Friday, June 24, 2016

BSNYC Road Jernel Part III: Last Stop Rivendell


As the week draws to a close, so too does my epic recounting of my recent mini-tour of the West Coast.  When last we gathered I was still in Seattle, and from there I flew to San Francisco and made my way to a hotel in Contra Costa county, where Grant Petersen picked me up in his Ferrari:


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-
t Centre:


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:


And books:


And hatchets:


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):


Cloth tape:


Clothing:


Luggage:


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.

95 comments:

Mike O. said...

Early today.

Ted K. said...

144. Thus human nature has in the past put certain limits on the development of societies. People could be pushed only so far and no farther. But today this may be changing, because modern technology is developing ways of modifying human beings.

Anonymous said...

yay podium

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

BREXIT! SCRANUS!

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

#WhatPubicBoneHeightYouRunnin?

The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual can also be used to measure your pubic bone height.

One day I may lose my Fred Sleds and get a Rivendell. I've often thought about it.

Great Jernel and no quiz to boot!

N/A said...

Happy damn Friday!

dancesonpedals said...

Friday's child has no scranus

Anonymous said...

I love the smell of BSNYC in the morning.`

Bryan said...

Early post, and happy Friday!

N/A said...

Aside from the sandals, you would need some culottes, a flannel (or seersucker) shirt (seasonally appropriate, natch), and at least 1(one) "ironic" piece of clothing, just to show that you're not taking it all too seriously if you're going to go "full Riv" with your wardrobe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Snob and have a scrantacular weekend

BamaPhred said...

I have soooooo much bike lust for a Rivendell, Thanks Snob!

DB said...

Thanks Snob.
Enjoyed your travelogue.

dancesonpedals said...

WCRM: Forget the Sam Hillborne. In the parking garage at work there's a Homer Hillson that is amazing for it's practicality as a commuter (biggish tires, racks, solid frame) and over the top details (drilled-out brake levers?)

OTOH, I can't see dropping 4K to replace my Nashbar special.

Anonymous said...

Hey, there's a picture of my butt! I'm famous!

Anonymous said...

If you get a Rivendale you'll have to move th family back to Brooklyn.

bad boy of the north said...

waxing nostalgic....I remember "the red balloon" film when they played it on the CBS children's film festival.not sure about "pee wee's big adventure" being on there,though.well,i thoroughly enjoyed jernel week,especially the trailside photography.the jungles of Portland and the deserts near Rivendell were very enticing,to be sure.

JLRB said...

No wonder you've been in such an unsarcastic mode this week - looks like an awesome day to end your tour

Weekend plans = reading the rest of "one of the many useful books about bicycling" while perched in the hammock I conned my wife into getting me for Fathers' Day

Garrett7m said...

Snob, I noticed on Twitter yesterday how you managed to talk Nashbar into sending you those exact same sandals for free. Marketing genius indeed...

Roger Kummert said...

I've been riding a Riv for 15 years now. I've got a Rambouillet. I have other bikes but every time I ride it I realize what a great bike I own.

Dooth said...

New York could sure use a Bike Book and Hatchet store. You never know when the urge to bury one's nose in a book coincides with the burying of a hatchet.

Paul McWilliams said...

I made it to the big time--appearing in photographs on the world's greatest bike blog!

Meeting WCRM in person was a pleasure. I also enjoyed my introduction to the Rivendell cult. The ride was a blast, but also challenging on my ill-suited plastic road-racing type bicycle. (I suspect the Zertz might not be working as advertised!) Another highlight was the grass spike that wedged in my front brake caliper. Brushing the wheel, it hissed exactly like a deflating tire, leaving me and others nearby expecting to patch a tube. As I squeezed my tires uncertainly, Grant said, "Skinny tire guy get a pinch-flat?"

Now I want a utilitarian dirt-riding type metal bicycle.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Seeing as where a bulbous female pudendum is nature's greatest gift, I would happily become a pubic bone height expert.

CommieCanuck said...

these pics are OhKAY....but it's 2016 Snob, there's wall going up around England, people in Scotland are wearing ginger combovers...this blog should be livestreamed in real time in virtual reality, powered by Oculus Rift, integrated with the Facebook Virtual Sandals shopping app and augmented reality that measures your "pelvic bone". That's what men have been sending potential spouses for years on their iFones, pelvic bone measurement images for correct fit. Anthony Weiner was just a tech prophet.

PLVC BONE

CommieCanuck said...

Paul, did he bring Vito? No one talks anymore about Vito.

CommieCanuck said...

POOR VITO

N/A said...

Vito is pining for the fjords.

Dorothy Rabinowitz said...

My PBH is 4 PBRs high and that is all it takes to get into my bibs.

Anonymous said...

