Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Can't Believe It's Wednesday Already!

Last week, I embarked upon a short hiatus with the best possible intentions: to ride my bike and stuff.  Instead, I got sick almost immediately, and so the closest I came to riding a bicycle during my break was occasionally looking through a window and seeing other people doing it.  "That looks fun," I'd think.  "I'd sure like to do that again one day."  Cycling must have been something I enjoyed doing at one point, since apparently I have a whole blog about it, and now that I feel slightly less like ass warmed over I'm looking forward to confirming whether or not that is still the case in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, instead of riding I've been catching up on emails, and you know what?  Checking my emails is a complete waste of time because they're completely ridiculous.  Consider this one for example:


My name is John and I'm a founder and CEO behind Surface 604 Element Electric.

Please have a look at our latest videos presenting our e-fatty:

I admit that during our Long Dark Winter of the Soul I found myself pining for a fat bike from time to time.  However, the reason I felt this way was because I missed actually riding a bicycle.  If I'm not going to do the work myself then I might as well just ride the subway when it snows--though admittedly I'm probably not the target market for this, and an electric fat bike does seem like it would come in handy for those winter trips to your psycho-sexual "True Detective"-style torture shack:

Imagine the muffled whimpers of fear from the duct-taped mouths of the hostages when they hear the telltale sound of crunching snow under voluminous tires that heralds the return of their captor:

("Mmmm, mmmmm, MMMMMM!!!!")

Yes, out here nobody can hear you scream:

Nor can they see your unruly body hair and mistake you for a Sasquatch:


We are interested in advertising on your websites. We just launched a new product called
No Bush Lotion. You can see it at The product helps reduce the appearance of body hair and is marketed towards athletes of all kind specially cyclists. If you would like to make more money with your blog please contact me and we can work out a deal.

I've been approached by the "No Bush" people before, and their persistence can only mean one thing, so I sent them this email proving my canny ability to read between the lines:

I have yet to receive a reply.

Hey, if you've got a problem with my sub-equatorial coiffure why not just come right out and say it?

By the way, the "No Bush" people aren't the only ones who want me to mention their product because they have no idea I've already been mentioning their product.  You might recall that not too long ago I posted the video for something called the "MiniBrake," and subsequently I received an email from the unwitting co-founder asking me to do that which I have already done:

I'm Daniel Bognar, co-founder of MiniBrake - we're developing a child safety device that can help parents protect their kids on the road. We've just launched a crowdfunding campaign to help put MiniBrake into production. We're trying to reach out to parents in the cycling communities and I'm wondering whether you're interested in our concept and whether you'll be open to write about this child safety device in your blog.

You can check out our pitch video about the product here

As I said before, I think the "MiniBrake" would be much more useful on adult bikes.  In fact, in addition to so-called "Lawyer Lips," the law should also require all sporting bicycles sold in the United States to be equipped with a MiniBrake.  Just imagine a "master switch" on your handlebar that would allow you to stop any Fred or tridork in his tracks.  Can you picture the look of surprise and panic on the typical wheelsucking doofus's face as his rear wheel locks up and you leave him pounding on his aerobars wondering what the hell just happened?  Sure you can!  It's exactly the same look of surprise and panic wheelsucking doofuses wear all the time.  They always look like they're about half a second away from crashing, probably because they usually are.

Instead, the MiniBrake is marketed towards inattentive parents, like Julianne Moore here, who's apparently too busy making plans for "Boogie Nights II" to notice that her child is schluffing off on his balance bike to meet his fate:

Not that I'm judging, mind you.  I have a Twitter account, and every single "Tweet" on it represents 15 or 20 minutes I've subsequently spent searching for my own child on a crowded sidewalk, street, or subway platform.  Criticizing parents for minor stuff like "inattention" or "being drunk most of the time" is the sort of thing that only non-parents do, since they don't understand the rigors of parenting and the state of perpetual non-sobriety that the job requires.  It's these same non-parents who freak out when they see relatively innocuous stuff like this:

("Urban Amish Utilizes Popular Bicycle Sharing Program To Portage Child" is the headline I'd have gone with.)

