No. 29, October 23..with two photos added on the 24th

No. 29, October 23..with two photos added on the 24th

 The bolded part is an explanation. The real BLAHG starts below it.

We have an email update newsletter and a company-wide blog called BLUG, and it's more moderate, less far out there than this one, and by that I mean this is me nearly uncensored, saying what I'm thinking about, reading, and what I like.

You already know or ought to, what that means. The thing is, to me, it's moderate. I don't feel any inner controversy in saying Trump is an idiot or worse. Look how he uses language, look at his policies and values, look at who he's out for and who he doesn't care about. 

The problem with that is that some of you have long histories in the south, and your parents or grandparents carried the burden of being raised in down there when white was the only good. Go back a few generations, and it probably gets uglier still. I'm not condeming your parents or grandparents or you. That does something to a person. I know that deal. It wasn't just the south, either. It still isn't.

I'm not going to be squeamish about my thoughts and I'm not trying to convert anybody. I'm just therapizing myself by letting it out, and the wildest it's likely to get is things like Trump is an idiot and black people have gotten screwed, even by the bike industry. Not you and your family and ancestors are bad.

I don't feel obligated to state my opinion with a counterpoint. I'm not trying to convince you to change your political affiliation or drop your affinity for full-suspender mountain bikes. I'm not trying to get you to dress like a '50s Scottish moor-ambler. 

------ That up there was inspired by a few notes I've gotten in the past week. They were good notes. They let me know I need to clarify that. -----


Yvon Chouinard interview, saving the planet, etc. Please read this.

Everything he said, plus the old car thing, which is where bikes come in, but it's not a matter of getting more people to ditch cars for bikes. You have to make bikes make more sense. The inner-appeal won't work, it can't work. Riding bikes for transportation shouldn't be the high-road option. All you get then is a relatively small portion of the population patting themselves on the back and cursing the rest. I know, because I do that all the time.

The thing is, if you don't commute by bike, it's not your fault, you should feel zero shame, and it's not because you don't care about global warming. It's convenience and time and safety and protection from the elements...obviously. If you're dropping off children or carrying lumber or other practically not-bikeable loads even two miles across a town without a safe place to ride--safe meaning it makes you feeeel safe, even if you're timid--then it's the town's fault.

Why should bikes have to ride alongside cars? In between moving traffic and parked cars that open doors and push you toward traffic? It's insane.


Reading that Chouinard thing makes me think about us here and what we're doing or what we should be doing. All bicycle steel is already recycled and infinitely recyclable, so that's good. Powder coating isn't as protective as wet paint, and wet paint isn't as bad as it used to be, but it's still paint. If it protects a recycled steel bicycle that's fairly green transportation, that's acceptable use to me.

I definitely want to employ people, and we're doing that. Only ten, but the impact spreads beyond the immediate them.

I'm jazzed about the bikes we have and the bikes we're going to add (like the Charlie, and the Hillibikes). Trump is bad, the world is going to hell, but even so or maybe more so because of that, we're focusing on what's right in front of our eyes. One bike at a time, one bar of liquorice soap at a time, and so on. Will the English wool sweaters come? I swear, that guy is either out of touch with any hint of customer service, or he is a conniving genius who knows how to stress me to insanity and is doing that.

His last email is reassuring, but he still hasn't quote a price. We've sold 180 of them at $120 each, taken all of that money, and I don't even know how much they'll cost us. Is this any way to run a business? I should I'd know better.


Are you aware that a Kenyan guy with the super Kenyan first name of Kipchoge recently ran the first sub-2-hour marathon? Naturally, there was some controversy. He used pacers , which are unofficial runners running portions of the race either ahead of or alongside him--I don't know exactly how that works--to give him a pace to keep if he wants to run a record. Speed racers in other human-powered events have done the same. I don't  know what the rules are, there.

But then, his shoes. This is worth a read, and you can draw your own parallels with bicycles, which have already gone far beyond. The author and runner, Amby Burfoot, has a good name for a runner. He's been around a loooong time. Shoot--Will just told me one needs a subscription to the NYT online to read this, and it's a dollar a week. Well, it's worth it.


Basically, competitive athletes and their sponsors are looking for ways to give themselves advantages others don't have, and it's all in the name of progress. Whenever that happens, it's justified by saying something along the lines of, "The benefits will trickle down to normal people. Maybe even handicapped people, old people. Trust us."

They ride the "sports" cool and talk about how it's an equalizer and welcomes all, but then they're behind the curtains trying to gain tricky advantages, to please the shareholders. 

In the 1960 Olympics, Kipchoge Keino won the marathon barefoot. The shoemakes must have flipped out, because he won again four years later, but this time in gold Addidas, or Tigers, or something. Let me see if I can pull up some images for you:



In the last BLAHG I included a short-term link to a pdf of a brochure we're working on, the purpose of which is to introduce our Hillibikes, and also promote some kind of a Hillibike style or ethic or point of view that sharply contrasts the current and future mountain bike one.  In this brochure, I give some riding tips for people who ride trails and might ride trails on plain-style trail bikes, no suspension, etc. 

A customer/reader wrote and said it was old information, that it worked in the '80s, but so much has changed, and he sent links to the sites of riding coaches who consider the latest in biomechanics and kinesiology and bicycles as they help you shave seconds, and presumably also ride with more control at high speed. I have no doubt that there are tricks that allow you to take advantage of the mechanical suspension in a modern mountain bike. But  

They might say "at any speed," but even after reading the sites and understanding the message, I still go back to something I say in the opener, that bikes have changed but trails haven't.  A riding style that works for traveling and exploring on a simple bike (no suspension) has got to be different and probably won't work for riding at your limit on a full-suspension bike.

On one of those, when the forks compress, the front of the bike dives and the head tub angle changes, and the changes have to be accounted for in the static design. If on top of that you're going super fast, the bike's geometry is what's changing fast. The trail isn't even moving. Changing geometry is why suspension forks are so long (to account for the shortening), and why modern rad mountain bikes have head tube angles in the mid-60-degrees.

It's beyond "highly skilled," it's acrobatics, and it is past the limit of what I think of as "riding a bicycle." The question every bike salesperson asks everybody who comes by looking for a bike is, "How are you going to ride it?" It comes to (cliche alert) using the right tool for the job, and accepting that the right tool can be more bicycle and less transfomer.

The transformer bike makers and sellers want you to think their bikes are just helping you realize your potential, they're just enhancing what you got. All you really have is your nakedness, and then you add shoes and clothing. If you add full body armor and ride a transformer, you're bound to take risks, and as you take risks you might, sometimes, be risking more than yourself. Everybody who owns a Ferrari has taken it to 120 mph.

 With a simple bike, the rules of riding safely are simple:

1. Keep the front wheel rolling, because if it stops, you might fly over it. So when it's bumpy or loose, and around corners, be especially careful about braking the front wheel.

2. On steep descents, it's good to put your weight to the rear (in proportion to the steepness), because that keeps more weight on the rear wheel, which allows you to use it more to slow down...and makes you less reliant on the front wheel to slow down. That's good, because a braked front wheel that hits a bump or pothole combines the slowing forces of your braking and the obstacle, and the combined forces can lock the wheel and send you ass-over-keester, or teakettle or whatever.

3. Over bumps, raise up off the saddle to avoid crotch-pound. Create an air gap between saddle and crotch, and fine-tune the suspension by kind of leaning back and gripping the flare of the saddle with your inner thighs.

4. If a descent is really steep, or there's a step that drops you a foot and it's already steep before that, lower the saddle, sit far back, and put your butt as low as you can. This radial technique isn't often necessary, but it is HOW you keep your weight back and the front wheel rolling when the going is hairier than normal.

WALKING is the ultimate technique for Hillibikers on hard sections. Our bikes are all intended to be walked whenever you feel like it.


I got a package today, from not too far away, maybe 35 miles. I mention that because it was more over-packed than a flash drive purchased from Amazon, especially considering the contents:





 It's malachite. It's a mineral, like a rock, and rocks that aren't the Hope Diamond don't need to be packed in styrofoam, other foam, and bubble wrap--all of which were used for these. Plus the tape on the outside.

Without malachite we wouldn't have bicycles because there wouldn't've been wheels. Well--things would have happened differently and maybe later, and it's just hard to say, but here's the story, briefly and loosely, with some speculation, but there's always speculation when you're talking about 7000+ years ago:

Potters used powdered malachite when they glazed their pots in charcoal-fired ovens. Malachite contains small chunks of "native copper," and invisible copper besides, and when the flame is hot enough and it's a charcoal flame (for its carbon content), out comes the copper. It's smelting, and copper was the first metal ever smelted. Later on, when they figured out how to get tin, in a similar process, those guys mixed (in the right proportions) too-soft copper with too-brittle tin and got bronze, which was at first used for weapons, and later, for the first tools used to cut wood to make the first wheels. All you need to know is that without malachite, the evolution of wheeled vehicles would have been delayed, and quien sabe que we'd be riding now.

who knows what.

I know exactly what one in fifty of you is thinking: When copper turns green, it's the same shade of green as this. It it turning back to malachite? Is it related at all to malachite? It can't be a coincidence, can it?

You can go online and learn how to force the green onto anything copper, using chemicals and salts that simulate mother nature. I read on one of those pages that it was related to malachite, but I can't find that page again. So here: If YOU are a professional rock hound or chemist or geologist and can state firmly and put your life on the line as you explain the greening of copper, and whether or not it has anything to do with malachite, send me a note: Subject: Copper and Malachite, and YOUR NAME.

You won't get famous and there is no prize, but I'd appreciate it. If you're a regular Joe Blow and just send me links, it doesn't count.


 SILVER cranks are coming in, and we're also getting a modern mountainish version, with external BB. That's about as "transformer" as you can expect here. They'll come with 32 x 22 rings, and maybe a 30t single ring version also, marked SILVER and made all silver. So, they'll be nice-looking trail cranks, like the regular SILVER is, anyway.


I got another angry letter from a guy who thinks I'm too liberal. It wasn't even for something I said. It was for a link I posted about some republican bicycle advocates in Indiana. If you opened it last time, don't do it again, but if you didn't and are curious:


Here's a poorly excuted photo that I took and I like, anyway:


And here's another from another ride and this time dogless, but again, technically a blown shot, but film always looks good:

It's a Hillibike, and the rider (S) wouldn't have been better off on a full-suspender.


 The anagram contest is in full swing now, and you have till Halloween to get in yours, on a genuine postcard, to me. There will probably be a grand prize, selected by our experienced international panel of three...not me or anybody here. There may or may not be sub-prizes for trying. I'll certainly put up many of the anagrams here. Anagram this:

C H A R L I E  H  G A L L O P

Anagram means you use all the letters only as often as they appear here. You can make up nonsense or other names, or expressions, commands, exclamations, or just statements of fact. Here's the way I do it, with cardboard squares:


 That is not a good one, but I want to set the bar low. No need to be embarrassed about yours.

It behooves you to enter. The deadline is strict, and they must come in on postcards. If the postcard has to come FedEx next day in an envelope, that is fine. 








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