Category Archives: Important Society Issues

Way Too Many of my Fellow Riders, and friends, Have No Health Insurance

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Okay, let’s just all agree to agree on this. We all need medical care during our lifetimes. And, maybe we can agree on this too. Healthcare/medical care is pretty expensive. Expensive compared to the average person’s wage at least.

Maybe some disagree with one of the two above statements, but generally I think we can agree. The key is how to pay for our individual healthcare. Or maybe, the key is how to try to encourage our society to come to some sort of agreement on how to pay for the healthcare of those that don’t have the means to pay for it themselves. I’m not sure what the real issue is. All I know is that we, as a country, are wealthy enough that we “deserve”, and should demand, healthcare for all our citizens.

I’ve been thinking about this since I did rotator cuff surgery in February. Actually, since I tore up my shoulder at Cyclocross Nationals in Madison in January. Participating in the system, as many of you already might know, is a challenge. It is so unbelievable broken that even those working in the field don’t understand how the system works. I’m not sure anyone does.

Yesterday out riding, we had a problem. My friend, Ian, crashed and hit his face pretty hard. He has a history of seizures, but none of us saw him go down. We came back and he was laying on the edge of a gravel road, pretty much unconscious, blood pouring down his face and out of his nose. Little Jack, was already on the phone with 911, trying to explain to them where exactly we were. Bill was holding Ian’s head, trying to keep him still. I called Ian’s wife, Katlin, to see if she could give me some information on his condition. She got into her car and started driving out to where we were immediately.

Long story short, the ambulance arrived, they put Ian inside to get him out of the cold. Ian “came back” after about 15 minutes in the back of the ambulance. He had health insurance, he works at Rebound Physical Therapy, where I did PT on my shoulder, but it was going to cost him a “fortune” to take an ambulance ride to the hospital and do all the necessary tests. Something maybe like 2 to 4 months salary, depending on what they did to him once he showed up. He decided to deny care and get a ride with his wife. The ambulance guys said since Ian was aware, he could decline treatment. I wasn’t so good with the decision at the time. Ian ended up going to minor-med and getting his face stitched up. He decided to take the risk on the concussion and broken nose.

I was talking to Bill while riding and wondering what he would have done. He told me pretty much exactly what Ian did. I think that it is so wrong that we have to make financial decisions that may, and many times do, risk our lives and health. I’m not sure what the answer is, but it needs to be fixed. I don’t understand why no one wants to address the cost issue. No one can ever tell me what it is going to cost to do any test before they actually do the test. CAT scans, MRI’s, tests that cost a few thousand dollars, they have no idea how much.

My brother broke his wrist falling off a ladder a couple months ago. He didn’t go to the hospital. I finally got him to go get it x-rayed and then sent them off to Stacie in Louisville. She said he needed a CAT scan of his wrist. I called around Topeka and no answers on cost. I eventually got some quotes of between $1800 and $2200. I went onto the internet and found a place from California that scheduled them all over the country. It cost $395. He drove the 60 miles and went to a regular imaging place and it was done. The charge less than 20% of the higher cost in Topeka. I don’t understand it.

Catherine had really great insurance when she crashed in Madison at Nationals and punctured her lung. But when all was said and done, she owed nearly $8000 out of pocket because they said she used an out of network hospital. I thought if it was an emergency, your insurance paid for any immediate medical care? Guess not.

We’ve already decided as a society that we take care of really hurt people. It is a law that hospitals can’t turn down patients that need immediate medical attention. When I come upon someone hurt or really sick, I want to be able to call the proper authorities, an ambulance and have the person taken to the hospital and taken care of. I really don’t care if the person was a drug dealer who was shot selling crack, an old lady that slipped on the ice or a police officer that had a heart attack. Or Ian, who crashed on his bike and hit his face onto the ground. I want them taken care of. We are a society of people. All of us don’t necessarily approve of what many of the others do or how they choose to live their lives, but that being said, it is the society that we choose to live in. No one is forcing anyone to live here, so we need to put aside the “I don’t want to pay for the other people’s insurance” argument.

