Movers and Shakers on Bay Area Bike to Work Day Thursday May 11

btwd 2017 banner

Hi all – remember, the nine county San Francisco Bay Area celebrates Bike to Work Day next Thursday, May 11, 2017. There’s a lot going locally and beyond; I’ll highlight the bits that interest me.

  • For those of you who travel to, through, or near downtown San Jose, don’t miss the Movers and Shakers Ride from MLK Library in downtown San Jose to VTA Headquarters in North San Jose. Movers and Shakers is like a hundred strong bike party with elected officials. Festivities begin at the library at 7:20 A.M., with wheels on the road perhaps a half hour later.

    Movers & Shakers Ride 2016 DTSJ San Fernando Street

  • You’re invited to the Bike After Work Bash, where I’ll drop in to accept my Honorable Mention as Santa Clara County Bike Commuter of the Year.
  • SF2G holds their annual epic ride from San Francisco down the Peninsula to the South Bay. They’ll drop by the famously epic Energizer Station at Oracle HQ in Redwood Shores. I invite you also to visit the Energizer Station at my place of employment at Oracle in Santa Clara, where they serve up delicious egg dishes, breakfast meats, good yogurt, Peet’s Coffee, tea, bagels and more. The Santa Clara Energizer Station will be on Agnew across from Garrity Way.
  • Santa Cruz County also celebrates Bike to Work Week next week, with Bike to Work Day on Thursday. I originally planned to lead a ride “over the hill” from Scotts Valley into San Jose, but I’ve had to change those plans. If you’d like to lead such a ride please leave a comment!

More later!

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Bike Month Comes But Once A Year



Yes, that's right, this Saturday, I, the so called "Bike Snob," will be loitering at the Walz Caps booth at Bike Expo New York:


You won't want to miss me, if for no other reason than you can pick up the new BSNYC cap, which is a subtle homage to the local Applebee's.

Seriously.

(Don't worry, it doesn't say "Applebee's" on it.)

Also, if you want to ride down to the Expo together let me know, though I'll tell you right now if it's raining I'm going multimodal with the Brompton:


These days my MetroCard gets more of a workout than my legs.

Speaking of stuff you put on your head:
Yeah, that's right:


Good advice indeed.

By the way, in addition to the helmet misspelling (or correct spelling depending on how you look at it), May isn't "Bicycle Safety Month."  It's just plain Bike Month:


So if anything it would be nice if everyone would stop bugging us about the stupid helmets already.  I realize we're not going to undo Helmet Mania in this country anytime soon (though believe me I'm doing my best on this end), but at the very least they could shut the fuck up about it until June.  Bike Month should be a celebration of the joy of cycling during which we revel in delightful weather, savor the freedom of the bicycle, and appreciate wherever it is we live.

Here are five (5) things you should try at least once during Bike Month:

Riding Without A Helmet

Try it, you might like it.  And I guarantee you'll survive.  If you don't, contact me from beyond the grave and I'll refund your money.

Riding With Headphones

Boy do people ever get self-righteous about that one.  Do you know how dangerous it is to ride while listening to music or a podcast at a moderate volume?  Not very.  In fact, probably not at all.  The biggest risk is that you'll get a ticket depending on your local laws.  (In New York City you're only allowed to wear one earbud, which frankly seems more disorienting.)

Riding No-Handed While Having A Cellphone Conversation

Can you ride no-handed?  Can you walk and talk at the same time without bumping into anything?  If so you can combine them both into a no-handed ride-and-talk.  Of course, it's the kind of thing people see and think, "What an irresponsible person!," but the people who think that are usually douchebags.

Going For a Long Ride Without Wearing Special Clothes

When was the last time you just hopped on your bike and went a long way without getting all dressed up first?  If you're a Fred, not since you were like 8.  However, the truth is it's actually possible to ride a bike without stuffing yourself into an overly-revealing Lycra Fred condom.  In fact, it can be quite liberating, and it might even encourage you to stop along the way and do stuff, like have a drink--which brings me to...

Stop And Have A Freaking Drink for Chrissakes

Trust me, I spent years Fredding about and doing my best not to stop lest I sacrifice precious miles, and I'd get anything to have that wasted time back.  Had I ridden half as much and drunk twice as much I'd probably...well, I'd probably be in even worse shape than I am now, but I'd probably have been a lot more pleasant to be around.  (Then again, if I hadn't spent so much time racing and Fredding about back then I probably wouldn't appreciate not doing it now, so I guess it works both ways.)

Hey, it's Bike Month, loosen up is all I'm saying.

Speaking of which, I saw the following video via the Twitter, and while it purports to be motivational I saw it as nothing less than a horrifying cautionary tale:



I pray to the Good Lob on High that one day this poor Fred is able to break the Shackles of Weeniedom and know what it means to be free.

