‘Pedal & Grunt’

Sun’s gonna shine in my back door some day.

My recent gastroinfestation kept me off the bike for a solid week, though Herself and I managed a casual jog around the neighborhood on Sunday.

Yesterday, as I checked the 10-day forecast, I was wondering whether I should’ve been riding a bike. My window of opportunity for a reasonably comfortable pre-holiday spin was rapidly spiraling down to peephole size.

I should have gone straight for the Cannondale Topstone 105, because that’s where the money is. But having just been laid low by one bug I didn’t want to risk another. 11-speed. Hydraulic brakes. Thru-axles. Tubeless-ready rims and tires, tighter than Dick’s hatband, tough on the invalid’s hands. I could feel both arthritic thumbs turning downward.

The Voodoo Wazoo’s pedal-assist unit (not pictured) fits atop the saddle.

So I took the Voodoo Wazoo down from its hook and rolled out for a gentle hour on the foothills trails.

This is not a Kool Kidz bike. Quick-releases. 7-speed. Cantilever brakes. And Mavic Open Pros wearing a pair of chunky Continental CrossRides.

In the event of a flat I could pry the offender off the rim with a stern glance. A brake goes wonky? Unhook it. And there’s only one derailleur to get the hiccups, a 105 rear that’s probably older than most of the product managers spec’ing bikes these days.

Some people enjoy navigating the intricacies of 11-speed, hydraulic brakes, thru-axles, and tubeless-ready rims and tires, and that’s fine. Some of them like a bit of electrical assist, or black-box drivetrains, and that’s OK, too.

But some of us still like to “pedal and grunt,” and Grant Petersen makes a compelling case for sweat and simplicity over at the Rivendell Blahg:

Bike makers have motor-envy. They all want to make motor vehicles. ALL. They drive the innovation in that direction, and say it’s for the good of all, because it’ll get cars off the road and help old people exercise. … Everything is going auto, like the only way to sell stuff is to make it that way. In 10 years people are going to take photos and make movies with eyeblinks. That will be sold as progress, because all animals are wired to want the easy way. That makes sense in a survival situation (cross the river where it’s slow and shallow), but when technology makes everything SUPER easy, there’s something good about holding back a bit.

Now, I won’t lie to you. There was a moment yesterday when I would have traded a healthy organ for a 20-inch granny. But it didn’t feel like I had one to offer, so I just got up out of the saddle.

Pedal and grunt.

 

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15 Responses to “‘Pedal & Grunt’”

  1. Sharon Says:

    There’s nothing like turning the pedals for me. It’s fun to work hard to move a distance and up elevation…the views. It’s fun to go out on country roads where it’s quiet and peaceful. It makes you feel alive to ride 60 miles and feel your muscles sing in rhythm. I understand why others want a motor and I may want one too some day. But for now, going to take this relatively simple machine to the max and put an external motor off for as long as I can. The bonus on top… I can eat pizza and not think twice about it!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      There it is. We may need/want it one day, but not today, dammit. Not today!

      • Downhill Bill Says:

        Amen. Best argument for electric shifting I’ve seen is arthritis. I’m not there yet.

        Once met a guy riding a recumbent trike on a paved trail. He’d adapted up a discarded treadmill motor for assist on hills after a bout of cardiac trouble. Not there either, but keeping the idea in mind.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    I like bikes I can fix myself. Cars have gotten really tough unless you are a computer geek.

    A work buddy of mine handed me a large box of spare parts a week ago to donate to the Chainbreaker Collective down in Fanta Se. Buried in there was an old XTR derailleur. I had one on a Redline cross bike a while ago that I donated to a fundraiser and kicked myself ever since. It shifted a wide array of freewheels and I thought it looked better than the new stuff.

    So I dug it out of the box, but then noticed it had a serious problem: the important end of the B screw bracket was sheared off. Went over to the Broken Spoke and for the price of a six pack, they dug out some old Shimano derailleurs that were beat to a pulp but kept as spare parts. So I was able to do a B Screw Bracket Transplant onto the XTR and as soon as you could say “Bob’s your uncle”, I had an XTR on the CAAD 5 and it shifts pretty darn well (better than that bulbous XT) on an 11-32 or 13-30. I tried it on the 12-28 on the work stand and that seemed fine too but have not had that cassette out on the road.

    So its still pedal and grunt, but not grunt as hard as it would be if I ran Real Man(tm) racing gears on that bike.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Some days your have to hammer. Some days you have to mash. It’s all good, unless your knees are like mine. They let me know if my cadence is too low and I’m mashing to hard.

    • JD Dallager Says:

      Pat: SPIN, BABY, SPIN!

      You’ll still be riding 10 years from now. 🙂

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Thanks ID, thats my mantra as well. When my tandem buddies get out of the saddle to climb, I just downshift and spin.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The Wazoo is a weirdo build out of the gack box; I think this is either its second or third iteration.

      But now I’m out of old bits and have been contemplating another remake with something a little friendlier to the organism. Either a supercompact crank that will let me get down to 30T up front (instead of 38T) or a Deore/Altus rear derailleur to get to 34T in the rear.

      Shuckens. Mebbe both. I have a front derailleur and another Thumbie so I could use a double-chainring setup too.

      Too complex? What’s next, disc brakes? Tubeless tires? Oh, God. …

  4. JD Dallager Says:

    PO’G: Grant Petersen (Nordic originally, but with a t for a d?) and you should team up on some blog stuff. Thanks for the intro to his many talents!!

    OK, back to the present…..just finished the second snow-blowing (8-speed derailleur and triple on the front, no brakes required) and removal (shovel….full body workout) here in Black Forest, CO. 21 inches by my astute and accurate measurements.

    Thusly (is that grammatically correct?) I’ll not be able to relate to your Voodoo Wazoo pic (blue sky, puffy cloud, etc.), but yesterday’s Remington brilliance seems more apropos.

    Safe travels to all who frequent PO’G’s masterful colloquium….and a Happy Thanksgiving to all!!! 🙂

    PS: Please enjoy a Hatch or Pueblo green chile with your Thanksgiving repast!

  5. David Rees Says:

    At least a half inch of rain is coming this way to Lost Angles in the next two days. Very unusual for latte November. We can use the H2O, but in these circumstances, with the fires we’ve had – Santa Barbara is still seeing fires – flooding is going to be an issue.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Samey same up north in Santa Rosa, says my pal the former mayor. He and our NYT bro’ are sheltering in place with family and plans to eat everything, followed by a 65th-birthday ride on Friday if weather permits. Good day for ducks, as the fella says. Stay dry and warm, but not on fire.

      • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

        I rarely agree with Petersen but in this case BRAVO!
        Need to check in with my in-laws in SB as they go through the 4 seasons in CA: fire, flood, earthquake and riot.

  6. Herb from Michigan Says:

    As Maynard G. Krebs used to say, I had to WORK!! yesterday and missed out on a partially sunny and 48 degree day. Which would have been perfect for a 16 mile jaunt on my tanker Joe Breezer commuter running errands. Today the wind she’s a whippin and rain is a squallin so I’ll be pouting and bulling inside it seems. But happy nonetheless that I’m not anywhere near an airport or highway.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Maynard. Hadn’t thought about him in a while. Who would’ve guessed that “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” would turn me into a beatnik?

      No airports or highways, please. The weather wizards are now calling for three to six inches of snow here, which is a mouse fart compared to the 15+ already on the deck in Fort Fun.

      We may have to install a chairlift on the driveway, or rent a helicopter to ferry Herself from the street to the front door.

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