Wednesday, October 1, 2014

This Just In: Off To L'Eroica!

Remember how I wrote this HILARIOUS guest post for Brooks about my intense preparations for the L'Eroica ride in Tuscany?


Well, tomorrow I depart for that ride, which means that after today I won't be posting again until Tuesday, October 7th, at which point I will resume regular updates.

Of course, as a seasoned traveler I know comfort is paramount on long journeys, and so you can be sure I'll be donning my customary flying suit:


Between that and my combination neck pillow/padded toilet seat cover I expect to arrive in Italy as fresh as a bruisewort:


As for the route I'll be riding, there are four on offer, and it is my understanding we'll be doing the "percorso medio," which is Italian for "Medium Woosie:"


And which is described thusly:

It is the "gateway" to the myth of l'eroica, in 4 hours, and 1900 meters of difference in level, in addition to the beauty highlighted in the short route, do not miss.

This distance itself is not daunting, but I'm guessing the combination of 1,900 meters of climbing (yes, meters and not feet, unfortunately), jetlag, and a fakakte (sp?) old bicycle will conspire to thoroughly kick my scranus.

Also, as I understand it, Brooks is making us all go "full retro" by riding in medieval hair shirts:


Fortunately I am naturally hirsute, so I'm pretty sure I can fool them by simply riding topless.

Meanwhile, I've been preparing mentally for the ride by studying the "philosophy" of L'Eroica:

PHILOSOPHY
L’EROICA WAS BORN FOR THE LOVE CYCLING, THAT WHICH CAUSED THE WRITING OF SOME AMOUNT HISTORY AND OF A LOT OF ITALIAN LITERATURE WITH THE INTENT TO SEEK THE AUTHENTIC ROOTS OF A BEAUTIFUL SPORT, WITH A GREAT POPULAR SOUL PEOPLE, AND TO DISCOVER BEAUTY

I have no fucking idea what that means.

It's also natural that on the eve of my departure my thoughts travel to the last time I visited Italy, for the so-called "Full Bike Day:"



This was one of the strangest experiences of my life, and highlights included speaking at a school run by a headmaster with an inordinate fondness for purple sweaters:


Making the news:


And of course participating in the "Full Bike Day" ride itself, to throbbing disco accompaniment:



Actually, pretty much everything in that part of Italy is performed to throbbing disco accompaniment.

(And yeah, it's filmed vertically, but keep in mind that my peripheral vision was totally fried by this point anyway.)

All of this, however, took part in the region of Puglia, and this time I am bound for the vastly different region of Tuscany, so I really have no idea what to expect apart from an apparent lack of housing inventory--and I'd be remiss if I didn't append the following video:


All of this raises the alarming question of where I'll be staying, and hopefully Brooks at least loans me a hand-chamfered leather sleeping mat so I can curl up in whatever the Tuscan equivalent of a Dumpster is:


Moving on, as Fred violence becomes increasingly commonplace, it's only a matter of time before they're banned from the roads altogether and forced to compete virtually--which I have a feeling they'll be totally fine with:



With just a stationary trainer and ANT+ speed and cadence sensors, users can race their buddies from across the country. Add an ANT+ enabled power meter, or a smart trainer like the Wahoo Kickr, which allows resistance to be controlled externally, and the platform’s capabilities expand into a highly realistic virtual riding experience.

It's true, the weak link in the Fredly cycling experience has always been the actual riding part, so I expect this to be a hit--though if you ask me they should have included the violence:

Despite the Zwift staff’s gaming and software heritage, and the very video-game-like graphics, Grand Theft Bicycle this is not. There are no guns, no running down of pedestrians or zombies to blow up. There aren’t any cars, either, or flats, or crashes. Zwift Island, the first of many virtual worlds Zwift will be adding to the system, is a cyclist’s utopia, bursting with evening light and flitting fireflies, smooth roads and stiff climbs.

Then again, they're probably saving that for the bike messenger version.

Lastly, a "twitterer" claims to have found the "World's Greatest Surly Long Haul Trucker:"

Here it is again:


It's all right, I guess--though apart from the artisanal aerobars it seems pretty ordinary to me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

They put their pants on one leg at a time just like you, only they pay $80 a leg for the privilege.