Seriously, if you get too deep into all of this you can lose the ability to think, and next thing you know you're reading articles about how to purchase food in a deli:
Horrifying.
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Thank God It’s Wednesday

Did you know that bike lanes are part of a vast Jewish conspiracy to undermine gentile businesses and prime the city for a complete Semitic takeover?

It's true, I read it in the comments on a local news story:


(Is she even Jewish?  I've never heard of a Jew named Polly.)

And you can read all about that delightfully idiotic story over at the Bike Forecast so I don't have to repeat myself:


You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you might even "shart" depending on what you ate for dinner last night.

Anyway, everybody knows the notion that New York City's bike lanes are part of a Jewish conspiracy is ridiculous, because it common knowledge that Jews prefer to manipulate the populace through their control of the entertainment and banking industries:


As half a Jew they let me audit the meetings but I'm not allowed to participate.

Nevertheless, I look froward to CBS New York's next hard-hitting report:


In the meantime, should people should start sabotaging the bike lanes with nails in order to Make America Great Again, you might want to get some Bicycle Armour, the new tire sealant currently vying for your money on Kickstarter:



As far as I can tell it's made from clumps that were scooped out of a bathtub drain or something:

Eureka Moment

Like Archimedes, our Eureka moment happened in a bath tub too …. the domestic chores of clearing a blocked drain to be precise. So the premise was; if human hair (which has quite a small diameter) can tangle up and effectively block a drain (which has a relatively much larger diameter), then maybe we can apply this principle to our bicycle puncture problem.

FACT:* This is the composition of a typical bathtub drain clump:

Soap scum: 15%
Hair: 25%
Semen: 60%

*[This is in no way a fact.]

So there's your sealant.

With that in mind, let this image of someone stirring a slimy brown blob with a chopstick forever haunt your dreams:


Of course, the concept behind Bicycle Armor is quite sound.  In fact, if you've been riding bikes for awhile, it probably sounds pretty familiar to you:


We incorporated different sized fillers, ranging from nano sized particles to microns in diameter. We developed a non aggressive, stable liquid transport system to suspend these fibres and fillers. And we combine all these ingredients using a very high energy three stage mixing process which we developed in house.

Hmmm, tiny particles suspended in a semen-like matrix?  I think someone named Stan might want to have a word with you:


("Not me, you idiot, the sealant guy!")

I wouldn't say there's nothing new under the Sun, but there's definitely nothing new on the Kickstarter.

Lastly, in news of professional bicycle riding, the Giro d'Italia has called off plans to reward the fastest descender with fabulous cash prizes:


But ahead of Friday’s opening stage in Sardinia, one new Giro award caused such a storm in the professional peloton that the race scrapped it just 48 hours before the start. The Giro was offering a cash prize of up to €15,000 ($16,381), in effect, for the craziest rider in the bunch: the fastest descender.

Pre-owned Hyundai money to the fastest descender in the race?  What could possibly go wrong?


Even better would have been if the cash prize was sponsored by a disc brake manufacturer:




Alas, in the end "safety" prevailed over spectator bloodlust, which is alwasy a bummer:

On Wednesday morning, following a backlash from the cycling community, organizers announced that the fastest descenders’ prize would be canceled.

“The spirit of the initiative was to highlight an important skill which is an integral part of a cycle race without putting the riders’ safety in jeopardy,” they said. “Rider safety is, and remains, the priority of the Giro and the race organizers.”

It's true, descending quickly is an important skill, which is already highlighted by, you know, winning the race.  Remember this guy?


(Savoldelli doing his best "Stop Making Sense" impression.)

Savoldelli was a climber but known for his fast downhill riding. He is nicknamed Il Falco ("the falcon"). His downhill skills won him the 2005 Giro. His descent of the Colle delle Finestre before the final ascent to Sestriere in the penultimate stage, closed a gap to Gilberto Simoni, preserving his lead and giving him the win.

Of course you don't.

But you would have if he'd launched himself into a ravine in pursuit of €15,000.

Anyway, in the end it's the fans who have been cheated out of a thrilling spectacle--not of of crashes, but of riders with no GC hopes ballooning up to Sumo-like weights in order to descend more quickly and claim the prize.

And there goes any hope of corporeal diversity in the professional peloton.

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A short post almost entirely about me.

It's Bike Month, everybody!


That means it's time for Bike Expo New York!


Which in turn means it's time for me to hang around at the Walz booth pushin' caps!


Not only is Bike Expo New York free, but it's also your opportunity to hoard like a year's worth of free energy food samples (mmmm, can you say "Chia Squeeze?").  Just make sure you take a break from glomming and schnorring and swing by the Walz booth between 10am and 12pm on Saturday, May 6th, which is when I'll be there.

In other news of me, I graciously offered a piece of my jenious to Outside magazine recently:


While CDOT’s judges deliberate, we went ahead and asked 11 of the brightest minds in the bike industry what they would do to make U.S. cities better, safer, and smarter for the two-wheeled crowd. Here’s what they had to say.

