Squatters Challenge: DNF

Failure and Success

I barely made it through the first week. Sometime during the final miles of my very first long run I noticed that my left knee was whining. I had slightly twisted the same knee on the Thursday run; however, it took me a few more days until I finally put my knee trouble in the context of possible injury, since the pain didn’t start until two days later.

The first long run in Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 program is six miles, but I did a little over seven instead, because I wanted a 10K time on the books for me to aspire to beat later. I also ran my fastest average pace yet and set a new PR for fastest 5K.

I don’t learn squat from nothing. I set out to do something, promise myself that I will take it easy, slow and deliberate, just as I am told, and then go head over heels, balls to the wall, fire lit under posterior, all-out, do or die. But that’s me. I can’t help myself. And most of the time, that is exactly the sort of behavior that holds me back over the — pardon the pun, long run. I am stubborn and deeply competitive with myself (when I lack proper competition). Did I mention perfectionistic tendencies and the gentle touch of OCD, perhaps a smallish dose of insanity? Yes? I thought so.

I don’t like to “live and learn”, the way I roll is “crash and burn”.

Research online and self-diagnosis led me to conclude that the MCL (medial collateral ligament) of my left knee is acting up. Time for some RICE, which is some needful knowledge I also picked up by traversing an eclectic selection of reputable medical sites and runner’s forums. RICE stands for Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Personally, I like to get RICED and add drugs to the mix, because someone has to support the pharmaceutical industry or else those poor bastids go broke (note: heavy sarcasm).

Ditched: Two Runs & A Race Weekend

I skipped two runs, including the long run, and stopped lifting weights (or the bar the weights would go on, if I had any). I didn’t go to Talladega to race either. The promised rain and thunderstorms for the weekend gave me plenty of excuses to stay home and “rice around”. Sitting under a canopy in the rain all day, peeling myself out of wet leathers and freezing my tush off, because the mercury is so lazy it won’t even climb into the 60s, is not my idea of a good time. Windy, cold, AND wet? Tempting, but I’ll pass. You’ll have to pay me to race in that shit. Seriously. Not to mention that if (when?) I wipe out, I get to fix my own crap, too. I have no sponsors, I really don’t have to show up if I don’t feel like it. That’s just one of the perks of being a member of #TeamBrokeAssRacing. I know those missing points are going to come back to haunt me, because that’s the way it works. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. I’m not one of those people who catch breaks. I have to earn every glossy leaf on my puny laurels. “We want… [dramatic pause] …a shrubbery!”

High Performance Rubber

I went to Fleet Feet in North Augusta, SC and had my final drive and suspension analyzed. Seems that everybody looks to the shoes first when encountering knee and foot problems. I had guessed, after reading up on the subject, that I was a mild over-pronator. WRONG! I am what the extremely helpful sales dude called a “supinator”, I under-pronate. He said it was mild, so he opted to put me in a “Neutral” shoe. He’s probably right, since I spend a lot of my time standing around bored on the outsides of my ankles.

He asked me what features I was looking for in a shoe or if I had a brand preference. I shrugged, I really didn’t know enough to be picky. He also asked me if weight was an issue, and I blurted out: “Yes. Lighter means faster!” Another guy, who was helping the lady next to me, looked up and grinned like the Cheshire Cat. I felt totally stupid at this point and added: “Not that it matters, that was the racer in me talking.” I feel myself turning a nice shade of blush. Dude smiles and nods appreciatively. We are all mad here. I’m mad, you’re mad. It’s all good.

My guy disappears to fetch his first two selections of specialized foot rubber. After trying on several pairs, I ended up with the Montrail Bajada in construction-worker orange trimmed with can-you-see-me-now neon yellow. They are the ugliest set of athletic footwear I have ever laid eyes on. But I promised myself not to be a girl about it and choose based on color or style. Function over form, please. This is, after all, a performance upgrade, not a fashion statement.

Women's Montrail Bajada

The Women's Montrail Bajada: A hybrid trail/road running shoe that is lightweight, runs a little narrow and is ugly as hell. But my feet seem to like it so far.

Fleet Feet Gets My Vote

I really enjoyed my shopping experience at Fleet Feet. I felt so out of my league walking in there carrying an old pair of sneakers of known make but unknown model, feeling like a complete poser hanging out in Running World. They made me feel welcome, listened, and wished me the best for the Palmetto Half-Marathon in April. They also didn’t flinch when I mentioned that I hate running, but jumped into it solely for enhancing my endurance. “That’s a common occurrence for athletes who are made to run or are into team sports; they tend to look at running as punishment.” He just called me an athlete, didn’t he?

