2020, No. 23 , last of the year, and shoot, I was shooting for 26

2020, No. 23 , last of the year, and shoot, I was shooting for 26


 Maybe you've seen this. It's Christmas-related.

 Why I feel out of touch with the bike industry.

 It's the comments as much as the product.


This will be the year the "eBike" explodes.

It is by now common knowledge all over the cosmos that 40 percent plus of the bikes you see on trails, at least in this area, have motors. It seems to me that the way of the future is going to be to avoid all climbing struggles; to sweat only on stationary bikes; and to get fit or lose weight or whatever it is by a combo of liposuction and while-u-sleep muscle stimulation. 

I am PRO-eBike, although I think the e part of the name cancels out the Bike part. The name can't be dislodged now, but eMotobike would suit me better, and could be shortened to eMoto, or EMB. That wouldn't suit the bicycle industry as much, and it would make it harder, politically, to allow them in Yosemite or whatever trails they want to be on.

This is one of those "mouse shouting at the base of the waterfall" situations.

The emotobike on left does't even have pedals. It has ye olde pegs instead. Made by Yamaguzzi or one of those. The leading edge of the slippery slope.


I got some good news last night. Relief news, at least. The Silver2 shifters ordered last May, which I was told last night were not going to be made due to Covid, indeed have been made already, and Dia-Compe (the maker) has just been waiting for payment. I didn't know that because--the invoice went to Spencer who is temporarily out (not covid). So now it's clear and we'll get them and because of the iffiness of getting bike parts these months and in the future--if you're small like us---we're going to have to frustrate hoarders, I'm afraid. 

Maybe friction shifting IS no big deal anymore, but I'm still really proud of the shifters, and on my personal bike, that's what I use NOT because I'm stubborn but because I prefer them. They drive home that shifting happens with your feet, not your thumb. Can bicycles become toooo easy to operate? It sounds like Mr. Snobby-Insane to say YES, but for me, it's still YES.   

It comes down to where you draw your personal line, and the bike industry give you no say in the matter, and sells the idea of easiness as maximum democracy. That ignores the fun of learning how to do simple tasks that involve interacting with your bike. What would ye olde great grampa say about that?

The fun of working a tool doesn't make sense when a life is at stake or maximum efficiency is essential—like maybe in a bike racing. Recreational/transportational/unprofessional and optional riders have little at stake. If you prefer indexing, that's fine, but my point is, don't consider friction shifting to be an archaic sacrifice. It is easy, and a lot of people think it's more fun. Flubbing shifts is part of it, but it's not a constant irritation.


More bike stuff, maybe to make up for all the Race and Playtypus stuff that's been a-popping up here lately. This, like the above thing about Friction shifting, is more cathartic than fascinating, and it's also repetitive.  It's my end-o'-ye olde annum flushout, which I get to do. Excuse me if I'm crude or my arguments are more emotional than intelligent.

I think I know exactly where bikes are headed and I don't want anything to do with it. They're becoming less bicycle-like, more motorcycle-like. Derailers are going away. All the mechanisms will be covered in a box or under a shroud, so as not to scare people who don't understand them and maybe fear grease or chains and toothy casettes and chainrings. Cover them in plastic, out of sight and mind. Cables, too. Shifting won't be levers pulling cables, it'll be thumbs pushing soft and round rubber buttons. There won't be discrete steps between gears; gears will be linear, stepless. It's been tried so many times before, but this coming up time, it's going to take. 

Bikes will look like Disney cartoon bikes. Smooth, round, fat, and magical. This'll be sold as "friendly and democratic, easy for anybody," and the kind of bikes we sell know will be branded as snobbish and archaic, for mean curmudgeons. 

There WILL be something like airbags to protect you in crashes. Absolutely, they are coming. I'm not against safety, but I am against safety devices that tolerate higher speeds and riskier riding. Helmets barely help as it is, but these air bags will prevent road rash and soften crashes, and they'll be in helmets, too. Don't send me the Swedish inflato-'met; seen it already, you can't illuminate me! But these will become standard, and without trying, they'll make current protective technology or lack-o'-it seem caveperson.

