Thursday, 30 September 2010

In a Pinch: Pleading for Clenency

Yesterday the sporting world was shocked to learn that Alberto Contador, the pretend pistol-packing, fingerbanging, incapacitated-Schleck-attacking winner of the Tour de France, had tested positive for a banned substance. This substance was clenbuterol (street name "Clen" according to, the Performance Bicycle of steroids), and the test took place during the Tour, on July 21st. This revelation immediately sent use of the stock concerned Greg LeMond pursed lips photo into overdrive:

(Doping makes Greg LeMond grimace.)

According to LeMond, the fact that Contador had tested positive for a banned substance during the Tour de France is quite damning indeed--for Lance Armstrong "a certain team":

“I find it hard to believe that a professional like Alberto Contador would risk a detectable drug and I can’t believe how many people have left a certain team and then gone positive,” Lemond told Cyclingnews after hearing the news.

As for Contador himself, LeMond was more benign:

“Anything like this is devastating but this is like someone going positive for marijuana, I don’t think there’s a benefit to it but if it’s on the list, it’s on the list."

Indeed, most cycling fans would probably not feel cheated if Contador had tested positive for marijuana during the Tour, and if anything it would only make the victory that much more impressive. Anyway, sometimes it's good to be retired, since at least you can get "baked" whenever you want:

However, Contador didn't test positive for the "Wednesday Weed." He tested positive for a fad diet drug used to treat horses with asthma that was popular with Uzbecki sprinters back in the '90s. What's more, the test showed a whopping 50 picograms of the stuff, which makes him seem like a veritable "Clenface:"

(Breathe Right strip facilitates nasal "Clen" ingestion.)

Until you consider that a picogram is equal to one trillionth of a gram, which makes him more of a microscopic "Clenface" and means his rest day Clen binge would look more like this:

(Magnify this image roughly 20,000,000,000 times.)

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, "Sure, 50 picograms isn't much Clen. But all that means is that 'Clen-tador' went on an 'epic' Clen binge right before the Tour and those 50 pics (in Clen street parlance) was all that was left." However, Contador was also tested in the days immediately before the positive test and no Clen was found. So was there residual Clen kicking around in his system undetected that suddenly popped up out of nowhere one day like an erection in math class? Or did Contador indeed take 50 picograms of Clen, despite the fact that (as even Greg LeMond points out) such an infinitesimal amount would have no effect on his performance whatsoever, and would only succeed in tripping an extremely sensitive drug test? As for how he would actually consume this invisible amount of Clen, here is a picture of the syringe he might have used:

(Minimalist doping: Clen-tador's alleged syringe.)

And here is a picture of the dealer who sold him a 50 picogram bag of Clen:

(You can tell he's a drug dealer from his mustache.)

Therefore, at this point, the most likely explanation is that Alberto Contador has a miniaturization ray with which he can shrink himself down to microscopic size, like Dennis Quaid in "Innerspace:"

Once this tiny, he would easily be able to visit any one of the trillions of microscopic open-air drug markets currently in business all over Europe, and moreover he could do so without being spotted by the full-sized press. Then, once he scored and consumed his "fix," he could return to normal size without anybody being the wiser. In fact, Contador is probably not the only rider with a miniaturization ray, and I suspect that many riders may be shrinking themselves down, consuming extreme micro-doses, reaping the benefits of training while microscopic, and then re-enlarging themselves just in time for races. This would explain the popular saying, "Train small, race large."

Or, if you're the gullible type, you could buy his claim that he doesn't have a miniaturization ray at all and that the Clen was in his dinner:

While this might explain the tiny amount of Clen in his system, it totally fails to account for the miniaturization ray, and I'm just not buying his "personal grooming" excuse. Indeed, the most plausible part of this story is that Alexandre Vinokourov did not eat any of the tainted meat "because he had dinner earlier that day." As everybody knows, Vino is an egoist. As such, he always eats separately from his team, and his customary Grand Tour dinner is a cake in his own likeness:

(Alexandre Vinokourov removes the Alexandre Vinokourov cake cover from his Alexandre Vinokourov cake during his nightly cake consumption ceremony.)

