Unsponsored Content: Bicycle For Sale

Putting this up just in case it would do a reader some good. I bought this Schwinn Super Sport SL back in 2001. Original MSRP was $1,949. More details on the bike, which was pretty ambitious for Schwinn, here.

After 8,000 miles or so, several new tires and chains, and a true-up on the wheels, I retired it in favor of my Lynskey R270. The Flight Deck computer works and it’s in very good shape. Given how hard it is to get a decent bicycle at the moment I thought I’d make this available. $300 plus actual cost of shipping via BikeFlights to any RG reader.

Two more photos after the jump:

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RAD, The Right Way

It’s no secret that I’m not particularly thrilled with the use of the word “RAD” to describe cars. Almost nobody who took the whole “RAD” idea seriously even owned a car back in the Eighties. If they did, it was some kind of ragged-out station wagon with a bike rack welded to the liftgate or a VW Thing kitted out for surf and skate, not a Supra or BMW M6 or what have you. So this is what the kids call “appropriation” nowadays. I like it even less when someone uses the actual logo from the Talia Shire movie, which feels like adding insult to injury.

Oh well. The above short film, starring Bill Allen from the original RAD movie, is far more in the spirit of things. It takes place in and around Bentonville, AR, which has decided to make itself a mountain-bike Mecca. The riding is first rate and then some. It shows how far we’ve come in the past thirty-five years. Just as importantly, it makes the point that you’re only really rad if you’re existing in the moment, not looking to the past.

Another video of note: professional BMX racers (and Red Bull pump track champions) Caroline Buchanan and Barry Nobles remake the original “Helltrack” race here. Sadly, Caroline and Barry’s relationship didn’t last; he left her for a girl who looked just like Caroline but didn’t race BMX. Which suggests that my less-than-RAD insight of 1987 — namely, you’re not going to have a successful relationship if you prioritize your little bike over meeting someone — is more general than I thought!

In Which The Author Hits The Concrete And Does Not Quite Bounce Back

John had agreed to take three videos of me trying my new Chromag Monk through the rhythm section at Mike’s Bike Park, and this was the second of them. This is approximately what I was thinking at the time:

Okay… roll in, try to snag an extra pedal to get this big bitch over that step-up jump. Pump the roller… pull for the step… ah, that’s not quite perfect… BZZZT! that’s the back tire on my shorts… pump down the hill… one more roller… now for the wallride. God damn I hate wallrides, but unless you go eight or nine feet up on this one you don’t have enough momentum for the return section… is that high enough? Good, let’s get down without going over the bars… bike is on flat ground… the first jump is ahead… let’s get one strong crank in to make these jumps easy, 100% effort on the right foot please… whatwhatwhatFUCKFUCKFUCK… over the bars and tuck my head and BANG that’s the ground and roll over and John is yelling and running towards me…

…ugh. My arm is numb.

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The Day We All Went Underground

He was ten feet off the cave floor, bike and rider stretched and twisted in the old-school BMX trick that was called a “Judge” and a “Leary” before settling into the modern appellation of “lookback”. Then he disappeared down the backside of the jump and we all heard the thump echo back across two hundred feet. The two thirtysomething men who were pedaling back up to the rest of us in the staging area dropped their bikes then broke and ran in that direction. Silence fell as the chattering children to my right picked up on their parents’ vibe, shut up, and turned to face the incident. Three, four empty seconds and then there was a loud cough. After thirty-three years behind the handlebars of a BMX bike I can heard blood in a cough and this time I heard blood.

More silence. Then: “HE’S UP! HE’S OKAY!” At the trails or the skatepark, “okay” doesn’t mean “unhurt”. It means that the ambulance isn’t coming. A wave of guilty relief swept through seven of the twelve riders surrounding me. They’d come down from Fort Wayne as a group, vans filled with bikes of all sizes for them and their children. An ambulance trip would have ended everybody’s day. I saw the fellow who had crashed stumble out from behind the jump. Someone else carried his bike away. We sat up in the staging area and fidgeted. Nobody wanted to be the first person to hit that section afterwards. You could call it respect or superstition or cowardice; it is all of those. Finally, one of the socially awkward spandex-clad mountain bikers who had arrived right before the wreck clicked into his pedals, rode down the slope, and bumbled through the line, accompanied by the bounce and clank of chain and derailleur. We frowned at this crass incompetence but in truth we were grateful. The spell was broken. Four of the Fort Wayne guys rolled in a tight line after him. The third one boosted a sky-high lookback over the recently-cursed jump and landed it with fingertip delicacy. Then the kids flocked after them and the noise of conversation rose again in the humid, dusty air.

I took a run down the center line and walked my bike back up the incline to conserve energy. When I got to the picnic benches up top the injured rider was sitting there in slack-jawed shock, his helmet still on, twisting his body to get both hands on his drooping left shoulder. He looked like he might vomit in the near future.

