futurebike
Uncle Dave

We are Bad at Knowing Things

I write so that I can think. It’s not until I sit myself in front of my computer and start to hammer words out with my fingers that I can put an idea to bed. Once it’s out, that’s it. I can move on because I know what I actually think about something.

That’s why I’m so fucked right now.

Honestly. Totally fucked. I’m so trapped in an idea that I can’t move on with my life. I find myself bouncing between two thoughts that are contradictory and paralyzing. On one hand, it feels like there are just so many urgently important things out there in the world that it is impossible to feel anything but overwhelmed and broken. But on the other hand, all of these bad things just seem to happen and we carry on so maybe none of them actually matters? Maybe it’s all just noise designed to placate and confuse?

So which is it? Is everything super important or does nothing matter? Are both true? Neither? What on earth does that have to do with bicycles?

In reality, this has nothing to do with bicycles. These thoughts started swirling when I started thinking about politics, and then I decided to relate them to bicycles because we at least have to pretend, right? This started when I started thinking about Christy Clark.

If you don’t know who Christy Clark is, well good for you! She was the Premiere of BC for several years. She was a folksy, business first, loose-with-the –facts, middle-of-the-road, right wing politician. It seemed impossible that she would get elected and when she did I lost it. Her fucking aw shucks bullshit drove me nuts! She left politics in 2017 and I rejoiced and then I forgot all about her until recently when I thought about her again. And when I thought about her a month or two back all those bad feelings came bubbling up but I couldn’t actually remember why she bothered me so much. So I refreshed my memory. She was pretty terrible, but also pretty mild by today’s standards. It was mostly some “light” corruption, climate change denial, and culture war pandering. Amateur hour compared to our current world of insurrections, the potential death of democracy and the general Handmaidens Taleness of things.

That brings us to bicycles. It’s tenuous, but bare with me.

7 years is a long time in bicycles. 8 years is longer! I mean, remember back to 2016! Remember what the world looked like! The US was about to elect their first woman president! People were talking about the death of the Republican party! Canada’s golden boy Prime Minister was a year into his mandate and charming the pants off of everybody! The UK hadn’t just faced a rapid succession of three different Prime Ministers and Brexit…was still Brexit but it had only sucked the life out of us for a couple of months and not 8 long years! The world was good!

And the bicycles! Oh man, the bicycles! We had the answer on wheel size and that answer was 650b! Geometry was settled! Derailleurs had cables! Enduro forks had 36mm stanchions! Bikes were better than they’d ever been and probably couldn’t get any better!

Thinking about all of this makes you wonder what the fuck was wrong with all of us in 2016. How didn’t we see it coming? How didn’t we see the warning signs? How did we ride those fucking bicycles? The Pinkbike Bike of the Year had a 458mm reach in a size L, a 65 degree head angle and dual 650b wheels! One of the bikes it was up against had a 67 degree head angle and the $8,400 price tag was a cause for concern! What the fuck!?

On a personal level, the bikes of 2016 that I remember were the Yeti SB5.5 and the Devinci Spartan. Both of these bikes felt like the cat’s ass. The Yeti in particular, partially down to just being the most expensive bike I’d ever ridden at that time. It had a novel suspension system and cost is not-much-of-the-object components. It was a bike to be lusted over. It was the state of the art, and something that allowed me to ride better and be accepted by my peers.

I look back on all of these bikes now, and it’s humorous. They’re funny to me, with their steep angles and short cockpits and slack seat tubes and spindly forks and wimpy tires and weak brakes and low, low price tags. I can’t really remember what all the fuss was about and I had to re-read the reviews to remind myself. What I determined is that the details, and 2016 in general, didn’t really matter. Other than being a small little step that laid the groundwork for what was to come, the actual bikes of 2016 were trivial. You could wipe every 2016 bicycle off the map and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference. They all felt so important in the moment, but they were just transition pieces.

The thing is, this is always! This is everything! Every election is the most important ever! Every bike is the one that we have to have! Every upgrade is mandatory! Every dollar spent is required! At no point do we ever think now isn’t the most consequential now, ever. Only, it never is.

There’s a theory that I read once (or perhaps hallucinated or misunderstood). It’s that in the future, time travel is common and rampant, but the reason we don’t ever see any time travellers is because we’re living in the equivalent of a 1 pump gas station on a rural road in Iowa in the middle of winter. I’ve been! We stopped to take a photo of a giant frying pan. And unless you’re doing a deep dive on the history of the tractor or a buying a garbage truck (and your car is running really, really low on gas), you’re probably not going to bother. We think we’re amazing but the future doesn’t give a fuck. With all of time to experience, there’s just nothing happening now that is important enough for future people to bother.

This is actually an optimistic way of looking at things. It means that we didn’t screw things up badly enough to end society. That’s sort of another theory though, isn’t it? We don’t see time travellers because our ancestors have gone back to the caves and the geometry debates have finally been settled and bikes don’t need to be longer. We should be so lucky as to be nothing but an afterthought.

These thoughts are liable to send you tumbling down a path towards nihilism and apathy. If 2016 didn’t matter, and now probably doesn’t either, what does? If we’re just as likely to make the wrong choice or worry about the wrong thing, maybe we shouldn’t worry about anything? Perhaps “nothing matters” wins? But then again, it’s not every year that the recent past is thrown aside by the election of a demagogue, a world changing pandemic, or the introduction of bikes with slightly longer and slacker geometry. We don’t worry about Christy Clark and the political debates of 2016 because Trump exists and his spawn are hatching across the world. The new right wing leaders of Canada would write Christy off as a kooky left winger and cancel her before she finished explaining why she supports a carbon tax. We don’t think about the 2016 Transition Patrol because we have the 2021 Transition Patrol, which grew a few inches, dropped a few degrees, added a gear, sports a larger front wheel and has a bit more travel. And we don’t think about the 2021 Transition Patrol because it’s 3+ years old and why haven’t they updated it yet? But can Trump get much crazier? Can the 2025 Patrol get much slacker? I’m hoping/thinking no on both of those. So perhaps 2016 didn’t matter because now is actually the most important now that there ever was?! The bikes of 2016 were inconsequential because it’s only now that bikes have reached perfection and demand all of our money immediately?

