Watch it!

May 22, 2019 § 10 Comments

It has been years since I last encumbered my bike, and more importantly my brain, with gewgaws that disgorged ersatz stats about when, how, where, and what transpired on my ride.

The summary eviction of Strava from its tenancy in my life, not to mention the death penalty levied on Cycling Peaks has restored the best thing about riding my bike, which is enjoying the ride, and then being done with it until the next time I throw a leg over.

Yet for all this purity, which includes riding without my Apple tracking device or a Garmin, I have continued to ride with a wristwatch. Why? Because there is only a single data point you need to know in cycling, and it’s called “time.”

Time answers the only two questions that any cyclist can ever possibly want answers to:

  1. How long have I been riding?
  2. How much longer do I have to ride?

Everything else, unless you get paid to pedal your bike, is flimmer-flammer.

The wristwatch, unlike all the other junk that gets peddled as “gotta-have,” is no accessory. It is, after the bike itself, the only thing between you and getting scolded badly for not returning in time to [celebrate your anniversary] [take the kids to soccer] [get your colonoscopy]. And far more importantly than mere timeliness, the wristwatch links you directly with the most awesome dude to ever pedal a bike.

Yep, that’s right. In every racing photo you will ever see of Eddy, he’s wearing a wristwatch. Here? Wristwatch. Here? Wristwatch. Here? Wristwatch.

Was it good enough for Eddy when he was winning Roubaix or the Tour or MSR? It’s good enough for you.

In addition to the square-edged utility of the wristwatch, it is an incomparable fashion statement. “I don’t need no fuggin’ computer or Stravver or Garminator. All I need to know is how many more seconds before I overhaul the rider ahead and ride her off my wheel.”

Of course this leads to the next issue, “Which wristwatch should I buy?”

Before I begin, let me say that the Apple Watch is not a watch any more than the iPhone is a telephone. They are tracking devices with a time function whose primary goal is to distract you from life, especially from cycling. A wristwatch is something that tells time and little or nothing else.

For years I’ve used a Timex Helen Keller model, so named because of the giant numbers on the face and the absence of any functionality besides a date. The Timex is cheap, sturdy, manly, painless to replace if you smash it, and about as workmanlike as it gets. After hundreds and hundreds of sweat-soaked rides, not to mention assault by filth and rain and the elements, the watch case began to corrode, which added a very cool look that you can’t purchase in the store.

The only two things I disliked about it were the fact that it had a leather band with a buckle, so it wasn’t flush against my wrist, and that it had a date on it. No cyclist buried in pain at Telo cares what day it is.

That’s when I came across this gem, made by Nixon. It cost me $100, about three times more than my Helen Keller. But it has a crazy nice flush metal watch band and the face is easier to read. Best of all, no date, no twelve time zones so that I can know the time in Bangalore, no alarm, no stopwatch, nothing but a big hand, a little hand, and a second hand. It is beautiful, thin, and you can’t call home on it.

Eddy would approve.



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Next-to-least-favorite-President, most favorite wristwatch.

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