You probably think that running a bike blog is a dream job, like being a tenured English professor or the captain of the "Love Boat."  And yeah, sure, this gig has its perks: the lax dress code, the constant retina-ravaging computer use, the cold calls from the New York Post...  But believe me, when I get an important email, glamor takes a back seat while I knuckle down and work dammit--and emails don't get any important than this one, which you can tell because WHOEVER WROTE IT IS SHOUTING!!!

I hope you are  having a lovely day. I wanted to touch with you regarding the pitch below from DU/ER mens jeans who have just launched the MOST TECHNICALLY ADVANCED PEFORMANCE JEANS on the  market. These jeans were actually made specifically for cyclists that live an active lifestyle cycling from home/work and everywhere in between.

(Yes, they said they wanted to "touch with" me.  They also left out that first "r" in "Performance," unless they meant to write "Peeformance" and simply left out an "e.")

And if the shouting didn't make it obvious enough that this email is urgent, it also contained a photo of Karate Douche, who drives the point home with his sockless and suede-shod Foot of Justice:


(He looks like he's using an invisible pool cue to hit a ball off his toe.)

Then they go on to tell me why I need these jeans:

Why you need these jeans:  During any given day you are always moving.  You could be cycling to work, running to your next meeting, or going out for a refreshing walk or hike. Sometimes you sweat. Sometimes you are in hot or cold weather. Traditional jeans just aren't built to deal with your modern lifestyle.  We’ve created performance denim that adjusts your body temperature to its changes in movement or the environment. No matter what activity you're doing, your jeans will adapt, wick sweat away, and keep you comfortable, dry, and feeling good.

Wow.  Nobody has ever made something like this before, except for like 10 companies.  By the way, there's already a garment specifically designed for the lifestyle described above, and it ain't jeans.  This is a job for...VELOUR SWEATSUIT!


("It's a bird...it's a plane...it's someone wearing the curtain from an old Soviet jetliner!")

See, the velour sweatsuit checks pretty much all the aforementioned boxes, with only one relatively minor exception:
  • Allows full range of motion (especially for the "coglioni"): 
  • Appropriate for business meetings (provided it is paired with a gold chain):  
  • Works in hot or cold weather: (Nothing says "summer elegance" like a tank top and a velour jacket casually hanging over the shoulder by a single finger, and nothing says "winter class" like a tracksuit under a down jacket.)
  • Great for walks or hikes:  on the walks,  on the hikes (they tend to collect burrs)
  • Keeps you comfortable, dry, and feeling good: ✓✓ and!!!
Yet even in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the velour sweatsuit is very nearly the perfect garment for the active urban sophisticate and/or inhabitant of a dystopian near-future, coupled with the reality that everyone from Levi's to Rapha has already been making hip, bikey "performance casual" clothes for years, these Canadians have gone ahead and launched a Kickstarter for their fancy jean-pants anyway:




The video comes out swinging by showing someone riding a bicycle while the narrator attempts to thoroughly debunk what is probably your most frequently worn article of clothing:


"Traditional denim is restrictive, uncomfortable, and it doesn't allow you to move when you need it most."

Though I'm sure many would disagree with this claim:


("Did somebody say 'Comes out swinging?'"--Robert Plant's penis)

Nevertheless, these plucky Canadians have gone ahead and designed the "DU/ER" jean, which is 30% lighter and 30% stronger than other pants they never really identify:


DU/ER jeans also allow you to engage in preternaturally simian acts of balance as you hop from railing to railing like some kind of metrosexual Sasquatch:


While simultaneously incorporating a kevlar "Boner Guard" which saves you the embarrassment of inadvertently communicating to others your apelike state of constant hyper-arousal:


("She has no idea I'm humping her!")

The fabric is also specially designed to release your "hanglow stank" harmlessly into the atmosphere, instead of trapping it in the crotchal zone where it's liable to asphyxiate you the first time you step up to a urinal and unzip:


This, coupled with an incredibly strong "scranus joist," gives you all the confidence you need to practice squatting and defecating on the heads of other men in order to assert your dominance:


Most important of all (and this is for real), the pocket is equipped with a "radiation shield:"


Though if you want full protection from your iPhone's deadly rays you'll also need to grow sculpted  radiation-shielding stubble for those times when your phone is against your face:


All this for $160--though you do get a slogan with that:


"Because every day is a performance."

Right.  This is absolutely true when you're totally full of shit.

One thing's for sure though, which is that they'll look great on this pantsless mannequin Klaus of CyclingInquisition recently spotted on eBay:


And if you think it's strange that Klaus of CyclingInquisition was browsing pantsless mannequins on eBay then you don't know the first goddamn thing about bike blogging:


Or New Zealand for that matter.

