Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Steal is Real

If you read this blog you probably ride a bike, and if you ride a bike you're probably a giant nerd, and if you're a giant nerd who rides bikes and reads blogs there's a 99% chance you know "The Lumberjack Song:"

"He's a lumberjack and he's okay, he sleeps all night and he...STEALS BIKES ALL DAY?!?"

[Cue record scratching sound.]

Yep, that's right, a bike thief in Williamsburg, Brooklyn felled a tree in order to steal a bike:

SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG — A thief sawed down a 25-foot tree to steal a bicycle locked to its trunk last week, according to locals.

Sawed, are they sure?  Have the forensics come back?  This is Williamsburg, after all.  Are they absolutely positive the tree wasn't hewn with an artisanal axe?

Either way, the police have released a composite sketch of the suspect:
Fortunately it's summer, so relatively few men are dressed in "lumberjack chic" at the moment.  If it were fall the police would have to stop and question almost every single white male in gentrified Brooklyn.*

*[Just kidding, that doesn't happen to white people.]

Several witnesses also said the thief was accompanied by a blue bovine of some kind, and that after tucking the bike into the pocket of his flannel shirt he made his escape by using two MTA express buses as Rollerblades.  However, police believe the witnesses may have been intoxicated.

Anyway, the upshot of all of this is DON'T LOCK YOUR BIKE TO TREES.  First of all, it happens to be illegal:

Christopher Ryan said his friend locked a bike to a tree in front of 242 Grand St., between Driggs Avenue and Roebling Street, overnight last week — a move Ryan acknowledged was illegal and carries a $1,000 fine.

But more importantly, it's bad for the tree--especially when some lumberdouche decides to chop it down.

Still, it seems that many area cyclists are locking their bikes to trees, and so residents are calling for more bike parking:

As the neighborhood has grown, she's seen construction vehicles and beer trucks damage the relatively new trees. And many new residents are cyclists who attach their bikes to trees, damaging them with chains and locks, she said.

"We've had this explosive growth. Our infrastructure in general hasn't been able to keep up with it," Chapman said. "There is just not enough bike parking. They need to put up more bike stands, all over the neighborhood."

Okay.  I agree, the city needs more bike parking.  Absolutely.  More bike racks, less car parking, livable streets, blah blah blah and so forth.  I'm with it.  Totally.

However, I also have an issue with the idea that, since bike parking is tight, then locking your bike to a tree is somehow unavoidable.

See, there are two problems with this line of thinking.  Firstly, more bike racks in neighborhoods like this--while sorely needed--will not magically solve the problem, because they'll just get filled up immediately with delivery bikes and abandoned vintage 10-speeds left behind by people who have run screaming with snot bubbles in their noses to "cities" like Des Moines after realizing they can't hack it in New York.  That's just the way it works.  It's like these people who think rents will magically go down if we build tons of luxury condos get rid of rent control and stabilization.  Yeah, right.

Secondly, cyclists are lazy, especially when it comes to parking our bikes.  Think about it: if you can't park your bike right in front of your destination you're like, "This is bullshit."  If you can't park it on the same block you're like, "The city needs to provide me with more bike racks, I'm being persecuted, this is a conspiracy on the part of the automotive industrial complex."  And if you have to go all the way to a different street to park your bike you're like, "OH MY GOD WHERE AM I WILL MY CELLPHONE STILL WORK HERE WILL THERE BE ROAMING CHARGES?!?"

Actually, that third thing isn't true, because most cyclists flat-out refuse to park their bikes on a different street, and instead will do something lazy and selfish like lock up to a tree--or someone else's bike:

Look.  I get it.  Bikes are so damn convenient that having to walk from your bike to all the way to your destination seems inherently wrong and almost absurd.  However, it's time we cyclists realize that in a crowded city we can't always be guaranteed our ideal spot.  This parking crunch is a good thing, because it means there are more of us.  After all, if we don't come to terms with the realities of bike parking and resolve to walk a bit more, are we then not as bad as the motorists, who think they're entitled to free car parking in one of the most expensive real estate markets in America?

No, of course not.  We'll never be as bad as motorists.  Motorists are fat, stupid, and ugly, and they kill people while pawing at their smartphones with their greasy hands.

Still, that doesn't change the fact that you should be prepared to walk a few blocks instead of locking your bike to a tree, because anything you lock your bike to becomes a potential victim.

