1/27/07 – More Buyer Beware

The internet is an amazing place which has presented us with new oportunities in many different areas of life and business – and created entirely new concepts that we weren’t familiar with even 5 years ago. I mean, who knew what a “blog” was in 2001?

But, as with most things in life; with new opportunity comes new responsibility. E-commerce, while it accounts for only a small percentage of all commerce in the United States (which is the little-known fact that the “dot-coms” don’t want you to know), is becoming an increasingly fertile platform for scam artists and fraud.

I’ve written on a couple of occasions about internet fraud in our industry; and in spite of increased effort by bicycle brands and distributors to police the exchange of their goods online and increased awareness by reputable retailers – internet fraud involving the sales of bicycles and bicycle-related goods is becoming more and more pervasive.

Just today I recieved an e-mail from someone who visited our store – doing due diligence – to research an advertised sale of a bike on e-bay. After visiting our store to get our opinion and then going home to do some further research, here’s what he told me via e-mail:

“I was the guy at your shop today asking about that Litespeed Tuscany. We were looking at the web site and questioning the legitimacy of the offer. It turns out that it was a hoax. Apparently these guys try to clean out your paypal account on ebay. I reported them to ebay security. I felt like [a jerk] being in your shop asking for information about another bike. You guys answered my questions with class. I have the bug to get a new bike and hope to do so through your shop soon. I’ll leave ebay alone.” Continue reading “1/27/07 – More Buyer Beware”

11/15/06 – The Saga Continues…

Trek Bicycle Corporation, recently issued the press release quoted below:

November 13, 2006
To: All Trek Dealers
Dear Valued Trek Dealer:
We have received several reports about a fraudulent website which purports to sell Trek bicycles over the internet at deeply discounted prices. The website is currently up and running at
www.marks-bicycles.com. In the past, the same website has appeared under several other names such as www.kenbicycle.com, www.maxbicycle.com, www.volinbicycle.com, and www.mobybicycle.com. [this is also the same website I mentioned in my Oct. 31 2006 entry at the url of www.steves-bikes.com, which has also been shut down.] We have successfully shut this website down several times, only to find that it reappears under a similar domain name shortly thereafter. Other major brands are also featured on the site.
Elsewhere in the press release:

It is a scam. They do not have an actual bike shop, nor do they have any bikes. All of the contact and credit card information used to set up the website is fraudulent. The pictures have been copied from a legitimate bike shop’s website.

If you try to purchase a bike from this website, you’ll find that the only method of payment they accept is wire transfer. If you order a bike and wire them money, they will keep the money, but you will not get your bike. If you call the phone number, you get a recording, not an actual person.
Trek will continue to monitor the site and shut it down whenever we find it. Beyond this, we know of no way to prevent whoever is behind this from doing what they are doing unless the authorities get involved. So far, they have been unwilling to do so. Please inform customers that they should not purchase anything from this website.
Continue reading “11/15/06 – The Saga Continues…”

10/12/06 – Sharing the Road? What are Cyclists’ Rights?

It seems that more now than ever I’m hearing stories of awkward and occasionally violent meetings between cyclists and motorists. There’s the things we’ve all encountered – honking, yelling, maybe you’ve even had things thrown at you. But lately there’s been swerving, verbal exchanges at traffic lights, and intentional screeching of brakes. In fact, WKRN ran a news story just weeks ago as a part of their “I’m ticked off!” series about motorists frustrations with cyclists in rural Nashville. How far is too far?

Actually, our real questions should be; What is fueling these incidents and how do we extinguish the flame? Are motorists just intolerant or are we cyclists provoking them? What can we do to improve this situation?

Well, educating all motorists on the rights of cyclists and telling them to back off would take a very long time and would be quite ineffective; even though some of them probably need to hear it. However, we cyclists can learn our rights and the responsibilities that accompany those rights and become smarter, more considerate cyclists and hope that we can change the hearts of the motorists in our area. So, where do we begin?

First, the best resource for finding your rights and responsibilities as a cyclist in most states is: http://massbike.org/bikelaw/statelaws.htm. This website links to other online resources which reference the driver’s code for most states and even some territories of the U.S. The listing for the state of Tennessee is very thorough and clear and is worth a read; whether to discover your rights and responsibilities for the first time or to refresh your memory. Continue reading “10/12/06 – Sharing the Road? What are Cyclists’ Rights?”

2/16/06 – Bike Fit

I try to study bike fitting every winter. While I definitely have enough fitting appointments to keep me busy (and some of you keep me busier than others…just kidding), I think it’s important to keep up with new developments in physiology, bike geometry, and theory in general.

It’s this time of year that I get especially frustrated though, by being reminded of all the bad advice that is swimming around out there on the “Bike Club Circuit”. Now, that’s not a knock on bike clubs – they’re vital to the existence and continued growth of our sport – but it seems that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about how bikes ought to fit and about what you can and can’t get away with when it comes to choosing a bike and making it fit. Worst of all, some of those rumors are propigated by bike shops!

