Microblogging/socialmedia/stress/time availability/life has cut down on the attention I can put into the WordPress blog.
I still write a lot(more than I should?)- but only a few morsels at a time.
My attention span is already pretty bad- 120 emails and a 20 phone calls a day+ trying to do things in the physical world, like put bikes in boxes, design bikes for Frank to make or order up parts to put on complete bikes kills my time for writing big blocks, but not my creativity.
Check out the tumblr page, flickr stream Facebook page and twitter feed for fresh content all day, every day.
See ya soon- and keep in touch.
Hey! A Labor Day rant!
I ship 100% of my packages USPS,- It’s cheaper and more reliable than my whoopdedoo FeDex business account and offers me feasible 2 day pricing and it’s the only reasonable way to ship bikes and frames internationally.
I can get a frame to Australia foe $100 USPS or $450 through fedex, usps, dhl, etc.
I wouldn’t do any international sales if it wasn’t for the post office…
This is a small city so I know all of the letter carriers and PO staff by name. I love my fedx guy and UPS guy too. One’s a pro mx racer and the other one is a pothead.
Lots of the Postal folks around here have limited mental capacities, ptsd and/or are just plain weird. I’m stoked that they have health insurance and steady pay that keeps them out of the vicious cycle of poverty, a job they can be proud of. The American premise is that we take care of our own, that everyone deserves th right to work an that work is a stable, a place to go to earn your bread.
All the other carriers lean over backward just like the postal guys, but they’ll never be cheaper than USPS for my business… Of course how little I pay and how well they treat their employees is one of the main factors in their current financial woes.
The USPS gives me the flexibility to determine my own pickup, they speed up customs and the provide me with an inexpensive COD service.
Packages are clearly the future of the institution. They’ll need to keep letter carriers on hand indefinitely serve their historic function, delivering mail.
I won’t be surprised if we see an aggressive lobbying campaign backed by the for-profit shipping companies to gut the USPS. I’m sure that’s already happening
Attending labor protests is one of my incidental pasttimes. I was in Madison for a few days and paid lipservice to some ardent youths, I spent a week thinking about bringing some “joe” to the comrades on the line with my local IBEW(Verizon is across the street from the coffee shop. Bougie!) and once scored some bonus points with a stunning professor by sitting in with the graduate employees student union a few times after class. Whitecollar middle class petit-bourgeois lip-service, one could certainly, must make the claim.
I’ll certainly be out there with my friends when the Postal strikes start to show solidarity- they deserve their fight, and the government must honor their contracts not through caprice but through good-faith negotiation. That’s what’s worth fighting for, that is the spirit of the labor movement that built this country and it’s the proper way to avoid selling more working men and women to the same firms and ideas that attempted to smother them back in the early 80′s.
Of course we all know in our heart of hearts that the workers will lose their fight to keep things as they are now. I’m cool with that if it keeps my prices and customer service where I need it. In the end, rebuilding American Industry will take flexibility, maximizing margins and quick delivery times and a skilled, passionate workforce. If cuts can make the PO more efficient while offering one or two less mail-carriers jobs, that’s cool. They’ll retire them by seniority and guess what? A letter carrier probably has a much bigger pension than you or me. Some nice people will be out on their asses but that’s what “austerity measures are all about.
I sound like a 10th grade Marxist here but an injury to one really is an injury to all in the labor movement. Many demagogues say to give up the struggle, to lay down and let the pudgy oligarchs smother employees at will.
We’re already seeing how crushy money-rich pseudo-Libertarian jerkoffs are manipulating people from “right-to-work” states into the same sort of sophisticated political masses that once supported the progressive legislation that helped America build and retain it’s industrial might up into the seventies. The death of American Industry didn’t have a darn thing to do demands for wages and benefits.
Poor political decisions and pure greed destroyed our nation. Nobody asked The Workers what they thought about foreign policy or globalization or inflation or nuclear superiority…
Time after time you hear the right-wing elite demonize something that they don’t fully understand or bitterly despise, as some sort of barrier to “American Competitiveness”.
The media chooses to portray Labor as a bunch of whiny jerkoffs who don’t live in reality. In reality Labor is snapshot of the disintegrating american middle class distilled into 7% of the workforce.
