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Author Archives: BikeSnobNYC

I was going to administer a quiz today, but then I didn’t.

They say you haven’t truly made it until you’re featured in a Manhattan window display:

They also say you’re officially a cultural icon if that display rotates:

Done, and done.

Anyway, after standing in the snow and crying tears of joy for 20 minutes I made straight for the nearest bicycle:

And as I wiped off the saddle with the sleeve of my custom-tailored Inspector Gadget jacket I decided that Brooks and I should collaborate on some kind of signature premium bike share kit that includes a special foul-weather saddle-wiping cloth and of course a pair of leather sheepskin-lined bicycling gauntlets with matching cap and goggles:

Just imagine what a dashing figure I’d cut as I threaded my way through the streets of Manhattan, my silk scarf trailing behind me until it got caught in the rear-view mirror of a passing truck and strangled me to death.

This is a very real possibility too.  See, the way it works is you’re riding in the bike lane, only to encounter a Barone Sanitation truck in the bike lane:

And just when you’re making your way around it is when the fuel truck comes roaring up from behind:

Beer trucks are a little different:

What happens there is when you make your move you invariably find yourself on a collision course with the hand truck guy:

Then there’s what I call the “Hand-Truck District,” which is the stretch of Sixth Avenue just below 34th Street:

On this day in particular I would say hand trucks outnumbered bicycles at least two to one:

Still, even giant trucks in the bike is somehow less frustrating than one asshole’s car:

And while I used to find salmon irritating I now just think they should make all the bike lanes two-way and be done with it:

After awhile you realize it’s futile to fight with human nature, and instead of creating policy that fights human nature why not simply accommodate it instead?  People are going to salmon, so instead of ticketing we should just make the bike lanes two-way.  People are going to drive like assholes, so instead of this whole “Vision Zero” thing we should just shoot them.  And so forth.

Meanwhile the snow fell in big chunky flakes as I rode:

It fell on the lions in front of the library:

Where there’s currently a Lou Reed exhibition:

And where, as I took that picture, an express bus from Staten Island pulled up behind me bearing this decidedly more prosiac advertisement:

I suppose these two banners represent the two opposite ends of the opioid addiction spectrum.

Speaking of snowy climes, bikes now outnumber cars in Copenhagen:

Bikes offcially outnumber cars in Copenhagen: https://t.co/CjcknYj69A pic.twitter.com/vnp74mzq8i

— Bicycling Magazine (@BicyclingMag) March 10, 2017

Actually bikes probably outnumber cars in a lot of places, it’s just that people aren’t riding them.

In any case, apparently t’was not always thus in Copenhagen:

When Copenhagen first began manually counting cars and bikes in 1970, there were 351,133 cars and 100,071 bikes on the roads—a ratio of about 3.5 to 1. That’s important, because it means not only are more people riding—about 150 percent more over 46 years—but also, fewer people are driving.

“Cycling went from being a normal part of daily life to a core identity for the city,” Klaus Bondam, former technical and environmental mayor of Copenhagen, explains to the Guardian. 

And they insist that if they can do it anybody can:

“[Bike commuting] is not something that’s in Copenhagen’s genes,” Kabell told NPR back in 2014. “We’re [not] weirder or stranger than any other people on earth. Every city can do this.”

It’s a nice thought, and there are certainly some encouraging signs in New York City.  Here are the Citi Bike stats for January 2017:

Which is quite an increase from January 2016:

On the other hand, Seattle’s bike share program will shut down completely at the end of this month:

Officials had planned to roll out a new system with electric bikes to replace Pronto, the city’s troubled bike-share system.

But Mayor Ed Murray on Friday said millions of dollars allocated for the new system will be spent instead on bike- and pedestrian-safety projects. And the city no longer will pursue an agreement with Quebec-based Bewegen to put electric bikes on Seattle’s streets, said Benton Strong, a Murray spokesman.

Pronto is scheduled to shut down at the end of March, so the announcement means the city will soon have no public system at all.

Yes, Copenhagen’s no “weirder or stranger” than any other city–nor is New York, or for that matter Seattle.  But the one thing Seattle has that Copenhagen and New York don’t is a helmet law.

So there you go.

Continue reading »

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Okay, let’s do this.

I realize that yesterday I said I wasn’t going to cover pro cycling, but I’ll make an exception for component failure porn of this caliber any day:

Wheel failure for Gianni Moscon of @TeamSky at #tirrenoadriatico pic.twitter.com/5GuaYyd4ss

— Trevor Ward (@willwrite4cake) March 8, 2017

Supposedly the collapse came after an encounter with a pothole, and Shimano is going to get to the bottom of it:

In the full statement from Shimano, whose component wing of the business, PRO, produced the three spoke Textreme tubular wheel, Shimano said that the wheels had passed rigorous testing and emphasised its “flawless record”.

“PRO is continuing its investigation into the issue we saw with Team Sky at the team time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico. We are continuing to look closely into all factors that could cause the incident,” the statement read.

I can only hope the investigator’s first question will be #whatpressureyourunning, and I’m sure it will conveniently turn out to be either just under or just over what Shimano says the wheel is rated for.

In any case, we haven’t had a wheel failure investigation this exciting since the Mavic R-Sys debacle of aught-nine, which of course gave rise to the Diminutive Frenchman Unit (or DFU) as a universally-accepted unit of measurement:

I may be indifferent towards bike helmets but there’s no way I’d bend a crabon spoke without first putting on safety glasses.

