Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Just when you think nobody can improve the bicycle, someone proves you right.

Firstly, one week ago, I said the following regarding Tour de France rider Ji Cheng:

I haven't been watching the TV coverage, so I have no idea if Phil Liggett has used any cringeworthy terms to describe his ethnicity yet.

Well, it came down to the wire, but in the end he didn't disappoint:
Oy.

Moreover, after this, Liggett enthused at great length over Queen Victoria's upcoming Diamond Jubilee, to which he had just received an invitation.  Here he is getting ready for the affair with his date, Mary of Teck:


Liggett must now complete cultural sensitivity training in the off-season, so you can expect him to use the more acceptable "Chinaperson" in Tour de France 2015.

Secondly, remember how the Oregon Manifest was doing this thing where they were inviting gentrification all-star teams from the five most gentrified cities in America to create the "ultimate utility bike?"


Well, let's pretend for the moment that the ultimate urban utility bike doesn't already exist, and that you can't easily buy it from at least 15 different companies.  I realize this is hard to do, because everyone from Bikes Direct to WorkCycles are ready and waiting to sell you a city bike, and all you've got to figure out how much you want to spend.  Really, in 2014, it's about as difficult to find the "ultimate utility bike" as it is to find a Subway franchise.

Let's also pretend that "ultimate urban utility bike" is even an objective thing, because all cities are the same, and furthermore all the people in those cities are the same and lead exactly the same lifestyle.  You know, this lifestyle:


So is that Chicago?  Portland?  San Francisco?  Chicago?  New York?  Well, no matter which city you picked, you were correct, thanks to the insidious global monoculture!


(Except for the warzones and the really, really poor ones, but those cities don't count.)

Okay, so now you've got the proper context for this contest: it's a parallel universe in which everyone wears plaid shirts and expensive denim while drinking hand-roasted coffee, yet somehow practical bikes don't exist.  Fine.  Well, it's in this imaginary vacuum that these five bikes were born:


Not what you were expecting, was it?  You probably expected more fenders, and perhaps also a few more upright, swept-back handlebars.  HA!  Wrong!

Welcome to Designtown, baby.

At this point I've only watched the video for the New York City bike, which does answer a pressing question, namely:

So what happens when you take a framebuilder who makes some pretty nice bicycles and team him up with a pack of design douches?

The answer, of course, is that this happens:


"Hey, wait a minute!," I can hear you protesting.  "That's a Vanmoof!"


(A Vanmoof.)

Uh, no it isn't.  Sure, it's got the Vanmoof's trademark uncircumcised baguette frame, but the Merge also takes its cues from Inspector Gadget, which is why it has numerous tricks up its top tube.  For example, it has this crappy ineffectual retractable fender:


At least I assume it's a fender, though perhaps it's some sort of measuring tape to keep track of tire wear, or else some kind of lizard phallus.

In addition to the doofy filth prophylactic, there's also an ineffectual retractable lock:


("Snip!")

As well as a retractable USB charger:


I'm not sure why this is necessary, inasmuch as anyone who would ride a bike like this lives, works, and drinks within two or maybe three Brooklyn ZIP codes, which means they're never on the bike for more than 20 minutes at a time.  But hey, I guess USB chargers are the pump pegs of the 21st century.

Oh, and don't forget the retractable rack:


(At last, the murphy bed comes to bikes!)

No retractable avocado slicer though:


Really, they should have skipped all the retractable crap and just turned that ridiculous top tube into an avocado cannon.

Or, here's another crazy idea: Why not just make a bike where the fenders and rack are there on the outside all the time?  Under what circumstances do you really need to hide any of these things?  Even in New York City nobody's stealing fenders and racks.  Plus, name one thing retractable that hasn't worn out or broken on you eventually.  (Fine, my vacuum cleaner power cable still retracts, but that's about it.)  Even the automotive industry has realized retractability is stupid, which is why you no longer see power antennas and pop-up headlights--though presumably everyone involved in the production of this bike is too young to have seen all those Fieros with only one open headlight pathetically winking at everybody back in the '80s.