Also, Contador fails to say whether he ate the entire piece of meat, or if he returned to Spain with a "doggie bag" full of leftovers and gave them to Ezequiel Mosquera.

Of course, another possibility is that Contador did indeed eat tainted meat, but that somebody with a bit of a PR problem and an artisanal ax(e) to grind intentionally slipped the Clen into his dinner:

("Just adding a little palate Clen-ser.")

In any case, all of this underscores the fundamental irony of being a cycling fan, which is that it's impossible to look away, yet at the same time it's incredibly tedious, and in order to actually see anything you need a microscope and a degree in biochemistry. Maybe they should just replace the UCI with a local bicycle advocacy group. That way, they'd simply excuse every single transgression regardless of severity as long as the rider was wearing a helmet at the time, and everybody could just get on with it.

Meanwhile, while the competitive cycling world obsesses over a modicum of Clen, their antetheses, the "cycle chic," obssess about their clothes--and once again the New York Times has printed an article about them:

Just as any article about fixed-gears must contain some awkward explanation of how the drivetrain works, so must a "cycle chic" article contain a derisory comment about "sporting" riders:

They are a far cry “from the image of the adult cyclist as infantry solider with a helmet,” Mr. Bliss said, referring mostly to the athletes and messengers who whiz by in that all-too-familiar forward-thrust posture that has, he said, “alienated every pedestrian.”

This is because the "cycle chic" are far more down to Earth than their swifter counterparts. Roadies and messengers take themselves and their bikes far too seriously, whereas the "cycle chic" simply consider them "rustic enhancements:"

“I get sweaty a little, but it doesn’t bother me,” she said. Her bike, after all, is a stylish appendage, “a kind of rustic enhancement,” she said.

I always thought that "rustic enhancement" meant holing yourself up in a log cabin with an artisanal axe and a whole bunch of Enzyte, but evidently it's just another term for "bicycle."

But life isn't all ignorance-induced bliss and rustic enhancement for the "cycle chic," who also have their share of problems. For example, sometimes people get mad at them for riding around on the sidewalk:

Ms. Page-Green, who likes to speed around on the sidewalk, has encountered hostility. “When you’re going too fast, people get mad at you,” she said. “I’ve had canes waved at me in the distance.”

I'm not sure how riding in a forward-leaning position while wearing a helmet "alienates pedestrians" but riding around on the sidewalk doesn't, but then again I'm not very "chic." Of course, it's mostly people with canes who are troubled by this, and in the "cycle chic" universe elderly people don't actually count as "pedestrians" since the statute of limitations on being "chic" runs out after 65 years. (Incidentally, if you're unfamiliar with cane-waving, it's basically an old-timey "douche-clamation point.")

Speaking of canes and "rustic enhancements," the "Cockie" entries continue to come (insert your ejaculatory joke of choice here), and it would appear that cycledom is now one step closer to a bicycle made entirely out of bamboo:

I'm not sure if bamboo bars are officially a trend, though they may be a panda-demic.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Fog Lights

Have you ever cycled in a dense fog?

For the past couple of days, we have been surrounded by this stunning, surreal landscape. There is no distinction between sky and ocean. The dunes, grasses and rosehip bushes are wrapped in a milky whiteness. There is a tornado warning in effect, but for now everything is eerily calm.

To watch someone approaching through the fog from a distance has always fascinated me.  It looks as if the person is coming from nowhere, or from the sky.

I took the opportunity to see how Graham's lights would perform in these conditions, and they were fairly well visible - even at slow speeds.

The lights on my Rivendell Sam Hillborne are powered by a Shimano Alfine hub.

