Wednesday, April 25, 2018

All The News That's Fit

As you know, I'm deep in the throes of a Midlife Fredding Crisis, which would go a long way towards explaining why my latest Outside column is about the perils of acquiring cycling fitness:

Not that I've actually acquired fitness, mind you, but I do come in contact occasionally with others who have.  I did however recently lower the stem of the Renovo by one (1) centimeter, which is a sign that I'm slightly fitter--or at least stupider--than I was a few months ago.  And while I may not be seeing any results out on the bike, I do have two (2) columns in the "Most Popular" section of Outside's site:

It didn't even cost me that much either.

Alas, I have no idea how Outside's Facebook readership will react to this most recent piece, nor have I been paying attention to that sort of thing recently, since I'm trying to regulate my intake of Internet commentary about how cyclists deserve to die.  Still, in 2018 it's impossible to avoid indignant strangers altogether.  Consider this tweet I recently tweeted:

As you can see, this utterly non-controversial tweet was total pandering on my part, because the Internet loves nothing more than pictures of cats in wacky situations.  Yet incredibly, someone managed to politicize it--and invoke helmets, which even I couldn't pull off:

I think US people are the only people that do not dish wash by hand. Even having a dish washing machine sounds peculiar to a citizen of any other country

This and not having a universal health care system

It is the american equivalent of Australia helmet law...

Firstly, I've washed many a dish in my life, and you can tell because of my soft hands:

Secondly, the apartment came with a dishwasher.  So should I not use it because it is a sign of American decadence?  How many smugness points do I have to deduct because I have one?  (I bet even David Byrne has a dishwasher.)  I suppose this person would have it that I should merely use it as a drying rack for my scrupulously hand-washed dishes, or else supplement my income by renting it out as a bedroom on Airbnb.  But no!  I've earned this indulgent appliance thanks to decades of half-assed work, and I refuse to be shamed by Lucas Jerzy Portela's Armpit of Justice:

Just for that I'm going to fire it up now and use it to wash a single fork that's already clean, and if the cat happens to die because I didn't notice her in there this time may it lie heavy on Lucas Jerzy Portela's conscience.


TyreWiz is the first-of-its-kind tire pressure sensor for riders of mountain bikes and road bikes. Lightweight, durable, and powered by a long-lasting user-replaceable coin cell battery, TyreWiz monitors air pressure in real-time and relays the data to a cycling computer or a smartphone. The TyreWiz app uses that data to deliver personalized recommendations and pressure alerts. For the first time, riders have access to highly accurate real-time tire pressure data to make decisions that can affect rolling resistance, traction, tire wear, and rider comfort.

By far the best thing about the Quarq Tyrewiz is that it will give the rest of us a visible means of identifying people who have completely lost their minds.  Presumably some sort of sphincter adapter will become available eventually so the sorts of people who would use this sort of thing can carefully monitor how uptight they are.

Then again, I do have a dishwasher, so I guess I shouldn't talk.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Rebel Without A Pawls

Alas, clearly I left Californy too early, because I missed the Sea Otter, which is where all the cool bikey media people go.  Consequently I've been forced to catch up on the latest bike tech via the Internet like the rest of you plebians, though I've already given up because reading this made my brain hurt:

Most hubs that use magnets to actuate the pawls use repelling magnets that push the pawls against the ratchet ring. Project 321, however, flips the magnets around so they’re instead pulled outward. It may seem like the exact same thing, but unlike the linear rate of conventional steel springs, magnets have a sharply digressive spring curve, meaning the effects are very strong when the parts are close together, but fall off quickly with increasing distance. As a result, the pawls supposedly hold tight when they’re up against the ratchet ring, but there’s little force pushing them outward when coasting, so they run very quietly and with minimal drag. As a bonus, the pawls don’t go flying when you remove the freehub body during regular maintenance, either.

After reading the above I am left speechless, floating adrift in a sea of "duh" with only with this stale meme as my life preserver:

I can't believe that all these years I hadn't considered the digressive spring curve of my hub pawls, and now that I know just how remiss I've been I'm losing sleep over all the performance I've squandered.

Speaking of squandered performance, once again I took part in a bicycle cycling race this past weekend, and I'm pleased to report I passed:

The race couldn't have played out more perfectly for a pass/fail racer.  See, when you're racing only to finish what you want is for a group to get away early and then stay clear, which means the rest of the pack eventually falls victim to a sense of resignation and rides at a steady pace until the race is over.  Conversely, your worst nightmare is that the entire race is a series of attacks and counterattacks, a breakaway or split never establishes itself, and you're subjected to constant painful surges resulting in pesky gaps that require closing.  Fortunately it was the former scenario that applied to this particular velocipedal contest, and so I remained present in it (if not relevant to it) for the duration.

And if you're wondering why I bother to race bikes when I spend the whole time hoping that nobody actually races, all I can say to you is that you just don't get it, do you?