Yeah, that's right.  I'm one of the bike industry's "sharpest minds:"


This according to the same publication that said you should "throw your rim brakes in the trash."

By the way, I feel I should offer a little backstory on that photo.  You may be wondering why I'm sitting on top of a picnic table in full Fred gear next to a rather incongruous retrogrouch sleigh.  Well, back in 2009 I visited Portland in order to pen this Pulitzer-worthy article for the very same publication:


The editor who commissioned the piece was a Portland denizen, and during my stay we went for a ride together.  When you're riding with people for the first time it's always interesting to see how people turn up, and in this case I showed up in full Fred gear astride the versatile yet aesthetically-challenged Ironic Orange Julius Bike, which served dual duty during my stay as urban runabout and irreverent SSCXWC chariot.  My editor, on the other hand, showed up in the sort of wool ensemble you'd expect to find atop a classy sport-touring/randonneuring/whatever-you-call-it bicycle complete with canvas handlebar bag like the one above.

Anyway, together we made for Forest Park, and at one point we switched bikes for a bit, which is when the above photo was taken.

All of this is a long way of saying I may be a sartorial disgrace, but even I would not have chosen that outfit to ride that bicycle.

Oh, he also took a picture of me playing bike polo in the interest of research:


I'm gonna go ahead and lie and say I curated that facial hair so I could go undercover in Portland and that it's not how I usually looked at the time.

Speaking of bike polo, have you ever wondered who invented it?  No?  Me neither.  Nevertheless I found out by accident and wrote about it in the Bike Forecast.

So there you go.

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I Came, I Saw, I Went Home

As you no doubt recall, Friday was the day Italy's second-most unctuous export after olive oil, Mario Cipollini, was due to visit Brooklyn:

And given the outsized role he's played on this blog over the past ten years I knew I'd be remiss were I to forego this rare opportunity to pay my respects and take his measure in person:


("You gonna need a very big ruler.")

According to the Red Hook Crit website the ride was set to take place in Prospect park at 9:30am.  Back when I lived in Brooklyn, 15 minutes and a few strokes of the pedal would have been all that it took to deliver me to the start.  However, now that I reside in the northwest Bronx, a trip to Prospect Park is a good 20 mile ride.  All of this is to say that I had every intention of being punctual, but by the time I crossed under the fog-enshrouded George Washington Bridge I was running something like an hour behind schedule:


Alas, if only I'd had an ebike like this guy I might have made up the time easily:


The brand of the above bike was "Juiced," and I'm assuming that's the "CrossCurrent" model that sells for $1,499:

Hey, whatever works for you, but if there's one thing I've noticed about ebikes it's that they encourage their riders to circle at red lights even more than fixies do.

Once I'd ridden nearly the length of Manhattan I merged onto the new Chrystie Street bike lane:


And mounted the Manhattan Bridge, where even at this late morning hour riders were still streaming towards Manhattan in considerable numbers:


Either New York City's got an actual bicycle rush hour now, or else they were simply fleeing the Cipollini.

Upon alighting in Brooklyn I made straight for Grand Army Plaza:


Where a group I took to be the Brooklyn chapter of the Mario Cipollini Appreciation Society in fact turned out to be park volunteers:


I'm assuming the Prospect Park Alliance heard Mario Cipollini would be visiting, and so they brought a wheelbarrow full of sawdust to soak up any oil slicks and keep the roadway safe for the park users.

Anyway, I'd long missed the rollout, but it wasn't long before I heard a flurry of Fredly activity nearby:


And moments later I was among them:


The main group was well ahead of me, and presumably these were the riders who'd become overwhelmed by Cipollini's pheromones and dropped back to breathe some unadulterated air for awhile.  Obviously many of these riders were in town to compete in the Red Hook Crit, and as you can imagine it was thrilling to be among the crème de la crème of international fixiedom.  Every few moments I'd hear the unmistakable whoosh of crabon wheels and the rattle of over-tensioned chains, only to be passed by yet another rider with tattoos and a mustache:


(Sagan?  More like Sag-ain't.)

Indeed, when it comes to sheer fastidiousness in the realm of appearance, fixie-crit riders have overtaken roadies like that guy on the Juiced bike overtook me:


Given the sheer volume of runners, dog walkers, and Orthodox Jewish power-walkers, Prospect Park at mid-morning is not exactly the ideal venue for a huge group ride, so rather than attempt to make my way to the front I instead dropped back, took the cutoff, and waited for them at the park entrance.  Before long they came back around, and while it was hard to pick him out at first:


I soon spotted the unmistakable profile of Cipollini himself:


And once the ride ended I watched as he graciously posed for photos with his many admirers:


I'd briefly considered bringing something along for Cipollini to sign.  Indeed, at the risk of sounding too arrogant, I'm something of a sensation in Italy myself.  Not only have my books been translated into Italian, but I was also the guest of honor at "Full Bike Day," which was without a doubt one of the fullest bike days the region of Puglia has ever seen:

Therefore, I figured I'd do Cipollini the honor of presenting him a copy of the Italian edition of my book, asking him to sign it, and then taking it back and keeping it for myself...though as I was preparing to leave I realized that rummaging around in boxes looking for a copy of the Italian edition of my book would have made me even later, so ultimately I just said "Fuck it."