The headlight is a Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ LED Cyo Senso Plus, and its performance is stunning. The beam is not just powerful, but surprisingly large - so that cycling in the dark feels as if there is always a street light on. There is a standlight feature (the light remains on for a few minutes after the bicycle stops), as well as a "senso" feature, whereby the light turns itself on and off depending on how dark it is.

The tail light is a Busch & Müller 4D-lite Plus, which has classic looks, 4 LEDs, and the same standlight feature as the headlight (though the Co-Habitant thinks the standlight on this one is not sufficiently bright).

An additional feature of this tail light is that it is surrounded by a metal cage, which prevents the light from being damaged when it is bumped. This is very useful when the bicycle is dragged through doors and left at bike racks.

I am confident that others can see me in the fog with the light set-up I have on this bicycle. Seeing the road, however, is another matter. What do randonneurs do in these situations? I cannot imagine that any bicycle light can really be strong enough to act as a true fog light in the daytime.

Organic Panic: Weaver of Dreams, Chamferer of Nightmares

In yesterday's post, I mentioned morning routines and the truncation thereof. Minimalist pretenses aside, the truth is we can all benefit from cropping a few seconds off of our AM ablutions, thus allowing us to spend more time during the day enriching ourselves and our employers and restoring America (Canada's smarmy chest hair thatch) to greatness. One way of doing this is by paying less attention to our personal hygiene. For example, by shaving seconds instead of faces (or other less visible body parts) we can return to the days of hairy, unkempt prosperity we enjoyed back in the frontier days. By not brushing our teeth, we enrich our nation's dentists, artisanal wooden teeth makers, and, ultimately Serotta (four out of five dentists ride Serottas). And my generally not bathing, our collective national musk will overpower our unpopular foreign policy, and the world will look doe-eyed and lustfully upon us, smitten with and intoxicated by our powerful pheromones.

For my part, I'm proud to announce that I've already saved over 15 minutes from my own morning routine simply by switching from piña coladas (which are time-consuming to prepare) to much simpler rum-and-Cokes (otherwise known as Cuba Libres--or, if you use RC instead of Coke, Cuba Gooding, Jrs.). However, there's one activity that I will never excise from my morning routine, and that is writing in my "dream journal," which looks like this:

I strongly believe that dreams are the key to understanding ourselves, so I always record mine as soon as I wake up. Here's this morning's entry:

I am the proprietor of a hair salon called "Hair Ye, Hair Ye" in Ozone Park, Queens. It's five minutes before closing and I've just finished shellacking my eighteenth "Carmine Gotti" when three bedraggled young men walk in. Each one of them looks like a young Bob Marley if he had been a white lumberjack. They explain they are from Portland and are on a semi-ironic "epic" fixed-gear cycling tour of non-hipster New York, and that their goal is to explore the limitless possibilities of the fixed drivetrain, laugh at working people, and copy their tattoos. They're also making a feature film, and their videographer appears to be tremendously amused by the person sweeping the floor and is simultaneously taking video of him and poking at him with a U-lock.

The riders go on to explain that they've come in for an emergency dreadlock delousing, and when I explain that I'm closing they become petulant and offer to give me a $750 backpack made by one of the 17 cycling bag companies sponsoring their journey. For some reason, I agree, but just as I'm about to start they become petulant once again because the chemical I'm using is not "organic." It's at this point that the one with the knuckle tattoos that say "BAGW HORE" suddenly transforms into serial retrogrouch and über-curmudgeon Jobst Brandt, and as he launches into a tirade about the importance of stress relief and the propensity for anodized rims to exhibit cracking around the spoke holes, I am consumed by a feeling of inexplicable terror and I wake up reaching frantically for the Park TM-1 I keep on my nightstand.

I have no idea what any of these means, though I suspect it's the result of either work-related anxiety or eating too much salsa just before bedtime.

