Friday, December 19, 2014

The Last Post Of 2014 Of Any Kind (And BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz)!

So this is it, I'm shutting down the presses until Monday, January 5th, Two Thousand and Freaking Fifteen, at which point I will resume regular updates:

"Wow, I can't believe it's almost 2015," he sighed wistfully.

If you'd have told me 25 or 30 years ago that by 2015 we would not be living on Mars, or traveling in flying cars, or vacationing in a democratic North Korea, I'd have been profoundly disappointed.

Indeed I'm still profoundly disappointed.

And if you'd have told me I'd be a semi-professional bike blogger when I grow up, I'd have saved myself a bunch of time by dropping out of grade school and getting a head start on the path to loserdom.

Actually, come to think of it, I did get a heard start on the path to loserdom:

(1980-something.  Note analog cigarette and mechanical Swatch.)

So if anything I should congratulate myself on my foresight.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for last-minute gift ideas, why not support your favorite bike bloggers?  I know Stevil at All Hall the Black Market is usually hawking something in his store:

So is Alps & Andes, formerly Cycling Inquisition, who also has a store:

Then you got Fat Cyclist, who in addition to jerseys and stuff also has a new book out:

But most importantly, you got me, and my multifaceted whoring now includes coffee:

And hats for every taste:

And a go-fast shirt:

And three--count 'em, three--books:

(Available pretty much wherever books are sold.)

Amazing.  If you had told me 25 or 30 years ago that I'd be on the Internet selling hats, I'd have said: A) "What the fuck is an Internet?," and 2) "Why would I put a hat over this luxurious non-thinning mane of partially-bleached hair?"

And if by some miracle none of the above stuff appeals to you, then buy something from one of the fabulous companies who generously sponsor this blog.  Brooks!  Knog!  Rivendell!  WorkCycles!  State!  Walz!  Classic Cycle!  You're telling me that between all these fine purveyors of bike stuff and all these fine curators of bike blogs you're going to buy your presents at freaking Target?!?

Frankly, I'm disgusted.

Then again, that Kent road bike is pretty sweet, so maybe I spoke too soon:

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If your'e right then good, and if you're wrong then you'll see Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" speed on the flats.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and have a joyous and bountiful pagan-based-gift-giving-and-arbitrary-turning-over-of-the-Gregorian-calendar celebratory season.

See you back here on Monday, January 5th, 2015.

(Unless we've all colonized space by then and we're waiting for our Internet to get hooked up.)


--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) This Fred fell while:

--Riding rollers
--Attempting to trackstand
--Taking a "selfie"
--Attempting to pleasure himself while riding

(Nothing worse than when your dick breaks drag.)

2) Which is more aero: disc brakes, or rim brakes?

--Disc brakes
--Rim brakes
--Both are equally aero
--Neither are particlarly omgwhogivesashitfallingasleepasitypeZZZzzzzzzz.........

(Orville and Wilbur Redenbacher)

3) Which of the following did the Wright Brothers not invent?

--The airplane
--The reverse-threaded left bicycle pedal
--The anatomic bicycle saddle
--The self-lubricating bicycle hub

4) Why is this woman nonplussed?

--Her husband is a Fred
--Her husband is a MAMIL
--Her husband is a mammal
--She's not nonplussed; that's just a British face in repose

("Thinking is sooo over...")

5) Thanks to a "collabo" between Strava and Volvo, now drivers can pay even less attention...and so can you!


6) In New Zealand, which cycling offense do the authorities consider most egregious?

--Riding without a helment
--Riding while naked
--Both are considered equally egregious
--Neither is considered particularly egregious

("My hat is missing a top."--Mauro Santambrogio)

7) The latest excuse for doping is:

--"I ate some bad clams"
--"I unwittingly used tainted chamois cream"
--"I was just trying to knock up my girlfriend"
--"Public restroom toilet water splash-back"

***Special Flashback-To-Last-January-Themed Bonus Video***

Remember this?

Never did get funded...who would have guessed?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The last day-after-Wednesday post of 2014.

First of all, now that we're normalizing relations with Cuba, I'd like to welcome all you cubanos to the blog.  Our cycling cultures have much we can learn from each other.  For example, you can teach us about DIY recumbent building:

While we can teach you about being overprivileged douchebags who wear cyclocross-specific shoes:

And don't forget your cyclocross-specific scarf:

I never thought I'd get to the point where cyclocross annoyed the fuck out of me, but I'm sorry to report that cyclocross now annoys the fuck out of me.