I also briefly considered taking a picture with Cipollini myself as a souvenir, but given the earnestness of the occasion I felt like injecting irony into the proceedings would be kind of a douchey thing to do, so instead I just took pictures of other people taking pictures:


I have no idea why the riders in the background are shielding their eyes, and I can only assume they can't bear to look directly at a skinsuited Cipollini from behind, much in the same way you can't look directly at the Ark of the Covenant or else your face will melt:


Once Cipollini had graced everyone with handshakes and pixels I headed down to R&A bike shop, where according to the Red Hook Crit website a "Q&A" was to take place:


However, when I asked someone at R&A where the Q&A was taking place they looked at me like I was an idiot and said they didn't know anything about any Q&A but that Cipollini was inside:


I can only assume that since everyone had gotten what they came for the whole Q&A idea must have fallen by the wayside, and once again I was disinclined to bother a guy who clearly wanted to tap at his phone uninterrupted after having given generously of his time.  So I paid my respects to the Red Hook Crit organizer and made my way back to the Bronx.  The cherry blossoms were in bloom:


The bridge was now free from the fog in which it had been imprisoned:


And as I contemplated the cycle of life and these symbols of rebirth it occurred to me for the first time that I might be pregnant.

I should have shielded my eyes.

Oh, and if you're wondering what happened at the Red Hook Crit, I have no idea, but I did see this on the Twitter:

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Design,Fixie,Bmx,Moto (@rustedjalopy_) on


So there you go.

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BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Good morning.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right well then that's just fantastic, and if you're wrong you'll see a recumbent conversion.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe this weekend, and thanks very much for reading.

Ride safe this weekend,


--Wildcat Rock Machine




1) The Red Hook Crit is also known as:






2) Mario Cipollini is in Brooklyn today to:






3) Of course Jeremy Santucci rides a Cipollini.





4) According to my Newbery Award-winning children's book, why did Jesus put the dinosaurs in charge of the Earth?






5) Complete this popular expression:

"Jumping the _____."

--Gun







6) What is the "Rock Bar?"






7) Mike Sinyard says that in two years:




***Special "Well That's An Odd Choice"-Themed Bonus Video!***


I guess they were desperate for comfort.

Afterwards they broke into the pet shop next-door and stole a Bichon Frise to put in that basket.

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Sea Otter Stories: Fear And Loathing In Laguna Seca

Cain Ramirez is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cowgirl Bike Courier. He has been designated by Cyclelicious as part of the less-than-one percent of transportation cyclists that identify as “Strong & Fearless”.

It started off as a joke.

Rich had just posted a press release for the Sea Otter Classic on Twitter. In it was mention of the Second Iteration of their infamous eMTB Race. I laughed. I don’t ride mountain bikes. Truth be told, I don’t particularly like mountain bikes, or mountain bike culture for that matter. Despite these preconceived notions, I’m a complete sucker for erratic and quirky cycling concepts.

I retweeted Rich’s post on Twitter without hesitation:

Never one to miss a beat, Rich sent an e-mail post-haste:

If you want to cover that ebike [sic] race […], we’ll need to act quickly. I’d say go ahead and register right away and request a bike right now, then we can talk about getting you a pass.

No need to threaten me with a good time Rich.

A week later I found myself in the heart of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Sea Otter Classic. Now in its twenty-seventh year, the Sea Otter Classic prides itself as “the world’s largest bicycle convention.” With over four hundred-and-fifty vendors and tens of thousands of attendees each year, I doubt anyone is in a hurry to try and dispute the claim.

Rich and I spent the first day shaking hands and catching up with cycling friends old and new, picking up schwag and business contacts along the way. Eventually, I made my way to the registration center to secure my spot in the eMTB race. Unlike the other races taking place that weekend, the eMTB was not UCI-certified. Meaning, instead of typical CAT 5/4/3/2/1/Pro/Masters classifications, you raced either according to your age category, or the catch all “Industry Open Challenge”.

As a professional bike messenger, I signed up for the latter. Surely, the only yahoos crazy enough to undertake such a race would be fellow messengers, and perhaps the occasional Brand Rep or Bike Mechanic…right?

As I had only registered on-site with less than 24 hours until race time, I still needed to acquire an actual eMTB to ride. Prior to attending the festival, I had e-mailed the main sponsor, Bosch, in hopes of reserving an actual bike to use for the race. Having not heard back from Bosch, I took to the festival, tracked down their booth, and was greeted by a beautiful full-suspension eCargo bike sitting in wait.

“Hey. I’m registered to ride the eMTB race tomorrow in the Industry Open category. Has anyone claimed that eCargo bike yet?”, I motioned to the rep.

