I got this in my inbox, and then laughed a bit, before having a deeper look. Zipp introduces a brand new ground-breaking technology, which looks really cool when you consider reinventing the wheel. I think they would have me believe that their new wide low profile rim is a completely new invention. They call it "3Zero Moto", and what it really is is the wheel from my 1956 three speed. OK, so it's not steel... What it also is, is a four year-old HED Carbon Fat Bike rim, or for that matter, any rolled rim from any shitty ten-speed circa 1960; Given, it's carbon. Here we see the very bleeding edge of marketing hyperbole, without a nod to it's forebears. Let’s take a closer peek, shall we? The revolutionary rim profile has a rolled or beaded edge, and no box section -- That's true. The breakthrough concept likely has a nicely locking bead for tubeless, and it perhaps costs way less to make than it's now obsolete analogous box-sectioned rim, because it's no longer necessary to accommodate flats for a rim brake, (shown below). Is it a break-through? In Fact, excepting the rust, and sharp edges, the Schwinn S-6 rim profile with rusty spokes poking through a dried up crusty rim strip is the Chrome-plated version of the new and revolutionary Zipp Concept called 3Zero Moto. The marketing goes on the mention the flex as being a bit more like suspension. Really?, it has travel? Perhaps not, but will you want to buy some? Sure. If you need a new wheel-set, then maybe these are for you. My guess is that they won’t do anything for you that brand “X” could not; But they are pretty carbon hoops laced to a nice hub. Groundbreaking? Nah!!, A placebo perhaps for people who need to believe in something new. But if you have a giant tire, soaking and smoothing the terrain, conforming and compressing under all fare of root and rock, is the wheel really changing the game? It seems the wheel is doing a fare bit of flexion, but the "Science" here is a bit of an over-reach.
Zipp Science: Lateral stiffness – In a sharp turn, the rim remains stiff, providing confidence that the wheel is firmly planted. Zipp’s wide hub flanges provide better spoke-bracing angles which help to increase the lateral stiffness.
Torsional windup – When torque is applied to the rear hub when pedaling, you don’t want the spokes to create a spring-like flex sapping your wattage. Having 32 spokes at the right tensions keep the wheel constrained during windup, meaning the energy in your legs is efficiently transferred to your rear wheel.
Radial Compliance – When you hit a rock, the system is designed to act as a shock absorber. Zipp’s MOTO Technology allows the rim to flex, which absorbs the impact energy and spreads it away from the impact zone for increased durability. In essence, more of the rim carries the load from the impact.
“Ankle” Compliance – Imagine a runner rounding a sharp turn, the ankle naturally flexing to maintain grip as the runner leans. The rim can locally flex to stay parallel to the ground during cornering, which increases traction much like a human ankle. This ability to twist locally allows it to deflect during single bead impacts without the rider getting bounced off line.
All of the above "Science" is lifted directly from Zipp's Webpage. I read it thoroughly, then looked for patent abstracts, and further details on the "Science" and found nothing with teeth. This is not to say that there is no "science" here to discuss, but if you observe the illustrations, and the rim is pivoting around the spokes which are centered to allow the Foot (rim) to roll below the "Ankle" (spoke bed) when pressured from a leveraged edge -- Then, like placing a pry bar beneath a heavy rock, you would of course expect the rock to lift on one side, and the other side to remain, somewhat as illustrated. So if that is truly the science, then It is true that this is nothing new, unless there is a breakthrough bearing point in the rim, some special active socket, which is not shown. If the "Science" (Ankle Compliance) is meant to illustrate tilt of the rim edge whilst the static fulcrum (pinned by the Spokes) remains level and; If the rim is flexing to give way to a large path obstacle, then the "Science" (Radial Compliance) is a twisting rim. This isn't illustrated well here. Their Illustration shows the rim profile as a constant, but tilting, not flexion, where the rim would contort. Like a truck's rear suspension, the Ankle Compliance is illustrated properly showing one edge lift whilst the other is lowered. I'm looking for the Science, but the illustration betrays the description. Ball and socket, ankle and foot?, or Compliant rim conforming to applied pressure from each side? Both perhaps? Either way, when I got my first BMX bike I longed for a set of wheels built up on ACS Z-Rims, which were glass composite flexy hoops, which because they sprang back, tended to keep shape in large drops and jumps, and not take the shape of the flat you hit... So I think that this is what Zipp have invented (reinvented). Sans the 4 cross lacing of a late 70's ACS Z-Rim. we have a bit of flex, owing to the properties of carbon. Great, I have these wheels, they came on my fat bike five years back. The steel version came on my Raleigh 3 Speed, and countless Schwinns, c.1965. Oh!, coincidentally the shallow cross-section profiles are similar from Zipp to Z-Rim to Schwinn, and further. I'm glad that we now have disc brakes and that the carbon layup is now simpler, and less costly. As far as science goes, we take a Z-Rim, and reduce the spoke count down the middle, and what we get is the next big thing. Reinventing the wheel is hard work.
Of course when every bike was a coaster brake, or even a rod brake there was no reason for a side profile to press a pad against. In that spirit basic rolled steel rim from Araya, Rigida, and Schwinn are roughly the same as Zipp's "Moto Technology"; even the Westwood has “Moto Technology”. The only way to form pliable steel into a hoop in the 50's was Moto technology. Image left, is an extruded aluminum hoop c.1995 likely a Mavic Open 4CD or some such, whereas the wider one on the right is rolled steel, c.1965, decidedly not a box design. The Schwinn rim on the right is a simple rolled steel hoop seems to possess Zipp's "3Zero Moto Technology". Wow, that was a throwback. A flaccid flexible hoop, that keeps the tire on, and prevents pinch-flats because it is so damn flexy that it follows the terrain, and has little bead to speak of. Man, that was simple. Inventing something new today seems to be as simple as re-naming it. Complaining about Zipp's new invention may contribute to a silly Moral Panic, but it is sometimes justifiable, to curb your enthusiasm when it's just a hoop with spokes. I suppose the new normal is to tell a story, and stand firm. Little fictions, like My Dad invented "Some cool Shit", but when my friends called me out on it, I looked like a fraud. When being disingenuous becomes the status quo, we all get to bull-shit each other unchecked, right? Standing on the shoulders of giants allows for a great view, doesn't it? Now you can merely look over the fence at your neighbor's rusting 3-Speed, spy the technology that you will now call your own. Throw a through axle and 12 gears on it, and you have a breakthrough, ‘Moto’! meh!... I Wish I had a patent on "3Zero Moto Technology", whatever that is, (3-Speed wheel technology now borders on steampunk). I suppose it doesn't matter much when I already have this technology on my vintage Schwinn. I hope nobody minds when I call my 3-Speed Moto Technology revelatory.
Way back in your College days, no wait!!, before that. Way Back when you were in Grade School, when the cool kids came to class with a Scooby-Doo Lunchbox, a Trapper Keeper, and the Good Pencils, with tip-erasers, you knew him, the once venerable PB&J. You actually pretended that you didn't hang-out with him, as others ponied-up big coin for hot pizza in the school lunch line, you shuffled sheepishly by, head down, passing the final checkpoint (The Milk Lady), before taking a seat in the gym's make-shift cafeteria. You carried a paper bag, with the top folded down and now the crease was torn a bit from sweaty hands, and soiled from your run through a shortcut on your way to school. It was a dry day, (of course), because if it were not, your bag would be torn, and then crushed from safe-keeping in your jacket --Tucked against your stomach, as you climbed a fence, and ran through someone's yard en-route to school.
This humble bag contained simple provisions. Your bag lunch glancing an embarrassed and wanton eye toward the "Hot-Lunch" which came on a tray, in neat compartmentalized foil, and plastic boats. You began to smell the "School Lunch" shortly after Reading, and it's intensity peaked just before the Lunch bell rang. Peak excitement to leave class compounded with the dream of salty pizza, and crispy ice-berg. But... You would be having none of it, as you meagerly handed your dime and nickel to the "Milk-Lady" who pulled your choice of Chocolate or White from a Dairy crate. Really no choice there, as it was always chocolate. I'm sure the stats bear out that most kids preferred the darker varietal, and perhaps this was to rescue the sad contents of your brown paper bag-lunch. Square against the bottom of your bag dwell your old friend, someone who you pretended not to know or even look at while others were slowly flaunting their Piping Hot Pizza. The trick was to eat your bag contents either before or after your friends dined, so that they didn't judge your measly meal. Shame was the word. Broke kid goes to school with bag-lunch, that conceals the generic scarlet letter which showed others that he was without "school-lunch funds". It never mattered really, and was mostly in your head..., Perhaps all in your head?. The other kids barely noticed what you did or did not eat, they were busy chewing, while you were reviewing the existential calculous and economics of being lower-middle class. The Bag lunch was the cuisine equal to non-branded slacks, and knock-off kicks. You'd have been far better off owning your lunch-room strata, than to ruminate about comparatives, but you didn't. No judgement, just take out your old friend and eat him, with relish. You may have a home-made treat in the bag -- Both sitting concave like a pillow beneath a cat, compressed into a nest shape by a much heavier orange, or apple. While others ate their pudding cups and twinkies, you'd make due with something baked at home. Surprised that now at midlife you're eating well whilst your classmates check their blood-sugar? Don't gloat!
PB&J; What is fundamentally wrong with PB&J?... Was it the pickle soaking through wax paper into the side of your sandwich?, was it the blackening banana?, Or the carrot sticks leaking slightly through the side of the bag? Were there chips?, Where are the Chips?... You don't know, because you were too ashamed to check. Was it really so bad?, this kid you'd refused to sit with, who was actually already beside you, or on your lap -- as the room becomes more loudly animated by the frenzied sugar-rush of lunch-room gymnastics? You watch others, calculating the right time to roll the bag open and eat. You are looking for a distraction, a moment to pounce on your brown-bag super-hero friend. The smells, the pure pavlovian power of smells... Alas you can take no more, and you reach onto your lap to reveal Exhibit A: "A Humble Sandwich". Like so many before it, and thousands thereafter, but always a bit unique, the venerable PB&J cut in half on the diagonal, came to your rescue. No shame, No brand-name, just lunch.
