Thursday, October 19, 2017

Just a Couple of Quick Things

Apologies for the late post, my cat flushed herself down the toilet again.  Given the lateness of the hour I won't keep you, but I will let you know that on Wednesday, October 25th, this is happening:

Join us for a fast-paced hour of ideas, entrepreneurs and bikes, capturing the exciting things happening in the bike industry at DRAFT: NYC in Brooklyn.
61 Greenpoint Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn
The nearest train is G. Stop at Greenpoint Avenue and proceed to Brooklyn Bicycle Co. We're in suite 638 - buzz 970 and walk around the corner to the elevator and head up to the 6th floor!  
6:30 - 7:00 pm: Beer and banter
7:00 - 8:00 pm: Program + Speakers
8:00 - 9:00 pm: More beer and banter  
Speaker Lineup:
- Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives          
- Eben Weiss, Bike Snob NYC 
- Courtney Williams, The Brown Bike Girl 

Yep, there I am, one of the featured speakers.  As for what "exciting things happening in the bike industry" I'll be speaking about, I haven't decided yet, but I'm open to suggestions.  At the moment I'm considering a treatise on how to determine the correct tire pressure, but if I give away all my pneumatic curation secrets I'll have nothing else left.

Also, a reader was kind enough to forward me the following commerical:

In it, Dad comes down the drive in his shiny GMC douchewagon:

Delighted, his son comes running:

Oooh boy, Dad has something special!  What is it?  A new bike maybe?

Nope!  Kids don't ride bikes anymore, silly!  It's a plastic truck!

Of course the kid is delighted:

And immediately takes off in it while wearing a fucking helmet:

All of which raises an important question:

If kids are now expected to wear helmets while driving, shouldn't adults be expected to do the same?

It only stands to reason.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


This morning I off-fucked for a ride because I'm a bike blogger goddamn it and if you can't take a ride once in awhile then what the hell is the point?

As you can see from my Strava, the ride was wholly unremarkable in both distance and duration, though it was quite enjoyable nonetheless.  I find that 20 miles is the ideal distance for the busy cyclist in that it's short enough to work into your day yet long enough to make you feel like you did something.  To that end I have established sort of a basic loop I use, and then I season to taste with various climbs and dirt sections depending on my mood.  This allows me to maintain my tenuous grip on sanity's pinky toe, though I'm always a missed ride away from losing it altogether.

By the way, there's a little dongle on the ride where I briefly considered taking a different route but then changed my mind, doubled back, and returned to my usual one:

Conditioning is a powerful thing.

Anyway, all that aside, there was one remarkable aspect of today's ride, which I will relate forthwith.  I was rolling out on the South County Trailway, which is a paved multi-use converted rail-trail thingy that looks like this:

Indeed it was just after my little detour, and as I rode I came upon someone "walking" at least six nearly identical large brown dogs while riding a skateboard.  Due to the large number of canines I assumed he must be a professional dog walker, though usually they're walking a wildly disparate array of dogs: a great dane, a dachshund, a Bassett hound, a chihuahua, a poodle, and so on.  This guy's dogs however were completely interchangeable (no, I don't know what kind they are, I'm not a Dog Fred), so either he specialized in large brown dogs or else they were all his own and he was practicing his dogsledding.

As you can imagine, Nanook the Schook and his team were taking up the entire width of the path.  Furthermore, owing to the gradual rise in the path, he was moving very slowly on his skateboard, pushing with his right foot, then switching quickly to his left, and then reverting to the right again.  It was a pathetic display.

Nevertheless, I always strive to be polite to a fault when sharing these sorts of paths, and so as I approached I searched my brain for the proper phrase with which to announce my presence so that I might pass him.  Of course "On your left" simply wouldn't do, and "Mush!" might cause his dogs to bolt, so clearly I had a lot of thinking to do.  In the meantime, while I curated just the right phrase, I figured I might as well hang back and take a photo of this profoundly selfish tableau.  

Naturally, as a recovering Fred I keep my phone in a Ziploc baggie, and so it took me a few moments to fish it out.  Finally, just as I did, the skateboarding dog walker turned around, looked at me, and then went flying into the air as though his board was spring-loaded.  Now I don't know if this is because he was startled to see me, or because he'd hit a stick or some other obstacle (the pathway was loaded with them), or some combination of the two, but as he hit the deck and tumbled it occurred to me that it would be ungentlemanly of me to take a picture under these circumstances and so I slipped it back into my pocket again.  

