Saturday, August 07, 2004

You Did WHAT???

Figured out Thursday's problem on M's project yesterday. Something about the class path. Pretty much finished with that task, which is good since I'm theoretically on the hook to deliver it and 2 or 3 more I haven't started on by the end of next week. I say theoretically, because I sense there's going to be some infighting about it. M changed their requirements the day after I started working on things. I told Bob (our project manager for M) that I needed to know by the next day (7/27) what was in and what was out and that, anyway, I didn't know if I could make the 13th the way we'd been talking about. A week or so later we finally got their response to the technical design we sent them back then, but I haven't actually been able to get Bob to call me back to talk about it. I really ought to give Patrice some warning on that. But it's good that I've made some real progress.

Once I had that done, I left a little early to go bike hunting. Went to Missing Link, where I tried the Trek 520, a touring bike that was really quite nice except that the shifters are on the bottom ends of the handlebars. That's better than on the drop tube, but not much, and I really want click shifters rather than the older 'feel' style like what I have. I also tried the Bianchi Brava and the Trek 1000 or 1500. Can't remember which it was. The Brava was OK. The Trek was really, really, really nice. I think it would even give the one I eventually picked a run for its money, but the Trek 1000 and 1500s don't have attachment points on the back for me to put Rachel's seat on. It's also about 3 or 4 hundred dollars more than the top of my intended budget (before tax). If it'd had the attachment points and been, maybe, 50 bucks over, I might have thought about it pretty seriously.

From Missing Link, I went to Mike's Bikes, where I only tried one bike, the LeMond Big Sky SL. VERY nice. Initially the same price as the Trek, but it's on sale, which puts it just at the top of my range. I don't know if it is quite as nice as the Trek, but it's pretty nice and I was pretty interested. Today, though, I spent quite a bit more time at it. I went to Solano Cyclery, REI, Velo Sport, the Bent Spoke, Hank & Frank's, and back to Mike's. It would have been nice to have had the time to do all that on my bike, but it seemed as if it would take too long, so I took the truck instead. Tried the large (not XL, which is what I need) Giant OCR2 at Solano & they said they'd have more in a week or so), REI offered to build a 61cm Novara Strada, Velo Sport had only one that met the general requirements, but it was a custom at $2250 (!), and the Bent Spoke had nothing. The OCR2 was fair, but not great. It was too small, which is understandable, but I also wasn't crazy about the shifting or braking.

Hank & Frank, though, had the OCR1, which I've been pretty interested in since finding it online yesterday. The XL is a bit bigger than the 61cm LeMond, and it uses almost all Ultegra parts, which are a step up from the parts on the LeMond and a step or more up from the OCR2. They only had the L in stock, so they raised the seat & the handle bars & I test rode it. It's very nice. Smooth shifting; quiet freewheel; quiet brakes. I would probably make the brakes a bit tighter, but other than that, it was a nice ride. Amazing how much nicer it is to be on a bike with appropriately wide handlebars; the ones on my old bike are 42cm, and I think these are 46. Not sure, though... will have to check. Anyway, they're a more appropriate width and that alone makes the ride nicer, along with having the shifters integrated with the brake levers.

After riding that, I went back to Mike's to try the LeMond again. It's nice, but its parts aren't as good and it's a little smaller than the XL OCR1, so I decided to get the Giant. There were a couple of other factors; I decided I like the guys at H&F better - they were nicer and they gave me more interesting and useful side information, like confirming that it's best not to shift under high torque and it's best to keep the chain inline, so if you're using the big gear in front, you shouldn't also be using a big gear in back. Then there's the difference in service - Mike's is free for 90 days, then $95 for five years' free tuneups & labor, and for the 90 days (or so), everything else you buy is 50% off (though I assume that doesn't extend to, say, a second bike); H&F's, though, is free tuneups for the life of the bike, including labor on all parts (I assume bought from them, though they offered after I paid the deposit to adjust Rachel's bike and move her seat from my old bike to the new). I just got a better feeling from these guys.

I also picked the Giant because when I asked Rachel whether I should get silver or blue, she said blue. I know they train lawyers for this: I only asked the question because I knew the answer would be what I wanted it to be.

After a while, we rode back over to Hank & Frank's and paid a deposit of $100, fully refundable, just in case I decide I don't like it after all. By that time, it'll be too late to get the sale price on the LeMond, but I'm willing to take that risk because I think the Giant is better and it's certainly a better value for the price. They have to order it from Giant, but it should still be ready in about a week. I think that I'm going to move the bike seat myself, because I want to ride the new one without the seat or the rack a couple of times before I put it on. It only took me about 30 minutes to put it on the old bike, not counting the trip to Mike's to get the extra clamps I needed. I'd forgotten about that. This'll definitely be better in that respect - there are attachment points where I put some of the clamps on the old bike.

Then we were going to meet Dawn & Karolyn at Barney's, so Rachel and I went riding for a bit longer. It was pretty nice; did some little hills up & down a few times, nothing big. Turned for one without much speed and it was too high with her on the back. I wasn't going fast enough and the front wheel was coming up, and then I couldn't get my foot out fast enough, so we fell over. I'm not quite sure who was more scared, Rachel or me, but I don't think I was on the ground for more than about half a second before I turned around (my foot had come out right before we hit) and picked the bike up. Rachel was pretty upset and had a tiny little bit of road rash on her elbow. It, and what I got on my knee, were barely even worth calling road rash, but it sounds more dramatic. It took a little bit for us to be ready to move on again; we talked about how it had been an accident, and I'd thought I could make it, and we weren't going to do any more hills today. Before I put her on the bike, she decided she wanted to walk to the bottom of the hill, so we did, and then we got her in the seat.

Before we started, I reminded her again where we were going and that we weren't going up anymore hills today and told her that after dinner she could ride home on the bike or she could go in the truck with Dawn & Karolyn. She said then that she wanted to go with me, but changed her mind by the time we were finished with dinner. Dawn, of course, is the source of tonight's subject... I told her pretty soon after they met up with us and she was pretty worried. We're both completely fine, but I probably won't be taking any significant hills with Rachel any time soon.

Odd that the first thing I did after ordering a new bike was dump the old one. Can't remember the last time I did that; went over the handlebars on the mountain bike several years ago; broke the (practically brand new) leather strap on a toe-clip when I was in high school - I was coming to a stop near Mining Circle on the Cal campus and the strap was too tight and I started to fall... then my foot was free and I put it down. Didn't notice until later than the strap was broken. The guys at Missing Link were impressed that I'd broken it since it was so new; I think we all agreed that there must have been something wrong with it or it wouldn't have broken.

Also in the flashback category for the day, I bumped into my 10th grade science teacher, Amy Hansen. I still remember her dropping pieces of Sodium into water; she was doing it because she thought it was important for us to see, but she was not entirely comfortable with it. She stood every bit as far as her reach and the little spoon would allow her to, and dropped the Na into the water from as high as she could manage. Neither of those distances was terribly big, of course, because at best she's 5'3". She's principal of Oakland's Skyline High now but seem to have about the same view of public education as we do right now - believes in it, but despairs of its future because of the economy and current views on public funding for it.

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