And it’s a law that we do take care of them. So, our society has agreed, by law, that these people get medical treatment. No matter if they can pay for it or not. So we pay for the treatment whether they have insurance or not. Society pays for the treatment. We all pay for the treatment. But, people like Ian can’t afford insurance that pays for anything but a disaster.

Ian is in a very high risk group, as his wife, Katlin is. He has had seizures since he was a teenager and she was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They are both going to be turning 26 pretty soon, so have to buy their own insurance. Can you imagine how much that would be? Through no fault of their own, they are nearly uninsurable in today’s system. It’s bullshit. It’s wrong.

I heard a radio interview on NPR about a woman in Florida that was trying to get people down there to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, Obama Care. The NPR segment said that Florida was a state that would really benefit from the legislation. But they are having a hard time getting people to look at the information, let alone sign up. I heard interview after interview from people that said that it was horrible legislation and it was just going to cost everyone money, but then admitted that they no nothing about it, but were sure that it would not be any good for them, even thought they had no health insurance now.

Nearly everyone I talk to has some view about Obama Care. And I really haven’t met any one person that could tell me more than one or two things about it. I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about it too. I know that you can get insurance without having to disclose pre-existing conditions, which is a very big deal. That would apply to my brother, whose wrist is still broken, Ian and Katlin. Other than that, I don’t know much.

I can’t tell you if the Affordable Health Act is going to be a great thing in the long run. I do know that our health care system is really screwed up currently and I’m willing to try just about anything different to see if it helps some. I wish we could all have a more open mind and put themselves into other people’s positions. When it comes down to it, our health is the most important part of life. If we are unhealthy, then the rest of life is an uphill battle.

Let all try to figure this out. At least keep an open mind and recognize that we have a big problem that needs to be addressed. This might not, and most likely won’t fix the whole problem, but in my opinion, something is better than nothing. If you want to check out the Affordable Care Act and it’s offerings, click here. If this post just gets one uninsured person to go out and explore the options of getting insurance, then it was a success.

We had to wait here over 15 minutes before an ambulance arrived.  We complained about how long it took, but really?  We are very fortunate to live in a country that has such good emergency services.

We had to wait here over 15 minutes before an ambulance arrived. We complained about how long it took, but really? We are very fortunate to live in a country that has such good emergency services.

Ian taking a rest until Katlin showed up.

Ian taking a rest until Katlin showed up.

Katlin showed up with some medicine.

Katlin showed up with some medicine.

Kansas aren't so inclined to look into the ACA either.  This headline of the Topeka paper says that only 1855 people have signed up for it so far.  That is out of an estimated 363,000 people that don't currently have health insurance now.  That is about 0.5% of the unisured people here.  Wow is all I can say.

Kansas aren’t so inclined to look into the ACA either. This headline of the Topeka paper says that only 1855 people have signed up for it so far. That is out of an estimated 363,000 people that don’t currently have health insurance now. That is about 0.5% of the unisured people here. Wow is all I can say.

Intolerance

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It sort of amazes me how intolerant and impatient we can all be sometimes. You’d think Americans would be more tolerate than not, but in my opinion, that isn’t the case.

I was out riding yesterday, Sunday, and twice during the ride, guys flipped me off. I have no idea why. I was riding by myself, close to the right side of the road, I hadn’t run any lights or stop signs. And still, honk, then finger. That is pretty unsual in Kansas, but it’s becoming more common, which isn’t a good sign. It’s funny, or maybe not, that I seem to get these types of encounters more on Sunday mornings than any other day of the week.

I wonder why so many people get worked up about such nothings. I realize that I sort of live in a little bubble, not really participating in “normal” life like other people and I am pretty far removed from all the anger and rage that people tend to display when certain subjects come up. As far as I can tell, those subjects are, gun control, abortion, politics, and now healthcare. There are lots more, but those are for sure.

The healthcare thing is weird. The post I did last week was just about the acknowledgement that the healthcare system was broken. And that it was time to address that. Then so many people started going off about how screwed we were because of Obamacare or just the opposite. That wasn’t the intention of the post. I think everyone agreed, does agree, that our healthcare system is majorly fucked up, but when someone wants to address it, then everyone is up in arms.

