No. 20 for the year, I think. Ye Olde Augusto: Olympics, competition, Grocery Guy, and Mr. Boffo


Simone Biles won the best bronze medal ever. Great press conference, but maybe you've had enough Olympic stuff, and .. I know, you don't come HERE for THIS.

A lot of this BLAHG is a rant against competition and the Olympics. There'll be something for anybody to hate, but there's other stuff, too. Don't take it too seriously, it's just random thoughts. Maybe I'll disown them next week.-----

The link to the peace wheel charcoal/gray shirt in the eMail update Will just sent out doesn't go to the charcoals. THIS ONE DOES. Or should.

Here's part of a page from RR23. To view it best, click on it and hit COMMAND+ to enlarge it to the point where it's big enough to read but not too fuzzy to read:

 

We found some old Rivendell Readers and I've been picking them up randomly reading them a little here and there, and they're not bad. The thing is, I remember those days so well, and they remind me that we were always about 45 to 60 bad money days away from collapsing. I thought people'd pay more for the Readers than...was the reality, and holygoodgod they took a lot of time, because I'm slow and bad at layout. Will is putting some up on the site, $5 each, and we would like to sell a few, because in the absence of bikes to sell, we have to do something. They're all worth the price of a cup of boutique coffee, I promise.

If you'd rather read for free and we don't have that many back issues anyway, so there's a built-in reason to not pay, click on this:

http://notfine.com/rivreader/

 

----

This is as good as cheese gets, at least soft cheeses. It's as good as Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam but costs less than half and everybody lives near a Trader Joe's, right?

------

How to tell when you're dealing with somebody whose childhood friends gave him a nickname that followed him his whole life. This is a bench on one of the local rides, in Shell Ridge. No disrespect to "Rick Shaw" intended.

----

Meet Mister/Ms.Smart Helmet: Angi

Wear one of these and let 'er rip.

Closest relevant song link.

I find the slick studio choreography annoying, but from 2:04 to 2:14 is the same I wonder about the helmet.

--------- 

Platypus movie, super short

-------

Shoes.  

Try these.  Yikes.

Or: Crocks, Teva, flip-flops, Keens, Bedrock, Chocos, Chuck Taylors, Altra Lone Peaks or Graftons or Grabton or something like that, Blundstones, Vans, Adidas Samba, Zero, Sole Rebel Surge aby, Birkenstocks, Jack Purcells. I didn't just pluck them out of a random hat--I know people who ride in all of these and ride a lot, and there are literally-actually hundreds more that work as well.  Somebody sometime will hurt a toe while riding in sandals and maybe I'll hear about it and maybe they'll switch to steel-toed shoes and tell others to, too. The importance of the shoe-pedal connection is the most exaggerated thing in all of sports, and it keeps riding a bike freaky for a lot of people, as do special clothes that send the message that this is what you need to don to ride a bike seriously or safely and comfortably. People like their shoes, I like MY shoes, but all they can do is Not Slip Much and Keep the Pedal From Poking your Foot.  The flimsiest shoes I own are these:

These are Zero, or maybe they're Xero, I don't know. They were something like usually $55 on sale for $25, so I got some. I ride them on Monarch pedals and I can feel the stubby spikes, but they don't bother me, and not that I care about performance, but I did my my fastest hillyroute commute time and my hardest trail climb in them, and it doesn't even matter, but the point is, shoes almost don't matter. Somebody will write and tell me a foot-injury story that could have been prevented, if only the shoes were different.

--------

Competitive pedestrianism in England in the late 1800s.

And for more on Frank Hart, the Haitian American guy. 

-------

This next section is me sorting things out for myself, and I am not using ye olde Reverse Psychology when I say SKIP IT. Scroll down to the Jamaican Leaper image, and go on from there. This entire BLAHG is worth what you paid for it, keep that in mind.

