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


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Tedious Wednesday Diatribe About How Stupid We Are

Most weekday mornings this summer my elder son and I get on our bikes and ride the one (1) mile to his day cap.  A fairly decent hill (especially if you're seven) notwithstanding, it's a mellow ride through a fairly quiet residential neighborhood--with one exception.

At about the halfway point of our ride is another day camp that is held on the lush campus of a private school.  (Annual tuition $42,805 not including an additional $7,000 for books, supplies, field trips, etc., in case you're wondering.)  By the time my son and I are passing through, the drop-off is in full swing, and a phalanx of traffic coordinators guide a seemingly endless procession of SUVs with license plates from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (not to mention a whole bunch of yellow schoolbuses) through a series of orange cones and eventually to the entrance where, eventually, parents discharge their little campers.

And of course the entire process repeats itself in the afternoon during our return trip home.

To their credit, the staff clearly puts a great deal of effort into managing all this traffic, and they're always very considerate of us as we pass, but even so riding through this shitshow of an obstacle course is a real pain in the ass.

Americans--even New Yorkers--have gotten used to the idea that driving kids absolutely everywhere is normal behavior.  However, when you ride a bike the scales fall from your eyes (or, if you prefer, the pie plate falls from your hub) and you see that a school run with the complexity of an airport drop-off is fucking insane.  And sure, call me smug, but it seems doubly insane to drive all the way from Connecticut or New Jersey (or Manhattan for that matter) and then spend 15 minutes idling in a drop-off line so a kid can kick a soccer ball around on a field in the Bronx.

Oh, sure, I realize it's typical of a smug cyclist to pass judgment on others' choices.  After all, I'm sure plenty of these parents have perfectly logical reasons for sending their kids to day camps out of state.  For example, it's probably on the way to their Manhattan offices, and once they've completed the dropoff they they likely head downtown and curse the bike lanes as they sit in traffic on the Henry Hudson Parkway.  Also, like all cyclists I'm a giant hypocrite, because even though I'd rather chew my own foot off than drive my kids to school or camp on a regular basis I still pile them into THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK for all sorts of other stuff when the mood strikes me.  (I've got a trunk full of beach chairs and I'm not afraid to use them.)

Still, when you ride a bike around the neighborhood it's hard--really hard--to watch other parents subject themselves to this sort of thing and not wonder to yourself, "What the fuck are they doing???"  It's also hard not to meditate on the moronic choices people make because of cars, whether it's commuting to another city go grocery shopping (guilty), or driving into the city during rush hour, complaining about the traffic, and then complaining about the bike lanes used by the people who actually live there:


I've certainly never considered myself an environmentalist, and my inclination to ride bikes a lot of the time is motivated mostly by joy and impatience, but it's getting harder and harder to ignore the implications of the stupid decisions we make because we're dumb and lazy.  And it's not just or addiction to cars either.  Consider air conditioning:
Sure, it's easy to laugh at flip flops, the footwear of choice for fans of Jimmy Buffett.  At the same time, let's consider the fact that we squander an insane amount of energy in order to air condition basically the entire city so people who work in offices can dress like it's winter all summer long.  Incredibly, many people on this planet actually dress appropriately for the climate in which they live, and that includes wearing some form of sandal (which is what flip flops are) even in formal situations.  After all, as far showing your feet at work, if sandals are good enough for heads of state then who the hell are you to complain?


("I dare you to say some shit about my sandals.")

Yes, all over the planet entire countries go more or less barefoot, but you push some papers around at a legal firm so you shouldn't have to see some toes.

And sure, feet can be pretty damn funky, but this person should maybe get some help:

Thomas Beatty, 63, who retired from a job in hotels in Manhattan, had a much more colorful reaction to flip-flops in a professional setting.

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

We're justifiably outraged when the Saudis arrest a woman for wearing a miniskirt, but we're aghast at the notion of someone exposing their little piggies.

