The other day I mentioned horses, which prompted some horse-related commentary in the, uh, comments:
It will probably shock you to learn that I don’t own a horse. As a member of a horse-free household, I am inclined to agree that giant skittish flatulent four-legged shitbags are perhaps accorded a bit more latitude and indulgence in 21st century society than is warranted. At the same time, as someone who’s obsessed with bicycles I recognize that: a) People love riding horses as much as I love riding bikes; and ii) Plenty of people think cyclists are flatulent two-wheeled shitbags who don’t belong on the public right-of-way either. Also, with regard to that first point, I’m increasingly inclined to be tolerant towards my fellow obsessives, regardless of whether I happen to think their particular obsession is cool or lame, baneful or benign. Cars, trucks, boats, personal watercraft, guns, blowers, models, hemp handicrafts, baking, collecting Star Wars action figures… For every one of these things there are at least thousands of people who, if they weren’t allowed to partake in them, would be deeply saddened and maybe even disinclined to get up in the morning. As humans we are tasked with sharing a planet while simultaneously partaking in our bizarre indulgences, and while it’s not always easy it’s kinda necessary, even if you think that, say, riding around on the back of a giant pet with the brainpower of a squirrel marries the obstinate recalcitrance of being Amish with the grotesque entitlement of driving an $80,000 SUV and parking it in the bike lane.
Tedious philosophical musings aside, as at least one commenter pointed out, it is worth noting that in many places horse owners have outsized influence over local land use matters and the like. This is interesting, because if you really think about it, even though the motor vehicle effectively ended the reign (pun intended) in America of the horse as a beast of burden (Amish, law enforcement, and certain other people excluded), the Horse Lobby is probably far more powerful than the Car Lobby on a per capita basis. As for the suggestion in the comments that horse owners be required to clean up after their animals, I certainly take no particular pleasure in riding over or near horse manure, but I’ll gladly take over dog crap, which is all over the goddamn place, and is a million times more disgusting:
For that matter, I also think it’s ironic that society generally has less tolerance for cyclists than for dog owners. Both dogs and bikes are more or less ubiquitous, both can be annoying to non-owners, and both do occasionally harm innocent bystanders. However, even the most staunch bike-hater would have to admit they’ve almost never walked through the feces of a bicyclist, so you’d think we’d at least be a little higher on the totem pole. (Am I allowed to say “totem pole?”)
Moving on (“Giddyup!”), I can’t believe the DEA didn’t intercept my latest package from Rivendell:
That is not some sort of opiate (at least as far as I know). It is in fact a tin of sort of an all-purpose thread-locking compound and leather treatment that Grant Petersen makes himself, and it carries the sharp pine scent of a thousand air fresheners:
I’ve published books, flown in private planes with since-disgraced pro cyclists, and even met Eric the Chamferer, who personally made me a saddle. But I never felt like I’d actually arrived until Grant personally sent me a tin of Old Man Petersen’s Thread Locker, Arthritis Cure, And General Wellness Salve.
Anyway, one application for this stuff is to keep the mounting bolts of the Silver2 shifters from loosening during use, so in that sense it’s kind of an artisanal Loctite. As I add these shifters to more and more bikes, I find that sometimes they seem to want periodic tightening, and sometimes they don’t. (For example, I haven’t had to touch the bolts on my Homer in years, but I’ve had to snug up the one on my RockCombo here and there.) Also included in the package were other odds and ends to kind of “hop up” your Silvers, such as brass washers to give them an aesthetic upgrade:
And wing bolts to ratchet up (pun also intended) the “Frankenstein chic” effect:
I should interject at this time that I’m becoming deeply obsessed with the Silver shifters. One reason for this is that they work really well and are very satisfying to use, but another reason is that I love to tinker with bikes and the sheer simplicity and cross-compatibility of the things means you can install them and experiment with them very easily. So upon opening this package I figured it would be fun to try them out on the Normcore Trek, partially because I thought the bike could use a little customization, and partially because I was curious about how the Silvers would work as downtube shifters. So I removed the 105 downtube antennae:
And installed a set of Silvers, wing bolts and all:
The bras and the steampunk look is sort of at odds with the whole bonded aluminum vibe, but the washers do match the rivets on the saddle. I also installed this sticker (cut from a larger sticker) to cover up a large paint chip:
It’s somewhat ironic because of the bonded aluminum and the BioPace, but it’s kind of not since the bike’s from 1989 and is still totally serviceable.
So far I haven’t had time for more than a test ride up and down the street, but so far so good:
They feel much nicer than the 105s, and I happen to like the looks:
Just think: in less than a week I put an Ultegra derailleur on a C-Record bike, and I put Rivendell shifters on an aluminum trek.
I regret nothing.