Friday, June 22, 2018

It's Summer! It's Friday! It's a New Outside Column! That's Three Things To Be Wildly Excited About!!!

This is what passes for culture nowadays, seriously?

And does this illustrator have it in for me or what?

Hey, I'm not gonna lie, I've been known to palp flip-flops when the temperature starts tickling the undercarriage of the triple digits, but I don't run the sweater/shorts/sandals combo.  

Not that I have anything agains those who do, it's just not what I'm about. 

(I don't actually know what I'm about, I just know what I'm not about.)

I'm surprised he didn't put me in socks to really drive it home:

Speaking of kids on bikes, the Junior Fred Sled continues to work out well:

And I'm looking forward to some outings once school is finished.

Maybe I'll even let my son get a turn on it.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Golf Is The Old Cycling

Firstly, an important update to yesterday's art as suggested by a commenter:

Now if you look closely you'll see a "litter bike" by the flying cat's tail.

Also, if it's unclear what's going on here, basically I'm enjoying the Moon's low gravity by hurling cats.

There's a whole bag of 'em just out of frame.

Secondly, every few months we get a story from one of the white collar publications about how cycling is the new golf and how high-powered Freds are half-wheeling and dealing:

It's ironic that VeloNews, the golfiest of all the cycling publications, disagrees.

Anyway, here's the latest one from the Wall Street Journal:

Which starts off with a bit of a head-scratcher:

I see what the writer was getting at, but was there ever a time when you'd tell people you ride bikes and they'd respond: "Wait, you mean cycling?  That obscure sport for kids?"

But that's just nitpicky and I'll take a story like this over another anti-bike lane editorial any day.  In fact my only real problem with this story is that it made me anxious, because apparently I'd better get myself a cycling calendar right away if I ever want to get ahead:

“I have executives say, ‘Send me your cycling calendar.’ They’re using it to decide which conferences to attend,” says Ben Rabner, Adobe’s head of experiential marketing, who founded the bike program five years ago.

Okay, here you go!

Have your people call my people.

By the way, when I googled "Cycling Calendar," that was pretty much the only result that was safe for work.  So it's only a matter of time before some male executive desperate to pass himself off as a cyclist sends one of the NSFW ones and winds up out of a job.

I was also intrigued to learn that there are people who use Fred rides to choose high-powered law firms:

“When potential clients are choosing a law firm,” says Edwards, “chemistry is important. If we can get to know them in a more informal setting, like on a bike, it’s a good way to find out if you get along.”

That's interesting, because usually the way you meet lawyers while cycling is when they hand you their business card as you're being loaded into an ambulance.

I do take issue with this claim however:

It’s also an inherently social sport, thanks to drafting—following in a tight “pace line” formation where a lead cyclist (or two, side by side, in a double pace line) cut the wind for the cyclists behind them. 

I maintain that pacelines are inherently antisocial.  After all, how do you chat in a paceline?  Unless your idea of conversation is shouting into someone else's asshole then this doesn't make sense.

Then again, I'm a bike blogger who fires off wisecracks from the couch, so we should always keep in mind that when it comes to the corporate world I have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about.

Still, even I can see that this is an unfortunate bit of branding:

O’Neill quit his job to build out ICE, now 1,000 members strong. Sponsors (like Vodafone Global Enterprise and EY’s Data and Analytics Practice) get their brand on the club’s “kit” (cycling gear), website and social-media presence and have the chance to offer sessions at the breakfast that follows the rides. Sponsors can also seed the club with a couple of their own cycling employees. (O’Neill says sales talk is frowned upon by sponsors unless it springs up naturally.) There are ICE chapters in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the U.K., and there are plans for seven more cities by 2023, including at least two in the U.S.

Seriously, you're going to launch a company in the US called ICE now?

(Via here.)

Of course we are dealing with corporate America, so maybe it's perfect branding.

I guess it pays to know your customer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Who Doesn't Love Wednesday?

Just a quick pop-in to rub your faces in the fact that I went for a leisurely Wednesday morning ride today and this "litter bike" thing is really getting out of hand:

Wait, sorry, wrong pic:

I did in fact encounter both of these things along the trail today and I'd argue that both are equally useful in their own way.

I guess White Plains has bike share now, hence the Ofo, and it's interesting to note that when you leave the city you can now gauge your location based on which company's dockless bikes you see.  That way, if you're lost and your phone is dead, the knowledge that you're in Ofo country can help you with your wayfinding.  Indeed, between the bikes and the position of the sun in the sky you've got all the geographical information you could possibly need, so you might as well throw that Garmin in the trash.

Oh, also hopefully no poison ivy, but I showered with Dawn dishwashing detergent just in case.

