Saturday, 30 January 2010

Royal H. Mixte Logos

Some of you have asked what the decals on my Royal H. mixte will look like, and I now have pictures. But there won't actually be any decals: the logos are being painted (stenciled) by hand, by Circle A in Providence, RI. I chose these designs out of many that were available, because I thought the aesthetic would suit my bicycle very nicely.

So this is what the downtube logo will look like:

And this is what the headtube logo will look like:

The image may seem a little strange in .jpg form, but on an actual head tube it looks ridiculously beautiful - like an expressionist woodblock print. I remember stopping in my tracks the first time I saw this design on another Royal H. bike, and thinking "I want THAT". Eventually I will get a headbadge made and attach it over the logo, but for now it will be painted. (Meanwhile, if you are a headbadge maker, do drop me a line - especially if you are local.)

The logos will be done in a dark gold (more like a bronze or copper) over the sage green frame. Circle A warned me that there won't be a great deal of contrast between the frame colour and the logos, but that is fine with me; I am not going for a contrasty look. The lug cutouts (or "windows", if you will) will be painted the same gold as the logos, and I've also asked Circle A to do the lug outlining. I can do it myself, but their work will no doubt be nicer, plus it will match the other gold detailing exactly. Here is an example of a fancy outlining job they've done on another bike, but mine will be a toned down version.

So there it is. I think the paint and logos are done at this point and they are working on the lug outlining. I haven't seen pictures of the painted frame yet, but I am sure it's gorgeous. The anticipation is killing me!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Cycling and Weight: Realistic Outlooks

It may be controversial, but weight is such a commonly discussed topic among women (albeit usually in private), that it feels disingenuous to pretend that I do not think about it myself. Specifically, I want to say a few words about the relationship between weight and cycling. In many cycling blogs, I find the recurring suggestion that "cycling will make you thin" - whether explicit or implicit. Transportation cycling is presented as not only convenient and fun, but as a natural form of exercise that can improve your physique. Replacing 20 minutes per day of sitting in a car with 40 minutes of pedaling does indeed seem like a great way to get in shape. But if your main goal is weight loss, what is realistic to expect?

Cycling is great exercise, and exercise leads to weight loss - if (and this is a crucial if) all else remains constant. In other words, if you used to drive to work and now you cycle, while maintaining the same diet as before and the same amount of physical activity outside your commute, you will lose weight.

The problem is that all else usually does not remain constant. For one thing, cycling makes us ravenous, and more often than not we end up consuming enough (or even more than enough) extra calories to make up for the fact that we cycled to work instead of driving. So while we do build up muscle which will cause parts of our body too look more shapely, our weight is likely to remain the same unless a conscious effort is made to also control our diet. This does not entirely coincide with the "cycling will make you thin" narrative - which presents the life of cyclists as filled with tasty foods, beer, and weight loss. If you cycle a lot, but also eat a lot, your weight will stay the same. If you cycle a bit, but eat even more, your weight will increase. That is the reality.

Even if you are not looking to lose weight, but are in the "cycle a lot, eat a lot" category, there are caveats to consider. Over the Summer and Fall, I cycled so much that my diet changed drastically just to accommodate the constant energy loss and hunger pains. Things that I hadn't freely indulged in for years - pizza, ice cream, obscene amounts of chocolate, random snack foods - became regular dietary staples. As long as I continued to spend large portions of my day on a bike, I could feel like a pre-teen at a slumber party again when it came to eating, with (seemingly) no ill effect.

But what happens when that amount of daily cycling becomes unsustainable - due to either the arrival of a harsher season, travel, or a change in work schedule? Once you get used to consuming large amounts of food, it can be extremely difficult to cut down, even after your level of physical activity decreases. The reasons for this are partly physiological (stomach size; metabolic processes), but to an even greater extent psychological. We use food not just for sustenance, but for comfort and for social bonding. Having grown used to eating pizza and ice cream late at night with friends, it can feel sad to give that up. Once we grow accustomed to a lavish diet during a period of intense cycling, chances are we will be tempted to maintain it even during those times when we do not spend as much time on a bike. And this can lead to an overall weight gain for those who cycle.

