Thursday, 30 June 2011

Writing on the Wall

About a week ago, I left the house in the morning to discover the wall of a nearby building covered in graffiti. Screaming for attention with its searing yellow hue and the swirly sunshine dotting the "i" the graffiti tells the residents of our little neighbourhood to "smile." Very funny, we think. Smile because they defaced property? Smile because someone will have to spend time cleaning that up in mid-summer heat and humidity? Smile because this action rubs it in our faces that we are powerless to prevent others violating our living space?

Then a funny thing happens. As we continue to live with the graffiti (the building's manager has not had time to clean it up), the initial feeling of indignation recedes and we begin to take the message literally - to respond automatically to the word's actual meaning, instead of responding intellectually to the symbolic meaning of it having been spraypainted there. Smile! The vandal (artist?) has managed to elevate our mood in spite of everything.

I am not comparing cycling to graffiti, really I am not. But it is impossible not to notice that those who don't ride bikes often feel threatened and, yes, even invaded by the appearance of bicyclists and (gasp) bike lanes in their neighbourhoods. These are strong feelings that those of us who cycle can too easily dismiss. But look at it this way: If after some time a vandalised wall can make us smile because of its sunny message, then surely the fun of cycling can be contagious enough to override any hostility toward it as well.

Along the main street around the corner from our house, from 5 pm to 6 pm on any given weekday there is a continuous parade of cyclists traveling home from work. They are all sorts, and most wear their regular clothing - including women in colourful dresses and crazy footwear. Two years ago, not nearly as many cyclists rode through that street - a quarter of the number I see today, at best. There was also a lot of honking from drivers, hostile insults exchanged as a matter of course. Now it hardly happens at all. I see business owners sitting on the front steps and watching the cyclists as the sun sets. It really is a sight when so many different people pass through on their bikes; there is a festive feel to it.

Maybe our neighbourhood has internalised the bicycle as part of its character, as opposed to thinking of it as a hostile foreign body. Maybe drivers and cyclists both have decided to lighten up and smile.

You Are What You Eat: The "Other" Salmon

This Saturday, July 2nd, the Tour de France bicycle cycling race will begin. As it happens, I'm supposed to write about this bicycle cycling race for the "Bicycling" magazine website, so with only two days to go I figured I might as well look into who's actually competing in it. In this sense, I am heading into the unknown--just like Alberto Contador:

So will Contador win the Tour again? Well, that depends on two things:

1) Is he too tired after winning the Giro of Italy?


2) Can he win without meat?

Yes, that's right, after falling victim to the steak that bites back last year, Contador has given up the red stuff:

Contador Gives up Meat

Contador says he has stopped eating meat since testing positive for clenbuterol on last year's Tour de France, a result he blamed on contaminated steak.

The 28-year-old favourite to win this year's Tour, which gets underway on Saturday, also said in an interview published on Wednesday that his Saxo Bank team will have its own cook this year.

"No, I have not eaten meat again," he told sports daily Marca when asked if he had eaten meat since traces of clenbuterol were discovered in a test on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour, which he won.

You've got to admire Contador for not only sticking to the tainted steak story, but also going so far as to give up meat altogether in order to make it seem more convincing. It's like the "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry had to wear glasses all the time so he wouldn't offend Lloyd Braun. Still, I'm not buying the part about Saxo Bank hiring its own cook, since that sounds expensive. I'm pretty sure when they say "cook" they just mean they're giving one of the mechanics a copy of "Babe's Country Cookbook: 80 Complete Meat-Free Recipes from the Farm" and telling him to get to work:

Babe says, "Don't eat the little piggies."

Meanwhile, a fellow Tweeterer informs me that Dave Zabriskie is attempting to do Contador one better by riding the entire Tour De France on a vegan diet:

This might be newsworthy, except for the fact that as part of his "vegan" diet Zabriskie "plans to eat small amounts of salmon two days per week," which means his diet is about as vegan as Babe's ass is kosher.

Now, when it comes to eating, I say eat whatever as long as it's not endangered, makes you happy, and keeps you regular. Want to join the "nose to tail movement?" Good for you. Want to go vegan because you can't stand even the thought of a human hand tugging on a bovine udder? Perfectly fine. Want to eat the heart of your human enemy while it's still beating so that you may absorb his powers? Well, you probably shouldn't do that, if only for sanitary reasons.

