Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday!

As the years go by I think more and more about my own mortality.  The subject of my inevitable demise is tremendously important to everybody in the world, because I'm a solipsist and when I cease to exist so do you.  In any case, this morning the following article caught my eye, and I'm not reproducing the accompanying images because they're fucking creepy:


I didn't have the patience to actually read it carefully because life's too damn short to attempt to understand science stuff, but basically what I gleaned from it is that if you surround yourself with stuff from your heyday you can retard [*snorfle*] the aging process or something.  Specifically, they herded up a bunch of doddering old people and had them spend a few days in an environment that replicated their heyday, and when they emerged again they were all spry and stuff:

At the end of their stay, the men were tested again. On several measures, they outperformed a control group that came earlier to the monastery but didn’t imagine themselves back into the skin of their younger selves, though they were encouraged to reminisce. They were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller — just as Langer had guessed. Perhaps most improbable, their sight improved. Independent judges said they looked younger. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had “put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride.

That's some "Cocoon" shit right there:


"So what does this have to do with cycling?," the slow-witted among you may be asking.  Oh, only that crabon will kill you and being a retrogrouch may be the key to immortality, that's all.  It's science!

Here's a little experiment: take Cyclist A and Cyclist B.  At around the time he hit middle age, Cyclist A said in an old-timey accent, "Index shifting, plastic saddles, and non-ferrous bicycle frames is for 'da boids."  Well guess what?  Cyclist A is 99 years old now and he's jamming up those hills on his Dick Power like a man one-quarter his age.   Don't believe me?  I seen it for meself, I tells ya!  Check him out, he's the guy in red:


He was 89 years old when he did his first L'Eroica in 2004, and now look at him!

Now let's take a look at Cyclist B.  On paper, he's the same age as Cyclist A.  However, instead of forsaking useless technological bicycle "innovation," he tried to keep up and remain on the cutting-edge--crabon frames, electronic shifting, Strava, you name it.  Here he is today:



A cautionary tale if there ever was one.

So disembark from the Upgrade Express before it's too late.  (Though in the above Fred's case I'm sure all those drugs didn't help.  And yes he took drugs.)

Speaking of aging Freds, this weekend George Hincapie is hosting the most heavily-rationalized Gran Fondo of all time:


This is a big deal because, as everybody knows, cycling is totally clean now.  So what happens when the squeaky-clean kiddies mingle with the dirty old men?  Will they be corrupted?  Well, obviously the answer is "They already have been," since the dirty old men run the teams now and the riders continue to take drugs.  Nevertheless, the media has to pretend this is a big deal by making everybody explain themselves:

VeloNews reached out to several of those pros, past and present, who are participating, for comment.

Most, including Armstrong and Hincapie, addressed their involvement with event, either via email, phone, or in person, while a few — Vande Velde and Livingston — did not.

Some addressed the inherent awkwardness of the reunion, others did not.

Their replies follow below.

Suffice to say the rest reads like a bunch of dieters explaining to you at great length why they're going to treat themselves to that slice of birthday cake.

Meanwhile, the Tour de France route for 2015 has been unveiled, and--SURPRISE!--they're riding through France again:


The above map is actually the Tour de France route from like two years ago, but honestly what's the difference?  You know the deal: mountains, sprint stages, a finish in Paris, yadda yadda.  Even the riders are sleepwalking through the whole thing at this point.  For example, Cadel Evans was at the presentation, having completely lost track of the fact that he's retiring in February:


("I feel like I'm forgetting something...")

Soon though he shook the nagging sensation he didn't need to be there and was back to his old tricks:


Being a semi-professional bike blogger, I launched my Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking app to find out what they were looking at:


Unsurprisingly, Mark Cavendish was nonplussed:


And it would be hours before Vincenzo Nibali realized that Jean-Christophe Péraud had superglued his finger to his face:


So yeah, the whole gang is off to France again, where the mountains are mountainous, the Freds are Frédérics, and the meat is tainted.

Oh, here's some news for you: Remember DU/ER, the action pants for restless metrosexual d-bags who lie in wait in a squatting position so they can go doody on other men's heads?