It's hard to say whether it's because cyclocross is getting too douchey or because I'm just getting old, but it's probably about 5% due to the former and 95% due to the latter.

All I know is that if I hear one more American in shants refer to french fries as "frites" I'm gonna puke in his aïoli.  I'll bet you if I bought a shitload of McDonald's fries, went to all the cyclocross races, and served them wrapped in some Belgian newspaper at $15 a pop I'd be rich enough to retire within a year.  In fact, I may very well do that at Cyclocross Nationals in Austin this coming January:

Though I do realize the competition will be stiff, because Austin is Food Truck Hell, which I know from personal experience:

Speaking of that trip to Austin, I got in a little bit of trouble afterwards because I wrote this about Don Walker:

How come everybody seems to hate show organizer Don Walker, yet somehow he remains in power, like Muammar Gaddafi?

Alas, I never would have made that quip today--not because I regret it, but because given this whole Sony mishigas comparing him to Kim Jong-un would have been way more topical.

By the way, did you know North Korea is a hotbed of women's cycling?  And when I say "hotbed," I mean they can do it now do it without being punished:

Scoff if you will, but this makes them more progressive than the UCI.

Meanwhile, yesterday I posted a video of someone falling off his rollers, and an astute reader noticed the rider was wearing a Gran Fondo New York jersey:

Whenever I am a victim of some sort of Fredly faux-pas it always seems as though the perpetrator is wearing a Gran Fondo New York jersey.  Whether it's that wheelsucker lurking behind me on the bike path, that unprepared pump-grubber, or the aero-dork who thinks he's a customer and every other cyclist is a bike shop employee, they always seem to share this jersey in common.  The best advice I can give you is to always give Gran Gondo New York jersey wearers a wide berth--unless they also have some form of aerobar on their bike, in which case you should save yourself the trouble, steer your bike into a ditch, and crash yourself:

It's not a question whether the rider with Gran Fondo New York jersey and aerobars will crash.  Rather, it's merely a question of how hard he's going to crash into you--or, barring the presence of anybody else, his ottoman:

This is not to say I'm any better at riding rollers.  In fact, I confess I've never ridden on rollers.  Furthermore, odds are I never will ride on rollers, because unless humankind is forced to relocate to Mars and I can never go outside again I can't imagine a scenario in which I would be tempted to "ride" a bicycle indoors.

Also, I can certainly understand people wanting to "Be A Pro For A Day:"

Though I think the full slogan should be "Be a Pro For A Day, Be A Fred For A Lifetime."

Speaking of Freds, Bicycling magazine (also known as Time for Freds) has published an article about proto-Freds Orville and Wilbur Wright:

That powered flight sprang from the bicycle should be no surprise. At the turn of the last century, if you liked speed and dreamed of ways to travel farther, faster, you probably were a cycling enthusiast. That heritage isn't confined to the Wrights. Glenn Curtiss, the brothers' bitter rival in the air, made his name first as a bicycle mechanic, then as a motorcycle designer, mechanic, and racer. These guys were the gearheads, the shredders, and the techies of their day.

Like most Americans I knew the Wright Brothers had a bike shop, but I never realized they invented the whole reverse-threaded left pedal thing:

According to Engler and other Wright historians, the brothers used their ingenuity to contribute to the improvement of the bicycle. First was the "self-oiling hub," which sealed the bearings with felt washers to keep a reservoir of oil inside. Then, in 1900, the Wrights introduced an innovation we still use today: the bicycle pedal that doesn't come unscrewed. On earlier bicycles, both pedals screwed into the crankarms with standard threads (clockwise to tighten, counterclockwise to loosen). The motion of the cranks spinning would tighten the right-side pedal against the crankarm, but loosen the left. Wilbur and Orville realized that if the left pedal screwed in with reverse, or left-handed, threads, the spinning of the cranks would tighten it against the arm as well, thus giving us secure pedals (but to this day confounding home mechanics who don't know which way to turn their pedal wrenches).

Overall, I found this article very interesting, though I took issue with this paragraph:

A hundred years later, aviation has repaid the bicycle, with interest. As bike technology has advanced from Wilbur and Orville's self-oiling hubs to cold-worked titanium frames and all-carbon rims, aerospace has contributed many of the most important concepts.