But regardless of what you eat, you don't get to call yourself a vegan if you eat salmon. That's it. Once that pink flesh passes your lips you're out of the squat and banned from the coop. Turn in your hemp shoes to the smelly guy lying on a mattress he pulled from a Dumpster, and don't let the door with the punk show flyers all over it hit you in the ass on the way out. That's all there is to it. If you need a fancy, pretentious name for yourself, then I guess you can call yourself a "pescetarian." (That's someone who only eats Joe Pesci.) But all it really means is you're not a vegan; you're just another lox-munching schmuck.

Anyway, apparently Zabriskie is being mentored by another pretend-vegan athlete:

Zabriskie also consulted with a professional motorcycle racer, Ben Bostrom, also a vegan, who advised Zabriskie to include small amounts of fish a couple of times a week because of the incredibly large load he puts on his body during training. "He told me, don't get too hung up on the word 'vegan'," says Zabriskie. The fish, Zabriskie says, helps his body absorb certain vitamins and iron.

Again, I don't care what people are eating, but the word "vegan" means what it means. Don't get too hung up on the word "vegan?!?" Getting hung up about stuff is what being a vegan is all about! He's as bad as these minimalists who only have 15 things...except their accessory chargers. And their toiletries. And the fully-equipped luxury condo and summer house they share with their wife. Certain areas of life need to remain black and white, and the profoundly irritating self-righteousness of veganism is one of them. I mean, what if you replace the word "vegan" with "clean," and the word "fish" with "EPO?"

Zabriskie also consulted with a professional motorcycle racer, Ben Bostrom, also a clean rider, who advised Zabriskie to include small amounts of EPO a couple of times a week because of the incredibly large load he puts on his body during training. "He told me, don't get too hung up on the word 'clean'," says Zabriskie.

Or, what if you used "virgin" and "sexual intercourse?"

Zabriskie also consulted with a professional motorcycle racer, Ben Bostrom, also a virgin rider, who advised Zabriskie to include small amounts of sexual intercourse a couple of times a week because of the incredibly large load he puts on his body during training. "As he caressed me, he told me, don't get too hung up on the word 'virgin'," says Zabriskie.

I may have added a few extra words there, but I think you see my point. Being a vegan is like being a virgin: you either is, or you ain't. As far as I'm concerned, Zabriskie can eat all the salmon he wants. But he doesn't get to call himself a vegan, and he's officially out of contention for the maillot hemp traditionally given to the vegan riding highest on the GC. Nor does he get to wear a vegan tattoo:

(Vegans often opt for wrist placement since the word "vegan" is incompatible with knuckle tattoos.)

One rider who would never play fast and loose with the definition of veganism is the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork--or, as one reader informs me he is now called, "Bret:"

"If it rains take the bus," you say? Well not Bret! He trains for that century even when it's cloudy and drizzly:

Bret is clearly logging some serious miles. I don't know which charity ride he's training for, but I'm pretty sure he's going to dominate it.

Meanwhile, in the comments to yesterday's post (Critical Mass guy is still emailing me by the way), commenter "Mikeweb" linked to a distressing article:

I'd love it if we never had to read about a serious bicycle accident. However, as long as we do, it would be nice if the reporters could at least not always go out of their way to immediately mention whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet:

Ray Deter, 53, owner of d.b.a. New York in the East Village and d.b.a. Brooklyn in Williamsburg, was not wearing a helmet when he was hit on Canal St. as he headed to work.

What is the point of this, apart from unnecessarily heaping additional blame on the rider? He may have turned heedlessly as the article says, but whether or not he was wearing a helmet at the time has nothing to do with that decision. It's like the "Vegan Times" reporting on the incident and writing, "The victim had eaten a hamburger earlier in the day." It's a tacit judgment, and it's a device reporters love to use when writing about cycling.

Also, it takes two to have a collision, but I guess we just have to assume the 24 year-old in the Jaguar who keeps his weed in the car was driving safely (on Canal Street, where nobody ever speeds)--and also wearing his helmet, since the article doesn't say anything to the contrary.

On a much happier note, I've been waiting and waiting, and finally someone has reviewed the Mario Cipollini bike:

There were a bunch of words in the review, but these were the only ones I noticed:

a peach
tube shapes
curving around the rear
oversized, tapered
seriously aggressive position
riding position
feels close
massively oversized
great fun to ride hard
overbuilt and stiff
remarkably good
spend all day
aggressive position
always in an ‘attack’ position
a lot of pressure on your lower back
not easy to sit up

Whew! I feel dirty.