What if you have a leak in your roof and you live somewhere it rains all the time. And the leak is right over your bed. All night it rains and you get wet and can’t sleep. You get up the next morning, having not slept and have to drag through the day. If you just keep status quo, eventually something is gonna give. Your health, you job, your roof, something. So, you decide it is time to fix the leak. You might not know anything about fixing roof leaks, but you need to try, to attempt a fix. So you go up on the roof and survey the situation and then do the best you can to fix the leak. Hopefully you do an okay job and you fix it, but since you don’t know anything about roofing, it is most likely it is more complicated than that. So you learn from your mistakes and then do it again until you do fix it.

That is the way I see the healthcare issue. The problem, problems, are huge and very complicated. The system is substantially broken. But, we needed to start to attempt to fix it. Like I wrote in my post, I really don’t have any idea if the Affordable Care Act is a good thing, a great thing or a complete bust. But, it is at least climbing the ladder to try to fix the leak. If it doesn’t work, then everyone should use it as information to try to do it better.

It is going to take a long time to get the healthcare system corrected. It isn’t going to be a short term thing. But the way everyone, all of us, seem to have such intolerance towards the process, it seems that we are all sabotaging the process of fixing the very thing that, we all agree, isn’t close to right originally, by being intolerant of ideas that we really don’t know much about.

The same goes with our politicians in Washington. We hire them to work for us. To have different view, but to be open to what is best for all. But, that isn’t the case anymore. They have taken such permanent sides that the system comes to a stand still. Nothing gets done. It’s all finger pointing and posturing. If Washington DC was a private corporation, all the officers would be fired by now. But they don’t, because there aren’t any repercussions to their unwillingness to compromise. Life always has small compromises. It should be no different in politics. Intolerance and politics are like oil and water. It used to be different, I don’t understand the change.

It seems to me that as we age, we should be more tolerate and open to new ideas, but it seems to be just the opposite. As people age they seem to be more set in their ways. You think that over the years you’d have so many more experiences, with so many more outcomes, that you’d realize that they are lots of solutions for the same problem. I’m not sure why we don’t use our life experiences and apply them to other problems?

Anyway, most of the people reading this have something in common, the bicycle. The love of the bicycle. It is such a simple thing. A silly thing that makes us happy. We put a lot of importance on it. We all use it for different reasons and get different pleasures and results from the one common thing. We are part of a big tribe. We need to understand even though we all have one common bond, we also think a lot different than one another. But, those differences shouldn’t be deal breakers. We need more tolerance.

The guys flipping me off yesterday seemed pretty intolerant to me. It was a weekend and I wasn’t slowing them down at all. I’ll never understand why a guy riding a bike can bother somebody so much that they get enraged. It seems to be the way our society is heading now. Maybe after the healthcare issue “is solved”, we can work on that a little.

cyclist

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tolerance-does-not-mean-tolerating-intolerance

Trash

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Topeka is a nice place to live. It is very convenient for riding, close to an airport and has pretty great weather, most of the time. But compared to a lot of places, it is fairly poor. At least it has a big area of neighborhood blight and crime. I’m not exactly why. I think it might go all the way back to the civil war when Kansas was a free state and Missouri was a slave state. That’s my own theory, but whatever the reason, a fair number of poor people ended up settling in Topeka, the Capitol City.

When cities have blight issues, the regulations, charges, etc., need to reflect the mindset of the people that they most affect. Penalizing or charging people for trash disposal is an issue of mine. When cities/counties start making special charges or exceptions for certain items, tires, tv’s, etc. then it is going to create a problem of people dumping them where it is free. That is just about anywhere. Topeka charges $2 for tires. I’ve personally moved 1000’s of tires. And I see them everywhere. I’m sick of it. The city needs to come up with a way to track new tire sells because an average household doesn’t have 50 tires sitting around. Many of the tires are being dumped by small tire companies and service stations.

I can’t count how many times I’ve cleaned the land up.  Or how many times I’ve tried to keep the land sealed off from people that dump.  I’ve had so many  full 40 cubic yard dumpsters removed from this piece of property I should just buy my own.

