Yeah, Yeah, Bicycle
We’re halfway through August, and 2018 persistently continues to be a lackluster year. Even this “catch up on miscellaneous topics” post consists almost entirely of disappointments.
In one of my least exciting accomplishments, I’ve reached 16,800 miles on my 2013 Specialized Roubaix, surpassing the miles I put on my first bike, a steel 2000 Devinci hybrid. Still need 6,000 more to eclipse the Plastic Bullet, my 2006 Roubaix.
Another less than earth-shattering development: I bought this Kool Stop tire bead jack. Why? Well, I guess it does prevent me from pinching and puncturing the inner tube when installing a tire. But that’s about as positive as anything that’s happened this year.
Another unnecessary purchase yielded a worse result. By installing this funky combination headset spacer and Di2 junction box mount, I could clean up my cockpit by getting rid of an ugly rubber band around my handlebar stem. Except it broke one of the junction box’s tiny plastic mounting pins, leaving the whole assembly dangling from my handlebars. Now I have to either spend $90 on a whole new junction box or permanently glue the junction box onto the mount with epoxy. Sigh.
Next, the rider’s—and the bike mechanic’s—worst nightmare: mysterious clicking and creaking noises. First we replaced the bottom bracket. Didn’t fix shit, but the cranks spin a little smoother, and I was pleasantly surprised that a new BB only costs about $30!
After more tinkering, figured out that the noises were because the stem and headset cap bolts weren’t tight enough. Unsurprisingly, those were the exact bolts I’d loosened to fit the aforementioned headset spacer / junction box mount… The ones every mechanic goes to great lengths to tell you *not* to over-tighten. Well that’s annoying. Locked those puppies down, and so far so good.
And then there’s the Gatorade saga. For almost 20 years, my go-to sports drink has been orange Gatorade powder, the most effective and palatable thing I’ve found. And they made me a loyal customer after a lucrative customer service escapade I blogged about.
In May I ordered another three canisters of powdered drink mix, but what they contained was nothing like Gatorade. The powder didn’t mix in water, had neither flavor nor color, and tasted like a moldy bag of burnt plastic. Yup, in the interest of “progress”, instead of just adding some electrolytes to their tried-and-true formula, Gatorade had some evil scientists completely redesign their product, and the resulting “new formula” is simply unusable. And now I’ve got $70 worth of it sitting in the back of a cupboard.
Speaking of companies fucking up something that already works well, Strava recently took the reliable TRIMP-based Suffer Score training tool that I have blogged about and replaced it with an updated metric called “relative effort”. The major difference is intentionally removing exercise duration from their calculation of exercise intensity, so that a tough 10-minute ride has the same training effect as a tough 10-hour ride.
The result? Ludicrous values that make Relative Effort completely worthless as a training tool. Using actual examples from my own riding: if a 9-hour 127-mile ride scores a relative effort of 230, why would a 3-hour 34-mile ride rack up 568 points? A 3-hour ride should have a much lower training effect than a 9-hour ride, but Strava says it was two and a half times the workout?!?! Bullshit! And this doesn’t just go for new activities; they fucked up all my historical trend charts. Way to ruin your product, Strava! And don’t get me started on their unctuous labels for varying levels of effort: tough, massive, and historic.
So yeah, I’m kinda discouraged by all of this. I’ve been hoping this year’s malaise would pass, but it hasn’t yet. But that’s a bigger story which will receive its own blogpost in the near future.
The only thing that’s motivated me to hop on the bike is the Tag-o-Rama game. I’ve claimed 19 tags this year, and with just three more I’ll become one of the top ten players (out of 124 people).