"Aviation has repaid the bicycle, with interest"?  Are you freaking kidding me?  Have you flown with a bicycle lately?  Those bike charges are insane!  If anything it seems like we're paying them a royalty for some reason.

Also, as far as technology, titanium frames and crabon rims barely count as technological advancements, especially when you look at how far the airplane has come since the Wright Brothers's original flying recumbent glider thingy.  I mean really--look at a Wright Brothers bike and tell me there's been any mind-blowing bicycle innovation since then:

Looks like a typical fixie to me.  If you dropped the Wright Brothers onto the Williamsburg Bridge today they wouldn't miss a beat.

In fact, if some Fred in a Gran Fondo jersey asked Wilbur to change his tire, I'm sure he'd be able to do it in a heartbeat.

The times they aren't a-changin'.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The last Wednesday post of 2014.

I've just learned a fun fact from a reader about New Zealand, which is that their taboo against not wearing a plastic hat while riding a bicycle is even stronger than their taboo against public nudity:

A male in Timaru was stopped by police on Sunday afternoon while cruising the streets without clothes or helmet.

Like Australia, it is compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets in New Zealand.

The man was slapped with a fine for leaving his head uncovered, while police were more lenient about him leaving his body unclothed. 

So where did they slap him?

Speaking of nudity, Leroy's Dog has difficulty believing that Mario Cipollini is a virgin when it comes to "touring down under:"
I would have to agree, and indeed this is in direct contradiction to Cipo's only extant "tweet" to date:

That's five years and counting, just in case you're keeping track.

Gotta be some kinda record.

Anyway, moving back to helments, I'm not sure why wearing them has to be an all-or-nothing proposition.  What's wrong with making the decision on a case-by-case basis?  For example, if I'm just riding around the neighborhood naked and running errands, I forego the helment.  However, if I'm out on the open road on my Fredcycle, wearing stretchy clothes and flying about o'er hill and dale, I strap on the ol' "safety kippah."


Well, looks mostly, but also because neighborhood cycling is mostly just slow-speed encounters with double-parked Entenmann's trucks and senior citizens slowly rolling through stop signs, whereas high-speed road cycling involves shit like this:

Goddamn deer wasn't even wearing a helment.

The rider totally Hincapied his cockpit too:


And here's a somewhat less thrilling animal encounter:

I'm not sure that qualifies as an "attack."  If anything, the dog was probably just trying to get a whiff of his chamois.  Speaking as a dog attack survivor myself, frankly I'm not impressed.

By the way, it's been over a year now since that dog bit me and I'm pleased to report I'm still rabies-free.  In fact, I plan to start selling rubber bracelets:

I may not have rabies, but I'll tell you one thing: I'm positively rabid about fighting it.

And in other helment and dog news, Newfoundland and Labrador (both dog breeds as I understand it) have unleashed (DO YOU GET IT!?!) a helment law upon an unsuspecting cycling populace:

Service NL Minister Tony Cornect said research shows there are significant reductions in bicycle-related head injuries in provinces where there is mandatory bicycle helmet legislation versus provinces and territories without such legislation.

Right, probably because there's a significant reduction in people riding bicycles.

Nicely done.

I suppose when if you can't ban bicycles then passing a helment law is the next best thing.

Lastly, I've reminded you before and I'm reminding you again not to ride indoors this winter because it's stupid:

What, no helment!?!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No time for titles!

In yesterday's post, I mentioned possibly conducting a "test" of a Walmart fat bike:

To which a commenter replied thusly:

Mr.Doom said...

The Fatties at bikesdirect are rideable and fairly cheap. The FBSO from wallyworld will shoot your eye out kid.

DECEMBER 15, 2014 AT 9:27 PM

Here are said Bikesdirect fatties:

Shooting your eye out notwithstanding, I'd argue that it's the Bikesdirect offerings that are the most dangerous, for the simple reason that they're just nice enough to send you into an upgrade spiral.  In fact, about five years ago, I ordered a shockingly inexpensive singlespeed 29er from Bikesdirect with the intention of reviewing it on this blog.  Instead, it was an almost-but-not-quite-good-enough bike out of the box that, in an attempt to tweak it to my satisfaction, I ended up gradually changing every nearly every single part on it.  Here it is early in the process, when I'd only changed the pedals, the tires, and the cockpit:

If you're wondering why it's upside-down and leaning against a tree, it's because that's where it wound up after I fell off of it.

