Somewhere in the big bucket of drafts I keep, unfinished ideas, started and abandoned works of great genius, there is a long (way too long) exploration of why so many of the humans who ride bicycles have shifted their attention from road biking to pedaling the self-same vehicle on less smooth terrain. Call it a trend. A movement? Maybe.
And there are various reasons.
My pet theory, the one I’m most attached to and likely to ignore contrary evidence of, is what I call “The Animating Principle” theory, and it hold that, at any given time in the cycloverse, there is an animating principle, an exciting idea, that moves through the minds of keen cyclists and spurs them to consider trying something new.
For example, in the 1980s, mountain bikes showed up in forms and quantities that suggested a new genre not only existed, but that those of us who did not participate might be missing out. Or, think of the gravitational pull of the late ’90s (and the rider whose name must not be spoken) that got people kitted up and turned out on too-fast (and too stiff) road bikes. These were the “Animating Principles” of the day, and currently we are living through a time when the “gravel” bike and the full-suspension 29er are the shiniest, brightest ideas on the floor at the shop.
And yes, there are rational reasons underlying the principle. So many roadies, tired of the anxiety caused by errant and intransigent drivers, have adopted the gravel bike as an alternative. Kids who used to rush into BMX, are now taking up mountain biking. It’s a way to ride with friends, ride with parents. It’s accessible and fun in a way that road biking is not (for kids).
So there are real drivers (no pun) of the current trend that are cultural, but there are also practical factors. The group ride has become an impracticable ritual in the time of infectious disease. The races have all been canceled.
And thus you see #savetherimbrake appended to Instagram posts that might formerly have been the most exciting bike you’d seen that day. Such are the death spasms of the waning velo zeitgeist.
I’m being simplistic, which is why my draft exploration of this subject has grown so long and cumbersome and remains in the old word bucket, but you get my point(s).
This week’s TCIF asks, have you heard the pull of the dirt? If so, what flavor dirt do you like best? And if the rim brake (yes, I blithely ignored disc-road bikes as a category) is in real danger, do you think YOU will keep a rim-brake bike? What does the future of that bike, that used to sit so comfortably on the top of the heap, look like now?