The landscape of American politics doesn’t resemble the world seen from the picket lines, the stories we hear about the privations of average working families. There is something wrong when the best blue-collar job in town still isn’t enough to keep a family of 4, with a spouse working two full-time jobs warm, safe and fed. These are people with the best benefits in town, most likely with the best paying wages. They live in constant fear, from paycheck to paycheck. Their union dues are not the issue. Non union workers, especially people of color have it much worse in many cases.
I would hope that the population at large can understand the difference between eliminating and restructuring jobs in a fading industry(the USPS) and sticking a knife in the gut of teachers and municipal employees. If the schools received appropriate funding it would be a whole lot more likely that citizens would have the appropriate mental faculties to analyze the world around them.
Postal employees probably don’t face the prospect of the heat getting turned off, that’s not the point- the last gasp of labor is a fight against Precedent. Depressing.
With the ever-widening wealth gap and the increased criminalization of poverty you have to assume that working class might finally express their rage in convergence with all the 20 something college grads who are unemployed, a little high and angry into a new, angry and organised human mass. This is a familiar sounding formula to the international social upheaval as of late it will happen here when people stop watching with “America’s Top” anything in the name.
Activists, unions and dissidents need to access to some sort of power to be effective. This power is going to have come via massing bodies together behind the barricades in acts of civil disobedience and mischief. Hackers are doing a hell of a job defending electronic freedom but without significant quantities of money the dissidents won’t have access to the media or government. Freedom, Liberty and Justice For Some, For Millionaires- It’s the law now, money=speech. Yikes. The security apparatus could kill any of us with a drone at any time. The Constitution is stacked against dissidents at every corner… Of course surface mail is harder to track than electronic communications.
Whatever the hell happens in the next 3 years, 10 years, 20 years, the Postal Service is going to be there in some capacity delivering free speech and contraband from one location to another.
Tragedy in MTB- We’ve just received confirmation that Dot’s Diner in Wilmington Vermont is GONE. If you have ever raced at Mt. Snow you’ve probably been to Dot’s.
I think I’m speaking for the entire NORBA community when I say that we express our deepest condolences and gratitude to the family owned business that has kept thousands of us full and happy over the past 25+ years.
Windham, Roxbury, Mt Snow, Killington- We are loosing our places to have fun- they are loosing their homes, lives an livelihoods.
THIS IS THE TRUE FACE OF GLOBAL WARMING- sorry to sound preachy.
Flood levels in some areas of VT are higher than they have ever been in recorded history, just as our MTB brethren in the Southwest are going through the worst drought ever recorded.
We must make our voices heard and express our love. We must help rebuild the infrastructure in these areas that serve us. We must work to drown out the voices that deny that climate change is caused by Man.
Most importantly we need to come together as a community to support and encourage the towns that economically depend on us that it is in fact worthwhile to rebuild Roxbury and Wilmington, to re-open that little Coffeshop in Windham at that gas station where underage kids buy beer.
Be decent- find ways to help-and never take for granted again the stability that nature has provided us with for millenia!
The most dynamic World Cup series in years wrapped up this weekend in Trentino, IT.
We saw the tightest, taught-est, ballsiest and most precise racing we’ve ever seen in 20(!) years of World Cup racing.
America’s Aaron Gwinn had the series wrapped up before he crossed the border- and was going for a record-breaking fifth win of the season to firmly cement his place in the pantheon of riders, mostly French, that have laid waste the hope, hard work and aspirations of dozens of other riders over the course of a season.
A raft of youthful loose cannons have been on the brink all year, dynamiting out of corners and blasting through the chunder like jockeys down the last straight at Churchill Downs in the Bluegrass silt- confident, compact, sometimes stunted and always cracking.
These boys are loose. They ride with the sanitary confidence of the videogame generation- the kids who started riding in the modern era, with good bikes, the heralded 3rd Wave. Their generation isn’t all mopheaded grinning shufflers searching for their retainers on Saturday night. There is a plurality of stock DH personalities from awkward to boisterous walking through the pits. They walk the track 4 times more than they ride it, they dress questionably and you see a dozen roving the track from the sidelines geeking-out come finals. Juniors are fast now.