And if nothing else, why introduce more opportunity for noise?  I really hope there's a long-term test to see if all that stuff starts rattling in there, and if so here is my pledge:

If, after one year, this bike does not sound like a subway panhandler shaking his change cup, then I promise I will finally take it seriously.

They should have just submitted a Citi Bike.

Speaking of Citi Bike, it looks like it's being saved by the real estate industry:


REQX Ventures, an affiliate of real-estate giant Related Cos., is close to hammering out an agreement that could enlarge the footprint of Citi Bike to upper Manhattan, into Queens and further into Brooklyn over the next few years, these people said. The number of bikes would nearly double, from 6,200 to about 12,000.

Real estate giant?  I'm not sure what to think.  On one hand, as a member of the Citi Bike Cat 6 Racing Team, I'm glad to see the system may finally expand and improve.  On the other, once the entire city is covered in these blue dots the hyper-gentrification of New York City will be complete and we'll all be moving to Philadelphia:


(Gentrification pox.)

This is especially bad news for the people of Philadelphia, who will then be forced to move to Camden, NJ:


The Philadelphians will go willingly too, because anything's better than sharing a city with a bunch of assholes from Brooklyn.

Lastly, a reader informs me that serial groper Mario Cipollini was recently spotted in Paris, where he was two-fisting man-boobs:


Retirement has done little to dull Cipollini's prodigious libido, and in fact there's evidence on his website that he may have undergone enhancement surgery on "Li'l Mario:"


Hey, it's never too late in life to get yourself a new "tool."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Riding bicycles is an enjoyable activity, even though they can explode.

So how was your weekend?  Yeah, whatever, keep it to yourself.  As for mine, it was excellent, for once again I pulled off the road ride/mountain bike ride double.  (I mean road bike ride Saturday and mountain bike ride Sunday, not both in one day.  I think I did that once like ten years ago, and I won't have that kind of time on my hands again until I retire and my seventeen (17) children take over the family business.)

However, I did ride my road bike on a mountain bike trail at one point, which officially made my road ride "epic:"


Granted, I did so extremely gingerly and only for only about 10 minutes, so in that sense it was like having sex after surgery.  But that didn't matter, because the point of my brief skinny-tired off-road foray was reconnaissance, as I am in the process of "curating" a mixed-terrain route which I plan to have dialed in by the fall.  Ideally, I'd like this route to be cyclocross bike-friendly and to include some singletrack, so I figured if I could pick my way through a section of this particular trail on a road bike than a cyclocross bike should be no problem.

So you'll be pleased to know that I am now that much closer to charting a route of unprecedented awesomeness, and because I don't use Strava or a Garmin or anything else you can be assured I will take it to the grave:


The rest of you can just keep on shuttling to Nyack and back.

By the way, you'll notice there are no longer any decals on my Ritte von Finkelstein:


(That's not some sort of soft Instagram filter, that's just a smartphone camera lens covered in sweat.)

This is in no way an indication that I am disenchanted with the bicycle or the brand.  Rather, it simply means the decals were starting to come off and so I finished the job.  As for the bike itself, I remain extremely pleased with it, and even though it's not a "gravel bike" it spends the majority of its time on terrain like this and performs with aplomb:


(It's almost like this whole "gravel bike" thing is complete BS.)

In fact, I'm this close [indicates tiny distance with fingers] to saying "fuck it" and putting mountain bike pedals on it, though my Inner Fred still refuses to let me stop walking around like a duck for no good reason.  I'm also still tempted to put a metal fork on the bike, because crabon sucks:


“Anyone in a team who’s being honest with you will tell you how frequently their bikes are breaking; everybody knows,” said Mark Greve, a physician and assistant professor of sports medicine at Brown University who studied injuries to 3,500 competitive cyclists. “Few people in the public appreciate how many bikes a pro team will go through in a season, because they break for one reason or another. The bikes, they completely explode.”

Did you hear that?  They COMPLETELY EXPLODE:


(Age of Crabon.)

