Monday, July 24, 2017

Is It Wednesday Yet?

Canada:



For those of us who reside down here in her dirty pant cuffs it's tempting to imagine Canada as an endearingly polite idyll with free health care and a dreamy prime minister:


However, every so often something comes along to shatter our illusion and remind us that our unassuming neighbor to the north also has its share of violence-prone pickup truck-driving troglodytes:


PETERBOROUGH—A driver has been charged after a dramatic video showed a 74-year-old cyclist viciously attacked on the side of the road with a club.

Peterborough police said that just after 11 a.m. Tuesday, the cyclist was riding in the area of Erskine Ave. when an argument broke out between him and a truck driver.

The driver climbed out of his truck and attacked the cyclist with a small club, police said.

Unlike his stateside counterparts he's wearing sandals:


But the dissimilarities end there.

“The sound of the club hitting him was sickening,” the woman told the newspaper. “Blood was flying off it.”

She said she didn’t witness what led to the encounter.

“They were flailing their arms around and the guy walked back to his truck,” she said.

I'm going to go ahead and guess what led to this encounter is the same thing that leads to every instance of driver-on-cyclist road rage, which is that the driver nearly killed the cyclist with his giant motor vehicle by doing something stupid or selfish or both, and the cyclist had the audacity to exercise his self-preservation instinct by trying not to die.

Just a hunch.

Still, not all Canadian pickup truck drivers are bad, and some might even save you from a bear attack:


He began hitting his horn to get the cyclist’s attention, seeing that his speed would not outrun the bear.

“Finally he looked over at me and I said, ‘You’ve got a grizzly bear about 25 feet behind you.’ He looked back and went, ‘Oh!’ and started to pound on the pedals.”

Here's what a touring cyclist looks like when he's being pursued by an ursine wheelsucker:


And here's a bear who has locked on to the irresistible scent of pannier stuffed to capacity with dried meats and dirty chamois:


At this point you may be wondering, "What should I do if I find myself being chased by a bear?"  Well, here are some things you can try:


Though it doesn't address various concerns specific to cyclists, chief among them being "What pressure should I be running?"

Nevertheless, the number one threat to our well-being continues to be idiots driving cars, and while self-driving technology may soon factor the idiots out of the equation you can be sure the auto-industrial complex will figure out new ways to make safety your problem:

(Via @TrueBS)

On a recent afternoon, Rowe pedaled a white Bianchi Brava bicycle up and down a busy street in the city's university district. His bike was loaded with gear: the antenna of a GPS unit extended above his head in a long plastic tube, a laser range finder called a LIDAR measured the precise position of everything around the bike, four inertial measurement units captured motion, a water bottle held a battery, a computer collected all that information, and every other spoke carried a speedometer.

"I would not be happy if I had to ride this every day," says Rowe, hopping off the bike. "But hopefully when all of this stuff just gets embedded in a cellphone on the front, then it should be no problem."

Oh, sure, helping the machines help you seems innocent enough, but it's not too hard to imagine a future in which this sort of technology becomes mandatory.  And while that might not seems like such a big deal either (after all, we're all riding around with phones anyway), in practice it could have many of the same implications of a helmet law, such as enforcement for not using it falling disproportionately on certain segments of the population.  Plus, the auto industry has been deflecting responsibility onto more vulnerable road users since the days of the hand-cranked engine, so why should we expect this to be any different?  I'm sure the traffic light and all the other controls we're familiar seemed like good ideas at the time, and of course we couldn't imagine life without them now, but really what they served to do was wrest control of the streets from anyone who wasn't driving a car.  You're already fair game out there, and being forced to get "wired up" before riding a bike (even if it's just flipping a virtual toggle switch on your phone) feels like a final act of surrender.

Of course, we all know who's going to sell us out first: the Freds.  They're used to riding while connected anyway so will no doubt embrace this technology, and from there we'll soon reach a point when "serious" cyclists sneer at anybody riding without LIDAR in the same way they currently do ay anyone who rides without first putting on a foam hat.  And who do you think will be the first country on earth to bend over and willingly accept mandatory GPS cycling suppositories?  Yeah, that's right:


You have been warned.


