.

He doesn’t understand why anyone would want fenders on their bike, (To keep the mud, grime and road crap off my face when riding to work in the wet.) or why I’d prefer to have “all that added weight” of Mr. Tuffy tire-liners in my “already too heavy” wheels, (Maybe because I don’t want to be sitting in the lawn in front of a crackhouse after dark in the rain while I fix a flat?), nor does he understand why I can’t just avoid glass and road hazards in the first place (Uh, maybe because I’m watching traffic?).

So I’ve been planning to check out other bike shops as the need arises. I found out about Full Moon Vista Bike & Sport because they’re one of the Tier I sponsors of the Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium. I clicked the link from their sponsorship logo.

They’re right in the heart of downtown. Easy to get to by bike, but not on foot from here, so I don’t feel bad about not shopping there originally. They will, however, be where I get my advice and accessories from now on.

At the clinic, I learned a bit more about the technology. Mostly that part confirmed for me what I’ve learned online. It was nice, though, to go through it in person. Then we learned technique. Most of that I’ve discovered on my own, but I picked up some stuff and have to learn to “soft-pedal” better, especially in upshifts. I learned how to make a minor adjustment or two, and I learned that some of the clunkiness in shifting the rear cogs is probably attributable to low-end components. All of the clunkiness shifting the front chanirings is due to low-end components, (mainly the twist-grip shifter.)

That’s all I wanted to know. I’m a n00b and I need to know what I’m doing wrong, how to change that, and what part of it I have to live with because I couldn’t afford a $2,000 bike.

Anyway, the shop itself is very nice too. At only a quarter of the size of Towner’s, they have lots of stuff packed in there and it’s all nicely organized and displayed. The place is gorgeous with little amenities, like either a couch to sit on while waiting for service, or barstools so you can chat with the wrench while he’s working on your bike.

The nice waiting area and the mechanic’s workspace are right in the front window too. The new bike showroom is in the back. That says to me a lot about the mindset of the owner.

What I learned in their clinic today, convinced me that my next bike will probably be custom-built rather than off-the-rack. Or at least heavily customized. Their mindset convinced me that I’ll buy my next bike from Full Moon.

Even if the owner drove a car to work today instead of riding a bike.

One Response to “I ♥ a tailwind”

  1. Marcus Says:

    I found your site via one of your postings on BikeForums.net. I’m also living in Rochester and just getting into biking.

    My experience with Towner’s and Full Moon Vista was similar to yours—at Towner’s, their customer service wasn’t so great, sort of like “here are our [whatever]s, pick one,” or “here’s a mirror, just read the instructions to install it.” I was only there once, though. The people at Full Moon Vista have been very helpful, and it’s a nice environment and, for me, convenient location. When I went in for a fitting/test ride, they gave me free coffee, and when there was a pizza delivery (going away celebration for one of their employees), they offered me a slice. I walked away having paid nothing and not planning to buy a bike from them (they didn’t have quite what I wanted), but after I order one, I will definitely return for assembly, fitting/adjustments, accessories, and service. Also, come October, I’m looking forward to getting involved in Tuesday Night Urban Assault, which is organized by the owner, Scott Page. (Do a Google search—it sounds like great fun.)

    I visited Park Ave Bike Shop on Monroe once, and the people I dealt with were very friendly and helpful, but I know someone who doesn’t shop there anymore because they made fun of his wife’s old bike and didn’t want to work on it. Finally, I’ve heard some good things about Freewheeler’s, apparently somewhat lower prices and a very nice owner, but it’s a bit too far out of my way for me want to deal with them regularly.