“Did you dislocate your shoulder?” I asked. His response was delivered in the patient monotone that always follows a direct impact of helmet to ground.

“I have metal in here,” he replied, “from an old wreck. A lot of metal. And I think… it’s bent.”

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Haro Lineage Master Build Sheet Plus Bonus “Great Santini”-Style Track Footage

I’ve had enough communication regarding this bike across various channels (email, Instagram, et al) that I thought I’d publish the complete build sheet for it along with a few more photos. Plus I have some footage of the new-for-Fall-2017 pump track at Rays. Last but definitely not least, let’s address the Mexican-Silverado-sized elephant in the room: Hey, dummy, you have three Haro resissue bikes? Don’t you know they’re made in Taiwan?

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All The Money We Didn’t Save By Going To China

Things to do in Denver when you’re dead… tired, and have just three hours before your flight leaves: go to a bike shop and look around. Google Maps said there was a shop just eight miles from the airport, so I went to check it out. Turns out that the “shop” in question was actually the factory outlet for Tomasso Bikes.

As far as I could tell, Tomasso operates the same way that Bike Nashbar used to: they have frames built overseas and then they load ’em up with slightly better components than you would get on a “name-brand” bike like Trek or Cannondale. Aluminum Tomassos are made in Taiwan, carbon Tomassos in mainland China. To some degree, quick-bake companies like this have been rendered obsolete by Giant, which owns both the means of Chinese proudction and the means of American distribution. (This is why a Giant is almost always the best deal on a new bike, if you are purely concerned with specs.) Compared to those old Nashbar bikes, however, Tommasos are very handsome. They make a rather striking “hybrid” bike in military green, which was the first thing I saw when I walked in the door.

The fellow who came out to talk to me and show me a few bikes was on crutches, having been hit by a car during a road ride seven weeks ago. He’d gotten a femur nail, so we had a long conversation about that particular surgery and its consequences. I was an experimental recipient of a Grosse-Kempf titanium nail back in March of 1988. Luckily for my new friend, his break was much less severe than mine had been. He’d gone for a short bike ride just six weeks after the nail went in. At that point in my recovery I was still confined to bed 24/7.

Hanging on the wall across from that army-green hybrid bike was a drop-bar roadie, something about halfway between a tourer and a full-bore racer: the Corvo. It has the full Shimano 105 “gruppo”, which is to say that most of the parts on it are supplied by Shimano and that they are all “105” level. When I was a kid, Shimano had just three road-bike gruppos: Dura-Ace on top, 600 Ultegra in the middle, and 105 at the low end. Now there’s Tiagra below 105, and a few cheap-bike-specific gruppos like Sora and Claris. (A full explanation can be found here, if you care.)

“The Corvo is $1,699, which is a ripping deal for a full 105 bike,” my salesman said. By modern standards he’s right. And yet… if $1,699 is what you’d pay for a generic Chinese bike with Shimano 105, how much would you pay for an American-made bike with full 105? Would you be okay with… $1,282?

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The Conservation Of Momentum

This has been up on my Instagram (@jackbaruthofficial) for a few days but I thought I’d share it here in higher-definition form. This was my “progression goal” for last weekend: make it over all eleven box jumps on the “Profile World” flow track. On my first trip here, I made it over nine of the eleven, but I totally “bonked” in the last turn. My bike and I together weigh 281 pounds so it amounts to eleven deadlifts in forty-two seconds while also pedaling.

I’d figured that I would need to spend a month or so doing something differently on the elliptical during the week in order to build the endurance I’d need, but my coach and old friend, Javier Larrea, had a better idea. He re-mapped the line that I use in the beginning of the section. adding an extra jump on the skip-up to the hard uphill left turn. This sounds like it would take more energy than riding it but it actually gives me enough extra momentum to save me two pedals on the way down the second hill, which gives me enough oxygen to pull for the final two jumps. Then he was kind enough to be the camera bike for my run. I actually dropped him a bit in the beginning… there’s something to be said for weight when you’re going down a hill.

My old friend Nick will never realize it but when he died he gave me the final push I needed to start riding again. I don’t have much left in me; too much metal in the left knee and too few ligaments in the right. But I want my son to see me ride with his own two eyes instead of looking at old Digital8 clips. Someday he’ll be forty-five years old and the day may come that he needs a bit of inspiration or motivation to tackle whatever’s ahead of him. I won’t be around to tell him myself. But he’ll remember that his old man was both stubborn and pain-resistant. That goes a long way in this world. It’s not like being handsome or lucky but sometimes it’s enough.