I began this post not out of the blue, but because I've had several private discussions now with other cyclists about this topic. Some are disappointed because they hoped to lose weight through cycling, only to have gained weight - and they don't understand what went wrong. Further, they feel ashamed because many cycling blogs do project the image of the "healthy and fit" (meaning slender) cyclist and contrast this image to that of the overweight driver who eats burgers and guzzles cola behind the wheel.

Cycling and weightloss only go hand in hand if you control for the other factors, and that is not always simple. For me it has been quite effortful to prevent out-of-control weight gain this winter, after my time on a bicycle fell to maybe 10% of what it was in earlier seasons. What has been your experience?

BSNYC Frizzy Fur Quiz!

Today is an auspicious day in cycling, as all over North America Subaru-driving Belgian beer enthusiasts are wetting their waders over the announcement that Louisville, Kentucky will host the cyclocross masters world championships in 2012 and the elite world championships in 2013:

This is easily the most shockingly lavish gift from Europe to the United States since Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. In determining the location of the world championships the UCI had to consider a number of compelling bids, including one from Portland which involved routing the competitors through an elaborate reconstruction of the "Three's Company" set, beer hand-ups from specially-trained chimpanzees, and a custom machined bottle opener and $35 Stumptown Coffee gift card for the winner in each category. Ultimately, though, the UCI decided that the sport of cyclocross should retain some dignity, and so cyclesport shall be spared the spectacle of the most ironic cyclocross race the world has ever seen for at least a few more years. Still, cyclocross-mad Portlanders will no doubt descend on Louisville in 2013, where they will be easily identifiable by their constant complaints about inferior beer and coffee, insufficient mud, and the total lack of a category for their dogs.

In the meantime, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll know, and if you're wrong you'll see the Danny MacAskill of pretentious mountain bike art.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and remember that the deadline for The Great Meh BSNYC Free Scat Contest! is 12:01 AM EST on Saturday, January 30th (which is technically tomorrow morning but colloquially considered tonight), after which no further entries will be considered, no matter how pathetic.


1) What is this?

--The mascot for the 1972 Olympic Games
--The Canine Cyclocross World Champion
--The Dachshund of Time

2) Riccardo Riccò, aka "The Cobra," will return to cycling just in time for:

3) When kangaroos attack, they do in fact go for the "pants yabbies."

4) Who would win in a fight between a hawk and a kangaroo?

5) In a recent video advocating brakeless fixed-gear riding and featuring cycling attorney Bob Mionske, which is a reason given for this choice of bike?

--"To cross-train for different sports"
--It feels like you're "running on wheels"
--"I just feel a little more in control"
--All of the above

6) Thanks, "bike culture!" Finally:

(Canadian "Fakenger")

7) "It even comes with the pens!" How much should you expect to pay for a Canadian Bike Courier Starter Kit?

***Special Foregone Cunnilingus Pun Opportunity-Themed Bonus Question***

What is this cat licking?

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The State of Affairs: Sniffing the Winds of Change

As the week goes on I continue to wallow in the misfortunes of others due to my unenviable role as "curator" of The Great Meh BSNYC Free Scat Contest!. It's not all tears and misery, though, and I've also learned quite a bit about the world beyond New York City and even the United States. For example, as we saw yesterday, in Australia kangaroos like to topple cyclists and then kick them in the "'nads." Also, in Canada, people are strange yet altruistic. I've heard from one young Canadian who wants the Scattante for his father so that he will not buy the recumbent he's been eyeballing. I've also heard from another whose "stable" consists of two recumbent bikes, one recumbent trike, and a p-far, and who regularly travels to Cuba where he leaves bags of bicycle components on the streets for the locals like some sort of Sheldon Brown/Santa Claus hybrid.

