The Past and the Future

I’m struggling with how to open this conversation without sounding like what I’m assuming my grandparents did when I was growing up. Maybe it’s because I’m just now clawing my way into some of the wisdom they had, or maybe I’m just less of an idiot than I was when they were moving their lips and I wasn’t listening. (Spoiler alert: everyone is less of an idiot then I was when I was a kid. No need to wait for the memoir.)

Kids these days have no respect.

There. I said it. Let me add some stage directions to this, for clarity.

Stage left, everyone under the age of 25: [heads down, tapping at their phones] Text me. I don’t do “speaking”. [All look up, sigh in chorus, and look back at their phones. Some of the cast members roll their eyes.]

Center stage, anyone between 25 and 37: Yeah, but they’ll learn. Give them a chance to express their ideas on this world and we’ll be happy for their challenging perspective. I embrace their view as it will help us grow both as individuals and a society. Also, Mom and Dad, please text me.

Stage right, everyone else: Bugger off, you disrespectful cretins.

The past informs the future; wisdom is learned through experience and experience is earned through the errors of our actions. That sounds a lot like a rationalization for screwing up all the time and maybe that’s true, but that doesn’t mean the premise is flawed; we must look behind us to understand where we are going. By respecting our past, we may build a better future.

In a world where the young have no respect for the wisdom of age and the old have no appreciation for the genius of youth, La Vie Velominatus cuts through the din and grounds us. Cycling is deeply rooted in the past while fiercely embracing the future. The Cyclist lives happily on both sides of the coin; cherishing our steel frames and hand-made tubular tires while embracing 10 and 11 speed drive-trains and featherweight carbon frames and deep-section wheels.

Keepers Tour 2012 was the first time I’d been to the cobbles of Northern Europe. When we arrived at the mouth of the Arenberg Forest, we were compelled to climb off and pay our respects to this, the most sacred of roads in our sport. By modern measure, this is the worst road imaginable: mossy cobbles roughly strewn across a narrow lane; uneven and sometimes as far as two or three centimeters apart. This is a road so rough it is difficult to walk down. To a Cyclist, it represents the most beautiful road on Earth. This is a road that lets us touch history.

A puzzle is meant to be solved; a mystery is not. The past is a puzzle and the future a mystery. Beauty is found in the space where the past and future live as one. Cycling is beauty.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

Related Posts

112 Replies to “The Past and the Future”

  1. Beauty is found in the space where the past and future live as one. Cycling is beauty.

    A-Merckx to that Frank! I’m grateful for growing up on the bike in the 80’s as a preteen. Learning about the bike and all the things that encompass it from my Sensei. Cycling broke down the barriers between white collar and blue collar, CEO’s and apprentice’s. Older guys that would fly by you in a sprint and dispense some advice to you after the race to help you beat them across the line next time. The lessons live on after 30 years, on and off the bike.

    After reading this article, it reminded me of this snippet from the 90’s;

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI

  2. I saw a study that observed grumpiness to have its onset at age 64 in men, later in women.

    No word on idiotness.

    Great piece Frank, so freakin true on all counts.

  3. Awesome words, Frank. Nicely written!

    As for youth and the phone obsession, I’ve moved out of the academic world for the time being and I’m pretty thrilled. Teaching has become more an exercise in policing students and trying to keep them off their phones/looking at porn for the duration of a class or lecture. If I wanted to be a cop, I’d have been one. Teaching has really changed in a short damn period with wifi.

    This was in the Harper’s index last March and still has me disturbed.

    Portion of the content streamed on Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography website, that is viewed on mobile devices : 1/2

  4. @Ccos

    I saw a study that observed grumpiness to have its onset at age 64 in men, later in women.

    No word on idiotness.

    Great piece Frank, so freakin true on all counts.

    That’s great news! That would give me 8 more years of careless merriment and light-hearted mirth, and after that, I can come down on all you young whippersnappers like a ton of ball bearings, and blame it on old age. Cool. *Dons checkered slippers and lights pipe in anticipation*

    I’d have a hard time tracing the onset of my idiocy back to a specific date, but it’s been going on for a while now. I’ve always known one thing though, which is that I don’t know all that much, and probably never will. The older I get, the more I see that there are very few ‘solid’ truths in life. That cycling equals beauty is one of them, fortunately.

