Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sorry I'm Late, I Left My Apple Watch On My Other Wrist.

So it's finally acting like winter around here:

And just in time too, because tomorrow's apparently International Winter Bike to Work Day:

Sadly I'm unable to participate--not because I don't want to ride, but because I have no intention of doing anything remotely resembling "work" tomorrow.

Working on Fridays is for suckers.

That's why I'll be participating in "International Fuck Off And Ride Day" instead, most likely by grabbing the chubby bike and heading into the woods.

Nevertheless, it looks like quite a few people have committed to International Freeze Your Genitals Off Day so far:

A special tip of the helmet to those brave souls in Florida, Texas, and southern California for showing the world that they're not afraid to commute by bike in temperatures that may require long sleeves.

Moving on, yesterday's post touched upon the condition known as "middle age," which prompted some commenters to ask how you know whether or not you're suffering from it.  Here's one commenter's astute diagnosis:

janinedm said...

Also, and this may be easy to say because I'm still under 40, but people seem to be in denial about the existence and definition of middle age. Here's a checklist:  When you refer to yourself as a young person, do people either smirk or (worse) make their face go completely blank? Look up this week's Billboard 100 chart. Do you recognize 40% or less of the artists? (You don't have to like them, it's pop. But do you recognize them?) If you answer yes to more than 2 of these questions, you're very probably middle aged. It's no sin. The only shame is in fighting it.

February 10, 2016 at 4:05 PM

Naturally, I went through the checklist:

1) Does any event more than 20 years ago feel recent?

I'd say 20 years ago is the outer edge of what seems recent to me.  For example, 1996 was the year the StarTac came out, and I remember it like it was yesterday:

(Analog: the vinyl of mobile communication.)

That was a badass phone.  I think I even had a refurbished one at one point that crapped out almost immediately.

Then again it was hard to tell when a cellphone actually worked in those days since reception was spottier than the maillot à pois.

2) When you refer to yourself as a young person, do people either smirk or (worse) make their face go completely blank?

Well, I would never refer to myself as a young person, though sometimes other people still call me young--though presumably it's because they can't see me through their cataracts and are really old like this woman who smoked and drank her way to 100:

Speaking from her home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, yesterday, she said: ''I've been smoking since I was 30 and have had no problems at all.

''People try and tell you it's bad for you but my family wouldn't dare ask me to stop. If they did, I'd put them across my lap and give them a slapped bum.

I'm sure the tobacco companies would love us to believe that smoking is the key to everlasting life, but who really wants to live to 100?  For one thing all your peers are long dead.

Actually, that sounds pretty good.

I'm going to pick up a pack of Marlboros this afternoon, assuming I can scrape together the $50 or whatever they cost now.

3) Look up this week's Billboard 100 chart. Do you recognize 40% or less of the artists? (You don't have to like them, it's pop. But do you recognize them?)

Well, I looked it up, and to me it seemed vaguely dystopian, like that list of pop groups in the record store scene in "A Clockwork Orange:"

By the way, those are all great band names, and I can't believe they haven't since been used in real life.

Or maybe they have.

I wouldn't know, because I'm middle-aged.

Then again, I also looked up the Hot 100 from the year I graduated high school and I didn't recognize a lot of those names either.  Timmy T? Hi-Five??? Stevie B?!?

Neva hoid of 'em.

In other news, I was sorry to hear from a reader in Louisville, KY whose entire garage has been completely robbed of all its bicycles:
Yeah, that's right, they even stole the tandem.

That's messed up.

So if you're the sort of person who habitually scours the used bicycle classifieds and you happen to see one or more of these bicycles for sale, please alert the owner.  In fact, I'm more than willing to offer a reward for any information leading to the safe return of one of these bikes.  Of course, I'm not sure what that reward would be, but the one thing I can tell you for sure is that it won't be money.

I'll gladly hook you up with some coffee and a hat though.

I'll also double the reward if the bike you find is the tandem.

Moving on across the Atlantic, the Cat 6es of London have scored a landmark legal victory:

Cabbies have lost a high court challenge that could have disrupted completion of London’s £47m flagship east-west cycle superhighway.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) asked a judge to declare that the continued construction of the segregated cycling route linking Westbourne Grove and Tower Hill via the Victoria Embankment without planning permission “constitutes a breach of planning control”.

But Mrs Justice Patterson rejected the application.