All of that is a roundabout way of saying I have no photos of this event whatsoever, which is why I have been forced to recount the tale using prose.

Anyway, once he'd righted himself I of course asked if he was OK, and he said he was, and that was good enough for me so off I went.  Also, as far as I'm concerned I believe I have no culpability in this incident, but if you feel differently please feel free to let me know.

Moving on, here's the definitive video feature on helme(n)t etique(n)tte:

For the record, I was appalled by the suggestion that you should hang your helmet from the doorknob while using the restroom, since everybody knows you should always wear your helmet while relieving yourself in cycling shoes at all times:

Come to think of it, walking on a tiled floor in cycling shoes is probably the most dangerous thing you'll do on your ride.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It Takes A Curmudgeon To Know A Curmudgeon

Yesterday I mentioned how a bunch of hurt-in-the-butt suspension bicycle owners on Facebook were aghast at my suggestion that it's possible to ride a rigid bike, (I guess your butt gets very sensitive when you coddle it with suspension all the time), and now it appears that Bicycling magazine's Facebook is under siege by a cadre of "bike industry farts:"
Evidently these are the "bike industry farts" in question:
And these are the Bicycling staffers moving the magazine and society forward:
Anyway, picking your way through Facebook comments is about as pleasant as pulling thorns out of your scranus after falling into a briar patch, but as far as I can tell what happened was the farts took issue with this article:

Upon which I cast my expertly critical eye and found to be basically sound, inasmuch as it's essentially a bunch of people from a bunch of bike shops offering their perspective on their customers:

Considering this is the same magazine that blew the lid off the poop doping phenomenon, I could find little to get upset about.  Plus, I'd argue a "listicle" about how to shop in a bike shop is valid for two reasons:

1) Even in our age of kinder, gentler bike shops, walking into one can still be a stressful proposition.  Indeed, even as a "bike industry fart" myself (or at least a bike media industry fart) I still feel the same way walking into a bike shop as I do when I go to the doctor in that I know I'm about to be shamed for something;

2) It's 2017 and everyone shops online now, so walking into an actual store is becoming positively archaic.  It's the retail equivalent of installing tubulars, so in this sense alone a primer is probably warranted.

Evidently however the patriarchy does not share my opinion, and while I confess it's not productive to make inferences based solely on physical appearance I must say that I've never in my life seen four people who look more like they should be wearing helmet mirrors:

Anyway, as for the nature of their objections, they seemed to involve speculation about the current staff:

Tom Petrie Ray Keener, Bicycling (or, as I call it "11 ways to count to 10" because of their insufferable and incessant listicles) is hardly about bicycling. It appears mainly written by Manhattan-based eating-disordered non-cyclists who couldn't get a job at "Seventeen" magazine. With a few notable exceptions (e.g., Matt Phillips, Patrick Brady) it's an embarrassment. I recently unsubscribed. I couldn't take it any longer.

(Youv'e got to love the characterization of a magazine staff based in Emmaus, PA as a bunch of urban sophisticates.)

Distaste for the accompanying photo:

John S. Allen Just what is supportive of young females in bicycling about showing one in a jaw-droppingly stupid pose, grinding chain dirt into the armpit of her shirt? Emily O'Brien, what do you think of this please?

And accusations of ageism and reverse racism and sexism:

John Schubert Matt — you'd be surprised at how many grey-haired guys know useful information that 20-somethings don't know. Not all of us are here to defend our own egos.
And really, if sexism is wrong in discriminating against young women, it’s wrong in discriminating against old men.
Here’s a story about age and gender discrimination: Some years ago, I participated in a review of some bicycle facilities in New York. We found that one facility, if you obeyed the traffic signals, would only allow an average speed of six mph (and that’s in uncontested traffic conditions). That’s unlikely to generate much compliance with the signals. We found other stuff, good and bad. We reported on it.
So a few years after that, I found that some know-it-all had decided we were all irrelevant because we were old white guys. And published a picture of us, comparing it with a picture of Mia Birk of Alta Planning. And said how much greater Mia is, because she’s an attractive younger female, and we weren’t.
Birk is known for defending bicycle facilities that cause bicyclists to get crushed underneath turning trucks whose drivers never saw them. (Hint: Google “truck bicycle blind spot” for some important information.) Most of the people saying, “No, don’t build this crap” are old white guys.
But our viewpoints should be ignored, because we’re old and white.

