May 23, 2012 § 18 Comments
I bought a copy of this book about bikes. It cost me $9.95. Man, did it suck.
The book is called “Just Ride.”
The dude who wrote it is named Grouch Peterson, or that’s what I’ve named him, anyway. He runs Rivendell Bikes and, like many expert bike builders, is extremely smart and extremely opinionated. Plus, he’s wrong about all kinds of shit, which is why I like him. Loud-mouthed, opinionated people who are wrong most of the time appeal to me. I can’t imagine why.
“Just Ride. Just Don’t Ride a Racing Bike”
This should be the subtitle of the book. Peterson, who is one grouchy bastard, argues that racing bikes and their accoutrements are inappropriate for the great majority of people who ride them. He believes that rather than low-slung, back-bending, neck-straining, perineum-mashing, wrist-crunching plastic frames made for 125-lb waifs whose lives revolve around the Turdy France, people would be much better off riding dork bikes.
Which, conveniently, is just what he sells.
In fact, his bikes are so dorky they almost look cool, the key word being “almost.” Crank up the stem to where it’s sticking so far out it looks like a tongue-check at the doctor’s office. Make the frame geometry gigantic, with only a nubbin of seat post sticking out. Add seventy-three spokes to your rims. Drill the fuck out of every part of the bike so you can hang your panniers, your bag, or your Christmas tree from it.
Paper it over with fenders, put on a 4-lb leather saddle, make sure the tires are triple wides with bulletproof casing, tack on a bell, and prop the whole shebang up with a double-hooter kickstand, and, according to Groucho, you’ve got yourself a real bicycle. The problem is, he’s right.
You’ve also got a bike that people will stop, pull you off of, and beat the shit out of you just for the fun of it. It’ll be like being the wimpiest kid in junior high and showing up at school with a t-shirt that says, “I Dare YOU to Kick My Ass.”
The problem with the anti-racing bike mantra
It’s kind of like blogging against Facebook. We all recognize that it has supplanted something that was once the norm, i.e. human interaction, but on the other hand, it’s here to stay, just at a greatly diminished price from its IPO. Grouch Dude’s complaint about racing bikes and how fucked up they are is based on the premise that hardly anyone races. The BAB (or bad-ass bike, as I call it), has been developed with racers in mind and adopted by the general market as the standard, even when hardly anyone races, will race, or has ever raced.
“That’s fucked up,” says Pissed Off Dude, “and what you need to get unfucked is a dorkacycle.”
Unfortunately, you can never get unfucked up. Once you’ve seen some skinny little fuck in lycra shorts and a stretchy camisole bombing down some hairy descent in the Dolomites at 100 kph, once you’ve seen some primordial, thick-legged beast vanquishing the souls of hundreds on the stones to Roubaix, once you’ve looked at the full-on acceleration of a fearless human missile ripping through an elbow-infested, tightly packed throng on his way to a 65 kph finishing sprint…once you’ve seen these things and the thousand other acts of inhuman skill and daring, you’re not ever going to be satisfied with the Rivendell Portly Fellow’s Dorkacycle.
Who is the Rivendell Dorkacycle for, then?
I should point out that Rivendell is the home of the elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkein. So it’s for sure a good bike if you’re an elf.
It’s also a good bike if you’re one of those people with a firm grip on reality. Here’s a handy-dandy checklist to see if you have a grip on reality.
- I could have been a great bike racer. Yes/No
- My true athletic potential has not yet been realized. Yes/No
- If I didn’t have [a job/a family/child support payments/ a probation officer] I would be a successful bike racer. Yes/No
- I am a skilled and accomplished athlete. Yes/No
- Cycling has improved my health. Yes/No
- Cycling has improved my mental outlook. Yes/No
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re nutfuck crazy. You have no grip on reality whatsoever, and are purely delusional. A Rivendell Dorkacycle is definitely not for you.
Extensive marketing by Bad Mood Dude identifies ideal Dorkacycle consumers
The Rivendell Dorkacycle purchaser has a really firm grasp on reality, unlike you batshit crazy blog readers who are completely fucking off at work by reading this junk as you surf through other bicycling web sites. The Rivendell Dorkacycle rider does his taxes on time. He puts the cap on the toothpaste tube. He never dashes out of the bathroom leaving a floater in the well.
The dorkacycle rider plans her menus and is good at cooking, cleaning, AND laundry. She follows a carefully planned budget, never has more than one glass of wine with dinner, and never, ever gets shitfaced drunk, strips off her panties and bones the hunky neighbor.
The dorkacycle enthusiasts see life with great clarity: We humans are born, we plod away at a mind-numbing job, we collect a small paycheck relative to our innate genius and ability, and then we die. Life is a kind of chore to be gotten through steadfastly and without too much drama, and to be terminated in an elder care facility while some nasty minimum wage assistant roughly changes your diaper.
The dorkacycle assists these realists by plodding along with them, not too fast, not too riskily, predictably, evenly, sensibly, and on a budget. Since it’s welded with old-world metals like steel, it lasts forever, never needs repair, survives with minimal maintenance, and will be a historical artifact even ten million years from now.
The whackadoodle dreamer crazyshit racing bike
These are made from carbon, which is a fancy way of saying “plastic.” They look rad. They go really fast. You will, the harder you pedal them, increase the chance of getting killed or injured. They are painted rad black, rad red, rad green, rad blue, rad orange, or just plain rad. They have rad-o-matic electronic shifting and superrad carbon race wheels that weigh .00002 grams and look mondo bitchin’.
They make you think you’re a pro, a stud, a studette, a racer, a warrior, a champion, a Turdy France contendah, a Prez lookalike, a TELO hero, a hardman of Flanders, the incarnation of steel and power and all-mighty greatitude.
Of course that fades the second you get to the office and your boss chews you out and calls you a moron.
But those few minutes in the morning, or in the evening, or on the weekend, when it was YOUR universe, and YOU commanded it?
I’ll keep my racing bike, thanks. You, Grouchhead, can keep your dorkacycle.