Friday, July 21, 2017

This Just In: More Me!

Remember when I told you that I'd let you know when my new Outside thingy was up?  Well my new Outside thingy is up:



Now you know!

We now return to today's post, which is already in progress.


BSNYC Friday No Quiz But Don't Get Complacent!

When we last sat down together we were discussing sandals:


Specifically, we were marveling over the fact that most people are fine with destroying the planet through excessive energy consumption, but under no circumstances will they look at feet shod in flip-flops:

“Never!” he said. “Disgusting, filthy, revolting, repellent, repulsive, sickening, nauseating, stomach-churning, stomach-turning, off-putting, unpalatable, distasteful, foul, nasty, vomitous.”

The conclusion, if I recall correctly, was that people are fucking idiots.

Oh, also, what do flip-flops and helmets have in common?

Australia:


Philip Brown Australia 
What Americans call "flip-flops" are dangerous footwear that should be banned on a number of safety grounds: they fall off, fall apart, catch on things causing falls, they catch under things causing other accidents, they provide no protection from rough, sharp or dropped objects. In most Australian jurisdictions it is an offence to drive in flip-flops for many of the preceding reasons.
Aesthetically they display the ugliness of 'human' feet.
As poverty footwear, made from scraps, there may be some justification for the existence of flip-flops but no other springs to mind.

Philip Brown's head would no doubt explode if he knew that in the hot summer months I often ride around the neighborhood helmetless and in flip-flops.

He does have a point though: dangerous footwear should be banned.  In addition to the deadly flip-flop, which has somehow not spelled the demise of humankind despite being the oldest form of footwear on the planet, we should also ban any heel larger than one (1) centimeter tall, as well as require that any shoe with laces be double-knotted and secured with a Velcro closure.  Remember that story about the person who dripped over his untied shoelace and fell into the path of an oncoming train?  Of course you don't, because I just made it up, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go Full Aussie and nanny down hard on everything.

Oh, and it goes without saying that walking in cycling shoes should be punishable by $6,000 or 6 months in jail.

Anyway, after all that, I posed the following "teaser" image yesterday:


That is not, contrary to what some of you speculated, my foot.  It is, however, the foot of the person who invented the Bellcycle:



Which, as you can see, is a rolling paradox in that it's sort of an upright recumbent pennyfarthing:


And beyond that the website will tell you everything you need to know:


If you miss the sensation of riding around the neighborhood on your friend's handlebars then clearly this is the bike for you.

I should also point out that I've mentioned the inventor of the Bellcycle on this blog in the past, for he is waging an "epic" legal battle against a small package delivery concern called the United Parcel Service:


I think we know which company he won't be using to deliver all those medium sized boxes.

Speaking of the associations I've made over the years, longtime readers may recall the heady days when this blog was relevant and really good bicycle rider Barry Wicks used to send me stuff in the mail:


Well, I mention this because remember these gloves?


As you can see they share share a similar aesthetic sensibility, clearly identifying them as Mr. Wicks's handiwork.  Indeed, it turns out he's got something of a "working person's Best Made" operation going on Etsy:


Inspired by vintage mountain bike films, we sought to re-create an updated, durable, good looking glove that is good for just about everything. 

We start with 100% Deerskin leather gloves to give a soft supple feel, while providing excellent wear characteristics and comfort.

Customers can choose size and venting options along with graphics colors.

We offer an unvented, snosealed version for winter riding or spring ski touring etc.

All gloves are built to order and ship in 1-2 business days from order date.

When you order, include in notes to seller up to 2 additional color choices, and if you want standard venting, no venting and/or snoseal waterproofing.

Slip on a pair of Hella Sweet Gloves, then go outside and do something awesome!

Questions? Email us! hellasweetgloves [!at] gmail.com

Rest assured I plan to give my pair a thorough test, though don't expect it anytime soon because it's currently like 93 fucking degrees out.

Incidentally, these babies would go great with that wooden bike I'm picking up next week:


Hopefully I don't have to return it before it's cool enough to wear them.

