Whatever It Is, I’m Against It

    Over the years, I’ve been accused of being a contrarian:

    I strongly disagree.

    By the way, did you know Zeppo Marx owned a company that sold a Schwinn with a drone airplane engine bolted to it?

    Today he’d be selling e-bikes.

    Nevertheless, I suppose I am a contrarian, because as soon as everyone else is doing something I don’t want to do it anymore. Consider road cycling. Long ago, there was a time when I thought I was burnt out on road bikes. But thanks to gravel I love them more than ever, and I’ve been able to ride them for years now secure in the knowledge that what I’m doing is deeply uncool and in no way a “thing.”

    But now that we’ve hit Peak Gravel that seems to be changing. The Desert Hipster website is taking a break from articles like “The Weedfoot Shredhog: Why This Boutique Titanium Hardtail Is Different From The 56 Others We Reviewed This Week” because they’ve discovered that–hold onto your handlebar bag–paved roads are smooth:

    Sandal-and-jorts influencer Ultraromance is turning back into a roadie again:

    And at this point it’s only a matter of time before we get a tortured video from Path Less Pedaled about how he’s tired of riding at “party pace” and kinda wants an S-Works Tarmac:

    Clearly the writing is on the 25mm tire sidewall that road bikes are back, and that’s all it takes to send me scampering into the woods on the least road bike-like bike I have:

    By the way, recently I compared the Platypus and the Jones, even though they’re pretty different bikes, and in a way wondering whether you should get a Platypus and a Jones is kind of like asking your doctor whether you should get a hip replacement or an appendectomy. Regardless, part of the reason I wrote that post was that a person had recently emailed me asking just that (Platypus or Jones, not hip replacement or appendectomy), and he just happened to be coming to New York on business this past weekend, and so I graciously invited him to come by and try both bikes, which he did. So after riding them both, which did he choose? Well, as far as I know he still hasn’t made up his mind, and if anything I suspect he’s now even more confused. Nevertheless, I’m glad to have played a small part in enhancing his indecision.

    Anyway, the world is kinder and gentler when you leave the New York City limits, or at least it pretends to be. Signs implore you to “Share The Road:”

    And even encourage you to squeeze in a quick hump while you’re at it:

    Though it’s not all sharing and humping, and you’ve also got to deal with giant mutated geese the size of boathouses:

    As well as grass so deep the deer sink to their withers in it:

    I realize there may be alternate explanations for the appearance of both the geese and the deer, but I refuse to entertain them.

    These days I’ve been bypassing the Trails Behind The Mall for a more low-key spot that, while a bit further from my home, does not require riding through a mall, and instead merely requires riding past a much smaller mall, though I suppose it’s technically a shopping center. While I’ve been coming here for quite awhile, I keep finding new sections of trail. You know how it goes: one day you’re on a small climb you’ve ridden a hundred times…

    …then one day you notice some trail blazes you’ve been missing all these years:

    So you turn off the road and it’s like that dream where you find a new room in your apartment.

    I was grateful to be on such a sure-footed bicycle:

    And while it’s always fun to take the road bike off-road, it’s also fun not to fall down:

    I didn’t even fall while riding; I’d simply remounted after stopping and didn’t realize there was a root right in front of me, so as soon as I started pedaling the bike stopped moving and I went down. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen on a bike like the Jones, and had I been on it I doubt I would have noticed the root at all.

    Unlike the Trails Behind The Mall, this is not a spot to which people drive from all over the tri-state area in order to ride, so it’s a bit more “wild.” (Or at least as wild as a small park in the suburbs can be.) There are also some fascinating geological features, like these benches that were formed by glaciers many thousands of years ago:

    Just kidding:

    I still haven’t quite figured out this new section, and while my goal was to not have to walk the bike at any point, I’m afraid I failed once again:

    Though once I got to the familiar parts things went more smoothly:

    From there I headed back home on a ribbon of dirt that seemed made just for me:

    And I even took in some gravel since it’s not cool anymore:

    Here’s some gravel ASMR:

    If the desert hipsters are tired of riding on gravel but still want the “vibe” they should just ride road bikes but put speakers on the handlebars that play gravel sounds.

    Problem solved.

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