Their return policy also took the stress out of the decision making process. I can bring them back, no matter, if something turns out to be less than ideal after putting some mileage on those soles. Their prices are the same as can be found online. I’m out of 7% tax by shopping locally. A markup I am more than happy to pay for this kind of service. And here I thought excellent customer service was dead in this country. They’ve earned a new customer.

Now What?

I will re-start the Squatter’s Challenge after I have determined that the shoes have remedied the knee problem. If it’s something else, I better go see the Medicine Man and stick my leg in an MRI machine before I continue. For the time being, I have sworn abstinence from Overhead Squats and Snatch Lifts, but have taken it upon myself to knock out the occasional push-up and maybe an inverted sit-up or two.


Product Review: Big Ears BE-1C Stereo Ear Plugs

Product: BE-1C Stereo Ear Plugs

Manufacturer: Big Ear, Inc.

Web Site: www.bigearinc.com

Price: $349.95

Features and Specifications

• Designed to be easily worn under a helmet
• 50” twisted cable, hardwired with double reinforcement on the bottom of the earpieces
• Standard gold-plated 3.5mm stereo plug
• Inner body made from soft acoustic vinyl material
• Single transducer design
• Balanced armature drivers with a 35Hz – 16kHz frequency response
• Sensitivity ~ 112 dB/mW
• Acoustic separation – approximately 18 dB
• Attenuates external noise by approximately 25-30 decibels
• Limited liability one year warranty on defects and workmanship

I had myself fitted for Big Ears in February 2009 at the International Motorcycle Show in Greenville, SC.  I had been looking for a headache-free, no-hassle solution with decent sound quality for a while. Not that I was ready to listen to music while riding at the time, but I knew the day would eventually come. I can’t live without my tunes when I’m on the road, no matter how many wheels the vehicle happens to have.  I had gotten a set of Bose earbuds from hubby the previous Christmas and I had gotten a little more spoiled in my requirements for fit, comfort, and sound quality.

Available (Problematic) Options

I had already experimented with the various styles and brands of earbuds I managed to collect over the years, from a $9 no-name set of cheapies to my treasured $100 pair of Bose ear candy.

The vertical style is not an option for me to use under a helmet. Even if I can manage to keep them properly positioned in the ear while putting on my full-face lid, they eventually cause a headache due to pressure put on them by the helmet’s cheek pads. More often than not I couldn’t even get them to stay properly positioned in the first place.

The button style earbuds, such as the white sets that come standard with every Apple MP3 player purchase would just fall out. I tried using blue painters tape or masking tape to help keep them in, a suggestion I’ve picked up online somewhere during my research into the various tune-channeling options available to motorcyclists. That helped a little with getting them to stay in while pulling the helmet over the head, but my long hair interfered with the application, so this wasn’t workable for me like it was for the guy who had suggested the solution. Further, I wasn’t about to carry a roll of tape around with me, just so I could secure my ear candy to my head. Putting foam covers on them worked a little better, since the foam kept them from sliding out of the ear so readily, but one slight tuck on the wire would dislodge them or pull them out completely.

Wire pulling is a frequent occurrence when riding. The wires tend to snag on collar buttons, zipper pulls, get tangled up with your neck-warmer or other loose clothing. You’ll inadvertently pull on them with the cuffs of your gauntlet style gloves, which will dislodge the earbuds or completely yank them out of your ears. Where you put your player and how you routed your wires became of paramount importance to continued listening pleasure while on the bike.

The helmet speakers that come with most bike-to-bike communication systems, such as those manufactured by ChatterBox or Cardo Systems, are engineered for optimum voice output. Music sounds horrible over them, flat and tinny. No bass but plenty of treble. Thank you, but I’ll pass. I’m far from considering myself an audiophile when it comes to sound quality, but I do have moderately high standards.

Why the Big Ears?

Sound quality is actually what finally sold me on the Big Ears when hanging out at their booth at the IMS. The other huge selling point for me was that they were also noise attenuating hearing protection. Wind noise is a huge problem when using bike-to-bike communication systems, even the best noise cancelling microphone won’t help if the speakers can’t overpower the ambient noise levels. Not to mention that having to crank up the volume just to be able to hear your riding buddy or your favorite tune is not going to do your continued good hearing a favor. Once those cute little hairs in your eavesdroppers die off, they’re gone forever. Dead. You’ll never hear that frequency again. I’m a child of the 80s, I already have hearing loss from cranking that Progressive House up way too loud. =D

Hanging out at the firing range with one ear plug just tucked in for looks didn’t help matters much either. But I couldn’t clearly hear the instructions being yelled at me without having to turn my head and look at the speaker. Not good when you’re armed (with the mode selector turned to “AUTO”) and dangerous.