Unfortunately, my organic-themed night-terror (or, more accurately, night-smugness) did not end upon awakening, for once I padded over to my computer and checked my email I was alerted by a reader to the imminent "droppage" of the new "Brooks Organic Saddles:"

Back in the mid-aughts, when the first "hipster" bolted a hand-chamfered English touring saddle to his Japanese Keirin racing bike and undertook that fateful half-mile ride to the bar, his fellow hipsters were beguiled. "What new curiosity is this?," they wondered aloud. It was a revelation--the fashion equivalent of that monkey scene in 2001, except with a Brooks saddle instead of a bone.

Now, years later, given the substantial break-in period for a Brooks, the hipsters' investment should just be starting to pay off. Even those half-mile rides add up eventually, and many of these riders' saddles are only now beginning to grow comfortable. However, the hipsters were investing in fashion, not in comfort, and with Brooks saddles now commonplace their appeal is inevitably diminishing. So what to do? Certainly it would be foolish to completely redesign the venerable Brooks, cherished and faithful ass companion of the retro-grouch. So instead, Brooks has wisely looked beyond the saddle itself, opting instead for a sort of meta-redesign. In short, their revelation was this:

"We shall not change the saddle. We shall change the very cows from whose hide they are constructed!"

This is nothing short of genius, for it opens up a whole new realm of style "curation," fashion-based one-upsmanship, and surcharges. Sure, you may have a Brooks, but what did it eat? Where did it live? What did its big dumb eyes gaze upon before its flesh met Eric "The Chamferer" Murray's blade? Next, people will ascribe mystical ride properties to certain cows in the same way that they do with different types of steel tubing. "Nothing caresses the taint like the hide of a cow that has supped on the waving grasses of Iceland." Ultimately, all of this will culminate in a custom saddle program wherein you simply visit the Brooks website, browse their Gallery of Cows, and personally choose the beast whose remnants you want between your legs. This will also allow Brooks to appeal to the increasingly large "cyclist foodie" market, since they can offer you cheeses from the same animal that provided your saddle. Best of all, Brooks can charge by the pound, so such an enterprise promises to be extremely lucrative.

Speaking of redesigns, while many designers attempt to redesign the bicycle, perhaps the most misguided design attempts are those that concern head protection. While it is certainly not my intention to provoke the dreaded "helmet debate," I do believe that it's vital for all of us--even the most staunch helmet advocate--to recognize that the purpose of the helmet is to protect the head and not to enhance the appearance of the wearer, and that any attempts to integrate aesthetic appeal or fashion or to create some exciting new design that will suddenly make helmet use "cool" is inherently misguided and certain to fail. Let cycling helmets be and look like helmets. They're cheap, they're light, and they're comfortable. Do not try to make them look like hats. It's perfectly fine to let something look like what it is. You could put a thousand designers to work on the "problem" of helmet aesthetics and not find a solution, as this contest that was forwarded to me by a reader conclusively proves. Entries included this futuristic synthetic babushka:

This woodgrain yarmulke that will offer you minimal protection in the event that your matching wooden handlebars snap:

And of course the combination conquistador helmet and shopping bag:

Though the eventual winner was apparently the repurposed paper honeycomb party ball:

A cyclist in a typical bicycle helmet looks no more ridiculous than a pedestrian in a raincoat. However, a cyclist in any of the pretend-hat bicycle helmet designs I've seen looks like a nerd waiting to get into a "Star Wars" premiere. Really, most of these designs are about as elegant as wearing a plastic soda bottle on your head--though not nearly as elegant as using a plastic soda bottle to protect your hands, as in this "Cockie" contest submission via "Cyclingreporter:"

Notice that the green bottle is on the left in accordance with International Cockpit Curation Rules. This helps insure that proprietors of ZBCs (or "Zany Bicycle Cockpits") pass each other on the proper side so they can avoid entangling their bar ends and other accessories like a couple of fighting bucks. In fact, successful ZBC navigation can be so difficult that some riders even use radios, as spotted by "The Bike Dork:"

Sometimes, beauty isn't just cockpit deep, and that is certainly the case here. In addition to the Greg LeMond drops complete with aero extensions, multiple data sources, and radio, the excitement extends beyond the cockpit in the form of a characteristically stomach-churning Landshark paintjob and ultra-rare Rock Shox Paris-Roubaix fork. This is an optimal setup for outrunning the forces of good taste. "Breaker! Breaker! I got a smokey on my tail and a Landshark between my legs, and I'm headed straight for dork city. Yee-haw!"

