Miscellany

I got an email this morning from Google telling me that people still visit (and maybe even read?!) this blog, which I’ve neglected, so — 

What’s been going on?

Bike Racing

If you’re not watching Le Tour, you’re missing a pretty exciting year! Lots of big wins, Cav is close to a big record, MVDP was in yellow…​for a loooooong time, Wout Van Aert totally destroyed the two climbs up Mt. Ventoux — it’s been fun. And there’s been lots of very fun "me-mes" on the interwebs, too. I’m doing a lot of mechanical work at work this week (and a lot of waiting for builds to build) so it’s been nice to have on in the background.

I still haven’t watched La Course yet (but hey: a proper Women’s TdF next year?!!?!), but I’ve been following the Giro Donne on Cycling Tips and DAMN does SD Worx have a deathgrip on it. I’ve been able to see a few highlights on the 'ol YouTube and it’s fun to watch Van Der Breggen beat…​ everyone. She’s amazing. But also, Marianne Vos is also amazing. 30! 30!

Bike Riding and Other Bike Stuff

I’ve been able to get out quite a bit — if not for super long rides — and I’ve even been able to get some good rides in with friends. Apparently the tires that I put on two+ years ago have worn out…​so I need to fix that, but unfortunately my rim tape on the rear was toast, too. Luckily, I have a pair of tires (not the ideal tires, but they’re good tires and I can live with mini-gravel knobs for a while), and my friend Jim opened a new shop, Battle Road Bikes, up in Arlington, MA, and he was able to get me some new tubeless rim tape. Yay, Jim!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that the Schwinn is dead (long live the Schwinn) but actually this time: the headtube is ovaled and it’s not worth trying to repair. I did manage to sell the replacement I’d built up that ended up too large for me, so I have a little cash in my pocket when it comes time to build up this bike my brother’s left for me in MO: I’m excited to build a bike again, I’m annoyed that parts are so hard to come by right now. Still: bikes!

Reading and Writing

I’ve updated the reading page so that’s what I’ve been reading. Writing is going slowly but it’s going, you know? I’ve at least caught up on my correspondence, which was…​lagging.


That seems fine for now. Suffice to say that — now fully vaccinated — I’ve spent a lot of time lately with friends, catching up, trying to reacquaint myself with the world. More maybe soon. Maybe.

Catching Up

It’s been too long and too much has happened. I mean this since my last post, and also in general. Suffice to say shit’s been weird. Many good things have happened, a few pretty tragic things have happened. I want to talk about some things of both but I’m reluctant to prioritize, to narrativize. I don’t really yet have much a way to make sense of it save chronologically, but that sort of feels beside the point: in COVID times there is no time. But my friend Chelsey reminded me I had a blog yesterday, and Friday afternoons can be slow at the office.

So, below the marker are some things that have happened. They’re ordered randomly on each page load; this feels more right.


Some books I’ve finished recently (in reverse order): The Second Sex, 10:04, Things: A Story of the Sixtie_s, _The Secret Adversary, The First Tour de France, Under the Volcano, Água Viva.

Some books I’m now picking at and/or that are on my desk: The Collected Stories of Lyrida Davis, Ava (Carole Maso), Brecht on Theater, Synthesizing Gravity, Computer Science Programming Basis in Ruby, Jealousy.

The last weeks of my non-vaccination were surprisingly hard for me. I was angry and bitter and frustrated and feeling like I’d been patient for a real long time but was being asked to be patient a long while more. Luckily supply ramped up faster than expected and also eligibility changed such that I was eligible. It’s not over but it’s at least better, and I can hug my friends again.

Our neighbors (one of whom is Alia’s cousin) got a new kitten and she’s tiny and ginger and adorable and her name is Pru. I do not have a picture but I can assure you she is profoundly adorable.

The company I work for decided to shut down its office in Boston for the time being. This was disappointing news. For a lot of the folks on my team especially it was extra disappointing; many of us were fully-vaccinated the week of the announcement and had been looking forward to leaving our apartments and going it. So it was a bummer.

But.

Many of us went in on the same day to collect our things (ouch, my back! I had not ridden a bike home with that heavy a backpack in a very long time), which was lovely because I got to see these people in person whom I’d only really known for three weeks before everything was shut down and we went out for outdoor drinks after and it was goddamn lovely. My extrovert heart was full.

Alia and I are now both fully-vaccinated.

Alia started working on her home bakery not "full time" but at least she no longer works her office job and it’s been great. See sweetheartveganbakery.com.

A friend of mine passed away. He wasn’t much older than me and although I guess he’d been kind of sick it was still sudden and pretty awful. It was someone I played ultimate with in the years after undergrad back in St. Louis, and this guy would drag me — effectively the new kid in town, as I’d not played college in the midwest — to all the fun tournaments, some competitive ones, and was just generally a good guy, a pillar of the community, which is not a phrase I’d really ever use but one that is very fitting and apt.

We played on the same club team (which is I suppose "competitive" ultimate), and though he and I would butt heads a lot it was always because he was such a goddamn passionate guy. But we’d have so much fun afterwards and I always appreciated his ability to (mostly) leave it on the field, and to pick folks up later on.

I got a bunch of calls from old friends after it happened. I wish the circumstances had been different, but it was really good to hear their voices and check in. I have a lot of follow-up calls to make sometime.

This wasn’t the first of my friends to pass away during COVID — another person I’d played ultimate with passed away earlier on, and I’d only found out about it about two months later — but I don’t know, maybe because they were such different folks this one feels different. I loved K very much, and I loved CP very much. It’s just really fucking sad, you know?

I have continued to ride my bike a lot, building up mileage, too. I had been wanting to try Randonneuring for a long time, being foiled first by working in a bike shop (one does not ride their bike much when they work in a bike shop, ironically), and then COVID, but this summer was the summer and I did a self-guided populaire (100k) with a couple of buddies in April and then we did a century and then last weekend I did my first brevet (200k, ~125mi). It was wonderful and lovely, and I’m very indebted to Emily, who not only was an excellent pace partner but a superb conversationalist as well.

I’ve been meaning to go volunteer at the Somerville Bike Kitchen but then I keep not doing it.

I’ve started waking up before 8am again and it’s been really nice. We’ll see if it lasts but I prefer it when I can swing it. It’s hard in the winter though, hard when you work at a desk that’s only ~15ft from your bed.

We did, if late, plant our garden again, and we got new lights for our "outdoor living space," i.e., our backyard, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing to spend a lot of time there, especially in the morning with a cup of coffee, and late at night with beer maybe over a fire with friends (we got a free fire pit, too: you really should join your local "buy nothing" group).

My kid brother graduated college! Also here’s your reminder to check out his very cool band (and no: I don’t really understand the music video, but the song is pretty dang catchy).

My middle brother and his wife finally got their van in order, which they are now building out to be #vanlife again, and I’m very excited for them, although I think we’re therefore going to miss seeing them this summer which is a bummer.

I really haven’t been writing shit. It’s been disappointing.

The book club — Foucault Club, Philosophy Club, "Club" — finally made it through The Second Sex. Next up is Against Interpretation and Other Essays. I’m glad we read TSS but it was maybe too long for club, and since a lot of it is expository/descriptive it didn’t end up providing too much fodder for discussion after the initial ideas were worked through. Still: very interesting, frustratingly (still) relevant. The social science is…​dated, and there’s some oddities in there, but I found it nevertheless super interesting and important and in a lot of way right. Some of her "accounts" are BS, but I think every time she gives a positive account she’s on to something. Also, there’s just gems like these:

the child is the enemy of waxed floors.

— Simone de Beauvoir
The Second Sex

(Funny, right?)