All because of a short piece on how to walk into a bike shop and not act like a douchebag.

We are clearly living in extraordinarily petty times.

I mean sure, it's kind of a silly photo since nobody works on a bike with the chainring under their armpits:

But inasmuch as it's clearly a stock photo who really cares?

Plus, it doesn't really obviate anything in the story.  Maybe if it was an article entitled "How To Work On Your Bike In The Proper Fashion And Without Getting Grease In Your Armpit" then the outrage would be warranted.

Anyway, as someone who has spent most of his blogging career mocking the behavior of people younger than him, I can assure that it's best to surrender to the younger generation before you devolve completely into Old Man Yelling At Cloud:*

*(Unless you happen to have my razor sharp wit and finely honed writing skills, of course, but how many people do?)

None of this precludes sharing with people the benefit of your experience, but by the time you've had a colonoscopy you should probably learn to temper that with a bit of open-mindedness, because apart from a few absolute truths our culture is fluid, and if you don't learn how to flow along with it you're nothing but a stick in the mud.

Hey, that's not to say I don't make fun of listicles, because I totally do:
Then again I also write my share listicles so I feel perfectly entitled.

And while we're on the subject of bike storage, I should mention that the only bike I store inside is my Brompton, but only because when folded it is roughly the size of a large cat.  This is because I hate living with bikes inside my home almost as much as I hate living with my cat--and believe me, when it comes to keeping bikes inside I've paid my dues.  Yep, I've done it all:

--Bike right inside the door leaning against the wall;
--Bike hanging off wall hook;
--Bike hanging from ceiling hook;
--Bike outside in common area causing fire hazard;
--Bike assuming pride of place beneath mantel during that brief period when I had a mantel.

At my absolute worst I not only had bikes both on hooks and leaning against wall, but I also had an off-site storage unit and was withdrawing and depositing bicycles on a seasonal basis.  Storage space is by far the dumbest thing in the world you can buy, because you will never, ever get rid of it.  If you're thinking of renting a storage space do yourself a favor and take up smoking instead, it's much easier to kick.

And now you have the benefit of my considerable years.  If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna toss my bike under my armpit and service the drivetrain.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Guilty Pleasures

Life can be overwhelming, and at one point or another we all feel ourselves buckling under the crushing weight of work and responsibility.  Add to that a few dispiriting news stories and it's enough to stop you dead in your tracks.  That's why it's important to indulge yourself in a guilty pleasure every now and again, and some of my favorites these days include eating ice cream and crying, crying, and watching TV while eating ice cream and crying.

But I'm extremely fortunate that my most favoritest of guilty pleasures is also part of my job as a semi-professional bike blogger, and it it this:

Riling up the readers of Outside magazine.

By the way, note that I said "riling up" and not "trolling," since it's an important distinction.  See, trolling implies saying something that has no redeeming value just for the sake of upsetting people, but what I write for Outside does in fact have redeeming value because it's expertly curated artisanal content and it will only upset you if you're full of shit or stupid or both.  Consider my last column:

It's clear to the thinking person from the title alone that some hyperbole is about to follow, and if you missed that then there's the subtitle to really drive it home:

Why it will destroy cycling, society, and the planet if we let it

It should also be doubly clear within the context of our time, because while both the title and the subtitle may be objectively true of, say, our president, they are obviously not true of, say, a squishy fork.  And of course, anybody with any sense could tell the point of the article is that rigid bikes can be lots of fun and that the prevailing notion that you need suspension at all times is simply not the case.  Nevertheless, just as I knew they would, the "adults who play with toys" demographic got all hurt in their butts on Outside's Facebook page and it was a joy to read:

Brian, you sound like kind of a putz, so by all means don't wait up.  And Mike, what's wrong with having a 1997 Gary Fisher?  Anybody still riding a 20 year-old bike is awesome.  Thanks for the tech advice on the lockout though, I'll totally get rid of my rigid bike and start riding a locked-out suspension bike isntead.

Another common type of angry bike commenter is the frustrated tech weenie:

You do realize Outside pick the photos, right?  Spoiler alert: I didn't choose the font either.

And then there's always the person who wants to dismiss everything as youthful folly:

Nope.  Wrong, Paul.

Also, you're the one using emojis.

In any case, all of this proves something I've always believed, which is that when it comes to being simpering gear weenies the Mountain Bike Freds (or "Barneys") are a thousand times worse than the roadies.

Speaking of everything that's wrong with society, you may have heard about that bike lane protest in Minneapolis, but if not you can read more about it over on the Bike Forecast:

You'll want to click here once you have.

Meanwhile, up in America's Ceremonial Head Covering, an Ottawa driver has some damning evidence indeed that cyclists are profoundly reckless.  Here's the description:

This was shot from my dashcam near Algonquin College and is why I believe fine for bicyclists should be twice that of an automobile driver.

And here's the shocking video:

Cover your eyes in horror, but peek through your fingers as at 28 seconds a cyclist with panniers rides slowly through an empty intersection:

Seems to me the most dangerous moment in the video was when the driver yelled at him.

Friday, October 13, 2017

BSNYC Friday Self-Promotion!

Sorry I'm late, a short ride may have happened:

I really like that bike.  There's really not much you can't do on a metal bike with medium reach rim brakes.  (Or "rime breaks" in Craigslist.)  Also, if you live in New York City, here's the secret to happiness:

1) Easy access to the subway;
2) Easy access to a 20-mile loop that doesn't involve laps.

Everything else is gravy.

It's only been a few minutes now but I'm pleased to see it's already having the desired effect:
Whatever you say.

And if that's not enough for you, here's a little spin I took in Astoria, Queens recently and wrote up for the Citi Bike site:

For the record, "Tour De Queens" was not my title as I generally try to avoid the whole "Tour de [Blank]" thing.  Of course, it's still a much better title than "Putting the 'Ass' in Astoria," which is the sort of inanity I'm liable to come up with if left to my own devices.  So there you go.

So with that I'm now going to leave you to your own devices, and I'll see you back here on Monday.  Enjoy the weekend, ride safe, and may your tire pressure be eternally optimal.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wait, it's not Wednesday today? Are you sure?

Well, with more cyclists than ever taking to the streets the Wall Street Journal wants to remind us all that whatever happens to us is our fault, and you can read all about it in the Bike Forecast:

I've since gotten the text of the accompanying article, and guess what it's fixated on?

Dr. Cook bikes to work from a Boston suburb, he says, enlisting a helmet, flashing lights and “obnoxiously” bright clothing to stay safe. He thinks Boston has tried to make cycling safe but worries about what lies ahead. Last year, at his initiative, Beth Israel Deaconess hosted a Bike Safety Day, where he and other trauma surgeons buttonholed people entering or leaving the hospital, handed out flashing reflectors and emphasized measures such as wearing a helmet and being visible while cycling.

Fun foam party hats and flashing lights for everybody!!!

But of course it's a cycling article, so it doesn't have to be accurate:
This is not to debate the efficacy of helmets, far from it.  Indeed, I'd argue that it's the most effective tool ever devised for the suppression of cycling.  Wearing one's just inconvenient enough for most people not to wanna bother, so when you factor in all the shaming it's not surprising that so many people ultimately arrive at the same conclusion:

Speaking of accessories, here's a nifty one I saw on the Kickstarter:

I also found the scranial heat cam highly convincing:

Of course this is not strictly speaking a full fender, and it does leave a void in the bicycle's scranial region:

Yes, bicycles do have scranuses:

Nevertheless, it does look rather handy, and potentially quite a bit tidier than other clip-on fender solutions, like the ones I've been using out of laziness:

Oh, and I suppose you noticed I've got a little extra slack in my chain.  Well, here's what happened: since putting this bike together maybe five or so years ago and traveling the world with it I've done virtually nothing in the way of maintenance save for changing the brake pads and squirting some lube on the chain.  I've also never cleaned any part of it.  Well, last time I went to ride it I noticed some stiff links (okay, a lot of stiff links), at which point I did what any sensible person would do, which is to squirt lube onto them until the chain passed through the derailleur again.