Well, not only have they received lots of press coverage:



But they also sent this smug email:


I thought you would be interested to know that we are in the final 6 days of our DU/ER Performance Denim Kickstarter campaign. Having raised 25,000 in just 5 days, we now have exceeded to $42,000! Some key elements of DU/ER performance denim is the quick dry, temperature control and is 30% lighter and stronger than traditional denim and proven to have 5 times the strength then the Levi's commuter jean. We would love for you to be able to experience our denim for yourself. Please contact us to experience DU/ER denim. You can also check out our Kickstarter campaign by following this link: http://bit.ly/Duerdenim

If you have any questions please feel to contact me at your earliest convenience. 

No thanks.  I don't want to experience DU/ER denim.  My fear is that if I experience the denim then copies of "Details" magazine will start appearing in my mailbox and I'll have to start shopping for a Range Rover.

Lastly, further to yesterday's post about bridges, a reader tells me that officials are considering charging pedestrians and cyclists to cross the Golden Gate Bridge:

On Friday, Highway and Transportation District directors said they are considering charging a toll for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

The sidewalk tolls would be part of a plan to eliminate $32.9 million over the next five years and would start charging in July 2017.

If this toll were to go into effect it would set a dangerous precedent, for it wouldn't be long before the idea of a "Fred Tax" would sweep the nation--and if they charge by the axle we'll all have to ride unicycles.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No time for titles, let's get moving!!!

So how was your bike commute today?  Was it raining?  Did some douchebag in an SUV honk at you?  Well, save it, because unless a dick on a BMX kicked your front wheel out from under you, you probably don't have too much to complain about:


Raphael Carrondo was pushed into the side of the vehicle by a BMX rider.

Just moments before, the 32-year-old was forced to slam on his brakes as the unknown rider tried undertaking him as the pair were passing a parked bus.

Then, about 100 yards up the road as Raphael was overtaking a coach just as it began pulling out, the cyclist rode past his right side and kicked his front wheel.

Here is the very moment at which the rogue BMXer launched his lifestyle sneaker at the cyclist:


The assailant remains at large, though police suspect he was enraged by the victim's CamelBak:


The BMXer was last seen being a virgin and wearing a flat-brim cap and a "Red Bull Gives You Road Rage" t-shirt, so keep your eyes open for him.

In other news, yesterday I kvetched and bloviated about cycling in and around New York City--which, now that I think about it, is pretty much what I do every day.  (Well that's depressing.)  Specifically, I scoffed at "Bicycling" magazine's suggesting Oceanside as a cycling destination, mostly because Oceanside is so incredibly lame that even people in East Rockaway derisively refer to it as "Rockville Centre's soiled underpants."

Well, if bike advocates have their way, you'll be able to add a whole new list of questionable destinations to your New York City cycling bucket list, because a bike lane on the Verrazano Bridge would mean you'd finally be able to access exotic locales like Staten Island and (be still my heart, I can hardly even type the name without swooning) Bayonne:


The activists are campaigning for what they call the Harbor Ring, a roughly 50-mile route that circumnavigates the waterfronts of three boroughs and New Jersey. Starting in Staten Island, it crosses the Bayonne Bridge, heads up the New Jersey Gold Coast to Weehawken, onto a ferry to West 39th Street in Manhattan, down the Hudson River Greenway and the Battery, over the Manhattan Bridge, and finishes on the waterfront in Brooklyn from Red Hook to Bay Ridge.

With booming bike use on both sides of both rivers, the only missing link is the Verrazano.

All kidding aside, a bike lane on the Verrazano Bridge is long overdue, and if anything the utter lack of cycling facilities on three of New York City's mightiest suspension bridges (the Verrazano, the Whitestone, and the Throgs Neck) is yet another reason I scoff--scoff, I tell you!--at the idea that we're America's Number One Bike City:


This latest push for a bike lane on the Verrazano has received a fair amount of local media attention recently, and I strongly suggest you refrain from reading the comments on any of the articles about it, because they usually run along these lines:

--Morons insisting the cyclists should have to pay the same toll as the drivers because drivers pay for the roads (Staten Islanders are very resentful of tolls, because apparently they didn't realize they were moving onto an island until they tried to leave it);

--Morons saying they don't want bikes coming to Staten Island because then they'll get invaded by Brooklyn hipsters;

--Morons saying the bridge is "too windy" for bikes.

That last one's my favorite.  Every time the Verrazano bike lane thing comes up someone weighs in and says the bridge is too windy, which is funny because the Five Boro Bike Tour goes across the bridge every year and I have no recollection of thousands of dorks in pinnies being blown off the bridge and swept out to sea:



Though if they did I suppose they'd be easy to find.  Not only would they be highly visible in their pinnies, but they'd also be highly buoyant in their giant Bell helmets from 1989.  (This is standard issue headgear for the typical Five Boro Bike Tour rider, and a medium-sized adult could use one as a dinghy without much difficulty.)

