Fat-tire dead lift by Sofia.
Here's what's happening in this end of the bike industry--the manufacturing and gear-supplying end:
1. Availability is way down, and prices are going way up. We'll adjust ours, but we're never out to gouge you.
2. LEAD TIMES have gone from 1 month to a year for many parts, and from 7 months to 1.2 years for frames and bikes.
3. MOQ (MINIMUM ORDER QUANTITY) for most of our frames/bikes is increasing. This is not a big deal, it's not going up that much. But it means we may not be ordering 47cm Homers.
4. NORMAL DERAILERS are getting really hard to get. Spencer here is trying to stock us up, and we have some other more secret connections, but holy cow, it's getting harder. By normal, I mean rear derailers that have the traditional 2:1 actuation ratio--a term I hadn't heard of even 3 years ago and didn't know what it meant two months ago. It has to do with how far 1mm of cable movement moves the rear derailer inward or outward. The 2:1 ratio is how all derailers were up to 9sp. The 10s, 11s, 12s move have 1:1, 1:1.1, or 1:1.2.
Don't you hate those numbers, just looking at them and not quite getting it? It has to do with indexing cogs that are too close together. When the cogs are crammed, the derailers have to adapt, and they adapt by moving less per millimeter of cable movement.
Anyway, we're well stocked, but probably won't be selling rear derailers separately unless you have one of our bikes. You can find them on eBay or whatever, I'm sure.
5. We got in a sample rear rack today. A rare-4-us non-NITTO. James will mount it on Will's Appaloosa and we'll show it soon. It's our design, it'll be good.
6. We continue to work on V-brakes (two models, one a backup for the other), cantilever brakes, and a rear derailer. They will be --in my opinion -- da way da big makers should be making them now but aren't. It is entirely possible that we won't see these happen, but for now we're pretending they will. We've put an embarassingly large sum of money-for-us into them, and time, too.
7. We're getting some new rims in about 15 months. That's because we ordered them only seven months ago. That's what it's like. But we'll get samples in a few months. We are extremely happy with the rims we have, but we have to plan for extinction of things we like a lot, because if we like them a lot, it means the higher volume mainstream market doesn't know about them or appreciate them and in any case doesn't buy them. The new rims are made for eBikes with rim brakes, believe it or not. But they're PERFECT for touring, light trail, strong road...with tires up to about 52mm.
8. Shimano Dura-Ace 9sp bar-end shifters are going up like 35 percent. As a matter of fact. This is Shimano's longest-lasting unchanged part in their line. More than 25 years. Ten years ago Mark and I were speculating that it would be killed next year, and here we are now, with it still. I predict it'll be gone in a year, and I'm not trying to be funny. Shimano kills parts that it doesn't regard as innovative, in step with the times, whatever,
9. Coming soon: Pine Tar soap from Finland, handlebar grips from Holland.
10. More sweaters: We sell out of these within a week, sometimes and some sizes, within a day, so we ordered more. Vests and full-button cardigans, made in England of Cheviot sheep wool from ye olde Scottish Highlands. Half the price they'd be from Orvis or Sundance or whatever.
It's nice to get paper mail these days. I've had the same letter opener for 30 years at least, and sadly, it gets little used these days. But then today...
Found on a ride last week, this salamander kind of reminds me of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but maybe it's just full of baby eggs. Photo by an iPhone8.
We're low-keying on the BRF stuff. This is after we paid lawyers to guide us thru it and protect us and offer advice...and it's just so disappointing. The money in the fund will go to its original purpose. And we're looking for another established cause or charity to help along. The unsigned threatening letters are more spirit-breaking than scary, but they are a factor, too. I feel some shame admitting that. There's a gap that seems unbridgeable, and I don't know the best way to handle it. BRF can officially stand for Bike Riding's Fun! It's not as punchy. Bikes Rock Forever is not my style, but it could be so many things. We have stickers and pins up the wazoo, and will put the proceeds in a fund to be used as we see fit, for the betterment etc. of the world...entirely up to us. We won't specify.
This is a hopeful message cloaked in a dreadful story. A three-minute read from the New York Tims. Rich-the-Wheelbuilder send it to me this morning.
