Yesterday, before I could get my ipod plugged into the car stereo on the drive to the race, I got hooked into this segment on NPR discussing this book "Religion for Atheists." From what I could discern, the book discusses the delineation between spirituality and religion. As a touchpoint for that, think about a very technically proficient musical performance that is nonetheless said to lack "soul." The overlap between spirituality and religion is seemingly quite large, but the two are not mutually inclusive. The discussion also touched on how even atheists are "forced" to turn to religion at various times like death, because there's really no atheistic tradition for dealing with grief, and humans aren't programmed just to turn off the lights on a loved one and say "that's it."
"Okay Dave," I can hearing you thinking even now, "what in tarnation does this have to do with bikes?" Good question. The author said that he'd taken heat from both sides on this deal, that while there were factions of understanding from each side, the larger feedback from each was derisive toward the other. The atheists felt he'd betrayed them by I guess admitting that there was value for atheists in things that religious traditions hold, and that religious people were basically like "you're all going to hell so it doesn't matter." And his position is one in which we find ourselves somewhat often with respect to other companies and how they do things.
In this case, the part of the religious faction is played by the BIG BRANDS and entrenched industry, and I guess we play the part of moderate atheists? Yeah, there's some amount of "you're all going to hell for riding those bikes" that we get from the entrenched industry. So "I crashed and bent my derailleur hanger" is met with "YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR FOR RIDING THOSE KNOCK OFF BIKES YOU'RE GOING TO HELL! I WEEP FOR YOUR SOUL!" instead of "good thing the derailleur hanger did its job!" On the other hand, if we take time to admire work that's being done at the bleeding edge by some companies, it can sometimes come back as "those crooks are just trying to screw everyone and make things cost a lot more!"
The middle ground is sometimes the toughest ground to live on, which I think after all is why Mike and I started this in the first place. Yes, there's a TON of money and effort spent trying to convince you that every asymptotically incremental gain is a "complete game changer" and you're just not being responsible to yourself and anyone else if you don't run right out and pony up. And there's the opposing view that would have you riding some 36 pound straight-piped steel beast with a steady chorus of "it was good enough for Eddie, man!" and "it's all about the engine!" behind it. The simple fact is that there's a big window between the two dogmatic stances, and we're trying to help people recognize and make use of it.
In our sport, equipment counts but it's not all that counts. Of the however many hundreds of people at the race yesterday, I wouldn't have traded either my equipment or the price tag on it with anyone. I had a dead stock HOT BUNS Max Perkins with the exception of an SLR saddle upgrade (my ass is both a spectacle to behold and a complete princess in its preferences), which, yeah, it's a fair bit of dough but it's also generally about $1200 or so less than equivalents. There is clearly an ever increasing number of people who feel similarly because we are starting to see a lot of our bikes and wheels on the starting line which is awesome.
A couple of notes:
1. Discs? I think I saw fewer, as a percentage, than I did last year. There were pretty much none, including on Jeremy Powers' bike (which is significant because there was a big splash in Velonews recently about how JPOW! (it's fun to type) would be in a disc bike this year. And seriously, I woundn't have traded my bike for his. This is the kind of thing where I generally get crucified for having an agenda, but I'm just stating what I observed.
2. At least half of the people who did HOT BUNS did them up with orange accents - bar tape, hoods, cables, whatever else. Is this because my road bike looks so ultra wicked with the subtle orange accents I did to it (cable ends and spacers)? Perhaps. My cx bike is pretty mainstream for now with black tape/cables/hoods with white seat and red spacers and housing ends, but watch this space because I'm going to fabulous the thing out. FABOLOUS - holler back, young'n.
3. People have been practicing way too much. People showed up with their NOVEMBER games in early September. The upside? I didn't get crushed even though I'm currently far more suited to going in one direction for half an hour and then making an easy turn on pavement. The downside? WTF people?