I will admit though that I found myself lamenting that nobody had sent me a video submission--that is until I received one from perhaps the most prolific cycling videographer working today. This is a man whose video output singlehandedly exceeds that of the entire fixed-gear freestyle movement. I am referring of course to the Opinionated Cyclist:

This enigmatic figure is one of the few in cycling whose very participation has the power to completely alter the character of an event. Just as Lance Armstrong brought international attention to the humble Leadville 100, the Opinionated Cyclist will almost certainly transform TGMBSNYCFSC from just another mail-order bike giveaway into the most fiercely-contested mail-order bike giveaway cycledom has ever seen. And the similarities do not end there. When Armstrong returned to competition, he made clear that he was doing so in part to promote his LiveStrong foundation. Similarly, the OC isn't in it just for the free "biek;" he's also championing his new web endeavor, "I Wanna Be A Rockstar"--the LiveStrong of aspiring rock performer advocacy groups.

Of course, if you're familiar with the OC, you know his videos are a bit like Serotta headtubes in that, while they're painstakingly crafted, they do tend to run a little long. So if you're pressed for time I will point out that should he win the OC has a few requests with regard to the bike:

--He would like it to be delivered by Lance Armstrong;
--He would like it to be equipped with air free tires;
--He would like it to be equipped with an "Airzound;"
--He would like it to be equipped with a rack;
--He would like it to be equipped with a high-powered light complete with spare battery.

Obviously supplying these things falls beyond my purview as a contest curator, but in the event that the OC does win I will be sure to pass all of these requests along to Performance.

Moving on, as most people are aware, last night President Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union address. If you're a citizen of another country such as France, Germany, or California and you're unfamiliar with the State of the Union address, it's basically a big speech during which the President tells everybody what's wrong and what he's going to do about it while the Supreme Court justices sit there and try not to smile. The State of the Union address is a hugely important event in the United States, second only to new product announcements from Apple.

Since self-evaluation seems to be in the air at the moment (at least I think that's what I'm smelling, though I did just microwave some cockles), I think it's worthwhile to turn our attention to the state of our own union--that of cycling. For example, I recently received this press release from powerful Dutch bike lobby pedestrian, cyclist, and public transportation advocacy group Transportation Alternatives:

This is in response to the recent announcement that traffic fatalities fell to an all-time low in 2009, though the number of pedestrian fatalities did increase from 2008. This is excellent news, unless of course you're a pedestrian, which really all of us are, unless you ride your bike on the sidewalk. I'd certainly agree that even one traffic death is too many, but I'm not sure that "epidemiological expertise" is the most effective way to address the problem--at least until someone develops some sort of stupidity vaccine. Really, the only way to inoculate people against idiocy is by educating them, but it's only so effective, especially when the prevailing view among cyclists is still that they can do no wrong. Last night I watched a black-clad Nü-Fred on a lightless black bicycle of the "my first fixie" variety salmon up a busy street, leap onto the sidewalk to cut out the light, and buzz a couple of pedestrians in the process. If there was such a thing as an actual stupidity vaccine I would prescribe a shot of it right in his ass; pending that, however, I think a foot would suffice.

Conversely, sometimes doing everything right is still not enough. You may have heard about a recent incident in Miami, in which a cyclist was killed while out on his morning ride by an intoxicated aspiring pop musician:

And which prompted a 2,500 person memorial ride:

Christophe Le Canne Memorial Ride from Mike Marshall on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, you may not be prone to kangaroo attacks like you are in Australia, but that doesn't mean you can't get strangled in a road rage incident:

Apparently, that very same day a local businessman apologized for saying online that he wanted to 'nail" cyclists with his Hummer. Of course, it's always possible that people overreacted to his comments. Perhaps he only meant "nail" and "hummer" in the sexual sense, and not in the vehicular hitting sense.

Speaking of backpedaling and tragedy, I just watched the latest episode of "Pedaling," entitled "Cheers for Beers." Interestingly, the "Fixie Crew" is indeed back, but since one of the members was caught coasting in the infamous "cockles" episode they've now been downgraded to the "single-speed crew:"

I'll spare you the details since if you're anything like me you're still reeling from the arrest of the Saffron King, but I will say that this installment does find them riding around in circles fenderless in the rain. This proves too much for one of the members, and by the end of the episode the "single-speed crew" is reduced to two people, which I'm not sure really qualifies as a crew. At this rate, I guess if they make another episode it will feature the "single-speed pair," and by the end only a single rider will be left, crying to himself in Whole Foods next to the tapenade. I don't want to spoil the surprise by revealing which rider doesn't make it, but here's a hint: he subscribes to the Chris Carmichael helmet-adjusting system.

You may be tempted at this point to declare the State of the Cycling Union tragic with an undercurrent of extreme dorkiness. However, there is hope. Followers of the burgeoning fixed-gear freestyle movement recently held a gathering in Wisconsin called "Midwest Mayhem." Subsequently, the online world has been ablaze with videos and images of what will surely go down as the Woodstock of the fitted cap set:

MIDWEST MAYHEM!!! from Seth Root on Vimeo.

Sure, the music is a hundred times more tedious than anything you'll hear while watching "Pedaling," and sure BMXers do better tricks in their apartments, but it's the irrepressible exuberance of the movement and the vast marketing possibilities that count. Also, the fixed-gear freestylers' preference for wide bars could finally end the stubby dildo-bar craze, though at least one rider at "Midwest Mayhem" was keeping it real...short:

Yes, cycling has a long way to go, but we do have a union, and it is strong. Hopefully, we can all take advantage of that strength, and use it against unicyclists, who seem to think they can ride their goofy novelty crotch-casters wherever they please. Here's one I spotted yesterday evening as he executed a perfect salmon-to-sidewalk transition and rode right into Tomkins Square Park:

I must admit that I found myself hoping for a hawk attack. As far as what I was doing loitering on a corner near Tompkins Square Park, let's just say I had to see a guy about some "saffron."

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Master Builder: Mike Flanigan in His New Workshop

Last week we visited the new A.N.T. Bikes workshop in Holliston, Mass., and the Co-Habitant took a series of black and white photos of the excellent Mike Flanigan. My job was to take the digital test shots, which were mostly to meter light and try out compositions before the "real thing". So here are a few of these test shots, which A.N.T. fans might find enjoyable.

For those who are not familiar with Mike Flanigan, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that he is a legendary figure in the bicycle industry. Not only does A.N.T. put out a truly unique product, but Mike's background is impressive in itself. He started out in 1989 at Fat City Cycles - one of the early pioneers in mountain bike design, based in Somerville MA. After Fat City was sold in 1994, Mike went on to co-found Independent Fabrication, another Somerville bike manufacturer that has attained international fame. And finally, in 2002, Mike branched out on his own with A.N.T. to pursue his unique vision of "not sport, transport".

Since discovering A.N.T. a year ago, I keep asking myself what exactly makes these bicycles so interesting and unusual? Others make TIG-welded frames. Others offer custom colours. And now that the concept of "city bike" has taken off, others build up bicycles designed for fenders, front and rear loads, and upright sitting. So what does A.N.T. offer that's different?

Ah yes - Personality. And I am not talking about Mike's own great personality. The bicycles themselves have a distinctly ANTian character that transcends the sum of their parts. A.N.T. bikes are the Meryl Streeps of bicycles, if you will. Yes, they are beautiful and their performance is impeccable - but there is something more, isn't there? And that elusive "more" is what we really find captivating.

And then there is the fact that Mike himself is a kind, generous and creative person, who sticks to his principles and follows his philosophy. It is endearing to hear the younger framebuilding generation in the Boston area speak of him. Everyone seems to have a story about Mike having helped them out at some point, or taught them something; he is somewhat of a patron saint around these parts.

So that is the man we had the privilege to photograph last week, and we thank him for the opportunity.

The Co-Habitant is a photographer, and he is now working on a project that documents different aspects of the Boston bicycle industry - from independent manufacturers, to bike shop owners, to bicycle collectors. It is an interesting thing to help him with and I hope he exhibits the photos when the project is finished.

I enjoyed looking at all the tools and machinery in the A.N.T. workshop, and more than anything I loved examining this fork. It is a segmented fork that I believe goes on the Light Roadsters. There is something about the look of these that I find very cool.

