Monday, April 4, 2016

What Does It All Mean

I'm not really a philosophical guy always looking for meaning in life.  If I'm feeding myself every day, feeling comfortable in my ability to live sparsely (albeit with a pretty big collection of bikes), then I feel I'm doing ok.  I have a love/hate relationship with the social media I maintain, most of which centers around my business, which is bikes, with the occasional music related post about the two radio shows I do.  Lots of pictures of objects, few of people.  In some ways, I feel that privacy is important and people pictures take some of that privacy away.  My brother is a photo-journalist and probably feels the exact opposite - if it's in a public setting, it's fair game.  

So, what's my point?  I read today's All Hail The Black Market post, as I do each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and knew exactly what Stevil was writing about.  I like taking photos.  Have since I was a kid and in my middle school, there was a darkroom.  I doubt it's still there, shame.  I used to have binders full of photos and slides.  Now I have a flickr page, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr...  I think that's it.  In some ways, it's all too much and is a bit overwhelming to manage and maintain along with running my business - which is two pronged with a retail shop and a brand of frames to manage.  Yeah, that keeps me busy.  

I like bikes.  Mostly, I like bikes for their simplicity.  But even that's changed.  Bikes are no longer simple.  They are now made with such a level of complexity that they are obsolete in the amount of time it took to properly age a tubular tire.  As the level of technology in bikes and their accessories (does everyone GPS their rides?) increases, the more I am drawn backwards to less and less complicated bikes.  

Case in point, I recently built up a 1985 Eddy Merckx with Campagnolo Super Record (not that Super Record) and shod it in tubular tires.  No part on the bike is new, except for tires, cables/housing, spokes & nipples.  Every part is from the 80s.  And guess what?  The bike is quickly becoming a huge favorite of mine.  It's huge fun to ride.  Compared to a modern bike, the shifting is slow, the brakes require thought and distance to stop, and forget about trying to shift when out of the saddle.  But damn, I love riding this thing.  I like riding for the sake of riding.  

This started off more as a post about being hamstrung by all the pulls from the social media I maintain, which in a very large part are maintained solely to manage my business.  Larger thoughts go on the blog.  Links to the blog and some bike photos go on the Facebook page.  Photos of bikes and bike rides go on Instagram with a few words.  What's In The Stand photos go on the Tumblr page.  Rules.  I need some rules to maintain my life.  To make sense of it all.  Rules in my life to maintain my focus.  And then when it all gets too much, I go on a bike ride.  No cell phone (don't own one).  No connectivity.  But I will take a camera because if there's something interesting, I'll shoot it and share it and, in some way, work it to help promote my shop and brand so that I can keep on going on bike rides and feeding myself.  

I'll be gone this weekend at the Eroica California.  No computer, no phone, just a 1985 Eddy Merckx road bike and a camera.  Three day recharge.  And don't try to reach me now for the next several hours because I'll be out riding the Merckx.  





(What's playing:  Led Zeppelin That's The Way)


youcancallmeAl said...

What an enjoyable read! A bike blog written by a guy that just likes to ride a simple bicycle and take a camera along in case he sees something he wants to share with others!! A blog that isnt constantly obsessing about the latest and greatest bit of hardware. A blog that isnt constantly analyzing frame stiffness, vertical compliance, milligrams of weight savings by filing my dropouts, the advantages and delights of one degree change in head angle, 2 mm of bottom bracket drop, lo-trail geometry and all the other miniscule variations that any rider adapts to within 2 or 3 rides.

Please keep it up Sir, you are one of the few bike blogs I can read without grinding my teeth as I read.

blackmountaincycles said...

Thanks, youcancallmeAl. That is my exact intent because I too have been told by my dentist that I grind my teeth. I think it's from removing freewheels.

NorthTexasGravelGrinders said...

Great read....I have found myself in a similar mode of life...I have slowly been ditching the carbon and going back to steel...I even built up 2 SS bikes because I miss the connection between bike..rider..and trail..I understand the business is about making money but it seems every-time I check FB or some other media there is a post about some new and great thing in the industry to simplify our riding lives while complicating our need for a certain one bike does it all now seems to be the path the industry is taking....I know some other friends I ride with going the same route...while the bike world moves forward we are moving backwards....maybe I am getting older...or maybe I miss the simple bike that I rode years ago that took me everywhere weight and all...that I could work on and felt like it was part of me....I say good bye to the weight weenie war and the desire to have latest and greatest...and hello to having a bike I love because it is THAT bike....keep trucking!

jon shinefeld said...

I get it. My latest new to me old-bike is a Heron Touring with a 6 speed freewheel. Or maybe 7. It doesn't matter because the bike is about being a technology free zone and it's fun to ride and that is all that matters, at least to me.

Thanks for blogging.

David Mathews said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful post, Mike. I forgot my phone the last time I rode, so no GPS that day. I was out for three hours and somehow my family survived and the world didn't collapse. Bonne route for the Eroica ride!

Guitar Ted said...

Found this quote on- of all places- Twitter. Thought it appropos for your mindset here:

"Power down and saddle up. Leave the wireless world and inhale some analog freshness."

Anonymous said...

I have also been riding my Eroica bike (a 1980 Grandis) and I am really enjoying it. The steering is light, It has a plush ride and descends beautiful. It is really fun to ride and satisfying. My life is spent in front of computer screens and then I choose to come home and read blogs like this one on another computer screen, not so good. Bicycling gets me away from all that and out in our beautiful Sonoma countryside. Earlier in the year I was using GPS to log my training, but now nothing. No speedometer, GPS or cell phone. More often that not I have only a vague plan on where I am going to ride and I like to explore new roads again. There is something brutally efficient about modern bicycles and they will stay part of my stable. But, there is something whimsical and fun about riding the Eroica bikes and still be able to cover ground and bomb down a hill and have the satisfaction of hitting a perfect shift. Have fun this weekend.