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Every Mile Too Serious

– So far this has been my Year of Strava because of how it turns every climb and every interesting stretch of road into a race. Rest days are now an impossibility. I’m better off just staying off the bike. Another casualty has been mid-ride conversation. It’s curious that the competitive pressure created by a social network is making riding anti-social.

My casual Strava use became addiction. This addict, sadly, has hit rock bottom. I now see how nothing good comes from obsessing daily about time and VAM and the mind games needed to confront threshold pain. It’s not good training, and it’s no way to maintain a lifelong marriage to the bike.

But simply going cold turkey isn’t the cure. When I leave my Garmin at home and ride device-free my mind wanders dangerously. I crave something to fill the great void of data. It’s not treatment I need, it’s distraction. And I’ve found it, for better or worse, through a different gadget. Replacing Strava as the light and love of my training is Instagram —

Salt Lake City

Which one of these is not like the other?

Bunker or something

Wasatch

If Strava makes every mile too serious, Instragram brings wholesale change. Rather than being strictly about the legs, rides are becoming about the eyes, too. Instagram has re-opened the beauty of the world to me. Rather than the monotony of sights I’ve tired of seeing — the million different textures of pavement, the spinning rear hub just ahead — I now lift my head to seek out the subtle and sublime. It’s a reason to see and, heaven-forbid, to stop. Capturing a bit of the beauty of the world, it seems, creates a feeling as sweet as going warp speed up a climb.

Dogma on dirt

It might be lonelier without the loneliness

Nouveau chateau

Long ride, end of day

– As for my hunt for steel, let it be known that I’ve put down a deposit for a Dave Kirk. And just as I pray for a first class upgrade every time I fly, I’ll admit I asked Dave if I could somehow abbreviate the 13-month delivery time. In a well-worded and completely courteous way, he told me: Hell no. I appreciated that, and it makes me that much more excited to get the frame. Dave mentioned that once he starts to build it, he’ll shoot photos of the progress every day and email them to me. How cool is that? I’ll make sure to post them here.

– Except for handmade bikes like a Kirk, the notion of American-made cycling goods is all-but-dead. Yes, rarities like Chris King and Phil Wood exist, but these non-frame manufacturers are the most distant outliers in the bike business.

If you have interest in the general decline of American manufacturing, a fascinating blogger is Michael Williams at A Continuous Lean . He mainly deals in fashion, but he breezes through the bike biz from time to time, bringing insight when he does. He did a fabulous write-up of the Cielo a few months back. And this week he shined a light on an upstart American cycling clothing brand I’d never heard of, Search and State . It’s clearly inspired by the School of Rapha, except it’s committed to American manufacturing. And if Search and State represents NYC, their analogue on the west coast is another interesting clothing company, Cedar Cycling .

– Rapha at Sea Otter. Oregon license plates, of course:

Oregon plates, not a surprise :)

Courtesy of the Rapha barista, La Colombe coffee, aka paradise on Earth:

La Colombe coffee, oh la la

Courtesy of Gage + Desoto, more La Colombe:

La Colombe, by Gage + Desoto

One final bit of Rapha. The most interesting bathroom in San Francisco:

The loo

– As if anyone needed another reason to ride the most comfortable race saddle ever, the Fizik Aliante, I’m happy to report that Fizik’s ICS saddlebag design really works. I’d put off testing the ICS for ages because I struggled to believe that it would work as designed. I tend to stuff a mess of goodies into my saddle bag: two tubes, two CO2s, a multitool, two tire levers, a patch kit, a tire boot, and a $20 bill. It’s anything but light.

ICS-ready Fizik saddles have a plastic female piece at the rear of the saddle which accept ICS saddle bags and tail lights. The male ICS tab on the bag is small and looks inadequate for the job. Oh, how appearances can deceive! I’ve ridden well over 2,000 miles with an ICS bag and not only has the bag never popped out, but it hasn’t even pivoted on its adjustable hinge.

The Fizik ICS system is more stable than Velcro. The bag has the bonus upside of being positioned a bit further rearward and upward than a Velcro version. Because of this, your legs don’t rub against it, which means the fabric on your shorts won’t pill. Except for crashing, nothing ruins shorts faster than abrading your inner thighs against seatbag Velcro. The ICS is the cure, at least for Fizik saddle users, and I give it the proverbial five stars.

Fizik ICS Saddle Bag

I miss La Vie Claire

– A follow up about Alejandro Valverde’s lovely wristwatch at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Detective work confirms that his watch, in fact, was analog and not digital. This represents a compelling reason to root for him, dopage scandal or not —

Alejandro Valverde

Columbus