But hey, the joke’s on me apparently, since the R-Sys is not only still available but Freds are still paying stupid amounts of money for them:

Of course I understand the temptation to spend lots of money on fancy wheels.  Indeed, back in 1999, in the heady days of my being a total Fred, I bought the first incarnation of the Mavic Ksyrium wheelset.  (I’d include an image of the original Kysriums but I can’t even find one, such is the short shelf-life of high-end cycling components.)  Those wheels are positively quaint by today’s standards, but I can assure you that to a young fin de siècle Fred those silver decals, fat bladed aluminum spokes, and internally threaded rims were the epitome of speed and technology and represented exactly what I’d need to make leap to big-time Category 3 bike racing.

Anyway, I seem to recall paying $700 for these wheels.  As a born-again retrogrouch that strikes me as a lot of money for wheels even today, but back then it was a fucking fortune, especially when you consider I was pretty young and had yet to become a world-famous cycling personality and media mogul.  And while the wheels certainly did look cool on my race bike they were no more round than the wheels I’d had before.  Furthermore, the affair was short-lived, for one day while riding in Manhattan a kid ran out into the street and kicked my rear wheel for no apparent reason.  This knocked the wheel out of true and it was never the same again.  So eventually I sold them at a considerable loss.

Meanwhile, if instead of buying those Ksyriums back in 1999 I had bought $700 worth of stock in, oh, I dunno, General Mills I’d have received about 35 shares.  Today that investment would be worth $2,100…which is almost enough to buy a pair of R-Sys wheels, so there you go.

Worst of all I can’t even say I learned anything from this lesson, since I still spend money on all sorts of crap I’ll wish I hadn’t in 20 years–which I suppose is the difference between me and people like Old Man Buffet, who I mentioned yesterday:

(Disclaimer: I have not authenticated any of these quotes.)

Hey, he may be one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but is he truly happy?

Almost certainly yes.

Speaking of happiness, traditional wheelsets, and materialism, yesterday I enjoyed a ride on my road bike, which I’ve been thinking of retiring:

Why am I thinking of retiring it?  Because for a parent of various human children who lives in a New York City apartment building I have a lot of bikes.  Here are my bikes currently in service as well as their use:

Ironic Orange Julius Bike: Intercity travel, locking up outside in high-theft areas
Travel Bike: Travel, all-terrain rambling
Ritte Rust-Bucket (above): Fred rides, all-terrain rambling
Milwaukee: Fred rides, all-terrain rambling, winter road rides (bike is fendered in winter)
Ol’ Piney: Mountain-Fred rides, all-terrain rambling, snow rides
Engin Artisanal Custom-Curated Singlespeed Mountain Bike: Mountain-Fred rides, all-terrain ramblings, races and ironic singlespeeding events
Brompton*: Bromptoneering
WorkCycles: Child-schlepping, family outings, neighborhood errand-running with an emphasis on diaper runs

*[Theoretically this still belongs to Brompton]

That’s eight bikes in regular service.  The downside is they take up space and psychic energy.  The upside is that it’s not like I’m putting in 10,000 miles a year these days, so wear and tear is spread fairly evenly across eight bikes, which means I’m replacing wear items pretty infrequently.

Nevertheless, in the interest of hoarding, I have retired the following bikes he last few years:

Scattante: Redundant due to Ironic Orange Julius Bike (donated)
Hardtail mountain bike: More or less redundant due to Ol’ Piney (still have, just disassembled and stored)
Big Dummy: More or less redundant due to WorkCycles (re-homed)
Cyclocross Bike: More or less redundant due to overlap among my other drop-bar bikes, plus I haven’t raced cyclocross in like six years (re-homed)

Anyway, I had finally decided to retire the Ritte Rust-Bucket in the interest of space and psychic energy conservation, but I really enjoyed riding it and have rationalized not doing so by deciding I need one bike with actual road pedals.

So much for that.

Lastly, I’m sorry to report a cyclist has struck and seriously injured a pedestrian:


The woman had just stepped out from between two parked cars mid-block near Sixth Avenue about 7 p.m. when the cyclist, 23, hit her with his aluminum road bike as he headed west in the right lane, police said.

Interesting that they specified the material of the bike.  Perhaps it makes the cyclist seem less evil than if they’d been riding a carbon bike.  In any case, I hit a pedestrian once while cycling many years ago.  She ran out into the street to hail a cab and I didn’t have time to stop or swerve.  She went down pretty hard, but I was very fortunate that she was young and resilient and was able to spring back up and duck into the cab after giving me a withering look.  I forgave myself almost immediately, since it was technically her “fault,” but as time goes on I realize that as the party on wheels there’s always a little more you can do, and that you’ve always got to be prepared for people emerging into traffic, because it’s a busy city and that’s what people do.  That’s not to blame either the cyclist or the pedestrian here, but that’s just the way it is.

Ride safe out there.

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Well would you look at that, it’s Wednesday already!

Let’s delve into the mail bag, shall we?

First of all, further to yesterday’s post:

ubercurmudgeon said…

Vaccines are not like helmets. Vaccines are like the cycle safety training you get at school (or used to, depending on where you live.) It is training for your immune system to be able to cope with diseases, just like training kids to cope with motorists or adverse conditions. And if nearly everyone gets it then the human species as a whole (or the roads in this analogy) becomes safer for all. Helmets are like prophylactics – wise to use in some conditions, but not 100% (in fact a lot less in the case of helmets), and unnecessary with your long-term partner (or on the same two-mile ride to school you do ten times a week for years.)

March 8, 2017 at 3:33 AM

Well, if nothing else I feel I should point out the following:

1) If used correctly, condoms are indeed close to 100% effective:

Sadly, once the Trump administration destroys Planned Parenthood once and for all nobody will know how to use a condom anymore because there will be nobody around to show them, but that’s a separate issue;

2) Not only are helmets far less effective than condoms, but only some bicycle crashes involve the head, whereas 100% of accidental pregnancies involve the genitals.*  So really, wearing a bicycle helmet is more like wearing a condom on your finger**: sure, it might come into play under the right set of circumstances, but for the most part for all the good it’ll do it probably doesn’t make a meaningful difference;

3) The most important difference between helmets and condoms is that when a helmet breaks people think it saved their lives, but when it condom breaks people understand their lives may very well be ruined.

*[Oh sure, you can still manage to swap STDs while using condoms, but I’m not going to get into a whole dental dam/knee pad analogy since this is still purportedly a cycling blog.]

**[Once the Trump administration destroys Planned Parenthood and everyone forgets how to use condoms people probably will start wearing them on their fingers.]

Please send any remaining thoughts or insights regarding helmets directly into the void.

Thank you.

Secondly, Anonymous asks:

Anonymous said…

Are you gonna talk about the Spring Classics this year? You are my only source for racing info.

March 8, 2017 at 3:28 AM

No.

I’m officially done with pro cycling.  See, I’ve always loved bikes but hated sports, and while it took me awhile to realize this it turns out that pro cycling is just like any other sport and the bikes are merely incidental.  Shocking, I know.  Oh sure, the Classics were kind of cool because they rode bikes with skinny tires on bumpy roads, but now we have gravel-grinding right here in Canada’s gular pouch so who the hell needs it?  Plus, pro road cycling is a sport almost devoid of personalities.  “Oooh, but what about Peter Sagan?  He scarfed a bag of Haribo and gave a rude interview!”  Please.  Peter Sagan is a phenomenal bike rider and a kooky character, but he’s also a total bro-bag, and the fact that roadies get so excited about Haribo and watching other people eat it is merely proof of what a joyless existence they lead.  Really, the stuff hangs on hooks in delis, what’s the big deal?

So do yourself a favor and expunge the pro cycling weenie train from your consciousness forevermore.

I will, however, continue to enjoy all the bickering about disc brakes and the implosion of Team Sky:

Doubts over Froome’s support for Brailsford surfaced in January, shortly after the boss had claimed the package contained the legal decongestant fluimucil – a claim that no one has yet been able to substantiate. At a press gathering in Monaco, Froome was repeatedly asked if he still had faith in Brailsford’s ability to champion the team’s credibility, to which he replied “That’s not really for me to say” before switching the focus to his own personal credibility.

Seems to me that as the team’s star rider it’s exactly for him to say, but what do I know?

Speaking of gravel, I’m taking all my money out of Chris King headsets and putting it into gravel bikes, because as America’s infrastructure deteriorates they’re poised to become more popular than ever:

Yes, apparently instead of repaving the streets in Omaha the city has decided “fuck it” and gone back to gravel:

Then repair costs escalated, and potholes started going unfilled. On particularly troubled blocks, the city converted the asphalt surface into a gravelly dirt, a peculiar sight in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods in the center of a city. Only a small fraction of them, less than 10 miles, have been reclaimed.

“I can’t even open my windows on that side of the house,” said Sharon Thonen, a retiree who lives on what is now a dirt road a block from a busy Starbucks. Children stopped riding their bikes on her street after the asphalt was ripped out, Ms. Thonen said. “During the summer, it’s just a dust bowl.”

Wait, the kids stopped riding their bikes?  But what about those sweet gravel skids???  These kids today [grumblegrumble].  And what’s Sharon Thonen complaining about?  People in suburbs north of New York City pay a heft premium to live on dusty gravel roads:

This is why, at the private school by my home, the city kids get picked up in gleaming chauffeur-driven Suburbans, whereas the suburban kids get picked up in Range Rovers with a layer of white dust.

In fact, I’d say the people of Omaha have got it made, and they should hope Old Man Buffett doesn’t decide to pave them himself.

Then again, while it’s tempting to imagine gravel roads slowing the spread of motordom, all it really means is that people buy bigger and dumber cars.  If they’re already buying massive all-terrain SUVs just to drive around on paved roads just imagine what they’ll buy when they actually do have to drive on gravel:

We’re so screwed. Continue reading »

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The Appearance of Safety

I suppose the moment I realized I’d given up on life was when I found myself watching Dutch bicycle rush hour porn:

The above clip–a particularly perverse example of the genre in which throngs of cyclists somehow manage to coexist with both pedestrians and each-other despite a flagrant lack of both traffic controls and helmets–holds particular significance for me.  See, when I visited Amsterdam back in 2011 I regularly disembarked from this very spot, for we were staying in Amsterdam-Noord and relied on the ferry to get to and from the city proper:

Indeed, it was on one of those ferries that I spotted the rare and elusive Polnago:

Of course I wrote about my travels in my third book, “Bike Snob: A Broad,” and to this day I remain nostalgic for my time in a city where it is perfectly normal to spirit your offspring about town in a in a waterproof germ bubble:

Alas, here in America we have a more complicated relationship with both children and bicycles, and for that matter with safety in general:

(The image of the kid in the plastic hat with a skinned knee really says it all.)