Slap a noseless saddle on that and you may never experience "down time" again.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

What Does 'Commuting' Mean to You?

Some of us have conventionally structured jobs, where we ride our bikes to the office, stay there for a given period of time, then ride home. Others might move from site to site throughout the day, or work from home, or go to the office and back several times. I've had lots of conversations with friends in both job categories, and it's clear that there are benefits and drawbacks to each: With a conventional schedule, you get a sense of structure, and once you leave the office you are done. On the down side, sitting in the same building for an entire day can feel constricting. With a non-conventional schedule, there is a greater sense of freedom and you can organise your time to suit your needs. On the down side, it can feel as if the work never really ends and that you are chained to your laptop or phone 24/7.

Most of my jobs have fallen somewhere in the second, unstructured category. Even while working in a university setting - probably my most "normal" employment - it was always a back and forth between different locations on and off campus. Now that I have transitioned entirely to freelance work, it is up to me how to organise my time - which is nice in theory, but can work against me if I am not careful.

Finding it nearly impossible to work from home, I like to leave the house for the day and transition between one setting and another - coffee shop, studio, supply store, meeting, park bench. My laptop perpetually in tow, the nomadism is my means of staying both sane and focused.

Cycling back and forth between these locations and home is my version of commuting - though it is disheartening when those with structured jobs say things like "Oh, but then you don't have to commute, do you." I know what they mean to say: There is no pressure for me to arrive somewhere at exactly 9am every day. While this is mostly true, I do have meetings where I am expected to be on time. I also make more trips per day than they do and don't really have a concept of week-ends. But it is not a competition and I think that whatever one considers to be "commuting" is valid for that person. The term is a strange one for non-English speakers anyhow, as they struggle to understand why a special word is needed for traveling to and from work!

For those who do commute in a nomadic fashion, and do so by bicycle, there are some helpful posts about establishing a mobile office (via Girls and Bicycles) and an outdoor office (via Simply Bike). And for those who work 9-5 jobs, there are some great posts by Dottie from Let's Go Ride a Bike on how to take a refreshing joyride on your lunch hour. Cycling can function both to infuse a conventional job with a sense of freedom and to bring structure into a more chaotic work situation. What does commuting mean to you, and how (if at all) has it been affected by cycling?

Like Attracts Like: Don't Feed the Narratives

Recently, I received an email from a company, or concern, or enterprise, or organization, or entity, or whatever the proper term is, called "Dedicated Lane Productions, Inc." The purpose of this email was to alert me to a Kickstarter campaign for a Critical Mass documentary entitled "Last Friday of the Month."

Since I'm a blogger with a blog on the Internet, I assumed they sent me this email because they wanted me to mention it on my Internet blog that I have. So I mentioned it.

Subsequently, the director of the documentary left a lengthy comment on my Internet blog that I have (this one, not the other one about urban beekeeping), followed by a couple of lengthy emails. Now, I confess I had a bit of trouble following the comment and the emails. This is because: a) I have a poor attention span; and b) the prose was somewhat rambling, and at times flirted with the line between spontaneous bop prosody and incoherence.

However, I came away from it all with the impression that he was angry at me because I wasn't sufficiently effusive about his project, but he kind of maybe had a sense of humor about the whole thing, but really he was mostly angry. In any case, I sent him a friendly reply, and I might have forgotten about the whole thing, but then I noticed this was appended to one of the emails:

I could be mistaken, but that appears to be a disembodied arm clubbing a seal representing my blog, set alongside some kind of ripoff of the Public Enemy logo.

Or maybe it's a cricket bat, and the seal is drunk.

Either way, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I suppose this is true, because the director had sent me something like three thousand words that I didn't understand, but here was a single picture that made it abundantly clear he wants to club me. And I certainly don't want to be clubbed--especially if it happens on the last Friday of the month, since the traffic will be all snarled up thanks to Critical Mass and the emergency services vehicles won't be able to get to me.