The problem is, we’re not going to know for another 6-8 years. Our present concerns may be fleeting and inconsequential, or they could result in our annihilation. Are the next few elections the most important of all time, or just a small little signpost as we descend towards oblivion? Geometry may have reached an inflection point, or we may just find bikes are even better once we’ve employed some Gattaca style arm stretchers. Who’s to say?

My hope is to worry more about the things that feel like they could be big, and to worry less about the things that feel like they might not. I mean, that’s sort of how we got here, but here are some rules that I just came up with 30 seconds ago that are totally going to fix my mental anguish.

1) The water that we drink, the food that we eat and the climate that we live in is fairly important. Don’t trust anyone who tells you not to worry about it.

2) If everything is the fault of the already suppressed or downtrodden, the person suggesting that doesn’t have a solution.

3) If it feels like somebody is selling you discount electronics, and they are using language similar to an angst ridden high school debater, consider looking harder for some substance to their policy.

4) If the primary selling point is a 10mm change in reach and a half degree change in head angle, you can wait until next year to upgrade.

Most of the world is noise and doesn’t matter. In fact, chances are pretty good that the louder somebody is screaming something in your face, the less important their message actually is. People are just trying to distract you in order to score your vote, or your dollars, so don’t get carried away by the bullshit because you’re just going to forget most of it anyways. Unless it happens to be a thing that might bring about the downfall of society/save mountain biking. In that case, you should worry. And maybe you should immediately sell all of your cable shifting bikes to some sucker who doesn’t know any better. Or pick up a hot bargain on non-UDH bike? It’s hard to say.

Sorry,

Uncle Dave

Uncle Dave’s Music Club

I know the quality doesn’t scream it, but the piece above was on major re-write number 9! This music club was done 3 separate times! It took me that long to figure out that this needs to be about the songs of 2016. The problem is that music destroys my argument above. It did not take hindsight to know that these songs were amazing, but perhaps it takes hindsight to reveal just how great a year in music 2016 truly was?

A Tribe Called Quest – I think that, top to bottom, this is the best album Tribe ever made. There were better songs, sure, but there is a hardly a second on this album that isn’t great. The Space Program is my choice today, just through the sheer power of the song and video. I should probably just leave things right here as it might be the only thing you need to watch. I’ll compromise by giving everybody else a link and not an embed.

Wilco – If I Ever was a Child – Just some solid Wilco,right there.

Parquet Courts – Pathos Prairie – This was a bit of a slow burn for me from the album, but like most think Parquet Courts it wound up getting me.

Kevin Morby – Dorothy – I’ve talked about several songs off this album and I can’t believe that Dorothy wasn’t one of them because holy shit, that’s a great song.

Hamilton + Rostam – Sick as a dog – Peak non Walkmen Hamilton Leithaueser.

Frank Ocean – Ivy – Because you can’t talk about 2016 without talking about Frank Ocean.

Eleanor Friedberger – We already did “He Didn’t Mention His Mother” (amongst others), so today we’ll leave you with “Cathy With the Curly Hair”, which I have to admit I’ve gotten the lyrics how so wrong on for years.

DJ Shadow w/ Run the Jewels – Nobody Speak – Just because of the two-for-one on DJ Shadow and Run the Jewels. Now let’s go buy some Chevrolets!

Car Seat Headrest –Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales – I just want Will to go back to making shit like this.

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Comments

mikeferrentino
+15 dolface tmoore Andy Eunson Dave Smith Adrian Bostock ackshunW Pete Roggeman GB Duncan Wright Jeremy Hiebert Mammal Carlos Matutes Curveball brajal Tehllama42

"Is everything super important or does nothing matter?"

Yes.

Fucking brilliant, Dave. Worth every single one of the 9 rewrites and perfect icing with the AI lead image. Irony topped only by the mandatory ad for the wonders of recycled plastic bottles (brought to you by "the beverage industry") that rolled before the Run The Jewels video. 

Bringing bikes in, roundaboutly, I wonder if it has something to do with the focal length of our memory. The stuff from 8 years ago seems like comically obsolete shit, but go back 20, 30 years, and ooohhh, the retrovintagesexappeal. I have been craving a 1982 Yamaha IT200 something fierce lately, or an IT465 from the previous year, or a Husqvarna XC430. At the time, they were not even the best of their respective genres, and three years later were hopelessly outdated by the cresting wave of water cooling, linkage suspensions, disc brakes and functional ergonomics. But now? They are majestic time capsules and absolutely beautiful. By that same token, I have a couple mountain bikes a decade old that I can barely stand to look at, but I would risk a fiery death to rescue my 1950 Schwinn Panther from a burning building. It's the most important, most meaningful bike I've ever owned. It means nothing and is useless and is covered in dust.

Nobody speak, nobody get choked. Amen!

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Hawkinsdad
+3 Mike Ferrentino shenzhe Crabbypants

Hi Mike.

I needed this article from Dave. Both you and Dave provide me with much-needed perspective as my ADHD brain is easily distracted by pretty much anything shiny. I'd love to find my terrifyingly fast and beloved 1983 IT 490. I sure miss my rigid Rocky Mountain Stratos, the bike that solidified my love for mountain bikes. A Husky 350 is on my bucket list now.

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UMichael
0

"Is everything super important or does nothing matter?"

In my mind, if nothing matters then equally everything matters. And I also feel that this is why we get so worn out by the recently-mattered.

but, as things percolate through the layers of experience and settle in the depths of our memories, we start to be able to focus on what mattered because we can see how it affects us now.

So, "Is everything super important or does nothing matter?" well I think some things are definitely important but it is nigh impossible to know what they will be until they've been sifted. So, I try to pick things that matter/don't-matter in the now and maybe I'll get some of them right.

For bikes, I will continue to ride on 31.8mm handlebars because maybe this will matter and anyways I already own them. I have chosen not to care about brakes all that much because anyways my riding adapts so quickly to whatever I'm using. Reach? meh. Stand-over? yeah I'll care. etc.

Anyways, always a treat to hear from Dave, and especially wonderful to see responses like Mike's. Really adds some soul-value to this weird sport for me.

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ReformedRoadie
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer

IT175 was the second to last moto I owned, relaced by a KDX200.

That light blue and yellow color...

