Weekly Roundup: Must I Surrender With Grace Edition

Joni Mitchell is very much on the public mind at this moment, with her career-defining album Blue celebrating its 50th birthday and giving the music/art critics yet another chance to toil at the cliff face of permanently defining just what it means in the most putrid and pseudo-perceptive phrasing possible. Right now, however, I’m thinking about her entirely un-cherished 1991 effort, Night Ride Home, and one track from that record in particular.

“Nothing Can Be Done”, with lyrics by Joni but music by her husband of the time, bassist/producer Larry Klein, features the 46-year-old Mitchell spiraling into depression over her partner’s faithlessness, the increasingly powerful and malicious pull of nostalgia, and her defiant but doomed determination to maintain a connection with her own youthful desires. It’s the only song worth considering in a frankly awful album that ranges from bland (the title track) to Boomer-entitled (“The Windfall (Everything For Nothing)”) and outright cringeworthy (“The Only Joy In Town”, which features a chorus screeching “Botticelli Black Boy!” over Prophet-style synth strings about some African flower salesman Mitchell wishes she could have sex with).

Even this single decent song is undersold on the record by Joni’s who-gives-a-shit vocal performance and a drum track that probably isn’t synthesized but gives an unerring impression of being so. Happily, it was resurrected and properly done by Los Lobos and the Latina singer “La Marisoul” at a concert celebrating Mitchell’s 75th birthday. La Marisoul could making a living covering Joni tunes if she wanted to; Judy Collins showed it could be very profitable to bring a technically better voice to the music, and I imagine there is a whole generation of listeners ready to hear the tunes again, particularly from an, ahem, “PoC”.

Anyway, this version of “Nothing Can Be Done” is on repeat lately for me, in large part due to the confluence of two personally upsetting events. The first was a remarkably humbling experience I just had on Snowshoe Mountain last week; the second, a subtly terrifying series of interactions I’ve had with a couple of older men who are busy rushing headlong towards their own destruction.

This is the third year that I’ve taken my son to Snowshoe, and this was our fifth visit to the mountain. When he was ten years old, I would burn out eighty bucks a day in SRAM Code RSC brake pads not running him over. (Brief note: always ride behind your kids until they’re as good as you are. Time and again I find myself helping out children who have crashed or been frightened into immobility while trying to follow their parents down trails. Invariably I then encounter the parents down the trail, or at the end of the trail, standing around looking confused. This is how you wind up with a dead kid.) Last year John was faster and I used just two sets of pads over the course of eight days rolling.

We arrived at Snowshoe last Wednesday to find that the trails had gone rough from overuse and continual rain. Almost immediately, the boy cut a Schwalbe Rocket Ron tire through to the core on a sharp rock; with no replacement rubber in the right size available, we put in a tube, which he promptly burst on the next run. At that point we gave up and did the 4.5 hour round trip to Shenandoah Bicycle. They had us running with a new 26×2.3 Bontrager in minutes.

With that in place, John proceeded to nimbly drop me on a murderer’s row of fast trails: Ninja Bob, 10 Gallon, Powerline, and part of Big Ash. I’m still stronger than he is, and my Guerilla Gravity Megatrail is hugely faster than his Trailcraft Maxwell thanks to the 27.5″ Industry Nine wheels and very deft suspension tuning from MRP in Colorado, but as soon as the trail degenerates to rock I’m absolutely helpless. Every bone in my upper body hurts from the stress of hitting the terrain at 25+ miles per hour; my hands cramp up, my elbows burn, my shoulders feel loose in their sockets. At the end of Powerline, there are two long drop-jumps where you launch fifteen or so horizontal feet into a rock garden that is three or four feet lower than your jumping-off point. John touches down into the mess without so much as an audible scuff, losing no speed and clearing the jumps that follow like they are ski-bunny bumps. I’m landing on this stuff like a 747 with the nose gear up, coming almost to a halt. I won’t post the relevant video because I’m bleating on impact like I’m being beaten with a rubber hose.

Therefore, witness the new phenomenon of 49-year-old parenting: my son waiting for me every so often where the trails join or split. “Dad, are you okay?” he asks.

“Yes, God damn it, I’m fine, stop waiting for me!”

