Thursday, March 22, 2018

Snow and Freds and Coyotes Oh My!

As you may have heard, yesterday we received a great big spring snowstorm for our convenience, so I made sure to head out for a ride while I had the chance:

It's on days like this when I congratulate myself for living near a park with mountain bike trails, even if it's a small one next to a subway station:

This is called called "having priorities."

Or, if you prefer, it's called "being a gigantic bike dork."

Of course, into each life a little snow must fall, something to which I am reconciled.  I am also, if not reconciled, at least used to bad drivers.  Somewhat less familiar to me however are rabid coyotes, the recent advent of which is the subject of my latest column for Outside:

As any mention of snow elicits the "Minnesota humblebrag," I'm sure this mention of scary wildlife will inspire at least one backwoods dweller to casually mention that they regularly encounter grizzlies or panthers or ornery Sasquatches on their rides and that they keep rabies vaccine in their water bottles.  (#whatrabiesvaccinetocytomaxratioyourunning)  Therefore, I realize I'm taking a considerable risk by mentioning both snow and wildlife encounters in this post.  Indeed, the only way I could open myself up to more humblebraggadocio would be to mention vehicular cycling, and I imagine someone who regularly rides in snow, regularly rides among deadly wildlife, and adheres strictly to the tenets of vehicular cycling would be the perfect storm of irritating smugness.

A rabid coyote encounter would most likely be preferable to an Internet exchange with such a beast.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Concept Of Fredness Is Universal

Killer autonomous vehicles, rancorous community board meetings, stupid biplane-inspired handlebars...sometimes covering the bike beat can be depleting, soul-sucking work.  So it is at these times that, in search of respite, I find myself turning to news of other subcultures and reveling in the fact that their problems don't affect my life in any way whatsoever.  This is why I was delighted to read a story about how Rockaway Beach is being invaded by Surf Freds:
Ah yes, this was just the balm my aching spirit needed, especially since it sounds like surfing is analogous to cycling in so many ways.  For example, they have their fancy wetsuits:

Surfing Rockaway Beach in the bitter cold used to be a solitary affair, only for locals and the hard-core. But because of a boom in popularity of the sport, the gentrification of the neighborhood and advancements in wet-suit technology (a $600, five-millimeter- thick suit can keep you warm for two hours), the frigid city surf has gotten crowded, locals say.

And we have our Assos:

And our Rapha:

(Jesus suffering in style in his Rapha Gilet)

They have their strange rules that make absolutely no sense:

Surfers have many unwritten rules of etiquette. Changing at the beach is one of them. “If someone travels to the beach with their wet suit already on, they’re considered a bad surfer right there,” Mr. Mattison said.

And so do we*:

*[Actually the glasses-over-the-helmet-straps thing does make sense since if your helmet is properly adjusted the straps can squeeze your glasses, but frankly you can wear your glasses upside down and your helmet on your ass for all I care.]

By the way, why are you a bad surfer if you wear your wetsuit to the beach?  I mean sure, I guess I can see how it's dorky, like people who ride to the grocery store and shop with their helmets on, but does it also somehow affect your surfing performance?  Is there something about letting the ocean breeze caress your perineum as you change behind the door of your vintage Bronco that puts you in touch with surfing's ineffable zen-like quality in a way that stewing in your own crotchal juices on the A train does not?

Then of course you've got the wobbly noobs:

Later on that cold and cloudy February day, after his 90-minute subway journey through Manhattan and Brooklyn to Queens, Mr. Crowley stood with Mr. Mattison and looked out over the Atlantic. It was 8:30 a.m. and there were already 20 surfers in the water despite the dinky, one-foot-high swell. They watched two surfers nearly run into each other trying to catch the same wave.

“Only at Rockaway,” Mr. Mattison said.

I guess that's like when you ride over the George Washington Bridge on a weekend and have to wait behind 30 Freds and Tridorks who can't negotiate the switchback on the Manhattan side without clipping out of their pedals.

But of course the greatest part about all of this is the idea that a small group of surfers can claim ownership of something as vast as the sea because they happen to have been born nearby, or because know when and where to get dressed:

Also absurd is the notion that a stretch of beach that's easily accessible by subway and bicycle should somehow remain free of city-dwellers in search of beach fun and the businesses that cater to them:

Mr. Vasquez compared the Rockaway surfer scene to what’s happened to New York in general. “There’s a grittiness that you miss about the old New York. It’s the same with the beach. You felt like it was your special thing. Now everyone wants to be a surfer.”

