Plastic And Foam!

Further to yesterday’s post about Plastic Vengeance, my fondness for the bike is deeply at odds with the mix of technical jargon and oenophile-esque pretense that is the crabon bicycle ethos, with which we’re all familiar now, but which was first articulated in Kestrel’s early catalogs:

The Kestrel 4000 launched a thousand one-piece crabon bikes, and the Kestrel catalog launched a million words that made riding a bike sound like a pastime for assholes.

I’m not a Kestrel owner (I am technically a Kestrel borrower, unless I decide to formalize the arrangement) though I certainly do feel like a member of a very elite circle. Colloquially, this is known as a “circle jerk,” and it consists of a group of people who get together in order to enjoy “direct personal involvement” while sitting in close proximity to each other:

If there’s a more articulate description of roadie culture I haven’t read it.

Anyway, as the custodian of a vintage plastic bicycle, I was curious as to what the used market looked like, and in browsing it I soon came upon the World’s Saddest Kestrel:

The asking price is…rather ambitious:

The claim that there are “no issues” with the bike is similarly optimistic. I wondered why the seller chose to lead off with a non-drive photo, and I soon realized it was most likely to delay a potential buyer’s discovery that the right-hand shifter boss is missing and the frame has sort of healed up over it like a missing digit:

The most recent owner appears to have compensated for this by means of some creative cable routing:

This is like when one of your outlets aren’t working so you’re like, “Fuck it, I’ll just run an extension cord from the other room.”

Much more attainable–and potentially rideable, from the looks of it–is this specimen:

If it was a little smaller I’d totally bid on it, and if I got it I’d move over all the parts from the Normcore Bike.

And obviously I’d equip it with one of these:

Bikes are just faster with sideburns, it’s science.

Moving on, the other day I expressed amusement at the fact that a helmet company wanted to send me a helmet:

In replying to the email, I noted my feelings on the subject. Undeterred, the representative was steadfast in his offer, and suggested this one:

At this point an idea began to emerge from the bubbling fondue pot that is my brain. Recently my son was racing at the velodrome, and a spectator took issue with his helmet fit and proceeded to lecture me about it. This irritated me to no end–I’ll put my kid in an ill-fitting helmet if I want to, goddammit!–yet at the same time the guy had a point, the kid’s growing so fast you can practically see it while he’s standing there, and yes, he could certainly use a new helmet. So I explained to the Bern marketing guy (that’s what his email signature says: “marketing guy”) that I probably wouldn’t wear a helmet often enough to provide meaningful feedback or promotion, but that my son does need a new one, so if he was willing to send one I’d be happy to write about it. He was game, and after I explained how it would be used here’s the helmet he sent:

I’ll try not to read too much into the fact that the helmet he offered me comes with Mips, so is ostensibly safer, while the helmet he sent my son does not come with Mips. However, if I were to call him on it, he’d be forced to admit either that he was more cavalier about my son’s safety than he was with mine, or that he wasn’t because the Mips doesn’t really do anything. See that? I’ve got him caught in an intellectual rundown!

Just kidding, even I’m not that cynical, I told the guy what we needed and he sent the one he thought was best.

The helmet arrived shortly after our exchange, my son was delighted, and we were able to try it at the track yesterday evening:

You’ll note he’s got a piece of tape on the helmet with his name on it, which is Star Track practice so the notoriously coaches can personalize their insults. (I’m just kidding again!) He was pleased with both the looks and the feel, and the fit (size L) seems to be just right:

Though I do need to snug it up a bit and level it out:

That’s not because the helmet is difficult to adjust (it’s not difficult at all, it’s your typical buckle-and-strap setup with a dial in the back), but because kids themselves are difficult and they don’t fucking stand still and let you adjust their helmets.

As for the race itself, he acquitted himself way better than I could have, and he even mixed it up in a field sprint:

Sometimes you see yourself from the outside and realize you’re in the middle of one of the best days of your life.

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