Friday, September 30, 2016

This Just In: Shofar, So Good!

Firstly, you may have noticed I haven't given a Friday Fun Quiz in awhile.

Good for you.

Secondly, I will not be updating this blog on Monday, October 3rd or Tuesday, October 4th, but I will return on Wednesday, October 5th with regular updates.  Why?  Because it's Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year and not the name of a woman who's a progressive rock superfan and huge stoner.  (That's Rush Hash Anna I'm talking about, obviously.)  By the way, most Jewish holidays involve an accessory of some kind, and in this case it's the shofar:


Though Rush Hash Anna uses it for something else:


Do I observe Rush Hashanah?  Absolutely not.  Religion is the trans fat of the masses.  However, the schools are closed for it, which means I've got to put on my parenting gloves--and if I'm at the mercy of the New York City Department of Education then goddamn it so are you.

(Pro tip: if you want to have a good sense of when I'll be taking time off just take a look at the DOE website.)

Of course, if it's Rush Hash Anna then it must be autumn, and if it's autumn then it's time to get the ol' Milwaukee ready for the cold and the wet by slapping some fenders on it:


And yes, you'll be happy to know I dug out the safety fenders with the breakaway struts so I don't bust a digit again.  My thumb's still not right after all these months, and you can believe me when I tell you it's really thrown me off of my tire-changing game.

By the way, note my sweet artisanal kickstand, which of course I keep inside my EH Works tool roll at all times:


If you want one of these they're only $129.99, they're available for both standard BB shells as well as BB30, and you can order them here.

Just keep in mind that they're handmade one at a time, so allow at least 6-8 weeks for delivery.

In other news, I've finally lost my last remaining shred of faith in cycling and humanity thanks to this abomination:


Easy now, it's not a sign of the Apocalypse, and it's not that we've given up on the youth, it's merely another option, albeit an expensive, controversial option to get kids outside and on two wheels. Haibike's Sduro HardFour 4.0, along with its odd name, is an e-bike with 24in wheels and a top speed of 12mph with aspirations of allowing little riders to do bigger rides and keep up with mom and dad. 

No, this is ABSOLUTELY a sign of the Apocalypse.  And stop justifying things because they "get kids outside."  You can also get a kid outside by leaving a trail of cupcakes, pitching a tent, and setting an Xbox up inside it, but that doesn't make it a good idea.  In fact this is even worse than doing that because at least the Xbox trick will only cost you a few hundred bucks, whereas this bike costs well over $2,000:

Available now with pricing at £1,988, US$2,599, Australian pricing TBD.

Presumably the Australian pricing is pending whether or not it will ship with a full-face motorcycle helmet.

Also, "allowing little riders to do bigger rides and keep up with mom and dad," really?  That's a pretty expensive bribe just because you feel the need to do a grinduro™ epic® and you can't deal with finding a babysitter.  And not only are you squandering money, but you're also ruining your kids for bikes for the rest of their lives, because there's no way they'll want to pedal a regular bike after this.  It's sad to think that if I'm lucky to still be mountain biking in 20 years the trails will be teeming with people on ebikes because they can't imagine riding on anything else.

So thanks in advance to all you selfish parents out there for ruining my golden years.

I guess I'll just have to lease a Toyota Avalon and move to Florida.

But it's not all gloom and doom out there, and I was pleased to see that the New York City Department of Transportation at least recognizes the need to grow the percentage of bicycle trips significantly:



Earlier this month, DOT released a blueprint for increasing bike mode share in its five-year strategic plan, which includes protected bike lanes and a five-borough Citi Bike system. The Office of Sustainability report also acknowledges that the city has a long way to go before cycling is an accessible transportation option in many parts of NYC.

“Despite the rapid growth in the city’s bicycle network, there are still many areas that lack sufficient bike connections,” the report says. “In addition to planned expansions, the City will emphasize an all-ages and abilities core network of protected bike lanes throughout the five boroughs, and the build-out of key connectors linking neighborhoods to transit hubs.”

Sounds good to me.