Wow, wanting to surf at the beach, imagine that.  I mean it's only been a resort since the 19th century:

Though I hear they'd totally "spear" you if you arrived at the beach in your swimming costume instead of changing into it in one of those old-timey beach huts:

Granted, certainly when I was growing up nearby it was hard to believe Rockaway was ever a resort (though Rockaways' Playland was still open), but the fact remains that in the context of New York City history a non-touristy Rockaway is basically an aberration.  And of course as a cyclist (as well as someone who used to go to Rockaways' Playland) I certainly relate to the grousing about people who don't "get it," but you have to give people the time to figure out that there's something to be got.

The bottom line is that if there are two things people enjoy doing it's riding bikes and going to the beach, so if you don't like other people doing it too you're going to have a really hard time.

I guess what I'm saying is that we should all be more accepting and focus our derision on those damn kiteboarders.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

No New Cockpits Under The Sun

Great news!  The biplane has landed:

So far, response from social media has been enthusiastic:

Obviously the first question that comes to mind is a highly technical one, and it is as follows:


Duh, because gravel, that's why:

The Hover bar is Canyon’s totally unique integrated carbon cockpit that the new Grail gravel bike was designed around. 

The Hover bar (otherwise known as the ‘Canyon CP01 Gravel Carbon) was developed in a bid to improve front end comfort and control without the added complication and weight of a Future Shock-style system or a suspension fork.

So instead of the suspension fork you don't need you've now got a double-decker bar you don't need.  Plus, the design falls short of even amateur cockpit engineering efforts, since it doesn't incorporate braking from the additional hand positions:

Confused yet?  You're not alone:

Unlike every other drop bar in existence — where the stem attaches to a clamping area in the middle of the tops of the bar — the Hover bar places the tops of the bar above a stem that connects to an additional bar that in turn connects the apex of the hooks.

If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is, and I highly recommend you closely examine the included photos to actually begin to understand what’s going on.

But it's still not as confusing as the bar I'm designing:

The real question on my gravel-specific Mobius Bar is going to be which direction to wrap the bar tape:

Of course it may have occurred to you that if you want a funky-looking bar that offers various hand positions for all-terrain riding you could always go with a Jones H-Bar:

Which is why the savvy among you have no doubt already figured out that this design is less about control and front end compliance for gravel-grinding and more about people who suffer from crabon-itis yet can't come to grips with the fact that they need a few more headset spacers, an angled stem, or perhaps a bike with a taller headtube:

Canyon developed the Hover bar for two reasons: to provide a long-distance friendly upright riding position without resorting to using a super-long head tube or high-rise stem, and in a bid to improve front end compliance.

Oh sure, this is way more elegant than a taller headtube or angled stem:

Please it even makes this look elegant:

It is truly astounding the lengths (and heights) people will go to in order to attain the riding position of a Rivendell with a crabon bike:

And let's not forget the prescience of Sheldon Brown:

Canyon?  More like Can-yawn.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Outside Column!

Hey, look at that, I've got a new grouping of words over on the Outside website!

I'm sure it will inspire much "Vehicular Cyclist Exceptionalism" as well as various quasi-libertarian comments about "personal responsibility."

Speaking of which, here's a story about New Zealanders questioning the absurdity of helmet laws:

Note the co-anchor foregoes his helmet when he rides to the "deery."

I have no idea what that means.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Don't Buy Upgrades, Ride Software Upgrades

Well, racing bikes outside had a good run.  In 1869 it was high-wheelers gentlemanly glove-slaps:


In 1903 came the first-ever Tour de France:

And for some reason to this day cyclists keep racing against horses:

How is that fair?  Shouldn't Casper also have to pull a passenger?

Actually, for it to be truly fair he should have to pull a horse.

Regardless, after well over a century and a half of thrill, spills, and doping scandals, it appears the days of racing bikes outside are over, only to be replaced with this:

Someday in the not-too-distant future, the world’s premier cycling races are held inside arenas packed with screaming fans. The cyclists do not travel an inch on their bicycles — instead, they pedal invisible miles on a stationary trainer. The attacks, counter-attacks, and strategic drama play out in the virtual world on a computer screen. Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of fans tune in to watch.

This is Frank Garcia’s vision.

