Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Great Moments In "Mechanical" Doping.

In the early days, not only was it potentially lethal, it was pretty difficult to conceal, too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Great Moments In Cycling: Ingenuity.

Not only is this soul a hardcore cyclist, they also "Keep it in the Family" by pairing a Cipollini with a Ducati.

Now that's Italian!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why NASAR Drivers Are Sissies.

I love racing of all sorts, no matter the discipline.  Humans are naturally competitive, so sport has become a significant part of our lives, and, for some, their livelihood.

Adding to the challenge of Speed & Sport is the inevitable variable of weather.  Anyone can be great when conditions are perfect, however, as life itself is far from perfect, variables manage to, like it, or not, sort out the Men from the Boys.

So, why pick on the Good 'ol Boys over at NASAR?  Well, actually, I am not.  Call it more of a frustration, that whist every other major racing series in the world, either two-wheels or four, do not call it quits just because the Good Lord provides vertical moisture, NASCAR, for some reason, does.  And, that is not the way it is meant to be.  Water is a challenge, and it cannot simply be dismissed as a hazard off-the-cuff, as the two-wheeled photos here prove otherwise.

Even in my long-ago, amateur motorcycle roadracing career, rain was just something we dealt with as a challenge, and to be honest, it was kinda' fun to ride around in.  Guys fast in the dry suddenly became nonexistent on the podium, and conversely, many a hidden talent were discovered when the wet stuff hit the pavement.  The rain was a hoot.  It was a challenge.  It added a lot of interest to the spice of racing.

In summation, embrace the challenge of all-weather racing, NASCAR.  Embrace the fun.  And, most of all, put on your Big Boy pants and race whether rain or shine.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reality Check: You Think Your Garmin Edge Is Expensive? Compared To Their Aviation Products, Maybe Not So Much - For What You Get.

The G1000 Avionics suite on a Beechcraft King Air.

No, that headline is not a poke at Garmin.  Matter of fact, I applaud their products, and it just dawned on me that I have been enjoying both their cycling and "In the Air" offerings for quite some time, now.  To anyone who has flown behind Garmin avionics, it would be an understatement to say they have revolutionized the industry.

What got me thinking about Garmin, in general, are the occasional email updates I get from them regarding anything newsworthy in their aviation business.  Thinking back, I remember one of the email headlines exclaiming, "Act now, and save up to $50,000 on a G1000 package." Well, I had a good laugh when I remembered how many people I have spoken with claim Edge Cycling Computers cost way too much.  

While the aforementioned email was about saving up to $50,000 USD via a trade-in program, it shows just how much money we are talking when it comes to Garmin's top of the line General Aviation (GA) avionics package.  While hard numbers are difficult to ascertain, being it is based upon the model of plane you have, and any necessary modifications, and/or problems the tech's encounter during an upgrade, tapping into my contacts in the aviation business, a purchase, and swap-out, of old, analog avionics for a G1000 package can begin at around $100,000 USD, and that is a really, really conservative estimate.   

The Edge 1000. Garmin's top of the line cycling computer.

Garmin's top of the line cycling computer is the Edge 1000, with a retail price of $599.00 for the bundle (down from its $700.00 introductory price).  It is an amazing piece of equipment, is quite capable, however, I just can't see popping for one to replace my reliable, trusty Edge 500 suite, which cost me under $200.00 USD for the bundle back in 2011.  However, that color, large-screened, turn-by-turn capability beasty sure is tempting. 

So, what is the point of this comparison?  Well, compared to other Garmin products, we really are getting a deal.  The sad part is, compared with their aviation products, capability-wise, we kinda' aren't.  The difference, I see, is something I call Manufactured Obsolescence on the Automotive/Motorcycling/Cycling side (I can't speak for their Marine products, being I have not skippered a commercial vessel in a really long time), versus the Aviation side.  In the air, pretty much all of the current technology, and features, are actually realized.  Meanwhile, back on the surface of the planet, it seems we are always asking why the components are not up to what is technologically capable at the given moment.  It just seems like Garmin, save for Aviation, is holding back on us.  To get the features we really want, we are expected to upgrade our GPS products on a yearly basis.  If you want more, you have to pay. 

Pilots, on the other hand, are not expected to upgrade their instrument panels annually, so they pay, upfront, for all of the bells 'n whistles.  That is the Manufactured Obsolescence I was referring to, and it is not limited to just Garmin.  Across the range of consumer products, from purses to phones, from computers to cars, it is the engine of the Retail World.  So, there arises the obvious question: Are Garmin Aviation products overpriced, or are the Cycling products under-priced?  It all depends on how one chooses to look at it.  Hey, no one said life, and choices, were easy.

So, what can we, the consumer, do?  In reality, not much.  The only real choice we have is when, and at what price-point, we chose to dig-in and make an investment in something.  And, no, I don't have any affiliation, nor beef, with Garmin.  I just struck me to point out that while their Aviation side leaves me for want-of-nothing, their Cycling side has always left me wishing for more. 

However, for what it is, and what the Edge units are capable of, cyclists do seem to be getting a pretty decent deal.  It all comes down to personal perspective.

Pilots would agree.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Getting Caught-Up In, And With, Cycling.

I had a birthday this last Monday.  Not a giant, earth-shattering event, per se, however, it got me thinking more about, well, everything.  And, that included not only my own life, it also included my riding, plus subsequent lack of writing, and enthusiasm, for my own blog.  I mean, I REALLY lost interest in all-things-bike, and I began to just keep to myself (opinions included).  I did not, however, arrive at that conclusion overnight.

My cycling-life can be charted like the stock market, or a roller-coaster – A series of up’s ‘n downs.  Serious road riding began in late 2010, and my cycling life just flourished from there, snowballing to into voracious, all-weather riding, club membership’s, Century Rides, consulting, product testing, and ultimately, photography and writing.  I never did earn a dime off the whole endeavor, though, miraculously, all of my compensation was in materials, i.e. components, nutrition, clothing, even memberships, were all comp'ed, which offset a lot of my expenses.  In short – I got into, and sustained myself, in cycling for much, much less than most mere mortals do.

While rolling these issues around in the amusement park of my mind, other, similar, questions began to arise, such as, is the “New” really new?  Is the “Better” really better?  And, do we really “Need” everything we are being told we need?  To the point, NO!  My immersion into cycling has showed me the key to cycling happiness is to find something I liked, to stick with it, and replace things only as necessary, not because I was expected to.  It was a much more logical, cheaper, approach, with the added benefit of much more stable blood pressure, no matter what angst, or ire, was on my radar at the moment. 

And, getting too caught-up in cycling can be a very real double-edged sword.  The actual reality of cycling is the same as the reality of life: Everything in moderation.  A balance is another way to put it.  The Good Lord calls it Wisdom.  Whichever word to which you feel is applicable to your own life, the concept is the same - Total immersion can have both good, and bad, results.  Riding every mile possible, seeking out all new products, trying out new, “Better,” bikes, meeting everyone meet-able, climbing everything climbable, towards all horizons, north, south, east, and west, takes one thing all of us do not have in an infinite supply – Energy. 

No one can keep up the level of enthusiasm at the pace the cycling industry is unleashing on us.  Every moment, of every day, a “New” something-or-other is/was around the corner.  The industry thrives on keeping us all-charged up – Two wheeled pushers for the two wheeled addicts.  Participate if you feel you must, however, this human is now off the Needs-Market driven high.  Implied Needs?  No, thank you!  Sorry Marketing Department, “New” is not a selling feature onto itself.

And, I practice what I preach.  My bike is a 2010 do-all road bike, my truck is a 1994 reliable companion, my motorcycle is a 2002 Italian beauty, and, my bass guitar and amplifier both date from 1981.  There are many more things in my life I have found to be reliable, and cherish, and the former are just some of the things that come quickly to mind.  The way I see it, either something is a true, necessary technological marvel, or it fits into the category of “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”  Everything in between is just unnecessary fluff.

In an interesting parallel, the exact same scenario occurred with the motorcycling side of my life.  One day, I was all gung-ho, totally involved, and the next day nothing, zilch, nada.  And, that conclusion, too, was not arrived at overnight.  Deadly motorists had a lot to do with that decision, and that is in interesting tie-in, being it is the number-one reason I get fed-up with cycling from time-to-time.  The good news is that both activities are now solid components of my life, motorists be-damned.