And hey, guess what's more dangerous than not wearing a helmet: simply breathing!

The report highlights the public health effects of high emissions. Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, released by vehicles causes 320 premature deaths and 870 emergency room visits each year, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

"The victim was not wearing a respirator."

Still, we're going to have to do a lot more than increase the number of bike lanes if we really want to increase cycling, and I was impressed to see that London's mayor is looking to ban trucks that don't meet increased safety standards:



Although lorries account for just 4 per cent of the total mileage driven in London, they account for a hugely disproportionate percentage of casualties among vulnerable road users.

In the past two years, HGVs were involved in 58 per cent of cyclist deaths in London, and in 23 per cent of pedestrian fatalities.

Khan said the scheme was the first of its kind in the world and would result in many lorries being upgraded before the ban came into place.

“I’m not prepared to stand by and let dangerous lorries continue to cause further heartbreak and tragedy on London’s roads,” said Khan.

When asked to comment on whether or not such a policy on lorries could be instituted in New York City as a part of the Vision Zero initiative, mayor Bill de Blasio responded, "Huh, what?  Hugh Laurie?  Absolutely, I love his work."


(Bill de Blasio: Loves the "House" guy.)

The chances of any mayor in the greater metropolitan area standing up to any business involving trucks are essentially nonexistent:

And with that I ride befendered into the long weekend.  Thanks for reading, ride safe, and I'll see you back here on Wednesday, October 5th.

Sinsereley,



--Wildcat Rock Machine



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Free Your Head and Your Bike Will Follow

Most of us are familiar with Dyson.  They make vacuum cleaners, bathroom hand dryers, and of course those bladeless fans that singlehandedly made the phrase "When the shit hits the fan" obsolete.

(The shit just goes right through this fan.  Amazing.)

Certainly those of you with feces-flinging monkeys at home can attest to what a life-changing invention that was.

Anyway, someone from Dyson emailed me to let me know they also have a charitable arm called the James Dyson Foundation.  This foundation hosts an international design competition called the James Dyson Award.  And here's one of the top designs:

Problem: Around the world, bike share programs are giving commuters and tourists a convenient, inexpensive way to move from point A to point B. But bike share users very rarely wear helmet. Few people want to carry a helmet around all day, and rental helmets can be unsanitary or ill-fitting. In busy cities, crashes do occur, and wearing a helmet can reduce the chance of injury or death by 85%.

Oy.

Firstly, that "helmet can reduce the chance of injury or death by 85%" statistic is a load of crap, and if that's the sort of BS they're flinging around the Dyson offices it's no wonder they need bladeless fans.

Secondly, is the fact that "bike share users very rarely wear helmets" even a problem in the first place?  Of course it isn't.  There's a reason you don't read about stories about how dangerous bike share is, and that's because...it's not very dangerous.  Certainly hopping on one of these sluggish tanks and riding half a mile is not more meaningfully risky than any of the other stuff we do during the normal course of our day.  After all, as the great Frank Drebin once said, “You take a chance getting up in every morning, crossing the street or sticking your face in a fan.”

Unless that fan's a Dyson, but I don't think they'd been invented at the time.

Nevertheless, despite the non-problem of what bike share riders have or don't have on their heads at any given moment, one designer has gone ahead and "solved" it anyway:

Solution: EcoHelmet is a folding, recyclable helmet for bike share systems. Made of waterproofed paper in a unique radial honeycomb pattern, EcoHelmet allows cyclists to ride more confidently, and more safely.

And here it is:


I've often likened bike helmets to yarmulkes in that both sets of headgear serve mostly to communicate your beliefs to others and identify you as a member of a community, and now the helmet-as-religious-compulsion has reached its inevitable conclusion with this largely ceremonial garment:
Just watch the video, wherein the designer explains her inspiration:




This was born when I was traveling a lot and renting bikes in every city I went to and spending a lot of my time exploring the cities which was great feeling really really anxious. 


If renting bikes in every city was so great then why did she feel anxious?

