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cycling

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 Fo… Continue reading »

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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 … Continue reading »

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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?

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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:B… Continue reading »

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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!If you’re wondering what to get me, according to Hallmark 10 years is either aluminum or diamonds:So if you want to go modern, might I suggest a jewel-encrusted Cipollini: Cipollini RB1K Luxury Edition from Mcip… Continue reading »

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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 idio… Continue reading »

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We’re Going Straight from Wednesday to Friday!

— Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) June 7, 2017

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 8th, the city’s schools are closed:

(That’s today meaning tomorrow.  Meaning Thursday.  You know what I mean.)
Therefore in accordance with my blogging contract, I won’t be updating this blog tomorrow.  Instead, I’ll be doing some skateboarding and then going to see the “Captain Underpants” movie.
Then once I’m done with that I’m going to spend some quality time with the kids.
In the meantime, rest assured I’ll be updating the Bike Forecast as usual, and I’ll see you all back here on Friday.
Speaking of skateboards, I recently got one for my eldest child since he’d been asking for one for his birthday.  Here’s me portaging it across the Brooklyn Bridge via Citi Bike in an environmentally unfriendly plastic bag:
Of course, inasmuch as I once looked like this:
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I too used to ride a skateboard in my youth.  Furthermore, like all aging people who once looked like that, buying that skateboard rekindled something inside me.  Therefore, it also probably won’t surprise you to learn that within a week I pulled the classic dorky dad move, and instead of simply living vicariously through his son like a normal middle-aged doofus I went back to the store and bought another one for myself.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m a walking cliché:
And I won’t be walking for long, either, because we all know it’s only a matter of time before I bust my ass on this thing.  See, the problem isn’t that it’s been like 30 years since I regularly rode a skateboard.  In fact, as soon as I stepped onto it it felt as familiar as if I’d been skating just yesterday.
No, the problem is that even 30 years ago I wasn’t very good.  I mean sure, I could zip around the neighborhood on the thing no problem, but I was pretty bad at doing tricks.  Indeed I was similarly bad at doing tricks on my BMX:
(This was about as good as I got.  Note I hadn’t yet adopted my angry teen wardrobe, or removed my reflectors for that matter.)
Which is why I went from trying to copy freestyle moves I’d seen in magazines to racing on the track.

(This, incidentally, is why I like riding singlespeed mountain bikes.  It feels like the BMX racing I enjoyed so much as a kid.)

Nevertheless, as I’m sure you can imagine, as soon as I got on the skateboard I started to break out all my old moves, and then as now my entire repertoire consists exactly of this:

Seriously, I might as well be watching a video of myself.

So what I’m saying is basically it’s only a matter of time before the board flies out from under me when I fail to land one of my pathetic ollies and I wind up in the ER.

In the meantime though it’s been fun, and I figure I might as well enjoy it while my son’s still too young to be humiliated by the sight of his father on a skateboard.  (Or until I wind up in the ER, whichever comes first.)  And surprisingly, perhaps the most enjoyable part so far (besides the familial bonding) has been buying the thing.

See, as much as I try to have a good attitude when I walk into a bike shop, as a complete bike dork I’m always secretly rolling my eyes whenever a member of the staff dares make a recommendation.  It’s the insufferable attitude of the old man who’d been there and done that.  Believe me, I’m not proud of it.  In fact I make myself sick.

Not like I need to tell you any of this.  I mean you all read my blog.

Given this, it was incredibly refreshing to walk into a skate shop, embrace my ignorance, and completely surrender to the staff.  (I also refrained from binging on information from the Internet and then trying to pretend I knew what the hell I was talking about.)  Oh sure, I know a bearing from a bushing, and I’d even owned a couple of the retro boards that they had for sale, but it’s been so long since I’ve paid close attention to skateboards that I wasn’t going to even attempt picking one out for myself.  Best of all, there’s not a lot of risk in buying what they tell you to buy, since while skateboards aren’t cheap exactly they sure seem like it when your frame of reference is bicycles.

Seriously, consider what Fred pays for just a pair of handlebars:

For that money you can buy two skateboards and have plenty of change left over for weed, knit hats, or whatever the hell skaters spend their money on.

As for what I ended up buying, it’s probably the equivalent of a hybrid bike or something, but that’s about where I am in life anyway, and at least I didn’t go for the electric model.

Finally, here’s someone who has been thoroughly brainwashed:
Man wearing a Melbourne Bike Share helmet on a cycling study tour in the Netherlands. Impressive. pic.twitter.com/NVGmc9k2a5

— Stephen B (@BicycleAdagio) June 7, 2017

Wearing a helmet while city cycling the Netherlands is like wearing a latex glove when you masturbate.

And on that note, I’m off, and I’ll see you back here on Friday.

Love,

–Wildcat Rock Machine

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Keeping Bikes Dumb

Bike companies and Kickstarter entrepreneurs have been pushing the concept of the “smart bike” for awhile now.  Consider for example the VanMoof SmartBike, which incorporates such features as theft tracking and keyless entry:

The smartest thing on wheels.

