Many of us know the story of Archimedes and water displacement. Archimedes used water displacement in the tales to determine if traders had replaced gold with silver. The story here is a slight fabrication; the real reason was that Archimedes was the first true weight weenie in cycling. He had studied under Conan of Sanos; the first steel is real guy (not Arnold Schwarzenegger, like the movies make out). Archimedes wanted to design a lighter bike than Conan.
Archimedes released a huge Skream, “Eureka”, when he discovered aluminium and plastic. Aluminium alloy was lighter than steel, and plastic was even lighter. Today we can still buy these aluminium and plastic bikes, and there are still websites dedicated to keeping Archimedes’ thoughts alive. If you are brave enough, you can visit weightweenies.starbike.com.
It’s all Greek to me
Archimedes was not the only famous Greek academic to proselytise their love for bikes. In fact, all of the Western tradition of philosophy owes its birth to tracklocross. I do not say this lightly; many academic institutions have tried to hide this fact, but it is inescapable. Western philosophy is all about tracklocross.
In 1989, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure came out on movie screens everywhere, and it introduced the world to the then-unknown philosopher Socrates. Socrates is famous for saying, “All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of tracklocrossers are immortal and divine.” Socrates believed that by using only one gear to power yourself up and over Mount Olympus, you elevated yourself to being a god.
The Socratic Method
Before hitching his Chrome bag over his shoulder, Socrates addressed his followers. A grom from the group burst onto the scene and told Socrates that they had a direct line to the Oracle and the gods. In those ancient times, the Oracle referred to the cycling media, and the gods were Pon Holdings and other hedge funds.
“What were you told?” implored Socrates.
“I asked if there was any bike better than Socrates’ Surly Steamroller in all of Greece.”
“What a foolish question,” retorted Socrates, “you should have asked something important, like at what time does the local artisanal brewery open!”
It then struck Socrates that these young groms would follow the Oracle’s word and do whatever she said. “All day, I preach to you that we only need one gear and that the best bike for you is the one you already own. I know nothing about marketing and the false gods of hedge funds. You listen to this Oracle and deem her bought for words as facts; they are nothing but nonsense.”
Socrates then hatched a plan to show these young groms that the Oracle was wrong and that they should not believe her nonsense. “People of Athens, the time has come for our group ride out to Mount Parnitha.”
The riders all jumped across their tracklocross steeds. Messenger bags were adjusted. Oversized mirrored shades were popped across faces. Instagrams were updated with jovial stories.
The ride was brutal. Plastic forks were sheared, cracks looking as jagged as the mountain peaks surrounding the riders. Derailleurs were bashed against rocks, bent out of shape, and chains no longer able to move. Hangers bent and cracked. Slowly, the bikes recommended by the Oracle disappeared from the group. Overpriced and underprepared for the ride. The steel tracklocross mashers carried on.
As they reached the summit, the riders realised as they looked at the world, they knew as little as the Oracle. The Oracle pretended to know the answers, that they lay in new and more expensive bikes. The groms realised that this was wrong and pretence was bringing upon them an anxiety of capitalism to “upgrade” when really all they need to do was ride up grades. Indeed this philosophy was later taken up by St Merckx of Meensel-Kiezegem.
When they returned to Athens, Socrates was arrested and imprisoned for impiety. He was eventually convicted and was instructed to drink a non-craft beer, a deadly poison as we all know, and thus ended Socrates.