While I agree with the underlying theme of this story (accidents happen even when you take precautions so don’t beat yourself up over it), I’m deeply unsettled by the comparison of bike helmets and vaccines:

Of course, the surfaces of playgrounds were rock-hard, there were no seatbelts in the back seat and no one had ever heard of bike helmets.

I’m not in any way nostalgic for unbridled bullying, any more than I am for bicycle-related head trauma, motor vehicle deaths or, for that matter, measles, whooping cough and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Making the world safer for children is a great and good thing. And it’s wonderful if you can fit the school to the child and make the playground more pleasant — as well as safer — for everyone.

Wait, bike helmets ended head trauma?

But even when you put down soft mats under the swings and get everyone buckled into their bike helmets, life doesn’t always go smoothly and we end up with regrets. And heaven knows, children who have managed to evade all the safety measures still come into the emergency room, and their parents have to hug them and take them home and keep going.

It’s scary enough that there are people who are against vaccines, which are right up there with literacy and access to clean drinking water as the essential components for a decent quality of life.  Unfortunately, comparing helmets and vaccines in turn invites comparisons between people who don’t put helmets on their children and people who don’t vaccinate their children.  This is dangerous, not to mention stupid.

See, vaccines work.  Helmets, on the other hand (or head), are more like echinacea, in that people like to think they work but whether they actually do or not is debatable.  In fact, I’d argue that when it comes to children, helmets make cycling more dangerous.  Firstly, they’re almost always fitted poorly.  (Putting shoes on a child is hard enough; do you think the average parent has the wherewithal to fuss with helmet straps?)  Secondly, a typical child’s bike has such a tiny gear that unless the kid’s going hillbombing he or she won’t even reach running speed.  Thirdly, look at the size of these things relative to their precious little heads:

What happens is the kid falls of the bike and then their giant helmets hit the pavement, forcing their chins right into it, whereas if they didn’t have a bib bulbous dome strapped to their heads it’s entirely possible they wouldn’t have hit their head at all.

Granted, I don’t have the mean streak in me to push my child off his bike repeatedly with and without a helmet so I don’t have hard data here, but I’ve been watching these little fuckers fall while riding, running, and even just standing still for years now and the mechanics have become fairly predictable.

So to recap:

Vaccines:

Effective, administered by a doctor.

Helmets:

Decorative, administered by a parent who just wants to get out of the fucking house already.

And no, I’ll never stop blathering on about bicycle helmets, because they are the foamy non-biodegradable embodiment of our completely idiotic relationship with safety–the same relationship that gave us travel bans, and calls for border walls, and guns in schools to protect kids from bears.  It’s why we’re an obese nation that drives everywhere, and why the bicycle is merely a tool for smuggling guns:

Ah yes, if only this country had proper respect for the Second Amendment decent folk wouldn’t have to resort to such trickery and we’d be rid of bicycles (and safe from bears) forevermore.

Though this does raise an interesting question:

(#whatcaliberyourunning)

Why didn’t the smuggler use a fat bike???

He could have carried a lot more firepower that way.

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I could come up with a title for this post, but then it would be even later.

The 1970s:

(I like how at the end she just drops the bike like, “Fuck this.”)

Besides voluminous hair and wobbly rides over covered bridges, this decade also gave us the musical stylings of Kiss, and while it may have taken over 40 years now you can finally own the Kiss-branded crabon time trial bike and matching wheelset of your dreams:

The carbon-fiber KISS road bike allows the purchaser to have a KISS 88MM wheel set with the black and white KISS logo, a KISS limited edition carbon-fibre rear disc wheel featuring the four KISS faces from the Rock and Roll Over cover and a limited edition carbon-fibre tri-spoke front wheel that is also black and white with the KISS logo and symbols of the band members. See each of the items below. Those interested in learning more about the KISS bike options can check in at the Sciacallo Bikes website.

I’m going to assume the bike is wind tunnel-tested:

By which I mean they pointed a fan at it for 20 minutes to make sure the Kiss decals didn’t fall off.

And clearly it’s a shot across the cockpit of another time trial bike that also bears the name of someone world-famous for lechery:

Sadly no word on complete bike pricing, but if the non-Kiss “chassis” is just over $3,000 you can assume the full-douche version will cost you quite a bit more:

That’s a lot to pay for some irony, and frankly I’d go with the waffle maker instead:

Though I suppose if you have your heart set on something bike-specific you could always settle for the Kiss wheelset, which is a bargain at only $1,199.99:

Both T-800 Carbon Rims are Dressed To Kill with oversized icons of The Star Child, The Demon, The Catman and The Spaceman.  As with all other KISS® wheel sets, they come with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by legendary rockers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  These wheels are Officially Licensed and Limited in production so order before they are gone.

The designers could have de-emphasized the SS Bolt motif in the Kiss logo, but instead they repeated it in keeping with the current zeitgeist:

Classy.

Of course, the first thing you’ll want to do when taking delivery of your Kiss bike is upgrade it with a cutting-edge lighting system like the Speednite:

This is the integrated smart stem/headlight system you never knew you wanted because indeed you didn’t and don’t want it, and here’s the creator explaining his inspiration:

“I love cycling at night because it gives me more freedom and happiness.  But I always feel not enough visibility.”

Have you tried adding some color to your wardrobe?

Of course not.  Why do that when instead you can invent a light that moves with your head?

“It can be controlled by tracking your head motion.”

