Two unusual palms and a painting inspire this week’s BillLabs

Two palm trees and a painting inspire the latest edition of BillLabs

A unique pair of twisted palm trees in Atlantic Beach and an adorable mural in Neptune Beach symbolize the first few weeks of 2021. How and why those trees were twisted will likely remain a mystery, just as how mysterious was 2021’s learning time to me. The mural symbolizes hope. The trees symbolize the twists and turns in my life.

First, my “new car” changed the way I drive after losing my old reliable drive. Automatic transmissions and power windows have replaced my DIY skills. Also, the fact that I had an accident made me much more cautious behind the wheel.

After the tragic and quick theft of my classic Titan Litespeed, a new bike has also become mine. I stood in front of the IHOP after an official pancake breakfast ride. I had to make a quick call on my flip phone. Loud traffic caused me to move about 20 feet away.

After I turned my head away from the noise, it was gone in two minutes, although another person was still there, but he went inside. A police officer came within 15 minutes and took my report. Phil Foreman, co-owner of Champion Cycling, came out of his Arlington shop to pick me up. We stopped at two nearby pawn shops with no luck.

When he got to his shop, a new blue Cervelo R-2, a 54 cm carbon racing bike, called “my name”. It sold for $ 2000 up from $ 2400.

A new huge postcard-like mural symbolizes hope on the south wall of the Sea Horse Motel.

Impulse purchases for large ticket items are very rare for me. The 2010 Subaru was one, but based on bike buddy Len Cawrse only because of the seller’s reputation. The car was in almost new condition, clean, well equipped and ready for use after a full service.

* BillLabs started its testing program for this bike and more. The bike felt right almost immediately. The smaller frame size fits my aging and shortening body even better than the classic Litespeed. I was offered my retirement discount on top of the selling price, and my tax return was already with the bank. I drove it home that day and walked back the route the thief might have used.

After four weeks, the motorcycle and I connected faster than the still beloved handmade Litespeed. On two 45 mile trips, the bike ran like I wasn’t pedaling. A younger man whipped around corners and sprinted straight down.

It’s almost like flying in the blue sky. The solid frame absorbs road shocks quite well. The frame dimensions give it a very nimble feel as it curves in a smaller radius than my last bike. It feels “alive” and eager to go. The complete set of Shimano 105 components shifts and brakes with a precision that was once reserved for the top-class Dura Ace level system.

When I lose a classic craft – handcrafted in the USA – and pick up the chicest and most expensive racing bike of my career, I have ambivalent feelings. Even at the expense of the employees, it still exceeded my tax refund.

Bill's new Cervelo racing bike

Cervelo is known for its ingenious design and technical handling of carbon fiber frames for road and triathlon bikes. My R-2 series is their entry-level line, but no corners have been cut.

* I’ve developed a strange fetish for waterproof, “breathable” jackets. My collection is too big to be publicly recognized. For two jackets bought long ago by Sierra Trading Post (now just Sierra), I paid $ 40 to $ 50 each for jackets that retailed for more than $ 100. I’ve sung their praises in previous issues of BillLabs, but they showed off their Achilles heels about a year later.

My first Marmot PreCip jacket, and now the new rain pants, began to shed their special waterproof coating like it was fabric shed. In their honor, the store gave me a $ 100 credit for the jacket, as well as the very first discounted jacket I returned to them. This time it paid off for the new pants that are now affected.

I am not sending them back. You were generous enough! I just used a special wash and then Nikwax TX, a spray that is supposed to restore the finish.

A bright red Mountain Hardware jacket showed the same disease. They sent it to replace the one I sent back to them. It was good for over a year.

The only model Bill could afford for his new REI Rainier jacket.

It seems that, despite the loving care, the coatings are not able to withstand long-term use. I’m happy to report that for $ 200, the superlight, waterproof Mountain Hardware jacket lived up to its needs and only cost me $ 50 from Sierra three years ago.

Gore-Tex seems to be the most durable waterproof and breathable material on the market. An article in Outside magazine explained the extensive ongoing research and development department. New-generation versions of this fabric are “rained” in laboratories, washed dozen times in their test machines and constantly checked for weaknesses during development. My Gore-Tex winter jacket was a present from my mother about 20 years ago. It’s still going well.

Now I’m doubtful about the bottom raincoats, but the famous REI co-op members dangled their rainier jackets in front of me. It has a 2.5 mm layer called the waterproof, breathable “peak” fabric. For $ 38.88 compared to $ 90, I gave in. It features the armpit openings I prefer and a high zip neck to prevent rain drainage.

Groundhog and Mountain Hardware had replaced peeling clothing, but I think that with moderate use, they should last more than 12 to 16 months before they lose their coatings.

* A trip to Dollar General resulted in a surprising $ 10 remaining stock. Copper Fit garments typically cost around $ 20 and up during their TV commercials. But for $ 10, I couldn’t resist trying the sleek, glossy black fleece shirt. It was perfect for the weather that day.

Copper Fit Shirt and the latest issue of Surfer's Journal with Matt Shaw's story.

It is still questionable whether the copper aspect of the material does something “wonderful” or not. But the shirt is incredibly comfortable and the shimmer of the copper threads makes it a stylistic winner.

Special update: Matt Shaw, editor of Void Magazine, was profiled by me once. At the time, Surfer Magazine had just been taken over by David Pecker, so Matt was unsure of his status as a contributing writer. It turned out that his name stayed on the front page until the last issue.

Matt continues to contribute to the final national print surf magazine, Surfer’s Journal, which is now in its 31st year. In the current issue 30-1 he introduces a man from South Florida who has developed into a serious Hawaiian surf photographer. The story is accompanied by several spectacular photographs. We definitely hope that this beautiful magazine will last forever.

Bill Longenecker is based in Neptune Beach and is a regular contributor to Shorelines. Send feedback to [email protected]

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