“But… you could have been hurt. It took you a while…” This is why Robert Duvall knocked his kid down in The Great Santini, dontcha know. On the smoother trails, I could reel him back in with my more educated cornering technique and/or my ability to simply pull my bike up and over the jumps instead of launching across them. But time and time again he’d be out of Snowshoe’s final forest trail and into the sunshine of the lift line before I was even in sight of the last bridge.

He wasn’t perfect, of course; his third time through 10 Gallon he went head over heels on a tricky root and put a rock into his chest at about eight miles per hour. “I’m fine!” he yelled, even before his body hit the ground; he’s somehow internalized the idea that I’m both physically and emotionally fragile, requiring immediate reassurance as to his condition. He’s not wrong.

Later this year we will start doing the “letter” trails that offer double-black-diamond combinations of drops and technical features. I know that he will conquer them, maybe not in 2021 but by the end of 2022. I also know that I never will, that my mountain biking future likely consists of me being more easily hurt, more often, and likely in my oft-broken hands and wrists. There’s no way to spend my way out of it; I have the most expensive and pliable front end on my bikes that money can buy, from the MRP Ribbon shock to the ninety-dollar RevGrip Pros. The only thing that can save me is caution.

Younger than I am, Joni asked:

Must I surrender with grace / the things I loved when I was younger… What do I do here with this hunger?

I’d like to think that I’m past the traditional middle-aged male fear of being, ah, dried up. To rage against the dying of that light too much is to court ridicule. It doesn’t hurt that the generations behind mine aren’t exactly inflaming my envy, what with their bizarre intersectionality of Bumble, politics, obesity, body art, casual hygiene, and asexuality. I know a few (much) younger women, largely through cycling and/or mutual friends. I don’t have any desire to join them in their lives, which seem remarkably depressing and appear to contain a lot of “music” by a fellow named “Juice WRLD” who recently died and is therefore the Hendrix of his generation, minus the ability to carry a tune. When you can’t dig current pop music any more, it’s probably time to start wearing more tweed and going to bed earlier.

I just want to, you know, not come to a complete halt. Or go crazy, which was not previously a fear of mine but has now been comprehensively stoked by two male colleagues, one in his fifties and another a decade older than that. I’ve had some bizarre interactions with both of them lately. The first one is in need of some advice, and says he wants to take it, but what he really wants is to lecture me about everything that’s wrong with everyone else. He has problems, and some of them are his own fault, but he is obsessed with his own anger towards his co-workers. The blind fury with which he declaims for ten or twenty minutes on end has me rattled. I’ve heard that own voice in my head sometimes over the years, but I always manage to reason with it. When did my friend lose that ability? When will it happen to me? Is it preventable?

The second fellow is a writer. He’s become obsessed with a bunch of weird potty-mouth stuff. Less Henry Miller and more fourth-grade snickering. I can’t publish the stuff he’s writing. It will cost both of us our jobs. I’ve explained this to him. But instead of just going to back to normal, he is trying to argue his case with me, trying to trip me up and expose my position as being logically inconsistent. He may be right. I may be logically inconsistent. But that’s like saying you’re being logically inconsistent in the face of a grizzly bear; the bear can still end the argument any time he likes with a single swipe of the paw. And that’s what would happen to both of us, if I published this drivel. We would be swiped into the unemployment line.

Vox Day likes to talk about the Very Smart Boys who think they can always somehow trip you up into being proven wrong, or at least hypocritical. They’re like the atheists in Hitchhiker’s Guide:

“Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,'” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”

Reality has a way of putting these people in the grave, in prison, or in Section 8 housing. You can’t treat the whole world like a debate club. My friend is very smart. When I see him exhibiting this near-insane behavior, I also get a bit worried. Is that the direction in which I’m bound to go? Another older friend of mine once performed a citizen’s arrest on some cops who were illegally parked, to prove a point — but the point that he ended up proving was that you can be sent to jail by cops any time they like, without much of a reason, and you’ll suffer more for being right than you would ever suffer for being wrong because it adds the sin of disrespect to the crime of… whatever they can think up.

This idea of “being right” all the way to an early grave or poverty is frightening. It could seize me at any moment. I doubt my friends knew that it was about to seize them, before it did. I’m going to be as careful as I can, for as long as I can. But in the end, there’s probably no defense against it. Joni sings:

Oh I am not old
I’m told
But I am not young
Oh and nothing can be done

* * *

For Hagerty this week, I believe that I staved off insanity and incoherence long enough to write about the dissipated state of automotive aspiration and a very alt-universe take on a Chrysler 300.

