Names not Numbers

Reading through a magazine recently, I got to the product review section, by far my least favorite section to begin with and... ugh, another new bike model with a number for a name.

I don't really like numbers, never have. Math? Fuggetaboutit, that stuff is all numbers. Unless it is geometry which is, at least a little bit, about things. Measuring things, sure, but still more than just numbers. I am glad there are people who do like numbers, people like accountants, otherwise who would keep track of what is bought and spent. Funny thing is I deal with numbers every day at work, in some way most people do. My days are full of dimensioning this, and making sure that fits within the space available. That can be a lot of numbers but, thankfully, at the end of a day, all those numbers add up to a thing that can be seen and experienced. 

Maybe that is why my first career in this life was in anthropology, just about the least number-driven profession you can find in this life. Oh numbers were involved - pay, and grants, and purchases, and ..., but the main part was cultures, and cultures are not numbers.

Maybe that is why I tend to write numbers out, in long form, here at the blog - twenty-fifth place, rather than 25th place. Sometimes I get lazy and take the shortcut, and I always cut years some slack, after all 1962 is so much easier, and quicker, than ninteen sixty-two, but by and large, and with conscious effort to overcome the laziness, numbers get spelled out.

Don't get me wrong, numbers are useful, they tell us things - good things (we can buy a new bike), and bad (we can't but a new bike). Numbers tell when we must wake up, but also let us know when we get to go ride.

When I think of the bikes I own, or have owned, I see mostly names, rather than numbers. KHS Tucson, Felt Virtue, Basso Paris-Roubaix, GT Edge, Ibis Hakkalugi, etc. Coincidence? Or how about the bikes that have belonged to other members of the household - Bianchi Squadra, Marin Edge, Marin Bear Valley, Liv Avail. Some have combined names and numbers KHS Flite 500, and the Felt, which is actually a Virtue Three. The only one that completely bucked the trend is the Cannondale Caad 4.

I don't know when the trend of replacing model names with model numbers began, but it seems to have only become more prevalent over the last twenty or so years. Maybe, as it has become more difficult to develop truely new technology in bicycle frames, it has also, coincidentally, become more difficult to come up with unique descriptive names. In that sense, number sequences are far easier and do not require much thought. There was a time when people got fed up with being treated as if they were just another faceless number in the system, their identities summed up in a series of impersonal digits. I am not sure what happened to that revolt; maybe apathy doomed it. I know there are still manufacturer's / builders, both big and small, who prefer names to numbers. To them we can look for inspiration as we raise the battle cry - Names not Numbers!