Wednesday, July 30, 2014

They say that on Wednesday god looks the other way.

Not too long ago I mentioned this anti-blinky graffiti in Portland:

Odd syntax aside, it underscores a dispute in the cycling world nearly as contentious as the helment debate.  On one side are those cyclists who believe bright blinky lights are essential to safety, and on the other are ones who who find them annoying, blinding, hateful, and dangerous.

Then there's the guy riding around with only one pathetic little red blinky on his handlebars, but neither side will claim him because he's an idiot.

Like all bike-themed debates, the blinky light argument proves once again that cyclists have no common sense whatsoever and prefer following rules to modifying their behavior based on conditions.  The truth is that sometimes you need a retina-searing light cannon, and sometimes you don't.  Take last night, for example, when I returned to my Big Dummy which I had parked at the train station:

(My Big Dummy, not after dark and not at the train station.)

And which is packing Knog Blinders both front:

And rear:

First, an aside on the Blinders themselves.  Starting in the springtime, I park this bike outside at all times, where it is constantly subjected to the elements.  Rain falls on it.  Landscapers blast it with grass clippings.  I'm pretty sure one time I surprised a pair of raccoons fucking in it.  Simply put, it takes a lot of crap.

Apart from covering the Brooks saddle (if I don't do that a raccoon might try to copulate with it and I don't want it to get covered in "Proofide," if you know what I mean), I take no measures to protect any part of this bicycle from the rain, and that includes the lights, which means they've been sitting outside since the last snowstorm, whenever that was.  Moreover, I haven't had to actually turn on the lights in months, since it gets dark really late now and I'm generally not schlepping a kid around town on a bike at 9 or 10pm.

The point is, when I got off the train and unlocked my bicycle, I fully expected that the lights would have either lost their charge or simply failed altogether due to repeated soakings.

Not so, they both fired right up:


I was genuinely surprised, even though I shouldn't be, because everybody who advertises on this blog sells products that are totally awesome.

Okay, so back to the blinky debate.  As you can see from the above photo, the Blinders are pretty bright, which now that I think of it might be why they're called "Blinders."  (I'd always just assumed it was because you were supposed to wear them on either side of your head like a horse.)  Now, according to our syntactically-challenged friend out there in Portland, I should go "FUCK AND AND MY EPILEPTIC LIGHTS."  However, I respectfully disagree.  See, I may live in New York City, but the Great White Way gets pretty dark by the time it wends its way up to these parts, and this is what my part of town looks like at night:

As you can see, it's a very rough neighborhood, but with any luck they'll come and gentrify us soon.

Anyway, when I'm riding here at night, I'm not encountering spoiled Portland cyclists who throw temper tantrums because they have to squint occasionally.  Instead, I'm encountering SUV drivers who are deciding whether or not they need to bother stopping at a stop sign in a quiet residential neighborhood at 10pm.  And I can assure you that their decision is almost always "No"--that is until my Blinder hits them in the face.  Then they stop.  You know, because I might be a car.  (Drivers only stop for cars.)

So yeah, it seems pretty simple to me.  Sure, if you're surrounded by lots and lots of cyclists in a heavily trafficked area you don't need to be throwing off the serious lumens.  However, if it's just you and the occasional SUV you want as much light as you can produce.  In fact, lighting is one of the few opportunities we have to be on equal footing with drivers.  We'll never rival them in sheer vehicle tonnage, but we can at least match their headlights:

And their taillights:

By the way, I shouldn't have to point out that my smartphone camera is exaggerating the effect of the Blinders, because when you just do the old nighttime point-and-shoot pretty much every light looks like a supernova:

Oh, here's a blinky-light silhouette-selfie:

That's what you call "art."

Speaking of Portlanders, not only are they wincing from the hurty lights, but they're also being subjected to bike theft, and a reader recently forwarded me this cry of "Won't somebody think of the children?"

Yeah, see, that's not gonna work.  The problem is that it's adorable.  If I were the thief I'd have absolutely no problem convincing myself that I actually did this family a favor by bringing them closer together--plus any lingering guilt would probably be assuaged by all the methamphetamine.

Oh, and if you point out that Dad's "custom" bikes aren't technically custom then you're a gigantic Fred:

Moving on from Portland to San Francisco (yet staying solidly inside the Smugness Belt), I just watched the latter city's entry for the "The Bike Design Project:"

EVO Bike from HUGE DESIGN on Vimeo.

So what is the EVO?  Well, here's your answer:

The EVO Urban Utility bike is a hybrid bicycle that leverages a modular accessory platform for ultimate flexibility. 

When the hell did "leverage" replace the word "use?"  It must be horrible to live in San Francisco now.  I can imagine them all riding around on EVOs, walking into caf├ęs and asking, "Can I leverage Bitcoin to effectuate a purchase of this latte?"

By the way, that tired narrator sounds like she could leverage a cup of coffee herself.

Also, as we saw yesterday, the Vanmoofy top tube is de rigeur on tomorrow's designer douche chariot:

As is the proprietary rack system which offers no advantage over a standard rack yet leverages its proprietary nature to be both limiting and inconvenient:

And of course an integrated cable lock which leverages enhanced flimsiness to offer ultimate unauthorized bicycle availability to the end-user:

And by "end-user" I mean "thief."

Indeed, to paraphrase the song from the '80s, the future's so twee, I gotta wear TOMS:

At least he's leveraging a helment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Designtown, baby.

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

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

The answer, of course, is that this happens:

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

(A Vanmoof.)

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

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

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


As well as a retractable USB charger:

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

Oh, and don't forget the retractable rack:

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

No retractable avocado slicer though:

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

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

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

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

They should have just submitted a Citi Bike.

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

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

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

(Gentrification pox.)

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you hear that?  They COMPLETELY EXPLODE:

(Age of Crabon.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

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

Firstly, the hats:

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

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

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

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

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

You're welcome.

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

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

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

Unfortunately for you, they most certainly did.

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

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

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

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

--Wildcat Rock Machine

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


2) What is this supposed to be?

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

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

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

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

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

4) This guy is getting ready to:

--Yarn bomb

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

5) Bradley Wiggins is leaving road racing for:

(Hooded menace.)

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


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


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

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