Not only that, but Transport for London is also proposing sort of a "Fred window" for trucks:

Transport for London is considering proposals that would require trucks to have large, glass panels along their side doors, the Evening Standard reported. The design gives truck drivers a “panoramic” view of the road, and also gives drivers greater responsibility in avoiding collisions with bikers and pedestrians.

Though of course the truckers don't like it:

Not surprisingly, the Freight Transport Association isn’t a fan of TfL’s new plan, saying it could cost an estimated £280 million (about $407 million U.S.) to outfit trucks with the panels, and that there could be cheaper ways to improve truck drivers’ visibility.

Silly Transport for London!  Your big mistake was attempting to sell this as something that would benefit cyclists.  Who the hell cares about them?!?

I'll tell you what though, pitch this as a "Wanking Window" that facilitates indecent exposure and this proposal will pass faster than a big rig overtaking a Prius.

Speaking of speed, the Specialized "fUCI" concept bike has made the pages of "Outside" magazine, which means you'll be reading about it at the dentist in four months:

The first thing you notice about the fUCI is its massive rear wheel. At 33.3 inches, the hoop dwarfs its companion up front, which violates the UCI mandate that all competition-eligible bikes sport equal-sized wheels. The rear wheel, however, acts as a massive flywheel, maximizing the bike’s efficiency when brought up to speed. Of course, winding that monster flywheel up to speed would be hellishly difficult—that is, it would be if it weren’t for the electric motor tucked discretely inside the fUCI’s frame, which gives the rider another UCI-banned boost of power. 

A flywheel and a motor?  The "f" in fUCI must be for "Femke."

We’re just scraping the surface here, but you get the idea. The fUCI is a mechanical middle finger thrust in the general direction of cycling’s rule book. But it also makes you ask: Why? Why did Egger spend six months creating the thing? What’s the point of it all?

“I’m a designer. My job is to push the limits and design stuff that blows people away. I can tell you, all the regulations the UCI forces us to live by, it stymies us. It’s hampering innovation in the bike industry.”

How is the UCI limiting bike innovation?  You're free to design whatever you want as long as you don't enter it into a UCI race.  So instead of designing an awesome bike you designed a half-assed motorcycle.  Nice job.

“Why did we make fUCI?  It’s a message for the UCI, sure,” says Egger. “But it’s also a challenge to us—Specialized—and the rest of the bike industry to shake things up. We’re located next to Silicon Valley, where all this tremendous change is happening, and here we are, still producing models that look like safety bikes from the turn of the last century. There is so much technology out there in terms of motors, spoked wheels, aerodynamics, and the bike industry considers disc brakes on road bikes to be a big deal? We’re just scraping the surface of what’s possible.”

“Your bike,” says Egger “doesn’t even have to look like a bike at all. It can be better.”

Sure.  It could be a Yamaha, or a Hyundai.  It could also be a Segway you can ride while wearing a jetpack.  What the hell is your point?

This is like building a racing bicycle with gears that can coast and calling it the fJKA, or putting a saddle on a cheetah and calling it the fThe Jockey Club.

Lastly, remember the Missouri representative who wanted cyclists to ride with a 15 foot flag?  Well, a reader tells me he now wants to allow golf cars and ATVs on the bike path:

What an asshole.

Something tells me he'd be a fan of the fUCI.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Middle-Aged Men Are Destroying Society and the Planet

Well, it's official: mountain biking is the new road biking.

At least as far as middle-aged men are concerned:

Until recently, the majority of middle-aged men getting on their bikes were either going for a leisurely Sunday spin or simply heading to work. Wearing lurid jerseys and calf-hugging tights, they were, as the acronym attests, MAMILs - middle-aged men in lycra.

However, these nine-to-five road racers have been changing lanes of late. In fact, they've veered off-course so dramatically that they've left the carriageway altogether. For the mild-mannered middle-aged rider is increasingly eschewing the flat tarmac for off-road trails and cross-country courses. In other words, the MAMIL has gone muddy.

One reason for this is that these so-called MAMILs are finding road riding boring:

 "After several years on the road," says Bradley, "I found that I enjoyed riding downhill on dirt tracks much more than I did riding uphill on roads. For me, road cycling feels like something you only do for fitness – there isn’t much excitement or thrill.

What?  No excitement or thrill?!?  Bradley must be doing it wrong, because there's nothing quite like tickling the undercarriage of Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" speed on a well-tuned Fred sled.