Did I have a perfectly good chain sitting in a drawer as I did this?


Did I want to spend the extra five minutes it would have taken to install it?

Emphatically no.

Anyway, all was well until a few blocks into my ride, at which point I started up again at a green light and SNAP!

While not entirely unexpected I was nevertheless surprised, but fortunately my scranus was spared a high-velocity encounter with my top tube.  This I attribute in part to my expert bike-handling skills, and also to the fact that I was using flat pedals, and so I was spared the indignity of a sudden release.  Anyway, after the chain ass-ploded I removed the broken link and reattached it, and you'd better believe I'd have called it good indefinitely if in the process I didn't notice at least one other cracked link waiting for a second scranial assassination attempt.

Therefore, at my earliest opportunity I stopped at a bike shop and purchased and installed a new chain, and all was once again right with the world--until the next thing breaks, which given the state of that bike could be absolutely anything:

I'm quite fortunate the chain didn't decide to break the day I took the bike to the mountain bike trails.

Moving on, a reader has forwarded me more evidence that the bicycle is humanity's savior:

Charity Ruiz, her husband and two daughters were leaving their Coffey Park neighborhood by car when they were stopped by the exodus of neighbors also trying to leave the area. 

Panicked by the flames, Ruiz instead decided to instead use a bicycle to get out of the area. She used a family bicycle hooked up to a toddler trailer to get her two children out, with Ruiz pedaling — despite being due the following week.


If you needed proof that Americans are not fit for survival consider that when confronted with calamity the very first thing we do is get in our cars and drive.  This generally has two outcomes: 1) We sit in traffic with all the other schmucks; 2) Whatever the calamity is soon engulfs us:

Certainly in New York we've weathered everything from transit strikes to blackouts to hurricanes to terror attacks, and in each and every case the bicycle has proved itself indispensable:

There is only one downside, which is that it's only a matter of time before disaster tourist Lucas Brunelle "drops" a video of himself riding through the smoke and flames of Napa and Sonoma:

"Sizzle reel" indeed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sorry I'm Late, I Made a Wrong Turn At Albuquerque

Actually, that's not true, I've been busy trying to get rid of this car:

If it's not gone by Friday you will find me crucified on the hood in an act of protest.

Moving on, the New York Times tends to arrive fashionably late when it comes to reporting on cultural trends, but here's a case in which a semi-professional bike blogger scooped them by a decade:

That's right, my first mention of the disembodied hand phenomenon was almost exactly ten (10) years ago, when I brought forth this post in a burst of creative genius:

That's some impressive cutting-and-pasting, I'm sure you will agree:

This sort of bicycle no longer inspires any sort of emotion in me whatsoever, which means either I've matured or else I'm dead inside.

Actually I think maturity is dying inside, so there you go.

In other news, here's something that's not at all funny in any way:

A post shared by Levi Leipheimer (@levileipheimer) on

That's terrible to see, and here's hoping he gets the home studio back online soon:

Finally, we've been talking about vehicular cycling recently, and here's a single tweet that illustrates perfectly why it's not the way forward:

That's just plain offensive.  It's like saying the best protections when attending an outdoor concert are a bulletproof vest and running in a serpentine fashion.  Pair that with this "Bicycle Safety Awareness Video" and you kind of wish they'd be honest and tell you they really want you to ditch the bike altogether and go lease a Hyundai:

Have you ever notice that people talk about helmets exactly the way they talk about Jesus?

"There's no question in my mind the helmet saved my life."

Maybe it did or maybe it didn't, but here's the American approach to cycling: take everything that actually needs to be done to make cycling work, sublimate it into a bunch of EPS foam, press it into a hat shape, and tell people to wear it.

Done, and done.

Actually, I think if we replace Obamacare with Jesus and infrastructure with helmets the current presidential administration will have accomplished pretty much all of its goals.

The video's final message?

"I would never consider riding out of my driveway without a helmet on.  Now I ask for all cyclists everywhere always to wear a helmet."

That's just no way to live.