48 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Must I Surrender With Grace Edition”

  1. stingray65

    In terms of status and wealth, what valuation does your son put on having a 49 year old father who takes him to fabulous biking venues with 1st class equipment and also rides well enough not to embarrass him, and then plays Call of Duty on a high end computer when you get home?

      • Adam 12

        That he puts zero value on those times now that you can see is not necessarily a bad thing. He will remember them fondly and then decide when he is older that you were smarter than her thought. These are the times that he will grow nostalgic for.
        Most of us do this.

        Our parents were much smarter than we realized and when we think they were making a poor decision we then realize our parents were in a place where they were making a hard choice and being the adult.

        Part of the circle.

        • stingray65

          Adam I largely agree with you, but in this day and age with so many children suffering from absent fathers, and others who have fathers who are “in the picture” but do not have the economic means to provide the kind of experiences that Jack provides his son and/or are too out-of-shape or disinterested to participate in “kids” activities, I hope John soon understands the rarity and specialness of his adventures with his father.

          • John C.

            It should be remembered through all this silly high fiving, that Jack is himself absent in John’s day to day life. Acting the cool uncle does not make up for the still very young man having to be the man of the house 12 out of 14 days.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            I don’t know why you think that; only my work travel keeps me from being in his face about half the time.

          • NoID

            I suppose Jack can decide if your shot across the bow deserves a shot in return, but I’ll say that even if Jack is a “weekend warrior” he’s doing better than many from what I can tell. He could just entertain John with passive entertainment, but instead he appears to be cultivating skills and character in him. Yeah, it seems pretty heavily skewed toward fun stuff and Jack shouldn’t kid himself that his fatherhood experience is representative of a typical nuclear household with two OG parents and their children, but considering the divorce rate in this country Jack’s situation is VERY typical in the sense that he has to make the most of splitting time.

            We had a similar problem in my house growing up, where I was the only child of my parents’ union but they each brought with them other children. My older brother only ever had fun on the weekends he spent with his mom, and so the weeks spent with his father and step-mother (my parents), which included all of the scheduling, character building, responsibilities, etc. cultivated resentment and rebellion towards his step-mother (my mother). My point is that these arrangements have their own unique challenges.

            Anyways…I do look at John’s life and then look at my own childrens’ comparative lack of experience and “cool stuff” and get a little critical / self-righteous in my heart, kind of how you did just now, implying that this lifestyle is only possible for weekend or part-time fathers who don’t need to handle the bulk of the day to day parenting…but I don’t know their situation and it isn’t my business. And besides, that’s really just jealousy talking, and jealousy is a poison that only serves to kill one person, and it ain’t the target.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            I dont think it’s occurred to John C that I’m not going to put up videos of me making the kid clean his room or something. I have about the lowest drama divorce in human history and the limiting factor for my time is work, not a custody arrangement. During the school year I probably only see him 3 or 4 of 7 days but it’s because I’m on a plane or at a track.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          It doesn’t bother me at all. My father made a lot of sacrifices that I didn’t appreciate at the time. That Atari was $499… in 1981 dollars. That was more than the monthly payment on that Town Car, and his business wasn’t always making any money at all. My son’s job isn’t to appreciate me, it’s the other way round.

          • Panzer

            I’m just gonna come out and say it.

            Fuck John C.
            He’s an expert on everything from the macroeconomics of the 70’s American auto industry to Jack’s personal life now somehow.

            Hope you get hit by a bus you insufferable moron.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            See what I mean? The older men get, the more certain we can be of our “rightness”, and the more unpleasant we can be about it.

          • John C.

            Perhaps this thread should divide below so the high fiving can restart. I will stay out.

            The other half can tell how terrible I am. Nothing worse than a mature man with opinions, especially when inconvenient but correct.

            One last opinion from me is that Joan Baez song is pretty terrible. So why not put this one on auto repeat instead. It works for John C. and is even sung by a Johnny C. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDd32K-mOVw

        • hank chinaski

          Upside: through genes and training he’s better than you at something.
          Downside: decades of wear and mishaps while practicing said activity are why.
          Upside: It isn’t black lung.

