There are two bike shops in Fayetteville. When I started riding, it was the norm that you aligned yourself with a shop. In return for being a loyal customer, they watched out for you, hooked you up with deals every now and then and generally, did what they could to be worthy of your loyalty. Those times seem to be changing. I guess the Wal-Mart effect has made it to the local bike shop.
More and more, I think people feel like if they aren't getting a "deal" they are suckers or chumps. Often, what they don't realize is that the old adage "you can't get something for nothing" still holds true. I've had people come in wanting my opinion on some internet or mail-order carbon framed, dura ace equipped bike that basically costs what the gruppo should retail for. Now, I'm no genius, but if the cost of the bike is equal to the cost of the parts, then you're getting a carbon fiber frame for free. Well, exactly how good is a free carbon fiber frame?
It is interesting the sort of almost adversarial dynamic that people can take towards their local bike shop. Now, I'm not commenting on your local IBD, but speaking for our shop, we try to view every customer as a potential relationship. Some of those relationships are that of a person we want to go riding with, others are people that we just want to see out on a bike, cruising the greenway (one more person on a bike is a good thing!). As a bike shop owner, it can be disheartening, almost heartbreaking, when you begin to see that customers are more interested in the "deal" than the long-term relationship. I guess I'm naive, but I see the bike shop as the hub of a community; a community of people with a shared interest or passion, even. One thing is a certain and immutable truth for any cyclist: at some point, your local bike shop will save your butt. Whether it's advice, catching some difficult to spot, dangerous issue or just having (or getting) a part that you need, your bike shop will (hopefully) always try to prove itself worthy of your loyalty.
Alright, my pick for the green jersey winner for the 2007 Tour de France is:
Yes, Sean "the cannibal" Kelly. Sure, Boonen has like 20 years on him, but Kelly is the type of guy who can get things done. I'm choosing experience over youth on this one. Plus, the Skil-Shimano team still uses the same kit. Kelly could just wear the old wool and acrylic and fit right in. Plus, at his age he should be able to get a TUE for human growth hormone. And just imagine what the guy could do on a modern carbon frame. I mean, come on, the guy sprinted like a demon on Vitus (nee Alan) carbon frames; frames whose stiffness could best be described as al dente.
Sure I'm joking(?), but I think Basso is just the tip of a big ol', hopped up iceberg. It is going to be interesting just seeing who is eligible to start the Tour. In the coming days, I'll tell you why I think 2007 could finally be Raymond "the eternal second" Poulidor's year to finally win.