(By the way, Thomas Beatty is totally a closet foot fetishist, and he's afraid if he catches a glimpse of some bunions he'll want to start "toe-jammin'.")

And while thinking flip flops are ugly, gross and noisy may seem innocent enough, it's really just another symptom of the same uptight attitude that keeps people from riding bikes places because "Eew, I'll get all sweaty."  Perhaps if we came to terms with the fact that wearing less shit keeps you cooler, and that a little sweating is normal, and that the economy won't collapse if both these things happen at work, then chances are we'd be free to make more rational decisions about how to get around.  (Not to mention dialing back on the AC a bit.)

Plus, I know a guy who used to wear flip flops to the office, and his name was Jesus:


See?


And when he comes back you'd better believe he'll be wearing Tevas and riding a Citi Bike:


You have been warned.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Very Quick Post Because Time Waits For No Fred, This One In Particular

First of all, great news!


Looks like I'll soon be taking delivery of one of those wooden bikes:


Wait, sorry, not that one.  This one:

I can't wait to try it, even though it doesn't have disc brakes:



I'll also have to carry around some tools while I dial in the adjustments.  Here's how you lower the integrated seatmast:


And here's how you raise it again:


Anyway, I'm looking forward to finding out whether the ride quality is woody or tinny, and I suspect it will be the former:



I'll keep you posted.

Maybe I'll use it for the BSNYC Gran Fondon't.

(Yes, I haven't forgotten.)

Of course, I'll also need a suitable pump to carry with me, and I'm leaning towards this mobile inflating device:


Typically I offer assistance when I pass another rider with a flat, but if I saw someone on the roadside churning away rhythmically with a delighted expression on his face I'd be out of the saddle and sprinting to safety like there was a $1,000 prime on offer:


But the best thing about this pump is that it's helping to save the planet:

Global warming is becoming more and more serious.  People getting less exercise and which leads to worse healthy level.

Therefore bicycle has become much more a favorite tool for transportation as well as exercising.   Having a flat tire somewhere in a remote place can be frustrating, thus a carry-on inflator is indispensable when biking.   Traditional inflators are either bulky/heavy or they need to be powered by electricity, which is inconvenient. 

Though I do my part by carrying the same mini pump I've had for over 20 years already.  I also refuse to use C02s, because frankly I don't see the point.  If you're racing you're dropped anyway, and if you're not what difference does an extra minute or two make?

Though I suppose triathletes like the way they look with their butt-rocket launching systems:



I mean that's what these things are, right?


Sure they are.

Lastly, my mail bag runneth over, because not only have I received these things which are not toe straps:


But I've also taken delivery of some exquisite hand-curated deerskin gloves:


I promise to tell you all about both items tomorrow, at least assuming I manage to wrap my mind around them by then.

Until then,

I remain,

Yours and so on,


--Wildcat Etc.


Monday, July 17, 2017

This Title Is Merely A Wind-Cheating Fairing That Offers No Actual Protection

Happy Monday!  Say hello to our old friend Bret, spotted by a reader in Brooklyn:


At this point he is officially inside the DNA of cycling.

Speaking of people who wear yellow, despite all my wisecracks about the Tour de France I'd probably be watching if only I have the time.  Alas, I do not, so at this point if I've got a couple hours it's either watch the Tour or go ride a bike, and obviously given the choice i'm going to opt for the latter.  Still, I like to scan the results, and I see that over the weekend Chris Froome managed to close a monster gap after a wheel change:


Froome was 45 seconds behind his rivals at one point but managed to close the gap with a huge effort and some vital help from his teammate, including Mikel Landa, who dropped back to ensure Froome was back on before the top of the climb. Froome later suggested he had suffered a broken spoke in his wheel. It could have cost him the race.

So at this point it's safe to assume he was tired, feigned a "broken spoke," and received one of those electromagnetic wheels from his teammate, yes?

Sure he did.

Hey, there are some pretty sleek and unobtrusive settings out there:



Now who's being naive?

