At Mathieu's Cycle, this time of year reveals something that's pretty cool. And here's what it is. There are a whole lot of bicycles in this part of Maine. And people want them fixed up, so they can jump on their freedom machine and enjoy the pleasures of a pedal.
My main duty at the shop in Farmingdale is to take these two-wheeled treasures — even the ones that have been tucked away in a barn for several years — and remove all the grease and grime and, yes, cobwebs ... making them ready for our mechanics to work their magic.
In the spring and early summer, I literally put my hands on hundreds of bikes. All that cleaning gives me the opportunity to compile my annual inventory of words and phrases that appear on bicycle frames, which — in my opinion — have very little value when it comes to persuading someone to purchase their ride. Truth be told, some of the verbiage just doesn't make any sense.
So, following is my "wasteful words" list for the 2022 season:
— Taper blade.
— Atomic butted.
— Boost 148.
— SSN (Size Specific Nerve).
— ASR (Active Spring Response).
— CS comfort.
— Dual pivot.
— Atomic 13.
— Time machine.
— Power stroke.
As I said earlier, these words are actually part of the visual display gracing many bicycles ... mostly on older models. Obviously, the manufacturer was attempting to communicate some sort of message. But I believe they are so encrypted, that it's meaningless to the average cyclist. My point regarding the words: Fun to make fun of ... and a huge waste of space.
I was out riding with Scott the other day and, during one of our many conversations, was bemoaning the fact that I had experienced a noticeably higher rate of close calls with vehicles over the last couple of weeks. Despite being lit up like a Christmas tree, with three flashing lights emanating from my bike.
I was going on about how with the arrival of spring, drivers almost have to be re-educated to the reality that cyclists are again on the road. I commented that I couldn't understand why they won't give those of us on two wheels a little more space. A slight wobble — from either party — could easily spell disaster.
Scott quickly shot back, "They don't like us!" Meaning the small percentage of drivers who seem to be playing chicken with bike riders don't want us on their patch of pavement. Plain and simple.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 932 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020. Regardless who was at fault, it's a very sobering statistic. Let us hope that from this day forward everyone is willing to share the road in a responsible and respectful manner. Stay safe!