Here Mike explains something to the Co-Habitant, as his Antique Scorcher poses in the foreground. To see some of the other bikes A.N.T. has made recently, have a look at their flickr sets. I wrote a test ride report of a Boston Lady's Roadster here, and I think the latest series of mixtes (especially the gold and the white one) are particularly beautiful. And of course I am very curious to see what Mike will be building for the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show 2010. I think he knows what my fantasy A.N.T. bike is, but that is another story entirely!

Going Down Hard: Saucy Kangaroos and Spicy Videos

Despite my belief in always sparing readers from my personal problems, the truth is there are some difficulties which are too great for me to bear alone. One such example was a couple of weeks ago when I got sick. Now, I find myself in need of support once again, for in "curating" The Great Meh BSNYC Free Scat Contest! I have been subjected to tales so woeful as to desiccate even the most exuberant soul. Following is an excerpt from one such account, which only proves that our existence is as cruel as it is meaningless:

Riding to work on a fire road at 4.30am I had coming together with a bloody big Western Red kangaroo. I spotted the stupid bastard in my helmet-mounted-eBay-purchased-from-Hong-Kong extra sthpecial seven-candlepower light with enough time to say "watchout ya stupid f*cker", it then proceeded to change direction twice before hopping and propping right in front of me. Those bastards are hard. And big. Make no mistake there's no cuddling kangaroos. I'm about 190 pounds and he had at least another 50 on me. We both went down and somehow I ended up spooning him momentarily. That was just before he decided to give me a swift kick in the groin. He sprung up like nothing had happened, took his first leap using my front wheel as a trampoline and disappeared into the darkness.

It only gets worse from there. A kick to the "pants yabbies" from a kangaroo is bad enough, but to also lose your bike in the process is an indignity of Jobian proportions. (That's "Jobian," as in the biblical figure Job, and not "Jobstian," as in serial retrogrouch and uber-curmudgeon Jobst Brandt. Jobstian stories are generally Bunyanesque tall tales involving things like sealing tires with spoiled milk and extruding MA2 rims in the forest with your teeth.) By the way, if you doubt the validity of the kangaroo story, I was also suspicious. However, I did some checking, and it turns out the submission comes from Australia. As it happens, Australia is the pretty much the only place in which Western Red kangaroos--or really any kangaroos--are found in the wild (though I think there may also be some in New Guinea, home of the penis gourd), and this is a little-known fact of which the average confidence artist would be unlikely to be aware. Also, if you're wondering what kind of person rides to work on a fire road at 4:30am, do keep in mind that he is Australian, so he's probably just your typical accountant or other white collar professional. There are very few actual paved roads and buildings "Down Under," and most people live and work in hollowed-out trees. Moreover, they live in constant terror of kangaroos, and so they tend to commute before dawn under cover of darkness

Despite my immense sympathy for the victim, though, please know that he is not necessarily going to win the Scattante. I merely wanted to give readers a taste of the bitter tonic I must constantly imbibe, and at this point the Scattante is still very much "up for grabs." However, I would like to stress that whoever does win the Scattante should emphatically not equip it with this "book caddy" from Performance, which was brought to my attention by a number of readers:

I should not have to point out that reading while cycling is extremely dangerous--more so even than listening to music. This is something I can say from experience, because while I mentioned the other day that I crashed into a beer truck this past summer, what I did not include was the fact that I was reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" at the time. This is a book that is as pants-yabbies-twistingly emotional as it is engrossing, and it's both Jobian and Jobstian. Anyway, there I was, riding and crying, and before I even had a chance to insert a bookmark to hold my place I found myself flying over the handlebars of my Empire State Courier and Euro-kissing the Bud Light logo like an overly-amorous podium girl.

