BSNYC Friday No Quiz!

This morning, your instructor had to attend to some urgent bicycle-related business:


Therefore, consider this a reprieve from the punishing weekly testing schedule to which you are ordinarily subjected.

However, there's always more me over at the Bike Forecast, and I would be remiss if I did not send you off into the weekend without homework, so here's some assigned reading in the form of my most recent essay for Reclaim:


Please prepare a 1,500 word critical response for Monday and submit it via my online portal here.

And finally, here are some Dutch people exuding a smug sense of superiority which is entirely warranted:


With that, class is hereby dismissed.

See you next week!

Ride safe,


--Wildcat Rock Machine


Categories: cycling | Leave a comment

What Mircobes You Running?

Before anything else, I've been meaning to mention this for the last few days:


Apologies for my tardiness.

However, the festival runs through the 25th, and you've still got time to get in on this tonight:


I would totally go see this tonight if I could:

A Sunday In Hell Trailer Amedeo and Simone Pace Score (Blonde Redhead) from Bicycle Film Festival on Vimeo.

But I can't, so I'm not.

Moving on, a number of people have forwarded me this, so now I'm subjecting you to it:

To be a professional cyclist, one must have guts, microbiologist Lauren Peterson says, and she doesn’t just mean that in the metaphorical sense. Peterson, herself a pro endurance mountain biker, has theorized that elite cyclists have a certain microbiome living in their intestines that may allow them to perform better, and if you don’t have it, well, there may soon be a way to get it. . . .

Oh yeah, this is going exactly where you hoped it wouldn't:

Peterson hosts Prevotella in her gut, thanks to a fecal transplant she administered herself three years ago. Her donor? Another elite athlete.

So how do you pull off an amateur fecal transplant with a fellow athlete?  I just assumed you'd go butt-to-butt, but in fact what you do is you perform a "reverse enema:"

But through chance, she came across a donor, an elite long-distance racer, who had his microbiome mapped and screened after a case of food poisoning, which showed he was otherwise healthy. So Peterson took antibiotics to wipe out her own gut bacteria and essentially performed a reverse enema.

“I just did it at home,” she said of the February 2014 procedure. “It’s not fun, but it’s pretty basic.”

Incidentally, "Reverse Enema" is also the name of my pop punk band, and that's exactly how Brooklyn Vegan reviewed our first album:


Anyway, the story leaves certain questions unanswered (chief among them being #whatpressureyourunning on that reverse enema), but results are results:

Within a month, Peterson said, she began feeling better than she’d felt in years. She said before her transplant she was having trouble just training on her bike; just months later, she said she began winning pro races.

Of course, there is no way to prove the fecal transplant, opposed to other changes she may have made in her lifestyle or even the placebo effect, was the cause for her rebound.

And sure, it's all too easy to laugh at stuff like poop and enemas (in fact I'm laughing even as I type this), but keep in mind this is someone who's been suffering from the effects of Lyme disease, which can be debilitating, and if this relieved those symptoms then that's no joke.

Still, my concern is that fecal transplants and reverse enemas will fall into the wrong hands.  Yeah, you know which hands I'm talking about: Fred hands.  Freds are like North Korea in that if you allow them access to any sort of technology or information they'll turn around and use it against society.  (To wit: Strava, power meters, Zwift, the list goes on.)  Given this, all it takes is for one Fred to read that certain intestinal microbiomes are performance-enhancing and before you know it they're all sticking tubeless sealant injectors up their ass before races:


Which means doctors are going to be seeing a lot of this:


Don't think this is dangerous?  Well consider which publication broke the story in the first place:


Bicycling is the Fred bible, and not only do they name all the performance-enhancing microbes:

In addition to Prevotella, Petersen has identified an archeon named Methanobrevibacter smithii, or M. smithii, which she believes is also significant. Archeon are ancient microorganisms that have managed to survive for millions of years in hostile habitats like sulfur springs and deep in the ocean. They also live in the human digestive system, where they have specialized functions. Like Prevotella, Elite cyclists often have M. smithii, but it’s less common in amateur racers. That’s significant because M. smithii also appears to be a performance-enhancing microbe.

