exo : blah


Mon, 02 Apr 2012

every time

As with a great many activities there is an element of cycling culture that is a bit hostile to newcomers. There's always going to be a learning curve in taking up a hobby and there's not much to be done about that but there's a few aspects within cycling which seem to be actively unhelpful.

Possibly the best distillation of this is in Velominati's The Rules which, I hope, is partly satire but contains a fair helping of truth. There is some good advice in there but a lot of it falls into two categories: worship of suffering and style policing.

The former of these is a constant within the road cycling fraternity; every road cyclist wants to be Belgian and regarded as a hard man. And yes, there is something heroic in the ability of the professional cyclist to suffer but I can't help but think that the better living through suffering ethic isn't all that welcoming.

The style policing which is prevalent in mountain biking as well, albeit in a different form from that captured in The Rules, I find the more objectionable of the two. If someone is on a bike they should be encouraged, not told that they have the wrong colour or type of shorts.

There is an argument to be had that I am taking this too seriously but time spent on cycling forums tells me I am not. On almost any topic you care to mention there will people who are serious in their derision of people for breaching some arbitrary convention who then go on to defend it by appealing to circumstances entirely irrelevant to all but the most serious of cyclist.

The core issue I have with this is the underlying notion that the vast majority of people who cycle are, in some way, not proper cyclists when in fact we should be pleased every time we see anyone on a bike. I know for some people the increase in cycling commuters is an irritation but for me one of the cheering things about visiting London in recent years is the stream of cyclists at either end of the day. It makes me happy every time I see it.

Every one of those commuters, regardless of how slow, wobbly or poor their gear selection is someone on a bike and the more of them there are the better it is for everyone else on a bike. Years ago the bags of Edinburgh Bicycle carried a quote from H.G. Wells that forms the tl;dr for all of the above: "Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

posted at: 22:26 #

Thu, 01 Mar 2012

the joy of maintenance

Among the unsung joys of bicycle ownership is how easy they are to fix; a bit of knowledge and a few allen keys goes a long way with a bike. Not only does this make them cheap to run, or at least potentially cheap, there's also an extra pride in owning something that you maintain.

Most of the maintenance is actually more accurately termed cleaning for which some rags and a toothbrush will suffice. However, even common maintenance like replacing brake pads, tweaking gears and replacing the chain only requires the addition of a chain splitter to the allen keys. A few more tools and you can replace the entire drivetrain when it wears out, one or two more and you can remove and replace the forks and then you can start thinking about building your own wheels.

And with that you've build your own bike which comes with yet another boost to the pride in ownership. If you're really keen you can go on a framebuilding course and come out the other end with a frame you made yourself.

I am not that keen.

posted at: 23:21 #

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