Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Just Popping Back In To Promote Myself


Just poking my head in the door to let you know that on Monday, April 17th at 7:00pm I'll be bloviating at the REI in Soho:
The subject of my bloviation will be "mountain biking," which is a hot new trend involving riding bicycles with knobby tires on forest trails.  If you live in New York City and have been curious about this exciting new sport, or if you just like hearing goofy bike bloggers be goofy, you won't want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.  Topics will include:

--Where to ride
--How to get there
--Why you don't need dropper posts and other expensive crap

Copies of my latest book will also be for sale, and I'll even sign them for you!  Or, if you already have my book and want to give it back, I'll gladly accept it, though I won't give you a refund.

Best of all, I'll do my best to scrounge up some fun stuff to give away, such as hats and coffee and hatfuls of coffee and stuff like that.

Anyway, that's all for now.  I'll be back here on Monday, and in the meantime I've got a whole other blog you can read!

Nobody gives of themselves more than me.


--Wildcat Etc. and so forth

Monday, March 20, 2017

This Just In: I Got A New Site!

Good morning!

I'm pleased to announce I've teamed up with/infiltrated/been abducted by the smugness mafia over at Transportation Alternatives, and together we're bringing you a new site called...

Here's the email that went out this morning:

Dear Wildcat Rock Machine,

I am Eben Weiss, a.k.a Bike Snob NYC.
Since 2007, I've been publishing the BikeSnobNYC blog, my lovingly sarcastic take on the cycling world. Now, with Transportation Alternatives, I'm embarking on a new project:

Drivers and straphangers can always find local media reports on traffic jams and transit delays. But what if you ride a bike?

Bike Snob’s Forecast is your answer -- a daily digest for #BikeNYC. Every morning, I’ll update you on the weather and provide you with all the information you need to ride your bike that day.

Citi Bike down? Snow in the bike lane? NYPD ticket blitz? Before you drag your bike out of the house, check out Bike Snob’s Forecast.

Besides the weather, I’ll keep you up to date on the cycling zeitgeist with news from New York and beyond -- whether it's London's £770m investment in cycling initiatives or the xenophobic community board member blocking a new bike lane in Queens.

And periodically, I will share longer features on cycling in New York City -- from ride guides to in-depth mockery -- to remind you of the many ways in which this great city is best experienced by bike.

Bike Snob’s Forecast is a resource built exclusively for New York City and people who ride bikes here. Check it out, and let me know what you think at

Eben Weiss
Bike Snob NYC (and TransAlt's newest blogger)

P.S. Excited about Bike Snob’s Forecast? You can help support this project with a tax-deductible donation to Transportation Alternatives. Donate now to support Bike Snob’s Forecast.

I'm looking forward to this for many reasons, not least of which because it gives me a great excuse to get out on the bike and ride around the city.

Jimmy Breslin is rolling in his grave.

Anyway, the Bike Forecast will be updated daily, if you need me this week that's where I'll be.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

PS: No, don't worry, this blog isn't going away.  It's like the chewing gum in your spokes: impossible to get out.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Full Fredal Jacket

Not to be THAT GUY, but Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, who not only officially revealed my identity to an indifferent world back in 2010 but also had me on his podcast not too long ago was totally THAT GUY yesterday:

And so I totally THAT GUY-ed him:
Hey, I can't help it.  I mean really, if you're going to concern-troll, wouldn't you start with the fact that he has no brakes?

As for the video and the stupid jacket therein, it appears to be a year old now, and for all I know I've already bloviated about it.  Regardless, let's look at it again:

First of all, those are some long-ass bars:

To his credit, I suppose they give him a lot of leverage which he can transfer into stopping power, and from what I understand the general brakeless fixie rule of thumb is that every additional foot of handlebar width translates into 1/8th of a coaster brake of stopping power.

That means to give your fixie the stopping power of a bike with front and rear discs you need a handlebar roughly 60 feet wide.

I recommend a repurposed flagpole, which you can pick up for under $7,000:

As for the jacket, having futzed around with that stupid battery-sucking "smart helmet" I can pretty confidently say this jacket is stupid.  I mean sure, ride around town dusting off your sleeves if you want to:

But I'll stick to using my sleeves to wipe my nose--you know, the sleeves of my wildly expensive custom-tailored non-smart jacket:

After all, a jacket's only as smart as its rider.