          Speaking to JohnC’s comments below (?), I’m guessing there aren’t many ex-wives who allow fun activities like downhill biking, airsoft and carting, and that’s when they aren’t actively poisoning a father-son relationship.

          Happy 4th everyone. The Moors are coming! The Moors are coming!

      • VTNoah

        As others have said, he won’t care about it now and likely not for another few decades. That said, when things start to come to a close, he would likely do anything for more time with you. My dad is losing his battle with cancer at the moment and I would be happy to relive the times we spent together with me holding a flashlight over a diesel engine while he cursed in Turkish about me not doing it right. Whenever I used to visit him, he’d always walk me back to the elevator at his apartment complex to give me a quick hug goodbye. He doesn’t have the energy to do it now and I sure do miss it. Time together with your son, even when it’s not fun is still good time.

  2. John Van Stry

    There are times when it is important to be right.
    Those times aren’t as common as most of us tend to think however. Last year I went through a very expensive proof of my being right on something, with someone who was wrong, and who was costing me (and a great many others) money by his being wrong.
    Yes, it’s nice that there are so many people now who are happy that I did this. Some of those people are very rich, and very influential. Some of them hold very important positions in our government.
    And I’m sure a lot of these people will profit off of what I did.

    Just not me.

    Looking back, I’d be a lot better off financially and possibly mentally, if I’d just ignored it, like all of the people far richer and more powerful had been doing. Yeah, it’s great that a certain chief justice knows who I am (or knew, if only long enough to put his hand in to ensure he got what he wanted out of things). Same for so many other execs at the big publishing companies, a few of whom at least said ‘thank you’ but none of them ponied up a dime.

    It’s never just the ‘cost’ of being right, it’s the missed opportunities and other work you lost because of the time you had to spend in being proven right. Being a ‘hero’ has a very high cost, and there’s no gain in it at all. None. So it doesn’t matter if your friends are right or not, because in either case it’s going to cost them, and it’s going to cost them dearly. And even if they are right, a few months from now, no one will care.

      • Panzer

        The thing is though, there is a cost to keeping your head down, and making it SEP – Someone else’s problem.
        The cost is that eventually society becomes so corrupt, that it becomes unliveable and collapses, simply because the truth can no longer be told.
        So no, you can’t perceive the cost to yourself in the short to medium term (or maybe even the long term) but it’s still there regardless.
        The question really is, do you want your kids to grow up in that future because their parents didn’t make the hard decisions and make the sacrifices?
        I understand this is easy for a young single guy like me to say, but I do want there to be a future worth living in for the family I hope one day to have.
        Jordan Peterson put it perfectly when he said ‘every lie you tell brings the world just that slight bit closer to hell’

        • stingray65

          Good comment Panzer – the secret to the Left’s success is that they have made “heroic” efforts to find and promote the truth too expensive for most people who can’t risk losing their jobs, careers, social media privileges, or even freedom for telling truths about transgenderism (i.e. it is a mental illness), climate change (i.e. we are not going to die in 10 years and renewables and EVs are expensive boondoggles and can’t possibly replace fossil fuels/ICVs), systemic racism (i.e. blacks commit disproportionate shares of crime and do relatively poorly in school and careers because of cognitive deficiencies and a self-destructive culture that has nothing to do with white supremacy), gun control (i.e. assault rifles are used in virtually no crimes, if guns are outlawed in contradiction to the 2nd amendment only criminals and “racist” police will have guns), Donald Trump (i.e. the most unfairly maligned President in US history with an outstanding record of achievement, who was almost certainly cheated out of office with fake news reporting and massive voter fraud in 2020), or any of the other issues that transfix the Left but defy common sense and deny reality.

          • John Van Stry

            No. The secret to the Left’s success is that the Right didn’t fight them. They just rolled over and refused to make a stand, or to back those that did.
            The Left showed up.
            The Right went home.
            The Left always supports their own.
            The Right ALWAYS ABANDONS their own.

            That’s why the left wins.

          • CJinSD

            The left abandons their own whenever it is efficacious. There are graveyards full of Hillary Clinton’s fellow travelers. The real difference is that conservatives are worried about their own families while the left is concerned with enslaving everyone they hate, and they hate everyone that bonds with their own families. You’re thinking about putting food on the table while the left is thinking about how to control who gets food.

