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cycling

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.

Continue reading »

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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.

Continue reading »

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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.

Continue reading »

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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.

Continue reading »

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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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Come On Baby Light My Blinkie

Blinky lights have come a long way since the “hipster cysts” of yore:For those of you too young to remember these things were groundbreaking at the time.  (Also, for those of you too young to remember, what the hell are you doing here?  You s… Continue reading »

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Wednesday!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “You know, I love the Bike Snob blog, but I really wish that instead of reading his brilliant insights I could hear them intoned to me in a whiny, nasal voice.”

Well, wish no more, because I’m a guest on a podcast!

The only thing better than listening to me prattle on is listening to me prattle on about helmets.

Hey, they asked me.

In other news, the anti-cyclist screed is a time-honored journalistic tradition, and it harkens back to a simpler time when racists were still closeted and “fake news” was simply called “bullshit.”  Of course here in Canada’s uvula such screeds appear less frequently now that the media is preoccupied with the imminent collapse of our “democracy,” but a positively exquisite example of the genre recently appeared across the Atlantic in the Daily Mail.  Now I should point out that it completely failed to incense me, which could be because: a) it’s from another country and we Americans find Britishisms endearing, even the ones that are supposed to be insults; or b) because everything seems quaint now given the imminent collapse of our “democracy.”  Nevertheless, this does not diminish the piece’s deft execution, so let’s begin:

First of all, when excoriating cyclists, it’s crucial to evoke both Lycra and smugness, and this particular article does not disappoint:

Forget road-clogging Chelsea Mums on the school run in their 4x4s. Never mind fist-shaking, foul-mouthed road ragers. Don’t fret about the old lady in a Skoda you inevitably get stuck behind.

There’s a force on the road far worse than all those —- and more likely to send your blood pressure soaring: the smug cyclist.

These Lycra-clad darters between cars, these self-styled saints in the saddle, are clogging up our roads with self-satisfaction.

Of course, what the authors of these screeds fail to realize is that Lycra and smugness are, for the most park, mutually exclusive.  For example, smug cyclists who are members of food co-ops and who move residences by bike tend not to wear Lycra, whereas the plastic bike-wearing Fred set who do wear Lycra are often the sorts of people who drive their bikes to rides.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to marry these two concepts in the mind of the typical bike-hater, much in the same way our current administration constantly conflates immigrants and crime.

Another crucial tactic in gaining support for your bike-hating article is to concede some small point in advance to make yourself seem gracious and level-headed, and the writer employs this device too:

This is not to say that there are no cavalier or dangerous drivers on the road — of course there are. 

But you can’t leave this offering out on the table for too long, lest it begin to occur to people that drivers kill left and right whereas cyclists kill virtually never.  So be sure to snatch it back quickly before your reader has time to think, and then go back to beating up on the cyclists:

It’s just that they don’t make such a song and dance about their chosen mode of transport.


It’s true, drivers are very understated about their enthusiasm for cars.  This is especially true of the British, which explains why they created the world’s most popular car show:

Cyclists, on the other hand, are entitled egomaniacs:

The holier-than-thou attitude among many riders is exacerbated by officialdom’s flattery of cyclists, its stroking of their already swollen egos.

Ridiculous.  Everybody knows if you attempt to stroke the ego of a British cyclist you’ll get rug burn from all the tweed:

By the way, they’re not even dressed up, that’s just a typical day.

Yep, that’s what all that flattery from officialdom will get you.  And worst of all, they don’t even appreciate it:

(Johnson took revenge with Brexit, so who’s laughing now?)


Anyway, once you’ve established that cyclists are a bunch of spoiled children, it’s crucial that you explain how encouraging people to ride bicycles results in a dystopian society that, to anybody with half a brain, actually sounds like a utopia:

We all know about the endless miles of cycles lanes that have been built across the country. But now, it seems, cyclists can get away with the kind of rule-breaking for which the rest of us would likely be cuffed and carted away.

Wait, endless cycling lanes (miles even, and not those stupid kilometer things), national health care, and you can get arrested for hitting someone with your car?  I’ll gladly trade places with any disgruntled British motorist.  You’ll love it here!  Not only can you pretty much kill whoever you want (car or gun, choose your weapon), but we’ve got a fantastic president who’s turning things around bigly.

Meanwhile, what kind of sick society treats riding a bike on the sidewalk less severely than robbery or assault?

One North London borough has just said it will no longer issue fixed £50 penalties to people who cycle on the pavement. Officers in Camden say they’ll no longer enforce this law ‘without good reason’. They’ll have a little chat with the cyclist instead.

Would they extend the same courtesy to other people who broke the law? To the bloke who nicked a hundred quid from the tills at Aldi or the woman in the grip of drink who punched a total stranger? ‘My dear, why did you feel the need to do this?’ No, of course not.