I suspect Klaus and I are now about to compete in a very spirited eBay auction.

Moving on, it should be noted that Bicycling's "Number One Bike City" ranking is the kiss of death.  It's been, what, a month since that honor (or, more accurately, curse) fell on New York City, and in that time some guy on a bike managed to kill a pedestrian in Central Park and I'll be amazed if they haven't banned bikes from the park altogether by next spring.  Furthermore, you only have to look to erstwhile number one (and now number four) city Portland to see just what an albatross this title is:


Remember when Portland was the most exuberant cycling city in all of Canada's spittoon?  Well now look at 'em:

The event came on the heels of a one-two punch to the gut of PBOT: the #4 ranking from Bicycling Magazine and new U.S. Census numbers (revealed the morning of the panel) that showed a continued flatlining of Portland’s bike-to-work rate.

They used to ride around dressed like Michael Jackson, now they're just a bunch of sad sacks, like Terry Malloy from that movie about the waterfront:



Palookaville = Portland.

So what happened?

Given the lack of bold steps to improve bicycling in Portland in the past few years, it’s not hard to understand why we fell to #4. When Andersen asked the panel why Portland is no longer considered the cycling superpower it once was, the responses varied.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that constantly holding panels might also have had something to do with it.

So what do they think of us?

That being said, Geller pointed out that it’s much easier for New York City and Chicago to create protected bikeways because they have very wide streets. “We have harder decisions to make,” he said, referring to our narrow streets, “But we also have experienced the benefits of bicycling for a longer time, so we know better.”

Firstly, how has Portland experienced the benefits of cycling longer than New York?  People were riding bikes all over New York City when the entire city of Portland consisted of two guys and one of those old-timey logging saws.  Secondly, narrow streets are no excuse.  We have something much worse, and they're called "community boards."  In fact, the only reason we have so much bike infrastructure now is that our last mayor loved real estate developers, and it turns out bike lanes look really good in front of shiny glass condos.  After all, we have to make sure Brooklyn remains attractive to the bearded class:


Bearded man on a brooklyn bike ride? - w4m (Flushing Ave)

On Sunday afternoon around 1:30PM we rode bikes down Flushing Ave together for a few blocks. I was wearing an Anthrax t-shirt and a black back pack and you had a beard and a cute smile. We joked about the Hacky Sack competition. I can't get you out of my head.

Given that on a Sunday afternoon there are approximately a thousand bearded men and roughly a thousand women wearing vintage metal shirts riding on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn at any given moment, I'd be shocked if whoever placed this ad does not connect with a mate--and while it may not be the same one she spotted, it will be fully intechangeable.

They'll be working that old-timey logging saw in no time.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ready, Set, Fold!

It's Monday, September 29th, 2014, and if you're riding on crabon you're riding on borrowed time:


Amazingly, the Paul Milnes Cycles rider kept his bike under control and came to a halt by a dry-stone wall. Moses changed his bike and went on to place third overall behind winner Rob Jebb and take the under-23 victory.

Now this is the part where you argue that crabon is incredibly strong, and that the only reason his steer tube failed is that his stem bolts were not fastened with a torque wrench to the manufacturer-specified thousandth of a newton meter:


I'm not sure why I'm gloating about this since I myself often ride a bicycle with a crabon fork, but smugness knows no reason, flowing as it does from the heart and not the mind.

In other news of competitive cycling, the UCI World Road Biking Championship of the World took this place last weekend, and I duly scanned the results to see who was the highest-placed American in the men's race but I fell asleep before I got to him:


(Rainbow towels of the UCI Sub-Junior World Champion.)

We did better in the women's race, in which Shelley Olds placed sixth:


Here's an interview with her trade team's proud co-sponsor, Mario Cipollini, as he trains for the Giro di Melanoma:



I'm not surprised Cipollini skips the bib shorts as they would mar his unctuous torso with unsightly tan lines, but I am surprised he doesn't skip the shorts altogether and simply ride in a thong.

Meanwhile, the public image of cyclists in the New York City area was further degraded by this incident, which took place north of the city in Nyack:


What got the man's really tight shorts in a twist is not known, but he is said to have banged on the hood of a car, then reached inside a window and grabbed a passenger with both hands while the car and bike were still moving.