          • Panzer

            Good point CJinSD, i’ve been thinking about this question for awhile now, about the dynamics of the fight between the left and the right and the advantages of each side.

            I’ve come to the conclusion that it -seems- the right is conflict averse and that the left wins consistently simply because each side is stronger in different ways and prioritises different things.

            For example, (and this goes all the way back to Rousseau and the enlightenment) the left project is based almost entirely on emotion. Because of this they are experts at creating it and manipulating it. If they couldn’t do this, they would have to deal in empirical realities, and they would be crushed. This is their great strength, and because they can do this, they can make their repression look and feel like liberation.
            “Oh you mean to say the gulag and collective farms are awful? No Comrade, they are not, with them we are building a better future without poverty etc..” and there will always be many who buy into the lie because they are emotionally attached to what it entails. After all, who doesn’t want a better future where no one goes without?

            With the Right, our project is based on the Judaeo-Christian dignity of the individual and a humanist appreciation of historical realities. Therefore we understand how the world really is and that hard decisions must be made now in order to build a future that will be much better, but never perfect.

            The problem is that we can’t win elections with our sane message of continual building and improvement and sacrifice when you have the left continually screaming FREE SHIT FOR EVERYONE, ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH THE PLAN WANTS THERE TO BE POOR PEOPLE, WE DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO BE POOR DO WE?
            We can’t compete with the left at their own game of propaganda because propaganda is based on emotion -their specialty- and not on facts. So that’s why it seems the right doesn’t fight because we can’t out left the left.
            What we should be doing is leading by example, building strong families, creating great businesses and so on, and through this creating a living breathing counterpoint to the left project that no amount of propaganda can deny. Building a better life on the pragmatic appreciation of the heritage of our western civilisation is our strength, and that is what we should focus on, instead of trying to make their arguments our own just to get a bit of airtime on WaPo..

            This is why men like Jordan Peterson anger the left so much, not because he’s a philosophical threat to them necessarily, but because he’s offering the next generation (particularly young men) an alternative to the left project, in the form of family and meaningful work. Like I said, this is the sort of thing the Right should be doing and sort of is – setting a counter example rather than trying to out argument the Marxists

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          I agree with this as well, but let’s distinguish between cost and benefit.

          Scenario zero: by your martyrdom you can end the reign or evil or bring it significantly closer to an end, like the Christians who died in Roman arenas. Well then you should do it.

          Scenario one: at considerable risk to your livelihood you may be able to prevent an evil, like the teaching of CRT in your school, or the promotion of sexuality to children in your school. That might well be worth doing.

          Scenario two: you make a wrong turn downtown and come face to face with the armed Antifa “protestors”. Your daughter is in the back seat. You have sixteen rounds in your Glock. There are a hundred of them. At that point I think you turn around.

    • NoID

      Spoken well enough for me to add “Champion for Hire” to my reading list.

      Though at the rate I’m able to read nowadays (due to a dearth of quiet opportunities to read, not LITERAL words per minute) I won’t get to it until Baron Trump’s third presidential term.

    • Daniel J

      I’ve really never had to do anything like that with my current job. Now, with my old job we had some marketing and so called “engineer” types want us to do some things we knew were wrong. We told them they were wrong and the design was bad. We spent little time in trying to convince them. We just did it and well….it blew up in their face. Of course they said it was our fault but we had receipts.

      Now interestingly I’ve got a coworker who’s in his mid 50’s who’s been arguing with a number of other engineers. He’s very right about what he’s saying and what he wants to do for his software designs, but its obvious that the group of so called “engineers” who don’t have a real clue have more “power”. These engineers who have more “power” doesn’t come from experience, merit, or rank. It comes from the fact they have the ear of the software manager and he doesn’t.

      Eventually he started having health issues over much of this stress, and myself with a few others had to pull him off the ledge. Basically we asked him ” is this the hill you want to die on”. He wasted so much time and stressed out so much over this instead of moving on.

      And if anyone who’s ever dealt in software or hardware knows that moving jobs really doesn’t solve the problem. There are always so called “engineers” in any company who think they are right and the real engineers are wrong . I see this everyday. I’ve learned, I suppose, a little younger than my coworker, that it’s better to be healthy and sane than “right”.