It was unfamiliar, I was riding on the wrong side of the road, and I hadn’t packed a helmet.


Well here's a crazy thought: if riding on the wrong side of the road is making you anxious, why not try riding on the correct side?

I dunno, that's what I'd do, but I'm not a designer.

I started thinking it would be really nice if I could just get a helmet with the bike and just feel a bit more comfortable on the road:


One of the best things about traveling is learning about another culture.  So why not learn to go with the laid-back helmetless vibe instead of branding the locals with the Exclamation Point of Shame?  If nobody's wearing a helmet then there's probably a reason, and it's most likely that riding a bike is no big deal there whereas American pro-helmet anti-bike propaganda has made you unduly uptight.  Fretting about not having a helmet the whole time you're in another country is like not eating any of the local cuisine and subsisting entirely on food from American fast food chains.  (I am totally guilty of doing that myself which is why I know how sad it is.)

And when I started talking to other people who used bike share that was their number one complaint is that they were anxious to be riding in the city.

The solution for anxiety is not a helmet.  The solution for anxiety is treating the underlying cause of the anxiety.  Using bike share is safe!  Free yourself from your crippling faith in the safety hat!  Let your head go bare and your locks flow free!  If the only thing holding you back from enjoying bike share is not wearing a helmet, just think about how enjoyable it will be once you forget about the damn helmet!

But no.  Instead she designed a coffee filter for your head:


Or, if you prefer, one of those paper party balls:


I want to see these in cities all around the world, letting people ride safely and with confidence anywhere they go, making cities greener and more ecologically sound as well as safer:


That's a shame.  I want to see people riding safely and with confidence even if they don't have the cycling equivalent of one of those paper ass gaskets with them at all times.

In other news, I was checking out a VeloNews bike review:


And I noticed they've come up with a new visually dazzling yet ultimately meaningless graphing system that perfectly complements the florid yet ultimately meaningless prose of the reviews themselves:


Nicely done.

Also, you'll be happy to know that even though this is a cyclocross bike you're allowed to ride it on gravel, but first you'll have to re-dish all your wheels:

Cannondale engineers gave a nod to the burgeoning gravel scene when designing the
frame, creating a bike that can accommodate tires up to 40 millimeters in width with 5 millimeters of clearance to spare. They did this by moving the drivetrain 6 millimeters outboard. But there’s a rub: The rear wheel needs to be re-dished to work properly with the drivetrain offset. That means if you need to swap wheels in the pits, you better be sure you’ve got a properly dished wheel at the ready. It also is a problem if you’ve got an existing set of pit wheels that aren’t dished specifically for this frame.

I realize the bike industry constantly has to futz with frame spacing, wheel retention systems, and so forth--and that's fine.  Look, we all realize you've got to sell new stuff.  Just do us all a favor and let us know when you get it all sorted out and we can use a set of wheels in more than one bike.

Until then I'll stick with my old-timey 130mm spacing and quick-release skewers, even though I am sacrificing precious lateral stiffness and missing out on the awesome stopping power and modulation of dick breaks.

Or, maybe I'll just leapfrog the industry altogether and get one of these:




Wonder what pressure he's running in that front caster.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Too Much Fred for One Head

Sorry I'm late, I was doing the mountain biking:


Suckers.

Anyway, further to yesterday's post about how Clif is selling an energy food remarkably similar to baby food and that Freds might as well just eat actual baby food because it's cheaper (whew!), not just any pedantic asshole but THE Pendantic Asshole weighed in (so to speak) with the following:

THE Pedantic Asshole said...

Did not a single one of you pedantic assholes alert Snob to the fact that he got the Gu pricing totally wrong? In both, the cost should be price/calorie, not price/volume or weight. In this case, the Gu costs 1.6 cents Mercan and the baby food is at 2.4 cents (also Mercan). 

You could pay next to nothing for a bag of sawdust, but that's not going to give you what you need to get on the KOM tables.

September 28, 2016 at 5:37 AM

This is a very good point.  Furthermore, I take any allegation of fraud seriously.  Me and Dave Brailsford:


("See this?  It's called 'marginal gains.'  No TUE required.")

