Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You Know You're an Old School Cyclist . . .

Somebody recently called my attention to a fun "self assessment" quiz on BikeRadar: "20 Signs That You're an Old School Cyclist."

There are 20 statements on the quiz, and a person gets one point for each that applies to them. Several of the questions have "extra credit" points. According to the article, scoring above 5 points means you might be "old school." Only 5? Jeez. I think I come up with 19.

Here are the items on the quiz, and how I answered them:

#20. You know what a peanut butter wrench is. +1 point if you know why it's called that. +2 if you own one. Yeah -- I picked up all 3 points on that one. I almost wish there were more bonus points for having multiple examples (you know, one for the crank bolts, and one for track axle nuts!). Or models other than Campy. The TA and Zeus ones are kind of nice to have.

#19. You still wear white socks. Not exclusively. But yes.

#18. You still use toe straps. Just not on pedals.  Actually, I do still use them on pedals -- and for lots of other uses as well, like cinching a spare tire under the saddle, or securing a tool wrap, or as mini tie-downs when packing, or securing packs to racks, or . . .

#17. You've told a newbie that Super Record ball bearings were hollow. OK, never done that. But I remember hearing it.

#16. You've secured a spare tubular under your saddle with a toe strap. +1 if you still do. +2 if wrapped in Gazzetta dello Sport.  See my answer to #18. Though I've never wrapped a spare in newspaper -- apart from useless affectation, why would someone do that? If it rains, then you've got a pulpy wet mass to deal with. Blah.

#15. You know what "drillium" is. +1 if you owned any. Yes. And Yes.

#14. You know what you had to drill out when the pin extractor failed and the @#$%! hammer wouldn't budge it. Yep. Never actually done it myself, thankfully. But enjoyed watching the spectacle once or twice.

#13. You talk about being "on the rivet" and you've actually been on a saddle with a rivet. I think my preference for Brooks leather saddles has been well documented on the pages of this blog.

#12. Someone mentions their Rapha jersey and you think they rode for Gitane. Okay, no points for me. I wouldn't mind having a Rapha jersey or two, but they're way out of my budget.

#11. You know why cycling shoes had long laces. I actually don't get points for this one. I'm assuming that it's so you can tuck the laces in under the toe straps and keep them out of the chain (because that's what I do) -- but it seems to me it would just be better if the laces were shorter.

#10. You used Modolo shifters and they broke (if they didn't break, you never used 'em). No points for me. I assume they're referring to the plastic shift levers Modolo used to sell in the 80s (they called them "carbon fiber" but I'm pretty sure they were mostly just plastic). I remember them, but never used them. I'm not losing sleep over skipping that experience, either.

#9. Your first freewheel had five cogs. Yep. I also had a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub before that, but that apparently doesn't earn points.

#8. You already have a digital pressure gauge. One on each hand, in fact. That's me.

#7. You still refuse to admit that indexed shifting is that much of an improvement over Positron. Hell, forget Positron, what about Mighty Click? Or Huret Commander? I've said more than once on this blog that my favorite shift levers of any time are still the friction-only Retrofriction levers -- whether the Simplex version, or the less common Campagnolo ones. SunTour's Power Ratchet levers are pretty great too.

#6. You wore wool. Under your wool. That's me. I've also been known to wear wool over my wool.

#5. You know which gutta is red and which is white. I hated the red stuff, so I learned the difference pretty quickly.

#4. You still think of them as "Maes" bars. +2 if you know who they're named for and why. I'm not giving away the answer to this one, but I know it. A hint: 1936 and 1939.

#3. You took the Conconi test. Never did it. Had to look it up to remember what it was. Even back then I never knew what the test was called. No points for me.

#2 You put a wet sock over your spare bidon. Because ice cubes were for sissies. Call me a sissy, but I never did this.

#1. You can name all five -- oops, four -- 5-time TdF winners. You mean there are people who can't?

I find it odd that the BikeRadar article says any score above 5 pegs someone as "old school." Apart from kids who just picked up their first bike yesterday, could anyone really score less than 5? If any readers of The Retrogrouch take the quiz and score above 15, leave a comment. Have fun! And remember - there's no school like old school!


  1. I just saw a post that mentioned your quiz, and I love it. I scored 19, not having any clue about #17, 12, 11 (I used to cut the laces on my Dettos), 10 (never even thought about them; I was still riding my Plum with campy friction shifters, so what was the point?), 3 (I know what it is from reading about how Moser did it, but I had stopped racing at that point, so I didn't feel it important for me), 2. (since plastic is such a poor conductor, I never even tried to cool the bottle thru evaporation). After my first "10-speed" was stolen outside of the house I and roommates rented, I was able to buy a used Raliegh Super Course. The guy sold it because he couldn't soften the saddle. I spent some time every day for the following month or two applying saddle soap vigorously, holding the bike off the ground via a hand underneath the saddle, fingers clasping the wings, and beating on it with a rubber mallet. It ended up buttersoft, incredibly supportive, and when I bought my first racing bike, the guy I sold the Raliegh to INSISTED that he wouldn't buy unless the saddle came with...

    1. I can't take credit for the quiz -- as I mentioned, it came from BikeRadar. Thanks for adding your answers!