C'est moi chien. Es mi perro. Sore wa watashi no inu desu. It's my dog.
Bike-related stuff below.
I know Will put this picture in the last email update, but I'd already loaded it here, and planned to use it here, and now that I added the stuff on the back of it (you'll see below), I have to repeat the front. It's another bloody platypus. Please do not get tired of them.
PurpleRiv, Ana Candela, is an artist, too. I don't think she's a commercial artist, but I'd encourage that, as I hear it's extremely lucrative side-hustle. I like her platypus, which came as a postcard. Thanks for not wrecking it, USPS!
At tiny I hope risk of burning u-out on both platypuses and anagrams—but where else are you gonna get your daily dose?—she wrote these anagrams on the backside.
Anagrams for: Platypus: Pride o' the Cosmos.
Ana has pointed out that her name is a palindrome. The palindrome of platypus is supytalp. That's what a palindrome is. We should all know the palindromes of our birth certificate names. It's important.
I got Moderna Shot no. 2 and will soon be less vulnerable, but still masking up because they're not sure whether I can still transmit it; and I don't want to be mistaken for a Q. Moderna is really Mode RNA...a little "pandemic trivia" there for you now.
Here's my favorite poem about trolls. It's by Sam Gamgee, of Middle Earth. A Lord of the Rings thing, so...actually written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and I think it's just called Stone Troll:
Troll sat alone on his seat of stone,
And munched and mumbled a bare old bone;
For many a year he had gnawed it near,
For meat was hard to come by.
Done by! Gum by!
In a cave in the hills he dwelt alone,
And meat was hard to come by.
Up came Tom with his big boots on.
Said he to Troll: 'Pray, what is yon?
For it looks like the shin o' my nuncle Tim.
As should be a-lyin' in the graveyard.
This many a year has Tim been gone,
And I thought he were lyin' in the graveyard.'
'My lad,' said Troll, 'this bone I stole.
But what be bones that lie in a hole?
Thy nuncle was dead as a lump o' lead,
Afore I found his shinbone.
He can spare a share for a poor old troll,
For he don't need his shinbone.'
Said Tom: 'I don't see why the likes o' thee
Without axin' leave should go makin' free
With the shank or the shin o' my father's kin;
So hand the old bone over!
Though dead he be, it belongs to he;
So hand the old bone over!'
'For a couple o' pins,' says Troll, and grins,
'I'll eat thee too, and gnaw thy shins.
A bit o' fresh meat will go down sweet!
I'll try my teeth on thee now.
Hee now! See now!
I'm tired o' gnawing old bones and skins;
I've a mind to dine on thee now.'
But just as he thought his dinner was caught,
He found his hands had hold of naught.
Before he could mind, Tom slipped behind
And gave him the boot to larn him.
Warn him! Darn him!
A bump o' the boot on the seat, Tom thought,
Would be the way to larn him.
But harder than stone is the flesh and bone
Of a troll that sits in the hills alone.
As well set your boot to the mountain's root,
For the seat of a troll don't feel it.
Peel it! Heal it!
Old Troll laughed, when he heard Tom groan,
And he knew his toes could feel it.
Tom's leg is game, since home he came,
And his bootless foot is lasting lame;
But Troll don't care, and he's still there
With the bone he boned from its owner.
Troll's old seat is still the same,
And the bone he boned from its owner!
THIS LINK, sorry, is from the bike industry's trade magazine, and the topic (in a series of columns) is the pandemic's effect on parts and bike supply. It may not be up your alley, but it's up OUR alley whether we like it or not. It's either a 1/10 pr am 8/10, depending on how bored you are by this stuff. But basically, you won't just happen upon this stuff anywhere else, so I drag some of it into the BLAHG now and then.
Platypus frames will be near-ready to ship by early April and will certainly be trickling out of here by late April. If you have one on order and you want us to assemble it and all, now'd be a good time to think about the parts. We can guide you--we expect to, we want to, we like to. If you'd rather pick out a few things you KNOW you want and then want us to fill in the rest (requires a justified leap of faith), we can do that, too. In either case, here are some things to think about. Don't let any of this confuse you, and certainly don't think that you're the only confusable Platypus person out there. Specifying all 25 or so parts on a complete bike can be intimidating if you're not used to it, but for us, it's as easy as mouth-breathing, and we do it all the time.
Rear shifter: Indexed or Friction? Indexing can make for a less intense, though less involved experience. Friction is easy but requires a little learning, and while there ought to be some pride attached to shifting in friction, there's little to no shame in shifting with indexing. Ultimately, pick the one that'll make you happiest, not the one that'll make you smuggest.
Shifter type: Trigger, thumby, bar-end, or a combo? We sell shifters individually, so you can mix them, no problem
Handlebar style: Tosco, Bosco, Losco, Albatross, or Billie? I can't imagine a reason to veer off into rogue-land, since all of these would be great Platybars. If you veer off into rogueland, you're on your own.
Chainrings: Single, double, or triple up front? A 38 x 24 double is nearly always a great pick, but you may have a different idea, and we'll try to accomodate. A 42x30 Clipper crank is good, too...
Tires: In 700c (the 55 and 60cm sizes take that) It's hard to beat a Panaracer Shikoro 42 or 48. The Cazadero, if you're going to ride mild trails and want a little knob-help. Cazadero tires are smoother on the road than you'd expect from a knobby.
Cassette: Default is an 11/12 x 36t 9-speed, but so many others are equally smart. If you ride flat and mildly rolling hills, you don't need gears that low. Look at a current bike and see how those gears work. I'm going to say something that's simpler than it reads: The smaller your big chainring, the more you'll use it, which means the less you'll shift to the inner ring. That is a fact, not a benefit or a disadvantage. But if you ride mostly flat and like to go speedy, get a 42t ring, which will mean you'll use more of the rear cogs, distributing the wear more evenly. Don't think about that too much, but do think of it a little.
Wheels: We have Velocity-built sets, f/r, and they're stupendous. If you want a dyno-front wheel for that automatic lighting experience, Rich can build you a pair. You can't pick a stock rear with a custom front. Too much hassle-'fusion here, we not gonna do dat.
Kickstand: Up to you, but we cut them to fit, and once your bike is being packed we can throw one in and let you cut it, but we're not going to pull it away from Steve, rig it up again, measure, and cut your kickstand. I suspect we'll shamefully run out of kickstands, so be prepared to get one locally and do it yourself. We'll try to have them. The frames have kickstand plates, and when you use the plate you need a shorter bolt. We have the bolts, but you can get one at a hardware store. An M10 socket head cap screw, which uses an 8mm hex wrench. We'd rather you mount your own kickstand, but it's better for you if we do it, and we don't mind doing it if we know from the gun that's the plan. Last-minute kickstand additions are an easily avoidable source of funk around here.
Brake Levers: Survey the selection and pick one that's compatible with V-brakes, or let us pick. We have four or so models, they're all good, and the cheapest ones are on many of our personal bikes, and will give you years and maybe a liftime of service. Don't over-think, but do go through our selection and throw a dart toward the lot of 'em.
Saddle? The Brooks pipeline has opened up, but we'll definitely run out. Commit early or buy locally. If you want a Brooks model that we don't stock and you can't buy locally, identify it by Brooks model number and color, and ask us to order it. Do this early.
This is buried on our site, so you might not have seen it. It's a video about forks. It's the Fork Wars video.
Some of you know we're working on a rear derailer. I am not sure it will happen. It is the biggest American challenge in the bike industry, and as much as we like what we're doing, as much as you may be glad we're doing it (we hope), and even tho we've been here ever since 1994...we are still a company of bicycle riders, not jet-set hot-shots in tech and business matters. We do some things really well. We compromise less than you'd think. We go to tremendous trouble to perfect details you'll never notice in a lifetime and we don't even point out. We have not bad-proud or falsely humble, but let me tell you, I think the odds of this derailer happening are one in ten, which means it has a 90 percent chance of failing. It won't shift better than a $25 Shimano, but as far as that goes, a $180 Shimano doesn't shift better than a $25 Shimano, so...we'll be in good company there. But is a RapidRise rear derailer. Shimano has tried twice (mid-'90s, and early 2000s), for two or three years each time, to sell them.
I know it wouldn't come to this, but to drive home the point of how much I'd like Shimano to reintroduce a RapidRise rear--like ANY of their old models, not a new ugly style with a movement that requires indexed shifters, but a real actual exact copy of any of the older ones, or at least of the movement...I'd even take the new ugliness, I'd even take it in all white...I'd pay $25K of family money and we're not rich--just for the chance to buy them and put them onto bikes, even if nobody cares. That's why I'm jazzed about this one. If it happens, it'll cost a lot. I realize the ridiculousness of a multi-hundred dollar rear derailler. I understand that it's classist, exclusionary, and strictly unnecessary. Still, I don't care. I'm going to live 20 more years, max. Twenty years ago doesn't seem like a long time to me, so neither does 20 years in ye olde future. And this is what I want to do. I don't care how many people think it's dumb. I just totally dig rapidrise rear derailers, and so far we have parts of one in plastic, and here it is:
As I recall, I specified a 13t upper pulley, and a 14t lower one. In bikespeak, the top is the jockey pulley, because it "jockies" the chain from cog to cog; and the bottom one is the tension pulley, because it holds the chain in tension from cog to cog. I usually just say top and bottom, but it doesn't hurt to know both ways. Which would you use to make a good impression on a first date?