The Bosch rep looked puzzled. “Let me check with the boss.” Minutes later, he returned with his supervisor in tow.

“We can’t loan out that particular model for racing, but there might be a eCargo bike you can use at another booth…”

Five minutes later, I had situated myself at the Yuba Bicycles booth.

For the record, Yuba does not produce anything remotely close to what could be considered a mountain bike. As noted in their motto, their focus is “Family Bikes, Carry Stuff by Bike, and Carry Kids by Bike.” In short, cargo bikes.

Conveniently enough, aside from owning a bike messenger service and moonlighting as Batman a mild-mannered journalist, I also happen to be the reigning South Bay Cargo Bike Champion; a title I share with Bike Pretty, and her son Baby Valentine. Riding an eCargo bike on a course designed for eMountain Bikes? No hesitation here.

“Bosch told me you guys have an eCargo Bike for testing. Would you be willing to loan it out to me for the eMTB race tomorrow?”

Kate, the Yuba Rep, blinked inquisitively. “Hell yeah! That’d be so sick! We can strip down our Spicy Curry model for you no problem. When do you need it by?”

A sly grin works its way across my face.

4:30pm, the next day.

“Sweet ride dude. Have fun out there.”

A gentlemen decked out in Oakleys and a full Team Bosch MTB skinsuit smiles and fist bumps his approval to me. I can’t shake the uncanny feeling that he’s part of an actual, sponsored, professional, mountain bike team.

From the starting point on the Laguna Seca Raceway, I take view of my surroundings. I’m smack dab in the center of a tight group of fully spec’d and decked out mountain bikers. Lycra. Performance-specific helmets and shades. Clipless pedals and shoes. This race was never a joke. And the term Industry Open was not to be taken lightly. I myself am outfitted in a San Jose Craft Fair t-shirt, shorts, Adidas Sambas, a borrowed helmet and some $10 shades; all the while mounting a Yuba Spicy Curry in curly kale green.

I am officially in over my head. And I have never been more stoked.

The stoke quickly turns to awe. At the front of the pack, stands a tall limber man, decked out in a Specialized Jersey whose aura shows dominance over all others. It’s not that he’s peacocking. It’s that everyone around him is visibly intimidated by his very presence.

As stated previously, when it comes to the MTB world, I know approximately Jack and Nothing. And Jack just left town. What I do know, is that the only reason you would ever even consider wearing the World Champion stripes on your jersey at any sort of race, professional or otherwise, would be if you had rightfully earned those stripes. Therefore, by process of elimination, I’ve determined that this man must be, or at the very least have at one point have been, the Peter Sagan of the professional mountain biking world.

But surely it can’t be the actual World Champion? And even if he was a past World Champ, maybe he’s became lax on his training? One glance at the man’s calves are all I need to set aside my doubt. They’re beautiful. As if Michelangelo himself had carved them from the finest marble specimen. Damn it all, he hasn’t even started flexing.

Damn it all straight to hell.

The countdown echoes across the field and the Peloton is off like a bat out of hell the moment the signal is given. I start spinning my twenty inch rear wheel and kick the eAssist to the highest level. Within seconds of our start, a poor unfortunate soul has already hit a mechanical, creating a huge backlog of confused riders who clearly have never handled a bicycle through traffic before. The Spicy Curry shows no hesitation, and allows me to swiftly carve through the crowd and begin up the first ascent. Not bad Yuba.

The initial incline threatens to sap our energy right from the start with its impending 14% grade. Before anyone is given the chance to prepare mentally, the red boundary tape pushes us off the tarmac and straight into the dirt. Despite the fact that I’m running large, smooth, commuter tires(Schwalbe Big Bens for those of you at home), the Spicy Curry doesn’t hesitate under the new terrain. “This isn’t so bad”, I think to myself. That’s when the Sand Trap makes its presence known.

Right at the base of the first large climb, the sand pit is laid out to claim the unworthy. Before my tire even touches the sand, a plethora of soft-bellied riders begin abandoning their bikes and whining about the terrain. “I didn’t sign up for this!” cries one. “What the hell man!” cries another.

I don’t have time for a Three Stooges reenactment. I dismount the Yuba, leap to its side, grab the handlebars, and start running it through the sand. With the e-motor, the bike must weigh in excess of 50 lbs, easily. No matter, as our sand run is completed quickly, and I’m back on the Spicy Curry and begin up the dirt hill trail within a moment’s notice.

Even with the e-assist at full throttle, physics won’t let me off the hook so easily. As the climb continues its steepness, I’m forced to downshift several gears. The battery goes from four bars to three. It’s clear that the application of this product was not meant for that of racing.

After a solid two minutes of climbing, my breathing becomes heavy and my mouth dry. The legs burn a little, but spinning a twenty inch wheel over nine-speed commuter cassette is a cardio workout I’m not used to. “It’s OK”, I tell myself. “The descent will be coming soon.” A hairpin turn and a solid descent later, I find myself facing yet into another brutal climb. Following another brief moment of suffering, I find myself at top of the Laguna Seca Raceway.

