Listen early on, the "book" comment.
Ear-worm alert, and your new favorite song of all time, and I want to find everything about this artist, David McWilliam. This is out of this world, seriously from another planet. OH--he died a while back of a hear attack at 56. Damn.
Here's a wiki link. He was, at one time, David Bowie's favorite songwriter. I can't believe David Bowie'd never heard of Bob Dylan, but other than that, good taste, Dave!
And here are the words. David McWilliams
A tenement, a dirty street
Walked and worn by shoeless feet
Inside it's long and so complete
Watched by a shivering sun
Old eyes in a small child's face
Watching as the shadows race
Through walls, and cracks and leave no trace
And daylight's brightness shuns
The days of Pearly Spencer
The race is almost run
Nose pressed hard on frosted glass
Gazing as the swollen mass
On concrete fields where grows no grass
Stumbles blindly on
Iron trees smother the air
But withering they stand and stare
Through eyes that neither know nor care
Where the grass is gone
The days of Pearly Spencer
The race is almost run
Pearly, where's your milk white skin?
What's that stubble on your chin?
It's buried in the rot-gut gin
You played and lost not won
You played a house that can't be beat
Now look, your head's bowed in defeat
You walked too far along the street
Where only rats can run.
Here's another one:
Yesterday Thurs we were talking about the new bike and how, if we call it a mountain bike, then it's automatically a lesser and apologetic meek one, compared to what that modern mountain bike has become--a technological military vehicle for battle against your riding partners and the land. As a mountain bike, bike X comes off as "retro," which also isn't the point, and isn't fair to it's hidden super futuristic features, so much more than meets the eye, that make it so groovy.
So Roman suggested, and we immediately adopted, "HILL BIKE." There's not going to be a decal that proclaims that. Probably...and it's not going to be big part of a campaign or anything. It's just our way of slotting it between our Country Bikes and modern Mountain Mayhem bikes.
It takes it out of the MTN BIKE category and makes it...kind of...sorry about this, but....KING of the Hill Bikes, since it is the first official one. Hill bike won't become an accepted market category, but we define it, as we can since there's no law against it, as a bike for travel on trails, but not racing or stunts. No tricks, nothing daring to the point of danger, no gratuitous air, or showboating while you're up there. Ha, but seriously yes, that's what a HILL bike is, and from that perspective, we've got several hill bikes (which take bigger tires than Country Bikes--Sam, Homer, Cheviot) in the lineup. Appaloosa, Atlantis, CLEMs are all Hill Bikes. Bikes you pedal coast and walk with, not bikes you jump off high places and do dumb things with. A Hill bike is the bike you ride the way you'd ride if you were on a long solo ride through the hills on a variety of trails and paths and you and the commander forbade you to tell anybody about it.
We take back all past and current descriptions of them as mountain bikes. Even, by this definition, all the "mountain bikes" thru the late '80s and some in the early '90s were Hill bikes. New made up terms have a hard time gaining acceptance and can be irritating if you're sensitive to change and you think it's all stupid, and I understand that. When BICYCLING magazine tried to change "Mountain bike" to "All-Terrain Bike" in the late '80s or so, it flopped and they regretted it. But they were trying to change the WORLD. We're just changing how we describe OUR bikes, and we hope you play along. It's nothing we can enforce.
Will has a 96.5 pbh and wanted a saddlebag that took more advantage of the monstrous gap between his saddlebag loops and the rack. Why waste the air? So we now have the Sackville Baggabond.
Don't look at it if you're short to medium, but if you're tall, gobble up the brand new (? the brand isn't new...only the model) Sackville Baggabond.
Here's Baggabond stuff, info:
don't look at the frame details and wonder. a waste of time.
Here's our new HILL bike. Don't try too hard to read the model name, because it's lower down. This is one of four samples. There will be about 9 changes, but this is the overall bike. Imagine it with a prettier crank, derailer, and shifters.
TNot a fan of this look. There are nice-looking ways to do the same.
This is one of the new clutch-action derailers made for single-chainrings. Of course it works--it's a Shimano. But holy moly. Are there any artists on board, or only cold-war industrial designers? Come on, Shimano! Try a hair harder. Quit these brutish parts!
Shimano XT shifter. It's always an option, but really, Shimano. Is this "form following function"? At what point in the history of things made would this have been considered even 10 percent nice-looking? I know performance or whatever matters more, and the whole world knows that Shimano stuff always works, but Holy Ogre, this baby is an eyesore. We put it on a sample bike b/c it went with the other odd-for-us stuff that we put on it, and we're working out some techy stuff with the SILVER crank and this frame. Solved soon, but just not now.
