Outspoken Cyclist – 2/04/2022

This week has been really weird… I have guests lined up for the next couple of weeks, but whether it’s due to the weather, schedules, or just an “I’ve had enough” feeling, no new guests this week.

So, I thought I’d offer up a few news stories that have been buzzing around the bike world this week along with an encore presentation of an interview  with the one and only Tom Ritchie.  Recorded back in February, 2019, we have a splendid conversation!

So first up… the word game that is sweeping the internet – Wordle.  If you’re a word-nerd like I am, you’ve probably already tried it.  But, when I was growing up, we played a game we called Jotto – exact same premise.  Come up with a 5-letter word, put it on the top of your page and fold down the paper so your opponent can’t see it, print the alphabet at the bottom of your paper, and start guessing your opponent’s word.  There was no limit to the number of tries in Jotto, which is a bit different from Wordle since your opponent is the Internet.

NOW, it’s the hottest thing since index shifting – and for bike nerds, there’s… wait for it – Bikle! The premise?  Find the surname of a cyclist that has 5 letters.  Wanna’ play?  Type in bikle on a browser… Not sure how many 5-letter surnames there are of past and present pro cyclists, but what the hell?  It’s one word per day and you get 6 tries to figure it out.

Probably the most talked about story this week is what Specialized has decided to do – sell director to the consumer, bypassing the usual bike shop experience – and by extension, expertise in my opinion.

Apparently eating his own words from 10 years ago in a statement that went something like “we will never sell bikes over the Internet,” Mike Sinyard, founder and CEO of Speciailized has reversed course.

From letting dealers know to stories in every cycling publication, the announcement that SBI will have a white-glove delivery option directly to your door with a fully assembled bike is just the newest in a series of big changes in the bicycle world.

As you can imagine, dealers’ responses range from expletives to realizing they will just have to deal with it.  You can read the options the company is offering in a piece on BicycleRetailer.com from January 27th.  The new delivery options went into effect February 1st.

Another story that caught my attention is about America and Britain’s Got Talent Host and Star, Simon Cowell.  Seems he might need training wheels as he was rushed to the hospital for a second crash on his eBike in 18 months.  His first crash was in Malibu and resulted in a myriad of injuries including breaking vertebrae in his back; this one was in the U.K. and he’s now sporting a cast on one arm.  This second crash was a header on slippery pavement – and, apparently, he’s considering wearing a helmet in the future.

For those who have “been around” a long long time, you may remember an apparel company by the name of Kucharik.  Fabricating really fine wool cycling apparel since 1980, founder Jon Kucharik passed away in 2008 at the age of 93. He never wavered from his commitment to the natural fabrics.

 His son, John Jr. kept the company operating but has decided to close the business saying, I’m going to turn 69 pretty soon,”  It’s really sad because I have a lot of customers.  But I’ve been promising my wife to travel and to do some stuff.”

Another piece of bicycle history going down in the history books.

And, if you are waxing nostalgic on that story, the incomparable Sheldon Brown was remembered this week.  He passed away February 4, 2008.  Brian and I met him at one of  the trade shows a couple of years before he died.  He was a fascinating guy with a crazy smart brain.  His site lives on, with all of its amazing content, because of his wife Dr. Harriet Fell and bicycle aficionado John Allen.  sheldonbrown.com

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Egan Bernal.  The young talented pro crashed into the back of a bus on a training  ride ending up in the ICU and eventually having several surgeries to put him back together.

On February 3rd, he stated that he “almost died but I’m back as he revealed the outrageous injury list describing his last surgery as the most difficult race of his life.

He seems to be thinking he’ll be back though.  Sending him healing vibes for sure.

So, let’s take a short break and then it’s our encore presentation of my interview with Tom Ritchey.  You’re listening to TOC.

Tom Ritchey says that he owes a lot to his father and, from teaching him to repair tubular tires to brazing a broken frame, Tom learned from his Dad – and did he ever learn!

Probably one of the most prolific idea men in our sport, Tom is credited with “firsts’ dating back to 1974 with his twin plated crown forks and rolling into frames, tubing, bottom brackets, forks, and so many other things.

The following is the conversation we had back in February, 2019.  I’ hope you enjoy it.

It is such an honor and a privilege to be able to talk with some of the most interesting, influential, and forward thinking people in our industry and Tom Ritchie is one of them.