Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Caress of Steel

To put this in context we need to go back to 1980-something.  I was the only kid on the block without a CD player.  It’s not that I didn’t get that CDs made more sense than albums, it’s just I had difficulty letting go.  And I’m cheap.  The CD selection was pretty thin back then so I announced to my friends that I would not buy a CD player until Rush’s album Caress of Steel came out on disc.  Not only was it my favorite album but it was obscure enough to buy me some time.  Shortly thereafter, Denny gave me a Caress of Steel CD for my birthday.  He knew I still wasn’t going to get a CD player anytime soon.  I wasn’t finished tearing off the birthday wrapping when Denny asked to borrow it. 

Let’s skip forward 30 years to last weekend.  I met Denny and his wife in Traverse City for Mud, Sweat, and Beers.  They picked up their new custom hand built Chris King bedazzled Quiring tandem on the way there.  A beautiful bike, so beautiful it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. 

I've wanted a Quiring since, I duno, 1999.  Sometimes I search the Michigan Mountain Biking classifieds, Craig’s List, and ebay looking for a one that fits my dimensions and budget.  This lustful fascination with finding the right bike certainly gives a quick glimpse into my soul and all the muck that surrounds it there.

I go back and forth on buying a Quiring.  A $1,600 steel frame is a none too subtle display of conspicuous consumption and I avoid such stupid narcissistic behavior because I am afraid I really am narcissistic and stupid.  Why advertise.  I do have a beautiful steel hand built Inglis single speed but in Michigan this brand is obscure enough to go undetected by all but the most astute bike geeks.  Anyway, it is a 26er and has bosses for V-brakes.

I want a Quiring 29er geared bike to replace my Tomac carbon fiber XC bike.  I am the last person still racing a 26er and although I don’t know what the fatigue life of carbon fiber is, god damn it must be getting close.  Last Wednesday I saw someone listed a Quiring on ebay.  It is exactly how I would have ordered it from Scott Quiring, down to the thru rear axle and bb30 bottom bracket, if life was such that I could just go order a custom frame from Scott Quiring.  I saw the bicycle on the MMBA classifieds before.  Apparently the owner got no bites locally so he went to ebay.  I imagine Quiring frames are as obscure outside of Michigan as Inglis’ are here.  This makes me think he won’t get a lot for it on ebay and I see he doesn’t have a reserve price.  The auction ends today at 3:00 PM.  I keep nervously checking where the bids are.  It is currently within my budget.
What if the bids go above what I can spend with a clear conscience?  What then?  I like(d) Specialized but all the suing they do to keep their name pure makes them look silly.  I like(d) Trek but I think they are going to get all mixed up in the US Postal Team drama and eventually someone will figure out they knew about some crazy high-end bike for EPO trade or something.  The bigger issue is both these companies are too mainstream; it is hard to be all narcissistic and stuff when a thousand other people have the same bike as you.  Maybe a Niner.  No, those bicycles are beautiful and the company is the right size but I want off the carbon fiber bandwagon.  I want a domestic steel frame with beautiful tig welds; a subtle charm most people can’t see.   That does it.  I must win that Quiring off ebay.  I will know in about an hour.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

So I'm Old and Critical

So yeah, I was thinking what we really need here is one more bike blog.  This isn’t going to be one of those blogs full of podium pics I post of myself, because I am humble.  And I really suck at racing.  Or one of those blogs that seriously considers the advantages of 12 x 142 rear hub spacing over 135 mm because honestly all I would do is plagiarize someone else who seems to know what they are talking about.  Rather, I want to take a critical look at cycling.  Critical, not in the negative sense of the word but rather in the analytical sense.

I guess I am old.  How I got old is a little fuzzy, I mean, I was just 24 the other day and had my shit together.  I took a nap, woke up, and I was a 48 year old single father with two kids and a mortgage payment. 

I suppose I’m old and critical.  What that means is I won’t run out and buy a 650B wheeled MTB to replace the 29er I ran out and bought to replace my 26er, because I'm sure next week there will be a 25” wheeled bike that will blow all the other designs out of the water with it’s lower rotating mass and a smaller contact patch. 

Or maybe it will be a 30” wheeled bike.  What I do know is life isn’t made up of problems to solve as much as it is paradoxes to deal with.