Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Effort Less Speed: Why You Need a New Bike

Spring is here, and with the warmth, sunshine, and allergy attacks comes bicycle racing season. By this point you should already have evaluated your strengths and weaknesses based on last season's performance, and now you should be implementing your new training program and moving forward in attaining this season's racing goals. That'll be $500, thank you for your patronage.


BSNYC/RTMS Performance Systems, Inc.

Of course, even the best-laid and most costly training plans are worthless without the proper equipment. Did you know the bicycle on which you mounted your amateur lower-category racing campaign last year is already hopelessly out of date? It's true. Shimano put their shifter cables under the bar tape like three years ago now, and everybody knows you can't win with exposed cable housing. You also can't win if your bottom bracket is not "beefy" enough, and if you're using some antiquated threaded affair you might as well be lashing at your fellow dentists with a cold soba noodle.

That's why you need state-of-the-art performance if you're going to make the leap from Category 4 to Category 3, where you'll finally get to rub elbows, cross wheels, and crash with the "big boys" of the "meh"-loton. And evidently, you can't get more statier-of-the-artsier than the Specialized S-Works Venge (which should not be confused with Stan and Yosh Schmenge):

Don't believe me? Well, suck on this:

Ride & handling: Effortless speed and razor-sharp handling

Less than 24 hours after HTC-Highroad’s Matthew Goss’s win at San Remo on the McLaren Venge, we put the S-Works model through its paces on the very same roads. And it’s every bit as good as we’d hoped. It was just a shame the ride had to come to an end, and if we could have bundled it away in our suitcase we would have done.

In other words:

1) Matthew Goss won a race on it, and there's no way he would have won if he were using a different bicycle. By extension, this means you will win on it too;

2) It has EFFORTLESS SPEED! You know how you have to put effort into your current bicycle in order to make it move? Well, no more--this one goes by itself. What's that you say? You want proof? Well, does this look like a man who's making an effort?

Yeah, maybe...an effort to be AWESOME.

3) The handling is sharp as a razor. What does this mean exactly? Well, like a razor, you have to handle it incredibly gingerly or you'll wind up in a pool of blood. Sharp, dangerous, and unforgiving--now that's good bike.

Still not convinced? Well, clearly you're an idiot, but if you insist on "data" here you go:

Even more impressive was the razor-sharp handling on the descents. Tight bends were negotiated with confidence, thanks in part to the Venge's Specialized Turbo tyres and Roval Rapide SL45 carbon wheels. Vibration was largely offset by the S-Works SL carbon handlebars and FACT seatpost, and made for a smooth ride on the downslopes.

Right, so apart from the crabon wheels the bike's awesomeness comes mostly from the tires, handlebars, and seatpost--none of which can be changed on your current bike. So if you don't like your tires, buy a Specialized Venge Schmenge Happy S-Wanderer.

(Interestingly, the reviewer notes that "if we could have bundled it away in our suitcase we would have done." Ironically, the ability to do that is the only thing that would possibly make this bike worth almost $9,000.)

Speaking of pro cycling, everybody knows Alberto Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol and then blamed it on a piece of tainted steak. Well, a reader recently informed me that Clenbuterol is also abundant in Chinese pigs:

Subsequently, Contador issued a press release in which he announced that he "like totally forgot he had pork chops and not steak," and as evidence also included this photo from the post-stage team barbecue that took place on the evening in question:

His claims may not be kosher on a number of levels, but I'm sure they'll be good enough for the UCI.

But what's that you say? You don't want to emulate the pros? You say you don't want to spend $9,000 on a crabon razor and that the taste of Clenbuterol makes you dry-heave? Well, why not spend a mere $1,300 on a "gorgeously simple city bike," as forwarded to me by a reader:

Yes, whoever "curated" this review really knows what he's talking about:

Elian custom builds the frames by hand, and bike nerds will notice the elegant, triple-triangle design created by the unusual weld of the seat stays -- an old trick pioneered by GT that lends added strength to one of the bike's weakest points. And the parts are just as thoughtfully curated -- in the pictures above, note how the stem matches the color of the frame, giving the whole thing just the right amount of flash (which is to say, almost none); also note the drop-dead gorgeous Campagnolo cranks and chain-ring. Unlike a lot of single-speeds you see, this isn't a track bike. There's already mounts for both front and rear brakes. And, if you want customizations or different parts, Elian will happily oblige.