So let's take a closer look at THE Pedantic Asshole's math.  As for as the cents-per-calorie price on the Clif, for a 140-calorie pouch priced at $2.37 I get 1.69 cents, which I'd round up to 1.7 cents.

Now onto the baby food.  The pouch I happened to use as an example yesterday contained a mere 70 calories, which does come to over 2 cents a calorie as THE Pedantic Asshole correctly points out.  However, baby food is all over the place, both literally (take a look at any given baby, they've got that crap all over them half the time) and calorically speaking.  Consider this bag of Plum Organics checkpea & tomato with beef, and I just threw up in my mouth while typing that:

This will cost you $1.99 from Buy Buy Baby (and no, I'm not getting kickbacks from Buy Buy Baby, they just come up high in the results when you use a popular search engine so they make a convenient reference), but it's got 110 calories in it:

That comes to 1.8 cents per gram, which is a bit more than the Clif, but inconsequentially so.  Indeed, for simplicity's sake, you might as well just round up and say both the Clif and the Plum Organics go for about 2 cents a calorie.

Furthermore, just as some baby food has more calories, some Clif stuff has less.  I happened to pick a flavor with 140 calories per bag, but the banana mango coconut (oh god I just barfed again) has just 100 calories:

See?


Though in fairness it is a bit cheaper, but still in line with an equivalent baby food.

So yes, in light of THE Pedantic Asshole, I do acknowledge that as far as calories go you are not paying a premium for Fred baby food over regular baby food, but I also maintain that Fred baby food is still pretty much exactly baby food and you might as well just use all this crap interchangeably.

If it's priced like baby food, puréed like baby food, and packaged in a squeezable pouch for an end user who lacks motor skills, then guess what?

That shit's baby food, baby.

And most important of all, STOP LEAVING YOUR ENERGY FOOD PACKETS ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Really, all this baby food craze means is you're going to see even more trash left behind after your local Gran Fondo.

Moving on, the Guardian asks, "Will car drivers ever learn to share the road with bikes?"


And while obviously the answer is a resounding "Not in a zillion years," I'm still flattered to have been quoted in the article:

The New York blogger and author Eben Weiss says the city’s new bike lanes legitimised cycling, telling people “this is something you can be doing, and should be doing.”

“It’s an important symbol to see a bike lane or a sign with a picture of a bike – it means something,” he says. “I started seeing lots more cyclists. And pick any street where they have built an actual protected bike lane. If you’re just walking down that street, it makes a huge difference when cars aren’t encroaching on every inch of the space. You can see around the corner when you’re trying to cross the street.”

By the way, I should clarify that the bike sign I'm referring to is this one:


Though I'm sure the advocacy community will take my quote to mean I'm a proponent of sharrows (in the bike advocacy world sharrows are almost as bad as swastikas) and punish me accordingly.  Fortunately, the harshest penalty bike advocates mete out to heretics is revoking your Park Slope Food Co-op membership, but since I'm not a member in the first place that means I pretty much have smugness immunity.

Lastly, speaking of Gran Fondos, a reader just sent me this:


"One of the best parts of cycling is all the new gear that comes out," explains Levi, which now marks the third time I've thrown up whilst "curating" today's post.  Then he adds, "I recently came across a product that totally changed my view on how to handle sweat:"



Wait, don't tell me!  Was it a fan hat?  It's a fan hat, isn't it?  Please tell me it's a fan hat:


No, apparently it's that weird green unibrow on his head:


Which to be honest I barely even noticed, since I just figured it was some sort of monitoring device he's got to wear whenever he leaves the house as per the terms of the UCI Reasoned Decision.