And yes, that's right, by next weekend I will be riding a wooden bike.  At this point it's just a matter of finishing the paperwork, which has all kinds of stuff about avoiding woodpeckers, not using magnifying glasses near it when it's sunny out, and so forth:


With a regular bike it's "I was just riding along when..."

With a wooden bike it's "I was just admiring the exquisite handiwork when..."

Also, be absolutely sure not to leave your monocle hanging off the bars when you head into the coffee shop.

Ah yes, I could make wood cracks all day.

In fact look at that, I just made another one!

As for these things:


I haven't tried them yet but they're basically a reusable zip tie type thing from Hiplok:

Obviously using this as your only lock in a place like New York would be like bringing a Renovo to a termite convention, but it certainly seems like a handy item to stick in your jersey pocket for that quick espresso stop in some dinky town, or for augmenting the flimsy lock on your car rack when you're on a road trip.  I've also found that having a light, unobtrusive lock on you is great for when you're riding with the family, since for the most part you don't need a ton of security when you're locking up a child's bike.

Though I'm sure somewhere at some point some thief has scooted away on a balance bike, and I'm also sure it was fucking hilarious.

And with that, I'm vanishing into the weekend, and I beseech you to do the same--though at some point today my latest Outside column is probably going to materialize, in which case I'll duck back in and let you know. But pending that, ride safe, ride safely, and engage in bicycling with an appropriate level of care.

Sincerely and so forth,


--Wildcat Etc. Machine



Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Just In: I Will Gladly Pay You Friday For No Blogging Post Today

Owing to the imminent demolition of my home and neighborhood to make way for Elon Musk's new Hyperloop (they're swinging the wrecking ball as I speak) I am forced to postpone today's post until tomorrow.

In the meantime, the Bike Forecast is there to lick the tears from your face, and I'll be back here tomorrow to address many vital and pressing issues of the day, including but not limited to sandals and their place in cycling:


You have been warned.

Until then,

I remain,

Your most humble servant,



--Wildcat Rock Machine


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Tedious Wednesday Diatribe About How Stupid We Are

Most weekday mornings this summer my elder son and I get on our bikes and ride the one (1) mile to his day cap.  A fairly decent hill (especially if you're seven) notwithstanding, it's a mellow ride through a fairly quiet residential neighborhood--with one exception.

At about the halfway point of our ride is another day camp that is held on the lush campus of a private school.  (Annual tuition $42,805 not including an additional $7,000 for books, supplies, field trips, etc., in case you're wondering.)  By the time my son and I are passing through, the drop-off is in full swing, and a phalanx of traffic coordinators guide a seemingly endless procession of SUVs with license plates from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (not to mention a whole bunch of yellow schoolbuses) through a series of orange cones and eventually to the entrance where, eventually, parents discharge their little campers.

And of course the entire process repeats itself in the afternoon during our return trip home.

To their credit, the staff clearly puts a great deal of effort into managing all this traffic, and they're always very considerate of us as we pass, but even so riding through this shitshow of an obstacle course is a real pain in the ass.

Americans--even New Yorkers--have gotten used to the idea that driving kids absolutely everywhere is normal behavior.  However, when you ride a bike the scales fall from your eyes (or, if you prefer, the pie plate falls from your hub) and you see that a school run with the complexity of an airport drop-off is fucking insane.  And sure, call me smug, but it seems doubly insane to drive all the way from Connecticut or New Jersey (or Manhattan for that matter) and then spend 15 minutes idling in a drop-off line so a kid can kick a soccer ball around on a field in the Bronx.

Oh, sure, I realize it's typical of a smug cyclist to pass judgment on others' choices.  After all, I'm sure plenty of these parents have perfectly logical reasons for sending their kids to day camps out of state.  For example, it's probably on the way to their Manhattan offices, and once they've completed the dropoff they they likely head downtown and curse the bike lanes as they sit in traffic on the Henry Hudson Parkway.  Also, like all cyclists I'm a giant hypocrite, because even though I'd rather chew my own foot off than drive my kids to school or camp on a regular basis I still pile them into THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK for all sorts of other stuff when the mood strikes me.  (I've got a trunk full of beach chairs and I'm not afraid to use them.)