A quote I liked recently:

When Gertrude Stein was at last after so many years of fruitful absence touring and lecturing in the United States, she was a popular sensation in that she was of a piece, a figure round and burrless as a ball, solid, simple, capable of being perfectly, not partially, misunderstood. She could be completely seen and completely heard; she matched herself. Such homogeneity is nearly unbearable for the complicating mind, and the universities where she lectured were full of such minds. After a certain lecture which had as usual bewildered the sober note-takers (the serious people laboring to understand by writing parts down, making decision about what was important to write down and what wasn’t, seeking a pattern in what was said, attempting to get a fix on that—​determining its coordinates like an alien craft’s) a photographer came up to Stein. He was elated, ravished by what she had been saying. It was no trouble for him to understand as it was for teh audience which had come with the intention of understanding rather than with the intention of taking pictures for the local newspaper. His ease was no surprise to Gertrude Stein. The photographer had simply listened and therefore he had understood, since what Gertrude Stein was saying was always simple, plus she repeated it. The serious note-takers couldn’t listen and therefore couldn’t understand because they were trying to remember.

— Kay Ryan
Synthesizing Gravity

(I should go back and read more Stein…​eventually.)

I’m sure there is more to say, but I am running out of steam. That’s been the thing: needing steam. Or coal, I guess. Fuel, in any case.

The things I’ve been thinking about lately include obligation and story forms and adulthood and bikes and listening and art, sources of and friendship and header levels and patience and insecurity as related to knowledge of self in self and others and coding and on-demand printing and hydration and bikes and wearing shorts and sweaters and algorithms and dive bars and postage and travelling and public health, safety and group email threads and whether it’s worth finishing Last Year at Marienbad and gardening and staining wood and working from home and if I need to start sourcing a new notebook and many other things, I’m sure.

I have spent a lot of time with George (the cat).

Ol' Schwinny is no more: the headtube is too deformed and the welt is right where you’d need to ream it further and I just don’t have it in me, so I’m retiring that bike. I semi-stripped it for parts to build up this frame I traded for on Craigslist that my buddy Nick is currently riding until he gets a bike that’s actually his size which I’ll then sell for money for parts to fund the next build.

My kid brother left a bike at my parents' house "for me" about two years ago (i.e., he had no more room in his apartment, thus the gift) so when I go visit my folks at the end of the summer I’ll find a lower headset bearing for that guy and bring that back as my new commuter. I’ll probably try to paint it, too: it’s a horrible sickly green color.

I have made it a point to ride the fat bike more and single speed fat biking is really fun. I feel lucky that there are trails close so I don’t have to do so much slow spinning on the road to get to them.


I’m realizing I no longer remember what this blog is for or what I’m supposed to talk about. Oh well.

It's Been a Long Winter, Don't You Think?

A friend of mine mentioned this morning that she’s working on essays, something I wish I was working on, too. My excuse is that I’ve never really gotten bit by the journalism bug (and though I enjoy research, I find myself flitting from interest to interest too often to do anything real about it), or that I don’t know where I’d try to publish things, and really any number of other excuses, but anyway, it reminded me that I have this languishing blog here, so —


All of my friends are doing Tarot. This is only a slight exaggeration. But it’s Tarot and astrology and it’s storytelling and I enjoy that piece of it. But though discussions of who or what is in retrograde admittedly fly far above my head (up in the astral plane, ha, ha), I enjoy the discussions and lately they have been about spring. I’m usually "wrong" about the coming spring. I’m a real downer about spring; I won’t trust that we’re out of winter up here in New England until it’s maybe the middle of May. I haven’t lived here long enough to have this suspicion unconfirmed. I also don’t (usually) mind winter. But there are maybe good things in the cards. The horoscope app I’ve been encouraged to download (again; I think I had it briefly in 2018?) says "Do:" "friendship bracelets," "playgrounds," and "postcards," at least playgrounds sounds like spring, and I’ll take it.