Considerably more understated is this subtle design, spotted by a reader all the way in St. Petersburg, Russia:

It's strangely owl-like:

By the way, if you're "palping" an organic Brooks, beware of owls--they've been known to swoop on them.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Lovely Dress Guards Give-Away

To brighten up your Fall, I am giving away these fantastic, colourful Dutch dress guards, which I reviewed here earlier.

To receive the dress guards, please ask your bicycle - yes, your bicycle - to post a comment here explaining why he or she would like them. A link to pictures of the bicycle is a plus (but please no nudity). My Dutch bike, Linda, will then decide which she likes best and will announce the recipient on Friday.

Comments by humans will be disregarded; bicycles only please. Multiple bicycles belonging to the same owner are eligible. Have fun, and thank you for reading Lovely Bicycle!

Minimizing Windows: Just Call Me Aimless in the Morning

Life can be full of difficult decisions. Should I accept that job offer? Am I really ready to get married? Should I have costly gender reassignment surgery, or simply stick with my OEM equipment and work out some sort of inexpensive "kludge"? Each one of these warrants extensive soul-searching, and is a decision that can alter the course of your life (and genitals) irrevocably.

Somewhat less profound is deciding how to spend the time between waking up in the morning (or, if you live in Williamsburg, the afternoon) and going to school or work (or, if you live in Williamsburg, the vegan coffee shop with the free Internet). While we all use this time differently, most of us don't really need to agonize over it too much. Some of us are up for hours, while others simply rush out the door after hitting the "snooze" button 15 times, but either way at a certain point in our lives we've pretty much worked out our approach to starting the day.

However, if you're the sort of person who seeks guidance in this area, fortunately there's "minimalism"--the 21st century religion of "bullshit curation." Here's one minimalist on how he sets the tone of self-importance that permeates the rest of his day:

In addition to being the 21st century religion of "bullshit curation," minimalism is also the religion of making stupid lists. Moreover, these lists are totally misleading and leave out all the actual facts. In this case, what seems at first like a simple, contemplative morning of "Sitting, Reading, and Writing" is actually fairly busy:

As you can see, this so-called "simplified morning routine" actually consists mostly of making coffee, reading books, reading the paper, working on his own book, writing his blog, and doing interviews. Granted, it's not exactly hectic, but it's not remarkably simple either. Then, after that, he goes on to "check email and read my feeds," which he seems to equate with "getting on with the rest of his day," but which the rest of us recognize as "procrastinating."

By the way, I'm not sure why anybody would interview a minimalist, because it seems like this should be all there is to say on the subject:

Q: Are you a minimalist?

A: Yes.

Done, and done.

I guess that, in addition to being the 21st century religion of "bullshit curation," minimalism is also the art of being boring and missing the point, since anything sounds "simple" if you leave out all the relevant or interesting details. Once you figure out the secret of meaningless list-making the rest is easy, and even the busiest person in the world can present himself as a minimalist. For example, here's President of the United States (Canada's lobster bib) Barack Obama's "simplified routine:"

1. Wake Up

2. Govern

3. Go to Bed

Sure, a lot happens during the "govern" part, but minimalists don't concern themselves with that. By the way, if you're looking to wring precious minutes out of your day, you might want to experiment with "compressing your eating window," just like "simplified morning routine" guy is:

I used to eat breakfast in the morning, but now I wait until mid-day to eat my steel-cut oats. Why? No special reason — I’m experimenting a bit with compressing my “eating window” from the normal 12-14 hours or so (the time you first eat until the time you last eat in the day) to about 8 hours. It hasn’t been a major change but something I’ve been trying out. It also means I can simplify my morning routine.