I’m writing this now because I’m having a problem, once again, with some property I own in Central Topeka. It’s a fairly long story, but I have a 13 acre piece of land right in the center of town. It is a nice piece of property in a bad area. When I got the land, it wasn’t secure and many people used it to dump their “extra” stuff. Bill, Trudi and I spend a month moving close to 3000 tires out of a seasonal drainage stream. We just had to drag them up and stack them and some prisoners came and moved them. The prisoners got to keep the money from the metal from the steel, the rims, and the tires went to a facility to make playground cover. It worked out pretty well.

There were two semi trailer trucks on the property. I called around trying to get someone to move them, but the poor ecosystem took care of it. Last year, I went by the property and the chain/cable was gone, once again. I’ve replaced it dozens of times. I went into the property and the semi trailers were completely gone. Tires and all, which was nice. I’m sure the guys that cut them up got a fair amount of money for recycling the steel, $1000’s of dollars, which is fine by me.

Now my issue is dumping again. It is nearly impossible to keep people from getting in. They seem to have all the tools necessary to get through any thickness of chain or cable. I received a code services letter from the city about removing a desk from the property. I knew that was a bad sign. I went over there yesterday and saw few pickup truck loads of trash laying there. Empty paint cans, tv’s, clothing, and trash.

There are a lot of letters with addresses, but I”m not going there. There are so many ways people’s stuff could end up here. Someone evicted and the landlord dumps their stuff. A guy driving around cleaning houses and then illegally dumps. Lots of ways. Anyway, I’m sick of it.

I went down to a recycling place yesterday and got two long pieces of galvanized steel. My plan was to dig a 3-4 foot post hole, put one in, set in concrete, and then slide the other one over the top, secured with the beefiest lock I can find. I hit a snag with the ground being solid limestone. I’m working on “drilling” a hole now. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to use. Maybe a core drill, hammer drill, jack hammer, something. All I know, from past experience, that once the dumping starts, it accelerates at an unbelievable rate.

Back to point. Cities need to understand the consequences of their fee schedules. When you charge poor people to get rid of trash, the trash isn’t going to make it to the landfill. It is going to be dumped in ditches, along bike paths, and on unoccupied property. Then it becomes society’s problem. I can’t imagine that the city collects enough money from their fee schedule to make up for the amount of garbage they have to clean up themselves. Not even mentioning private land owners.

I hate people that pollute. There are lots of ways to pollute, dumping garbage isn’t the worst. But it stands out in your face. I really don’t like cleaning up other people’s trash. But, I’ve done more than my fair share of it. I would be a horrible garbage man. Seeing humanity through other people’s trash gives me a bad glimpse into an ugly side of mankind.

My pile of trash.

My pile of trash.  It took pickups trucks full.  And they bring it as fast as I can remove it.

I pulled this pile of laundry detergent containers out to recycle. Who uses this much laundry detergent?

I pulled this pile of laundry detergent containers out to recycle. Who uses this much laundry detergent?

Some family photo albums. It is so sad really.

Some family photo albums. It is so sad really.

I didn't get too far before hitting solid rock.

I didn’t get too far before hitting solid rock.

This is a road repair done a couple years ago across the street from my land. Pretty nice way to dispose of the extra rock and concrete, huh? Even the city pollutes in the poor areas.

This is a road repair done a couple years ago across the street from my land. Pretty nice way to dispose of the extra rock and concrete, huh? Even the city pollutes in the poor areas.

Cutting my steel posts.

Cutting my steel posts.

Took me four hours to dig this one hole manually.

Not sure this is going to stop the dumping, but it’s the best I’ve got right now.

Finished product.

This sign down the street doesn't seem to be scaring anyone off.

This sign down the street doesn’t seem to be scaring anyone off.

Apple Macintosh 30 years Old

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Today is the 30th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh computer. It was back in January of 1984 that it originated. Man, how time flies and things change.

I’d say the biggest change in my lifetime is how small the world seems now because of computers, the internet and smart phones. I couldn’t have imagined the direction of it all back during the Olympic games in LA, in 1984.

The information that we have at our finger tips, at all times, is unlimited pretty much. Anytime I need an answer to virtually any question (a question that has a definite answer), I have it. Much of this is because of Apple and its products.

