The Unbearable Lightness of Crabon


Did you know what if you buy a frame or bike from Rivendell you get a copy of my book?

It’s true!

And not just because they jammed the spine to ascertain your pubic bone height and can’t in good conscience sell it to anybody else:

It’s that right, pubic bone height guy?

Sure it is.

No, it’s because Grant Petersen knows quality when he sees it.  (Even though his book is better than mine.)  Well, that and Rivendell probably has a bunch of copies left over from my visit back in June of last year:

Which remains one of the highlights of my blogular career:

That ride was fantastic, and would have been even better if only I’d been wearing a VeloVisor:

Between the brilliance of the East Bay sunset and the radiant smugness emanating from the Rivendell crew it was enough to make one squint.

Indeed, as a recovering Fred who’s already crested the summit of life and is currently stuffing his jersey full of newspaper for the rapid descent towards the grave it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I could probably eliminate at least two or three bikes from my livery by curating one sensibly-appointed and age-appropriate Rivendell.

Alas, as the father of various human children plus the proprietor of seventeen (17) blogs and the author of so many books I’ve lost count I can barely maintain the bikes I already have, much less edit and update my fleet.  Consider this bike, which incurred a flat tire recently:

It was one of those overcast but warm-ish early spring days, and so I pulled up a chair and set to work like I was carving a corn cob pipe on the front porch.  Of course, whenever you start tinkering with anything mechanical in public any male antennae within a one-mile radius start quivering, and before long a gentleman sauntered over to oversee my progress and offer his unsolicited commentary.

“I see you’ve done this before,” he noted in admiration of my surgical deftness.

A seasoned New Yorker, I did my very best to avoid eye contact.

“You know, you should never patch a tube, it’s not worth it,” he admonished me in an accent that might have been either British or Antipodean, I could not muster the requisite energy or interest to attempt to parse it.

I was not, for the record, repairing the tube.  As far as patching goes, here’s my protocol: if the puncture is readily apparent, I patch it on the spot.  If it’s not, I replace the tube, take it home, and put it in the “to be repaired” pile.  This tube fell into the latter category.  Nonetheless, his comment prejudiced me against him, as not bothering to repair an otherwise perfectly good tube (or at least tell yourself you’re going to do it later) has always struck me as being rather wasteful and the sort of thing people who wear white shoes and quote the Velominati are wont to do.

My observer then began a lengthy anecdote about a bad patch and a bike tour that was so tedious I nearly punctured my own eardrums with a tire lever, and once he’d finished he then turned his attention from my labor to my trusty Surly travel bike, which was propped up on a planter just as you see it above.

“What, no disc brakes?”

I figured he was joking.

“No, and yet somehow I manage to stop,” I replied.

As it turned out he was not joking.  He then told me he’d been bike shopping recently, and not only had he learned about the superiority of disc bikes, but he also discovered that carbon bicycles are much lighter than metal ones.  The implication was that I should get one.

At this point I finally turned to my new companion and took the measure of him.  He was an older gentleman, and fairly ample.  And while it’s not necessarily wise to judge people at first glance, it was almost impossible to picture him astride a carbon road bike in the same way it’s tough to imagine Winston Churchill dropping into a halfpipe.  What I mean to say is this was by no means the sort of person you’d place upon a carbon bicycle–unless of course you were in the business of selling as many carbon bicycles as possible to anybody and everybody with a wallet regardless of how ill-suited they were to such a machine.

“And that means what?,” I countered in response to his comment about carbon’s lightness.

“Well that makes it much easier to ride, and at my age I need that,” he explained.

I was tempted to explain to him that given his demographic a comfortable bike would improve his performance infinitely more than a slight gram reduction, and to that end I was about to direct him to Rivendell.  But then I figured he may just be one of those people who merely looks like he should be riding a recumbent but once he clips in he’s suddenly transformed by the magic of crabon into some sort of watt-churning uber-Fred.

More importantly though, I couldn’t be bothered.

Finally I finished fixing the bike and returned home.  Then, the next time I went to ride it, I found the bottom bracket completely seized due to the messy streets I’ve been riding in over the past few weeks, which underscores my point about how I can’t find the time to maintain my own bicycles.

So I moved onto the Milwaukee, only to find the right pedal spindle completely seized on that bike too.

Between the facts that: 1) I can’t seem to keep any of my bikes running; and B) People nearly twice my age are telling me my equipment is obsolete, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me I should  quit bikes.

Lastly, here’s an inspirational tale:

It’s always good to see people gain enlightenment from cycling, and eventually if she keeps riding she may even work out that Christianity is a myth.

God willing.