First of all, "Father" looks like he just had his Bar Mitzvah about two months ago, so I'm relatively certain that's actually her brother.  (Either that, or it's rare photographic evidence of a blood libel kidnapping if you're both uptight and anti-Semitic.  Hey, it was just Easter, you know.)  Second of all, loosen your sphincter's death grip and stop making such a big deal, for fuck's sake.  "Death Defying?"  Really?  Well, I guess in the age of stuff like child leashes and sledding helments, sure:

(Oh come on.)

However, if you actually stop and think about it, the parent (or sibling) driving a young child around the city in an SUV is doing something far more "irresponsible" than carrying a kid on a Citi Bike at slightly more than walking speed.

But of course it's a bicycle in America, so when assessing the risks the laws of physics don't apply.  Instead, just look for the presence or absence of a foam hat and extrapolate from there.

Anyway, MiniBrake guy's email continues as follows:

I think I know your first two questions :) Won't the kid just fall over? We designed the brake to avoid that even if a child is going fast. First, the brake is applied to the rear wheel, not the front, second, the brake is applied by putting pressure on that wheel, and not by suddenly blocking them. And the second most common (and totally valid!) question is "Shouldn’t my kid learn to be careful on the road instead of parents stepping in to “save the day”?" We completely agree that kids must learn to be self-reliant and sometimes it’s necessary for kids to learn from their own mistakes. Thus, MiniBrake does not aim to replace teaching kids how to be careful on the road. However, there are always situations in which parents do not want to teach their kids a lesson – they just want to intervene and avoid an accident.

Actually, both of these answers are disappointing, because my first two questions were as follows:

1) Will this lock up the wheel instantly to aid my child in the laying down of fat skidzzz?

2) Have you thought about a "MiniMotor" that drives the wheel instead of slowing it, similar to that Citi Bike motor thing, so parents can get their kids up to "Fred woo-hoo-hoo-hoo" speed before initiating the skid?

Really, the fundamental elements of childhood cycling are going fast and skidding.  Everything else is irrelevant.

Speaking of children and cycling, Andy Schleck isn't ready to give up on it yet:

"Today, I still miss things [...] I'm missing some sensations in races. Something to give meaning to all the work I do in training.”


I guess he's going to have to wait around for uncle Johan.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This Just In: I'm Teaking a Brake! (And Friday Fun Quiz, on Thursday!)

Firstly, after today's post I won't be adding what in the industry we call "content" to this blog until Wednesday, April 23rd, at which point I will resume regular updates.  Don't like it?  Eat a Brompton.

(Bromptons are organic, unlike Dahons and other folders which are loaded with hormones.)

Secondly, five or ten or twenty years ago or whenever it was that I started this blog, I was nothing more than a cranky mid-category back-of-the-pack amateur bike racer with no friends and a hurty vagina complaining about fixies on the Internet.  Since then virtually nothing has changed, apart from the fact that I've fallen off the back of the pack altogether, my vagina hurts a little more, and instead of fixies I'm complaining about gravel bikes.

Anyway, in the very early days of this blog, one of the first people in the actual bicycle industry (if not the first) to send me an encouraging email was this guy, who was at Swobo at the time:

Movers and Makers Vol. 2 Stevil Kinevil from Swobo on Vimeo.

Despite being in a better position than maybe anybody in the world of cycling to call me out and write me off as a know-nothing blowhard Internet douchebag, instead he befriended me, or at least he humored me, and we struck up a correspondence.  In fact, while I was still closely guarding my anonymity, he was the very first person on the Internet to reveal my face, which he did on his (old) blog with my full cooperation in the form of this photo that was taken in an undisclosed location sometime during the 1980s, as if you couldn't tell from my wardrobe:

Danzig shirt?  Check.  Swatch?  Check.  Splatter-bleached pants?  Check.  Half-Jew Fro?  You bet your tuchus.  By the way, that's the closest I've ever come to a piece of functioning artillery, and it's a good thing I was wearing those busy pants because you can't tell that I just wet myself.

