April 1 Squirrels, wine, some rants, etc. No April Fool's joke

April 1 Squirrels, wine, some rants, etc. No April Fool's joke

 THE INDOOR LIGHTING made the silver yellowish, and it's not. But the main shocking digital phenomenon we should all be harping on in this image is how it appears that the SILVER letters are raised, when it's actually the opposite. Who among us isn't a lifelong fan of optical illusions? 



Will on lunch break, letting the food settle and as he settles onto the sun-warmed Zelenskyy landfill bin.


This is what emphasizing "performance" — defined  only by speed, which is totally unimportant unless you're racing — does to bikes. This is racing "improving the breed." All that mass is kinda what you have to do to carbon fiber if you don't want it to flex and break. It's hedging your bets, building in a safety cushion. If carbon frames were built with the same tubing dimensions as steel, they wouldn't last ten rides.

The standard response to a statement like that is that different materials require different considerations, and it's not fair to compare steel to carbon when you're forcing carbon to use dimensions developed for steel. I get that a thousand percent, I agree, it's true. But it still makes a point. On the other hand, if the massive Trek above were all thin-wall CrMo steel, it would weigh more, maybe a lot more, maybe three pounds more per frame...but the penalty would be weight, not safety. 

Bulky frames are the new high-end norm, the future that will continue trickling down its influence to all bikes, even kids bikes, and in a world of bigger problems, it's always easy to pan back and say it's petty and pathetic to squawk about a technology that's no skin off Riv's nose. DOING that (the squawking) is almost defenseless IN THAT BIG GLOBAL KINDA PICTURE. But we get to, and I get to shrink the bubble now and then and say, holysmokes and aiye chihuahua, where is it all going?

But let's say TREK and the rest put their money behind Riv-kind of bikes and then sold them as loss leaders. Can you imagine getting a Homer-ish bike, or a Platypus or anything else, complete and groovy from top to bottom and killer graphics, for $1,000? They could do it. They'd lose money on it, so they wouldn't do it, but they could survive the loss.

They could equip them with RapidRise rear derailers that Shimano would make for them, just re-making the ones they've already made and perfected. I don't think they could improve on the Silver shifters, but I also wouldn't bet against them. Give a Shimano team-o'-engineers a target, then step back and watch them go! The thing is, the mechanism inside the Silver shifters was developed by SunTour's best engineers at a time when SunTour naively thought this kind of ultragroovy technology and all-metal construction could compete against plastic indexing. Still, the little ratchet in the Silvers is probably the finest, most advanced, mechanically beautiful shifting mechanism ever. The only thing it doesn't do is interfere enough to guarantee perfect shifts. All you can dislike about it is its honest feedback, which ironically, is also what's so great about it. It puts you in control, it rewards skill and timing in the shift, and it slaps you lightly in the fanny when you shift at the same time you're tensioning the chain by pushing down on the pedal.

 The world leading bike makers could make skinny-tubed kids bikes with coaster and rims brakes, with 50mm tires and small racks and bags for lunches and an apple for the teacher, or whatever. Now kids get bikes just like mom's and dad's...and that's all cool, too, but it's not AS cool, because they're growing up with an unfamiliarity with mechanical things, levers and pivots connected by cables, and the unfamiliar idea that when you ride over bumps, get off the saddle and let your body, without even thinking about it, become a spring. 


When you ride a bike a lot all over, sometimes you see things you wouldn't have seen if you were driving a car:

I had to ride home to get the Sharpie, or else you might have thought it was a yard-long squirrel and a standard bottle of cabernet. My wife saw me putting this up and said, "Somebody will be mad at you for being cavalier about dead squirrels." I said, "That would be a welcome relief, I can handle that." From a squirrel's perspective, dieing this way has got to be better than getting run over by a car. 



I've loved this song since 1970, at least. Written by Bob Dylan when he was 22. It's a true story. Everybody is changed a little by hearing it once:


Following it is a live 1965 version, where you can see how he blinks as he sings. He's the only one who does that exactly like that.



 Badminton II

I thought I'd look for traditional (wood) badminton rackets, so I could be Mr. Groovy with those and my feathered shuttlecocks. I missed out on a set of four, but the lucky buyer was thrilled with the delivery on her purchase:


That is always our delivery goal, too.


If you don't laugh at this, you are amazing. A 4-min SNL skit.


Front derailer news:

In a recent email update Will referred to an upcoming delivery of a "skeleton key" front derailer, made by MicroShift. We're getting 1,400 of them, because after testing quintillion other front derailers here on assorted bikes with assorted chainring and bottom bracket combos, THIS is the one that works the best on almost all of them. It is not a pretty derailer. It works better than any pretty-ish derailer we can get, and it's no uglier than the Shimano equivalent that we can't get.

Bike component aesthetics now is mostly about making components black so they disappear on frames of any color, like looking at a derailer in the dark. But especially on black frames. I don't want to feed a silver snobbishness. I personally prefer silver. I named our floundering, flayling component brand SILVER as a way to drive it home that we aren't going to make anything ALL black. There may be some black bits. though.

Black became desirable in the early 1970s, when Campagnolo introduced pedals with black-anodized aluminum cages, to one-up its existing all-silver steel-caged pedals. Then in the mid-late 1970s Campagnolo introduced its SUPER RECORD rear derailer with black-anodized knuckles, so you could tell it at a glance. The black trickled down to cheesier parts, and in 1986 when some international monetary shenanigans made it too costly to polish silver  nicely, the parts makers had an easy alternative in black paint

I like "panda" parts, mixing black and silver, like we've done with the MKS Monarch pedals, and like you can do with lots of parts.

("Panda" is the photography term for a silver body camera with a black lens, or the other way around.)

A black front brake with a silver back, black chainrings on a silver crank, black brake levers on silver bars, black bars on a silver stem or the other way around. I don't like it MORE than all silver, but sometimes as much, and it helps make the point that I'm not against all black on bike stuff—not that it should matter what I like, but I'm aware that sometimes it may.

We made some black Sam Hillbornes, and they look great. It looks as good as any color. Black can be that way. I used to not like black Shimano derailers, but I've come around. I can't look at a black Shimano Deore rear derailer and not like it. I look at all rear derailers differently than I used to before we started working on our own. In a month or so we'll have a sample, after two or more years of work. I think the sample will be a panda.

In the gigantic picture, any bicycle is good. All black parts on all black bikes, it's still a bike. But once the bubble shrinks to a bicycle-specific discussion, I start to say things I shouldn't.

All black parts hide the contours and details, and those can be an attractive part of the bike.

All silver isn't always all good, but silver ages better and as it gets a little dusty it shows even more details, which I like. Dusty black looks like dust on black, and it's different.  Do whatever you like, but have at least a few silver parts there.


Libraries, a fun story.


In the "computers can be creepy" department, let's see: I have a Blue Lug hat I wear all the time and it's fading too light for my taste, so I thought I'd die it. I picked a bunch of mustard greens and rubbed fistfulls hard into it until it was green (from light light tan) all over, and it got to be green, which looked good, but I knew (from life experience) that moist green fades to brownish...which it did. Then to set the dye I soaked it in vinegar. All I had was apple cider vinegar, so I used that, and soaked it for 8 hours or so; then I let it dry, and it stank. I figured soaking it in plain water might make the smell go away, and it mostly did, and then it dried again, still a nice color, which had me feeling on top of the world, like a nature-boy genius, wondering "how can I monetize this phenomenal process?" (first time readers note: that's a joke)  But I was feeling good about it.

Then after one ride I SWEAR it lost like 80 percent of its color. So this morning I got out a big can of Hills Bros. coffee that my wife, the coffee drinker won't drink, but I bought it for the can. I like coffee cans, and I like the OLD Hills Bros. cans a lot, but this one, I liked it enough to buy the coffee, and my wife isn't a coffee snob, but she just doesn't like it, so...whatever, I had like three pound of coffee around and thought I'd use it to die my hat again--coffee stains being hard to get rid of and all. I asked her "Do you know where the Hills Bros. coffee is?" and she told me. A couple of minutes later she was reading a NYT story about Louise Little (Malcom X's mom) and she knows I'm all into that, so she said "It references the book you're reading," (The Three Mothers), so I said send me the link.


I clicked on the link and this came up:

I know you're all thinking I'm late to the party, but still, man. One innocent question about Hills Bros, and the computer heard and ...ugh. This is why I'm not into electronic shifting.


About six days ago two friends and I were riding on my absolute favorite terrain in my favorite weather. Three hours, ideal. Mount Tamalpais. There's nothing to see here, really, other than, "this is perfect for ME." It looks flatter than it was, and this came after about 20 minutes of steep riding. So their apparent slowness is both real and understandable, and the whole thing is--what's the rush? Most riding videos you see show riders doing scary stuff at insane speeds, but that's not reality. So here:




One more, same thing, later on on the same trail on Mt. Tam:




 That may never go anywhere, and we are getting aluminum wideners with the-- built-in extenders...but there's a place for these wood things, too. Four per pair.

Probably forever a DIY thing. Yes, I think so.


My normal shopping bike was at work, so I took my Homer with a medium basket and a SlimSucker, and fit a lot into them.:

two dozen eggs, two cans of tuna, two bundles-o''nions, and half a gallon-o'-milk all fit in the Slimsucker, which by the way, we're out of now. But give us a month.

Here it is, packed up.



 James's photo of Antonio. Shot with Olympus XA-4 with FP-4 film at what must have been 1/30th second, and by the looks of the blur, he must have punched the shutter hard. Shooting a 1/30th second will improve most riding photos. There's your photo tip.