Answers From A Bottle

 Dear Stevil,
I stand firmly that a gravel bike has more control with a flat bar rather than those dangerous road-style bars you probably use. They’re too narrow to be confident off-road and it’s hard to grab the brakes in scary terrain. What do you think?


Dear Tim,
This is clearly a burning question on everyone’s minds these days, so let me give answering this question a crack. A year or so ago I was riding with a buddy of mine who, although he was a fairly accomplished cyclo-cross racer, hadn’t ever gotten comfortable descending in the drops. With some encouragement, while riding down a few technical steeps, and realizing finally that descending in the drop position was markedly easier on your hands, as well as offering more control than descending on the hoods, he never looked back. With flats, you’d obviously never have to make that decision. I also realize that there’s ‘gravel riding’ (endless horizons of flat farm roads), and there’s ‘gravel riding’ (a mountain bike ride, but on a fat-tired road bike/gravel bike/’cross bike, which is certainly my preference). It’s what you’re comfortable with, and ultimately what you get used to. You wanna put some of those god-forsaken circa 1993 Scott jungle gym bars on your bike, or go all Team Hugh Jass and throw some ape hangers on there? I say do it. I’m never going to ride your bike, you’ll likely never ride mine, and we’re all going to be dead in the blink of an eye, and your legacy will be forgotten, and everything you’ve ever loved will be dust. In conclusion, I’ve already glazed over twice while in the process of writing this answer. As a matter of fact, the ghost of Bruce Gordon just came to pay me a visit, and he called me stupid for even expending this much energy on the topic. Good luck, and Dog bless.

Dear Stevil,
Leg warmers: over or under said spandex attire? Or who gives a fuck?


Dear Ken,
Somebody, somewhere probably does. In my travels among the internets, I once saw a list that included all of the cycling dos and don’ts. The only two I remember off the top of my head were that glasses arms are supposed to go over the helmet straps. Or is it under? Whichever it is, I do the opposite. The second one stated that cycling caps should be the only headwear allowed on a podium, while baseball caps/cowboy hats/hard hats/ or whatever should be strictly forbidden. While I don’t care enough about the other rules to remember any of them, this is a thing I can get behind. We live in a society of rules, laws, traditions, and the like, which besides being the ones solely responsible for the destruction of the planet, is all that separates us from the beasts.

Personally, I prefer to keep mine under the legs of my shorts because I feel like it helps keep them up. Now that I think about it however, I seem to recall a phase I went through during the summer/fall of 1996 when I wore them on the outside, and I don’t think I was ever teased mercilessly to my face on the Saturday ride, nor did the earth stop turning. Maybe on my next few rides, I’ll start to do them the other way around again, just to see how that grabs me. When in doubt, investigate what Gene Oberpriller, or Pineapple Bob do. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for the rest of us.

Dear Stevil,
I need your advice on something:

I’ve recently met a woman and, after what feels like an eternity of living out of touch with my feelings, they suddenly have started to awake again. Apart from this tidal wave of emotions overcoming me, I now want to know: How do I, or anyone for that matter, know if she’s “the one”?

-Erik The Swedish

Living out of touch with your feelings is a troublesome place to be. Before I get into the meat of the question, I’d recommend you maybe dip your feet into a little bit of therapy and see if that clicks. As you hopefully move forward into a future with this person, perhaps you owe it to yourself, and to her to work on being more in touch with what makes you tick. I don’t say this from a judgmental place, mind you. I think everyone should treat themselves to some good old fashioned mental health support. The analogy I’ve offered for a long time is this one: Say you are an absolute expert when it comes to refrigeration. There is nothing you don’t know about it—it is literally like the back of your hand. Then one day your friend says, “Hey, you have a ton of tools, and are mechanically adept. Can you help me fix my burgundy ’63 Corvair?” Of course you could take a look under the hood, and make a few educated guesses, but just because you’re a certified technician with all things refrigeration, doesn’t mean that you’ve got your mind wholly wrapped around internal combustion. What therapy does is help provide you a more complete base of knowledge and an ever-evolving set of tools when it comes to you and your endless human complexities.

If I’d been asked this question say, two years ago, I’d guess that I would have had an entirely different perspective when it came to matters of the heart. Alas, in that time, my own has been bruised to a point where it’s been almost unrecognizable. Romantic chemistry with another person is one of those things that is truly a mystery of the ages, but I would say, at least from my battered perspective, there are a few fundamental truths. Does she make the sun shine a little bit brighter? Does she inspire you to be the best possible version of yourself? And truthfully, can you/do you want to see yourself by her side through whatever realities the future might bring? I think people tend to sometimes discount the indescribable power of a commitment to a partner. When your front door closes at the end of the day, it’s you and her against the world. You have her back, and she has yours no matter what … however fleeting that might be, because as we know, nothing is forever. It sounds like you’ve found love, and hopefully in that, you reflect all of each other’s strengths back at each other while being one another’s unwavering support for times when you can’t hold yourself up. I look at my parents who, after over 50 years of marriage, are still crazy in love with each other, and when I feel lost or unsure, that gives me hope, because at least I know it’s sometimes possible.

So that’s the long, word salad—i.e. non-answer—to your question. The short version is jump in with both feet, but never, ever stop learning about, and truly loving yourself, and by extension, her along the way.

Have a question? Send it to: Stevil [at] You’ll be a better person for it.

If we could pay our contributors in obsolete derailleurs and patched tubes, we would. Unfortunately, they insist on printed dollar money for cat food, beer and skateboards. Please help us help them. Subscribe to TCI today.

Join the conversation
  1. ledanger says

    More Stevil please.

Leave A Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More