This winter has been a long one. No cozy warm bars in which to drink dark beer and shout about Bolaño, no winter group rides on frozen lakes or through snowy singletrack, no horrifically wet and cold commutes to complain about, and as the weather today in my part of the world is going to be in the fifties, tomorrow the sixties, Alia and I picked up a (free!) picnic table yesterday and put it in the yard, the CDC has said some encouraging things, Alia’s parents and my mother and remaining grandparents have all gotten their first doses of the vaccine, things are frankly feeling…​ spring-like. And I’ll take it. I mean, I still think we’re going to get more cold weather and snow in the coming weeks, but I’ll take it.


I was thinking I might write something coherent, but I’m losing interest in that the more this goes on. This feels relevant, however: it’s hard to pay attention and sustain focus at the best of times, and though the pandemic has obviously worsened this tendency in some ways, as the late Mark Fisher reminds us:

The consequence of being hooked into the entertainment matrix is twitchy, agitate interpassivity, an inability to concentrate or focus…​.What we in the classroom [and elsewhere] are now facing is a generation born into that ahistorical, anti-mnemonic blip culture — a generation, that is to say, for whom time has always come ready-cut into digital micro-slices.

— Capitalist Realism

I’m a middle-late millennial, meaning that I can remember a time before cell phones and the internet, but it wasn’t a lot of time, per se. And I do have some questions to post to Fisher’s characterization above (and in the book more generally, though I do mostly agree), but there’s something to it. And the constant stream of Jesus-what-the-fuck news that predominated 45’s presidency and remains — though muted — now, certainly exacerbate the problem.

I was thinking about this morning as I was reading more of Brecht on Theater, realizing that:

  1. I need to return it to the library today

  2. The epub version I have of it is not only the wrong edition, but also has been nearly entirely retranslated (for the worse, in my very uneducated opinion)

  3. I prefer the sections that are shorter to the longer ones, and that maybe I could not give a great summary of what I’ve read at the end of each essay.

I’m still gleaning things, and I think I could still argue about it and characterize it if I had to (at least: I still seem to be able to do that with a similarly attentive reading of The Second Sex for book club), but a part of me wonders if the reading I’m doing is any good at all: I’m reading so many different things concurrently and quickly, because every day there is something else I want to read.

(In truth, I think this is all fine, really, because I’ll remember what I need to remember and I can always return to it, and it’s not like I’m an academic anymore, just some shithead writer trying to write things — and write fiction, no less! But I was thinking about it.)


For fun, here’s something from my journal, furthering the Capitalist Realism line:

I don’t disagree with [the book] but I also don’t know that I like reading it (though it really is a very very easy read), and furthermore, I don’t know what I am to feel about postmodernism anymore, or rather, my relationship to it. Maybe it’s the post-post thing, wherein there is no credulity in the "reality" of the various symbolic systems, but rather an acknowledgement — regardless of their fictitiousness — of their efficacy and power, which is to say: maybe we need to treat them more along the lines of a kind of ontological fictionalism. If I were still doing philosophy I think that’s where one might have to take it.

I think that’s still right, though I need to work out the details more. I was very into fictionalism near the end of my undergraduate studies, and I still think there’s a lot to it. I also appreciate that it’s dissatisfying, but I do think it marries well with something like Foucault’s "archaeology," if one were trying to ground truth-statements to something that can avoid accusations of relativism. But then, really what I need to do is try to read Brandom’s Making It Explicit again, which I was woefully underprepared for when I tried in undergrad (the fact that I was in a relatively major depressive period at that time also did not help).

Anyway.


I’ve updated the reading page, kind of.

Here are some fun quotes from my reading of late:

Rarely does an interviewer ask questions you did not expect. I have given a lot of interviews and I have concluded that the questions always look alike. I could always give the same answers. But I believe I have to change my answers because with each interview something has changed either inside myself or in the world. An answer that was right the first time may not be right again the second. This could be the basis of a book. I am given a list of questions, always the same; every chapter would contain the answers I would give at different times. The changes would contain the answers I would give at different times. The changes would then become the itinerary, the story that the protagonist lives. Perhaps in this way I could discover some truths about myself.

But I must go home—the time approaches for the interviewers to arrive.

God help me!

