How my $150 bike says "fuck you, postmodernism."

A few years ago, when my only children were dogs, I exercised a lot. I got into condition to do a triathlon and I could pretty effortlessly run 5k. I know fitness people would consider that to be kinda newb stuff, but for the 99%, so to speak, that’s prettttttty pretty good.

I could have possibly borrowed a bike for the actual event, but I needed one to train. So, I headed to the Internet to find out what the experts thought about bikes. Where I live, the arterial roads are clogged like an Alabaman’s aorta with yuppies biking in their Lance Armstrong regalia, always in higher density around the time of whenever ESPN gives 30 seconds on SportsCenter to the Tour d’whatever.

So, naturally, my heart doctor friend had an $800 bike that was rusting away untouched. Craigslist had advertisements for what bike people considered “burners” suitable for a 2nd or 3rd bike that you might take somewhere on a weekend trip for the range of $400 or so, badly used and not to be caught dead on without the excuse of “I had to leave my good bike at home.” (Don’t forget to use your backup man-spandex too to shave off that extra millisecond of time)

Guys who are 30 pounds overweight are paying $10,000 for bikes that weigh a few grains less than the ones that cost $5,000 to save a few seconds of time in their time trials (I guess).

I felt the gravitation pull of yet another gear vortex. I have been sucked into them before. I have a fairly kickass brewery in my garage, along with rock climbing gear, and a badass amateur radio station. These at least were hobbies I had for many many years.

But the pull was resisted. I found a bike for $150 plus shipping on Walmart.com. The bike shop guy was almost too cool to tune it up for me.

I did the triathlon with perhaps the cheapest bike and finished in the middle (after being last in the swimming—so, like, catching up).

I did not pretend that a fancy bike would make me an athlete (though I do find that Gatorade works for me in those situations and doesn’t taste like shit like Powerade). Power-fucking-ade. Come on.

Of course, yuppie dentists riding on bikes shows the leisure class for what it is, and shows some sort of mechanical reflex we have to actually do something even when we can’t. The fake-real is what all these people are after, just like these douches who buy dream catchers on indian reservations.

These people trying to deny their material, neoliberal, wealthy life is comical to the point of ridiculous. And I think this more or less strikes the difference between the annoying PC liberal and the person who wants to life all boats even if it’s not totally spiritual, man. Something like Orwell, whose magazine is the inspiration for this blog’s name and outlook.

4 thoughts on “How my $150 bike says "fuck you, postmodernism."”

  1. While I agree with your larger point, my experience with a Wal-Mart bike was perfectly summed up by the expression: “The cheapskate pays twice.” I wouldn’t call myself an athlete either, but after about a year of commuting, I realized that a decrease in weight, and an increase in speed and comfort, was worth extra money. Of course, when I say “extra money” I mean moving up to what’s apparently considered a “burner” in your neck of the woods… We have fixie riders here in Portlandia, so that skews things. They’re just as bad as the spandex brigade in their own way.

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  2. I’ve always found that you can bike just fine in the same shorts and tee-shirt that you would employ for any other exercise. I frequently bike around in my weekend hanging-around-the-day-clothes.

    My bike is my primary commuting vehicle, so I invested in a pretty good one. It was still well under $1000, but the disc breaks are pretty cool.

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  3. Buying a bike for commuting entirely exempts you from the criticism in the same way that living in the Sierra exempts you from criticism of owning a 4×4. It’s not poseurish. A lighter bike to get you to work means it’s easier. No qualm there.

    I wonder though, in the context of exercise, isn’t making the bike heavier actually helpful? i.e. more resistance, better training, better shape.

    Only in the context of racing does shedding off the weight and time matter and none of these fucking people are racing for anything other than their imagination.

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  4. I wasn’t too concerned with weight. The disc breaks allow you to stop much more abruptly, especially at high speeds. That seemed like a worthy safety feature for me. Most bike riders are doing it as a distance aerobic exercise. So they wouldn’t want a more difficult pedal because it would make it harder to go farther. I’ve found the ost significant variable in speed is not weight, it’s the thickness of the tires. The thinner the tire, the less friction with the road, the easier it is to go faster. And just about any thickness of tire will fit just about any bike — until you get to the crazy superspecialized stuff that is way out of my price or interest range.

    Look at Olympic spring bicyclists. The look like they are riding on LPs.

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