This is what's wrong with competition. "My goal is to beat you" seems a little shallow or unworthy and not a good message for these country v. country times. Competition's "value" as entertainment is not what I'm questioning. But so many sports get freaky or dangerous or unhealthy.  Like the walking story up there, they begin with a practical aspect, and ramp up as they become friendly-competitive, then get worse when money and fame are at stake, and get bizarre when celebrity becomes part of the prize.

In any competition where there's an equipment component, rich countries have an edge. In the 1976 Montreal Olympics, some riders rode $300 bikes. All equipment should be equal. How many countries have access to surfable waves, Olympic-sized pools, how poor can u be and still ride fancy horses in a fancy manner dressed in fancy clothes? Is horse-polo in the Olympics yet? They should have Olympic-approved bikes or bows and arrows and and everything else.  Isn't that more fair? Have the archers make their own bows and arrows. Or at least provide standard equipment. 

Here's another fun idea. For team events, have a random selection of teammates from four or eight or five countries. Yes, foster that ol' world peace/cooperation thing this way, not just "let's all beat Russia" or whatever. 

Or for 4x relays, have them not only international teams, but also by combined weight, like the 4x100 mens with a minimum combined weight of 800 lbs, with at least one runner having to weigh 240. I haven't thought this out and nobody's going to do it, but wouldn't it make the events more interesting?  Basketball with an average height of 5-11 and a maximum height of 6-2. It would rule out pros and be better for that. The American pros don't need gold medals.

 China is messed up in its approach to the Olympics. They take two-year olds and run them through some strength and flexibility tests, measure their limb-length and get doctors to guess their future body dimensions based on genetics, and then take them away from their families and put them in special schools that ignore the three R's and focus on winning Olympic medals a decade to two later. Should that be internationally legal and should ye olde IOC allow it?

Here's a recent NYT story on it. It doesn't mention tot-testing, but I read about that a few years ago.

International competition seems like a passive-aggressive way to go to war with foreigners.

There must be a human density level at which competition stops making sense, and if there is, we must be there.

I am sucked into it all too, on certain events, the ones determined by tape measures and stop watches and not fuddy duddy judges.

Competitive sports are natural in the "inevitable" sense, but not beyond that. Do other animals compete? For mates, yes, and people do, too, and sports are part of that. 

I, personally (this this is a free personal cathartic, anything-goes BLAHG, keep in mind)--I personally, just ME, think competition does more harm than good. I don't buy that it teaches teamwork, for one. It teaches competition. There may be a cooperation component, but it's mostly competition.

Does the teamwork in team sports transfer into working as a team in business or whatever? 

What sports did Steve Jobs play? Bill Gates? Rosalind Brewer?

A Tragic Fantastic (in the fantasy sense of the word) Story of Two Belarusian Olympians: Ivan and Nikita

Ivan is the 31-year old heavy favorite, in his last pole-vaultin' Olympics. He won a couple of Silvers in previous Olympics, but ye olde Golde has eluded him, and here he is now in his last Olympics. He is a schoolteacher and a father back home, and builds homes for Habitat For Humanity. Need I mention that he is the rare self-taught pole vaulter?

Nikita came out of nowhere two years ago, took up pole vaulting on a dare. and made 12 feet on his tenth attempt. He doesn't care about the pole vault, but is a kind of  prodigy / enfant terrible in it, and has the world's best coach. He regularly gets in imbroglios in bars back home. He has sponsorships up the wazoo. He is cocky and his real passion is women, drugs, and guns. He is rich and recently started his own line of clothing for women, and he is abusive to his models. He has made fun of Ivan's special needs son.  Got the picture?

Nikita is the only person in the world that Ivan doesn't love, but Ivan is forgiving and has never spoken an ill word about Nikita. He sincerely wishes him well, and sees his "issues" not as character flaws, but as growth opportunities.