My heart skips a beat. I can see not only the rest of the race course from here, but all four-hundred and fifty Sea Otter vendors as well. How far have I climbed? And what the hell is waiting for me below?

Pedal strike for one. Lots and lots of pedal strike. The Spicy Curry was spec’d with a very low bottom bracket, ideal for establishing a lower center of gravity when carrying heavy loads. Such a design is unheard of on any modern mountain bike. Anytime I make a sharp turn over the unforgiving terrain, I’m reminded me of this fact by the familiar, unwelcome sound of pedal grinding on stone. Not only is the sound unsettling, but it also serves to complete ruin any rhythm I may try to achieve while descending.

When the trail is clear, the Spicy Curry handles like a champion. Even without the eAssist, the extra mass of the cargo bike makes descending simple; sometimes too simple. Each time the speed of a descent over muddy terrain compensates my handling, the mechanical disc brake system brings me back from the brink. While the complete lack of suspension means that I feel every shock, bump, and obstacle in my path, the sheer joy of descending down a switchback dirt trail outweighs any and all discomfort. Even when I’m forced to dismount due to short bursts of jagged rock, the smile never leaves my face.

Quite possibly the only thing better than bombing down the green hills of Laguna Seca is the sheer heckling from the crowd. All along the descent, spectators are lined up on the edge of the course boundaries, jeering and cheering the whole way.

“Yo Spicy Curry!”
“What the hell is that thing?”
“Hey man, I think you’ve got the wrong bike!”
“You’ve lost your cargo!”
“Where’s the beer man?”
“Go Spicy Curry Go!”

Even more satisfying than the heckling, is the confused looks of the photographers attempting to catch a shot of the action. Dumbfounded, confused, some even straight joyous, the idea of tackling this course was already lunacy in and of itself. On an eCargo Bike? Not even an afterthought. I pedal as fast as the stubby rear wheel will allow me past the paparazzi; grinning like an idiot the whole way.

After a thorough trouncing on the descent, I make my last hairpin turn back onto the raceway. I see the giant tire arch above me, signifying the return to the beginning of the course and beam. How many racers have looked upon the monument with the same joy I have? How many legends have I shared this race course with? The experience is pure bliss.

My bliss however is very short lived. The boundary tape leads away from the track, and straight into a gravel pit. From what I’ve heard, the purpose of the gravel pit is to allow car racers a place to pull into and lose speed should they lose control of their vehicle. For us, it’s one last test of our mettle before returning to the starting line.

The Spicy Curry and I make our last stand. Though I do my best to book it across, this cargo bike was not intended to be a gravel grinder. Coupled with the fact I’m running slick tires without any real grip; I feel my rear wheel begin to drift as the bike sinks further into the gravel, the mismatched wheel size finally working against me.

Almost wiping out, I catch myself and power slide into a corner, coming to a full stop. Just a bit further, I tell myself. Just a bit further. After another minute of slipping and sliding, I find myself back at the start, greeted by cheers. I’m nowhere near the front. I didn’t keep count of the number of people who passed me. Hell, I’m probably competing for DFL. That being said, the crowd is going wild for the idiot on the Spicy Curry. I wave at the spectators as I pass through the home stretch. Win or lose; I’ve done the impossible. Now I just need to do it three more times.

By the time I start my 2nd lap, I notice the battery is already at half-mast. There’s no way the battery can make it the entire race, and there’s no way I can do the initial climb without it. On a properly spec’d gravel bike? Sure. Pushing a 14% grade on a stock eCargo bike with no assist? Not a chance in hell.

The Spicy Curry and I make our run of the course once more, being heckled and jeered by the spectators the whole while. With the course fresh under my legs, everything becomes infinitely easier the second time around. The Spicy Curry roars out of the final hairpin, through the Giant Tire arch, and back onto the gravel. No fear. No quarter. The gravel is conquered beneath the slick tires of the cargo bike, and just as we hit the tarmac again, it hits me.

The battery has given out. I am now running on my own power.

I sigh. We had a good run, the Spicy Curry and I. Together, we accomplished history as the first ever eCargo bike participant in any sort of eMTB race. Two out of four laps. A DNF. I pedal with all my might into the pit at the entrance; retiring any chance of finishing the race.

Despite the defeat, I am filled with pride. Against all odds, the Spicy Curry and I went the distance. In a course where all the odds were stacked against us, we defied the norm and proved that the rider is never limited by the bike, rather, the bike can only be limited by the rider.

I shoot down the hill from the racetrack, back to the vendors, and make my way back to the Yuba Bicycles booth. Upon arrival, I’m greeted by cheering from the the Yuba team.

“How did it go?”
“Did you have fun?”
“What was it like?”