Speaking of bike theft, here's a gripping story from Portland:

So, I’m walking back to my shop from the coffee shop when I see a guy (young male with his shirt unbuttoned) on a track bike. I instantly knew something was wrong and followed him around the corner. My brain said “that’s the bike stolen from alpenrose!” So, I grabbed him and asked “where the fuck did you get that bike?” He claimed he “bought it in north Portland for $300″ I said “bullshit you did” and grabbed the saddle and refused to let go, while asking a guy walking buy to call 911.

I'm glad this worked out and all, but NEVER DO THIS.  Firstly, you could get stabbed, and getting stabbed over a track bike is like crushing your genitals on your top tube because you saved grams by drilling holes in your crankarms--not even remotely worth it, if not totally embarrassing.  (Everyone knows track bikes are out of style, so if you're going to get stabbed over a bike it should at least be a 27.5+ bikepacking bike.)  Secondly, when it comes to making snap judgements about people, cyclists are not always the most reliable--and that goes double for cyclists in Portland, who tend to be bewildered by anyone who doesn't look like they stepped straight out of Momentum Mag.

Of course, in this case, as a bike shop employee he was able to make up for his lack of law enforcement training with his superior mechanical knowledge:

Me and the bystander had to hold him for about 15 minutes before the cops did show up. He kept screaming obscenities at me and tried to wrestle away many times. I let the air out of the rear tire so in case he did get away he wouldn’t be able to ride it. But being a track bike with no brakes, track pedals and tall gearing, it would have been extremely difficult to actually ride anyway.

Oh, bike dorks...  "I knew the bike had a 49/16 gear ratio, which would yield 80.5 gear inches and 16 skid patches.  For every revolution of the pedals his bike would move forward roughly 21 feet.  Furthermore, at 90rpm he would reach a maximum speed of 21.6mph, so if I reduced his tire pressure by 50psi..."

As a New Yorker though I was quite surprised to read this:

The officers that showed up knew exactly which bike it was, as they just personally filed the report. They were very helpful and the one officer was taking about how stoked he was that we recovered it and that “bike thieves make him sick”.

Wow.  The police praised him?  The NYPD would have thrown him in jail.

Lastly, check this out:

What, he didn't ride back down?

I told you cyclists were lazy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A broken clock is right twice a day, while a broken Apple Watch is never right at all.

Well, the Touring of France is over, and to celebrate, Chris Froome chugged gazpacho from a giant bowl:

Presumably he's relieved that the Tour is over, because now he can take a much-needed rest from being showered in bodily fluids:

PARIS, (AFP) — Chris Froome said he felt “incredible” after winning his second Tour de France title on Sunday in a competition that has seen him accused of cheating, spat upon, and doused with urine.

And that's not even counting the incessant snot rocket mist that is a normal part of riding in a tight pack of roadies.

No wonder these guys are always getting sick--not only are they constantly being spritzed with saliva, mucus, and pee, but they're also all at least 30 pounds underweight and on drugs.

Indeed, physiologically speaking, there's little difference between a professional cyclist and a "crust punk" band member.  (Though socioeconomically the "crust punk" is roughly 20 times more likely to hail from a wealthy Greenwich family.)

Still, Froome isn't complaining about all the urine.  In fact, it seems he kinda likes it:

“Of course it was a very, very difficult Tour, both on the bike and off it. I’m so happy to be here in yellow..."

See that?  He's happy to be in yellow.

So there you go.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Rabinowitz must be plotzing, because her newspaper is way into Citi Bike now:

Citi Bike still isn’t perfect. Over the course of 15 test rides and 45 miles of biking, I encountered four docking snafus, a sticky gear shifter and one flat tire. But overall, the new Citi Bike experience is like cruising on a different planet: a magical world where a bright blue bike waits on every third street corner to provide fun, convenient transport—assuming you don’t get clipped by a cab.

Four docking snafus, a sticky gear shifter and one flat tire?  Sounds like an evening with Mario Cipollini after he's had too much to drink:

("Sorry for docking snafus, dees a-never happen to da Cipo, I swear!")

As a Citi Bike user I agree that the system has improved tremendously, and indeed there's a lot to love about the convenience of bike share--though I'd stop short of saying the bikes themselves are the best part:

The bikes were always the best part of the system. Sturdy and tank-like, they breeze over cobblestones, curbs and potholes the size of kiddie pools. But the new model is even better. The brakes are tighter, the gears are smoother and there’s a blingy new light on the back fender. The handlebars collect a lot less schmutz.