The VanMoof SmartBike is unlike any other bike. Not only will it ship with anti-theft parts and tracking that make it terrifying to bike thieves. If a thief is brilliant enough to get past all that, we promise to get your stolen bike back to you in two weeks, or we’ll replace it. We call this the VanMoof Peace of Mind Service, and every SmartBike gets it totally free of charge for the first two years.

Not only is the SmartBike a nightmare for thieves. It’s also been designed to be the ultimate city bike. Unlike most bikes that get rustier with time, this one will get smarter over time, thanks to all the tech packed inside the frame and a dedicated smartphone app. It’s totally keyless, and can be unlocked with the tap of a finger on a smartphone or even the touch of a hand on the bike.

While I do have certain retrogrouchical tendencies–I don’t care for the crabon, I think rim brakes on road bikes work just fine thankyouverymuch, and I prefer a quick release skewer to a thru-axle even on my mountaining bikes–the truth is that in real life I embrace technology.  More than that, I believe that as a species we’re in the process of digitizing not only the things we use in everyday life but consciousness itself.  Just hand a toddler a smartphone, watch how adeptly they use it, and it becomes clear that this is all part of our evolution.  Some may find this creepy, but I find it inspiring, and I for one welcome our new technological overlords and eagerly await next phase of human existence:

Wow, I better take it easy, after all it’s only Tuesday.

Nevertheless, having said that, I believe in keeping all that crap off your bike.  Consider the theft-tracker.  Sure, it sounds good, and having your bike stolen definitely sucks, but how effective is this thing really?  Well, according to an article from February of this year, VanMoof has recovered ten (10) bikes since they implemented the system in 2016:

Instead of putting its customers at risk of a standoff with bike thieves, though, the company promises it will handle the grunt work. And while VanMoof has recovered about 10 stolen smart bikes since they went on sale in 2016, this past weekend the company hired the first employee of a new new dedicated “bike hunter” team and started chronicling the adventures on Medium.

That’s not very much.  In fact, I’d wager that in any decent-sized city 10 stolen bikes are recovered in a single week by their owners, who find them under the nearest highway overpass or being peddled on Craigslist.  That’s not to say that plenty of bikes don’t vanish, never to be seen again, but at the same time a service such as this is probably more a content-generating PR campaign than anything else.  I don’t want to call it a “gimmick” because that seems a bit unfair, but at the same time the truth is relatively few people are actually going to take advantage of the anti-theft guarantee so there’s little risk on the part of the company in terms of offering it.

Oh sure, once in awhile they may have to follow a truck to Brussels or something:

Spending half a day scouring a city only to have to travel to another country is a rather inefficient way to recover a stolen item. It’s also not sustainable for a small company like VanMoof. But this James Bondian approach isn’t without reason. In fact, it has to do with the compromises associated with tracking something using a GSM signal. VanMoof says the bikes’ cellular signals are easier to track when they’re moving, meaning they’re always going to expect a bit of a chase on a search-and-rescue mission.

But it pays for itself in terms of publicity.

Then there’s the other aspect of the “smart bike,” which is communication and data consumption, and there’s no shortage of bike, helmet, and accessory makers who want you to be able to access all manner of data safely while riding your bike.  Consider “GObyLIVI,” which recently appeared on the Kickstarter:

It’s got the usual assortment of features, including the increasingly common “crash detection” whereby in the event of a spill it supposedly calls your emergency contact to notify them that you may or may not at that very moment be dead:

Like the theft-tracking feature, there are precious few reports of this actually working in the wild.  In fact, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been unable to find a single report of such a system coming into play–and that’s saying a lot, because cyclists love to crow about stuff on the Internet.  Mention that you think helmets are ineffective and 100 people will immediately tell you the story of how one saved their life; mention that crash detection is a gimmick and all you hear are crickets.
But what about the other features, such as being able to get directions or place a call or text while you ride without having to handle your phone?  Surely that’s a convenient safety feature, right?
Nah.
Just as I’ve gotten over toddler handling smartphones with aplomb I’ve also gotten over people using their phones while they ride.  If anything, I think someone texting while riding is a sign of a healthy society in which people are comfortable and adept enough on bicycles to engage in everyday behavior.  Sure, the boogeyman in this scenario is the incompetent cyclist who Mr. Magoos it through an intersection causing a six-car pile-up or takes you out while texting, but like the successful theft-tracker or the life-saving crash notification call this is something that mostly just exists in theory, an image conjured up by concern trolls.  The fact is an incompetent cyclist is an incompetent cyclist whether or not they’re using their phone, and for a competent cyclist using your phone while riding is about as dangerous as reaching down your pants to adjust your [insert your specific genitalway here].
And if you don’t believe me, keep in mind I’m typing this entire blog post while cycling and nothing bad has ha

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