For me, bikes may be 'obsolete' from 2016, but once you cover the essentials - dropper post, hydro discs, decent tubeless tire, functional suspension - it's still fun.  

If you go way back, you lose that.  My first mountain bike had 6 speed thumb shifters and cantilevers.  Shifting and stopping were just concepts and wishes then.  It took away from the fun because you had to be mindful of their limitations to avoid breaking yourself and/or machine.

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Znarf
+13 fartymarty Lynx . Niels van Kampenhout Todd Hellinga Mike Ferrentino Mike Riemer taprider Andy Eunson Pete Roggeman shenzhe Mammal justwan naride R.bobbby Tjaard Breeuwer utopic

A great piece! 

When I think in this direction (which seems to be too often in the last couple of years) I sometimes stop my worries with the French Revolution... 

We (democratic west ;-) think of it as a pretty great milestone / big bang for our modern democratic world with human rights etc. 

Most people who witnessed the revolution probably experienced a rather turbulent, violent and probably terrifying decade, which changed them from subjects to "citizens" to subjects again. And then they might have struggled more from hunger and sanitary conditions than their political status. And still they fell in love for the first time, rode a Draisine, had children or died for some random reason. And most probably wouldn´t have dreamed of the lives a lot of us get to live. 

And still, if you're privileged and rich and yet suffer from depression and take your own life in a moment of desperation - you're still as dead and lonely as any poor soul not rich and privileged. 

Which would make me formulate another rule:

As bad as your situation may seem at (almost) any point - carry on, there WILL be better moments for sure. 

In fact I feel that catastrophe and crisis often are the birth of progress and a better future. At least if looked back at from far enough in the future :-)

I´d love to see in twenty years that the current state of the world made mankind realize that profit-driven social media and totalitarian governance is not desirable and democracy and human rights combined with some humility and modesty in regard to mans place in the global geosphere will persevere. And I am optimistic, honestly. 

Once you tasted the good life of freedom and security AND enjoyed intact nature in some form at the same time, how could you live without trying to protect them?

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rcybak
0 Brad Nyenhuis justwan naride utopic Todd Hellinga BeesIntheTrap ZigaK

The trouble with your conclusion is that it completely ignores the tyranny of government, which reared its ugly head during the pandemic, combined with the majority who not only went along with the ridiculous, unscientific mandates, but gleefully went after those who even dared question the authorities. A true black pill moment if I've ever seen one. 

Your optimism is naive.

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davetolnai
+5 Lynx . Todd Hellinga BeesIntheTrap Jotegir mnihiser

It seems to me that all of the promises that covid restrictions were temporary came to pass.  I'm with you that not all the decisions were likely correct and I would love to see us try to figure out which decisions were right and which were wrong, but that hardly seems possible in this environment.

And now we have near promises of real tyranny and people are lapping it up!  PP is going to trot out the notwithstanding clause!  Republicans aren't going to respect the results of the election unless they win!  Temporary covid restrictions of a few years ago seem like the least of our problems right now.

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GB
+8 fartymarty Niels van Kampenhout mnihiser BarryW Mammal Velocipedestrian R.bobbby utopic

Yeah my mind somtimes is ready to explode with frustration over all the material and political crap I'm exposed to .

I suggest hugs .

I hug people at work on the construction site . 

Then there are smiles . I give out free smiles whenever I can. Ask nothing in return. 

I hug my bike . Bike makes me happy . My bike is a 2014 Spesh Enduro.

I am happy because I crave less. A fantastic paradigm shift I went through beginning in my thirties. 

Dirt bags rejoice. 

The rest of you .

I'm sorry no answers.  But I am always there for a hug . 

Beautifully written piece Dave .

Reply

craw
+5 Mark Mike Riemer shenzhe Deniz Merdano R.bobbby

"A problem well stated is a problem half solved."

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fartymarty
+4 Stretch Carlos Matutes Velocipedestrian Paul Lindsay

"The UK hadn’t just faced a rapid succession of three different Prime Ministers and Brexit" - at least we have the chance to change things in a month.

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morgan-heater
+4 Perry Schebel Andy Eunson BarryW Jotegir

Great article. I remember the first time I voted was a no for baby bush, and I thought to myself that he would be the worst president we'd ever have in my life-time. Wow.

Just for funny bike specific anecdote - I'm riding a 2016 size small g16 pinion. The reach is 484, chainstays are something like 450, 64ish head angle. I've got a nice 40mm riser bar and a 35mm stem and it fits great at my 6' height with +2.5" ape index and long legs. Gear box and belt drive. Probably at least 15k miles on the bike, maybe 20. There's still brakes, tires, and suspension to maintain, but besides that it's pretty bombproof.

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xy9ine
+4 Morgan Heater Todd Hellinga Mammal R.bobbby

that's awesome. it's great it appears we're at the point where geometry appears to be somewhat mature (obviously porter was ahead of the curve), and one can get multiple years usage out of bikes with no significant performance detriment. i'm coming up on 4 yrs on my current bike, and have no *real* need to change things up; just replace the bits that wear out as required. 

random: the older i get, the better i seem to be able to separate needs from wants - primarily because i'm (thankfully) less affected by the wants drivers (marketing / consumerism / keeping up with the joneses, etc); the not giving a shit superpower appears to strengthen with age. the Buddhist sentiment that desire is the cause of suffering (and the path to enlightenment requires the cessation of said desire) rings true i guess. 

putting things into perspective (of real importance) - it's amusing how much energy (time / angst / $$) we expend obsessing about the minutiae of our toys. we're fascinating creatures.

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morgan-heater
+1 GB

Yeah, it's a funny contrast between:

1. If you've got money to spend, buy yourself the coolest toy you can. Bike purchases really don't seem like they can be a large negative in the grand scheme of things.

2. Being content with your toys and spending money on experiences will get you more bang for your buck long term.

3. It's kinda fun to buy and sell bikes and try new ones.

My theory is that once you've got the major categories filled: BMX/DJ, hardtail, trail, DH, commuter it is probably best practice to just keep riding things till they break. By that time, maybe something genuinely better will be on the scene.

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roil
+4 Mark Niels van Kampenhout Mammal bishopsmike

"Is everything super important or does nothing matter?" 

