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cycling

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

Continue reading »

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

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

Continue reading »

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Just when you think Fred can’t get any Fredlier…

I’m pleased to report that this past weekend I enjoyed an all-terrain bicycle ride on Ol’ Piney:

And if you’re one of the people who tweeted, emailed, or commented, YES I KNOW ABOUT THE FORK RECALL:

Not only do I know about it, but I’ve already received and installed the replacement fork, so there.

And what is it with the smug, gleeful, “I told you so!” tone people adopt when they’re alerting you to recalls, anyway?  The company identified a possible issue and they took care of it.  It’s not like GM failing to acknowledge a faulty ignition switch for 10 years.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, it does seem like maybe the new fork is a bit less flexy than the old one, but then again I may totally be imagining it.

Anyway, lately I’ve been riding an all-terrain bicycle with only a single gear ratio, so it was a refreshing change to get on one with multiple gear ratios and voluminous tires–especially since I’m finally using said tires in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions:

Well almost anyway, since it’s still only spring, but as far as I know nobody’s selling a spring-specific tire yet.

This isn’t to say I like one style of all-terrain bicycling better than the other, it’s just that I like to alternate between shifty and non-shifty bikes, like running back and forth from the swimming pool to the hot tub.  There’s also a misconception that riding a bike that doesn’t shift is some form of punishment, which I wholly disagree with.  Really it’s only punishment if you’re doing it wrong.  And how do you do it wrong?  By riding someplace where it isn’t fun to be on a bike that doesn’t shift, which I never do.

No, when it comes to punishment you’ve got to look to the roadie set, who are constantly looking for new contraptions that take the joy out of cycling.  For example, remember PowerCranks?

I haven’t seen these lately, but I don’t know if it’s because: 1) They’re out of style; or B) I mostly avoid the Fred routes these days and scamper around on the dirt trails of suburbia.

Either way, I thought the PowerCrank was as sad as it got, but if one thing is true it’s that you can never overestimate Fred’s willingness to spend lots of money to make cycling less enjoyable.  To this end, meet the AIRhub, an expensive device that simulates the effect of binding bearings and/or brake rub:

The AIRhub is a road bike wheel with a resistance unit built into the front hub. The self-powered (no batteries or charging required) electromagnetic brake can can add up to 100 watts of resistance. A smartphone app controls the resistance. In addition to a manual resistance mode, the AIRhub will, when paired with a heart rate monitor or power meter, vary resistance to keep the rider in a set training zone.
Yep, you’re reading that right.  It’s a hub designed to slow you down.

So why would you want this?  Well, you wouldn’t, unless you’re a terminal Fred suffering from late-stage Weenie-itis:

Weird? Maybe. But it can be challenging to find rides tailored to your workout, especially if you live in an area lacking in challenging climbs. Or it could be a solution for riders that want to follow a training plan but still go out on casual group rides with friends. You could be putting out 300W while your friend rides along next to you at 200W.  You could even use it to turn your daily commute into an intense workout.
Oh please.  If you’re that much of a weenie you don’t have any friends.
So how much does Fred have to pay for some aftermarket retarding force?  Well, it’s a bargain at just under $1,500:
Installing the AIRhub is as quick and easy as any front wheel: all you need is a tube and a tire. It’s not cheap: the AIRhub sells for $1950 AUD (about $1460 USD.)
Though the real bargain is the FAQ on the company’s website, which is both free and priceless:

I DON’T RACE WHAT ABOUT ME?

I find inner city commuting too short for training, the AIRhub works me so I’m sweaty when I get to work. Short, intense morning & evening sessions through the neighbourhood keeps me fit and healthy. Without the AIRhub, speeds would be unsafe or the intensity too low.

Usually people who commute by bike are trying to figure out how to arrive at work without being sweaty, which makes the AIRhub the equivalent of a device that allows you to shower without inadvertently washing your ass and crotch.  Also, if you don’t race why the hell are you trying to turn your commute into a training session?  You suck, you’ll always suck, and you need to get a grip before you do something you’ll really regret, like actually taking up racing.


I FEEL A TAPPING. WHATS UP WITH THAT?