Right, GT pioneered that frame design in 1923, over 50 years before the company was founded:

He also makes a good point about how this isn't a track bike. He's right, it isn't--though it's almost exactly as practical. An alligator isn't a crocodile either, but they both make equally lousy house pets.

Of course, the worst part about having a $1,300 city bike is the fact that it's bound to get stolen sooner or later. In fact, even the most street-smartest cyclists occasionally fall victim to theft. Take bike messengers and the people who imitate them. Subsequent to "Monster Track" (the Lillith Fair of alleycats) somebody actually made off with the winner's prize:

We have put out an all-points bulletin on this ReLoad bag,stolen on Saturday March 12 at the Rock Star Bar. This was done literally in front of 300 plus people. Its the first place bag won by Crihs in this years monstertrack alleycat. Thing is,its the only one made in the world,and its mind-boggling to think that anyone in their right mind would even attempt to wear it. IF you have it, return it to anyone involved in monstertrack,no questions ask,or just risk being known as the worst person alive. This bag bleeds blood,sweat,tears hard work and Crihs and ReLoad deserve better!

black,with yellow trim,green “monstertrack” font yellow/lime ” XII” font

Repost this sh*t, and like i said,we catch you with this bag,we raining U locks on your face.dead fuckin serious

I too am astonished that the theft was "done literally in front of 300 plus people," because it must be extremely difficult to leave a crowded bar full of drunken hipsters while carrying a messenger bag. In fact, it's probably almost as difficult as leaving Citi Field with someone else's Mets cap. More astonishing is the outrage expressed in the post. I thought these guys were "outlaws," and you'd think they'd know that when you live by the petty crime, you "die" by the petty crime. Then again, I guess when someone doesn't obey the "code of the nerds streetzzz" it can be tremendously upsetting--like when your friend cheats at D&D.

Most confusing though is the request that "IF you have it, return it to anyone involved in monstertrack, no questions ask," which is then followed by "we catch you with this bag,we raining U locks on your face.dead fuckin serious." I think they might have tipped their hand a bit too soon with that last part. A little hint if you're trying to lay a trap for someone: Don't reveal the "what you're going to do to them" part until after you've caught them.

Naturally, it wasn't long before the inevitable fake Craigslist post emerged:

Which apparently managed to dupe at least a few people.

Trap-laying hint #2: If the ad uses the same image as the "stolen" post, then it's probably not legitimate.

So much for street smarts.

In any case, as the demand for bike messengers dwindles and alleycats become less like messenger races and more like ceremonies commemorating a bygone era (think Civil War reenactments), it will soon become necessary to build artificial habitats to preserve the messenger way of life. As the sixth wealthiest person in the world, I'm doing my part by investing in a planned and artificially-distressed community called Hermes Arms:

(Artist's rendering of the finished product.)

The messengers of today will feel perfectly at home there tomorrow. Just look at these amenities:

Highlights include:

Pregentrificationburg: A prefab "neighborhood" that evokes Williamsburg during that late-90s "magic hour" when "cool" people lived there but it hadn't yet become "cool;"

Divey's Dive Bar: Where residents will gather, drink, and tell war stories after a day of "working." Happy Hour starts at 10:30am, and there's even an early bird special.

Bacon Community Center: Endowed by celebrity messenger Kevin Bacon, there will be screenings of dated films such as MASH and Macaframa, as well as performances by tired old punk bands from the neighboring retirement community;

There's also a fully-functioning health center that will deny you care (no self-respecting messenger has health insurance), an arts and crafts center that will offer bag-making classes, a film production facility so residents can keep obsessively documenting their lifestyle just like they did on the "outside," and of course an aquatic therapy center to rehabilitate those fixie-ravaged knees.

Reserve your loft space today!


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