Tend to your garden - Voltaire 

It's easy to get caught up in state or global issues which are effectively out of your control. Focus on what you can control: your own garden. 

This is a great article! I read it twice. Well done.

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davetolnai
+2 Lynx . Carlos Matutes

But that's part of the problem!  It can lead to locally optimized solutions and Nimby-ism.  One of the easiest ways to tend to your own backyard is to stick a wall around it and shoot at anything that you consider a threat.

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roil
+4 Mark Niels van Kampenhout LWK Mammal

You can take anything to an extreme. Not sure that’s a sound counter argument. 

Locally optimized solutions in terms of what? 

NIMBY-ism is a problem but “tend to your garden” is not to be interpreted literally. It’s about focusing on what you can control in your life, and that doesn’t necessarily mean local politics.

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davetolnai
+2 utopic ZigaK

I hear what you're saying, I just think the danger is this turns into "not my problem".  Where do you draw the line around your garden?  Locally optimized is a tough one to define, but if the walls around your garden are too small, it's sort of inevitable.  An example?  Look at the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.  Depending on where you draw your border, the decision is going to look very different.

Vancouver - A few terminal jobs, lots more marine traffic and greater risk of oil spill.

British Columbia - Quite a few construction jobs, risk of leaks is quite localized.

Canada - Nothing but good news and most of your risk concentrated in British Columbia

World - Overall negative.  Cheaper oil.  More oil.  More risk of marine disaster.

So, local decisions become global very quickly and tending to your own garden may create a giant risk for somebody else.

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roil
0

Thanks for the further explanation. Let's use this pipeline as an example.

You can make the pipeline part of your garden but that requires joining the appropriate oversight department (local, state, federal) or private sector role to have an impact.

It is not realistic to assume every individual can or should have input on every decision that could potentially impact them. That is simply not feasible and it's also irresponsible as many of these decisions require advanced knowledge of the space.

Take whatever industry you work in, do you think a random person off the street is qualified to run your business or write and enforce legislation that governs it? 

My initial comment is really about mindset. You can build your garden to contain whatever you want but you have to be realistic about its size and scope. The world is not your garden.

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davetolnai
+1 ZigaK

I hear you.  And I'm not sure where expertise comes into play.  My point is that it can be dangerous to only care about those things that are immediate because eventually things that weren't immediate become immediate, and at that point it might be too late.  Most of the ways that I would draw my garden wouldn't include Ukraine.  It's far away and it doesn't have an impact on my day to day.  Regardless of that, I think it is very important that I hold an opinion on this.

roil
0

Can't reply directly as we are too many replies deep in this thread!

Expertise comes into play with your pipeline example. It's a complicated situation and while you can have an opinion, that doesn't mean you should have a say. Nothing happens when everyone has a say (NIMBY-ism).

You can have an opinion on pressing issues (or anything for that matter) but that's not necessarily healthy for the reasons Voltaire pointed out: you're going to be disappointed with the outcome as it's never going to live up to your ideals when the results fall in your favor but more often, it will go in a different direction entirely. 

Everyone today has an opinion on everything and that's a problem. When was the last time you or someone you know said "I don't know enough about this to speak on it"? 

Tend to your garden. You don't have to have an opinion on everything. Ignore the insane news cycle that just goes from one seemingly cataclysmic issue to the next. It's designed around the attention span of goldfish.  

War is never good.

gregster77
0

But it gets more complicated!   You could also argue world overall positive. 

World not having Canadian oil means world buys Quatar oil.  - More money for Hamas.  Saudi Oil - bad for human rights.  Russian Oil - Ukraine war/eastern Europe war....

We need money to fund the radically insane budgets currently being pumped out by government or at least cover the 46 billion/year in interest alone from Trudeau deficits. 

No more oil/drilling is also a simplistic radical solution.  

NIMBY when Quebec blocked pipelines - they still get their federal transfers, but grow separatism in the west, anger.   History is not good when people are economically angry. 

Please don't take that as a "drill baby drill" statement.  Only to say, the world is incredibly complex and everything has impact, and nobody REALLY knows how it will go.  Just meant to show more sides to a coin and overall complexity.   

I AM pretty sure that my next bike will be at least 0.5 degree slacker and a couple of pounds lighter.    But who knows what that will do to my riding.

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kekoa
+3 Adrian Bostock fartymarty Carlos Matutes

Run the jewels. Yes. Listened to it on your recommendation in 2016 and immediately downloaded it.

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Joe_Dick
+3 Mike Ferrentino Morgan Heater Utasidian

I just finished the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I also watched Furiosa last friday. Dystopian future is vibe. plague and nuclear wasteland. Though I have be countering that with a smattering of John Ralston-Saul. His body of work is not exactly hopeful either. More like a map of our current road to the dystopia wasteland. 

The tribe album is pretty good. also 2016, potentially the last ever Against Me album! Not my favourite of their albums, but pretty solid. 

https://youtu.be/2qv96nqtbY4?si=X6afOkQXAkI4IGT7

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FlipFantasia
+3 PowellRiviera Andy Eunson Adrian Bostock

love that Tribe album!

adult toys in the woods really is inconsequential in the broader scheme of things, especially as compared to authoritarian leaning RWN politics, although I appreciated the article and thoughts regardless!

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brajal
+3 Pete Roggeman Lynx . Carlos Matutes

Revisited "The Space Program," truly a top hip-hop composition with all the top artists featured. I didn't read the article initially, came for the music, so I apologize for that. However, I went back to understand the topic a bit better.

Regarding the 2016 context, I've been riding a 2014 Kona Process until this year when I got a new Jeffsy. There hasn't been any major life-changing experience in terms of biking for me—you can keep changing regular bikes over a 10-year period without drastic differences. I'm not sure if the same applies to e-bikes, though.

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PowellRiviera
+2 Jotegir Michael Lee

Love this. 

And I still love the 2015 Patrol :)

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andy-eunson
+2 BarryW Jotegir

Are bikes and other things we buy really better today than 40 years ago? Perhaps we look at the wrong metric. I’ll bet most of us remember our very first mountain bike ride. I do. Fall 1982 on the shop Ritchey. It was too big and I had my road shoes on but it was a revelation.  My first bike was a 1983 Stumpjumper and I remember riding it home. So. Much. Fun. And it was mine, all mine. 