Either that, or it's how he calls the Mother Ship to take him back to Planet Boring after the ride:


Or else it's what fans wave in the air during Letle Viride concerts:


Anyway, it should be fun watching Freds crash while they attempt to peel and stick their sweat-channeling unibrows mid-ride:


Look for lots of these things on the side of the road along with all those baby food packets.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Baby Steps: The Truth about Cycling Nutrition

If there's one thing that's universally true about cyclists, it's that we're always willing to pay a premium for commonplace items that are ostensibly "cycling-specific."  For example, there are jeans:



And then there are cycling jeans:


There are regular undershirts*:



And there are cycling undershirts:



*[Uniqlo Heattech undershirts make great winter base layers, by the way.]

And of course there are storage jars:



And then there are cycling-specific storage jars:


Yes, I'm totally changing the name of this blog to "Storage Jar Snob:"


By the way, here are the respective dollar totals for all the items mentioned above:

Non-Cycling Specific: $70.89

Cycling-Specific: $150.71

That's more than a 100% markup just 'cause it's bikey.

I just saved you $79.82.

You're welcome.

Anyway, I mention all of this because a reader named Dale was kind enough to email me and tell me that Clif is now selling baby food pouches to cyclists:


Yes, any owner of a new human child will take just one look at these mush-filled bags with their oversized asphyxiation-proof caps and highly objectionable stomach-turning flavor combinations and conclude, quite rightly, "Holy crap, that's basically just baby food!"

Although as far as I know no baby food company has attempted to sell a bagful of pizza:



Oh yeah, Clif ran the old Bag O' Pizza guy out of business, it's that good:



This then raises an interesting and important question, which is this:

Should Freds be eating baby food?

Well, that depends whether or not your Fred is ready to start solid foods.  Here's how to tell:

--Fred can sit up well without support.
--Fred has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
--Fred is ready and willing to chew.
--Fred is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
--Fred is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.

Okay, clearly Fred's not ready to eat like a big boy.  So now the question becomes whether Fred should eat the Cliff stuff or actual baby food.

Let's compare.

Over at Buy Buy Baby, a 113g pouch of Happy Baby™ Stage 3 goo sells for $1.69


Ensure your child has a healthy, delicious meal with Happy Baby Hearty Meals. Savory blends and yummy combinations of organic ingredients provide balanced nutrition for little ones. Portable pouch makes feeding on the go easy.

Whereas on that site named after a river you can pick up a six-pack of Clif's cycling-specific ooze for $14.24, which comes to $2.37 per pouch:


Of course it's important to keep in mind the Clif pouch is slightly larger at 120g.  So here's what you're really paying:

Clif: approximately 2 cents a gram

Happy Baby™: approximately 1 and a half cents per gram.

So yes, you are paying a premium for the cycling-specific baby food, though admittedly you will pay a bit more for the baby-specific baby food if you go for a premium seasonal flavor like turkey and sage:

I could so easily rebrand this as "BSNYC Labs Special Seasonal Cyclocross Blend!" and charge $20 a pop, and the fact that I'm not is proof of my integrity.

Okay, I know what you're thinking.  "What's actually in all this stuff?  Similar containers aside, baby food and ride fuel are apples and oranges!"

Well, first of all, we're talking about disgusting food in pouches, so a more fitting metaphor than "apples and oranges" would be "apples/oatmeal/roastbeef" and "orange/kale/beet."  Secondly, here's what Li'l Junior's getting in his or her bag of Happy Baby™:
And here's what Li'l Fred's getting in his or her bag of Clif:


Sure, it's not exactly the same, but tell me that shit ain't baby food.

So in conclusion, yes, Freds might as well just eat baby food.

And while I'm praising myself and my integrity, it's worth noting you won't get this sort of in-depth real-world analysis and indispensable budgetary advice in magazines like "Bicycling." Instead you'll just read about how to buy a van:
I dunno, remember that "How To Poop On a Ride" article?  For a magazine about bikes they sure seem unduly interested in motor vehicles and going to the bathroom:

I'm waiting for the feature on how to change your Fred after he's soiled himself mid-ride due to excessive baby food consumption.

Lastly, speaking of motor vehicles, here's a little something from "Outside" about how to open your car door:

And the video is here.

Sadly, in the land of "rolling coal," the chances of this practice becoming widespread are exactly zero.