Yours Etc.,

--Tan Tenovo

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Current State of Affairs

It was a profound honor to be photographed by none other than Ultra Romance during my Eroica California expedition, and while the images that ultimately made it into the Outside feature are each wonderful in their own way, none captures my essence even remotely as well as this one:

(Photo: Ultra Romance)

This was on top of the big climb, and I was in the process of removing my base layer as the temperature had gone up a good 20 degrees since our rollout that morning.  Here's a later shot I screen-grabbed from I don't even remember where:

(Photo: I Don't Remember)

Astute viewers will notice that I subtly inserted it into an image I used in this post:

Basically I'm angling to become the next Nonplussed Bib Shorts Guy.

Of course you don't cultivate a physique like mine by sitting around on the couch all day.  You've got to actually lie down on the couch, and I find the best way to encourage a full day of loafing is to get up really early and go for a short ride:

It's really not about training, it's about priming yourself for a solid nap.

For my chariot, I chose my trusty Milwaukee, which by the time I returned had accumulated a pleasingly postmodern splattering of mud:

It felt good to sample a little bit of dirt, even if it was just a small portion of the Old Croton Aqueduct, though I admit I've been a bit woods-averse lately.  See, while road riding does expose you to the risks presented by both motorists and law enforcement, once you leave that road you risk running afoul of nature itself.  This is true even when those woods are located within the city limits, as are the trails upon which I was knocking around just a couple weeks ago:

Indeed, I had just darted into Highbridge Park when I managed to put a wheel wrong and found myself falling over into the undergrowth.  This is a daunting proposition in Highbridge, where the vegetation could be hiding all manner of perils, including discarded needles and human feces.  Fortunately I encountered neither, but unfortunately I did encounter a large-ish rock.

While I sustained no injury from the rock, a few days later it became clear to me that I had managed to contract poison ivy.  Owing to middle-aged allergy onset, I seem to be especially sensitive to the oils of the Toxicodendron radicans as of late.  A brush with it last year resulted in some strange corporeal colorways upon my person, and this particular case, while more localized, is decidedly bubonic in character.  Of course, one can never rule out the possibility of contracting some heretofore unknown illness in the wilds of Highbridge, but I'm fairly confident it's nothing quite so insidious.

Anyway, in addition to being wary of routes that may result in lots of leaves brushing against my body, I'm also frightened of Ol' Piney itself.  See, the bike fell in the foliage with me, and until I can give it a good hosing down I'm considering it toxic.  And when it comes to washing my bikes I'm like a kid at bathtime in that I'll find pretty much any excuse not to do it.

I should also disclose that this was the day after I fell off of a skateboard and onto my ass, so this is me in my mid-40s: battered coccyx, contact dermatitis, and ticketed for alleged light-running.

Clearly I should grow up and lease a Hyundai already.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Indignity of Getting a Ticket

It was rather a dramatic weekend of velocipeding over here, beginning with the ticket I received on Saturday morning:

(Your's Truley, receiving a ticket.)

The day started out rather auspiciously.  I awoke to perfect weather, and after contemplating my riding options I decided to go for a good old-fashioned standard-issue Fred ride.  First, I donned an entire suit of Rapha clothing.  (Back in 2011, Bicycling magazine invited me to their Editor's Choice testing confab, which they held in Austin that year to coincide with NAHBS.  I requested--and received!--an entire Fredding suit from Rapha on the off-chance I would be photographed for inclusion in the magazine.  I was not photographed for inclusion in the magazine.  However, I still have the Fred threads, which I don from time to time.)  Then I straddled my $10,000 artisanal wooden bicycle complete with push-button shifting and wheels made from high-tech fibre de crabon.  And off I went over the George Washington Bridge and up Route 9W.

I was feeling uncharacteristically sprightly, and leaving early meant I was ahead of the Fredly rush hour that overwhelms this corridor over the course of the weekend.  Just shy of 40 miles later I was almost home, looking forward to preparing a post-ride repast and already emitting a blissful post-ride aura, when I heard the blip of sirens behind me and pulled over.  The officer--courteous to a fault--informed me that he was stopping me for failing to stop for a red signal, and after 10 minutes of standing around I was issued the following:

Now let's imagine for one moment that I did run a red light.  If I did, it's only because the area between the Broadway Bridge and my home is a total shitshow of motor-vehicular mayhem, and anybody negotiating it by bicycle cannot be reasonably expected to opt for adherence to the letter of the law over self-preservation.  Furthermore, as the Internet's foremost authority on cycling ethics, you can be assured I ride scrupulously at all times.  Never would I engage in actions that would put any other road user at risk or violate their right-of-way.  And finally, if I had run the light I had merely made a right turn on red, which is legal in like 99% of the country.

