Zap’s Column

"I am here, I am a cyclist, and I should be acknowledged and respected.”

In our 10th annual May “Euro issue,” we take a special opportunity to share, highlight, extol and celebrate everything that the overseas crowd has brought to cycling. Yes, I know, while the majority of the bikes and parts inside share European brand names, the majority of them are all made in Asia. Such are the modern realities we have to deal with. Nonetheless, the look and lure of the European products still make us swoon—and there’s nothing a little swoon can’t make better, eh? 

DESERT SURPRISES

Also in this issue is the first glimpse of a truly all-new drivetrain. And by “all new,” I don’t just mean in appearance but in actual design philosophy. After a few quiet years following the introduction of their eTap drivetrain, in an attempt to improve the ride experience for the rider that goes far beyond easy installation, SRAM has come storming back with a version of the wireless shifters and derailleurs (page 76) that will do just that.

Dubbed “AXS” (as in access), SRAM is really looking beyond the components themselves and focusing on the actual experience of the end user. As leery as I am to use the word “radical” as a common descriptor of bicycle parts, SRAM’s new drivetrain just might fit the bill. 

Zap on the eTap AXS  Specialized S-Works Tarmac test bike at the Rose Bowl.

THE INTERSECTION

When I pedaled into the left turn lane of a busy four-way intersection, it was empty. I knew the traffic light was long, and as I rolled up, I noticed a trio of cyclists across the way who were also waiting for their light. As I normally do, I stayed clipped in and stopped short of the crosswalk by about 20 feet to give myself plenty of crawl space so I could slowly creep up while waiting for the light to turn green. 

“I […] looked back squarely at the guy behind the wheel as if to telepathically remind him, ‘I am here, I am a cyclist, and I should be acknowledged and respected.’”

Suddenly, some knucklehead in a car saw the space in front of me and dove in to take sole possession of the coveted front-row status. I was appalled and angry, and to reassert my place in life as a proud and defiant cyclist, I rode around his car and placed myself in front of him. 

The immediate cheer that rose up from my compatriots across the way was all the approval I needed to know that my kinda jerky move was indeed the right thing to do. Feeling the need to exploit my preferred passive-aggressive tendencies even further, when the light did eventually turn green, I stalled for just a moment, and looked back squarely at the guy behind the wheel as if to telepathically remind him, “I am here, I am a cyclist, and I should be acknowledged and respected.” 

THE SEESAW BATTLE

The early months of 2019 brought with it a surprising but positive reaffirmation of what we do in the words of a company major who, though on record as believing that “print is dead,” was now extolling the benefits of our end product for the important role that we play in telling stories. Sure, the stories he was really most interested in telling us was that about the new bike components that were being rolled out, but hey baby steps; I’ll take ’em!

The first month of the new year also brought with it a new era for Bicycling magazine. Now under new ownership, their issue #1 hit the racks with a reduced print schedule of only six issues a year. As big and colorful as the new Bicycling is, I couldn’t help but think that while back in 1947 the concept of “less is more” may have been celebrated as progress by German designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, I shudder at the thought that fewer issues to talk about bikes and bike culture is a better direction to go. 

Less is more? What about when it comes to a bike show? On page 24 you’ll find our coverage of a small bike show that rolled out in San Diego. Funny thing, but the show promoter was the Chicago Area Bike Dealers Association (CABDA), and they have been putting on a popular show for decades in the Midwest. And no, the promoters weren’t lost as much as they were simply attempting to break out into new territory with a smaller, less expensive show than what Interbike has provided for the last three decades. 

In light of the hit that the industry took with Interbike’s demise (or interrupted schedule if rumors are true), it was nice to walk the aisles of the Del Mar Fairgrounds where the show was held and once again see so many big and small cycling brands cavorting about. 

Unfortunately, just as it had been the case with Interbike over the years, the only thing missing at the CABDA show was you, the public. For the life of me, I still can’t understand the continued reticence shown by so many in the bike industry to engage with the very same enthusiasts whom they rely on to buy their products. Instead of two industry-only days, which tend to weaken by each day’s end, how about one solid day for the industry and one for the public? 

For me, there is but one adage when it comes to growing the sport—more is more. As always, ride often, ride safe and wave to other cyclists.

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