Seriously, the bikes were always the best part?  That's like saying the best part of the subway system is the hard plastic seats.  (Though I'd certainly rather have hard plastic seats than the disgusting bacteria-ridden cloth they have on the BART.)  I do agree though that the new Ben Serotta-designed Cit Bikes are more responsive and "flickable" than the old model while still retaining the bone-jarring tankishness we bike-sharers so cherish--even though the author of the Journal piece clearly lacks the Cat 6 skillz to squeeze maximum performance from the machine:

My one gripe: Citi Bike has maintained the stingy time limits on how long you can keep a bike before returning it and borrowing another. Annual pass holders get 45 minutes; short-termers, just half an hour. If you’re obeying traffic laws, that isn’t enough time to get anywhere in New York.

Clearly she needs to subscribe to my Team Citi Bike Cat 6 coaching system, because according to my Citi Bike account I can do DUMBO, Brooklyn ("DUMBO" is an acronym for Douchebags Under the Manhattan Bride Overpass") to Grand Central in just over 30 minutes:

Keep in mind this route includes the dreaded Manhattan Bridge climb, which is the Tourmalet of Cat 6 ascents.  Also, I set this time on one of the old Citi Bikes, and I'm confident that the improved lateral stiffness, vertical compliance, and racier gear ratios of the new Serotta model would easily erase that 55 second deficit and have me docking at Pershing Square well inside of the 30-minute non-member time limit.  (Not that I have to worry about that, I am of course a Citi Bike founding member, not some sad non-member Citi Fred.)

I bet the new bikes are also more aerodynamic, which means that by Lennard Zinn's water bucket metric I'd save a whole gazpacho tureen's worth of time.

Speaking of the new Citi Bikes, I was riding one last week when I encountered this food cart in the bike lane:

I circumvented it handily, thanks to both the bike's improved geometry coupled with my own razor sharp Citi Bike handling skills:

What sets a semi-professional bike blogger and accomplished Cat 6 Citi Bike racer like me apart from the ordinary cyclist is the ability to: 1) avoid a food cart in the bike lane; 2) take a photo while doing so; and 3) press that "switcheroo" button on the screen and then take another over-the-shoulder shot of the same food cart receding into the distance, which you can see me doing in this reflection from my douchey sunglasses:

Not only that, but while doing all of this I was fondling my ego by reading my own blog:


Anyway, given all this success, it's no surprise that Citi Bike is expanding to a whole bunch of new neighborhoods in which you'll never be able to afford to live:

But you'll be able to borrow a Citi Bike while you're visiting, so at least there's that.

Lastly, according to the Twitter, Walmart continues to be totally up on the current offroad bicycling trends:
Sweet ride:

I expect a bikepacking bike from Kent any day now.

Friday, July 24, 2015

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

As most of us know, various activists and smuggies have been pushing to stop calling car crashes "accidents"--and for good reason, since as cyclists we're all to aware of how abjectly thoughtless it is to automatically dismiss road carnage as just a little "oopsie."  You'd think only the most ornery tabloid troglodytes would object to using more objective language when people are hurt or killed, but you'd be wrong.  You can also add pretentious Slate writers to that list, and here's one who doesn't like it just because it gives her an excuse to wave her degree around:

But the word can also simply describe “a happening that occurs unintentionally.” That seems to be the obvious spirit in which most traffic reports use accident today, and why not? Our justice system distinguishes between negligence and criminal intent for good reason. 

Come on.  Is it really all so "obvious?"  Police and media referring to collisions in which people are maimed or killed as "accidents" before the investigation begins--if they even bother to investigate it at all--isn't problematic to you?  I'm sure plenty of abusers don't mean to kill their partners, either--they just want to "discipline" them.  So maybe we should start calling these incidents "Domestic Violence Accidents."  And why call aviation disasters "Plane Crashes?"  More often than not the pilot didn't mean it, right?  So let's start calling them "Plane Accidents!"  Of course, we already do use the phrase "Accidental Shooting," but that's only because the only thing Americans are dumber about than cars is guns, and we'll bend over backwards linguistically to make sure nothing ever threatens our unrestricted access to either.  "Accidental Shooting?"  It's a fucking gun!  What else do they expect it's gonna do!?!

She continues:

You could even assert that baked into the prevalence of accident is the fundamentally American idea of “innocent until proven guilty.” Ascribing bloodthirsty motives to a careless motorist feels as problematic as suggesting that she bears no responsibility for the pain she’s sown.

No, "baked into the prevalence of accident" is that when you're behind the wheel you're automatically shielded from any consequences for your actions, regardless of whether you were negligent or downright antagonistic.  Why automatically rule out "bloodthirsty motives?"  Holy crap!  All too often motorists commit crimes behind the wheel and are never charged for them--if you've never seen or experienced a motorist using his or her car as a weapon then please invite me into your bubble sometime so I can meet your pet unicorn who farts rainbows.