If I seem like I'm making all of this about me, it's only because: 1) I'm completely obsessed with myself and on some level probably jealous of the video; and 2) Stevil is a humble person who is modest to a fault and is probably still blushing over the fact that there's now an Internet documentary about him, so I'm redirecting the attention to someone who knows how to handle adulation and praise, namely me.  (Although let's be honest, he did let these people into his house, so how modest could he be?)  And perhaps most importantly, Stevil is an exception in a world of bike bloggers who do little more than show off their latest custom bike builds, and it's very important to my self-esteem that people know that I have cool friends.

So go to his site, buy his stuff, and support the people who dedicate their lives to your amusement.

And buy some of the stuff over in the right hand margin of this blog while you're at it, you cheapskates.


(Use discount code "NOBR AKES" and get nothing off on your purchase whatsoever.)

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right then eat a Brompton, and if you're wrong you'll see the Traffic Droid.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and see you on Wednesday, April 23rd.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) The latest thing for Freds to obsess over is:

--Saddle rail integrity
--Tubeless sealant molecular half-life
--Electronic shifting/ANT microwave data interference
--When to replace their quick release skewers

2) What's he doing?

--Hacking away at a wet log for some reason
--Straining to uproot a small weed
--Straining to drop a log
--Putting, because all-terrain golfing is the new cyclocross

4) One bicycle can be "noticeably faster at any speed" than another, in the same way that:

--A pound of lead can be heavier than a pound of feathers
--1,000 grams is heavier than one kilogram
--32°F is colder than 0°C
--All of the above

5) What are these?

--High-performance motorcycle pistons
--The new Chris King tunable espresso tampers
--Rear shocks for the new Moots full-suspension gravel bike
--Remedial pedals for people who suck at clipless

6) The new "Wide Stance" bottom bracket adapter kit will increase your "Q-factor" by up to three meters, allowing you to convert any standard road bicycle to a bakfiets.


7) Which award did this photo win?

--"Best Alleycat Hurl," Chrome Industries Facebook photo contest
--"Cyclists Behaving Badly," San Francisco Chronicle Twitter photo contest
--Best Sports Photography (newspaper circulation 1-100,000, regional magazine, non-daily publication or online independent)
--The Pu(ke)litzer  

8) A Paris-Roubaix rider may indeed have fallen on his drugs.


***Special Cat 3s and 4s Doing What They Do Best-Themed Bonus Video***

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday: Your Job May Be Mandatory, But Giving A Crap Is Optional.

Well, it freaking snowed last night, which is a major setback to my carefully curated spring training program, because how the hell am I going to win back all my my Paris-Roubaix course KOMs from Niki Terpestra?

It's oddly inspiring that the so-called "Queen of the Classics" has been relegated to the status of Strava segment.

Not only am I worried about my fitness (I'm supposed to peak for the Wildcat Rock Machine New York City Anti-Fondo, register here), but now I'm also worried about whether or not all my quick release skewers are overdue for replacement:

This of course is a completely insane thing to worry about, even by Lennard Zinnian standards, though the responses from the various manufacturers are pretty hilarious:

From Shimano:

This is more complicated than it might first appear.

As you’re aware, due to the extreme variables in usages and conditions among users, Shimano does not provide fixed periodic replacement recommendations on any non-wearing components. While I’ve personally never witnessed any of our skewers break, my suggestion is to inspect it periodically and if it looks visually flawless, continue to use it for the life of its matching (original) hub/wheel. When replacing with a new hub or wheel, it’s probably safer not to reuse the old QR.
— Wayne Stetina
VP of R&D, Shimano American Corp.

Translation: it's actually not complicated at all, and to be honest we've never even thought about it, but now that you mention it, yes, you do need to buy new skewers.

Anyway, now that the bicycle industry has discovered a new and lucrative source of Fredly anxiety, expect articles about the dangers of mixing hubs and skewers from various manufacturers in every major cycling periodical within the next six months.

Expect my Kickstarter campaign for a $250 quick release fatigue-checker soon.