Anyway, who wants to take calls from the boss while riding?

Unless of course that call is from the Boss and he has some important fashion advice for you:

Seriously, unless you're in a Springsteen cover band you should not be wearing that much denim all at once.  It's like Dorkness on the Edge of Town with this guy:

For Lob's sake, if you insist on listening to stuff while you ride just skip the smart jackets and smart helmets and wear some fucking headphones.  Sure, if you're THAT GUY you probably think wearing headphones while riding is reckless and irresponsible, but as long as you keep whatever you're listening to at a sensible volume it's really not an issue.  (I almost never ride with headphones myself, but have no issues with those who do.)  And yes, it's technically illegal in New York City to ride while using two headphones (you're allowed one), but now that wireless earbuds are taking over you can hide them under your hat or payos:

(Nobody need know but Hashem.)

Yes, I'm a radical who believes it's okay to ride helmetless and while listening to music or podcasts at a reasonable volume as long as you remain aware of your surroundings and use a bicycle with functioning brakes.  This is heresy in Anglophonic countries and I expect to be banished to the Netherlands forthwith.  Meanwhile, Americans seem to be perfectly fine with blasting their shitty music on handlebar-mounted loudspeakers, which I assume is because we think this sort of antisocial behavior is normal due to loud car stereos.  Indeed, it's only a matter of time before they're also bouncing along to the music on Rinsten Springs:

As far as I can tell, this is basically a way to retrofit your plastic Fred saddle into a Brooks:

So that it complements the questionable aesthetics of your wardrobe and Fred bike:

I highly recommend watching the video on the Kickstarter page, which I was unable to embed, but if that's too much link-clicking for you just watch this instead:

You're welcome.

Speaking of hoary British contraptions I was pleased to see a Brompton make a cameo in the New York Times Real Estate section:

The couple arrived last month, paying $321,000. Annual taxes are around $11,000. They bought a used car. Ms. O’Shaughnessy drives it to the station while Mr. Lopez, an early riser, takes a fold-up bike.

I believe you call that "Bromptossining."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

This Just In: Duty Calls, Sh*t Happens

I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that if you're a fan of this blog I have to work on a project today, so there won't be a post today:

Although this is technically a post, so instead let's just say there won't be a comprehensive update today:

Okay, so what's the good news?  Well, if you're not a fan of this blog, then the good news is that there won't be a post today:

See that?  Every cloud has a glass that's either half empty or half full, depending on how you look at it.

And really it's all Moots anyway:

Since the project I'm working on will appear on the World Wide Internet eventually so it all balances out in the end.

In the meantime, I leave you with this:
And I'll see you back here tomorrow.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Indignity of Walking After A Snowstorm: Snow

Well, the snowstorm yesterday wasn't quite what they anticipated, but it did give the DOT an opportunity to show off its bike lane-clearing prowess:
Yes, the city continues to add bike lanes:
And, while it's still something of a hit-or-miss affair, the DOT continues to get better about plowing them.  In fact, we're at an awkward point now where the cyclists have it better than the pedestrians.  See, what happens when it snows is that the DOT works assiduously to plow the streets for motorists.  (And, to a lesser, cyclists.)  This creates a massive wall of snow along the curb...which they just leave there, even if it's blocking a bus stop or a crosswalk.  And while property owners are responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their buildings, that's more or less where keeping the city walkable in a snowstorm ends.  The upshot of all of this is that you have to climb a fucking mountain just to cross the street:
In a city ruled by common sense instead of the admonition to "Be careful out there!" this tweet would read "Hey DOT, clear the fucking crosswalks!"  However, sadly the automobile still holds more sway over the city than common sense.  This is especially frustrating when you consider that in a snowstorm drivers should be the very last consideration.  Driving during a snowstorm is a bad decision, and the city should not encourage it, because the typical motorist is completely inept in this regard.  To wit:

I will post that video until the end of time because it articulates the relationship Americans have with cars better than perhaps anything else I've ever seen--and I say this as someone who has the use of a motor vehicle that is owned by a bank until I finish paying them back for it.  Really, this video has everything, included but not limited to:

--"American" car ostensibly with all-terrain capability;
--Driver completely unable to utilize this all-terrain capability due to his complete ignorance with regard to the nature of traction and gravity;
--Road rage;
--Grown man throwing an obscenity-laden temper tantrum in front of a private residence in clear view and earshot of children.