    Nice one Frank!

  5. Stage left, everyone under the age of 25: [heads down, tapping at their phones] Text me. I don’t do “speaking”

    We took the kids out for dinner the other night. Angus had a mate over to stay and they both spend the entire journey to the restaurant playing some game against each other on their ipads. Suffice to say they were told to leave them in the car.

    Sitting down at the table I jokingly asked them if they’d be able to cope, having to actually speak to each other (and us) for the duration. Angus’ mate responded, without a hint of irony

    speaking? that’s not a thing anymore”.

    and they aren’t even teens yet

  6. @Chris

    Stage left, everyone under the age of 25: [heads down, tapping at their phones] Text me. I don’t do “speaking”

    We took the kids out for dinner the other night. Angus had a mate over to stay and they both spend the entire journey to the restaurant playing some game against each other on their ipads. Suffice to say they were told to leave them in the car.

    Sitting down at the table I jokingly asked them if they’d be able to cope, having to actually speak to each other (and us) for the duration. Angus’ mate responded, without a hint of irony

    speaking? that’s not a thing anymore”.

    and they aren’t even teens yet

    Did they take their caps off at least? (If they were wearing them) That’s another thing that irks me – going into an eatery and seeing boys/men wearing goddamn caps. And while I’m ranting, it also irks me to see guys going on dates where the lady has made some effort to look attractive (wash hair, apply make-up, wear something clean and nice) while the guy rolls in wearing whatever didn’t smell too bad in the laundry basket. And a fucking baseball cap.

    Apparently teaching cursive in schools (here in WI anyway) isn’t a “thing” anymore. Apparently, we’ll all be communicating in shorthand and emoticons in the future.There will be no need for being able to “write” anymore – and if the need arises, some pitiful scrawl in capitals will apparently suffice.

    Merckx have mercy on us all . . .

  7. My hand writing might be all in caps but there’s no way my kids (or any others for whom I’m responsible and feeding) are going to wear caps (or hoodies) at the table.

    As for dating, that was a very, very long time ago.

  8. @Chris

    Stage left, everyone under the age of 25: [heads down, tapping at their phones] Text me. I don’t do “speaking”

    We took the kids out for dinner the other night. Angus had a mate over to stay and they both spend the entire journey to the restaurant playing some game against each other on their ipads. Suffice to say they were told to leave them in the car.

    Sitting down at the table I jokingly asked them if they’d be able to cope, having to actually speak to each other (and us) for the duration. Angus’ mate responded, without a hint of irony

    speaking? that’s not a thing anymore”.

    and they aren’t even teens yet

    Holy smokes, I didn’t get that memo but I guess kids don’t send memos either. Little pukes.

  9. wiscot – I had great handwriting as a kid, then grew into a printer. Once I started teaching at university I realized how slow it is to print on a white/chalk board. Thus, I began my relearning of cursive handwriting and today I’m happy to report it’s pretty darn good. Maybe this provides a bit of hope, but I’ve lost most of mine in general as well.

  10. I commute to work on a MUP that passes behind a local high school. Most mornings there are a few packs of students out smoking marijuana-filled cigars (not Blunts, those are gone. They now smoke Pina Colada, Grape, or Cherry flavored cigars sold in pairs in shiny packages).

    I like to sit up and soft-pedal, trying to catch a contact buzz on my way in, nothing like being stoned at 8:30. Who said teens are all bad?

  11. @Chris

    Stage left, everyone under the age of 25: [heads down, tapping at their phones] Text me. I don’t do “speaking”

    We took the kids out for dinner the other night. Angus had a mate over to stay and they both spend the entire journey to the restaurant playing some game against each other on their ipads. Suffice to say they were told to leave them in the car.

    Sitting down at the table I jokingly asked them if they’d be able to cope, having to actually speak to each other (and us) for the duration. Angus’ mate responded, without a hint of irony

    speaking? that’s not a thing anymore”.

    and they aren’t even teens yet

    To be fair, I don’t think I had much in the way of ‘conversation’ with friends when I was young. And when lads to talk a lot it’s generally because they are being horrible to each other. I don’t think non-communication is a new thing.

    But people on ipads, iphones, and sort of device ALL THE FUCKING TIME drives me fucking loopy.

  12. @RobSandy

    I suppose I’m lucky, but when I went on vacation last year, I didn’t take my computer with me. The work folks know my cell # and my e-mail had an out-of-office message. I was on vacation – not working somewhere else other than the office. There’s no denying it, too many people are way too addicted to their electronic devices.

  13. @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

  14. @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized ag@e.

    Surely the hand written note gets a +1 badge, the first for 2015?

  15. @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

    Nothing beats perfectly weighted medium point blue ballpoint pen and a well sharpened 2B pencil.

  16. A medium point Waterman fountain pen, the nib of which I carefully ground into a fine (approx. 1mm) italic nib for taking notes in a Moleskin notebook. In the note above, the thick-thin transitions characteristic of italics nibs are mostly lost because it’s on shit computer paper I stole from work.

  17. @girl

    @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

    Nothing beats perfectly weighted medium point blue ballpoint pen and a well sharpened 2B pencil.

    Charcoal and goose quills, ya youngsters! * shuffles back to stone slab and chisel*

  18. @girl

    Nothing beats perfectly weighted medium point blue ballpoint pen and a well sharpened 2B pencil.

    Kidding there. Couldn’t agree more on the 2B pencil. 20+ years of working with AutoCad and (more recently) Sketchup – but I still find myself reaching for the ol’ graphite sticks several times each day.

  19. @wiscot

    Did they take their caps off at least? (If they were wearing them) That’s another thing that irks me – going into an eatery and seeing boys/men wearing goddamn caps. And while I’m ranting, it also irks me to see guys going on dates where the lady has made some effort to look attractive (wash hair, apply make-up, wear something clean and nice) while the guy rolls in wearing whatever didn’t smell too bad in the laundry basket. And a fucking baseball cap.

    Welcome to every single night in Seattle. Only now it’s motherf&[email protected] Seahawks jerseys.

  20. @ErikdR

    @girl

    @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

    Nothing beats perfectly weighted medium point blue ballpoint pen and a well sharpened 2B pencil.

    Charcoal and goose quills, ya youngsters! * shuffles back to stone slab and chisel*

    Stone slab and chisel? Why, back in my day it was charcoal smudges on the cave walls! You kids and your metal tools, whatever next?

    What have the cavemen ever done for us, eh? That Gutenberg was onto something I reckon . . .

  21. @ChrissyOne

    @wiscot

    Did they take their caps off at least? (If they were wearing them) That’s another thing that irks me – going into an eatery and seeing boys/men wearing goddamn caps. And while I’m ranting, it also irks me to see guys going on dates where the lady has made some effort to look attractive (wash hair, apply make-up, wear something clean and nice) while the guy rolls in wearing whatever didn’t smell too bad in the laundry basket. And a fucking baseball cap.

    Welcome to every single night in Seattle. Only now it’s motherf&[email protected] Seahawks jerseys.

    Ah, they’ll be burning them Sunday night after the Packers have had their way with them Hawks. Mr Rogers is going to the Superbowl.

  22. @girl

    If for nothing else, the smell of those pencils is the bomb. Not to mention a good eraser, not that I need one because I never make mistakes.

    I don’t use these too often but I keep them in my office at work.

  23. @ErikdR

    Charcoal and goose quills, ya youngsters! * shuffles back to stone slab and chisel*

    I have cut my own quill pens. Quill pens suck. Certain types of objects found the apogee of their design in the early 20th century. Pens and shaving equipment fall into this category.

    Unlike bikes, pens and razors have simple jobs to do, and so it’s possible to authoritatively identify the period in history when style and function really fucked each other’s brains out.

  24. @wiscot

    @ErikdR

    @girl

    @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

    Nothing beats perfectly weighted medium point blue ballpoint pen and a well sharpened 2B pencil.

    Charcoal and goose quills, ya youngsters! * shuffles back to stone slab and chisel*

    Stone slab and chisel? Why, back in my day it was charcoal smudges on the cave walls! You kids and your metal tools, whatever next?

    What have the cavemen ever done for us, eh? That Gutenberg was onto something I reckon . . .

