Laboring day

My off season started in earnest on Tuesday, so I didn’t ride on Wednesday, Thursday, or even Friday. On Saturday I went down with some L.A. riders to San Diego, where they got a taste of what they call “fun” in North County.

I rode my bike to a few coffee shops but that was it, and in preparation for the San Diego trip I took off my cameras and lights and removed my tool box thingy that fits in the rear water bottle cage. I set it on the top of the cheap Ikea storage thing next to the bed, where I keep my bicycle tool.

On Sunday night, the last day of my off season, I began reassembling my bike for the Holiday Ride 18-minute beatdown. After bolting on all the cameras and strapping on the lights and filling up the water bottle I went to put the tool kit thingy in the bottle cage, but it was gone.

My apartment is pretty small and I don’t own much stuff so it was easy to search it from top to bottom. Nothing. We couldn’t even blame it on the grandbaby because it was too high for him to reach and too big to hold. We tried anyway. Nothing.

I did the Holiday Ride certain that I would have a flat because even though it’s been a year since my last puncture, we all know that the one time a flat is guaranteed is the time you don’t have a spare. Luckily, I didn’t flat, but Special Ops did. He blew out his entire tire. He’s a good friend and we had ridden out together, so I abandoned him immediately.

I felt a little guilty about it until EA Sports, Inc. helped me out. “Do the math, Wanky. Former Special Ops. Flats bicycle in city of 10 million people. Bike shop five minutes away. Has phone. Has money. Knows the natives and even speaks their dialect. I think he’s gonna survive.”

After the ride I tore up the apartment some more but no toolkit thingy. So I made an inventory of the important stuff and started thinking about replacing it.

  1. Tube with a stem that is too short for the rim.
  2. Multi-tool which I don’t know how to use but maybe someone in need someday will.
  3. Old CO2 inflation head that doesn’t work.
  4. Empty CO2 cartridge.
  5. Flimsy plastic tire lever.
  6. Boot.
  7. 10% discount coffee card at Peet’s.

Obviously the only thing that mattered was the coffee card.

The first bike shop I went to was closed. Then I went to Sprocket Cycles on PCH, which is owned by Paul Che. Paul has built a thriving business out of nothing in what has to be the world’s toughest market, the local bike shop.

They were open and fully staffed with three people. In a matter of minutes they had loaded me up with everything I needed, including a fancy pair of screw-in handlebar plugs to replace the ones that kept falling out.

Was it more expensive than if I’d bought it all on the Internet? I don’t know and don’t care. What I know is that they were there with great service and good products at a time when they were needed. Keep that in mind the next time you buy online. You may (or may not) save a couple of bucks, but Mr. Internet won’t be there on Labor Day to make sure you’re back on the road by Tuesday.




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25 thoughts on “Laboring day”

  1. Best bike shop around! Yesterday I picked up tubes, bar tape, chain, cassette and buttt’er. And dropped off my bike with, IMHO, the best mechanics in the South Bay. Paul Che is also one of the most prized wheels at local group rides

  2. Yep, support your LBS. 2 weeks ago I got my new bike. I retired my 2011 Colnago C59 for a 2016 Colnago C60. I got everything through my LBS, Bike Shop Henderson, here in Las Vegas. Everything was sourced by LBS and I never discussed price or asked for any deals. I gave them autonomous decision making on the entire build and it turned out stunning. I could never have put this bike together through internet purchases for even close to the price that Terry gave me. Find a LBS you love and trust and they’ll return your loyalty in ways you thought improbable.

  3. “Thank you Mr. Wanky. Your total comes to $232.83. That’s, of course, after we applied your 10% MVP discount.”


  4. Funny that the tube box in the photo has 700 x 19-23 with “-inch units. Must be huge! And you haven’t converted to 25 or 28 yet? Apparently that is all the rage…

  5. I give Paul 100% credit for my first world champion win of .01 seconds due to the super fast world champion tires he selected for me.

    Love your LBS and they’ll love you. After MANY years of a crappy old road bike, I finally caved and bought a new one a couple years ago. Paul knew me, how I train and race, what I love (what he loves 🙂 and built me the BEST bike ever. I gave him a budget (which he went over a bit, of course) and let him do the rest. It wasn’t built quickly, wasn’t the bike off the shelf, it was a work of love and I ride it full of love and joy. I’m so lucky to have a fantastic LBS.

    Cry to your computer when your bike breaks down, if you want. I prefer to be comforted by Paul or any of the mechanics at my LBS. And I’m glad they’re there for me.

  6. I support my LBS, and if they don’t have it, they’ll order it for me and give me 15% discount because when I “race” I wear their kit, which they sourced in the US and included women’s bibs, a rarity and a nice customer service touch that I really appreciate. I’ve converted 5 other women to bibs so the LBS can make the minimum order for women’s bibs (with really great chamois). The Internet can’t give you that kind of customer service. Keeping my money local and supporting small businesses is paramount, IMNTBHO.

  7. The Evil Empire bike blog talks about how ordering bikes direct from the mfr via the internet is the up ‘n coming thing.


    That sounds like an extremely boring way to buy a new bike.

    Much better, right?, to go to the LBS (mine is Bike Effect) and hash out what one needs with people who actually know what they’re talking about. And sporting a shinny new bike with envious customers gawking.

    1. People will always go for the lowest price. Others will see the big picture and (sometimes) pay a little bit more because it actually provides more in the long run and is better for the community.

  8. Guaranteed now to find the old tool kit thingy. Bringing baked goodies for the shop mechanics helps to grease the LBS service wheels.

    1. Old tool kit thingy is remarkably obstinate and refused to magically appear after shredding the purchase receipts.

  9. Meanwhile back in reality….a lot of bike shops suck and have major attitude. Who doesn’t knew about roadie attitude at bike shops from the kids who have been racing for a year or two. Who hasn’t had a bike shop screw up their ride because they didn’t know what they are doing.
    Many bike shops are their own worst enemy through incompetence and price gouging.
    There is a reason people go to the internet sometimes and it’s not just about pricing.
    I’m in southern California too which is the mecca of bike shops and have found very few worth patronizing but I do patronize the good ones.

    1. There are bike shops of varying quality, Internet sites of varying quality, condoms of varying quality … when you find an LBS that is worth patronizing, do it. Those that don’t get the job done are going the way of the rhinoceros.

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