Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Say What? Putting the "Con" in "Context"

There are a lot of things I love about "curating" my very own "webbing logue." The suite of luxury offices, the lavish travel budgets, my sexy bikini-clad IT staff-slash-beach volleyball team (well, it's not exactly what you're thinking, but they are very good with computers and they work for tanning products)--all of these things make waking up in the early afternoon and shuffling the nine feet from my hammock to my vibrating blogging chair feel like nothing less than a dream come true.

But the best part of all--better than the dozens of dollars, and the millions of spam emails, and the "mimbo" IT volleyball crew--is the knowledge I've acquired over the years. For example, before starting this blog I had no idea that riding a brakeless fixed-gear bicycle down a steep hill and into a busy intersection was, like, a Zen thing that made you feel totally connected to the bike. I thought it was just stupid. I also had no idea people would pay many thousands of dollars for custom high-end bicycles made from bamboo, having foolishly thought it was a material best reserved for panda consumption and papasan chair fabrication. Boy was I wrong! Most of all, though, I learned that when you say things to reporters, those reporters sometimes use what you say in a disappointing manner--kind of like when you sell someone a perfectly good road bike only to see it wind up on the Fixedgeargallery in sickeningly "tarck"-ified form.

Sure, not knowing this may seem like the epitome of naivete, but the truth is that before starting this blog my only experience with newspapers was stuffing them into my shoes after a rainy ride. Plus, I suppose I also have the old-fashioned notion that answering reporters' questions honestly is an act of good citizenship, like helping old ladies cross the street or reporting that neighbor you know is a terrorist because he wears unusual shoes and drives a minivan with a little too much Bondo on it.

Such was my thinking when a reporter from The Daily emailed me recently and asked for my thoughts on the success of the wildly popular Red Hook Crit. Plus, besides getting my merit badge for helping, I also thought it was a good opportunity to put a good word in for the race, since I happen to like it. Most of all, The Daily is an iPad-specific "newspaper," which means my words would be read by literally hundreds of minimalists.

Anyway, here was my reply:

Alleycats, which started as outlaw messenger races, are everywhere now and have evolved into great big scavenger hunts. On the other hand, USA Cycling are not exactly in touch with the zeitgeist, so sanctioned racing can seem too staid and rarefied to the young urban cyclist. I think Dave Trimble's done a great job with his race in combining the best aspects of both--it's a spectator-friendly circuit race on a closed course, but it's outside of the auspices of USA Cycling and takes place at night in an interesting part of Brooklyn. It's a criterium without the stuffiness, and an alleycat without the easter egg hunt.

A couple of days ago the article appeared:

While the both the article's portrayal of the race and the quotes contained therein were unabashedly positive, I was surprised to see that mine had been "retrofitted" to serve as the exception, and that I had instead been used to fill the role of the lone crank:

The Crit, as it's known, retains the renegade spirit of street racing while demanding serious prowess. Alleycats, or "outlaw messenger races, are everywhere now and have evolved into great big scavenger hunts," ____ ______, who blogs at the site Bike Snob NYC, wrote dismissively in an email.

That's it.

Am I a lone crank? Yes. Did I type the words in the quote they used? Sure. By providing the reporter with a quote of over 100 words, had I in effect given The Daily more than enough rope to auto-erotically asphyxiate myself with? Almost certainly. Nevertheless, I couldn't help feeling disappointed.

Naturally, I expected they'd shorten my quote, though honestly I hadn't expected them to shorten it that way. Plus, having given thought to her questions and then sending her a carefully-considered 107-word reply, how could she possibly say I "wrote dismissively?" A dismissive email from me would have looked more like this:

Race sux, fuck off.

But that's pretty much the opposite of what I wrote.

I suppose I shouldn't complain, since this is what comes of being a wise-ass bike blogger. "Live by the sarcasm, die by the sarcasm," as they say. Still, I am a lone crank, so I'm complaining anyway.

By the way, I did email the reporter to ask how she could have said I "wrote dismissively." She sent me a considered reply of over 60 words, but I prefer to render it according to what I now understand are the editorial guidelines of The Daily:

"I'd...cut the entire second half of it out. I...[had] context or no previous understanding of this world," she wrote dismissively in an email.

Live by the edit, die by the edit.

Of course, to truly appreciate how pathetically naive I am, you have to consider that this is the second time in less than a week that I've been disappointed by a publication owned by Rupert Murdoch.

This is like renting a hotel room to Charlie Sheen and being disappointed when he trashes it.

Speaking of Rupert Murdoch rags, via John del Signore at Gothamist, it seems that the New York Post is now suggesting that bike paths will desecrate September 11th memorials:

It's terrifying to think about how horribly misquoted you could be for an article like that.

Of course, if any publication would like to know my opinion of fixed-gear hillbombing, they're more than welcome to use the following quote: "It's stupid." [Though I'm sure The Daily would render it thusly: "'It's stupid [not to ride your brakeless fixie down steep hills and into traffic, kids],' he wrote dismissively.") Further to yesterday's post, I learned that the hillbomber featured therein actually has a "tumblr" which he uses to dispense advice to hillbombing aspirants:

Emi, you're one crazy mofo. By the way I'm diggin' your style!

I've stripped and wrecked lots of hubs doing skids, how do you keep your hub from not stripping while doing those crazy as skids?


Thank you, so much for being a fan! As far as hubs go and anything else for that matter, I only have one word for you!!!
Phil Wood, Phil Wood, Phil Wood!!! You will never go wrong with Phil Wood!!!
Phil Wood Bottom Bracket, Phil Wood Double Budded Stokes, Phil Wood Lock Ring, Phil Wood High Flange Hub…

My advice on how not to strip your hub while stopping would have been to skip all the expensive Phil Wood stuff and just get a $30 brake caliper, but then again I'm not a famous hillbomber. I wonder if he ever uses a CamelBak, like Frank Schleck:

It's good to see that the UCI are taking this infraction seriously, because if CamelBak use is allowed to continue unchecked it will only be a matter of time before the professional peloton are also riding in baggy shorts, growing out their leg hair, and using fully-suspended bicycles with fourteen feet of front and rear travel in order to ride off curbs. By the way, if you're wondering why you can't wear a bag of water on your back in a UCI road race, here is the reason:

The Leopard Trek rider was allowed to start the time trial by UCI officials present at the race but he may have broken rule 1.3.033 which says "it is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider."

That last part about "modifying the body of the rider" also prohibits stuffing tubed meats and other phallic objects down your shorts in order to make yourself seem exceptionally well-endowed, though it's perfectly fine to do this on the podium after the race is over.

Speaking of mountaining bicycles, my esteemed blogleague Stevil Kinevil of All Hail the Black Market is spearheading (or in his case "spearbearding") a campaign to have a crappy Softride (is there any other kind?) inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Here he is on that Softride as seen in the March issue of Bike Magazine:

While I'm primarily a Y-Foil guy I would still very much like to see him succeed, so if you'd like to help you can appeal directly to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame by following the directions at the end of this post. Then, while you're at it, you can also order a stunning "Smokey and the Bandit" replica jersey from the man himself.

Penultimately, if you're in need of inspiration, my other esteemed blogleague, Lucho of Cyclinginqusition, has shared with me this moving song about the virtues of riding without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs:


If you've been wondering whatever happened to that Michael Ball guy, I'm pretty sure that as soon as this song came out he exploded in a wet blast of denim and hair gel.

And lastly, if you haven't gotten around to giving your bike a spring tune-up yet, a reader informs me that you can finally outsource that chore to someone who will perform it while topless:

I'm sure Kiki is quite handy with the nipple wrench.


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