Yes, it's quite satisfying to see someone's faith in their lavish purchase get completely shattered, though it's horrifying to consider this represents the state of mind of many of the drivers with whom you "share" the road.

Nevertheless, despite this widespread ineptitude, drivers are implicitly encouraged to venture out into the snow they're too stupid to drive in because the city starts plowing the second the first snowflake hits the pavement.  Meanwhile, if you want to simply walk across the street for a sandwich because you've been inside all day watching "Sex and the City," drinking brandy, and painting your nails (at least that's what I was doing) you've got to clamber over a hip-deep mountain of snow.  And sure, of course I realize the streets need to be clear so emergency vehicles can respond to people keeling over while shoveling:

Some patients have been hit, accidentally, by shovels. Others have back strains, muscle aches or neck pain from lifting them and twisting. Occasionally, people coming in with chest pain and dizziness are having heart attacks.

“When we’re shoveling snow — especially when the snow is wet — it tends to be a lot heavier, equivalent to lifting hundreds of pounds of weight, potentially,” Dr. Shih said. “A lot of people who are shoveling snow may not be used to the amount of exercise that’s needed and tend not to lift the right way, so they end up hurting themselves.”

Two things:

1) Ironically, many of these people are probably digging out the very SUVs that have rendered them sedentary and physically unfit in the first place;

2) Always wear a helmet while shoveling:

Oh, and if you're a total Shovel Fred, be sure to get one made from crabon:

Anyway, all of this is a very roundabout and disingenuous way of masking a highly personal complaint as concern for public safety, because yesterday while digging out my Porsche Cayenne my $2,000 crabon snow shovel snapped:

No, what really happened was that these mountains of snow along the curb affected me yesterday, and that's when I start to take something seriously.  See, the weather started easing up late in the day, so we ventured out for some family-style dining.  Above-ground subway service had been suspended, but was about to return, and I'm assuming NY1 was there to capture the triumphant moment when Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton boarded the first train of the day:

As for us, we prepared to board an approaching bus instead, but were very nearly prevented from doing so by the aforementioned mountains of plowed snow on the curb.  Eventually we did find a furrow and were able to get on the bus, only to find that the diner as well as three (3) separate corporate dining chains were closed due to the storm.  (That a diner would close for any reason is unthinkable, but I'm here to tell you that it happened.)  Fortunately we were able to dine quite lavishly at a local alehouse boasting a mind-boggling array of beers, thus fortifying ourselves for the return bus trip.  Alas, when de-bussing, we were yet again confronted with a wall of snow along the curb extending for miles in either direction.  Had I been unladen I might have simply walked over it, but upon summiting the mountain the additional weight of the two year-old in my arms caused me to fall through the crust at least my knees, filling my boots with snow and my soul with disdain for a city that refuses to accommodate bipeds.  This was not only annoying for me, but it also made me appreciate how difficult the streets are for people who are not mighty strapping specimens of humanity with bulging beer muscles such as myself, and how they're rendered basically immobile because nobody can be bothered to clear the fucking crosswalk for them.

And there you go.

Or, to put it far more succinctly, the city should ban private cars during snow emergencies and not allow them again until all pedestrian crossings and bus stops have been cleared.

Though I suppose that wouldn't help because once everything has been cleared and the drivers dig themselves out they just fuck everything up again by throwing the snow all over the place.  Also, they get an additional 5' of latitude in every direction when it comes to parking:

And then it will be spring, and nobody will care anyway.

Alas, perhaps one day we'll be as respected as tractors are:

We can only hope.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This Just In: Snö Dā Today!

As you may or may not be aware, New York City is in the grip of SnowPocaGeddon 2017, the Killer Blizz-Tastic Nor'Easter from Hell:

Though now the blizzard warning has been cancelled:
And yet there are currently cotton ball-sized snowflakes falling steadily outside my window, so go figure.

Either way, the schools are closed, and as of my most recent contract renegotiation I reserve the right to shirk my curatorial responsibilities in such cases so that I can tend to my seventeen (17) children.  In other words, blogging service is suspended for today, and will resume tomorrow:


Deal with it.

Thanks for your understanding, annoyance, relief, or indifference as the case may be, and I'll see you back here tomorrow.  (And yes, I can see you, thanks to my CIA-level surveillance capabilities.)