But yes, we can't assume every automobile collision is the result of depraved bloodlust.  I mean, sure, probably at least half of them are, but not all of them.  That's precisely why we should be using a neutral, objective word like "crash."  There's no blame or absolution inherent in the word.  It is what it is.  So how could you possibly be opposed to that?

Well, you can be opposed to it if you're a pretentious bloviator who's the product of an overpriced education:

In classical philosophy, accidents are the opposite of occurrences that “happen without a cause.” In fact, they are precisely events that are contingent upon other events, rather than expressions of telos or inner nature. From that perspective, accident seems like the perfect word for a mishap that unfolds not necessarily from a person’s core being or values, but from his stupid lapse in judgment. (At the extreme edge of this claim lies drunk driving, which represents a choice and perhaps a deeper pathology.) You forgot to turn on your lights. No one repaired the pothole. These qualify as blameworthy errors with foreseeable consequences—exactly the sort of thing that might cause an accident.

Oh please.

Firstly, if there were "blameworthy errors with forseeable consequences," how the hell is that an accident?!?

Secondly, starting your argument with "In classical philosophy..." is the rhetorical equivalent of starting your story with "This one time at band camp..."  It means you're on a collision course (sorry, "accident course") with a non-sequitor.  But sure, by all means, let's not allow our language to change or evolve because you took a course on Aristotelianism in college.

The fact is that it's important to update our language and discard certain words from time to time (or at least change when and how we use them) in order to reflect what we've learned and to expunge the retrograde attitudes some words come to embody after awhile.  Saying we shouldn't stop calling car crashes "accidents" because of classical philosophy is like saying we shouldn't stop using racial slurs because they're simply rooted in the Latin word for "black."  Of course, this is not to say we should banish the word "accident" from our language--obviously there are about a million circumstances in which it's totally appropriate--but you've got to admit it's pretty stupid for law enforcement and the media to use the same word for a deadly crash that we use for when someone takes a dump in their pants.

You know, classical philosophers like Aristotle had some twisted views on women too, but fortunately we moved past those.  Time to drop the faux intellectual act and do the same thing with people who run other people down with their cars.

Thank you, thank you.

Please allow applause to play for remainder of post.

Speaking of accidents...OOPSIE!

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- An individual has confessed to starting the Hull fire that broke out Wednesday.

Carrie Bilbao, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management in Boise, said the fire was caused by a mountain biker who burned toilet paper after making a restroom stop. 

Nicely done.

By the way, something to keep in mind:

The agency said the fire could've been avoided by burying human waste, not burning toilet paper in dry grass and on public lands and lastly, if you pack it in, make sure to pack it out.

I am a resolute urbanite who goes to great lengths to make sure I'm never beyond riding distance of a clean toilet, but even I could have figured that one out.

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 great, and if you're wrong you'll see how drivers never have bloodthirsty motives.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and remember: accidents are for pants.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) What are these NYPD officers doing?

--Recovering a stolen bicycle
--Photographing the bicycle of a salmon who hit a pedestrian and cracked his head open, presumably so they can charge him before he gets out of the hospital or dies
--Ticketing the bicycle for being upside down
--Ticketing the fire hydrant for riding on the sidewalk

2) The Canadian equivalent of driving your car into a Dunkin' Donuts is:

--Driving your car into a Tim Hortons
--Driving your Zamboni into a Tim Hortons
--Launching a curling stone through the front window of a Loblaws
--Apologizing for driving your car into a Dunkin' Donuts

3) The $13,499 Look 795 comes with new "Neck Brace" headset technology, which means you can no longer turn the bars.


4) New technology from Land Rover will:

--Alert you to when you're about to drive into the garage with your bike on the roof rack
--Allow you to drive the vehicle remotely with your smartphone while you're standing outside of it for some reason
--Activate a highly sophisticated "Crash Anglicisation" feature in the event of an imminent collision that will replace the word "accident" with "cock-up"
--Warn fellow road users that you're a douchebag

(Louis XVI really should have been wearing a helme(n)t)

5) So helme(n)ts protect against neck impalement somehow.


(Seattle's most ticketed rider.)

6) Police officers who enforce helme(n)t laws are child molesters.


7) Why is this bike getting a colonoscopy?

--They're checking for motors
--They're checking for cracks
--They're checking for hidden drugs
--The goddamn press-fit bottom bracket won't shut up!!!

***Special Bonus Question WITH PRIZE, Sponsored by Classic Cycle!***

The first person to email me at bikesnobnyc (@) yahoo (dot) com with the correct answer wins a prize courtesy of Classic Cycle!  Use subject line "IWONIWONIWON!"

