Thursday, January 17, 2019

New Outside Column!

Hello!

The reason I've been absent is that I've been busy:


I regret nothing.

I do have a new Outside column though, and it's about old people and doping:


I do recommend clicking through to the USADA sanctions I linked to, because they make for very interesting reading and basically confirm every negative stereotype about MAMILs.

Finally, if you're not in New York, you may have missed Whoopi Goldberg's latest anti-bike rant, which you can read about on the Bike Forecast.  Basically, she hits every obligatory note from "I like cyclists but..." to "they're not wearing helmets." 

Truly some insightful stuff.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

When Adventure Calls, I Put It Though To Voicemail

Subsequent to yesterday's post a reader asked the following:

STG said...

Snob, what are the forbidden trails behind the mall? Do you ever ride your Jones at Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill?

January 14, 2019 at 2:31 PM

Before anything else, I should stress that The Trails Behind The Mall are not "forbidden," they are forbidding--I mean, they're not really forbidding.  There are definitely some tricky spots, it's very rocky, and the whole thing's on a big ridge so there are some tough climbs depending on how you approach it, but if you know your way around you can also carve out some mellow loops if that's what you feel like doing.

But yes, they're not forbidden at all.  In fact the official name is Sprain Ridge Park, the mountain bicycling is very much allowed, and it's a pretty popular spot.  However, I prefer to call them the Trails Behind The Mall because they are in fact behind an outdoor shopping mall:


Approaching from the south, what I do is ride through the mall, which looks like this:


Essentially nobody ever rides a bike up there, so as I pass through people look at me like, "What's that guy doing riding a bike to a mall?"  Meanwhile, I look back at them and wonder, "Why are these assholes shopping next to a mountain bike trail?"  Then I pass through an unassuming gate behind the REI and it's like the whole temple of consumerism never existed.

This is not to say I'm above patronizing the mall.  For example, I've certainly had to duck into the REI for some odds and ends while riding, I've dropped off my phone for service at the Apple store and then hit the trails while they worked on it, and I've also been known to lock up and enjoy a lunch at the Whole Foods:


Every once in awhile I'll even rendez-vous with the family and we'll go grocery shopping, me clomping through the aisles in my Sidis and jorts like the couch-blogging dirtbag I am.  And of course I did sneak in a quick ride when I had to go to that same Whole Foods to pick up the Thanksgiving turkey:


As for Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, I have not ridden the Jones there, but of course I have ridden there on my other bicycles on numerous occasions, and I even wrote a Brooks Blog about it awhile back:


The only reason I don't go there more often is that it's over 30 miles away, and therefore it does not often present an attractive value proposition for a couch-blogging dirtbag who needs to squeeze his rides in between school drop-offs and pickups.  It's rare I've ever got more than two or three hours at a time to ride a bike, and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend half that time driving.

One day however I will organize a Dirt Fondon't in which we ride up the OCA, hit Blue Mountain, then drop in on the Peekskill Brewery before taking the Metro North back to civilization.  However, it could be years before I get it together to curate such an outing, so if it sounds good to you you're probably better off just doing it yourself.

In other news, the big story is that some guy's Pinarello Dogma blew up:

“I was coming up the hill and my electric bike caught fire, so I threw it down,” said Ryan. 

He added: “The guy who built my bike said I must have had a short [circuit] in it. Because that never happens.”

Yeah, right.  "It never happens" is aftermarket ebike conversion jargon for "it happens all the time."  In fact, even beyond the world of bikes, anytime anybody ever claims something never happens, you can be sure it totally does, and often.

Also, I should point out that I take no pleasure in anybody getting injured, even slightly, and that I've got no problem whatsoever with a 79-year-old man using an e-assist.  Nevertheless, I fully acknowledge finding the following passage funny, and I accept that this makes me a bad person:

Soon after the battery on Ryan’s bike caught fire some CO2 canisters in his saddlebag exploded. These canisters are used by cyclists for emergency tire inflation.

As does the fact that I love the smell of burning crabon in the morning:

And that I secretly pray that this happens to a rider during the Tour de France.

