Zap’s Column: The scourge of Instagram and Pizza delivery

The need to look ahead to see what's coming

Sharing a moment with Andy Hampsten at the 2011 Mike Nosco Challenge.

As first impressions go, I guess I could’ve made a better effort, but I couldn’t. There I was hobnobbing with some frame builders in the aisles at the NAHBS show (RBA, July 2019) when I spotted my old pal Dave Mac. As an original team rider on the nascent Specialized mountain bike team back in 1985 (notable for his insistence to race with drop bars), when it comes to cycling, Mr. Mac is about as old school as it gets. 

After a quick hug, I asked Dave what he was up to. In response, he nodded to the guy next to him and said he was there to help his friend promote a new Instagram account called Domestic. 

“Yeah, we just want to tell the stories that nobody is telling—and sell some T-shirts.” The knife couldn’t have run deeper. It was as if Dave reached around and pushed my livid button. No different perhaps than when an established restaurant owner hears how a recently arrived food truck sitting curbside is going to start providing some good food to the locals (and sell T-shirts), I looked over at the guy and, in the friendliest way possible, simply unloaded.

“What do you mean tell stories that nobody is telling? Where have you been for the last 10 years? Twenty years? How many late hours have you spent on the phone going over the personal stories of so many of these frame builders? How many notepads have you filled with curious quotes and their personal dramas of joining tubes or standing in a spray booth? And scrolling through Instagram—are you kidding me?!”

Within a few moments I caught myself and put my arm around him and tried to convince the small crowd (and myself) that “it was all good.” 

Instagram. Look, I get it. Digital, digital, digital. Social, social, social. It reminded me of a joke recently made at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner where it was noted that the seating hierarchy favored the cable news networks, the bloggers, the websites, IG and FB. And where were the old-school print journos located? They were busy clearing the tables. Ouch! 

But as opposed to this guy walking up to a booth, taking a quick snappy with his phone, posting it, and then having it disappear with a flick of the finger, I couldn’t help but think about the solid efforts that so many journalists have been putting out for years to produce something far more lasting on the printed page.

Even as we spoke, I knew that at that very moment our own John Ker was lying on the floor making sure that he took countless shots of some chainstay just to make sure that he got it “right” so that it would look good on both the printed page and on screen.  

I know all this whimpering comes across like the guy who told stories around the firepit, only to complain when people moved indoors with electricity. Like my old friend Aristotle used to say when he gathered his mates around a campfire, “It is what it is.” 

The funny thing about this ode to all things digital is that whether it was the youthful bike shop owner or frame builder who proudly eschewed the printed page as if they are allergic to wood pulp, as soon as I would show them coverage that I’d given them in RBA, they would clamor for extra issues to hold on to. “Dude, that’s awesome! Can I get some extra copies? My mom would be stoked to see that!”

Well, as usual, here’s to all the moms out there!   

No, really, there I was just riding along when my leisurely moment exploded as if I’d ridden over a grenade. The impact, the noise, the confusion; I literally didn’t know what hit me. Turns out that instead of some improvised explosive device, it was actually just the pizza delivery man opening his car door that blew my ride apart. 

Worse, as I was splayed out on the hot pavement, some guy drove by and said I should get out of the street because traffic was building. Thanks for the concern. 

Although I should’ve at least asked for a free slice from the errant delivery man in compensation, I was lucky to ride away with just a few scrapes and a very sore right side of my body. When I called my daughter Xakota afterwards to report the accident, she responded with her usual level of skeptical inquiry, “Dad, do other people get hit by a car as often as you do?!”

As always, ride often, ride safe—and watch those doors!