The current crop of u-20 riders show more talent and more promise, collectively than any generation that has preceded them. It’s the 3rd wave- the beginning of the 3rd epoch, a fucking awesome sight.
There is no way we can discount the O.G. cat’s in the twilight of their careers. Klausman, Moreno, Pascal, Peat, even Gracia and Barel- These dudes still strap it on and beat kids who are 20 years their junior every weekend.
They represent the 20th century world of fat contracts, big trucks and early bed times. Gritting their teeth and shuffling their priorities allowed them to hang on through the dark days- the days that spawned the second great wave of champions- antipodean flat-pedal rippers.
Maybe the short flat OZ tracks upped their cornering, likely they were just hungrier. All we know is that they came to the US, camped out in Big Bear and brought a whole new game to the table just as geometry and suspension finally reached a point where tracks made a permanent leap forward in terms of difficulty and danger. I’d posit that the 1st wave was able to move foward because of the exceedingly high level of professionalism they were accustomed to. All of a sudden bottle and a good bike could move you 25 spots forward.
This steady trickle of young Austalians was matched by the irrepressible bloom of UK downhill.
No longer was DH wed to the BCF. Some of the passionate kids from the 90′s grew into dedicated race promoters. Spades, rakes and lager expanded the dh trail network into an impressive web of tracks, reliable venues and multiple passionate promoters. Strong media and publishing houses helped to raise the profile of the sport just high enough to ensure a trickle of outside money to shore up the foundations of the lycra-less aspect of the sport. D.I.Y.? I’d say so.
By the middle part of the last decade we saw the writing on the wall. Danny Hart, in all of his suicide Pinball Glory was already filling full pages in Dirt. In 2004 a 95 pound Bryceland was sideways on the cover of the same magazine.
The new kids, call them the u-20 crowd, but I’ll call them the third wave, grew up riding bikes that would still make it down a track today. Starting at a higher level technically than the generation before gave them a huge leg up. They are teamates with the strongest, most experienced riders of the last 5 years (some of whom seen to be nearing their expiration date prematurely), which certainly can’t hurt, but I see that one of their biggest advantage is their ability work with all of the first generation riders like Voillouz or Tomac as coaches and the likes of Peat, Pascal and Barel who seem keen to share their knowledge.
What do we know about this guy?
We know that a retired former national DH champ and some dude who goes by “Griz” met him by chance.
We know that the biggest little magazine that nobody reads, Decline tried to pimp him- we know that someone named Conroy had faith in him and that a ’90′s kid mentored by Tomac, tangentially related to Carter, and sibling to a world cup winner managed to broker the most spectacular program we’ve seen since Commencals days at Sunn.
We know more about Gwinn’s team than we know about about him.
An ardent fan of DH racing should recognize these people.
-Chris “Monkdawg” Vasquez.
Monk was the wrench backing up Giove after she left Cannondale, Lopes post Stik, Yeti and Schwinn in the 90′s among other gigs. What’s that mean? He knows the tricks, the tactics and, most importantly he knows how to calm a rider down. A good mechanic brings trust and confidence.
-Martin Whitely. It’s hard to express how deeply Mr. Whitely is involved with DH. He’s the best person since John Parker(look it up kids) at finding talent. He serves or has served as an agent for everyone from Kyle Strait to Minaar. Before the owner of Arai Mt in Japan started funding his powerhouse Global racing team he ran the entire World Cup series for 4 years. It goes on and on but it’s a lot like racing on a F1 team owned by Bernie Ecclestone. Heck, he ran the cycling end of the 2004 Olympics.
-Jon Tomac. Tomac. John Tomac. Tomac is Roger Decoster, Mert Lawill and Greg Lemond all rolled up into one package with a pinch of Jordan thrown in for good measure. He destroyed mtb races in every discipline, he raced as full time euro road racer, a pro bmx racer and perhaps most importantly for Gwinn, he got his game dialed in well enough to become a multimillionaire with a sweet ranch. The dude had full page Oakley ads in RollingStone(take that Aaron). Tomac Incorporated was, and still is John and his wife Kathy Johnny took all of that professionalism and capital and helped his kid become a bigtime moto slayer.