Uh, I'll put $100 on "Driver nearly killed him with his car first."  Also, cute line about the shorts and all, but I'll laugh when reporters do the same thing in articles about road raging drivers.  "What got the Plymouth Voyager's incontinence briefs all up his ass crack is not known, but he is said to have lashed out at a cyclist owing to latent rage stemming his inability to achieve and maintain an erection."

Fortunately, South Nyack's Finest is on it:

"It was a physical and verbal altercation," South Nyack-Grand View Police Chief Brent Newbury. "This is unacceptable behavior by a bicyclist."

Right.  It is, however, completely acceptable by a motorist.  

But of course the most important question is, "Was the cyclist wearing a helment?"

He was last seen heading south on South Broadway wearing bright green bicycle shorts with white stripes down the thighs, and no helmet.

Guilty as charged!

By the way, the village of Nyack does indeed have a mandatory helment law (or rule, I'm not sure if villages can actually make laws), presumably so they can harass the cyclists who buoy their economy.  If you're unfamiliar with Nyack, it is sustained almost entirely by cyclists from New York City who pedal up there by the thousands to purchase coffee and muffins.  Nevertheless, should you dare ride two abreast (yes, you're not allowed to ride two abreast in Nyack either) or commit any other mild infraction you will incur the fierce wrath of the local motorists and authorities.  (To say nothing of how angry their neighbors to the south in Piermont will get if you talk to each other!)

You'd think the locals would be more accommodating of the visitors who prop up their mediocre cafés since a mass Fred boycott would bring their economy to its knees, yet instead they prefer to maintain their status as the cycling equivalent of the town in "Footloose."  Perhaps this is because they are canny sub-suburban folk who realize that New York City Freds (like most Freds in genearal) are horrified by the prospect of deviating from their usual routes and would never attempt to find a new destination, especially now since all those Strava segments are so well established--just like geese, who follow the same migratory patterns they have for thousands of years, even though they keep getting sucked into jet engines.

There is some good news in the world of cycling, however, for it seems as though we may be entering into a Golden Age of Folding Bike Innovation.  Sure, arguably the only form of bicycle less compelling than the folder is the recumbent, but it is nevertheless noteworthy that there are two new folding bikes vying for your foldable currency on Kickstarter.  The first is the "Occam Cycle:"


Which is distinguished by its utter lack of a seat:



So what distinguishes the Occam from a scooter?


Well, not much, really, and it seems to me that if you're going to leave off the seat then you might as well skip the pedals and brakes too:


This is why the Occam Cycle's backstory is unsurprising to me:


"Our original vision was a bit different than it is today.  We really didn't even know what we were going for."

Wow, you don't say...

The "Vello Bike," on the other hand, takes a different approach:


And that approach is "performance:"



It comes in three styles: "Speedster," Urbano," and "Rocky:"


As it happens, those are also the names of the my three eldest children.

Here's the Speedster in action:


Watch as Fold-A-Fred leans into that turn like a mime into an imaginary wind:


And then "Cat 6-es" some doofus into oblivion:


You can also dismount and fold simultaneously, which is a neat flourish and the commuter dork equivalent of playing guitar behind your head:


I will admit that I was intrigued by folding bikes for a long time--until I actually got one and realized it came in handy about twice a year.  If I rode a commuter train or Amtrak every day I might get more use out of it.  However, as it is, even if you find yourself in the city without a bike, between public transportation and Citi Bike it's virtually impossible to walk.  If anything you have to go out of your way to walk, and when I'm walking I don't like to be schlepping a folding bike.

Still, I'm going to hang on to the folding bike, since I'm sure it will come in handy when I buy my yacht:



Lastly, the New York Times has used a space-aged device to measure the speed of bicyclists in Central Park:


I had no idea such a contraption existed.  If only the police could use such a thing to measure the speed of motor vehicles then we'd really be getting somewhere...

Friday, September 26, 2014

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Before anything else, let's follow up on the saga of New York State Senator Diane "Find A Fucking Bike Lane and Get In It" Savino:


[Redacted], who writes the blog, Bike Snob NYC, drew attention to Savino's comments on Twitter and on his site on Thursday.

"A state senator bragging on Facebook about engaging in acts of road rage is inappropriate, alarming and representative of a disregard for public safety," [Redacted] told DNAinfo New York.

"It's an insult to her constituents. It's also totally ironic because the conversational thread that inspired her comment is based on a total misreading of comments I made in which I excoriated reckless bicycling."

Wow, that guy is really eloquent, ain't he?  He should give himself a raise.

Well, predictably, Savino has explained her comments away as a "joke" while continuing to blame cyclists for the ills of society:


Reached by the Daily News, Savino said her comments were meant as a joke but she continued to express frustration with bicyclists who don’t obey traffic laws.

“Unfortunately, those who don’t follow the rules of the road create problems as we saw with that terrible tragedy in Central Park,” Savino said.

And who could blame her, considering we're out there doing 40mph and all:

“Minimally, there’s got to be greater enforcement,” she continued. “And bikers have to take responsibility for what’s happening. They’re moving sometimes at 40 miles an hour. We just went through the whole process of reducing the city speed limit to 25 miles an hour, unless it is otherwise posted. That should apply to bikes as well. We are all in this together.”

Yeah, that's right.  FORTY MILES AN HOUR!  Are you fucking kidding me?  I guess if 46mph is "Fred 'Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!'" speed then 40mph is "Politician full of shit" speed.  And yeah, sure, even when we're not doing 40 we're routinely cruising around the city in excess of 25mph, that's completely realistic.  After all, according to a certain cycling app, it's only the AVERAGE SPEED OF THE WINNER OF THE GODDAMN 2014 PARIS-ROUBAIX:


At this rate, look for the winner of the 2015 edition to come screaming into the Roubaix velodrome on a Citi Bike.

And how about that "fucking bike lane" we're supposed to use?  Well, a Streetsblog reader was kind enough to upload a photo of the bike lane out of Savino's Staten Island office:


All else aside, who the fuck still drives a Hummer?  Even Escalade drivers think Hummer drivers are douchebags.

But wait, it gets better.  Did you know Savino has a boyfriend?


(Sorry fellas, she's taken.)

Yep, he's a dreamboat named State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein:


“It was very, very cold,” Mr. Klein said.

“We went socks shopping,” Ms. Savino added.

Who, back in 2008, threatened the author of "No Impact Man" with bodily harm after cutting him off with his Mercedes:


At this point, you brought your vehicle to an abrupt halt, not to avoid hitting me, but because you apparently needed to communicate something to me. You rolled down your window and said, "Get your hands off my car, you fucking asshole."

I said, "You were veering into me and going to crush me."

You said, "You better not touch other people's cars. You might find that touching other people's cars is more dangerous than traffic."

This gave me the impression that you were threatening me.

So I think it's fairly obvious that both of these people are complete and utter pieces of shit, which I realize is redundant inasmuch as they are politicians.

Oh yeah, Klein is also my representative in Albany.

So I've got that going for me.

Which is nice.

Penultimately, here is an article which you should absolutely read but which I hope you'll never need:


And lastly, hit-and-run victim Dulcie Canton is about halfway to her fundraising goal, so if you're inclined please help her make it the rest of the way:


You have my full permission to feel smug after that.

And on that happy note, 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 great, and if you're wrong you'll see apocalyptic cycling.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and watch out for state senators.


--Wildcat Rock Machine





("I'm Frank Dickof, my surname is not a verb, and I approve this message.)

1) Wall Street Journal reader Frank Dickof needs everybody to know he doesn't like residential developments that feature bicycle amenities because he's Frank Dickof, dammit!

--True
--False





2) Felt's $14,000 time trial bike is called the:

--"MAMIL"
--"WANK-R"
--"IA FRD"
--"TRI DRK"

(Via Ken.)






3) Finally!  A saddle that's:

--Inflatable
--Sagging in the middle
--Equipped with a revolutionary tapering frontal portion called a "nose"
--All of the above





4) What is "Swagon?"

--A trailer designed specifically for roadies
--A Rapha Citroën H-Van that will give away free stuff at cyclocross races this fall
--A new social network from the mind of Paul Budnitz
--Basically Uber for Freds





5) The new UCI World Time Trial Champion is:

--Bradley Wiggins
--Stanley Wiggins
--Both Bradley Wiggins and Stanley Wiggins
--Neither Bradley Wiggins nor Stanley Wiggins






6) During a post-hour record publicity tour, Jens Voigt was ticketed by police in Melbourne for not wearing a helment while using the city's bike share system.

--True
--False





7) According to a complete moron with nonexistent reading comprehension skills, I am a:

--Single asshole
--Double asshole
--Triple asshole
--Quadruple asshole



***Special "How Do They Live This Way?!?"-Themed Bonus Video***