I think sometimes we "upgrade" our stuff in a vain attempt to recreate and relive that first revelatory moment. 

Some people myself included love to learn and improve at what I do. Even a new pattern and means of washing windows or clearing snow from my driveway. Some once they become proficient at a sport get bored and stop. Buying and allegedly "upgrading" can feed that improvement desire. But is it really improvement? The other day I was listening to Glen Plake talking about his career and skis. He said something to the affect of "new skis today allow people to do things they weren’t able to do 20 years ago, but it didn’t make them better skiers". Something to think about eh. 

Thanks Dave. That was an excellent article.

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syncro
+2 Andy Eunson Lynx .

@AndyE

"He said something to the affect of "new skis today allow people to do things they weren’t able to do 20 years ago, but it didn’t make them better skiers". Something to think about eh. "

This is a huge part of the reason why I think new riders should start out on hard tails.

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Lynx .

Agreed on the HT thing but part of my reasoning is also making sure people get to experience that first ride on a dually. After being used to a back end that doesn't yield, it's amazing to experience rear suspension.

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fartymarty
+2 BarryW jaydubmah

Start on a dually and graduate to a HT / rigid gets my vote.

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davetolnai
+2 Mike Ferrentino jaydubmah

To me, this is a bit of an old man fallacy.  To stick with skiing, I'm confident that Shiffrin would ski the absolute doors off almost any mid-90's World Cup Racer.  The equipment allows for better things, sure, but so does increased fitness, better training, more analytics, etc. etc. etc.  It's delusional to think that this is just down to the technology of the equipment. Plake was a groundbreaker, sure, but I think it's delusional to suggest that people were better skiers back then.

Same with bikes.  I used to think that learning on a hardtail was better.  Much of this was gear driven, though.  10-15 years ago, what full suspension bike were you sending a beginner to that was both affordable and not going to be a bucket of rattly bolts within a year?  But also, sure, you learn skills riding a hardtail that you might not get on a full suspension.  You learn skills riding a horse that you don't learn driving a car, as well.

I agree though with the sentiment that we're chasing something.  New technology definitely allows us to experience riding in a new way, and harkens back to that original feeling we got just riding our bike down a trail.  That feels like a pretty noble reason for an upgrade though, to me.  If a particular part helps you to ride "better" that feels reasonable.  It's just how much "better" justifies the price, is the thing.  Using my own examples, I enjoyed the 2016 Spartan.  The Yeti was a bit of a recalibration as to how I rode bikes though.  At first, I couldn't make that thing turn, but I also felt like I was hauling a noticeable amount of ass.  But I'm pretty confident that 8 years newer geometry is just going to be easier to ride.  So the 2024 vs 2016 upgrade is easily justifiable.  The 2022 vs 2024 is likely more of an argument.

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syncro
0

I get what you're saying, but this isn't an old man fallacy. 

Your example of better training, etc with Shiffrin muddies the waters a bit. I fully agree that as time goes on many things improve across all sorts of sports; most notably knowledge, training, coaching and equipment. But there's techniques that get used now that weren't even thought of 30yrs ago. The entire floor has been raised. I'm not suggesting starting someone off on an ancient HT, for sure take advantage of the better geo available. 

My two main points for a HT are that you can be more aware of how the bike is reacting with the trail and that people typically ride slower. Things like poor cornering and braking technique can get masked on full suspension bike, so you're forced to pick better lines and thus are more engaged with the trail on a HT.  Personally I see that as the beauty or riding a HT, it's a more immersive experience. 

Once poor skills/habits are developed, it's rather difficult to replace them with new ones. There has to be significant desire on the part of the individual to build better habits because the mental energy required is high. This is ultimately why I think the HT is a better is that it provides and environment where learning good skills is rewarded more quickly and helps set up better long term success. 

FWIW I'm pulling this together from the areas of coaching, psychology and sport psychology. I also don't think it's delusional to suggest people were better bikers on older equipment when you consider some of the things people were doing on the absolute crap bikes that existed 20-25 yrs ago compared to now.

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mikeferrentino
+6 BarryW jaydubmah tmoore Carlos Matutes Crabbypants Brad Nyenhuis

I dunno. It took me a solid decade and a half to unlearn all the hardtail and singlespeed body habits and really begin to ride full suspension bikes properly. Then it took another 8 or so years to come to terms with new geometry and learn how to stop hanging off the back of the bike like some refugee from the endo prone early 90s. I wouldn't wish a hardtail on anyone as a learning tool out here in the land of square edged momentum killers.

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syncro
0

I'll probably get pilloried for this with downvotes but what the hell eh.

Two thoughts. First is sample of one. Second is poor teachers or learning bad skills in the first place? There are probably lots of factors to consider, and not knowing you beyond what you've written I can only speculate. 

I do know that to ride well on an HT you have to learn to be smooth pick your lines better, this seems to be a fairly common assessment from people who ride HTs. Personally my best riding on the big bike was when I was charging hard on the HT and I found those skills I used on the HT helped on the full suspension bike.

xy9ine
0

agreed. i'm also of the mindset that learning on a ht doesn't transfer special skill benefits to fs. different dynamics, body position, line choices, etc. of course, riding a variety of different bikes never hurts in terms of adding breadth to your skillset, so i guess there's that.

Roxtar
+2 Dave Tolnai Alex D

"I wouldn't wish a hardtail on anyone as a learning tool out here in the land of square edged momentum killers."

Thank you.

My son recently started mountain biking and was told to start on a HT to learn "bike skills". I asked him if he actually wanted to enjoy riding or not.

Learning HT skills is like learning to drive a stick when you'll never own one. Nice skill set to have but far from necessary.

davetolnai
0

This is it exactly!  Why don't you just learn to ride on the bike that is fun to ride?  I don't ride a hardtail any more, why would I suggest a beginner ride one?  People always seem to insist that the way they did it is "the right way", when it's the kids that grow up riding full suspension bikes that are going to blow us all out of the water.  I wonder if there are other sports where people insiste on trotting out the decades old technology for learners?

I have one example though where I know I'm right!  Wakeboarding!  We had one of the original Hyperlite wakeboards that was basically a compression molded surfboard with footstraps.  Thing sucked for most things, but it was so, so much easier to get it out of the water than a modern twin.  I would always put learners on that board.  You just stand up at the right time and the fins will put you in the right direction.