      Now, getting to politics for a half a second, there are many right leaning pundits who basically are saying we should be fighting back. We should be dying on these hills, and that we are cowards for not being all consumed with proving we are “right”. I’ll say this, I do believe the reason the left can fight as hard as they can is simple: they rarely have anything to lose. They don’t have jobs or a family to worry about, so they can maintain the front lines far longer than the conservative right can.

  3. NoID

    I get the feeling you wrote this in part a further service to your colleagues, to give them an n-th opinion from the aggregate wisdom of the commentariat.

    My advice?

    Make it clear to your colleague that the common denominator of his anger is HIM, and give him a copy of The Self-Authoring Suite.

    Send your second colleague over to Jalopnik.

  4. galactagog

    I have been riding my bike a lot, after not riding much for years. After burning off the dust & cobwebs of time, and getting into decent shape, the rush I get when my lungs & body are working hard now is absolutely addictive.

    Transcendental even. The bellows hard at work forcing oxygen into the engine, driving the pistons. Buffeting by headwind. Cursing the headwind, even though it makes you stronger. Hills. Powering up over the hills. It feels good to be alive; the biological machine churning, the burning sting of lactic acid.

    I catch myself pushing harder than I probably should. I am not young. But at some point I won’t be able to do this anymore: so I need to imbibe fully from the fountain, while I can. Before I am eternally denied.

    Then I can creak around behind my walker, knowing I squeezed some more life out of this husk before throwing in the towel and succumbing to old age.

    But I can’t be totally reckless like my younger days. My invincibility card has faded: taken away by the cruel Gods of experience.

    If you find my body somewhere beside my bike, know that I died happy & content.

  5. NoID

    Regarding your AC piece, the best part of my job is the 1-year lease program for cars. Two new cars in our driveway, every 12 months. I’m not sure what that signals to the neighborhood, but my kids sure think we’re rich now. Never mind that each new vehicle is still the cheapest possible model I can find that satisfies our needs.

    Well, not THE cheapest…I spent $10 more per month to stay out of an asthmatic 4-banger CUV and get my butt into a V6 coupe with sporting pretentions.

    The best part of my job used to be development vehicles in my driveway on a regular basis, but now my position is more “strategic” and less “tactical”, so other people get to have most of the fun.

  6. John C.

    The 300 convertible looked to me a lot like the last generation 200 convertible. Now that I think about it, that car was available in Europe as a Lancia.

    It would have been nice if Mr. Arellano had instead imagined the 300 with whitewalls, wire wheels, decadent velour, and a landau top with opera instead of puddle lights. The car also sells around the world, to date my only ride in one was a taxi in Amsterdam, why not show Chrysler how easy it could offer real differentiation from both the Charger and everyone else? It might take some creativity to avoid Peugeot’s axe.

  7. -Nate

    Panzer nailed it but few ever really think .

    Watching John zoom down that trail is beautiful yes but also gives me the willies .

    I’d not do it on a Motocycle .


  8. stingray65

    It is interesting to speculate why an Olds 98 or Lincoln went from objects of status to objects of ridicule and embarrassment in only a few short years. Was it their sheer success in selling hundreds of thousands of units per year to not only bankers, professionals, and celebrities, but also steelworkers, plumbers, and other blue collar types? Was it the ridicules size as full-size cars went from around 200 inches long and 300 cubic inches in the 1950s to 230 inches and 455 cubic inches by the 1970s? Was it the reduction in build quality and technology where Detroit went from best in the world into the early 1960s to 3rd world quality and technology by the late 1970s? I suspect it was a combination of all those factors, but Detroit certainly opened the door to foreign competitors with their ever increasing size and fuel consumption, slipping quality, and lack of technological advancement that made their status cars loaded with fake wood, plastic chrome, landau roofs, and dripping paint relatively affordable to people on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

    • CJinSD

      I suspect that they became jokes because everything that you saw and touched was fake. It’s been decades since the dregs of society started rolling German status symbols, but the Germans can still sell their junk to white collar status seekers. The worst Oldsmobile ever made was certainly no uglier than the current M3, but the Oldsmobile’s fake wire wheels, fake convertible top, fake wood dashboard, and plastic chrome made it too easy to mock. GM was also willing to blame smog and CAFE rules for delivering cars that barely ran. It’s true that BMW made some terrible six cylinder cars in the mid ’70s, but they didn’t sell enough of them for everyone to know about their thermal reactors and frangible heads.