But they even mention carbon!

What does it do? In science terms, it thrives on hydrogen and carbon dioxide and other bacterial waste products in the gut. In 12-year old boy terms, M. smithii eats the poop of bacteria. Yes, everybody poops, even bacteria, and it can have detrimental effects on your health. Namely: buildups of hydrogen and carbon dioxide can prevent the other bacteria in your gut from properly breaking down your food for fuel, which is bad news if you need calories for that sprint.

Performance enhancing and carbon?  That squirting sound you hear is a thousand self-administered reverse enemas.

But of course like any other cutting-edge Fred tech you pay a high price for being an early adopter:

“What we’re learning is going to change a lot for cyclists as well as the rest of the population,” says Petersen. “If you get tested and you’re missing something, maybe in three years you’ll be able to get it through a pill instead of a fecal transplant. We’ve got data that no one has ever seen before, and we’re learning a lot. And I think I can say with confidence that bacterial doping— call it poop doping, if you must— is coming soon.”

Shoulda waited for the pill.

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Wednesday Rolling In With The Autobus

Just as water takes the shape of the vessel into which it is poured, so does cycling adapt to your current lifestyle.  For example, before my days were consumed by child-curation, I used to spend hours and hours swaddled in Lycra and racing about on bicycles of crabon.  Now, if I'm lucky, I can maybe squeeze in a half-hour of Category 6 Citi Biking to get my competitive cycling fix:


(One of my rivals doing intervals on the stationary trainer.)

While I may eschew Strava, wattage meters, and the like, I do check my Citi Bike times, for in the Cat 6 universe this the only metric that matters.  And while my quasi-career as a semi-professional bike blogger has taken me as far as Jersey City on those bikes of blue, my personal fitness testbed is the York and Jay to MacDougal and Prince segment.  So after last night's run I logged in and was pleasd to find that my form is coming along right on schedule:


(Other trips blurred because my whereabouts are a matter of national security.)

The most recent trip is on top, and you'll notice that with each ride I'm shaving at least a minute off my previous time.  Clearly I've got good legs after the Brompton World Championships, and I only wish there were some other goofy novelty race coming up because I'm clearly peaking.  Alas, in the absence of formalized competitionI may just have to ride back and forth over one of the East River bridges asking other riders, "Do you want any of this?," at least until such time as I'm arrested.

Of course, when you're talking about competitive cycling you can't ignore the importance of equipment, and it helps that last night I arrived at the station just as they were unloading some fresh bikes:


This meant that:

1) I had my pick of the litter;
2) The bikes had been freshly tuned;
3) Presumably they'd been disinfected as well, making it slightly less likely I'd contract some sort of illness or horrific Froome-like parasite that could put paid to my entire racing season.

Anyway, when you're out of the saddle on a Citi Bike and it isn't creaking like wet rattan or slipping out of gear then you know you've chosen well:


At this rate I expect sub-18 minute times by September.

In the meantime, by way of a recovery ride I pointed my bike towards some dirt this morning, only to be greeted by a brace of tick-ridden sentinels:


Both of whom regarded me with vacant, expressionless faces:


Which, it's worth noting, is pretty much the same look you get from a typical roadie:


When I first started riding up this way I found the deer sort of beguiling, but now I realize they're common as squirrels, and I guess they're so pervasive because they have no natural predators apart from people who drive pickup trucks with TRUMP stickers on them.

Anyway, even my recreational cycling is conforming to the somewhat confining vessel which is my life, because I'm currently doing what was once unthinkable, which is riding with flat pedals:


I put them on a few weeks back for a leisurely afternoon eating-and-drinking tour of Brooklyn my wife and I did a few weeks back, and since then I can't really think of a good reason to take them off again.  While I certainly don't intend to dispense with clicky shoes altogether, I've also come to realize that they're mostly pointless a fair amount of the time, and only now am I beginning to truly embrace the joy of cycling in "regular" clothes--though it goes without saying that I plan to upgrade to titanium pedals immediately:


Then I'll need a pair of those $995 sneakers, and of course a special gravel-specific frame protector:



Please.