Eventually, the only original parts left on this humble mail-order bike were the frame and the v-brake arms--I even built a pair of wheels for the damn thing--and the only thing that stopped me from installing a set of dick breaks was that my Engin finally arrived.

The Bikesdirect is now in storage, where it is waiting for my kid to get big enough to ride it.

So yeah, I don't mess with those anymore.  The Walmart bike, however, seems like it would be safe, because if it's anything like the fixie I reviewed there's no way I'd be tempted to "upgrade" a piece of shit like that.

That would be downright Sisyphean.

And speaking of yesterday's post and fat bikes and kids' bikes and all the rest of it, Specialized may offer a $1,000 fat bike for kids, but apparently this is was the "world's first" fat bike for kids:

A dubious distinction indeed.

I'm sure Specialized will figure out a reason to sue them.

In other (oldish) news, Fredly historical reenactments are the new "epic:"

Following in the footsteps of Europe’s greatest conquerors isn’t easy. That’s why Ride and Seek, an international tour company in Sydney, Australia, suggests doing it on a bike. Next summer the group is introducing its second “epic” historical cycling tour, the Napoleon Expedition, a 45-day journey from Paris to Moscow.

It’s a trip so historically focused that it comes with a recommended reading list, beginning with Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”

Evidently you'll be lovingly coddled every pedal stroke of the way:

Unlike Napoleon’s unfortunate troops, cyclists will receive constant care, dining options and entertainment throughout, including daily van support to assist riders on the road and a cultural itinerary dotted with Champagne tastings, architectural tours and mountainside picnics.

All for a measly US$16,000:

The inaugural trip, which is to cover more than 2,400 miles, begins on July 18 and costs 12,995 euros ($16,280); rates for individual stages begin at 2,295 euros ($2,875). All breakfasts are included as well as most dinners and a few special lunches; and there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the tour to allow riders to venture out on their own.

Wow.  I had no idea Freds had such an insatiable lust for history, but now I'm determined to cash in, which is why I'm pleased to announce my new business venture:

(Frequent repetition of "history" for search engine optimization.)

Basically, I'm going to order a fleet of bicycles from Bikesdirect (or maybe Walmart) and charge riders $5,000 a head (or helment if you prefer) to retrace General George Washington's retreat to White Plains in whatever that year was:

(Probably 1770-something.)

Once in White Plains, there will be ample opportunity for luxury shopping at The Westchester, one of the finest malls in the greater metropolitan area.

Tour does not include lodging, or meals, or transportation, but I will help you fix your flat should you incur one--though I will charge for parts and labor.  Here is a typical invoice:

Also, thanks to my new Kickstarter partnership, riders will receive this fashionable pair of on-bike/off-bike activity shorts for their post-ride shopping spree:

I was amused by the video, though how is this look any better than wearing regular cycling shorts?

The simple fact is the only way not to look stupid when you're off the bike is to wear no cycling clothing at all.  Of course, this is not always possible, in which case wearing all cycling clothes is better than wearing some cycling clothes.  In other words, wearing baggy shorts and a jersey looks even dumber than wearing a full Lycra stretchy suit.  At least if you're wearing the whole schmear people have a context, whereas if you're wearing some on bike/off bike hybrid outfit people think there's something wrong with you--though either way you're liable to be the subject of a screed in a conservative tabloid:

I have to admit this is an uncannily accurate portrait of a Fred, though I took issue with this paragraph:

This means boring dinner parties into silence with endless chat about bikes, spending long hours of family time out 'training', embarrassing your children walking around the house in bib shorts (think a mankini with padding around the nether regions) and paying eye-watering sums for obscure items of kit.

What, he doesn't do the legwarmers-with-no-shorts walk!?!


Monday, December 15, 2014

I refuse to pay my dues until I can buy cheap ones at Walmart.

Yesterday morning I sat atop a ridge in silent contemplation:

As I contemplated, a Zen kōan came to mind:

The Enlightened Man

Shogen asked: `Why does the enlightened man not stand on his feet and explain himself?' And he also said: `It is not necessary for speech to come from the tongue.'