If you want a light that can be controlled by your head motion wouldn’t it be easier to simply put the light on your helmet?  And why do you even want your light integrated into your stem?  What if you want to put it on a different bike?

I dunno, but it does have a “laser indicator:”


“It also has a side laser indicator which can be controlled by tracking your left and right head motion to make other road users aware of your direction choice.”

I don’t see how a diagonal red laser communicates to other road users what direction you intend to turn, unless that road user happens to be a cat:

In fact, now that nobody listens to CDs anymore I’m pretty sure the only thing lasers are still used for is cat entertainment.

Of course the Speednite also has an integrated display to let you know when you’ve attained metric Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo! speed:

And it’s even got a crash notification system complete with “SOS light:”

If you crash on your Kiss bike there’s an explosion of sparks, the stem plays “Detroit Rock City,” and the Speednite flashes in time with the music.

Or, you could just get a folding electric fat bike instead:

This will be every bike at Walmart in 10 years.

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BSNYC No Quiz Only Tardiness!

Well yesterday’s mixed-terrain ramble was so rewarding (for me) that today I decided to treat myself to another one:

Because I deserve it:

It’s chilling to think that in many households during that era the only thing preventing murder-suicide was a bar of soap.

Anyway, in keeping with my current ethos I once again rode a cheap bike while wearing street clothes, only this time instead of the Surly travel bike I opted for Ol’ Piney:

And instead of yesterday’s relatively docile terrain I headed for the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall:

Thus affording myself the opportunity to marvel at typical examples of suburban car-centric “couldn’t-give-a-fuckedness” like this one:

You’ve got to appreciate the fact that when deciding where to place this sign someone most likely said, “Just put it on the sidewalk where it won’t be in anyone’s way.”

And yes, people do actually walk on this sidewalk.  I know because I ride on it–and yes, I have no problem riding on the sidewalk in the suburbs when I deem it necessary, as it is on this particular stretch of road, which is for all intents and purposes unrideable.

In any event it was good to be back on the portly bike, which I hadn’t ridden since the last snowstorm:

When I took my life in my hands in using tires that were only rated for “summer fatbiking:”

And while it’s still not summer they were much better suited to the current conditions:

Speaking of living life on the edge, do you know the Marin Pine Mountain 1 would be illegal in Australia?  Yes, that’s right, apparently bars wider than 700mm and and single-ring drivetrains do not meet Australian safety standards:

In an email to BikeRadar, Darren Rutherford the General Manager of Giant Bicycles Australia explained, “In Australia, the mandatory standard for pedal bicycles requires that certain types of bikes must not have handlebars that exceed a particular width (namely 700mm).”

However, bicycles intended for “competition” are excluded:

“Bicycles which are designed, promoted, and supplied primarily for use in competition are excluded from this standard, and the bicycles that Giant have recalled appear not to fit under that exclusion,” Bourke said.

Though obviously the bike industry and media would not consider the Pine Mountain a competition bicycle because it’s not expensive enough and there’s no crabon.

Oh, and the single-ring drivetrain isn’t kosher because in Australia front derailleurs count as chainguards for some reason:

“The other aspect of the recall relates proliferation of 1x drivetrains,” he continued. “Previously the front derailleur was technically considered ‘chain protection’ and with 1x it’s no longer there.”

So I think it’s safe to say that if I took the Pine Mountain to Australia and rode it helmetless I’d be executed.

Incredibly despite my unsafe equipment I survived, but as I was heading home on the bike path I encountered this ominously-placed “Hazmat/Spill Response” vehicle:

And through the trees I could just make out a cleanup crew at work in Tibbetts Brook:

Presumably Team Trump is wasting no time in contaminating those waterways.

Tibbetts Brook, in case you’re wondering, which you almost certainly weren’t, flows in to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx where it creates Van Cortlandt Lake as a result of having been dammed by Old Man Van Cortlandt some centuries ago:

Then from there it heads underground into the sewer system, flowing under Tibbett Avenue:

And eventually winds up in the Harlem River.

So there you go.

After my thrilling brush with contamination I officially escaped the suburbs and attained the safety of Van Cortlandt Park and New York City:

There are barriers to keep the ATV-riding riff-raff out:

But the riff-raff just go around them:

And so it goes.

You may now begin your weekend.

Tell your boss I said it was OK.

Ride safe,

–Wildcat Rock Machine

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Sorry I’m Late, I Thought It Was Still Wednesday

Remember Ann Pfoser Darby, the community board member in Queens who said that we won’t need any more bike lanes once Trump deports all the illegal aliens?

Well you should, because I just mentioned her yesterday.

Either way, you’ll be pleased to know she’s retracted her comments and apologized.

Just kidding!

Nah, she totally doubled down:

Pfoser Darby doubled down on the comments when reached by phone Wednesday, saying she was sharing her observations with the community over bike lanes already installed on Queens Boulevard.

“I see who goes by and who doesn’t, and there was a lot of people going by to work early in the morning and like about 90 percent of them are gone,” she said — adding that she took it as a sign that these people have been “picked up by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement.]”

“It looks like they were illegal aliens, I don’t know, I didn’t speak to them,” she added.

When asked how she could tell someone’s immigration status from afar, she said it’s “observation and logic.”

“You can kind of tell, especially sometimes the way they dress,” she said, adding later that it’s obvious if “someone speaks only Chinese.”