These rations were assembled in a factory manner with a conveyor carrying bread across your kitchen counter, each layer added, and then smacked together before being cut, and folded into Wax paper or tucked into a pleated sandwich bag. The sandwich bag of the 'fold-top' variety, ...because zipper bags had yet to be introduced. 'Spread-Ratios' varied, some soaking through, some far too spare. Further variables from Home-baked, to crusty bakery bread, to grocery-store soft white, the foundation of a good sandwich would yield a myriad outcome. Many days this sandwich was perfect. Many more days the meager PB&J would be dry, and un-enticing. Always the PB&J came to work and did it's job, and even, occasionally saved your life, but you give it no thanks now. You rarely consider the option, as if scarred by a memory of some kid shaming your frugal family for not caughing-up eighty cents for Pizza. Today, your PB&J likely costs 80 cents. It is going to be OK, so long as you can reconcile the past. Perhaps it was the time your older sister helped make them by chewing up whole peanuts to make the PB part. Yes, perhaps that's the scar, you need to face.
Today, you are scarred, you are begrudging your old friend , the PB&J which sits idly by like a misplaced toy, waiting to engage. You turn away from him, packing some sort of pre-fab protein bar which claims to be all your body needs. A "meal-bar", with (X) grams of this or that. You need look no further than your cupboard. You needn't overthink this one. That kid with the brand-name jeans is no longer around anymore to sit in judgement, and you are over this lunchroom status thing right? Go Boldly, be low-brow, and take a bite of your past. Own up to the fact that you betrayed your hero for status. He sat in your lap for crissakes, clearly you were there together.
You can surely make two or three of these for the price of one RX Bar. You can likely go farther on the energy gained, and you will likely feel better about yourself. If you could just make up with the lonesome super hero who sustained you through most, (if all) of your formative years. The unsung super hero of youth, the PB&J awaits. If you find the heart to make-up, then you will likely be a richer person for it. Find some new recipes, and get the gang back together. Find a "Grown-up" or "Fancy PB&J" So the next time you are starving, lonesome in a remote place, and craving any calories whatsoever, let your food fantasy be for a PB&J, and remember him fondly, as he was always there for you. Always...
Long Shadows mean one of two things: 1. that you have the whole day ahead of you, or 2. that you had better find a place to pitch your tent. For me, each day begins with coffee, and this morning I will not compromise. When traveling solo, I use the GSI dripper, and either of my stoves to boil water. When traveling with my pals, I'll often bring my Nanopresso, discussed elsewhere in this blog. The nano is great for desert trips, and places where coffee is a must, but water scarce, and the longer drip coffee of the GSI dripper is nothing more than a sock held above a cup, but a compact and effective if cleaner sock. It's not my favorite brewer, but it is my favorite small dripper. Ten Bucks, Paired with a melita filter for more coffee, with less spillage, and smoother taste. By the Way the GSI Grinder is a total P.O.S. I've tried several and needed to return every one. Seems that their Chinese OEM makes the handle square out of something less than good solid steel, and the first crank on anything lighter roast or peaberry, will break the mech right out of the box, Ive broken several, and so loved the idea that i even brought coffee into an REI to test the last one, before shaming myself and GSI for the trouble. Don't Bother... I've told GSI, and they have seemingly no control on this one. They need to send everyone back and recall any in the field, because it sucks.
I grind coffee for Aeropress ahead of any trip and carry it that way until someone invents a solid tiny grinder. More coarse than Espresso, and finer than Drip, this gets me more mileage, and more flexibility in any application. Every adventure begins with coffee. It always seems to start out sunny. The adventure begins (although crisp) with bright sunshine. I lashed the gear to the bike and set out. It was gusty 56 f., and you know you can never trust the weatherman, NEVER, and so we cross our fingers, and leave.
Some of this spring is green, but no leaves yet, just darling little buds like the first sparse hairs in a Gym locker-room, timid, and reticent, amidst a few overzealous Crocus, and Magnolias peeking about. It seems, guarded, lurid, & coed. The wind, unrelenting from the west, and as luck would have it, (dread) That was my direction. Two questions clarify, "How long can this wind remain this strong?, and "Will I have enough caloric mojo to get there, working triple time into a monster head-wind?" The houses seemed firmly planted, in-spite of a tune-out fictional fantasy of funnel clouds, and bicycles flying through a miasma of twirling debris, wagons, wheels and flying monkeys.
I set off head-on, and I rode in that tuned-in but tuned-out manner, when one loses the time, and gains it back through a mindful grinding forward, absorbing absolutely everything, and nothing at all -- Oblivious to most daily crap.
I rode with my head down, in the drops, and thought fondly about the specific bike-pack which may house my chap-stick. I thought fondly about how cool the wind was, how it evaporated my lips, and dried my eyes, and how perfectly my Tempesta jacket curved over my bent spine as I cut forward like one of those "crazy cyclists" heading westward just after dawn to no place special. The destination was a campground which had opened to the public just a week prior, and I'd hoped to find hardcore campers there, along with eager fish, in the lakes and streams. The route took me through farms which kicked up more gusts as the cold black un-planted soil warmed beneath a bright sun, creating a heady scent, and an upwelling torrent which clashed with the clear crisp blue morning haze for dominance. It would be windy all day. Like my city of tall cold skyscrapers, where warming glass reflections pushed cold downward, and rising heat gusted like a chimney often making cross-winds sketchy. I knew the routine, but with a direct head-wind at least I didn't fear the bike pushing out sideways from beneath me. I felt as if someone were showing me how to ride, and held my shoulders while I stood in place straining toward them. Tough wind today made the case that things may end a bit differently. The farms expanded like quilts, into a warp and weft of turned black soil combed in a tufts of wispy grey thatch patterns like woven rugs, and Triscuits soothing the memory of Grant Wood, or Andew Wyeth. Cows, glanced embarrassed, zen-like puzzlement toward me like each passing truck, stupefied for me working so hard. People were not used-to, and never seem to reconcile themselves to the lonesome bike-packer. Damp Wisconsin farmland rich with color and wet spring smells. Clear blue skies stuffed with fluffy cumulous clouds, breaking and joining like a feral cat & a pillow tumbling in a dryer of blue.
My audio book stayed my panic about losing great time to the head-wind, I descended into a mindless fiction, thinking only about chapped lips, and cheeseburgers, the spy novel allowed me to further detach from the typical re-calculous of a "plan-B". I stayed true to my travel plans, re-adjusting my body to re-shape for aches, and seat position. I rode westward with a pack-rod, a tent, pad, and bag. The essentials you'd see on any great bike-pack check-list, only I was decidedly short on provisions, planning to stop someplace to eat. I turned the cranks mindlessly until I was so well out of town, and so free from "civilization" that I no longer gave thought to how slow I was traveling, but how near or far the next road-side attraction my be which featured a Cheeseburger. It's not that I wanted only a cheeseburger, nor that I even preferred one, but being that I was in Wisconsin, It seemed realistic that the options boiled down to this, Cheese Curds, and perhaps Grilled Cheese. Nothing gourmet was planned, and I held out no hope that a gastro-pup lie between my front wheel and my destination. Just being realistic with expectations that's all... And so I soldiered on for the next few hours.
May I make a suggestion?... If you are going to travel with a rod and reel, it's novel to anticipate the time it takes to whip your thing out and dip it in the water. As with all romantic ideas of a great SLR, or fancy-pants camera and a full set of lenses -- a Pack-rod, Like a point and shoot should be just as simple to carry as it is to take out and shoot with. If you have anything more than that -- You are lying to yourself. "The camera which takes the best pictures, is the one you have with you when you frame the shot", (-M) and a fishing-pole is admittedly that much more difficult to have on the ready. I've researched this to death, and after settling upon a few favorites. One day, overzealous, perhaps, but just as eager to fish, I dropped the tip of my St Croix Rod into a lake, I decided that telescopic made more sense than separates. The trouble with telescopic is generally length and sensitivity. While it's practically impossible to make a great pack-rod, and harder to craft a telescopic pole to be as sensitive and good a caster as a single blank, or one which breaks apart in sections -- It's not impossible however, to find a great pole that's got a light action, and the sensitivity of a sibling, in a form that's reasonably speedy to deploy. I've settled on a Shimano. You already know Shimano right? that they make good bike kit, and you may know that they apply the same innovation to the fishing biz; But what you may not know, is that there is a virtual analog between the two industries and that Carbon, Aluminum, and Shimano stimulate growth in both camps using un-rivaled engineering.
I won't pretend to know what all of the initials on my pack-rod mean, but I will show you a picture of the pole and the bag to get that sorted. And so there is sits upon my carbon handlebars nested in an ingenious case with my faithful Abu Garcia reel, and a tiny steel box for lures, and leaders. The venerable king of the collapsibles. A true grab-n-go rod for the novice, or the seasoned casting rod pack kit. If you don't travel everywhere with a collapsible or inflatable canoe in your trunk, that's perfectly fine, but if you could... would you? I for one won't generally tote a .22 on my bike, nor a Glock, or a set of rabbit traps, or Golf clubs, but what sport aligns itself more astutely to rolling about the countryside than fishing?, and what you do with your pole is entirely up to you. But you can't use one if you leave it at home.
This kit is tiny, light and well protected, and can be slung simply on a bike or back-pack, and can actually be with you when you amble upon a stream, or lake. Unlike your DSLR, that you left at home for the third vacation because it's "too bulky", "too risky for where you are traveling", or "not water-proof", the pack rod shown here is adventure worthy, and can be wielded, and baited in a few minutes simply enough for a couch-bound stoned-teenager to find it simple. Anything more difficult or large would be impractical and likely remain at home. So when I get to the lake or see a stream en-route, I fantasize about catching the big one, and although Most of what I may catch is decidedly not... I enjoy the added speculation the fantasy affords. If you get this pole and combo it with your favorite reel, be sure to bring a bobber, or even a cork, or stick, to float out a bait, while napping. It's serene and relaxing to chill beside a pond, and soak the sun, and you will thank me when you have forgotten the moment for a spell, and wake to see your bobber dragging below the drink, with no effort whatsoever -- "Fish On!". A piece of tent line for a stringer, and a pocket knife can resolve the finest trail-side meal a spare hour can invent. If you never take the pole out, it may be that you are having too much fun, but when you need a reprieve from a gusty day on the bike, and you can align your breathing with the shallow lapping tides of a breezy pond, what lay below the surface, could save a dull day, or even you life, if you can't find that hamburger stand.