That means it’s working. It’s normal for a light tapping to be felt when resistance is applied.

Yeah, no shit.  You just paid $1,500 for a broken wheel simulator, remember?

I KNOW IT WAS BUILT FOR ROAD RACERS, DOES IT WORK FOR TRIATHLETES TOO?

The AIRhub will work even better for Triathletes. More training in less time. It allows high quality training in the Aero position to become safe and easily achievable. No need to travel for miles to find safe roads. Long high intensity sessions can be done on a bike path.

Okay, stop and meditate on this for awhile: triathletes who spend thousands and thousands of dollars on aero gear are now purchasing $1,500 hubs that simulate the effects of riding bicycles with more drag.  Also, “travel(ing) for miles” is what most non-triathletes call “riding,” an activity which has the effect of making you a better and stronger rider.

But sure, by all means ride the aero bike you can barely control through virtual molasses on the bike path and inconvenience normal people instead.

Of course, a much cheaper option would be to train on one of these:


The 700c GMC Denali Men’s Road Bike is built around a lightweight aluminum road bike frame. You’ll stop on a dime with the alloy calipers and brake levers, and the high-profile alloy Vitesse racing rims look as good as they perform. Shimano Revo shifters allow you to shift without taking your hands off the handlebars, providing safety and confidence. A Shimano derailleur completes the drive train for quick and smooth gear changes. Lastly, this road bike will help you stay hydrated with the included alloy water bottle cage.

But I suppose it doesn’t have the same cachet.

Lastly, bike-baiting is back in style here in New York City, and you can read all about it on the Bike Forecast:

Now to do some resistance training by riding a loaded WorkCycles.

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Wait, it’s Thursday? I thought it was Wednesday!

Wanna hear something ironical?

Sure you do.

Back when I had a real job I dressed several notches below “business casual,” often commuting by means of the fabled “Ironic Orange Julius Bike:”

Which, owing to my penchant at the time for embroidered racing saddles, quickly devoured the seats of my pants:

They say “dress for success.”  I didn’t, and I wasn’t, though which was the cause and which was the effect was unclear and ultimately irrelevant.

Anyway, it was of course while in thrall to the purgatory many people refer to as “employment” that I began typing away at a modest bicycle blog.  This blog quickly consumed my being like the saddle of the Ironic Orange Julius Bike consumed my pants.  I quit my job, wrote some books, co-curated some human children, and almost ten (10) years later her we are.

The end.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

So what’s the ironical part?  Well, it’s that now that I’m almost a decade into being a total bum I should find myself going multi-modal with the quintessential gentleperson’s bike:

Contemplating neckties:

And standing before racks of uncomfortable-looking shoes that, inexplicably, do not accept road cleats:

Why?  Because I’ve fallen in with the Smugness Mafia, and as I mentioned in the Bike Forecast on Monday they wanted to put me in a suit for Bike to Work Week:

TransAlt Bike Month Ambassadors will be outfitted in AWEAR-TECH by AWEARNESS Kenneth Cole suits available exclusively at Men’s Wearhouse. AWEAR-TECH clothing uses 37.5 technology, an advanced fabric technology from the high-performance sports world. With this technology, patented active particles remove moisture in the vapor stage, before liquid sweat can form, making these tailored clothing items far more comfortable to wear. When you’re overheating, active particles in the fabric speed up evaporation and cooling. When you’re cold, the particles return the energy to warm the body. The suits are engineered from the yarn up, incorporating 37.5 technology in every layer, from the suit lining to the wool.

So last week I multi-modaled myself on down to the Men’s Wearhouse for a fitting:

Lo, by Friday I was a schlub transformed, and my total suit holdings had increased by 100% to a grand total of two (2).  This means if I ever have to attend back-to-back funerals I won’t have to wear the same thing twice in a row:

(Who died?  My inner dirtbag, that’s who.)

