Yesterday over lunch, I ran home, grabbed the bike and hit the trail. I’m still a bit out of sorts coming off of a vacation, especially one where I rode a bike almost everyday. I thought getting back to something I enjoyed over my vacation might help me focus a bit.
After my hands started to go asleep on the flat bar, I started to look at all the other bikes going the other direction. Treks, Specializeds, Giants, even a LeMond all zoomed by me in the heat; their riders probably looking for the same thing I was. The LeMond got me thinking about Trek, since they own the brand. There is a large group of bike technicians who bemoan the Trek brand because they bought up many of the smaller companies. It is kind of like the Starbucks thing, you know? Everyone hates Starbucks. However, Trek, like Starbucks, started out as a very small company and grew, which is the dream of every American business (if not the ultimate goal). I don’t know about Trek, but in the case of Starbucks, I’ve read articles about how employees really like working there (mostly) because of their benefits and incentive programs, and that local coffee shops that have a Starbucks move in near their location actually do better business than before the Starbucks “invasion.” Is it bad, then?
Then I remembered that Trek was based in Waterloo, Wisconsin – near where I was riding on vacation anyway. I think they make good bikes, but I think there are many companies that make good bikes – it isn’t really rocket science over 100 years of experimentation and innovation.
Later, thoroughly bushed from riding (16 miles in 55 minutes in 94 degrees), I checked out the Rivendell website for the first time. I’ve heard of Rivendell bikes before, but I haven’t even ever seen a photo of one before yesterday. Rivendell sells itself as a bike boutique, focusing on craftsmanship and classically reliable parts and products. I obviously could relate in any number of ways. In fact, they have this wonderful article on the death (and rebirth?) of craftsmanship that is well worth your time to read, especially the part on technology and craftsmanship holding hands.
However, the article also made me sad – in many things, I am a craftsman that is starting to feel antiquated. I see the portfolios that come across my desk of new students looking for a design job, and I know that none of them know who Josef Muller-Brockmann is, nor have they ever had to draw a perfect .075 Pica high line with a Rapidograph. I’ve embraced technology with open arms, but I enjoy its benefits because I know the old ways – none of these newly-minted designers do (I’m sure there are a few out there). But gosh darn it, they know how to use programs! The desktop revolution made potential designers out of everyone, you know?
I got over it by looking at an Atlantis... what a bike! I’ll be riding one of those sometime in the future, with the classic Brooks leather seat and a merino jersey with my old Mercatone Uno hat. The classics never get old.
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