So as it happens, we depart, and often we lose ground when we fixate upon the arrival. Getting there is the journey by the way. And while the arrival time may vary, the trip will surely un-hinge if our only concern is only our arrival time. Surely I like to be prompt, and also enjoy making some schedules, reserving time for assorted activities. Everyone enjoys their free-time differently, and some more than others -- But it is never as fun to keep schedules, as it is to dispose of them. When we were young and traveling by car everywhere, (for the economics of it), we were sure of a few things, and one was that there would be fighting, complaints, and a breakdown along the way. Today we travel more by plane, and this allows all sorts of new opportunities, but It is almost always certain that something will go wrong with the connections along the way. In the world of economy air-line travel, it is almost inevitable that a plane will be late, a connection missed, and an arrival time will lapse without you there. Where travel used to be about the next roadside attraction, and a long meal with pie and coffee at a diner, Today's weekender has become a power-bar and a magazine while you postpone dinner hoping to get there instantly as if by galactic transport. You won't though..., and your trip knows that you will be better off coming to terms with delays before encountering them, accepting delays before the inevitable disappointment comes to bear. We travel to get places today, instead of collecting memories, stories, and friendships en route. I'm not much of a talker, but you will find at the core of the lonely passenger, the tendency to "tune out". Virtual removal from seat 26A seems to be the cool thing to do. The guy across from you wearing shades on a rainy day, wearing noise cancelling headphones, and discretely straining to act detached, as though there were no other people in your giant aluminum cylinder. We evolve some of this behavior, so soon everyone seems to disdain the person next to you, striking up small talk. We put on the shades, and headphones, not to enrich our world, but to press mute, to pause the action until we arrive in our destination. It's a bit like trying to get out of the bathroom without touching the door handle. We leave no trace of ourselves on the plane, as if committing a crime where the only evidence we drop is a piss and some single serving wrappers. Sometimes we rush to get to a place where we just sit, or stand, as in a golf tournament, or on a beach. It's ironic to rush to get to a place to relax. It's odder still to admire the douche who is passing off the farce that they can leave Chicago, and arrive in SFO and not speak to a soul, leaving no mark nor conversation, tuning out everyone as un-clean. We race to get there, and forget to be anyplace, even where we are heading. I'm guilty of wanting to be left alone with a fiction. We are doing more in less time, and think the French have it all wrong, when they can sip a half ounce of espresso for an hour. Americans have less vacation than nearly every western nation, and some in the east. We do things fast and cheaply. When we need a pen, we buy a pack of twenty and drive 15 minutes to the warehouse store to get it. This is a decay. Some people run the Pacific Crest trail in an "Ultra" race to do it the fastest. So suffice to say I don't really know what slot that ball fits into, but it's a bit misshapen.
Well as schedules go it's generally always bad to rush a trip. A Bike Trip, even an overnighter may steady the sails, and help to ground ones restless wanderlust, but when time is constrained and you are going nowhere fast, you will arrive both exhausted and disappointed. It is likely best to shorten the course and enjoy the ride.
Several Hours later I would arrive in the woods, passing no taverns along the way. I did however get pulled over by the state sheriff, for ignoring a detour which would have added 1 more hour to my trip. Wide detours are no problem in a car, but to segue many miles when the path is literally a smooth 20 foot slab of pavement under a highway overpass, is silly. He said I trespassed through a work zone, rolling my bike The equal to walking from ones living room into the kitchen. Forbidden, by a cone, and a barrier, that the cop happened to sit upon in his car, whilst touching up paperwork for radar infractions. The cop stopped me for continuing under the highway, which although marked, "closed" became his little private troll pad, where he waited to gun speeders, and likely surf porn. The Cop pulled me over because he didn't like me in his space. He told me that he would have to issue a ticket for $180. because I "broke the law". ON MY BIKE? I was now being threatened with a ticket, although I'd explained that with the headwind and my next destination (over a hundred miles ahead), the detour seemed unreasonable.
"Fuck this guy", I thought, and I'm sure he thought the same -- as everyone does, who sees a loco bike-packer riding some place instead of just buying another fricking car. Our distain was mutual, although I offered that (I), "wouldn't do it again, but that "..."I needed to make up some time, and the detour was far to long to make my schedule". Wait... Wasn't I just waxing nostalgic about the journey, and not being in a rush, and why being able to "give in" to the ebb and flow of the journey would enrich the experience? Yep, that was me. Hypocrite!
So I offered to pay the ticket, recognizing that I'd broken the law, and also had lost my place in my audio book, with a drawn out discussion. I was now ready to pay and carry on. He was bluffing. He likely did have a statute handy that I violated, but I was not willing to straddle my bike under his overpass, calling his bluff. Paying the fine would have liberated my mind, and released me from his idiotic threat. I wanted to pay the ticket truly, and when he absorbed that, he rescinded, saying, "if you are caught again you will get a citation". "Yes, (I thought) I will", as I imagined doing the very same thing on my return trip. The portly Trooper pulled forward to clock another speeder, fast food wrappers on the passenger seat, as I slipped silently out of his overpass into the headwind.
It would be another few hours before I had arrived at the woods, which was good, because I got to meet a nice cop along the way, and have a lovely chat.
When I got to the Park entrance, I waited behind a two-ton Cummins diesel truck, at the park gate belching black smoke from two coffee can tail-pipes. They were paying the entrance fee, and I was next in line. Generally I would slip past, but I have more respect for the Rangers, than the cops, and my registration (if required) would perfectly punctuate the point for why the giant 2 seater truck with nothing in the bed, should pay 20 bucks, and would not.
I grabbed a trail map, sighted the campsites, and the lake, and broke out my pole and a snack. As I ate my bar, I'd imagined a fish on my line and a hot lunch in moments. Nothing bit, except the wind, which rippled across the lake. I took a few casts with a few lures, and saw nothing. No eager spring fish starving for my Mepps spinner. I cruised to a weedy spot, and rolled around the empty lake sighting no nibbles, just some pangs in my own stomach. The prairie, had just participated in a controlled burn and looked very spartan, like napalm in a rural village. The surreal burnt environment made for a less welcoming respite. Beside the cool lake, the howling wind and my hunger were bending my mind toward another destination. The fish were hiding, and the brown would turn to green a bit more each day, but something was off here, where everything was scorched, like a wasteland. The temperature was lower behind the cloud veil, and the sun seemed filtered, and less intense. I pulled my phone out, ignoring several updates, and checked the weather. It was now April 13th, and my lovely Saturday would be followed by falling temps, and precipitation. Duck and cover, or ride the storm out? What should I do? One can never rely upon a forecast, so I checked several locations, nearby, some within reach and some further out, to see how localized the imminent front was. It seemed confirmed that we would have a pelting. Today lovely and verdant -- Tomorrow, it all goes to shit. Still hungry, no fish. Scorched earth, and accumulating clouds. The way back would be fast, really fast, with a gust directly behind me. When you trudge up a sled hill you get to slide down, and when you climb the rock, you get to rappel. So if I wanted to bail on this overnight, I could surely get that Cheeseburger, with nothing but 55 miles and scorched earth to show for the effort.
I'd even get to tarry with the State patrol again, this being the only way back to my base-camp. I was looking forward to the challenge.
I explored the terrain, and meandered for a while. Water spigots were still off, and the firewood was spartan. And so I bailed. I left and sailed back roughly the same route, but nearly double speed. I'd face inner defeat, and the same sheriff. I headed east to may previous campsite beside the big lake. I found a gastropub along the way, and I sat at the bar beside a 10 year old kid in a Karate Uniform, doing Fractions. I ate something considerably less gastro, than pub, and rode the final 15 back to camp-site One, where I pitched the tent and read. The next morning the wind howled, and the clouds were swollen with water which misted and seemed to spray from all sides. I packed in the gear, and lashed it to the bike as thicker flakes accumulated. The white winter witch was back, to remind everyone that Spring comes with baggage. This Bitch was now snowing in earnest, mid-April erasing any verdant patches with cold wet crystals, I was gathering white on all of my sharp corners. We had spring last week, as I recall, with a few days in the 60's and now It looked like a Christmas Story. As I balled my hands in the gloves, I was falling out of love with my overnighter. I had to keep the fond feelings packed away someplace in my head, while my psyche faced the upset of accumulation. I rode toward home through a real snow-storm. Homeward bound in thick sticky mid April snow. I struggled to keep the wheels beneath me, with sloppy wet shifting snow, steering me off-course. I rode in spite of Spring's rage, and thought thankfully about the conspicuous lack of wind. The gusts had subsided, and now it was only heavy driving snow. I was miserable, like Bukowski in Post Office, facing the worst hardship of any letter carrier ever... I wanted sympathy, I wanted a reprieve, and a relaxing weekend. I wanted Spring to start so bad that I'd rushed her into something without consent. By the time I got home, soaked through..., 5 inches had fallen. I peeled off my kit, and dripped onto the tile staring out the window in disgust.
Spring is a cruel bitch. You can set yourself up on a date with her, which may be a date with disappointment. As races go, when you are going the distance, and going for speed (as it were)... If you are not in such a hurry to get there, neither you nor she will be heartbroken, as you collapse in a wet heap.
I changed my l'attitude, took a hot shower, sliced some limes, and made a fresh mescal margarita, then I read a magazine while another 3 inches fell.
Wiggle Your toes.
It always depends upon when you hear this phrase, really... I've heard this from caregivers, doctors, parents, friends, and from toddlers. It nearly always comes attached to some wisdom. Sometimes that wisdom is in recovery, sometimes playful, and sometimes it is merely what we tell ourselves in the hollow space of our minds, as we slog on through a cold walk, run, ride, hike, ski, or paddle. Generally this is the best time to hear these three words, underscoring that you are alive, still. You won't find any wisdom here however, so if you are ok with that... Carry on.
