This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The scent of leather

There is nothing quite as satisfying as the touch of leather.   Everybody who stops to look at my bikes, have to touch the leather handlebar grips.   When I approach at a rally or charity ride and somebody is looking at my bike, they are always running their fingers over the leather.  Not the seats( thank god, there are boundaries), but they love the feel of the handlebars.  I find them admiring the stitches on the VO Elk hide covers and admiring it as if in contact with a long lost artisan.

They always act as if it's the last great luxury to distinguish a bike.
They often ask about it's care, and don't I have to be extra careful about rain, and clean it often.
I understand a certain amount of this.  There is a satisfaction and comfort to the tactile qualities of something you know has proven value through history.  It obviously makes a difference when comparing it to cork or the cloth tape that underlies the sewn elk hide.
The cloth looks nowhere near as inviting to touch.  It doesn't draw your attention and beg you to reach out and run your fingers across it to enjoy the texture like real leather.
The truth is there is a practical reason for my fascination with leather.
I first used it on my Trek road bike about 6-8 years ago.  I ran across a shop online that was selling off it's stock of Brooks tape at about 1/2 price, around $40.  
I thought that,even at that price, it was an extravagance, but I took the bait and I am glad I did.
In those days ,I was using the Trek all the time and re wrapping the bars with cork at least every other year.
The leather has remained, year after year without showing any sign of wear.  It's been soaking wet from rain time after time and requires nothing but a little Kiwi Mink Oil paste occasionally.
I've found the same to be true of the elk hide covers.  I was apprehensive that stitching them in place would be difficult, but it's no more so than wrapping a handlebar with cork.
The real benefit is the fact that once it's on properly, it's there until you tire of it.
It turns out to be a lot cheaper in the long run, much nicer to the touch,
and you get to meet all those people romanticizing about the care and effort you sacrifice for your bike.

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