      • stingray65

        Everyone reading the BMW club Roundel or R&T Used Car Classics in the 1970s and 80s was well aware of the thermal reactors, cracked heads, unreliable air-conditioning, front-end shimmy (320i), and rust problems (CS and 2002) problems of 1970s era BMWs, but the driving pleasure made it worthwhile. Other than being able to float down the Interstate, I don’t think anyone was getting much driving pleasure or looking to take the long curvy way home in their 98 or Lincoln, and in the 1980s when BMWs were getting better in terms of reliability and generally improving on the driving experience, Detroit was going further downhill by sticking anemic exploding diesels and rough running 25 year old pushrod V-6 engines in their luxury cars.

  9. GMAN

    I’m the same age as you, and for some reason I’ve crashed more this year on my mountain bike then in all 49 years prior. Am I loosing stamina, definitely. Am I loosing skills, it appears so. Jumps that would thrill me, now scare me. There is a limit to the speed I attain that wasn’t there before. Partly because my confidence is down, partly because my wisdom (of consequences) is up. I agree that it’s not the bikes fault, and spending a ton on upgrades or a new bike may make the ride more comfortable (I’m on a hardtail), but won’t overcome my deficiencies. I still love to ride as much as I can, but I can see my age taking over. So I have to skip the double black diamonds, explain all the scabs on my arms and legs, and let the heroes in spandex pass me. It’s still a great day every time I hit the trails.

    Also, I think as long as you can identify insanity in others, you are fine. When you think that behavior is normal…well…then you’ve lost it.

    • stingray65

      I don’t agree with the sentiment, but I expect 98% of the public would think that an adult who spends thousands on a fancy bicycle and drives many miles so they can ride the expensive bike on bone jarring track filled with crazy jumps while regularly crashing and breaking stuff on the bike and their body is totally insane. Of course any form of exercise or recreation requiring physical conditioning is well beyond the capability of most of two-thirds of the US population who are overweight to obese, and humans are very good at rationalizing their own weaknesses by calling the things they can’t or won’t do “insane”.

  10. trollson

    MRP gets a bad rap in the press. Their forks are panned for being too harsh, with too much internal friction. Is it shills, or maybe this depends largely on rider weight?

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      At 247 pounds plus gear I’m simply dealing with a very different hand of cards than the average 175lb fit and trim rider. I went with MRP over PUSH because Bobby at GG, who dwarfs me, said that MRP works better for that weight range. I have no direct comparison but the Fox Factory 49 on my Session 9.9 is no more supple or usable.

      • trollson

        Fair enough. Personally I would spend a lot of time moving brake levers around and messing with the fork tune before buying questionable $100 grips, or even changing handlebar material.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          There’s nothing questionable about the RevGrips; I did A/B testing on my Session after I had the bike professionally setup and had springs done for it by AngelFire’s shop.

          You can laugh at their claims but they are worth 2 extra runs down the mountain a day.

          • trollson

            What did you test them against? They look a lot like some of the waffle grips from chromag, with a fatter part in the middle. Also those come in a wider size, although I couldn’t immediately find the width of these revgrip things.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            I’ve been using ODI Longnecks or ODI Aaron Gwins prior to trying RevGrips. Felt the difference immediately. Now there are other decent cushioned grips but I’m limited by the fact that I will only buy American on these.

  11. Eric L.

    Hmm. Yeah, I usually ride first, with the oldest son behind. Not on new trails, but it seems like mountain biking is like cars: You have accidents where you drive the most, at your local trails. Not out visiting someone. I need to rethink this.


    By a nice coincidence, a foldable 24×2.1″ Rocket Ron was the only decent tire I could buy for my 8.5-year-old’s bike. I’ve been very pleased with how well they’ve held up. The rubber has made it through a lot of abuse, but still gives him good traction on San Diego’s loose-over-hard dirt climbs.

