Monday, 16 November 2009

Handy Dandy: The "Need" for Tweed

(AYHSMB saddle by Matt)

When it comes to addressing cycling discomfort, there are two kinds of riders: the kind who take some time to figure out the cause of the problem and to make adjustments and modifications; and the kind who simply spend a bunch of money to purchase a "vibration-damping" crabon replacement. As often as possible, I try to take the former approach, both because I don't have the resources to try out components like they're cheese samples at Whole Foods, and because I think it's fundamentally more sound. More importantly, I think it can be a useful way to approach life in general. Whether it's a job, a home, or even a relationship, sometimes it's better to at least try understand why something isn't working before abandoning it and moving on to another one. Why pay for crabon handlebars when some new bar tape may solve the problem? Why leave your spouse or life partner when all you may need is "Pure Romance by Sochy?" As the old saying goes, "Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater"--unless of course that baby is a Felt Curbside, in which case no amount of bathwater is sufficient.

For this reason, even though it made me sicker than anything I've seen so far this year (and I was at the SSWC, so that's saying a lot), I've been trying to make some sense of my feelings towards that Jared Leto video in the hopes that the process will somehow be edifying. After all, I'm just a bike blogger, and as such I'm really not qualified to pass judgment on people's musical endeavors. The music press, on the other hand, seems to love it. In fact, "Billboard" says that, "Grounded by Leto's convincing vocals, 'Kings and Queens' is epic rock at its most affecting:"

Clearly, I don't understand music very well. What I had thought was "bombastic" is actually "stately;" what struck me as "smarmy" is actually "convincing;" what had seemed "schmaltz" is actually "epic;" and what appeared "affected" is actually "affecting." It's no wonder then that the music business is in such a shambles--people like me simply don't know great music when we hear it. This is not just industry hype, either. Take this comment on the video written by someone named "Johanna:"

omg... I don't know why, but I had tears in my eyes while watching this... It is so amazing­ly beautiful. The song is just so amazing, and now with the video it's beyond perfect. It fits together so well. And the feelings that this video builds inside me are indescribable...<3

Apart from her use of emoticons, Johanna and I actually have a lot in common. I too had tears in my eyes while watching this, and I also experienced powerful and ineffable feelings. The difference, of course, is that while Johanna's brain interprets this as beauty, mine interprets it as disgust. Is this not then indicative of the different manner in which each one of us reacts to the same stimuli? In turn, do these different reactions--yours, and mine, and Johanna's, and "Billboard's" and indeed everybody's--not then resolve themselves into a vast and beautiful tapestry that embodies the exuberant variety of the human experience? And does this tapestry not in turn represent the true meaning of the word "culture"--the eternal act of creation and consumption and recreation, which stands as an eternal testament to the transcendent joy of human expression?

Of course not--Johanna just wants to have sex with Jared Leto. If he had released a film of himself on the toilet after eating an "epic burrito" her comment would have been exactly the same. (I, on the other hand, probably would have viewed the video more favorably.)

At this point then I was confident that I could finally get rid of Jared Leto. (It's fine to discard a component and replace it, so long as you've done your due diligence.) But with whom would I replace him? Which artist would fill cycling-themed musical void in my soul? After much searching, I finally decided to go with Fossil Fool, the "bike rapper." Here he is performing live with a guy in a panda suit:

I'm really "feeling" his reggae-infused soundway, though that panda looks hungry so I'd be wary of rolling up to a Fossil Fool show on my bamboo Calfee. I'd also hesitate before stepping to the rest of his "posse"--particularly the guy with the ice cream cone:

Fossil Fool's "posse" clearly runs deep--there's the dancing panda, the guy who pedals the generator bike, and of course the menacing guy in the background who stands around eating ice cream. With each bite brainfreeze's icy sting undoubtedly grows more acute, and after five or six double-scoop mint chocolate chip cones he's probably ready to raise his Rockport-shod foot and administer an "epic" ass-kicking:

