“What is fascinating is the way it has been folded. You don’t even know how it had been folded. But when I saw this, I’m sure that the owner of the bike was a passionate cyclist.” – Richard Leon
That quote comes from a video/story done by CyclingTips.com, a website I discovered following writer James Huang’s move from Bike Radar.com to CyclingTips. In the video, Richard Leon is explaining why he bought a certain old bike. Because the tubular tire has been folded a certain way and not just rolled up, willy-nilly. He sees thought behind the act of folding a tubular to carry as a spare, probably secured under the saddle by a toe-strap. Someone, a long time ago, figured out a method to fold a tubular and it worked well. He (could be a she, but for the sake of the narrative, he) may have not liked the bandolier method of carrying a spare wrapped around his shoulders and thought, “what if…” The thought was most likely “Et qu’est-ce qui se passerait si…” or it could have been “cosa succede se…”* What if I fold the tire just so into a small package and strap it under my saddle with an old toe-strap. Maybe wrap it first in yesterday’s newspaper. And then his riding partners saw how clever and compact his spare was and asked how he folded it. And each of them told others, and so on, and so on, until, one day, I too learned how to fold a tubular.
Passion comes in many forms. I’m passionate about figuring out how to do something that makes sense and results in something that performs perfectly, and is aesthetically pleasing. I’m also passionate about learning and maybe learning how to perform a task differently that results in time saved without sacrificing the quality of the job. Or better yet, time saved that also results in a better outcome.
A lot of passion is reserved for the rare and valuable. The concept of breaking out the best tools only when the best bike is in the stand could be an example. But, if you are passionate about being and doing your best, why not use the best all the time and be passionate about the job itself?
Today, there’s a lot of passion for the more mundane and pedestrian of bikes. Utility. Passion for the Wald basket. At first, as I started to see that phenomenon begin to grow, I recalled an old bumper sticker that used to be at the old Salsa shop in Petaluma “Wald, When The Best Just Won’t Do.” And then I found myself with a Wald Basket zip-tied to a rack on the front of my bike and realized passion extends to being able to use the bike for more than logging miles.
The bike industry has consistently put their dollars in areas the inside people are passionate about – road racing and the more extreme components of mountain biking. Today, there are more and more riders doing ordinary things with their bikes because they are passionate about the ordinary. I use “ordinary” because throwing you and your bike off a cliff in southwest Utah is not ordinary. I can’t do that. Bet you can’t either. What you and I can do is ride our bikes for pleasure, transportation, and peace of mind. We’re not fast, but we have fun. And that’s what we are passionate about. The bike industry needs to recognize that we are passionate about the ordinary. Having fun is what the industry needs to be passionate about and promote. Not the aero advantage of your bike. Not how many watts you’ll save. Not that this new crank is 9% stiffer. Not having to have an app to tune your shifters. Fun. And maybe how to fold a tubular tire. That’s a skill everyone should have, right?
(What’s playing: Todd Rundgren I Saw The Light)