And if your first thought was that Frank Garcia must be a masters racer with too much money on his hands, then it shouldn't surprise you to learn that you're right:

Garcia, 53, is a software engineer and entrepreneur from Tucson, Arizona. A longtime cyclist and masters racer, Garcia was an early adopter of the virtual training platform Zwift. Garcia’s passion for Zwift racing was so strong that in 2015 he rode the entire elevation of Mt. Everest in the virtual world, pedaling 165 miles on his stationary trainer over the course of 17 hours.

Over the past year, Garcia has bankrolled a series of virtual races on Zwift, called Cycligent Virtual Ranking, or CVR. In 2017, he held live CVR World Cup tournaments in Las Vegas, Paris, and London; each event was broadcast across the globe via a webcast that included live commentary, racing metrics such as power output, and even athlete interviews. CVR’s next event is the March 25 World Cup race at the VELO Sports Center velodrome at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles. CVR will award $100,000 in cash and prizes to its competitors this winter.

As antithetical as all of this might appear to be to the spirit of cycling and bicycle racing, the truth is I only have one problem with it, and it is this:

If it's all virtual, then why wear cycling clothes?

Seriously, isn't all this stuff optimized for propelling a bicycle forward while being outside?  Seems to me that aerodynamics mean nothing here and cooling is everything.  I mean what's with the sleeves?  Have they never seen a SoulCycle class?

Indeed, at the pro level it would probably make the most sense to compete "Full Cipo" for maximum cooling, with perhaps the judicious application of some small taintal pad to protect the perineum--and if virtual racing really is the future I may start selling a new product called the "Stand-Alone Chamois:"

Just add a light adhesive and you're off (virtually) to the races.

Oh, and one other thing bothers me about this whole thing:

Why hold the races in a velodrome?

Isn't that like going to a movie theater to stream Netflix on a tablet?

I mean really, you're already in the clothes, and you've already got the bike, and there's a perfectly good track 20 feet away, so why not just...oh, never mind.

Sounds like thrilling viewing:

In September, Garcia held his third race at the National Velodrome in Paris. The tournament featured a prize purse of $44,735, paid in part by Garcia and through donations — fans that tuned into the broadcast submitted cash through online transactions to boost the prize pot. Similar to the previous competitions, every athlete had a camera pointed at them throughout the racing.

If you can't get enough of sweaty people wincing in a non-sexual context then clearly this is the spectator sport for you.

By the way, speaking of competitive pedaling without going anywhere, whatever happened to roller racing?  It was having a big comeback until everyone gave up on track bikes and defected to gravel bikes:

Oh, well, it was fun boring while it lasted.

In any case, as long as pro bike racers are desperate for money there will be no shortage of virtual cycling competitors, which means the future of the sport is all but assured:

“For $100,000, I’ll do any bike race, any format, it’s all suffering one in the same,” said Jelly Belly rider Ben Wolfe.

For $50 he'll also help you move.

And even USA Cycling, that most desperate of sports governing bodies, is in the "early stages" of exploring it:

UCI representatives did not respond to queries about any future relationships with CVR. USA Cycling provided a statement that said any plans between the governing body and Zwift are “still in the early stages.”

“We are exploring engaging new ways to collaborate that offer more value to our core racers as well as bring new riders into the sport,” the statement said.

USA Cycling should probably just stop with the bike racing and pivot to becoming a moving company already.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Riding Up Escalators Is The New Skitching

When last we met, I'd appended the following video to the end of my post:

And I now see that this video has made the local news down there in the Miami area:

Welch said he is not mad at the driver, who stayed at the scene, and helped him get medical care. He said he posted the video of the accident on YouTube to make others aware.

"Here we have a chance to educate drivers and also educate cyclists," Welch said. "I won't let somebody else's mistake like this one hurt me again in the future. I will be extra vigilant."

This is a commendable conclusion to draw.

Anyway, various people weighed in with their analyses of the collision, and as is invariably the case at least some of these comments had an undercurrent of "this sort of thing would never happen to me"-type smugness.  In a way it's a cousin to the "Minnesota Humblebrag," and a good name for it might be "Vehicular Cyclist Exceptionalism." After all, as we've seen before, only the VC adherents have the secret knowledge which enables them to move through American traffic unscathed.  To wit:

Scott B. said...

Motorist should have signaled and merged. No vehicle—cyclist in this case—should ever pass on the right. 

This appears to be the consensus on this thread. I only mention it again because all of this is vehicular cycling orthodoxy. It's plainly true in this case, and Bike Snob is misdirecting us with his complaint that the motorist didn't look—which is the least useful thing to say about this eminently preventable accident.