I relay to them my story, downfalls, highlights, and everything in between. How the initial climb sapped both my breath and the battery’s life. About pedal striking all the way down the hill straight into rocky terrain. About peeling out on the gravel. About how amazing the entire experience was, even with the battery dying halfway through the race.

“Ah crap,” muses Kate. “We had been using the bike as a demo piece through the day before you picked it up. Sorry about that!”

We all laugh and rejoice. The Spicy Curry had served its purpose and then some.

“You might want to check the wheels though.”, I mention. “I heard some spokes pinging; not sure if the wheels are true anymore.”

Benoit, the owner and creator of Yuba scoffs. “Just field testing mate. She’ll be fine.”

It was in the moment I realized what Benoit knew the whole time. Of course the Yuba was fine. The bike was designed to haul the most precious cargo of all; children. The Spicy Curry would never fail, no matter what was thrown at it. It was designed not only to protect its rider, but those that mattered most to them.

What a beautiful design. And what an amazing mind behind it.

Kate helped me grab my stuff and swap out bikes. “Congratulations, you’re now sponsored by Yuba! One of one of the Yuba Bicycles Race Team.” We laugh. My legs were dead. My body dehydrated. And yet, a better time could not possibly be had.

To those who completed all four laps, just wait ‘til next year. I’ll be bringing proper MTB tires, a fully charged Spicy Curry, and a renewed desire to crush you all under my twenty-inch wheel.

Victory

“Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure.” ~Tim Krabbé, The Rider

Categories: Bicycle Brands, bicycling humor, california, cargo bicycle, Culture, ebike, electric, history, mtb, pro cycling, racing | Comments Off

Call to Unction: Today’s Post Will Be Short But Greasy

Have your wildest dreams and most horrific nightmares ever come true at the same time?

Well mine just did:
That's right, the Layin' King himself, Mario Cipollini, will ooze into town this coming weekend for the Red Hook Crit:


The Lion King, Mario Cipollini will be in town this weekend for the Red Hook Crit, supporting the top Italian contenders and hanging out at R&A Cycles. He’ll be leading a casual ride at Prospect Park on Friday morning (9:30am GAP) followed by a Q&A at R&A Cycles.We’ll also let him try a few laps on Saturday if he brings a track bike.#redhookcrit #rhcbk10 #critweek #cipo #racycles

Mario Cipollini?  In Brooklyn?  Riding casually in Prospect Park?

This is like...I don't even know what it's like, and rarely am I at a loss for simile.

All I know is that even post-artisanal 21st century Brooklyn still has its fair share of unctuous characters, all of whom will move up a notch or two on the Class-O-Meter by default this coming weekend:


(When graded on a Cipo curve this is like Muffy, Buffy, Chip and Chaz at the country club...and yes, apparently Hot Chicks With Douchebags still exists, even in our modern post-PC society.)

You can also expect a lot of impromptu "training camps:"


As well as a measurable increase in the borough's population in approximately nine month's time:


("I got a lotta stops to make.")

And, ultimately, a bumper crop of charismatic sprinters on the local race circuit:


(Lucarelli & Castaldi are gonna have to pony up a lot more prime money.)

Of course, in my almost 10 years of semi-professional bike blogging I've had the opportunity to meet some of professional cycling's most intriguing characters.  For example, remember Michael Ball?


Well, during Rock Racing's apotheosis he brought he whole devil horn-throwing shitshow to Harlem:


Where I obtained his autograph upon this hat:


Which I in turn presented to my number one fan at the time:

Heady days indeed.

Nevertheless, even I, who have moved in the most rarefied (or sordid, depending on how you look at it) circles of cycling, am deeply intimidated--cowed even--by the prospect of being in the presence of someone who has played such a crucial role in my blog over the years:


("Without me to fall back on you are nothing.")

Indeed, even more daunting is the prospect of schlepping all the way to Brooklyn for a 9:30am rollout.

And then there's the prospect of discovering he's probably just a regular guy who's cannily cultivated an entertaining persona.

All if this is to say it remains to be seen whether or not I'll actually make it, and in the end it will all hinge on whether or not I manage to get the necessary vaccinations in time.

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Once Upon A Time…

Recently a reader forwarded me an excerpt from this children's book:


Which implicates riding without helmets in the extinction of the dinosaurs:


On the surface this is just harmless whimsy, but the underlying message is clear: helmetless fun equals death.  This has inspired me to write my own children's book.  After all, using allegory and heavy-handed morality to promote your own agenda is the basis of all great children's literature (I'm looking at you, C.S. Lewis!), and I want in.  So here goes:


Once upon a time, there were these creatures called dinosaurs:


Dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and Jesus put them there to punish the Jews for not believing in Him:


The battle raged long and hard, but eventually the Jews won and the dinosaurs died out, which is how the international Jewish conspiracy was born:



Alas, all seemed lost, but the Lord works in mysterious ways, and after the dinosaurs died they gave humankind the greatest gift of all:

Oil!


Yes, all the little critters love frolicking in oil:


But oil's not just for playing.  It also makes your family's car go, go, GO!!!


