Thursday, April 25, 2019

New Outside Column!

I'll let you know just as soon as the Eroica California story is up, but in the meantime here's a new Outside column about my latest Fredly relapse:

And I have owned a used Saab so I know what I'm talking about.

It was pretty much exactly this one:

I'll never get any of that time or money back.

With the Thule roof rack I did have a whole Scandinavian thing going on though, and on the infrequent occasions it was working properly it had a lot going for it.

Well, okay, it had some things going for it.

And yes, I realize this is ostensibly a bicycle-themed blog, and that a fair amount of my output is on the subject of how cars are destroying humanity, but as a human born in America who likes stuff with wheels I have had my share of vehicles with internal combustion engines over the years.  In fact ,at my peak I had one (1) car, two (2) motorcycles, and one (1) two-stroke Vespa clone that my wife used to ride.  However, this was A) before I had kids; and 2) when we lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in the pre-Sandy, pre-Ikea, pre-Fairway days when you could do that sort of thing because there was an oversupply of free parking.  Hey, there's something to be said for coming home from a bike race in the morning and then spending the rest of the day attempting to work on your motorcycle on the sidewalk as the occasional gawker saunters by and then launches into the "You know, I used to ride..." schpiel that makes you want to hit them with a wrench.  Of course, now I'm the "I used to ride..." guy, though in my defense I know how to keep my mouth shut, and when I pass people working on their bikes I don't say anything.  (Though I realize I'm saying something now, but this is a blog whose sole purpose is to serve as the repository for my bloviating, musings, and other self-indulgences, and in that sense it's you who's sauntered over, not me.)

Anyway, there's a lot less space on the streets of Brooklyn nowadays to tinker with the crappy gas-powered conveyances you bought on Craigslist, though this guy I happened upon in Greenpoint a few weeks ago still seems to manage:

Sort of amazing that people in Brooklyn have even managed to make fixing your car in the street pretentious.

At least he's not in the bike lane.


Not Quite Like Cleveland Indians Fans Get Their Hopes Dashed, But Still... said...

When I saw this post's title, and the words "Eroica California: in the first line, i got my hopes p. Only to be dashed again by the phase "I'll let you know just as soon...."

The Secret to Happiness is to Enjoy the Passing of Time said...

I'm thinking Mr. Tenovo Fredly relapse is due to him coming up on the next USA Cycling Masters next age group (45-49? 50-54) and thinking if he is in peak form when he cross the age line, he can beat guys who are 2 or 3 years older.

huskerdont said...

Well. kudos for bikey racing. I liked racing as a runner, and I have done a few triathlons, MTB races, and the odd gravel race, but I've never road raced and I'm pretty certain I never will from what I've experienced. If some git cuts you off running, you might stumble, perhaps fall, but you generally don't have all the clanky jagged metally bits to cut you up and pavement to get rashes from.

The penultimate paragraph (which is an excellent bit of writing) in the Outside article does make it sound nice, but luckily I can achieve a similar out-of-body transcendence from whitewater kayaking.

HDEB said...

"the transcendent sensation of ego death"

P. Bateman said...

Bike Saab!

excellent choice of gas powered convey-yants to drive in your convey-pants. or convey-jorts.

nice thing about those Saabs is that they have a big roomie back seat that is excellent for skruving your mom.

Matt said...

Nice post and article Snobby...I think your last line (about hanging in there is it's own reward) fits for most good things in life. As a non-racer I just don't get the allure to get up early and spend money to kill yourself on a bike for an hour. That said, most people don't get it when I drive out early (7am is early to me) for an hour each way, just to ride solo for 8 hours, braving cows and whatever else is thrown my way (this is usually on my mtb, so there's no telling what I will come across). For some odd reason I revel in the idea of being alone 30 miles from my car and haven't seen a soul for hours. The bike is freedom, and that feeling hasn't changed since I was a kid on my Sting Ray.

bad boy of the south said...