Speaking of how not to use your Scattante, while I really have no control over what the winner does with it, I would implore him or her not to use it for epicurean adventures. No, the appropriate bicycle for such excursions is the Globe, as we all know from watching the web TV series "Pedaling: NYC." Such have been the rigors of my curatorial responsibilities that I have fallen an episode behind in my viewing, and have only just watched Episode 3, entitled "Sweet and Savory:"

At my age (I lie somewhere within the coveted 18-65 marketing demographic) I should know by now never to judge people solely upon their appearance. Still, when I first set eyes on the burly protagonist of "Sweet and Savory," my immediate impression was, "This guy is going to ride out to Coney Island and eat the fuck out of some Nathan's." I could not have been more wrong. In fact, he is a very affable and erudite British-accented man named Behroush Sharifi, and he's a spice importer known as "The Saffron King." Here's the King throwing a leg over a Globe:

This episode of "Pedaling" breaks with tradition a bit in that there's a lot more narration from the Saffron King than there was from the Fixie Crew in Episode 1 or the roadies in Episode 2. The Saffron King expresses his enthusiasm for cycling articulately and in a manner to which many of us can undoubtedly relate. "Every single time I get on my bicycle, it's a whole new adventure," he says. "I feel free."

I don't doubt the Saffron King's claim, though I must say that most of the time he's riding he also appears terrified:

Perhaps he was once the victim of a kangaroo attack. That kind of trauma will stay with you.

Also noteworthy is the Saffron King's approach to clothing, as he is clearly one of those people who wears shorts well into the colder months. Personally, I find the effect disorienting, since his heavily-clothed upper half is completely at odds with his scantily-clad lower half and I feel like I'm looking at two seasons at once. Basically, it's October upstairs:

But it's still July downstairs:

Even more disorienting is the music, which is incredibly tedious. I'm not sure who the artist is, but it sounds like The Breeders on Thorazine.

Eventually, the Saffron King, whose riding has been quite subdued until now, powers his Globe onto the sidewalk:

And then dismounts and enters the Blue Ribbon Bakery, leaving his bicycle completely unlocked and unattended:

Perhaps I misinterpreted the Saffron King's look of terror and it was actually one of discomfort. It could be that he hates his Globe, and that he's hoping it will get stolen so he can win a Scattante. I wonder if I've received a submission from him. You'd think this episode was filmed well before I even came up with the contest idea, but then again the King's multi-seasonal wardrobe makes it completely impossible to determine when it was made. Anyway, here's the Saffron King meeting the baker:

At this point, the Saffron King begins to withdraw plastic bags full of "spices" from his pannier:

If a bearded and ponytailed man who rides around town delivering powder in Ziploc bags seems suspicious to you, you're not the only one:

I haven't seen dealing this flagrant since Cheech & Chong's "Nice Dreams." Meanwhile, here's the scene outside the Blue Ribbon Bakery:

I know they're foreign policemen, but when you're taking on a criminal like Behroush Sharifi--street name "The Saffron King"--you need an international task force.

Anyway, presumably now higher than Tom Boonen on payday, the baker and the Spice King decide to bake some tarts:

Frankly, I'd be hesitant to eat anything baked by the Saffron King--not because it might contain narcotics, but because it might be full of beard hair. I'd at least like to see him putting on some sort of beardnet before going to work:

Here he is mixing in the beard hair:

Here they are sliding the tarts into the oven along with the freebase:

Here they are testing the finished product:

And here's the Saffron King pulling a really long beard hair out of his mouth:

"Can I grab a couple to throw in my panniers?," asks the Saffron King. "I'm going to ride further down towards Chinatown," he exclaims--clearly planning to sell the "tarts" to his next connection. However, the police are wise to the entire operation by now, and they seize him as soon as he walks out of the door:

And so it would seem that this particular episode of "Pedaling" was actually an elaborate sting operation designed to take the Saffron King down, and I'm sure the authorities are grateful for Mike Sinyard's participation. (Actually, he likely "ratted out" Boonen too, and the Saffron King was probably Boonen's supplier.) I'm looking forward to watching the next episode, which once again features the Fixie Crew, and I hope they too receive the justice they deserve.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Feeling Freaky: Who Needs Insight?

Like the brakeless rider who does not consider how he will stop his bicycle until he's at the bottom of the hill, the light is red, and an SUV is approaching the intersection, I do not always think things through. For example, when I announced "The Great Meh BSNYC Free Scat Contest!" yesterday, it did not occur to me that perusing people's tales of lament would take a great psychic toll on me. Indeed, to "curate" this contest is to enter a world of injury, theft, pain, and heartache, and the subsequent angst can be assuaged only with spirits. It was not yet sundown yesterday when I began drinking, and it was not yet time for the evening news when I found myself passed out face-down in a bowl of cold macaroni and cheese. Alas, there are too many deserving souls and too few mail-order singlespeeds, and it saddens me that I have but one to give.