Meet the Reservoir Dorks:

Of course this was the most time I’d spent in a suit since the last wedding I attended.  It was also at least 30 degrees warmer outside than it had been during that wedding, and unlike the wedding I spent much of this time riding a bicycle.  Nevertheless, despite riding around Manhattan and Brooklyn in temperatures that tickled the undercarriage of 90 degrees I was surprisingly comfortable.  So if you need to attend weddings, funerals, or actual jobs with any regularity and you would like to ride a bike to them, you might want to add one of these to your quiver/wardrobe/stable or whatever the Clothing Freds call them.

Next stop: Brompton World Championships!

In other news, meet Neva, the bike just for women:

In a time when the bike internet practically lives to call out the bicycle industry’s inherent gender biases, it’s almost quaint that they’d market this thing with a video montage consisting almost entirely of stock photos of fashion models:

In fact I’m pretty sure they just repurposed an old fragrance ad.

I am happy to report: No. The vibe in Fort Worth is somewhere between a soccer game and a pizza party. To be sure: Some young racers are really into it, and some parents, too. But most seem to be there simply for the spectacle and a good time. “Have fun, that’s the main thing,” a parent named Blayne Chambers tells me, even after as his son, Cason, winds up winning the 4-year-old category. “If he’s not having fun, there’s no sense doing it.”
May the Benevolent Lobster on High steer them from the Chasm of Fredness.

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Maybe technology really will save us.

For thousands of years, cyclists have longed to be able to communicate directly with the creatures who inhabit the motorized death boxes that terrorize our streets.  Oh sure, we’ve used our voices, middle fingers, and occasionally u-locks to great… Continue reading »

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Today’s Post Will Be Short But Short

I realize you may be looking for Internet content that offers temporary respite from world events.  Alas, today’s post needs be short owing to the vicissitudes of blah blah blah and so forth.  However, just to keep you up to date on a few things:

Firstly, you are looking at the new Brompton World Champion:

This is because I just registered for the race, which takes place on Sunday, June 18th, and obviously I’m going to win:

DESCRIPTION

The Brompton World Championship returns to North America this summer, and it’s coming to New York City!

The uniquely competitive and singularly sartorial event will be held during this year’s Harlem Skycraper Cycling Classic.

The race will begin at 2:15 pm sharp. Donning their finest formalwear, competitors will take off with a Le Mans-style start, running, unfolding and mounting their Bromptons, before racing ten laps around Manhattan’s Marcus Garvey Park.

The winner of this race (who will be me) is then flown to London for the finals, which of course I’ll also win.

This means the BSNYC Gran Fondon’t, which will be held on [DATE TBD], is now merely a training ride for my inevitable win…unless I decide to hold the Fondon’t after the World Championship, in which case it will be a victory ride during which I can showcase my rainbow pant cuff retainer or whatever honorific vestments the reigning champion gets to wear.

And between now and race day I must contemplate the big question:

Flat pedals or clipless on the Brommie?

It’s not a question of performance, mind you, it’s just that the former will allow me to wear my Vittoria shoes, which they sent me way back in 2009:

And which I typically break out for special occasions, such as L’Eroica:

Now to figure out how to fit a Gruber Assist into a Brompon.

Secondly, turning to world bicycling news, this happened:


PALERMO, Italy — A mafia boss was gunned down while riding his bicycle in Sicily on Monday, judicial sources said, in what appeared to have been the sort of mob killing that has become rarer in recent years as dangerous figures have been locked up.

Giuseppe Dainotti, 67, had served more than two decades in jail for murder and robbery, as a member of the Cosa Nostra mafia, before being released in 2014.

Investigators believe at least two hit men, probably on a motorbike, approached Dainetti and shot him in the neck, a few hundred meters from the scene of another mafia murder in 2014.

Living in New York it’s not unusual to see these sorts of people in the wild, though the idea of one of them riding a bicycle is almost unthinkable.  Naturally my first thought was “So what kind of bike was it?”  I mean was he cruising around down, or was he off on a full-blown Lycra-clad Fredo ride?  Of course consulting a popular search engine quickly yielded an answer:

I guess if you’re a Sicilian mob boss your choice of transport is a tough call.  Motor vehicles might hide you from view, but are susceptible to car bombs:

Whereas bicycles are harder to sabotage yet leave the rider vulnerable to point-blank shootings, as was the case here.