We have to become less dependent on bike parts makers who don't actually ride bikes or respect them or, well, who don't understand the POV that simple machines are cool, that the rider can and should to some extent, complement the bike and fill in the gaps...that the best bikes actually require a droplet of skill, and making bikes like that isn't snobbery or anti-people. (In fact, the opposite is). It's good to know how to put a fallen chain back on, to shift gears, to look ahead and anticipate a gear-need before you're in the middle of a pure grunt 20rpm hopeless thrust up a steep section that you saw five whole seconds before you got there.


Yesterday I saw a guy coming out of the trails wearing lime green plastic while riding a bamboo trail bike. A "nice" one. He was 22nd century in his get-up but riding a 'boo bike. That's all cool, but what the hell? These are small-picture complaints.  I get that he is, at least, getting around on a bicycle without a motor on it. Will there be electric motor bikes made of bamboo? I can see Mark Zuckerberg on one. I wonder if facebook or Mark Z gets an alert every time his name is used.


In 1980 when hikers saw riders on a trail it was "hello, comrade, are you lost? Hey, way to go..."  In 1990, it was common but not that common, and still some hey comrade. All the bikes were "rigid," and that was some kind of filter, maybe. Five years ago there were more riders, but there was still some tolerance, but now, here, there are so many emotorbikes and full-suspension bikes that dare you to go faster when it's not necessary--they egg you on to use them to the max so you don't feel like an underachieving fool--that hikers yelp and scramble when they see you coming, no matter what kind of bike it is. They assume that if you're 100 feet away, you'll be on 'em in four seconds, so yell at the kids to get out of the way pull the dog off the trail to make way. It's embarrassing and shameful, but justified.

When we ride, we always always dismount, sit on the hillside, and let hikers pass. We pass them on foot, say hi and all that. It works well for everybody, but still, on sight, they're scared. We get a lot of comments like, "You're up here on THOSE?" and "Are those Dutch bikes?" 

I think modern bike clothing is irritating. It doesn't belong in the woods. Keep it in car-land. It's a futuristic, high-tech look that doesn't belong with 100-year old oak trees and cow poop and all the birds. 

You can argue that no bicycle belongs, either. I don't entirely disagree, but trails are a place where bikes are safe from cars, and as long as the clothes are blendy and the bikes are muscle-powered and not too obnoxiously over-technical, and I ride quietly not scarily, then...I'll risk hell for it. It's worth it. The cars have chased me there...is kind of how I see it. I know all the holes in that argument. 



The "short sleeved" wool T's we got are NOT the same pattern we used to get, and in fact they're not even close. The sleeves are the widest (they seem to be bell-bottoms, even), longest short-sleeves of all time, almost elbow-length. I have one on now, after having cut off a couple of inches.  Can't do it, just can't. They're off the site, and if you bought one you've been contacted and are being given the option of keep it for free, we credit your account, or returning it at our expense for a refund. It's only six. The other stuff, the other new wool, is perfect.


 John found this and sent it. I guess I put anything Black between pencils, but this isn't too scary.  It's twin 22-year olds playing and talk about music that was made before their parents even met. I've seen a few of these, pretty good. Obama gets in their, too. Bob Dylan content, so of course. Are they really twins? I dunno.

I just finished a book, The Debt, by a guy named Randall Robinson. Basically, it says we white people owe Black people, makes a good case for that. It references a book called Strong Men Keep Coming, by Tonya Bolden, and I got that book and dig this letter from a freed Black man, responding to his former enslaver, who has found out where he is and is asking him, hey, come back and work for me, buddy.  You'll be at least temporarily changed by this, I think.



