Friday, May 5, 2017

Master upgrade

Last Fall, I tallied up my sea time as a Mate and realized that I had enough to apply for an upgrade to Master.  In addition to that, I was eligible to upgrade my license from 3rd Mate, to 2nd Mate.  I looked into it and then found out that if I'm applying for a 1600 ton Master's license, it's better to upgrade to 2nd Mate first because the crossover from 2nd Mate to 1600 ton Master is an easier route, so I applied...
About 2 months later, I received my upgrade to 2nd Mate and approval to test, requiring only one module.  I was excited about that, but I also received a letter stating that in order to get my International Master's license, I would also need to complete the current (as of 1/1/17) STCW requirements.  Most of these I have completed, but there are 3 classes in particular that I would still need to take according to the new Coast Guard rules. Ugh.

-Advanced Stability
-Advanced Ship Handling
-Advanced Meteorology

I looked into and found that those 3 classes alone are a total of 4 weeks and approximately $9000 in tuition and aren't offered locally, so I'd have to go out of state most likely for the courses.   So, I checked around to see if there was a loophole and so far, the only thing I have found, is that I can forego the International endorsement and just go for the 1600t Master Domestic (National) license if I don't want to have to take all the new classes.

Now, I'm currently waiting for a reply from my boss to see if my company requires a International license, of if a Domestic will suffice.  For now, I wait.  I will however, begin studying soon for the exam, which I plan to take in June sometime.  I'm hoping that one module isn't too tough.  I'll know more when I pay the Lapware fee in a few weeks and start studying.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Stolen Bike Journey

So, here’s the story of my bike from what I know…


The frame after powder coating
When I closed down the bike shop in 2012, I sold off my other bikes and had my friend Robert Ives, from Blue Collar Bikes, build me a custom single-speed cyclocross bike that would be my main bike and one that I would keep till the day die.  

The closing of the shop was a tough turning point in our lives, but the bike was the one good thing that happened that season.  It took a few months to get it together, but it was awesome.  Custom fit, tapered steel head tube (rare), Columbus tubing, eccentric style bottom bracket using a Beer Components adapter, carbon bars, carbon fork, Paul Mini-Moto brakes, custom Stan’s rims and American Classic hubs.  It was the bike I had dreamed of for a while and I absolutely loved it.

After it was built

One of its first races

In June 2014, I was attending classes up in Seattle for a month at a time to get my Coast Guard license and start a new career.  In between class sessions, I would either come home for a few weeks, or I would go to work.  I was working for a tugboat company based in Everett, WA, and I’d typically go to sea for 3-5 weeks at a time.  I got called to work immediately after a class session and didn’t have time to go home and drop off some “stuff”, so I was forced to leave some things in my car. Well, being that I was in Seattle quite a bit, I had decided to bring my bike up there for exercise and was forced to leave it in my car at the company parking lot while I went out to sea.  The lot was fenced in and many employees leave the cars there for weeks/months at a time, so I wasn’t overly concerned, except that I had all my “worldy possessions” in there, including ALL of my riding gear, clothes, bike tools and a bunch of other nice comfort things that I take to Seattle.

So, I locked the frame of my bike into the back seat mounts and covered it with a blanket, plus my windows were limo tinted and you could not see into the car.  However, you could probably tell that there was “something” in the back if you looked hard enough. I also had an alarm, so again, I wasn’t overly concerned.

Anyhow, 2 weeks out to sea, Erin (my wife) gets a letter in the mail stating that my car had been impounded!  After putting 2+2 together, she figured out that it had been stolen and abandoned in Anacortes, WA.   

I was bobbing around out in Alaskan waters at the time and didn’t have any cell service, but managed to get an email and then a call later to figure it all out.  I was pissed and mostly concerned about the contents of the car and frustrated that I couldn’t do anything about it being stuck on a boat in the middle of nowhere.

So, over a period of the next few weeks, Erin arranged to get the car picked up, repaired and returned to the company lot, however everything in the car was gone… a complete loss. Insurance helped and I was able to replace a few things, but even still to this day, I haven’t replaced all my riding gear and tools, and am still using my old-old stuff to get by.

Fast forward 8 months.

Robert Ives got a message from a friend of a friend that a Blue Collar bike was spotted at a Performance Bike shop in Lynnwood WA.  It was my bike and verified by photos.  I got a hold of the shop, but the bike was gone.  They “thought” they might be able to track down the guy riding it, but no luck…  It had slipped through their fingers never to be seen again, so we thought.

Spotted in Lynnwood, WA
I searched Seattle area Craigslist for months, hoping to come across the frame or even some of the parts, but no luck.

March 25th, 2017

About a week ago, Robert Ives was doing a little Google research online for his company name “Blue Collar Bikes” and ran across a random ad for a $100 single speed bike in Los Angeles and low and behold, my bike miraculously appeared again at the other end of the West Coast!
The ad in LA. (It was marked "sold" after we bought it back)
He sent me the link and I immediately jumped into action with a callout on Facebook to my friends in SoCal to see if anyone could help. My good friend from the Navy days, David Tafoya, piped in and said that he managed to contact the guy and could head over there the next day to take a look.  Sunday was a lucky day and David was able to buy the bike back from the guy for $60 (in a somewhat sketchy part of town). 

Then, my other good friend Joe Mattingly in San Diego, who just happened to be heading north to our house a few days later, was able to swing by LA and pick up the bike from David and transport back to its home here in Sacramento. Joe reunited me with the bike yesterday and it felt good to close the book on that nasty chapter after all.  

So, here it is… back in my hands, completely “tweaker-modded” and molested, but the frame is solid and in good shape aside from 3-4 coats of rattle can paint.  It still has my carbon bars, carbon fork and XTR crankset installed!

Reunited 2.5 years later

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it since I now have a newer Blue Collar gravel/CX bike and haven’t been doing much CX singlespeed racing in a few years.  This bike has a good story and I’m putting some thought into how I want to proceed.  I might leave it, I might restore it, but for now I just want to be thankful that I have good friends who are willing to step up and help out in a time of need.  That seems to be the theme here and I’m very appreciative of that, more than I am of actually getting the bike back.  Having good friends in life is key and I'm thankful that I have them.

Special thanks to all involved and to those folks who piped in to help find it originally and recover it in the end.  Much appreciated!