Grant is of course the person behind Rivendell Bicycle Works, as well as the author of "Just Ride:"
"Eat Bacon, Don't Jog:"
And he also ghostwrote Mötley Crüe lead vocalist Vince Neil's autobiography, "Tattoos and Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock's Most Notorious Frontmen:"
I find it amusing that Vince only claims to be one of rock's most notorious frontmen, not the most notorious. Seems to me if it's your autobiography you might as well go all the way. I followed the same logic when I called my book "The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual," not "One of the Many Useful Bicycle Owner's Manuals Currently Available on the Market ." But what do I know?
Anyway, Grant is a luminary and a sage in the cycling world, and as a longtime admirer of his I'm both honored and humbled that he not only carries all of my books in his shop (check out the kind things he said about my latest one!) but that he also agreed to host me for a signing. I mean sure, you may know me as the globetrotting bon vivant and world's greatest living bike blogger, but I'm really just a recovering Fred who's been making Internet wisecracks for nine years. So for a personage of Grant's status to acknowledge me like this is quite a thrill.
From my hotel we made our way over to Rivendell, and if you've never visited before (which I hadn't) I highly recommend it. These are prototype tandems they're working on:
And this is the ironically signed Custom Fi-
Speaking of fit, everybody was shocked and appalled to learn I didn't know my Pubic Bone Height, which at Rivendell is the only measurement that matters:
And once we ascertained it (don't ask) Grant presented me with Rivendell after Rivendell for my test-riding delectation:
He also insisted I try this, one of the first Campagnolo derailleurs from the 1930s:
The way it works is this: first, you open the upper quick release lever, which frees the axle in the dropouts (or I guess track ends if you want to get technical). Next, you use the lower lever to manually lift the chain onto another cog--while pedaling backwards of course. Then, once you've got the chain where you want it, you have to weight the saddle in order to tension the chain, then finally you close that upper quick release lever again.
Not only is it even harder than it sounds, but it's also a brilliant sales technique on Rivendell's part, because after trying to shift this freaking thing a bar-end friction shifter seems positively telepathic.
By the way, in addition to using an antique shifter for the first time, I also took my first tandem ride with a member of the Rivendell crew:
And of course visited Rivendell's downtown shop, "Bike Book and Hatchet:"
Fortunately we got there before it closed:
But unfortunately now this guy would know exactly where to find me:
Anyway, the captain and I parked the tandem against some firewood:
And stepped inside:
True to its name, the shop contained bikes:
As well as pine tarring supplies (this had to be explained to me because I am a total city slicker and not even remotely a Hatchet Fred):
And this bike frame, which seems like something out of a Paul Bunyan story, if only ol' Paul had been a retrogrouch instead of a lumberjack:
Not for nothing, but it seems to me that if Rivendell were to open one of these in Brooklyn the whole damn staff would be able to buy Ferraris.
But there was precious time to dawdle, for the signing was afoot, and so we hopped back on the tandem (I was "captain" this time) and returned to the shop:
And from there we zig-zagged to the Marriott:
And down to the conference room:
Where Grant was screening the 1956 French short film "The Red Balloon:"
It wasn't until later that I realized just as an antique derailleur makes a friction shifter seem modern, an old movie about a French kid with a balloon makes a tired blogger seem entertaining.
I'll be damned if that Petersen isn't a marketing genius.
Meanwhile, as the crowd continued to trickle in and wonder why the winner of the 1956 Academy Award for best original screenplay was playing, I got myself a beer:
And checked out a rival conference upstairs, which appeared to be even more of a bald-faced money grab than mine was:
Once the film was over, I then proceeded to elicit polite laughter from a crowd who by that point probably would have preferred to watch the ill-advised sequel, "The Red Balloon II: Rouge Vengeance:"
("The boy is now a man, and he's about to pop.")
After the signing, a group assembled for the totally optional NO HOST ride that was in no way organized by Rivendell:
So I suppose they didn't technically lend me this bike:
And off we scampered into the foothills of Mount Diablo:
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more idyllic setting for a ride:
I mean come on:
It's just not fair.
I was also greatly enjoying my loaner bike, CSPC-mandated accoutrements and all:
If it were mine obviously I'd lose the reflectors and maybe lower the stem a half a foot or so (I'd totally keep the kickstand though), but even as it was the bike was sublime. By the time we got to this hilltop, I was ready to give myself over completely to the Cult of Riv:
Indeed, looking back, maybe this steep drop was some sort of trust exercise:
It was a nasty one too, and one of our party even took a bit of a tumble:
But I'm pleased to report he totally Pee-Wee'd it and leapt back onto his feet with aplomb.
From there we snaked our way down some switchbacks:
And here's that quill stem-wrangling I promised you:
Sorry if it's not all you hoped.
The ride, however--as well as the entire day--was all I'd hoped for and more, and I was happier than I had a right to be as we rode back to town amid the setting sun:
If by this time next year I've gotten rid of all my bikes for a Sam Hillborne and a pair of sandals then you'll know why.