Monday, April 14, 2008


In the Europe of the Middle Ages the image of the wheel of fortune was favored by illuminators of manuscripts, for it expressed so perfectly the principle of being at the hub of experience. On the rim of the wheel, depending on where you are attached, you are either enjoying fortune, going down, being in misfortune, or coming up, but at the hub, you are still. In modern America, where we are constantly pursuing some goal or seeking more comfort, one sees with shocking clarity that the majority of us are attached to the rim of the wheel. The hub is where it's at.

This clever medieval metaphor of course leads me to bicycle hubs. There's so much to like in a bicycle hub. They're shiny and happily shaped ~ well-designed. True, trying to order a cone and dust cap is oftentimes nigh on impossible, and amid cries for standardization, the resuscitation of an otherwise perfectly fine, older hub is deemed impracticable. Woeful? Yes. But still, once in a while, a nice pair of hubs are rescued and built up. While the flanges of a brand-new hub are oh-so pretty and shiny and one feels a tinge of regret when first lacing them up, lacing over already-dented flanges and seeing a fine wheel come out of it brings a satisfaction of its own. The bitchinest beater wheels in the world are made this way.

Image: Le monde de Daniel Rebour, 1950-1976

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