Lynx
+1 Mark

Come on you guys comparing HT's of 30 years ago to the masterful tools we call HT these days, shame, shame on you, you know better. The absolute crap that were HTs and suspension forks even just 20 years ago when I started compared to now is insane, no comparison. Now ask me if I still had the same budget I had when I started 20 years ago, would I still buy that POS Diamonback ReCoil FS or a much better equipt HT, HT with better sus fork all the way, probably would have ridden it for longer than just 10 months.

As to those  who take "years" to relearn the skills needed for FS vs HT or whatever that nonsense is you're saying, can't help you, I switch very easily and my riding is much smoother when I switch from the rigid to FS vs having been riding the FS exclusively for a good while.

Most definitely you should start on a decent HT, as you should learn to drive stick, both teach you the basic fundamentals and control which an FS/automatic don't. It's like sending in code written by AI and saying that you know how to code, no you don't.

Oh and big plus if you start on a decent HT, then once you figure out what sort of riding you do and what travel FS you want, then you've got a decent HT to take to the pump track or the flow trails to keep things interesting.

syncro
+1 ZigaK

@Dave - there it is, personal bias. Because you don't ride a HT you feel no one else should. Because you don't think a HT is fun you think no one else will think it's fun. 

FWIW I started riding on an FS.

davetolnai
0

Oh brother.  Sure.  My bias is showing.  I don't care if you ride a hardtail.  You are welcome to enjoy the sport however you wish.  The majority of people that mountain bike have discovered the joy of full suspension bicycles and I hope I don't have to explain to you the benefits of such a bicycle.  Most people have moved away from hardtails for a pretty good reason.  There are many reasons why a hardtail is a good first bicycle.  Cost.  Maintenance.  Flexibility of use.  But if you want to get somebody interested in the sport and keep them interested, I think handing them the most fun experience possible, rather than some sort of "you'll thank me later!" punishment ride, is a better idea.

You're not going to change my mind.  I'm not going to change your mind.  Who cares.

andy-eunson
+1 BarryW

Dave I didn’t take Plake’s statements as skiers were better back then. I’d have to find it again and listen but I think he said that there are great skiers today too, just as good if not better owing to better training and analysis and stuff like that there. His point, or what I took from it is that people can buy sports equipment that will let them do things they couldn’t before. If I buy myself a DH bike I’ll be able to do amazing things, for my skillset, but it won’t improve my skills. 

The old man fallacy, which I also call the retro grouch fallacy, is that things were better in their youth. And I’ll agree with you 100% there. No they weren’t. Our bodies were better then and that’s what we want. That young body we could hit the ground with a still ride the next day instead of now where I’m taking serious time off to recover. Except that now I get injured in my sleep.

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davetolnai
+1 tmoore

I'll buy that amendment to the Plake statement.  I've still got a little bit of "so what?" as a response.  I get it.  I used to be like that.  But then it's just like who cares?  Why should I begrudge some of the loss of beginner suffering for others?  As well, there always seems to be some element of fear with it.  You see it with Pickleball injury stories.  People are complaining that Pickleball is too easy and not as hard as tennis!  "Think of all the people finally getting off their asses to participate in something that brings them joy and getting injured!  Oh my god!"  I just find that often these are things that we are clinging to.  

And in my mind, I love to picture Glen Plake, riding up a chairlift somewhere, mohawk on his head and 90's DH boards on his feet, frown on his face, muttering to himself "...these kids can't really ski!" as 10-year-olds fly around under him backflipping off shit at breakneck speed.

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Jotegir
0

I really love the Plake quote but on the other hand I 100% believe that purchasing my Aurum HSP was one of the best things I have done for my skillset. Buying a downhill bike that rewarded good habits extra and kinda punished poor ones paid dividends for skills which were totally transferrable to 'normal' bikes after.  So sorry Plake.

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fartymarty
+4 GB Lynx . Andy Eunson BarryW

Andy, yesterday I took my 10 year old Krampus now with drop bars, rigid forks ad 45mm wide fast rolling tyres down some local trails that would normally be easy on either my HT or FS bike.  Now that was fun and something I'm hoping to do more of over summer.  I see can see myself getting a Stooge more than an ebike in  the future.  This https://theradavist.com/2024-stooge-speedbomb-review/ was a great article about going back to basics.

I encourage anyone with an older, steeper, shorter HT to slap a rigid fork on it and some drop bars and have a laugh.

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Lynx
0

Definitely rigid, but do yourself a favour and get a decent length dropper so you can really enjoy it. Love the living crap out of my 2018 Unit, just put a 170mm dropper on it as I'm now trying to really start back proper riding and expect to be taking down the steepest, gnarliest tracks we have and having a blast, even if doing it quite a bit slower than if I was on my FS.

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fartymarty
0

I've got a 110mm PWN 27.2 hooked up to a modded GRX lever on mine.

Agreed, I wouldn't ride off road without a dropper.  Double Hardtails are fine but Triple Hardtails are beyond my pay grade.

Have you got a -2 angleset in that Unit?   They're supposed to be very good with one.

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Lynx
0

I'll ride any bike off road without a dropper, but it makes keeping flow if you ride anything but winch & plummet type stuff, nopt as flowy or fun. So, especially on a rigid where if you miss judge something or clip something with the rear, it's not going to be absorbed, but instead give a nasty kick and maybe if you're not expecting it be guided forward, it's more fun to have the dropper.

As to the angleset, no I do not, however I built it from the frame up, so I used an external lower cup with reducer, which slacked it out about .4-.5 degrees, some around 67.5 and I rode it quite happily like that for just over 4 years with either 29+ tyres or 29x2.6". In the last few years since I resurected my Phantom (had to fix the BB shell), I ran it overforked because my offset 9point8 dropper needed seals, so had to use a straight post and cannot stand a STA over 73 degrees. Over forking the Phantom took the HTA to about 66-66.5 and I got acustomed to that, so much so that when I started riding the Unit again it felt a bit steep, so put a 650B x 2.8" in the rear paired with a 29x3.0" upfront, which would have then slacked the HTA out to about 66 degrees and also slacked the STA out so I can also run a straight dropper on it too.
So in essence, yes I have run the Unit with a -2 angleset and it is fun, although haven't really taken it to our gnarliest stuff yet, as only recently acquired the dropper.

Actually am thinking of ordering either a -1.5 or -2 angleset for it so I can go back to full 29" F&R.

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andy-eunson
+1 Lynx .

Awesome. I rode a local intermediate flow trail last year in the summer and a younger guy went by me as I was hanging a rat. I caught up to and passed him a bit later. He recognized me as one of the guides on the local Monday Night Ride group at the end of the trail when he caught up. He complimented me riding because I pretty much dusted him. Then he noticed I was on a hardtail. I told him I was totally dialed on this bike and trail though. It wasn’t my skills. But yeah, using the allegedly wrong tool is super fun.

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Timmigrant
+2 Perry Schebel Michael Lee

That was an awesome read. While I love mountain biking gear, and always interested in trying new products, I personally haven't felt the need of the hot new thing in mountain biking for a while. I think mountain bikes have been on a steep development curve that has started to taper off. For the first time since I've been mountain biking I'm thoroughly happy with my two personal bikes I've had for 3-4 years. I always used to yearn for a longer bike, with better suspension kinematics, better suspension etc. It's been a while since I've ridden something and thought, yup, I NEED that. I feel like geometry, brakes, dampers, drivetrains etc have reached a point of development where gains are incremental at best. Many new products are a step backwards in the pursuit new features. Maybe I'm totally wrong and I'll look back at these bikes in 8 years time and laugh at how awful they were. But I feel like cars have gone through this before. I love cars. I feel like peak car was in the late 1990s to late 2000s. I've driven many new faster performance cars, but few manage to put a grin on my face like mid-2000s Japanese sports cars.

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Lynx
+1 Adrian Bostock Curveball Kenny

Hey Dave, glad I'm not the only one who sometimes feels just paralyzed when I think of the state of the earth, current political climate and the BS cancel culture that exists now. I can say that yes, it absolutely matters, but you only stepped back yesterday in terms of the when, it's the fact that there's nearly 3x the amount of people on this planet now than when us "GenXers" were born, it doesn't have the resources to support 8 BILLION>> people, not without resorting to all the chemicals to grow crops and all the artificial food that's produced.

If you want "support" for my argument, just look back to when you were a kid, if someone asked you how many fat kids there were in your entire school, you could easily name them and if there were 5, that was a lot, now it seems that question needs to be asked in reverse, how many slim kids are there. Also, when you were a kid, how many kids had all the allergies that kids today have, very, very few, it's all the damn chemicals and synthetic food and also the over reactive parents who don't let their kids eat dirt, climb trees, build sketchy go karts, get in fights....

As to the bike thing, please update your piece to include the ever needed IMHO (in my humble opinion) because to ME, geo was pretty damn good in 2016, at least for the brand I am riding and my 2014 & 2012 bikes are still relevant today for most people around the world, you NS guys are an outlier, don't forget that ;-)

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syncro
+3 Mike Ferrentino BadNudes ZigaK

We do have the resources to support 8 billion people, the problem is that we're incredibly wasteful with our resources. World wide, close to half the food produced is wasted. And it's not just the food being wasted, it's all the water, energy and other resources that go into producing and delivering that food that also get wasted. Besides food we waste a lot of energy, things like having the temp in our homes too high or driving short distances unnecessarily when bikes, walking or public transit would work. We could also add in unnecessary use of lights and other electronics. Oh, and throw in the energy demand of AI while we're on the topic. It just goes on and on. 

https://globalaffairs.org/commentary-and-analysis/blogs/huge-amount-food-wasted-and-it-water-energy-and-nutrition

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Lynx
0

I won't argue with that fact, humans are the most lazy and wasteful animals on this planet AFAIC. I walk or ride anywhere "close" unless I need the weight carrying ability of a vehicle, cannot say the same for a lot of my friends and siblings :-(

Just a little tid bit - it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, while it takes just 25 gallons to produce a pound o f wheat. 

Not only would seriously cutting down consumption of beef/red meats dramatically reduce the need for so much land and water for such little return on quantity, but with that land and water you could easily produce enough food to feed the world. Also, the fact that so many consume so much red meat these days is a big part of the obesity problem around the world, never seen a fat vegetarian.

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syncro
+5 Andy Eunson BadNudes ZigaK GB utopic

I've seen plenty of fat vegetarians, just not morbidly obese ones. 

While eating less meat is a good idea for many reasons, we shouldn't confuse eating meat with being fat/obese. The obesity problem is primarily a highly processed food problem - added sugar, added fat and highly processed carbohydrates. There absolutely nothing wrong with meat in one's diet.

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mike-wallace
+1 Curveball

Thanks for this Dave.   My wife and I have been having a lot of “what is important?” discussions lately and this helps to add some context.

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DaveSmith
+1 Pete Roggeman

Well played, Tolnai. 

I remember that Devinci review like it was yesterday - Lying down on a wasps nest was not ideal.

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Chappers9882
+1 Curveball

I enjoyed this very much. Thank you.

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Curveball
+1 Tehllama42

I was recently musing about hordes of Caucasian refugees swarming the Canadian border in 2025 to escape the madness overtaking the USA.

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fartymarty
0

Dave - interesting piece.  It does bring me back to te Geometron G1 and G16 before that.   The G2 is just about to be released and I haven't checked the geo tables but my gut feeling is that it's pretty damn similar to a G1 or modded G16.  

Some things don't change - maybe it's about finding the truths in life which I think you've nailed in your 4 points above.

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craw
0

Paul Aston had a reel with the G2 the other day. It's virtually identical to the G1 except for some cosmetic refinements.

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fartymarty
0

Missed that one, thanks for the heads up.  IIRC the G16 got pretty close to the G1 in the right settings.

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craw
0

It really wasn't. I had a G16 and could never really get it right even with the mutators and offset bushings. The G1 was correct out of the box. And TBH it's still pretty much right as is as highlighted by the fact that the update is more about including new construction techniques than anything else (it will get the same formed sheet gussets and brace as the Nucleon).

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morgan-heater
+1 utopic

Interesting - What are the significant improvements you found between the two? I've ridden a friends G1 in the same size and couldn't really tell the difference, seemed like a change in flavor rather than an increase in quality. I am running 27.5 still. I'll probably stick with this bike indefinitely unless it cracks.