I explained none of this to the officer.  He politely administered my ticket, and I politely accepted it.  I was still in way too good a mood to be bothered by a computer printout, and of all the misfortunes that can befall you out on the roads this one barely registered.

Of course now, two days later, I'm a bit less sanguine about it.  However, given the fair market value of my time, I don't know that I can be bothered to fight it.  (My time is not valuable due to my writing; it's valuable due to my capacity as a childcare provider.)  Then again part of me feels duty-bound to at least make a token effort against it, so we'll see.

Either way, there are some errors with the ticket.  First of all, I was riding an exquisite Renovo made from "Wenge and Figured Maple".  However, the ticket says I was riding a "Tan Tenovo":

I may have to adopt "Tan Tenovo" as a pseudonym.

Additionaly, the ticket says this happened in the Bronx, but it was technically Manhattan:

All of this makes me imagine myself pacing in front of a jury box with the officer in the stand, demanding that he explain how I could have run a light on a Tan Tenovo in the Bronx when in fact I was riding a woodgrain Renovo in Manhattan.

"You can't handle the truth!," I'd conclude, and then lead the courtroom in a rousing chant of "USA!  USA!"

It's also worth noting that, while you may read searing editorials in local newspapers about those evil scofflaw cyclists, when you're actually getting a ticket while riding one the people walking by generally go, "Are you getting a ticket on a bicycle?," and then shake their head in commiseration.

Anyway, the next day I headed down to Central Park ridiculously early to engage in some Fred racing.  All was going well until about halfway through the race when the pack got strung out and suddenly I could no longer hold the wheel in front of me.  While I'm generally as sanguine about getting dropped as I was when I got that ticket, for some reason this one stung.  Maybe it's because it was Father's Day.  Maybe it's because I thought I was feeling good and my success (as defined by me as completing the race) had seemed like a fait accompli.  Or maybe it's because I'd gotten that ticket less than 24 hours earlier and now I felt like a two-time loser.  Whatever the reason, I rode home with my proverbial tail between my literal legs, though spending the rest of the day at the beach with the family more than made up for it.

And while I refuse to say whether or not I ran that light on Saturday morning on the grounds that it may incriminate me, I can assure you that on race day I ran at least 30 of those fuckers on the way to and from the park.

Gotta amortize that fine.


--Tan Tenovo

Friday, June 15, 2018

BSNYC Friday Zoological Expedition

Before we all go forth into the weekend, I'd just like to follow up on the Islabikes Luath 24, which I mentioned in yesterday's post:

(I have no idea how to pronounce either "Islabike" or "Luath.")

I'll be honest: my first impression was that they got the bike all wrong.  Tiny wheels, cramped cockpit, tons of toe overlap...but then I realized the bike was for my son and not me and that changed everything.

Yesterday I assembled the bike and we knocked around the neighborhood for a bit, but today we made a proper outing.  Schools were closed today for Eid al-Fitr, which it may shock you to learn we don't observe, and my son was on me to ride pretty much as soon as he woke up.  So after dropping his little brother off at the Apple factory (tiny hands are ideal for assembling today's ultra-thin smartphones) we set out for a ride to the Bronx Zoo:

There are two ways to get to the Bronx Zoo by bike from my estate.  The shorter way is about four and a half miles and takes you to the zoo's much more human-scale "pedestrian entrance" but involves a lot of sidewalk riding if you're traveling with a kid.  Or, you can get there almost entirely via a protected bicycle greenway, but this adds about a mile or so and puts you on the opposite side of the zoo.

Naturally we went the longer greenway route, as this trip was more about the ride than the zoo itself.  Parts of the greenway are very pleasant and absolutely ideal for a kid who's very excited to be on his first real go-fast bike:

Though there are some frustrating crossings at various Bronx River Parkway on- and off-ramps, as well as the usual NYPD personal vehicle parking, though you hit that no matter which route you choose:

You can tell they're NYPD because of all the Punisher decals.

Of course the only thing better than traveling to the zoo along a dedicated bike route is gloating over all the schmucks waiting to park:

Hey, I'm not gonna say I never drive to the zoo myself, but I will say I know how to avoid waiting on line when I do it.

If there are bike lanes anywhere in the vicinity of this particular zoo entrance I have no idea where they are, so instead we just shackled up to a pole:

Obviously since I have multiple human children and live just a few miles away I've been to the zoo roughly four billion times since we relocated to the mainland back in 2012.  However, I still learn something new with each visit, and today I learned that helmets are indeed useless:

See that?  The helmeted curassow was born with one and it's still going extinct:

That's why I always tell the California Condors not to bother:

It's also true that sometimes the most interesting wildlife sightings are on the way to and from the zoo.  For example, at Pelham Parkway we came across this wayward Lime bike from Yonkers:

It's only a matter of time before this invasive species reaches the Citi Bike zone and the two species interbreed.  Just imagine a herd of green and blue hybrid docking/dockless bicycles.  They'd become as ubiquitous as squirrels and pigeons in short order.