Tomac possesses some sort of unfathomable, indescribable magic inside of his head, some sort of extra gear. I think it comes from his confidence in his preparation. There really isn’t any other way to understand the situation. Hypnosis? I’m sure thatJT has pummeled the importance of supreme fitness into Gwinn’s head- but honestly, coming from somebody who pretends to know about this stuff, the mental discipline and confidence you develop from training hard is just as important as shit like power to weight ratios and anaerobic capacity.
The rest of Aaron Gwinn’s program is amazing as well, a bike company with infinite resources, what appears to be a fantastic strength and conditioning coach.
Clearly 95% of Gwinn’s domination this year has been mental. Yes, he appears to be stronger and fitter than everyone, his riding is phenomenally smooth and his confidence is supreme but does it add up?
Sport science lays out the pre-existing conditions for flow. Optimal challenge-skills balance. That’s the definition of Flow. We can scale both sides of that equation up until we get 6 second victories in theory, but the last 20 years of racing have never seen these vast differentials from week to week. There may be a dozen instances of Giove and Chausson smacking the rest of the womens field but we all know about the chronic, staggering lack of depth in Women’s racing.
Will the rest of the field crack the code over the winter? Is it as simple as training like a full-time professional athlete using the latest training modalities?
I don’t think anyone really knows at this point.
The 2011 series is in the books now.
We have one race left – On one of the most imposing tracks ever
Worlds is going to be twice as thrilling as finals. So many turns, so much risk, so many batshit crazy young riders.
The thrill is back!
World Cup downhill is 300 times better than some really skinny people nearly falling off their bikes on roads.
The fitness, skill and mental abilities it takes to race for 5 minutes down big mountains is hard to comprehend.
Across the roughest, fastest terrain imaginable races are often won by tenths and sometimes thousands of a second.
You don’t just worry about aerodynamics and pacing and line choice. You worry about tire pressure, compound, tread, tread siping,suspension damping. Every year for the last 20 years technology has changed rapidly from year to year.
This season we have a new crop of sub 20 year old racers popping into the top ten- in a season where the top 10 are separated by a second. These are riders who grew up with good tires, suspension, brakes and geometry-racing on hard tracks.
These riders are starting to eclipse the 30+ year old stars who have occupied the top of the leader board since the early part of the last decade- some of them have been in the top 15 in the rankings for the last 15 years.
To cap the excitement off we are witnessing the emergence of the best downhill racer America has ever produced. Raised on motorcross, coached by John Tomac and supported by the Great Trek Bicycle Marketing company, Aaron Gwinn, in the space of 3 months will win more World Cup races than any American rider ever.
That’s a big deal to a lot of us here. It shows the value of hard work, skill, physical and mental preparation to a generation of kids who thought they could get away with skills alone. He is Tomac Incarnate- I see more drive in him than I’ve seen in a decade- and I can tell that it is backed up by supreme confidence gained through hard training and superb mental preparation.
This third generation of talent is being coached and prepared by the first generation of talent across the board. To me this represents the emergence of a truly cohesive historical narrative for a sport that has struggled since it’s very early days to find it’s identity in the cycling world and the media. We are still the same sport we were at the first World Championships in Durango ’90 and the same sport we were at the end of the first World Cup series in ’91.
Every race is a nail biter and it’s only going to get better from here.
Any of you who live within a 4 hour drive of the Catskills really should show up in Windham, NY this weekend for the 5th stop of the downhill world cup.
You will be blown away.
There is a WC XC race too. I have no idea what is happening in the XC series this year, I bet it’s pretty interesting. Either way the racing will be awesome and I will burst into tears at random moments overwhelmed by the beautality*tm of it all.)
I wrote this Friday night. Then I slept and rode my bike all weekend.
A lot of things have happened in the World of Scandal in the last few days, but who gives a fuck, this spiel is worth sharing.
Unless you don’t ride bikes you know some pretty wild stuff is unfolding right now. Lots of us, who have been following US bike racing as long as one can follow bike racing have known for a very long time about all of the dickheaded malfeasance that has happened over the last 30 years. It’ll all come out sooner rather than later. Little bits of leaked info can push me over the edge into radical self-absorbed punditry and thus;
My mom has a huge fucking crush on Hincapie. All I ever hear about every year after she goes to USpro or Bowater or Tour Of Georgia is George-y this, George-y that.