Today, however, brings perspective, and after consuming my customary hangover concoction (consisting of apple juice, black pepper, skim milk, and a shot of that disgusting yellow water that's always first to emerge from a squeeze bottle of mustard) I now realize that I must focus on the positive. So instead of dwelling on the many people I will disappoint, I will instead imagine the joy that will fill the life of the winner as well as the beauty that is a brand-new Scattante Americano Courier whatever-the-hell-they're-called. Which bike will the winner choose? Perhaps it will be this one:

It's clear from the new Scats that Performance did their homework this year. (I'm not saying they got an "A" or anything, but they did hand in a piece of paper with something written on it, and as a former mediocre student myself I say that counts.) Most noticeable is that Performance are keyed into the whole "different color fork" thing, which is very fashionable in fixed-gear freestyle right now, and which I assume they stole from the BMX crowd along with all their tricks. (I wonder if fixed-gear freestylers also install their forks much more slowly and awkwardly than BMX riders do, since that seems to be their approach to the tricks.) Performance is a bit behind the times on fashionable foot retention though, and I'm surprised they didn't spec any of the new bikes with some bootleg Hold Fasts. I've actually been using the real thing on my Scattante, and I've been pretty pleased with them. If you're unfamiliar with Hold Fasts, they work exactly like a pair of velcro bedroom slippers--the footwear of choice for the Thorazine-addled. This is why Hold Fast is an especially good choice for the intoxicated or those of limited faculties. (The latter is certainly why I chose them.) I may even "drop" my own version soon:

Made of tough drool-resistant materials, they'll grip your feet with the strength of a thousand patient restraints.

Of course, if you win the Scattante you're also going to need to win a proper bag. Fortunately, over at All Hail The Black Market, Stevil has announced a contest wherein you can do just that. Then, with a free bike and a free bag, you'll have plenty of money left over to drape yourself in Rapha. After all, spring will be here before you know it, and you can't cruise around town on a Hold-Tite®-equipped Scattante sporting a fancy new bag without a proper pair of "shants." Even if Rapha is out of your price range you have no excuse, because there's always eBay. In fact, a reader just forwarded me this auction for a pair of Rapha shants that would excite even the most heavily-sedated shopper:

Today, I'm selling some Rapha cycling shorts. Fixed Shorts, they are called. Rapha, for the uninformed visitor, is the pinnacle of aesthetic cycling wear. It is expensive, and only for the true connoisseur of design and performance. Or something like that. The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that possessing and wearing clothes made by Rapha makes you cool. It makes you rich. It means you go cycling in the French Pyrenees on the weekends until you get tired, then pop into your Audi A-whatever and go home, satisfied that your sleek, rich body is glistening with sleek, rich sweat.

Actually, I don't know if that's true. All I know is, my girlfriend bought them for me, found out I was a fixed-gear poseur (I rode a geared bike on the weekend) and cheated on me with a clove-smoking, knuckle-tattooed douche. And he wore cutoffs and white plimsolls. Double douche. Or she dumped me for him because he has a bigger penis than I do. Either way, I want nothing to do with these pants. And you do.

If, by some cosmic chance, you aren't sure if these pants are for you, you are wrong. They are. To prove it, I want you to read this. It is a secret story patch found WITHIN THE VERY WALLS of the shorts. Pants. Whatever:

Blue has been around for well over ten years now. When he started, his nickname made sense to everyone. Nowadays it doesn't need to make sense. After all, names rarely do. It could only be assumed that blue was the colour of his bike. That's how the guys identify each other. If you ask anyone where 'Bill' or 'Nick' is, you will always be faced with the question "What bike does he ride?" But now Blue's bike is an old green and white Puch track bike. No brakes, of course. His name hasn't changed though. "Hey Green and White!" wouldn't have the same ring. And besides, there's already someone else called Puch.