When you are cold through and through, and you hear it, that means you are alive, and probably having fun. When you hear it from a toddler, it may indicate playfulness. So one should not lament the words unless someone is asking you to do so, when you awaken; As in, "Can you wiggle your toes for me?" ...Under no circumstance do we hope to hear this question.
It may come as no surprise, that when you are voluntarily trying to circulate more blood to thaw your cold toes, you are doing fine. Your command over these elements perhaps well beyond the locus of your un-trained mindfulness. In films there are ninjas who can slow heart-rate and respiration to convince someone they are dead, or to conserve oxygen, or fuel. We are not that Ninja. If you feel the prickly needles like practice acupuncture in your phalanges, you are alright. If you feel the slow creep of nothing moving inward from the tips toward your arch, it may be a good time to talk to your toes. Me, I have tried to be aware of my wellbeing to the extent that I can control things like nutrition, hydration, vitamins, sleep, and the like, but try as I may, I can't seem to meditate away the cold to stave off numb fingers or toes, which to me seems rather absurd. Consider you are doing something athletic, outdoors, Snow-Shoeing through the Woods, toward your blind to shoot an animal, and your toes, get cold. Should you wiggle them? Wait!, what?, you already are wiggling them, and your vascular system is working overtime to move blood to your legs, and lactic acid burns your quadriceps, and your glutes, and your neck, back and head are drenched in sweat... So what is it with fingers & toes? Why can't they get on board with the system? What is preventing them from overheating? Why the hell then are they so cold?
It's useless actually, to coax your will into some extremity -- To try to re-shape the outcome of your reticent digits, with mindfulness. The Wiggle rarely if ever works, and now you are faced with the option to
A. March onward, is cold defiant suffrage to your toes.
B. Stop someplace, drop a boot, and rub them.
C. Wiggle your toes, as if you were that ninja.
Here the choices seem simple enough, and the outcome still appears rosy. You merely need to choose, one of these and soldier on. Of course you know that B & C make less sense, because when you wiggle your toes, no relief comes... If we are being honest with ourselves; and if you remove a boot, and your gloves to do so, you are exposing your cold digits to more cold. You could of course forget about them, and keep moving, but that doesn't seem like a proactive option, but rather like ignorance. The fact is, your toes are losing the battle for warm blood-flow, and you are pretty much fucked.
I'm happy to report, that the experts say the same; and consulting several sources for survival you will find the topic as mish-mash as this one. Don't wiggle your toes, rub them? Who knows?
What is key in your decision is how much time you have, and how far you are from a "warmer" place, or a friend with some "Hotties" Hand Warmers. You know the little packets of magic sand that you open, shake, and stick in your boots, to bring back circulation. These work!, but only if you have them, and only if your metatarsals aren't well past the point to warm up themselves. Sometimes your toes are unwilling, and warm water becomes your best bet. Look Out! however, because warming up can be far more painful than the dull numbing throb of cold toes. The slow pump of battery acid creeping through your capillaries, spiking and burning your limbs is the inevitable come-back, and it is quite unpleasant, which is why I'd have to say, you should forget about them until you know you can manage to actually do some good. A warmer place is ahead, but it's going to cost you.
What I'm happy to report is that the toe topic has been tabled, because we have at long last rounded the corner. We have escaped amputation or worse death, as we matriculate to Spring 2019. It's not only amazing that we left that Shit-tastic Polar Vortex behind, without major casualties, but that we still have our sanity, (knock wood). I'm sure the best is yet to come, but there is another side of this which needs to be addressed, and that is the slow burn. The bulb which dims so gradually, that we are not sure why we are sitting in the dark unable to read our paperback, freezing our asses off, shelling out ransom for Natural Gas. When the shift comes, around the proverbial corner, which by the way is unknowable... We are unaware that "Spring" is en route, because the shitty slog through months of slush and styro-foam-like snow, is so entrenched in our actual psyche, that we cannot literally recall a time when things didn't just suck. So... fucking tah-dah!, "Spring".
My guess is that you missed it. You could not have seen it's arrival like a predator, until it's jaws are on your throat. Spring is here, and we should rejoice, but we are so jaded, and gun-shy, that we won't believe it until the fucking icebergs are melted from the Big Lake, and you've forgotten where your gloves and hat are... Spring is Here, and we won't believe it until the easter bunny has been eaten head first, and you've swept up the last pine needle from the tree you threw out three months back. Spring is here and you will know it when you see it, but you are not sure what form it has assumed, and what it actually looks like because it's an estranged relative, or high-school friend whose name you cannot recall. When you see her, should you say hello?
Thinking of Spring, and the long thaw, it's important to bear in mind that if you are at this stage, and you're no longer wearing two pairs of socks, and long undies, and your switching to thinner gloves, You are a survivor. You have to look forward to a new phase in your constellation of outer-wear, and that is the Rain. When the rain comes we know it's spring, because it doesn't stick. We are in for a real treat, because Spring is a cold bitch, under whose rainy skirt is a spot of sunshine, which you can only catch a glimpse of if you pay her close enough attention. Break out your slicker, and rubbers, and enjoy the thaw. The cold rain will sting you with the same prickly chill of your thawing toes, but this time it will be different because you have won. No, you can't find your hat or gloves, but you have 6 months to look for them.
I am aware it's always raining someplace, and typically so in the UK, and I'm not sure if Pete was writing this to a woman, a man, or to Spring, but oh man I need a drink...
"On that dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool, cool rain
I can't sleep but I lay and I think
The night is hot and black as ink
Oh God I need a drink of cool, cool rain."
Love Reign o'er Me by Pete Townshend performed by The Who.
I had a paper-route when I was young, and am surprised that my spine didn't curve over time from the compressing weight of the bag I'd carried. We'd collect our papers at someone's home, a Lucky kid who didn't have to walk beyond his front door to get started. They called the place we'd pick-up our papers the "bundle-stop". Each day we'd convene at this one kids house where the back door of a blank white van would open and out they belched nearly a thousand pounds of paper strapped in square stacks. If you arrived early to the "bundle-stop" you'd witness a dragging/falling muffler, with the throat of the devil blazing through belching dark smoke, as bundles fell upon the sidewalk, where we would collect them rain or shine. Most days they would be there prior to my arrival, each marked with wax marker to designate the route number. This predated inkjet printers, or anything of the like, and frankly forms would have cost a penny, so the wax marker would suffice for scrawling whose stack was whose, well before dawn made it viable to read the numbers. Kids who had paper routes were really the lowest "employed" strata of the working class. You could actually not dip below a Paper route before you slid off the chart entirely as the dreaded unemployment caste. Never had it dawned upon me whilst throwing papers at porches, that this was the worst job one could possess. There is a blind spot that we generate, in particular when we are young, that betrays us, and relegates us to shit jobs. Paperboy was a shit job.
It would be a decade or more before I realized that the pathway to something other than a shit job, was one typically paved by doting parents. Without them, and from a large tribe, I had to first finish school, with a shit job, and get my first shit job, all for which I was grateful. In a sense, I'd need to first clear the cataract that blinded me from realizing that seemingly everyone I knew chose another path, which was somehow (if not paved with gold) at least lined with padding, good food, and more free-time. Sure, I had several jobs between Paper Route, and Present, but I didn't begin to realize that others seemed to be led by a silver carrot, if not a silver spoon. I remember literally starving in College, and I recall resuscitating my roommate with ketchup packets, and Braunschweiger Liverwurst, when he was too week to get up. Some self induced, selling blood plasma to buy books, and a beer. It's no mystery that Liverwurst is whatever falls on the floor. With respect to it's inventor, it's basically cat food for humans. Making it through my formative years without sight of any real goal was equal parts dumb luck, survival instinct, and great friends.
When I saw the first bike in an Amsterdam bike shop called "The Paper-Boy" I was enchanted and nostalgic feelings bloomed within me as I recalled the ordeal of my formative job. Nearly every rainy, numb, exhausted day revived in an instant and then rinsed me hollow like an empty glass. 45 minutes and one pint later I saw a Dutch Postal worker delivering the mail on the very same bike. I carried the weigh of the bag on my back until that moment, and then released it. Work smarter, and not harder, came into focus. I reconciled the paper-boy moment against the backdrop of a seemingly sturdy, tall & attractive man making a living on a bicycle, and working half as hard as I had, through a pissy rain. I then started to see good looking Dutch garbage collection workers, and custodians, and realized that a Job worth doing was one worth doing well, but this didn't define who one is. In fact, I remarked of the prominence in America, and emerging through Latin and Asian Communities this false prestige about the work one does. It nearly always irritates me to hear the rehearsal of praise over and again lavished upon Doctors, Lawyers, and Engineers, conferring great respect for their standing as pinnacle achievers, whilst nearly everyone else had a "Shit Job". This may sound far fetched, but I cannot think of any person more important in my life, than a Teacher; However they barely exceed minimum wage in some communities. Second Perhaps is a Nurse, who seems to do all the billable work for health care, and is rewarded with the salary of an american garbage man. This is not a monologue about inequities, but about being blind to what shapes us, by what we seek. For me the option to become a Doctor, was abstract, and hence unlikely. There were none before me, and none to come in my generation, nor did any of my close friends, siblings, or near relatives become one. More strangely anyone in my periphery who may have received a PHD, would still not have been called a "Doctor". Funny.
Blind to the fact that I could have amounted to far more, having chosen another path, I stumbled through my formative years creating who I would become, and eschewing the need for certain "Job" status.
