Today after my workout I made a trip to my local bike shop, First Flight Bicycles of Statesville, NC. With a little bit of money I have saved I was excited to go see what I might be able to fix on my bike. Over time and due to all of my moves I have frequented 11 different local bike shops and 2 large chain bike shops (Performance Cary and Chapel Hill), to date I can not think of a bad experience at an LBS. I guess there is a first time for everything.
I went to the store today with my biggest priority being fine-tuning my cleats, handle bars, and seat in order to have a more comfortable ride. I have also wanted to check on used road bikes since I do want to compete in a Tri and would like to ride more often, as well as a new wheels set. When I came in to the store I spoke with the one full time employ who I have spoken to many times since 2006 when I began shopping at this store. I asked for advise and assistance getting the bike to fit better. I was informed that since I did not buy the bike or shoes there and since time is money (note: he was on the computer when I came in doing clearly more important things) there was little he could do for me. He then gave me quick notes on the seat and bars but told me that the original bike shop should have done this for me. HE also said it is part of the package of buying a bike from them before you ever leave with it. He then went on to insult my shoes and my crank brother pedals.
Next, I asked that since I was unable at this time to buy the road bike that I want ( I want a Trek 1.2), how much would it cost to build a wheel set with slick tires. I prefaced this answer with the fact I am on a tight budget and and am trying to optimize performance and efficiency while minimizing cost and would like to find the median between the two. He rolled his eyes and smirked when I said this. He told me that with wheels, tubes, and tires it would cost $250 - $300 and that probably would not be good for me since this was clearly more than my bike is worth. He also added there would be some mechanical issues that would also make it hard like chain wear, etc. These problems I understand. He suggested that I buy a set of slicks and new tubes and get practice at changing tires. This is exactly what I did, I purchased the Bontrager H2 tires and standard tubes.
I pushed my bike out and and loaded it in my truck. As I drove away is then the buyer's remorse hit me, not for the $60 dollars but for the way I was left feeling. I felt bad about my bike and not having money. I bought this bike when I was in graduate school and after saving up all winter for a snow board. By the time I had the money winter was over, so I went to a bike shop and bought the best bike I could afford. I have the pedals I have because all of my friends and my first two bike shops swore by this brand. It led me to ask: When did mountain biking become so elitist? When I first started cycling a guy I worked with named Jeff talked shit to me about my bike and about how only Giant bikes were good and specialized is crap, blah blah, blah. Jeff was a spoiled brat who had never had to work for anything in his life to the point that he even killed someone in a car accident in high school and his family paid his way out of it. On the other hand, a good friend who I did my first few cross country rides with, Dustin Wilson, was kind a of hippie and was a part time national park ranger. Dustin was very mellow, never talked down about brands, just here and there giving me advice about good equipment or additions I could make like a bike computer, clipless peddles, or lighter saddle. This is what I think of when I think of mountain bikers. This was a sport started by outsiders that could turn a wrench themselves, grunge guys that were on the fringe and didn't care. Has the pretentious road cycling attitude taken over? It sure feels like it! If I don't have the best gear then I should stick to running, oh wait runners don't want to be seen with me because I am too fat. As someone who grew up on food stamps and medicaid, put himself through undergrad and grad school, and then turned around and went to work making barely more than minimum wage because I work for state government I buy, serving and Protecting or at least that what the patch on my uniform says, so due to limited income I buy the best I can afford, I often save for parts. In the past I have had to go months without riding because I needed new cranks and bottom bracket that I could not afford. I had to wait until Christmas and asked for one part as a gift and buy the other myself.
I leave these questions to ponder:
1- When, why and how did elitism make its way into mountain biking?
2- Since you can't be a cyclist if you have a budget, what hobbies should poor people have?
3- What hobbies should fat people have since outdoor sports get you an awkward eye?
Note: If you are curious what I ride I have a 2006 Specialized Hard Rock, Bontrager Big Earl Cranks, Bontrager Howitzer Bottom Brackets, Bontrager Saddle, Crank Brothers Mallet Pedals, and Forte Shoes (got them on sale at performance and sales items are probably looked down on). Although most if this is down hill or free ride designed I like how it stands up to big boy weight and fun with technical obstacles.