Thursday, June 26, 2014

Other Retrogrouches

I guess Retrogrouches aren't limited to bicyclists.

Someone told me I sound like the guy in these "Play in the Now" commercials for Nike golf, where they trace the golfing Retrogrouch back through the decades (and centuries) continually scoffing at the latest innovations:

It starts in the present day with the guy scoffing at the latest driver, then we see the same guy going back in time. . .

"The last real innovation was titanium."

"Titanium's too light . . . if steel's good enough for the railroads it's good enough for me."

"Steel! They're called Woods, not Steels! I'll use my persimmons until the day I die."

"Persimmon is the club of a degenerate! A gentleman hits beechwood."

"If me mallet is good enough for the King of the Scots, it's good enough for me!"

I'm not taking it personally -- I actually got a good laugh out of it. It's a funny campaign, and there's apparently a whole series of them, all about different golf equipment.

It got me thinking about what a bicycle Retrogrouch version might look like:

"Electronic shifting? Regular Ergo is all anyone needs."
"Downtube levers were good enough for Eddy Merckx -- they're good enough for me!"
"Downtube shift levers and parallelograms? Do I look like some kind of pussy?"
"You can have my Margherita shifter when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands!"
"Shifting gears is for weak-kneed kids. I'm a man Goddamn it!"
"Those drop-bar speed-demon bikes are purely for low-bred ruffians."
"Safety bicycle?! Who ever said bicycles were supposed to be safe?!"
There could be a whole series: Carbon fiber, vs. titanium, vs. aluminum, vs. steel. Hardshell helmet, vs. hairnet, vs. cycling cap.

I suppose Retrogrouches can be found in any sport (cycling, golf, tennis . . .), or any aspect of life for that matter. Sure, it might be a source of laughs sometimes, and that's fine by me. It's best not to take yourself too seriously.


  1. Funny comparisons, but you forgot skis and manual transmissions and tennis racquets (retrogrouch spelling), not to mention slide rules and making bread by hand. But it's not merely a matter of retrograde preferences; there are qualities you give up when you adopt more sophisticated technology -- the principle, "Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice" applies to advancing technology as to all other things.

    Adopting Ergo or Di2 is not cost-free. What you lose with modern technology is subtracted from individual skill -- essentially "art" in the traditional sense of a mental habit of the best (= fixed) way to produce a given (fixed) result. You get a better device but you lose a skill. Where you want to make the tradeoff is of course a purely individual decision, but there is no question that there is gain and loss both ways.

    1. I agree entirely. I was raised on indexed shifting but, after I became a regular bicycle commuter whose bike was constantly covered in gunk, I got sick of constantly adjusting and cleaning stuff so I flipped the little lever thing on my shimano indexed barcons and made them friction shifters. I miss a shift every now and again but now I'm much better than the machine that was meant to replace me.

      I'm a carpenter by trade and we are REALLY retrogrouchy. Heck, we carry around caveman clubs all the time (aka hammers). Yes we often use modern technology but show a carpenter an old post and beam building fastened with wooden pegs and he or she will drool and paw at it like it was a Columbus SL tubed racer.

    2. You mean there are people who don't use sliderules?

  2. Really enjoying this blog, Grouch - especially the piece on "drillium".

    I've always had a penchant for the classical, every year as I get older it fits me better :)

    Thanks for writing. More, please!

  3. I used to love seeing all of the drillium but not much anymore with all the carbon !