Frame protection is for "woosies."

Speaking of Kickstarters, here's one for a tool kit that goes in your steer tube:


I'm partial to tool rolls these days myself, but if you don't want to spoil the clean lines of your ugly-ass mountain bike (yes, all mountain bikes are ugly) this might be for you.

And sorry, Freds, it doesn't work with crabon:

The Dialed Cap is compatible with any metal 1-1/8'' Steer tube. Currently NOT compatible with carbon steer tubes.

Lastly, as a parent of a balance-biking toddler, I was simultaneously amazed and horrified by this video which was forwarded by a reader:



It's like watching a bunch of zoo seals at feeding time.

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I may need to Kickstart myself some dignity.

Further to yesterday's post on the subject of the Brompton World Championships, if you're the one (1) person who wanted actual details about the actual race, I'm pleased to report that I've received a press release from Brompton which includes photos of the starting lineup:


The pointy end of the race, which I was nowhere near, hence my lack of a blow-by-blow account:


The finishing sprint:


The women's podium:



And the names of the victors in both the men's:

With a number of previous Brompton World Championship USA winners participating in the event, it was always going to be an exciting race. The battle for the finish line was intense, with 2015 USA Brompton Champion, Dave Mackay, and Victor Gras, a talented New York cyclist who placed second in the recent Grand Fondo New York, going head-to-head in a sprint finish. Dave took the win with a late surge of power, gaining just over a bike length by the line.

And women's categories:

New contender, Kristin Negele, took the women’s title and the 2011 USA women’s champion, Julie Secor, came third. The female and male champions both win flights to the UK and entry to participate in the Brompton World Championship final in London. The team event, sponsored by Brooks England, was convincingly won by the Prospect Park Pelicans, with the Philadelphia Fliers coming second and the Brompton NYC team coming in third.

So there you go.

I knew if I didn't do my job Brompton would eventually do it for me.

Oh, and one amateur photographer was kind enough to forward along some action shots of your's truley.  Notice my face is extremely flushed from the heat:


Fortunately when the man with the ices cart came by moments before the start I joined my kids in yelling "PLEEEASE!!!" until my wife finally bought us all some, and if it wasn't for that pre-race cup of frosty rainbow goodness I'd almost certainly have left in an ambulance.

Also, while on the surface the Brompton race would appear to be something of a novelty, it was in many ways like any of the more "serious" races in which I've participated over the years.  For example, like any Fred, after a race I'd always spend lots of time scouring the Internet for pictures of myself only to be deeply embarrassed by the results.  Sure, I may have felt cool at the time, but the photos invariably reveal that I was more schmo than pro.  Similarly, in this case, while everyone else looked dapper and composed:


I looked like a total schlub:


Not only am I about to lose my shorts:


But I'm also perspiring profusely in my tramp stamp area:


And speaking of tattoos, yes, I do realize I have one on my leg, and yes, I also realize it looks like one you'd find on the sorts of people who wear jorts to the water park.

It is what it is.

But don't feel bad for me, feel bad for Brompton, because that sound you hear is a bunch of people folding theirs up and consigning them to the closet forever after seeing those photos.

On the plus side, I may be able to get a lucrative automotive endorsement deal after all of this:


In other news, here's one of the most grandiose Kickstarter videos I've ever seen, and it's for...a helmet mirror:



Mind you, I have nothing against helmet mirrors.  In fact, given what's been going on here in New York recently I'd say they're probably a hell of a lot more important than helmets:


Though perhaps not quite as important as brakes:


But that's another discussion.

