Robot’s Useless Reviews – False Flats

Have you ever been riding along, probably on a road bike, and hit something unexpected, a pothole, some sort of garbage, and been absolutely sure, rolling away, that your tire was flat as a result? Then, miracle of miracles, the bike just keeps going. The tire isn’t flat at all. You’ve experienced a false flat.

I wish that’s what false flats really were.

Instead, they’re odd phenomena of geography and geometry that conspire to make you think you’re riding on a flat surface, only to have your life force drained from you by what is, actually, a slight incline. This is not to be confused with a false, false flat, which is when you feel your life force draining away, but it’s actually just because you suck at riding bikes.

There is no better metaphor for life (I know because I have considered all possible metaphors) than a true false flat, because in reality life isn’t that hard for most of us. Do what’s in front of you to do. Turn the pedals. Move forward. You’ll be alright. But then, it’s always hard no matter what, certainly harder than you feel it should be. If you’re like me, the impulse is usually to blame someone else for your travails.

Time and maturity will teach us though, it’s really all our fault.

“Oh!” you exclaim, “but surely it’s not my fault that the topography rises here. It’s not my fault that it’s hard!” And I reply, “Sorry. I didn’t hear you. I was grinding against my own pedals, and my interest in what’s going on with you is pretty limited.”

Jokes (never) aside, life is like this because we want things from it. Because we strive, we must go up. We must climb, even when we appear not to be climbing. In fact, we must climb to stay still. Even inaction is difficult (what with time being unidirectional, entropy and all that, the best laid plans of mice and men, death and taxes etc., etc., ad absurdem). What might be false is that we say we don’t want much from life, while simultaneously demanding constant comfort and reward.

That’s why the subtle incline is your fault.

Because this is a review, I’ll be (partially) honest with you. If I want a geographical anomally I’ll go to the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, CA. I know it’s just the product of some creative carpentry and bit of schlocky hype, but I love it anyway. And I can stay with my buddy Marc. False flats suck, which, if you extend the metaphor, implies that life sucks, and I’m not here to argue with that logic, but only to say, “Yeah. So what? Keep going. We’re all in this thing together.”

Join the conversation
  1. TominAlbany says

    I think Gruncle Stan is considering suing the Mystery Spot!

    1. TominAlbany says

      And false flats are the shit when you remember to traverse them in the proper direction!!!

      “It’s flat and I can hold 20* mph?!?! Awesome!!!”

      * Insert your own number here. Don’t mess with my fantasy…

  2. schlem says

    I know of two places, that I ride regularly, that feel like an incline, but must be a downhill, because I smoke those short sections. It happens every time I ride through. And one of them feels like a descent both ways!
    Wind? Gravity? Vortices in the magnetosphere? I dunno, but I like it.

  3. dberkstresser says

    They mystery spot is excellent but only because the guides are brilliant. Easily worth $5 admission, but it only costs $4! Hmmm. I might be way out of date here. The Mystery Spot bumper sticker that use to be only visible to aircraft on the roof of my Vanagon finally wore out so I have to go back for a fresh one now.

  4. Pat Navin says

    My sister lives in Aptos. Next time I’m out there visiting her, I’m going to the Mystery Spot.

    There’s a false flat on our main ride in The Fort that’s a sprint point. It will kill you if you’re not careful.

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