MARCH 7, 2018 AT 9:27 PM

Now, as I pointed out in the comments, I do agree that the cyclist in this case was going too fast.  Certainly also when riding between traffic and a curb with driveways one should always be prepared for a squeeze, and it took two wrongs to make this collision collabo go down.  Nevertheless, I maintain that the fact that the motorist didn't look is in fact the most useful thing to say about this "eminently preventable accident," for when one knows that motorists often don't look one can then adjust one's riding style appropriately.  Specifically, one can make a point of riding at a prudent speed in places where motorists and pedestrians are wont to enter the bike lane unexpectedly.

Conversely, saying that no cyclist "should ever pass on the right" is not useful at all.  Moreover, it's just plain wrong.  Look at this configuration, with the bike lane on the right and the motor vehicle lane on the left:

Are we really to believe that a cyclist should never pass a car while riding in the bike lane on this roadway?  Should he or she instead cross over and pass on the left in all circumstances?  I think not.

As for the incident itself, if the cyclist had been riding more cautiously he may very well have been able to avoid the collision, but given the manner in which this driver turned across the bike lane without signaling it's also quite possible he might have right-hooked even the most cautious and alert cyclist:

Unless of course that cyclist was a Vehicular Cyclist, because they and drivers share a special mind-melding relationship:

By the way, it's worth noting that even "expert" cyclists have managed to get themselves taken out in exactly the same way:

One crucial difference here is that the driver did signal:

Also, Lucas Brunelle's humblebrags are in a category all their own:

Lucas Brunelle
Published on Nov 12, 2014

I was taught how to crash at the Olympic Training center and it paid off, here I actually ended up on my feet

Well, maybe not completely on their own:

I wonder if they received the same crash training.

By the way, it appears that Brunelle has relocated to Miami, so maybe that was actually him in the first video after all:

He's also grown so desperate for new thrills that he's now riding up escalators:

I'm not impressed unless they do it in Crocs:

I think he just found himself a new sponsor.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Putting the "Pro" in Pro Bono

Well the snowstorm they've been promising is arriving in fits and starts:

And I'm also curating the vomitorial stylings of a sick three year-old:

Which can only mean one training is in serious jeopardy!

Just kidding:

No, I'm not that far gone--though I do keep a training journal:

At this point however it's developing into a real "The Shining" situation:

Yeah, things are getting really creepy in my household:

I realize this is the sort of situation that drives people to Zwift, but last time I messed around with virtual reality things got weird fast:

What can I say?  It's just the sort of glamorous lifestyle we lead.

Anyway, the venerable and esteemed commenter Leroy's Dog informs me that the attorney who represents Russian doping doctor Grigory Rodchenkov in the film, one Jim Walden, Esq.:

(Not Jim Walden, that's the 1-800-LAWYERS guy.  I'm afraid if I use a photo of Jim Walden he'll send me one of those "Seasoned Insist" letters...though now I'll probably get sued by Mustache Guy.)

Is the very same lawyer who represented the NIMBY alliance who attempted to litigate the Prospect Park West bike lane in Brooklyn out of existence:

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — which includes Schumer’s wife, the former Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel — says it “plans to file suit” over a cycle path that it says was installed based on incorrect information by an agency that intentionally ignored the facts.

And here’s where the plot thickens: The group’s pro-bono attorney is none other than Schumer campaign contributor Jim Walden, whose name was tossed around in 2009 as a possible U.S. Attorney, though the job ultimately went to another Schumer ally.

He also offered to help Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side fight the Queensboro Bridge bike lane project:

Jim Walden, who has long fought the Prospect Park West bike lane on behalf of opponents, sent an e-mail to Community Board 8 offering assistance. 
UPPER EAST SIDE — Days after the city announced plans to bolster bicycle paths near the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the lawyer representing opponents of the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane offered to help Upper East Side locals opposed to the proposal.

Jim Walden, who represents "two community groups opposed to the two-way, parking protected bike lane on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn" pro bono, fired off an e-mail to members of Community Board 8 offering assistance, New York has learned.

And he even bravely represented some more NIMBYs in SoHo in their lawsuit to fight the installation of a Citi Bike rack.

Now, I won't call him a giant oily douche because that's no doubt slander or defamation of character or some other term I've seen used in the movies (it's definitely slander against douches, anyway), but is it admissible to call him an alleged giant oily douche?

Just asking.

Anyway, with Icarus having one the Academic Award in a weird way I suppose something or other has come full circle.

Finally, here's your Right Hook of the Day:

It's always "I didn't see you," isn't it?