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DogVet
0

The geometry of the G2 has been reined in a little AFAIA

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velocipedestrian
+1 utopic

Shorter reach, taller stack, probably similar span. Moar adjustments.

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morgan-heater
0

Yeah, I bet once people get their bars set where they like, the reach/stack will be nearly identical between the two platforms. They teased a pinion version last year, kinda bummed they stuck with the boring standard drive train option.

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syncro
0

I don't think we're bad at knowing, we're just too damn lazy to learn about things that affect us in a meaningful way.

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Lynx
0

Not sure if this is a side note, OT or what, but listened to game 6 of the Western Conference finals last night and didn't notice the same sort of hits when I followed the NHL in the 90s and early 2000's, just watched the highlights of the game and it absolutely blew my mind, How the fvck was that game 6, elimination possible for the Stars and they played so "soft"?? I remember watching a Edmonton vs Dallas playoff series back then and the hits were ring shattering, what has hockey come to now, was like watching PeeWee or something where hits aren't allowed anymore. Don't get me wrong, the nasty shit that used to sometimes happen wasn't right or good, but a good shoulder to shoulder hard check on your man is, to me a big part of ice hockey - I tried field hockey, they don't appreciate checking :-\

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Jeremy Hiebert

The game has changed a lot since the 90s and 00s however if that's the only game you've seen of this playoffs, it's not a great sample. Plenty of hitting and physical play. Dallas was exhausted and used up. Don't worry, it's still a tough sport, they've just gotten better at rewarding team skill and toughness.

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Lynx
0

Yeah, haven't watched much in recent years, did wat5ch a few game highlights from the Vancouver vs Edmonton series and well, unless they've taken to showing less hits in the highlight reels, didn't seem to rough to me. But this is me, who started following hockey and the NHL in the early 90s when things were still quiter rough and bench brawls were still a somewhat thing. Wish I had the ability to watch the games live, but unfortunately dont so have to settle for the highlights.

Speaking of highlights, that first goal McDavid scored was an utter thing of beauty, reminiscent of the days of old, of the Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure when he played for Vancouver, used to love watching him, truly one of that first wave or true power forwards.

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KDix85
+1 Lynx .

Im just happy that the Oilers trounced the Stars, as has been seen in playoffs past, the Stars have always been a death sentence for the Oil'

Makes an Edmonton born lad a little happy

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Lynx
+1 Kyle Dixon

LMAO :-D Yes, in days of the old the Stars vs Oilers matchup was always a tough time and Oilers didn't end up ontop for most of it. Think it was '96 the last time I saw them and that was such hard games, you better have your head up and on a swivel or you might get clocked good, checks were ALWAYS finished and finished hard.

Have to say, didn't watch the previous round the Stars played, but they just seemed worn out and lack lustre in their performance and the Oilers were lucky that Skinner was pretty much in the right place at the right time, because they're play on the most part, especially in their zone, was absolutely abysmal, IMHO, although, the Stars really weren't getting the puck up of the ice when they got it on net.

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KDix85
0

Lucky or Not, I'll take it... the Oil' havent gone this far since Grant Fuhr stopped sharing his secret stash of Bolivian GoGo Dust

Ride.DMC
0

"We got it from here... Thank you for your service" is NOT the best album that Tribe ever made.  It's probably in the top 5 though.

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davetolnai
0

This is a statement.  Not an argument.

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Ride.DMC
0

There really is no argument.  The Love Moment is #6.  Either The Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders is #1 (depending on when you graduated Highschool). The rest can be ordered however one likes.

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davetolnai
0

Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders have higher highs, sure.  But I think We got it from here is the most cohesive album, with hardly a note wrong through the entire thing.  I know this isn't the consensus and the classic albums are going to make the lists, but We got it from here just sort of came out of nowhere and blew me away, start to finish.  The earlier albums have the spark, sure.  But this one shows the experience.

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Ride.DMC
0

It 100% came out of nowhere. That is very true. It was long ago, and my memory is fuzzy but I don't think the album dropped until after Phife Dawg had passed away.  I remember being surprise by it.  I'll give it another listen.

If you want to check out some really good hip-hop from the other side of the world, give The Hilltop Hoods a listen.  They're not very popular in North America but they have a definite east coast hip-hop feel to them despite being from Australia.

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davetolnai
0

I will do that!

I've been cycling through Tribe albums the last few days.  To amend my statement, older Tribe albums were playful.  We got it from here felt like serious business.  It feels incredibly focused.  It just struck me as they weren't playing around and they put everything into this one final installment.  I just don't think it gets enough credit.

0

Well written everyone, nothing like a thoughtful, well considered piece that stimulates respectful debate or dialogue that other readers can appreciate and learn a bit from!  I dunno what your secret is Canadians but y'all are doing something right, will return again and again for content like this.  Thanks Uncle Dave and commenters, for keeping both the hope and the stoke alive!  

Thankfully the geo and durability of my steed seems capable of being a capable platform for development and enjoyment a good while longer, which in turn will keep me out of the market for a new bike, longer (figure it'll take me 8yrs to save up for the next one anyway!).  Like many feel acutely, I'm pained that the frame material has such a high cost on our planet, so I'm determined to stay on it as long as possible.  Instead spending on systematic upgrades when parts wear out, competing more, attending clinics, and staying on top of maintenance (trail and bike).  Supporting smaller, alternative brands or 'cottage industries' that are innovative and go about doing it while minimizing the effect on the environment, is really enjoyable.  I find that wrenching helps the mind focus less on the insanity outside of the garage or shed, and spotlights my dismal bike mechanic skills until I run out of delusional thoughts of competence or beer (strangely both often seem to happen simultaneously) which I then throw myself at the feet of my revered LBS mechanic Andy.  Tending trails is another way to enjoy the woods (besides blasting through at schralp 5) and I see more and more volunteers at every dig day to where there's more people than tools which is awesome. 

In all seriousness, if I add it all up, I've spent far more in these areas than what my next build would be, but I'm doubtful that simply a new bike would have me feeling as content and good as I do about this hobby of ours.  Until I get to thinking about that new Atherton S.170 . . .

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