Anyway, I prefer to take the illustration in the spirit of humor and assume it's just the director's idea of parody. Plus, he's certainly more than entitled to make jokes at my expense. Still, I can't get over my irritation over the notion that we're all just supposed to like stuff nowadays. I'm not sure if it's the Internet or just the cyclical nature of popular attitudes, but frankly it seems the way things work lately is that people fabricate narratives about themselves and then our job as readers/viewers/consumers or whatever we are is to accept those narratives and congratulate them for their efforts. Here's the template:

--Guy in a hat decides he's a bike racer, we're supposed to celebrate his "passion" and "sportsmanship;"

--Filmmaker decides a massive inconvenience is actually a great political movement, we're supposed to celebrate Critical Massers as civil rights heroes and fund the film;

--Douchebag decides throwing out his books and buying an iPad makes him an aescetic, we're supposed to celebrate "minimalism" as a bold new lifestyle;

--Car company incorporates bikes into their advertising, we're supposed to celebrate them for embracing cycling;

--Hipsters import chocolate to Brooklyn on schooner and sell it for $9 a bar, we're supposed to celebrate it as "artisanal."

And so forth.

There's nothing wrong with any of this. We all write narratives for ourselves. The outline consists of our hopes, ambitions, pleasures, and desires, and we then set about fleshing it out as best we can. That's what life is. But that doesn't mean we all have to buy the chocolate. I mean, sure, if it's worth it to you go right ahead, but don't get upset when someone says, "Fuck that, I'm buying a Kit-Kat."

Also, clearly the Critical Mass documentary director isn't just blindly "liking" things. He's participating in Critical Mass because he doesn't like something, and in fact he doesn't like something so strongly that he's actually gone to jail for it. Still, that doesn't mean I can't not like the way he doesn't like something, since I also believe the way he goes about not liking stuff makes people not like me. Ultimately, I just can't help feeling like Critical Mass goes a bit too far, in that the participants write the rest of us into their self-serving narrative.

Incidentally, in browsing the Dedicated Lane, Inc. website, I also noticed a documentary about a "punk" sorry, "ska-core" band, entitled "Fuck Brakes:"

F*#K Brakes Trailer from Spike Project on Vimeo.

They're changing the world one formulaic song at a time.

In any case, while I tend to keep my distance from Critical Mass because I don't agree with it, I also don't follow RAAM--not because I don't agree with it, but because it just plain freaks me out. I think we all have a different notion of when a sport goes from "dramatic" to "stupid," and for me it's when the competitors have to put duct tape on their heads. Basically, it's the kinbaku of bicycle racing. Still, even though I don't follow RAAM, I did read this article about it in The New York Times:

Apparently, unlike more attractively gruelling races such as the Tour de France, RAAM is free from doping scandals:

While professional cycling has been rocked by numerous drug scandals, no RAAM rider has failed a drug test. Most say that there is no incentive to cheat in the race because it awards no prize money.

Right, I'm sure nobody has ever cheated in RAAM. If people are doping to win amateur bike races--as duct tape guy did--then I'm sure someone at some point has cheated in RAAM. By the way, the condition that requires duct tape is apparently called "Shermer's Neck:"

Goldstein completed the race in just over 11 days despite dealing with Shermer’s Neck, a painful condition that afflicts many ultracyclists who spend upwards of 22 hours a day hunched over their bikes and makes it difficult to keep their head up. Eight days into the race, Goldstein’s team kept her on the road by braiding tape in her hair and tying it to her heart-rate monitor or bra to keep her head pulled back.

I thought Shermer's Neck was a fancy neighborhood on Long Island. That should show you what a RAAM "noob" I am.

But the real story at RAAM this year was that the winner is a bike messenger, though I'm sure his words will sting his fellow messengers like peeling off duct tape too fast:

“I don’t know if I’ll go back to being a bike messenger,” he said after his rest. “I like people who are successful but keep their ordinary jobs, but if you do something great, you should maybe make something out of it.”

So, like, what? Being a messenger isn't "something great?" I though bike messengers were urban heroes; fierce warriors; bold riders on the very labia of the Vagina of Chaos. At least that's what all those messenger videos seen to want me to believe. And speaking of messengers, even though "Triple Rush" has been cancelled, videos continue to appear like the tingling of a phantom limb. Here's one in which a messenger boots a tire:

Triple Rush - Tire Patch Trick from Triple Rush on Vimeo.

Sure, anyone who has ever flipped through a copy of "Bicycling" knows how to boot a tire, but I'm sure the producers thought it represented the very pinnacle of street-savvy ingenuity. Plus, as the messenger himself puts it:

"If you're riding hard and you're riding fast which we have to, you really have to try to make stuff last as long as possible."

Absolutely. To that end, here are a couple of helpful money-saving tire tips.