I do confess I've never actually used a helmet mirror while cycling, probably because I suffer from the distorted sense of aesthetics that caused me to get a leg tattoo all those years back, but a shatter- and vibration-proof rear-view mirror that clips to pretty much anything seems like a good idea to me.

However, I'll defer to people who actually use them as to whether or not this is the case.  (But please don't then go on about your damn recumbent--though feel free to weigh in on whether or not a recumbent-specific mirror that attaches to a beard is a good idea.)

And in other Kickstarting news, here's someone who thinks triathletes can Go Fit Themselves:



Here's his motivation:


"Every day I'm contacted by triathletes from around the world who simply want to get comfortable on their bike."

Silly triathletes.  How can you ever be truly comfortable on this?


That's like a folding bike rider consulting an expert on how to look dignified.

It just ain't gonna happen.

But this particular bike fitter is also a prop comic:


"...she'd been assured by somebody that these aerobars were going to meet her needs.  Quite frankly..."

[Pushes red button]

BZZZZZ: That was bullshit!

Wow.  He should totally Kickstart an aerobar attachment for that button.

Of course, triathlon equipment arguably lends itself just as well to prop comedy as a novelty buzzer:


And while I'm not particularly moved by this project I would totally fund a triathlete intervention video series that consisted entirely of scenes like this:



And yes, I realize full well the irony of my making fun of triathletes:



Hey, I shattered my glass house years ago.  At this point what do I have left to lose?

Categories: cycling | Leave a comment

Brompton World Championships: I Came, I Saw, I Folded

As the sporting world knows, yesterday saw the running of the Brompton World Championship USA race at the Harlem Skyscraper Criterium, a race in which I decided to compete after receiving a special "action suit" from a popular chain of menswear shops:


By the way, it's worth noting their stock rallied after my announcement, indicated by the green arrow:


I'm just saying.

Of course yesterday was also Fathers Day, and so that morning I took my elder son out for a ride on his new all-terrain bicycle:


This is his first geared bicycle, and I'm pleased to report he got the hang of shifting rather quickly, though that's hardly surprising as he's the beneficiary of my prodigious cycling genes.  I did however spare him my retrogrouchical tendencies, providing him with a bicycle equipped with both hydraulic disc brakes and a suspension fork.  Clearly, like many self-made moguls who pull themselves up from their bootstraps and then proceed to spoil their progeny, I am coddling him when it comes to cycling equipment.

(I've also installed a dropper post on my younger child's balance bike, though without a crank I'm not sure how to go about fitting an SRM.)

Anyway, after our excursion, I stuffed the top half of my "action suit" and a helmet into my Brompton bag:


And the whole crew boarded a train bound for Harlem USA:


Arriving at Marcus Garvey Park, the competition was as dapper as it was fierce:


And attire ran the spectrum from Park Avenue Doorman:


To Battle of Verdun:


Deeply intimidated, I nevertheless steadied my hands just enough to pin up:


Each safety pin a stake through the heart of my AWEAR-TECH by AWEARNESS Kenneth Cole suit:


It uses 37.5 technology, an advanced fabric technology from the high-performance sports world, in case you were wondering.

Of course you were.

I also pinned my necktie to my shirt so it wouldn't fly over my shoulder once I unleashed my incredible speed:


Brompton riders are a shifty bunch and you never know when one of them might grab onto your tie for a free ride.

At this point I should mention that it was rather hot.  Also, the Harlem crit is famous for crashes, and the race immediately preceding ours was the Category 3/4, arguably the crashiest field in all of amateur bicycle racing.  The upshot of this is was that our race was delayed considerably while an ambulance tended to the wounded, meaning we all spent at least an additional hour waiting for the start and sweating in our finery.

Linen clearly would have been the move.

In any case, eventually what was left of the 3/4 field finished their race and the Bromptonauts took to the course:


To some (okay, all) it might have looked like a sideshow, but for us it was the main event:


Rolling out towards the start, I experienced an exhilarating mix of intense anticipation and mild embarrassment:


Though it also might just have been the early stages of heatstroke.