My mom has known since I was 13 that many, if not the majority of successful international bike racers are on ” a pretty serious program”. I was at the dinner table when John Howard told her so, dreaming of my own hypo/hyperbaric chamber.
She still doesn’t care. She just likes the big gams- the wasted promise from nearly a decade of subservience under Texas Rules bike racing and the elegance, courage and absolutely steadfast resilience and poise that the man has always possessed on a bike.
She likes the history of the family- the CRCA roots. She’s into Mengoni as a star maker and she’s read Hearts of Lions- she understands the historical importance of NY/NJ in the USCF via the typical(yet scorned) Les Earnest tinfoil hat conspiracy and shady, smoky back room 6-Day dealing that used to happen in Queens and still happens in Ghent.
She like(s) Eliot Spitzer too, even though she knows better.
She called me a few hours ago to vent- not about the news, but about the Lanceoids on Velonews. She’s glad she’s out of school for the summer so that she doesn’t have to listen to knee-jerk-normal “cancer haters” babble inanely about their disappointment with Beautiful Humans in a sport they know less about than figure skating.
She never believed Tyler. She felt bad for Floyd- she prays for Cadel and Hesjedal to turn up non-negative. Essentially she likes and understands bike racing.
Americans are going to hear a lot about our sport- and a whole lot of them are going to get turned onto the intrigue, drama and beauty of the whole package- not just embroidered polo shirts and 20 year old soundbites from rich white guys in their 60′s. Our sport is so much more than Lance, and right now, in this moment in history where our definitive national narrative has become lateral, not linear, and the terms of engagment are being dictated by the people who don’t hate our freedom, but instead love it, a culture war were even the NYTimes is hiding behind a pay wall to ward off the nascent techno(demo)cratic liberatory revolutionaries at the gate
Power has started to slip through fingers, she’s surrounded by raving rich white guys- some of them carry guns and the others just carry golf clubs and most of them are so chock full of ignorance, hate and patent leather that they need their own clubs to keep the rest of us safe. In some ways she’s looking for a Candelario-esque truth- the Schuler behind the curtain, Mike Plant say no more 7-eleven truth hidden behind holding companies and multiple url’s. The put on.
All of this “scandal” is the same old scandal.
Scandal is democracy, in that democracy(in America) consist mostly of which channel you turn to and who you believe.
That the world has started unraveling in accordance with my plans struck with me when WikiLeaks and Floyd started pissing people off at the same time hasn’t escaped me. The Libyan revolution started when I was driving a truck to TX full of Handmade bikes- I heard about it on the radio around dawn in the Port of NJ, glimmering inter-modal cranes and all. An auspicious beginning to a journey straight through the aorta of importation and mechanistic profit percolation into an island of love in the middle of the worst.
Geopolitically and domestically things continue to unravel. I’ve been holding my hopes for freedom, a more liberatory dominant ideology and a major sea-change in the media agenda close to my chest, or at least as close as a jibber-jabbererer like myself can.
This shit is about to be on every channel!
No one will look away!
God Bless- and have a good night.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT if you want a Spooky Skeletor in 2011;
Skeletor Frames will start shipping around the middle of next week for customers who haven’t thrown down deposits yet and some sizes are nearly sold out.
-We are down to 5 black ano frames in 54cm. 60% of everyone out there, take notice. There are 2 teal and and 3 gray frames left.
-There is 1(ONE) 56cm Skeletor left in black, 2 in teal and 2 in gray that are currently unspoken for.
You might want to start digging for change…
We have for you today a few Veraciously Desired cycling garments that have, in classic Spooky fashion, been unearthed from a stupid location:
Spooky team gear. It’s pretty gnarly.
Rendered artfully by Sfatto, this stuff looks damn good on camera.
With it’s bold design, this groovy gear allows you to explore the limits of cultural authenticity, yet it’s red, white and blue motif implies personal conceptions of patriotism and grace, a good thing in our rapidly closing society.
You’ will be more comfortable pedaling your way through hostile environments in many ways.
If you want some more of this Crazy Fresh Gear hit up http://sbox.spookybikes.com/catalog/1 and start clicking buttons.
We’ve got a rolling pre-order going for this stuff. It should work pretty swell. You’ll get this stuff in the mail 8 weeks after 15 pieces sell so the quicker you act the sooner you can become part of the Vanguard .
