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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 02-10-12, 09:07 AM   #1
Mark Stone
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Old and Fat in an LBS

{RANT**
I walked in to a local bicycle shop to look at front baskets and tail lights. I also wanted to talk about upgrading The Rig, wondering what they have in the way of commuter bikes. The sales people continually steered me to the "beginner" bikes and items. They spoke down to me as if I was stupid and they were the bicycling elite. They tried to give me advice on how to purchase my "first bike".

I told them I have ridden over 60,000 miles, many of those miles before they were even born. When one of them said the words "Yeah, right", I just turned and looked at him. I stared at that little arrogant face and thought about my bike trips through the Colorado Rockies, wondering how many times this "dude" had felt the invigorating feeling of cresting Loveland Pass, or riding over Fremont Pass and diving at 50mph into Copper Mountain. How many times had he watched a sunrise from the saddle during an early morning commute, or ridden so far out into the Desert Southwest that people driving by in cars stared? Who the ____ does he think he is? I said "Thank you" and just left. I will never walk into that shop again. I guess I'll keep doing my business online.

Sure, starting in about 2003 I stopped riding and gained weight. Yes, I know that now I do not have the "ideal" Cyclist's body, and yes I do have grey hair. However, the staff and management at this LBS could have treated me with dignity rather than looking down on me. I will not name the shop because I am not a lawyer and don't understand liability/slander law.
{/RANT**
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Old 02-10-12, 09:16 AM   #2
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Finding a good bike shop is not easy and youngsters thinking they have learned everything there is to know by the age of 16 is nothing new. Old age is wisdom, too bad most don't recognize that until they are old.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:21 AM   #3
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{RANT**
I walked in to a local bicycle shop to look at front baskets and tail lights. I also wanted to talk about upgrading The Rig, wondering what they have in the way of commuter bikes. The sales people continually steered me to the "beginner" bikes and items. They spoke down to me as if I was stupid and they were the bicycling elite. They tried to give me advice on how to purchase my "first bike".

I told them I have ridden over 60,000 miles, many of those miles before they were even born. When one of them said the words "Yeah, right", I just turned and looked at him. I stared at that little arrogant face and thought about my bike trips through the Colorado Rockies, wondering how many times this "dude" had felt the invigorating feeling of cresting Loveland Pass, or riding over Fremont Pass and diving at 50mph into Copper Mountain. How many times had he watched a sunrise from the saddle during an early morning commute, or ridden so far out into the Desert Southwest that people driving by in cars stared? Who the ____ does he think he is? I said "Thank you" and just left. I will never walk into that shop again. I guess I'll keep doing my business online.

Sure, starting in about 2003 I stopped riding and gained weight. Yes, I know that now I do not have the "ideal" Cyclist's body, and yes I do have grey hair. However, the staff and management at this LBS could have treated me with dignity rather than looking down on me. I will not name the shop because I am not a lawyer and don't understand liability/slander law.
{/RANT**
You can name the shop. Nothing comes within a country mile of libel. That said, I'm not an attorney, only a writer.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:27 AM   #4
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You can't fix stupid!
I fixed my "fat" situation by going from 221 to 180 over the last year. I'm down from 40" to 33" pants. I can make spandex looks GOOD! But, I can't fix "old" I turn 60 this summer and the balding head and gray beard are with me to stay!!
LBS's are a challenge. Keep looking. I've had good and bad experiences at the SAME shop with two different maintenance supervisors. Since losing weight talking with floor staff is easier - they still steer me to the "comfort" bikes but I really don't get offended.
Sorry you had to take crap from one of the young and studly types -- bad business all around.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:27 AM   #5
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Tractor: I would call the owner.... and I am serious. It is a lot of BS to be honest with you. Doesnt matter your weight, color, sex, etc. You are entitled to a little more respect for that.

If I were you, I would call the owner and talk with them directly and then write a letter.

ps. I love your bike pics. you are lit up! Are you using rechargable batteries?
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Old 02-10-12, 09:41 AM   #6
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Tractor: I would call the owner.... and I am serious. It is a lot of BS to be honest with you. Doesnt matter your weight, color, sex, etc. You are entitled to a little more respect for that.

If I were you, I would call the owner and talk with them directly and then write a letter.
+1. I'm sure they'd like to know why they're losing business.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:41 AM   #7
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{RANT**
I will not name the shop because I am not a lawyer and don't understand liability/slander law.
{/RANT**
Slander is verbal, libel is written; and truth is a complete defense to either.

I did frequent a LBS with a couple of oldster very experienced riders who loved to chat it up with older customers. Unfortunately, they screwed up a wheel project I gave them, ruined my rim and offered lame excuses.

I consider a LBS as enemy ground, a lot like a car dealership. It's sad.

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Old 02-10-12, 09:57 AM   #8
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Slander is verbal, libel is written; and truth is a complete defense to either.

I did frequent a LBS with a couple of oldster very experienced riders who loved to chat it up with older customers. Unfortunately, they screwed up a wheel project I gave them, ruined my rim and offered lame excuses.

I consider a LBS as enemy ground, a lot like a car dealership. It's sad.
I love going to a LBS, but I rarely BUY from an LBS. Price isn't normally the reason - it's ATTITUDE! That's also why I have a separate tool box for my bikes. I still have my Campy pedal wrench, crank puller, etc. Don't have Campy anymore but I can at least remember fondly those times. A couple of shops around here allow test rides - so I'm getting ready over the next few weeks to test ride a SS, a recumbent, and a couple of commuter bikes...I'll mix it up amongst the shops!!
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Old 02-10-12, 10:02 AM   #9
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I have not had that kind of attitude from the two bike shops I frequent. One in particular is a "higher end" shop that gets a lot of CX guys coming in (who have given me stares, but I was buying spokes for a wheel build, probably not something everyone goes into a bike shop for The owners of that shop, however, have treated me with nothing but respect. I'm not huge but I probably don't look like a cyclist either.

My main shop, where I have bought 2 bikes myself, one for my girlfriend and my father has bought one, is just plain awesome. One of the salesmen is more of a clyde than myself, the owner/headmechanic/salesman is your typical fit mountain biker body (not a lanky roadie-though he does both) and was nothing but kind and knowledgeable. I buy bikes from this shop, and most parts and stuff from the higher end shop-its closer.

I have walked into a few bike shops where they bombard you with questions and seem to follow you around, if not physically, with their eyes. I walk out of those shops without spending a cent. I will stick to the shops that treat me like any other customer.

I guess I am just lucky to have two nice shops. My main shop for bicycle buying actually has two stores, so I guess that makes it 3 nice shops
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Old 02-10-12, 10:08 AM   #10
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I'm with chefisaac, I'd send the LBS owner an email or letter, written in a calm and professional manner, describing the treatment you received including names and dates if possible. A good businessman would want to know this is going on in his/her store so that steps could be taken to correct the situation before any more business is lost. If the owner/manager is worth his/her salt, you will at least get an apology and probably some incentive to come back. A civil and well thought out complaint can make a difference.

Several years ago I was in a family restaurant that is part of a local chain. One waitress was serving the booth behind us which was filled with people with whom she was apparently friends. She lingered at the table talking and laughing loudly about a party where there had been heavy drinking a lewd behavior. My then 7-year old daughter was sitting with us and I was not happy to have her hearing stories about how some drunk was sexting pictures of herself while smashed. I complained to our waitress which didn't have any results. After we left, I called the restaurant's 800 number and asked for the owner. I had to leave a message but he called me back within 10 minutes and asked for details of the event. He apologised and got my address. A few days later I got a gift certificate in the mail that covered our entire bill with another $20 or so toward our next visit. My family still frequents this restraurant chain and we have never seen bad behavior by another employee.

As far as our four LBSs, I've never had a problem and always received good service, even when my questions were newbish.

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Old 02-10-12, 10:54 AM   #11
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I'm sympathetic.

Right now I am highly irritated at a LBS in Texas. I bought a Downtube Nova online (they have no dealers) and brought it to the LBS to complete and tune it up. In the process of folding the bike for me to take home they broke the hinge. This will be two weeks ago Sunday. They told me that they would get a replacement hinge from Downtube at no charge to me. I called a week ago and they told me they were waiting on the hinge. I called today and they told me Downtube wouldn't have a hinge for three months, when it got its next shipment, but that they would try to get a hinge from Dahon, which uses the same hinge.

I called Downtube and they confirmed that they won't have parts for three months and they said the LBS should be able to get the part from Dahon. So, why did the LBS tell me that they were waiting on the part a week ago? Ha! It took a 30 second call to Downtube to find out that they did not have the part.

I am not even sure that this will be resolved before I leave Texas. This bike was going to be a gift for my sister who is coming to visit. I am so pissed because it looks like they did nothing for nearly two weeks.

Tractor, I agree with those who suggested talking to the owner. If I don't get positive news today on a hinge from Dahon I am going to do the same.
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Old 02-10-12, 11:01 AM   #12
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Yet another reason to think that Fort Worth is probably the most stealthily bike friendly city in the country. Yes, we have the shops with pretense, but we have just as many (more, actually) where the owners and staff are friendly and get to know you before they try to sell you something. Hell, even the Performance Bike had the good sense to hire the mechanic (who happens to specialize in vintage work) who became available when another shop closed.


