Friday Group Ride #485

Friday Group Ride #485

When I was a kid, one of my favorite cartoons, at least, for as long as it ran in 1972, was Sealab 2020. I was a futuristic view of our world, optimistic as only the 1970s could be. It was a future I welcomed, one in which technology triumphed and ecology guided an underwater society. The oceanauts, as they were called, trained dolphins to help divers and demonstrated how mining could be lower impact.

Well, 2020 is here and my life isn’t that of a scientist living in an underwater city. Damn. Or maybe not. My life certainly isn’t what I thought it would be in 1972 or 2012, but it’s good, unqualifyingly good. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve arrived at the future and it’s not the one I anticipated.

On the cycling side of the equation, if you’d asked me 10 years ago, six months into RKP what the cycling world looked like, there are a great many things I did not see coming nor would I have guessed would even be possible. Off the top of my head, I’ll lead with gravel bikes, the fall of Lance Armstrong, wireless shifting systems and disc brakes for road bikes, the dismissal of 23mm tires as the unimpeachable choice for road riders and that there’s such a thing as a long-travel 29er.

It’s a new decade in a new world. Everywhere we look, things are probably not the way many of us guessed they would be. What is it in cycling that surprised you? What’s better than you thought? What isn’t measuring up?

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  1. Stephen Barner

    The person who loves riding dirt roads probably doesn’t live on one. Here I am, 5 miles from pavement, with at least a 10-year supply of decidedly uncool, 23 mm tires that I have to use up before I can ride with the cool kids, again. On top of that, I have to wear these tires out on dirt, and I understand that it is now impossible to ride dirt roads on tires that narrow. I sure wish they’d stop changing the rules on me. It doesn’t pay to stock up on parts anymore. Next thing you know, only a rube would ride those components, leaving you to either dump them on a depressed market, or stick to riding at night when no one will notice your out-of-date gear.

  2. Alanm9

    Well, sorry to be the wet blanket. I’m most surprised at how many supposed cycling advocates think “indoor cycling” is cycling. It isn’t, but it’s yet another excuse for motorists and road planners to say that cyclists don’t belong on, or need to use, the roads. Gravel? Here in the eastern states hundreds of miles of dirt roads are being paved every year as the population has more than doubled since 1972 and will double again. Which state will be the first to repeal it’s laws allowing bicycles on state roads?

  3. Parker

    With caveats, I was more optimistic about our country in the 1960s than in the 1970s. Except for the ailments of aging, however, I’m like Robot in thinking life’s now unqualifyingly good at least for me personally. And vastly different from any vague anticipations I considered, say, after graduating from high school 1960.

    What has surprised me most about cycling during the last decade is that the major city close to where I live began implementing an urban bike path network suitable for commuters in 2015:

    What’s been disappointing but not surprising is that only a few bikers are using the paths that’ve been created so far, as indicated by this representative LTE criticism:

    Of course, urban bike paths have had more success elsewhere, Memphis for example:

    I’m curious if anyone has ideas why cities like Norfolk aren’t measuring up to those like Memphis.

    1. Michael

      I don’t know anything about your part of the world – Norfolk and Memphis and such. I can say that in my small city (Flagstaff, 75k population), the bike paths are built where convenient rather than where they are needed or safe. Getting on or off the path – well, I cannot imagine that anyone who has ridden a bike much designed those, as so many are almost impossible to access safely. So, if your goal is to go for a Saturday afternoon ramble with the kids, some of the paths are good (and some are really unsafe), but if your goal is to get to and from work on a bike, well, the paths simply don’t go anywhere you need to go. You ride out on the roads.

  4. Eric Toth

    My father Alex Toth worked on the original concept design for Sea Lab 2020 for Hanna Barbara. He did not always the optimist’s view but his work did.

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