There's these things again. Good grips, too wild for most. No a good match with the shifters. Should the twine have crossed at the intersection of colors? I go back and forth, but don't actually dwell.
Here's friend Dan riding my CLEM-L 59 in the hills. Note how plaid shirts pop out. Photographer's secret, right there.
When the front wheel goes cocky like that, it usually means the ride won't recover.
Next week, or maybe on Sept 28, we'll announce some winners in the Gus Boots Willsen anagram competition, the entries for which had to be postmarked by today, the 14th. Nobody here will judge it, so you can't retaliate. You can't freeze us out. It's all fun stuff, come on.
Boots is NOT cast in stone as you see it. We have a list of changes, but we're showing this now because we're going to a rare trade show on Tuesday, and it's only fair that you see it before all those bike dealers who think we're stupid and behind the times do.
Here's some stuff I'm still working on, not sure what for, exactly:
Today’s mountain bikes sell to a cross-section of riders, but are made for racing, speed-first recreational rides, stunts, and ways of riding that regard the local open space or woods or whatever’s in your area as a sports arena. They’re designed for battling nature, pushing limits, and besting your friends. That’s what mountain bikes have become, and they’re affecting how people ride bikes on trails.
The Gus Boots-Willsen is NOT a mountain bike. It’s a HILL bike, which is just a mountain bike stripped of the technology necessary for survival during super aggressive riding. described above requires. Boots is for fun, travel, exploring, so it doesn’t need the spring, hinges, and hydraulics.
It’s a long-wheelbase, big-tire, higher-handlebar bike for riding trails. It looks kind of pretty, slightly strange, not classic, and not ugly. It has some design points not found together in one bike, and they make the Gus work better on trails. The difference is subtle, but you’ll totally notice it.
The long chainstays are anti-wheely on uphills, and anti-squiggle on descents. The four-foot wheelbase puts you more between the axles, so you don’t feel bumps quite as much. For rocky trails when the rocks are unavoidable, ride 2.8-inch tires at 25 psi. If you still suffer over bumps when riding Boots, learn to….
RIDE LIKE A MONGOLIAN
When Genghis Khan and the other Mongolians rode horses in battle, they were isolated enough from the gallop to shoot arrows with half a chance of hitting foes.
Good shot, Genghis!
Mongolians are the smoothest riders in the world, the most at home on a horse. They start riding at age two. By five they ride care-free, smooth as Kessler whiskey, one hand on a rein while the other holds a switch, barely affected by the churning horse legs below. Thirteenth century Mongolians rode fast in war and to chase down wild horses for their herds. Eight hundred years later, Mongolians are still on horses, equally smooth.
On the backs of their stout, smallish horses they drape a woven horsehair pad, and on top of that a U-shaped wooden saddle. The front of the U, like the horn on an American cowboy’s saddle, is the pommel, from ancient Latin for fruit or apple. The rear is the cantle, which came from an old word for corner. The high narrow U forms a valley that prevents flopping into the horse’s neck or rolling off backwards.
The Mongolian saddle is nothing at all like the long, flattish saddles favored by John Wayne. John just ambled along with cows looking like a goddamned swaggery bastard red-baiter as he was jostled gently by the slow gate of his horse. In a real cowboy’s life, now and then there’s a stampede, but a stampeding herd of cows coming at you on a horse is like a pack of basset hounds chasing a Ford Mustang on a July night through the neighborhood.
The Mongolian saddle, key as it was, wasn’t the whole trick. The Mongolians use super short stirrups, which enable them to stand above the saddle with their knees bent. The bent knees and large cushion of air enable the riders to absorb shocks that would buck off the low-sitting Marlboro Man, while the high pommel and cantle keep them centered on the horse. To complete the system, they put metal studs on the seat of the saddle — an idea, it’s said, that Genghis Khan came up with to keep his team riding high and smooth. The studs are more less sharp these days, but still remind you to stand.
This isn’t trivia or irrelevant history. If you ride a bicycle on trails, nothing’s more relevant.
There are two fundamentally different ways to look at a trail. There’s a fork in any trail. When speed is your goal, you see the trail as your stage for showing off your speed and skills, and the bumps as your enemy. So you armor up with a technologically advanced mountain bike, and wear motocross clothing to protect you in battle. If the bike you ride has been technologically imbued to nullify bumps, you’ll tend to hit a lot of bumps, because you can. And clothing always puts you in a mood—as armies, sports teams, cops, party animals, lawyers, and rappers know. If you dress like a racer, you’ll see the trail as something that’s trying to slow you down.
