Late April, No. 17 for the year, and all over the map. Hurry down, but don't go "picnic."

Posted on April 26 2019

Late April, No. 17 for the year, and all over the map. Hurry down, but don't go

Risk compensation has been one of my things over the  years. I wrote about it in Just Ride with surprisingly little backlash, although maybe people just got mad and tossed the book and quit shopping at Rivendell, either on principle, or convinced that a certain percentage of our profits (which many years are "zero") go to supporting anti-safety causes.

Here's a motorcycling take on it:

It's worth reading,really. Most longtime bicycle riders know somebody who has crashed and hit a helmet, cracked the styrofoam lining, and said with a shudder, "that would've been my skull." Maybe and maybe not. Helmets contact when smaller heads might not, and bone doesn't crack as easily as styrofoam, but it really does come back to risk compensation (I think). 

That doesn't mean I'm against ANYBODY wearing a helmet. I've never told anybody not to, and won't. I made my children wear one, except Katie during the 600-foot climb on the way to school (she wore it on the descent). But every reason TO wear one comes with the assumption that the helmet is more protective than it is (Just Ride goes into the details about why it's not), and also assumes risk compensation is fairy dust, which it isn't.

If you wouldn't ride without a helmet, that's kind of proof you're risk compensating. 

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There is ONE helmet I love, but it's "a mite too hot" to wear 85 percent of the time. Here's me in it, photo by Dan, who is a super pro photographer, but has been shooting with an iPhone lately, so forgot to focus. This is not representative of his skill, but I love this shot, anyway...because of the helmet:

 Here's that helmet:

They have some earless ones (and we have some of both here for demo rides), but I like the one in the link, with ears.

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Shoeswise, it turns out that I know four good friends who ride in these:

Here's kind of proof. They're not obvious cycling shoes, but they who pedal in them seem to love them. Here's a pair after a ride:

 

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Here are two bikes that may be coming up. 

  

They are anagrams of Gus Boots-Willsen, and are variants of Gus. They're both hush-hush for now, and are among a handful of bicycles I really REALLY want to make within the next year. Can serious bikes have frivolous names and funny fonts?   It's a way of screaming at the way bikes have gone. We're niche-ing ourselves to death, but Sus and Wol make so much sense.

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 I'm a B grade photographer at best. I shoot a lot and try hard, but all I thinki I know is this:

1. If the subject isn't interesting, a technically spectacular photograph can't win it back, it's just proof that you were there with camera. I have shot thousands of these. I should quit treating film like it's confetti.

2. After subject, composition is next most important. Don't put the main things in the middle unless you must, for some reason, or you know you're going to crop it. To the side. Also, don't show tons of trail or road in the foreground unless the texture is super interesting and is one reason you're taking the picture, like coming through a creek or coming down a long bumpy trail or something..

3. Slightly overexpose most of the time, especially if there's sky in it, and if sky is unavoidable and you're shooting b/w, se yellow, orange, and red filters. On a blue-sky day, use a red. 

4. Focus kind of doesn't matter in trail-riding shots, but try to get it right. Shoot the shot even if you aren't sure, if you don't have time to make sure. Focus ahead of time so you know the riders are twelve to thirty feet away, they'll be in focus. Sharp pictures don't matter, most of the time, at least for riding.

5. If you get a lousy photo, save  it by cropping, sometimes tons. Nothing makes a bad photo way better like getting ride of the landscape and showing an ultra-grainy rider. 

6. Have LOW standards. Love at least two out of three photos on any roll. Most people have a hard time saying, "Isn't that great?"  The world in general will reinforce self-criticism, because humility and shame make people uncomfortable, and that just teaches you to hate your results. 

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For instance: Here's a great picture! Look at the ways parts of the bike sparkle! And how the trail comes into focus gradually, and where are the people?  

You can see the whole trail to the top of the hill. I've tried to climb it 75 or so times, and made it once; Dan's made it twice in 90 tries.

He didn't make it this time, but got really close. 

 

 THIS IS THE SONG SECTION. I harp on this way too much, too long, so skip it:

If you're over 60 you may remember this baffling song, and anybody will like the video: CLICK HERE. I always liked it, i just never understood what they were saying.  I've since looked up the words, and now all that confuses me is the meaning. The song was written by Laura Nyro, whose reputation back then was that of an intellectual hippie, a loner and not a party type, above the fray, kind of serious and a little scary and mysterious. I like the song--I want to make that clear. I always have, but it's always confused me and it's been an earworm for many decades. I get to talk about it. I must!

 And here are the words that prove it's the weirdest song of all time:


Can you surry, can you picnic, whoa?
Can you surry, can you picnic?


Come on, come on and surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic (Can you surry, can you picnic?)
There'll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine
Stoned soul, stoned soul, whoa

Come on, come on and surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic (Can you surry, can you picnic?)
Rain and sun come in again
And from the sky come the Lord and the lightning
And from the sky come the Lord and the lightning
Stoned soul, stoned soul
Surry on, soul

Surry, surry, surry, surry
There'll be trains of blossoms (There'll be trains of blossoms)
There'll be trains of music (There'll be music)
There'll be trains of trust, trains of golden dust
Come along and surry on, sweet trains of thought, surry on down
Can you surry, can you surry? (Can you surry?)

Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic (Can you surry, can you picnic?)
There'll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine (Red yellow honey)
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine, moonshine
Stoned soul, yeah
Surry on, soul

Surry, surry, surry, surry
Surry, surry, surry, surry
Surry, surry, surry, surry
Surry, surry, surry, ...

Lots of things going on in this complicated, baffling song. First, there's how did Laura Nyro come up with it? Did another song inspire it? Which one?

And the words, oh my. And is "stoned" a drug or pot reference? It's probably not stoned in the Biblical sense, which, if it was, would make it weirder. It was written in 1968. Is "soul" an African-American reference, or a music reference? What's the meaning of "stoned soul PICNIC"? 

A "Surrey" with an e, is a kind of carriage. It's a noun. In this song it's used as a verb, and is missing the e...and it's not snuck in there once--it's so main in  the song, and look at that ending. Is it worthy? It's not like "...blowin' in the wind," or "We all live in a yellow submarine." I don't get it. I used to think the line was

Hurry down, but don't go picnic, and I'd like a T-shirt with that on it.

 "Trains of blossoms" sounds heavenly, doesn't it? But how did Laura Nyro come up with that? LSD? I just don't know.  And the way the line is repeated. Let me tell you, my friends: Songs like this come around once in a lifetime if you're lucky.

------- this next thing reads a little heavy....

 I may sell some of my shares of Rivendell stock to raise money. I (with my wife) own 69 percent; the other 31 is owned by friends and former colleagues. No weirdoes or meanies. I would LIKE to retain 51 percent so I can out-vote everybody in a major change, but at this point I don't need to. Stock might not be a wise purchase, or maybe it would be, depending on the future.

I've thought about selling the whole thing. To who?

Would TREK be interested? No, We're not a niche they can grow. Are we one anybody can? I'm not fatalistic or resolved. This is my Blahg and it helps me think. I don't need your input, I'm not asking for it, but I understand that it may be hard to resist giving it to me, and so I won't resent hearing anything. If you think you have something of value to say to me, you know how to do that, but for the record, I'm not asking.

I want Rivendell to not get wrecked. It could move to another state, but only if some of the employees would follow it. I'd work for free 20 hours a week for five years even if I gave it away. If I worked more than that, I'd want some money, but not much.  Film money!  I could do as much as I'm doing or way less. I could be an advisor, but I don't need to be. I want jobs for the employees, and somebody who understands what we're trying to do, but could manage the business better and make it work better. Not somebody who thinks they can play off the brand equity and spin off carbon eBikes or spandex clothing, because that's what people want.  

It's too me-dependent right now, and  that may be a problem for any owner. They're not going to want the ghost of me bringing them down or turning them into the enemy. Nobody wants to be the evil demon who bought and wrecked Rivendell Bicycle Works. It's the opposite of a turn-key business. But I would love to see it go on another 25 years, and I don't need it to be my legacy. I want it run well and to employ good people and I want to be the guy who couldn't grow it or make it thrive. That's exactly what I want for Rivendell. We need money and management. Meanwhile, we'll keep as we've been going, and there are some neat things coming up.

May I ask a favor? Don't speculate online with others or Monday morning quarterback this, or give advice, or write "open letters." We're not gone yet, and could be here many more years. It's just that the struggle is getting to all of us.

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The rattlesnakes are out in force in the local hills, which may make some of you who're getting sick of the local riding pictures here rather happy. Yes, good trails, but lots of rattlesnakes. This is a smallish one, maybe 28  inches long overall, with a small rattle. Dan shot it — calm down, snake lovers — with his iPhone:

We saw three of them up close, and half of a big garter snake, whick look like it had been cut in half with nothing less than a square-bladed shovel.

One of the rattlers, a little one, went into a hole in the ground. You could still see it in the hole. When Dan rolled his tire over the hole, the snake stuck its head out and bit it. Way to waste your venom, young snake!

I've never warmed up to snakes. It's the lack of legs, I think. They slither right through your hands, and yes, that is creepy.

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I'm practicing my blurring:

 Dan was going fast and I shot it at 1/30th second. I don't have blurring DOWN, and most of my shots are worse.

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I continue to be flabbergasted in a positive way by MKS Grip Monarch pedals. The shape and spikes are good, but the longevity and relliabiiity and how they thrive with no maintenance. My Grip KINGs have spent a lot of time underwater lately, so I thought I'd squirt some oil in them. 

Pry off dustcap with anything that might work. You may wreck it in the process, but you could be more deft than I am here, and go around the edge with surgical tools. 

 

Squirt any kind of oil in there. This happens to be Phil Tenacious oil, but that's not necessary. If you have it, used it. Then, with the bike lying on its side still, spin the pedal to work the oil in:

 

See how it sunk? Sank? Soaked in?

 

If you have a fresh dustcap lying around and youve wrecked the old one, use the fresh one. We have a few. But instead of wrecking it like I did, do the deft surgical tool thing and pry it off without punching a hole. 

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We've locked in cardboard-instead-of-plastic bike packing materials, and arranged for the wool stuff we get from Australia to come without the plastic wrapping. And we're not getting any more plastic water bottles. Roman has made it easier for us to separate and compost and recycle, and got us going on this.

 

 

G

 

 

 

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