Friday, July 29, 2016

10 years of love and suspension forks

When I was 14, my cousin Adam was married and I went with my family down to Richmond to attend his wedding.  As a 14 year-old boy, I was just starting to evaluate the whole concept of marriage - weighing the pros and cons.  Already, I'd seen plenty of divorces (this was the early 90s.)

But for their first dance, Adam and his bride chose Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" - and for me, it was a formative moment.

Marriage could, in fact, rock.  I was in.

Fast forward, sweet jesus, 24 years.  I'm 38 now.  Me and the love of my life, we got together nearly 10 years ago, and this year will be our 7th year of marriage.  I've already written about that week, 10 years ago, and how finding love for me was so closely intertwined with racing SM100 for the first time, so I won't rehash too much of that.  Also, I'm not one to dispense advice on the subject of love, given that I've only ever succeeded once, and paradoxically, once is exactly the right amount of times to be right about it, but it sure doesn't make a person an expert.  

But I will tell you this much:
though they might seem very much alike at times, love is not a suspension fork.
Let me explain.
wild lovers I have blown
Not sure if you've noticed, but suspension is difficult these days.  Sag, air pressure, 2 month service intervals, leaky seals, messy oils, a lack of sex, money problems and... maybe most dangerously OPTIONS.  Everywhere you look: Options.  New shit to replace your old shit.  New standards.  Thru Axles.  Boost.  29er upgrade to your 26er.  27.5 downgrade from your 29er.  Tapered steerers to replace your straight ones.  Plus-sized options for those inclined to go that way, just in case your beautiful, normal sized fork-bride isn't doing it for you anymore.  You see where this metaphor is going...we are bombarded, everywhere we look and read, by an industry that is thrusting more and more options and "standards" upon us.

To compound this problem, the fork you have starts giving you a bunch of shit.
Spewing oil.  Leaking air.  Bitching at you for leaving the toilet seat up.   Just sorta making you feel like shit all the time, and you don't even want to ride it.  It's like, you never really noticed it at first, but one day you looked down and that fork you loved so much when you married it has changed so much, you barely recognize it.

Divorce rates, of course, remain staggeringly high.  Given the predicaments above, of course they do.
To fix the suspension fork you have, it takes new seals, fresh oil, new dampers, labor, and a set of fresh stanchions is going to cost you about $400 these days.  There's a sign just up the street from where I drop my kids off at school that reads: DIVORCE, $159.

Do the math.  You can get 2 divorces for less than the price of just fixing the fork you have.  For many people, that's a no-brainer.  They've been looking at a plus-sized bike anyway.  Fuck it.    Nothing like a new fork.  The new one, too, is a disposable part, just like everything else on your bike, frame included.  Every piece of that bike will, eventually, fall apart.

As a side note, for the rare few, they simply throw away their existing fork and go rigid.  I've actually been running a rigid fork on my Singlespeed for almost a year now, and it's rough but somewhat rewarding for short rides.  As a continuance of this little metaphor we've got going here, Rigid Forks are the relationship-equivalent to celibacy.  Those that can, by all means, go for it.  But for most of us it's just not an option for very long.

I've got some advice for you, here, kids.  And I don't do this very often, but 10 years in with the Love of My Life, and I think I'm entitled to it just a little this one time.
Love is not a suspension fork.
Take care of the Love you have.
Do something nice for it.  Take it on vacation with you.  Do the hard, expensive work to make it like new again.  Along the way, give it some new oil.  Draw a hot bath for it.  Write it an honest note to tell it you love it and how much it means to you and how truly and fully fucked your life would be if anything ever happened to it, so please be careful out there.  Write a bizarre metaphorical blog post about her for the world to read that compares her to a bicycle component and barely makes any sense, but however you do it, show her you love her.

Cycling is a throw-away sub-culture in an already throw-away world.  That's fine.
But take care of the things that matter.

Up, up, up.

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