Speaking of the Five Boro Bike Tour, I was perusing Kickstarter when I stumbled upon the ideal charity ride slayer:


Or, if you prefer, the ultimate sidewalk-riding bike:


You know the story by now.  Designer and engineer can't find a bike that meets his incredibly high standards, blah blah blah:


"Because as I looked around most commuter bicyclist are either riding converted mountain bikes or they're riding converted road bikes."

Really?

Well, as far as he's concerned the answer is yes, so he invented "the first carbon commuter bike on the market:"


Which is emphatically not the first crabon bike on the market, and he'd better be careful because Specialized is liable to sue him for making that claim:


Nevertheless, he maintains that his bike is "revolutionary:


"What's revolutionary about the Rogue is the bike itself weighs 20 and a half pounds, which is unheard of for a commuter bike."

This is emphatically not unheard of for a commuter bike--or for a flat bar "cyclecross" bike (or what we used to call a "hybrid" back in the '90s), which is basically what this is:


Also, it's made of you-know-what:


"It's made out of carbon.  Carbon compared to alloys is approximately seven and a half times stronger, but is usually somewhere in the region of about 50 or 60 percent lighter."

Which alloys exactly?  There are many.  This is like saying "apples are approximately five times more delicious than melons."

But it's not just the crabon and the low weight that make this bike revolutionary.  It's also got something else:


"Most bikes on the market right now are using a technology that's over 100 years old, which is a chain."

Yeah, you know what's coming.  Come on, it's Rule #1 in the "Reinventing the Hybrid" handbook!  Let's all say it at the same time:


("Carbon!  Belt!  Drive!")

Which is also the "same apparatus that's used on motorcycles and some of the heavier industry type vehicles like combine harvesters..."

Yeah, that's right.  Combine harvesters:


That's exactly like a bicycle.

Also, the bicycle chain may be well over 100 years old, but technically so is the belt drive bicycle, which was first patented in 1890:




Instead of using sprocket-wheels upon the driving-axle and rear axle, as has heretofore been the almost universal custom in Safety bicycles, I use pulleys having V -shaped grooves upon both of said axles and transmit Fig. 4, 6251- 'iCO 1 edges-inclined toward each other to correspond with the V-shaped grooves in the driving and driven pulleys,the engagement of the belt with the pulleys being wholly with its edges.

I'm just saying, that's all.

And that's not all, either.  Where would you be (literally) without GPS?


"The first GPS system is an application that you download on your phone.  That basically gives you things like speed, cadence, elevation, and it shows you the map of your area so you can pretty much track your rides and you can share them with various people..."

So, basically, Strava.

And it's also got the theft-tracking device you've now come to expect from Kickstarter:


"The second part of the GPS is more for safety.  So if you park your bike or lock it and it gets stolen, you can basically go back onto your phone, send your bike an SMS asking where it is, it'll send back location..."

In other words, you send a message to your bike:


And you get a reply:


Amazing.

Also the bike has built-in lights, yada yada yada, but most importantly it has Futuristic Space Fenders:



I like how the rear one provides 100% protection to the rider behind you, while simultaneously offering 0% protection to your own ass.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cycling Tip for Visitors to New York City: Don't.

I don't like to flaunt my wealth, but around the time I made my first million (Vietnamese Dong, obviously, which is just shy of US$50), I started collecting art.  Consequently, the halls of my manse are adorned with many priceless paintings.  There's George Hincapie's disembodied head:


Mario Cipollini with his sunglasses stuck to his oily forehead:


And now, thanks to Klaus of Cycling Inquisition, this portrait of Sir Stanley Wiggins reading about himself in the newspaper while a butler pours tea into his crotch:


I won it at the Sobethy's auction house for the princely sum of nine (9) bucks--and they even threw in this portrait of Team Sky massacring a bunch of enemy Freds:


Note the exquisite details, such as one of the Sky riders bludgeoning somebody to death with a saddle and seatpost:


It now takes pride of place over my mantle, right next to my original Ted Striker:


Every so often I like to sit on a folding beach chair in my living room, sip wine product, contemplate my art collection, and reflect on how grateful I am for having finally "made it."