— Italo Calvino
The Art of Fiction No. 130

Hugh put one foot up on the parapet and regarded his cigarette that seemed bent, like humanity, on consuming itself as quickly as possible.

— Malcolm Lowry
Under the Volcano

In the old days there was no more need for the artist to bother about science than for science to concern itself with him. But now he has to, for science has progressed so much further. Look at an aeroplane, then look at a theatrical performance. People have acquired new motives for their actions; science has found new dimensions by which to measure them; it’s time for art to find new expressions.

— Brecht on Theater

Salesman all over the world are trained according to its principles to influence their customers' behaviours; they learn by rule of thumb how to provide new needs for their fellow men. (Example: a man goes into a showroom, mildly infected, and comes out, severely ill, in possession of a motor-car)

— Brecht on Theater

But, bad as it may sound, I have to admit that I cannot get along as an artist without the use of one or two sciences. This may well arouse serious doubts as to my artistic capacities…​.But in my view the great and complicated things that go on in the world cannot be adequately recognized by people who do not use every possible aid to understanding.

— Brecht on Theater

That last Brecht quote may deserve some comment. I think it’s nice, though I cut out a lot of the paragraph in there (thanks, quad-ellipses), but the intervening was basically just romanticization of poets. It reminded me that, in theory, I also do computational stuff, but we both know that I haven’t done much of that lately. Partly it’s been that the novel is consuming and I only have so much time, and in part it’s that the last big thing I was working on — a quarantine-themed variation on Perec’s The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise — hit something like a spiritual roadblock, but like the essay thing, it’s a good reminder to return to it…​ nobody wants to pay me a salary and benefits to work on this stuff, right?

In any case, I do believe very much in adapting the "sciences" (broadly construed) to art — in fact, I made the prompt for this next issue of Response math, or well, math and an engraving, I guess (and the math was light to be honest, but still) — and [insert inappropriate rant about writers myopically writing only about being writers, etc.].

That said, I have been awash in novels, lit crit, and philosophy lately, so who the fuck am I to talk?


I don’t know — I ran out of steam (blame the lunch break). Here’s a picture of our cat:

George the Cat

What I could have should have done was tie everything back to Tarot, about prompted storytelling and using external promptings to guide the work that you were going to do anyway, and tie this into how the coming of spring puts an extra spring in the step (HA!) towards the multitudes of work, that the prospect of warmer weather and more sunlight means that there may yet be some awakening in the work too, etc., etc., etc. I find, with the above re: attention and focus and so on, that a lot of the writing I’m doing now is putting things in comments like:

// THERE SHOULD BE MORE WRITING HERE BUT WHAT?

and

// something more here, but I don't have the brain tonight.

and

// more things

But hey: it’s a "practice" not a "product," and at least this week there is forward motion: and this, too, I will take.

More soon.

Riding Big Tire Bikes in the Snow

We’ve finally reached the point in the year when the dust has more or less settled after the busy season at my job (late fall), the holidays (you know, December), and the busy season at Alia’s job (January), and though the lack of commute into downtown Boston means that I still don’t ride my bike as often as I’d like (i.e., twice a day during the week plus weekend rambles), I am a) very lucky to have a job, especially one that has been so excellent in handling the pandemic and b) still riding, still able to ride. This is a good thing, for my physical health, my mental health, and, you know, fun.

That said, I’ve been riding the bike trainer way too fucking much this year.

I bought the thing off eBay from a guy in Wisconsin (this is relevant, bear with me) early on in the pandemic when all the bike shops were sold out of them (save the $1000+ ones), and I considered it a present to myself for having finished my MFA thesis. These were the ugly, heady early days of the pandemic and it wasn’t clear if going outside was going to be OK or not, so I figured, “hey, why not try Zwift?”

It’s been good and fun and though it means that some days when I maybe could go outside and ride, I ride indoors instead (looking at you, cold gusty rain days), it’s been especially nice in the winter, as I don’t trust the drivers so much out where I like to ride once it gets dark, and this being New England, it gets dark at like… 4:30 (this is thankfully now changing). But the point is I’ve been riding indoors a fair amount. Enough so that I can do it for longer than the mere 20 minutes that I’d originally been able to tolerate. It’s still not “fun,” per se, but having the “smart” trainer helps, as does Futurama.

But anyway, I’ve been making it a point to get outside more, even when this means rides where after I take off my fall gloves to eat a snack halfway through a ride I have to stop and put on my winter gloves a few miles down the road because it got too goddamn cold. I’ve also started wearing produce bags inside my shoes (thanks Wiso, for the tip).

I like long rides and I like my “road” bike , and that’s what I ride the vast majority of the time. But you see, I used to live in Wisconsin…

(See? It was relevant.)

In Wisconsin I rode fat bikes in the winter because that’s what there was to do, and that’s how I made all my (twice-as-old and also retired) friends. It was genuinely awesome. I rented a bike from the finest folks at Bay City Cycles and then bought myself my first new bike, a Surly Wednesday, and rode the crap out of it until we moved to Boston.

In Boston, there was less a “need” for the fat bike. I would commute on it certain days in winter. I eventually discovered the relatively excellent trail system about a mile from where we live, and I would “mountain bike” on rare occasion with some buddies. I am ideologically opposed to driving-to-ride-a-bike if I can help it (D2R2 being the exception – apparently I did not do a write up for 2019?), and so until I found the trails I didn’t ride it much. After storing it wet after a snowy commute I didn’t touch it, and then the squealing was such that I had to replace the pads and rotors… and then I bought a different handlebar… and then decided I was done spending money on it, after buying the parts to make it a single speed, of course.

And so eventually I made it a single speed, rode it more, remembered how fucking fun it is to ride, and so I ride it a little more, but mostly when it snows, because that’s the most fun. And there’s been snow on the ground (a little snow, very cold snow, so great for bike riding). And so yesterday I went out to ride before the deluge of what promises to be shitty wet snow falls down upon us today and tomorrow (also, I have to, you know, work for money).

The ride was fun, and I even stopped at my favorite bench to drink some (by then) lukewarm tea out of my thermos.

Wednesday in the snow

I think single speed is the way to go for this. Yeah, it makes deep snow harder, but tbh deep snow is always hard. I don’t have to think much except “pedal.” I did just a little more than 11 miles and it was perfect. I do think I want yet another, different handlebar (the one I was too cheap to buy the first time), and I think I’ll also swap the saddle with an old C15 I have soon to be lying around, and I think also maybe I want a more set-back seatpost. But in time.

For now, it was just fun to ride. And though I’ll be on the trainer again tonight (see: deluge of snow), I’ll be thinking about the woods, about the nice, crackly sounding snow, about the adventures I’ve been missing from Wisconsin, and also, you know, probably whatever’s happening on Futurama.

Alex Said It Was a Tinkerer's Bike

Once upon a time, way back in the heady, late-summer days of 2019, I joined my friend Alex from the bike shop and my friend Shire from ultimate frisbee stuff and his cousin and his cousin’s buddy for a second round of D2R2, which is easily one of the best events I’ve ever attended, and some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike. As usual for that crowd, we rolled out pretty late but had a lovely time doing it, but got to the lunch area late, too (long story), and so as we skimmed the dregs of what was left to eat and ate them by the little river and covered bridge, we got to talking about bikes, as one is wont to do.

You see, Alex had just gotten back from biking from Boston to Seattle, Atlantic to Pacific. I’d ridden out with him on Day 1 and was to take him home after the day’s ride, as he had gotten off the Amtrak train somewhere in Western Mass and rode up to Deerfield to meet us (he already had camping gear, after all). I was asking questions about his ride, this and that, and mentioning some thing I’d wanted to do to the Straggler, which I like to putz with (also: dear lord those posts are old), and Alex thought about it for a while and said,

You know, that’s the perfect bike for you. It’s a tinkerer’s bike.

(The subtext being: “you never leave well enough alone, do you?”)

