At the end of november I decided to to finally pull the trigger and get some aero testing. I was excited as I had recently put some big goals on paper. After a couple of attempts to get a hold of Jim, I finally got through via email at the end of November
â€śHi Jim or to whom this may concern,
I am a former professional roadie (and collegiate trackie) looking to make a big entrance into the US track scene for the IP at elite track nationals next year. I think a great place to start would be aero testing. I have some of my "old" track gear (Cervelo t4 and F/R Zipp 900 discs) still hanging around but it doesn't have a power meter. I also have a SHIV TT that was last fit a few years back at Cyclologic, this has a power meter, so the aero testing might have to be done on this. I would love to hear from you and see what we could do to optimize my positionâ€¦..â€ť
About a week later, I got the reply â€śSorry for the delayed response. For some reason, certain emails from my site go to spam. Not sure why. The evening of Sat, 12/15, is open if that works for you.â€ť
I confirmed the 15th worked for me, and didnâ€™t hear back until Dec, 5th, when I asked for a confirmation as I needed to find housing in the area. I should have taken note in the level of communication at this point but my exuberance got the best of me. I wanted to have a dialogue with Jim
Testing session 1 - 12/15: I traveled in with my road bike, my T4 without a power meter, my shiv TT with custom risers (take note of this) and a Quarq riken, Zipp 900 front/rear combo, my significant otherâ€™s front 404, her POC helmet and a handful of tools that I thought could be useful.
We decided to try my Shiv as it had my power meter. Run one was a crr of .223, if I remember correctly. Run two he gave me a Giro Aerohead with the visor taped on to try. He said the was about the same but I liked the visibility that it offered. He decided that there wasnâ€™t much else that we could test since the T4 didnâ€™t have a PM and the Shiv TT position was pretty fixed with the custom machined spacers. I felt bummed and disappointed that if we could have had better communication from the start, this could have been avoided. He promised that we would get this worked out, we looked for a future test date for a second attempt and I paid the $699 paypal invoice with my credit card.
Jim suggested that I scheduled my re-test on 1/9 as USAC was having a training camp at the same time and it could get my exposure. I waited to confirm this until I could get back to work an see if I could rearrange my work schedule around enough that I could make the trip mid-week.
On Dec. 17th, I was able to confirm that date, after discussing with my boss the importance of doing this infront of USACâ€™s eye and replied to Jim asking if there was anything that I could do or bring, as I wanted to avoid the cluster of round 1.
On Jan. 7th, I reached out to Jim again to make sure that we still had the green light. He replied saying that testing was pushed back an hour but things were good to go. On the 8th, I worked a 10 hour day and drove through the night so I could test the morning of the 9th. Before arriving I also notified Jim â€ś Just to keep you in the loop I was able to get the quarq on to the T4 but because the steer tube difference I donâ€™t have any aero bars that will work with it. I didnâ€™t even think about the difference until it was too late. In this effort to make the t4 available for testing, the Shiv TT, has been stripped and thus I will not be making the journey with me.â€ť
I show up the morning of the 9th, and the velodrome is empty. No USAC. Once we got started I asked what happened and Jim starting telling me this story about them pulling out due to funding. I was frustrated as I just piled a lot of extra stress on my life to make this testing date happen but I couldnâ€™t get too frustrated because we could still get the testing in, or so I thought.
We get started with the testing when Jim notices that my Quarq was reading really high and drifting, so we couldnâ€™t even get a baseline. We discovered that this was due to the recent chainring swap the days prior. I was dismayed at the whole situation but Jim once again gave me his assurance that we would get the testing in.
At this point I just want to get this processed wrapped up. He doesnâ€™t say it directly but it's clear that we are both frustrated at our failures. He mentions trying to get his hands on a powertap wheel so we donâ€™t have this problem again.
A month goes by with complete radio silence, I email on 2/13 only to hear more radio silence. I reach out in a ST thread that says his email must not be working, because others are experiencing the same radio silence.
Finally Jim responds to a DM on SlowTwitch with: â€śWeekends are tough. Looking at the track schedule vs mine, there's nothing available until April at best.
The track has charged me for track time for both the aborted tests (new management), so you'll need to pay for any track time we use moving forward. They'll give us a discounted rate of $200. I'll give you one more shot without charging any extra fees on my end, but please make sure your power meter is working and accurate, and that you have everything you need to make adjustments to your bike. â€ś
After a couple messages, we agree on April 6th for the next testing date.
I hadnâ€™t heard from Jim for nearly a month and a half so I checked in on 3/29 to make sure that the testing was still on for 4/6. â€śHi Jim,
Just making sure that we still have the green light for 4/6. Also have you picked a time for that yet? I will be driving in after work on Friday/saturday morning. â€ś
His response was â€śUnfortunately, the track could not be made available for aero testing due to some planned maintenance to the facility that day.â€ť I was flabbergasted. A complete and udder failure of communication to find out that my testing was effectively cancelled and wasnâ€™t offered a solution to move forward.
With my emotions running a bit on the hot side of things I replied â€śI would like to know when you had planned to tell me this. Was I going to show up at the track and see a sign on the door?
I'm sure we are both getting frustrated at this point and I just feel like i've thrown away $1000 between your services, travel, etc. only to receive bare minimal communication that I have to initiate. I know you are busy but honestly, I'm flabbergasted with this process of yours. I would like you to tell me, what your best suggestion for moving forward is.â€ť
In fairness here I did ask for his best suggestion for moving forward. Sadly his suggestion didnâ€™t have me in mind at all. His reply was:
â€śYeah, my fault as I thought I had forwarded that information to you, though your frustration for "throwing away $1000" should be directed at yourself for showing up twice completely unprepared for the task at hand. In the end, I provided the service the first time around, and can not be faulted for you bringing a bike that could not be adjusted in any way. My job is simply to run the test, which I did. On my own dime, I paid for your second session, but again you brought equipment I couldn't work with and did not charge you for the track time, or the fee I had to pay Alphamantis, which means I've made a total of $50 for both sessions and several hours of my time.
Moving forward, I would suggest finding someone else to use for aero testing. No one else runs the Alphamantis system in this country, but perhaps the A2 or San Diego wind tunnel would be options for you.â€ť
I had a very angry response typed out to this but never sent it as I figured it wouldnâ€™t actually do any good. So now I would like to offer a more level-headed response than what I didn't send to you earlier.
I believe we both have the right to be disappointed here. I am disappointed because the service that I thought I was paying for has not worked out as intended. I am disappointed because regardless of my numerous attempts of communication with you, across multiple platforms, you gave bare minimum effort in having a dialogue with me. I do feel that we could have avoided a lot of frustrations and wasted time and money if only you were able to have open communication with me. I am disappointed because I feel like you have lied to me since you learned that USAC pulled out of their camp and you didnâ€™t tell me, when we scheduled testing on that day because of USAC, regardless of what was going on for me personally. I am disappointed because I feel as you have now washed your hands with me and I am really in no better spot than where I started. I am also laughing because we both know that you say â€śNo one else runs the Alphamantis system in this countryâ€ť we both know this isnâ€™t the truth, but that is the least of our issues here.
Iâ€™m sorry that things havenâ€™t worked out between us but they way that you have conducted your business, has me shocked and appalled. When you look back at this I hope you can sleep well, because this has to be the worst experience that I've had within the cycling industry. I wish you the best of luck in the future, it seems that we are both going to need it.
While I know this is a short book, I hope all that are looking towards these services in the future read this, see both of our failures for what they are and make a better decision than I did on how to invest their resources into our sport.