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May 2014

IS 'BETTER' BETTER?

210514WP

Yesterday as I was pumping up the still-leaky back tyre and rearranging my wardrobe prior to a pedal in the woods, a friend was emerging from the forest and we had a quick catch up.

She was pumped full of endorphins and I was looking forward to my dose, so we were both quite excitable about everything. Particularly, bikes. Mine was parked, ready to go, looking a little knocked around, some may even say shabby, but pretty damn good. (They say bikes come to resemble their owners…or is that dogs?) It became the centre of attention. Leonie asked me whether I was thinking about upgrading.

Discussion moved on to the various new things that can be procured, and the performance benefits involved. An example was quoted of a person we know. She occupies a place many levels above mine in the great bike-riding speed-pile. She HAD to have a new bike with a slightly longer wheelbase, slightly larger wheels, and a much brighter colour-scheme, to keep up with the boys she hangs out with, who are always on the cutting edge of wheelbase, wheel size and colour scheme, and are living gods of the trail.

Maybe she did.

But in my place on the very useful Tama Easton Radness Curve, there are other things that affect my velocity far more than the outside circumference of my wheels.

Putting aside the obvious, which is that no cyclist has ever achieved the buddha-like state in which a desire for a new machine never enters the consciousness, I love my current bike. It may still have tiny little wheels, and it may only have 10 cogs, but I only have ten fingers, and I am easily confused. It may have some of its coat missing, but it still rings my bell. Not that I have a bell, but still.

When we look at what we have these days, even a three year old sled is an amazing thing. A brand spanking new one is also an amazing thing, whether it is from the budget end of the spectrum, or it comes with a mortgage application form.

Whatever, we have bikes these days which are so good that the differences between them from year to year and model to model are fairly abstract. It is easy to forget that not so long ago we had bikes that were not so evolved for what we do with them. If you need proof of that, and have five minutes to spare, turn the music off and check this out.

 

DIRTY RESOLUTIONS

150514WPWinter is not here quite yet, but the days of stepping out of one pair of shorts into another for a lap of the local after work have disappeared over the horizon, for this summer anyway.

That means creatively juggling time and circumstances to allow for the ‘midweek daytime ride’. It is a resolution I make each year about this time. A couple of hours, once a week, Wednesday is best, must be possible, make it happen.

With two rides in the weekend that is almost enough, that’s the deal. Last weekend the aforementioned circumstances got in the way of one the planned sorties so Monday saw me out at the forest in the middle of the day, trying to stay on target.

Resolutions are always like that the week after they are made.

To digress: Tubeless tyres are awesome, but sooner or later the gooey stuff inside the tyre turns into something else and doesn’t hold air like it used to. The complication factor of tubeless tyres is a need to visit the friendly bike store for installation of tyres or replenishment of gooey stuff. They have compressors, techniques, and other stuff I don’t.

The back tyre of the dirt bike has been losing pressure lately. So the plan was to go to a couple of meetings, have a ride, then drop in to the shop for some new rubber-infused air, and rush home in time to pack orders.

Might have been better to do that stuff in a different order.

The meetings met. I joined the other slackers out the forest, amazed at the number of people who are able to arange their lives to allow workday goofing-off. The ride went very well, I even managed to sneak up on Henry as we were climbing Direct Rd and scare him out of his wits. Note to Henry: if you are going to climb with headphones in, have a look behind you once in a while.

Then, on the way back to the car, a final bit of trail. Nothing special, but it has a clump of nice big redwoods to visit, and provides a way to hit the carpark at about a hundred miles an hour. There is a spot in there with a sort of chute created by countless people skidding down a rut to avoid a small drop-off over a log, which is still there. It is awkward, but I take the log.

On Monday, at pace. Below it was the only mud bog I saw in the entire ride. Avoidable, but not if you are already in the air before it comes into view. A millisecond later everything was plastered with mud. It’s nice mud, it will dry and brush off. But I don’t take filthy bikes to the bike shop.

So here it is Thursday, time for another midweek daytime ride, and I still have a flat back tyre.

And a pump. See you later.

 

Gapping it incognito

090514WP

Here is the upside of trail riding apparel with low-key branding: people who wear it don’t look like they belong on a supermarket shelf. The downside: our mates can wear Nzo on the cover of an international magazine, and nobody can tell! Except us of course.

It is a weird, slightly obsessive thing we indulge in: trolling through the media, looking for our products in an editorial image.

Even if nobody else notices, there is a kind of validation involved. There we are: part of the culture. Even after 16 years, it’s good to spot an Nzo product captured in the wild.

Maybe the big guys do it. Who knows? Maybe they get issues of Southern Hemisphere magazines couriered to their glittering offices, and scan through them looking for their logos, maybe they don’t. All we know for sure is that we do.

So there it was a few months back, in a freshly minted and excellent-looking issue of Spoke: a photo of a really nice person we know, wearing a pair of our shorts. And, double bonus: the photo was shot with the label in sharp focus, leaving our hordes of fans in no doubt that their favourite brand was in print again.

The accompanying story took the edge off: it was a confession from the victim of a newly identified fashion disaster. There was a space between the bottom of the shorts leg, and the top of the knee guard. Turns out the short MUST cover that piece of leg, which is such a disgusting acre of flesh that it must remain unseen. It is referred to as a ‘twat gap’.

The article was funny enough to make us laugh out loud. It carried a solution, which was to get a new pair of shorts. Right there in black and white.

We felt the need to respond.

Firstly, microscopic examination of the image revealed that the shorts are black Nzo Kombies, last manufactured in 2006. So even if they are slightly short, their life has been very long. When they were designed, a ‘twat gap’ was something else entirely.

Secondly, much as we like the wearer of those vintage threads, we are pretty sure we never sponsored her. So at some point cash changed hands for some shorts that were deemed by the buyer to be the correct length at the time.

And in closing, there can only be a ‘twat gap’ if you wear knee pads. Which we do for laying lino or praying for a nice weekend. If you must go out planning to bang your knees, and we know some of you do, get knee pads that fit. Match them up with the ’14 model Sifters, and watch that gap disappear up your trouser leg.

090514WPb Oh my god! We can see the logo! Winner winner chicken dinner!

090514WPc Snow and rocks

090514WPd This looks like fun

090514WPe Anka in Autumn colours in Chile