Yes, I'm a classic Horatio Sans success story, having hoisted myself sideways by my ratcheting Sidi shoestraps.  Only in America, the country that's almost as good as Portugal:


Sure, I'd be making less money in Portugal, but by the looks of things that would be more than offset by all the electricity and HIV/AIDS savings.

The other way I like to revel in my own success is by going for a ride on my fine artisanal handmade mountain bicycle that only has one gear:


As the years go by I have less and less patience for sharing the roads with morons (other morons, that is, for I too am a moron), so more and more I seek refuge in the forest--or, at the very least, the woods behind the mall.  Sure, there's the occasional doofus riding around with a handlebar-mounted sound system, and yes there are occasionally groups of "bros" in Red Bull jerseys making videos of themselves riding over the same small rock over and over again, but at least there aren't any cars on the trails.  And while I still have to contend with my own ineptitude, it's extremely unlikely that I'll get "doored" by an investment banker who throws his business card and then leaves the scene:


After hitting the cyclist, the man who doored him, Wagner, emerged from the back of the Lincoln Towncar (that belonged to BPTG Car Service) and quickly pulled him to his feet. Wagner then threw a business card to his driver and took off running towards 54th and Fifth Avenue, even as witnesses yelled at him to come back. “It's just a cut, he's fine,” the staffer told us Wagner said, before adding, “The driver knows me, I ride with him all the time.”

Harry Wagner, a worthless human being who deserves to be ear-fucked to death by a raccoon (sorry, I don't seem to be able to shake this fantasy today), is also a typical New Yorker from whom even Vietnamese Dong millionaires like myself are not safe.  Yes, there are eight million stories in the naked city, and not a single one of them justifies our selection as the number one "bike-friendly city" in America--speaking of which, I was just checking out the relevant "Bicycling" article again, and for the first time I noticed the "must-do" ride that accompanies the story:


Must-Do Ride
Head out from the Brooklyn Bridge to Rockaway Beach in Queens on the Flatbush Avenue Bike Path, and continue north to Oceanside. 

From time to time people email me asking where they should ride during their visit to New York City, and my answer is usually "don't bother."  Don't get me wrong, there are some solid B-minus rides outside the city.  Also, riding a bike is a great way to get around town--if you actually live here and have a job and other shit you need to do.  

However, if you're just visiting for a short time, why not do some of the stuff that makes New York City great instead of the one thing at which we're mediocre at best?  Go to a museum.  See a play.  Take the 7 train to Flushing and eat Chinese food.  Visiting New York City for three days and asking "Where should I ride?" is like going to Vegas and asking, "Which is the best Shakespearean theater company?," or like going to the diner and debating between the veal and the Shrimp Provençale.  

It's a diner, for fuck's sake.  Get a goddamn burger.

However, if you simply must ride your bike-and I cannot stress this enough--DO NOT do the "Bicycling" magazine "Must-Do" ride:


Firstly, there's no bike lane on Flatbush Avenue, so I don't know where they're getting that from, and if you've never been to New York City riding a bike for the length of Flatbush Avenue will turn your hair white and cause it to fall out--assuming you survive.  So unless you enjoy being buzzed by illegal livery vans plastered with ads for DNA paternity testing while unlicensed drivers U-turn their Nissan Altimas right into you, I'd skip it.  

Secondly...Oceanside?  Hey, if you like landfills and shopping centers go for it, but otherwise you're making a big mistake.  If I were a tourist and rode my bicycle 30 miles just to wind up in Oceanside I'd be pretty fucking pissed.

Thirdly, I've never done an official count, but I'd estimate that there are roughly 400 billion traffic lights between the Brooklyn Bridge and Oceanside.

[I should also point out that this ride takes you right through pretty much exactly where I grew up, so it's a great choice if you'd like a historical bicycle tour of my life, but I can assure you that you do not want a historical bicycle tour of my life, which is why I can confidently tell you not to do this ride.  However, if after all this you do want a historical tour of my life, I'm happy to lead you on one for the low, low price of 10,000,000 Vietnamese Dong.]

Now there is a modified version of this ride that I would fully endorse (assuming it's a beautiful day), which is taking the Bedford Avenue bike lane through Brooklyn, heading over the Marine Parkway Bridge to Rockaway just like on the above map, and then turning around and going back again.

Or, if you'd like another suggestion, feel free to email me and I'll tell you to save your airline bike fee and spend it on booze instead.

You're welcome.