Yes, the writer would be a lot more happy here in America, where doing things “without good reason” is now national policy.

And finally, always be sure to point out how discouraging driving somehow results in more pollution:

In London, hundreds of millions of pounds are being pumped into getting more people on bikes. This has included turning ever more road space into cycling lanes.

As a result, the space for cars has shrunk dramatically, so they’re more likely to get stuck in traffic jams and to pump out fumes.

The irony is almost too much to handle: air quality in London has suffered as cyclists have become kings of the road, because demonised motorists now find themselves stationary for longer times in longer jams, their cars coughing out smog as cyclists speed by.

Fast-forward to the year 2030, when the headline on the front page of the Daily Mail reads: LAST REMAINING MOTORIST IN LONDON STARVES TO DEATH AFTER BEING TRAPPED IN HIS CAR FOR WEEKS BY A SEA OF CYCLISTS.

Lastly, while we’re on the subject of literary forms, yesterday I mentioned Bicycling editor Bill Strickland’s approach to bike reviews, which included such criteria as this:

Who needs this bike? Who imagines they do with enough ardor that it might as well be true need? Why did the bicycle and I do that through that corner, or go fast there, and how much was bike and how much was me and how much was that (silly to say but real so here it is) mystical mixing of the two of us?

And this:

Changing any element changes things but that means all things, the entire bike, the whole ride and, because you are as necessary to the ride as the bike is, changes you while you are with that bike. 

Offhandedly I mentioned that I think I prefer the VeloNews approach, but after checking out their recent review of the $10,660 Cannondale Whatever I take that back:

Here’s why:

That’s primarily because the SuperSix can adapt. A day in the mountains? No problem. Weekend crit? It’s got you covered. It’s all about the balance of stiffness and comfort that makes it a jack of all trades, not just in name, but in performance. Our stiffness testing reveals the SuperSix is solid in both the bottom bracket (0.8mm of deflection) and head tube (0.6mm of deflection), but not nearly as unyielding as an aero bike like the Trek Madone (0.41mm of deflection in both the head tube and bottom bracket). That little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel, a certain something that connects to the curves and is just malleable enough when you’re throwing your weight around on climbs.

Okay, so the differences in deflection between the Cannondale and the Trek are as follows:

A .39mm difference at the bottom bracket (that’s the thickness of about four pieces of copy paper);
A .19mm difference at the headtube (that’s the thickness of about two pieces of copy paper).

Are you fucking kidding me?  This makes the Cannondale “not nearly as unyielding” as the Trek?  At least the Strickland approach can confuse you into believing it, whereas when they start showing numbers you can actually quantify how meaningless as it.  They’re gonna give the whole scam away!  Come on, you’ve got to figure there’s more than a .39mm deflection difference in your foot from day to day due the thickness of your calluses, not to mention all the other crap between your foot and the frame.  In fact, I bet if they threw two different Cannondale (or Trek, or whatever) samples on VeloNews Deflekt-O-Matic™they’d find a similar variation.  But sure, that “little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel,” and “is just malleable enough” to notice “when you’re throwing your weight around on climbs.”

In other words, if your bottom bracket isn’t stick enough, put four pieces of copy paper in your shoe.  That ought to cover it.

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Hold your head high!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Just remember not to be taken in by cute depictions of tandem bicycles:

Seems lovely, right?

Hardly.

While ostensibly a symbol of love and togetherness, the tandem is nothing but a sordid ruse, and an invitation to pilot one is merely a pretense for turning you into the object of salacious leering:

Never trust a stoker.

Speaking of ruses, the pro Freds want the UCI to ban disc brakes again:


Here’s why they say they don’t want them:

Cyclingnews has seen a copy of a letter sent by the riders’ association to the governing body on Sunday in which it formally sets out its opposition to the reintroduction of disc brakes this season. Chief among its concerns is the danger posed by having different braking systems – and therefore different braking times – in the same peloton.

The letter, signed by CPA president Gianni Bugno and addressed to Mark Barfield, head of the UC’s technical commission, with UCI president Brian Cookson copied in, criticises the UCI for failing to take into account the safety concerns expressed by a majority of professional riders.

Hmmm, I don’t remember ever hearing this argument in the context of single-vs.-dual pivot calipers, or carbon vs. aluminum braking surfaces, or anything else that makes a difference in braking time.  Yeah, I think we all know the real reason they don’t want them, which is that no team wants to spend a bunch of money outfitting a whole new fleet of bicycles with hidden motors.

Come on, these people will ride anything you put under them.  There’s a team riding around with chain oilers attached to their bikes for chrissakes!

Yet here’s a braking system that might actually help them descend Grand Tour mountain passes on crabon rims in the rain and they’re not only resistant to it but insisting it be banned outright?

