2012’s Color Is White

I am excited to present a change to the Trek which will fundamentally alter its handling and performance.  It’s an important new piece of gear that I have placed a great deal of thought into.  Like most cycling equipment, this gear will wear out and I hope to come up with a new version each year.  With a little luck, this announcement will become an annual event eagerly awaited by you, Dear Reader.

I have changed the color of my handlebar tape.

Ta Da!

I thought it would be fun to change the tape color each year, if for no other reason than it will be easier for me to identify when a given picture was taken.  This is not a decision to be taken lightly.  The color of a bike’s handlebar tape says a great deal about its rider.  For example, the original color of black says, “I just want to blend in with everyone else using the stock tape that came with my bike when I bought it.”

The color white looks snappy (to me, at least) but it runs the risk of giving the impression that I am a “poseur.” Poseur is a French word for “poser,” which is an English word for someone who takes on the mannerisms and fashion of serious cyclists without actually having the ability to ride like a serious cyclist.  This is a very serious allegation in the cycling community and I will need to be mindful of this issue as I come into contact with other cyclists – an event which occurs about once per every 500 miles cycled.

I took the tape (along with the rest of the bike) on its maiden voyage yesterday.  Winter remains pleasantly mild, but much of the weekend was shot due to rain and personal errands.  With a few hours of sunlight remaining on Sunday, I shoved off for Quantico Marine Corps Base’s “downrange” reservation.  This is the part of the base west of Route 1 where field training occurs.  I had never ridden these roads and was alerted to their existence by Roger, when we met for a pedal last Fall.

Before reaching these new roads, I had to fight my way through the hazards of Dumfries.  I managed this with nothing untoward other than the elevated frustration levels which are normal for me in that place.  I stopped by one of Quantico MCB’s gates to take a picture of a replica of the Iwo Jima Memorial.  This one is considerably smaller than the original monument, which stands next to Arlington National Cemetery.  For those interested in a detailed account of this battle, I highly recommend Clint Eastwood’s Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima.

After enduring the swarms of traffic along Route 1, the back roads of Quantico were very refreshing.  The roads were quite hilly.  The first 3.5 miles were at a steady 7-8% grade.  This gave way to a series of rollers which had grades of 7-10%.  I think I’ve found a good place for some mountain training, which I’ll need for the Civil War Century this September and its 7,400 feet of climbing.  Sunday’s 30-mile circuit was 1,600 feet, meaning I’ll need to climb at approximately 1.5 times this rate for the CWC.  That is a humbling prospect.

Historical Marker Segment!

It’s been awhile since I have been able to bring you one of these.  This marker is close to the Iwo Jima Memorial outside of Quantico MCB’s gate.  Although I often drive by this spot, I’ve never noticed it before.  In it, we learn the ancient and glorious history of Quantico.  The nearby town of Dumfries used to be one of the largest and most important ports in America, due primarily to the huge tobacco crop which was exported from there.   This fact is remarkable to contemplate as the creek is no longer navigable and there is no remnant of the port facility that once existed.

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34 thoughts on “2012’s Color Is White

  1. That is really smart tape, worth 1.3 to 1.5 extra mph in my book. Be assured that no one could ever mistake you for a poseur as you have a noticeable sense of humour which by definition is completely absent in a poseur. I see that state of your back roads is much the same as ours. Yours are wider, needless to say.

    • Those poseurs are a joyless lot, aren’t they? The backroads on military bases are especially prone to the conditions pictured above. To be fair, the major arteries on Quantico are in much better shape.

  2. …….my new bike, bought last summer, came with white tape. A nice refreshing touch, I thought, and some would say adds a ‘professional’ edge, but you will have to work hard at keeping it clean. Professionals have someone else doing that for them!

    • I guess I am more like a professional than I would have thought since I have someone to clean my bike as well. I call him my teenage son.

      Just kidding – I would never trust my son with something as important as handlebar tape maintenance.

  3. My bike also came with white tape, which I changed to black a few months later. The culprit was a chronic mechanical problem that left me black-handed all too often. With fingerless gloves, it is difficult to protect the tape. Hopefully you’ll have better luck

    • I’m certain I will never have a mechanical failure that will cause my hands to get dirty. There is absolutely nothing that can go wrong with my decision to put white tape on my bike.

  4. I thought dumfries is where tootlepedal lives. No idea they’d transplanted it to the states.

    Btw, did you replace that bar tape yourself? I’d really like a few pointers (and someone to answer my gazillion queries). I need to change the the bar tape on my cannondale as well, but don’t want to pay the store guys double for it.

    • Dumfries, Virginia was founded in 1749 by a Scotsman named John Graham. Care to guess where he was born? 🙂

      I did replace the tape myself. It’s not hard and there are several youtube videos which do a decent job of showing how to do it. Just keep the tape tight and “turning away” on the bar the same way your fingers roll around it (the videos will show this better than I can describe it). Also be sure you have a plan to deal with your break hoods – there are a few techniques for this. The good news is that if you screw it up, you can unravel it and try again!

  5. Ah, white tape. You, sir, are a gentleman cyclist. Although it may be hard to keep clean, it does look very snappy!

    There is a legend that black belts in martial arts came about because a student was given a white belt when they started and it gradually darkened from years of use. If you get tired of cleaning the bar tape you could always adopt this approach.

  6. ohhh clean white, hopefully it won’t fall victim to the soon-to-be grey colour!! I have red tape & they’re already starting to turn black after 1 yr! Is it hard to install new tape? Nice job at it. 7,400 ft elevation?! yikes!!

    • My original tape began to shift after nine months. I squeezed another seven months out of it by redoing the job. The time had come to replace it. I think once/year will be a good rotation for me. Tape is very easy to do. If you don’t like the look, simply undo it and try again!

  7. The new color looks great! I actually mistook this for the blog of a professional racer. Glad to see it’s really you :0D

    • That means a lot, coming from you. I hadn’t really thought of it that way. I guess I need to find a mountain and climb it, so I know what it feels like.

  8. I went through an ostentatious phase back in the 90s with various garish anodised coloured parts bedecking my MTB.

    They soon came off and I reverted back to black and silver. Now I know less is more, as you will with the handlebar tape. You’ll be back to black before you know it, especially when you see how dirty your mitts and gloves are!

  9. I love white bar tape! Well done. Yes, it gets dirty, but it will only get to the you-can’t-take-it-anymore point just about the time you’ll be ready to swap colors.

    Looks good on that Trek. I am getting new bar tape in the next month or so, and will be doing white again. Makes me feel lighter and faster.

  10. Very slick! I worked at a tennis shop as a teenager and wrapped many racquets. I suspect that bar tape is the one bit of bike maintenance I could do reasonably well. There is something so satisfying about new tape.

    • BikeSnobNYC makes the point that a bike is meant to be tinkered with. It’s not all that difficult a machine to figure out. We’re not talking about neuro science or rocketry, after all. I’ve got a very long way to go in terms of bike maintenance, but I now feel comfortable changing a tire or chain, adjusting a spoke, and changing bar tape. Each one began with me tinkering. Not once did I destroy my bike or blow anything up – not even my temper! 😉

  11. My lbs is having a basic maintenance class next week. I look forward to learning a few things that’ll make me more confident tinkering. I figure I can always go to them to undo anything I mess up!

    • To be more accurate, I am currently in violation of Rules 4, 7, 8, 11, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 47, 57, 58, and 72. Looks like I’ve got some work to do.

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