When travel, exploration, and fun are your goals, and you wear normal-ish clothes, you see the trail as an ally that gives you access to beautiful distant places and makes getting there possible and fun. What a great ally! It’s still going to have a mix of hard and easy, thrilling and scary, but you can tackle it all with a low-tech bike, decent skills, judgment, and your feet. You can walk the hardest and hairiest parts, because there’s no race to lose and nobody to impress.
Your riding experience is more varied and you’re more engaged with the trail’s geography because it’s less tolerant of a bonehead move. The ride is changed with a less-tech bike, and with a new attitude, you’ll probably prefer a simpler mountain bike that makes you absorb shocks organically, like a Mongolian horse-rider.
The pedals on your bike work like stirrups on a saddle. On a bumpy descent, put the pedals horizontal and stand on them to raise your crotch off the saddle and to make an air gap. Then lean a bit back, and since you don’t have a high cantle to hold you in, half grab/half sit on the saddle lightly with your upper inner thighs. Bumps push the saddle into your upper-inner thighs, not your crotch, and by varying the squeezing force with your thighs, you fine-tune the shock absorption. Your flexing legs also absorb shock.
On a steep descent it helps to lower the saddle a few inches, push against the handlebar (pommel), then sit on your thighs and hang your butt low off the back of the saddle — to weight the rear wheel for better braking. A bike saddle’s wider at the rear, and the flare is the cantle when you squeeze it with your thighs. In an eyeblink you’re a Mongolian!
Your body stays loose and your head stays steady as the bike bounces between the trail and you, the shocks being absorbed by air, thigh fat, and articulating body joints, like a Mongolian on a horse.
Ene ni amar khyalbar yum!
On a flattish bumpy section that requires pedaling, pedal in a harder gear. The increased pedal pressure raises you slightly off the saddle, reducing crotch pressure. You can still squeeze the saddle with your thighs and sit on your muscles and fat back there. It’s a perfect built-in cushion.
On a trail where the rocks are bigger but avoidable, ride in a normal gear but just slow down and steer around them the way anybody with a brain and without a suspension bike would.
When the rocks (or roots or puddles or troughs of dust) seem unavoidable, look closely and you’ll see a way through that’s the least bad, and it’ll force you to slow down to maybe walking speed. These sections can be the most fun, as long as you clear your head of the idea that you really ought to be on a monster bike blasting boulders like a monster truck smashes Volkswagens. If the climb is a dreadful mix of grunt and pinpoint steering, you can always pull out your silver bullet and walk. Don’t even make it a last resort. The point is travel, and walking is mellow — and it feels good to stretch your calves and hamstrings while you walk up a steep climb.
Climbing: A steep hill means a slow climb, and on a slow climb, when you’re grunting along at 2mph, even an inch-and-a-half rock or a patch of loose dirt (that you can easily roll over or through at 10mph) can stop you. There aren’t really any technique tricks to advise you up a climb. If you’re dead-set on pedaling a whole rough and loose climb, plan your route before you’re in the middle of it and it’s too late.
Here’s a single useful tip: If you’re grunting up at 2mph and you’re about to run into an unavoidable bump, barely wheelie over it to maintain your meager speed, instead of stopping. Also, the thing that's stopping you is loose dust and not steepness, ride not your lowest gear. A higher gear gives better traction.
If the easiest way on section one leads to a big rock or loose rut you probably won’t get past, look for a harder but do-able first section that leads to an easier next one. If you ride the same hill over and over and you keep stopping at the same place, try a different route up the same hill, and if you just can’t climb it. You don’t beat the hill when you pedal up it, or lose to it when you walk. The land isn’t your opponent.
The surest way to get up a steep hill is to walk it. Grunt until you can’t or it’s just a drag, then get off and see how good it feels to stretch your hamstrings. On steep climbs, walking is faster than riding, and can be a welcome relief.
On a suspension bike, you pedal and steer, but then hold on while the technology activates below you. You’re riding less like a Mongolian, because the bike takes over too much.
For trail travel and exploration and a lot more fun, all you need is a well-designed and properly sized and fitted mountain bike with high handlebars, low gears, fat soft knobbies, and Mongolian technique.
You should look exactly like this: