That's Sofia. It's not the first time this photo has been up here, but I like it a lot. Call me a sucker for striped shirts.
As you know if you read Will's email update, the one he just put up before leaving today (Friday), we'll donate more than $10,000—all of the profit—to United Help Ukraine on top of the $2,000 we already gave them. Thanks so much. They're good T-shirts--we just don't have them yet.
You can wish (as I do) to be able to separate bicycle or anything else from politics, and that bicycles and the prospect of a new rear derailer coming out of here could distract you from all the stuff happening. I've gotten at least twenty-five notes from people saying "I come here to get away from all that stuff, for a break, a respite," etc. I understand that. I "use" rides the same way, sometimes. Like, if I'm really stressed at work (always these days a money problem, but in the old days sometimes it was a personell problem AND a money problem), then I'll put my bike in a higher gear than I like and ride home over hard hills.
Self-imposed suffering is not a way to "sell cycling" or whatever, but it's how I use riding to get away from it all, or whatever.
Riding a bike is political even if it's unintentionally political. When you're on a bike, you're saying, even if you're not trying to say, that you can move your body around, efficiently and with a fair amount of fun, without endangering others, taking up more than your share of space, without using resources and contributing to all of usage of resources.
What have cars become? How are bikes becoming? Who's in control of that, and how are they trying to appeal to us? The first year the first bikes were produced and sold was 1867, and it was in Paris. The same year, not even one year later, the guys making those bikes grafted a steam engine onto one of them to make it more manly. For tons of reasons, that steam-powered bike didn't succeed, but the bug was planted.
Businesswise, unless you're making clay pots and selling them by word of mouth to people in local villages, a certain amount of technology is necessary, and it may seem inconsistent with an otherwise organic-homey-human vibe. We don't have a business without the internet, because we can't reach out without it. As it is, we sell one out of every 19,000 bikes sold in a given year, which makes us "niche." We have to find a way to reach the groovy freaks who like our style...which, to my way of thinking, should be normal, because to ME it seems so universal and friendly and non-elitist. A safe bike that looks good, is comfortable to ride, is reliable, is mechanical, easy to operate, is to a large degree customizable, and is independent of trends. This is what I want in a bike. But I also want our business to have certain values that are more important than friction vs indexing or steel vs carbon, and this is where politics enter.
At one point I think this was Will's favorite song. I heard it again the other night and I really like it, too.
Pancho and Lefty by Townes Van Zandt
Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson do a good job of it, too:
This is where mountain bike riding is going , and that's what's wrong widdit.
YOU HAVE TO SCROLL DOWN TO THE MTB X-GAMES VIDEO, OK?
We got bandanas coming, too. They're $8, MUSA, all-cotton, and otherwise the same as our $5 normal 'nas. They have silhouettes of our lugs, crowns, and dropouts. If and when we tank as a business because we never got the eBike and carbon bug, their eBay value will be more than you paid for them, so in that sense, they're money in the non-Russian bank. They knot like a dream, block the sun, catch bodily fluids and semi-fluids, you name it, the sky's the limit.
Here's a super-rare selfie of me wearing the sample:
I found the pinkish glasses on a hike, and they were1.5s to 1.75s, so I kept them. From March 16 on, we'll TRY to include one with every bike or frame purchase, but we reserve the right to forget.
The Angela Davis quote--which in all of my readings of the past few years I've seen attributed to somebody else, I forget who--but I'm sticking with A. Davis. That quote drives some of the things we're doing around here, including ye olde new derailer.
Sometimes it's fun to see bikes without paint. Here's a 61.5cm Atlantis.
NONE of this means these frames are unbreakable. All frames are breakable.
Our frames hold up really well because we go to extreme lengths and expense to make them harder to break (and yours probably won't), but the thing is, breakability itself doesn't matter as much as how a frame (meaning the material it's made of) breaks. Our frames are steel, and steel can't break/snap suddenly. That is key, and it's what carbon can't claim.
Odd—well, maybe not odd, but an interesting observation is that people are more willing, if not thrilled, to pay, every year or three at most, car-maintenance bills of $300 to $1,000, but some of those same people, not all of them, expect brand new replacement frames if, even after abuse, the frame breaks in 16 years. Or they'll want their repair bills completely covered.
On the right there is Tom Ritchey in 1980 at 24 with an early-for-America 650B bike originally made for John Finley Scott, as part of a batch. This one fits Tom, so maybe he kept one for himself. Of course, I'd now recommend he raise the stem or get a new one altogether, and reconsider the handlebars, but the drop-bar alternatives were few back then. Have you noticed that the other guy has only one glove on? This was before Michael Jackson pulled the same schtick a few years later. Our G.O.A.T. gloves, swear to god, will be here next week.
One fellow in the Pac Nor'West owns 20 early Ritcheys. This is one of them, also from the same batch-o-650B'ers.
This is not to say, nor is it Tom's claim or contention, that he started the gravel bike scene, or made the first gravel bike. The KINDS of bikes they are, high-clearance roadish bikes maybe slightly stretched, are great, but the "gravel" thing seems weird to me, because I'm betting they travel mostly on roads and dirt trails, not gravel. It's all fine.
We're GETTING some PeaceWheelUkraine buttons, too. By March 9, I think. We pay the high-schooler $1.50 each (it comes to about $60 an hour on a good hour), but the work is terribly irregular. On top of that, we bought the machine, the blanks, the software that makes it easy...and since this IS a charity thing, we'll sell them for $6 each.
BLOOD-SUGAR NEWS (ignore if you're not into blood sugar)
Exercise burns it up (good) but temporarily spikes it. I am not diabetic, but I did writing a book called Eat Bacon, Don't Jog, and I admit to being something of a crackpot when it comes to obsessively testing my blood sugar. We all know people who've died of "complications related to diabetes," and I've known several. So I pretend to be diabetic, with the whole test kit thing: a finger pricker, a test strip, a meter. The One-Touch brand is my personal favorite—FIVE STARS!!!—but my point here and now is that when I left home this morning, my glucose score was 70. I rode in, it took me 15 minutes, and that was broken into three all-out hill sprints with short breaks in between, for a total of 3:23 full-blast efforts. And 40 minutes later, my glucose is at 90.
I do this a lot, that's what I expected, but it's worth knowing about if you are actually diabetic and you test your blood after exercise. Maybe you already know that. The thing is, don't get discouraged.
I have two daughters, and since the beginning we've had the deal where instead of buying their parents stuff for birthdays and holidays whatever, they had to make something or perform something. We've gotten a lot of bookmarks (early years) and then in the later years, illustrations, paintings, photographs, memorized poetry recitations (Prufrock one year), and ... well, my youngest (26), is still in school, and to my shock and inability to understand, loves karaoke, so I asked for her to do Norman Greenbaum's Spirit in the Sky, and she had to kind of mime it, too—as part of the gift. She's been busy with school, and is months late with this, but I don't care. Here it is, from two days ago. She said I could show it to others. I'm sure she thought I ment a couple of friends and some co-workers, but she's also too coo to care if it goes up here:
She rides an early Riv mixte with Bosco bars and friction shifting, by the way.
FLASH, as in this just in from Kent P.:
Bordering on irritating trivia: WD - water displacement, and 40 because it was the fortieth formula that worked. My grandmother used a lot of it, and famously always called it "dubya four-D," and that's how we've said it at home ever since.