The Prodigal Fred

For all my derision when it comes to road bikes and the concomitant clothing and accessories, I must admit it’s always been there for me. “It’s hangers that clothe you, hangers that feed you!,” yells an enraged Dave Whiteman at his unappreciative, angst-ridden son in the movie “Down And Out In Beverly Hills.” (I can’t find the clip.) Similarly, road riding has always sustained me, whether I care to acknowledge it or not:

You can consider the photo above my penance in the form of public humiliation for forsaking and/or ridiculing my inherent Fredliness. See how the jersey strains to contain my expanding midriff?

What will fail first: the 35 year-old plastic frame, or that seam? The suspense is killing me.

Anyway, I think I’ve been riding a road bike–not just a road bike, but the same road bike–every day this week. This is because:

  • I’ve been “busy” (relatively speaking) and road bikes offer good bang for the buck. (More distance in less time;)
  • It’s been quite hot, and trail riding involves mugginess and mosquitoes, whereas on a road bike you can better regulate your temperature like an air-cooled motor;
  • I’ve been dorking out on C-Record and the Shifting of Champions this week, so instead of flitting from bike to bike like I usually do I’m sort of sticking with the theme.

Also I still really like the Vengeance Bike–though not enough to pay $65 for a vintage Kestrel catalog:

Plus, it’s too recent. I turn my nose up at ’90s Kestrels, they just don’t have the soul of the originals:

No, regardless of when and where they were manufactured, Kestrels are the bicycle of choice for hairy-legged Freds with bulging midsections, and I now realize that, when I experienced my defining moment all those years ago, I was being taunted by my future self:

Speaking of taunting, the New York Post’s Twitter took a thinly-veiled dig at the Tour de France Femmes:

Of course whether it’s men or women the mainstream media only cares about biker races when people crash (or cheat), but it seems pretty clear the subtext of this particular tweet was, “Har har, they tried to have a big bike race for women and look what happened.” Predictably the Twitteroni ran with it:

And so forth.

As a grizzled semi-professional bike blogger I don’t really care about what anybody has to say about anything any more. Amazingly, Bike Twitter is still looking for stuff to get upset about, but my own days of skating around without a stick are long behind me, and if Steve Cuozzo wants to write a column about how people who ride bikes sucks, or some random person tweets about how they wish they could run a biker off the road, or whatever else is getting the Smugness Mafia’s blinky lights all fired up, I can no longer make myself care:

Still, it’s weird how ugly people can get when it comes to women and the Tour de France. A couple years ago I wrote an Outside column about how they should run a men’s and women’s race at the same time, and I got maybe the ugliest piece of hate mail I’ve ever received:

Granted, it was a refreshing change from Bike Twitter getting mad at me for not caring about climate change or whatever they’ve written me off for, and at my age it was oddly flattering to be mistaken for a millennial, but still…wow:

Bike racing aside, I was recently thinking about the state of the Internet, and it seems to me when it comes to content and discourse we’ve gone through the following distinct phases:

  • The Age Of Wonder: Remember when the Internet was mostly just words, and you’d read Sheldon Brown, or Jobst Brandt, or all those other newsgroup characters? It was a revelation. Knowledge, insight, erudition… Also, there was porn.
  • The Age Of Snark: This is around when I started my blog. The Internet went from exuberantly sharing information to skewering and ridiculing everything. I’m ashamed to say I played my part. Also, there was porn.
  • The Age Of Mind Control: Censorship, Big Tech running interference for government and vice-versa, de-platforming, reinventing language, everyone upset about everything, everyone hating everyone else, etc… More porn than ever though, so there is that.

I don’t know what the next era will bring, and frankly I’m not looking forward to it. It can’t be good. At least there will be porn though, we can be sure of that.

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