Thursday, March 19, 2020

Charity, Thy Name Is Merlin

I won't say Max has shamed me into writing a post, but his recent discussion of gravel bikes reminded me that the Huffman Bicycle Club does indeed have a readership that demands to be entertained. They've come to the wrong place for that, but if they're looking for a rambling post with no point, then here they are.

Of course the topic du jour (that's french) is the Corona Virus, or as Alaska's most senile octogenarian (and also 1/3 of its congressional delegation) calls it, the "beer virus". The recommendation on much of the Best Coast is to shelter in place. Thankfully I'm a rural dweller. The only advantage of living in the boonies, I mean aside from the peace and quiet, the wildlife migrating through your yard, the affordable housing prices, and the lack of traffic, is that I can bike from my driveway as far as I want with only a stop sign or two. Which, in Oregon, we're now allowed to run.

Since they haven't yet required my county to stay home, I'm at least doing my part by social distancing.
I've been practicing social distancing for years
This ride is a nice 25-mile out-and-back from my house. It's also one of the only Strava segments I track, because it's a straight shot with a mild 1% grade, no traffic and usually very little wind. It's a good way to see where I'm at for the year.

My PR is 19:50 at 316W and 22.2MPH. Today's ride? 25:32 at 189W and 17.3MPH. Good to know. There's a joke in here somewhere: Why am I not worried about catching the Corona Virus? Because I'm too slow. I didn't say the joke was funny. It's also not funny that my euro XXL shorts feel more like euro XL. That might explain some of the speed issue.

Max and I have had several discussions about the economic impact of the Corona Virus. Obviously it's a time to be grateful that we have jobs that allow us to work remotely, and neither of us are in imminent danger of going without a paycheck. Well, I might be so I'm grateful my brother is a generous sort.

We both have a long proud history of purchases of bikes and bike accessories through recessions. Over the years we've gone from "Narrow is aero", with 23mm Vittoria Corsas, to "Win tunnel lied, buy wide", which convinced me to convert all my bikes to Grand Bois 700x28s, to "Nice and fat is where it's at.", for which Max and I both purchased Focus Paralanes, mine presently shod with Compass (now Rene Herse) 700x38s. The latter wasn't in an economic recession, but certainly a moral one.

Judging from Max' post, he may already have another economic stimulus package in mind. I've done more than my fair share in the last month. The details aren't important; let's just say that I once again have a use for the Seasucker Talon I originally got for my Subaru BRZ.

The Seasucker Bike Rack, carrying a fetching Lynskey Ti Hardtail

There's some question about how best to help others. Some complain that consumer purchases are inappropriate at a time when so many are struggling. I've always been troubled by this position. In an exchange of money for goods and services, both parties receive value. When giving money without any good or service in exchange, only one party receives value. The economy suffers.

Imagine being a craftsman at a time like this. A skilled craftsman; perhaps a frame builder. Given the choice of spending a few $K for a frame or giving away a few $K, what message does it send to the frame builder to opt for the latter? That you value receiving nothing higher than receiving one of his frames. The food you put in one person's mouth in exchange for nothing comes out of the mouth of the craftsman.

For that reason I'm partial to splurging on consumer purchases rather than giving to charity. Now I'm not in the market for a custom frame, but the reasoning above holds true for other purchases as well. For the last many years my dealer of choice has been Merlin. I think Max turned me onto them when they were selling groupsets for half the price of Competitive Cyclist. My first big purchase was my Yeti SB66c
Still the best mountain bike ever made
There have been a couple more bikes since, but I think at this point I'm all biked out. Well, I wouldn't be except fortunately for my wallet this Pivot Mach 6 isn't available in XL.
Probably the second best mountain bike ever made
That said, Max reminded me that SRAM recently released Force eTap. I've got red eTap on my Litespeed, and I'm a fan. The TiCycles has Di2, of which I'm not a fan. Other bikes still have, shudder, mechanical groupsets.

I won't commit yet, but I'm thinking my next economic stimulus might just be one or two Force eTap groupsets. Whether in 1x or 2x variety depends on whether I can get over 20MPH on my favorite segment before the purchase occurs.


Max said...

So there's lots to read here, which is good because there is lots of time to read. Glad to have you writing.

First, that's a good joke. Maybe an image of a spread out peloton with the guys at the back practicing social distancing is a good one too.

Speaking of tire width, there used to be a day of 21mm, and even 19mm, rubber. I wish I was in the bike accumulation business in those days. That would be a cool piece of history to have on the wall. But can you imagine riding such a thing? I can't recall the size of the tires on the Cannondale when it came new in 1988. Maybe 23.

And then we get to the free market discussion. Still agonizing over this. I did as you intimate just try my own stimulus effort, and I can signal it a little bit by saying I'm trying to help the hardest hit country on the globe (as of today). I then followed up with a donation to a hospital in that same country (thank you to 3T for the link to gofundme for that hospital).

Since we are in c-virus doldrums, we obviously need to be scheduling group Zwift rides. Pretty sure I can go 25 miles on Zwift at 189 watts, so we may be a good match at this state in our age and unfitness.

Max said...

Just gave a closure look at your Strava plots. I love the decaying sine wave.