That's right, pro cyclists shatter their bikes with their scranuses (or scranii) on a regular basis:

But when they spoke on the condition they not be identified, their stories emerged. Riders described landing on the top, horizontal tube of the bikes during crashes and ending up on the road after their frames splintered and collapsed. Small spills that used to mean, at best, straightening handlebars often require a bike change. Mechanics say they sometimes return the shattered remains of frames to manufacturers in bags intended to hold a single bicycle wheel.

It seems to me that instead of worrying about saddles causing impotence we should be worried about crabon top tube splinters causing genital impalement, but unsurprisingly Specialized had this to say on the subject of crabon and durability:

Chris Riekert, a spokesman for Specialized, an American company that supplies bikes to three Tour teams, said in a statement, “Carbon gives our engineers the ability to produce much stronger and lighter products than traditional steel or alloy by letting us put more material in high stress areas to ensure performance and safety in real world riding conditions.”

Even though this is what a Specialized bicycle looks like after it touches another bicycle while on a car's roof rack:


Not that it matters, because all the Freds will see is this:


And, to be fair, most of us Freds will probably never have a problem with our crabon bicycles--though the reason cited by the New York Times is obviously wrong:

Greve and Perovic agreed that for consumers who are not constantly banging their bikes around on team vehicles and who are unlikely to be involved in crashes, the risks in buying a carbon bike made by a reputable company should be minimal. Greve said many riders had told him that the performance gains from superlight frames reached the point of diminishing returns long ago, and he questions the wisdom of consumers’ buying what are, in effect, very costly throwaway items if they crash.

Actually, if there two things you can count on from a Fred, it's transport mishaps and crashing:



Which is why the real reason our bikes last more than a season is that these companies know we suck so badly that we can't even stress a crappy hunk of brittle plastic to its perpetually imminent failure point.

Lastly, you've probably already seen this video of Kevin Reza filming his own crotch with some guy's helment cam:



I really hope this viral marketing from Team Europcar, because if it's actually real then the guy who owns the helment cam is a complete idiot, as evidenced by his explanation:

orangesokz

ok ppl, 1st I am not standing in the road im standing on the pathway,2nd the helmet camera is being held out at arms lengh, 3rd the riders pass very close to the left side of the road due to spectators on the right standing in the road, 4th I am a massive cycling fan and ride a my bike 365 days a year covering over 13000kms per year, 5th as for the lotto rider elboing it from my hands, he is not protecting any other riders by knocking it from my hands where it is under controll into the road where other riders could ride into it! lastly the camera recording this is a contour roam 2, it has an extreamly wide angle lense and at close range like this destorts things massivly, enjoy the vid, its a unique view of the tour and just a bit of fun :) 

Holding a helment camera at arm's length into the Tour de France peloton is basically the Fredly equivalent of doing this.

Friday, July 25, 2014

BSNYC Wednesday Fun Quiz! No, Wait, Friday! I Meant Friday.

Firstly, the hats:


How awesome are they?  Well, they're so awesome that Walz has already sold through the first run.  However, you can rest assured that the people of Santa Poco are sewing like the wind to produce another batch, which means that new ones will be ready to ship in about three (3) weeks.

Take it from my scalp, they're worth the wait.

However, if you absolutely must have a hat before then, you can always buy one from Stevil:


I have one and it's also awesome, though in a totally different way from the "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" hat, which is why, ideally, you should own both.  (Really you should own two of both for when one's in the wash.)

Also, I understand from Stevil's site that he's suffering from some form of "Wanker's Wrist" and could use some doctor money, so help the people who help you waste time at work.

You're welcome.

Secondly, the IMBA World Smit draws ever closer, which means in less than a month I'm going to Collarady:


Did somebody say "evening reception with special guest speaker, BikeSnobNYC?"

Friday, 8/22: Destination DirtInvestments and Payoff in MTB Communities (sessions open to all attendees), content focus for professional land managers and tourism folks, bike demos, night riding on Emerald Mountain and an evening reception with special guest speaker, BikeSnobNYC.