Prize has been claimed!

Fill in the blank: "Dick _____"


Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's all coming together, though it's missing a few pieces.

Further to yesterday's post, you WILL be relieved to learn I put my rear hub back together yesterday:

It is still short one (1) bearing, but I rode around the neighborhood in flip-flops for five minutes and the hub seems perfectly fine.  And since a flip-flop shakedown ride is exactly the same thing in terms of rear hub stress as picking your way up a steep, rocky ascent in your lowest gear , I'm confident that the bearing shortage won't be an issue.

Plus, more importantly, the bike is now .443 grams lighter thanks to the missing bearing, and this weight savings is going to translate directly into PERFORMANCE!  (Remember that one?)

Either that, or into crushing my "pants yabbies" on my top tube when the rear hub gives up, I suppose all this remains to be seen.

Of course I could just buy a replacement bearing cage for the price of like one (1) beer, but I've already spent so much effort linking to it I'm not sure I can go the extra millimeter and place the order.

And I'd rather have the beer.

By the way, looking at my bike as pictured above, I've realized two things:

1) It's very dirty;

2) It's totally obsolete.

In fact, it's more than obsolete--it's downright primitive by bicycle industry standards.  Just look at this list of outdated features:

--Non-single-ring-specific single-ring drivetrain;
--Non-inverted suspension fork;
--Non-dropper seatpost;
--Non-thru axle quick release hubs;

And, worst of all...INNER TUBES!!!

According to the bicycle industry it should not be possible to ride this thing.

Speaking of heedlessness, sometimes when a cyclist hits a pedestrian the pedestrian wins:

"He dodged a car and then just kept riding in the bike lane but going the wrong way," Salim said. "He was going the wrong way. No helmet, no nothing."

I resent the implication that the rider's helme(n)tlessness somehow enhances the wrongitude of his salmoning.  So what, if he had been wearing a helme(n)t then it would have been okay?

Furthermore, Salim owns a business called "Salim Smoke Shop," and it seems to me that someone who MAKES A LIVING SELLING THE LEADING PREVENTABLE CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE UNITED STATES doesn't get to criticize someone for not wearing a helme(n)t.

Then again, the rider did crack his head open, so I suppose I have to allow it:

"The UPS guy walked out and was looking the other way and the bike hit him," he said. "The bicyclist flipped over a couple of times. His head cracked open."

The biker, who was in his 40s, was taken to Kings County Hospital, police said.

The pedestrian refused medical attention at the scene.


And that's why you shouldn't salmon.

As for the helme(n)t, I doubt this would have turned out very well for him no matter what he was wearing on his head--though some sort of spring might have bounced him back onto his feet again.

By the way, check out the police taking bike porn shots of that beefy bottom bracket:

Yep, there it is, your answer to the riddle "How many cops does it take to photograph a bike?".  (One to operate the camera, one to take notes, and one to sleep while standing up.)  So it turns out the NYPD can collect evidence at a crash scene--but only in the event that it was cause by a cyclist.  I'm sure they're figuring out how many charges they can pile on the salmoner while his skull bones knit together.  Meanwhile, when you drive your car into a Dunkin' Donuts they swaddle you in a blanket, buy you a salted caramel hot chocolate, and give you a gift certificate for a free car wash.

Indeed, cars and Dunkin' Donuts go together like coffee and...well, donuts:

They really need to change the slogan from "America Runs On Dunkin'" to "America Runs Into Dunkin'."

And if you're reading this north of the border, please allow me to translate this into Canadian for you:

We may eat different types of bacon, and you guys may talk a little funny (I don't mean the accents, I mean the politeness), but underneath it all we're basically the same--by which I mean none of us can drive for shit.

Alas, one wonders if things may have turned out better for the unfortunate salmoner if only he'd had access to life-saving headphones that tell you what to do while you ride:

You've got to appreciate a Kickstarter that involves nothing more than a sketch on graph paper accompanied by a paragraph that tells you all the cool stuff it's gonna do:

Well my design process is taking a while but I plan on having headphones with a mask that lays on top of your head, and comes down when you're in high winds (such as a person on a bike) or when a manual button is pushed,speaks to you letting you know that something is behind with the use of a night vision camera and possibly give you voical directions, has Bluetooth and wired connection to moble devices and Lots of other features. So I would like to get this out there if possible. I really would like to get the funding soonso I can get started right away on the prototype.

