Plus a change, plus c’est la même chose. (Translation: I dunno, something about memes?)

Recently this blog has been the WORST–by which I mean the Week Of Riding Softride Technology:

But let’s take a break from all that (you’re welcome) and tend to other matters. For example, recently I wrote about the Redshift Arclight Pedals:

Oh, I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about the Softride anymore today, but it seems silly not to mention Redshift also sell a suspension stem and seatpost:

It’s the perfect solution if your bike isn’t pious enough, because it teaches your cockpit how to daven.

Gravel schmavel.

Anyway, back when Redshift initially sent me these pedals, I promptly lost them. So they sent me another pair, after which I predicably found the first. Plus, on top of that they’re also sending me a pair of their new “Pro” Arclights, which come in both clipless and flat (I opted for flat), and which I look forward to trying:

To say that the Lord has richly rewarded my davening with an abundance of light-up pedals would be an understatement, and by way of showing my gratitude to both you and the Universe I’ve decided to give a pair away:

So how do you win them? Well, I’m embedding a secret message in this post. First, find that message. Once you’ve done that, email me (using the subject line “PEDAL ME”) and prove it, and then the first person I hear from gets the pedals–PROVIDED they’re located in the United States, since I’m not shipping the pedals abroad, which seems excessively annoying, and if you’re in one of those high-falutin Euro countries these things probably wouldn’t be legal there anyway.

By the way, I should warn you that the secret message will be very hard to find, but if you do manage to do so, only put in for the pedals if you really want them. I don’t want to deal with the profound inconvenience of going to the post office just for someone to use these things as a delightful paperweight. (Spare a thought for all those paperweight makers that have gone out of business in the digital era.)


So there you go.

Speaking of the light-up pedals, they’ve been coming in quite handy (or foot-y) lately, and yesterday evening I used them once again. Here I am alighting upon the isle of Manhattan via the new Brooklyn Bridge bike lane as the sun begins to set:

It was quite pleasant, and when confronted with such a tableau you can be forgiven for feeling as though all is right with the world. Then you get to the West Side Greenway and remember it’s kind of a shitshow.

Moving on to tech matters, say goodbye to the rear derailleur as we know it:

I don’t mean to be knee-jerk “new stuff is bad” guy, and it was only a matter of time before something like this happened, but personally I don’t like where this is going–not because it spells the end of traditional derailleur tabs, but because I’m pretty sure this is the first 100% post-mechanical derailleur. In other words, until now it seems to me that even electronic derailleurs were at least superficially similar to the ones we’ve been using since like the 1950s, whereas this one is fundamentally electronic from its inception and has no mechanical counterpart, which is yet more confirmation (as if we needed it) that before long nobody will be making performance-oriented mechanical drivetrains at all.

I certainly don’t expect bikes and bike stuff to remain the same, and the world would be a worse place if every aspect of our existence weren’t constantly undergoing an eternal process of refinement, even it means periodically bidding adieu to the comfortable and familiar. The city is also like that–as I ride through it now, I often marvel at how much of it would be completely unrecognizable to my younger self, and while that kind of makes me sad, it’s also fascinating, and an important reminder that it’s ultimately selfish to think everything should remain just so because you happen to like it that way, or that it was somehow better just because you have fond memories of it.

Nevertheless, at least as far as bikes go, I’m quite content to sit up, let the pack ride away, and stick with the old crap. It would be foolish of me to say I’d never own a SRAM XXSXSL whatever-it-is drivetrain because you never know what might happen in life or take your fancy down the line, but as of now I can certainly say I have no interest in it–apart from what it portends for the future of bikes I’m similarly not interested in owning, that is. Fortunately, the history of cycling is long, and I find it much more enjoyable to explore all the bike stuff I missed out on because I had no money at the time or never got to experience because I was too young–even if some of that stuff never appealed to me when it was new. I realize it makes me a weirdo that I’d rather mess around with an old Softride than ride a Factor BlahBlahBlah complete with SRAM DCXCVICMLXIX drivetrain, but I take comfort in the fact that, while the world is going to change whether I want it to or not, I can at least indulge myself in an existence steeped in pre-digital non-hydraulic bicycle componentry. It’s not like I’m a hermit or a recluse or a religious fanatic, I’m just a guy who wants to pull a cable to move my derailleur. And yes, I realize in 30 years I could be similarly retro-interested in the current SRAM XX-XY drivetrain, though by the time I’m that old I’ll be lucky to be interested in anything.

In this context of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Rivendell is working on their own derailleur, which obviously won’t be electronic or need a battery or require a new rear dropout standard (and yes, I realize in the thru-axle age the very idea of a “dropout” is obsolete) but will be low-normal:

I realize some people think the Rivendell approach to be obstinate or recalcitrant just for the sake of it, but as time goes on and the mainstream cycling world leaves me ever further behind I only become more grateful for it. If you think about it, the digital age has fundamentally transformed so much–our access to information, and entertainment, and goods and services…all that stuff is amazing. Thousands of years of culture and knowledge (plus porn) all right there in the palm of your hand! Don’t know how to bleed a brake or mount a tubeless tire or express your cat’s anal glands? YouTube will teach you in about five minutes. But when it comes to the bike itself, all the digital revolution has done is…made it a little easier to change gears, assuming you didn’t forget to charge the battery? Sorry, I’m not impressed. Sure, I’ll take the phones and the streaming and all that stuff, but I’ll stick with cables on my bikes for as long as I can. Doesn’t seem too crazy to me.

Oh right, I almost forgot. The secret pedal message is: “Tan Tenovo is the most legit city slicker in all the land.” Got it? Good. Happy pedaling!

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