Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Heavy Is The Fred That Wears The Crown

Schools here in New York City are out this week, which means I've got my parenting helmet on pretty much full time:

(By 2021 we'll all be wearing connected helmets for everyday life, just you wait and see.)

This means if you're looking for me and I'm not here, you'll be able to find me over at the Bike Forecast, where you can also get a good sense of what we're dealing with here in this town.  Specifically, you can read about our dolt of a mayor, who regularly says things that reveal the only walking he ever does is from the SUV to the entrance of whatever building he's visiting:
The above mayoral quote was by way of explaining his continued crackdown on delivery people riding ebikes.

And speaking of crackdowns:
So basically that's the current state of affairs here in the fairest big city in America.

As for me, I entered a bicycle racing competition this past Sunday, which I'm pleased to report I passed.  In fact, not only did I pass, but I also got a Strava KOM!

This absolutely has to be a mistake, because firstly there's no freaking way I was 23 seconds faster than the next-fastest person:

Secondly, I was clinging desperately to the back of the race the whole time.  So while I suppose it's possible I happened to be moving from the very back to the middle back of the group during that segment and had the benefit of a tailwind on top of it, it's far more likely that my GPS or Strava or both are both wildly inaccurate.

Nevertheless, I'm choosing to file all of the above under "redacted" and wear the crown anyway.  It's the American way.

And finally, speaking of a lack of moral fiber, I've derided both plastic bicycles and cars extensively on this blog (as well as Strava, come to think of it)--and yet I can't speak highly enough of both my plastic bicycle and my Saris SuperClamp EX hitch rack, which I also used in tandem this past weekend:

I don't really drive my bikes places all that much, and for that reason the SuperClamp has proven more or less ideal.  Previously I'd been using a roof rack, and while it does go on and off pretty easily without tools, in practice I'd just been leaving it on there, which seemed like a waste given how infrequently I was using it--and on top of that I couldn't use it to carry a bike like my Jones without resorting to adapters.

The Saris on the other hand is overall less of a hassle to install when needed and then remove when not in use--all you do is unscrew the pin, slide the rack out of the hitch receiver, and you're done.  Plus it carries every one of my bikes, even when they're of wildly disparate sizes:

And while it's not even remotely hard to remove a front wheel and lift a sub-20lb racing bike onto the roof of a car, it's even less hard to put it on a hitch rack without removing anything at all.  And really, isn't being incredibly lazy what driving to the ride is all about?

Of course it is.

Yet at the same time it's also anti-lazy, since I can't just say "Fuck it" and leave it on there, because if I did the extra foot it adds to the length of the vehicle would insure I could never find a parking space ever again.  So I'm diligent about taking it off and returning it to the basement after every excursion.

So I guess what I'm saying is don't get a car, because that way you won't have to worry about this sort of thing in the first place.

You're welcome.

Friday, April 19, 2019

New Outside Column!

Happy Friday, and Happy Good Friday!

(Aren't they all?)

Here's a new Outside column, and it's all about how much we love parking and how much we hate children and bikes:

We really should just change the name of this country to The Land of Guns and Parking already...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Way We Were

So this morning my phone did that weird "Black Mirror"-type thing where it tells you that you have a "memory" and then sends you down a Proustian nostalgia hole by showing you a bunch of photos it has somehow figured out are significant--and as it happens the photos that my phone chose were from a Gran Fondon't some two years back:

A look back into my archives (if it weren't for my phone and my blog I'd remember absolutely nothing) reveals that I billed this particular ride as the "BSNYC BOOMB!* Pre-Fondon't Ride," "BOOMB" being an acronym for "Beers on Old Man Brooks," because we all got beers at the Bronx Alehouse afterwards and I stuck Brooks with the bill.

I then did an extensive write-up for the Brooks Blog, which didn't appear until October, and when it did finally appear they deleted almost all the photos because, as it was explained to me, "the brand have been pushing for using high quality images within our blog articles and the website in general" and "a lot of the pics were not quite up to the new 'standard' as it were."