Of course, I shouldn't be smug, since with a Di2 battery in my Renovo I'm always one flare-up away from taint flambé:


In fact, the way it's been creaking, it'll probably burst into flames this summer just from the friction.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Smug As A Bug In A Rug

It's been rather cold here in New York:


This is a good thing, because after months of heavy rain the ground is now frozen, meaning I can finally do some proper rides on the Jones Plus SWB Complete.  So this past weekend that's what I did:


With just a short time to ride on Saturday morning, and with temperatures well below 30 American Freedom Degrees™, the prospect of a road ride seemed terribly unappealing and I didn't have enough time to ride to and from the nearest mountain bicycling trails.  So in a great big selfish "Fuck You!" to the environment, the streets of New York City, and smugness in general I fired up THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK and drove my lazy ass to Queens--utilizing the Saris SuperClamp EX of course, with which I remain quite pleased:


"Queens?!?," you say.  Indeed.  For Queens is the home of Cunningham Park, which contains a compact yet tremendously enjoyable network of all-terrain bicycling pathways:

I almost always ride a singlespeed at Cunningham because the smooth, rolling terrain is ideal for riding without shifting.  However, this time I took the Jones, and I'm glad I did, because there were lots of frozen ruts left behind from people riding in the mud and I was able to float right over them thanks to those plush, grippy, and apparently out-of-style plus-sized tires.

Hey, my wheel size may be the stylistic equivalent of some doofus in dad jeans and white Under Armor sneakers, but I'm okay with that because rigid bikes with plush tires are awesome.

Anyway, I rode for about an hour and a half:


And spent the drive home repeating the Act of Contrition to the David Byrne bobblehead I keep on the dashboard:


Sunday I had a bit more time, so I once again took up the Jones, though I had the luxury of doing so without resorting to the use of an automobile.  Heading north on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail for about 10 miles:


I then headed due east and entered the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall:


And by the time I got home I'd described a pleasant 20-ish mile loop of mostly dirt that hit the sweet spot between easy and "epic":


Anyway, I've said it enough times you're tired of hearing it, and I've even filed an official review, but I'll reiterate anyway that you should buy one of these bikes--unless of course you don't want one.  I should also add that at no point during this weekend's exploits did I wear any Lycra, which I think deserves some sort of prize.  (A tube of fungicide seems appropriate.)  So there you go.

Finally, in other major cycling news, esteemed commenter CommieCanuck informs me that Peter Sagan will be riding a bicycle made out of (gasp!) metal:


Wait a minute, you can make racing bicycles out of metal?!?

This changes everything!!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Stick Around Long Enough And The Trends Will Come Back Around And Thwack You In The Back Of The Head

In my most recent Outside column I pointed out that you can make your road bike safer by raising your bars and reducing your reach, and in response a commenter had this to say:

Anonymous said...

"You don’t have to drop the drops, but you should bring them higher up and farther back. Not only will this improve your stability, but it will also keep you from pulling a Superman should you manage to go down anyway."
WTF? What bike expert other than you and "self-proclaimed guru" Grant Petersen would make this claim? I hate to break this to you O'Mighty Snob, but putting more of the rider's weight on the rear wheel by moving the handlebars higher up and farther back simply does NOT improve stability.

January 10, 2019 at 10:38 AM

Really?

Get on your road bike, head to the nearest section of rough road (cobblestones if you have them), and tell me where you put your hands and how shift your body weight.

Yeah, I thought so.

By the way (and I shouldn't have to point this out) I'm not saying everyone should ride a Petersen-esque road bike, I'm just saying that there are plenty of people who might be better off on one and don't realize it and/or are in denial.

In other news, you are probably familiar with Speedvagen, but in case you're not here you go:



Look closely: every curve and line of the Speedvagen frame is designed to look and work perfectly together. The headtube, for example, is shaped perfectly to pair with the lines of the Enve Composites fork, smoothly transitioning from frame to headset to fork crown. The tubing of the frame is robust at the front of the frame and is smaller toward the seatmast, to smooth out any roughness from the road that's transmitted up to the saddle and the rider. The seat stays hug the wheel tapering flat and wide for a smooth ride and creating a beautiful silhouette from behind. Frame-to-component interfaces are mated with stainless reinforcement in high-wear areas—their curvatures smoothly blending between the tubes they attach.

If you're the type to wear Rapha you just soiled yours after reading that.

Anyway, when it comes to the zeitgeist, Speedvagen are very much in touch with it.  For example, they've been selling designer pit boots since at least 2010, and look at cyclocross now:


So basically, if Speedvagen gets involved, you know it's going to be a "thing."

Given this, it's pretty safe to say that at this point skating is going to be the new gravel, because now there's a Speedvagen skateboard deck:


Surprise! For some reason there’s a natural progression from skateboarding into bikes. Our shop is no exception to that, with a few of us spending a majority of formative years skating. While most of us now use bikes to chase those moments of feeling truly free, we figured it would be fun to honor that past life and get out there a little bit more on these. 

It's called the "Surprise Me" deck, and I was indeed surprised since it's only $50.  After all, this is the same company that sells a $3,500 coaster brake bike:


So, having recently sprained my foot while playing on a board with wheels, it's simultaneously embarrassing and comforting to know that I'm following the middle-aged bike dork script to the letter.  It's also safe to say you can expect the masters fields in 2019 to be quite thin since everyone's going to be sidelined with skateboarding injuries.

Actually, maybe that's Speedvagen's plan.  And if tricking cyclists into hurting themselves is what they're trying to do then I take full credit for giving them the idea.

Finally, speaking of doing tricks on stuff with wheels, I found myself wondering if fixed-gear freestyling is still a thing and apparently it is:


As far as I can tell the only new trick they've added in the past 10 years is bunnyhopping the homeless:


Otherwise it's still mostly just spinning around on your back wheel:


You're now completely caught up.

And now if you'll excuse me I'm going to convert my skateboard into a fixie by putting some Krazy Glue in the bearings.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

On The Outside Looking In

Here in Canada's barnacle-ridden hull, many of our problems seem to stem from the fact that we're afraid of the wrong things.  Our obsession with guns, walls, and gigantic cars are all by-products of our abiding paranoia.  Meanwhile, we're deathly afraid of doing something as benign as riding a bike:


Cycling's pretty safe to begin with, and by approaching it with common sense we can make it even safer, but instead we poke it with a stick from a distance and never get beyond "WEAR A HELMET OR YOU'RE GONNA DIE."

Speaking of getting comfortable with things, you've probably seen Jeff Jacoby's recent column by now:
I'd never heard of Jacoby before his last anti-bike rant, and it wasn't until now that I dipped into his archives, which revealed that if you're uncomfortable with bikes you're probably uncomfortable with a whole bunch of other stuff too:

Evidently Jacoby is deathly afraid his own "unruly sexuality," and he clearly feels that if not bound by heterosexual wedlock he'd veer off into some lurid pan-sexual fuckfest:
And yes, now you cannot unsee the ghastly image of Jeff Jacoby engaging in a lurid pan-sexual fuckfest:


Now that's something to be afraid of.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

This Post Has No Name Because I Converted To Tubeless Titles And Couldn't Get It Seated

As I touched upon in that Banjo Brothers thing, I still enjoy riding in the city, even when I'm riding purely "recreationally" and can go wherever I want:


Oh sure, urban riding comes with its fair share of frustrations:


But it also has a lot going for it, especially at this time of year.  See, if you leave the city in the fall you've got all that foliage to gawk at:


And in the springtime everything's all lush and verdant:


But in the winter it's just a bunch of dead trees and shit and the urban backdrop can be considerably more inspiring:


Also, sometimes I'll even take a skateboard with me and mess around if there's nobody else in the skatepark to see how stupid I look.

Of course, when it comes to recreational city riding, some times are better than others.  At this point in my life I no longer derive pleasure from doing battle with automobile traffic, so my very most favoritest time to ride for pleasure inside the city limits is early on a Sunday morning.  If I string together the parks and greenways just right I can get a nice rolling ride in with minimal unclipping and motor-vehicular interference whilst still drawing inspiration from the charged atmosphere of this mighty and vibrant metropolis.

Another interesting aspect of an early Sunday intracity ride is the perspective it gives you on your fellow cyclists.  See, by the time I reach Central Park I'm already well into my ride, while all the other Freds are just rolling out for theirs, and its simultaneously amusing and intimidating to watch the Forces of Fred-dom amassing in preparation for their weekly assault on the roads of suburbia.  The pointed chatter, the matchy-matchy clothes, the double pace line formation...  It's like watching the Huns ready themselves for their attack, only there's no Attila to lead them, just the Garmins and Wahoos that dictate their efforts and record their every pedal stroke.

Then there's me on my wooden bicycle, getting passed like a fibrous meal after a laxative.  I can generally count on at least one person per ride asking me about the Renovo, and this past Sunday it was the rider in shiny head-to-toe Rapha who rolled up on me from behind and demanded more than asked, "Is that bike wood."

"Yep!," I replied, ready to entertain further inquiry.

He then spat in a desultory fashion and spun away towards the GWB without further utterance: no "Cool," no "wow," no "huh," no nothing.  Even a skeptical, "Why?" would have been better than a loogie.  From this sort of behavior its easy to see why the cycle-curious find the whole thing so off-putting.  If I weren't already a world-famous bike blogger with decades of riding experience stuffed down my chamois I might even have been discouraged.  Contrast that to the skateboarder who stuck out his hand and introduced himself to me with a big smile on his face when he entered the park where I was awkwardly attempting to find my footing again (to the extent that I ever had it) after my most recent sprain.  I mean sure, I was embarrassed and left anyway, but the day a seasoned roadie greets an awkward cyclist with such an endearing lack of guile is the day I lace up my ice skates and do double axels in Hell.

I mean it probably helps that the skater was most likely baked out of his mind whereas the typical roadie is full of caffeine and some quasi-legal supplement, but the point still stands.

Speaking of doping, the big news is of course a 90 year-old masters racer has failed a drug test, and I have only one thing to say about that:

I mean come on.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Hey, It's Friday! Don't Even Read This Post, Just Drop What You're Doing And Go For A Ride!

I'm willing to bet an artisan wooden bicycle that when you woke up this morning the very last thing on your mind was wanting to learn more about me.  Nevertheless, the good people at Banjo Brothers, apparently desperate for content, have just published this interview with me:


I think it's wonderful that, thanks to the Internet, you can now fill your brain up with utterly useless information such as what I like to make for dinner.

My false modesty notwithstanding (the truth is I'm fascinated with myself and the minutiae of my existence and expect others to be too), I was surprised to find myself described as a "cyclist" (not to mention "notable," but that's something else):

FIVE THINGS is a feature on the Banjo Brothers Blog. It’s a short interview about life and bicycles with a notable person. This week's notable person is cyclist Eben Weiss.

At first blush this seemed wildly inaccurate, as there are generally two situations in which I think it's appropriate to describe someone as a cyclist:

  • If they're like a professional racer or something;
  • If they've just been creamed by a bus (e.g. "The cyclist, whose pelvis was flattened like a crêpe, was not wearing a helmet.")
At the very least, you'd think a "cyclist" would be someone who rides a bike in an interesting way, which I emphatically do not.  I'm a Cat 3 club putz, a middling mountain biker, and my idea of "bikepacking" is hitting the Trails Behind The Mall for an hour and then spending $25 on lunch at the Whole Foods.

If anything, "writer" seems more appropriate than cyclist, as there are actually people who are foolish enough to pay me to do that, though "blogger" is probably even more fitting since writer implies you can do more than bloviate about bikes on the Internet.  (Self-absorbed douchebag would be even better though I suppose there are matters of search engine optimization at play that preclude the use of such descriptors.)

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized maybe it is fair to call me a cyclist, since it's only by churning the cranks that I end up generating anything worth reading, to the extent that I even do.  (More false modesty: my writing is fantastic.)  Also, I spend like 10 hours a week or something on a bike, and while most amateur racers I know ride a hell of a lot more than that it's still a depressing amount of time to fritter away on something that's not remunerative.  So really I'd better start to consider myself a cyclist or else I'm just a guy who wastes most of the work week and who might as well spend weekday afternoons doing bong hits and playing video games.

Anyway, I've now not only linked to an interview with myself but also written far too much about myself in the process of linking to said interview, so I think I'd better fuck off and go for a ride now.

Hey, I am a cyclist after all.