Use it before every ride.  Or die.  It's your choice.

Meanwhile, bro-duder dude-bros are still bro-duding and duder-bro-ing around in the mountains on their stupid track bikes:

Apparently these are the last four bro-dudes on the entire planet of Earth who have not yet heeded the entire Internet's advice to get a freaking road bike already.  These four stragglers aside, it's remarkable how quickly the fixed-gear fad spun itself out and moved on to bikes with brakes and gears.  I choose to attribute this to the elegant simplicity of the bicycle as a machine--which, for all the overpriced crabon gewgaws and Kickstarter nonsense, leaves little room for affectation.  The simple fact is that you can only ride up and down a mountain pass on a brakeless track bike so many times before you're forced to admit you're an idiot, and that the entire enterprise becomes infinitely more enjoyable with the simple addition of a few hundred grams of componentry.  Remember this doofus?

You gotta figure that by now even he has realized that by the time you skid through eight or ten high-end Contis you could have paid for some pretty decent clicky integrated brake lever-shifter thingies like the ones they use in the Tour de France.

Anyway, the aforementioned duderbros are featured in a video that someone "Tweeted" at me, and I couldn't watch the whole thing because it made me physically ill:

WE WERE NEVER BORN from Dosnoventa on Vimeo.

We were never born, huh?

If only.

As far as 21st century quasi-rustic overly fashion-conscious douche-wallahism goes, this bears all the hallmarks, including staring slackjawed at a fucking tree like you've never seen one before:


Directing your friend in the stupid flat-brim hat's attention to the same tree:


Pointless whittling serving only to dull the expensive knife you wear on your belt as an affectation:

(Uh, if you need something pointy, why not just use the fucking knife?)

And of course asymmetrical haircuts:

("Hey dudes, don't worry, I'll be done with the useless pointy stick in just a few more minutes.")

Not to be outdone, flat-brim brodude starts chopping the shit out of a log with an artisanal axe:

I know there is no god, because if there is he would have chopped off his foot:

Also, granted I'm no outdoorsman (I prefer my woodland adventures to include handy access to shopping malls), but I think that wet log is going to make for some pretty shitty firewood:

("Isn't this [cough] great [cough] [cough] [sputter]?")

Which I guess is why they just said "Fuck it" and used the fireplace back at the hotel instead:

It's not all dudes and bros, though.  There's also a token female whose only role in the video is to be sexually assaulted in the woods:

I think the word "hipster" officially became obsolete when they finally all morphed into fraternity brothers in slightly different clothes.

After that it's all panties and bikes, including the obligatory "cyclocross" shot:

What he's doing with that bike is the equivalent of what the other guy was doing with the knife.

Ultimately, I had a hard time figuring out exactly what the video was trying to sell me, which is a shame, because if I ever unwittingly buy any product featured in it I'm going to chop off my own foot with an artisanal axe--and I do, thanks to Rivendell, have an artisanal axe:

(I think it's this one.  Or maybe it's this one?  'Cause I don't think it's this one.)

Maybe I'll even use it one day, if I ever get more than 500 yards away from a shopping mall.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You Can't Spell "Innovation" Without "In," "Vat," or "On." Think About It.


Innovation is the driving force behind the bicycle.  So vital is innovation to the cycling industry that there's a company whose motto is "Innovate Or Die."  I can't remember who it is though.  I think maybe it's Cannondale.  Or is it Trek?

Doesn't matter really, it's all the same crap.

Anyway, innovation is what brought us from the pennyfarthing:

To the "safety bicycle:"

And then for a brief period back to the pennyfarthing, only with three wheels:

After that innovation stood still, trackstanding in time like a fakenger at  a red light that never changes.

Until now.