All true. I've even included and appropriately blurry picture so you can half doubt me with the aching curiosity that tells you it's true. Buy the Rapha Fixed Shorts.

Rapha really needs to hire that guy. He'd move more shants than a naked woman at bike polo tournament. (You know, because of the erections.)

So once you've got your urban singlespeed, and your bag, and your boutique foot retention system, and your shants, you will be ready to take to the streets--yes, the streets, and not the sidewalk. Most of us realize this, but sadly there are some motorists out there who do not. One of these motorists is someone named Gloria Fallon, who issued this "tweet" about 10 days ago which was forwarded to me by a reader:

There's certainly nothing new about people sharing moronic observations via social networking sites. For example, there's that Facebook group everybody was talking about, which I couldn't even be bothered to look at for the same reason I simply flush the toilet after using it instead of rummaging around in there for awhile and then smelling my own hand. However, this one held my attention for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's that particularly irritating form of idiocy that masquerades as wit. Secondly, there's nothing more noxious than the gas that forms when ignorance mingles with entitlement. Yes, why are bicycles allowed to ride on the street with cars? Well, I don't know, Gloria, but you can rest assured that your fellow idiots out there are at least trying to relegate bicycles to the skies. (Other questions along these same lines include: Why are women allowed to vote? Why can't I just kill people? Why are poor and ugly people allowed to shop in the same supermarket I am?) Thirdly, I'm reasonably sure that Gloria Fallon is Jimmy Fallon's sister (Why are bad comedians allowed to host talk shows?), which is the only reason I can think of that her quip was "retweeted" like 29 times:

Now, I'm fairly new to Twitter (yes, I'm on Twitter), but my understanding of a "retweet" is that it implies an endorsement, or an expectation that the sentiment expressed in the original "tweet" will be shared by one's followers. So, since Gloria Fallon appears to be the sister of a "celebrity," I wondered if any other "celebrities" shared her beffudlement. As it happens, there was one person of note who did seem to agree with her: columnist Joel Stein, who has over a million followers.

I suddenly imagined some awful cocktail party at which a tipsy Gloria Fallon approaches Joel Stein and, her lips and teeth stained with red wine, remarks to him: "Oh my God, Joel, I had the most annoying drive over here. There was like totally this biker guy in my way the whole time. Why are bicycles allowed to ride on the street with cars? Am I allowed to paddle a kayak in front of the QE2?" Instead of correcting her, Joel Stein simply clinks glasses with her and says, "I know, right? You're so clever, Gloria. Nice boating reference." Two hours later, they're groping each other in the bathroom.

Again, it's entirely possible that as a novice Twitter "curator" I've missed something, and that Joel Stein does not share Gloria Fallon's view on bicycles--especially since he's written about cycling for mainstream publications on a number of occasions. Maybe he simply retweeted her comment because he just assumed his legions of Twitter followers would realize immediately it was moronic. Then again, while Stein writes about cycling, he's not necessarily the most insightful commentator. For example, here's something he wrote about the Tour de France for the Los Angeles Times in 2008:

If you're like me, I'm sure you can't get enough of mainstream journalists associating doping and cycling--because, you know, there's no cheating in baseball. (Manny Ramirez was tested 15 times in 5 years. Lance Armstrong was tested 15 times since breakfast.) Then, he goes on to tip Cadel Evans as the winner:

Sure, Evans was looking really good there for awhile, but any real cycling fan knows he's about as likely to get through a Tour without choking as Jimmy Fallon is likely to get through a skit without laughing. Still, it's much easier to hire dilettantes with recognizable names, which is why the media industry is doing as well as it is. Here's another Tour bit from Stein in 2009, this one for ESPN:

I guess Stein has found a nice little sideline making fun of a relatively obscure sport for "mainstream sports" fans who know even less about it than he does. Incidentally, he does mention that he rides a bike, if only for brief periods of time--though presumably not in the street, since he'd be liable to delay Gloria Fallon. In any case, if you feel like a total freak--either as a cyclist or a cycling fan--this might help explain why.

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