I’ve been an Apple fan for a long time. I don’t come close to using their products as they should be used. I barely tap the fringe. Each one of my Apple products have the ability to do 10,000 X as much as I use them for. That is the beauty of their products, they are very user friendly for pions like me and also for researchers, designers and artists that are on the cutting edge.

I couldn’t even have imagined 10 years ago that any of us could be sitting at home, eating breakfast, watching World Cup Cyclocross from Europe, live on our laptops. Or virtually any other event in the world that has video coverage. It is truly amazing. We can even watch on our phones while on the move. Unbelievable.

I started buying Apple stock a long time ago. I made the decision by making observations during travelling to races. Years ago, when I went into a coffeeshop before a race, there would be maybe one Mac laptop to 10 windows computers. I noticed a very slow, but definite increase of little Apple symbols on the laptops, month by month. I realized that way more students were then using Apple computers than previously. So I bought some stock. This was way before the iPhone.

The iPhone was obviously a game changer for Apple, the company. Nearly all their profits are derived from this one product. It is what defines the company now, the Mac took a back seat to them.

Monday, Apple is going to announce its 4th quarter earnings. They are going to be record earnings most likely. Maybe not record enough to make the institutional investors happy. Apple is not a loved stock by many right at this moment. But, they are hoarding an enormous amount of cash. I saw an article last February that said Apple had enough cash in the bank they could acquire Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn, Netflix, Pandora, Research In Motion (Blackberry), Yahoo, Yelp, Zillow and Zynga —and have more than $2 billion left to spare. Of course the dynamics of all those companies have changed in a year, but they are still sitting on a huge stockpile of money.

Anyway, it has been an interesting journey for Apple. We’ve all benefited from their innovations and focus. Hopefully they will continue with these things into the future. I can’t come close to imagine what they’ll be doing 30 years from now.

The original Macintosh from 1984.

The original Macintosh from 1984.

A rendition of Apple's futuristic campus.

A rendition of Apple’s futuristic campus.

Lance Armstrong – Another Divisive Subject

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I wasn’t all that pleased with my ability to write down my thoughts on talking to Lance yesterday. I have a ton of opposite and contrary views floating around in my brain and trying to be unbiased on any subject is not something that I’ve ever especially been good at.

I think my views on many subjects are strong. And as strong as my views are, I was really surprised to see how venomous some of the comments on yesterday’s post are. I guess Lance is just one of those subjects that people have a real strong opinion about.

If you’ve read some other of my posts on the doping issue, you’d realize that I don’t have much of a tolerance for the whole thing. And, of course, I’m outraged by the whole polluted mess.

I’m sick of these guys justifying why they did what they did. I can’t believe the audacity of these guys to actually believe that they were the chosen few. All these guys act like they were the best before taking drugs and that they would have been the best anyway, and that it just made for an even playing field. That is completely delusional. I’ve personally witnessed many riders going from being pack filler, at a domestic level, to bringing in 100’s of thousands of dollars in salary. Many of the current pros that doped, then miraculously quit doping all at the same time, were those very people. Young guys that didn’t pay their dues in the sport, and jumped past a ton of guys that were doing it the right way. It is screwed up on a multitude of levels.

Yeah, some of my views are because I’m pissed off personally. These guys screwed up a good part of my career in the sport. I don’t race bicycles for money. I race bicycles because of the lifestyle and life experiences the sport offers. When I can’t get those life experiences because some hack has stolen from me, for sure, I’m angry.

My views have always been that the rules are not strict enough. Lifetime bans for high potency drugs. Lifetime bans for the enablers. Repayment of salaries and prize money for all involved. Draconian punishments for the foreseeable future in the sport. If there is a way to make drug usage in sports a crime in the United States, then I think criminal punishment should be included also, but that is going to take a long while.

But, none of these punishments have been in place. When Lance first started his career, back in the early 90’s, I’m pretty sure that it was less than a month suspension for a doping positive. The Festina guys only got 6 months in 1997. It is only been since around 2000, that USADA, WADA and the rest of the drug enforcement part of sports have even existed.

Lance has got me thinking a lot about what is fair and what is cheating. Breaking the rules by doping is more than cheating, in my book.