90 percent of the people using the bike lane have suddenly disappeared, really?  Has she checked her cataracts?  Because she sounds pretty addled, even for someone born in the early days of the Roosevelt administration.  (Frankie, not Teddy.)  Anyway, it would be easy to dismiss all of this as the harmless ranting of an old racist still waiting to get discovered by Norman Lear, except that she’s a member of a fucking community board that makes life and death decisions.  Why should someone so out of touch have any input at all on whether there’s a bike lane on 111th Street, or on anything that affects public safety?  When this woman was a kid here’s what 111th Street in Corona, Queens looked like:

I’m sure she’d like to turn back time to the heady days of rolling hoops and throwing rocks at immigrants, but sadly those days are gone.

I wonder #whatpressureyourunning was appropriate when gravel-grinding on 111th Street in Corona back in 1938.

Speaking of #whatpressureyourunning, while riding north of the city this morning I decided “screw it,” hopped a guardrail, and scampered into the woods:

My bike was over-geared and under-tired and wearing street clothes, but it was an enjoyable detour nevertheless:

Actually, it was probably an enjoyable detour because of all those things, since I’m finally learning that the less “prepared” you are for a ride the more enjoyable it’s likely to be.

Oh sure, there’s now a bike and a drivetrain and a tire tread pattern for every conceivable type of terrain, but that doesn’t mean you need any of it.  If you run out of gears and your rear wheel starts slipping you get off the bike and walk, it’s really not a big deal.

I realize this may seem like common sense to you, but for me as a recovering Fred it’s been a long and technical climb to spontaneity–though one that’s been aided by my relocation to the Bronx, since it puts me within easy striking distance of this sort of thing, whereas from Brooklyn you’ve got to ride for two hours in any direction just to escape the sprawl:

Still, as bucolic as this particular spot may seem it’s still the suburbs, and there appeared to be some sort of local ordinance requiring every resident to own at least two dogs.  Indeed, at one point I was set upon by a pack of hounds and terriers who, fresh from frolicking in a stream, all decided to paw at my crotch:

Funny how that sort of thing never happens when you want it to.

Anyway, I continued to ramble:

And enjoyed the handiwork of the local trail builders:

Which today’s high winds had effectively air-dried after yesterday’s heavy rains.

Then I took to the gravel, despite the fact that I was not riding an industry-approved gravel bike:

Really I don’t think anybody would approve of my travel bike with its ungainly spacer stack, but for whatever reason it’s been the bike I’ve been gravitating towards lately:

It may be time to start curating the route for the 2017 Grand Fondon’t.

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Bike Lanes Are Only For [Insert Group You Don’t Like Here]

A few months ago I mentioned the XShifter, a wholly unnecessary yet oddly compelling device which allows you to convert your mechanical drivetrain to an electronic one:

Of course the idea of taking your perfectly serviceable mechanical drivetrain and incorporating finite battery life into it is, on many levels, patently absurd.  Nevertheless, a true bike dork always appreciates a good kludge (even if “good kludge” is something of an oxymoron), and it seems to me that a wireless shifter that works with a multitude of mechanical derailleurs opens a veritable Pandora’s box (or, if you prefer, Sheldon’s toolbox) of kludge-tastic possibilities.  

Take this bike, for example, which won a coveted Kludgie award back in 2007:

What bike dork worth his* SPD sandals wouldn’t want to see this beauty outfitted with some Xshifters in the tenth anniversary year of that auspicious occasion?

*(Yes, his.  Compulsive kludgery is a condition that disproportionately affects males.)

Anyway, for this reason alone I was ready to welcome the XShifter (and so apparently was the rest of bike-dorkdom because they raised a lot of money on Kickstarter), but now it seems that more such devices are on their way.  And while Xshifter’s presentation did have a certain DIY sensibility, it’s like watching an Apple keynote compared to this one:

At this rate, electronic bicycle shifting conversion kits are going to be hanging in little packages at Target right next to the sports ball inflator pins.

Still, this most recent one probably works better than the Modolo Morphos, which was the analog solution to drivetrain cross-compatibility:

Though to be honest I have no idea whether or not the Modolo Morphos actually works since I was always too afraid to try them.  Not only do they appear to have the ergonomics of a shelf bracket, but they also look like something a doctor might use in the process of performing a colonoscopy:

(On closeout at Nashbar, enter discount code BUTTSCOPE at checkout.)

Meanwhile, if you were waiting for the worlds of Trumpism and bike lane bashing to collide, your wait is finally at an end:

Ann Pfoser Darby, a long-time member of Queens Community Board 4, argued last night that 111th Street by Flushing Meadows Corona Park doesn’t need a protected bike lane because Donald Trump will deport “all the illegals.” City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland is now calling for Borough President Melinda Katz to remove Darby from the board.

Transportation Alternatives Queens organizer Juan Restrepo reports that at an update on the 111th Street project last night, Darby said, “Once Trump removes all the illegals from Corona, there won’t be anybody to ride bike lanes.”

Wow.

A few things:

Firstly, if you’re unfamiliar with how New York City works, what happens is the DOT identifies a street that needs safety improvements.  You know, because people are getting maimed and killed by cars.  Once they do, they draw up a plan, which they present to something called a “community board.”  Often made up of longtime residents whose self-interests have grown so bloated and heavy over the years that they’ve collapsed on themselves and gone supernova, these xenophobes do all they can to preserve their free street parking and fight anything that might make their neighborhood safer or more attractive to anybody who’s not a misanthropic shut-in.  And incredibly, instead of telling a bunch of people who don’t know the first thing about street design to shut up, the DOT will keep changing the design and coming back to them like Maria Carey’s interior decorator with a bunch of fabric samples.