The combination of custom fitted made-for-your-ear plugs with stereo earbuds built in has a huge advantage: the volume level can remain relatively low without loss of listening pleasure. On longer trips just turn off your sound source when you’re tired of listening to your tunes, radio show, podcast, audio book or whatever your road tripping pleasure happens to be and enjoy the quiet ride the earplugs provide. It takes a lot longer to grow fatigued and drowsy when you’re not constantly accosted with the coma-inducing noise of rushing air and the constant hum of your engine at highway speeds.

Important auditory clues, such as sirens, car horns or the signal bells at railroad crossings can still be heard, if you don’t crank it up like it’s 1999. I find conversations at red lights, yelling over idling engines breathing through not-quite-legal pipes, or the quick talks at fuel stops still possible, as long as I put the player on pause and look in the direction of the speaker. Your mileage may vary; as I’ve mentioned earlier, I already have mild hearing loss in one ear.

The No-Sound Version: Custom-fitted Ear Protection

I like to wear earplugs at the race track. The reduction in noise level definitely helps me keep my focus better; which is strange, because on the street I use music to keep focused and on the track it is distracting.  Different style of riding, so maybe it isn’t so strange after all. But I hate keeping up with those little disposable foam ones; even the rubber flanged ones aren’t much better, although insertion into the ear canal is definitely easier. The foam plugs are really hard for me to get into my ear correctly; they always seem to want to re-expand before I’m ready. They can also fall out. They are a pain in the (r)ear! I end up not wearing them a few sessions in. I have used my Big Ears as earplugs by wrapping the wires up and shoving the little bundle inside the collar of my race leathers held in place by my UnderArmour base layer and the upper edge of my chest protector; however I’m always afraid that the wires might come undone and I end up tearing them up while moving around on the bike.

As a matter of course, I’ve ordered myself a pair of BE-SP Solid Ear Plugs in red to use for racing, while hanging out on the company’s web site for the purpose of looking up model designations and specs. =D

Big Ear earplugs cost between $84.95 and $104.95 (plus $9.30 for shipping), depending on the model chosen. The difference is the material used and the process of manufacture; noise attenuation is the same for either model. Both come in a variety of colors to choose from.

The BE-SP model, which is the cheaper of the two, is made from what Big Ear, Inc. calls Sani-cast™, employing a process called Sani-mold™, for a sanitized and bacteria-resistant product, using a Polyvinylsiloxane-based material.

The BE-LGSP model is made from a material which is a form of acrylic, called Mediflex™.

Warranty and Customer Service

Their products come with a 30-day fit guarantee and a one year limited liability warranty for their electronic and non-electronic products. The solid earplugs carry a three year warranty. The limits of the warranty are explained in full detail on their web site, where you can easily find the information and forms necessary to return your product for fit adjustments, repair service, or warranty issues. If you have questions email or call them, they are happy to help out.

Allow Some Time For Delivery

My set arrived within their stated delivery time frame, which was 6-8 weeks in early 2009. They arrived at my door in a padded envelope which was shipped via USPS Priority Mail. They were packaged in their hard carrying case, with easy to follow fitting and cleaning instructions and two small cleaning tools to remove ear wax buildup.

Take Care Of Your Big Ears

Follow the fitting instructions and you shouldn’t have any issues. Mine were a little uncomfortable at first, and I wasn’t sure if the fit was right. But I stuck to what the instructions told me, and they ended up being perfect once my ears became accustomed to them. Although I thought about returning them for a fit adjustment at first, I ended up not needing to do that.

Take the included cleaning instructions to heart. The naturally occurring ear wax buildup can destroy the transducer if it works its way into the internals deep enough or block the sound canal and you won’t be able to hear your music at all. I use the little wire loop and what looks like a plastic mini-punch to free the canal of any wax buildup and then use a very small amount of hand sanitizer (sans Aloe Vera or other moisturizing ingredients) to rub over the outer surface of the ear pieces. Be careful not to use too much, you do not want the moisture getting inside the sound canal and killing the transducer.

Repair Service

I had to return mine for service once because they had an unfortunate mishap which crushed one of the ear pieces. Accidental damage due to dumbassery is not covered under warranty; that one goes entirely on your own books. Be mindful of your Big Ears, remember how much they’ve set you back in the bank account and don’t take lazy shortcuts like Miss Busa.

