Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Maybe technology really will save us.

For thousands of years, cyclists have longed to be able to communicate directly with the creatures who inhabit the motorized death boxes that terrorize our streets.  Oh sure, we've used our voices, middle fingers, and occasionally u-locks to great effect.  However, none of these can truly penetrate the sheet metal in which the typical motoring moron is encased.

But not anymore!  For thanks to recent advances in technology, we now have the AXA Smart Bell (or at least a video for it):


We've seen the word "innovative" bandied about in the bicycle industry for far too long.  Yes, every misshapen crabon tube or new decal color(way) is hailed as an innovation.  But this?  This is something that warrants the appellation:


In fact, it just may be the biggest innovation in bikes since the wheel.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: "This is just one of those stupid smartphone bells, isn't it?"


("Look!  Now my phone's a bell that can run run out of batteries!")

Nope.  If we're to believe the video--and Sweet Lobster on High really, really, really want to believe it--what this allows you to do is ring the bell:


Which then travels to a box directly under your scranus and/or vulvanus:


And is in turn broadcast inside the car next to you:


Right through the sound system!!!


I'm sorry, I'm all choked up.

I have to stop and dry my eyes.

Thank you.

Anyway, do you know what this means?  It means we're now this close [indicates tiny distance with fingers] to being able to infiltrate drivers' cabins with our voices and say to them whatever we want.  Just imagine the possibilities:

--"I'm on your right;'
--"You're violating my right-of-way;"
--"Please look up from your phone;"
--"Where did you get your driver's license, your own asshole?"
--"Get fucked, you frumunda cheese-eating piece of crap!"

In fact, it's entirely conceivable you might need to utilize each of these in that exact order in the course of a typical interaction.

And just imagine how amazing it would be to use this on people in the bike lane:



A "new way of communication?"  Now that's an understatement:


This could conceivably give us the near-telepathic ability to berate people with the most vile insults we can muster.

Of course, as an aging bike blogger I know nothing about so-called RDS technology so I don't know if you can really make it do any of that, but I'm assuming these clever millennials with their fixies and their hack-a-thons can make it happen.

This gives me hope for the future.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Today's Post Will Be Short But Short

I realize you may be looking for Internet content that offers temporary respite from world events.  Alas, today's post needs be short owing to the vicissitudes of blah blah blah and so forth.  However, just to keep you up to date on a few things:

Firstly, you are looking at the new Brompton World Champion:


This is because I just registered for the race, which takes place on Sunday, June 18th, and obviously I'm going to win:

DESCRIPTION

The Brompton World Championship returns to North America this summer, and it's coming to New York City!

The uniquely competitive and singularly sartorial event will be held during this year's Harlem Skycraper Cycling Classic.

The race will begin at 2:15 pm sharp. Donning their finest formalwear, competitors will take off with a Le Mans-style start, running, unfolding and mounting their Bromptons, before racing ten laps around Manhattan's Marcus Garvey Park.

The winner of this race (who will be me) is then flown to London for the finals, which of course I'll also win.

This means the BSNYC Gran Fondon't, which will be held on [DATE TBD], is now merely a training ride for my inevitable win...unless I decide to hold the Fondon't after the World Championship, in which case it will be a victory ride during which I can showcase my rainbow pant cuff retainer or whatever honorific vestments the reigning champion gets to wear.

And between now and race day I must contemplate the big question:

Flat pedals or clipless on the Brommie?

It's not a question of performance, mind you, it's just that the former will allow me to wear my Vittoria shoes, which they sent me way back in 2009:


And which I typically break out for special occasions, such as L'Eroica:


Now to figure out how to fit a Gruber Assist into a Brompon.

Secondly, turning to world bicycling news, this happened:


PALERMO, Italy — A mafia boss was gunned down while riding his bicycle in Sicily on Monday, judicial sources said, in what appeared to have been the sort of mob killing that has become rarer in recent years as dangerous figures have been locked up.

Giuseppe Dainotti, 67, had served more than two decades in jail for murder and robbery, as a member of the Cosa Nostra mafia, before being released in 2014.

Investigators believe at least two hit men, probably on a motorbike, approached Dainetti and shot him in the neck, a few hundred meters from the scene of another mafia murder in 2014.

Living in New York it's not unusual to see these sorts of people in the wild, though the idea of one of them riding a bicycle is almost unthinkable.  Naturally my first thought was "So what kind of bike was it?"  I mean was he cruising around down, or was he off on a full-blown Lycra-clad Fredo ride?  Of course consulting a popular search engine quickly yielded an answer:


I guess if you're a Sicilian mob boss your choice of transport is a tough call.  Motor vehicles might hide you from view, but are susceptible to car bombs:


Whereas bicycles are harder to sabotage yet leave the rider vulnerable to point-blank shootings, as was the case here.