    We used to dream of cave walls…

  25. @Gianni

    @wiscot

    @ErikdR

    @girl

    @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

    Nothing beats perfectly weighted medium point blue ballpoint pen and a well sharpened 2B pencil.

    Charcoal and goose quills, ya youngsters! * shuffles back to stone slab and chisel*

    Stone slab and chisel? Why, back in my day it was charcoal smudges on the cave walls! You kids and your metal tools, whatever next?

    What have the cavemen ever done for us, eh? That Gutenberg was onto something I reckon . . .

    We used to dream of cave walls…

    You win!

  26. @Gianni

    @wiscot

    Stone slab and chisel? Why, back in my day it was charcoal smudges on the cave walls! You kids and your metal tools, whatever next?What have the cavemen ever done for us, eh? That Gutenberg was onto something I reckon . . .

    We used to dream of cave walls…

    Heheh… This is turning nicely Monty Python’ish – By Gum, I can almost hear the Yorkshire accents in the air.

  27. @frank

    @girl

    If for nothing else, the smell of those pencils is the bomb. Not to mention a good eraser, not that I need one because I never make mistakes.

    I don’t use these too often but I keep them in my office at work.

    Ah, the scent of cedar wood. Yes, absolutely…

    As for erasers: as Robert Pirsig observed, the pencil is mightier than the pen.

  28. @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    I suppose I’m lucky, but when I went on vacation last year, I didn’t take my computer with me. The work folks know my cell # and my e-mail had an out-of-office message. I was on vacation – not working somewhere else other than the office. There’s no denying it, too many people are way too addicted to their electronic devices.

    You’re not lucky – you’re wise. I cannot help thinking that it must be this strange illusion of irreplaceability that drives so many people to never, ever put their silly telephones away. While there are so many things that would be much nicer (and healthier) to be addicted to, FFS – bicycles, to name but one.

  29. @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

    I do love a Moleskine, I buy a new one for each project I start. As for propelling pencils, I can still remember having one of these in primary school.

    STAEDTLER-780C-Mars-Technico-2-0-mm-Mechanical-LEAD-HOLDER-Clutch-Pencil-BLUE

    Endless happy wasted taking it apart and putting it back together…

  30. @PeakInTwoYears

    A medium point Waterman fountain pen, the nib of which I carefully ground into a fine (approx. 1mm) italic nib for taking notes in a Moleskin notebook. In the note above, the thick-thin transitions characteristic of italics nibs are mostly lost because it’s on shit computer paper I stole from work.

    Definitely +1.  I have my grandparents Parker Pens, I dated them a while back circa 1930 I think it was might even have been earlier.  I’d post but in the wrong country.

    +1 definite for the response.

    @frank re Stage right, everyone else: Bugger off, you disrespectful cretins.  

    Ha – Bloody middle aged youth of the day no respect for the over 37s (by some way).  Which statement also seems a trifle at odds with what followed?

  31. Wait, the “youth of today” category is everyone under 25?

    But…that includes me!

    I’m married, I don’t have an iPad generic tablet device, I will make a phone call rather than texting if at all possible, I own vinyl records, I get genuinely excited at the cinema when projecting from celluloid (not digital), and I have recently designed and specced a ground-up bike build from a vintage Bianchi frameset.

    Does this make me psychologically older or more mature or something? I don’t want to be One Of Those Kids.

    (Those Kids scare me…)

  32. @Julez

    Wait, the “youth of today” category is everyone under 25?

    But…that includes me!

    I’m married, I don’t have an iPad generic tablet device, I will make a phone call rather than texting if at all possible, I own vinyl records, I get genuinely excited at the cinema when projecting from celluloid (not digital), and I have recently designed and specced a ground-up bike build from a vintage Bianchi frameset.

    Does this make me psychologically older or more mature or something? I don’t want to be One Of Those Kids.

    (Those Kids scare me…)

    I think it just makes you warped – which probably is why you fit in here!

  33. @Teocalli

    I have my grandparents Parker Pens, I dated them a while back circa 1930 I think it was might even have been earlier.

    How awesome is that? Any time I get dragged through an antiques or curio shop (rarely), I head straight for a display counter where there might be a good old pen that can be made to work. Yet to make a lucky strike.