Kind of a "snark-free" post after a visit with a guy once awarded a SOPWAMTOS gold-painted toilet seat in the "Self-appointed Guru" category" doncha think?

Matt said...

On my twelfth season on my Atlantis. People who drive $40,000 cars think it's weird to ride such a nice bike to work. Whatever. Room for biggish tires (36mm), fenders, rack, kickstand and the vertical dropouts that make Pitlock skewers practical make it a delightful everyday urban ride.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 12:02pm,

I'm sorry my blog is not in line with SOPWAMTOS, I didn't realize I was governed by their sensibilities.

--Wildcat Etc.

N/A said...

Is "SOPWAMTOS" is an anagram for SWAMPASS.

McFly said...

Bikes Books Hatchets and Flower Skirts.

[I'm jealous of your adventures]

McFly said...

Society Of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit

N/A said...

That first "is" shouldn't be there. My bad.

FR8 said...

McFly

Doesn't everyone make their own shit? Doesn't seem to require a special society.

P. Bateman said...

you can manifest your dream of a sam hillbourne into reality snob. just keep exuding the energy...exude the energy..

balls™ said...

That's a really old picture of Vince Neil. He's kind of a fat fuck these days.

Nice goofy tiller effect!

Fred Fredericksen said...

Has anybody ever met a Motley Crue fan and then said, "Now there is an intelligent person."?
Also, I likes me some quill stem and lug porn. I get the impression that Grant Petersen is a very serious person. He wouldn't like me because I commute on 26's, wear padded shorts and use clipless pedals. I am coming around to his way of thinking in other ways, though.
You, Mr. Rock Machine, are a lucky dude. Though you made your own luck. Cheers, keep the good coming.

McFly said...

Maybe its Stuff......or Scranus.

mike said...

Ultraromance in your territory at mo.The real deal...

mike said...

Ultraromance in your territory at mo.The real deal...

crosspalms said...

Couldn't your cheapskate publisher have sent you a few more places so we'd have more travelogue to read? That was fun, I'm sorry it's over. And I wasn't even there, just hanging out here in the ether with the rest of the gang.

I was riding to a farmers market the other day and passed a woman and a kid (grandson maybe?). They were riding Divvy (bike-share) bikes across the grass and the woman was laughing so much the kid said "easy" in a concerned voice. I think she hadn't been on a bike for a while and was rediscovering how much fun they are. That made my day.

Adam said...

Hilarious post. Yes, "an old movie about a French kid with a balloon makes a tired blogger seem entertaining" -- I was there, and it worked: you blew my low expectations right out of the water. A couple of months ago I also finally bought a Sam Hillborne and I absolutely love it. My wife complained "but that's the exact same bike as your Long Haul Trucker, only with nicer paint." That's sort of what I had feared too before buying it, but I'm happy to report that is not the case. The Sam just rides so smoothly and fits so well and is such a joy to ride... so yeah, I also drank the kool-aid. Next up: Tevas.

Grump said...

Snobby, are you going to start wearing tweed now??

I think that a better title would be "Vengeance, The Red Balloon of Death".

Anonymous said...

Isn't the Hillbourne essentially an '80's steel mountain bike frame with drop bars for $2k?

Anonymous said...

Wow, those photos of riding on Mt Diablo remind me exactly of New York City.

No, life is not fair.

McFly said...

Tell Grant to let the visor blonde come down off the balls of her feet before checking Pubic Bone Height....it will skew the results.

Anonymous said...

I have people curate my shit for me and place it in the toilet for me to flush

Freddy Murcks said...

One of your best post ever, Snob. I can think of no witty rejoinders.

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

Enough of this civilized bullshit, Snobby. Let's get back into the NY State of mind. We need the snarkiness and sarcasm back.

winky said...

I've read Petersen's book, and while there is some good advice in there, I simply can't buy into all his retro-grouch bullshit. "Handlebars should be higher than your seat. For comfort. Bike shorts are the very worst type of clothing to cycle in." Really?

BikeSnobNYC said...

winky,

I like my bib shorts and my clipless pedals but it's way too easy to fall into the mindset that you can't do a "real" ride without them. Grant's book helped change that mindset for me. And I do think the path he presents for the new rider is a more viable one than the mainstream bike industry does, and certainly it's more conducive to long-term cycling enjoyment for many people. The "going faster and longer" thing is a good way to burn out, especially as you get older and busier. As a former bike racer I see plenty of people who stop riding altogether when they don't have time/energy to race anymore, which I attribute to the "all or nothing" mindset.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Anonymous said...

I love "Just Ride" The main message to me is - figure out what works best for you. I'm 60 miles from Walnut Creek, on the cooler SF peninsula, and bike shorts work for me, but on sunny and hot days in California, looser, thinner clothing could be a better choice. If I lived in Walnut Creek, not on the SF Peninsula, where it is 20+ degrees warmer on a summer afternoon, I'd be looking for light cotton shorts with smooth seams. That's still bike specific, but not necessarily what you find in a bike shop.

