Sunday, December 2, 2018

On The Road Again

Farewell to cyclist, commentator--and, above all, château expert--Paul Sherwen:


The death of the respected cycling broadcaster and former professional rider Paul Sherwen has been confirmed at the age of 62.

I'm not that old, but I'm no millennial either (who, I guess, are also old now; I think we're onto Generation Z at this point), and so I remember what it was to have to forage for non-mainstream video entertainment instead of simply punching up even the most obscure content on the personal computer or hand-held cellular phone.  BMX and skateboarding videos were expensive, so like a castaway trying to suck nutrients out of shoe leather I'd suffer through some dumb movie like "BMX Bandits" or "Gleaming the Cube" for a few seconds of seeing what tricks looked like when executed by pros. Bleary-eyed, I'd stay up late into the night, waiting for episodes of Monty Python or the Young Ones so I could capture and preserve them on VHS tape.  (Sure, theoretically you could set the timer, but anybody older than 40 knows that there is no more difficult technological feat than programming a VCR.)  Then there was the Headbanger's Ball--I'd watch innumerable awful hair metal bands with the volume off in the hopes that I might snag that one Bad Brains or Agnostic Front video they'd air towards the end, the tape cued and my finger hovering over the pause button on the remote.  I mean sure, I could listen to the Bad Brains or Agnostic Front whenever I wanted, but there was just something so thrillingly subversive about it traveling through coaxial cable and appearing on millions of televisions that I just had to be a part of it.

When I was older and started to get interested in professional cycling I found that attempting to follow it was a very similar experience to being a teenager into Britcoms and hardcore.  Maybe I'd get to some bike racing here or there in the form of Olympic coverage or Tour de France highlights, but to really see what it looked like for more than 10 minutes I'd have to wait for the World Cycling Productions tape that came free with my Cycle Sport magazine subscription--until OLN started broadcasting entire races as the Armstrong era reached its peak and you could actually watch this stuff on cable (in between bass fishing and dog shows or whatever the hell they used to show on OLN, I don't even remember.)

Of course Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen were the voices of the sport for people like me, and so he'll always represent the thrilling sense of "This is it!" that used to come with watching a pro bike race, and when he'd commentate on the Olympics or something it was sort of like when a band I actually liked would pop up on Headbanger's Ball--"Hey, that's our guy on regular TV!"

Anyway, lots and lots of people go way further back with Paul Sherwen and the sport of cycling than I do, but that's what he represented to me, I'm grateful for what he did, and I'm sorry he's gone.

Moving onto more mundane matters, for the first time in many weeks I went for a ride on a road bicycle with skinny tires this past Sunday--and that skinny-tired bike was the Renovo:


Please note this picture was not taken during that ride, as you can probably tell by the verdure.  It was cold, the trees were mostly bare, and twigs and leaves littered the roads since it's been raining here incessantly.  However, I failed to photograph the bicycle during this most recent outing, and so my photo editor inserted the above image as a placeholder.

As for the creaking which has plagued the Renovo of late, I'm simultaneously pleased and baffled to report that it was more or less completely absent for the duration of the ride.  Could it be that wooden frames are somehow self-healing?  Is the bike actually alive, perhaps germinating from some soil secreted in that beefy (well, okay, woody) bottom bracket?  Or could it be that the barometric pressure and temperature somehow conspired to silence the frame?  Or, maybe it was just that I was too distracted by the sound of the rear wheel rubbing on the grit that had accumulated in the tight clearance of that seat tube cutout.  (This is something that happens when you ride the Renovo after lots of rain.)

Whatever the reason, I savored the ride, and it did feel quite good to be on a smooth, fancy-pants bike with fast tires and electronical shifting.  Mostly I've been riding my Milwaukee, and while I'm no longer using mismatched tires the front derailleur needs to be replaced, and the tires I am using, while kind of fun on dirt, are basically just overpriced hybrid tires:


My current thinking is that road/gravel/whatever tires like this are kind of silly, at least for my purposes.  A pair of Paselas work just as well with the added benefit of actually feeling good on the road.  (These feel like Citi Bike tires on pavement.)  And if I'm exceeding the capability of a pair of Paselas I'd rather be on the Jones anyway.

So why don't I just change them?  Because I'm lazy and/or busy, depending on how charitable you want to be, and it's easier to just grab my exotic wooden bicycle when an all-pavement ride is in the offing.

Of course it being autumn and all what I'd really prefer to be doing is riding offroad as much as possible.  However, that freak snowstorm we had a couple weeks back made all the leaves fall off the tress at the same time, and since then it's been raining a lot, which means the trails are either muddy or covered in like three feet of leaves or both.  The upshot of this is that I've gotten very little trail riding in lately.  I did, however, manage to get a quick ride in on Thanksgiving morning.  See, I had to go to Whole Foods to pick up the turkey, and the Whole Foods happens to be right next to the mountain bike trails.  Furthermore, temperatures were somewhere around 20 American Freedom Degrees that morning, so I knew the ground would be firm.  Therefore, I had two (2) choices:

1) Throw the bike onto the car, drive up to Whole Foods, squeeze in a quick ride, and then grab the turkey;
2) Ride to Whole Foods, hit the trails, and attempt to carry an entire cooked turkey home in my backpack.

After much deliberation, I chose the former, and put the Saris Super Clamp EX into service:


I rode for maybe an hour, picked up the turkey and various other comestibles, and spent the rest of the day eating, drinking, and patting myself on the back.

