I was riding with Bill a few days ago. It was cold and there was a bunch of sand and salt on the roads left over from the last snow. We were out on county roads doing a 2 hour loop. I came to a corner that I’ve went through a million times. I saw there was a bunch of sand on the inside and then it looked pretty clear, like nearly swept. Anyway, I went into the corner pretty “hot”, maybe 20 or so, riding over the sand upright, then leaning into the corner soon after. I didn’t realize there was a bunch of sand in the middle of the road between the lanes. I was leaning over pretty good when both my wheels broke loose. My bike was going out from under me pretty fast, but I managed to unclip and tripod through the corner with my left leg down and then clip back in and go along as if nothing had happened. I’ve done this alot in various situations, mainly MTB races or rainy criteriums. I had nearly this same situation happen a few years back in a mountain bike race. I got to the bottom of a steep descent that had a U-turn at the bottom and the course then went back up a steep climb. When I hit the bottom of the descent my front tire washed out because it was flat. My bike was sliding out from under me. I had immediately unclipped my inside foot and put it on the ground. What amazed me was that I was shifting both my front and rear derailluers simultaneously preparing for the climb. So, unconsciously I was unclipping and shiftings with both hands. The only thing I consciously remember was that I had a flat and needed to get off and fix it. I had no idea that I had those abilities until it happened. It truely never ceases to amaze me how fast your unconsciousness can react to get you out of immediate disasterous situations. Or maybe it is just luck.
I flew out to the West coast a couple days ago for a meeting. I couldn’t believe it when the guy at United told me it was going to be $175 for a bicycle. I had some old bike vouchers. A couple were expired. I had a couple that had no expiration dates. He told me they were “expired” too. I said I didn’t think so. He say that “they” should of stamped an expiration date on the voucher. I said who he was referring to when he was saying they. I told him that they was United, who was the voucher issuer. I showed him the expired vouchers. They had stamped expiration dates. And the other one didn’t. If it was an error, then it was their error. Long story, I paid the “grandfathered” rate of $100 and he gave me a $100 voucher good on United. Fine.
But, that doesn’t negate the fact that I’ll never, ever fly on United again with a bicycle. It is like they were so much behind the sport and they go 180 degrees in the opposite direction. I don’t know who makes these decisions for the company, but that amount of money, $350 roundtrip, is enough that anyone that is familiar with their charge not ever going to use their airline. The charge needs to be an amount that will not “scare” off their customers. That isn’t the case.
I’m a big Southwest Airline fan right now. It is kind of weird how over the years you have favorite airlines. Originally I had a ton of Continental miles. Then with Specialized I started flying American. Then United. Through all those years, I frowned down upon Southwest. I felt badly for the people that “had” to fly it. Now, I am so depressed when the city I am flying to isn’t served by Southwest. The two main reasons to fly Southwest. 1) You can miss the flight and you have full credit still for any other Southwest flight in the next calender year. You don’t even have to cancel your flight. Whenever I think I might fly somewhere, I just go ahead and buy a ticket on Southwest. I know if I don’t go, I will use the $ later. 2) That the bike charge is $50. That still is a lot. But, cheaper than all other airlines. And half the time they don’t charge anyway.
OK. This all just reconfirms my driving lifestyle. It used to be anything under 600 miles. Now it is creeping up to nearly a 1000. The longer times, costs and humiliating hoops you have to go through to fly to races is making it a no brainer to drive.