Money-Saving Tire Tip #1:

Use a Brake.

I couldn't help noticing that, in addition to being bamboo, the messenger's bike is also brakeless:

I know this is mind-blowing information, but when you stop by skidding your tire doesn't last as long.

Tire Money Saving Tip #2:

Don't use a $50 road racing tire.

If you insist on using your rear tire as your brake, don't spend "$45-$50" on narrow, lightweight road racing tires.

But I guess when you're a TV messenger, it goes without saying that saving money always comes second to remaining fashionable.

By the way, when it comes to the actual booting, if you're a cash-strapped messenger, use a $1 bill:

However, if you're a roadie and you like to spend extra money on stuff for no reason or discernible performance gain, use a $100 bill instead:

(The $100 bill, also known as the "Fred Boot.")

Just tell yourself bigger bills have a higher thread count and will give you a more supple ride.

I'm pretty sure I read that in "Bicycling."

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Shorter Cranks, Dainty Pedals, and the Ambiguity of Toe Overlap

Last week I was offered the opportunity to trade the Sugino Alpina crankset on my mixte for the exact same model with shorter cranks, and I went for it. The original cranks were 170mm. The ones on it now are 165mm. A 5mm difference is very small, but can be significant. For instance, some say that shorter cranks make for a smoother pedal stroke. But my reason for the change was to reduce toe overlap. I mentioned previously that my mixte has it to a small degree, and that I'd like to get rid of it since I now use this bike mainly for transportation. In theory, that could be done either by converting to 650B or re-raking the fork. But before resorting to such drastic measures, I wanted to try something easier.

In addition to the shorter cranks, I also replaced the MKS Touring pedals with Velo Orange City Pedals. Being smaller, my assumption was that the new pedals would reduce overlap further still - though I am now told this isn't so.

Either way, with the new set-up my toes are about 1/4" further back from the front fender than where they were previously. These are the longest-toed boots I own, and with my foot in its most typical position on the pedal there is no overlap even on the widest turn.

Aerial view.

But the thing about an upright bike that is ridden casually and with no foot retention, is that you can plant your foot on the pedal any which way. Sometimes I am sloppy, and plop it down further forward than typical when starting. In that sense, the toe overlap issue remains ambiguous. I need to ride around with this setup for a few weeks to see whether it still happens on occasion. I am not sure whether I notice any difference between the old cranks and the new ones, but it's possible that my pedaling feels a little "rounder." Or I could be imagining it, because that's what I've been told is supposed to happen. (Crank length placebo effect?)

As for the VO City Pedals, I absolutely love them so far. Ever since having tried them on the Rainbow Bike, I wanted them for myself. They don't stab my bare legs and toes the way MKS Touring pedals do, they are grippy, and they are extremely light (228gr per pair). It also does not hurt that they are pretty - though this, of course, is in the eyes of the beholder.

One caveat though, is that these pedals are very narrow (82mm across) and I have heard from a couple of people who find them uncomfortable for that reason. If you have large feet or tend to wear bulky workboots on your city bike, these are probably not the best choice.

So far I am happy with the changes I've made here, and together with the new basket the mixte has definitely turned into a transportation bike. The toe overlap was minor to begin with, so hopefully this will render it insignificant - but we'll see.

If you've ever played around with crank length on your bikes, did you notice a tangible difference? I have bicycles with cranks ranging from 165mm to 175mm, and they all feel fine, so I tend to use things like bottom bracket height and wheel size to determine what cranks a bike should have. But what do I know! Maybe with time I'll be able to tell the crank length of the bike I am riding just by the way it feels to pedal... though I remain skeptical.

The Clipless Ambush: a Tale of Failure

Well, my first encounter with clipless pedals occurred sooner than I anticipated. Last week the Co-Habitant decided to update his pedals, and the new set arrived in the mail today... which meant that he could gift me his old ones. I thought that surely this gifting would take place some time in the future - a distant, abstract future. But no. Cheerfully he attached them to one of our vintage roadbikes right then and there, so that I could give them a try. Don't get me wrong, I myself had expressed interest in this. But... I don't know, I just didn't expect it to happen immediately!

I already owned a pair of compatible shoes, having bought them on clearance last summer "just in case." With apprehension I watched him attach the cleats to the soles, trying to gauge the correct position. I then put them on and dragged the bike over to the kitchen sink, so that I could hold on to the edge with one hand as I tried to figure out how the contraptions worked.

