Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Insulated Panel: Cresting the Summit, Jumping the Shark

Like a banana, since peeling my yellow cloak of anonymity awhile back I have begun to grow purple, gooey, and unappetizing with exposure. However, if you have a strong stomach and a fondness for banana pudding, you can come to the "Bike Culture Summit" tomorrow, where I will serve as a panelist:

With water flooding Nashville, oil flooding the Gulf of Mexico, and combustible SUVs appearing in Times Square, it's a good thing a bunch of bike dorks are getting together to ignore the world's problems and focus entirely on issues like brakeless fixies and the cultural significance of "shants." If you're considering attending but are teetering on the fence like Danny MacAskill in the opening scene of that famous video, perhaps this recent local TV show will whet your appetite and help you make a final decision. (Of course, I sincerely hope you will attend. However I should warn you that the "epic" hair with a host underneath it will not be part of the summit, so I realize that leaves little incentive.) Assuming you ultimately decide not to attend but would still like to know what happens at the summit, here's an advance transcript of my contribution to the panel:

Do cyclists need to rehabilitate their public persona?


To what extent should safety trump convenience and style?

Until someone invents some kind of lever-actuated contrivance that supplies additional stopping power to the wheel of a bicycle, cycling will never be safe.

Will protected bike lanes segregate cyclists?

Only if they're racist.

Is Critical Mass a boon or a liability for the bike movement?


What can be done about sexism in the cycling community?

I don't know, but I'm sick of being treated like an object.

This may very well be enough for you, in which case you can stay home, but if you do attend I will also devalue your copy of my book by writing in it:

I'm looking forward to hearing a whole bunch of this tomorrow night.

Speaking of issues confronting cyclists, I only recently noticed that a few weeks ago NPR aired a little segment ("airing your little segment" can get you arrested in some states) on texting while riding in California:

I must say I'm squarely in the DeAndre Sims camp when it comes to my feeling about texting and cycling. By the way, the printed word does not do Sims's quote justice, and for the full impact you need to hear it live (at 0:28 seconds):

If only I had musical production skills I would sample and build an entire song around what is undoubtedly the most engaging cycling-related quote ever aired on public radio. Maybe Abdominal and I can "drop" a "collabo:"

If this were to happen, I'd probably adopt a new moniker for the project and call myself "DJ ReSkin:"

Subsequent to yesterday's post about hemorrhoids, a reader alerted me to the above product, and here's how the website describes it:

ReSkin® is applied to the perineum. The perineum is the piece of skin between the anus and the genitals. The perineal area contains sweat glands,hair follicles and sebaceous glands that can often become irritated by rubbing, leading to an infection.

In other words, it's sort of a Breathe Right® strip for the "taint."

Of course, the reason ReSkin makes an appropriately "street credulous" DJ name is that, for one thing, it suggests that you're "skin friendly, painlessly removeable, washable and reusable"--all of which are prized qualities in the rough-and-tumble world of bicycle-themed hip-hop. Also, it implies you get into people's pants.

Indeed, I think most people would agree that texting while riding is a dumb thing to do--almost as dumb as spending over $4,400 on a pair of wheels:

According to the review, "they're incredibly fast wheels, being ridiculously quick to accelerate and giving you the feeling of a constant tailwind on the climbs," and believe it or not there really are people who will read this and believe it. Wheels cannot be fast. Riders can be fast; wheels can be round. As far as the "tailwind on the climbs" thing goes, promising that a piece of equipment will make you climb better is the bicycle marketing equivalent of selling "natural male enhancement."

Unfortunately, though, given the increasing cost of equipment, the average amateur racer is becoming inured to ludicrous prices. When the Mavic Ksyrium first came out it cost something like $700 and was the pinnacle of exotica--now a $700 wheelset is considered a "training wheel." To put the price of the Lightweights in proper perspective, consider that for the same price you could buy almost nine fixed-gear Softrides (as forwarded by another reader):

Fixed Gear Softride - $500 (oakland north / temescal)
Date: 2010-05-01, 4:51PM PDT
Reply to: [deleted]

Black fixed gear Softride


-Fits someone between 5'7" and 6'1". There is no down tube to measure, but I ride 51cm and this is just barely fits. The carbon fiber seat stay can be adjusted another ~1.5" higher. The manufacturer's sticker underneath the seat says that it can handle a 200lb rider at maximum on flat roads and 180lbs on "all-terrain"

-700c wheels

--Front wheel: Spinergy Rev X tubular carbon fiber

--Rear wheel: Purchased separately from a wheel builder. Paul hub with 32 DT spokes and a 16 tooth cog with lock ring. Velocity Deep V rims. The rear wheel has only been ridden 50 miles tops.

-110mm 48 tooth Beck Single Speed chain ring
-EPXtras fork

-ITM 90mm stem

-White single-speed chain


Don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Feel free to call between 6-10pm on weekdays and anytime on weekends. You can text or e-mail me anytime as well.


With nine fixed-gear Softrides you could assemble the most effective Burrito Distribution Force "hipsterdom" has ever seen. Thanks to the carbon beam, you could keep a safe distance from the homeless and simply catapult the burritos in their general direction. Sure, there's a 200lb rider weight limit, but given the fact that few "hipsters" weigh more than 100lbs that leaves an additional 100lbs for burrito-hauling.

Speaking of "bike culture" (I was, earlier, in terms of the "summit"), as most people know by now Minneapolis has defeated Portland and now occupies the top podium step in the fierce "Bicycling" magazine "America's Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities" competition. Not only that, but they've also got their very own "Streetfilm:"

I enjoyed this video. Not only did it include footage of a GTSNF (or "Gratuitously Track-Standing NĂ¼-Fred):

But I also learned about Minneapolis's "Trail Watch:"

As Laura Kling explains it, "We look out for litter, drunks, and suspicious characters. If we see any of those things, we just move them off the trail." This is exactly the sort of thing we need here in New York City; just add "beards" to that list and a local "Trail Watch" program would finally render the Williamsburg Bridge bike path 100% "hipster"-free.

In the meantime, though, New Yorkers are not interested in getting rid of "hipsters;" instead, they're hitting on them:

Date: 2010-05-03, 3:07PM EDT

You - short dark hair, acid wash jeans, and a shirt that showed off your back piece..

Me - black skinny jeans rolled up, stripey shrt, black bike, sittiing on a stoop.

You are soooo gorgeous! Can I take you out for a drink?

Inasmuch as this post describes every single man and woman in Williamsburg I don't expect these two will find each-other.

By the way, we can now officially welcome a new member to the "bike culture"--the "hipster roadie:"

While there are some variations among these riders, common elements include vintage road bikes, tight jeans, visible butt cracks, and a penchant for late afternoon training rides.

I hope they're "rocking" the ReSkin.


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