I've always wanted to design things, and build things and have had several forays in these tasks. Yet the penchant to make that into my career never clicked. I would remain a worker bee, like the handsome Dutch post-man, and never look back. Age has a way of creating more mental space to reflect, whether by suppressing or merely forgetting, my brain now seems to have more bandwidth to look back and query the structural lattice within my head for feedback on how I ended up here. Room to roam about the cabin, I'd suppose. I think it was the Paper Route, which forged me to believe that work was always difficult, exhausting, and uncertain, and this trinity was necessary for survival. Funny how hindsight makes itself known, and we come to discover that many friends, siblings, and colleagues really don't work that hard. I know for a fact that this Bukowskian drama cannot possibly resonate with many readers, so I think it's important to mention that nearly every one of my friends who went on to become "Successful", never had a job until they were 19 or 20. This said, I think that has now become normal that your job as a Kid, is to play the sport that your parent wished they were good at, or that which grants them the most free-time, while your sport is usurping yours -- Even-though you may resent their desire to live vicariously through you, now it's not so odd that you seek a similar career to theirs. I have countless friends who fit this description. My Parents never had a paper route, nor were they ever in sports. But my grandmother worked at a candy bar factory to put my mother through school, and it's no wonder that she had full dentures at 60. Anything which hit the floor was "food".
I wanted to play an instrument in school, but the one chosen for me was so large that I had trouble lugging it home to practice. A weight like my paper-bag, I could not endure the ritual of heaving it to school any longer. I wanted to play Trumpet, (a manageable briefcase) but my brother chose that, and I was told we could not play the same thing. Once I thought I'd play the piccolo merely because it would be light and simple to carry home.
Fast forward, to high school, without an instrument to practice, and without a sport to ruin my idle moments playing Galaga, I set about again to invent something to occupy my free-time. Building upon a solid past of escaping ridicule, (under the shadow of my elder siblings, and bullies), I was lean and fast, on a bike, and on my feet. A friend came to town who'd lived in California, and he brought back a real skateboard. It was a Black Tony Alva, with Tracker Trucks, and Kryptonic wheels, and we all kicked it around the parking lot, learning the basics. That year when he re-visited his Dad in CA, we placed orders with him for more decks and so began my official high school sports roster. We would build several ramps at school, home, and in public. In fact we had a ramp in the basement of my High-school, and parking lot improvements included new berms, and curved for grinds and jumps. There are several disqualifying yearbook images showing us jumping cars and picnic tables, and more tricks were captured there than an avery Thrasher Magazine. Others played Sax, Guitar, or Soccer, and we attended cult ramp sessions, fueled by day-old donuts, and soda.
This is principally how I became malformed, and jeopardized my success index. I could have played Soccer, and Violin, met important people in prep-school, and became a Doctor, or... one could deviate from that path and become a skater. What do skaters become when they hit adulthood, and endeavor into the working class...? Not much, I suppose, or is there more to them? The thing is that they don't change very much, principally because they form bonds, and skills which follow them and continue to shape them, but they remain more or less the same people. I think it is reasonable to say that each and every person that I've skated with as a youth has remained the same person to date. And every other person that I was close to, but who never skated with us, has changed significantly. Is this a "blind-spot", or far fetched speculation? Nah!, it seems that what happens in sequence to adulthood, is a bit of the road that diverged in the wood, and some go down a path working hard to re-identify, themselves in the image of some kid of fashion, or form which represents an ideal, but not necessarily who they are/were. Other's move to the left and solidify a stronger form of who they were, and will always be. I say this without any reservation, but knowing full well that there will be objection. It just so happens that for me the friends forged in the crucible of our half-pipe never became new people and if 20-30 years pass since, they are still approachable, they still offer their hospitality, a couch to surf upon, and they seem to catch-up precisely where they departed, even with a speachless chasm of several decades.
Recently I reluctantly bumped into three old skater friends in a small town, and found that they'd all moved away and made themselves, but had returned home to catch up and pick-up with each other. We sat down, and in-spite of the time-gap, and of course our aging appearance..., we all spoke as though not a moment had passed. Whats-more, it wasn't a "Glory Days" reminiscence, where we each re-hash how cool we were, and prod each other with compliments, but we all earnestly had interest in how our lives shook out. Everyone has a group like this, Fraternities, Unions, The Elks, Church Groups, and even Swingers, but I'm not sure these carry the same weight. Everyone knows that a reunion is uncomfortable, whether for families, high schools, college soccer teams, or for AA. but there is always one dude who feels conceitedly confident in every nuance of her opportunity to flaunt something. This person, not surprisingly is also organizing the event. Is it any wonder that people post their best self on the inter webs, and craft a Resume version in hopes to extract some social leverage? Is there any doubt that the organizer of your reunion has the most to brag about,? Perhaps this is why you skipped it. Perhaps it didn't convene, because your cadre of classmates didn't have such a person. My blindspot is my perception that a reunion is merely about bragging, or that the organizer, is interested in comparatives more than commonality. When a rag-tag group of mad dogs re-groups to shoot the breeze, it is nothing more or less than that. The motives are not comparative, or worse, superlative, but they are driven by the desire to re-kindle common ground. I wish I had organized a reunion.
My friends had paper-routes, and one dropped out of High-school to help pay the family's bills, while the other joined the Marines at 17 3/4, for a chance at a better life. I think, everyone got to where they wanted, and i know everyone struggled to do so. Each of us had a job before 16, none of us has seen a doctor in 25 years, and none take pharmacy of any kind. Funny that our group that seemed destined to fuck up, actually didn't, and many of those in our outer-orbit (who went to soccer practice, sorority socials, and had a full ride to the big-time), have also been in rehab, remission, prison, or are dead.
My blind-spot, is not recognizing sooner that some of these people can or could have remained good friends in all the time which has passed. I wish I had seen that; and recognized the need to remain close. Ego is a blind-spot which sorts your former friends into buckets of benefit. In short, if you don't see how they could serve your advance, then they get dropped. You only carry one or two with you. But if I had a larger basket on my bike, or if I wasn't a dumb shit, I would have made space for more of them.
My blind spot is always the clearing through the trees, which often I don't have any interest in finding. But In a forest -- Who really wants to find the road again? Apparently most do!
Most people left in the woods, are working to find the way back to town.
Most people in a room without a TV are looking for the door.
Most (not surprisingly) cannot wait to leave church as well, but that's another story...
I think it's fair to say that not so many are content being lost, or a bit lost, if even off the grid.
As we look at our screens for support, and forgiveness; Is it any wonder that we crave an "open concept floorpan"? is it any wonder that we crave praise on the inter-webs, while pushing our family away, and our elders into a home? If the outside world for you comes though a screen, then you have work to do.
Selfish is my blindspot. I'm never sure what I'm doing to ruin my social life until I don't have one. When I'm two-hundred pounds overweight spooning directly into the ice-cream, glued to a netflix series, I wonder how I arrived here. If the cure for diabetes is less sugar, less carbs, and more exercise, but a drug alleviates my symptoms, then why give up anything, and recognize my shit choices until I can no longer walk?
An honest job is one we can do daily, and then separate ourselves from, to endeavor into something fun. An honest job is not one which we need to bring up to our friends at a party. The best job is not having one, but that doesn't work long-term. Asking a new acquaintance at a party "What do you do?" is loaded on both sides, and should be avoided. If they are a garbage man, would you be comfortable finding out more?
If you are looking for comparatives, then try sizing up your free-time, not your work-time. Asking them, "What do you like to do with your free-time?," is never out of bounds, and may show you whose chosen the right path.
I should get out more. I should ride my bike, climb a rock, sail someplace, see a punk show, and grind my skateboard on my neighbors curb. We are blind to what we need, until we are desperate, and then we no longer have the mojo to make it fun. If we save our money and energy for a vacation, but don't take one until we are too old to wander, then we are lost, or in the least misguided.
It may be my greatest desire some days to dissolve into the ether and not return. A long ride away from everything which grinds me against the lush consumer circus. If one could break away from everything that makes them comfortable and tell no one, where would they go? Whenever I ponder telling no one, and drifting away, I also contemplate the bliss of a specter, concealed in a wall or tree, watching how people may react to it's absence. Will you be fondly remembered? will your favorite things matter when they disappear. Getting away is the destination alone, and wherever that is, it never seems to matter as long as I am not right here, right now. A bit of anonymity, and a bit of adventure brings calm, anticipation, and excitement where we plan to slough off the toil of the day to day, and pretend we are out of work. ...And so it began. But, Fuck Hollywood screenplay garbage, we have serious business here... I set about to put the pieces in place for the next bikepacking trip. Calculating the gear, the grams, and the weather, which inevitably leads to new gear, new kit, and provisions which were formerly unnecessary.
I meticulously removed tires, and cleaned the inner skin, re-seating them with new Finishline tubeless goo. I wiped the bike down and cleaned the chain up a bit, broke the mechanism down & dressed it in foam, then zipped in into the virgin carton like a newborn papoose. I spun off the disc rotors, and packed them in padding and packs, and chose each ounce of my bare necessities until I had arrived at the most meticulously packed bike and gear to date. The frame was an U.P.P.E.R, by Open, and the packs waterproof, stuffed with the Zpacks Two Man Dyneema tent, Quilt by Enlightened, and all the shelf stable sealed bacon by Pedersons, that I could fit.
Watching the Tracking like a trans-ocean sailing race, the bikes deviate at day two and begin to divide at a fork mid-country, whereby one heads through Texas and the other through Oklahoma. I've forgotten which was which.
Four days into the race to California, the bikes stop, along with my heart. One begins to progress again, and the other just sits there. No scan, no movement, no update, no explanation, just waypoints, without reason. Sounds a bit like my life plan.
Have you seen that movie where the guy goes off into the wilderness ill-prepared and never returns? Yes, me too. He may have been wearing three FedEx Package labels and a cardboard box -- But you know that they don't have bar code scanners in the Canadian wilderness. Yesterday my brother told me that, "UPS Breaks shit, and FedEx Loses it". So if you need something/someone disappeared, then place it in a brown paper carton, and then into the capable hands of either carrier, and your outcome is a bit of roulette. Here, the day my bike and gear were to have arrived, was the tracking status:
Delivered January 1, 0001.