This is a minimalist way of saying, "Unlike most people with intact neurological functioning, I'm unable to read the paper and eat oatmeal at the same time."

Furthermore, while most of us find the default "eating windows" of "breakfast," "lunch," and "dinner" simple enough, the minimalist phenomenon of "eating window compression" undoubtedly causes all sorts of complications. For example, it must be incredibly difficult for two minimalists to meet up and talk minimalist shop since they can't simply say, "Let's talk about it over lunch." Instead, they have to utilize all sorts of iPhone "apps" so they can find a block of time during which their custom-tailored "eating windows" overlap. "Yeah, I'd love to get together for some steel-cut oats tomorrow morning, but unfortunately that time frame falls outside my new 8-hour eating window." And so it's back to sitting on the pillow, staring into space.

Also noteworthy is that "simplified morning routine" guy leaves out the most contemplative sitting-and-reading period of all, which is of course visiting the bathroom.
Even the most harried soul finds a few moments for contemplation while using the facilities--it's the Everyman's Nirvana.

Maybe he needs more steel-cut oats in his diet.

Fortunately there are still people who, when it comes to minimalism, have the moxie to put their money where their mouths are--or, more accurately, put their hands where a twig is. Consider this rustic makeshift cockpit that was sent to me by a reader:

This is certainly potential "Cockie" material--or it would be, had it been submitted in accordance with the contest rules. I'm at a loss as to what the green material on the stem is and whether it's structural or decorative, so rather than speculate I will defer to an engineer. Presumably though there's solid reasoning behind the unfinished wood, and my best guess is that the rider has a pet squirrel who likes to travel with him and whose claws find secure purchase on tree branches. This is why tree branch handlebars are also known as the "Woodsman's Nitto"--or, if they're inverted and shortened, as "flop-and-whittles."

Meanwhile, another reader has spotted this contraption, which is hanging its "filth prophylactic" in shame:

Though I'm pleased to see that rim messages are no longer whimsical and are instead straightforward warnings to the public:

As if the sight of the "hipster" on the brakeless pursuit bike barreling towards you with his ass in the air and his underwear exposed weren't enough for you to conclude that the rider is incapable of stopping, this rim effectively drives the message home.

One wonders if this rider's wheel bears a similar message:

Photographed by a reader at Interbike, he apparently ran a light along with a group of other riders while wearing a helmet cam in the grand 21st century tradition of capturing boneheaded riding on video, causing car traffic to skid to a stop. Since his crew is nowhere to be seen, I will presume that they abandoned him in the interest of self-preservation. Hopefully he decides to fight the ticket, keeps the helmet cam on, and drops a tight "edit" of his subsequent traffic court appearance.

Meanwhile, as hipsters age, it's only a matter of time before brakeless baby-portaging becomes the new elephant trunk skid. I have yet to see this in practice, but judging from Craigslist there does seem to be some experimentation going on:

i have a great bike but can't attach a sit for my i have to sell them.
it's a raleigh and has a basket which you can remove if you don't like and there are some aftermarket parts on there as well.
the frame is quite big (you'll have to come and check the exact size out for yourself)
hope to hear from you (by email or phone) 646 318 [deleted].

Sure, the seller isn't actually carrying a baby on this bike, but the ad implies he tried, and that alone is frightening enough. The streets are full of brakeless bikes with front baskets as it is, so it's only a matter of time before an enterprising "hipster" substitutes a baby for a six-pack. Even the brakeless-with-a-basket setup has always stricken me as being exceedingly pointless, since if you're going to go through the trouble why not take a few extra minutes and install a brake too? Then again, I've almost never actually seen one of these people actually carrying anything in the basket. In fact, pretty much the only thing I ever see people carrying in these baskets are their giant empty messenger bags and backpacks, which I suppose makes sense since we live in the age of needing accessories for our accessories.