Secondly, in this particular case, 111th Street runs along Flushing Meadows Park, which is the fourth-largest park in New York City.  It’s home to the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Zoo (which is way better than you’d think), and the Unisphere, among other landmarks.  Frankly, the idea that a park of this size shouldn’t have a bike lane near it is fucking obscene.  Indeed it’s a gross failing of this city that most large parks are surrounded by busy streets and that people basically have to run for their lives to get into and out of them.  Every park should be surrounded by protected bike lanes, and it’s crazy that they aren’t.

Thirdly, people in New York City who hate bike lanes should decide once and for all which despicable group is using them: the soulless gentrifiers who are pricing out all those decent hardworking car owners, or the illegal immigrants who are stealing all those cushy high-paying food delivery jobs and thus don’t deserve to ride in safety?  It’s vexingly inconsistent, especially to those of us who don’t really fit into either category yet still find ourselves in bike lanes and are laboring under the delusion that maybe they actually benefit most people.

Finally, perhaps Ann Pfoser Darby, long-time member of Queens Community Board 4, should go to work for the Trump administration.  Then instead of a wall she can try to convince him to build a one-way bike lane between 111th Street and Mexico.

What a freaking pfoser.  The DOT should tell them to go pfuck themselves and build that bike lane already.

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More is better.

Why does everybody love this Peter Sagan interview so much?

Apparently I’m the only bike dork in the world who watched it and then spent the rest of the day sick in bed with the douche-chills.

Phil Gaimon even called it “refreshing:”

@velonews the thing where every time an athlete doesn’t win the media asks for an excuse is totally bizarre. Refreshing to see it rejected.

— Phil Gaimon (@philgaimon) February 26, 2017

Yeah, that was about as refreshing as a glass of warm milk.

I’m sure I talked to my parents and teachers like that when I was a teenager, and if I could travel back in time and punch myself in the face for cultivating an infuriating air of “couldn’t-be-bothered”-ness I certainly would:

Indeed, I’m reminded of my own painfully laconic post-jet ski interview back in 1986:

I used to do my best to keep my hair limp and greasy-looking but I was powerless against the potent combination of wind and salt water which caused the whole mess to go POOF! in an instant.  This is why I generally used to avoid the beach at all costs.  (Now it’s a non-issue as I’m rapidly running out of hair, so instead I avoid the beach because my many moles threaten to boil over into melanoma.)

Alas, even the surliest teen cannot resist the siren song of a whiny personal watercraft, and so I briefly sacrificed my carefully-curated image during that fateful family trip to Florida–but you can be sure I tamed the mane and resumed my desultory skateboarding in the shopping center parking lot that very afternoon.

You now know every single thing about me.

Thank the Benevolent Lobster on High I finally grew into a dignified adult:

(Blogger publishes book, thinks he accomplished something.)

If I went back in time to punch my teenage self I’d also stop to knee this guy in the “pants yabbies” on the return trip to 2017.

Speaking of youth, do you remember learning how to ride a bicycle?  Maybe not if you’re Dutch or something, in which case you emerged from the womb astride a bike.  (Ouch.)

However, if you’re an American born in the last century you no doubt learned how to ride using training wheels–or “stabilisers” as the British call them because: 1) they need to have a different word for everything; and B) they’re deathly afraid of using the letter “z” (so they call it “zed” to rob it of its power).  Anyway, I mean these things:

Of course, training wheels are now hopelessly out of style, and the sort of progressive parents who ride cargo bikes to food co-ops would sooner smoke cigarettes around their children then place them on such a contraption.  Instead, now the politically correct learning apparatus is the balance bike, because it has a minimalist design and the idea comes from Europe–plus, now Yuba will sell you a cargo balance bike:

One can only imagine cities full of smug little imps in wool caps pushing themselves along on these things while shod in baby Birkenstocks and sucking on organic food packets.

All it needs is a “One Less Big Wheel” sticker.

Anyway, as the parent of human children I’ve employed both the balance bike and the training wheels as learning tools.  (Basically I order them to ride the balance bike, and if they refuse or do it poorly I beat them with the training wheels.)  Both have their uses, since the balance bike teaches, well, balance, while the training wheels allow them to focus on the mechanics of pedaling.  And in the end it really doesn’t matter which you choose, because just like reading or using the toilet eventually they figure out how to do it no matter what method you use.  (Current POTUS excluded, I don’t think he can do either.)

Nevertheless, would-be entrepreneurs persist in their efforts to refine the learning-to-ride experience, and the latest attempt is the Dually Bike:

The incredible Dually Bikes dual wheel design was created by a retired tinkerer with the goal of teaching his grandson how to ride a bike without the aid of training wheels.  “Training wheels are useless,” he said, “they don’t teach a kid how to balance.”

Okay, fine, but what’s disturbing about this is that apparently these kids will continue riding Dually bikes into adulthood:

Even more disturbing is that the bicycle industry is going to love this idea.  Thanks to the popularity of fat bikes they can now charge you $130 for a single knobby tire that weighs as much as a Volkswagen.  Traction sells!  Now with the Dually they can sell you even more traction, and best of all you’ll have to buy two rear tires for every one you used to have to buy for your now hopelessly outmoded fat bike!

Then once you’re locked into the Dually system obviously they’ll double the front wheel two for even more stability.

Pure genius.

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The end of road racing.

Thank you for indulging my absence during the Winter Reese’s:

(Explanation: focus groups did not like “Chrismas Turd” so packaging was changed.)

As you may know we’re experiencing an unseasonably warm February this year, so over the past week I was able to indulge in some family-style cycling:

Some solo mixed-terrain #whatpressuryourunning cycling:

And even some Category 6 Citi-Biking:

That’s the new sumptuous two-way bicycle lane on Chrystie Street, and the green thing being projected onto it is the new Blaze light with which the oncoming Citi Bike is equipped:

Citi Bike + Blaze from Citi Bike on Vimeo.

If I’d fallen asleep back in the year 2000 and woken up today like some kind of Fred Van Winkle…

…the sight of a public bank-branded laser-firing futuristic space bike traveling along a two-way bike lane would completely blow my mind.  Then when I learned who the president was I’d probably beat myself back into a state of long-term unconsciousness, waking up 20 years hence only to discover that the planets in the Trappist-1 system are not only inhabited by humans but linked by bridges and ruined by Teslas:

Speaking of the future, the future is now, which is why some of the pro roadies are using disc brakes.  However, they’re still not without controversy, and one rider complains a disc rotor almost severed his foot recently during an interview he conducted while wearing nothing but a towel:

In fact, he was so frightened he apparently wet himself while discussing it:

Subsequent to this, the cycling media and Fred-dom at large seem to taken umbrage at this claim, and have gone to great lengths to discredit it.  There’s been Zapruder film-like analysis:

Based on this video, it appears that Doull caused the crash, pinched against the left-side barriers. Kittel is on the Brit’s right shoulder, and is taken out shortly thereafter. You can see the German’s disc brake-equipped Specialized S-Works Venge Vias flying through the air while he slides face-first on his stomach. The disc bike lands some distance ahead of both Kittel and Doull.

There is a brief moment in which foot-on-rotor contact would have been possible. As Doull falls left, the inside of his left foot, which is where he was cut, would have needed to go under his own bike and hit the left side of Kittel’s bike, where the disc rotors are located. That doesn’t look likely based on the footage (Kittel appears to be launched forward when Doull’s own bike slides under Kittel’s bike), but stranger things have happened in high-speed crashes.

As well as half-assed testing:

The reason for this skepticism is obvious: the entire Fred economy depends on a wholesale shift to road bikes with disc brakes.  If, however, the professional Freds refuse to accept this shift, then the whole crabon gravy train grinds to a halt like a low spoke-count wheelset with a broken spoke in a rim brake frame.  Why?  Because amateur Freds are completely unable to think for themselves and must ride whatever the pros do period full stop the end etc.  Even if Freds objectively like disc brakes better, they won’t use them if the pros don’t, because someone might see them and figure out that they’re not pros too.  (Though the fact that they completely suck is usually enough of a giveaway.)

Therefore, the Fred Media must dismiss any criticism of discs on the part of the pro peloton as the Fredly equivalent of “fake news,” or else the amateur Freds won’t buy new disc brake bikes.

This is too bad.

Indeed, while I’m perfectly content with my primitive rim brake bikes, I’ve begun to realize that, with the advent of discs, American Fred-dom is now on the cusp of a great opportunity:

To finally divorce itself from the influence of stupid Euro UCI road racing once and for all.

Really, it’s enough already.  Why in 2017 after innumerable scandals is any amateur cyclist still taking cues from this idiotic sport in any way?  It’s time to say adieu!  After all, even Freds are able to get rid of their stupid hang-ups eventually.  Remember criteriums?

A cliterium (or “clit” for short) was a particularly boring form of bike racing in which a bunch of Freds rode up and down the main street of some hick town, and the last person without a broken collarbone was eventually declared the winner and given a free inner tube and a $10 gift certificate to the local hardware store.  Crazy as it may seem, this was once a popular form of Fred-dom.  But eventually people wised up, and realized that when it comes to racing around in circles, cyclocross (Americanized cyclocross, you know, with irony and stuff) is not only safer but a lot more fun:

(Incredibly, despite my poor remounting technique, I still managed to reproduce.)

And criteriums are way more entertaining when you hold them in cool cities and force people to ride fixies:

Now I think we’re finally at the same point of realization with Euro-style road racing, since we’ve got a replacement all ready to go in the form of this whole “gravel” thing:

(It’s “Handjob,” but the “b” is silent.)

Oh, sure, the gravel thing is certainly silly.  Basically the bike industry sat around and said: “Let’s take a Rivendell or a Surly Cross Check, swap the serviceable components for proprietary ones, make it out of plastic, and market it to Freds.”  Even so, at least it’s based on riding bikes in a fun way, whereas the best anybody could do with the whole traditional Euro-style road thing was Rapha’s whole “exquisite suffering” take, which is already dated and over:

In case you’re just joining bikes, this was actually cool for a few years.  I know it’s hard to believe now that Rapha has become the default attire for people on brand new Treks with the pie plate still on, but I can assure you it was the case.

Anyway, all of this is to say that we’ve finally built ourselves a sound foundation, and have a whole range of weenie-ism to indulge in: cyclocross, fixed-gear criteriums, plus-sized mountain biking, bikepacking, gravel grinding…  It’s time for the media and the consumers to say goodbye to UCI road racing once and for all and let it ride off into obscurity into the middle east, where a bunch of depilated Euros riding around in circles make perfect playthings for oil-rich royal families but generate nothing but boredom interspersed with periods of scandal for everyone else.

Because come on: if you still need to be that big a weenie in 2017, there’s always triathlon. Continue reading »

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