Goodbye To All That

“For a moment I felt an indescribable, painful, and useless longing for myself: then there was ‘he’ alone, der Unbekannte, the Unknown, there was nothing but him… He was the stronger of the two, and I was the mirror.” —Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. Franco Moretti, “The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture”

Around the time that the above quote was published, and around the time that I read Moretti’s book for the first time as a dissipated, dispassionate sophomore at university, I received a box from a fellow named Bruce Goin. Bruce was the proprietor of the embarrassingly-named “Badd&Company”, and he was the prototypical fat-white-trash-dad-as-would-be-BMX-mogul that all the Nirvana-listening trail-jumper kids loved to complain about. He was also very close to illiterate; the letter that accompanied the box wouldn’t have passed muster in a grade-school composition class. It made me sniff involuntarily in revulsion; I might that very afternoon have plumbed the depths of the most refined literature, perhaps including the Unbekannte and subtle Rilke himself, so imagine my displeasure at perusing an Olympia-typewriter-generated sheet of paper that contained the memorable all-caps sentence “AT FIRST I THOUGHT YOUR CRAZY BUT THEN I REELIZE THAT YOUR NOT CRAZY IM THE CRAZY ONE.”

Bruce was nobody’s choice for the Social Register, but he was a kind-hearted, decent man. The box was on my doorstep because I’d alerted him to a manufacturing error in his “Badd Stretch XXL”. The “stretch” was the longest BMX frame ever made, twenty-two inches from head tube to seatpost in an era where the second-longest frame, the Free Agent Limo, was 19.75″. An utter revolution in the sport, invented by a 350-pound man who couldn’t ride a bicycle at all because his knees didn’t work. There was a sweet irony in that. The “S&M Holmes” that all the dirt-jumper kids loved, the “rider-owned” miracle bike, was nothing but an angle-for-angle copy of the Free Agent Limo with thicker tubing. It was the “fat dad” who changed the BMX game, not the riders themselves.

I’d been one of the first five or six Stretch customers. For me, it was a revelation as well as a revolution, catapulting me immediately to a pair of wins in my local 17&Over Expert races. However, I’d quickly realized that the brake mount was incorrectly positioned. It worked okay enough with the Dia-Compe side-pull brakes that had been in fashion two years previous, but the Odyssey Pitbull cam-pull would not reach to all possible wheel positions. Bruce hadn’t caught it, his framebuilder hadn’t caught it. But I’d caught it. I wrote him a letter, suggesting a different set of measurements for the tubing. He read the letter. Did the measurements. Realized his mistake. And sent me a double gift: a brand-new frame made to my specs, and permission to sell the old one rather than return it. With this generous action, he both funded a spring’s worth of local racing for me and put me on the frame that I would use for most of my (admittedly dismal) professional cycling career.

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Vignette: The Author Takes A Stand With His Fellow Young Riders Against Those Lame-Ass Old Millennials

Saturday was the third time, and the third weekend in a row, that John and I have gone to Ray’s MTB park in Cleveland. He’s progressing in rapid fashion. I’m doing okay, as well. I managed to clear the first nine jumps of the “Profile World” section in a row; there are two jumps after that but I’m too God-dammed tired to get over them. After years of putting up pretty good numbers on elliptical machines and treadmills I’d fooled myself into thinking that I was in good cardiovascular shape despite being overweight. Lifting 275 pounds of bike and rider into the air nine times in quick succession will cure you of those delusions. Even the teenagers are panting when they finish. Only my son can ride “Profile World” three or four times in a row without stopping; as pretty much the only seven-year-old to wander outside the easy stuff, his energy amazes everyone.

We warm up at the novice section, as you can see from John’s handlebar-mounted GoPro footage above — watch it in 1080p! Periodically, a group of twentysomething-to-thirtysomething mountain bikers will leave the dedicated cross-country trails and arrive to try their hand at the short drop-in and small box jumps. They show up, and they leave, in packs. Very few of them, it has to be said, can ride for shit despite their $5,000 bikes and carefully-chosen sporting-wear ensembles. John’s faster through the boxes than the vast majority of the “grownups”; John’s father, despite his sallow complexion, labored breathing, and unflattering sweat stains, is on another planet entirely.

The novice section can also be ridden backwards, if you want to use the roll-in as a vert launch. Some of the teenaged BMX riders like to do it that way so they can practice fly-out stuff like 360s and tire-grabs. They’re very careful around John and nothing even remotely worrisome has happened, so I don’t care that they aren’t “following the arrows”. This past Saturday, as I sat there catching my breath, one of those kids happened to be riding in the wrong direction out of the roll-in when a group of brightly-colored mountain bikers showed up, moving fast in a tightly-bunched single-file line.

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Still They Ride

“So if Nick hadn’t died,” my son said as I raised his leg off the bench at Ray’s and slipped on the ankle guard, “then it would have been me, you, and him here today. But now, it’s just us.”

“That’s right,” I replied.

“But he would want us to ride here anyway.”


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