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Sunday, March 20, 2016

On the True Cost of Obsolescence, as Measured in Dollars and Common Sense... Part II

May your trails be crooked, winding, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds" (Edward Abbey)

I am bathed in warmth, besieged with beauty, camped where my old friend, tranquility, has come to knock on the door. 

Perched on the rim of a small canyon, where the snowcapped LaSalles and red rocks of Arches make up a vast and spectacular front yard. A mere 20 miles south, Moab endures the annual mayhem and double trouble of Spring Break and Jeep Safari Week. Motor-heads, Start your Engines!  Somewhere in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Edward Abbey rolls over in his grave. 

"Obsolescence," part II 

I had to do a double take, verify that I was on the right block. Dear Lord, the art gallery is now a bike shop... just what Moab needs. What's that make, a dozen? How many times can one slice a "pie" and still make a living doing what everyone else in town is doing? Oh what the hell, I was there so I walked in to have a look around. 

Well what do you know, it was an art gallery after all: "modern art," that is. It hung from every wall in the showroom. My pulse quickened amidst the neon glitz and bling. Toto, we're not in Tonopah anymore. 

My senses were under attack, the odd, but aromatic, blend of fresh coffee and WD 40; the sight of fresh baked goodies and posters of Slick Rock trails; the sound of happy campers sharing one-up stories of the day's ride; the glossy feel of clear coat as I run my fingers over neon paint jobs. Almost unconsciously, my left hand reached to my rear pocket. My wallet was there. Damn it.

I guess the new "thing" is to serve fancy latte da coffees and goodies at bike shops these days... a good idea, apparently. There was a line of smiling customers waiting for a swamped Barista to fill orders. What ever gets them in the door, right?

My eyes were drawn to a Competition Orange Cannondale. Bold black letters on the crossbar read: "Bad Habit." It sounded more like a name for a race horse (long pause) ohhhh, I get it. Nice. The color reminded me of my old '69 Camero, the exact same shade of competition orange. Man, I loved that car. 

I rolled the Cannonade out of the lineup. It had boss oversized tires, a real "Fat Tire," but not super fat like on some bikes that look as if they could float you across a lake. I depressed the front shocks a few times, then the rear. They had gentle give and rebound. I swung my leg over, sat on the razor-blade seat and bounced. Ouch, still sore from yesterdays ride on the hardtail.

Behind the counter stood the shop mechanic, a cute young gal (another good idea) with bobbed night-black hair. It framed her freckled face and toothy smile. She had on a grease-smudged shop apron and her hands were dirty. A wrench protruded from the back pocket of her shorts. Not just a pretty face, she knew what she was doing.  

"That's an extra large," she said. "It looks like a good fit. Take it for a spin." 
"Don't you want a drivers license or credit card or something?"
"Naw. You look honest," she winked.
So I took her up on it. Who am I to decline a ride from a pretty girl?

I found some rough places out in the alley, so smooth was the ride I couldn't even feel the bumps. The tires looked like balloons. I reached down and squeezed them with my fingers. Mmmm, soft, almost under inflated. Between the front and rear suspension and those big soft tires, it was like riding a Costco sized carton of 3 ply Charmin. I played around some more, eventually worked my nerve up to T-bone 8 inch curbs straight on. "Thump thump." Those big fat tires and shocks gobbled the curbs like pea gravel. I barely felt it. 

After fifteen minutes or so I rode back to the storefront to avoid having the cops called on me. Pierre, was waiting. He was the owner. 
"What da ya think?"
"I've always ridden a hard tail, don't know what to think except that maybe I'm in love."

I was in trouble. Over and above the "Charmin" ride, just like with my old '69 Camero, I loved how this bike looked... the fat black 3" tires, the competition orange paint, the "Bad Habit" name. It was so, so, beefy, you know... style, substance, and function, all melded into a single-track eating machine. Men. We are so "visual." 

I mentioned to Pierre that the only negative thing I could think of was that the bars felt a little too close... "you know, like I'm a big monkey trying to ride a football." Pierre disappeared inside. When he came out he had a 3 to 4 inch extended handle bar bracket; it pushed the bars out over the front tire and further from the seat. I rode it again. "Much better, more control."  And more in love.