On my commute bike I've gone from toe clips back to BMX pedals, most recently cheap rubber grip pedals, after the BMX pedal pins though great for grip, beat up my work shoes. Finding what works best for me...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a visit to Walnut Creek could be expensive for me...

crosspalms said...

I thought one of the cards on that Rivendell frame would read "on sale, half off."

babble on said...

I am all for the regular clothes for regular days, and fred gear for fast club rides. I go from the Electra to the Lynskey Cooper all the time: it's just like anything else: fanaticsm is the killer. A closed mind is a dangerous mind. I was doing some work for a certain bike shop owner last year, and found his "this way is the only way" attitude every bit as dangerous as the fredly all or nothing. He insisted on fitting people with wide saddles, even if they were on a road bike, where a wide saddle can actually cause problems. He insisted on Schraeder valves, even if it meant drilling bigger holes in the wheels, and he insisted that an upright posture is better than that of a road-bike. He would deliberately steer people away from roadbikes and to hybrids, even if it meant he lost the sale. I think it's important to keep an open mind, and to allow for change when the circumstances call for it.

Fanaticism is what scares me about the bipolar dem vs rep nature of the political beast in the US, and it's what worries me in the great divide which manifest itself in the UK of late, too. It's just a funny little rock, this planet, and we're all on it together.

Bromptonaut: yes, we've plenty of room here in the quickly warming Great White North, much of it devoid of human inhabitants. I think you might still be able to homestead in a few places, in Alberta, too, if that appeals to you. You might need a good hatchet, and I'm thinking Snobi Wan could probably hook you up with a good one.

Tom A. Hawk said...

If a bird poops on your Waltz it's called a hatshit.

P. Bateman said...

if your not going 110% percent all the time your just not even tryin'

P. Bateman said...

shit, when i write my checks to the IRS I add 10%.

that's how hard i go in the paint.

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

Great posting Snob. I saw a nice well used Riv product on my way in to work yesterday.
Funny, one of the staff at one of the Loco bike shops I go to said once you try bibshorts, you'll never go back. I hate when the shorts' waistline rolls and rolls when I bend to pick something up off the floor. OCD waist straightening.

A friend of mine said riding in Manhattan is really junk miles. Well, I lost 10 pounds in the last month due to these junk miles.

There are times for the upright bike and times for the aero bike.
I like MKS BM7 BMX pedals (red anodized please!) on my road bikes with toe clips (red anodized please!). It's a comfy enough setup for hard shoes or boat shoes.

Next project is putting BMX pedals on my 1956 Schwinn Corvette w toe clips.

Frankenbikes live!

vsk

Anonymous said...

I have never experienced junk miles while riding a bicycle. My only junk miles are the ones spent alone in an automobile.

Are the MKS BM-7s wide enough for size 13 shoes?

Anonymous said...

WRM @ 3:21pm -

I read "older and busier" as older and boozier. As an over the hill rider, I like my booze; additionally, I really enjoy my squishy off-road style byke-cicle. My over the hill corpus crusty can churn extra chamois juice with the hidden comfort suspension offers. The fluid-filled dik breaks reduce the whiteness of my pale knuckles on all but the tamest of descents.

bbotn said...

Please don't say...cj.

leroy said...

Ride safe all!

My dog informs me that it's nuts out there.

(And he's buuuuying a stairway to ....)

BamaPhred said...

You know what happens when cj is mentioned 3 times in a row, beware!

Anonymous said...

Hope you enjoyed the Lafayette Park Hotel where ten years ago this week me and the misses got hitched. I'm a full on Riv convert. Doesn't take too many rides on the fire roads around here to realize how good we have it year-round...specially moving from Boston. Really wanted to get over to see your drivel but cancers, surgical complications and a new hip that threw my knee off have kept me sidelined for 3 years now. I just couldn't bring myself to be out amongst my bretheren especially not being able to participate in the non ride. Though it'd been good to see a bunch of Rivies converge on that hotel (love it when Grant organizes things and a bunch of freaks come out of nowhere on two top tube bikes), it is just pure tourture to be around it and not be able to ride. I will be back at it soon enough. In the meamntime your blog is the only cycling exposure I allow myself these days. Can i just say driving everyday really fucking sucks. I hope everyone out there riding knows not to take it for granted. On your next commute, maybe pedal a few revolutions for those who want to be riding but can't. Keep up the great work snob and I will continue to accidently click a sponsor link a couple times a year (and go back to spending way too much at Riv....hopefully soon.) Be well.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anon 7:28pm,

Thanks, and I hope you are back on the bike again soon. You are very right about not taking it for granted.

