Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Contingency Plans: Fresh Rolls, Pit Dogs, Wet Feet, and Spare Wheels

Yesterday, I complained about the cycling world's obsession with the opening and consumption of beer. To illustrate this, I posted a video from Portland Design Works, which gratuitously shows that their "3wrencho" combination wrench and tire lever has "vital" bottle-opening capabilities. I then went on to express mock confusion concerning the fact that cyclists aren't similarly enthusiastic about other easily-obtained goods such as toilet paper. Well, not only have PDW heard my cry, but they've gone also so far to edit the "3wrencho" video accordingly:

3wrencho- marcal edit from PDW on Vimeo.

I was amazed and delighted to learn that, in addition to flat repair and bottle opening, you can also use the 3wrencho to proffer a roll of Marcal:

It's truly a testament to the ingenuity of the engineers at PDW that they had the foresight to design that functionality into the tool. Really, I have only one minor quibble, which is that the new toilet paper scenario shown in the video is rather implausible. If one were sitting on the toilet while perusing the artwork of Mike Giant only to find oneself out of toilet paper, one would not sit there shouting helplessly until a friend came to one's aid with a roll of Marcal and a 3wrencho; instead, one would simply do the logical thing and clean up after oneself using the Mike Giant art. I've found myself in a similar predicament many times while reading The New Yorker, and in each instance I was tremendously grateful for the work of Sasha Frere-Jones. I won't go into too much detail, but I will say that while Frere-Jones's writing may not be that engrossing from a literary standpoint, it is tremendously absorbing when it comes to personal hygiene. Sure, it's kinda scratchy, but that's nowhere near as irritating as actually trying to read it.

Ultimately, though, the "Oh drat!"-clenching-of-the-empty-toilet-paper-roll moment alone more than made up for this inaccuracy, and I only hope PDW continues to incorporate practical non-cycling applications into their bike tools. Bottle openers may be "cool," but if they want to give "hipsters" something they actually need instead of something cool then they should think about equipping future products with a built-in lice comb.

Speaking of Portlanders and ingenuity, their creativity is in no way limited to multitools. Proving once again that they are far more advanced than the rest of the country when it comes to anything involving cycling, they are now augmenting their cyclocross with actual dog racing:

This is great news for Portlanders and their dirty, hairy, smelly sidekicks (as well as for their dogs), though it's awful news for the rest of us. Portland cyclocross racers are already smug enough about how much muddier their races are than everyone else's; now on top of that they're going to start feeling superior to people who aren't forced to race through post-dog race waste. Soon struggling though knee-deep mud won't be enough to qualify a 'cross race as "epic;" you'll also need to face-plant into the feces of a Great Dane. (Yes, there's a "clydesdale" category.) Worst of all, though:

There’s even a special category for “carry-on and lap dogs” where owner must carry their dogs along the entire course.

This should mean every cyclocross-related forum on the Internet is going to be hijacked by "epic" threads about the proper technique for "portaging" a Yorkie. (Not to mention all the stupid accessories that are sure to follow.) The only real winner here is the pet industry, since dog ownership in Portland will surely double when everyone rushes to acquire a spare "pit dog." (Pit bulls, incidentally, make excellent pit dogs.)

Meanwhile, here in the World of Reality, in a neighborhood called New York City, we also have what aspires to be "bike culture," only it's a bit more quaint. For example, just last night was that "Biking Rules" PSA Film Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Even though I was a juror in the PSA contest, I was "unable" to attend this gala, though I did ride by the building on the way back from my flimsy excuse. Presumably the building was filled with bike nerds, which would explain why it is radiating smugness:

Here are some of the bike nerds' "whips." Just try entering the rarefied world of bicycle advocacy without a leather saddle, swept-back handlebars, Wald baskets, fenders, and spoke cards and you are sure to wither beneath the raised nose of Lady Smugness:

I don't see any generator lights, though it could be that they're just waiting for Planet Bike to release a set that is powered by the rider's self-righteousness. I also don't know which PSA won, though I'm looking forward to finding out. Hopefully they gave David Byrne an honorary award for singlehandedly inventing the concept of riding a bicycle in New York City. (It's true--I saw in the Times.) Between Byrne and that guy who "independently" invented the mountain bike New York is truly a city of cycling pioneers.

Actually, I did consider attending the PSA festival, but I got cold feet. "Cold feet" is a condition that makes you apprehensive about doing something, as opposed to "wet feet," which is a condition that can make it highly dangerous to ride an R-Sys:

Mavic R-SYS Premium Clinchers - $1000 (Financial District)
Date: 2009-11-18, 12:33AM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

Brand New, put wheels and cassette on them, never been ridden, pretty much just been wheeled into and out of R&A. Shimano/Sram. Stupid light for alloy clincher. Have the skewers and the padded bags for them. Don't want to ride them cause I got wet feet and think I am a little to big for them (185 lbs). Currently have Pro Race 3's on them and would consider leaving them on if you don't dicker with the price too much, I paid through the nose for these....

Actually, riding an R-Sys under any circumstances can be dangerous, but if your feet are wet it's tantamount to suicide, so the poster is wise to sell. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this explained what happened to Ben Delaney of VeloNews. The Mavic R-Sys literature clearly warns users that using them with wet feet can lead to catastrophic failure. (This should be of particular concern to triathletes.) I wonder if the Mavic Engineering Team checked to see if Delaney's socks were still damp.

Meanwhile, if you find yourself forced to palp your R-Syses (R-Si?) with wet feet, I would at least recommend carrying a spare set of wheels. While this may seem excessive, more and more New Yorkers are doing so. (It's possible that, due to the increasing popularity of cyclocross among "hipsters," "pit wheels" are the new top tube pad.) Just make sure that if you do carry spare wheels you don't accidentally leave them behind:

LOST/STOLEN: Mavic Ksyrium SLs - $100 (East Village)
Date: 2009-11-15, 7:53PM EST
Reply to: [delete]

I accidentally spaced tonite and unlocked my spare wheels and walked with my bike a block and a half away before realizing I left my wheels in front of Lula's Sweet Apothecary on 6th between Ave A & Ave B.
They are the '06 SLs, have Continental Touring tires on them, and are shimano-splined. They aren't the best wheels anymore, but they have sentimental value so if any kind soul has found them and is willing to return them I would reward them.
Thank you.

Here's another New York City rider who opts to travel with at least one spare wheel:

Some people choose to ride with only the two wheels on their bike and a spare tube, and others choose to bank on the durability of the tube and prepare themselves for wheel failure instead. It's definitely a "worst case scenario" approach, but I suppose it's not entirely without merit.

But not everybody in New York City is risk-averse. There's still some "edge" to be found here, as you can see from this potentially dangerous bike:

Not only is it equipped with wooden bars with integrated "grips:"

But it's also got a potentially crotch-savaging homemade leather saddle that would make Eric "The Chamferer" Murray chamfer out his own eyeballs in horror:

There's also this sweet Cleveland "theme bike" in the purple and black cityway:

It's 100% wet feet compatible. You can even ride it in flippers.


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