Sunday, May 15, 2011

Financial Disaster

I can’t recall if I mentioned, but we were able to refinance the ranch over the winter. The value had stabilized and we had sufficient net equity to qualify. Didn’t change much except the interest rate was reduced …significantly. We didn’t take out an equity loan for a new Escalade or a cruise to Aruba, just stuck with the original plan: To get this place paid off before the end of the century.

Something, big happened last week that makes it look as though we may have to rethink our long term strategy and rearrange finances:

Brooks saddles have been around in the bicycle world for a long time. Brooks saddles are not only iconic, they are built to last so it is always possible that any Brooks saddle you happen upon may actually hail from early in the last century. They are not for everyone, in fact most people have to learn to love their Brooks saddle, and the Brooks will teach you a new dedinition of love.  I’m one of the fortunate few for whom getting comfortable on a Brooks was not much of a challenge.

I’ve messed around with a few different models over the years but found the Team Pro to be the sweet spot for me. Unfortunately, on my ride home from work last Friday I discovered that the frame on my Team Pro was broken.
Can't see it?  Maybe inserting the Allen wrench pointer will help:
It’s been a while since I bought my last Brooks saddle so I have not kept my finger on the pulse of the market for these retro pieces of industrial art. This weekend I did a little searching and learned that, though the housing market may be in free fall, the Brooks Team Pro Saddle market has rocketed into the stratosphere.

My broken saddle is of course the top of the line model, titanium rails. Not that I have champagne taste but it was not that much of an upgrade when I bought it and as it happens, when saddle frames fail it is often the rails that give up the ghost. Given that I’m a big load it made sense to put a little extra money into the one part that would likely suffer most as I went bumping down the rando road to glory.

I switched the Ti model out for the less sturdy (and less spendy) steel framed model mounted on the tandem.
This is the easy fix, but of course, with nicer weather on the way (we can always hope!) this can only be temporary as I am sure that Mrs. C and I will want to get out and blister the chip seal on the South Bank road this summer.

What to do? My favorite Bike parts dealer in the whole world, WBP used to offer all kinds of replacement parts for Brooks saddles. I guess the inventory cost must have become a factor because now Bill only offers replacement frames for the most common of all Brooks saddles the venerable B-17. This isn’t urgent, but it is important.

I have considered down-specing to something less spendy but similar. I have heard good things about the Giles Berthoud saddles, and Velo Orange has some knock offs that are less expensive.

On the other hand, of all the parts on a bike the saddle may be the one thing that is most ’Personal’ if you get my drift. Sure you have to have wheels, tires, some sort of drive train to actually make the bike go, but even the best prepared and functioning bike won’t take you far if you can’t make peace with the saddle. I’ve tried to wriggle my way out of this dilemma with the 'cheaper-might-do-the-trick' rationale but Mrs. C did a good job of playing defense attorney to my bullying prosecutor.

If one of you Brooks hoarders have a stash of Team Pros hidden in the secret compartment of the survival shelter awaiting the day when quality bike parts will be the currency of first order in a post apocalyptic world, consider sharing the love with a comrade in arms. I’ve got a couple nice high powered rifles and a complete hand loader kit that you might consider as trade. It warps my brain to be thinking about purchasing a bicycle seat that would cost me more that my first VW bug, and that was a nice little rig with doors so tight your ears would pop if you didn’t crack a window before slamming it home, .. and only the faintest puff of blue smoke at start up.

I only hope the Wall street gang does not get wind of this lost corner of industrial equity. Imagine them sweetening the deal on a multi-billion dollar bundle of credit default swaps with a couple of Brooks Team Pros.

Speaking of my ride home from work … I mentioned if only obliquely in my last post that I was participating in the local Bicycle Commute contest. Since that was the first and last mention it would be reasonable to assume that it flopped, a one and done deal and I am back to commanding the good ship Barcalounger.

Not so, while I don’t have an unbroken string of trips to and fro, I was able to commute a half dozen times over the first two weeks for a total of just more than 287 miles.  I cooked up a couple half baked posts during those two weeks but the time committed to riding does not leave much time for anything else. I did a little calculation about how much gas I didn’t burn, it wasn’t very impressive but I did my modest part. I was hoping for a 200+ mile week next week but I’ve got a couple day trips around the west side of the state that make for a long enough day without an additional 4 hours of ‘commute’ time.

It’s been going well. If you live in these parts you have no doubt added your voice to the collective whine about the rain. With my brand new Showers Pass raincoat I laughed at the weather, well metaphorically speaking. Those frosty mornings were another matter. Flat tires and other minor mechanicals just make it more ‘interesting’.  Last Friday the stars aligned and I had a perfect, trouble free, no head wind ride home. I wasn’t planning to go fast but when it was all over I had cut almost a half hour off my average time. Even for a slow poke, that felt good.


  1. Wow. I may put my spare B-17 Ti saddle in the lock box at the bank

  2. Dr. Cod:

    Might a B-17 shell fit onto the Professional saddle? or at they different sizes.

    I ask this because I actually have a B-17 saddle which needs leather replacement, but the metal frame and rails are in excellent shape; but it has metal, not Ti rails, which may be a deal breaker for you.

    Would you be interested in selling the seat you have, as is, so that I might attempt this repair? Let me know.

    Victor, a man in search of a repair