  34. There are scientific studies that suggest writing cursive has significant benefits on learning and cognitive development. Something about fine motor skills and activating specific parts of the brain. Even the ability to read cursive is being lost. I’ve heard of young post grad scholars being completely flummoxed when confronted with hand-written manuscripts of works they are otherwise intimately familiar with.
  35. @pistard

    There are scientific studies that suggest writing cursive has significant benefits on learning and cognitive development. Something about fine motor skills and activating specific parts of the brain. Even the ability to read cursive is being lost. I’ve heard of young post grad scholars being completely flummoxed when confronted with hand-written manuscripts of works they are otherwise intimately familiar with.

    Intentionally writing a readable cursive is enjoyable and meditative. There must be reasons that calligraphy is a zen thing.

  36. @pistard

    There are scientific studies that suggest writing cursive has significant benefits on learning and cognitive development. Something about fine motor skills and activating specific parts of the brain. Even the ability to read cursive is being lost. I’ve heard of young post grad scholars being completely flummoxed when confronted with hand-written manuscripts of works they are otherwise intimately familiar with.

    No kidding!  No insult to anyone here but I find when I see the writing of graduates we employ that their writing looks like kid’s writing not adults.

  37. @PeakInTwoYears

    @ErikdR

    Charcoal and goose quills, ya youngsters! * shuffles back to stone slab and chisel*

    I have cut my own quill pens. Quill pens suck. Certain types of objects found the apogee of their design in the early 20th century. Pens and shaving equipment fall into this category.

    I was given a safety razor (with beautiful stand, soap cup if that’s what its called, and brush) for Christmas. I find it very similar to gluing tubulars; its harder and takes more time, but it forces you to spend a little bit of time focusing on the simple task at hand. In the case of tubs, its gluing it on nice and straight; in the case of shaving it’s getting yourself ready to look your best.

    I have to say, after the fear of slitting my own throat subsided, I am a massive fan.

    Its fun to need a tub of glue to set a tire, and its fun to need a sharps container to shave.

    I will not, however, use the safety razor on The Guns. If I miss a patch on my face, that’s just my coworkers who have to suffer. If I miss a patch on my legs, I’m bound to notice just as my head frops as The V is escaping my body.

    Unlike bikes, pens and razors have simple jobs to do, and so it’s possible to authoritatively identify the period in history when style and function really fucked each other’s brains out.

    This, on the other hand, is pure gold.

  38. @Chris

    @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Is that a fountain pen? If so, you have my respect.

    To this day I do all my note taking in a moleskine notebook and (ballpoint) pen or mechanical pencil. I’d love to get a nice fountain pen; it is a civilized weapon from a more civilized age.

    I do love a Moleskine, I buy a new one for each project I start. As for propelling pencils, I can still remember having one of these in primary school.

    STAEDTLER-780C-Mars-Technico-2-0-mm-Mechanical-LEAD-HOLDER-Clutch-Pencil-BLUE

    Endless happy wasted taking it apart and putting it back together…

    I have several of those drafting pencils, and that is also the brand of my preferred (ornamental) eraser. I love that style of pencil for the weight in the hand, but the maintenance required to keep it sharp keeps it out of my “productive work” assembly line – which is also why I use a mechanical pencil in favor of the wood pencils I posted earlier.

  39. @frank

    @ChrissyOne

    And when there was no crawdad, we ate sand.

    You’re from Mississippi?

    Nope, their school system may suck, but someone from Mississippi knows one eats a crawfish not a crawdad (though they be the same thing).

    “I’ll be taking these Huggies and whatever cash you got in the box…”

  40. The future’s gonna bring a cure for cancer and cold fusion. You’ll think your thoughts in to digitized recording. And it’ll all be thanks to these kiddos that grew up staring in to their phones. As a result of gaming on line together they’ll be communicating and collabrating across time zones and borders w/o any sense of wow. Going to university? Bahhh… Can’t come soon enough.

    You know what though? We’ll still get a kick outa riding our old steel frames but something tells me that there’s not gonna be a lotta sentimental yeehah jumping on a 30 yr old carbon Tarmac. That line about style and function having it at each other is pretty good. Early 60’s Strat comes to mind. Cheers all…

  41. @brett

    I hate the future.

    Yep, it scares the shit outta me.  My kids are 7 and 3 and Im already worried !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.