 I couldn't find it new, had to buy it used. It is a rockemsockem book that profiles tons of under-the-radar Black guys from the past, and a few famous ones. I don't expect this'll be up many of yours alleys, but it's good reading.

If you found this helpful (loose use of the word) in any way, consider buying a $2 BRF credit on your next order, or a $5 BRF pin, or if you're feeling rich, both. Or the new Math stickers, see way below.

All the money--not just all the profit from the pin and stickers--goes to the BRFund, which is used entirely to give Black people enviable but well-earned discounts on our stuff.

Thar's the $5 pin. You can get it HERE.   

The $2 BRF credit (no pin) is RIGHT HERE.


We got some hoodies and stickers with our new math logo. It's denominational on the front but inclusive in back. It MEANS "nothing is greater than or equal to a bicycle." 

Also shown: my fantastic Ethiopian featheweight, soft, wide, great-for-riding wingtippish shoe. The shoes of a lifetime. From solerebels, who touts two-week delivery but expect two months. They'll arrive. This is the Surge Aby model.  They have lots of other models, but lots of, frankly, scary looking ones. Ye Olde Surge Aby looks—as I've said—fantastic. Ethiopia used to be called Abyssinia--that's why "Aby" -- and surge is because you can surge forward in them, when the need arises.


I was looking up something and came to this, Rivendell Reader No. 42, from ye olde 2010. There are some interesting things in there. 

If you're new to Rivendell, check out what we used to publish and mail out about 3x a year back when I was on top of things AND believed, falsely, that people would pay $4 for such a paper publication. Surveys told me Yes; the world said No. 


 Clem Smith Jr. rider Jason File sent this photo of a restaurant. Bummer alert: The owners recently changed the name to Thai Kitchen. Generic Boredom!!

 I like the Practical Planter out front, too. That's a fantastic use for a plastic garbage can. Five stars!  I think more businesses should have Ye Olde in the name.



Everything turns to competition when commerce gets involved. 

 I know fishing contests are nothing new, but they've become more radicalized in the last 20 years. No longer ye olde contemplative pasttime or whatever. I dunno how we got onto this subscription list. The name crossed out is my wife's which makes it really bizarre. Bassmaster? Beware of all "masters."


 My dog Billie got a haircut. I gathered the fluff and am making a felted ball-o'-dog fur, using the classis Stetson method of heat, moisture, and agitation. Here's the heat and moisture part. Stetson didn't do it like this around ye olde campe fire, but I don't have as much time as he did:

 Here's it as an ornament:


Here's a new kind of inner tube. Good reports on the 'net--lighter, tougher, easier to patch. Jame's report isn't as positive. Hard to locate holes, and this one has one. He inflated to help locate it. Butyl (regular) tubes may herniate when you pump a lot of air into them outside of a tire, too...but this one looks funnier:


 We got some nice postcards, thank u-all (who sent 'em). This is one, from Pam Murray:


This is what a bicycle rider looks like. I love this postcard.


Steph Curry did the most amazing basketball thing in practice a few days ago.

It is on par with Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Maybe harder to equal. It doesn't matter that it happened  in practice. It's just kind of phenomenal no matter what.

See it HERE.

You're welcome!


Somebody sent me these:

 From here. My new favorite company:



Want to get your own stickers or buttons made? We like these guys. Super stickers, buttons, service.

Your own patches? Go here. They do stickyback, iron on, sew-on, whatever.


Some random grainy black-and-whites, some may be repeats, not sure. Just filling up space here now. Feel free to skip.

Sofia on Shell Ridge. Not just IN Shell Ridge Open Space, but actually ON it. THere are two ridges in Shell Ridge, and this is the East one.

Sofia and Dan in the Marin Headlands, both trying to find out exactly where we were, two different methods.

Roman in Briones Park, up Mark's Hill. Mark's climbed it only once, but he climbed it the first try, so it became Mark's Hill.