It’s not like you know the speed on the interstate is 65 mph and if you drive faster, you know what the penalty is. I usually drive over the posted speed limit on divided highways. In Kansas, the law is that if you drive 10 or less over the posted limited, then it is classified as a non-moving violation on your license. Same as a muffler violation. I drive a lot and feel that the risk of breaking that law is worth the penalty.

But, fairness is another issue. And maybe Lance thought of doping the same way. He weighed the risks and the rewards and deemed the rewards outweighed the risks, by a large margin, so justified the actions. I can understand this. He doesn’t take into account the effect on other people’s lives at this point, he is just thinking about breaking the rules and the ramifications.

So, when Lance feels he is caught doing the exact same thing as these other guys and gets a death sentence, a lifetime ban, and USADA offers many of the guys that testified “against” him zero, yes, absolute nothing as a penalty, then I can understand why he feels the system is unjust and broken. He’s looking at it from a personal perspective, just as I’m looking at it from mine. Lance can’t really address a lot of what he’s done, because he’s in an indefensible position, so he is going to have to latch on the the unfairness of it.

And I agree, it isn’t fair. Many people are so mad at Lance for his lying, manipulation, and all the other things that make us view him as morally unacceptable, they never get past it. We think that he deserves his lifetime ban because of a long list of things he’s done that repulse us so, that we have no sympathy. But, there isn’t a rule in cycling for being an arrogant prick. Absolutely no suspension for it.

We also think that Lance deserves a lifetime ban because of what he attained through doping. He got the most and should fall the hardest. He won 7 Tours and made a gazillion dollars. But again, there isn’t a rule that says you get a harsher penalty because you are better at doping than the other guys.

And he was better at doping than the other guys. He was smarter at it, had more options at his disposal and thought it through a lot more than many others. But again, if you look at the rules, they aren’t any different for Lance than they are for an individual guy like Dewey Dickie.

Lance got the book thrown at him for many reasons. USADA says it is because he failed to come in and testify. But, in the US, when we are charged criminally, we have the right, through the 5th amendment, to not testify against ourselves. Protection against compelled self-incrimination is implicit in the Miranda rights, which protects the “right to remain silent.” I understand that doping in sports, isn’t the same as our criminal system, but I do think that we, as individuals, should have the ability to not incriminate ourselves by keeping our mouths shut.

And the statute of limitations deal is another one of Lance’s sore spots. He wonders how he “lost” all his Tour titles when the majority of them fall outside time frame of the statute of limitations of the sport. Seems like a valid point.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think that Lance got a harsh penalty. I think these other guys got gifts. But, I don’t like unfairness any more that the next guy. I can now look at it from Lance’s point of view and think, wow, what a fucked up system?

I, personally, want a fair system. A system that really discourages athletes from doping. An unfair system isn’t going to do that. Unfair systems encourage people to break the rules.

As you can tell, I have been yin-yanging back an forth about a multitude of things concerning his call. He has his points. And I can’t blame him for trying to do what he thinks is best for him, at this point. I don’t really have any idea what is best for Lance.

I told him that I don’t think that throwing rocks at each other will help anybody here. And that is what I thought George was doing with Frankie, throwing rocks for no reason, which I think is what precipitated the call in the first place.

Okay, that is why I got up early this morning. For me, it isn’t worth losing sleep over, and I did. After reading all the harsh comments, my views are more screwed up and it was just bugging me.

Angel and devil copy

Disposable Society

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I hate to admit it, but we truly live in a disposable society. I try the best I can to not participate, but I do on a daily basis. I guess I am somewhat of a hypocrite ragging about it here, but I hate it.

Yesterday, I had my day sort of planned out. Ride earlier in the day, to rest a bit for racing today, then make some phone calls, watch the Olympics, etc. I did some errands around noon, and when pulled back into my driveway, I got out of my van and smelled a distinct hot brake odor. Like really strong. So, I walk around the van and put my hand down by the rotors. The right rear is super hot. So, I get out the floorjack, and jack up the rear. I put the van in neutral, and try the rear wheels. The left turns like normal, the right is seized.

