Disclaimer: Following the break is an essay, which by DC standards, is quite wordy. Beyond the break there are no more pictures, videos, multi-media slide presentations or social media linkups. Explore at your own risk (of wasting a bunch of time).
Quick fun: I’ve been extremely entertained (saved, really) by the efforts of our good fellows at Jens Voight Army. They have tirelessly jumped the pack to chase down a breakaway grouppe of rogue capitalists flying a banner of absurdity. JVA has vigilantly and expertly dismantled the cult freehub body of the ego-swinging Rapha clan, wiped off all the bullshit grease, and laid the parts out on a selvege denim shop matte for us to examine. It’s so well excecuted that they have netted a bit of attention in the motherland. Do read here. It’s beautiful to see efforts go noticed, especially when the efforts are so perfectly crafted. Go enjoy it. Then buy something from them.
Over the course of the past let’s say, 3 years, there’s been a looming elephant sitting in the corner of my room. For the sake of the discussion, I’m going to name the elephant Raphant. Maybe Elepha. Either one will do, but no matter its name, my goal is to present as objective a viewpoint as possible on Elepha’s presence and resultant influence on the mood in the room. It has been held widely by newcomers to the sporte, that Raphant is an admirable and gorgeous creature — a mine of raw emotional contributions to the sport, a stalwart flag bearer for higher levels of quality and respect, and an accessible-at-great-cost improvement to your currently pedestrian involvement in said sporte. Well, if you take a moment to ask your pelomates, you may find that this pillar of excellence sitting in its own roped-off corner may be naught but a fart. I know, right? I said objective, and I meant it. I’ll remain between the contestants for as long as i can, attempting to grey the black and white swirls of opining.
Firstly, mission statement numero uno is to “help make road cycling the most popular sport in the world.” Flag on the play. That’s thin. While we all should benefit greatly from tireless advocacy for our beloved sporte, crafte, lifestyle, and livelihoode, let’s keep it real. It’s cycling. It’s largely a sporte of privilege. The cloak of membership draping the likes of Elepha comes at a dear price. I for one, a man of great privilege and provenance, have no problem dropping clams on cold-war styling manifested in arrangements of precious fibres and threaddes, but many – most of the world – cannot so frivolously squander their pittance. The world economy favors sport that requires little means, maybe no means. In the dirt-paved villas of Indonesia (through which Sir Rahpant has ridden and filmed with nose held high) children, men, and women kick around balls of bound garbage to their extreme delight. chances are they’d rather wad a high-priced technical garment and tighten it up with handlebarre wrap, than wear it and suffer the joyless face of the intruding excursion. It is said again by the beast itself that there will be a rediscovery of “the lost spirit of cycling” in far-reaching villages; the angels of our sport shall, for the first time in decades, grace the thoroughfares of unfortunate communities with the glitter of a feast unattainable by its citizens. I beg your pardon, but your charade falls short in the shadow of MY experience.
Exclusivity can in no way be a means of delivery for popularity. You will foil yourself every time. Eleraphant can pack Napoleonic romance down the barrel of a bazooka and shoot it back out at the masses in black and white “filmes” all day long, but there can be no mistaking it for popular fodder. Admittedly, it entertains me. I could watch them all day, cycling seriously through some of the world’s most challenging and beautiful scenes. They set a stage not unlike the one so masterfully presented in A Sunday in Hell, which I watch over and over again. But all the Elepha does is purvey goods. They are masters of branding, and it’s working. For that fact, as it’s my business as well, I admire their success. But for the rhetoric, the spin, the consumer snare, it can be harder to garner a net quantity of respect.
It’s become hard to maintain an objective course. I’ve wandered; the blade of my feelings veering sharply from objectivity’s breastbone into the heart. I’m not easily fooled, and cynicism courses thickly through my passionate heart. Given my experience with this here very greate and prestigious and beloved sporte, I can see no common motive with Raphant but the ride itself. I have weathered many a mass cycling experience alongside feckless wheel suckers and come away a little bit steamy, but nonetheless happy to have ridden–grateful for the experience. No ride is a bad ride, really. Each presents something of importance and an heirloom page in the chronicling of our grand metaphor.
I can behold the offerings of Elepha with admiration. Each one, taken in for what it is, is a thing of beauty. They are expertly crafted, styled with years of use in minde, and outright handsome. To own a piece, however, would not enhance my experience of time spent on cycle. It’s close to impossible for a product itself to serve as the vehicle for my vehicular enjoyment. I’m a dashing fellow in the saddle, I embrace competition and the spirit of fraternity inspired by its embrace, and I truly appreciate craftspersonship at high levels. What I appreciate more, and give my care to, is stripping the bullshit from your existence and presenting yourself to this world as your bare human self.
Any pretense serves no purpose but to discredit one’s efforts with those that know. Before I hit PUBLISH, I’m the one who needs to make sure that my flowery opinion is pure. I’m offering to you a perspective on something silly. I can look at my mission statement — to be a silly bastard, impassioned, active, and fit for duty’s highest call — and know that as of now, I’m remaining dead on marke.by