I used to strap my 16GB iPod Classic, nestled securely in its waterproof Otterbox, to my right thigh, so I could manipulate the controls while riding.

(FYI of Occasion: The iPod’s click wheel cannot be operated with gloved hands; however you still have the option to stop, pause, play and skip. Volume control and menu navigation are not possible, however.)

I had gotten lazy and just hooked the ear pieces to the retention clip that held the Otterbox to its armband. One day, while exiting a burger joint, they had worked loose and fell to the ground. I dragged the ear pieces by their wires and Mr. Slow, who was walking directly behind me, had the glorious opportunity to put a size 11 boot down onto my business. Crunch! Not good. Entirely my fault, but he still felt bad.

It cost me close to $180 to get them repaired and I was out of tunes for about six weeks. Learn from my mistake and put those puppies where they belong when you’re off the bike and not using them: Wrapped up in their little protective hard case in your tank bag or jacket pocket.

Big Ear, Inc. repaired them and they look and sound as good as new. They did an excellent job and answered all the questions I had. I didn’t think the damage would be repairable, so I sent them a macro shot of the damage via email and was told that although they looked to be in repairable condition, I best send them in, so the technicians could take a look and give me an estimate as to how much the repair would cost if it was feasible at all. The repair was roughly half the price of a new set, which makes sense since I trashed half a set. They were returned to me via Priority Mail in a little soft case with a set of new cleaning tools.

My personal experience with the company’s customer service is outstanding. I have no complaints. They answer their emails within one business day and are friendly and helpful over the phone. They give it to you straight. All information is posted on their web site. The turn-around time for service or new orders is known up front. And you have to approve the repair cost before they start work. There are no surprises. That is the way I like to do business. They also keep you updated as to the status of your order or repair, with tracking numbers and status changes.

I give my Big Ear BE-1C a big “get them if you can afford them” recommendation. This product is Miss Busa stress tested and approved. They are rugged, have withstood over two years of wire yanking and have operated under extreme temperatures that almost cost my iPod its life. They sound as great as a set of mid-level Shure earbuds; they have worked flawlessly in the freezing cold of 19˚ F at 75 mph and in summer temperatures reaching a nice and balmy 105˚ F. They will serve you well, as long as you clean them regularly and keep them off the floor. If you’re ever at a venue and see a Big Ear booth, don’t hesitate. Get fitted, it’s free and without any obligation to buy. They keep your molds on file for quite some time (I think he said it was three years, but give them a call just to be sure) and if you later decide to pull the trigger on a set, you then simply go to their site and order. I told the husband to get fitted also, but he said he wasn’t interested in a set of earbuds in that particular price range. Now he wished he had, after seeing how happy I am with mine. He said that if Big Ear, Inc. has a booth at the IMS (which is the weekend after next in Greenville, SC) this year, he’s going to get fitted. Again, I had opportunity to speak the hallowed words: “I told you so.” And again, I got to hear the sweet ringing of life’s most awesome three-word sentence: “you were right.”

(Miss Busa Fun Fact: “I love you.” is not woman’s favorite three-word sentence. “You were right” is the new “I love you.” I told you so.)

Miss Busa's Stamp of Approval

Miss Busa
“Tested & Approved”
Score:  5/5

Would you like to know more? Yes, please. / No, I’ve had enough.


S1000aRRgh: The Saga Continues…

Originally Aired: October 30th, 2010

Bringing My Baby Home

Previously on S1000aRRgh…

After I pretty much lost it on the phone I laid into Mr. Slow. All of my frustrations, all of my anger, all of my stress jettisoned at once in a whirlwind of a profane verbal shit-storm of epic proportions. I call it venting; psychologists would probably label it transference. Needless to say – and I don’t blame him one iota – Mr. Slow left the building; in a hurry, I might add, to save his sanity, no doubt. I had to apologize profusely to him later on for being such a jackass. I was treating him poorly and I wasn’t even mad at him. Apparently BMW North America doesn’t care. We were told they would “call us right back”, after calling the dealer and “getting to the bottom of this”, but they didn’t. It was painfully obvious that he dealer couldn’t give a two-bit shit less as they’re still clinging to their contrived story. I felt helpless in all this. I hate feeling helpless! There aren’t but a few things in this world that are worse for me than the feeling of being unable to do anything. I suppose there’s nothing left to do but wait for the phone call that will inform me that my bike is ready to be picked up. Waiting isn’t one of my strong suits either; especially the kind of wait that doesn’t come with a definite expiration date.

Making peace with the situation, but nevertheless tirelessly working to get the bike and myself ready for running the You-Know-What at You-Know-Where and then celebrating the occasion with You-Know-Who kept me from committing random acts of homicide; it gave me something to do and something to look forward to, a luxury carrying a hefty price tag of approximately $700.

BMW NA does finally call. We are informed that they have looked into the matter, that it was deemed unreasonable for the repair of my motorcycle to take this long, that they are so very sorry that this issue led me to miss almost a month of prime riding season, that this is completely unacceptable and that she is going to forward our case to Marketing to see if there is any way we can be compensated for being inconvenienced like we have.

A few days later Blue Moon Cycle calls. It is Daniel wanting to keep us updated on the status of our repairs:

“The part has cleared customs. It should be here tomorrow.”

Still no tracking number, I see. I suppose Customs doesn’t issue those after all, eh? Ah, I’m just such a ray of sunshine. I get ticked off all over again. Did I or did I not tell you people to not bother me until my bike is ready to be picked up? Overnight shipping, I have learned as a German who gets packages from the homeland on a fairly regular basis, apparently takes two weeks now. The audacity! My aunt once overnighted a book to me, t’was the day before Christmas and… and I still received it the next day, which was Christmas Eve, no less. DHL to the rescue! That little luxury cost her an arm, a leg, and 27% of her eternal soul. My point is… ah, who cares! I know what the point is. They never ordered the part when they said they did, lied to us to cover up their mistake… and blamed it on customs… ah, here I go again. Enough! It’s making my blood pressure rise just writing this. I detest a damn liar more than anything. Line Feed. Carriage Return.

Two days later, a Friday, my bike was ready to be picked up. Joe and I decided to go Saturday morning after we both got off work and had occasion to squeeze a little nap in. We leave around noonish. I wind up with dash rash on my spine and a bloody elbow on the way and am told at one point to stay in the truck when we get there.

“What? … Why?”

“You can’t keep your cake hole shut. That’s why. I don’t wanna go to jail today.”

Pregnant pause, then: “Cake? I want cake.”

Dash rash?!? WTF? What in the Sam Hell are you people doing in your truck? Well, I’m getting my gear sorted because hubby wants me ready to jump on the rocket and leave.

“You stay in the truck. You hear me? If somebody comes over tries to talk to you, ignore them. Don’t even look at them.”

“Ok, ok. Gotchya. Stay in the truck. Keep trap shut. Pretend people are invisible. [pause] C’mon I swear I won’t say anything.”

“No. I don’t trust you. Stay in the truck.”

“Whhhhyyy-yyy?” [takes on a playfully whiny tone]

“You can’t keep your cake hole shut. I know you!”

“Hmmm… cake.”

Where was I? Oh, the dash rash. I drop something. I don’t even remember what it was now, but I undo my seat belt and stick my head under the seat to go hunting for whatever it is that I’ve lost. Picture this: Head resting on the floor mat, one hand braced to keep from falling over, the other groping around in the semi-darkness between old (but fresh looking) French fries, dust bunnies, lost change and whatever else makes its home under there. Two feet wedged between the seat cushion and the lumbar support, balancing precariously on toes, ass hiked way up in the air. Screech! The noise of the sudden loss of forward momentum is accompanied by an incredulous proclamation of “Holy shit!” Meanwhile, in the Land Down Under, my head rolls onto its spine, my posterior is catapulted forward until my back impacts the dash. My feet are now stuck to the windshield with my ass resting on the dash and it takes me a minute to undo the pretzel I find myself in. Damn the physics of an object in motion… I hear an apologetic “Sorry, Foxy” from the driver’s seat. Then, as I slowly emerge from the Underworld, he proceeds to tell me the rest of the story in an excited I-can’t-believe-THIS-shit staccato:

“I almost hit a deer. A freakin’ deer. In freakin’ Atlanta! The guy in front of me swerved, I missed it by inches … and it kept on going. I think it jumped over the wall.” He looks around: “I don’t see it anywhere. I think it jumped over the divider and kept right on going! A freaking deer! Over the wall. Jumped over the freakin’ wall!”

I scan the Interstate behind us. Six lanes of traffic and nothing going on. Just the flowing, uninterrupted organized sheet metal chaos as always. Wow.

“Damn, that takes skill,” I muse, “hooves on asphalt, definitely a low traction situation. Like a dog on linoleum.” I giggle at the thought.