From now on I'm going to try to rate the BLAHG entries on a scale to ten, where a 10/10 might be a video of me in the hills of Mt. Tam catching, then cleaning a three-pound bass, then cooking it over an open fire that I started myself Native American style, with a friction bow made on the spot with materials found right there...and my bike in the scene as well.
The video below shows a lyotard-clad young circus rider and the comments on this just like harp on her looks, and oh my god, that's not the deal, grow damn up. Watch the amazing control and be inspired or something. All those circus bikes are fixed-gear jobs with inverted drop bars and super short wheelbases. Toyo of Japan (who made the first Stumpjumpers and the early Atlantis and Rambouillet and Romulus and a few other frames--they also made circus bike frames for ye olde Japanese circus performers.
This is a video of circus riding, but shows you what's possible, I guess. It is amazing, and less weird than the Red Bull stuff.
The best-looking helmet in all of sports has to be the Green Bay Packer's helmet. I'm not a Packers fan. I kind of like Aaron Rodgers. Not a Tom Brady fan, for sure. I think, honestly, pro football should be banned or go to flag football, so they don't do the brain-injury thing, and guys who weigh 154 could play. I saw the movie Concussion, and it made an impression. I don't wear a helmet all that much when riding a bike, but it's not never. I have one that I love, even tho it's not Packers-style, and many that I don't.
Seven percent of MLB are BLACK, and 67 percent of NFL players are. The NBA is somewhere in between. You can't start sentences with numerals.
Gotta love those Packers helmets. I'd wear one in town. I don't like the helmeted, armored-up look on trails. Somebody will write, I PROMISE, and ask me if I like the look of splattered brains. Yes, I love it. I'm not your role model. Don't do as I do and don't follow what I say, except for the friction-shifting stuff (if you're deaf or hard of hearing). Put it on one bike, just one. It's like, OK, type on a computer, but make your shopping list on paper with a pencil or pen. Not a shopping list app on your phone.
This one is going for $239. Too much for me, though it's the best looking helmet of all time of any kind. I know what you're thinking: He just likes it because of the G. Really? Thanks for understanding me so well. I wouldn't like it if the G were a Q, but an H for helmet or a B for Bicycle would be cool. I like the way the colors go together and the roundness.
I kept looking and found this, which spoke to me. I like the forehead and ear protection. That's PalJeff, and on our next ride he said he'd wear it. It's my helmet, though, and he can't have it:
That's Pal Jeff in a 1940 Green Bay Packers replica helmet, all leather.
This is the best rain bike helmet I've ever used. I own this, I am not particularly a Packers fan, but I like the colors. The G has nothing to do with it.
It's like OSHA-approved, 4-point adjustable, one-hand touch suspension--how bad can it be? If it splits the passive safety difference between a bike helmet and a bare head, it's probably just right. I am a careful rider. I still walk down stuff that Dan and Jeff ride down and bail out early on hairy descents, and I tend to think lots of descents are hairy. My skill level, one-to-ten, is a 6. Jeff and Dan are at 7.5, . Will is 9.7 (skateboarding history).
Here's my current favorite helmet, which is now discontinued, because everybody wants the cool kind. I got it for $29. It's a Pro-Tec. They must've thought they had the world by the u-kno-whats when they thought up that name. Double or quadruple meaning.
This is tied for my favorite picture of me on a bike ever, although only my hands are actually on the bike. Please enjoy it as much as I have.
Here's a rare acceptable-looking helmet. It'd be fine for cold weather.
In 1987 Bell had a new helmet with a full face shield. I was commuting to Bstone on trails with a co-worker, Ariadne. She had that helmet on when she crashed, and the plastic face shield cut up her face really badly. The whole "unintended consequences" thing, you know.
I am FOR riding safely, FOR riding conservatively, FOR helmets in general, but I think they increase risky riding, and are not as protective as they're said to be. I have had three friends killed in bike accidents, all wearing helmets, all in crashes that didn't involve the smash of a vehicle. Their heads fell from riding-head height, and most likely, some shoulder or arm buffered the fall before their helmeted heads hit. That explains, partly, my feelings on them.