Meanwhile the supervillain in charge of Team Sky has gone Full Trump with the media:


When Ryan asked Brailsford what parts of the piece before the Tour de France he considered inaccurate, Brailsford replied: "I'm not getting into that. It was opinion, you write shit.

“We make ourselves available, we answer all the questions and you write this shit.”

The heated exchanged continued. Ryan suggested that the only other person to act like this (with the media) was Bruyneel when he barred Sporza at the 2009 Tour de France.

Brailsford replied: “Are you accusing me of running a doping programme as well?”

Ryan said: “Well, UK Anti-Doping are investigating that...”

At that point Brailsford said, “You can stick it up your arse” and walked off.

I'm assuming "You can stick it up your arse" is Brailsford confirming the doping program, which must involve administering HGH suppositories.

In other technology news, mountain biking now "requires" more gizmos than a rider can operate at one time, and to that end we now have the "Kill Switch:"



“Let me show you how it works.  The Kill Switch is mounted between the dropper post and the rear shock.  Before climbing just raise your saddle and Kill Switch will lock your shock.  When ready to descend, drop your saddle, and Kill Switch will unlock your shock."


Between the inherent phallocentrism of mountain biking and the direction he's pointing it's difficult to tell whether he's talking about the Kill Switch or his bro's perineum.

Because the perineum is also located between the "dropper post" and the "rear shock."

Medically speaking, of course.

"Now we’re ready to ride faster and smoother.”


He then points to another bro descending a smooth and gentle grade you'd never be able to ride on a regular bicycle:


At this rate here's your mountain bike in ten years:


Lastly, Outside ran my latest column last Friday, and once again I couldn't resist browsing the comments on their Facebook:


The latest issue of the magazine may contain thrilling stories of avalanches and near-death experiences:


Yet oddly a surprising number of Outside readers seem horrified at the prospect of a woman piloting a bakfiets full of children through the mean streets of Portland, OR:

Jason Melchior That just looks irresponsible. But hey...I'm not a complete cyclist.

Michael L. McClung Stupid and dangerous for kids when these people ride those contraptions in traffic.

James Keith Mowdy Potential serious injury.

I bet they all shop at Best Made.

Friday, July 14, 2017

BSNY Friday Fun Self-Promotion!

Good morning!

You've had a long week, I've had a long week, so I'm going to spare you the quiz and dismiss you early.

But first, click on over to Outside and read my latest column, which is all about using your bike to do stuff:



Even the most "epic" Fondo, gravel-grinder, or bikepacking expedition isn't so much a feat as it is a vacation, and the true cycling accomplishment is Getting Shit Done.

And if you're not tired of me yet (as if), when you're done with that you can hop on over to the Bike Forecast and read all about how I nearly died of heatstroke in a botched attempt at day-drinking:


Notice the deer is wearing one of those performance-enhancing ear tags:


Speaking of the Turbine (as I was yesterday), do you notice anything?:

No?  Look closer:


Here's a pop quiz:

The Turbine nasal-dilating athletic performance system resembles:

--A penis
--A uterus and ovaries
--The Ebola virus
--All of the above

Small, medium, and large sizes indeed.

Okay, you're now free to go.  Enjoy the weekend, ride safe, and enjoy riding safely this weekend.

Yours and so forth,


--Wildcat Rock Machine


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wait, is it really Thursday already?

Sorry I'm late, but you have no idea what I'm dealing with.

I'm not saying I'm dealing with a lot, because I'm not, I'm just saying you actually have no idea because you never think to ask:


Here's what he's writing, by the way:


Hey, therapy's expensive, but it's worth it.

Anyway, I doubt you even miss me at this point, since: 1) you take me for granted; and B) I have a whole other blog now.

And that's not even counting my weekly column at Outside, the next installment of which should materialize imminently.

Speaking of bullshit, remember how Andrew Talansky (currently 41st on the CG) was training with a for the Tour de France with a brain-zapper?