Unfortunately for you, they most certainly did.

Lastly, the NYPD is getting real smug lately about nabbing Citi Bike thieves:
That's nice and all, but what happens when NYPD takes your bike so the President doesn't have to look at it, or because it's a crucial bit of evidence against the driver who killed you but they don't feel like investigating?


I would have tweeted that same question back to the NYPD, but the truth is they scare the living shit out of me, and until I sell enough hats to move up to the country and retire I still gotta live here, you know?

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right you'll blurt out HOLYFUCKINGSHIT! like it's one word, and if you're wrong you'll see a steampunk motorized pennyfarthing.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and remember that you can never have too many hats.


--Wildcat Rock Machine





1) Oh, those fixie riders and their irreverent knuckle tattoos...

--True
--False





2) What is this supposed to be?

--Some kind of bike art
--Some kind of macaroni art
--The HSV-2 virus
--Four people "doing it"





("I can't argue with you about gentrification right now, I'm winded and I have filmy orange juice mouth.")

3) Back in 1989 the recovery drink of choice was:

--Chocolate milk
--Orange juice
--An egg cream
--Your own urine





(The Jewish religion forbids tattoos, yet Portland bike culture requires irony.)

4) This guy is getting ready to:

--Zoobomb
--Yarn bomb
--Hillbomb
--Daven





(Bradley Wiggins: World's Most English-Looking Person)

5) Bradley Wiggins is leaving road racing for:






(Hooded menace.)

6) Alec Baldwin is the Rosa Parks of bike salmon.

--True
--False




7) So it's official, gravel bikes are just hybrids now.

--True
--False


***Special "Kale Juice and Yoga Hot-Spots"-Themed Bonus Video***


("Pensioners?"  Yeah, we don't have pensions in America, they've all been raided.  You'd think The Economist would know that.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Le Tour: Keeping It Classy

For awhile I was regretting not following the Tour de France television coverage, but now I feel like this is all I need:
I could watch that all day long.

In fact, I think I will.

["Jeeves?  Cancel my waxing appointment!"]

In other Tour de France news, in addition to being dopers, it appears the riders are also filthy racists:

(Yeah, I realize it's only one guy, but I'm going to go ahead and impugn the entire peloton, because why not?)

Here's what happened:

But on Tuesday, words were some of the loudest elements of the day. After the stage ended in Bagnères-de-Luchon, a report emerged that indicated Switzerland’s Michael Albasini called Kévin Reza, the only black rider in the race and one of few in the sport, a “dirty negro,” according to Reza’s general manager at Europcar, Jean-René Bernaudeau.

Reza, was not amused, nor was his team's manager:

Reza, he said, was upset after the stage, and that the comments were “unacceptable, inadmissible,” reported France’s Sud Ouest website. “I do not tolerate racism,” Bernaudeau said. “After doping it is the other scourge of the sport.”

Uh, I'd argue that racism is a way worse scourge than doping.

For his part, Albasini denies making the comment:

Albasini said he was racing on the limit, working to drive a then five-man break that had some 45 seconds on the main field. He was frustrated with what he saw as Reza’s lack of contribution to the effort. “I wasn’t happy, and I was angry. I said to him some words that maybe I shouldn’t have, but none of them were racist.”

He also said, “[Reza] came up and asked what I said. I said it again, I didn’t choose nice words, but that’s how it is when you are on your limit, but there were definitely no racist comments. I told him, how nice it was to have one guy on your wheel when you are going full gas, so I don’t understand how it came out that I was saying something racist.”

Riiight.

So why hasn't Albasini been thrown off the Tour?  Well, because: A) The Tour de France is morally bankrupt; and 2) He attributes the "misunderstanding" to the peloton's frustrating lack of ethnic homogeneity:

Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) also cited the international flavor of the peloton as a reason for what he characterized as a misunderstanding.

“You know there are many languages spoken in the bunch, I don’t speak English perfectly, I speak a little bit of French, not perfectly, [Reza] doesn’t speak my languages. That can happen, a misunderstanding.”

