Everyone knows that the secret to happiness is upgrades. You will be happier on Strava with their Premium service. Your phone experience will improve with a newer IOS. And nothing makes a bike ride better than going from steel to carbon, just ask Gary Cziko.

In fact, if you google “upgrade” you will land on, where else,, which will walk you through a better, stronger, prettier, more satisfying personal loan. You can upgrade to business class which will take you away from cheap, smelly, cracker-hoarding economy peasants and plop you in the middle of hungry, narrow-faced, scheming ex-peasants who have collected enough points, cajoled, or lucked their way into plusher surroundings.

Spousal upgrades, swapping your prole home for a petit-bourgeois home, and a waaaaay faster chip with waaaaaaay more memory are what make America great, and what will, any day now, make America great again. Which I’m all for.

At the same time, a faster, cheaper, and much more gloat-worthy path to satisfaction also lies in downgrading. Climbing is hard and makes you feel great, but descending, there’s no denying, is better.

Here are your QOL downgrades. They’ve worked for me.

  1. Coffee beans. Just get the cheap ones. If you really can tell the difference, you spend too much time thinking about coffee and not enough time reading books.
  2. Coffee roasting. All you need is a frying pan. Really.
  3. Breakfast. Toast with butter, washed down with coffee. Then move on.
  4. Yogurt. Ditch the fancy flavors. Get plain, toss in a couple of raw almonds and maybe a slice or two of banana. Done.
  5. Bike outfits. Get a couple pair of black shorts. They go with everything, especially your wallet.
  6. Tars. Low performance, high puncture resistance. And change them out regularly, just like you would a ratty old threadbare pair of panties, assuming you wear any. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
  7. Razors. Ditch the quatro-ultra-pre-lubed disposable and get an old-fashioned razor that holds a two-sided blade. Better yet, a straight razor. You’ll only slit your throat once.
  8. Downgrade your computer/phone with books. The paper kind, not the face kind.
  9. Notepad with pen. Never crashes, never runs out of memory, never freezes, never gets hacked and held hostage for 1,000 bitcoins.
  10. Hot cocoa. Bitter, unsweetened. Dump it in a cup and add milk. Microwave. Don’t add sugar. Tastes bitter from the cocoa and sweet from the milk all at the same time, like life.
  11. De-digitize your bike. Ditch the Garmin, power meter, heartjockrate strap, and the etc. Especially the etc. Use Strava for iPhone if you must … and lately, I must.
  12. Refuse disc brakes for your road bike. If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
  13. Don’t Venmo. Pay for your drugs the old -fashioned way. With cash.
  14. Turn a blind eye to anything claiming to track your fitness that doesn’t look like a bathroom scales.
  15. Downgrade your GPS-guided life. Instead of getting commanded where to turn by a computer, read the map beforehand, find your destination, memorize the way there and the address, and go.
  16. De-hydrate. Do at least one ride a week with nothing in your bottle but water. You’ll be surprised to learn that it actually replenishes AND quenches thirst.
  17. Downgrade your car by using your bike to run an errand. Another anachronism that is completely fuggin’ awesome.
  18. Downgrade your bike by walking to the store. People actually used to do this, with their legs.
  19. Laugh at anyone who recommends tubeless for road riding.
  20. Get aero by hunching down lower on the drops.

Master these tricks plus a few of your own and you’ll be ready for the 20th Century.



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

26 thoughts on “Downgrades”

  1. I was sure one of your points was going to be to downgrade to a steel bike, you know, not carbon fiber reinforced plastic. I guess you have your limits…

  2. Michelle landes

    Funny just finished upgrading FB when I read this 😂 11,12,16 ,17,18,19, and 4 done!

  3. About that upgrade from steel to carbon. I have never broken a metal (steel or aluminum) road or mountain bike. I still have and use my 1969 Reynolds 531 Peugeot PX-10 that I used for transcontinental North American and European tours in the 1970s. And I still have and use my 1990s Klein aluminum mountain and road bikes on which I raced and crashed many times. In contrast, my very first carbon fiber broke after just a few months from a little scuffle on Westchester Parkway.

    I suppose I was just lucky on metal and unlucky on carbon.

  4. A couple of contentious points for me, road tubeless and disc’s, but if we all wanted the same it would be a pretty dull world but on the whole up to your usual standards.

  5. You missed the greatest feelgood downgrade of them all – cat’ting down when some obscure race or series win is on the line so you can score that super swanky “1ST PLACE BEGINNER” podium spot and maybe even a shiny plastic trophy – Winning!! 👍

  6. Steel frame and friction shifting. But you will never know the name of your local Velofix mechanic that way.

    And really, why do you guys train riding Carbon rims? Martano rims have machined brake tracks, so don’t claim that is the reason.

    Joe’s Roast Dark from TJ’s, Otherwise it’s Handlebar Coffee from Santa Barbara.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: