The Three Biggest Bummers Of Spring Classics Season
– (1) In the literary cult of Spring Classics literature, the most cultish book is Joe Parkin’s ‘A Dog In A Hat.’ The book spawned Joe’s tripidicular blog ‘6 Years In A Rain Cape’. It was part Belgie reminiscences, part how-to PRO manual. Somehow, someway, in the time between the Parkin Authorial Apotheosis in 2009 and 2013, Joe lost control of his blog’s URL. Have you seen it now? Bummer.
(2) In the bike biz, the Heavyweight Battle of the Titans is Specialized v. Trek. The Wizards of Wisconsin have suffered mightily over the last year. Seemingly every important one-day race was won on a Specialized. In 2012 Cancellara shattered his collarbone in Paris-Roubaix, his Leopard-Trek team won almost nothing of note, then the year from hell culminated with Lance visiting Oprah and resurrecting for all of America bygone memories of Monica Lewinsky.
Then from the ashes rose the phoenix.
In the most astonishing Classics victory since Servais Knaven won Paris-Roubaix in 2001, Gerald Ciolek piloted his Trek Madone to a shocking win at Milan-San Remo. It was followed up by Cancellara’s crushing performance in the Tour of Flanders. It was promptly sullied by the ridiculous assertion from Trek that a bike — any bike, made in Wisconsin or otherwise — can ‘smooth out’ or ‘soak up’ the cobbles of Belgium. There is silly marketing, then there’s complete tone-deafness. Bummer.
(3) Few bike brands drip with the sex appeal of Santa Cruz. I ride one. For the last year I’ve wanted two more. That is, until earlier this week when it became three thanks to the introduction of its first-ever 650b a.k.a. 27.5′ bike, the 150mm-travel Bronson. But, aaaaarrrrgghhh, like a bad song you can’t rid from you brain, in saying that name, Bronson, the image of Charles Bronson, star of a hundred westerns and the classic Death Wish film series, is exactly what didn’t come to mind.
Instead I became a victim of 1980’s TV. ‘Perfect Strangers.’ ‘Blame It On The Bellboy.’ ‘Slappy and The Stinkers.’ ‘Step By Step.’ ‘The First Wives Club.’ No, Santa Cruz didn’t name such an outrageously lustworthy bike after Bronson Pinchot. The mental associations are mine and mine alone. Isn’t pop culture a prison sentence sometimes? Bummer.
– As intimate as a chamois is, I have a more intimate relationship with my saddle since it’s with me on every ride. My undercarriage knows it and knows what to expect and even if it isn’t perfect, it’s family. Given the hassle involved in quitting a saddle, I’m only going to switch when I absolutely have to. Given that, an interesting business named Recovered Saddle offers a proposition too good not to test out. I’d been looking for a way to re-cover old saddles for some time.
I wrote Recovered Saddle. The proprietor, Jason Moore, responded the same day, letting me know what options he had at the ready and what it would cost. Bonus was that he specialized in the Selle Italia Flite I fancy.
I wasn’t thrilled by the vinyl he had on hand, but even less so in Auburn or Black leather, the only leather in stock. So Navy Blue <ahref=’http://www.spradlingvinyl.com/patterns.asp?Pattern=Whisper ‘target=’_blank’>Whisper vinyl it was. He was fast on the reply button, answering small questions I had and allaying my fears that the synthetic cover would look bad or wear out quickly. So, the saddle was sent his way with a check for $41, $35 for the work and $6 for shipping. If I had gone the way of leather, it would have been an extra $20.
Because of a backlog, it took two weeks after my saddle arrived for the work to begin. But Moore sent a note when he began prepping the saddle. Two days later, a note and a picture followed; it was finished. It arrived in the mailbox three days later.
When I first received the saddle, I was bummed. It had gained weight, seemed thicker, and the color wasn’t what I expected. I had imagined the saddle would look new and the color would match the original. That was an unreasonable expectation perhaps, considering the relatively small investment.
The Navy vinyl covering is matte and faux-grained perhaps rendering the Navy a bit greyer than it otherwise would be. The cover is tight and feels like it won’t move. There appear to be a few small folds in the cover, particularly around the nose, and when the saddle is flipped over, you can see where the material is gathered under the saddle tail.
After putting it away for a day and taking it out again, I was more satisfied. It feels fine and looks good, so long as you’re not expecting it to look exactly as it once did. I wrote Moore again, asking about the job and the color. He was happy to answer more questions, suggested another vinyl covering if I want something glossier in the future. The Whisper vinyl is 1mm or so thicker than the original leather cover, and the foam added another 2mm, by Moore’s measurements.
It turned out that the saddle was so old its foam flaked off when he removed the cover. This necessitated adding a thin layer of foam. Between the new cover, the new foam, about 30g was added to the saddle. I wanted lighter. But when I spoke with people at Selle Italia several years ago, they told me that their saddles were finished by contractors and the one job to the next can be vary by up to 30g, depending on how leather is stretched and glue is applied.
Now I’m reasonably satisfied. Time to install it, ride: see if it’s still family.