In this Olympics, Ivan has "jumped" (pole-vaulter language for "pole vaulted") two inches higher than his previous best. (What's Oly-quality for a pole vault? Let's say it's 27 feet). Nikita cleared 26' 10-" easily on his last try and ripped open his jersey to rev up his band of rowdies back home watching maskless in the local bar. So had to get another one (jersey, singlet, whatever), and now he's trying 27 feet.  Does Ivan root for Nikita?  Maybe that's a little extreme. Is competition making him root, even if silently, against his teammate? Here's a better example:

On a team sport like baseball, there's always inter-team competition, like for highest batting average or fewest errors or whatever. I can assure you, at least I think I can, that when you're neck and neck with somebody else on the team for the highest batting average, and you're 0-for-4 in a game your team is behind or ahead by five runs in the ninth and there are two outs, two runners on, and the guy you're tied with is up, you don't necessarily want him to get a hit. Better he walks and whoever is up next gets the winning hit. These are the evil mind-games that competition plays, how it drags you down as a human in your weakest moments.

Imagine how it is at the Olympics, where post-Olympic endorsements and jobs are at stake. In some cases you probably have to change your personality, because potential sponsors want you to be bursting with the vibe that'll strike a chord with their customers. Or they want to associate themselves with a hip snowboarder because their business is fuddy-duddy otherwise. Their customers are aging and dying off or just not buying enough product anymore, so they hire the snowboarder to get in with the teens and twenty-somethings. 

----------

Competition among manufacturers has a parallel effect. First things get better as one learns from another, and good ideas combine until everybody has good cameras or bikes or whatever. Then, after the widgets are, let's be real, as good as they need to be for anything, the competition among manufacturers continues and bikes get super weird, impractical, ugly, and dangerous. Carbon bikes are the best example, and going for lightness beyond any practical amount of it:

You've seen this by now, but in case you haven't. Broken 3D  Printed Titanium bar in the Olympics.

I assumed it was carbon, but have been corrected. It's 3D printed titanium. Still too light.

Would the team pursuit be less exciting a race if everybody rode, instead of 16lb bikes, 21lb bikes with steel forks and aluminum handlebars and aluminum rims? Or even 30-lb bikes. A close race is a close race, and they're still gonna go fast. Give 'em gear that won't brake and is more accessible to all, not secret stuff developed by military think-tanks by a team of scientists sworn to secrecy. It's been close to that. The gear-emphasis is how unathletic designers and mfrs can feel like some of the medals are theirs.

----

My own feel-good Olympic happenings are, in random order:

1. Simone Biles saying NO, which may have combo-saved her sanity, saved her body, and opened the door to Suni Lee, the Hmong girl, and saved future athletes from sucking it up to their peril. Has competition been good to Simone Biles? Moneywise yes; in every other way, maybe not. Her NO moment was a huge personal growth episode that took her from a puppet to a person, and way to go. The most important bronze medal ever one, the one better than any gold.

2. Guess who won the men's Rugby gold? New Zealand, famous for its ruggers? England, the U.S., Russia or whatever it's going by these days? Ireland, Scotland, famous for oversized athletic beer-guzzling white guys? 

No. These guys. Again.

Fiji, according to my expert sources, is smaller than New Jersey, which means just about nothing to us Californians. That's why we're so hated. But Fiji won the gold in 2016, too, so I guess, to my eternal disappointment, it wasn't a shock that the won this time, too. Maybe Fiji's athelete-development tactics are like China's, but with a Coral Sea twist.

 3. Lydia the 17-year old Alaskan who won a gold in one of the events.

SWIMMING seems like a fairly big sacrifice of personal and family time. It's super popular, so it's rewarding enough to be maintained, but it still seems like a lot of time removed from the action. Katie Ledecky has been at it a while. I'm glad for her, maybe she'll get the endorsement stuffs, but it seems to me that swimming, more than any other sport, dunks you underwater and takes you out of the experience of life more than any other sport.

The hours/years, the driving, the personal and family sacrifices, the repetition, and it's not like you can talk to anybody. It's not like the thrill of being fishlike remains. It's not like you can contribute even your presence or the most minor anything else to anybody else while you're doing it. It takes personal and family focus to pull off, and maybe it's worth it for the family and the family's swimmer.