I expected that clipping in would be relatively easy, but clipping out difficult. It was the opposite. At first I could not to clip in. I tried and tried, but my foot stayed on top of the pedal and the mechanism would not engage no matter how hard I pressed. I struggled to figure out what I was doing wrong, but the explanation turned out to be simple: I am a weakling. We had to loosen the tension almost to the max for my foot to engage the mechanism. Even after that, I still had trouble pressing down with enough force and in the exact position necessary for the cleat to catch. Clipping out, on the other hand, was intuitive: the sideways twist of the foot is exactly the same motion required to get out of Power Grips, so I found it natural. Transitioning from the kitchen sink to the trainer, I practiced for some time, clipping in and out successfully. I then decided it was time to go outside. I felt pretty confident at this point. Nothing to this. 

It was around 10 pm and the small side street behind our house was well lit and empty of cars. Confidently, I carried the bike outdoors, swung my leg over the top tube, and clipped in my right foot. Now all I had to do was push off, coast for a bit, then put my left foot back down on the ground. That would be such an easy first step. No different from Power Grips. Just need to do it. Now. Go! But... it was not to be.  Like some malfunctioning marionette, I kept clipping and unclipping my right foot, trying to mentally force myself to push off, but it wasn't working; nothing was happening. The amused Co-Habitant offered to stand at the end of the street and "catch me" if I found myself unable to unclip when I got there. But imagining that just made it worse. It began to feel as if I'd forgotten how to ride a bike entirely. 

There is no redeeming ending to this story. After a good ten minutes I gave up and went back inside, my head hung low in shame. Obviously I am just not ready.

Aside from the tale of failure, I have some observations about the shoe and pedal set-up. I can't find the model name of the shoes, but in retrospect getting clipless shoes with laces was silly. Being stiff and unyielding, they are difficult to put on and tighten, and it's a pain to tuck the laces under the velcro. I am also not sure these pedals are right for me. They are Shimano SPD 520s: mountain bike style, double sided and with a very small surface area. I know that many love this type of pedal, but to me it felt like not enough of my foot was connected. Pedaling on the trainer, I had the sensation that there was too much pressure on the spot where the cleat meets the pedal and that a larger contact area would have been better. Maybe these particular shoes are not stiff enough, or maybe I would do better with a different style of pedals. There seems to be a consensus that the mountain bike clipless system is easier than the road system, but I wonder whether I might prefer the latter. Unfortunately, there is no way to try these things out. 

Navigating the world of clipless shoes and pedals is complicated, and at the moment it seems best to postpone it... at least until I am brave enough to use the ones I have beyond the confines of my kitchen!  

Winning by a Nose: Of Competition and Virility

Further to yesterday's post, one commenter was irate that I did not treat the Red Hook Crit or its participants with sufficient reverence:

Anonymous said...

Funny, it's obvious none of you actually know anything about the red hook crit, and the level of competion this event brings. A few pro racers several cat 1, 2 ,3 racers. (plain english translation, cuase im sure most of you dont even know what that means, these dudes race and are good enough to progressed up the ranks) So to say this event is a joke, clearly highlights your ignorance.

At least this guy raced in it, I was there and it was cold, anyone who has the balls to race in those conditions deserves to describe the event as not being hipster or what whatever else they want.
Top ten or whatever, give the guy a break, he's obviously passionate about racing, and if any of you are true sportsman, or have any passion for anything you should be encouraging his passion not talking shit.

June 27, 2011 10:49 PM

I think most readers of this blog not only understand but also appreciate the Red Hook Crit. Indeed, I'm a fan of the Red Hook Crit and I even told the "media" as much when they asked--though in the end they decided to misquote me. I also think most readers of this blog understand and appreciate being passionate about cycling, as it is a feeling most of us have in common. It's certainly why I dictate this blog to my helper monkey everyday, and it's most likely why you're reading it right now instead of checking out cheese porn.

Nevertheless, I'd also argue that it's important to keep certain things in perspective. For example, the Red Hook Crit is a great event, but let's not get too carried away with the level of competition. Sure it boasts "a few pro racers" as well as "several cat 1, 2 ,3 racers," but so does any given weekend race in Prospect Park. (Even if some of them are getting suspended for doping.)

