Thursday, July 27, 2017

This Just In: The Posting of This Post Has Been Postponed

Good morning!

Owing to pressing parenting-related matters I must reschedule this post for tomorrow, Friday, July 28th, 2017.  As for the nature of these parenting matters, I can assure you it's not to hold an intervention for this child:
He's free to be whoever he wants to be, even if who he wants to be turns out to be this person:


I thank you for indulging me in this matter, and in the meantime I invite you to read the Bike Forecast, or if you don't want to do that you're more than welcome to fuck off to any one of the other twenty zillion sites on the Internet.

Or just take the day off and work on your descending technique:

Until then,

I remain,

Etc. etc.,


--Wildcat Etc.






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesdays Are For Blathering

As I mentioned not too long ago, I recently obtained a skateboard, which as an aging male officially put me in the company of people like this:


In his bespoke Italian suit and designer dress shoes, Cyril Therien gracefully weaves in and out of street traffic like a fish in water.

As soon as he pulls up to Pergola, the Flatiron hot spot du jour, women are practically lining up to speak to the 39-year-old IT specialist as he parks his wheels.

“This thing is a chick magnet,” he says.

There is no way in hell Cyril Therien is a real person.

Anyway, unlike other bike bloggers who also ride skateboards (I'm looking at you, Stevil Kinevil), I can't do any tricks and I totally suck.  However, yesterday I used my skateboard in a practical application instead of simply flailing around on it on the street outside my house, and I must say that it was something of a revelation.

Basically, I had some errands to run in my neighborhood, and then I had to go all the way to Brooklyn.  And while I certainly could have done all of this by bicycle, I also had a limited amount of time, and I live far enough from Brooklyn that the only way the bike saves me time over the train is if said train derails.  (Which, I should point out, is becoming increasingly common these days.)  Ordinarily in a case like this I'd reach for the Brompton, but this time I figured "what the hell" and instead I grabbed the board with wheels.

Here's how it played out:

--Rode skateboard to post office and some other places, tried not to beat self to death with skateboard while suffering through postal service transaction;
--Boarded subway;
--Saved myself a time-sucking inter-division transfer by skating to my destination once I arrived in Brooklyn;
--On the way home, got off the train early, picked up some Chipotle, and skated the rest of the way home.

What can I say, something about riding a skateboard makes you hungry for Chipotle.

Anyway, the revelation wasn't that the skateboard worked out well as a handy way to augment the New York City transit system.  No, the revelation was how I felt while riding it--and the way I felt was deeply self-conscious.

See, as an internationally renowned bicycle blogger and author who's been riding a bike since the 1970s:


And who upgraded from training wheels to Skyway Tuff Wheel IIs:


And eventually reached the lofty heights of Category 3 road racing and "sport" level mountain biking:


I am simply no longer capable of feeling self-conscious while on the bike.  Sure, there was a time when I felt naked without a matching stretchy kit and wouldn't be caught dead on a bike without clipless pedals, but thankfully these days are long behind me.  Indeed, my only fear at this point is that I've become so laid back and ecumenical with regard to bikes that I might one day do the unthinkable and experiment with recumbents.

Oops, too late!



Rest assured I showered in scalding hot water afterward and have not been on one since.

The skateboard however was another story, and I found myself constantly worrying that I looked like a middle-aged hipster doofus--probably because that's exactly what I looked like.  More than that, I worried that I was doing it "right."  Not right in the sense of staying on it (I'm pretty capable of that), but right in the sense of not offending anybody.  After all, it's been like 30 years since I've used a skateboard for transportation, and back then I was too young to give a shit about stuff like whether or not I should be on the sidewalk or what's the least loud and stupid-looking way to stop this thing.  When I'm on a bike I know exactly where I should and shouldn't be, which rules to follow and which rules to bend, and so forth.  On the skateboard however I was some weird not-quite-pedestrian and not-quite-cyclist, and I didn't know shit.

And that was the revelation.  This is how a lot of people feel on the bike.  Just as I hadn't skated since I was a teenager, many New York City cyclists haven't been on a bike since adolescents and are wobbly and insecure.  And while most of them are capable of staying upright, no doubt many of them are emotionally quite fragile, and how much they worry about whether or not they're doing it "right" could be enough to decide whether they stick with the bike or simply give it up.

And while I wouldn't call riding the skateboard a form of penance (I enjoyed it too much), I would say it was humbling and lent me some much-needed empathy.  Certainly it's important to encourage cyclists during this important make-or-break period in their development.

As for whether or not I'll continue using the skateboard for commuting, we shall see.  But if I can ride around on a folding bike and maintain some shred of dignity, I can probably ride anything:


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

From Materialism to Letting Go

With the stock market on a tear and a president who's committed to making America great again by increasing our reliance on cutting-edge energy sources such as coal there's never been a better time to purchase a quality bicycle made here on the good side of the Mexican border wall.  Are you in the market for a new bike that says, "I'm an American, and I wipe my ass with $100 bills?"  If so, look no further, because you'll want to buy two or three of these babies:


Yes, meet The Wheelman Bicycle, the $35,000 python-wrapped bicycle that screams, "I take meetings with Donald Trump, Jr.!"


As far as I can tell The Wheelman has been around for awhile, but I only became aware of it last week when a publicist representing the company asked if I would discuss it on a TV show.  I told him that I would, but that in the interest of "full transparency" he should know I find the bike offensive.  For some reason he decided to move on.

Anyway, here's the story behind The Wheelman:

WHEELMEN
PYTHON WRAPPED BICYCLE

$35,000.00


Each Wheelmen bicycle is a custom-built masterpiece. The lavish finishings and details of this exceptional bicycle ensure that The Wheelmen is both work of art and mode of transportation like no other. 

Williamson bicycles are hand brazed in Detroit using highest quality chromoly tubing. The frame, fork, lugs, and stem are all handmade by Williamson, with individual copper details and subtle logos brazed in place. Each component is wrapped with python or crocodile and hand sewn. Brake levers, gear system, pedals, and cranks are then assembled to your exact specifications. All of our animal skins are CITES certified, thus they are harvested in a sustainable and humane process. In addition, no chemical bi-products are used in the tanneries. 

ONLY 10 OF EACH COLOR WILL BE MANUFACTURED.
EACH BICYCLE WILL BE ENGRAVED WITH ITS RESPECTIVE LIMITED EDITION NUMBER 1 THROUGH 10.

And here are the specs, which slot neatly in between "stock Surly" and "stock Budnitz" but are closer to the former:



Basically it's your typical shop bro's bar bike, only dipped in plating and wrapped in dead shit.



Sure, they look like nice enough frames, but you don't even get the satisfaction of waiting around for a world famous artisan who's in love with the smell of his own farts:


Nevertheless, if you're enamored of The Wheelman because you've always dreamed of a bike that looks like Ted Nugent is using it as a drying rack for his underpants, then for a similar effect I'd recommend purchasing a Linus and draping it in roadkill.  That way you'll have about $34,500 left over, which you can use to buy five (5) footballs:


WOODWARD 
GOLD CROCODILE FOOTBALL:

$6,250.00
The Woodward football is made to the official size and weight of professional American football standards.  It can be enjoyed as a prized showpiece or for a game of backyard football.

Each ball is hand cut, sewn and assembled in Detroit, Michigan, and can be embossed with the name, initials, or personal message of your choice. All of our animal skins are CITES certified, thus they are harvested in a sustainable and humane process. In addition, no chemical bi-products are used in the tanneries. 
ONLY 10 WOODWARD IN GOLD WILL BE MADE.
EACH BALL WILL BE ENGRAVED WITH ITS RESPECTIVE LIMITED EDITION NUMBER 1 THROUGH 10.

Jesus Christ, what the fuck do these people have against reptiles!?!

Yeah, I'm holding out for the golf balls covered in stem cells, but thanks anyway.

In other news, did you know that no-handed riding will enhance your mind-body connection?


Why is this?  Well, one reason is apparently that "now you have nearly 100% of all your weight on your root."

Yes, as you always suspected, intense scranial pressure is the path to enlightenment.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Is It Wednesday Yet?

Canada:



For those of us who reside down here in her dirty pant cuffs it's tempting to imagine Canada as an endearingly polite idyll with free health care and a dreamy prime minister:


However, every so often something comes along to shatter our illusion and remind us that our unassuming neighbor to the north also has its share of violence-prone pickup truck-driving troglodytes:


PETERBOROUGH—A driver has been charged after a dramatic video showed a 74-year-old cyclist viciously attacked on the side of the road with a club.

Peterborough police said that just after 11 a.m. Tuesday, the cyclist was riding in the area of Erskine Ave. when an argument broke out between him and a truck driver.

The driver climbed out of his truck and attacked the cyclist with a small club, police said.

Unlike his stateside counterparts he's wearing sandals:


But the dissimilarities end there.

“The sound of the club hitting him was sickening,” the woman told the newspaper. “Blood was flying off it.”

She said she didn’t witness what led to the encounter.

“They were flailing their arms around and the guy walked back to his truck,” she said.

I'm going to go ahead and guess what led to this encounter is the same thing that leads to every instance of driver-on-cyclist road rage, which is that the driver nearly killed the cyclist with his giant motor vehicle by doing something stupid or selfish or both, and the cyclist had the audacity to exercise his self-preservation instinct by trying not to die.

Just a hunch.

Still, not all Canadian pickup truck drivers are bad, and some might even save you from a bear attack:


He began hitting his horn to get the cyclist’s attention, seeing that his speed would not outrun the bear.

“Finally he looked over at me and I said, ‘You’ve got a grizzly bear about 25 feet behind you.’ He looked back and went, ‘Oh!’ and started to pound on the pedals.”

Here's what a touring cyclist looks like when he's being pursued by an ursine wheelsucker:


And here's a bear who has locked on to the irresistible scent of pannier stuffed to capacity with dried meats and dirty chamois:


At this point you may be wondering, "What should I do if I find myself being chased by a bear?"  Well, here are some things you can try:


Though it doesn't address various concerns specific to cyclists, chief among them being "What pressure should I be running?"

Nevertheless, the number one threat to our well-being continues to be idiots driving cars, and while self-driving technology may soon factor the idiots out of the equation you can be sure the auto-industrial complex will figure out new ways to make safety your problem:

(Via @TrueBS)

On a recent afternoon, Rowe pedaled a white Bianchi Brava bicycle up and down a busy street in the city's university district. His bike was loaded with gear: the antenna of a GPS unit extended above his head in a long plastic tube, a laser range finder called a LIDAR measured the precise position of everything around the bike, four inertial measurement units captured motion, a water bottle held a battery, a computer collected all that information, and every other spoke carried a speedometer.

"I would not be happy if I had to ride this every day," says Rowe, hopping off the bike. "But hopefully when all of this stuff just gets embedded in a cellphone on the front, then it should be no problem."

Oh, sure, helping the machines help you seems innocent enough, but it's not too hard to imagine a future in which this sort of technology becomes mandatory.  And while that might not seems like such a big deal either (after all, we're all riding around with phones anyway), in practice it could have many of the same implications of a helmet law, such as enforcement for not using it falling disproportionately on certain segments of the population.  Plus, the auto industry has been deflecting responsibility onto more vulnerable road users since the days of the hand-cranked engine, so why should we expect this to be any different?  I'm sure the traffic light and all the other controls we're familiar seemed like good ideas at the time, and of course we couldn't imagine life without them now, but really what they served to do was wrest control of the streets from anyone who wasn't driving a car.  You're already fair game out there, and being forced to get "wired up" before riding a bike (even if it's just flipping a virtual toggle switch on your phone) feels like a final act of surrender.

Of course, we all know who's going to sell us out first: the Freds.  They're used to riding while connected anyway so will no doubt embrace this technology, and from there we'll soon reach a point when "serious" cyclists sneer at anybody riding without LIDAR in the same way they currently do ay anyone who rides without first putting on a foam hat.  And who do you think will be the first country on earth to bend over and willingly accept mandatory GPS cycling suppositories?  Yeah, that's right:


You have been warned.


Friday, July 21, 2017

This Just In: More Me!

Remember when I told you that I'd let you know when my new Outside thingy was up?  Well my new Outside thingy is up:



Now you know!

We now return to today's post, which is already in progress.


BSNYC Friday No Quiz But Don't Get Complacent!

When we last sat down together we were discussing sandals:


Specifically, we were marveling over the fact that most people are fine with destroying the planet through excessive energy consumption, but under no circumstances will they look at feet shod in flip-flops:

“Never!” he said. “Disgusting, filthy, revolting, repellent, repulsive, sickening, nauseating, stomach-churning, stomach-turning, off-putting, unpalatable, distasteful, foul, nasty, vomitous.”

The conclusion, if I recall correctly, was that people are fucking idiots.

Oh, also, what do flip-flops and helmets have in common?

Australia:


Philip Brown Australia 
What Americans call "flip-flops" are dangerous footwear that should be banned on a number of safety grounds: they fall off, fall apart, catch on things causing falls, they catch under things causing other accidents, they provide no protection from rough, sharp or dropped objects. In most Australian jurisdictions it is an offence to drive in flip-flops for many of the preceding reasons.
Aesthetically they display the ugliness of 'human' feet.
As poverty footwear, made from scraps, there may be some justification for the existence of flip-flops but no other springs to mind.

Philip Brown's head would no doubt explode if he knew that in the hot summer months I often ride around the neighborhood helmetless and in flip-flops.