Ye Olde Pal Jeffe on Mt. Diablo, a tricky turn he's made once or twice, I've never made. He on Clem-L.


Pal Jeff going into the kind of hard dip that he's about to not make it out of.

 Jeff up a typical short Briones steep bumpy climb.

Panned shot of Jeff and Dan, reversed it out in photoshop for the special effects. Not proud of this.

Dan in Briones

Dan on Mark's hill. 

Dan on Mt. Tamalpais

This is like my favorite riding photo ever, b/c it was well after sundown, shot at f1.4 at 1 second with 400 speed film. I could barely see Dan. He got a flat.

Same scene later.

This is Vaughn in Briones. Super grainy, I like it. That's Mt. Diablo back there. We're kind of at the base of it.

After an S240, we found a deadly ropeswing over a poisonous pond, and Sean had to go for it. This is 3200 speed film way overexposed.

Jay Ritchey is the only person ever to climb all of the hardest hills in Briones on his first try. Here he's passing my high spot. I frankly didn't expect him to get that far, which is why I didn't leave room in the middle.

Pal Jeff descending a super fun hill in Briones, with Dan back.

Dan on a prototype Gus. He'd never do this with his own bike. High up, northeastern side of Mt. Diablo a couple of years ago. I took a different course across and was up to upper thighs.


Here's another platypus-shirt we're thinking of. All profits, about $8/shirt, go to the Australian Platypus Conservancy. Who could resist this shirt?

Imagine a platypus with wings. It may happen, but not in our lifetimes. If we get sincere interest from 24 people, we'll do it. Not sure the color or sleeve length or pocketness, but something. Email grant@rivbike.com with your name and size in the subject




Video from last night's ride (Dec 29). Dan and Jeff. Usually they don't ride so parade-like, but they knew I was filming it and...well, the main thing is the superb, innovative, game-changing videomatic flip I did at the end with the camera. It's kind of dumb-fun.



I've whined during bad times for us, and now..it's been a good year, so I ought to say that. By many companies standards it wouldn't be good, but by ours, yes. I'd trade it all for no covid. I'd give it all up for a good next four, but we also have good people here, and they need and want work, and me too, but the goal here is really, really, to provide good work for these special people in my life, and as company employees go, in yours too, I hope:

Will: GM, does everything, is good at everything, my favorite cycling photographer.  

Vince: He's an MVP utility everything. Save me at least four times a week. Remembers people, locations of everything. Irreplaceable. 

Mark: Sixteen years a mechanic, never a flub. Super reliable, perfectionist, I've begged him never to leave.

Steven: Newest guy. Retired and now our bike packer. Volunteers at a local bicycle-for-kids place. 

Spencer: Our buyer, longest employee. Nineteen years? My first employee, then a hiatus, then back.

James: New, good mechanic, techy, friendly, industrious, and good god, we'd be in a mess without him, esp since Mark's down to 3x/week.

Sergio: Shipper, efficient, accurate, well-trained by Robert (who retired to Hawaii). His record for one day: 150 packages.

Mary: My wife, bill-payer, organizer of many things, keeps us legal, does the ugly stuff without complaints.

Harry: Our Saturday guy, which means he hasn't worked here since Covid. But always ready. He's also a bank VP and super techy, and I need his help now. Harry, get in touch, we can meet up on a weekend or evening. Help in #18.

Rich: Wheelbuilder, best one I've ever known. To call him a Social Democrat doesn't push it out far enough. He sweeps up, breaks down boxes, volunteers to help any way he can. I made him promise me I could eulogize him when, you know, whatever. He's healthy, no worries. I just wanted to be sure.

John: Former GM, now IG + other misc tasks that somebody here, usually me, can't do or doesn't want to. Super part-time, but we'd be screwed without him. Sidekick/wife: Darby. Part of the team up there in Portland. Thanks, both.


Good luck to everybody next year. Trump'll be glad to be out, and I would like to personally wish him many happy rounds of golf.



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