Still, two things are certain: 1) Had the mob boss been wearing a helmet this wouldn't have happened, since nothing bad happens to people who wear helmets; 2) The mafia in America should take to riding bicycles, since then they'd be free to kill each other on a daily basis without law enforcement so much as lifting a finger to investigate.

And finally, there's a City Council candidate in Brooklyn who basically wants to legalize parking in bike lanes, and you can read all about it in the Bike Forecast:


Wow, what a putz.

Okay, now time for some Brompton training.  See you tomorrow.

Love,


--Wildcat Rock Machine


Monday, May 22, 2017

From Smug to Single

As a semi-professional bike blogger and world-renowned author it is vital that I do not restrict myself to one form of cycling and instead partake in the entire spectrum of velocipeding--and if that means occasionally lowering myself by attempting bicycle polo:


Or trying out a recumbent:


(Via Rivendell)

Then so be it.

For I am nothing if not a Renaissance Fred.

(Also, when Grant Petersen tells you to ride a recumbent you don't argue about it, you just do it.  Unless you want to get stabbed with a lug.)

Anyway, it was in this ecumenical spirit that this past weekend I rode from one end of the cycling rainbow to the other:



It all began on Friday when I donned a suit, unfurled a Brompton, and waded waist-deep into smugness at the Transportation Alternatives Bike Home From Work Party:

Actually, now that you mention it, I think I very well may register:


After all, what better way to celebrate Father's Day than by totally humiliating myself?  Sure, by the looks of things I fall far short in both the sartorial and fitness departments:


But  some simple upgrades may be all I need to win the race, and to that end I'm trying to decide if I should go with the crabon trispokes:


Or else the paired 16-spoke setup:


Most likely I'll just bring both and make the final decision based on race day course conditions.

So if you go to the Harlem Crit and you see someone in a suit with a Brompton sticking a moistened thumb in the air be sure to come by and say hello.

(Though generally speaking I'd advise against approaching strangers wielding moistened thumbs.)

Yes, with the addition of some sweet, sweet crabon I can transform my Brompton from this genteel circus bike:


To this slightly less genteel circus bike:


And in the process forever consign my dignity to this:


Oh and speaking of today's Bike Forecast post, here's the uncensored version of the note I left on that SUV:


So if your money was on "fuckstick" as the censored word I'm afraid you lost the bet.

Then yesterday I went from smugness to singlespeed when I partook in the "Singlespeedapalooza" race for derailleur-challenged mountain bicycles at Stewart State Park:


("Weed Road."  Heh heh.)

According to my commemorative pint glass my last appearance at the start was in 2009:


And as you can imagine it wasn't pretty:


(From here)

Well, I'm only getting slower, but I do have a fancier bicycle:


And I also got a really good number:


As for the race itself, it was the most fun I've had on the bike in awhile, even though we had to share the park with these people:

There will be kennel club activity throughout the weekend using live and blank ammo.  We have contacted them, and there is a mutual understanding that we both have a permit to be in there and must respect each other's event.  If you are pre-riding, and during the race bump into one of the kennel participants, be courteous and cautious as they may be driving from one location to another.  This is just one of the many hurdles in dealing with Stewart.

Who were kind enough to remove some of the course markings, which as I understand it resulted in the lead riders getting totally waylaid.  (Fortunately I was nowhere near the lead riders and managed not to get lost.)

Assholes.

Then after the race I ate pork:


In all it was a thoroughly well-rounded weekend of making bike.

Friday, May 19, 2017

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Hello class.

Okay, settle down, settle down.

And you in the back, get that pencil out of your nose.

I'm now pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right you'll see the item, and if you're wrong you'll see triathlon action.

Thanks for reading, ride safe, and buy yourself something nice today because you deserve it.


--Wildcat Rock Machine


PS: Remember, if you don't like tests there's always more me over at the Bike Forecast, and who doesn't want that?





(Science Fact: It's impossible to sustain an injury if you're wearing a helmet.)

1) A Dublin cyclist who was hit by an unlicensed and uninsured driver was deemed partially responsible because he didn't happen to be wearing a helmet.

--True
--False





(It should not surprise you that Freds need step-by-step instructions to eat oatmeal.)

2) Which is not one of the six mistakes you're making with your oatmeal according to Bicycling magazine?