Yes, that's right, it's Stale Meme Monday here on BSNYC!

Stale Meme Monday is brought to you by Project 321, makers of the awesome magnetic hub pawl system that boasts the most sharply digressive spring curve in the industry.  Remember: there is nothing more important than freehub engagement, and races have been won and lost due to the milliseconds of engagement lag you'll find in inferior hubs.  Anyway, my prediction is that Project 321 will remain the industry leader in freehub engagement until another company comes up with some sort of Predictive Engagement System by which the hub actually engages before you even start pedaling again. 

So in other words, a fixed gear.

In any case, moving back to the race, the most dramatic moment for me was during the very last lap when a rider ordered me to the back of the pack.  After I got over my initial shock that I wasn't already at the very back I asked, "Why?," to which he replied that I was in the wrong field.  Of course I realize that at this point in my life everything about my cycling wardrobe and physical shape screams "Race Clinic Participant," but the fact remains that I was indeed in the right field.  I assured him as much, but still he puzzled over my presence, and he only relented somewhere around Engineers' Gate. 

Of course even if I had snuck into the wrong field the fact was that all the places were well up the road by that point, and if on the last lap of a race you're riding easy enough to engage in conversations about which field people belong in then the race is effectively over anyway so the presence of any rogue hangers-on is largely irrelevant.  Nevertheless, perhaps next time instead of gentle reassurance I'll scream DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM and then unfurl this picture of me addressing an adoring crowd:

That's exactly what I was wearing during the race, by the way, which could have led in part to the misunderstanding.

Actually it's probably a good thing I didn't go to Sea Otter, because I can only imagine how often I'd have to justify my presence among all those "real" cycling journalists. 

What was that old meme about not getting any respect again...?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

You may ask yourself, "How did I get here?".

I'm going to tell you all about L'Eroica California in painstaking detail:

Just not now.

I will say though that I've given a lot to cycling over the years.  Selflessly I've blogged for eleven (11) years, written four (4) books, and banged out countless articles in various periodicals, asking nothing in return except for money and adulation.  So why the hell is it that I'm still riding in the cold and rain instead of living somewhere like this permanently?  Let's see that picture again:

I'm not just coming to this realization now, either.  I've had many opportunities over the years to head out west and ask myself why the hell I live where I do:

Even in Los Angeles, which is supposed to be a smoggy automotive hell, you can ride to this in like five minutes:

Well at least you can ride to it in like five minutes from the cool neighborhoods, which is where I stay when I visit.

Anyway, as great as it is to come home and be greeted ebulliently at the front door by my seventeen (17) children, I can't help resenting the fact that I have to go back to riding all bundled up--in late April no less!  Indeed, this very morning as I rode around Central Park in the spitting rain, my California sunburn still itchy beneath my multiple layers of Lycra, I pondered my lot, pulled over, and shouted at the nascent buds, "HURRY THE FUCK UP ALREADY!"

Of course the spring will arrive in earnest eventually, and as always it will be glorious, especially after such a long winter.  When it does, I'll tell myself that there's no other place on earth I'd rather live.  Then it will turn hot as balls, followed by like two and a half sublime weeks in autumn, and the whole cycle will begin anew, netting me like six or seven weeks of ideal riding weather annually.

On top of all that, ironically in middle age I've grown mildly allergic to all the local staples that have sustained me since childhood, namely: pizza, bagels, and hero sandwiches.  Indeed, probably the fact that I ate nothing but pizza, bagels, and hero sandwiches for like 40 years broke something inside of me and I have nobody to blame but myself.  Meanwhile, out there the staple is tacos, which are not only right in line with my current dietary requirements, but also delicious.  

Alas, I'll most likely never leave New York, not only because my wife has an awesome job here, but also because I'm awesome at not having a real job here:

Plus, I could never give up my apartment, which is not only legally habitable according to city and state law but also has a full-time doorman!

Sorry, did I say full-time doorman?  I meant full-time door:

A lot of people in New York have to make do with door share, and that's no way to live.

Hey, I've even got exposed brick.  Granted, it's in a pile in the living room, but I'm confident that one day the contractor will come back and finish the job.

After all, I paid him in full before he even got started, so why wouldn't he return?

Moving on, as you know I've been enjoying a bit of a Fredly Renaissance lately, part of which involves swallowing what's left of my dignity and supplicating myself to Strava, and recently I see they've added some new feature called "relative effort:"

I stood there for an embarrassingly long time wondering what the number "28" meant and what exactly it was relative to until I realized that it's all just an eye-catching graphic telling me that I suck.  Indeed, the whole app is just a You Suck-ometer that helps you visualize your suckitude in the form of numbers, colors, and tiny gold cup icons that mean nothing, all of which I new already anyway.

So obviously I use it all the time now.

(I also assume "managing your effort" is a nice way of saying "riding really slowly.)