Still, two things are certain: 1) Had the mob boss been wearing a helmet this wouldn’t have happened, since nothing bad happens to people who wear helmets; 2) The mafia in America should take to riding bicycles, since then they’d be free to kill each other on a daily basis without law enforcement so much as lifting a finger to investigate.

And finally, there’s a City Council candidate in Brooklyn who basically wants to legalize parking in bike lanes, and you can read all about it in the Bike Forecast:

Wow, what a putz.

Okay, now time for some Brompton training.  See you tomorrow.

Love,

–Wildcat Rock Machine

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From Smug to Single

As a semi-professional bike blogger and world-renowned author it is vital that I do not restrict myself to one form of cycling and instead partake in the entire spectrum of velocipeding–and if that means occasionally lowering myself by attempting bicycle polo:

Or trying out a recumbent:

(Via Rivendell)

Then so be it.

For I am nothing if not a Renaissance Fred.

(Also, when Grant Petersen tells you to ride a recumbent you don’t argue about it, you just do it.  Unless you want to get stabbed with a lug.)

Anyway, it was in this ecumenical spirit that this past weekend I rode from one end of the cycling rainbow to the other:

It all began on Friday when I donned a suit, unfurled a Brompton, and waded waist-deep into smugness at the Transportation Alternatives Bike Home From Work Party:

The @bikesnobnyc is roaming around the @transalt party in a fancy suit with his Brompton. Prepping for the #BWCUSA? pic.twitter.com/OkiiHrRk0P

— Brompton Bicycle USA (@bromptonusa) May 19, 2017

Actually, now that you mention it, I think I very well may register:

After all, what better way to celebrate Father’s Day than by totally humiliating myself?  Sure, by the looks of things I fall far short in both the sartorial and fitness departments:

But  some simple upgrades may be all I need to win the race, and to that end I’m trying to decide if I should go with the crabon trispokes:

Or else the paired 16-spoke setup:

Most likely I’ll just bring both and make the final decision based on race day course conditions.

So if you go to the Harlem Crit and you see someone in a suit with a Brompton sticking a moistened thumb in the air be sure to come by and say hello.

(Though generally speaking I’d advise against approaching strangers wielding moistened thumbs.)

Yes, with the addition of some sweet, sweet crabon I can transform my Brompton from this genteel circus bike:

To this slightly less genteel circus bike:

And in the process forever consign my dignity to this:

Oh and speaking of today’s Bike Forecast post, here’s the uncensored version of the note I left on that SUV:

So if your money was on “fuckstick” as the censored word I’m afraid you lost the bet.

Then yesterday I went from smugness to singlespeed when I partook in the “Singlespeedapalooza” race for derailleur-challenged mountain bicycles at Stewart State Park:

(“Weed Road.”  Heh heh.)

According to my commemorative pint glass my last appearance at the start was in 2009:

And as you can imagine it wasn’t pretty:

(From here)

Well, I’m only getting slower, but I do have a fancier bicycle:

And I also got a really good number:

As for the race itself, it was the most fun I’ve had on the bike in awhile, even though we had to share the park with these people:

There will be kennel club activity throughout the weekend using live and blank ammo.  We have contacted them, and there is a mutual understanding that we both have a permit to be in there and must respect each other’s event.  If you are pre-riding, and during the race bump into one of the kennel participants, be courteous and cautious as they may be driving from one location to another.  This is just one of the many hurdles in dealing with Stewart.

Who were kind enough to remove some of the course markings, which as I understand it resulted in the lead riders getting totally waylaid.  (Fortunately I was nowhere near the lead riders and managed not to get lost.)

Assholes.

Then after the race I ate pork:

In all it was a thoroughly well-rounded weekend of making bike.

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What’s Your Damages?

“Enough about the helmets,” they said.

“A helmet saved my life,” they said.

“Your disdain for safety is foolhardy and irresponsible,” they said.

Oh yeah?

Well one day either you’re all going to thank me for slowly chipping away at our obsession with helmet-shaming, or else you’re going to wish you’d pitched in, because it’s becoming clearer and clearer every day that there is no greater tool in the oppression of cyclists than the foam hat:

(via @Pflax1)

A cyclist who suffered a brain injury when he was hit by a Dublin van driver has been awarded €3 million.