In fact it's so exhilarating that the original video warrants another viewing:

The "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" comes in at about 52 seconds in case you're wondering.

Another reason middle-aged men are heeding the call of the mountain bike trails is that there's a whole bunch of new expensive crap for them to buy:

"But mountain biking is the complete opposite," the 44-year old continues, "and, because good quality mountain bikes can cost a fortune – up to £7,000 in some cases – it’s increasingly becoming a sport for the middle-aged man.

I'm not quite sure it's fair to imply mountain bikes are any more expensive than road bikes, and in fact I'd argue that the bicycle industry has done a fantastic job of making it equally easy to spend ridiculous amounts of money on stupid stuff you don't need whether you're a road weenie or a mountain dork.

Certainly though it's true that once a middle-aged man has gone all the way down the rabbit hole of carbon wheels and electronic shifting and aero bars and power meters and coaching and all the rest of it, eventually he's going to dig clear through to the other side of the earth and emerge blinking in the daylight again.  At this point he'll have only two choices:

1) Wait around for the next must-have technological development while his bankroll burns a hole in the pocket of his Rapha jersey;

2) Start digging a completely new rabbit hole by picking up mountain biking and all the full-suspension #whapressureyourunning wankery that comes with it.

Plus, what's not being said here is that mountain biking will also allow them to spend money on their cars, or even provide them with excuses to buy new cars, since undoubtedly they'll be driving to all their rides now and they'll need an appropriate sport utility vehicle in order to park on that small dirt patch by the trailhead.  Then they'll need a new racking system, and coolers for their lunch, of course an air compressor because you can't use a floor pump for a mountain bike, everybody knows that.

And then there's the safety gear:

"And it's not only the bike," says Bradley. "I wear a full face helmet, body armour and specialist heavy duty clothing when I ride downhill – which also costs a fortune! But it’s worth spending the money for good quality kit because, as fun as the sport is, it does take its toll on your body – I’ve had four operations in the last four years that attest to that!"

Okay, if you need surgery every year because you keep crashing your bike you need to consider three (3) possibilities:

1) Your safety equipment sucks;
2) You suck;
3) Maybe you'd be able to control your bike better if you weren't clad in all that armor.

Most likely though it's due to a combination of the three, with 75% attributable to #2 and the remaining 25% split more or less evenly between #1 and #3.

Then again, it would appear that these middle-aged men like having surgery, because here's another one who can't seem to ride a bike without destroying a part of himself:

 "I've seen massive changes in health and safety in this country," continues Briggs. "And, in a progressively more sanitised and safety-conscious society, I find that off-road biking provides a genuine physical challenge and real risks: I’ve shattered my ankle in the past, and other injuries are common.

 "And I think this danger is what attracts middle-aged men to the sport. There are technical challenges as you ride over difficult, rough and steep terrain and obstacles. It's one of the last remaining hold-outs of real bravery. And that, coupled with it being more fun than exercising in a gym, is why I think older men are benefitting from the adrenaline rush."

Wow, really?  Rushing into a burning building to rescue a child is brave.  Riding a £7,000 mountain bike into a tree and heading to the ER on an annual basis is just stupid.

But what if you're a middle-aged man with lots of money to spend who's pining cycling adventures in the woods, yet you're still weirdly averse to having reconstructive surgery on a regular basis?  Well, fortunately for you there's the ultimate foraging bike:

It comes complete with all the tools you need for a day of bike-based foraging in the countryside, followed by consumption of the fruits of your labour. In other words, it's equipped with ample storage space and a selection of pots, pans, utensils and even a barbecue so you can find and eat your food while travelling through the countryside on two wheels.

Yes, if you've ever stood in a Williams-Sonoma and thought, "Boy, I wish I could ride this whole store into forest!" then this is the bike for you:

The bike is of course only one part of the equation here. It comes equipped with all the tools of the trade the adept forager could ever need, plus all the equipment a dedicated outdoor chef could need to prepare and eat the foraged treasures. This includes:

A fire-pit BBQ
Upcycled pots and pans
Plates and utensils made from pine tree fibres
Stainless steel water bottle and thermos
Chopping board, made of recycled boat decking no less
Assorted Opinel knives including a mushroom knife, sharpening stone, foraging hook
Detachable wicker basket
Hip flask

What, no wine fridge?