Well now Chris Froome is wearing a performance-enhancing septum ring:
At this year's Tour, Froome has been seen wearing a nasal dilator called the Turbine. The three-time race winner has been using it for a while. Riders are allowed to wear it in competition, according to the UCI, but we've seen Froome use it only after racing during his cooldown.

The company says on its website that the Turbine is "proven in a clinical trial to increase air flow through the nose by an average of 38%." 

Here are some of the research notes taken during that clinical trial:


Thinking of trying a Turbine for yourself?  The "starter kit" is only $19.95:


On one hand, twenty bucks isn't a lot of money in the context of Fredly performance-enhancement.  On the other hand, it's a piece of fucking plastic you stick up your nose.  Also, in a stroke of pure genius, you have to keep buying new ones.  Just read the FAQ:

HOW LONG DOES EACH TURBINE LAST?

Each device is recommended for use up to 10 times. A single pack comes with three devices.

Amazing.

And why do you have to replace it?  Because accumulating bacteria could make you die:

WHY SHOULD I CHANGE TURBINE AFTER 10 USES?

Testing has shown that to optimise the performance of the device, comfort and fit, Turbine should be replaced after 10 uses.
While Turbine may appear fit for use beyond 10 uses, optimal device performance cannot be guaranteed because:
1. Of the risk of bacteria accumulation and the maintenance of hygiene standards.
2. The device may discolour or the ultra-soft polymer may begin to stiffen affecting comfort.
3. The dilation mechanism will wear and may not hold its dilation effectively.

That's why I'm getting in on the act and selling an aftermarket system to keep your Turbine running longer:


Just keep in mind if the ultra-soft polymer gets too stiff it could snap and you could inhale the Turbine during competition, resulting in death--or worse, a diminished placing in the Gran Fondo or other targeted event.

I'm just waiting for Mario Cipollini to officially enter the performance-enhancing insertable market:


("Mine is similar, but for the butt.")

Lastly, you'll no doubt be delighted to learn the fixie and/or singlespeed as branding exercise refuses to die, and the "L Train Commuter" is proof:



Brilliant was inspired to build this bicycle after hearing news that the NYC Subway's notoriously unreliable L-Train is going down for 15 months of service, leaving many Brooklynites without their main artery into the city. With this limited edition bike, they set out to create the ultimate commuter bicycle for a seamless borough-to-borough, city ride. Even the paint options have a Brooklyn story to tell; a subway grey in tribute to the train, or a rich dark blue inspired by the Hudson river crossing. 

That's right: it's the first-ever dedicated subway service change bike.

Just don't try to use it in conjunction with any other subway line outage our you'll void the warranty.

Also, once L train service resumes you should discard the bike immediately, just like a Turbine schnoz ring after the 10th use.

See you tomorrow, and more punctually I hope.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ready, set, Wednesday!

Admittedly I haven't been following the Touring of France very closely, but I got very excited when I saw there had been a slapping incident--until I saw footage of said slapping:
Oh please.  That's a slap like Michelob Ultra is a beer.  In fact, between this and the outrage over Fabio Aru not waiting for Chris Froome, it's tempting to say cycling's getting too soft.

Wait!  Are we critiquing Tour de France riders for being too soft?!?

Cue an outraged old guy in five...four...three...

(Greg LeMond demonstrating the purported size of his testicles.)

"If the race is on, it does not matter what happens to the yellow jersey, he's got a team and that's what a team is for," added the American, who won the Tour in 1986, 1989 and 1990.

...

"The riders have lost their ability to race," said LeMond.

And with that, LeMond took a bong rip the size of a team bus:


Of course, if you really want context for the Tour de France, you've got to dig deep into the race's history.  Here's a New York Times article on the race from 1926:


[PDF]

28 Days!  And check out who was racing:

Many internationally known cyclists will compete in this event, the twentieth of its kind—last year’s champion, Bottesvia from Itall, Belgian’s Buysse brothers, Huysse, Beniot, Frantz, the Frenchmen Bellenger, Aymot, Huot, Sellier and many others, including Swiss, Hollanders, &c.