Also, yes, it goes without saying that we all encourage Cinelli hat guy's passion for cycling. However, at the same time, some of us are not quite convinced that his decision to partake in a bicycle race (even though "it was cold") warrants making him one of the subjects of a Bud Greenspan-esque documentary film. I say this as someone who has partookened in many a cold bicycle race, and who knows that recreation is recreation no matter what the thermometer says. (And it usually says, "You're an idiot. Go back to bed.")

Most importantly, when you enter a race there is no guarantee of glory. You may win, you may get lapped 15 times, or you may wind up having to peel your face from the asphalt. If Cinelli hat guy is a "true sportsman," he knows this. If he is not, he will figure it out sooner or later. Similarly, when you are one of the subjects of a Greenspan-esque documentary film, there is no guarantee that your efforts will be lauded. Whether it's a race or a film, the only way to guarantee a result is to not participate in the first place. This is the essence of both competition and personal expression. We are not required to be moved by the "Racing Towards Red Hook" video, for it is as subject to commendation or derision as any creative work.

So why is maintaining this perspective important? Because without it, our innate human inanity knows no bounds. Most of us have fancied ourselves cycling heroes at one time or another, and we know the perils of this behavior all too well. It's what compels 20-something freelancers to spend a thousand dollars on Hed 3 front wheels for their track bikes while foregoing health insurance. It's why your local Cat 4 field is riding more exotic bikes than most Pro Tour teams. It's why riders pushing 30 are on doping programs so they can dominate amateur races.

It's tempting to say that there's a fine line between dedication and delusion, but when it comes to cycling, I'd argue that dedication doesn't exist and that there are only degrees of delusion that can be measured in dollar signs. And to expect congratulations simply for entertaining this delusion is, in itself, delusional.

So if making jokes about treating the Red Hook Crit like Paris Roubaix is wrong, then I don't want to be right. Because, frankly, the alternative (which is actually taking bike racing seriously) is just too fucking expensive.

Speaking of documentary films, another subject that may or may not be worthy of documenting is Critical Mass in New York City. As you most likely know, "Critical Mass is a leaderless group bicycle ride that takes place in over 300 cities around the world, typically on the last Friday of every month." However, Critical Mass documentaries do have leaders. These leaders are called "directors," and this one wants us to give him $25,000:

"I have a right to ride in the street! On my bike! I don't need any government permission!," shouts one Critical Masser in the trailer, and this is exactly why I think New York City's Critical Mass warrants a documentary. Indeed, we don't need any government permission to ride our bikes in the streets, but thanks to Critical Mass we probably will soon. Between the crackdowns and the parade rule and the constant attempts to institute bicycle registration laws that have arisen since Critical Mass began, it's only a matter of time before it succeeds in its goal of making the simple act cycling not only politically charged but also completely illegal.

But while I do believe that one of the most ass-backward political movements in recent years does warrant a documentary, I'm not so sure we should have to pay for it--especially when you consider the dicrector's background:

In 2004 New York City's Critical Mass bicycle ride was labeled a "protest" and the police began an uncommonly aggressive campaign of mass arrests of bicyclists. Chris ( the Director ) was caught up in the first wave of arrests and has continued filming Critical Mass rides, while following relevant court cases and documenting other cyclists' personal experiences.

Didn't those people who got arrested win a big fat settlement? It seems to me he should be in a pretty good position to fund the movie himself. Then again, you can't really put a price on watching people raise pennyfarthings in defiance:

Actually, you can, and it's apparently 25 grand. I think NYC Critical Mass may be the Red Hook Crit of protest rides.

Yes, cyclists in New York City are under unrelenting political pressure. Meanwhile, the police (at least those who ride bikes while on patrol) are evidently under unrelenting groinal pressure, which is why some doctor is touting noseless saddles:

Case in point, an officer who switched to a noseless saddle and now has longer "night boners:"

During his sleep, when he wore a monitor, the measure known as “percent of time erect” increased to 28 percent from 18 percent.

It's hard to think of when a longer erection would be of less use to you than when you're sound asleep and you can't even use the thing. Spending more time erect while you're unconscious is like having a slightly more aerodynamic sofa. In theory I suppose it's better, but in practice, so what?

Speaking of meaningless measurements, here's another one:

“There’s as much penis inside the body as outside,” Dr. Schrader told me. “When you sit on a regular bike saddle, you’re sitting on your penis.”

If you're a man, next time someone's unimpressed with your endowment, just try telling them that half your penis is inside your body and that it's actually twice as long as it looks. Then throw in the part about how you have magnificent erections of "epic" duration while you're snoring and drooling all over your pillow and you'll have your pick of anybody at the bar.

