Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bhutan Tenovo?

Like most Americans I live in a state of ignorance, and as such I had no idea Bhutan is apparently a cycling paradise:

Dragon Kings who ride bikes?  Epic Himalayan trails?  Sideburns???

A fervent bicycle culture has seen rapid development in Bhutan. Its northern border with Tibet runs along a treacherous seam of the Eastern Himalayan mountain range, which has historically protected the Switzerland-size country from outside influence and fortified it as one of the only nations in the world to never be colonized. This geographic and political isolation has long delayed Bhutan’s modernization. The cycling culture has grown thanks to the bike-crazy former Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King, who spends his days cruising trail networks throughout the mountains. Bhutanese citizens idolize the royal family, often wearing lapel pins with the current king’s handsome sideburned portrait.

Suck on that, Portland.

Also, when was the last time anyone--adult or child--shouted something positive at you while you were riding your bike?

The road banked into a left turn, and I slowly coasted through, gazing down at the pavement. Just then, I was hit with an eruption of cheers coming from 100 schoolchildren posted on the side of the road. Spectators across the entire country had lined the course to cheer for the riders while handing us bananas and chocolate. It was the largest crowd of “cheering team” volunteers I’d yet to encounter, and their energy was colossal. In a sea of white khata scarves, the fanatic children chanted “Do your best! Do your best!” while running alongside me, clapping and screaming as if I were locked in a dead sprint.

Generally when I'm riding, kids latch on to some aspect of my appearance and use it as inspiration for ridicule.

Then on top of it all they have a "Gross National Happiness" index?!?

The term Gross National Happiness was coined in 1972 during an interview by a British journalist for the Financial Times at Bombay airport when the then king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, said "Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product."

Meanwhile, here in Canada's Underpants we have yet to discover the inverse relationship between cars and guns and staying alive.

Granted, in my old age I may be getting soft and wistful, but I admit to finding everything about the above article beguiling--apart from one glaring omission:


Also...altitude?  Believe it or not I did visit the Himalayas many years ago (I went here), and while it was stunningly beautiful I also felt dizzy and headachy the whole time due to the elevation.  (Probably because I flew there instead of getting acclimatized by riding there on a yak or something.)   I certainly didn't do any bicycle-cycling, but I did see people arriving by bike, which made me feel like a total "woosie:"

(Those were the days...)

That note of course came from my 2009 review of the Scattante Empire State Courier, about which two things are noteworthy:

1) False modesty aside it is arguably the greatest bike review ever written;
2) It may have taken 10 years, but now that Performance has gone bankrupt I'm getting that much closer to a perfect record of putting bike companies out of business.

Anyway, I'm totally gonna ride my fixie to Ladakh one day for some Himalayan hillbombing.

In the meantime however my rides are anything but adventurous.  For example, this past weekend I rode the Ironic Orange Julius Bike all the way from Queens to Brooklyn...and back again!

Yes, the Ironic Orange Julius Bike has worn many caps over the years.  When I had an actual job, it was my commuting bike.  When I went to Portland it was the bike I used to infiltrate the "bike culture."  And of course I've even cyclocrossed on it:

Incredibly I still managed to reproduce after that.

As for its current incarnation, the IOJB is now my velo-à-terre and lives in the bike room of my mother's building in Queens, because of course I must have unfettered access to a bicycle anyplace I regularly spend more than an hour at a time.  Plus, over the years, gentrification has unfurled such that my mother's abode is now just off the Great Hipster Silk Route.  So every so often when I'm there I like to hop on a bike and reconnect with the gentriverse, which is what I did the other day.  Here is the IOJB as it is now:

I'm not sure what happened last time I rode it, but this is was the state of the drivetrain when I headed out:

I'm relatively certain I've never changed the chain since building the bike up from a bare frame well over a decade ago.

Another quirk is that the rear brake arm is now sticking (I seem to have a problem with that, despite always liberally applying grease when installing stuff), which means every so often I've got to reach back and kind of flick it free.  Also, whenever I last changed the brake levers I forgot to put those little rubber donuts on the cable:

The upshot of this is that when the brake arm sticks there's tons of slack in it and it jingles against the top tube like a line on a flagpole in the wind.

Fortunately as you travel the Great Hipster Silk Route there's now a bike shop roughly every nine feet, and so I stopped in one for some lube which I applied liberally to the bicycle in various places.  But at this point I should probably just ditch the brakes altogether, since they are for "woosies" after all.  I certainly see no issue trusting my life to that rusty chain.