The camaraderie before and after events, the families talking to other families while the kids are thrashing about in the pool. It's not my world and I could be way off, but Katie Ledecky has swum almost 23,000 miles in her since she was six.

She's 24 now. Eighteen years, 22,750 miles is 1,263 miles a year (rounding DOWN). Divided by 365 is 3.5 miles a day (rounding UP). She wasn't doing that as a pre-teen, so maybe it's 6 miles a day now, at 1.6 mph is 3:45 per day--but again, that's at 1.6 mph.  How fast was she at six?

Whether it's 3:45 or 4:20 a day--let's say it's 4:00 per day x eighteen years--that's three whole years of 24/7 swimming. That's a lot of time to be away from books, bikes, conversation, stimulation, observation, and so on whilst ye old noggin's in the water and your eyes are looking at the black tiles down there. Three hours and forty five minutes of swimming per day...well there are still 20 hours left in the day for transportion to and from, showering out the chlorine, and so on.

She just announced she's going for 2024 and maybe 2028, too. This tells me she likes it. Glad to hear it. Lots of head in the water, though.

Silver medals suck.  <--More glory stories about competition..

 This was the highlight of the Olympics, in case you didn't see it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjSCT97GSsA

------

And can there be any doubt that bronze medalist in women's 100M hurdles Megan Tapper of Jamaica, with these legs but no cycling experience at all, could have podiumed in a handful of cycling events, too? 

Would you would bet against Ms. Tapper in a bicycle sprint? In a game of tag?

She's not apologizing for no Gold. This is the way to come in third.

-----

Kind of related to that is, I'm a Mr. Boffo fan.

And here is my favorite Boffo of all time:

It takes a while.

This cartoon from the current New Yorker (with an Ann Patchett story) reminded me of it:

 

and here's another from the same issue:

 ----------

At work here, we're going to work on our videos. James and Will, I guess.

----

In several months we're going to get a 13 x 42 7sp cassette. It will have advantages for some people some of the time. It will be too practical for commercial success. It's hard to buy a 42 in anything. I did NOT NOT NOT say impossible, but it's hard. I'm riding a 12-36, and I'm kind of afraid that if I go to a 42 I'll get weaker. I think that's stupid, though, and I can always block out the 42 and have my 6th position 36. I don't think anybody needs an 11t or 12t small cog on a trail ride, and even on the road, kind of hard to make that case. Most descents out here are gravity descents, where you don't pedal. Any descent that has you spinning out your 12t cog...or 11t..well, you're going pretty fast, you need to slow down. If your descents are gradual and a lotta the roads are flat, then fine.

-----

 A friend sent this screenshot from a standing-desk maker in Portland. It looks like ours, doesn't it? It does to me, and if it does to me, it must. An Appaloosa! That's what it is. We did that color in a Clem, which it isn't, and the Appaloosa.

 --------

Our rear derailer project, the longest-shot in the bike industry in the last twenty years, is moving along. Other projects and "things coming in soon"—

• Jim's GOAT gloves. Single-layer, undyed hand coverings that don't feel like gel pacs and have 85  percent organic cotton mesh backs, whatever "85 percent" means in that context.

• a new rear rack. It's not as cheap as we'd hoped. We designed it and sort of got sucked into features and material stuff that jacked up t he price, but it's a really good rack, even tho Not Nitto.

• something called a UniPender. And, maybe a SUSPENDER kit for DIYers, or maybe we'll put them together. Come on, you guys, you can do it! Fun and easy, but I guess you have to get over the pender-hurdle first, and that's a biggie. I think I'm the only one here who's there, and I am a lousy role model. But I really likem. They're dumb fun.