Looks like an old Saab or Volvo.
I too, once had a Saab that the bank owned.
A fun but quirky car,fer sure.

George Krpan said...

I recently bought a motorcycle, a new Honda CB300R. Only 300cc but only 320 lbs.

ktache said...

I like the 2 chairs, neither of which he seems to be using whilst presumably sitting at his little table. I do hop he had some music playing.

bad boy of the south said...

I meant the car being worked on.

JLRB said...

Since I sauntered over I should wear a helemente to protect me from the wrench

Matthew said...

Never was fast enough to race and at 53, I'm not getting any faster. Good column, tho. Did the guy fixing his car in the street also have a batch of saison brewing in the boot?

mikeweb said...

The sense of surrender to the peloton speaks to me as I ease myself back into racing after a 25 year absence. That and simply hang on for dear life to the wheel in front of me.

wishiwasmerckx said...

BBOS, I, too had a Saab in the bumblebee colorway. A real head-turner.

I bought it twice with what I spent in repairs.

I was secretly glad when my new-driver teen wrecked it and the insurer totalled it out.

Am I seeing a trend? A correlation between bike racing and Saab ownership?

wishiwasmerckx said...

Huskerdon't, whitewater kayaking? So far as I am aware, nobody has ever drowned in a bicycle race.

If you can make it out of the Cat 4's, racers are for the most part excellent bike handlers.

It's the triathlons which would scare me. Triathletes used to show up for our group rides and make a total mess of things with their non-existent pack riding skills.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Secret to happiness, I retired from road racing at least a decade ago, but when I was "on the circuit," at the crits the masters usually had faster lap times than the pro/1/2's.

Waiting for your competition to "age out" was a fool's errand.

Wrench Monkey said...

BBotS, It's a Volvo 122s, or maybe even a (gasp) 123GT.

JLRB said...

wishiwasmerckx said..."It's the triathlons which would scare me. "

I was nearly impaled by an aero-bar wielding tri-guy this morning on my way to the place I pretend to work.

bad boy of the south said...

Wrench Monkey,thanks.

huskerdont said...


1) I've never had a car knock me over while on the river either.

b) I'm not going to make it out of Cat 4. Not even going to make it into Cat 4.

III) I've seen road races: lots of crashes and injuries, the odd death.

iv) I'm a terrible swimmer, so all the cyclists in triathlons were well ahead by then. Problem solved.

Funf) I started as a mountain biker. I was and am mediocre, but even the most mediocre-ist of all mountain bikers has bike handling skillz that would put the handling of the roadies in the group rides I've done to shame.

seis) Wish I was Merckx too.

leroy said...

My dog syas he knows someone who sounds jealous becuase in Brooklyn, we have trendy artisanal hubcap popup shops on our streets.

In the Bronx, all you have are popup car and truck power washing services operated from the backs of vans parked on Webster Avenue along Woodlawn Cemetery.

He claims that on Halloween, the ghosts of Duke Ellington, Joseph Pulitzer, and Herman Melville trick or treat descend on Webster Ave as the Pep Boys. He also says you can't tell who Miles Davis dresses up as because he's still turning his back on audiences.

I'm not sure I buy his Pep Boys spiel, but the turn your back on the audience thing is classic Miles.

bad boy of the south said...

Yep. I know Woodlawn well. I have family and friends buried there.
I saw the "Duke" interred there.
Yeah, I'm that old.
Years ago an old girlfriend of mine and I decided to ride our bikes through there.
Nothing like being chased by an a-hole armed security guard to make sure we were out.
Now, I understand they have an occasional bike tour through there.

Memories said...

I do kind of miss the days of being in the pack and hanging in there. And it was/is a pleasure to ride with a group of excellent bike handlers. Now in gravel "races" (really, events) the pack is not in existence for that long. But one cannot have everything - I still get that sense of good exhaustion at the end.

