Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Okay, NOW I'm back.

aodueiaieosiehndoweiwnenw!

Sorry for that, it can be difficult to start typing again after a vacation.  The fingers stiffen up, you hit the wrong keys, you keep forgatting how too speal stuff...  It's sort of like how you have to shake the cobwebs out of your legs when you've been off the bike for awhile--something I'll also have to do in the coming days, since even though I brought a bike with me on my trip I didn't really ride all that much.  Mostly I just used it for little subsistence jaunts here and there, which featured mere token stretches of gravel:


Sure, I might have gone longer, but those damn Adirondack mountains were blocking all the cellphone signals and I didn't want to do anything too ambitious without first consulting my tire pressure app:


You can't be too careful.

So instead I spent the bulk of my leisure time enjoying the family, preparing lavish repasts on a barbecue grill, and curating and consuming refreshingly potent seasonally-appropriate cocktails.  Nevertheless, bicycles still managed to insinuate themselves into the proceedings, which is what happens when you're a celebrated semi-professional bike blogger.  For example, at one point we all hopped into THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK for a little day trip to Middlebury, Vermont.  (Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation, you know how it is.)

Anyway, our little interstate trip was going swimmingly at first.  The ferry didn't sink into Lake Champlain, we marveled at the rolling green hills, I shouted "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!" at my elder son as we passed Middlebury College...  Finally we pulled into town, where to my surprise I noticed this:


Yeah, that's right, it was a tiny museum with a bicycle exhibit:


"Hey everybody, look!," I exclaimed in my best Clark W. Grizwold, and a collective groan arose in the car as it soon became clear that not only was I going to check out the exhibit but I was also going to drag everybody else in there with me.  On one hand, I couldn't blame them for being apprehensive, because on our last visit to Middlebury we'd made the mistake of taking a tour of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm and the boredom very nearly killed us.  (Though they were doing a pregnancy check on the animals while we were there, and it's not too often we city slickers get to see someone go armpit-deep in a horse's vagina.)  Yet on the other hand, my family's aversion to tedium seemed a bit unreasonable.  After all, we were in Vermont for chrissakes.  What were they expecting?  Excitement?!?

Yeah, right.

So in we went, and as it turned out the exhibit was all that I hoped for and more:


You never truly realize how badly you needed to see a stuffed kangaroo lounging on a settee in front of a recumbent until you actually encounter one.

You also never know the fear of impending disaster until you release a toddler into a room filled with old-timey velocipedes:


See, as the child of a semi-professional bike blogger my younger son is extremely comfortable around bicycles--so much so that whenever he sees one he figures his job is to get on it so I can schlep him to the playground:


This meant I couldn't examine the bicycles as closely as I'd have liked, because I had to devote the majority of my mental acuity to preventing him from climbing them:


I don't know which would be worse: having to explain to the curator that your kid just destroyed one of the exhibits, or having to admit to people that your child's injury was the result of being crushed by a falling pennyfarthing.  The former is obviously bad because that stupid high-wheeler is probably worth more than like ten Specialized McLaren Venge-Schmenges and I'd be paying it off for the rest of my life.  However, the latter would be unbearably humiliating and quite difficult to live down, except for maybe in Brooklyn and Portland where such injuries are probably commonplace--but even there you'd have to deal with people asking why your child wasn't wearing a helmet.

Nevertheless, I'm pleased to report that thanks to our expert parenting no harm came to any of the bicycles (or to my kid, though I realize most of you probably don't give a shit), and that includes this stunning example of one of the earliest (if not the earliest, I was too busy playing defense to read everything as closely as I'd have liked) safety bicycles:


As I admired its medieval-looking drivetrain I wished I could take it for a spin:


After all, this is where it all began--right here, with this machine that liberated us from the ridiculous pennyfarthing and is the basis for the bikes we're still riding today (recumbent-riding freaks notwithstanding).