Of course, Fossil Fool's musical superiority isn't the only reason I'm choosing him over Jared Leto as my cycling troubadour of choice; I also admire his "street cred." Beyond the nerdy thug with the sweet tooth, I also get a general sense from Fossil Fool that he tends to "keep it real." Leto, on the other hand, strikes me as an opportunist who simply tapped the "bike culture" as a convenient, visually striking backdrop in the same way a fixed-gear owner uses a graffiti mural for his pretentious Fixedgeargallery shot--though I suppose that's still better than trolling Craigslist for crash footage:

Licensing footage of big hits and crashes from sports events
Date: 2009-11-09, 6:56PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

We are licensing video footage of extra-ordinary knockout-type hits from sporting events. Examples would be a tackle or check that laid someone out for at least a few moments. We are also looking for crashes during bike races or stunt competitions.

You need to own the rights to the video, and you must be able to send it in within a week. *Include your phone number and a description of your footage or we won't respond*

Apparently the poster is paying $500 per clip, which means this is a potential goldmine for the fixed-gear freestyle community. Fixed-gear freestylers won't go within ten feet of their bicycles unless a friend with a video camera is recording it, and so even the most casual practitioner has hours of crash footage due to the frequency with which they fail to land their "tricks." The only way they could possibly make more money would be if the producers also started paying for "bike checks" or use of the word "colorway." Then, they could all hire sidekicks dressed as animals and dessert-eating bodyguards. Even without the "bike check" bonus, there's still opportunity to "sweeten the pot" if they're ticklish or they resemble either Rosanna Arquette or Martin Scorcese.

Personally, I'm not that interested in watching videos of people crashing their bikes, though I suppose I'd enjoy it a bit more if the crashes took place during a "tweed ride," and number of readers have informed me that another one of these rides was just held in Washington, DC:

Not only that, but the Washington Post has gone so far as to suggest that tweed rides represent "a new masculinity:"

Apparently, this "new masculinity" involves simultaneously humiliating yourself and interfering with public transportation:

Around noon, Brewer rings a brass bell and the riders roll out of the alley, marking a leisurely pace down Eighth Street toward Eastern Market, gliding over the pulp of pulverized leaves, as pedestrians stop and watch and wonder what exactly distinguishes this mob from any other that organizes in Washington. A Metrobus huffs and puffs behind the bike jam, honking its horn. "You rapscallion!" cries one tweed rider, shaking his fist at the bus driver.

I'm glad the Post has straightened that out for me, since until I read that I was under the impression that the "new masculinity" was about combining ice cream and ass-kicking, or at least about not being afraid to wear shorts like this guy (as forwarded to me by Stevil Kinevil):

They are second-hand shorts, though, so I suppose it's technically "used masculinity."

It's also interesting that the cyclists of our nation's capital seem to be nostalgic for the days of limited suffrage, and I only hope that come the next election "new masculinity" doesn't involve organizing a ride to block female access to polling places. I also hope that people don't start measuring bicycles in "hands" instead of centimeters, though judging from Craigslist this may already be taking place:

TRACK BIKE: Brass Knuckle 54cm Al. - $480 (woodside)
Date: 2009-11-15, 11:59AM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

hello, this is a complete track bike 54cm (med)yes the kind with horizontal drop outs, with front and back brakes!! aluminum frame and fork, color- tan, cane creek sealed head set, sugino 75-165mm crank arms, 46 tooth chain ring, blue KMC single spd chain, NITTO bull horns,wrapped and plugged, with top mount brake levers, kalloy seat post, selle italia flite saddle with Ti rails, blue velocity DEEP V wheelset 15 tooth cog. This bike was used at elite couriers nyc for only 1.5 yrs, hit this up! going fast! (pic is not up to date, but that is the color )

As a huge fan of disembodied hands in fixed-gear photographs, I immediately noticed this one, which appears to be enormous:

Though it could be simply the swinging limb of someone in the foreground who happened to walk into the shot, it may also be that this bicycle is being propped up by the hand of the giant. Using my own hand for scale, I estimate that a 700c wheel is approximately three and a half hands in diameter. This hand, however, actually spans half the wheel, and it's not even fully-extended:

Or, to put it another way, the rear wheel of this bike is two limp giant hands across:

Certainly then a 54cm (sightly more than two limp giant hands) bike would be too small for him. No wonder he's selling.


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