My core subscribers are in an uproar. I’ve been ill for the first time in over two years. Brian’s wife, Marijana, said something nice to me. I think the world must be turning inside out. The past week since I returned to the US I’ve been taking a much needed mental break from competition, and I think it has shown in the lack of substance on this site. For this I apologize. I’m back into training now, and I’m as focused as ever. You can expect to see this reflected in my writing.
This week I posted on Slowtwitch. For some people in the tri community this is a normal occurrence, but I tend to avoid it. The ST forum includes an intelligent mass of knowledge, and many diverse opinions are represented. That’s a great thing, but it’s also what turns me off of the site. Here’s an example:
This week I wanted to buy a bike case for travel. On my trip to Europe I used my Physical Therapist’s soft case (Mike Rogers is a pro cyclist, USA Cycling coach, as well as an MSPT, but not much of a web designer), and a hard, clamshell case from Speedy Reedy. Both were imperfect. The soft case was really easy to pack, just take the wheels off and turn down the handle bars, strap the wheels to the frame and your done. Easy as banana bread (I know because i made a loaf today). Adding in extra stuff requires finesse, but it’s no harder than loading the dishwasher. The downside: it’s a soft case and that makes me nervous. The hard case, on the other hand, was a horrible pain in the butt. You have to remove the seat, the pedals, the handle bars, the dÃ©railleur, and the wheels. Then you add padding so all the loose pieces don’t rub together, and finally you figure out how to fill the empty space around the frame with just enough clothing that the 30 lbs box with the 17 lbs bike doesn’t break the 50 lbs limit of the airlines. It’s more like washing dishes by hand for the freshman cafeteria. After about an hour of placing, replacing, finagling, and fiddling with the contents of the box you will be left with a 3 foot stack of padding, bike, clothes, and wheels all sticking out of half the clamshell. To get the other side on, you have to squish the pile by commissioning your out-of-shape relative to take a nap on the lid while you snap the ten separate clasps. Forget to put something in? Leave it behind, it’s not worth opening the case up again. Think the hastle is over after you’re done packing? Think the soft case loses it’s advantage now? Wrong. The soft case has four wheels, and when you get to a set of stairs, the entire thing weights 40 lbs tops. The Iron Case (should be named the lead case), went cheap on wheels and only has two. I managed to put about 70lbs in the case, and it was about as much fun to carry around as a two year old in Cancun on spring break.
How does that tie into slowtwitch? Despite the fact that 80% of the pros I saw in Poland were using the same soft case, and despite the fact that it’s the official case of the Discovery Channel team and USA cycling, I still wanted to hear from somebody who could reassure me that my bike will not be damaged, and that there is no better option out there that I haven’t considered. There were several threads on the subject, but never a good conclusion. All I found was hearsay, which doesn’t help me make a decision (Anything that costs me more than a plane ticket to someplace nice requires me to research the hell out of it.). The only strong opinions were from product reps who undoubtedly love their own product. I went onto ST to find a resource of educated opinions and left feeling like I’d wasted my time.
In the end I called a company selling the two different cases I was looking at (both made by Sci-con), and he talked me out of the super expensive hard case, and back into the same soft case with four wheels that I used in Europe. The rep had used both, and had some real opinions based on fact. His answers were exactly what I had hoped (but failed) to find on ST.
Don’t take this as a bashing of ST, it’s not. I enjoy reading posts and putting in my two cents when I know something helpful, but sometimes one sure sounding guy on the other end of the phone is way more helpful than 100 people giving their two cents.
I’m also back swimming with the U of Washington masters team, which is pretty fun. Yesterday a guy showed up with Olympic rings on his shoulder, and true to the tattoo, he kicked all our butts for the 1500 yards he stayed in for. Brian and Marijana were there too, and after we worked out, Marijana said, “I think I missed you.” Which may be the nicest thing she’s ever said to me. I was worried that I was losing some fitness in the water from the past couple weeks, but Brian’s lack of fitness made me feel much better. About half way through the workout he started asking Marijana if she was ready to be done, and making sure I knew that he had only planned to do part of the workout. He told me, “My heart is going to explode!” and for once I really believed him.