TCI Friday

There is an argument to be made that I was never really in the loop. Despite working in the industry for more than a decade, I’ve always tucked myself away in a far corner. I’m not standing by as wind-tunnel testing is conducted. I’m not looking at clay models of aero frame designs. I’m not walking the corridors of velo-power discussing pro-team sponsorships or hydration aid tie-ins.

Still, when I was sitting at a desk and selling bikes across the globe I had to be tuned in to the latest component releases. I had to assimilate the marketing line on the best new stuff. Of course, I have a fairly microscopic bullshit filter, so the things I sold my customers were always things I believed would deliver a killer ride. The point is, I had to know what more than them. I had to have opinions and those opinions needed to be backed up with something like common sense.

When the pandemic struck, I stepped away from everyday selling and marketing. I had been carrying this stress burden related to the death of my father, and then my brother, and the simultaneous diagnosis of my mother’s breast cancer, and despite loving my job and the people I worked for, I had to take a break. People talk about what a hard year 2020 was, but my 2019 was a shit show performed at Mach speed. When the pandemic halted everything, I was ready to sit the f*$k down for a minute.

Of course, that pause gave me the opportunity to join in the launch of TCI here, and really to refocus my work on writing. #blessed and all that. Another unforeseen consequence of stepping back was getting out of the churn of product hype, release, and diffusion. No one is clamoring for my attention anymore, to sell their stuff.

I like it.

During this ontological reset, I’ve really enjoyed getting back to basics. Riding my bike. Riding my bike with friends. Riding my bike without thinking too hard about my bike and everyone else’s bike. Just feeling happy to feel the road and the dirt under my wheels, to exchange some (not usually very) witty banter, and to allow myself to be a cyclist, one among many.

Call me blissfully out of touch.

And so, at the risk of going back down whatever wormhole the industry has on offer today, this week’s TCIF asks, what’s cool right now? What are the hot bits of cycling equipment that have you plotting and scheming, and/or putting aside your hard earned? Did the industry just skip 2020 from your POV, so overwhelmed by demand that they told their engineers to take a breather and think about 2021 or even 2022. Have I actually missed nothing?

Join the conversation
  1. bluezurich says

    All I have noticed has been cottage industries of rebranded same old same old. Gravel has been a bit over the top in this regard. Others will chime in with a laundry list of how I’m wrong but how much of it is marketing brain washing? I think a lot. We are told a lot of things, most of us know better. This isn’t to say we need to go down a road of Grant Peterson curmudgeonry. I’ve got a mantra that works in many passions
    “_______ with what you got.” (bikes, cameras cars etc)

  2. TominAlbany says

    E-bikes seem to be finding their way to folks that won’t consider a non-motorized option. That may swing things in our favor a little as far as sharing the road.

    As for parts, I don’t know. My shit’s 20+ years old. I just keep replacing parts with like.

    I’m starting a new job on Monday. With income restored, I may well start looking at a new mtn bike. I actually never replaced it’s parts in 20 years and it’s not worth fixing. So, I guess I’m going to dive in to that end of the pool to understand the builds. I doubt I’ll learn much except that it’s all different.

    1. khal spencer says

      Good luck with the new job, Tom. So is that Albany, NY or Albany, Somewhere Else? I’m originally from WNY and have a lot of cousins in the Albany area.

    2. TominAlbany says

      Thanks, Khal.

      Albany, NY is the one.

      As I recall, you said you grew up in Alden. I think you mentioned it in a post. One of my old college roommates grew up there, on Exchange St. Not far past the railroad tracks. I got to visit a few times back in the day.

    3. khal spencer says

      Yep. Alden. I remember Exchange Street. Who did you know from there? I graduated Alden Central class of 72.

  3. khal spencer says

    I bought a titanium gravel bike. It was one of those things I really didn’t need but decided to do anyway, given that there was already barely enough room in this tiny house for the bikes I have. I had read Nick Legan’s February 2018 review of the Litespeed Gravel in Adventure Cycling and kept going back to that issue like it was showing the latest and juiciest bike porn starlet. Well given there are so many dirt/gravel roads and trails in my neck of the woods, and that my old cross bike was quite fine, if a tad heavy, on all of them, I decided to get the Gravel….because….titanium. I saved a few dead presidents as it was on sale last fall and by getting the basic GRX group but it all works like a charm.

    Still, while the Atomic Number 22 bike is everything Nick said it would be, including lighter, faster, quicker, has a wide range gearset, and is way more comfortable than my old Salsa ‘cross bike, I often find myself on the oldest bike in the fleet, a nearly 20 year old CAAD5 Frankenbike, i.e., a CAAD5 frame that is my test mule for whatever weird ideas I have. Like setting it up with an old XTR rear derailleur so I can put a mountain bike cassette on it and get up to the ski basin without being in great form. It has a stem riser on it from the time I herniated a disk in my lower back and couldn’t ride anything else. Its often the go-to bike for those days of…just riding a bike.

    One thing life has taught me is that its not the Latest Shiny Object that is most important. Its one’s frame of mind and frankly, those Latest Shiny Objects are not shiny for long. Although they are pretty shiny.

  4. alanm9 says

    My 30 year old fixed gear is still cool. I get thumbs up on every ride. Also cool to me is the anodized aluminum quartz clock I found on Amazon that screws onto my stem cap.

  5. Jeff vdD says

    Not in my purchasing future, but I might crown 2020-2021 the year of pedal-based power meters. And related, Zwift, but not sure Zwift quite qualifies as “cycling equipment.”

    But, maybe that’s looking at it all wrong–probably the hottest piece of bicycle equipment right now is … the bicycle.

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