Here's a neat source for cheap safety reader glasses, cheap helmets and "bumpcaps," which should be here later this week (we're not selling them), and ultra hi-viz commuter and general road riding vests that we all used to think were nerdy and not cool, but I now love and wear when I'm not riding trails, and especially always at night. They also make reasonably priced, hi-vis key fobs, as you'll see later on in this BLAHG.
That's as high as it's likely to get. CLICK HERE.
Damn, the link doesn't work and I forgot what it was. It was in the NYT, tho. Shoot, sorry.
2/10 Keep in mind that I DID write a book called Eat Bacon, Don't Jog, so I consider myself a food-a-thority.
Ye olde coconut shrimp. I always eat shrimp with the shells on if they come with the shells on. You can do that with peanuts, too.
You're supposed to bring a chain tool, but I never do and Dan'll never now not. Don't start worrying about broken chains. You can easily go a lifetime and not do it.
SKIP THIS ONE: 2.3/10
A week ago a day before I had to leave town for a few days I'd lost my keys and wallet. I came to work and looked for almost two hours before I found them behind a box on the chair behind the chair I sit in. I have now rigged them so I can't lose them, or if I do, they'll be easier to find:
The whole wad easily goes in a pack or front pocket, and I don't have to look or feel for it.
7/10. I watch only news, and I hate and mute most television commercials. These two come up frequently. The first hundred times I saw them I muted and went back to reading or writing this, whatever. But after the hundredth times, they got to me. I would like you to watch both with an open mind and an appreciation for their supreme, high-level, subtle inanity. Or maybe I'm going nuts, I don't know and I don't care.
Two random photos of Jeff and Dan.
We walk a lot, even with low gears. Jeff is a strong climber, and the 24 x 36 wasn't low enough for him. It was after tons of climbing, and it's steeper than it looks, and so on. Walking feels great after a lot of uphill pedaling. Always.
All of our rides are hike-heavy. This one is on the northeast side of Mount Diablo. The thing is, sometimes when you CAN pedal up a hill, it just takes the fun out of it. Like, do you neeeed a personal challenge? Do you need a lot of them? No, man. It's not you versus the hill or you versus your homonculus. The trails aren't your personal thera-gym, at least not ideally. This section is loose and steep, better to walk it.
I hear there is some concern over our use of white males in the site photos and maybe here, too. It's because I don't ride with many women period, and it's awkward for a 66.5 year old white guy to ask a younger woman of color, hey, wanna ride, and may I take your picture? It feels so wrong that it must BE wrong.
Good bike riding film photos are hard to get. I have shot at least a thousand riding photos over the past four years, and most of them are crappy. Will and Roman and James and Sergio all shoot, and they also ride mostly with white guys, so that's what comes out of their cameras, too.
We all have access to wives and girlfriends, not all are white, but none happen to be Black, and when the riders aren't Black, it can be hard, from a photo, to tell that they're not white. That's what you call your "scientific fact" there.
Here's a lousy photo of a fantastic daughter, from eight years ago:
We were going to do a whole Hillibike catalog using ONLY women of color. I'd shot lots of crummy photo in practice, and then covid came and one of the women (Sofia) moved away. That's still the goal, but it's not as easy as you'd think. We shoot film only, for this stuff. Say that's dumb or whatever you like, but it's our stuff and we lika da filma.
So it is an ongoing challenge. It will be easier to shoot currently available women or guys-of-color when covid's over. I suppose we could do an all-masky catalog or site photos, and that might be kind of period correct and quirky, but isn't ideal.
Following are outtakes and practive photos for the Hillibike catalog that hasn't happened yet b/c of Covid and bad timing, and one flake-out, one broken foot, and...mostly covid. Warning: Ordinarily I wouldn't put any of these photos up here. Maybe one. I'm showing you to prove we're trying. I'm not asking for advice, or "I've got a friend..." It's not like that. I've got friends, too, but coordinating everything is hard, and the batting average for acceptable photos is so small that the chances of getting one in one high-pressure session are low. THey can't just be OF somebody riding. In the catalog they have to demonstrate something--walking the bike, riding over bumps, or whatever.