Power Shot

Be afraid, be very afraid: You don't want to piss this woman off. She eats Aktiengesellschaften for breakfast before her second cup of Kaffee (and after she throws up in her mouth a little).

A little later we pull into the joint and park. Mr. Slow gives me a stern look:

 

“Stay here! I’ll be right back.”

With that he gets out and heads into the direction of the service department. I look around. There are two dudes chatting it up over a vintage bike in the back of a pickup truck. The parking lot is pretty full. I get out of the truck. Nobody else around. Good. My heart is starting to pick up the pace a little. I recognize it for what it is: the beginnings of my system going into “Flight or Fight” mode. It is a somewhat awkward moment. I’m half hoping somebody is going to give me the opportunity to chew their ass, but I’m really wishing for a quick, unobserved, unmolested departure. Never mind the unobserved part, it’s too late for that; but the guys are still engrossed in what they are doing and pay me no mind. While I’m putting on my riding gear standing next to the truck Steven walks out the front door with the cell phone glued to his ear. I knew he saw me, because he was looking right in my direction and he promptly turned around and went back inside. Sadly, my quarrel isn’t with him. He sold me the bike, always been straight up with us, no bull, just straight with a chaser of the best places to eat.

This hurts a little. Maybe he didn’t see me after all? No, he had to have seen me. Yeah, this hurts. Before all this went down, he was the one who came practically running across the parking lot when I pulled in, basically telling me that he put the coffee on or would I rather have a Diet Coke this fine morning? Sad, no, it’s depressing. He was the one who offered me a slot in Keith Code’s California Superbike School for half-price, the same week I was scheduled to attend the Kevin Schwantz School at Barber Motorsports Park. Had to turn it down though, because there was no way I could get out of work. Apparently word got around and my email was probably circulated as Exhibit A for the prosecution and of course, I’m the bad guy here. The guilty party. Look at this disgruntled unhappy, ne’er can please her, rude customer who — when not getting her way — runs crying to Corporate to stir the shit pot and all we ever did was bend over backwards for her. Oh, how you can misjudge people… Wrong! Oh well, he’s on their team. He’s got a job to keep after all.

I’ll miss Jean-Marie, too. The man you see for your gear and apparel needs. He always greeted me with “Hello, Speedy Morrigan.”, which made me giggle. Or “How is the only woman riding an S1000RR doing today?” His wife is a fast woman, too. She rides a Blackbird. Oh, the stories he told. His wife and I would have gotten along splendidly to the chagrin of our husbands, I’m sure. ☺ He always answered my questions, texted me updates on my orders and had me look at bike part porn, telling me my Double-R would benefit from this and that… yeah, he had me pegged as one of those high performance junkies right from the start. He showed me stuff on his bike, made suggestions, we had rapport. I know it’s business, and as such he was an excellent sales person. But that’s how it’s supposed to be, or used to be, or should be. I liked it.

They were almost like family. My newfound BMW family and at first I thought I had died and went to heaven. After the level of service I got used to with my poor, neglected Hayabusa, this was like a dream come true (fleeting as one, also). But what can you do? I have talked to several people, all the shops around the Augusta area suck. Even the place in Aiken isn’t worth going to anymore. There are several decent enough places that will work on your bike, but if you own a new bike, need to keep up with scheduled services and have recalls and warranty to worry about, you’re screwed. You would think with the economy the way it is and with motorcycle sales declining these people would kiss your feet and wipe your ass while you wait for your 3K service to be completed. They have to be there anyway to earn their paycheck, so why the shitty customer service? They all act like they don’t really care whether or not you come in with your bike and open up your wallet. The “we’ve made the sale so we don’t care jack anymore” attitude doesn’t really make sense to me. Yeah, you got me on that first one. But I damn sure aren’t going to be back to buy the next one from you! And if history repeats itself (let’s hope not), I’ll be strolling onto your sales floor about once a year to get a replacement for the one I just wadded up. My Suzuki dealer lost my sales business anyway, since I was treated like I was out of my mind when I told the sales manager that I was wanting to trade my Harley-Davidson Sporty 1200L in for something a little more “my style”. When he asked what I was looking at, I threw a confident thumb behind my right shoulder:

“This white Hayabusa.”

He looked down his nose at me, cocked an eyebrow after sizing me up and sarcastically uttered one word:

“Really?”

Dripping, drawn out, with just the hint of a high pitched man-whine on the last rubberized syllable. I looked him dead in the eye and repeated:

“Really!”

Then turned around, grabbed Mr. Slow by the arm and dragged him outside stating flatly:

“I am not buying a bike from them even if it were the last white Hayabusa on the planet.”