Yeah, see?  He didn't call Reza a "dirty negro."  He was merely saying, "Dirty knee.  Grow?," which in cycling slang is a polite way of asking a rider to pull through.  (A "dirty knee" is a wheelsucker, and to "grow" is to take a pull.)  The correct response is of course, "No, I cannot, I must remain neutral like Switzerland and sit on your wheel like your country's banks sit on Nazi gold," but instead he got all huffy, and there you go.

By the way, I'd like to preemptively apologize to the people of Switzerland for my remarks, because they are a proud group who have been downtrodden for far too long:


(Swiss bankers discuss the unique hardships of living in a country with the highest nominal wealth per adult in the world.)

Honestly, some of my best friends are Swiss [disclaimer: I know no Swiss people], and I love your useful knives, your hole-riddled cheese, and your comically oversized alpine horns:


And don't go pointing out that Albasini is from the Italian part of Switzerland or anything like that, or that it's patently unfair to lump all Swiss people together, because a dirty Swiss is a dirty Swiss, everyone knows that.  Really, they're almost as bad as the Canadians--and speaking of Canadians, here's one who wants $8,000 to ride his bike off his roof so that he can buy a truck:



I don't see what could possibly go wrong, especially since he's clearly thought of everything:


Risks and challenges 

If I biff it I may need the pledge money for medical bills haha

Wait a minute!  They don't have medical bills in Canada!  I bet he's actually an American posing as a Canadian, he's already tried and failed to ride off his roof, the hilarious footage of said failure is now in the can, and so now he's trying to raise money for his medical bills.

That's a cunning financial scheme of nearly Swiss proportions.

Meanwhile, here's another cyclist looking to raise money for the world's fastest Trans-European Fred Run:


Here's the route:


I may have to launch my own Kickstarter for a documentary that simultaneously follows both of these athletes as they prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for a pair of wildly different cycling feats that are, underneath it all, equally pointless.

Lastly--and I am very late to this--someone in Portland really hates blinky lights:


I'm pretty sure I know what Knog is going to name their next light now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Misshapen Lumps

Further to yesterday's post, in which I mentioned this guy:


A commenter would like you reassure you that he's merely an "outlier:"

Tame Dog Hawk Machine said...

Dear everyone, the Tattoo n Tzitzit guy does not represent Zoobomb as a whole at all. Actually he's kind of an outlier.
If you're in Portland, come see what we're all about!

JULY 22, 2014 AT 8:10 PM

In other words, he wants to reassure you that, should you choose to try Zoobomb, you're unlikely to encounter any Jews.  Whew!  Also, you can be sure that if any Asians show up they'll immediately be outed as undercover police officers:


(Boy, that was awkward, wasn't it?)

And remember, Keep Portland Weird!


*[But not like, you know, ethnic weird.]

Moving on, in its ongoing attempt to become Portland East, Brooklyn continues to neuter itself, and the latest symptom of this is genteel motorcyclists leaving passive-aggressive Post-it notes for other motorcyclists:


Seriously, that's not enough room?



I see nothing to complain about.  Get back to us when you pick your bike up off the street for the fourth time after some incompetent parallel parker knocks it over with their SUV.  When I owned a motorcycle people used to sit on it to eat lunch--until I joined the Satan's Helpers, that is.  After that, nobody messed with me.


Another symptom of Brooklyn's transmogrification are these ugly and misshapen bicycle sculptures, which I passed recently as I trawled the Manhattan Bridge on a Citi Bike looking for hot Cat 6 action:


I'm not sure what they're going for here, but my best guess is it's supposed to represent what you'll look like after a run-in with one of Brooklyn's many homicidal drivers:


Though if they were looking to create a really shitty version of Storm King then I'll say they nailed it:



(Craphenge.)