It says something about our profound stupidity as a species that we go through all this trouble to have urbane dining experiences in the woods, yet when we're in the city we spend a fortune to eat at quasi-rustic farm-to-table restaurants designed to make us feel like we're eating on top of an upended crate in a barn.

Yes, it's our constant desire to do exactly the opposite of whatever we're doing at a given moment that drives all human innovation, and it's this relentless dissatisfaction that will ultimately cause us to completely destroy both the planet and ourselves.

Speaking of middle-aged men, Chris Horner has found a new team:

After months of uncertainty, Chris Horner has finally found a team for the 2016 season, signing on with the Lupus Racing Team. The news comes days after Slovenian Jure Kocjan, who had been slated to lead the up and coming squad, was provisionally suspended by the UCI after one of his 2012 doping control samples was re-analysed and found positive for EPO. The team fired Kocjan upon hearing the news.

Okay, this guy wins the 2013 Vuelta a España at 41 years old in what was one of the most audacious displays of doping in the recent history of the sport.  You'd think he'd recognize his luck and cash out of the sport, but instead he apparently wants to be cycling's equivalent of this guy:

Indeed, it's not hard to imagine the vibe at the training camp:

("That's what I like about these bike racers; I get older, they stay the same age.")

Then again, Horner was probably inspired by Jens Voigt, another old doper who milked it for as long as he could--though Voigt was far more savvy and enjoyed enduring popularity due to his endearing German accent and his shrewd method of riding aggressively while not actually winning anything.  (Cycling fans love nothing more than futility.)

Now a reader informs me that Jens has released his own line of clothing named after his most annoying catch phrase:

You know, there's a big difference between the completely voluntary pain Voigt experienced while riding his bike for money and actual debilitating physical emotional pain, which is why any t-shirt logo should pass the hospital test.  It's simple: before buying any t-shirt, ask yourself, "Would I feel like an asshole wearing this in a hospital?"  In the case of this particular shirt the answer is a clear "Yes," since it would clearly be offensive to people who are suffering (injured MAMILs making their annual trip to the ER excluded).

Lastly, Specialized is laying off three percent of its workforce:

“We are tightening up our structure and focusing it on three key areas: innovation, marketing, and supply chain,” said Mike Sinyard, Specialized founder and CEO. “We are investing in new R&D space in Switzerland, Taiwan, and Morgan Hill that will keep us at the forefront of cycling innovation. We are focusing on marketing that will expand the global market for our brand and help our retailers drive traffic and sales. And finally, we are investing in our supply chain to ensure we are delivering the best product at the best price to riders and our retailers. All of this is an investment in our future.”

So basically they're reducing weight while increasing performance?

How very "meta."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The answer, my Fred, is blowin' in the wind.

The End of Days.

Even before the whole thing with Femke and the motor, we all knew it was just a matter of time before the Lord held the sport of cycling accountable for its many sins.  The only question was exactly how and when He* would finally smite the infernal Lycra-clad Legions of Hades once and for all.  Well, we now have our answer to this two-fold question, and it was with a powerful wind this past Sunday that Our Father did lay waste to the Freds:

*Yes, God is a man.  Deal with it.  He's also white, a fictional character, and an asshole.

See, the Freds were vile and wretched in God's eyes:

And so at the beginning of the amateur bike race He did summon the Four Winds of the Fredpocalypse from the Eight Corners of the Earth**, which did cause considerable "bunching" of the field:

**The Earth is a flat octagon, anyone who tells you otherwise is part of the NASA round Earth conspiracy.

Though some of the Freds just went right on riding because their bicycles were motorized:

(Yeah, attacking into a 100kph headwind, that's not suspicious at all.)

Soon though even those with motors could not continue, and the godless Freds were like the chaff which the wind driveth away:

Or like the chafing which the chamois cream driveth away, if you prefer the King Fred Version.

Alas, the Freds could not find purchase upon the tarmac with their plastic clown shoes:

And the Lord did transform their wind-cheating wheels into sails which did carry their plastic bikes away:

Oh, no, wait.  That's a Wilier, the same brand of bike Femke was riding:

So yeah, forget all the God stuff, he must have just hit the "overdrive" button by accident and the thing's trying to wheelie away from him.

Anyway, it was then the Freds did realize with terror in their hearts that their Father had forsaken them:

Some gathered together in prayer:

But it was too late, and their Father heard them not.

