Making parodies of things and people seems to be a preoccupation that I was born with. I try to keep it lighthearted but there's a underlying trace of menace in my sarcasm, probably a byproduct of being the butt of a few jokes myself. The most notable one happened in 1995-I became involved in sending bicycles to the U.K. , following in the footsteps of Salsa and Bontrager....actually getting distributed by the same company. A couple who ran a bike shop out of a van decided to put together a little club newsletter for the fans of Bontrager and Salsa bikes. The little magazine was called Bad News and even featured Q&A columns written by Ross Shafer ( of Salsa) and Keith Bontrager....all very sarcastic and all in fun. The Bontrager column was persented with a question, most likely put in by the magazine's editor-it read : "Rock Lobster bikes have internal gussetts and Bontragers have external gussettes....how do they compare ?"
To this Keith replied :" Lobsters are exoskeletal so their gussetts are naturally on the inside. The Lobster is a bottom feeder and does not compare with your Bontrager ."
I found the reply from Keith clever but I also got really angry....at this time Keith was bringing his ugliest warranty work to me as I was willing to fix anything for a bit of cash......that was, until I read his little play on words. I spent the next few weeks exchanging faxes with Keith that were to be published in Bad News , me arguing the point that Keith had many more broken bikes than I so I really doubted that my bikes were inferior. This war of words was something I was never going to win so I ended it and asked the magazine folks to not print anything I had written. I also told Keith that I would no longer work on his bikes for any amount of money.
Did I learn anything after this exchange ? Maybe , maybe not. I did realize that I can get pretty indignant when my work is called into question, unless of course I had done some shitty work.....I usually cop to that right away-it's hard to hide the obvious. I also figured out that this kind of sarcasm goes on all the time and that I should not take it personally when somebody says something in print that might make me look like a loser. Hey, Keith is entitled to his opinion regardless of how I may feel about it. There's no denying that he is a far bigger wheel in the bike business that I'll ever be.
So, you may ask-If I haven't lost you already to boredom with this bunch of drivel-What is the next joke ? -Take a look at the photo-it is my latest personal bike. I took some reject materials out of my scrap bin (stuff I would never use in a customer's bike)and did the unthinkable: I built a custom frame out of whatever didn't make the cut for a client's frame. I christened the frame and fork the "Dumpstervaagen". I'm sure that all you custom bike fans don't need any clue as to the reference in my name. The thing is, I'm not parodying any particular custom bike.....I am making a parody of all custom bikes-that includes mine as well.
The root of this parody is the notion that a certain brand of steel or a particular shape or guage is elemental in creating 'Magic' in the ride of a custom bike. While I do appreciate the fact that folks read up on tubing and get excited about air-hardening this or stainless that, when it comes down to what makes a good bike very little of this actually matters ! The 'Magic' of a custom bike is when one first rides it- and if the job is done right , there's no need to get used to the new bike....it already feels like and old friend ( To quote a rider I know).
So, that is my latest sarcastic jab at the custom bike world-I could choose any tubing from any manufacturer but what did I choose to make my very own big-tire travel bike ? Well, don't look in my garbage can as I already emptied it onto my work bench , cut and welded it together and tomorrow I'll probably ride it !