Of course asking me to blog for you and expecting good pictures is like buying a pet badger and thinking your couch is going to stay intact, but the fact is that there was some staff turnover at Brooks between the time I started blogging for them and the time I got that email, and I suspect the new people didn't really "get" me.  (Or, more likely, they got me perfectly well and realized my shitty sense of aesthetics was fucking up their blog.)

Also, now that I think of it, if I recall correctly a precondition of the ride was that everyone had to take pictures along the way and give them to me to use in the Brooks Blog, so I don't even think it was my shitty photography.  (Not that it matters--though I thought that was a fun element, and it's too bad Brooks didn't appreciate it.)

None of this is to say that I have any hard feelings.  Sure, they really did fuck up what had been a pretty good blog post, but you don't last as a semi-professional curator of words if you're precious about what you write.  And of course Brooks and I did continue to work together.  In fact, since they weren't into my shitty photos, they went so far as to have my next post professionally illustrated:

Still, my stock-in-trade is rambling ride narratives illustrated by shitty photography (whether by me or others), and they wanted me to blog on specific themes that they suggested, so it never really came together.

I still love Brooks and Brooks saddles, and I'm sure they still love me too, because who doesn't?

All of this is to say that the derailleur failures:

And token gravel sections:

And forced dismounts:

And fixie riders feeling justifiably pleased with themselves for braving the OCA on skinny tires:

And of course beer:

Has, until now, been lost in the mists of time.

In fact, it's all enough to make me consider curating another Fondon't, just for old time's sake.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

New Outside Column!

My latest Outside column is all about how I'm an "avid driver:"

Seems to me that driving a car and hating cyclists instead of other drivers is like taking a crap in a burning house and complaining about which way someone hung the toilet paper.

By the way, some people like the toilet paper over, others like it under, but everybody knows the proper orientation is sideways--or else you just get a bidet, which is the Rohloff hub of posterior hygiene.

Oops, I guess I just gave away the subject of my next column.  Oh well, just pretend to be surprised.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Life Is A Slow Leak

It's all springy out!

If you're unfamiliar with spring, here's how it works: one minute it's warm and sunny, then the next it's cold and rainy.  Also, there are beautiful explosions of color as the flora blooms, which you can't enjoy due to seasonal allergies.

Spring also means the Classics are in full swing.  However, I completely missed any and all Paris-Roubaix coverage, because owing to various time constraints and the vicissitudes of life in general I basically have two choices: ride the bikes, or watch other people ride the bikes.  Therefore, I chose the former, and just as the sun began peeking over the horizon on Sunday morning I was lined up in Prospect Park, Brooklyn among a bunch of other 40+ Freds for a bicycle race.

Things started out well enough; thanks to all those sumptuous Eroica California miles I was feeling pretty good, and you can even see photographic evidence of my participation here.  (I'm the Fred in black on the Specialized.)  However, on about the 4th time up the hill I felt a softening in my front tire, and by the time we passed by the start/finish my rim was bottoming out.  So I stopped, repaired he flat, and jumped back on the next time the group came around.  Of course, being a lap down, I stayed all the way at the back of the field and out of everyone's way, even though it's not only against the series rules but also grounds for suspension:

If this offends you and you'd like to rat me out and rob you of my much-needed-for-both-mind-and-body physical activity I'm rider #108, as pictured here.  However, in my defense I'd paid $40 and come all he way from the Bronx, and so what was I supposed to do?  Ride solo laps around Prospect Park while getting passed repeatedly by three (3) separate race fields?

I don't think so.

(Also, in my defense, I never even noticed that rule until today, so I figured what I was doing was fine.  But yes, ignorance is never an excuse, even though I possess it in liberal quantities.  I've only been racing in the parks for like 20 years.  Why would I bother to learn the rules in that time?)