It might not be fresh news anymore. I think I read about this almost a year ago, but anyway. I remember in 1995, at the bike industry trade show that Bstone didn't attend because we'd shut down a year before, but went anyway out of habit and to make some connections---TREK introduced a cross-type bike called the XO1. They made it kind of continuously for 15 years, maybe stillhave it, I don't know or care, but here's a 2009'er:
At the 1995 show I happened to be in an elevator with Trek's product manager at the time. Most product people (bike spec'ers) from the assorted companies knew one another, and there was some kind of understood bond going on--like, squawking about the unrealistic demands of the sales reps, who wanted more bikes for less every year, or squawking about the demise of something good or the emergence of something stupid that they were under pressure to spec.
Anyway, I knew the guy I found myself sharing an elevator with, and there were about four others in there, too, and I said, "Hey, _____y, what's with the "XO1? Really, you couldn't think of another name?" I wasn't mad, I was over Bstone and trying to make Rivendell survive, but we were in the same elevator, so that was my elevator question.
He said, "It has nothing to do with the XO-1. It's a cross bike, and the X is for cross." Anyway, that probably has something to do with our preferences for bike model names that could be only ours and are unlikely to be copied. If there's ever another Rosco Bubbe or A. Homer Hilsen, then I'll know I didn't try hard enough.
It's not for no reason that England has been called—at least by me in my epiphany on my ride to work this morning, Sweater Island. We're getting more sweaters in this week. Full-button cardigans for the bold among you, because try to find a full-neck-high buttoned cardigan anywhere in ye olde western world after about 1950, when savvy outdoorsmen still mistrusted zippers; and tri-button sweater vests for the less bold average joe. These are made to our specs, and have recently sold out in three days or less. They're not cheap, but are bargains compared to more prestigious sweaters from more high-brow companies.
Here's the vest:
You'd think that all-wool sweaters from Sweater Island would sell like hotcakes all over England and the rest of Europe, but in 2021 those places are packed full of super hard-core fleece fans.
These are beautifully knit and astoundingly breathable. They're perfect for bike rides in cool weather. They're warm enough on flat roads, but you won't sweat up a storm on long climbs in 60-degree weather. They're thick ISH, but not as thick as the stock wool sweaters from the same company. The wool comes from Cheviot sheeps in the Highlands bordering England and Scotland. We had to specify a lighter weight, and it's ours alone. Nice sweaters--you'd expect no less from Sweater Island, which from now on will be my default name for England.
Probably my favorite magazine is The Atlantic. I know there are New Yorker fans and Harpers fans and all that, but it's not competition. They're all good. I know how pretentious this sounds, but seriously, the Atlantic has printed tons of supergreat stories, and I just really like it. Here's something from the latest one. It's short, I promise. I have mixed feelings about it. I am not anti-meditation, but I like how it is written.
Here's a Wiki page on Betty Reid Soskin, a new name to all of us, I know.
and here's a 12-minute talk she gave about buying a house about two miles from Rivendell. Her son went to the same high school I did.
A friend/customer is buying a house in Michigan this month, and here's a clause from his contract.
This I'm sure falls into the category of "innocent oversight, oops--" same as the League of American Bicyclists rescinding the ban on Black members in 1999, after 105 years. I can see how that might happen, but it was an opportunity to make a huge deal out of it, flaunt the mea culpa and make a statement, not just oops, fixed now, sorry, let's move on.
We have this idea of a calendar that allows us to justify Rivendell buying film. The idea is a weekly ("engagement") calendar, so with 52 photos. We're not soliciting photos, that's not what this is leading up to. Between Will and Sergio and James and I, we're covered, and we're enjoying the IDEA of a collaborative effort. The problem is, we want to show diversity, and it's awkward to round up diverse riders for city and commuting and trail riding shots. And there's the high probability that anybody we don't know or aren't related to will not be available at our convenience, will not be boss-aroundable as riding models need to be, and will expect this to pay like a professional modeling session. So it may not ever get out of ye olde starting blocks, but we'll see. We'll never make money on the calendars. I'm not fishing for solutions, just mentioning the challenge.
Here's some writing I like, from a book my wife is reading. She read me the teeth sentence out loud, knowing I'd like it:
I know some of you are thinking I was harping on the Black dentist. Nope, I didn't even notice; sorry to disappoint you.