Suppose for a second that you are God. Not Eddy Merckx, but God. It’s T-minus 1 hour to the Big Bang. What would you want to have happen? You’ve got the power to create anything, everything. Wouldn’t you want explore the range of your own ideas?
Even though organized religion doesn’t often discuss what God wanted to occur independent of our arrival, I have often looked at our world and beyond and attempted to tease meaning from what I see. The conclusion I draw is that our maker wanted diversity, wanted weird, wanted beauty, wanted destruction, variation, surprises, confusion and the unknowable.
While I struggle with the idea that God actually likes war and death, I think they must have been an intended expression in the range of creation and no less important than waterfalls, hummingbirds and fluffy kittens.
One of my favorite features of the cycling world is, similarly, the incredible range of ideas and creativity we see. Bicycle frames have been made from steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber and more (anyone remember beryllium?) Marino Lajaretta gave us knickers. We’ve got bicycles made specially for time trials, for road races, for dropping off cliffs and going to the store. Think about how Miguel Indurain wore a cycling cap. Bright minds have invented devices to track our heart rate, record the wattage we generate and even map the routes we ride in real time. What about the ever-interesting and changing route of the Tour de France? Let’s not forget that the bicycle has evolved from a single-geared contraption to a sophisticated drivetrain that can contain 30 gears or be shifted—gasp—electronically.
I write this as a way to frame my incomprehension at the blowback against technology that I sometimes see. I saw it against heart rate monitors and cyclocomputers. I saw it against integrated brake and shift levers. There’s opposition to carbon fiber frames and you’ve seen it against electronic shifting. On the other side, there are those for whom the world can’t evolve too quickly. They’d sooner drive a stake through a lug than ride steel or overshift a downtube lever.
Personally, I’m grateful that a lug cut by Peter Weigle doesn’t look like one cut by Brian Baylis or Richard Sachs. There’s nothing better than when an attack comes in a surprising way or at a surprising location. I love that Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM are engaged in a battle royal of fresh ideas. Love it. As much as I love the age-old courses of the Spring Classics, I’m always excited to see a fresh course used at the World Championships. And every time a frame manufacturer comes up with a fresh idea, a new way to express the road bike in carbon fiber, I’m game, especially if they’ll give me some insight into how it was designed and manufactured.
Someday I’m going to have a durable 12-pound bicycle with eletronic shifting automatic transmission smooth. It will track my course, HR, wattage and provide POV video of my ride in a 1-ounce device I won’t have to plug into a USB port. It will be unspeakably stiff in torsion and offer 5mm of vertical compliance. It will have the aerodynamics of today’s best TT bikes. It will be gorgeous. It will fit me perfectly.
I’m grateful for the creative urge that drives the sport's engineers, racers, builders and designers to make my pipe dreams reality.