Grump said...

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena...Who
strives valiantly, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions,
and spends himself in worthy causes. Who, at best, knows the triumph of
high achievement and who, at worst, if he fails, fails while daring
greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore "The Big Stick" Roosevelt.


JLRB said...

Finally got one of my fredier sleds back in working order - it's nice to ride without the squeaks and creaks of my winter abuse sled

(requires thumb knuckle tats)

leroy said...

bad boy - The Tour de Bronx goes through Woodlawn and it's very cool. Other times, you can't ride through Woodlawn.

The cemetery is, however, making a pitch to be more welcoming to those of us still above ground. As part of that effort, the cemetery hosted its first ever rest stop for the Tour de Bronx last Fall.

Chazu said...

Teddy begged Woodrow Wilson to let him fight in the Great War (WWI). Wilson probably saved Teddy's life by refusing to let the old guy into the trenches.

Teddy didn't know when to "say when". Or when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em. Or when to cash out and go home... or when to fold up his tent and hike out.

Speaking of being a washed-up geezer, I just finished swapping out my early aughts-era Ultegra 53/39 crankset for a new Ultegra 52/36 crankset* with DA BB. Yes, I'm running an "11 speed" semi-compact crankset on a drivetrain which is otherwise "9 speed."

Rapha 'curated' a ride near my home and called it "Killing Me Softly" because of the relentless lobdamn hills around here. The new crankset is a concession to my aging and perpetually sore muscles, including my lower back. (well, there is something going on with my left knee, too.)

At least I'm not like those "cold and timid souls" who are riding compact 50/34 cranksets with 11 cogs in the rear which include a 32 tooth cog. Don't get me started on the SRAM 1X Freds I've seen crawling up the hills around here.

*These new Shimano cranksets are some of the ugliest bits of bike tech, ever, but I'm enjoying the juxtaposition between the crankset and the rest of my nearly-antique road bike.

dancesonpedals said...


You could say to hell with racing, act your age and join a dad band.

Comment deleted said...

Wow, mikeweb and wishiwasmerckx appearing on the same day! It's like old times in here. Babs?

JLRB said...

Vision Zero is just bullshit here too

nhoj said...

Steve Barner said...

When I tried racing, almost half a century ago, I was under the misconception that the goal was to win. It didn't take long to recognize that wasn't going to happen. One day I realized that I had enjoyed the ride to and from the race much more than the competition itself, and that was the end of my racing career.

The attraction I felt to cycling started through my appreciation of the mobility it provided. It expanded my horizons and supported my independence. When it came time to consider driving, I put off buying a car a couple years as the costs were so high compared to cycling, which was working fine for me. This cost me dates, to be sure, but as it turned out, I didn't miss anything. The bicycle also proved to be a fine platform to help me build my mechanical skills, and that has worked well for me over the years. I didn't have a lot of money, but through employee discounts I was able to have nice bikes, and putting them at risk by burying myself in a pack of other inexperienced racers didn't appeal to me at all.

There has been nothing "cold and timid" about my riding, though. I ride fast, hard and long. I seek out the steepest climbs, complete double-centuries, and have ridden around the clock more than once. I've had people tell me they race because it gives them the incentive to ride. For me, the ride is its own incentive. It's all about the bike.

STG said...

In defense of road racing, it can be fun but it takes a LOT of work to get to the point where its fun. I'm a lowly cat 3 and no Cancellara but I am fit and wily enough to get an occasional podium in the local p123 races - IF I race twice/week all summer. You have to be the kind of person who rides hard compulsively and loves training. It's then becomes natural to want to test yourself in a race. The fun from racing comes only if you are fast enough to play games at the front - just strong enough to get into and hang in a breakaway. In times when I'm not up to the task (after an illness or injury) the racing is in no-way fun.

Eben I would love to speak to you about a crisis we are having in the local racing scene, it might be something you could help us with.