The deal they offered us was shit anyway. Good riddance. I ended up keeping the Sporty and buying my dream bike from a dealer in Hayesville, NC. Good peeps up there. They made me feel at ease and welcome. They’ve made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. The deal was pretty much handled by phone and email and when we got there it was but a formality with the paperwork. No hard selling, no macho BS, and 10% off the gear we bought and a really good deal on my Shoei Flutter RF-1000 lid. I wonder if they have good service, too.

Meanwhile, back in the service department….

Joe walks in and informs them that he is there to pick up his wife’s S1000RR. Daniel apparently hadn’t gotten the memo that explained that the game was up and promptly laid another lie on Mr. Slow:

“Hey, Joe! I’ve called Corporate and I’m working out a good deal for you.”

Mr. Slow takes a breather, a moment of strategic silence, and replies calmly, but firmly:

“I called Corporate. They then called you. I think we are done here.”

With that he pays for the extra service I had requested when I was still swallowing their spoon-fed lies in the name of “benefit of the doubt”, grabbed the Pirate’s keys, did an abrupt about-face and walked out.

He met me at the truck, handed me the keys and told me to look the bike over VERY carefully before I took off on it. I did. I was being watched by the two dudes who were still hanging out in the parking lot. I felt awkward. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. I wanted this to be over with. I got on my knees, checked out the bike, took note of the clean work they’ve done on the requested drilling of safety wire holes on selected bolts and nuts; they had even wired them up for me. I started the engine. The S1000RR came to life and sounded smooth as always, looked great, she was clean and seemed to be in good shape. Their work, as always, seemed to be of superior quality. I never had a problem with their workmanship. I sighed heavily as I pulled my helmet over my head, put on my gloves and prepared to leave. As I put the bike in gear and slowly eased out the clutch I noticed how tense I was. My hands on the controls were jittery and I felt a little nauseous. The four holes the dudes in the parking lot had burned into my back with their uncomfortable stares were ablaze. I was starting to perspire. I took a deep breath and tried not to think about it. What I need now is to stall the bike or fall over trying to make a turn or have an incident in the form of any of a number of “This Girl Can’t Ride” adventures.

As I completed my right turn out of their facility I started to feel relieved and the anxiety quickly left my body. I spent the next few miles testing the bike and putting it through the paces. She felt great, shifted smoothly (she always does after an oil change), sounded as she should, handled as she should (well, handled as she must considering the miserable shape my Interstate-abused front tire was in.) and the brakes also performed as they always have. I felt alive again. I hadn’t ridden in almost five weeks and it had gotten on my nerves something awful. And now I have about 150 miles to make up for lost time with my baby: A Pirate Named Trouble.

Miss Busa is baaaaaaaaack!


S1000aRRgh: Show Me The Money!

The check BMW sent me for “being inconvenienced and missing out on the prime riding season” has arrived. No strings attached. More on that later. I’m taking that puppy to the bank once I have figured out wether to turn paper into fiberglass or carbon fiber or anodized red aluminum or wait a little while longer and buy an AMB Tran-X 260 transponder. Maybe I should say screw it, wait a real longish while and get a GPS transponder with a nifty little data collection module stuffed into the Pirate’s ass and do my own thang via wireless download to my MacBook hehehe… but then I still have to rent the freakin’ AMB box anyhoo. Crap. But I like numbers… I like a little crunch in the morning with my coffee. I hate creating spreadsheets, but I sure do love looking at them when they are automagically created for me and… ah, hell! Decisions, decisions… what to get first… I also have my sights set on a set of Chicken Hawk tire cozies with adjustable temp controllers. Yeah, I should really wipe the drool from my mouth right now and quit dreaming. But it’s so much fun… and frustrating… but fun… but frustrating… *sigh*

Oh, what I logged on here to say was this: The Suits & Skirts at Beemer Yankeeland USA have paid up and I can now unprotect the corresponding blog posts that would have been in violation of said unsigned agreement; apparently they couldn’t handle my little email I sent them when I gave them a deadline of my own in response to theirs… more probable of a scenario? It wasn’t worth the hassle. But, I am sort of proud of that one. It’s been a while since I played lawyer without a clue (nor a bar) and damn it, if that last time I tried it didn’t cost me 200 smackers extra in traffic court for dissing the judge. I guess I’m out of the hole and back into the green now.