However, the court was told that the injured man was deemed to have contributed 20 per cent of the negligence to the collision.

That percentage was reflected in the settlement he received, meaning the full sum he would have been awarded was €3.75 million.

Yeah, that’s right.  If you’re not wearing an EPS yarmulke when an unlicensed and uninsured driver slams into you it’s 20% your fault:

The injured man, Alexandru Doroscan (33), was hit by a van while cycling in Blanchardstown in the west of the city on August 2nd, 2013.

The collision occurred at the junction of Ongar Distributor Road and Sheridan Road where he was struck by van driven by Declan Meade, Lisbrack Rd, Longford.

The hearing was told Meade was neither licenced nor insured at the time. And in a separate criminal case he was jailed for 3½ years, with 2½ years suspended.

And would a helmet even have helped?

Mr Doroscan, a married father of one child, was thrown around three meters into the air when Meade’s van hit him.

The Garda estimated the van was travelling at 57km per hour.

But sure, it certainly makes sense that the cyclist was 20% responsible for this.  In fact they should have docked him another million for not wearing a parachute.  After all, if only he had been then after being thrown into the air he might have floated gently to safety.

By this logic pedestrians, slip-and-fall victims, and really anybody who’s injured in any conceivable situation should be partially responsible if they were not wearing a petroleum beanie:

People already think you’re being irresponsible somehow by riding a bike, so reinforcing that idea by buying into the bareheaded riding taboo will only make it worse.

Meanwhile, from the Land of Helmets comes Wheely, a new bicycle light system:


Cyclists must take extra precautions when they ride. We often share roadways with vehicles, other cyclists and pedestrians, which can cause a host of incidents.

This is true, so for maximum safety always use on a bicycle with no brakes:

It’s a funny thing about brakeless fixies: on one hand, when the trend hit full steam back in the late aughts it didn’t exactly result in the mass carnage you might have expected.

Then again, on the other hand, it did and still does necessitate a completely idiotic style of riding.

Getting stuck behind some doofus whip-skidding his way down the Manhattan Bridge was annoying back then, and now that we’ve got an actual bicycle rush hour it’s doubly stupid.

It’s like walking on a crowded street and getting stuck behind someone doing this:

Please accept my apologies for posting the Monty Python silly walks skit.  That is Peak Dork.  I might as well add three or four Simpsons clips for good measure*.

*[Insert “Worst Blog Post Ever” image here.]

Lastly, where would we be without Bicycling?  For example, did you know you’re making six (6) mistakes with your oatmeal?

6 mistakes you’re making with your oatmeal: https://t.co/jD3IwEVez9 pic.twitter.com/Ryo1FRIJcB

— Bicycling Magazine (@BicyclingMag) May 18, 2017

Mistake #1: Not allowing it to cool before using it as a chamois cream.

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Wednesday Is All About Pushing the Boundaries of Tardiness

There has been much hand-wringing in the Fred community since Toms Skujins’s nasty crash in the Tour of California:


Luckily the riders were able to avoid him and Skujins, who had torn most of his jersey apart and lost a lot of skin attempted to ride off. Almost hitting a kerb, Skujins the slowly made his way down the descent looking worse for wear.

Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who were clear the Skujins shouldn’t have been allowed to continue the race.

Yes, this was definitely a “Down, down, stay down!” moment:

And it’s inspiring the cycling world to take a look at the sport’s post-crash protocols, or lack thereof:

Changing this culture would undoubtedly take years to accomplish, and perhaps even changes to the rules. If a rider sat down after a crash, could he reenter the race the following day if he was deemed to be OK? The change will also need to come from within. Can directors convince riders to abandon their ambitions in the wake of a crash? Can riders train themselves to react with extreme caution after falling off the bike, rather than with the frantic desire to catch back on? Will teams ever grant riders a pass on bad results in order to recover from a head injury? Could we see a day when Toms Skujins simply walks over to the side of the road and forgets about the stage win? Time will tell.