This is K on an early training ride. It was mid-day and too bright for good shooting, but it was practice for both of us. She's back-lit, so her face, which even if it were white, would be underdeveloped. Shooting dark skin on bright days is challenging photographically and ethically. If you overexpose so facial details are visible, the the rest of the photo tends to be too light. If you expose the whole scene properly, then the features of the face will disappear in a dark mass, and you're dehumanizing the model by making him or her only a color. If you lighten the skin in Photoshop etc, you're guilty of whitewashing beautiful dark skin.
You might think I'm a dick about everything because I don't like eBikes on trails, or twelve-speed cassettes or the disappearance of friction shifters or whatever, but when it comes to the people stuff, I am genuinely extremely sensitive, and would be mortified if I offended. It would take me a long time to recover even 80 percent of my pre-offense equanimity, and it would just affect me forever. So you can't just say, shoot more __________.
But when I photograph Black riders in the future, I'm just going to expose the whole scene, and if that makes for darker skin, so the heck what. Dark skin looks great. OK, here are some not-good-enuf shots:
A low-contrast photo that doesn't demonstrate anything. It was bad light for photos, but a skilled photographer cold have handled it better. With flash, or something...but I don't like the look of daytime flash.
Technically not good enough. Not enough contrast, it just looks dull...but again, it was just killing film and riding practice. A nice scene, but it doesn't show any of the techniques I wanted to photograph. It's just a rider on a bike. This is E.
Here's a technique photo, showing how you get off the saddle when you go over bumps. There were going to be three, showing three different degrees of this, over different bumps or steepnesses. But then I was concerned about criticism for shooting women's butts. I'd have no problem showing a guy's butt, but I want to be careful with women. Ultimately, we had these shots illustrated (by a Black woman, by the way), and we paid her more than she asked. It was worth it to get around the photograph angst.
This was the solution. Two views showing the same form:
This shows raising off the saddle and moving butt to the rear.
Same form, side view.
Bad conditons for an amateur photographer, and then there's the electrified fence in there. I like the shot, but it doesn't show anything I wanted to show, and I don't want to put just rando-photos in there. K again.
This is E and G. It was nearly dark so I shot at 1/30 second. I LOVE this photo but it had no spot in the book, and it's too special-effects-like for what is supposed to be an informative brochure. Not for publication, it's not good enough and doesn't show enough.
I wanted to drive home how fun it is to walk down stuff, and this is Sofia walking down a treacherous section. It's too blurry. And anyway, we didn't get a chance to shoot final photos. It was going to be me, Roman, and Will shooting. Covid came, Roman left (still best buddies), and Sofia moved north.
I've shot this photo many times. I like the way it looks, all spooky. It's Sofia. But it didn't show anything I wanted to show. Still, I like it. Backlit, slow shutter. It made her hair disappear, but I still like the photo.
E and S walking down. Hasselblad photo, it has that look. Nice sky, orange filter. Might have made it in the brochure, but it wasn't intended to be a final. A dry run, but with real film...so not all that dry.
George has not driven a car in 33 years, yet he can. He gets everywhere on a bike. It's not convenient for him to get out here, and with covid, I don't mingle outside my pod-thing.
I shot it in the early evening at 1/60th second and look at the great the soft edges around the rider and bike, like it's velvet, and the velvet bumps. Yes, isolate the rider, Sofia, and look at how an unsharp photo can look better than sharpness, better than real life, and it was all caught in 1/60th of a second. This is why I love photography. That 1/60th of a second will last twenty of more years. I didn't see it, but the camera I shot it with did.
and this time I like the covid mask too, but it's another one of those C+ photos that doesn't illustrate what I wanted illustrated but that's not enough to make it work for a catalogue. I don't like the darkness of the lower left ground. I always like shirts with patterns for bike photos. The worst is solid black or navy, which don't show any details. This is the best possible bike photo shirt, I think,
You know, it's hard to get rider-models. I shoot Dan and Jeff because I ride with them and they're easy. They're guys and friends, so I can boss them around with no risk of them telling their friends, "That Rivendell guy, Grant Petersen, he's kind of a dick." Dan was a pro photographer for years, and has taught me tons about taking pictures, given me ideas, telling me when I'm in a rut, and stuff like that. He's also sympathetic to the photographer because he's been one, so when I say, "Can you do that again?--I had the lens cap on," or sarcastically, "Thanks for wearing the black shirt," he knows the deal. When for some reason the shutter doesn't seem to work on the Hasselblad, I just hand the camera to Dan and say, "It's not firing, fix it," and he does and tells me the camera's fine, they problem is me.