We then lined up our machines for the Le Mans start:



And an impressive array it most certainly was:


We then lined up across from our Bromptons, and as we received our pre-race briefing this crew took the opportunity to briefly upstage us:


For that moment, the photographed became the photographers:


"I'm the king of the world!," this rider did not shout:


And then finally we were off.

What ensued were 10 extremely hot laps during which I would have given anything to discard my jacket, and you haven't experienced excitement until you've opened a button and loosened your tie while racing in a criterium on a bicycle with 16-inch wheels:


Next year I'm going with carbon trispokes and seersucker.
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BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz

Sorry (not really) to be late (not really), but I treated myself to some much-needed saddle time this morning:


It's hard to believe that it's been over two years already since I took delivery of the Milwaukee, and my fondness for it has only increased during that time.  At this time of year the bike goes fenderless, and I'm taking advantage of the additional clearance to run/rub/palp some 32mm tires inflated to exactly [X]psi instead of my usual 28s.  (There's no way I'm disclosing #whatpressureyourunning, or my proprietary tire pressure algorithm which involves daily weighings as well as occasional soil-tastings.)  Other features include an EH Works tool roll (go ahead and buy two, you deserve it), as well as a genuine MA2 rim on the front:


I dug these rims out of a bike shop basement many years ago because they were the official Jobst Brandt-approved rim and even though I was still a dyed-in-the-Lycra Fred and these were considered old and heavy his curmudgeonliness spoke directly to my soul.  Sadly, the rear rim is no longer with us (probably due to a sub-par non Jobstian wheel build which I was not responsible for), but the front is still going strong--which is not really saying much since pretty much any front wheel will last roughly forever.  As for the rear, I rebuilt it some years back with a cheap polished rim of similar dimensions, and I daresay silver wheels lend a bicycle a certain dignity which is absent from today's flashy wheelsets.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right you'll know, and if you're wrong you'll see a good old-fashioned fixie fail.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and may all your rides be bicycle rides.


--Wildcat Rock Machine





1) Shoe designer Christian Louboutin used which cycling activity to showcase their $995 sneaker?

--Salmoning
--Bike polo
--Trackstanding
--Cyclocross





2) How much money is Velo Visor looking to raise?

--$30,000
--$300,000
--£300,000
--A few hundred bucks



3) According to Hallmark, which is not an appropriate gift for a 10-year anniversary?

--Tin
--Aluminum
--Diamonds
--Carbon fiber






4) Bronx Community Board 8 voted against a street redesign that included a bike lane because:

--People will stop visiting New York City, the economy will collapse, and the city will become a ghost town
--"The Bronx is not close to New York City like Brooklyn is"
--Everybody who'd been killed on that street deserved to die
--All of the above





5) Yet another NYPD report regarding a cyclist's death has turned out to be false.

--True
--False




(Depends on #whatpressureyourunning, innit?)

6) Did Pirelli get bike tires right with the Pzero?

--Yes
--No
--Maybe
--Who cares?




7) This Bicycling story fails to include the most important feature of all: an "off" button.

--True
--False



***Special #Whatpaintbrushyourunning-Themed Bonus Video!***




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Sorry I’m Late, But I’m Old and Slow Now

After a night of uneasy dreams in which I was being chased by Roberto Heras:


I awoke in a cold sweat only to realize it's only a few more days until the Brompton World Championship race in New York City:


In which, as a budding Bromptonaut, I will obviously take part:


Plus, you know, I've got that suit:


As a semi-professional bike blogger I have scant opportunity to wear a suit, and if it weren't for the race I'd have to wait for someone I know to get married or die--or, failing that, my own demise:


Please bury me with my Brompton as it's the only bike that will fit inside my carbon fiber coffin.  Of course, it does technically still belong to Brompton, so if they want it they'll have to exhume me, which sounds like the premise for a bicycle-themed zombie movie called "Undead Fred."

In the meantime, rest assured that this very morning I weighed down the Brommie with ballast and headed out for some Cat 6-style bridge intervals:


Victory may be elusive, but I've already got intoxication in the bag.

Speaking of fashion, fancy shoe purveyor Christian Louboutin harnessed the awesome marketing power of bicycle polo to showcase a $995 pair of sneakers:



FLORENCE, Italy — Isolationists, take note. Politicians may build walls, seal borders, freeze passports and talk trash about international cooperation, yet the realities of our global interdependence remain unchanged. Though it may no longer be the world’s largest manufacturer of pig iron or steel, the United States remains a powerhouse thought generator whose cultural exports — think rock ’n’ roll, graffiti, Pop Art, software, computer gaming, skateboarding, surfing, sportswear, the list is extensive — are avidly taken up around the world.

Consider the spectacle that opened the 92nd edition of Pitti Uomo, the twice-yearly men’s wear trade fair that is not only the world’s largest such event, but also by far its most creatively adventuresome.

I'm not sure I'd include bike polo as a uniquely American cultural export.  Were we even responsible for it in the first place?  And if we were, did the current hipster variation actually originate in Seattle?

In a plaza set before the 14th-century basilica of Santa Maria Novella, in the heat of a Tuscan morning, polo grounds had been set up, complete with barricades, safety nets and goal posts. The playing field was not for an equestrian tournament but for its two-wheel variant, hardcourt bike polo — a growing and super-democratic version of the sport of kings, one with roots among off-duty bicycle messengers in Seattle.

“Bike messengers did it after work,” said Julian Aristeo, a mechanic who first trained as a graphic designer and who is a member of the three-man Gnarcats, a Seattle team. Though in ordinary play, hardcourt bike polo is notably unisex, for Pitti the teams were all male. “It’s a men’s wear show, after all,” Mr. Aristeo said.

Well I don't know if Seattle's where this current iteration of bike polo started, but as far as who actually invented it in the first palce, according to a popular online user-edited encyclopedia it was proto-Fred in Ireland by the name of Richard J. Mecredy:

The game was invented in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1891 by retired champion cyclist Richard J. Mecredy, editor of The Irish Cyclist magazine.

Though my own research points to Francis Wilson of New Rochelle, NY:


I suspect however that neither of these are true, and I'm working on a theory that the game was in fact invented by a Cleveland cyclist who needed to transport a ham home from the butcher shop by bicycle.  The ham was too unwieldy and succulent to carry, and his bike was not equipped with a basket or rack, and so he used a broom to push the ham home while riding alongside it

And that's how bike polo was born.

Lastly, after a failed Kickstarter campaign, Velo Visor is back with a flashy new video:


Originally the were looking for six thousand of your British Pounds Sterling:



But now they've lowered their goal to £300 (or three hundred eighty-two of our American Fun Tickets) which hardly seems worth it:



Wonder if I can get one in time for the Brompton World Championships.

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I’m This Many! [Holds up 10 fingers.]

So hey, guess what?  This blog's 10!





So if you want to go modern, might I suggest a jewel-encrusted Cipollini:



Cipollini RB1K Luxury Edition from Mcipollini on Vimeo.

Or, if you're the traditional sort, how about a used Jamis?


I'm cool with either--or both!

Most years I forget my Blog-A-Versary, or my Blogular Birthday, or my Blog-Mitzvah, or whatever you want to call it, but when I realized I was closing in on a decade I decided this year would be different.  Indeed, I flirted will all sorts of celebratory ideas, including but not limited to:

  • Leading a great bike ride
  • Having a big party
  • Relaunching the whole operation on a fancy new platform complete with smarphone app
  • Quitting the whole goddamn shitshow once and for all
Alas, when it came right down to it, the unfortunate fact is that I couldn't get it together to do any of these things.  In fact, I ended up forgetting my e-decennial just like I'd forgotten the others before it, because the goddamn thing was yesterday.  And now it's too late.