I suspect the answer is probably “no,” since the sport of cycling does not have a strong riders’ union.  Nevertheless, in the meantime, elsewhere in the same publication one writer suggests a possible solution:


But when it comes to riders who matter–you know, the ones sponsored by property funds management businesses–he believes the solution is crash-sensing helmetry:

A helmet sensor would remove reliance on the judgment of a potentially concussed athlete in a high-stress situation. There is no way to definitively link a certain level of force with a head injury, so pulling a rider based exclusively on sensor readings would be medically and ethically questionable. But such a sensor would at least alert medical staff of the need to check out a rider immediately.

We may be closer to this type of solution than you think. There’s already a commercial product that does this: ICEdot. The sensor is packaged in a yellow disc about the size of a strawberry and links up with your cell phone to communicate directly with an emergency contact if triggered.

Astute readers of this blog (I have five total readers and of those maybe one or two is astute) may recall seeing the ICEdot system mentioned on these pages, and if not here it is again:

Since the riders are already wearing helmets I suppose adding some impact sensor isn’t a bad idea.  But would it actually work?  As the writer points out, the riders don’t carry phones, so “the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means:”

A racing application of ICEdot’s tech would need to be modified slightly. Riders don’t have phones in their back pockets, for example, so the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means. Luckily, forces within cycling are already adding telecommunications to pro bikes, sending us power, heart rate, and speed data for TV broadcasts. There’s no reason this system couldn’t also send notification of a rider in distress.

Though in the case of Skujins it doesn’t seem like any means would have worked since they were in some sort of telecommunications Bermuda Triangle:

Message finally conveyed to DS. Thank you. I’m in a car park with team busses. No TV. No cell coverage up where race was.

— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) May 15, 2017

I also wonder how well devices like the ICEdot actually work.  For example, I tested a Coros LINX, and I couldn’t get that stupid hunk of foam to call anybody:

Though I suppose it’s possible nobody was taking my call, since as you might imagine hitting the “Decline” button when I come up on the caller ID is pretty much Pavlovian for the people in my life:

Furthermore, whenever you write a blog post or newspaper article about how you don’t need to wear a helmet, 20 people immediately weigh in with a “BUT MY HELMENT SAVED MY LIFE!” comment.  Yet after consulting The Internetz I couldn’t find a single testimonial about an ICEdot helping somebody after a crash.  Even the testimonials on the ICEdot website just talk about stickers and stuff:

The ICEdot sticker was the selling point for me.  I placed my sticker under the bill of my helmet.  First responders know that in a motorcycle accident, the helmet is not to be taken off until the physician gives the OK.  That sticker under the bill is small but VERY noticeable against the black interior of the helmet!  What an awesome idea.

And the VeloNews review of the product just seems to assume it will work without providing any real evidence:

The Crash Sensor will likely outlive your helmets — assuming you replace your helmets after each crash, as you should. At $150, the Crash Sensor is not cheap, but this is a device that can save your life should you take a spill on your next solo adventure. That $150 also includes a year-long ICEdot premium membership. Additional one year premium memberships are $10.

So are helmet sensors a scam, the latest way for companies to cash in on Helme(n)t Hyster(n)ia and sell you a “premium membership” along with your expensive hunk of EPS foam?  I have no idea.  (Though I suspect “yes.”)  Anyway, Strava seems to have them beat anyway:

Beacon, our newest Premium feature, is the note on the fridge for the connected athlete. Instead of a lonely sticky note, Beacon safety contacts will get to see where you are during an activity in real time on a map. If you aren’t back on time, they can check to see where you are or if you’re stopped. If something were to happen to you, they’d be able to see your GPS location.

Seems like something that would actually work–though it could get Fred in some trouble if he takes a detour and loses track of the time:




Lastly, in Giro news, a rider was fined for scrawling a message on his emaciated torso:

After writing “Carlien, will you go out with me?” Victor Campenaerts is fined 100 CHF by Giro organizers for “damaging image of the sport” pic.twitter.com/3da5spj5go

— Peter Flax (@Pflax1) May 17, 2017

“You call that a chest?,” the organizers were quoted as saying.  “This is a chest:”

The Giro organizers most certainly do have an image to uphold, and it’s muscled and oily.

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