Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Fool's Signal and Pedallers of Distraction

I've been listening to a lot of Slayer lately. Revisiting the older stuff like Show No Mercy and Reign in Blood. No real reason, my music preference goes in cycles. But, it does seem to fit well with the bulk of the urban guerilla commuting miles that have been stacking up. And you can't deny that when some jagbag buzzes a few inches from your handlebars, that Angel of Death lyrics don't satisfy just a little bit in some depraved way.

Mind you, it's only what I remember of the songs that run through my head, as I'm not one to tune out the world with earbuds and an IPutz while pedaling. Not even one ear like the halfsy folks that strain to hear the buzz of strings and beats over the traffic they think they're being attentive to.

Obviously, a fair amount of folks hold the opinion that music, riding, and traffic don't mix. And rightfully so. I'll go even further and say that even without the frenzy of urban traffic, it's a bad habit. An old pal once brought this up when I was a runner years ago and said "if you can't lose yourself in what you love doing, you're not doing it right." Or, at least something to that effect. Many won't agree, but to me, when you look beneath the veneer of exceptionalism, I think there is some truth to it.

I know a decent amount of riders, some really good friends, that roll with tunes in all manner. Some in a safer context than others. There are quite a few riders that I observe on the daily commute whom are clearly either vaguely aware of their own existence or, more ominously, have some kind of twisted fatalist streak.

I won't needle folks who think that wired riding is A-OK. Live and let live is my credo ("if you have to have a credo." as ol' Clark Griswold said). So, much like I never cared for the "Where's your helmet?" pretentiousness, I don't particularly feel the need to impose my personal beliefs on other folks. For me at least, I'm happy with my own thoughts, wind noise, and gears clicking away like that scene in Sunday in Hell.

One other thing I've noticed during the UGRCs (Urban Guerilla Recon Commute) is the curious decision by automobile manufacturers to, quite brazenly, discontinue the turn signal function on their new rides. And, near as I can tell, have co-opted the nerd community and developed a hack that electronically jams the formerly good signals on older models.

What was once a make-no-mistake-about-it flashing red beacon of intent is now reduced to a quick darting of the eyes to the rear view mirror or a clairvoyant merge/turn. Perhaps someone tired of the clueless blue hairs driving countless miles at five below the speed limit with the blinker incessantly signaling a lane change that never comes. Or maybe it's a corporate strategy (I haven't figured out how to blame BP or Obama for this yet, but obviously someone powerful is to blame) to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of the fine and upstanding motorized public.

Regardless, I'm calling bullshit on it. Like flicking cigarette butts out the window or using the bike lane as an exclusive, personal express lane, it's another all too common stupid de-evolution of mutual respect, personal responsibility, law enforcement, education, and public health. Alas, nobody cares until someone dies, and even then, they only care for a day or two.

Keep it safe two wheeled freaks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Old Timey Whips

Old steel...

Concorde Squadra TSX in PDM team colors. I lusted for one of these back in 1992 when Sean Kelly was king and money was an extravagance. Veltec-Boyer was out of the PDM model when I finally had the cash and prices were slashed, so I got the Collstrop team replica instead.

Few bikes are more iconic than the 7-11 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra. Luscious.

This looks to be a newer version of the Legnano SLX that Pheeves has. The green/white/red scheme is as timeless as celeste...and probably equally loved/hated.

The masked chrome fork and stays paired with Bianchi's Nouvo Celeste (new for the time) paint made this bike a head turner. The "Ultralight" on the 1995 Bianchi Columbus TSX sticker was somewhat misleading, and rear wheel changes were a chore with the ridiculously short chainstays if you had any tire bigger than a Vittoria CX sewup. Trivialities aside, this bike didn't sing, it bellowed.

Ahhh, the 1991 Zullo team TVM bike. Doesn't Robert Millar look fabulous? It's not often you see a small maker appear beneath the legs of a big time professional squad, and these days, it's downright absurd. But Zullo hit on all cylinders with their SLX model done up in a mustard/yellow splash scheme. If only the Pariba tires kept them upright, perhaps a few of the originals would still be around. Regardless, Zullo is fabricating some really nice looking replicas for the tifosi. And I daresay they outshine the original in all aspects but originality...

When CP came in with his 1988 Rossin Ghibli in green/yellow/purple back in 1993 I knew this beast was one bike that I'd want for a long, long, time but never lay hands on. Alas, much time has passed and I'm no nearer to owning one than I was in '93.

The only thing I liked about the arrogant bastard that came in the bike shop with a few racing years under his belt and a law degree on his wall was his Tommasini Tecno. It sparkled more than any bike I had ever seen.

While I think Pinarello is in something of a state of confused de-evolution right now, they were riding high back in the early and mid 1990's. The Montello model was pure bodaciousness from its rich red paint to chromed stays and fork. Franco Chiocchioli won the 1991 Giro on one. 'Nuf said.

I had one of these (1988 Peugeot Chorus) passed down from the number one Charly Mottet fan in Chikagaland. By the time I threw a leg over it, it had already seen close to 50,000 miles. When I stomped on the pedals, I could make it shift; not something my 130lb frame was used to. Still, it was such a utilitarian piece of French couture, and my connection to all things eurotrashy, that I would by another one in an instant to relive the underwhelmingness of it all.

RG insisted on riding his Peugeot Super Competition even though he had nine other bikes that were more current and a bike shop with which to kit it out with newer Mavic 8spd with. It took awhile, but I understand where he was coming from now. You can't spoil a classic just because you can.

What's a list of great steel frames without the obligatory Colnago? That's right, a liar's screed. If this was the only bike you ever had, you'd be lucky.

Perhaps it's the fables I heard of Smitty throwing his virgin Gios Torino resplendent in C-Record into a ditch because of a flat on an equally new Vittoria CX tubie. Or, maybe it was the host of pantographed stems, cranks, seatposts, chainrings, and brake levers. Either way, I still want one. Also, what could possibly possess anyone to buy a Gios that wasn't China Blue?

My first love. The first "true" racing bike I ever owned: the 1987 Reynolds 531c tubed Gitane RS. It looked so rad with the Mavic 8spd group that I thought it was the coolest, sweetest, bike in the USofA. Some snickered at the pink (fuscia!) color, but what the hell did they know? They liked football, pop music, and cheerleaders. Definately not my bag. I honestly don't think there's another one of these out there. But if there is, I hope it's a 52cm.