Yet even then, at the very dawn of cycling civilization, there were already retrogrouches.  Consider for example that while everyone was flocking to the safety bicycle there were still those who "enjoyed the thrill of riding the grand old ordinary."  So in 1893 the Crypto Cycle Company introduced the "Crypto Geared Front Driver:"


Though I suppose one could argue that a geared pennyfarthing is a retrogrouchical oxymoron--kind of like a Rivendell with electronic shifting.  Here's that sweet geared pennyfarthing hub, by the way:


Put that baby on your singlespeed for some serious street cred.  (Though I suppose you'd have to retrofit a chain drive somehow.)

Meanwhile, if you were a late 19th Century Frederick living on the bleeding edge of velocipedal technology, in that very same year you could have bought this baby from William Reed and Sons which was hot enough to fog up your monocle:


It's got all the latest features, including what I can only assume was the equivalent of Boost 148:


Whatever the cutting-edge bottom bracket standard was back then:


Some sort of brake or shifter or oil pump or butter churner, who the hell knows:


And of course this baroque suspension saddle setup, which was probably the dropper seatpost of its day:


There was also a racing bike:


And a wooden bike made from what I can only assume are broom handles:


With ornate (though not exactly confidence-inspiring) lugs:


And a newer road racer:


And an even newer Hetchins:


And then, amid my revery, I was slapped in the face by the titanium hand of the present in the form of this Budnitz fat bike:


What a huge disappointment.  That's like ending a retrospective of the greatest films in history with the "Entourage" movie.

And there was more than just bikes.  There were also photos, like this one of a proto-hipster with his dog:


And this one of "comical men with ordinary bicycles:"


("What, no helmets?!?")

Though who's to say they're not early road rage victims whose heads have been nailed to a tree?

Then there was a truing stand:


It's accurate to within tenths of a foot.

And of course there were the accessories:


Like this water gun for warding off dogs:


Or this actual gun for when the squirt gun ain't cutting it:


And with my head swimming in the past I finally left the museum and headed into Middlebury, where I undertook the search for my family, who'd gotten fed up with the exhibit like nine pennyfarthings ago:


At least I knew not to look for them at the horse farm.

61 comments:

Shaun Howard said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

someone got an early start

Anonymous said...

Bronze Mettle! Wheeee!

BamaPhred said...

I can has 2nd loser podium?

Ted K. said...

HUMAN SUFFERING
167. The industrial system will not break down purely as a result of revolutionary action. It will not be vulnerable to revolutionary attack unless its own internal problems of development lead it into very serious difficulties. So if the system breaks down it will do so either spontaneously, or through a process that is in part spontaneous but helped along by revolutionaries. If the breakdown is sudden, many people will die, since the world’s population has become so overblown that it cannot even feed itself any longer without advanced technology. Even if the breakdown is gradual enough so that reduction of the population can occur more through lowering of the birth rate than through elevation of the death rate, the process of de- industrialization probably will be very chaotic and involve much suffering. It is naive to think it likely that technology can be phased out in a smoothly managed, orderly way, especially since the technophiles will fight stubbornly at every step. Is it therefore cruel to work for the breakdown of the system? Maybe, but maybe not. In the first place, revolutionaries will not be able to break the system down unless it is already in enough trouble so that there would be a good chance of its eventually breaking down by itself anyway; and the bigger the system grows, the more disastrous the consequences of its breakdown will be; so it may be that revolutionaries, by hastening the onset of the breakdown, will be reducing the extent of the disaster.

BamaPhred said...

Apparently not
Congrats to the winnrz

N/A said...

What cocktails where you running?

N/A said...

*were

N/A said...

*weir

N/A said...

*whir

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

If my son can't win, nobody can!

<a href="http://710wor.iheart.com/onair/len-berman-and-t>odd-schnitt-in-55864/thanks-dad-father-sabatoges-race-sends-15077489/>Dad supports son in road race</a>

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

If my son can't win, nobody can!Son crashes in race on French island, so the father gets all PO'd and drags a barrier across the course at the finish. Hilarity ensues, at least for him

trying the hyperlink one more time...

<a href="http://710wor.iheart.com/onair/len-berman-and-todd-schnitt-in-55864/thanks-dad-father-sabatoges-race-sends-15077489/>Dad supports son in road race</a>

Hugh Janus, Expert Motorist said...

Yeah, a museum. That's the proper place for those anachronistic abominations. Why don't you weenies all permanenly nail yer precious little pedal-toys to one of the walls in yer rat-infested hovel and create the World's Largest Museum of Transportation for the Perpetually Moronic. I'll even help by donating my rusted-out, smoke-belching '72 Impala. You can put this in the exhibit that shows the kiddies why the two-wheeled, fart-powered jokes went extinct. See? I'm a philanthropist. Now stay off my highway with your efficient, health-promoting, environmentally friendly relics. The Great American Motorist is a highly-evolved species and we will not tolerate luddites that cling to the ancient ways of barbarism.

Anonymous said...

When I saw the pictures of the Sheldon Museum sign and bicycle exhibit, I assumed it was the Sheldon Brown Museum. But silly me.

Spokey said...

lucky 15

Tom Smolen said...

Were they at Otter Creek?

il Pirata est Mort said...

Met a man, who had to be in his 70's, a couple years ago who rode a big wheeler from NJ to Cali with another big wheeler.

Anonymous said...

lol, excellent post, worth the wait. Pretty cool how they steamed/bent the wood into shape and screwed the lugs around it on the wooden bike. Probably Ash, it's always ash.

Ironically, I'm being asked to verify by selecting pictures of pickup trucks.

JLRB said...

Interesting museum of bikes - hopeful your bride wasn't at the museum of divorce filings while you gazed at pennys and farthings

Rin Tin Tin Fan Club said...

A bike exhibit with a picture of Leroy's Dog, cool.

A water pistol for dogs and a rifle for Buffalo is how they used to roll.

POC's HTML Editer said...


Dad supports son in road race

Yale U said...

"someone go armpit-deep in a horse's vagina" Frat rite at Skull And Bones, they made Dubya do it over and over.

babble on said...

Yale U - Sure, but vets do it all the time, and no matter how you look at it, that's still far better than a certain Prime Minister of an exiting nation's "boner deep in a dead pig's mouth" initiation at Oxford in days gone by...

but then what isn't?!?

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, now we are going to have bespoke bicycles with wide carbon fiber disc brakes slowed by leather straps of Fine Corinthian Leather...

Anonymous said...

"When I saw the pictures of the Sheldon Museum sign and bicycle exhibit, I assumed it was the Sheldon Brown Museum."

I was hoping (hard) for the same thing.

Pump Action said...

Looks to me like some Aussie forgot his 'roo blow up, sex toy on the settee in the drawing room. (Wonder what psi he runs?)

Daisy, Daisy... said...

"...a stuffed kangaroo lounging on a settee in front of a recumbent..."

Not just any recumbent, but recumbent/non-recumbent tandem. That right there is one unholy union.

Anonymous said...

wow, how could you possibly top the excitement of a bike museum. The world's largest ball of string, perhaps?

bad boy of the north said...

look who's officially back from the hinterland.

None said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chazu said...

Your technical lexicon,( e.g. "retrogrouchical") is a bit advanced for the mouth-breathers in your audience, myself included.

Dumb it down a little?

During the hiatus, I watched your presentation to the Googlers for the first time, now that it is six years old. Good to know the person in the gratuitous baby photo now has a functioning neck and free will, with which to turn his head and exit the retrogrouchical exhibit.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Yeah stuffed roo's are dope but I know for sure what I need to see badly and that's Recumbabe lounging on her recumbent.

Cool mewseeum.Thanks for that.

Francois said...

Why are there signs in chinese in the rifle's display case? It looks like old signs too, not something for the (very numerous) chinese tourists that travel Vermont.

McFly said...

..........if I had a nickel every time I was elbow deep in a mare's vagina........

CommieCanuck said...

Those vintage saddles were designed to avoid over-stimulation of women. Bicycles were basically the Sybians of the 1800s. It was not polite society to discuss what went on under those long skirts.
Those Penny Farthings ruled racing until the hidden internal steam engines were discovered in 1892.