Poorly trained (or not trained at all) professionals some times give out the worst advice of all! Ultimately, this leads to an amazing amount of people running around on bikes which don’t fit and therefore aren’t comfortable to ride. (One fitting school puts the figure at almost 80% of cyclists. Now, what they don’t disclose is whether that number is just enthusiasts or whether it also includes the 11 year old who just got a bike for his birthday from Toys-R-Us which is 5 sizes too big, but no one knew better – he just thought it looked cool). Continue reading “2/16/06 – Bike Fit”

2/8/06 – Motivation

I’ve been struggling a lot with motivation this winter. Because I’m from a cooler climate than the mid-South, I typically enjoy riding in the fall and winter more than the summer. The heat and humidity here is absolutely oppressive to me. But this winter has been tough. There’s a lot going on at the store (which beats the alternative…) and when that is coupled with the reluctance of leaving my now 8-month pregnant wife at home by herself; I just don’t get out much. (Notice I don’t have any cool “action” pictures like Kerry does…just me standing here in the store like I always am…) 🙂

However, when I do get out; instead of my usual pace – trying to rip up the road, pushing my heart rate to the max, working as much riding into as little time as I can – I’ve been keeping the intensity down and doing more “base miles” type riding; leisurely riding through the hills in West Nashville, through the park, and up and down Belle Meade Boulevard. Sometimes we just forget how enjoyable this sport really can be. With the information-overload of our heart-rate monitors and wireless cadence computers and the performance benefits of our super-light frames and aerodynamic wheels it is easy to lose focus on why we do this. Ultimately it’s about the experience.

Great gear sure adds to it – just like having a wide-screen plasma TV with a great surround system – but if you keep getting distracted by other things, it’s hard to enjoy the movie or game you’re watching.
You know, we really are blessed here with some of the best riding in the country. Before moving to Nashville in August of 2000, I lived in two cities that Bicycling Magazine has touted as being among the best cities in the country for cycling. And, while I’ll tend to agree with them; Nashville is really under-rated. Yeah, we don’t have all the bike paths that other cities do (but we’re working on that) and the mountain biking isn’t as accessible – but few places in the U.S. compare with Percy Warner Park, the Natchez Trace, Leipers Fork, and the Old Hillsboro area. When you’re not trying to push your speed up to race-pace or focusing on catching the group of riders ahead of you (or keeping away from the riders behind you…) and you really just bask in the ride – Middle Tennessee is hard to beat.

We all struggle with motivation from time-to-time, and it’s not always the same thing that brings us out of it. But, try a change of pace every once in a while. Take a ride without your computer and heart rate monitor. Ride with a new group or take a new route and wander a little. Sometimes this is where we find our new inspiration and re-discover our sport.

And, with the excitement and distraction of a newborn about to hit me; I’m sure to need a new source of motivation to get on my bike so I can do some racing this year and not fail miserably like I did last year. I’ll be sure to let you know how that all turns out…
Now, turn off your computer and go ride!

7/4/06 – Vive’ le Tour

Yes, it’s cheesy and probably a little cliche’, but I don’t care; this is my favorite time of year! I love the Tour de France. I am one of those geeks who checks out velonews.com and cyclingnews.com several times a day for the latest news and the gear reviews on what the different teams are riding. I set my VCR every day (Bike shop employees don’t make enough to have TiVo…ha, ha) to catch the live action while I’m at work and then watch it when I get home. I can recite the winners of the yellow jersey for the last two decades and then some (which is made easier by the fact that 2 Americans have won ten times and there have been three riders who have won 5 or more times in that time period…thank you Hinault, LeMond, Indurain and Armstrong…see, there I just named half of them.) The month of July is my favorite month – the Tour is my SuperBowl. Heck, the tour even ends on my birthday every once in a while!

And, wow! Was I ever anticipating this year’s race. With Armstrong out, the race was finally as wide open as it has been since Indurain’s fantastic flop in 1996 when current CSC Director Bjarne Riis won. But things started to change back in May when Manolo Saiz was arrested (former Director for the former Liberty Seguros – a.k.a. Astana-Wurth – now Astana squad) on blood doping allegations under what we now know as “Operacion Puerto”. And now, we’re watching a tour lacking many of those who had been tapped as “heirs to the throne” and an entire team with a promising rider (Alexandre Vinokourov; who has not been implicated in the case, but lost enough team members that they did not have a large enough squad to start the race). So, how do I feel now that we do not have Basso, Ullrich, Mancebo, Vino, et. al.?

Illegal use of performance enhancing substances (EPO, blood doping, amphetamines, or the method du jour…) is rampant in professional sports world wide. As a fan of track and field, I’ve watched sadly as many athletes like Ben Johnson and recently Marion Jones have been scrutinized, banned, proclaimed to have damaged the sport or made it “impure” – and yet the sport lives on. Athetes continue to compete for Gold Medals, the drama continues to unfold, and records continue to fall. While it is discouraging to watch people (sometimes our favorites – for me it was Tyler Hamilton and David Millar) try to gain unfair advantages – occasionally at the cost of their health (Tom Simpson’s tragic death in the Tour on a mountain stage) – we must continue to strive to improve drug testing and emphasize the importance of a clean and fair competition. Continue reading “7/4/06 – Vive’ le Tour”