Wednesday 17 July 2013

Men of Steel

From the column“Schlussattacke” by Martin Gerstner
Roadbike magazine, 04/2013, p. 145
translated from the German original by the Sprocketboy

The issue of this magazine lies heavily in one's hand since we print it on thick handmade paper and bind it in a cover made up of multiple layers of pressed airmail paper. It was written on an Olympia typewriter, made in 1954 and taken from the Land Surveyor’s Office in Cologne. Typing mistakes are corrected using 60-grit sandpaper. With the return to the working methods of yesterday we prove our reverence for the retro-trend in cycling.

About time too, as everything was becoming too easy. Our articles are cut-and-pasted from old texts; in our carbon racing bikes we hide electric motors; with the GPS on our handlebars we are told what route to follow. It could not go on like this. Mankind, and especially cyclists, was born to suffer. We do not seek perfection but the romance of failure—even on our local 35 km circuit.

So more and more cyclists are dragging old steel steeds out of the basement and parade in wool jerseys with mysterious names like “Molteni” embroidered on them. Fumbling with the downtube shift levers means sometimes falling in the street but wearing a flat cap and a 3-day growth of beard makes it seem that much more daring. Their lace-up shoes are 100% water-permeable and make every ride in the rain into torture. The silhouette of the retro-rider reminds one of the Michelin Man: with 42/22 gearing he develops huge thighs and always rides with 2 pounds of steak in his cycling shorts.

When getting his hands caught up in the loops of the brake cables while reaching for his smartphone the retro-rider must long for the trend to turn back to the modern lightweight bike. But until then we will stay true: in the next issue we will provide details of how you can change tubular tires using your teeth.

(Dedicated to my many retro-friends: Nick, Tom, Bernd, Corey, Dale, Peter W., Ricci, Karsten and Konrad and the Klassikerausfahrtgruppe, English Dave, Irish Dave and all the rest).

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