Jeff is easy, too. I don't think he has tons of pictures of himself doing things he likes, and he'd probably just as soon I shot digital and got him technicolor results that night, but he's a super good sport, and I can say "hey man, go up that hill and come down it on the right side, and can you take your shades off and tilt the bill of your hat up so it doesn't hide your whole $#@%! face?" These guys are easy because I know them and we can play it loose and no sweat.
Riding with new people and especially models is hard. I don't want it to seem like I'm borrowing somebody to photograph so I can tick off a box or shoot for the site or a brochure. Then it's like, hmm, I don't have one of you in my circle, so can you help me out here? And, as a guy, and the Rivendell guy on top of that, I don't feel comfortable asking women to go on rides. There has to be a reason. Guys are easier to ask, by far. I've ridden with PurpleRiv, and that was normal and great, but I know her. I know Sofia, too, but she's in Portland now. I'd ride with E anytime, but there are logistics to deal with, too. I don't have a calendar of planned rides.
I have fun riding with anybody, but 100 percent of my rides are casual, convenient rides with friends who live near me and I've been riding with for years or decades. It's slightly uncomfortable for me to ride with new people if they know I'm "the Rivendell guy." Not always, but a good amount of the time that makes people nervous or maybe they--I just don't know, but I can remember four or five times (out of not many opportunities) that I've been in a group thirty riders and had more air around me than anybody else, and I'm not Mr. Small Talk myself, so I feel lonely and super-conspicuous. I like riding with customers who come by and want to know how to get to Shell Ridge, where so many of the photos are shot. I invite myself to show them the way, a good excuse to go out.
Onto something less emotional, or maybe more. This column was, and still is, pretty good. It's about Zooming. It's upbeat, I swear to god. Do I capitalize god in that case? No offense intended to anybody.
I've been working on an unpublishable book for almost six years. Some of it requires reseach, some doesn't, there are some interviews, whatever. In researching that book of doom, I've bought a lot of books, new and out of print. Three weeks ago I bought a book for $99, an autographed (I didn't know it was autographed at the time) autobiography of Lillian Gish. It pained me to spend that much, but see below. Last week I bought the January 24, 1956 issue of LOOK magazine, for $200, for one article it had. I've never felt so stupid or guilty about any purchase, but it's so easy when it's a click away, and it was not an impulse purchase.
The article I bought it for is below, yours for free. Allow me to channel my dad:
"You goddamn well better read it." — my dad, being channeled.
My dad told me two things in my life that I'll never forget and I remember word for word. One of them was, "No matter how much a book costs, if you learn just one thing from it, it's worth whatever it cost you." I don't think he'd say that about a LOOK magazine, but it gives me some comfort, anyway.
The thing you'd better well read is about Emmett Till. A lot has been written about him in the last fifteen years, but there wasn't much before that. here was a Bob Dylan song, in 1962. I mentioned him in a BLAHG. There have been several books about him. What you're about read is considered the mother lode of source material. It was written after the two guys who killed Emmett were found innocent, and therefore could not have been tried again. They were immune from prosecution, so they had nothing to lose by telling the truth, but they lied to not look as bad, and to make Emmett look worse. The author was aware of the lies, but was driven by money to get the story published.
Let me know if you read the whole thing. Just your name and READ EMMETT in the subject field. If thirty-five of you read it, and don't lie, then I'll feel OK about buying ye olde LOOK magazine.
If you'e on a Mac, you can enlarge it all by hitting command +. Hit it as needed, it keeps getting bigger. Tech tip for the day.
Here are photos of Emmett alive and in his casket. Small on purpose:
And here's Emmett with his bicycle:
I guess I'll include my working take on it. Not final, but something like this may go into the unpublishable book:
It IS Black History Month...