As Shakespeare famously wrote, “The Freddies doth protest too much, methinks.”

Meanwhile, the amateur Freds, the vast majority of whom have absolutely nothing to gain from these things, can’t upgrade soon enough.

Go figure.

Of course, the Golden Age of EPO set loves the whole mötödöping thing because it gives them something to feel smug about:

Still looking for a motor……I even rode it today and dropped @ghincapie but that doesn’t say much……. pic.twitter.com/jhv4tFO4Pa

— VandeVelde,Christian (@ChristianVDV) February 3, 2017

El-oh-el.

See, it’s funny because they only regular-doped.

Frankly I don’t buy the argument that an artificial tailwind provided by a motor that’s either on or off is any worse than transfusing your blood or permanently altering your physiology through use of banned substances.  In fact I think it’s even more ethically defensible, not to mention quite a bit safer.  Imagine your kid became a pro cyclist.  (Lob forbid!)  Would you rather them ride a bike with a motor or let some Belgian soigneur who never finished high school fill them with blood in the bathroom of a team bus?  I know which one I’d choose: vroom, vroom!  Pro cycling needle doping is barely a notch above letting someone shoot heroin between your toes under a highway overpass.

But hey, whatever makes these feel better about their careers.

In other news, meet the Lancelock, which is a new titanium bike lock on Kickstarter and not what Floyd Landis has Lance Armstrong in now:

It’s a classic American tale: guy has 12 – yes, 12 – bikes stolen, gets mad as heck, and becomes obsessed with solving the problem and ending the decades-long, worldwide bicycle theft epidemic once and for all.

Yeah, I’m not sure I’d buy a bicycle security product from someone who’s lost twelve (12) bicycles.

I mean sure, maybe this thing really does work, but you’d never know it from the video.  I was waiting for them to break out the heavy equipment, but all they proved was that it can resist gentle tapping with a hammer:

And that, like a calloused nipple, it’s also resolute in the face of gentle twisting:

As for power tools, they don’t even entertain that as a possibility:

Oh, sure.  Sometimes, but not always:

Meanwhile, remember the fixie periscope?

Well it’s been reinvented for the older set by a couple of guys in Florida:

Okay, so apparently the cycling equivalent of the elderly driver who can’t see over the dashboard of a Buick is an aging Fred who can’t look up from his aerobars.  And of course the solution to this problem is this:

Instead of, you know, sitting up:

So what’s the opposite of “Eureka” anyway?  Well as far as I know there’s not a single word, but this phrase comes pretty darn close:


“So then we came up with this device to allow us to see what’s in front of us while we don’t necessarily have our head up.”

Holy crap that looks dangerous.

Also, the inventors’ total obliviousness to the world around them is clearly not limited to when they’re riding with aerobars:

“It’s very hard to find any accessory for a bicycle that makes you safer, faster, and more comfortable.”

No it isn’t.

In fact there’s a bike designed to do just that, and it’s called a Rivendell:

At a certain point you’re a lot faster on a comfortable bike than you are bent over a plastic Fred bike like you’re getting a prostate exam:

Who wants to ride around viewing the world through a series of strategically-placed mirrors anyway?  You might as well just ride with an endoscope up your ass.

Speaking of looking at everything from an oblique angle, this hurt my brain:

It’s mostly sensory to me, trying to be with a bike enough to review it, which to me means to understand it: What it is built to achieve, what it shares with others with the same ambition and all other bicycles in general, how it might in some way differ from all the others (alike and not), how well and how much and in what ways it fulfills or sometimes exceeds its ambitions, who it is made for me and who not, and who might like it whether made for them or not. Who needs this bike? Who imagines they do with enough ardor that it might as well be true need? Why did the bicycle and I do that through that corner, or go fast there, and how much was bike and how much was me and how much was that (silly to say but real so here it is) mystical mixing of the two of us? . Secondly, it is holistic. Nothing happens because the chainstays are longer or the bottom bracket is stouter or this is that-er, but those are an ineluctable part of why the whole bike does this or that or feels yes or no. Changing any element changes things but that means all things, the entire bike, the whole ride and, because you are as necessary to the ride as the bike is, changes you while you are with that bike. Express the ride (the bike) without trying to diagnose it. . And godammit, have some fun while you’re doing it or what’s the point? . . . #edchoice17 #bicyclingmag #biketesting #bikereviewing #healdsburg #bicycles #bicyclette #bicycling #bike #bikelife #bikes #cycling #cyclinglife #cyclist #mybikelife #ridelife #thebikelife
A post shared by Bill Strickland (@truebs) on Feb 14, 2017 at 8:14am PST

I never thought I’d say this, but I think I prefer that ridiculous VeloNews numbering system.

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