Of course, the biggest problem with this whole noseless saddle data is that the testing was done on police, so while it may be relevant to them it's not necessarily applicable to the rest of us and how we ride. Anyway, I'll be impressed when this Dr. Schrader does one of his boner tests on cops who ride recumbents:

Perhaps he can finally break the elusive 100% night erection barrier.

I would like to see a noseless Brooks though.

Lastly, I was very pleased to hear from a reader recently who was fortunate enough to meet the famous Lone Wolf. As he describes it:

I met the Lone Wolf today at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. I turned around from the race and there he was! "Lone Wolf" I blurted out. He laughed deep and wise. The laugh of one who is in fact THE Lone Wolf. "You are one of my heroes" I went on. He looked me right in the eyes and said "You are a hero." He set his wheels straight, and posed for this picture. His wolf powers conjured two podium girls in red as I snapped this image.

Wisdom from the Wolf: stay hydrated.
He is really a very nice guy.

Humility, good humor, and a saddle with a nose. He's nothing short of the cycling ideal.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Sepeda Fixie Velg Orange Minimalis

Sepeda Fixie Velg Orange Minimalis

Sepeda Fixie Velg Orange Minimalis

Sepeda Fixie Hitam Ramping

Sepeda Fixie Hitam Ramping

Sepeda Fixie Hitam Ramping

Sepeda Fixie Hitam Ramping

Sepeda Fixie Hitam Ramping

Sepeda Fixie Hitam Ramping

I accept been attractive at your armpit on an about circadian base for a brace of years now and accept assuredly congenital two anchored accessory bikes. The photo's of my aboriginal body are attached. It is my Grandad's 1930's Anatomy which was alteredby Ron Argent of Granby Cycles in the 1930's. I accept ridden this bike on and off for the accomplished 30 years, but accepting advised the abounding entries on your armpit accept now rebuilt it in anchored accessory form. The anatomy has been "rattle can" sprayed in brownish green, but I may accept it crumb coated in the future! The basal bracket, angle and crank set are all aboriginal or at atomic the aforementioned era as the frame. The auto are Velocity "Fusions" which I had congenital at 53-12 in Colchester on new hubs. (don't apperceive their name) The balderdash horn handle confined are Charge "Slicebars" and the anchor batten is "Trektro". In discharge of it's age the bike is actual bland and fast and a joy to ride.

Bikes and Swedish Cinema: Choose Your Favourite Contest Submissions!

The deadline for the Pilen give-away contest was last night, and the entries are in! To recap, readers who fit the height criteria (this is a large bike) were invited to submit an image that depicts a person and a bicycle, and evokes some aspect of Swedish film. The winner will receive the beautiful Pilen Lyx that I am test riding for the distributor, BoxCycles. I received 30 eligible submissions, and most of the pictures were so thoughtfully done, that it seemed only fair to feature them all.

To select the winner, I will first choose five finalists based solely on the pictures. Then I will have a closer look at those entries, read their submissions carefully, and possibly contact them via email with some questions.

If you are up for it, I would love to have your input regarding which images belong among the finalists. I have some tentative favourites in mind, but if popular opinion differs from mine I will reconsider. There are too many entries here to turn this into a poll, but please feel free to let me know in the comments which images appeal to you. Here they all are, numbered 1 through 30:

1. entry from Jenny

2. entry from Marisa

3. entry from Amy

4. entry from Kitty 

5. entry from Amanda

6. entry from Lauren

7. entry from Julie

8. entry from David 

9. entry from Cris

10. entry from Maddie

11. entry from Stephanie

12. entry from Kara

13. entry from Mike White

14. entry from Louisa and Bojana

15. entry from Anders

16. entry from Janice

17. entry from David and Kate

18. entry from Marcella

19. entry from Paris

20. entry from Olivia

21. entry from Brooks and Marya

22. entry from Trevor and Melissa

23. entry from Traci

24. entry from Kate

25. entry from Kimon and Rhonda Haramis

26. entry from Gretchen

27. entry from Audra

28. entry from FieldofBluebells

29. entry from Cate Fitz

30. entry from Riding Pretty

Thank you again for taking the time to create and submit these pictures. Regardless of who wins, this is a visual treat and I hope they were fun to make. Thank you also to BoxCycles for donating the beautiful Pilen! I hope to announce the winner next week.

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