Oh, get over it, mutt.

Still, it's only natural that I'd forget my big day, because at this point in my life I'm very busy.  For one thing, I'm one half of a New York City power couple.  (I'm the powerless half, every power couple needs one.)  For another, I'm the father of two (2) human children (it used to be seventeen (17) but I donated fifteen (15) of them to Recycle-A-Bicycle) and I must prepare them for life in a dystopian future.  (I've got them on a rigorous program of martial arts and computer coding.)  And then there are the community board meetings, and the public appearances, and all those great shows on Netflix, and before you know it there's hardly even time for a sub-sub-epic ride in suburbia let alone a lavishly self-indulgent birthday celebration:


Yes, these days an hour or two on the trails behind the shopping mall on what the dropper post weenies would consider an "entry level" mountain bike is pretty much as "epic" as it gets for me--and even then I usually meet the family at the mall afterwards and we do our grocery shopping at Whole Foods.

Yeah, that's right, we shop at Whole Foods.  Then we fly back to the Bronx on our private jet:


Sometimes while we're waiting on the tarmac we hail like 15 Ubers and when they show up we point and laugh at them as we take off.

Anyway, all of this is to say that while I reserve to right to engage in some sort of retrospective, commemorative event, or crass merchandise offering at some point during my tenth year, it ain't gonna happen today.

There is one thing I'd like to share with you though before I sign off for the day:


10 years ago I was a cycling rube, a New York City Fred who frittered away his carefree pre-child-rearing years by waking up early to ride around in circles with other Freds.  Then I started a blog so I could make fun of fixies.  In so doing I had the tremendously good fortune to be embraced by the cycling community and to experience all sorts of things I never would have otherwise: going on a book tour; riding L'Eroica; and falling headlong into my own urine, just to name a few.  I owe this all to the people too numerous to mention who have reached out to me over the years, as well as anybody who's ever read my blog, or my books, or any of the other stuff I've scribbled, and it's quite humbling to consider that if I hadn't started this thing I'd still be riding around in circles both literally and figuratively.  

So thank you, and feel free to knock off early today and go for a ride.

You deserve it.


--Wildcat Rock Machine



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The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Community Boards

You may recall that not too long ago I attended my local community board meeting in support of the city's plan to upgrade the deadly drag strip that separates me from the city's third-largest park:


Well, last night the board met again to vote on an idiotic resolution designed to basically scuttle the whole thing, and with the taste of stupid still lingering in my mouth I hopped on the WorkCycles headed on down to the shitshow.

To give you an idea of how New York City community boards work, imagine being really, really hungry and deciding to order a pizza.  Now imagine that before ordering your pizza you first had to consult with a group of 30 people.  Of these people, ten have severe gluten allergies, another ten have religious dietary restrictions, and the remaining ten have never eaten a pizza but have seen them on TV and therefore have very strong opinions about them.

Sounds annoying right?  Sure it does.  And when you're talking about a city street that people can use without dying it's downright infuriating.

Anyway, after about two hours of congratulating themselves for their service, denying various permits, and doing everything they could to keep the neighborhood preserved in formaldehyde, it was finally time for the board to vote on the resolution to sweep the bike lane under the musty, dated rug of which they are so fond.  But first, they each had to unzip their pants and dangle their stupid opinions.  It's hard who was the dumbest, but the top contenders have to be:
  • The bloviating parody of an elder statesman who grumbled on and on about the city's conspiracy to create motor vehicle traffic, and how if people can't drive here from other places then the entire economy will collapse;
  • The hateful woman who blamed the 12 people who have been killed on Broadway since 2010 for their own deaths;
  • The guy who rejected comparisons to successful projects of a similar nature in Brooklyn because this is the Bronx, and "we're not close to New York City like Brooklyn is."
That last one in particular was a special kind of stupid.  I mean sure, as someone who's experienced with stupid I get what he's trying to say in the same way I can tell that dark spot deep inside the Jell-O is probably a raisin.  See, while the Bronx is obviously a part of New York City, it is common in the other four boroughs to refer to Manhattan as "the city."  Furthermore, there are also people who do refer to Manhattan as "New York."  However, those people tend to be no younger than 70 years old, whereas this guy seemed to be around my age, making him a real whipper-snapper by community board standards.