Others attempted to invoke false prophets with their heathen Fredly incantations:

But hold their lines the Freds could not, even with the full might of their scranuses upon their top tubes:

And when the top tubes did snap they did writhe in scrotastic agony:

And lo the Fred race was canceled.

A-meh and Holy Luau.

Of course instead of canceling the race they could have simply turned around, or at least made it into a giant trackstanding contest:

But nobody's ever accused Freds of spontaneity.

Or of having bike-handling skills.

Speaking of turning the tables, Stan's NoTubes has won a court case against the world's most litigious bike company:

A patent dispute dating back to 2008 between Stan’s NoTubes and Specialized has been resolved in favor of Stan’s. The dispute centered on Stan’s ZTR rims with Bead Socket technology, a bead hook shape that allowed for easier and more secure mounting of tubeless tires. Specialized released rims in 2008 that used a similar design, and Stan’s filed with a U.S. District Court to protect its patent.

Wow, it's hard to believe a company so protective of its own intellectual property would copy somebody like that.  Ripping off Stan's is almost as bad as trying to claim you own the concept of a city in France:

"I had assumed I could not register Roubaix as a trade mark as it is a geographical location well known in cycling, not to mention the wide-spread use of the term Roubaix throughout the industry," Richter said in a press release sent out Saturday. "I thought I could freely use Roubaix ... To be informed I cannot use the name is devastating.  I invested my life savings, military severance pay, as well as all my Veteran's Affairs award for my illness into Café Roubaix."

Remember that whole thing?  That was fun.

Still, undeterred by their failures to both rip off Stan's and prevent other people from using the names of cities for their own nefarious purposes, Specialized now plan to introduce a new proprietary tubeless rim system that will circumvent Stan's patent.  It's called the Cleveland, and instead of using sealant you simply fill the tire with ground meat like a sausage.  Naturally, your choice of filling determines the ride quality, and it's particularly well-suited to fat bikes:


Sure, it's a little extra work and you'll need some new tools, but it's worth it not to have to worry about pinch flats anymore:

Though your cholesterol is another matter.

Lastly, in Berlin, some "left-wing extremists on bicycles" are committing what, here in America, would be the ultimate act of blasphemy:

A gang of about 50 masked left-wing extremists on bicycles torched or trashed nearly 50 luxury cars over the weekend in attacks to protest gentrification of the once-low-rent districts near the center of the German capital.

The attacks just after midnight on Saturday and Sunday mornings caused an estimated $1.1 million in damage and left behind the smoldering remains of 48 Mercedes, BMWs and Porsches. Some of the masked attackers smashed the windows of the cars; others threw plastic containers with flammable materials through the broken windows.

Apparently the idea is to prevent property in the neighborhood from becoming unaffordable:

This weekend's attacks came in areas where rents have soared and property prices have skyrocketed more than five-fold in recent years to as much as $615 per square foot. Many squatters live in areas near the attacks. Last month, 500 police raided one of the largest buildings occupied by squatters after some of the residents had attacked and injured riot police. The illegal occupants are still there.

Though this is sure to backfire, because when people in Brooklyn read that property in this trendy Berlin neighborhood is only $615 per square foot they'll be moving there in droves.

Many left-wingers in Berlin, where squatting has a long and vibrant tradition, feel they are entitled to defend their way of living and that burning the luxury cars will scare away yuppies and wealthy investors.

Wrong!  Gentrifiers love burned-out cars, it's the ultimate in street cred.

I'd say it's pretty likely this gang of so-called "left wing extremists on bicycles" is being funded by the real estate developers.

Monday, February 8, 2016

No Shoes No Service

Did you know the Eskimos have over 100 clichés for snow?  It's true!  They include words that translate as "fresh snow," "more goddamn snow," and "it's enough with the snow, put a friggin' harpoon in me."