Mark, get a grip. You can't just stroll into a bike shop and walk out with a new bike. 

Right. I called Bobbie, just to chat. 

"Are you sitting down?"
"Cause I'm severely tempted to be a bad, bad, boy."
"What's her name?"
"Bad Habit. And she's as beautiful as a Moab sunset."

Bobbie agreed that I needed and deserved rear suspension, given my disc-less L4, back pain, and that I don't care to hike, hike, hike every damn day. anymore. 
Permission granted. 

I told Pierre I didn't want to dicker, asked him for his best price. "If it's right I'll take it. If it's not, I'll wait till another day." He did some figuring, then said he was overstocked on extra large bikes (a good sign). 
"1900 dollars. That's a good deal, and the best I can do on a $2600 bike."

Unlike smartphones and laptop computers and other gadgets that fall out of style and technological favor days to months after purchase, I believe this will be my last bike. I mean, what else can be reinvented, something brand new that would compel me, at my age, to say, "Wow, I need to upgrade?" Wings, maybe, but aside from that.

Where does it end? Here, I pray. After all, my iPhone has Siri, so I'm good there... I think (hope).The car's pretty new. Goldie's running fine. But, I've been having trouble with my MacBook Pro laptop. About a month ago my screen flashed and went dark. I tried everything, even called support. They could tell from my serial number how old my Mac was. It wasn't old in my mind, maybe 5 years. But the support guy said that I had a "vintage" machine, and rather than put money into something that old I should consider upgrading to a new one. 

"Five years old is vintage?"
"I'm afraid so, especially with computers."

I had been using our small TV for a screen but hated it. I couldn't see the print (hence all the typos on blog posts lately) and the colors were way off on photos. I also dislike being tethered to the rig... no more surfing or writing at coffee shops, libraries, or outside. Nope, I had to be in front of Goldie's little TV. It got to where I didn't feel like writing anymore, or reading my blog list, or surfing. Still, I resisted... was making do with the situation, not shopping. The Mac still worked.

The day after I bought the new "Bad Habit," the next fucking day, mind you, my MacBook Pro up and died. 

Ok, now I have no choice. 

I called Bobbie, again. 
"Are you sitting down?"
"Are YOU sitting down?"
"Ok, you go first..."
"The service guy said we need new tires NOW."
"But they are only a year old!"
"One of them is almost bald, and on Subaru All Wheel Drives the tread depths have to be the same."
"My MacBook died."

Admittedly, the new bike was an unforeseen spontaneous purchase. For crying out loud, I was going to be buried with my old 29'er hardtail. If the art gallery had still been there, I would not be riding a new bike. It was out of the blue, a fluke, like a tryst you don't see coming, the last thing you are looking for, and bang, suddenly someone has their tongue half way down your throat. 

Ah, how the Universe conspires... lines intersect, paths cross, and bingo, a new bike... all because an art gallery closed. It's how car wrecks happen. If just one light had turned red or stayed green, someone would still be alive! But Tim sold his art gallery and I have a new bike. It could be worse.

I didn't keep a close eye on tire wear. That's my bad. But how in the name of Wall Street can five years make a computer vintage? Mac's are expensive. They are not disposable. 

Had the tires or computer crash happened one day earlier, I would have never have gone into that bike shop. What would be the point? No way would I spend 1900 dollars on a new bike on the heels of spending 1800 dollars for a new MacBook Pro and 600 dollars on a set of tires, only one of which was wore out!!! 

We just dropped nearly 4 grand in two days, and now I feel like I need to get a job this summer to stop the bleeding.

Phones, computers, gadgets, recreational toys... hell, maybe even toasters and cars and people, for all I know, are now being built to fail. The clock ticks. Better keep an eye on it. Better save your money. Restraint, people. Use common sense. Pay no attention to the Marketeers behind the curtain. 

On the other hand, you can't take it with you. 