Slightly related... I know my mom has had problems, not so much in bike shops, but with other merchants, when she goes in ready to spend money, and they talk down to her and don't take her seriously because she's old. Absolutely infuriates her.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-10-12, 11:16 AM   #13
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Slightly related... I know my mom has had problems, not so much in bike shops, but with other merchants, when she goes in ready to spend money, and they talk down to her and don't take her seriously because she's old. Absolutely infuriates her.
Why do I have this visual image of a blue-haired lady doing a "Pretty Woman" shop visit? You know, the one where Julia Roberts' charater goes into the store that dissed her, dressed up and with her arms full, introduces herself, twirls, and leaves on the parting line, "Gotta go shopping!"
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Old 02-10-12, 11:19 AM   #14
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ps. I love your bike pics. you are lit up! Are you using rechargable batteries?
Rechargable on the front lights, AAA batteries (replaced every 60 days) on the rear lights
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Old 02-10-12, 11:26 AM   #15
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Yet another reason to think that Fort Worth is probably the most stealthily bike friendly city in the country. Yes, we have the shops with pretense, but we have just as many (more, actually) where the owners and staff are friendly and get to know you before they try to sell you something.
+1. I bought my bike From Colonel's 12 years ago and even though I don't stop in much these days, when I do, the owner knows me and greets me by name.

I did have a different experience recently, though. Went into one of the other nearby shops, looking for a possible hybrid or flat bar road bike for my wife. The young man that came up to us didn't recognize me as a long time customer and sized us up as grandpa & grandma. He only wanted to show us a big hot pink Electra cruiser as the perfect bike. I ran into another of their employees on the bike trail one day and mentioned it in conversation. He did say that they guy was new. I think the message got back to them.
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Old 02-10-12, 11:30 AM   #16
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I think it really depends on luck.

My expectations may be really low, but I was blown away (in a positive way) recently. I stopped in at a not-so-LBS (about 15 miles from home, which, in an area as densely populated as the one where I live, is pretty far away). They were listed on the Surly site as a distributor or whatever they call the people who sell their bikes, and I wanted to try on a LHT. I was waited on by a young woman who was young enough to be my daughter - my fairly late in life daughter.

I was amazed by her treatment of me. Here I was, this short, fat old man, asking about a bike aimed at fully-loaded, long-distance touring, and she treated me as if it was the most natural thing in the world for me to be asking about that stuff. She maintained eye contact, told me about her touring experiences, asked and showed genuine interest in what I wanted to do, had great suggestions, was really patient with my questions. There were no LHTs in stock, but she even offered to call a friend of hers who had one, for me to look it over, etc.

When I get around to buying a new bike, whether it's a touring bike or anything else, I know where I'm going. I guess, since I've only said good stuff, there's no risk in giving the name of the bike shop: CycleCraft, in Parsippany, NJ.
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Old 02-10-12, 11:39 AM   #17
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I think it really depends on luck.

My expectations may be really low, but I was blown away (in a positive way) recently. I stopped in at a not-so-LBS (about 15 miles from home, which, in an area as densely populated as the one where I live, is pretty far away). They were listed on the Surly site as a distributor or whatever they call the people who sell their bikes, and I wanted to try on a LHT. I was waited on by a young woman who was young enough to be my daughter - my fairly late in life daughter.

I was amazed by her treatment of me. Here I was, this short, fat old man, asking about a bike aimed at fully-loaded, long-distance touring, and she treated me as if it was the most natural thing in the world for me to be asking about that stuff. She maintained eye contact, told me about her touring experiences, asked and showed genuine interest in what I wanted to do, had great suggestions, was really patient with my questions. There were no LHTs in stock, but she even offered to call a friend of hers who had one, for me to look it over, etc.

When I get around to buying a new bike, whether it's a touring bike or anything else, I know where I'm going. I guess, since I've only said good stuff, there's no risk in giving the name of the bike shop: CycleCraft, in Parsippany, NJ.
Great experience. There are actually two other bike shops here in El Paso that know me and treat me very well, so I'm not up a creek without an LBS. I'll just not go in to the shop I referenced in the OP. But in El Paso, which is not a Cycling city, we see bike shops go out of business all the time. If a bike shop treats me in an arrogant manner, then they are also treating others in an arrogant manner and likely won't be around for much longer anyway.
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Old 02-10-12, 12:21 PM   #18
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Why do I have this visual image of a blue-haired lady doing a "Pretty Woman" shop visit? You know, the one where Julia Roberts' charater goes into the store that dissed her, dressed up and with her arms full, introduces herself, twirls, and leaves on the parting line, "Gotta go shopping!"
I've never seen the movie so I can't comment.