Speaking of Eroica California, Juliet Elliott posted a video about it:

Not only does it give you a good sense of how stunningly beautiful the route is and how perfect the weather was, but also that stunning beauty is marred for one fleeting moment by your's truley struggling up a hill:

For that, and for being a rule-breaking 40-plus Fred, I am truley sorry.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Grass Is Pretty Green On This Side Too

Usually when I come back from California it's a good week of sulking before I come to terms with my home environment, but this time around it's been fairly easy, possibly because it's spring.  But also, what's so great about California?  What do they have that we don't?

Fires, you say?

We've got those, too!

I rode into that one just a few miles north of the city line on the South County Trailway the other day.  It must have been a big one, too, because you could smell it all the way to Hastings-on-Hudson. 

Apparently there was some mismanagement going on at a waste management facility:

The two-alarm fire at 325 Yonkers Ave. started shortly before 10 a.m. and was still burning as of noon, Yonkers Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Flynn said.

Smoke filled the air around the property, which is surrounded by a car repair shop and a two-story commercial building.

Firefighters arrived and found heavy flames in a garbage pile. About 60 firefighters responded, Flynn said.

And you thought the only flaming garbage pile around here was my blog.

Then the next day I went to go pick up THE CAR THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK and went like 20 miles out of my way in the process so I could ride on some dirt:

As I mentioned, a dealership was replacing my Exploding Takata Airbag of Death, and here's footage of them disposing of it:

Come to think of it, that might explain the fire.

Here's the aftermath of that fire, by the way:

I often stop to urinate on that wall, but now the fire seems to have burned away much of the foliage that served as my cover.

Only now am I realizing what a catastrophe that blaze really was.

And then today a longtime reader of this blog accompanied me on a ride, and we saw a bald eagle:

It's there, I swear:

I never would have seen it at all if it weren't for my riding companion; even though there were a couple of people there with telephoto lenses trained on it, I just assumed they were taking photos of the glorious Yonkers skyline across the river.  Come to think of it, I'd been regularly seeing cars idling in that spot and had no idea why.  And now I know why.

Evidently I should turn my head occasionally.  Alas, tunnel vision is a serious side-effect of Fredness.

So yeah, we've got fires, mixed-terrain routes, and exotic wildlife sightings.

What more could you want really?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

I'm Back, And I Couldn't Be Happier! *Breaks Down In Tears*

Well, I'm back in New York!

Rest assured I've wasted no time getting back to business.  In fact, first thing this morning I dropped THE CAR THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK with the dealer so they could replace the Exploding Takata Airbag Of Death that apparently came as standard equipment:

This errand of course afforded me an opportunity to use the Brompton for my return trip:

The technician took an interest in the bicycle and correctly surmised that I would not be needing the use of a loaner car.

I mean I did think about taking one anyway just to stick it to Fuji Heavy Industries, but it didn't seem worth the trouble, and the fact is I was looking forward to the ride.  After all, there's nothing like early spring in the Bronx:

Yes, Van Cortlandt Lake was a sight for sore eyes after having to look at this kind of shit for like three days straight:

I mean it was really awful:

Yes, these are the lies I tell myself--it's the only way I can stop the tears.

Of course, I will be providing a full account of my Eroica California adventure in the not-too-distant future, both in Outside and on this blog.  In the meantime, I will say that on Saturday I tackled the Nova Eroica, and on Sunday I rode the Classic Eroica, though I opted for the short course because: 1) I was tired from Saturday; and B) I had a long drive to LA ahead of me for my return flight.

And speaking of driving, check out my sweet-ass minivan!

There's nothing like cruising the California coast with a couple of cheap-ass bikes flopping around behind you.

I wasn't just subject to beautiful scenery, either.  There were also beautiful bikes, such as this one:

Which featured not only a drillium chain:

But also a drillium water bottle:

If you're wondering how that holds water, the answer is you fill it with ice.


But in all sincerity, once again Eroica California was a positively sublime cycling experience--though I do think I've had my fill of retro jerseys for awhile:

Best of all, a longtime reader presented me with the gift of 100 Cipollini stickers:

I may have to use them to mark the course for the next Fondon't.