Odd date, yes? January 1 is a fabulous time-table considering I had shipped in In February, and that it's ETA stated March 1, 2019. So it came and passed, and nobody knows where the package is. Literally No one. The trace shows it offloaded into a facility, and never being loaded or scanned again. The local warehouse manager asked for pictures of the box, so that they could look into their "Cage". You know the land of misfit toys, or that sinking feeling when you get off your plane late for an international connection and your luggage is sitting scattered about the airport baggage area, with some scary street dwellers, and enterprising nare-do-wells lurking about. You have precisely two minutes too little to find yours, re-check and get on the next flight? You know that feeling when you've specifically sat on his lap, and asked Santa for Legos, and you end up with socks, and a Book? It's like that. ...And then it was gone.
I know what you are thinking. Your advice is that I relax, and do some mindful meditation with our friend Sam Harris. That the stress and pain is not real and that one merely needs to get out of that mind-space. Or... You are thinking I may have actually benefitted by going back in time, (considering my age and the time warm that could bend me backward from shipment on February 25 to arrive on January 1) -- So here he is; just arrived on January first, and so I should be grateful, as long as I can align my temporal plane with that of my bike, and my Gear, and then I should be great! And who doesn't need to step back a bit in both time, and in mindfulness and hang in the shadow of what has been to reflect upon how foolish it all was? All of the toil, and the heartbreak? after all it's just a bike, and we Americans have three months of vacation each year, Right? --
So what's another week wasted? No Bike?, No Problem, so long as you get to go back a full two months this winter, and re-live the coldest February on record.
My bike has been off the grid for three days, perhaps with that guy in the Yukon. Man I wish I was off the grid for three days already. I rented a minivan about an hour ago. I have a plain white minivan for my bike-packing vacation in California. No Tent, No Bag, No Bike, No Bottles, No Bacon, and no Pedals. I suppose that this defines the "Eggs in one basket" anecdote.
I miss my bike, and worse, I really miss being able to watch the tracking as it faded into some obscure guys home between Chandler Arizona and Sacramento. The blip fades like a dot in the vector of a Tempest pattern. No place, off the radar, and into the sea of other people's orbit. Lost in space, like a frisbee into a murky pond.
Tip: When you want to disappear, be careful what you wish for, and pack well, because if someone gets it wrong, you may never emerge from your cardboard nightmare.
Imagine a world where everyone wears Khaki Dockers, is Gluten-Free, Keto, Drinks a 6-dollar Starbucks with butter, watches the same Netflix series, rides matching Pelotons and posts midday travails about their nail technician.
Someone shows up like David Bowie, glittered in a sleek silver skin-suit, eating ice-cream, listening to LCD and reading Proust.
I thought so... Who is Proust? Well in France in 1934, clever people were gathering to ogle one of the sleekest
most innovative and perhaps technically sophisticated two-wheelers imagined.
I've heard it all before, when we talk about Tesla, and credit the 'Genius Electric Car' to a single man.
As if Weezer wrote the catchy new song called "Africa". Hey!, by the way the electric car came out well prior to the 70's Gas Crisis, and not when your uncle bought his P75. Innovation sleeps when we all subscribe to the same playlist. P.S. if you've never been to "Africa" (the country) then please sit on your hands, when next you imagine writing a song about it.
Thank you to Classic Cycle in Washington for your passion and dedication to the Artform that is the Bicycle; Especially in your graceful synopses of your museum collection; (as well as the above, and some other awesome images which we abscond for this discussion).
When it comes to Bike Porn, there are many repositories for reflection, and for flat-out lust, but for me -- this bike smokes them all. Being a Chicago native, may shape one's perspective of a proper bike as one which is pure of form, simply executed, and elegant, such as those produced by Schwinn, and Paramount (it's top tier). When it comes to innovation, the Giant Schwinn Brand appeared rather common, although massive, preferring to make Quality their hallmark. This said, We duly recognize the many innovative breakthroughs by Schwinn, Watsyn, and others who pressed technical boundaries in steel.
Being one who travels, and has a lust for good design, I am reminded of my friends '89 Vitus, and later Raleigh "Technium" aluminum bikes from the 90's, who resolved to build bikes with glue. Without even imagining Glue as a solution, the above innovation could not have come soon enough. The resulting, Carbon revolution was poised to occur when demilitarization left a ramped-up supply chain, without buyers. Thanks to the Military, we have Carbon tennis rackets, and cell phones. But what of the sea change that comes when someone says, "Aluminum is lighter than Steel, why don't we use that"?
Caminade of France made the same innovation in 1934, nearly 50 years prior, gluing and pinning impeccably etched and drilled heptagonal Tubing. This 15 pound marvel of innovation is perhaps the most glorious NASA (esque) innovation in cycling until Carbon Lugs, Gary Klein, and Monocoque. It has been more than 70 years since this Index-shifting wonder was crafted, and I'm still in awe of it's brilliance. If your whole world were khaki, and you saw one of these silver bikes, you'd lust them like me. Truth be told, I'm a city kid and Black is the new Beige of my sect. Still... If whilst wearing Black this Polished Aluminum dream Machine shows up at the club-ride, at a quarter the weight of yours, has Three Speeds, brakes that actually stop, and matching cupholders, Be VERY Afraid. This reminds me of the Bowden Spacelander, as it is the Gas Go-cart to your Red Wagon. When the status-quo will not do, let's break some rules. Here lands before us, as with Bowie, the 1934 Caminade Caminargent. Adorned with the innovative indexed Osgear Super Champion (Constrictor) Deraileur. A looped Pulley Chain Tensioner, Side Pull Brakes, Cast Brass drop-outs, High Flange cheese-grater Hubs, and No Paint. This is one sweet machine. My hat's off to the French Firm for finding not just a work-around for Tig-welding, but for making something innovative that actually worked as well as it looked.
Tom Waites eloquently stated that "It's colder than a she-bitch wolf-dog with nine sucklin' pups pulling a number 4 trap up-hill in the dead of winter with a mouth full of porcupine quills”. Some days like this, when the weather appears to be getting the upper hand you may have to bring out a wider tire, lest we slide sideways beneath an erratic lonely driver who decidedly is not looking around them, but rather updating their blog as they swerve 2500 lbs. of steel into your one meter of salty slush.
Today I awoke to -22 and factoring that bastard son of an insolent weatherman stating it was "Umm Like minus 47 with the wind chill, or some shit. I heard them say that my skin could frost-bite in 30 minutes on my ride to work... Then another said pets can freeze solid in a minute or two outdoors. How prey-tell do we arrive at these imaginary valuations -- as if the stock market and the weather were the very same Scam? So be it the numbers are up and down, and people take profits and then lose their shirt, but it seems that Brokers and Weathermen (weather-people duly noted, Mom) need only be correct half the time to be rewarded handsomely. Another man said, "c'mon Sun!, you've had about 4.5 billion years to get this right, at the moment it is in fact sunny, but Mr. Sun does not seem to be working at the moment toward warming up the place. Perhaps in spite of the sun's efforts, it is something like 40 degrees below freezing!". Brace yourself, because today is gonna suck.
So what is the strange math that is used to calculate that mystical fairy-shit called "Wind Chill"?, and while we are at it, what metrics are used to determine the "Feels-Like Index"? Last I checked My wife alone knows what I feel like, and not even I can't say for sure that I'm in touch with my feelings. So what wizardry is applied to a composite of Temperature, Humidity, Barometer, and Wind to create the "feels like" Bad Weather News Cycle that oppresses the crap out of everyone? It's Cold outside true, and inventing “How I "Feel" and droning on about the time it takes for skin to freeze each time it gets shitty cold out, is like watching Nazi Propaganda. We know that it sucks, and we know that we can't change it, and we don't want to re-live it, but it seems to always be Bad News we wake up to.
When I was a Child, I'd swear we were told that cold came from the North, or the North Pole for that Matter, and then... once or twice, someone blamed Canada. Then People claimed that cold arrived from the upper atmosphere, which made some sense, because whenever I'm on a long plane Flight they can't seem to keep seated people comfortable, and they deliberately drop the temp to keep passengers awake and as surly as the staff is. Seems to be in retaliation for their having pulled a crappy route to pick up extra hours. In my youth there were a lot more illustrators fancifying the weather with anthropomorphic "Old Man Winter", "Happy Suns", Blowing Clouds with eyes and a Mustache. Remember the Cloud Blowing a swirling twirl of steamy puffy white? Back then he was mischievously happy, but looking for an illustration for this post, I could only find angry stock images. These days I simply get texts from so called friends and relatives bragging about their awesome weather elsewhere. Save the screen-shot of your weather app, and I'll spare you mine. It seems like years ago, I recall happy clouds and breezes, and well prior to the endless news cycles, and immediate weather-bugs, weather was just that, and if you walked outside, looked left , then right, and closed the door again, you'd know what the weather was doing. Today, that instant blast may betray your inner monologue. Please don't kid yourself, as you say, ah, well it's not that bad, as your warm fresh skin takes a puff of bracing cold. When you venture forth, you may find it's not what you thought. Fond memories of happy weather illustrations, happy news-casts, and days well before my friends taunted that they lived someplace "warmer". Today the Weather is just angry.
The Media Now plays up everything that is down. Here is what they say at the National Weather Service: "Much below normal temperatures and Lake Effect snow will continue across the Central and East U.S. this weekend. The next Canadian system brings heavy snow across the North Plains and Mississippi Valley on Sunday, and the Great Lakes and Northeast early next week. Behind this front, the coldest air of the season will plunge the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes into life-threatening conditions". End Quote... So there you have it the Canadiens are to blame. Can't they keep it in?, Cant they hold their cold? They mock us...
Dreadful cold is a bummer, and riding my bike in it isn't as fun as a Sunny 65, So I'll just say that we need to work on how we portray the weather, and show a bit more compassion for everyone that works out of doors, by not scaring them when first they wake. Here is the forecast Transcript, paying close attention to the "I- word', "A strong cold front and arctic air mass is expected to invade the same areas next week producing much below normal temperatures and bitterly cold wind chills". Gloomy right?, are the Canadiens in effect "invading"? Wow!, look out, it's cold there too.