And goddamnit, he was right. It’s not “the best” at anything. This is well documented re: Surlys, and the Straggler in particular (lol @ the folx who don’t like the weird dropouts – they just take a few minutes to get used to and then you never think about it.) That said, it’s the best if you have a semi-deep spare parts bin, get bored easily, and like to play. And me? I like to play.

And so I played. The short version:

  1. I swapped the 42T Wolftooth ring for the VO 48/34 drillium rings (the crankset was on sale… I wanted the chainrings, also the crank for if/when I finally get rid of the GXP BB).
  2. I swapped the Rival 1 rear derailleur for a Rival 22 RD that I bought on eBay for real cheap some years ago (but it’s short cage, womp-womp). I have a Shimano RD (also short cage, because I’m cheap and an idiot?) on the way also from eBay, and I’m thinking the cable-pull will be a little better. I also want more silver on the bike for if/when I ever spring for that nice VO 46/30 crank… which will make the 11-28 somewhat less of a bad idea.
  3. Finally put to rest the 11-42 SRAM cassette that I originally built the bike with; I got a lot of chains out of that thing, but yes, it was time. I fitted an 11-28 10 speed guy back there because >10 speed friction shifting gets dicey I hear, and I don’t think I could have pulled the rear derailleur far enough with my shifter plan… (see step 6).
  4. Fitted a Problem Solvers braze-on adapter (it’s silver. Will I get the black one which I think will look better? Probably), and put on the DURA ACE front derailleur that Bay City Cycles in Ashland WI sold me for way cheap because they’re the best, and because the original one on Schwinny was toast and they took pity on me. I did need to replace one of the (stripped) limit screws (thank you, donor R8 FD!)
  5. New chain, etc. etc. – all that. Swapped on the SRAM brake lever set I used for last year’s winter single-speeed.
  6. I’m trying cloth bar tape!
  7. Put on the left downtube shifter, flipped the switch to friction the right shifter, and fitted new shifting cables. FRICTION ALL DAY, BABY!

So before (from this summer):

Stragglepus, before

And after:

Stragglepus, after

Plus some detail (glamour) shots:

Stragglepus, details

Stragglepus, details

Stragglepus, details

Stragglepus, details

Stragglepus, details

You’ll notice, too, that the stem has been flipped, the rack and bag fitted (please don’t judge the stitching: I sewed that guy in a hurry; it is relatively waterproof though!). I’m not sold on the flipped stem, but it helps my nether-regions given all this bullshit “virtual” cycling I’ve been doing (tl;dr: I don’t trust drivers at night in the suburbs where I like to ride and it gets dark real early in New England), but the rack and bag in the winter is key for layers, extra water, and snacks. God bless snacks.

I finally got out and rode the new setup outdoors this afternoon (I’d done some “virtual rides” with it), and it was fucking blast. I really do love the downtube shifting; I know I’m not supposed to. And the lever gets pulled almost 90 degrees but it shifts across the cogs fine. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I do notice and appreciate the smaller jumps between gears, and I like having to think a little more about my shifting: it requires a little skill. I’m not as crazy as the Rivendell folks (OK, maybe it’s just Grant?), but they’re on to something… they really are.

It was too wet today to try it in the woods, but I’m looking forward to that. I really do think the 1x gearing makes sense in the woods, but I want to try this, see how it goes. The nice thing is that, at the end of the day, I’m working this bike out so that I can change the fixin’s relatively easily (see: mentioned but not explained move back to a square taper bottom bracket), because although I don’t have a “one true bike,” or room for a fleet of bikes, I do have a really excellent bike for me, a tinkerer, who thinks it’s fun to be constantly rebuilding my bike.

Anyway, I was worried this blog was getting too much “books” and “bullshit” (Alia pointed out today that my blog tries to do too much to ever actually have an audience: I am fine with this. This is for me.), and I don’t see my shop friends or my bike friends as often as I would like these days so I wanted to talk about my bike. Because bikes are awesome, didn’t you know?