Similarly, we cyclists have a more sophisticated relationship with everybody's favorite throwable form of precipitation.  In particular, we know when the snow's rideable and when it isn't.  If you're a seasoned cyclist, a quick glance out the window is enough to tell you whether you should head out into the whiteness or stay inside and fire up your digi-Fred avatard on Zwift:

Such was the case on Friday when we received a few inches of the sort of fluffy, crunchy, sticky snow that makes for ideal riding.  So I headed onto the Marin Pine Mountain 1 and into the virginal whiteness:

All was quiet save for the odd amateur nature photographer or snow runner, and emerging from beneath the snowless overpasses into the pristine wilderness felt positively Narnian:

The snow was deep and crunchy enough to provide protection for the trail and traction for me, and the temperature was warm enough that there was no ice hiding beneath to make the going treacherous:

After awhile the footprints disappeared and the trail was a blank page upon which I would write Tales of Mountain Fredness with my knobby tires:

By the way, due to its weighty clinginess, ideal riding snow is also ideal carcake snow, and I did take a break from my ride to do some carcake-spotting:

The best carcakes are the "goatee" kind that extend onto the hood:

If you're lucky you get to see one of these goatees make liftoff when the driver hits 40mph, at which point it will fly up in the air and land in an explosion of snow on the vehicle behind it.

If you're unlucky the operator of the vehicle behind it will be you.

After contemplating the carcakes I resumed my trek and crunched my way up one of my secret deer-ridden climbs, affording me a view of the Hudson and the Palisades beyond:

Although all of this probably would have been manageable on a "regular" mountain bike the "plus"-sized Marin was ideal, and at this point the whole "fat-but-not-FAT-fat" thing has pretty much won me over as it really is an ideal "just grab it and do whatever" bike:

(It's NOT a fat bike.)

I suppose I should return it to them but you really can't evaluate a bike properly until you've ridden it for an entire calendar year, and even then you really should keep it for at least another year or two to account for any variables, not to mention annual fluctuations in precipitation due to climate change, etc.

In other words Marin can expect it back by 2020 at the earliest, by which point I'm sure we'll all have moved onto another wheel size.

Meanwhile, the Etixx-QuickStep professional bicycle racing team has been omitted from this year's Tour of Qatar owing to "discipline" problems:

What kind of discipline problems?  Well, apparently it takes them too long to change their shoes before podium ceremonies:

Al-Thani cited a lack of respect for the requirements of live television coverage as the principal reason not to invite Etixx-QuickStep, complaining that the team’s stage-winning riders had delayed too long before reporting for podium ceremonies.

“For the podium, we asked them not to do interviews [immediately after the finish] because we have limited time for the podium, we are live on air. But they take too much time to change their shoes,” 

Oh, silly Al-Thani.  They're not changing their shoes.  They're swapping blood and urine samples to evade the drug testers!

Hey, it takes time to set up a Whizzinator:

As for the women's team, according to Al-Thani, they're just lazy:

Al-Thani said. “At the Ladies Tour of Qatar, they don’t change their shoes, but QuickStep wanted to take a chair, they wanted to change their shoes, lie down and after that do an inteview. We told them for a couple of years not to do it but they still did it.

Plus, they're not even nice to the special hurry-up lady!

“Last year we sent a special lady to hurry them up and they talked to her not in a very nice way and they would wave her off like that. That is not good, you know.

Wow, the nerve of those women, wanting to relax in a chair after racing across the freaking desert.  Frankly I find it shocking that a country with Qatar's impeccable women's rights record wouldn't be more accommodating:

Women’s Rights

Provisions of Law No. 22 of 2006, Qatar’s first codified law to address issues of family and personal status, discriminates against women. Under Article 36, a marriage contract is valid when a woman’s male guardian concludes the contract and two male witnesses are present. Article 57 forbids husbands from hurting their wives physically or morally, but article 58 states that it is a wife’s responsibility to look after the household and to obey her husband. Marital rape is not a crime.

Still, I guess Ettix-QuickStep is lucky they don't get treated like the typical migrant worker over there:

Workers typically pay exorbitant recruitment fees and employers regularly take control of their passports when they arrive in Qatar. Many migrant workers complain that their employers fail to pay their wages on time, if at all. Migrant workers are prohibited from unionizing or engaging in strikes, although they make up 99 percent of the private sector workforce. Many migrant workers are obliged to live in cramped, unsanitary conditions, especially those working without documentation.

Speaking of exploiting workers, Uber is "disrupting" the bike messenger industry by not providing benefits:

Uber does not pay workers' compensation insurance because it classifies its couriers as independent contractors, who are considered to be in business for themselves and are not covered by state and federal labor laws. (For basically all of its New York drivers, Uber pays workers' comp through the Black Car Fund, which was established years ago for the hired-car industry.) Traditional courier companies, by contrast, are required to hire messengers as employees and to pay workers' comp, unemployment insurance and other fees.