As for the Islabike, so far it's a massive hit.  Until now my son has been riding basically this:

My thinking was that the go-anywhere nature of a mountain bike would be better suited to a kid, and it never occurred to me to subject him to drop bars at this age.  But while the bike's been great, he's been expressing lots of interest in cyclocross bikes lately (I honestly don't even remember explaining to him what a cyclocross bike is), and the second he got on the Luath it was clear that's where he belongs.  Sure, Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo" speed may be 46mph:

But he was woo-hooing at barely over a quarter of that, something I never saw him do on the mountain bike.  And while kids are fickle and who knows how long the love affair will endure, it's the quickest I've seen him take to anything in recent years with the exception of video games--and that's not even addressing how disappointed he was when he found out I hadn't Strava'd our ride.

So I may have a Fred on my hands, Lob help me.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

If Cooler Heads Prevail, Then I'm Balding My Way To Victory

First things firstly, I've got a new Outside column about how bike share is a big deal and how the concept of the "litter bike" is an oxymoron:

It's true, I can't think of any bike-related tech that's emerged during my lifetime that is even remotely as revolutionary as bike share.

Well, okay, maybe the CoolHead:

Hey, that's fine if he wants to sell the idea of pouring water in your helmet, but how the FUCK do you do something like this and not use the tagline "Cooler Heads Prevail"?!?

Sorry, for the strong language, but that's some fucking bullshit.

Speaking of my lifetime, I've spent 11 years of it curating this blog.  Yep, that's right, yesterday was the 11th anniversary of this blog:

I'd planned to write a big post about this milestone full of all sorts of introspection and reflection, but since Outside had just published my Eroica story I instead dedicated yesterday's post to that trip.  Here, by the way, are the Mead and the Marin side-by-side:

How far we have or haven't come.

So instead I decided to curate the reflectrospection post today, but as it happens I recently took delivery of a badass new test bike:

If it spent one more day in the box my eager test pilot was going to kill me, so I spent the morning getting it together.  Islabikes sent both road and cyclocross tires and to start we went with the roadies.  They also sent fenders, a spare tube, and a set of hex keys for assembly (the BSNYC-branded grease is mine):

And if that weren't enough they also threw in some tires for me to try:

Plus these totally pro name transfers:

I assume one was for me but he insisted on using both:

And who am I to say no?

I figure I've got a few more years at best before he refuses to be associated with me in any way so I might as well enjoy it.

Anyway, it's a shockingly nice kid's bike and I almost resent him for it, even though I did have some sweet Skyway Tuff Wheel II mags when I was his age.  We've only done a brief shakedown ride so far, and I must say he's taken to the drop bars very quickly, which makes me concerned he may be a roadie:

And before you point out the obvious:

  • Yes, he's not wearing a helmet to ride his new bike around the freaking block.  Do you wear a helmet for short test rides?  (Actually, if you're the kind of person who is inclined to point out such things you probably do.)
  • Yes, I left the pie plate on.  In this house you earn the right to lose your pie plate, goddamn it!  And how do you earn it?  Either by out-sprinting the old man or else by figuring out how to use a chain whip and doing it yourself.  (Also I didn't feel like it, but maybe I'll take it off when we upgrade to a titanium cassette.)

Rest assured we'll report back after we've put in some proper saddle time.

In any case, the bike is now together, but alas the 11th anniversary blog post remains unwritten, and I suspect it always will.  What is there to say really?  When I started this blog I had a real job, a flip phone and no kids, and now here I am watching my progeny discover the joys of descending in the drops.  If I could do it all over again I wouldn't do a single thing differently, except maybe for making fun of David Byrne less (hey, he didn't have to go out of his way to promote cycling, he could have just sat back and counted his "Psycho Killer" royalties).  Also, I'd probably have skipped calling myself "Bike Snob NYC" and gone with "Wildcat Rock Machine" from the get-go.  But if this blog and its original name hadn't netted me a trip to Gothenburg, Sweden I'd never have spotted the fabled Rock Machine in the first place so there you go:

In closing, let's all take a moment and reflect on my outsized contribution to the world of cycling.  Oh sure, I may update this blog a bit less assiduously than I did in its heyday, but I've also created a vast media empire, including a weekly column for Outside, a daily blog for Transportation Alternatives, and, well, that's it really.  But hey, I outlasted Michael Ball and Rock Racing, and isn't that what really counts?

You're goddamn right.