-----------nay HAW vay----------

 • We bought the everlovin' last RapidRise derailers we could find anywhere in the world. From England. Until and assuming we make our own, we're going to limit them to whole-new-bike buyers. They're the same one I have on one of my CLEMs. I think it's the rear derailer that Shimano put all of its brains into, and it flopped in the market. It's a big mother, but not that heavy, only 13.6 ounces. Multiply that by 28.35 to get grams. An Acera 9sp weighs 8.8 ounces, 4.8 ounces less. The Acera is a great derailer, but if you're shifting friction, that extra 4.8 oz is the best 4.8 ounces you can spend.  They look like this, mounted on a sample bike:

 This was, in its day in the early '90s, Shimano's least popular rear derailer, which doesn't say anything bad about it as a derailer. I think it is Shimano's best design ever. Throngs may disagree, but they don't know as much about it as I do because they haven't used it and inspected it as closely.

Being an expert on a derailer is nothing to brag about, and I'm not saying I'm the world's smartest expert on it, just that I know more about it than people who don't think it's Shimano's best design ever. Ha. I bet Shimano thinks it is its best design ever. The THINGS they put INTO it, the details.

Yes, it's a biggie, but it was made for middle-aged wealthy rookie hybrid-riders, not weight-obsessed racers. That "market" may not define you and it never defined me, and it wasn't a crutch, just an extremely well-thought out derailer developed by the best derailer team in the universe of all time.

The plastic on the outer cage, big deal. I don't know why they did that, but they had a reason. Metal would be better, but there are so many fanstastic brains in this design overall, that you can't just say "aha-gotcha! Plastic!" The pulleys are big, the cable routing is 90-degrees, not 180 degrees, the little cable-wheel is neat.

The name "Nexave" is bizarre but typical Shimano overthink. I suspect it's supposed to be pronounced with a hard X and a long A, but at Bstone, when this came out in '92 or '93, one of the guys pronounced it with a  (I think I've told this story before, but I write and delete a lot of stuff I think it dumb, so maybe not) "nay-haw-vay" as a joke, and that's gotten a new life here at RIV, that's how we-all say it, too.)

By the time we receive them, which we haven't yet—actually, they arrived TODAY!—they'll have cost us $45 each, and we'll sell them for a lot more than that, and will reserve all but 22 for new bike buyers. Lots of derailers cost more, none are better unless you want the clutch and to save a few ounces. For friction shifters, holygoodgod, this is a remarkable derailer. You can't rate it by ITS performance any more than you can rate a computer by the drivel you produce on it, like a lot of this BLAHG.

-----

This is a page from an old Rivendell Reader, No. 44 I think:

 Here's that link to the whole archive:

http://notfine.com/rivreader/

--------

This BLAHG, like Simon Biles's pulling out of most of her events, is a mental health thing. I hope you like it but you don't have to. I hope reading it hasn't been a waste of time, but there's always that chance.

One last thing I hope you take seriously:

 It's the Grocery Guy Fund. A local grocery store checkerouter guy who happens to be

 BIPOC, works 60 hours a week, has  physical challenges, wants more than anything to put a down payment on a house, is hooked up with (you don't need to click on this link unless you want to find out prob more details than you need to know) NACA, a super duper organization that helps PENCIL-types get good deals and good mortgage rates...he's trying to save for a down payment before prices go super nuts. He's looking at lower-priced homes closer to his jobs (has two jobs), and we're trying to help him get there. We couldn't legally do the BRP. Had to cancel that. This is one thing we CAN do, and it concentrates efforts and money on ONE GUY, the GROCERY GUY, and will make a huge diff in his life, and his next generation's lives, too. For each Peace Wheel shirt you buy until the end of August, we donate $14 toward his fund.

And, if you hate T-shirts but still want to help, you can buy these Grocery Guy Fund units for $10 each, and for each one you buy, we'll throw in $5, up to our maximum contribution of $2,000. If the GGF purchases total more than $4,000, I'll kick in some from the old family account, up to another $2,000. That'll tap me out.

Here's a link.

This is what happens when you're 67 and start thinking a lot of things are going to hell, so you just say

"#%$@ it, let's do something far out and good."

Join ye olde party, before August 31. I'll report on the results. Ten bucks—small deal for u, big deal for him. We can do this, right? A fantastic flash-in-the-pan, a lifechanger, a group effort that is likely to pay off for generations. It starts here...until the end of Augusto.