Throughout all my time in Berkeley, I could never seem to find a bike shop that I really 'gelled' with. I was intimidated by most places, and even though people were nice enough, they often had a tone that made me feel like I was an idiot for not knowing more than I did, or for asking the questions I did. The place that came closest to earning my love was the Missing Link on Shattuck Ave. They were pretty nice, but often were so backed up in the shop that I usually had to go somewhere else. If I tried to make an appointment, my bike wouldn't be ready for 2-3 days for a basic tune-up. :(
Every time I've been to Norcal they are friendly, sweet, answer my bazillion questions (if I have to bring my bike in, I might as well understand a little more each time, right?), and I can make an appointment, drop my bike off the evening before and it's ready the next afternoon.
I also think they do a great bike fit. It's a bit pricey but I think a good bike fit should be. A couple of years ago Phil fit me on my old road bike and was very honest in the end when he said "ya know Sarah, this bike really is too big for you. I think I've done the best job I can given what we're working with." And you know? He really did. In spite of my Trek being too big, the fit was awesome - I never had any pain or discomfort in the entire time I rode it after that fit.
Last week I brought my bike in for a pre-race tune up. Fritz remembered working on my bike before - he had actually figured out how we could manage a slight defect in the front fork, and asked me "how's that front fork working out for ya?" Then when I went to pick up my bike, I remembered that I had been having some problems with my bike seat coming a little loose and tilting down or up at times. He explained what the problem was (my seat screws needed some grease), told me how I could fix it, then said he'd do it right there on the spot! After that, I brought my bike home, stopped by the store, picked up some beer and promptly delivered it to the guys at NorCal. They were grateful, but I told them how grateful I was, too! :)
Cut to this week. I met up with Matt D. yesterday to pick up the Zipp Wheels. Man, they are SO SWEET!!! But after I put them on, I realized my dérailleur would need some adjustment - the cassette was a 12-25 and my previous one had been a 12-27. Argh!! I knew how busy the guys at NorCal were...maybe I could just ask them to swap the cassette real quick?
I brought both wheels down this morning, and Fritz said "yeah, but we'll still prob need to adjust the derailleur." Damn! I said "well...I hate to be a pain in your @$$...would that be okay?" He looked at me like I was crazy and said "sure, it's fine." So, right then and there, he swapped my cassettes while I ran home to grab my bike, and then made the adjustments and presto! My bike is ALL SET!
NorCal Bike Sport - YOU GUYS ALL ROCK!!! Many many thanks for your quick help and for being so nice to me (and not making me feel stupid about trying to learn about bikes). :)