Friday Group Ride #476

Friday Group Ride #476

I am not the Velo Pied Piper, not really, although people do come to my house occasionally, with flat tires or questions or shiny new bikes to show off. I am, for some people, the bike guy, but I know better than that. I’m a dilettante at best, Salieri in a chamois.

The same way my neighbor down the street asks me for an opinion on an affordable gravel bike, I have a small handful of true experts I consult. It might not be in my nature to go as deep as these people go. I ask a question about fork rake and get an explanation of the ramifications for the frame design from BB drop to seat tube angle with some suggestions for stem length adjustment to achieve my optimal handling characteristics.

The sorts of people who have opinions about tire tread patterns and can reference designs of yore and their various shortcomings.

The sorts of people who laugh about when they rebuilt Campy shifters and/or Sturmey Archer hubs.

I’m talking about shamen and shawomen, seers and sorceresses, the sorts of people who smell vaguely of Park blue grease.

My wife jokes that I get fixated on things, that I’m hard to buy gifts for because she knows what I want generally but can never hope to know specifically. This is just one more reason to pity her. Ask Padraig for a more complete list.

I suspect that many of you are cycling touch points for the people around you, too. You comb Craigslist for used bikes they might be able to ride. You advise on new equipment purchases.  You pump or patch or fix flats.

But you’re not you’re own go-to (unless you are).

This week’s Group Ride asks, who is the person you turn to for bike advice? How long have you known them? Did you meet them through cycling or through another part of your life? What is it that they know, that impresses you most?

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  1. Matt C

    I’m pretty good with my hands and will do a lot on my own to my bikes, but when it’s something big or some new install that REALLY needs to be done right the first time (requiring special tools, tricks of the trade and all that) I take it to my LBS (Main Street Cycles in Santa Maria CA) where Tony G is THE MAN…the lead mechanic. He is the Yoda of bike maintenance and repair (he’s also a pretty amazing rider).

  2. scottg

    AASHTA, As Always Sheldon has the answer.

    Past that, the Classic Rendezvous list has a couple million years
    of bike knowledge, of the pre 1983 bike universe.
    For bike bits before the advent of Campagnolo, the Veteran Cycle Club,
    on line library Alexandria & their News & Views magazine.
    For stuff you can buy in a bike shop today Jim & Patrick at my bike shop.

  3. Neil Winkelmann

    Sam Whittingham, the guy who built my gravel bike (Naked Bicycles) is my adviser on things-technical. I’ve asked him lots of things over the past couple of years. He knows everything. I try to not be too needy.

  4. Fausto

    Best friend for almost 40 years who got me hooked on this crazy sport when we were both teenagers. He was the teacher of the Euro Romance, tutored me (and others) how to ride with class, wouldn’t ride with you if you didn’t learn the lessons. His shop is not sexy but a family shop (2 employees) which has paid the mortgage and the kids tuition over the decades. He is the guru that talks you out of the newest, lightest, most expensive piece of tech and sells you what you really need for the type of rider you are. Always has a customer project he is working on that no other mechanic would want to waste time on, or know how to fix. Ever see one of those run down car repairs places that don’t look like much but there are a bunch of Ferraris and vintage Fiat’s being worked on? Clinton Bicycle Shop in Clinton NJ, best little shop there is.

  5. Brian Ogilvie

    Salieri got a bad rap, thanks to Peter Schaffer and Milos Forman.

    I learned a lot from rec.bicycles.* back in the Usenet days, and especially from Sheldon Brown, and later his website. These days if I have any questions I’m likely to take them to the Internet-BOB list, where it’s highly likely someone knows a lot about whatever interests me.

  6. Alanm

    Danny at Bull Run Bikes in Manassas VA. Met him when he was the head wrench at Performance, then he opened his own shop when they closed. As knowledgeable and unpretentious as they come. Dials me in perfectly every time. His wife Tracy who works with him is maybe the sweetest human on earth. (I have no commercial stake.)

  7. Chuck

    I don’t know about being a pied piper, but one of my mentors (and good friend) is Maynard Hershon, author of “Tales from the Bike Shop” and “Half Wheel Hell” and used to be a regular columnist for WInning and Velo News. A friend (and riding buddy) with more knowledge and bike stories that I can recount is Bern Smith, who worked with Phil Wood in the 70s to help pioneer modern cartridge bearings and develop that now famous green grease. Another friend who knows his way around bikes and has been around long enough to have a history is Wayne Bingham, owner of Velo Classique (a #steelisreal classic/vintage bike shop in Purcellville, VA).

  8. Jeff vdD

    Bob J (Robot, you may know him–if I’m not mistaken, he’s designed a fork for a certain Watertown-based manufacturer) and Sherborn MA’s Steve the Bike Guy. While both of them know a lot about a lot of bicycle things, I think of them first and foremost on the hardware front. Maybe that’s in part to spare them the many questions for which I go to someone else (CX tread and pressure, winter fat bike clothing, crewing tips for Leadville) … I don’t want to have spent all my Bob J/STBG points when a really important question comes up.

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