Monday, March 09, 2020

The temptations of Marpril

Today's high temperature was about 62 degrees at my house. In a forecast discussion one day last week on the  National Weather Service site, a meteorologist had written that the pattern looked more like April than March. It's true. The high temperatures have been consistently well above freezing, tagging the 50s on occasion. But 62 -- that's the territory of May.

Freakishly warm days can hit at any time. I've seen it hit 60 in January, and turn warm and wet enough to melt off the snow cover all the way to the highest summits. That was 1995. But the odd warm day or two can pop in and out in any month of winter, with less dramatic consequences. Still, the closer you get to the real end of winter, the more these benedictions make you yearn for more like them.

I yielded to it today. I overdressed, of course, but not so much that I was gasping for breath and pouring with sweat. My route passes through one well-known micro-climate where I was glad of every layer I had on, for the seven seconds that I was in that shaded hollow full of snow and spruce trees.

The temperature drops back to more Aprilish conditions starting tomorrow. Tomorrow's 50s with clouds and developing showers mimics the latter half of next month, while the progressively lower temperature waves take us closer to the beginning of it as the week goes on.

The early meltdown has drawn a few riders out. On Sunday, a woman brought in her thoroughly modern gravel bike to investigate a flat tubeless tire. David diagnosed it as just a dislodged bead due to low air pressure. The rider had been told to run 'em soft because it's faster, and it absorbs shock. Because she works out of town, she goes to an excellent shop in Concord. She described her mechanic there as "hard core." Based on his equipment recommendations, I would add "trendoid." But looking back over my life I realize that I have lost every war I was ever in. The industry sold its soul to planned obsolescence in the 1990s, and the addicts who depend on it live in a world viewed through their perceived need.

You don't have to be hard core to be dedicated.

Clearly almost no one respects my opinion about the technology. I do enjoy riding my archaic shit. I love how it works. I do not yearn for anything more sophisticated. All the gimmicky bullshit has not bought us any more respect on the roads, or recruited sedentary legions from the sidelines. The only technological innovation that has stirred much interest is the addition of an electric motor.

How many times over the years did some smartass look at the price of a high-end bike and say, "For that kind of money, I want a motor!" Well, here you go: put up or shut up, asshole.

You can get hassled or run down just as easily on an e-bike as on one powered by meat alone. Think that a motor enhances safety? Ask a motorcyclist about that.

For today, I made it around a nice little 15-mile route on a fixed gear with no parts on it newer than the late 20th Century, except for the tires. They're more recent, but they may not even be from this decade. Oh, and the chain was new within the last couple of years. I could tell I had no strength, but I had enough. A utility rider doesn't need to maintain 20+ miles per hour for hours. You don't need to be first up the hill. You just need to get up the hill.

One ride leads to another, or so you hope. And so begins a season.


mike w. said...

" You don't need to be first up the hill. You just need to get up the hill."

i've never met a hill i couldn't walk over.

Morlamweb said...

"Clearly almost no one respects my opinion about the technology. I do enjoy riding my archaic shit." If only you were my local bike mechanic. My "archaic" 1987 MTB-turned commuter would fit right in. The guys at my LBS all want to push me on to an e-bike with hydraulic discs and e-shifters. I'm quite happy with my steel frame, 21 gear combos, rim brakes, and cables. I'd be happier if the guys at the shop would fix up my bike without the damned sales pitch.

ktache said...

In the south of the UK we seem to get April showers more in March than in April.
It's been proper mild this year, and wet, very wet, and muddy.
I like the old, tough and dependable stuff too. Only just retired my early 90s MTB commuter. Era specific gears and brakes, when set up well it worked well.
One thing that has come on in leaps and bounds - the seals on hubs, They used to require much stripping and cleaning, now a set of XT hubs will not need doing before the rim is worn.
And lights, so much more brightness and battery life.

Rob in VA said...

All 3 of my bikes have steel frames, and all 3 have 7-speed cassettes. They are easy to maintain, they are 100% reliable, and they are 110% fun to ride. In this morning's 3-hour circuit on rapidly undulating, rocky, root-cluttered trails, I thought about how handy my mtn bike's 7-speed 12-28 cassette is...with 2 pushes of the downshift lever, I can almost instantly cut my drive ratio in half.

The only downside, of course, is eventual scarcity of parts. I may need to replace the freehub on one of my road bike rear wheels before long, and not sure I'll even be able to find one for 7-speed HG.