Regardless, let's look at the statement that "we're not close to New York City like Brooklyn is."  Here's New York City:


(From Britannica Kids, fittingly.)

Here's what's colloquially called "the city," or "New York" if you were born during the Wilson administration:


Now here's Brooklyn:


As you can see, some of it is very close to "the city," and some of it is farther away.

And here's the Bronx:


Like Brooklyn, some of it is very close to "the city," and some of it is farther away.  (City Island and Coney Island are roughly equidistant to Times Square.)  Both boroughs also share a similar population density and low rate of car ownership (under 50% for both).  However, being smaller than Brooklyn there is simply less of the Bronx that is geographically removed from Manhattan.  Furthermore, the Bronx is part of the same street grid as Manhattan, and certainly in the western half of the borough it bears more resemblance to Manhattan than any neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Perhaps most vexingly, the meeting took place here, just a few blocks from Manhattan


And the very board on which this guy sits literally represents a neighborhood in Manhattan:


Of course the raisin in the Jell-O here is that our neighborhood is farther from downtown Manhattan where all the shiny tall buildings are than, say, Brownstone Brooklyn is, and this is the concept he was awkwardly trying to extricate from the misshapen Jell-O mold that is his brain.  However, not only are we all part of the same city, but our bodies also react similarly to being hit by a car, which is what makes this sort of isolationist thinking so goddamn toxic.

Indeed, one wonders why instead of fighting the city they live in and maintaining deadly conditions for the people they supposedly represent (inasmuch as a group of people who aren't elected and serve until they die can represent anybody) these people don't just move here and be done with it:


In the end, the community board passed the cockblocking resolution, with 20-something people voting for it and I believe five voting against it.  (In all fairness, there were two board members who expressed their support of the plan, one of whom in particular did so eloquently and with an unerring logic that was no doubt completely lost on his fellow board members.)  The community board's role in all this is merely advisory, meaning the DOT can go ahead with this anyway, but of course the board holds political currency so this will almost certainly result in delay.  And while the local officials who are actually elected are in favor of this plan, who knows what will happen in the wake of this vote.

Hopefully nobody else dies due to all this dicking around.

(Ironically, only now that I'm an old fuddy-duddy myself do I truly recognize the importance of making your voice heard at your community board meetings.  Unfortunately it's hard to attend them unless you're retired.)

Lastly, in more dispiriting news, the city has experienced its first bike share death.  The media responded by perpetuating a victim-blaming narrative, and the NYPD responded by ticketing cyclists.

And so it goes.
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Vision Zero Forum in Santa Cruz – June 29, 2017

Leah Shahum, Founder and Executive Director of the Vision Zero Network, will speak at the Vision Zero forum hosted by the Santa Cruz County Community Traffic Safety and Santa Cruz County Public Health on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

Vision Zero Forum Santa Cruz County California 2017

The event begins 4 PM at the Simpkins Swim Center, 979 17th Ave, Santa Cruz, CA.

Vision Zero seeks to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries due to traffic collisions. 343 people have died in Santa Cruz County from 2006 through 2016 in 182 collisions, of whom 39 victims were pedestrians, and 16 were riding bicycles. Seven California cities — Sacramento, San Francisco, Fremont, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, and San Diego — have adopted some kind of Vision Zero policy to reduce traffic fatalities.

RSVP to this event by visiting the Santa Cruz Vision Zero Forum online survey. Simpkins Swim Center is located behind Shoreline Middle School on 17th Avenue between Brommer Street and Portola Drive. Santa Cruz Metro Bus 66 through Live Oak serves this area with 60 to 90 minute headways until about 9 PM.

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