--Wildcat Rock Machi e

Anonymous said...

Saw you at the Marriott in the Creek, my wife was incredulous " You're going across town to hear a Bike Blogger speak??". I'm the type of person that would pay money not to sit in a room and get lectured to on a nice day. However your talk was great, strong work Snob, definitely worth the 10 minutes it took to get there!

bieks said...

RIP to the catalinasmbay link. It had an insanely long run. I guess Brad and Taffy moved on? At least you archived it for posterity. I wonder where the Just Kidding is now.

tubasti said...

Grant Peterson is as dogmatic about raising stems as others are about slamming them. Funny.

I see y'all also went "clipless-less."

Joseph said...

No.

Joseph said...

I never did get used to padded shorts after two decades of trying. I now use a Brooks B17, wool underwear and baggy Riv shorts. It's fabulous.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brianvonlehe said...

There was this thing invented once upon a time in the Bay Area for going over rocks in a more controlled fashion....

leroy said...

Anon 7:28 pm -- I know exactly what you mean. Hope you are back on the bike soon.

bad boy of the north said...

anonymous@728p....more than an extra pedal is headed your way.sunnier days to you and the misses.

JLRB said...

Is the pubic bone hight measurement known as the gland fondle?

JLRB said...

Anon @728 - I've recently been medically forced off the bike and it does suck - getting back on and realizing how atrophied your bike muscles are isn't fun but it doesn't last - and then the joy of self propulsion returns. I hope you find a way to ride some form of bike soon - maybe an e-assist to ease back into things

babble on said...

Heh, yep, me too! I'm going to give it my best this morning, though, so I'll have a spin or two for you, sir. Here's to health, happiness, and a good long ride. :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the snarky SOPWAMTOS reference Snobby, since you are kind of a "self-appointed" something yourself I guess you didn't get it - and you were probably still pedaling your plastic Big Wheel when the "Golden Toiddy Award" was given to the man who would go on to found Rivendell... after he ran B-stone into the ground.

Mr. Peabody said...

The Great Canadian Novel:

I'm thinking a RCMP officer Sgt. Dudley-do-Wrong and his trusty Dachshund Yukon Queen, instead of horse, he rides a Cipo model bike. When off duty he dresses up like Nell Fenwick, and sings in the shower "I never wanted to do this job in the first place! I... I wanted to be...A LUMBERJACK! leaping from tree to tree! I chop down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra...

wishiwasmerckx said...

...I want to be a girlie, just like my dear papa...

Ah, the flatulent Elm of West Ruislip!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 11:26am,

Maybe you're confusing "self-appointed" with "doing your own thing"...?

No, pretty sure I get the reference: a self-appointed group gave him an ironic award a long time ago and it's important for you to prove how long you've been around bikes.

--Wildcat Etc.

Paul Bunyan said...

I don't always wear suspedies and a bra, but when I do I always strap on my Gransfors Bruk double bit axe.

Paul Heckbert said...

Dear Snob: interesting case of a traffic-law-savvy and assertive cyclist talking back to a harassing cop in Ashtabula, Ohio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3SFMIEN59I

Clueless said...

The Great Canadian Mystery Novel.
The tree planter did it on Wreck Beach with the glass bong.

ken e. said...

and none of the tree planter's friends had enough spine to say it was wrong.

paulb said...

I want a Cheviot.

Bared on the Beach said...

The Great Canadian Novelist spent too much time writing on Wreck Beach and ended up well... red.

The most interesting fred in the world said...

I don't often think about SOPWAMTOS bamboo frames, but when a do, a thrill goes up my leg.

Stay tingly, my friends.

BamaPhred said...

When a thrill goes up my leg, it's usually sciatica.

Anonymous said...

B-Snob....I own 4 Rivy's live on LI and drive a Ford....Love each one!!...their bikes are the best....For you... buy a Hilson , custom paint, put on some Schwalbe Little Bens 700x38's and enjoy......'([:{> #Pepesayswhat

Lieutenant Oblivious. said...

Hey I'm an alter cocker too. I don't think it's fair to say Grant Petersen ran Bridgestone into the ground, even if some group gave him an award stating that. Grant Petersen has his ideas about bikes, but I don't where he was going with Bridgestone killed it. There were lots of Japanese bike companies making nice lugged steel bikes, off the top of my head I can think of Fuji, Kabuki, Lotus, Miyata, Nishiki and Panasonic in addition to Bridgestone. What killed all of them was the unfavorable Yen to US dollar exchange rate at the same time that Taiwan started spitting out lighter and cheaper aluminum frame bikes that all the Freds flocked to. Bridgestone RB 1's and RB 2's are still prized by many cyclists and Rivendell continues on. Hopefully they are still around when I give up my Fredliest aspirations.