And isn't that what Thanksgiving's all about?

Besides that, I also knocked around on the Jones last Monday, which was perhaps a bit ill-advised since I was suffering from a skateboard injury, which is a story for another time:


Don't worry, nothing's broken except my dignity.

In any case I'm looking forward to some dry weather because I continue to absolutely love the Jones Plus SWB Complete and at this time of year the smart move is to ride offroad as much as possible until the next big snowfall comes and it's no longer an option.  I'm pleased to report all the stock components on the bike are holding up beautifully, including the tires.  In fact, here's a holiday gift guide, and it consists entirely of one (1) item:


Gift it to yourself, you'll be glad you did.

27 comments:

Willie Voltaire said...

I came to the same conclusion about those Clement tires, and switched to 32c Gravel Kings, which, despite their name, are great mostly-road tires.

Anonymous said...

Southern Hemisphere podium....
Keep watering the Renovo and you might sprout another bike for your young bloke!

bad boy of the south said...

Wow!a late night edition.sorry to read about mr.sherwen's passing.
Waiting to find out about that "story for another time" incident.

NHcycler said...

Thanks for the tributary to Mr. Sherwen. I'm sure he's got a special obit in the NYT and all, but to hear a first hand account from your teen years showing how much of a role model he was to you, is nice.

MrLobstermash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dop said...

No Jones Plus for me. I'm doing all my riding on my new
Kneerover. It looks like the world's ugliest Brompton, but it beats the hell out of crutches.

HDEB said...

Skateboarding and riding off road are fun : )

George Krpan said...

Thanks for remembering Paul, Eben.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...in my unprofessional opinion, your wooden chariot WAS creaking because of the combination of atmospheric pressure, low temperatures, and higher than usual humidity (early morning was saturated).

...but, if you want to keep an eye on the weather variables as they relate to the creaking, you could easily visit the almanac here . Pick the dates of your rides and compare.

huskerdont said...

The TdF is not going to be the same without Mr. Sherwen. Ride on.

Anonymous said...

Paul Sherwin and Agnostic Front, may they both rest in peace.

JLRB said...

RIP Sherwen

The limited of-road trails within a short ride from my abode have been completely swamped out by our record rainfall. I need a week of 20 American degrees before riding won't : (b) suck, and (2) wreck the trails.

Human Rights sez: said...

Tip of the hat to Paul Sherwin on his passing.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest mr. Liggett find a young lass for company especially during the ToC.

Ellie said...

I still watch the Tour every year on a weird cable channel. I was really bummed to read about Paul's passing. The kind words were nice.

Anonymous said...

Humbled to read about your memories of Paul Sherwen from the early days. . . I heard a short tribute to him on NPR this a morning. Paul said he didn't comment for the "50,000 or 1000,000 cycling fans," but for the grandmothers of those fans. I think Paul nailed that.
He will be missed.

Al said...

RIP Paul Sherwen

Grump said...

Paul Sherwen coined one of my most used Phrases. Paul and Phil made videos to sell some of their cycling tours, to rich Americans. In one of them, they were riding on some cobbles, somewhere over in yourup. Phil made a comment to Paul, that Paul wasn't wearing cycling gloves. Paul responded to Phil that "Gloves were for Sissies". Over the many years, I've used that quote many times.....At times, I've altered it to be "Water is for Sissies", or other hardman comments.

pbateman needs to get his fat ass on the bike today its been a while said...

Loved Paul's soothing voice a he lead me on virtual tours of the french country side and provided wonderful chateau history and fun facts. RIP Paul.

The good old days of late night MTV. I liked Liquid Television and particularly enjoyed touching myself thinking of Aeon Flux, the hottest cartoon gal by far. Betty Rubble being a close second.

Snob, the misses snob managed to incubate AND carry a lil turkey in her front-pack for nine months and you couldn't be bothered to carry an already cooked one in your back pack for a brief ride home?

what a pussy.

no wonder women are taking over.

Uptight Luddite said...

Snobby, I trust you will not have too much trouble matching the paint color after having the canti mount repaired on the Surly CrossCheck w/ S&S couplers. That’s a plus.

Anonymous said...

There was a Tan Ten sighting on HT/9W this Saturday around 9:30AM. Could it have been the one and only? Or maybe it was a Spray Tan veneer over carbon copy cat?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Uptight Luddite,

I curated my own repair! Not sure how much I trust it, but...

Anonymous 4:59pm,

Definitely the right place and time!

--Tan Tenovo

JLRB said...

In the Renovo picture, I imagine the Renovo throwing shade on the lowly fence post

Coline said...

Dear Santa, I miss Paul Sherwen more than I can say so please send me a Jones to cheer and compensate. Thanks

Crosspalms said...

This felt like a long letter from an old friend. Thanks!

I’d have gone for a long ride this morning, but the lake effect snow (somehow “lake effect” is always in air quotes as if it’s not really snow) was throwing tiny icicles in my eyes, so I rearranged my errands to stay closer to home and give my eyes a few more years of seeing-able-ness. Upside: got groceries. Downside: still look like I ate everything at Thanksgiving ...

Paul Heckbert said...

Some twit thinks it would be a good idea to eliminate the bike lane in Pittsburgh's theater district when "Hamilton" comes to town, to reduce congestion: https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/letters/2018/12/03/A-nice-gesture/stories/201812030027

Anonymous said...

Gave myself a Jones SWB as an early Christmas gift; very good decision if I do say so myself.