Of course, a real man's bike would have no use for a brake or a basket, as you can see from this eBay auction, forwarded by another reader:

This bike is so freaking sweet. It has hardly been ridden because whenever i ride it the girls are all over me and my girlfriend get's jealous, so it's easier to just leave it at home. It is also really fast, it would be scary fast if you weren't a real man. I can get home from the bar like 3 minutes faster than my other bike, which is handy because you'll need to out run all the girls that think this bike is HOTT. I am totally serious.

Getting home from the bar three minutes faster is certainly a selling point--especially if you're looking to compress your "drinking window."

Monday, 27 September 2010

Do You Cycle When You're Sick?

Just to make sure that nobody would be envious of my stay on Cape Cod, I went and got sick last week. While normal people catch cold, get over it, and go on with their lives, for me illness tends to be "epic". So lately my world has consisted of watching the ocean wistfully while bundled up on the porch, drinking endless hot fluids and medications, working on my laptop, and very minimal cycling to town and back. My bicycle looks at me with scorn, as if to say "How could you!" Which brings me to the question: Do you cycle when you are sick?

Previously I would have answered "yes", but staying here makes me realise that it partly depends on the bike as well. I have a relatively easy time riding an upright bicycle slowly while feeling unwell, but am finding it almost impossible to ride a roadbike in that state. Not only is the speed more than my lungs can handle, but I also have trouble with balance and coordination. On my upright bikes this is not an issue, since their position is almost identical to sitting in a chair and the loop frame is easy to mount and dismount. I am starting to really miss my Gazelle - imagining her, in my hallucinatory state, as a Dutch nurse feeding me spoonfuls of medicine and wrapping me in folksy-patterned quilts.

Untenable Positions: Contortionist Cockpits

Firstly, at the risk of being even more irritating than usual, I'd like to gratuitously remind you once again that this Friday, October 1st, I will be visiting Landry's bike shop in Boston, MA. Normally, a bike shop visit means trying on a bunch of shoes and sunglasses, asking a bunch of stupid questions, and then ordering the stuff online, but in this case it means I will be having a "BRA," or "Book-Related Appearance." (Though I might also try on a bunch of bib shorts and not buy them, in which case you might want to thoroughly wash any purchases you make at Landry's after Friday.) If you want to get into my BRA on Friday night, it begins at 7:00pm, and here are the details:

Not only will there be "light refreshments" (please RSVP so they can make sure to have enough soft cheeses or whatever they're serving) but there will also be a pre-BRA ride at 4:00pm. If you're considering taking part in this ride, I've gone ahead and "curated" a brief "FAQ:"

What is the route?

Why are you asking me? Ask Landry's. I don't know from Boston. I'll be following you.

Will it be a hammerfest? Should I "run" my Zipps?

No! The organizers of this ride are under strict instructions from me to make sure this ride is leisurely and that there is no undue physical exertion. Feel free to "palp" your Dutch bike, recumbent, or cargo bike full of borrowed children. If you're looking to go fast, I hear there's some kind of "cyclo-cross" race that weekend up near the Gorton's fish stick factory.

Will it be a theme ride like they have in Portland?

No! This is New England, where people are dour and hardworking, and where people race the "cyclo-cross" in gender-appropriate clothing. However, if you'd like to dress as your favorite "Good Will Hunting" character and/or Larry Bird you are more than welcome to do so in the spirit of religious freedom upon which the Pilgrims founded this great nation.

What happens if it rains?

New England weather is famously predictable, especially at this time of year, and rain is extremely unlikely. Therefore no contingency plans have been made. However, in the unlikely event of adverse weather, we can always go to the real-life Cheers bar and reenact our favorite scenes.

What does "FAQ" stand for?

Feeble-Assed Quakers.