Dooth said...

They eat stuffed kangaroo, don't they?

BamaPhred said...

To some, the stuffed Roo is funny. I wanted to dress up some mannequins, put a fake dog's head on one, a fake horse head on another, and put them in rocking chairs on the front porch, like they were having a wine or tea party. The idea was quickly dispatched, with prejudice, as they saw.

Anonymous said...

What, no Vuelta-related content? Well, here's something my wife (bless her heart) thought of:

"The red jersey is for the general classification leader. The white jersey is for the combination classification only."

"No, the white jersey is for the general classification leader. The red jersey is for the combination classification only."

"Listen, Betty, don't start up with your white jersey shit again!"

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...holly monocles, SNOB, couldn't you have told me about this museum like last week. I started and ended a four day cycling trip in Middlebury.

...though I did get to do much gravel grinding and loooong ass hill climbs right out of Middlebury into the Green mountains.

...Did you get to cycle that bike path that goes right through Hero Island and into Burlington... with the cute little 2 minute ferry?

Anonymous said...

Regarding pregnancy testing of horses: it was likely trans-rectal palpation rather than vaginal: the technician can feel the embryo through the wall of the intestine.

Comment deleted said...

Hey! That William Reed & Sons bicycle has a bleeding edge left side drivetrain!

Anonymous said...

a 2 minute fairy? is that all youse could afford?

JuanOffhue said...

Way to turn a family vacation into a deductible business expense, Snob! Well done.

Out here in flyover country the kiddos are back to school, but not all of them are arriving in Range Rovers and X5s.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Trans-rectal palpation?

Pretty much sums up my Labor Day weekend.

babble on said...

I'm still waiting on the post Museum of Sex visit post, thank you very much. And I'm pretty sure their XXX bicycle exhibit will knock the socks off any pennyfarthing anywhere. That, and a recumbabe sighting, and I'm a happy girl.

Some guy from upstate said...

I am fascinated by the adjustable crank arm length, which, despite being a universal feature (based on a sample size of 2) of late-19th-century safety bicycles, seems to have not caught on.

And that recumbent/upright tandem, I can't help but think the kangaroo-head mannequin is some sort of commentary

Welcome back.

Admissions Office said...

Babble at 11:57 Do dead pigs give better head than live ones? And pigs. what, have sheep gone out of fashion?

A Glorious Sight it would Be said...

Babble "a recumbabe sighting" One gets the distinct impression that the internet police (po-lise on The Wire) have put an end to Ms. Recumbabe's charms.

Anonymous said...

that morning sky gave me a look

Alexander asdf said...

Snob, good to see you back. Thank your for the pictures of that little museum. From Europe (Germany) this seems like as far away as the moon ($) and I would probably never have seen it in my life, if I was not following your blog.

Umustbjoking said...

Don't run New York City air in the 'dacks. Deflate and refill upon arrival.

Some guy from upstate said...

Umustbjoking, I'm guessing you should deflate before leaving NYC. Same idea as with the firewood ...

leroy said...

Wait, you mean I'm the one who's supposed to carry the squirt gun to use on the dog?

This changes everything.

leroy said...

By the way, my dog asked me to point out that Ted King graduated from Middlebury College with a serious maple syrup habit, but an interesting business model.

I think my dog is jealous.

Duncan Gay said...

Hey, I was wondering where I left my Roo doll. It's going to cost me a fortune to get that sent home, I'm going to have increase the fines.

Dan said...

This was wonderful! Thank you!

Endosperm said...

Some of those museum bike chains looked like they could have powered the local mill's grist stone.

McFly said...

The wheel in the truing stand had some pretty beefy nipples. We should get the industry standard back to a nice robust nipple that won't twist off under moderate pressure with the wrong size spoke wrench. Not talking about me of course. I use vice grips.

JLRB said...

aodueiaieosiehndoweiwnenw!

The tandem bent safety cycle first prototype had the bent as the stoker, changed after a breakfast burrito

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