We must live or what's the point of being alive? I know more "stuff" is just an anchor that drags me down. But when I find the "something" that brings a renewed sense of joy and freedom and passion to my life—a fountain of youth, of sorts—isn't it worth the gold and silver? What ever it takes to "live," to move with freedom and abandon down crooked, winding, dangerous trails, one's that leads to the most amazing view. For me, that's a mountain bike. It is a good life. It is fulfilled living. It is like flipping the bird to my own "obsolescence." The day will come, but not today.

It is said that bad things come in threes. If so, our rough patch is over... till next time, anyway.  I'm headed for Klondike, with its crooked, winding, dangerous trails that lead to amazing views... where the Lasalle mountains rise into the clouds.
Peace out, and be at peace.


  1. That is a lovely bike you have there. How many chain rings in the front? Just curious. The latest trend has been away from triples in the front and giant gears in the back, for no reason that I can detect. You guys did get the trifecta of expense, which seems to be the way it always goes. I laughed at that Apple guy calling your laptop "vintage." Please.

    1. Two... thus less top speed and bottom "granny" Can't have it all...

  2. Loved the post but, I have to ask, is that curb getting taller?


  3. Best possible outcome for a self-proclaimed "fatalist." ;-)

  4. Really! Vintage?!? ah well...sometimes at 70 years old I console myself that anything I buy really doesn't have to last THAT long anyway...What a sweet sweet bike. I am still riding my wonderful TREK, from 1998, but at least it has rear suspension! And I certainly don't ride like you do. You deserve that bike. Bobbie knows it, you know it, we all know it. Congrats!

    1. Thanks for the affirmation. Donations are welcome :)

  5. $1900 for two wheeled bicycle WoW well I'm going to keep my red 55$ 3 wheeler for another couple years
    Here in Florida The highest I need to go is a handicap curb even if it does take me two times to get up there

  6. I've been where you were and have responded the same. Although, knock on wood, my iMac turned 5 years old LAST October and is still working perfectly. I have a new MacBook Air to travel with and as a backup. Bikes have always been my week point, they have a page on my blog at the top. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do ... afterall, bad things do happen in 3's. You have a good looking toy there ... one that will be used and that's even better.

  7. Nice! Though it is a bummer to consider the fact that what we now buy may be our last purchase of said item. Bummer.

    1. Yeah... kinda put things in perspective, in a dark kind of way :((

  8. My sincere condolences to your strain of bad luck. All I can say is: Been there done that.

  9. Congratulations Mark--I too love the color!! Makes my $50 bike I use to ride around the park look like a REAL bargain!!

  10. You were a good guy to call Bobbie first before buying your bike. Chris would have just brought it home and told me what a great deal it was. :)

  11. Nice bike! Gotta love the color, and you will love the suspension.

  12. Ouch for the pocket book, but as you say, can't take it with ya'. Enjoy!

  13. Good for you! Enjoy! We only go around once........

  14. Great looking bike!! It sounds like the perfect ride:) Congratulations!

    Like you said, you can't take it with you! So why not enjoy it while you can. Hopefully these are your three things:)

    We arrive in Moab April 1. Maybe you and Bobbie will still be around:) Hope she is feeling better!

  15. Nice looking bike and you'll have lots of fun. If spending prolongs the fun then its worth it. Front doubles are all the rage nowadays but with a wide range on the rear cluster it works and as your main rides will be on rough stuff then it will suit. For me though I still prefer a triple as it gives me an even wider range, but then my cycling is different. Enjoy.

  16. Great looking bike. Be careful you don't scratch her with that chain. You want the first scratch to be caused by something memorable. Also, love your campsite...jc

  17. Mark-- enjoy-that new bike! nice!- but at times I look back-- example- debating on high school car purchase-- nice 1952 ford- guy wanted 50 dollars- I thought 25.00 more fair deal- we settled on 35 dollars!! nice car!! but I guess times have changed! walden creek rv steve

  18. Nice post. Aren't they the 'La Sal' mountains (not 'Lasalle')?

    1. Thanks, island embarrassed and corrected 😃😹😰 mark


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