I then passed wind loudly, proving this to be true.

If I'm that wise on a regular bike, just imagine how insightful I'd be if I had a fat bike!  Fortunately, Walmart--a.k.a. "America's Junk Drawer"--has expanded its fat bike offerings to include this seven-speed model for $230.99:

(Walmart: Fat Bikes for Fat People)

I am strongly contemplating purchasing one of these fat bikes so that I can review it on this bicycle blog, just as I did in my seminal 2010 write-up on the Mongoose Cachet:

(The Mongoose Cachet on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.)

Two things I don't miss: living in Brooklyn, and that piece of shit bike.

The potential for this bike to suck is extremely high, yet still not as high as the price for Specialized's iteration of this niche within a niche within a niche:

Hey, with the money you save buying the Walmart version you could buy a solid gold single-speed conversion kit from the Nashbar Gold catalog:

By the way, if you're shocked by the idea of a $1,000 bike that your child will outgrow both physically and mentally after six months, you really shouldn't be.  See, the truth is that the bicycle industry has reached "peak upgrade," and there's really nothing left to sell you now.  Just a few years ago the idea of a $2,100 cyclocross wheelset would have been laughable--and while it is still arguably laughable, it's also become perfectly commonplace.  Furthermore, it's virtually impossible for them to sub-divide these marketing categories further in order to sell you yet another bicycle.  Extracting the gravel bike from the cyclocross bike was already a stretch, and there are only so many times they can change a head tube angle by half a degree and declare it to be a new type of bicycle before even the dumbest Freds realize they're being had.

Therefore, the bike companies realize that in order to get you to spend even more money, they've got to move on to your kids:

So basically, prices for kids' bikes now are what they were for adult bikes maybe ten years ago:

But it’ll cost you. Trailcraft’s Pineridge is $1,700 (there’s even a titanium version at $2,700). Specialized’s Hotrock XC Pro is a little cheaper at $1,550, but the full-suspension Camber Grom trail bike is $2,200 and the gravity-oriented Status Grom is $2,600. Trek’s top kids mountain bike, the Superfly 24 Disc, is just $660, but the company hinted that it’s revising the line and plans to unveil new models in the coming years.

"Hmmm, only $1,700 for a kids' bike?  That's less than I paid for my cyclocross wheels!," reasons the modern-day Fred.

Also--and this is quintessentially American--if you don't buy your kid the very best of something right away he or she will just quit:

Kids are astute about what their peers are riding, says Travis Ott, marketing manager for Trek. That can lead to pressure to go up-market. But, he adds, there’s a good reason to prize quality: “If kids have a bad experience on a cheap bike, that ruins it for them. We’ve seen it happen and kids get turned off to the sport.”

Wait a minute: if I don't buy my kid an expensive bike he'll quit the sport?!?  Good!  I don't want my kid anywhere near this sport!  My worst nightmare is that one day my child decides to become a bike racer.  I'm much rather him be a rock musician.  Sure, the employment prospects for each are similarly dismal, but at least aspiring musicians have lives.

Even the the bass player for a bar mitzvah band can score, but nobody wants to be with a bike racer.

Most importantly, you can't give a kid too much bike too early.  Suspension?  Gears?  Tubeless tires?  Are you kidding me?!?  Talk about coddled!  Kids should spend their entire childhoods on rigid bikes with one gear, otherwise they learn nothing about bike-handling.  How are they going to figure out how bikes work if they never launch one off a set of stairs and land on the top tube crotch first?  If your kid doesn't build a strong foundation of skills he or she could grow up to be a triathlete--you know, the kind of people who need remedial bottle holders because they can't rehydrate without falling down:

That is one Fred-tastic cockpit:

This bottle system utilizes a familiar motion to make the rider comfortable, and that motion is "wanking:"

(Fred doing the old five-knuckle shuffle.)

Check out this sweet ride:

The only problem is it's not very aero:

I imagine a Kickstarter for a pointy bottle will be next.

Lastly, speaking of triathletes, last Friday I posted this video:

A number of commenters wondered how the triathlete managed to crash, and while the word "triathlete" itself should be a sufficient explanation, one reader pointed out that the triathlete in question has posted a six-minute video describing what happened.

If you can't be bothered to watch (and I don't recommend that you do), basically what happened is that he attempted to look behind him while riding.

Sounds about right.