Friday, April 09, 2021

Friday News And Views

Can't ride it if you can't get the parts.
 Impending Disaster For RAGBRAI Riders?

The other day it dawned on me how a typical season with RAGBRAI goes down. Generally speaking, traffic in the repair department starts an uptick in June, with a final crescendo of craziness just before RAGBRAI, which is always the the last full week of July. what? 

Well, if history proves to be a reliable record, and I've been wrenching for nigh unto 22 years now during RAGBRAI years, these bikes we're about to see haven't been looked at, for the most part, for at least a year, and now since last year's pandemic-cancelled ride, it may be two years. Not to say that these bikes haven't been ridden at all- they just may have not seen a repair shop.  Now imagine the following.....

June rolls around, and as we all know, parts and new bicycles are in VERY short supply. Ordering in stuff? Not going to happen. Cassettes, chains, tubes, tires, and even accessory items like cell phone holders, computers, and racks are NOT going to be available readily, if at all!

So, stop and consider this if you, or anyone you know, is going on RAGBRAI this Summer, because what you expect will be very different from reality when you visit your local bike shop. My advice? get your bikes in ASAP and hope that what you need can be had before RAGBRAI. Be patient. It may take weeks to get stuff, and maybe you'll have to 'make-do' with the best situation a bike shop can come up with. But a warning: If you wait until June-something to get your bike ready for RAGBRAI you may be very disappointed. 

Don't say I didn't warn you.   

No Bikes For You!

Scuttlebutt and reports from industry insiders are pointing to the fact that 2021 bikes will be very difficult to impossible to get. It's looking more and more like 2022 will be when new bike supplies start to normalize. There's even some saying it won't happen until 2023! 

What seems to be occurring is that smaller, "second tier" brands are announcing that they will not have 2021 bikes at all, or anymore. I know Kona, Jamis, and (rumored) Felt are in this situation. It seems that the big four companies, (Trek, Specialized, Giant, and Cannondale), may have 'muscled out' the smaller brands for production of what limited amount of bikes that could be made for 2021. I, (nor anyone) knows that for certain, but by what is coming out, that seems like a plausible situation. 

Whatever the causes, it has become quite apparent that new bikes for 2021 are rare, and in some cases, non-existent, so - once again- same song, second verse. A so-called 'bike-boom' goes pfffffffftttttttt! as the momentum that was created by the pandemic gets slowly crushed by the lack of supply to meet demand. By the time 2022 bikes hit, which may be in the dead of Winter during the 'off-season', will consumer demand still be there? Will economic forces come to bear that make buying recreational stuff not as attractive? 

We will all find out, but for now, it seems that empty racks, more often than not, will be the norm in bike shops across the nation this Summer. 

A page from the "Black Hawk Co. Atlas" published 1910
Learning History:

As some of you longtime readers may have guessed, I am interested in history, and in particular, local history. Poking around on the innergoogles, I have come across a few choice tidbits of source material which has piqued my interest. One of those is a site which has a 1910 atlas of Black Hawk County scanned for all to see. 

The atlas not only has maps, but a written historical account of the county's settling and culture. (Of course, this from a Western man's point of view) So, I have found a few interesting things which have made my rides out in the country a bit more fun from a historical standpoint. 

One being a story, written in the first person, by a pioneer who settled on Miller Creek Southeast of Waterloo. This person claims, at the time he settled there, which was in 1850, no one lived between his place and Vinton, Iowa, a distance of approximately 22 miles or so. The writer tells of having to go to Cedar Rapids during the Winter, a trip undertaken on foot (!!!), and that due to the severity of the Winter, they could not return home until Spring broke. When the weather did turn, this person walked, being forced to ford and creeks, streams, or run-offs that were encountered. (Remember, in 1850 there were no bridges in this part of Iowa.) At one point, near where LaPorte City is now, the writer had to cross a creek swollen with Spring run-off, forcing him to swim in his clothes. After reaching the further shore, he was hit by North winds cold enough to freeze his clothes, but having only six more miles to go to reach home, he made it. 

And we think we have it rough. 

There was more, but the other anecdote I found fascinating was the description of the land and how that determined where settlers chose to take land. At first, the only trees were found along the bigger rivers and major streams in this part of the state. Wood was a precious commodity, seeing as how shelters were made from it, not to mention fence posts and more. This was such an overbearing point that the earliest settlers figured that the prairies would never be settled! Obviously, that didn't last long as by the 1860's land for claiming by white settlers was getting very scarce in the county. Railroads helped accelerate the growth. The first line reached Waterloo in 1860. 

There is also some information regarding interactions with the Native Americans between the white settlers, and regarding interactions between tribes, which was sometimes acrimonious. What is mainly apparent is that the "Turkey Foot" area, the conjoining of the Shell Rock, Cedar, and the West Fork of the Cedar, was a huge draw for tribes due to its rich and diverse wildlife hunting opportunities. Tribes often held council in this area, the last time being in 1858. There is more to it all, I am sure, but it is interesting reading.

So, anyway, the maps are fun since they show all the locations of rural churches, cemeteries, and rural school house locations. Obviously, there are few rural school houses left, but I will have to make notes for future rides to see the locations of those and also to see where any old churches may have stood. The page from the atlas I chose to show here shows all of Black Hawk County and the rural routes are marked in red. Heck, I could even ride the old rural routes for fun! I encourage you to research your own areas and see what, if anything you can learn. I think it brings a bit of perspective to find out the what, why, and how when it comes to your area's past. 

Okay, that's a wrap for this week. Keep on riding and smiling.....


Doug M. said...

As an anecdote on bike supply, my preferred LBS was historically a Kona, Bianchi, and Jamis dealer but picked up Big S last fall. Thank goodness I guess, because they still have entry and mid-tier bikes to sell in the more popular categories.

NY Roll said...

I wonder how the LBS will survive this? If companies like Trek, SPeesh, and Salsa are rumored to focus on feeding their big accounts. How will that make the LBS look without anything to sell as the large accounts are supplied due their ability to short term sell. I think a simple solution is to sell all products off line and in person. I can still buy parts on line below MSRP. Why is that still happening if a shortage occurs?