Furthermore, by classifying their couriers as contractors, neither Uber nor other on-demand companies have to pay minimum wage—a potential issue for foot messengers, who don't necessarily make enough deliveries in an hour to earn $9 in commissions.

I'm not sure why a company with over a billion in revenue needs to take over a quaint industry like bicycle delivery, but I guess that's how Silicon Valley does sandbagging.

Friday, February 5, 2016

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz It's Snowing Outside Oh My God I Need A Fat Bike!!!

Do you like lights?  Do you like multitools?  Well, have you ever wished you could have both of those things together in one unwieldy object?  Me neither.  Nevertheless, here are some people who want $70,000 in order to sell you just that:

And while I'm not particularly taken with the product, I do give the inventors credit for making what very well may be the greatest entrance in the history of Kickstarter:

Incredibly, they've simultaneously managed to evoke a pair of supervillains welcoming you to their underground lair, and a pair of swingers welcoming you to their key party:

Either way, they're going to erase your memory before you leave:

Thank god for that.

Anyway, the way the combination bike light/multitool works is that you're riding along a path at dusk when you encounter a fellow rider in mechanical distress:

So you stop and offer assistance:

And which point she turns around and HOLY FUCKING SHIT SHE'S A ZOMBIE!!!

But she's a friendly zombie, and so you remove your combination bike light/multitool:

And proceed to overhaul her shifter in the dark:

Sure, it's 2016 and your smartphone probably already has a light in it, but Kickstarter isn't about stuff you need, it's about asking for large amounts of money so you can combine random stuff that hasn't been combined yet.

Then, when you get home, you can use it to open a box:

Even though you probably have a million other things in the house you could also use for this purpose, not to mention lights.

Also, you can keep it on the fridge:

Or hang it awkwardly from your wrist:

Or even shower with it:

By the end of the video, it became fairly clear to me that the inventors are indeed supervillains, and the combination bike light/multitool with its freaky eye and alien shape is actually some kind of mind control device:

Meanwhile, speaking of futuristic things you probably don't need, the mayor wants to build a streetcar along the Great Hipster Silk Route:

Mr. de Blasio said on Thursday that he planned to build a new streetcar line along the waterfront from Brooklyn to Queens, a stretch of real estate that now commands stupefying prices but offers almost no public transit options. “Not everybody rides bicycles,” observed Richard Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor.

Of course, streetcars would aid and abet the rampage of gentrification.

Not that more public transit isn't a good thing, but I really wish they'd stop making excuses for people when it comes to riding bikes.  Sure, I realize this is mostly a gift from de Blasio to the real estate developers, but I'd love to hear somebody in an official capacity say, "You people in this part of the city have subways, buses, bike lanes, and a shitload of Citi Bike stations.  How much more do you need?!?  Ride a friggin' bike already!"

Then, instead of lavishing more amenities on the Great Hipster Silk Route, they could build some light rail somewhere people really need it:

But I guess that wouldn't look snazzy enough in the renderings:

And to be fair the city would probably face a lot of opposition from people crying, "THEY'RE COMING TO GENTRIFY US!"

I'm sure by 2035 you'll be able to leave your million-dollar studio apartment in Astoria, check out a Citi Bike, ride it directly onto a streetcar, and ride right off it again in Brooklyn to your brunch in Sunset Park without touching foot to pavement.

I know what you're thinking:  "Yeah, right.  And they'll send a Canadian to the Moon."

Hey, it could happen.

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 fantastic, and if you're wrong you'll see why cargo bikes are for "woosies."

Thanks very much, ride safe, and ride safely.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) Alleged motordoper Femke Van den Driessche's father and brother are currently facing charges for:

--Drug trafficking
--Tax evasion
--Parakeet theft

2) What is this?

--An onboard cooling system
--The Spin Doctor Clean Machine Colon Cleaner from Nashbar*
--Helmet doping
--All of the above

*Enter discount code "IRRIGATEME" at checkout

3) Eddy Merckx rides an ebike.


4) Because they require different doping programs.


5) Why is this cyclist nonplussed?

--He showed up late for the bike polo match now everyone's already gone
--His helmet strap buckle keeps getting caught in his beard
--He's wearing a salad bowl on his head
--All of the above

6) I'm STILL not getting a fat bike.


7) Earn money while you ride by becoming a:

--Food delivery person
--Pedicab driver
--Human billboard

***Special Fred-By-Numbers Bonus Video!***