Friday, October 17, 2014

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Did you know my Surly Big Dummy, otherwise known as the "Flotilla of Smugness," is over four years old now?


Not that this is especially old for a bicycle, but by cycling media standards it's positively ancient.

Verily, this is a bike that has grown (or, more accurately, aged, since at this point in my life I'm not so much growing as I am slowly dying) with me, going from this:


To this:


To this:


As my human-portaging needs have changed.

I expect that in 20 years it will have evolved even further, and its cockpit will probably be fitted with knives so I can ride through the Zombie Apocalypse, not to mention the pontoons so I can cope with those rising sea levels.

Speaking of aging, it's worth noting that we are much like Brooks saddles: firm and nonconforming in our youth, but yielding more and more over the years, until we finally rot and a die in a rainstorm, leaving only a skeleton behind.  Ah, whither our youthful follies?  Consider this rider:


Blithely riding with his fork on backwards:


There was a time I might have mocked him, but now I merely envy him.  Lennard Zinn has written well over a million words on the phenomenon of "speed wobble" to date, yet Backwards Fork Guy simply rides on without a care in the world.

There's some saying about how ignorance is akin to a blissful state, but I forget how it goes.

Oh, check out these fucked-up pigeons I saw the other day:


They weren't the least bit afraid of me, possibly because it was the day after Thanksgiving so they knew they were safe.  (And yes, Thanksgiving was on Monday, October 13th.  You're probably thinking of American Thanksgiving, the cheap knock-off that's made in China and takes place this year on Thursday, November 27th.)

Lastly, the other day I received the following email:

Hello!
Just wanted to submit to you the blog entry from my lawyer’s blog about an incident in May where I was hit from behind on Union Ave in Williamsburg. Now that the driver’s car insurance has given me money for a new bike and medical expenses, the driver is suing me for damage to their car.
Cool!

I meant to post about this story at the beginning of the week, but then I totally forgot about it until I saw it mentioned on Gothamist, because I suck at blogging.  In any case, I apologize for being remiss, and here's what happened:


In May of 2014 cyclist John Roemer, just days before his college graduation, was seriously injured in a bike crash when he was struck from behind while traveling northbound on Union Avenue in Brooklyn. The crash was so violent that it fractured John’s hip, caused multiple internal injuries and put him in the ICU for three days.

The driver’s insurance company quickly acknowledged the crash was the fault of its driver. Within weeks of the crash we recovered the full value of John’s bike. Shortly thereafter her insurance company tendered its full policy limits resolve John’s personal injury claim.

You would think that would be the end. However, she is now dragging him to Small Claims Court in Manhattan where she is suing him for $ 2000.00 for damage to her car as a result of the crash.

Just another example--as though you even needed one--of why New York City is the number one cycling city in America according to a magazine that is based in a suburb of Allentown, PA.

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 that's really great, and if you're wrong that's really not, and also you'll see state-of-the-art Fred Glasses.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and watch out for mutant pigeons.


--Wildcat Rock Machine





1) The wide eyes and erect finger indicate a brilliant idea.  What is it?

--The "Monowalker"
--The "Moonwalker"
--The "Off-Road Handtruck"
--The "Corpse Caddy"





2) Which is not a feature of the "S-bar," according to its inventor?

--"...shifts energy and weight ergonomically and takes many pressures away from the rider and allows faster control reflex for Bicycle control..."
--"A soft rubber pad for the riders shirt is attached to prevent any comfortableness..."
--"...enhanced performance by using a type of perpetual motion..."
--"Weirdly donglike."






("Questo è ciò che ha detto."--Mario Cipollini)

3) "...it slides smoothly without wobble in a high-precision IGUS self-lubricating plastic bushing in the top cap, even when pulled all the way out."

--True
--False





("Eees-a same size like my thumb."--Mario Cipollini)

4) Basically, Mario Cipollini is drugs.

--True
--False






5) The world's tallest rideable bicycle is the:

--"Elevelo"
--"Stoopidtall"
--"Stoopidtaller"
--"Stoopidtallest"






6) What is this man doing?

--Miming being trapped in a box
--Playing imaginary basketball
--Attempting to keep the Leaning Tower of Pisa from falling down
--High-fiving Jesus






(Astana general manager Alexander Vinokourov)

7) Basically, Astana is drugs.

--True
--True


***Special "We Haven't Come Very Far, Have We?"--Themed Bonus PSA!***