Jörs Trüli,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

(I see all.)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Trend Watch: People Now Riding Bikes With Large Tires

Not sure if you've heard, but apparently there are these things called "fat bikes" in quotes:

PORTLAND, Me. — Gone are the days when cyclists had to put their bikes away for the winter. These days, hard-core riders are staying outdoors year round thanks to “fat bikes” that allow them to conquer winter's worst instead of staying indoors on a stationary bike.

Yes, according to the Associated Press Style Book, "fat bikes" must be rendered in quotes until the 10,000th article is published about them:

This is why the knuckle tattoo trend no longer has to be rendered in quotes, but the "air quote tattoo" trend does--though strictly speaking it should be rendered "'air quote' tattoo," which will surely be the undoing of many a copy editor.

It's even more complicated if you want to add "irony punctuation," in which case it's "'"air quote"' tattoo"...I think.

Or we could all just accept the fact we're living in a post-grammatical society and surrender to emojis:

I'm old enough that the first thing I think of when I see this is blotter acid.

Anyway, if you want to know what makes a "fat bike" a "'fat bike'" it's the "comically large tires:"

The bikes, with comically large tires, have come into the mainstream in the past couple of years, after having been introduced about a decade ago.

It's certainly true that "fat bike" tires do look cartoonish, but if you adjust for brainwashing it's really the rest of America that's riding around on "comically large tires" thanks to our obsession with SUVs:

A largely aesthetic consideration that tends to create more problems than it solves:

See, in America we like motor vehicles that can cross rocky stream beds (at least in advertisements) but can't make it through a tiny city without wreaking havoc.

The article then quotes a "fat bike" enthusiast:

John Grondin, 48, of Scarborough, Me., got his fat bike to kick the winter blues.

“I wanted to get outside and ride in the winter,” he said. “I like to ride, period. I'll ride a road bike. I'll ride a mountain bike. I just want to ride.”"

I'm getting the sense he likes to ride.

By the way, another good way to kick the winter blues is to not live in Maine.

The article then goes on to make the stupendous claim that "fat bikes" are the first major cycling trend since the 1980s:

Fat bikes represent the first major bicycle trend in several decades, after BMX bikes in the 1970s and conventional mountain bikes in the 1980s, said Jay Townley, partner in Gluskin-Townley Group, a Pennsylvania consultant and market research company focusing on the bicycle business.

Um, what am I, chopped liver???

Jay Townley clearly slept through the fixie craze of the early 21st century (not to mention the Lance Amstrong-driven road bike boom that preceded it), and for that I envy him.

Nevertheless, these "fat bikes" are now big business:

The NPD Group, which tracks retail sales of bikes in the United States, reports that fat-tire bike sales have grown eightfold in the past three years, to $74.7 million in 2016.

If we assume the average "fat bike" costs $1,000 that means there are currently 74,700 "fat bikes" out there rolling around on comically large tires.  And since every one of those bikes will need two (2) new comically large (and therefore comically expensive) tires eventually then it seems to me that's the business you want to be in--which is why I'm pleased to announce my new online retail venture:

Alas, if only I'd planned ahead, I could have debuted this at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, which took place in Salt Lake City, Utah:

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Debra Banks, a hand crafted saddle manufacturer for Rivet Cycle Works, left, checks out a one of a kind "Big Bamboo Bike" made by Craig Calfee of Calfee Designs out of Santa Cruz, CA. at the 2017 North American Handmade Bicycle Show at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday. This model is an electric bike made of a bamboo including the wheel spokes. The battery is inside the large tube. He makes several more coventional design custom bicycles using bamboo frames. It's the largest and oldest handbuilt bicycle show in the world where ideas and innovation come together to promote custom bicycles and the companies that support the market. It is the show's first time in Utah. The event runs through Sunday.

Presumably the sustainable and environmentally-friendly bamboo is meant to offset the electric drivetrain, which requires lithium mining, as well as the leather saddle, which requires resource-intensive cattle whose flatulence contributes to global warming--sort of like how I ride to the big-box store on a bicycle to pick up my planet-destroying disposable diapers and paper towels:

I'm thinking that maybe if I add some bamboo veneer to the WorkCycles I can also get a pass on sorting my refuse when I eat at Whole Foods.

Anyway, obviously I didn't go to NAHBS this year, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it was exactly like every other NAHBS except there were more disc brakes:

Wake me up when someone shows a rim brake fat bike made from bamboo.