On one hand after suffering through years of what I considered a decidedly anti-bike stance in the L.A. Times I gotta admit things have changed a bit of late. They had a great article featuring the Bicycle Kitchen’s and L.A. County Bike Coalition’s Monica Howe last week, one of a few pieces that have actually promoted rather than demoted the concept of commuting via two wheels.
Today in the Health section is another pro-cycling article by writer Bill Bechler, however it’s about what’s long been loathsome to me: custom bikes. Meaning those that can run as high as $8,000. For a bicycle.

People who’ve only ridden an old Schwinn cruiser on a bike path at the beach can find it hard to fathom riders’ willingness to happily drop $8,000 or more on rolling titanium and carbon fiber sculptures. They tend to dismiss it as a manifestation of the Southern California must-have-more attitude: Why drive a Honda when you can take out a loan and buy a Mercedes?

Wow, way to compartmentalize and generalize, uh… Bill. But sorry, it ain’t just beach-cruising moondoggies that find such wretched excess “hard to fathom.” I spent most of the past year and almost 1,600 miles in the saddle of a 30-year-old discard that I invested three hundred bucks bringing back to life and I wouldn’t trade that old steel steed for all the titanium in Chinanium. And prior to that my main ride for several years and around 6,000 miles was a $400 off-the-rack entry-level Giant OCR road bike. Hell I put 300 more miles on her in the last quarter of ’06 when my first-stringer went down for a long count with a busted up rear rim.

But apparently the “hard-core” cyclists that Bechler’s got such a hardon for don’t want to hear about such slumming:

Hard-core riders say it isn’t ego-driven bike lust that causes them to invest that kind of money in a bike. For them, it’s about comfort, efficiency and dialed-in handling. And if that kind of ride costs thousands of dollars, so be it.

Look, if you’ve got the cash and can afford to plant your pampered ass in a custom-molded saddle stitched with the earhair of virgin free-range alpacas atop a state-of-the-art chrysanthemum-alloy frame that was built from your specific Lycra-clad inseam and buffed to a glowing finish with and whipped cream and the sighs of young lovers, I’m the last person in the world to tell you not to. But unless you’re Lance Armstrong or any of the top echelon of competitive cyclists I’ll be the first person in the world to laugh at you if you brag about doing so. Long and loud.

In other words, I’m not going to fault you for having the means to drop such ridiculously unnecessary amounts of cash on your 17-pound helium-infused SuperBling 1000EXi. But I am going to ridicule you if you have the audacity not to keep that crap to your weekend-warrior self.

In terms of the article, I particularly loved this following snip:

Michael Bright, 41, of Calabasas, spent eight days riding from San Francisco to Santa Monica last year. He says he wanted a bike that fit well and was comfortable to ride long distances. He achieved that goal with a $7,500 custom Serotta titanium and carbon fiber bike designed to be more compliant to soak up road bumps and fit right. “I don’t shift my weight an inch, I don’t fidget,” says Bright. “Once you have a custom frame, you won’t go back.”

Funny, when I was two years younger than Mr. Bright of Calabasas I spent the same amount of days riding from the Golden Gate Bridge to Towsley Canyon in Santa Clarita. I did that 475-miles on my previously mentioned $400 Giant and I didn’t give a gram-geek shit about how much I fidgeted or shifted my weight micrometrically. I just rode my damn bike each day until the distance goal was achieved.

And one of these years me and that Giant are gonna tune-up and take a couple hard-earned weeks and bike down California from the Oregon border to the Mexican border to raise money in support of California condor preservation efforts. In fact, whenever I get to that point that I can seriously start planning it, I’m gonna make my fundraising goal $7,500 in symbolic gesture to how fidget-phobic Mr. Bright could have better spent his money.