Still, when you ride a bike around the neighborhood it's hard--really hard--to watch other parents subject themselves to this sort of thing and not wonder to yourself, "What the fuck are they doing???"  It's also hard not to meditate on the moronic choices people make because of cars, whether it's commuting to another city go grocery shopping (guilty), or driving into the city during rush hour, complaining about the traffic, and then complaining about the bike lanes used by the people who actually live there:


I've certainly never considered myself an environmentalist, and my inclination to ride bikes a lot of the time is motivated mostly by joy and impatience, but it's getting harder and harder to ignore the implications of the stupid decisions we make because we're dumb and lazy.  And it's not just or addiction to cars either.  Consider air conditioning:
Sure, it's easy to laugh at flip flops, the footwear of choice for fans of Jimmy Buffett.  At the same time, let's consider the fact that we squander an insane amount of energy in order to air condition basically the entire city so people who work in offices can dress like it's winter all summer long.  Incredibly, many people on this planet actually dress appropriately for the climate in which they live, and that includes wearing some form of sandal (which is what flip flops are) even in formal situations.  After all, as far showing your feet at work, if sandals are good enough for heads of state then who the hell are you to complain?


("I dare you to say some shit about my sandals.")

Yes, all over the planet entire countries go more or less barefoot, but you push some papers around at a legal firm so you shouldn't have to see some toes.

And sure, feet can be pretty damn funky, but this person should maybe get some help:

Thomas Beatty, 63, who retired from a job in hotels in Manhattan, had a much more colorful reaction to flip-flops in a professional setting.

“Never!” he said. “Disgusting, filthy, revolting, repellent, repulsive, sickening, nauseating, stomach-churning, stomach-turning, off-putting, unpalatable, distasteful, foul, nasty, vomitous.”

We're justifiably outraged when the Saudis arrest a woman for wearing a miniskirt, but we're aghast at the notion of someone exposing their little piggies.

(By the way, Thomas Beatty is totally a closet foot fetishist, and he's afraid if he catches a glimpse of some bunions he'll want to start "toe-jammin'.")

And while thinking flip flops are ugly, gross and noisy may seem innocent enough, it's really just another symptom of the same uptight attitude that keeps people from riding bikes places because "Eew, I'll get all sweaty."  Perhaps if we came to terms with the fact that wearing less shit keeps you cooler, and that a little sweating is normal, and that the economy won't collapse if both these things happen at work, then chances are we'd be free to make more rational decisions about how to get around.  (Not to mention dialing back on the AC a bit.)

Plus, I know a guy who used to wear flip flops to the office, and his name was Jesus:


See?


And when he comes back you'd better believe he'll be wearing Tevas and riding a Citi Bike:


You have been warned.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Very Quick Post Because Time Waits For No Fred, This One In Particular

First of all, great news!


Looks like I'll soon be taking delivery of one of those wooden bikes:


Wait, sorry, not that one.  This one:

I can't wait to try it, even though it doesn't have disc brakes:



I'll also have to carry around some tools while I dial in the adjustments.  Here's how you lower the integrated seatmast:


And here's how you raise it again:


Anyway, I'm looking forward to finding out whether the ride quality is woody or tinny, and I suspect it will be the former:



I'll keep you posted.

Maybe I'll use it for the BSNYC Gran Fondon't.

(Yes, I haven't forgotten.)

Of course, I'll also need a suitable pump to carry with me, and I'm leaning towards this mobile inflating device:


Typically I offer assistance when I pass another rider with a flat, but if I saw someone on the roadside churning away rhythmically with a delighted expression on his face I'd be out of the saddle and sprinting to safety like there was a $1,000 prime on offer:


But the best thing about this pump is that it's helping to save the planet:

Global warming is becoming more and more serious.  People getting less exercise and which leads to worse healthy level.

Therefore bicycle has become much more a favorite tool for transportation as well as exercising.   Having a flat tire somewhere in a remote place can be frustrating, thus a carry-on inflator is indispensable when biking.   Traditional inflators are either bulky/heavy or they need to be powered by electricity, which is inconvenient. 