Plus, we make all kinds of cool stuff out of oil.  Handy plastic bags:


Pretty nail polish:


And fun sports balls are all made from petroleum:


And yeah, let's not forget the tires on those eco-friendly bicycles:



But maybe the most fun thing we can make from oil are those fun foam hats mom and dad make you wear whenever you get near anything with wheels (except for the car, go figure):


Yep, that's right, you're wearing a dinosaur on your head!  How cool is that?


You should always, always, ALWAYS wear a helmet when riding your bicycle.  After all, bicycles are the leading cause of injury to children, right after motor vehicle crashes...and suffocation...and drowning...and poisoning...and burns...and falls...


...actually, I don't see bicycles anywhere on that list, but that doesn't mean it's okay to ride a bicycle without wearing a helmet.  Why?  Because I said so, that's why.  So before you get on your bike, stop, and put on your helmet:


Again, stop, and put on your helmet:




One more time, because it's really important:

STOP...



And put on your helmet.

See that?  Now you're getting the message!  Well, at least you're getting the STOP part, which is why in 1969 48% of kids like you rode bikes to school, but by 2009 only 13% of you did:


Instead, your parents take you to school in the car, where you're safe:


And where you make it more difficult for that remaining 13% to continue riding to school, while at the same time generally fomenting a toxic storm of negative emotion that follows you for the rest of the day:


In a recent study by British insurance company Allianz, more than 1,000 parents were surveyed for their levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, as they did their school day morning routine. Levels peaked just before leaving the house to drive to school, at around 8:15 a.m. each morning, researchers found. And the impact of the school run stress stays with parents well into the day. Also, nearly 25 percent of parents surveyed said that morning drop off stress sets their mood for the day — good or bad.

And that's why your bicycle helmet is destroying humanity and the planet.



DISCLAIMER: Oil doesn't actually come from dinosaurs, it comes from marine organisms that lived long before the dinosaurs.  All the stuff about the Judeo-Dino War is totally true though.

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It’s Not An Adventure If You Don’t Measure Every Second Of It

If you missed the BSNYC BOOMB!* Pre-Fondon't Ride this past Saturday then you missed the BSNYC BOOMB! Pre-Fondon't Ride this past Saturday:


(Photo by Jem)

Hills were scaled, derailleurs were destroyed, and the passive voice was employed afterwards by me to sum it all up.  Rest assured there will be a full accounting of the ride (in the active voice) in the not-too-eventual future.  In the meantime, the success of the ride (and by "success" I mean nobody pelted me with stones afterwards) gives me the confidence to curate a full-blown BSNYC Gran Fondon't ride in the coming weeks:


(Artist's rendering of what a Gran Fondo could look like, but won't.)

So stay tuned, and in the meantime thanks to everyone who rode on Saturday.

Indeed, the only thing that would have made the ride even better would have been if I'd been using a state-of-the-art power meter:


Yes, nothing says "adventure" like meticulously quantifying every facet of your mediocrity.

If you're wondering about what makes it adventure-specific, it's that if you don't meet specific fitness goals it simply falls off the bicycle, leaving you stranded in the wilderness.

And no, nobody jumped over a Lamborghini at any point during the ride either (that I'm aware of, anyway) but you can't have everything:



And another angle:



This is an entire genre of video apparently, who knew?


It's also now my favorite style of video.

Hey, you wanna drive a $300,000 shim around town you don't get to "curate" what kind of attention you receive.

Some people will be impressed, others will think you're a douchebag, and still others will just wanna ride over that shit.

If you want to inspire complete indifference while driving I recommend a Hyundai:


I mean I could have a Lamborghini if I wanted, I just choose not to:


(Evidently their interest in performance stops the moment they step out of the car.)

What would really impress me though would be seeing someone hop a Lamborghini on a folding bike--and speaking of folding bikes, Dahon has launched a Kickstarter for their new Curl model:




Which, as far as I can tell, is basically a Brompton:



Or am I crazy?


By the way, the US leg of the Brompton World Championships will take place in New York City this year:


As always, the Brompton World Championship USA will begin with a "Le Mans" style start, with each competitor racing to his or her folded bike before unfolding and taking off on the course, which consists of ten laps around NYC's Marcus Garvey Park. Brompton owners from all corners of the country are invited to compete in the United States leg of the Brompton World Championship series.

I've been flirting with the idea of entering this race, and if I can figure out how to retrofit an Oral-B electric toothbrush into a secret motor you could very well be looking at your new champion.

Just let me know whether you think I should race or not via this online poll and I'll do whatever you decide:


Lastly, I was very sad to learn about the death of Michele Scarponi:


Scarponi was killed on Saturday morning when he was struck by a van while training just two kilometres from his home. The driver of the van was a 57-year-old local man. “We know each other well. I’ve lost a son, but I’m thinking of him too,” Scarponi’s father, Giacomo, said.

Enjoy every ride, it's all you can do.

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