The breathless prose evokes Ralphie's theme in "A Christmas Story:"

What I want for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.  I think that everybody should have a Red Ryder bb gun.  They're very good for Christmas.  I don't think a football is a very good Christmas present.

Neither do I.

If "Christmas Story" took place today Ralphie would have launched a Kickstarter for that BB gun and the movie would have been over in five minutes.

Penultimately, Look has a new super-expensive Fredcycle, and they appear to be aiming it straight at the Specialized Venge-Schmenge:

The 795 is not cheap, by anyone's standards. The 795 Aerolight with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Mavic CXR 60s we have in for test goes for US$13,499 / £7,999. It weighs 7.47kg / 16.47lb in size Large.

Indeed, now that it's almost impossible to build a heavy road bike low weight is no longer a selling point, so clearly the bike companies have turned their attention to giving Fred a boner over aerodynamics.  Just check out this eerily streamlined and featureless cockpit, which looks like the genital area of a Ken doll:

It's as flat as Levi Leipheimer's personality, but the same can't be said about the front of Fred's shorts when he beholds this wind-cheating douche chariot.

And lastly, two (2) very different people who have helped me with my BRA (that's "Book-Related Appearance" of course) in the past have asked me to share with you two very different events.

So here goes.

Firstly, Esteemed Commenter Daddo One has a friend who is raising money for cancer research as part of the Pan-Mass Challenge:

It's a sad story and if I attempt to recount it here I'll cry, but the upshot is that if you give $25 you get a raffle ticket for a Parlee:

Here are the details:

-Tickets are $25 ea. Purchase as many tickets as you like! There is a very modest reserve to cover some of the bike costs. Though I fully expect the reserve to be met, if it is not, all funds will be promptly returned to the participants.

-To purchase tickets, the preferred method is to send a check made out to Branfman/Team Kermit to my address; 43 Chinian Path, Newton, MA 02459. Include your full contact information including email, snail mail, and phone. You may also purchase tickets by making an online donation to Team Kermit: http://www2.pmc.org/profile/TT0079 Include a note with your donation saying "Parlee Fundraiser"  to be sure that we see it as such. All ticket purchases will be acknowledged within 24 hours.

-Ticket purchases will be accepted until Monday August 3, 6PM Eastern time.

-The winning ticket will be chosen that evening at our Team Kermit Post PMC cookout and will be announced to the public via email the next day. The winner will be contacted by email and phone.

-The process of frame size selection, custom fit, bicycle build, and final delivery will then be arranged. There are also options for upgrades in componentry which would be the responsibility of the winner.

A Parlee, by the way, is a type of bicycle that is much prized for its Fred-tasticness.

Secondly, this guy, who was my fixer when I went to Cleveland, wants you to buy a ticket to a screening of "Heroes of Dirt:"

You don't win a Parlee and it doesn't do shit for cancer research as far as I can tell, but apparently you get to see this movie, which I assume will be shown in a spirit of drunken irony--and what else are you going to do in Cleveland anyway?

Clearly the filmmakers left no cliché unturned.

Now I'm going to go turn all that bearing money savings into beer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Indignity Of Sucking At Fixing Stuff

It's been oppressively hot recently--so hot that I've resorted to riding the rails, where the straphangers hang ten:

And hydrate aggressively:

And fall asleep in front of the new Apple iFan:

It's $500 and you control it with your Apple Watch.

As of this morning though the heatwave had passed and the weather was lovely:

(Holy shit, the temperature even feels like what it is!)

So lovely in fact that I resolved to sneak in a ride on a rugged all-terrain bicycle with knobby tires.

Inasmuch as my time was limited, I figured that instead of frantically spinning my way to the trail on a singlespeed like I usually do I'd use a bicycle with multiple gears and stuff.  This, I reasoned, would translate to more trail time.  Plus, it's been awhile since I've ridden my rugged all-terrain bicycle with both knobby tires and multiple gears--so long in fact that the last time I did it looked like this outside:

However, it occurred to me that the last time I rode this bike the rear hub was also making kind of a scary noise, which I figured was a "collabo" between the cold temperatures and the fact that in like eight (8) years of ownership I've serviced the hub exactly never, so the pawls almost certainly needed to be cleaned and re-lubricated.

If I were smart I'd have given the wheel to a bike shop for servicing that very day so the bike would be ready to ride well in advance of the riding season.  However, I'm an idiot who insists on performing his own maintenance.  This is not because I'm a good mechanic--indeed I'm an awful mechanic.  No, I do my own maintenance because I suffer from some misguided notion that by working on my own crap I'll have a better understanding of my bikes, which in turn will make me a better cyclist, which ultimately means I'm a better person.  Or something.

