A World Turned Upside Down – My New Gravel Bike

I think the concept of Cancel Culture as a thing (or Political Correctness and WOKE) is daft, because to frame any thoughful test of accepted narratives in negative terms is at variance with moving forward. To my mind it helps to test orthodoxy – it can allow us to learn from the past, to live in the present and prepares us for the future.

Times change and we with it, and my own act of ´cancel culture´ is to embrace the 21st century and throw away some of my accepted cycling paradigms.

Turned Upside Down
´A World Turned Upside Down´ and the ´Shock of the New´ are two ideas that resonate with me.

´A World Turned Upside Down´ was the title of a 1640 ballad which lamented the banning of Christmas by the English parliament. Historian, Christopher Hill used the term as the title of his book regarding the politics of the English Civil War of 1642–1651 and the execution of King Charles. Hill describes how the war had brought together a wide range of world views and within the anti-royalists there were numerous radical groups, including the Levellers, the Ranters, the Diggers and the Seekers plus the puritans who all wanted change. The ´Round Head´ hierarchy meanwhile were not so keen and they were more interested in maintaining the social status quo, sans an absolutist monarch. Digger, Gerrard Winstanley, said; “True freedom lies in the community in spirit and community in the earthly treasury”, but it was a view rejected by Parliamentarian/Army leadership and the rift was exposed at the Putney Debates (1647).

It was a clash of ideas between those wanting a World Turned Upside Down in favour of radical reforms such as suffrage and those not. Later when industrialisation took hold similar sentiments of discombobulation were espoused as peasants left the land for the cities and crafts people became roadkill being replaced by mechanisation at a great pace. The often-misunderstood Luddites come readily to mind.

The ´Shock of the New´ was coined by Robert Hughes as a title for his 1980´s TV series about how art was perceived, both in the excitement and the ´puzzlement to the beholder of creative novelty and innovation´, this term is often used to reference architecture and other ´shocking´ developments.

Into the 21st Century

Both ideas help illustrate how we deal with change and today I may have embraced Modernism although Post Modernism is nearer my mark, by switching to disk brakes, 1x gearing, a carbon frameset, and through axles. Yes, I am writing about getting a new bike which will thrust me into the 21st century.

My first gravel bike was my road machine fitted with 25mm tyres and my first mountain bike was a cyclo cross machine equipped with straight bars. For years I have often taken to the rough stuff departing the asphalt with glee and I recall smashing the small wheels on a Moulton what seems like yesterday but was in fact a hundred years ago! My current gravel bike is one of a series of CX frames (also see below) I had fitted out to ride gravel and other wild trails. I had been happy with my ride up until now – I felt under geared 34/46 – 11/26 and seriously under braked on the many descents in my new home area where there is a myriad of routes to enjoy. Rim brakes off road are OK but they can be a strain on the hands-on long descents as you attempt to feather ever increasing amounts of lever to trim your speed.

I took a decision to go ´all in´ with new technology and completely escape the hold of the old, but before we exchange new technology for old, I think it appropriate to recall how even the now abandoned may have once turned a World Upside Down.

Probably one of biggest paradigm shifts was when the bicycle became in reach of the general population and no longer were people limited by how far they could walk in a day or the need to meet the costs of stabling a horse.

My ´gravel´ bikes including an orange one

P.S. I gave away my MTB because I preferred riding less gnarly trails, in addition to my love of mixing asphalt and gravel.

The Ride– My first test ride took me to Kerstlingeröderfeld.
Garmin Connect: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/7546849096
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6012712978

Handsling Bikes: https://handslingbikes.com/

My new bike featured at Kerstlingeröderfeld

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