The day before yesterday the Gas Company parked outside and drilled some probes in the Ground. Each day I ride home and turn right onto my street, and each day a Car slides through the intersection and nearly hits my bike, as well as the perpendicular prick who is also sliding through the 4-Way stop. Lately, at that final point of my ride, I'd smelled Gas and Reported it, so I'd presumed they were there to find a leak. I'm glad they'd set about to save me from going up in an explosive fire-ball, in spite of the cold. The weather was Ultra Mega cold, and it was just after dark. Each of six workers were wearing massive Cover-all's which made their heads and Hands look tiny, like Astronauts, or Deep Sea Divers. They were probing for the leak, and I was happy of that. In-spite of the cold they were pulling an all-nighter to dig up the street, locate the pipe and replace it. So that nobody in my house blows-up, Nice! I watched as I chopped accumulated Ice from the sidewalk, and scraped it into the street.
People in Cars continued to slide through the 4-Way, ignoring the bundled Workers plugging away, with reparations. Irony would serve that they race to get home, and find their Gas Service interrupted.
I think the weather-woman tauntingly woke them up and told them that their skin would freeze in 20 minutes, but they were not paying it any mind. It does rightfully suck when it's below-zero for a week and all we can do is lament about how much we dread it. So, I'll say this... I have a bike and I'll be riding home soon, and it will be refreshing and chilly, true, and my fingers will go numb right about the time that I round the final corner where they just fixed the gas leak, but it wont suck as much as all that. It definitely wont suck as much as it would have had the gas not been delivered. I can tell you that I know the "Feels-like Index" is Bull-shit, if it is even a real thing, but today I'm grateful to ride home and have a working furnace. So if the cars could be a bit more considerate, as each crunching steel SUV rolls though the stop in front of my house, with a single driver, and no passengers, smug in their warm car -- Perhaps they could consider those who work in the cold outside, and those who ride bikes, and give them a brake.
By the way, here is a Definition of Wind Chill: Wind-chill or windchill, (popularly wind chill factor) is the lowering of body temperature due to the passing-flow of lower-temperature air. (Hmm unclear, still confused?).
While Wind-chill may be exactly that, I'll tell you what it is not, It is not less than one more reason to be kind to each other, band together in families and tribes someplace warm, and enjoy each other's company. If you are feeling shut-in, and are up to it, take a bike ride, or ride to work and calibrate your own "feels-like index". Mine feels like that.
Bar Mitts, are simultaneously ugly, practical, and perhaps perfect.
'Still Life with Bicycle Wheel', or some such. What nostalgic bug speaks to us about the wheel in a gallery context that we could not gather elsewhere? Many mangled and rusted dismembered bikes line our streets, their parts seem to disappear nightly as if by aliens, until the elements which remain are either the least valuable, or are one with the lock.
(Photo credit © Ji Lee, “Duchamp Reloaded”).
I think that it's compelling to consider all of the bric-a-brac which has been dragged into a gallery or museum, from shredded steel tire belts, to Ikea Lamps, and Donuts. By whose aesthetic value. Sometimes, perhaps often, we take a "toss-it and see if it will stick" sort of approach. What remains to line the hallowed halls of the modern museum gets vetted by the initial sponsor and then fifty million or so other apes, who imitate that point of view. More often than not, we all take art at face value, based upon someone else's aesthetic, and when entering a Museum we are there to see what shakes out. We take it on faith that because it's there, then it is good, great even. But the centuries-old inner monologue we face when we see someone studiously enjoying something we care less about, is completely fine. It is fine to not give a shit about the Kool-aid that everyone has slammed. "This is not a Pipe" may betray that the painting is in fact a Pipe, but when the bicycle wheel was elevated to cult standing by Marcel Duchamp in 1913, it was only so because this readymade was shown as ART, and shook out as art by the similar Kool-aid momentum. Art is generally a poetic construction, whereby the common words (spoken daily) are put into a new context. These letters shake out as a new Object. We are told to pay careful attention to their new context, although they are decidedly the same words, but in this new arrangement we are acknowledging a juxtaposition to call out a higher cult following. It makes me think of pop stars, and "Internet Influencers", the new talking heads of a generation, who inspire us to behave like them. If the magnetism is strong, or our resolve weak, we are impressionable and we "go with it". I've been to poetry readings where the audience was keyed into the word-smith, hanging on every syllable. Conversely I've been to a Moth Hour, where the words fell apart in front of the crowd, and the audience courteously struggled to remain awake.
The 'Assisted' Readymade assemblage of bolting a Bicycle wheel to a Stool is a play of motifs, and yet a somewhat elegant movement based upon the fundamental beauty of the primary object, true, and perhaps a more magnetic cult surrounding a young artist. Let's look at a fan for example. A kinetic wheel with spokes that spins under power or a breeze animates the air in the room. A fan in any context is interesting alone as an object, but not necessarily an object d' art. However, if you show a kid a classic metal table fan oscillating, and there are no video games or TV's in the room, the fan may soon become the most revered object in the room.
I'll submit to you that the Fan, like the Bicycle wheel, is elegant on it's own.
Any bike mechanic may have made the same object or has made several similar objects and it's likely that everyone has seen since 1914 the bicycle wheel repurposed as a decorative motif, using colorful accents, streamers, and other metal flair. I think that any enthusiast mechanic has already explored every fate of toy, or gadget using plain bike parts. I trust that the bicycle wheel and fork are used most liquidly for this sport. I may recommend that Duchamp's two iterations of this piece, one from France, and One made in NY, were each built simply if a bit more crudely than a clever mechanic. I think that If I were to make one, I'd select to utilize a Campagnolo Nuovo Record Headset to cinch the two together. My v.2 sculpture would rotate as well as spin. Silky smooth High Flange hubs, and a crusty sew-up Rigida may adorn my "readymade".
The elegant bicycle wheel repurposed as a wind-mill, chandelier, Ferris-Wheel, or pully, all forms seem to revere the Wheel's simple elegance for what it is in it's essence. Perhaps what makes this 1914 example special is (as with most contemporary art), the clever juxtaposition. It's never lost on me that whenever I leave a Contemporary gallery, I leave most of the art behind. It seems that once the "wow, that's clever" wears off, ...I tend to be completely done digesting the piece. Few Impressions in the contemporary art world seem to be long-lived. It may be an old person jaded affect which leaves me far to chaste to appropriate more than passing impress with the form, but in general I'd say that ounce for ounce I still get more of a kick out of Mid-century Painting , or a WPA Piece, than from the MCA. Staying power seems to be the theme. If you showed me something like a Ciocc, or a Mercxx, and then a Y2K Trek OCLV 5200, I'm sure you see the resemblance, but is it really nostalgia, which leaves it's mark upon us? If You look at an elegant design, and compare it to a similar object which is decidedly less elegant, shall we say a Bialetti Coffee Boiler vs a Mr. Coffee, or a Chemex, vs a Melita, we can see that there is something chic about the former forms, and something less elegant about the latter, where no nostalgia seems to play a role. If we look at a Specialized tri-spoke wheel vs a Spoked Mavic, whereas the two are contemporaries, the Mavic may win for elegance, and yet the Specialized may appeal to the Design Cult. Now consider the Mad Fiber, vs the Spinergy, where the two seem aligned in process, the Mad Fiber seems more elegant of form, and both are contemporaries, whereas neither possess nostalgic sentiment per se'.
Remove the elegant nostalgia and assess merely the confirmed simplicity of a Stool, Fork and Wheel. each object is rather notorious of it's own right, and is made so, because in nearly 150 years they remain unchanged as design essentials. These forms like a Hammer cannot be further simplified / improved much without belabored overthinking, and their forms weigh heavily in some archetypal purposefulness. Surely we can make them better, or more cheaply, but they have already been distilled to an essence. Once taken as simple objects, bringing them to a more heroic standing is merely a matter of context shift. Placing a Stapler or a Mouse-trap in a museum, places emphasis upon their cult standing as sustaining essential designs. Last week I used a Flour sifter from the mid 40's and a similar Wisp, to bake cookies, and both of these objects are not only sublimely simple in their form and function, but they have literally not evolved nor improved.
When Lucien Juy Introduced the first practical Derailleur in 1928, it was no less of a hit than Duchamp, but perhaps in different circles. Lucien Juy owned a bicycle shop in Dijon, Côte d'Or, France. It was there that he made the first Simplex derailleur in 1928. The bicycle historian Hilary Stone said: "It used a single pulley to tension the chain and a pair of guide plates to push the chain to each one of two sprockets.
In 1937, the derailleur system was introduced to the Tour de France, allowing riders to change gears without having to remove wheels. Previously, riders would have to dismount in order to change their wheel from downhill to uphill mode. Derailleurs did not become common road racing equipment until 1938 when Simplex introduced a cable-shifted derailleur. To change wheels simply, in 1930 Tullio Campagnolo Patented the cam operated Quick Release for the Bicycle wheel, and by 1933 his Company was making these hubs.
It would take a decade for Tullio Campagnolo to introduce the first commercially successful Gran Sport modern parallelogram derailleur in 1949. History has refined this iconic design very little since it's invention.
In nearly the same tenure as Duchamp, both the Bicycle wheel & Deraileur have not changed much. The simultaneous following of hero's cyclists & artists, at a similar time in history, has buoyed up inventors Duchamp, Juy, and Campagnolo to cult worship. Little has changed in their evolution since, and that cited distillment of form seems to be the essence of the art here. A stool, sturdy & elegant in it's form, a Wheel kinetic and light, the elegant fork holding it gracefully together, each element robust in one axis only, and vulnerable from the other.
What is the art form here? the Wheel?, Id be tempted to say so. Kinetic, and graceful of purpose. The wheel is the hero of this piece. The thin spokes carrying the burden of the load, and exploiting the elegance of the ride. Freedom is the first word that comes to mind when I imagine a bicycle. Most people's initial free moment came when they sped off on their first "two-wheeler" ride. Duchamp Exploited the wheel to make "art", but was the bicycle wheel already there? The thin spokes of the Wheel poised to support copious duties about town, seems to defy it's elegance. Is the Derailleur already there?