Hey, it's lasted this long.


Anonymous said...

Podiating, yo.

pbateman said...

A quick update on the Pistadex: seems to be where you left it many years ago...a used one is about $450.

A quick update on your mom index: a quick one is about $45

A quick update on your photography: still meh

dancesonpedals said...

ASE gone under...I guess that's why Nashbar bike selection is limited to Fuji/Kestrel/Breezer

Some guy from upstate said...

You probably don't appreciate bike lock-up commentary, so I'll not question your judgement regarding appropriate levels of security based on locality, proximity, etc. Anyway, at least that sweet frame is safe.

Also, did you run (rock? rub?) ape-hangers at some point? That is some copious cable housing. Maybe it's the camera angle, but the forward-pointing noodle says otherwise.

Also also, podium?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Some guy from upstate,

I'm cruising around Brooklyn on a rusty beater bike, the single u-lock is fine.

You need a lot of housing to get a smooth arc from the brake lever to the brake itself since the shape of the bars means the barrel adjuster on the lever is sticking straight out ahead of you. Likewise, it also means the housing can't meet the brake from above, hence the forward-pointing noodle. A better mechanic than me may have a clever routing solution that's more efficient, but that's what seemed logical to me. And it doesn't look particularly strange when you're on the bike, it's that particular angle that makes it look weird.

--Tan Tenovo

Skidmark said...

Now that the chain is throughly degreased, maybe just paint it blue, some shade to tie-in the fork.

Anonymous said...

5 points for "forward-pointing noodle".

huskerdont said...

"Jigme Singye Wangchuck"

You can't say Wangchuck without saying wang. Those of us (males) with lesser names hold our manhood cheap.

Chazu said...

Yes, it is the greatest bike review, ever.

(Actually, now that I think about it, the mailman did have to stand on the box in order to peer over the white picket fence that surrounds my cottage.)

The mailman probably had his eyes on your decadent garden hose.

Al said...

" the inverse relationship between cars and guns and staying alive." That's an interesting mathematical equation because this is America where about 40k people a year die in traffic violence and about 40K people a year die from gun violence and about 40k people a year die because they don't have health insurance. So I'm thinking that some of the people that died from gunz and cars probably also died because the didn't have health insurance. So I guess the answer is that "staying alive" kind of a crap shoot here in Canada"s Underpants.

Schisthead said...

Only thing that sucks about that type of bar and routing is that you run the handlebar into something and you can kink the brake housing pretty good.

Other end looks great to me, cleaner looking routing than centerpulls up front used to dictate, in my horrific opinion.

1904 Cadardi said...

Well, that's one more place I want to go now.

Thanks Bhutan Bro-novo!

HDEB said...

Not enough snow here in BK to xc ski : (

pbateman brain sharts himself which is why he doesnt wear helmats said...


i get it now...bhuTAN Tenovo.

ha. that a nicely played play on the word play.

i need to lay off the reefers. my mind is going slower than a non crabon bike without dura ace.

Anonymous said...


It's not all "kumbuya" in Bhutan.

But then again, what's important is exporting our "brotastic" mtb skillz.


Anonymous said...

ahhh, the old IOJB. Brings me back to the days when i first started reading this blog 10+ years ago. Made me think back to what has changed since then...

14 bikes
1 ex-fiancee
3 ex-girlfriends
1 current wife
6 apartments
1 job (surprisingly hasn't changed)
2 cities

it is frightening and sad that the one constant in my life (other than my job) over the past 10 years has been you, my old friend. Thanks?

Larry and Heather said...

"Also, when was the last time anyone--adult or child--shouted something positive at you while you were riding your bike?" Pretty much every time I go out on a bike here in Italy. Did that not happen when you came over for L'Eroica awhile back?

John Wares said...

when I lived in Davis you knew the students had left their bikes in a barn over the summer and pulled them out again for school, campus was a serenade of squeaky chains and steel, I wanted to get an industrial TriFlow sprayer and just sit on the side of the road and hose them down but you know environmental and health regulations

JLRB said...

I’m going to break my rusty chain

Charlie said...

and run

Anonymous said...

I haven't read this blog in a long, long time, and I saw IOJB, and I thought,"this guy is just rehashing old stuff. He's lost it," but your post had me laughing with a few sentences. You are f***ing brilliant!!

agentdetroit said...

your fork looks bent in the on board pic...

Unknown said...

Try ACF-50 on the brakes pivots and work the brake until it frees-up. That liquid is a miracle cure.