--Making it with water instead of milk
--Not using a large enough bowl
--Forgetting to stir it
--Failing to upgrade from steel cut to crabon cut






3) A Giro d'Italia cyclist was recently fined for:

--Blowing a "snot rocket"
--Scrawling a message on his chest in which he asked a woman to date him
--Damaging the image of the Giro by engaging in "effeminate" behavior
--Refusing to air-kiss Mario Cipollini during a pre-stage ceremony






(Beloved Tour of California mascot Hypie the Hypodermic Needle-Wielding Devil-Bee)

4) The official Giro d'Italia mascot is currently:

--"Lupo Wolfie" (a wolf)
--"Orso Corso" (a bear)
--"Jenni Genetta" (a common genet)
--"Mario Cipollini (species indeterminate)







(Drapac was actually Tupac's arch-nemesis.  Just kidding.  Or am I?)

5) Cannondale-Drapac manager Jonathan Vaughters says "pro cycling is the best sponsorship deal in sports."  What is Drapac?

--An allergy medication
--A "property funds management business that identifies value through unorthodox means"
--A shampoo that restores thinning hair
--An "integrated and leveraged vertical platform that gives investors exposure to a broad portfolio of assets in order to maximize yields"






6) Which is not a recommended method for determining proper tire pressure?

--Purchasing an aftermarket gauge
--Sitting on your bike while it's on a bathroom scale
--Employing the 15% compression formula
--Squeezing the tires






7) In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece Myron Magnet said the next mayor should "rip out Times Square's pedestrian mall."

--True
--False


***Special "Well That's It, Cycling's Over, We Can All Pack Up And Go Home Now" Bonus Video***


Yeah that's right, he's using Zwift outside.

(I couldn't watch the whole thing, but I really hope it ends with him getting a ticket for not wearing a helmet.)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's Your Damages?

"Enough about the helmets," they said.

"A helmet saved my life," they said.

"Your disdain for safety is foolhardy and irresponsible," they said.

Oh yeah?

Well one day either you're all going to thank me for slowly chipping away at our obsession with helmet-shaming, or else you're going to wish you'd pitched in, because it's becoming clearer and clearer every day that there is no greater tool in the oppression of cyclists than the foam hat:

(via @Pflax1)

A cyclist who suffered a brain injury when he was hit by a Dublin van driver has been awarded €3 million.

However, the court was told that the injured man was deemed to have contributed 20 per cent of the negligence to the collision.

That percentage was reflected in the settlement he received, meaning the full sum he would have been awarded was €3.75 million.

Yeah, that's right.  If you're not wearing an EPS yarmulke when an unlicensed and uninsured driver slams into you it's 20% your fault:

The injured man, Alexandru Doroscan (33), was hit by a van while cycling in Blanchardstown in the west of the city on August 2nd, 2013.

The collision occurred at the junction of Ongar Distributor Road and Sheridan Road where he was struck by van driven by Declan Meade, Lisbrack Rd, Longford.

The hearing was told Meade was neither licenced nor insured at the time. And in a separate criminal case he was jailed for 3½ years, with 2½ years suspended.

And would a helmet even have helped?

Mr Doroscan, a married father of one child, was thrown around three meters into the air when Meade’s van hit him.

The Garda estimated the van was travelling at 57km per hour.

But sure, it certainly makes sense that the cyclist was 20% responsible for this.  In fact they should have docked him another million for not wearing a parachute.  After all, if only he had been then after being thrown into the air he might have floated gently to safety.

By this logic pedestrians, slip-and-fall victims, and really anybody who's injured in any conceivable situation should be partially responsible if they were not wearing a petroleum beanie:


People already think you're being irresponsible somehow by riding a bike, so reinforcing that idea by buying into the bareheaded riding taboo will only make it worse.

Meanwhile, from the Land of Helmets comes Wheely, a new bicycle light system:



Cyclists must take extra precautions when they ride. We often share roadways with vehicles, other cyclists and pedestrians, which can cause a host of incidents.

This is true, so for maximum safety always use on a bicycle with no brakes:


It's a funny thing about brakeless fixies: on one hand, when the trend hit full steam back in the late aughts it didn't exactly result in the mass carnage you might have expected.

Then again, on the other hand, it did and still does necessitate a completely idiotic style of riding.

Getting stuck behind some doofus whip-skidding his way down the Manhattan Bridge was annoying back then, and now that we've got an actual bicycle rush hour it's doubly stupid.

It's like walking on a crowded street and getting stuck behind someone doing this:



Please accept my apologies for posting the Monty Python silly walks skit.  That is Peak Dork.  I might as well add three or four Simpsons clips for good measure*.

*[Insert "Worst Blog Post Ever" image here.]

Lastly, where would we be without Bicycling?  For example, did you know you're making six (6) mistakes with your oatmeal?
Mistake #1: Not allowing it to cool before using it as a chamois cream.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Is All About Pushing the Boundaries of Tardiness

There has been much hand-wringing in the Fred community since Toms Skujins's nasty crash in the Tour of California:


Luckily the riders were able to avoid him and Skujins, who had torn most of his jersey apart and lost a lot of skin attempted to ride off. Almost hitting a kerb, Skujins the slowly made his way down the descent looking worse for wear.

Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who were clear the Skujins shouldn’t have been allowed to continue the race.

Yes, this was definitely a "Down, down, stay down!" moment:



And it's inspiring the cycling world to take a look at the sport's post-crash protocols, or lack thereof:


Changing this culture would undoubtedly take years to accomplish, and perhaps even changes to the rules. If a rider sat down after a crash, could he reenter the race the following day if he was deemed to be OK? The change will also need to come from within. Can directors convince riders to abandon their ambitions in the wake of a crash? Can riders train themselves to react with extreme caution after falling off the bike, rather than with the frantic desire to catch back on? Will teams ever grant riders a pass on bad results in order to recover from a head injury? Could we see a day when Toms Skujins simply walks over to the side of the road and forgets about the stage win? Time will tell.

I suspect the answer is probably "no," since the sport of cycling does not have a strong riders' union.  Nevertheless, in the meantime, elsewhere in the same publication one writer suggests a possible solution:




But when it comes to riders who matter--you know, the ones sponsored by property funds management businesses--he believes the solution is crash-sensing helmetry:

A helmet sensor would remove reliance on the judgment of a potentially concussed athlete in a high-stress situation. There is no way to definitively link a certain level of force with a head injury, so pulling a rider based exclusively on sensor readings would be medically and ethically questionable. But such a sensor would at least alert medical staff of the need to check out a rider immediately.

We may be closer to this type of solution than you think. There’s already a commercial product that does this: ICEdot. The sensor is packaged in a yellow disc about the size of a strawberry and links up with your cell phone to communicate directly with an emergency contact if triggered.

Astute readers of this blog (I have five total readers and of those maybe one or two is astute) may recall seeing the ICEdot system mentioned on these pages, and if not here it is again:



Since the riders are already wearing helmets I suppose adding some impact sensor isn't a bad idea.  But would it actually work?  As the writer points out, the riders don't carry phones, so "the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means:"

A racing application of ICEdot’s tech would need to be modified slightly. Riders don’t have phones in their back pockets, for example, so the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means. Luckily, forces within cycling are already adding telecommunications to pro bikes, sending us power, heart rate, and speed data for TV broadcasts. There’s no reason this system couldn’t also send notification of a rider in distress.

Though in the case of Skujins it doesn't seem like any means would have worked since they were in some sort of telecommunications Bermuda Triangle:
I also wonder how well devices like the ICEdot actually work.  For example, I tested a Coros LINX, and I couldn't get that stupid hunk of foam to call anybody:



Though I suppose it's possible nobody was taking my call, since as you might imagine hitting the "Decline" button when I come up on the caller ID is pretty much Pavlovian for the people in my life:


Furthermore, whenever you write a blog post or newspaper article about how you don't need to wear a helmet, 20 people immediately weigh in with a "BUT MY HELMENT SAVED MY LIFE!" comment.  Yet after consulting The Internetz I couldn't find a single testimonial about an ICEdot helping somebody after a crash.  Even the testimonials on the ICEdot website just talk about stickers and stuff:



The ICEdot sticker was the selling point for me.  I placed my sticker under the bill of my helmet.  First responders know that in a motorcycle accident, the helmet is not to be taken off until the physician gives the OK.  That sticker under the bill is small but VERY noticeable against the black interior of the helmet!  What an awesome idea.

And the VeloNews review of the product just seems to assume it will work without providing any real evidence:


The Crash Sensor will likely outlive your helmets — assuming you replace your helmets after each crash, as you should. At $150, the Crash Sensor is not cheap, but this is a device that can save your life should you take a spill on your next solo adventure. That $150 also includes a year-long ICEdot premium membership. Additional one year premium memberships are $10.

So are helmet sensors a scam, the latest way for companies to cash in on Helme(n)t Hyster(n)ia and sell you a "premium membership" along with your expensive hunk of EPS foam?  I have no idea.  (Though I suspect "yes.")  Anyway, Strava seems to have them beat anyway:



Beacon, our newest Premium feature, is the note on the fridge for the connected athlete. Instead of a lonely sticky note, Beacon safety contacts will get to see where you are during an activity in real time on a map. If you aren’t back on time, they can check to see where you are or if you’re stopped. If something were to happen to you, they’d be able to see your GPS location.

Seems like something that would actually work--though it could get Fred in some trouble if he takes a detour and loses track of the time:





Lastly, in Giro news, a rider was fined for scrawling a message on his emaciated torso:
"You call that a chest?," the organizers were quoted as saying.  "This is a chest:"


The Giro organizers most certainly do have an image to uphold, and it's muscled and oily.