Secondly, last week I implied that there was nothing of real interest at Interbike. However, clearly I was mistaken, for Campione Cycles has informed me that one exhibitor has finally solved the age-old problem of digital and genital deafness:

While sufferers of genital deafness in particular are often too ashamed to discuss their problem openly, it is far more common than you might think. Genital deafness can occur in both males and females, and anybody who's ever experienced it knows how difficult it can be. Indeed, in severe cases you're sometimes forced to put your genitals right up to someone's mouth in order to hear them, which can cause additional embarrassment as well as possibly STDs and even inadvertent orgasms.

In fact, the very same person who spotted the genital deafness cure also spotted everybody's favorite affable German masochist, Jens Voigt, signing a woman's posterior:

At least, I assume he's signing her posterior, though it could simply be that she's suffering from genital deafness and has asked Voigt to kindly speak into her crotch. Notice also that she's attending Interbike in a skinsuit for maximum mobility and aerodynamics. You don't want your billowy jersey to get snagged on the latest laterally stiff and vertically plagiarized Specialized design rip-off while rounding a tight corner.

Speaking of rounding tight corners, the Daily News reports that some messengers attempted to promote cycling in Queens this past weekend by holding an alleycat called "BLVDS of DEATH:"

Yes, the best way of raising awareness and encouraging cyclists to ride in Queens is by promising the participants that they might die:

"We want to show people the wild side of Queens. We want to show you the crazy, fast roads that Queens has that a lot of cyclists would like if they ventured out of Manhattan," said Negron.

You sort of have to feel sorry for bike messengers--and even more so the people who still imitate them. Not only is the demand for messengers disappearing, but thanks to this new wave of bike-friendliness so are their dangerous streets. As a result, it's becoming increasingly difficult for people to sell themselves as outlaws, since they're now grossly outnumbered by people in sundresses riding Dutch bikes. They're like a bunch of self-styled piranhas in a rapidly-evaporating pond. This is why more and more people are getting on bikes and enjoying the new amenities, while they're desperately looking for places where they can still get themselves killed. This prospect is especially irresistible to Nü-Freds, even though it's like taking a vacation to India based entirely on the fact that it's one of the few remaining places where you might still catch leprosy.

Meanwhile, in terms of image and risk, the antithesis of a messenger-organized Queens death ride is a popular search engine-"curated" human-powered monorail, to which a number of readers have recently alerted me:

Of course, Wired's cycling coverage is notoriously short-sighted, and it's readily apparent that they've missed the project's enormous potential for awesomeness:

Can you imagine how sweaty and stinky these things would become? If I’m going to pedal something to get somewhere, it’s going to be using a bike that can actually turn and take me to my destination. Moreover, these things are bound to be slow, and will probably need a large staff of attendants, like a theme-park ride, to ensure that people get on and off safely.

That’s about the best one could hope for.

Really, that's the best one can hope for? Frankly, I think this is a great idea. Not only does the "Schweeb" human-powered monorail promise to solve the problem of drinking and cycling once and for all, but it also opens up all sorts of new and exciting "hotboxing" possibilities, and I predict every college campus in America will be equipped with a "Schweeb" system by 2020. Also, you don't need to be some sort of popular search engine-employed genius to know that our Earth's atmosphere will be toxic in the near future, and that we will need Plexiglas shells around our bicycles to protect us from noxious gas, the carcinogenic rays of the post-Apocalyptic sun, and the flesh-ripping claws of the undead.

Speaking of mutants, last Friday I announced that I would be holding the First Annual BSNYC/RTMS Cockpit of the Year Award (otherwise known as the "Cockies") and I'm pleased to announce the competition is already off to a rollicking start. Consider, for example, this perky-eared number:

The barends allow for the non-aerodynamic and not particularly comfortable "Crocodile Dundee" hand position:

From another contestant comes this minimalist cockpit design:

"Halve-and-chop" bars are clearly the new "flop-and-chop."

Also, from "Slice Harvester" comes this decidedly more performance-inspired setup:

The STI levers are positioned ideally for on-the-bike bicep-flexing:

Though keep in mind riding in this position for prolonged periods can cause genital deafness.

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