Of course what really happens is that when something goes wrong I just set it aside indefinitely and ride another bike, which is what happened in this case.  So time passed.  A child was born.  Winter turned to spring, and spring into summer.  All the while, I didn't do shit--until this morning, when after like seven months I finally decided I wanted to ride the bike.

"No problem," I figured.  "I'll just pop the hub open, lube those sticky pawls, and be on my way."

As a mechanic, it's important to understand how I work.  Firstly, I have no stand, table, or dedicated workspace, and like Mario Cipollini I just get into it wherever.  (We've both been known to do it on the floor or on top of washing machines.)  Secondly, I have no patience, and instead of setting aside plenty of time for the job I'm always in a tremendous rush.  Thirdly, for some reason (probably to do with the second thing), whenever I work on a bicycle I sweat profusely, regardless of the ambient temperature.  This means that even when I'm doing something as simple as patching an inner tube I look like this:

Anyway, I've worked on plenty of hubs before, but not this particular one, which is a "DT Onyx" for some reason.  So I unbuttoned it and knocked out the axle with a rubber mallet and immediately a bunch of bearings go flying all over the basement.  Basically they look like this, only instead of being neatly contained in the carrier they were absolutely everywhere:

Had I taken any time to read about the hub before opening it I might have realized this was exactly the wrong way to open it, but that's not how I work.

"Hmmm, those are probably important," I figured, and set about collecting the bearing--which, I should point out, look exactly like mouse turds when they're scattered all over a basement floor--and put them back in the carrier, sweating profusely all the while:

Eventually I was able to find 11 of the 12 little mouse turds, and it will probably not surprise you to learn that at that point I figured, "Fuck it, close enough," and decided to put the hub back together even though I was one bearing short.  (A fitting metaphor for my own brain, as it happens.)  So I cleaned and lubed everything, only at that point I realized I couldn't get the hub back together without disassembling it some more because I'd opened it the wrong way, and by now I was completely out of time, which meant I couldn't even do that.  Now everything's just sitting down there in pieces until I can order new bearings and find the time to finish putting it back together, which at this point will be sometime next year.

Ultimately, I started the morning with a perfect riding window, and I ended it with an exploded rear hub and no riding at all.

Nicely done.

Anyway, I'll get back to it once I've ordered some new bearings and a $180 titanium hammer.

Meanwhile, I can't even service a simple hub, yet hackers have figured out how to take control of a moving Jeep:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, owner of the Jeep brand, on Tuesday blasted the researchers for disclosing their ability to hack into the sport-utility vehicle’s software and manipulate its air conditioning, stereo controls and control its speed by disabling the transmission from a laptop many miles away.

This is great news, because as auto manufacturers incorporate more electronic safety features into their cars it's vital that American drivers have access to cutting-edge 21st century excuses in order to kill and destroy:

Hey, if it's good enough for Team Sky...

Of course for the ultimate in excuses you've got to spend big bucks for a Land Rover, which you can now drive with your smartphone:

Remember when the most dangerous thing you could do with a phone was "butt dial" somebody?

Well now you can butt-run-them-the-fuck-over.

Or just butt-run-yourself-over:

Yes, it's hard to imagine any scenario in which this sort of technology could possibly go wrong.

Finally, everybody knows that if you don't wear a helme(n)t you'll die.  However, ask yourself this: Are you worrying about enough?  Sure, your helme(n)t is 100% effective in preventing any and all head injuries, but is it also protecting you against SKIN CANCER?!?  Of course not--which is why you need this:

It seems to me that the sun's rays are just as harmful when you're walking, so why is she only worried about it while she's riding?  If you're going to protect your face to this extent you should at least be consistent and just wear a burka at all times.

Still, it's good to see "cycle chic" and "welder chic" come together at last.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

EPS Is The New Tin Foil

Further to yesterday's post concerning the wrought-iron fence neck impalement [insert smiley face emoticon], it's important to note the that a Hövding head airbag would NOT have been effective in protecting the cyclist, inasmuch as it would have popped like a three-day-old whitehead:
A video posted by abc3d (@abc3d_) on
So there you go.

In other head-related news, I recently heard from a reader who participated in "online training" at work in exchange for a lowering of his health insurance premiums, and naturally the course included the usual helme(n)t propaganda.  Here are some screen shots:

Note that the bit about helme(n)ts comes right after the bit about how it's important to be physically active:

So remember: despite the fact that "physical activity is important for good health," riding a bike without wearing a helme(n)t is the same thing as smoking:

I for one find it comforting that our crippling car dependency and our dysfunctional health care system have created an environment in which corporations now use the carrot of lower health insurance premiums to subject their employees to this kind of anti-cycling propaganda.