Though I do my part by carrying the same mini pump I've had for over 20 years already.  I also refuse to use C02s, because frankly I don't see the point.  If you're racing you're dropped anyway, and if you're not what difference does an extra minute or two make?

Though I suppose triathletes like the way they look with their butt-rocket launching systems:



I mean that's what these things are, right?


Sure they are.

Lastly, my mail bag runneth over, because not only have I received these things which are not toe straps:


But I've also taken delivery of some exquisite hand-curated deerskin gloves:


I promise to tell you all about both items tomorrow, at least assuming I manage to wrap my mind around them by then.

Until then,

I remain,

Yours and so on,


--Wildcat Etc.


Monday, July 17, 2017

This Title Is Merely A Wind-Cheating Fairing That Offers No Actual Protection

Happy Monday!  Say hello to our old friend Bret, spotted by a reader in Brooklyn:


At this point he is officially inside the DNA of cycling.

Speaking of people who wear yellow, despite all my wisecracks about the Tour de France I'd probably be watching if only I have the time.  Alas, I do not, so at this point if I've got a couple hours it's either watch the Tour or go ride a bike, and obviously given the choice i'm going to opt for the latter.  Still, I like to scan the results, and I see that over the weekend Chris Froome managed to close a monster gap after a wheel change:


Froome was 45 seconds behind his rivals at one point but managed to close the gap with a huge effort and some vital help from his teammate, including Mikel Landa, who dropped back to ensure Froome was back on before the top of the climb. Froome later suggested he had suffered a broken spoke in his wheel. It could have cost him the race.

So at this point it's safe to assume he was tired, feigned a "broken spoke," and received one of those electromagnetic wheels from his teammate, yes?

Sure he did.

Hey, there are some pretty sleek and unobtrusive settings out there:



Now who's being naive?

Meanwhile the supervillain in charge of Team Sky has gone Full Trump with the media:


When Ryan asked Brailsford what parts of the piece before the Tour de France he considered inaccurate, Brailsford replied: "I'm not getting into that. It was opinion, you write shit.

“We make ourselves available, we answer all the questions and you write this shit.”

The heated exchanged continued. Ryan suggested that the only other person to act like this (with the media) was Bruyneel when he barred Sporza at the 2009 Tour de France.

Brailsford replied: “Are you accusing me of running a doping programme as well?”

Ryan said: “Well, UK Anti-Doping are investigating that...”

At that point Brailsford said, “You can stick it up your arse” and walked off.

I'm assuming "You can stick it up your arse" is Brailsford confirming the doping program, which must involve administering HGH suppositories.

In other technology news, mountain biking now "requires" more gizmos than a rider can operate at one time, and to that end we now have the "Kill Switch:"



“Let me show you how it works.  The Kill Switch is mounted between the dropper post and the rear shock.  Before climbing just raise your saddle and Kill Switch will lock your shock.  When ready to descend, drop your saddle, and Kill Switch will unlock your shock."


Between the inherent phallocentrism of mountain biking and the direction he's pointing it's difficult to tell whether he's talking about the Kill Switch or his bro's perineum.

Because the perineum is also located between the "dropper post" and the "rear shock."

Medically speaking, of course.

"Now we’re ready to ride faster and smoother.”


He then points to another bro descending a smooth and gentle grade you'd never be able to ride on a regular bicycle:


At this rate here's your mountain bike in ten years:


Lastly, Outside ran my latest column last Friday, and once again I couldn't resist browsing the comments on their Facebook:


The latest issue of the magazine may contain thrilling stories of avalanches and near-death experiences:


Yet oddly a surprising number of Outside readers seem horrified at the prospect of a woman piloting a bakfiets full of children through the mean streets of Portland, OR:

Jason Melchior That just looks irresponsible. But hey...I'm not a complete cyclist.

Michael L. McClung Stupid and dangerous for kids when these people ride those contraptions in traffic.

James Keith Mowdy Potential serious injury.

I bet they all shop at Best Made.