So, I get out the air compressor and take the wheel off. It is hotter than shit. I can’t stop myself and next thing I know I have the brake caliper off. I had to use a towel to hold the caliper, it was so hot.

So, I let the caliper cool down and check it out. It is a 1 ton van, so it has pretty beefy brakes. It has two pistons per caliper. One of the pistons doesn’t move when hydraulic pressure is applied. There is a rip in the seal boot, protecting the piston from the elements.

So I take the caliper off and hit it in with a wooden dowel. It loosens the piston, so I reattach it back into the van and have Kris pump the brakes to push the piston completely out. There is a seal, that has a rubber boot attached, that keeps the piston sealed. I pried the seal out and that exposes more of the piston. The piston has just a tad of surface rust, no pitting. I just take some steel wool and remove the rust. But the boot is toast.

I cleaned my hands and went inside to try to secure a seal/boot. Man, what a hassle. I look around the internet and am not really positive what I need. There are caliper rebuild kits, with seals, but all for different calipers. I call the Ford dealership and they say that they don’t sell individual seals. I talk the guy into looking at the schematics anyway. He says he is surprised, but he sees a rebuild kit with the seal. But, the kit is $40. A complete new caliper is just $50 at Advanced Auto Parts. I call a couple of auto parts store and they say that they quit selling brake rebuild kits because of liability reasons. Really, liability problems. Maybe they shouldn’t even sell calipers if the consumer might install them incorrectly? Maybe quit selling auto parts all together, since they might be liable for consumer misuse? I thought about ordering a couple different seal kits from Rock Auto, but finally just give in and order the caliper from Advanced, to be picked up.

The seal would have been $3.99 if I could have found the right one. But, it is nearly $60 for the new caliper.

If someone who doesn’t know hot brake smell, I’m sure they would just keep driving the car until something gave, either the rotor or pad. Then if they take the car to the Ford dealership, where the caliper was $120, I’d bet it cost another $250 for labor. So that would be about 100 times as much as the $4 seal. I paid 15 times the amount of the seal, plus a little brake fluid and brake cleaner.

It is such a waste. There was a core charge, so they are going to send in my old caliper and refurbish it and send it back out for use, so that is a little consolation. But the throw away movement our country has evolved into, bugs me, on nearly a daily basis. Forget the different of cost, the shipping of the caliper around the world to get rebuilt when I could have just put in a seal and used it for another decade is just plain wrong.

Most things can be fixed. Can you imagine throwing your bike away when you break a spoke? Or ding your wheel? I’ve garbage-picked a Honda lawn mower that its only issue was a broken pull cord. Who would throw away that? Just about anyone living in suburban America is who. Nearly all electronics that are out of warranty become trash. It is so wrong.

Anyway, that is the way it is going, so I guess I’ll try to keep swimming against the current as much as I can.

Old caliper and worn out seal.

Old caliper and worn out seal.

New/rebuilt caliper.

New/rebuilt caliper.

Riding from Houston to Austin

This entry was posted in Important Society Issues on by .

I’ve only got a couple more days in California. My team sponsor, TradeWind Energy, is doing a group ride, the Houston MS150, that goes from Houston to Austin. It’s 170 miles or so, which is good for the weekly total. It’s nearly 1400 miles to get there, which is a little ugly, but I eventually had to get back to the Midwest. Trudi is flying back to Kanas City on Monday, right after Paris-Roubaix.

I’m going to drive to Austin, leave Bromont at my friend’s Ann house, to entertain her dog Lulu, and then rent a car and drive to Houston, to ride back to Austin to get the van and Bromont. Then drive to Kansas City on Monday, hopefully in time to pick Trudi up at the airport. It should be a hectic 5 days.

Anyway, all the riders, plus some of the corporate guys that ride are driving down from Kansas to participate. I’ve never done a charity ride before, other than bike tours and races that give the entries to charities. I paid $130 to enter, but I’m supposed to raise a minimum of $400 in donations for the MS society too. Since I started a little late, I figured posting it here is probably the best way to reach the most people. So, if you have a little something to donate, click here to get to the link to donate. It doesn’t take long and it’s for a good cause. Thanks.

ms150 copy