Monday, March 15, 2010

Thoughts on My Ideal Bicycles and Bicycling

This is my reply to some recent comments by online friends regarding what constitutes an ideal bicycle. First of all let me say that right here that I have no money, no room, and do not have the energy nor desire to start another project. All I want is for spring to come so I can ride my bicycles in warm sunshine.

Echelon says that the blue Galmozzi has my name written all over it.Maybe, maybe not. Vlad Luskin, who owned them both and has seen them side by side, says he thinks the Rooster is prettier than my silver McLean. To his eye it does. We may have different aesthetic ideals. While the Galmozzi is striking, to me it's just a very pretty old Italian bicycle. Honestly, my heart is with American built frames of the Campagnolo Super Record era, or if newer, still with solid subtle colors, and the classic lines, materials and methods of 1980. Bicycle components became perfect and complete for one cycle of their development at about the time that Tullio Campagnolo died in 1983. After that Shimano and other players forced Campagnolo to rethink it's business plan and the era of indexing shifting from the brakehoods began. It turned bicycles into an arms race of more gears and lighter weight. While that's a fine thing, I do not relate to any of it.

It's an age issue. We had friends over last Saturday evening (so the hockey game had to be muted). Duane is a bow hunter - an older bow hunter. He shoots custom made wooden arrows that look like miniature fletched pool cues. He launches these feathered missiles with a handmade laminated wood longbow. A reflex compound bow shooting carbon fiber arrows would be more efficient. That not his goal.

Dexter, a sometime commenter here, before he fell in with literary types, in a past life was a member of the PGA. It was the family business. He seldom plays golf now, but when he does he plays with his father's hickory shaft clubs with heads that are made of persimmon (?). He plays two balls, his and one for his father. The lowest score possible is not the point.

Young people are often looking for the next great thing. At some point in our lives some of us become old fogies. We don't care if we catch the biggest trout, kill every deer, win every sprint. We enjoy dropping a handtied fly perfectly at the head of a pool, dropping two golf balls within a foot of each other, timing our shifts cleanly. Time has forced us to appreciate the process rather than the result..


Doug said...

I must be older than my years, or else I'm catching up, but I can really relate to this post.

Anonymous said...

I do have a long history with all of this stuff, and love it, but . . . slightly wacky. it's ok though, stick to your guns!

Mimbres Man said...

I can relate too. My bikes are sort of apples to your oranges, but still I can relate.

In 2008 I rode my original 1981 Univega Gran Turismo on the Katy Trail across Missouri. It took a little dusting off and some repair, but we were able to find some new Japanese parts of the same era (a new Suzi rear hub since the original was cracked from heavy use). The original Suntour friction still worked great! It was a bit strange going back to the wide spacing of the friction 5-speed, and the half-step gearing, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed using the downtube shifters and finding the right gear for the grade and speed I was traveling. The simplicity of it was need to evolve any further.

I got sucked into index shifting with my second mountain bike (1988). My first mtn bike (1986) had 5-speed Suntour friction. I probably enjoyed that bike the most, more than any of my subsequent mtn bikes.

Gunnar Berg said...

I was giving this a once over edit when Lorna threw me off and did some of her book club things, which smack of lesson plans to me. So's it's a little different.

mw, 'stick to your guns" sounds like I'd defend any of this. I won't.

reverend dick said...

I guess I came to the party late. I started riding in college because the other guys on the crew team rode mountain bikes, and it was the thing. I got hooked on the bikes and while the crew fell away (it's hard to maintain the involvement in rowing there's a lot of logistics)the bike stayed. 1989.

Mountain bikes were, from the beginning, about the next big improvement. It is still happening but there are stirrings of simplicity and elegance there now. Singlespeeds and such. Because of my starting place, my views on road bikes have been similar.

My views on bikes now are: while I appreciate (my view of) a fine aesthetic what REALLY counts for me is the riding of the bike. The actual ride, being on the bike and going. Even a shitty bike can be a fun ride.

Anonymous said...

Here here.
Allan Pollock

Anonymous said...

Old Fogey, indeed. It's why all my bikes are steel, and why I still present flies via bamboo to largely disinterested trout.

BTW..the by-and-large panning of your musical tastes counfound me. As a lover and listener of what I for lack of a better term lable Indigenous American Music, I think your ear and palate are pretty dang good. The music posts will be missed. Slices of life from the "Old, Weird America" get harder to find every day.


Rick M.

Gunnar Berg said...

I'll still post a little music. Most of the grumbling came from my brother-in-law Larry, who likes Neal Diamond singing Sweet Caroline. While that is probably fine music, it's just not what I like.