Patience, my lovelies, it’s in the works. The next installment is in final draft, should be going up before close of BusaBusiness today. =D

The Pirate and the Heroine (Re-enactment)

"...as the butt of her hero and the Pirate disappear around a sharp and hardened twisty…" ~Chesshirecat

Ok, so it's not really hardened and sharp, more like a lazy eastern Georgia sweeper on the soft side of the hilly twist.

Oh, hell I almost forgot to mention the reason for such a gadget: I am trying to figure out the most effective, fuel efficient but yet fastest route to work on a Monday morning. That is all. I swear. Uh-huh. Yes. That’s it. I’m also trying to set a new rec… oh, I mean, I’d like to shave about 10-15 seconds off that commute, so I can sleep in a little longer… Yeah. Can’t blame a girl for wanting to get a little advantage over the rest of the crowd. No, you can’t! Won’t! Oh, what’s that… NASCAR on TV?!? I gotta gooooo……. bye.


S1000aRRgh: Yeah, I’ve Said It

I’ve just fired off the following email to the manager of the service department of Blue Moon Cycle in Norcross, GA. I still ended up getting pissed off, blew my lid and practically snatched the BlackBerry out of Mr. Slow’s hand and proceeded to get in a pissing contest with Daniel. Not that that was effective or anything. I just got frustrated, told his defensive, overbearing, I’m holier-than-tho-woman little ass that I don’t really give a shit any more; to keep the damned thing and give me a call when it’s ready. Whenever that is. I’ve had it. These people obviously take me for a fool and couldn’t care less about keeping their customers happy or at least sane! A friend said it before and I hate to admit she was right: “Blue Moon? Yeah, they’re assholes up there, so I went all the way to St. Louis for my vintage goodness buying needs.” That bad, huh? Yeah. They were all friendly and quick and squeezed me into their busy maintenance schedule when I brought my “seemingly fat Beemer owner’s wallet.” Show their true colors when there isn’t a profit margin to be had since they have to do it “on the house.” I will elaborate later, but for now I’m too pissed to even think straight. The lies will be exposed with EVIDENCE to support my assumptions. Then, Blue Moon, I invite you to sue me for slander, libel, whatever your lawyer thinks he can make stick. And I’ll have an answer for you: “Neener neener dipshits! Didn’t think so! Case dismissed!”

Anybody want to buy an unreliable piece of shit … 2010 BMW S1000RR? Really cheap. Almost new. I make ya a good deal since the brakes are a little…. uh… soft. Rides like a dream, extremely fast, put your Hayabusa-riding buds to shame and leave them smelling your teutonic exhaust fumes. Stopping is soooo overrated. Still has over two years of factory warranty (you’ll need it, too, at those premimum BMW prices, because no mortal can afford to fix this shit once it breaks) Oh, did I mention it’s really fast and extremely cheap?!? Hit me up. Cheap! An offer you can’t refuse, my pretties!

Amy (or Daniel) or whoever still cares.

I’m not going to call you and tell you this, because if I did I would get pretty angry all over again and probably get loud and ugly and profane. But I will have my say. I am VERY disappointed how you handled the repair of my motorcycle. Up to this point I loved coming to your shop, and I was pretty satisfied with our business relationship and the way you treated my S. I always felt welcome there.

I suppose that was when I was spending my money. But now it seems a different story altogether. I have been patient throughout this process until everything you and your team has told me added up to being placated and strung along with “I don’t know”s and “tomorrow”s or “the next day”s. I have spend $700 on a planned ride over my anniversary weekend which, thanks to your customer service strategy of appeasing rather than being straight up and honest. And my only fault in all this? I didn’t want to be one of “those” customers and I gave you the benefit of the doubt and was patient and took your word as fact. Now, of course, it is too late. Cannot plan for contingencies when not given the correct information. I am not even angry that the repairs take this long, I am angry that you pretty much just lied to me. And there isn’t anything that I detest more than being lied to and put off. That is where you failed as a business. You didn’t find it necessary to be up front with me. Did you think I would just go away? I would have, if you had given me the proper information and kept me up to date on the status with realistic estimates.

I am not going to argue with you about which of the things you have told me are fact and which are just plain fiction. No need for that, however if you had stated the truth then give me concrete evidence to that effect. That would put most of it right and our relationship may be restored. If you can’t, then the reason is fairly clear.

I am NOT happy. You made me feel disrespected, insulted my intelligence and thought of me as stupid. I am not. Your actions speak clearly.

Morrigan

P.S. And tell your pretty boy Pinson that he should quit hitting up girls for their engines to use at his pathetic attempts to be a pro racer in trade for race tickets and a pit pass.

Sent from my iPad