Thanks to the Internet, and in particular the popularity of crowd-sourced funding or whatever you call it, we have entered a new golden age of bicycling innovation fueled by the creative energy of people who have been riding bikes for months, and in some cases even a handful of years, though more often than not, I suspect, not at all.  Consider the work of Null Winds Technology:

No, "Null Winds" is not an insult, like "dim bulb" or "numbskull."  Null Winds is the cutting-edge think tank behind "Upper Wheel Fairings," which are basically skirt guards for Freds:

"For decades, the bicycling industry has been focussed on improving aerodynamics for the benefit of racing, where the use of fairings is strictly forbidden.  The rest of us, however, need not adhere to this senseless drag-inducing restriction."

As a potential investor (yeah, right), three (3) questions leap immediately to mind, and they are as follows:

1) If Freds won't put fenders on their bikes, what makes this null wind think they'll spoil the "elegant lines" of their plastic dork chariots with these?

2) What about crosswinds?

3) If you don't care about racing, why solicit endorsements from "Cat 2s?"

(What, you couldn't have found a Cat 1?  Give 'em a pair of free tires and they'll say just about anything.)

Love the Cat 2's use of "it is my conclusion," by the way.  That always makes you sound smart.

Anyway, even Freds who don't race should at least loosely adhere to the "senseless drag-inducing restriction" of racing, in the same way people who play pick-up basketball in the park need to adhere to the "senseless shortness-inducing restriction" of not being allowed to wear stilts.  Otherwise, what's to stop your local Sunday group ride from turning into an all-out recumbent freak-fest?

Fairings are only the beginning, so if you see them on your ride stomp them out immediately, lest you find yourself horizontal by next season.

Another part of the bicycle benefitting from both mental flatulence and rider inexperience is the so-called "clipless pedal:"

Like all Kickstarter inventions, this one has a backstory of mild incompetence behind it, and like all Kickstarter inventors, this one rides a Specialized:

Here's that story:

"I started mountain biking five years ago and I found myself struggling to clip into my pedals."

First of all, if you are still having trouble clipping into a pair of halfway decent mountain bike pedals after five years of riding then perhaps clipless pedals aren't for you.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, by the way!  Sure, clipless pedals have their benefits in certain situations, but if you find them to be a pain in the ass just ditch them and be done with it.

But common sense is not the hallmark of the Kickstarter inventor.  Instead, he also uses clipless pedals for his commute, where they really don't do shit for you:

"The more time I spent looking down at my pedals, the less time I spent paying attention to hazards on the road."

A couple of points:

1) Clipping into your pedals is like carrying a beverage from the bar back to your table.  The best way to do it successfully is to not look down;

2) If you're futzing with your clipless pedals to the extent that you risk getting hit by a car, you should not only consider a move to flat pedals, but you also might want to consider leasing a Hyundai in the interim.

But hey, if the mountain won't come to Fred, invent a little foot clitoris instead:

Apparently it's called the "Infinity Pedal," though I think the "Hot Spot" would be a better name:

(Platform schmatform.)

Also, the spring is conveniently exposed to the elements, which is exactly what you want in an all-terrain pedal:

Really, how do you market a mountain bike pedal without at least one image of the thing actually functioning in mud?

Then again, it did win an award--in Utah no less--so perhaps my concerns are unwarranted:

Also, apparently a huge number of people have similar trouble clipping into the many, many, many excellent clipless pedal options already on the market, because he's raised a shitload of money:

It's a real testament to the power of bicycle marketing that so many people who would clearly be much more happy and comfortable on simple platform pedals nevertheless insist on attaching themselves to their bicycles.

Penultimately, what do you think when you read this?

Triathlonbox - A British solution to Triathlon box juggling

Do you think engineering elegance?  Of course you don't!  "Triathlon?"  "British solution?"  Oh boy, this is gonna be ugly:

Leave it to the British to figure out how to convert a time trial bike into a bakfiets:

"No longer do you have to struggle with your box," says the video, and nor do you have to struggle to find a sordid double meaning in that sentence:

And check out those enthusiastic endorsements:

Good idea – Joe Friel - writer of Triathletes Training Bible (via Twitter)

Good idea indeed:

Lastly, Stephane in Munich informs me that you can now buy an appropriate balance bike for your "status child:"

Actually, they should offer that in adult sizes too.  It's a perfect solution for all those people having pedal trouble.