In any case, my shivers of disgust gave way to trembling anticipation as I mounted the approach to the Manhattan Bridge, and I knew the Cat 6-ing was going to be good because people in Evel Knievel helments were detangling their headphones:


I had chosen a goodly steed at yon Citi Bike stable too, because the transmission held onto gears 1, 2, and 3 without popping out again:


When it comes to Citi Bike gearing, one outta three ain't bad, two of three is pretty darn good, and unfettered access to all three is almost unheard of.

(By the way, if you're wondering what's on my wrist, it's hair.  And if you're wondering what's buried in the hair on my wrist, it's some kind of "smart watch."  See, I once missed a text while riding my bike, and now I'm legally required to wear that electronic monitoring bracelet until I die.)

Some people mistakenly think Cat 6 racing is all about sheer power, but the fact is that bike-handling is crucial, especially when you have to circumvent "foot salmon:"


If you're unfamiliar with the Manhattan Bridge, the north side is entirely for bikes, and the south side is entirely for pedestrians, but the pedestrians don't want to have to walk all the way across Canal Street (for which I can't entirely blame them), so they're just like, "fuck it."

This means the Cat 6 racer's bike-handling skills have to be sharp.  Really sharp.  Like Peter-Sagan-on-Adderall sharp.  Fortunately, I happen to possess just such a skill set.  That's why when there's a cyclist in front of me, another coming towards me, and a pedestrian in the far left, I'm able to slip right through the crack:


Get it?  Crack.


The only thing sharper than my bike-handling is my wit.

A full 45 seconds later I was still laughing at my own joke--until I was attacked by a Fred or Fred-Like Object with a jersey that said "beard" on it:


It was on!  I attempted to screw on my "race face," but unfortunately I had left it in my other pants.  And no sooner had this registered with me than I heard the words every Cat 6 racer dreads--"On your left!"--at which point I was overtaken by a neon specter from the past:


He then proceeded to open a gap on me faster than an ice-cold can of Coors Light on a hot day:


Despondently, I looked out over the Big Skanky, which I understand a certain commenter went swimming in this past weekend:


I then thought about how we had a huge amount of rain last week, and how when that happens the local waterways fill up with untreated sewage, and then I threw up in my mouth.

Soon I crested the span and hit the downhill, where I spotted the clear winner of the day's best-dressed award:


I mean, come on, let's have some credit where credit is due.  His kerchief matches his socks for chrissake!


(They're green because he's leading the points competition.)

Furthermore, it was pretty hot out , and even though he was riding in a blazer and on a climb he was as dry as a one-liner.  Meanwhile, I was wearing a t-shirt and going downhill, yet I was sweating like a Zoobomber in a minyan.

Yes, Team Citi Bike acquitted itself well yesterday:


Look at that speed!!!


It must have been a double-points day or something, because the pace was relentless:


Then, I caught my twin adversaries, Beard Fred and Beer Fred, at the bottom of the bridge, but like the pro Cat 6 racer that I am I kept my distance so they wouldn't know I was racing them:


By the way, did you know they're making helments in the Citi Bike colorway now?


I don't know if that's on purpose or not, but it sure seems like it.

Really, the only low point for Team Citi Bike yesterday was this guy, who totally botched the remount and got dropped by CETMA Rack Guy and Shirtless Guy:


Shirtless Guy will not be winning any sartorial awards for yesterday's stage, this I can assure you.

Meanwhile, this guy was not only wearing a shirt, but he was also wearing every single fixed-gear fashion accessory ever invented, right down to the fanny pack and the star tattoo:


There are two things you can always count on in this town--a fixie rider having a star tattoo, and an SUV parked in the bike lane in front of the bike shop:


Here's an inadvertent "selfie" of Your Humble Blogger:


Yes, I ride around New York City taking pictures with my smartphone like an idiot, and if you're wondering how a Citi Bike brakes coming off the Manhattan Bridge when you're only using one hand, the answer is, "Not very well at all."

Still, I do it anyway, and the only thing I enjoy more than taking pictures of cracks while Cat 6ing is taking pictures of other people taking pictures:


I like to think somewhere somebody also took a picture of me taking a picture of that person, so please let me know if one pops up on Instagram.