Life On The Road

Okay, enough of this motor scooter crap. Let’s talk about real bikes:

I no longer race road bikes (or any kind of bike), nor do I ride a road bike most of the time like I once did.

Even so, the road bike remains my “HDMI1,” in the sense that I always think of it as my primary bicycle, regardless of how much or how little I happen to ride it. It’s not that my road bike is necessarily my favorite bike so much as, for me, it serves as the baseline for bicycles in general–sort of like setting your stereo’s equalizer to “flat” before you start futzing with it. Because of this, I still compare all my other bikes to my road bike, both favorably and unfavorably, as the case may be. (“This bike is way more comfortable and useful than my road bike.” “This bike is not as fast and efficient as my road bike.” And so forth.) Of course I realize not everybody has a road bike, nor does everybody want a road bike–and for good reason. (See: “This bike is way more comfortable and practical than my road bike.”) But for me, a road bike is like a suit: something you should always have in your closet, even if you mostly just break it out for special occasions.

While in recent years I’ve often had more than one road bike at once, there’s always one that’s my main one–the one where everything’s just right on it, and the one that reflects whatever my current needs and sensibilities happen to be. Presently that bicycle is the newly-refinished Milwaukee, the use of which I in no way limit to special occasions, even though it is a bike that is certainly worthy of them:

For me it’s the perfect blend of old and new. In fact the shifters are both old and new, in that they’re newly-engineered versions of an old design:

They also control a “new” drivetrain, though I realize that while stuff like Hollowtech II and 10-speed still seem new to me they arguably qualify as old:

In my own experience–and I’ve got more than some riders and less than others–a Silver shifter on a modern-ish Hyperglide (or equivalent) drivetrain is as smooth as it gets, and that includes electronic shifting. And yes, I’ve owned a bike with electronic shifting, though it is now a museum piece:

I suppose you could argue that electronic shifting is more accurate than a modern friction drivetrain, but you could also argue that a friction drivetrain with super-fine ratcheting shifters is more accurate than anything, since the derailleur goes exactly where you put it, not where a computer tells it to go. If you screw up a shift the drivetrain is not any less accurate for it. Rather it’s you who is inaccurate.

Speaking of suits and special occasions, the road bike is pretty much the only one I still get dressed up in special clothes to ride, and recently Pearl Izumi asked me if I wanted to try their Attack Air Jersey:

As well as their Attack Air Bib Short:

Frankly I was shocked that they even offered, especially after I posted photos of myself in their gravel suit, which you’d think would have taught them the hard way not to send me any clothes:

But here they were offering anyway, so naturally I accepted.

Here’s what the jersey looks like someone on a guy with a haircut who probably stands still in clothes for a living:

Here’s what it looks like in the real world on a dirtbag with filthy bar tape:

And here’s what Pearl Izumi have to say about it:

It is, as I noted yesterday, quite hot around here at this time of year (before the Internet we used to call it “summer”), and I can confirm the jersey is quite cool and comfortable. It’s very light and soft, and it feels silky, like something you’d use to clean your eyeglasses. When I put it on I worried this might make the pockets all saggy, but they had no problem supporting my usual payload–though you could tell what religion my mini pump was:

Hey, it may look like it, but at least it doesn’t say it:

As for the shorts, they’re also comfortable, and the chamois in particular feels quite well-constructed, but nothing feels as good as knowing you’ve offset the “climate impact” of your garment in a single ride:

Unfortunately for you, nothing can offset the visual impact of the “male camel toe” effect created by said chamois:

How many polar bears would you kill to unsee that?

By the way, if you plug the phrase “male camel toe cycling shorts” into a popular search engine one of the first results you get (assuming your browser is not in safe mode) is this:

I don’t think “Pearl Izumi: Giving Men Camel Toe Since 2011” is the tagline they were hoping for when they sent these to me, but comfortable is comfortable, these shorts are comfortable, and if modesty’s what your searching for then cycling bib shorts is the last garment you should be considering. As far as road riding goes, fretting over what you’re crotch looks like is an amateur concern, like worrying about toe overlap.

By the way, speaking of toes, I see the Quest road shoes are now only $70:

I’ve been wearing these since last October and I remain very impressed–almost as impressed as you are that I managed to take this photo of my own foot while riding:

A road shoe twice the price of this one is still considered inexpensive, and in light of that I’d highly recommend just buying two pairs of these instead so you always have a dry pair after you get caught in the rain and your shoes are still drying out the next day.

[Pro tip: to dry road shoes you stuff them with newspaper. Then, if you’re me, you put them out on the fire escape for good measure and then forget about them until it rains again, rendering the entire process moot.]

Finally, I’m pleased to formally introduce you to Ben, new Softride owner and winner of Classic Cycle Thursdays Giveaway Wednesday, Sponsored By Classic Cycle Thursdays:

Ben collected the bike from me yesterday, and here he is testing its offroad capabilities:

The first thing he said when he got on the bike was, “The tire needs air!” He then realized it was not in fact the tire, it was the disconcerting undamped effect of the Softride stem. It was at this point he began to appreciate what he was getting into.

As I was explaining to him how to raise and lower the beam I also noticed this for the first time, which I didn’t know whether or not to be concerned about, but which I did duly point out to him:

In so doing I explained that I made no warranties regarding the bike, though in retrospect maybe I should have also made him sign a document acknowledging that the bicycle is a museum piece intended for display purposes only.

Here’s hoping it’s not a crack, and that his enthusiasm for the bike remains as undampened as that stem.

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: