In a zany, mixed-up, topsy-turvy, stuffed-crust world, it’s good to know that some things never change–or, if they do change, they eventually change back to the way they were before, which is to say life is cyclical. Like a bicycle!
Consider, for example, the heady days when people sold garden variety Bianchi Pistas on Craigslist at or above full retail price, presumably because their scranus sweat magically prevented them from depreciating in value–a phenomenon one noted and brilliant economist was able to observe by creating an index called the “Pistadex.” Well, after over a decade of divestiture the Pistadex is robust again, with this fine specimen boasting a period-correct single front Aerospoke and a four-figure price tag:
And let’s not forget about the Christ King headset:
Yes, Christ is King, and don’t you forget it!
By the way, my lazy riffs on typos notwithstanding, it’s not even remotely my intention to mock the seller. (Or Jesus, for that matter. Owing to my current appearance, I’ve had more than one stranger shout “Jesus!” at me in recent months, so I think I know a little bit about how he felt…about having a beard, that is, not about being a martyr or anything like that.) For one thing, it’s a seller’s market owing to bicycle supply chain issues and all, and I respect the laws of supply and demand. For another, a Bianchi Pista is way more expensive now than it was back in 2007 when I, the cycling world’s most insightful economist, invented the Pisadex. (By the way, speaking of economists, what was that idiot Paul Krugman doing back in 2007, still ranting about fax machines?) See, in 2007 a Pista cost $579.99, and now it costs NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS:
This 55% increase is pretty astounding when you consider that there’s no new tech to justify it, whereas over the same period the road bike price inflation situation has actually improved—at least according to one cycling economist who is way, way smarter than that idiot Paul Krugman:
It’s worth noting that Paul Krugman’s barber’s brother-in-law’s Bitcoin investment has increased in value by over 160% since that tweet. (Assuming he was smart enough to ignore that idiot Paul Krugman, of course.) Then again, he probably would have gotten the same return from investing in an S&P 500 index fund, but where’s the sport in that??? And sure, to be fair there’s still plenty of time for Bitcoin to “not end well,” but that’s ultimately that’s true of absolutely everything, isn’t it?
In that sense life is both finite and cyclical, which is exhausting to think about:
All of this is to say I find the Pista posting reassuring, since I’m at a period in my life when I find comfort in looking backwards. In fact, not only did I enjoy reminiscing about the Pistadex, but I also enjoyed remembering the Aerospoke story. In case you missed out or are too young to remember, Aerospoke was a company whose lunch was being eaten by companies like Spinergy with newer, more exciting plastic wheels…until they suddenly became a hot commodity owing to the fixed-gear craze. I even interviewed them about it!
Since then, from what I can tell, the owner sold the company in 2009–but he’s back with a new company, and their offerings look strangely familiar:
I should put one on my Midlife Crisis Fixie.
Finally, speaking of looking backwards, this past weekend I rode a style of bicycle even more dated than a Pista:
Called a “Singlespeed 29er,” it was basically what we know today as a gravel bike, only with flat bars and primitive quick-release axles. (And obviously no derailleurs.)
Whenever I ride this bike I marvel at how wonderfully it handles on mountain bike trails. To this many would no doubt reply, “But you haven’t ridden the latest progressive geometry BRAAAAAHHH.” Ahhh, but I have. In fact, a couple weeks ago I rode a mountain bike so on-trend that I can’t even tell you about it yet because it’s under media embargo–and I rode it right here on The Trails Behind The Mall, so I am able to compare the two. Now, the bike I can’t tell you about was excellent, no question about it. It also got me up and over stuff more easily, owing to derailleurs and, yes, suspension. But you know what? I still like the way this bike handles better, even with it’s old-timey angles and proportions. The fact is I don’t mind getting hung up on something every now and again when the rest of the time the bike feels fantastic. At the same time, yes, I respect that there are people who refuse to make any compromises, and if there’s a bit of equipment that’s going to see them through a tricky section, whether it’s a squishy fork or a telescoping seatpost or whatever the case may be, they absolutely need to have it. Fair enough.
For me though, I’m happy with pocket-knife simplicity and reliability, even if it means putting a foot down once in awhile. I have nothing to prove, and if nothing else I’ve proven over the years time and time again that I have nothing.