    The little brother’s 20×2.6″ Kenda Slant Sixes are noticeably inferior. But, heavens, Cannondale put 2.6″ wide rubber and a full SRAM GX 10-speed drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes on a kid bike. And I have become that dad, sigh. https://www.flickr.com/gp/eric-lawler/841612

    …the honker ripped off a week later in an OTB–whoops! I was following behind him, but had the 3-year-old on his Kids Ride Shotgun seat. There was nothing I could do besides keep screaming “BRAKEBRAKEBRAKEBRAKE BRAAAAAAAAAAKE,” and watch the inevitable happen. He’s fine, the scar’s not that big. 🙁

  12. Steve Ulfelder

    My “being right” story: I was in rehab in 1985. The counselors organized a group discussion among all 25 patients. It was one of these “So-and-so needs to get 8 people across the river in a boat that holds 3” deals. We drunks and druggies kicked ideas around, and this pair of heroin addicts developed a cockamamie theory involving submarines or rubber rafts or some such nonsense. They were charismatic guys and began to persuade the room of their bizarre solution. Meanwhile, I grew madder and madder. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I leapt to the blackboard and demonstrated conclusively, using chalk and logic and quotes from the original problem, that these dimwits couldn’t possibly be correct. Proud of myself, I sat down again.

    Later that day I met with my counselor. “Did you see me in action in the group session?” I asked, still pretty proud of my performance.

    “Yeah,” he said. “You proved you were smarter than two junkies from Harlem.”

    Thirty-six years later, I still remember the lesson.

  13. gtem

    The 300 TC concept looks sharp as hell. I’d like to think it would sell pretty well, but not to the “right” people (wealthy retirees and black people), rather than the moneyed white collar moron with his (her) Sport Activity Vehicle obsession.

    There are absolutely no new cars except maybe a Dodge Challenger, Camaro, or Ram truck that I would be excited at the prospect of owning, and even those are in many ways compromised in my mind, and scare me as a DIYer. Prime example: I’d need to pay Chrysler a $50 annual fee to be allowed access through their Secure Vehicle Gateway module with my scanner to do something as simple as replace brake pads and retract the brake pistons to complete that bit of trivial maintenance. Even my wife’s 2012 Camry has a royal pain-in-the-ass procedure just to drain/-refill the transmission fluid.

    I’m convinced that my future car ownership will look something like my wife driving some sort of EV as a commuter and me maintaining a pair of 80s-00s vehicles that I truly enjoy for myself, the single biggest constraint is finding something I’d feel comfortable putting my son in from a safety perspective.

  14. One Leg at a Time

    The Hagerty pieces and the lead in were good, but the comments really made this one.

    We saw the return of the weird, unfounded ad-hominem attack by John C, and a couple well thought out, interesting threads.

  15. 98horn

    It’s hard to believe that they didn’t build the 2014 300 TC… The lack of it can only be attributed to a lack of imagination.

  16. JCP

    Jack, long time reader (since before our twelve year olds were born) but first time poster. I would recommend you look into getting Cushcore inserts. They allow you to drop tire pressure at least five PSI and it’s like adding another layer of suspension to your bike. As a plus, they make your tires bullet proof and much much less likely to go flat, so you don’t have to carry a pump or tire tools on the trail. Unfortunately it is so difficult to change a tire after that you’d never attempt it trailside anyways. I have also switched to metallic brake pads on my last bike after I started to go through brakes quickly once I started taking my 12 year old to Bryce. The metallic pads are much more powerful and long lasting, but not quite as supple on my YT Jeffsy Core 4 with SRAM pads such as yours (I’m similar in size at 6’2″ and 227 lbs).
    For my son, I went with an Eminent Haste 27.5″ Adult Extra-Small. It’s rated for 5′-5’4″ and while it’s a trail/enduro bike, at 170 mm of travel it’s as close to a affordable downhill bike as I can find for a shorter rider. Since bikes don’t weigh any less when you scale them down (only the frame and handle bars change) he drives it more than flings it around (I’m sure the Maxwell is more BMX like, which is where you two are from), but it gives him a lot of confidence to attack Pickleback. At the same time, I’m not encouraging him to try the big gap jumps at Snowshoe as he has to pedal at the same time I’m braking right behind him just due to weight, so I’m not sure the trails are designed with such light riders in mind.
    I also have a number of thoughts about Ivy League Potlatch and my anecdotal observations as an Ivy League parent, but don’t want to share any personal details in this forum, email me if you like.

  17. AoLetsGo

    “Must I surrender with grace / the things I loved when I was younger…”
    You already know the answer when you mentioned using more caution.
    Grace: Using your wisdom to decide which trails to ride together and which ones the young buck is old enough to do on his own.


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