Finally, I checked, and yes, people are still making fixie videos:

This is truly a daredevil feat--not the riding briskly in a straight line part, but the willingly placing yourself anywhere in the vicinity of Times Square, bike or no bike, part.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Wrote a Column for Outside and They Published It on the Internet!

I'm currently waiting to board a cross-country New York-bound germ tube as I type this, but my latest column ponders the question all thinking cyclists* have asked themselves at one time or another so I wanted to share it:

*["Thinking cyclists" obviously excludes mountain bikers and most roadies.]

On one hand we've got nifty bikes, and on the other we've got assholes in pickup trucks, so clearly there's a lot to contemplate--which I invite you to do as I binge on in-flight entertainment and tiny bottles of liquor.


--Wildcat Rock Machine


Monday, April 16, 2018

Just Checking In

In case you're wondering, Eroica California was a smashing success:

This is my final day in the Golden State, or the Sunshine State, or whatever the hell it is they call themselves, and I will be spending it returning various bikes to various places and wondering why I live in New York.

Oh, right, it's the transit system, how could I forget:

See you when I see you!

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New Outside Column!

I'm packing up my artisanal bindle and getting ready to split for the coast, but before I do here's my latest column for Outside:

Basically it's all about how I break laws on my bike because I'm better and smarter than everybody, so let the bike-haters of Facebook suck on that one:

Other than that, if you're looking for me over the next few days and I'm not here you should be able to find me over at the Bike Forecast or on the Twitter--and, since I am going out there for L'Eroica California, eventually some sort of activity should pop up on the Strava.  If all goes well I'll return with a bindle full of adventure, and if it doesn't I'll be back with some sort of wool-induced skin condition.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Filial Fredness

Great news!

So how will this affect your bike's performance?  It won't.  In fact if you can tell the difference between 10-speed and 11-speed without looking down I'll give you $100.*

No, the reason this is great news is that a move past 11 means maybe people will finally stop making that Spinal Tap reference.

Or maybe not:

Goddamn it.

Is it a hilarious scene and an iconic moment in comedy?  Yes.  If I hear someone reference it again with regard to bicycle drivetrains will I chop my wooden bicycle into tiny bits with my Rivendell axe?  Also yes.

Come on, at the very least we can get a new reference and say that Campagnolo has gone to plaid:

Anyway, you'd think we've reached the limits of drivetrain hair-splitting (or cog-splitting) by now and that anything less than a high-performance road CVT with electronic shifting hardly even warrants a press release.

Speaking of Fredness, last week I undertook an incredible five-day run of pre-dawn rides in Central Park--and when I say pre-dawn I mean it, because the sun was only just peeking over the buildings by the time I was leaving the park each morning:

I haven't engaged in behavior this Fredly since the days when I had an actual job, and the reason I did so was that the schools were closed so it was my only time to go for a stretchy-clothes ride.  It worked out rather well too, because it left me with the day free to subject my son to culturally edifying activities such as visiting the Guggenheim:

And by noon I was already feasting on beer and Shake Shack:

As an aside, the art in the Guggenheim had little impact on my son, but the building itself provided much entertainment.  In particular, I seem to have acquired a fear of heights in my adulthood (that and a wheat allergy), and my staunch refusal to look down or indeed get anywhere near the edge of the walkway was the source of considerable amusement:

Then on the train ride home it became apparent from the large number of people wearing Yankees attire that there was a game that afternoon, and it occurred to me that a more traditional father-son activity would have been to attend said game, so hopefully he does not grow up to resent me for depriving him of a proper American childhood--or, worse, overcompensate in adulthood by driving around in a lifted F-150 with tinted windows and Yankees logos all over it:

With any luck it will all work out and he'll grow up into a well-adjusted adult, by which I mean an urbane snob with an attitude of smug condescension towards anything west of the Hudson.

As for my weeklong residency in Central Park, it culminated with a race in that same park on Saturday morning.  All was going well too--that is until I hit a pothole on the penultimate lap and flatted:

Fortunately I race with a full complement of tools, knowing full well that when you suck like I do saving a few grams just because it's a "race" is not even remotely worth it when it means you might have to walk back to the start in cleats in the event of a mechanical.  I congratulated myself for this as I replaced the tube, though I also upbraided myself for managing to hit a pothole after having ridden around and around that same park loop for five days straight.

Then I finished the week by watching the thrilling--and, as it turns out, also tragic--Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.  However, owing to more kids' activities that morning, all I actually saw was the early part of the race when nothing was happening, and then when I got back home and turned on the TV again Peter Sagan had already crossed the line and the rest of the riders were arriving in spurts. 

Even so, it was a rather satisfying week of family and Fredness that should serve me well as I prepare to depart for L'Eroica California later this week:

I'll keep you posted.

*This is a lie.  Under no circumstances will I ever give you $100.