He does have a point though: dangerous footwear should be banned.  In addition to the deadly flip-flop, which has somehow not spelled the demise of humankind despite being the oldest form of footwear on the planet, we should also ban any heel larger than one (1) centimeter tall, as well as require that any shoe with laces be double-knotted and secured with a Velcro closure.  Remember that story about the person who dripped over his untied shoelace and fell into the path of an oncoming train?  Of course you don't, because I just made it up, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go Full Aussie and nanny down hard on everything.

Oh, and it goes without saying that walking in cycling shoes should be punishable by $6,000 or 6 months in jail.

Anyway, after all that, I posed the following "teaser" image yesterday:


That is not, contrary to what some of you speculated, my foot.  It is, however, the foot of the person who invented the Bellcycle:



Which, as you can see, is a rolling paradox in that it's sort of an upright recumbent pennyfarthing:


And beyond that the website will tell you everything you need to know:


If you miss the sensation of riding around the neighborhood on your friend's handlebars then clearly this is the bike for you.

I should also point out that I've mentioned the inventor of the Bellcycle on this blog in the past, for he is waging an "epic" legal battle against a small package delivery concern called the United Parcel Service:


I think we know which company he won't be using to deliver all those medium sized boxes.

Speaking of the associations I've made over the years, longtime readers may recall the heady days when this blog was relevant and really good bicycle rider Barry Wicks used to send me stuff in the mail:


Well, I mention this because remember these gloves?


As you can see they share share a similar aesthetic sensibility, clearly identifying them as Mr. Wicks's handiwork.  Indeed, it turns out he's got something of a "working person's Best Made" operation going on Etsy:


Inspired by vintage mountain bike films, we sought to re-create an updated, durable, good looking glove that is good for just about everything. 

We start with 100% Deerskin leather gloves to give a soft supple feel, while providing excellent wear characteristics and comfort.

Customers can choose size and venting options along with graphics colors.

We offer an unvented, snosealed version for winter riding or spring ski touring etc.

All gloves are built to order and ship in 1-2 business days from order date.

When you order, include in notes to seller up to 2 additional color choices, and if you want standard venting, no venting and/or snoseal waterproofing.

Slip on a pair of Hella Sweet Gloves, then go outside and do something awesome!

Questions? Email us! hellasweetgloves [!at] gmail.com

Rest assured I plan to give my pair a thorough test, though don't expect it anytime soon because it's currently like 93 fucking degrees out.

Incidentally, these babies would go great with that wooden bike I'm picking up next week:


Hopefully I don't have to return it before it's cool enough to wear them.

And yes, that's right, by next weekend I will be riding a wooden bike.  At this point it's just a matter of finishing the paperwork, which has all kinds of stuff about avoiding woodpeckers, not using magnifying glasses near it when it's sunny out, and so forth:


With a regular bike it's "I was just riding along when..."

With a wooden bike it's "I was just admiring the exquisite handiwork when..."

Also, be absolutely sure not to leave your monocle hanging off the bars when you head into the coffee shop.

Ah yes, I could make wood cracks all day.

In fact look at that, I just made another one!

As for these things:


I haven't tried them yet but they're basically a reusable zip tie type thing from Hiplok:

Obviously using this as your only lock in a place like New York would be like bringing a Renovo to a termite convention, but it certainly seems like a handy item to stick in your jersey pocket for that quick espresso stop in some dinky town, or for augmenting the flimsy lock on your car rack when you're on a road trip.  I've also found that having a light, unobtrusive lock on you is great for when you're riding with the family, since for the most part you don't need a ton of security when you're locking up a child's bike.

Though I'm sure somewhere at some point some thief has scooted away on a balance bike, and I'm also sure it was fucking hilarious.

And with that, I'm vanishing into the weekend, and I beseech you to do the same--though at some point today my latest Outside column is probably going to materialize, in which case I'll duck back in and let you know. But pending that, ride safe, ride safely, and engage in bicycling with an appropriate level of care.

Sincerely and so forth,


--Wildcat Etc. Machine



Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Just In: I Will Gladly Pay You Friday For No Blogging Post Today

Owing to the imminent demolition of my home and neighborhood to make way for Elon Musk's new Hyperloop (they're swinging the wrecking ball as I speak) I am forced to postpone today's post until tomorrow.

In the meantime, the Bike Forecast is there to lick the tears from your face, and I'll be back here tomorrow to address many vital and pressing issues of the day, including but not limited to sandals and their place in cycling:


You have been warned.

Until then,

I remain,

Your most humble servant,



--Wildcat Rock Machine