In those days they left off the first name for weight savings.

Of course, the basic idea was the same, but the wardrobe was a slightly different:

The man with the least number of accumulated hours will wear the coveted yellow sweater which often changes hands during the circuit.  

I couldn't help plugging the delightful phrase "coveted yellow sweater" into a popular search engine, and here's what I came up with:


(Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's sweater.)

But perhaps the best thing about the old-timey Tour was that amateur Freds could jump in too:

The professional cyclists operate in squads representing various bicycle manufacturing firms and lend each other a hand in case of punctures.  The amateurs operate alone, and while they cannot expect to win, they have a lively competition with each other for amateur prizes.  All along the route towns and villages offer prizes for spurts, &c., and the native sons always get a wild reception, whatever their standings in the race may be.

It's true, the native son always did get a wild reception, but once he arrived in the next town and was no longer the native son he was beaten mercilessly about the head and torso with a stale baguette.

In other news, I received a press release by email yesterday, and imagine my surprise when it was 50% about me:


As the NYC Bike Snob, the snarky and elusive Weiss became a guide for cyclists all over the world, with posts ranging from bike part information to bike lane etiquette -- never afraid of criticizing the big names in the competitive sport. 

The above paragraph continues thusly:

"Interest in the Bike Snob eventually faded until Outside found him behind a taqueria scrounging for discarded burrito stubs.  Taking mercy on him, they engaged him as a columnist ."

Anyway, being a "top influencer, " you can imagine I get lots of great marketing emails, such as this one:

Breaking the wind with Wood...Aerowood

Never one to resist a fart pun, I read on:

In today's carbon rich bicycle environment, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd and introduce something truly unique and different. The new Renovo Aerowood is a genuine head turner and a great conversation piece.  Please share this with your followers and if interested, please ask about Review Bikes that are readily available.

Wait a second:



Did they say review bikes are available?!?

I may have to try one of these things:


The new Aerowood combines wood with carbon to produce Renovo’s FFSVD© (full frame shock and vibration damping) engineering technology which creates an incredibly fast and smooth ride. In addition, the hollow wood frame is a unique departure from mainstream bicycles that Renovo has found to absorb vibration better than other frame materials and has been expertly engineering since 2007.  Completing the package the Aerowood sports a shrouded rear wheel, aero downtube and seat mast fairing to reduce wind resistance.

Not only will that give me at least two weeks' worth of wood puns, but I'll finally have an appropriate bike for my $45 wooden bidon:


Not to mention my wooden combination bottle opener/tire lever:


Not only is the shape highly ergonomic, but if you're using a tubeless system it can also be used as a sealant injector.

Best of all, I understand Best Made Co. has a travel bike conversion kit available specifically for wooden frames.  It consists of one of their axes:


And a set of hose clamps:


They're like S&S couplers, only more artisanal.

Still, being a top influencer comes with a lot of pressure.  For example, I'm woefully behind on all the different road bike categories, and I need to get caught up.  To that end, I recently browsed the VeloNews Buyers' Guide, where I was stunned to find that ther eare now "All-Around Road" bikes:


And "Aero Road" bikes:




And "Endurance Road" bikes:



And of course "Gravel" bikes;


Even more confusingly, the top Aero road bike was a track bike:


And in case you're wondering, the last place Gravel bike was a Cannondale Slate:


Cannondale’s Tim Johnson calls the Slate “the Swiss Army Knife of road bikes.” Do you really want to dress a deer with a folding knife? Isn’t that can-opener a nuisance? That’s not to say the Slate isn’t a fun, versatile bike. It just seems like a complicated design that tries to do too much for a very specific person. But maybe you’re that person.

Oh snap.

Anyway, I don't know much, but it seems to me that maybe one day they can come up with a bike that's just kind of a regular road bike you can use to do pretty much anything:


Nah, it'll never catch on.