And back to THE STUFF FOR SALE:
- Only ONE super rad XL or L, depending on how you roll.
You need to size up these with armor. They’re cut extra trim to shave tents of seconds on your race run. The fabric is so good that they just so happen to be excellent for general bicycling.
I’d say in the real world this is a LARGE, basically.
___ Race Short_____
If you can fit into this stuff without looking pudgy, you’ve earned it.
Bike shorts are real fancy these days. 20 years ago sewing a hunk of rodent into your shorts were common. Those things were slimy, a little gross and wicked fucking creepy and they didn’t fit for shit.
These are everything those tricked out trousers couldn’t be. For one thing, they don’t need maintenance. Shorts today are devine. Compared to high end shorts from 20 years ago you don’t end up with bruises and lacerations on your taint after 5 hours full throttle brain-numb smashing. Another thing- they’re comparatively cheap. No one really needs $200 bib shorts. It’s actually offensive that they exist a straight up challenge to human dignity. No thanks.
You’ll probably get a year and a half out of these shorts if you ride the hell out of them.
All items are $70 shipped.
The shorts may be luxe but the jersey is a stunner too.
3 pocket, full zipper, race cut. Proper weight fabric. Buy two undershirts from Defeet and you’re covered from 45 to 90 degrees.
-You can reach the pockets well in the drops.
-People with real arms won’t need to snip cuffs.
-Thermoregulation is wicked important in a garment like this and the full zip and medium weight fabric make that simpler.
- Cut high in the back to avoid the dreaded “jersey gap”, decent mesh panels on the straps for ventilation.
ONE MEDIUM JERSEY $70
_Pink and White Unicorn Shorts_
These are pretty subdued looking, classy shorts.
The pink and gray flavor vibes off a certain form of sartorial sentiment that just screams out “I upgraded my skewers and I used to read Thrasher”.
Is that you?
One Pair, SMALL.
I’ve been subtly (or not-so-) keying people in to the fact that we are fully cocked, locked and ready to fire off custom bikes in a staccato bang-bang-type procession.
Besides the production batch of Skeletors we are building for delivery this spring, Made-to-Measure is going to be our main M.O. this season; that is, unless we get enough interest going for a production batch of something else…(preferably some Slalom/4x/Dirtjump bikes?).
Because I’m a frustrated liberal-arts graduate, I think I might actually be more excited about the writing and traveling part of the show than its attendant theoretical and philosophical punditry and pondering what makes one great bike greater than another.
Checking out and showing off cool bikes will be fun too. Honestly, everyone at NAHBS makes supergood bikes. The intangible magic of all of these solitary builders and small frame companies is what keeps the whole US-made game rolling.
I promise to turn up, feel ‘em up and generally explore the gum stuck to the undersides of their tables.
Don’t wait until late February if you are interested in commissioning a shiny-show-off made-to-measure bitchin’ velocipede we can hang in our booth and then ship to you. Bug us now, especially for those 29′ers, singlespeeds, slalom bikes and all of that nifty shit we think we can make better than everyone else.
It’s an understatement to say that our current capacity to build totally awesome bikes in a few weeks at reasonable prices is a thrilling relief.
The credo around here has always been “Undercaptialized Since Day One”;
I’m not sorry we covered your gold-plated tour bus with Spooky stickers that one time. Not one bit. Someone had to show you a proper East Coast welcome with your shiny pinstriped forearms and Budweiser grin.
When I was 16 I HATED Shaun Palmer for “ruining” mountainbiking with his poor attitude, shitty fitness, perceived misogyny, and baggy pants.
I was jealous of him and Vories for bogarting all of the chicks, among other things.
I suppose I was a grade A hater, XC weenie and most definitely a Straight-Edge fascist who knew as much about having fun as I did about John Coltrane- The word Ecstatic meant nothing to me.
At the age of 30 I’m building grass Slalom tracks, drinking beer between runs and wearing the same pair of Zoo-York jeans and red hightop Half-Cabs that I bought from Dans comp in 1998 after seeing the Malcolm Fearon picture of him on the cover of Dirt#7.
These revelations make me;
3. Fucking Stoked
4. A poseur