Wednesday, July 23, 2014

hype of the week returns: an occasional series

For those longer-time followers who've missed Hype-Of-The-Week, it's back, at least occasionally.

Longer-time readers know of my connection to drum corps and pageantry arts education. I spent thirty years coaching high school marching bands, drum and bugle corps and color guards, and loved every minute of it. I don't do it anymore because it doesn't pay and a gal's gotta eat; plus my life has taken off in new directions lately. But I still love the artform.

In honor of new adventures, here's a blast from the past: 1983 Phantom Regiment: 1812 Overture.
One of my all-time favorite shows, and just the amount of hype I need as I prepare for the next great musical/professional adventure. I dare you to watch this and NOT smile, at least a little. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

DRT/Cargo Bike Fest, and more griping about Brooks

I had signed up to volunteer at the Disaster Releif Trials and Cargo Bike Fest again. I signed up about a week and a half before the event and successfully registered at the event web site, but no one got back to me. I finally got ahold of someone through the event's Facebook page, where I was told that (a) things were crazy; (b), the FB page wasn't being checked regularly and so was not a good way to reach organizers; and (c) I probably wasn't needed though if I showed up they could very likely put me to work somewhere because, as they'd said already, things were crazy.

So I rode across town (leaving the trailer home because, well, a bike towing a trailer is not a cargo bike per se, and by selling my Surly I had effectively given up membership in the cargo bike subculture). When I got to the venue, things were, well, sort of crazy. However, the event organizers at the main tent checked a list, told me they had nothing for me to do, and told me to just enjoy myself.

Not having anything to do and feeling like my communication had sort of fallen off the page a little left me feeling disappointed. I spent a couple of hours watching the comings and goings, talking with a few folks I knew and eating the lunch I'd brought along. After things got underway, I pootled around a few more minutes and eventually left the event.

On my way home, I stopped in at a bike store to see what the state of things in the bike industry looked like. My bike was met with approving nods and murmured compliments, but if I hadn't been riding the All-Rounder I suspect I would have been somewhat invisible to most of the staff. I looked around, realized that I didn't need or want anything at all, and was about to leave when I spied this Brooks-branded multi-tool on the wall. With all the features of most other multi-tools on the market, it was priced at $70, almost twice as much as Topeak's comparable model, and more than twice as much as the same thing from Crank Brothers (right). 

I frowned, left and rode over to the bicycle non-profit on my way home. My chain was showing some considerable wear (I DO ride almost 2,500 miles most years) and needed replacing. I had shopped at the funky little non-profit before and found the prices quite agreeable and friendly, a real boon to lower-income riders. Today, I found a new-in-damaged-packaging chain (probably donated by a regular retail shop) for six bucks. But when I asked about a pair of badly scraped and dented platform pedals, they wanted eight bucks for those. I just bought the chain, and wondered how long it would take before prices at the little non-profit would stop being unfriendly altogether. I admit that my sense of pricing is skewed -- I'm a picker and I'm used to finding stuff for free or buying stuff cheap and fixing it up. But it seems that if I have to dig through a bin of filthy, mismatched, unmarked parts and then watch as some earnest young punk sizes me up and down before naming a price that seems a tad high, well, that can only mean a couple of things:

1. I'm old enough to look establishment and middle class to the young-uns; and
2. It is time for me to let more of the bicycle thing go as I continue to grow in new directions. Even if those directions mean I ride less.

At that point, I felt hot, tired and a little disgusted, and rode home.  I felt sort of out of the loop from the bicycle scene, and my feeling was punctuated by the number of younger, faster riders who passed me along the way.  When I got home, I took a nap. Tonight I am preparing for a bike parts yard sale I've advertised on the OBRA list. I'm going to work on my bike tomorrow and while I do I'll lay out a bunch of bike parts and sell them cheap, for cash. It's time I pared way, way down to make room for Whatever Comes Next.

Feeling hot, tired, and a little burned out and out of sorts as I recognize that my social focus has shifted since leaving the bicycle industry. The fact is that I don't really hang with these people anymore, and today only served to shine a little spotlight on that fact. I am in the process of evolving my life, and evolving my sense of community is part of the package.

Happy riding. Have a lovely week.