("You've proved to me that all this bareheaded cycling is wrong, wrong, and terribly wrong!")

Of course, none of this is to dismiss the dangers we face out there on the roads.  For example, consider all those self-opening car doors for which no human is responsible:
Wow, leave it to the Canadian media to win the passive voice contest by a country kilometer!

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised though, since passivity is a national passion up there:


Keenan, 38, slammed into the door and, despite wearing a helmet, sustained serious head injuries. She died in hospital two days later. 

She should not have died--not because of the helme(n)t, but because we've gone way beyond the point at which governments should require cars to be outfitted with some kind of technology to prevent moronic drivers from heedlessly flinging their goddamn doors open into peoples' paths.

Yet, in the meantime, all we're getting is "connected helmets" and body paint:

Spraypaint yourself all you want, it doesn't matter if nobody's looking in the first place.

Same goes for this thing, by the way:

As illusions of safety go this is David Copperfield-caliber stuff, but it's not gonna to do a goddamn thing about all those doorings and right hooks.

Speaking of misplaced concern, remember the Long Island town of Southold, where they've banned all bike events from June to November?

Some might feel the new restriction might be “too draconian,” said Councilman Bill Ruland, but any time you put large groups in an area on bicycles or in vehicles, “there’s a large chance something can go wrong,” he said.

Absolutely, because everybody knows organized bicycle rides are a huge menace to public health and safety.  That's why "THOUSANDS DIE AT CHARITY RIDE" is such a common newspaper headline all over America.  In fact, you might recall that, according to Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, cyclists are the community's "number one complaint:"

“I don’t know if our roads can support it anymore,” Flatley said. “The number one complaint we get now is about bicyclists on the roads, riding four or five abreast, not following the rules of the road.”

Well, it was hard not to think about all that when this Southold tragedy was all over the news last weekend:

At least four are dead after a horrific accident today on Route 48 in Cutchogue caused when a limo carrying at least seven passengers made a turn to head west and was struck by the westbound driver of a red pickup, resulting in the T-bone crash, police said. At least three died at the scene, Flatley said, and a fourth person died at Peconic Bay Medical Center. It was still unclear this evening if any others fatalities would be found inside the limousine, he said.


So what does Chief "I don't know if our roads can support it anymore" Flatley have to say about it?

In recent years, Vineyard 48 neighbors have cried out about limo operators, carrying patrons to the winery, driving dangerously on area roads and parking outside their homes.

Of the accident, Flatley said, “It was a dangerous move. This is what we’ve always been afraid of.”  Limos making such turns take up two to three lanes and pose a  danger on area roads, Flatley said, one reason why the town has been cautioning against potential tragedy on Route 48 for years.

Wait a minute!  Limo operators?!?  I thought the number one complaint in town was those damn bicyclists!

Even more incredibly, Flatley is saying that limos "pose a danger on area roads" AFTER ONE WAS RAMMED BY A DRUNK DRIVER!

So what's more dangerous: people hiring limos so they can visit wineries without driving drunk, or drunken drivers?

(Hint: it's a trick question, the answer is cyclists.)

As for this particular drunk driver, after murdering four people he attempted to walk causally away:

Romeo, he said, stayed at the scene of the accident, then, after about 15 minutes, walked 1,000 feet, where he climbed a six foot fence at the transfer station, located on the north side of Route 48, then walked down an embankment.

Police, Spota said, ordered him to stop, “but he continued to walk.” Romeo, Spota said, did eventually stop; police then administered field sobriety tests.

Well, if you ever visit Southold, you can rest easy knowing that bike ban is in place.

(Also, make sure you don't travel there by bike or by limo, lest you elicit the ire of Chief Flatley.)

Lastly, in the interest of keeping today's post morbid, you might as well trade your helme(n)t for a life jacke(n)t because we're all going to drown*:

Hansen’s study does not attempt to predict the precise timing of the feedback loop, only that it is “likely” to occur this century. The implications are mindboggling: In the study’s likely scenario, New York City—and every other coastal city on the planet—may only have a few more decades of habitability left. That dire prediction, in Hansen’s view, requires “emergency cooperation among nations.”

Firstly, New York City isn't even habitable right now, so how much worse can it get?  Secondly, he says the sea level is going to rise ten feet in the next 50 years--but I'm at over 100 feet above sea level, which means I live atop a veritable mountain by New York City standards.

So bring it on, baby!

*Or else no we're not.