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I did have a different experience recently, though. Went into one of the other nearby shops, looking for a possible hybrid or flat bar road bike for my wife. The young man that came up to us didn't recognize me as a long time customer and sized us up as grandpa & grandma. He only wanted to show us a big hot pink Electra cruiser as the perfect bike. I ran into another of their employees on the bike trail one day and mentioned it in conversation. He did say that they guy was new. I think the message got back to them.
That'll teach ya to shop on Granbury Road. I've actually been going in there more frequently (the place on Granbury) for stock expendables. My primary shop is Trinity, but they are still a bit of a shoe-string operation so they don't have as much stuff in stock (and they're trying not to restock until after they move downtown this month).
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Old 02-10-12, 12:33 PM   #19
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+1 on informing the owner.

You can fault the sales people for unprofessional behavior, but ultimately it's the owner's fault. If the owner doesn't know what's going on in the shop, that's his/her fault. If the owner knows but allows it, same thing.
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Old 02-10-12, 01:04 PM   #20
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Louisville has several good shops. My favorite shop is great, other than I don't trust wheels they build. One of the owners is a clyde. He loves bikes and it shows. He has a Vanilla and a Firefly*

I just go elsewhere for wheel builds.

*I think it's a Firefly. Custom builder of ex-IF guys.
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Old 02-10-12, 01:12 PM   #21
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Great experience. There are actually two other bike shops here in El Paso that know me and treat me very well, so I'm not up a creek without an LBS. I'll just not go in to the shop I referenced in the OP. But in El Paso, which is not a Cycling city, we see bike shops go out of business all the time. If a bike shop treats me in an arrogant manner, then they are also treating others in an arrogant manner and likely won't be around for much longer anyway.
You would hope that's true, but somehow, a lot of them manage to do well enough without us. The place I used to use was one of the old Schwinn dealerships that was established in the 1950s, but that also sold other bikes since Schwinn's fortunes changed, and that had a reputation for doing really good work. They've been in the same location for nearly 60 years, but my experience with them has been terrible - the owner treats me like an idiot (even if I am one, he shouldn't treat me like one! ) ). He always tries to upsell me to stuff I don't need and don't want, the price always comes in significantly higher than the estimate, with claims of having "discovered" problems. And I find myself having to fiddle with things he's done to make them work right.

Despite all that, the place is still thriving. I guess they don't really need us curmudgeonly old fat guys to keep selling pseudo BMX bikes and cruisers...
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Old 02-10-12, 02:26 PM   #22
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Great experience. There are actually two other bike shops here in El Paso that know me and treat me very well, so I'm not up a creek without an LBS. I'll just not go in to the shop I referenced in the OP. But in El Paso, which is not a Cycling city, we see bike shops go out of business all the time. If a bike shop treats me in an arrogant manner, then they are also treating others in an arrogant manner and likely won't be around for much longer anyway.
unfortunately, it went out of business because of crappy employees who'll probably be hired by the next lbs to start up because they have "experience" and will lead to that getting put out of business as well.
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Old 02-10-12, 04:18 PM   #23
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My primary shop is Trinity, but they are still a bit of a shoe-string operation so they don't have as much stuff in stock (and they're trying not to restock until after they move downtown this month).
I kinda hate to hear they are moving. I used them for the first time last week. I think their shop is in a neat part of the city.
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Old 02-10-12, 07:20 PM   #24
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I've got a great LBS that I frequent. I've known one of the guys for more than 25 years and he has never been anything but helpful to me. I feel bad for you guys that don't have a good local shop. I'll pay more to shop locally when I get treated with respect.

I know what you mean about people looking at you and not believing you about your mileage. Back before I got really fat I used to commute a lot, and there was a three year period where I rode 17,000 miles. I would tell people this and they would look at me like I just got off of the short bus. I never had anyone at a shop say anything disrespectful, though.
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Old 02-10-12, 08:46 PM   #25
floatsinwater
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I personally wouldn't write their names on a public forum because you can still get a lawsuit on your hands, even if everything you write is true. There was a couple of instances where angry customers badmouthed a retailer and consequently got sued (unsuccessfully). Even if its a slamdunk case in your part, you still waste your time and money fighting the litigation. Trust me, its not worth it.

I'm still searching for a good LBS to call home. I figure if I'm going to make a conscious choice to pay more at a LBS than buying online, then they should have the service to match the price difference. I suppose time will tell...
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