This blog has been dormant for a while, largely because I started it to write about coffee rides and cycling equipment.
I started writing this entry on a delayed cross-country flight returning from a funeral that will leave me arriving home a day late. Also, I apparently lost my headphones, finished the book I’d been reading, and am not going to fall asleep anytime soon, so I figured I might as well do something productive. My goal for this flight is to write whatever comes to mind and not edit or overthink it. I overthink my writing for work, so it’s going to feel liberating to write stream of consciousness and publish a first draft to see how it goes. At work this would never happen, but outside of work, I can be daring. In my writing. Of course, the level of daring is relative and laughable in the context of life and the book I just finished entitled “Agent Sonya” about a Soviet spy.
My reading is almost exclusively nonfiction and generally focused on history. I have a fascination with understanding the Cold War because I grew up in the tail end of it and history classes always seemed to include the postwar period as an etcetera. Whether it was a desire to keep things generally noncontroversial (we’re always the good guys) or they just ran out of time and didn’t want to edit are unclear to me. Regardless, I like learning about how what I thought I knew the way things were was not accurate. The book humanized Ursula (her real name) and painted a complex picture of Soviet spies. The people featured in the book didn’t undertake their actions for personal gain, but rather conviction, even though the actual practice of Soviet communism turned out to be something very different from their principles. When you look at things outside the prism the context of a patriotic child of the cold war, who thought we had an obligation to support the Nicaraguan Contras because they were against the communists, things get more interesting, especially when one comes to accept that we were on the wrong side of things at times. I know I’ve gone off on a tangent, so I’m going to return my thoughts to cycling and bikes.
With Covid, the coffee rides went out the window and I only rode with one other person, and we rarely stopped for coffee.
In addition, there is also the lack of new things to write about and projects in queue are moving slowly. For example, I really want to build up and write about the Cherubim, but alas I cannot get my hands on the parts needed to build it up as it is quite difficult to get ahold of Campagnolo (or most any for that matter) components these days and I can’t imagine building up the Cherubim with SRAM. For what it’s worth, I could see maybe doing it with the new Dura-Ace, which has not yet been released and most likely won’t be available to me at any price for quite some time. While Velonews, Cyclingnews and Cyclingtips will undoubtedly get loaners if they have not already, someone like me can only test and write about it by shelling out the cash for it and I don’t think I’ll be able to pull any strings to even get it at anything less than full price. Even then, just getting ahold of an aftermarket group in the near future will be quite a challenge. Therefore, I’m most likely going to stick with my original plan of building it with Super Record EPS DB and hopefully Bora WTO 45 wheels. I realize they won’t make me faster and that the Shamal carbon wheels are a better value, but who really wants to see a frameset built by one of the best builders and adorned with the best components with a “value” set of wheels. Such is the world bike snobbery in which I live in which Campagnolo Shamal carbon wheels are just not quite enough to make the first choice for a build. Of course, by saying this it means I likely will end up having to go with something other than my first choice of wheels, but I know I’ll get no sympathy. Plus, wouldn’t you rather read about the halo parts on a halo bike?
I started riding in the fall of 1988 and have been riding ever since then save for a few breaks due to school, etc. Part of the reason that I’m obsessed with top end bike stuff was because I started as a teenager and that was all out of reach, but now I can have some really nice stuff, though I’ve noticed my tastes have gotten more expensive (or refined I’d prefer to say) with time. At this point in life and my cycling career, I’m no longer interested in mass market bikes, even though you can get the leading edge of technology that way. Although you get the latest in technology, you are just getting a mass-produced bike that will no longer be the latest and greatest once there is a newer version of it or newer model. Just think about how an F8 is now so much less cool now that there’s been an F10 and F12 without even considering the F12 has not been surpassed. Now, you likely cannot tell any real difference between these models if all else is the same, but if you are dropping that kind of coin, don’t you some cachet this will last a bit longer? I don’t think of it the same way as a car: a Ferrari will always be a Ferrari but an F8 is just bike that was carried a premium price when new. I realize that bikes and cars aren’t the best comparison, but I get more enjoyment from my bikes than I would a Ferrari and I’ve come to accept that a Ferrari isn’t going to happen in this lifetime. I’m actually fine with that since, notwithstanding the issue of cost, they are too much of a grab for attention. Will I change my mind if I ever have enough money that I can comfortably afford one, inclusive of maintenance? Maybe, but I’ll worry about that if it ever happens. Plus, there are worse things than getting called out for than saying how don’t ever see yourself in a Ferrari and then changing your mind once you’re rich, because I’ll be rich if that happens, and I’ll get over your criticism by driving my Ferarri and contemplating my good fortune in having more money than sense, though I’ll be able to explain why a Ferrari is actually sensible in my particular situation. It’s still not as bad as a nice boat or airplane, both of which you need to be like a Bond villain. Of course, you also need a ginormous house, elaborate schemes, and lots of henchmen. By the way, one way of knowing you’re up to no good is that you have henchmen. Face it, if you’re on the level, you don’t need them. You might need security, but that’s purely defensive
Now that you know I don’t have a Ferrari, don’t expect to ever get one, and am fine with that, I’ll return to my less expensive hobby of cycling. Unlike expensive cars, a really nice bike isn’t screaming out for attention since so few people will know what it is anyway. While most cyclists know the big brands, only a small percentage know the boutique builders and even if they know a few, it’s just a sliver. For example, I think a reasonable percentage of people who are into nice bikes know Parlee, but very few know Crumpton. I’m not personally interested in mass market bikes since they are all pretty good, but pretty much the same. When you get a mass market bike, you are paying a huge premium for the branding. From my perspective, the great differentiating factor between high-end mass-market bikes is generally going to be what you can get the best deal on, assuming fit is not an issue. While they have their differences, I don’t think one can really say that a Specialized is any better/less good than a Trek/Cannondale, etc. The more bikes advance, the more they seem to converge. I suppose I’m the kind of snob who appreciates having something that’s made for me that most people won’t even know what it is. To me it’s kind of like having an exotic sports car that only I and a very rare subset of people even notice. Plus, all that really matters to me is that I appreciate it and enjoy it. I can ride something exotic yet under the radar at the same time. Perhaps it’s like having clothing by a designer so exclusive that almost no one can even recognize it. Even though most people don’t know what a Pagani is, if you see one you’ll know you are looking at some type of exotic sports car. Even if you’re into bikes, you see a Cherubim and most likely don’t know what it is. Of course, one cannot say it is inherently better than a bike made by another good builder, but I appreciate the work of people who are well-respected by their peers who are far more knowledgeable than I could ever be.