I'm not sure that bolting a derailleur onto a chair, or anything else for that matter may have had the same effect. Perhaps running the chain through the pulleys to drive a Fountain, or a Fan, may have been a cool gadget, but what is in the Duchamp piece could be said to be every thing that's missing. The Piece lacks any purposeful or functional use. The lack of utility and even the intentional uselessness, seems to be the point. If you cannot tip this in any way and get it to do something other than sit and spin, then this Object is void of utility, rather like a fan without power, or a dry toilet. This wheel lacks a tire, and as such really is un-usable. I think that perhaps once you are "on to" this vacuum of purpose subtext, you could make ready-mades, or assemblies with very little effort. This piece becomes a Philosophical discussion as much as an art-form. The "Art is Dead", as Nietzsche May have lamented for "God". Every time I hit my head on something that I cannot quite put a tangible purpose to, then I assure myself that that lump on my head should serve as a reminder, a caution, that it could have been far worse, or that I should consider, "not doing that again". In any case I'll contemplate the purpose and inner monologue generally citing all sorts of reasoning. Deliberately making something not work by combining two otherwise purposeful items, is a bit of a double entendre. It may have a bit of 'that I don't know what'... By 1943 the readymade had not evolved much, and Pablo Picasso who made this Bull from bicycle parts, pulled upon our collective nostalgia to see two elegant parts absconded from a beater as anthropomorphic. We see a bull... In fact most people when asked will see a bull even if not preempted with the title or artist. This is another great juxtaposition, and a purposeful assemblage of bike junk, that underscores the overarching theme that both the nostalgia and the elegance of the bike have power. The draw with both are similar. Grab something that you recall more fondly from your youth and ascribe to it a new life in a readymade. Let's see what you can come up with. Once the initial (je nes sais quoi), "oh that is clever!" has worn off, revisit it every so often and see if it still holds a powerful emotive tug -- like these Bicycle parts do.
Fond memories of Fondos, and enough daylight to make green things from the clear blue sky. Today its 21 degrees, which means something like -5 c, and it's getting more abstract to recall the days when cold was how you felt at times, or something you caught, rather than a constant, like gravity, and pollution. Today I received a recall notice from my local shop for one of my bikes, where apparently the manufacturer made a part that can fail, and separate steering in the head tube from the fork and wheel, which as I consider this discord, am inclined to think is rather dangerous. The thing with voluntary recalls, is that every manufacturer may have some, and those that are around long enough to have several are likely the responsible ones who actually take care of their constituents, to fix them. One of my rides has the venerable Future Shock, which, being a bit more than a gimmick, I happen to like, but for a few reasons I will explain later. The Future Shock has a top collar which holds the actual steerer to the top of the Cartridge, or as was explained to me by my shop tech, "The photo on the recall poster makes plain the manner in which the collar cinches the steerer around the Future Shock cartridge (removed in the photo). The two small allen bolts on either side function to preload the headset bearings after the cartridge is cinched into place. If this collar were to crack through, it would lose cinching tension between the steerer and the cartridge to which the stem is clamped, resulting in the handlebars being able to turn independently of the fork." The Cartridge, which allows the rider to sustain a bit less of the bumpy stuff, may make loose, and one would lose steering.
Let's think about that. In a car, if your power steering goes out, or the car kills so that the power steering fails, whilst making a maneuver, it's damn tough to make a counter maneuver, or finish parking. But if you are sailing through a switchback and the same happens, then you will actually careen off the cliff, and hopefully land in a lovely lemon grove (safely). If you are in a car and the steering wheel falls off in your hand, and you are left with no steering, one could only hope it would occur whilst parked in the driveway.
My bike is rather important to me, and it's key that the things we hold to be self evident, like the handlebar remaining attached to the wheel via the fork steerer are knowable quantities. Much like the weather in winter, wherein we expect shit and mostly get shit,... So when anything less than shit happens, we are delighted. Ipso facto, when we expect verdant pastures, and we are caught in a hail storm, or twister, we are ill-prepared. Fortunately, we have forecasting. We can predict the shit-days, and stay inside, and plan for the rest. We cannot plan for catastrophe in general. In Chicago in the winter, when it's 42 degrees in January, we relish in it. This is because come February, 42 will seem like a day in June, and we may go without a jacket, or wear shorts. If One lives in Minneapolis, then the effect is more noticeable. In December if it is 32 degrees whatsoever, then you may see kids playing outside in t-shirts, and if it's sunny, perhaps in shorts.
Predictably so, the weather, like catastrophe will surprise us now and again.
I have more than one bike, and as I'm fond of reciting, "If you are lucky enough to have a bicycle, then you are lucky enough". Because I have more than a few bikes, I consider myself very fortunate, and so asked the local dealer (who is awesome by the way), for some more insight on the recall, to lend perspective. We can assume that the part that holds these two systems together, is rather important by the aforementioned scenarios. We can predict that this little part will be swapped out in the near term, and that everything will be back in order. In the winter, with more than one bicycle to ride, this is really not a bother as much as it is an opportunity for dealers to reacquaint themselves with their clientele, and perhaps get an accessory sale or two. I personally enjoy the dialog, and kicking some new tires. But... If this were my car, rather than my bike and they told me that I should not drive it for fear of careening off a cliff into a canyon to my death, but, that they don't have the parts to fix it yet... I may be angry. Actually, I'd definitely grow angry. I'd be inconvenienced true -- but I'd also be late for work more often, (if i drove to work), or I'd simply not be able to get there, and I'd perhaps miss many other opportunities, such as to pick up children from school, get the groceries, and cetera. So The notice came across my desk today, and I checked on the status. "We should expect a fix in a few weeks", so I hope you hadn't planned to be someplace warm riding that (your only) bike. I hope you don't have a vacation planned or a bike-packing adventure, and so if you do, then please cancel that and or borrow something, or buy a new one, which does not have a Specialized Future Shock.
Don't let a small part ruin your winter picnic. If you have a local dealer, then take your ride to them, and they will help get this squared away. It's easy to complain, just as it may be simple to cut a corner; But it's not so easy to reach back out to your fans, and own up to a having let them down, so let this count for something. That "S" is going to take care of it.
As with unpredictable weather events, May we all hope that they are pleasant freezing days in the midst of an otherwise unbearable midwest winter. Let's also hope that when your bike breaks to no fault of your own that you have an awesome spare to ride, or that it's too snowy to ride and you'll just have to ski. But for those other people who have committed a chunk of money for a great ride, let's hope that when it breaks to no fault of your own, that it's fixed quickly and for free. For Specialized, this recall is not their first, and they will sustain it, but on a tech piece of kit that split the industry, like a President did a country; This bike divided the purist like friction shifting to index, Tubulars to Clinchers, Tubes or Tubeless, Electric shifting vs Mech.
We were already divided, and those who swore that, "that shit will fail" -- Well it may have, but it's in the works... as it were. My SWorks Diverge, is a rather niche bike, with a rather Niche following, and it rides well, and weather has not taken any toll on it like nay-sayers have deprecated. I think that we come back to an "O-ring" moment. the time when someone finds out that a bad bolt or cable, or even a bad Flux Capacitor, can mean the difference between a beautiful mission, and a calamity. So, it merits some discussion about the Part in question, and where it comes from. This Part "May be susceptible to stress corrosion cracking which may result in a sudden loss of steering control. Remedy: Stop using the affected bicycles immediately". I should also mention that this quote is not taken out of context. The part is a simple enough one to fix, and one that can simply be replaced. Provenance of the part is without question, the main Question. China is vast, and we all know that the first prototype is alway perfect, but the production run, is where the corners are cut. When we Spec someone in elsewhere to make something for us, whether it be a PB&J, or a Jet engine, we have a decent amount of faith that they will do it right. That they will do us right, and make the part properly, and even come back to us and say, "Um, hey... Um we should also consider heat treating this, or maybe switch to the Cold forge guy for this one, or Maybe use the the other bid, because it's important, this part".
So we get the sandwich, and it's not as we may have made it ourself. I spread each slice of bread to the very beeding edge of the crusts, and cover in a thick enough layer to saturate, but not so thick that any one element steals from another. I give a shit about my sandwiches, So when someone hands us a shoddily crafted PB&J, and we like them, we'll accept it. We may in fact eat it with relish and not complain, because after all, they made it for you. You didn't lift a finger, so enjoy it. Shit Sandwich.
However when, it is inedible, what do you do? Tell them? Complain that the bread is dry, moldy, or the Jam is rank? Nah!
I have served as an expert witness in more than a few Bicycle Litigations and the blame never seems to matter when someone has an axe to grind. Exhibit A: Someone gets stoned, and goes for a ride outside of their comfort zone, and pulls only their front brake, because they have a Boloney sandwich in their right hand, and the brakes, being properly adjusted Mid 90's V-Brakes get the best of them. They fly over the handlebar. Well, sigh! the manufacturer is not necessarily to blame. I wish my bike had a lower standover, and that the drop and top tube were a bit shorter, but I am not going to litigate, because I have nothing better to do, and my life is hollow.
I hope that Specialized realizes that if they did cut a corner on a part, or if their sub-supplier did; That they should hope that nobody finds that out. Because we here in the US are a litigious bunch, and people are always blaming others for shit that goes wrong in their own lives.
I hope that the new part comes in soon, and that this fixes the CPSC acknowledged issue, and that the bike remains enjoyable. I also hope that as we increasingly rely upon others for parts, (and for sandwiches) -- that they do the right thing and build them well.
I hope that those who have to make a choice about their next ride based upon the following statement, "Stop using the affected bicycles immediately", That their faith in off-shore QC doesn't drive them to ONLY buy Swiss, and Homegrown stuff. But if, you find at times that you are losing your faith in larger brands because they sometimes cut corners, and you need that bike right now, and not in a few weeks when the part comes into stock -- Then you should know that if you have to cut corners hopefully you will be cutting the crusts off, or some mold before you serve your next shit sandwich. Please try to remember the maxim, "if you are lucky enough to have a bicycle, then you are lucky enough". And... If you are lucky enough to have more than one, and your $9K. S-Works doesn't work this week, or next -- then, well yes, you are a dick to complain whatsoever.
Blurred coastline passes