2019-1-January (the year, the order sequence of blahgs, the month)
Posted on January 07 2019
This on the back of Section A of the Jan 7 New York Times, is a contender for the most bizarre advertisement I've seen, and I find it terrifying on two levels:
Is it a problem in this country? The WDA thinks it is. Maybe I'm just out of the loop. The earth trembles, the sea roars / Mother nature signals her power to humanity.
Well, I eat a lot of meat, but even I draw the line at cats and dogs. I wonder how many are consumed in the U.S. per year. I'd put that number at somewhere between zero and ten. That is one scary looking clown.
These next few pictures are from old 1990-1993 issues of Bicycle Guide, a mainstream national cycling magazine, the best one ever, that after 5 to 6 years of publication folded flat and fast one year when its major advertiser (47 full pages one year) advertised zero the next because it didn't get its bike on the cover. Which, I can see both sides of that one, but you've got to kind of admire the nerve it takes to say No, it doesn't work that way."
Of course this headline has a special meaning to me. My whole book was about not Ruling and actually yes, Just Riding. I think EVERYthing that MANY people do eventually becomes competitive and with a pecking order, pits friends against friends even when it's not overt. The most important bike riding I do isn't the fun rides on the trails or the swoops down the road. I'd say it's the trips to Trader Joe's, by far, and also my commute to work, pretty close, but still.
It's from 1990
Can you imagine that race today?
Here's a neat link John-of-Rivelo sent to me, after I'd sent him one that Will-of-Rivendell here sent me:
And here's the one Will sent that I sent to John:
In the early Bstone days I wrote this for Bicycle Guide. It's KIND of what "reach" is about now. There's a typo or something in it related to Z...and I have a better understanding of fitting now, but there's some solid stuff here. From 1989.
I don't want to answer question about this now, if that's OK.
I wrote this sort of wound up a few weeks ago, then forgot about it, and I think I'll put it here, in this OPTIONAL READING Blahg. It was a response to something on the RIV FORUM that I probably shouldn't have taken personally, but I did:
I started RBW with a printed mailed note that evolved into the Rivendell Reader, which lasted 44 issues, and for the first several years it had a feature called Progress Report—a business diary that filled up pages and did double duty as cathartic, venting, self-therapy. I thought the inner view would be interesting to some people, stuff about a new business “run” by a non-businessman. The trials and all.
Eventually I quit publishing the Progress Report because I kept getting letters and postcards criticizing my business decisions well after I’d admitted they weren’t that good myself—which happened more then than now. I’d self-flagellate, then others would pile it on. I didn’t expect that would happen, but it did, so I stopped. Why feed it? But in stopping I lost my own business diary. It was easier to write it when I thought other would read it.
We couldn’t exist without the internet, because our stuff is too different to fly in the mainstream, so I’m grateful to have it. I’m grateful not just for the business that it’s brought us and the employment that supports, but also for the friendships that have come of it. It has been wonderful to get to know people we’ll never get to meet or ride with. It has exposed us to the greatest variety of great, fun, diverse bicycle riders I could ever imagine.
Some of you don’t want to hear about the fears and struggles. I get that, and I get that even as I write the stuff that makes you mad or makes you think I’m an idiot. Some of you, in that group or not, would blast your analysis of why we failed for anybody to read. Monday morning quarterbacking is fun because you can’t be proved wrong.
I have two jobs at Rivendell. In order of importance to ME, they are:
- Keep good people employed. This has changed from my initial “support a family.”
- “Create” useful bikes and bike stuff that wouldn’t be made if we weren’t here.
The two are linked, I think. I don’t think we could survive if we went all disc-brake carbon gravel bikes, or made trail bikes of the kind I see all over the hills I ride in. What’s the formula there? Matte black, slash of orange or chartreuse, six-inches of travel, Fox rear shocks, disc brakes, dropper post, click pedals, micro-brew habit. Plus, as the song went, I’d rather drive a truck.
Nobody who works here would want to work here if that’s what we did. We wouldn’t have a business. I don’t believe our supporters would dig it if we went that way, but I couldn’t do that, anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
Supporting us by buying bikes and bags and jingle bells isn’t drinking Kool-Aid. I bristle when I read that stuff. I didn’t invent anything, we’re not innovative, we’re just trying to dig in and keep stuff alive and improve on it, if that’s possible. It’s just you and us liking the same stuff. That stuff is bound to change. Many of you would dig it if we found an sold cheap some 1993 SunTour stuff, or 1990 Shimano, or came upon 100 Huret Duo-Par rear derailleurs (non-Sheldon spelling in that context!), and might even be sitting tight waiting for the ducks to veer in like that, but it’s not going to happen. Over the years I’ve strayed from that. My own riding perspective has changed. I don’t care about vintage anything, or racing, or showmanship riding. I don’t revere the same ancients I used to revere, and I don’t think of any past era as “the good old days.” I can say I think Shimano hit its functional-aesthetic peak in 1990 to 1992 and that I wish Shimano would make a 1992 XTR rear derailer in Rapid Rise, but what I want now is a fun ride in the hills with friends, or a 20-minute night-time bike ride to Trader Joe’s and then back, solo and thinking about bikes, poems, and photography. Nothing’s complicated.
Over the decades I have become more radicalized in my view of bikes and their place in the world, what they do and their unrealized potential, too. My personal totem pole has death defy-ers on the bottom, with racers on their shoulders…then nonessential commercial adventurers, then noncommercial adventurers, then commuters and shoppers and any other kind of riding that takes the place of a car on top. The whole totem pole is bikes, and in my personal brain realm, I put this whole totem pole (is it non-pc to even type “totem pole”? Probably) on top of most other totem poles, so there is that.
The kinds of bikes I love most are the ones that aren’t about trend-hopping and wowza. They’re not homages or reproductions, either. They’re not market driven either in the sense that they’re designed to sell OR in the sense that they’re designed to fill in a slot that mainstream bikes don’t fill. They’re basically simple, but with visible effort in the design and in the metal. A carbon bike that’s not safe when new and is crazy dangerous when it’s old and is nearly non-recyclable when it’s broken is not, to me, a lovable bike. I know, it’s still a bike. I’m just saying it’s not likely to be an oldie ever.
Here's a discussion in the same May 1990 Bicycle Guide btw Tom Ritchey and me about the trend to lighter weight mountain bikes. It's rainy day reading only. I think Tom's thinking has changed a little since then, but I don't want to speak for him then or now. Mine has definitely changed, but it's not Hilton to Hobo. I don't race anymore, or ride for speed. I've come under other influences, and time.
and in the same issue there were some letters responding to an earlier column by Doug Roosa, Bicycle Guide's Technical Editor. I don't remember what he said, but the topic was rear derailer design, and the detail there is that the old derailers moved pulleys differently than do modern "slant-parallelogram" derailers, and when indexing came about, the older styles didsn't work--so European derailer makers went out of business hand-over-fist.
A modern "slant parallelogram" rear derailer's upper pulley moves downward as it moves inward, staying close to the cogs the whole way. It's a SunTour invention-patent, and they did it a decade or more before indexing took hold in 1985. Because it helps friction (non-indexed) shifting, too. But then, maybe ironically, when the patent wore out, Shimano started copying the slant design, and took over, and SunTour, which was much smaller, sort of lost it.
So there's that in these letters, and there's also the indexing vs friction issue. That's still an issue with me personally, but we set up bikes all ways here except electronically. I must say, tho--friction is so easy with modern chains and cassettes and derailers. There's nothing to fear, AT ALL.
--------- Here's a SunTour ad from that issue, with my notes: