Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let's get down to business.

Welcome back.


When last we met I was preparing myself mentally and physically for the 26th Inaugural BSNYC Gran Fondo, sponsored by [lucrative promotional opportunities available, just imagine your company name here], which took place way back on the 17th.  Well, I'm pleased to announce that the ride was a smashing success, by which I mean I had an enjoyable bike ride and drank beer afterwards.  As for the other participants, I don't know if they enjoyed it, but nobody said "That sucked!" and then kicked me in the "pants yabbies" so as far as I'm concerned that's as good as a rave review.

Alas, if you were expecting a detailed ride report prepare to be disappointed--though if you've been reading this blog for any length of time you should be accustomed to disappointment.  See, the point of the ride was not to generate Internet content for my crappy bike blog; rather, it was to enjoy the riding of bicycles in the company of other people who enjoy the riding of bicycles, and therefore I did not spend my precious cycling time pointing my smartphone at stuff.  Therefore, you'll just have to make do with this enigmatically blurry photo taken by commenter "VSK:"


I should also point out that the guy in the lime green helme(n)t was riding some old upright three-speed (?) something that weighed a gazillion pounds and he completed THE WHOLE RIDE.  That's 50-ish miles of hilly mixed terrain.

So think about that next time you're shopping for a crabon douchecycle.

In other words, some New York Times columnist who refers to himself in the third person wrote some stupid piece about how he wants taxi drivers to be more "hyperaggressive:"


This week, we depart from the usual letter-and-reply format for a column about taxis. The Haggler writes as a fan. He likes the hyperaggressive way yellow taxis deal with traffic. It’s as if they take it personally. Not long ago, a taxi driver picked up the Haggler at La Guardia and put on a show. Every time he encountered congestion, he rethought his route and gunned it, working like a jazz musician on amphetamines, improvising in a groove.

“But Haggler, that sounds dangerous!” you say. “If you’ve got a problem with cellphones, how can you countenance Vin Diesel driving?”

Fair point. You see, the Haggler wants drivers off phones precisely so they can drive like Vin Diesel. (Or at least the Vin Diesel we see in those “Fast and Furious” movies.) This is impossible, or insane, when talking on the phone.

Um, firstly, does "the Haggler" realize that Vin Diesel's co-star in those movies died in a fiery wreck?


("Awesome!"--The Haggler)

Secondly, on THE VERY DAY the Times published this forced bit of irreverence, John F. Nash Jr. (otherwise known as the "A Beautiful Mind" guy) died when the driver of his taxi lost control on the way to the airport:



Dr. Nash and his wife, Alicia, 82, were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike in Monroe Township around 4:30 p.m. when the driver lost control while veering from the left lane to the right and hit a guardrail and another car, Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police said.

The Bike Snob really hopes the Haggler feels like a fucking idiot, though the Bike Snob suspects the Haggler has his head too far up the Haggler's Ass to realize how stupid he sounds.  Nevertheless, he Bike Snob still thinks "The Haggler" should change his pen name to "The Wanker," and that if the Haggler wants to ratchet up the thrill factor on his next ride to LaGuardia he should feel free to divest himself of his seatbelt.

Putz.

Speaking of danger, around the time I took leave of this blog the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ever-so-casually equated not wearing bicycle helme(n)ts with smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt:
Hey assholes: the "D" stands for "Disease," not discouragement.  Riding a bicycle is HEALTHY, regardless of whether or not you wear a foam hat.  This is why you're supposed to stop spouting bullshit helme(n)t efficacy statistics:


Two federal government agencies will withdraw their longstanding claims that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of a head injury by 85%. The decision comes in response to a petition the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) filed under the federal Data Quality Act.

Yes, leave it to an American government agency (or an Australian one) to come up with the idea that not wearing a foam hat while riding a bicycle is as unhealthy as smoking.  Smoking!  You know, the highly addictive thing where you suck carcinogens into your lungs all day long.

This is why we're one of the most obese countries on the planet, and why within 10 years parents will be forcing their children to wear helments while watching TV.

Just wait until we're all wearing airbag helments--never mind that they sometimes go off at inconvenient moments:
A video posted by abc3d (@abc3d_) on
There are still seven months left in the year, but I'm confident that even as we're ringing in the New Year this will still be the greatest thing I've seen in 2015.

Nevertheless, the simple fact is you can always make a buck by frightening people.  Consider this Kickstarter pitch I recently received, in which they simply fabricate the number of annual bike fatalities in the United States:

Hi There!

My name is Lizzy Schofding and I am reaching out to you on behalf of an amazing company called Thousand.  Thousand launched it's first product on Kickstarter on Tuesday, reached its goal in under 9 hours and has since more than doubled it.

Thousand is a design driven lifestyle brand with one mission:  to make a bike helmet that you'd actually want to wear.  With over 1,000 bike fatalities in the U.S. every year, the market is in desperate need of a new kind of helmet.  Thousand's take on the helmet features the following innovations, which make it completely unique:
Innovative Technology- Our secret PopLock (patent pending) is the most convenient and secure way to lock up your helmet to your bike
Commitment to Sustainability-  Helmets are an old industry with limited people and planet friendly options-and we want to change that. We're the only helmet brand focused on sustainable sourcing and materials.
Thoughtful Design- Focused on intuitive, clean design, Thousand is protective, above all and made for the urban explorer.
Take a look at Thousand's Kickstarter page here.  I would love to connect you with the brand's founder for a more in-depth conversation if you are up for it!

As it happens, the number that number is closer to 700, which I happen to know because I read it in Time magazine recently.  So I pointed this out to her and this was her reply:

Apologies - you are completely right, that should have read roughly 1,000 bike fatalities in the U.S. every year. My mistake.

Roughly!?!  So a pile of 300 dead bodies is a fucking rounding error?

It was around this time that she stopped replying to my emails.

Anyway, let's look at the project, which has raised ROUGHLY $120,000 so far:



The narrator begins by explaining her objection to helments:


"I've always hated the sci-fi and bulky design, and they're a pain to lug around."

Really, is she crazy?  I have a road bike helme(n)t.  It is not especially bulky, it's fairly comfortable, and it weighs about as much as a handful of pubes.

Therefore, I can only conclude from the quote above that she was riding around in one of these:


I admit, that is rather bulky and sci-fi.

Anyway, after riding around looking like one of George Lucas's brainfarts, she gave up:


"So even though I knew they could save my life, I never wore one."

See, to me this should be the end of the story.  If you hate wearing a helment so much then don't wear one and shut up about it.  Sadly, this isn't how things work anymore.  Instead, we have Kickstarter, where people describe themselves like this:


"A design-driven lifestyle brand with one mission: to reinvent the bicycle helmet."

I don't know about you, but when I hear "design-driven" the first thing I think of is safety.

Anyway, to this end, she hunts far and wide for someone to implement her vision:


(What, no driving helment?!?  ROUGHLY 30,000 Americans die in cars every year!)

And she eventually finds some wanker in Idaho who looks like he's rubbing a hamburger for luck:


"The styling is being stripped out of it and that in itself becomes a style."

Oh save it.


"And I'm enjoying the challenge of dialing back the styling and getting more into just what the shape is actually doing in front of you."

Come on.  I'll tell you what it's doing: It's being a fucking helment--and not a particularly original-looking one either.  Though you wouldn't know that by the way she's looking at it:


("I am in your thrall, oh mighty helment!")

Oh, but that's not all.  It also has a hole in it so you can lock it onto your bike:


Maybe it's just because I'm a New Yorker, but I don't leave anything I'm going to wear on my body outside unattended for any length of time--though if you're not afraid of a head full of dog piss or semen then go right ahead.  Still, why the hole?  Is it that hard to just lock it up through the straps?

And speaking of straps, it's worth noting that she drove all over America and designed a helment completely from scratch only to render it completely ineffective by wearing it wrong:


I mean come on, it's a helment, not a sunbonnet:


There's no way that's staying on her head.

But, you know, it looks "good" so that's all that matters.

Safety first!

Friday, May 15, 2015

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz And Hiatus Announcement!

Before anything else, we've got some scheduling business to attend to, so everybody take out your calendars and your crayons:


Please note that after today I'll be gone (from this blog, anyway) until Tuesday, May 26th, at which point I will resume regular updates.

Oh, relax.  You'll manage.

By the way, while all the letters on that Hello Kitty calendar look somewhat obscene (I think it's the little hairs), I probably should have censored that "A" because it's particularly suggestive:


Then again, I may just be particularly suggestible.

Anyway, when I decided to become a semi-professional bike blogger I clearly went into the wrong business.  Sure, I've got a cushy contract with myself that allows me to take time off whenever I need it, but I've got nothing on this guy who takes Freds riding around New York City for money:


This is a lucrative niche, because everybody knows Freds get incredibly antsy when they don't have ready access to plastic bikes, electronic gadgetry, and sickly-sweet boutique energy fuel:

He found early success by making riding easy for visitors. Customers can go to his website and choose from six routes based on their fitness and available time. After they add their frame measurements and book a time, Phillips shows up at their hotel lobby with a bike and leads them on their selected rides so they don't have to worry about missing a turn or getting lost. 

Phillips uses a fleet of BMC bikes and provides helmets from Giro. Customers also can choose Look Keo, Shimano Dura Ace, or Speedplay pedals; recieve a Garmin 800 to use; and the bikes even come with bottles filled with Skratch labs.

This is a great service for people who would rather dork out on a loaner bike in New Jersey than spend time experiencing one of the greatest cities in the world with the person to whom they made a lifelong vow:

Last August he launched The Domestique and has been catering to a variety of New York City visitors. “I work with a lot of executives in the city on business, people on vacation, and husbands attempting to get out of carrying their wives’ shopping bags,” Phillips said.

Assholes, in other words.

If this guy adds a divorce attorney component to his business I predict it will go public by the end of the year.

Still, if he can get upwards of $250 just to take people out on River Road then he's doing something right:

The 40-mile River Road option is the most popular, but Phillips’ favorite ride is the hilly 90-mile Bear Mountain option. The service costs between $250 and $450, depending on the route.

Either that, or he's simply a prostitute, which would explain why these guys can't wait to ditch their wives.

Anyway, I headed over to his website, where I watched this video:



Which seems to be an advertisement for both his services and this $250 jacket:


Sure enough, his routes include all the standard-issue New York City area Fred rides, including three (3) laps of Central Park:


If this guy is getting paid to take people for rides around Central Park then that's just fucking incredible.

Meanwhile, schmuck that I am, I'll be "curating" a ride for free at the BSNYC Gran Fondon't this weekend, and yesterday afternoon I headed out to "preview" the route:


The course is lovely, but I don't have much confidence in the ride leader.

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 you're better than everybody, and if you're wrong you'll see helme(n)ts.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and I'll see you back here on Tuesday, May 26th.



--Wildcat Rock Machine








(Race organizers generally spread sawdust out on the course after Cipollini comes through.)

1) Giro d'Italia maglia rosa Alberto Contador was injured in a crash caused by:

--An overenthusiastic fixie rider
--An amateur photographer with a long zoom lens
--A triathlete
--A grease slick left by the preternaturally unctuous Mario Cipollini






(Ask your soigneur for smooth, crisp, refreshing AmgenⓇ brand Erythropoietin.  Because if it ain't AmgenⓇ it ain't EPO.)

2) Tour of California organizers have relocated the time trial due to:

--Snow
--Rain
--Drought
--Tech company employee luxury coaches






3) Which is not one of the ways you're completely destroying your bike according to the alarmists at Bicycling?

--Failing to wash it, which will result in sugar from your energy drinks eating away at your bottom bracket
--Using too much chain lube, because lube is the silent killer
--Not changing your handlebar tape, which will cause your bars to disintegrate
--Riding the bicycle, which will cause excessive wear and tear






4) Not to be outdone, Lennard Zinn says flatulence can cause your saddle to deteriorate.

--True
--False






5) In addition to National Bike Month, May is also:

--National Electrical Safety Month
--National Golf Month
--National Masturbation Month
--All of the above





6) Who'd-a thunk it?  Time still exists--though they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel for contributors.

--True
--False





7) New York City's next batch of Citi Bikes will be designed by:

--Ben Serotta
--Dario Pegoretti
--David Byrne
--Paul Budnitz



***Special "When Scooterists Attack!"-Themed Bonus Video***

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The More Things Change The More I Don't Care

First of all, as of this very moment, consider "registration" for the BSNYC Gran Fondon't "officially" closed:
You're probably wondering how I can close the registration to a ride that is not organized or sanctioned in any way, and for which there was no registration in the first place.  Well, "leading" a group of this size into the suburban wilderness is uncharted territory for me, so I want to make sure we can pull it off.  Therefore, I will not be responding to any RSVPs I receive after this post:


If you did RSVP before this post then you should have received details.

And don't worry, if it's not a total disaster we can try to put another ride together at a later date.


Secondly, regardless of where you ride this weekend, make sure you do so while wearing a proper pair of flatulence-filtering shorts, as forwarded by a reader:


I'm assuming these filter the odor out of your gaseous expulsions so you don't render the rider behind you unconscious, though I don't know why they're inside out.  Also, while I've heard of "shooting from the hip," I've never heard of "farting from the hip:"


It must happen though, otherwise they wouldn't make special shorts for it, now would they?




This one's called "Vélosophy," and it's a bike, and smartphones, and apps, and who the fuck cares?


"It's no wonder that cycling has been virtually the same since its invention about 200 years ago."

Exactly.  I love how the first 30 seconds of most Kickstarter videos explain exactly why their product is completely unnecessary.  Except...200 years ago?!?

Now, I was never too good at the maths, but if I'm not mistaken 200 years ago it was the year 1815, which is two years before the Laufmaschine, or dandy horse, or crotch crutch, or whatever you want to call it:

The pennyfarthing didn't even come along until the 1870s:


So yeah, I'd say cycling has changed a fuckload over the past 200 years.

Nevertheless, despite solidly establishing the utter futility of their endeavors, these Kickstarter inventors persist in foisting their unfiltered brainfarts upon us:


"Vélosophy is about urban pedaling, technology, and social footprint."

First of all, why is he in a kitchen?  Second of all, what is a "social footprint?"  Are we just putting "footprint" after everything now?  Given the excessive use of words like "footprint," "curate," and "hack," 21st century English is beginning to make Orwellian doublespeak seem like poetry in comparison.  It's infuriating.  I'm about to curate my angry "emotional footprint" right on somebody's ass.

So what makes the Vélosophy so technologically advanced anyway?  Well, it tells you when it needs to be serviced:


I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "How fucking hard is it to glance at your tire tread occasionally?"  Well, sure, but why do that when you can visualize your "pneumatic footprint" in pie chart form?


Then you can make an appointment at the bike shop:


And after you're walking away you can decide, "You know what?  I'd really like to change my bike's 'aesthetic footprint' too:"


"Oooh, yeah, my 'coolness footprint' is really going to increase with these red accents!"


Et voilà!  When you pick up the bike your whims have become come reality:


Or, you know, you could have just called the bike shop, but presumably when you do it this way it posts photos of your stupid bike to Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and Tinder, and Grindr, and Hoagie, and all the rest of them, ensuring your "social footprint" remains robust and engorged.

At this point however my "indifference footprint" is big enough to stomp out the sun.

Oh, the other revolutionary thing about it is that it has a basket:


Oh, sorry, it's not a basket.  It's a "scalable system that allows you to carry your things."

I guess I'm revealing my "ignorance footprint."

And yes, good for them that they're giving bikes to UNICEF, even if that part seems a bit tacked on:


Why not just cut out the middleman and the goofy bike business and just send them a check?

Back in the olden days when we were free-range kids with no smartphones they gave us cardboard UNICEF boxes for Halloween, we took them with us when we went trick-or-treating, and people filled them up with money.  That's HARD CURRENCY, baby!

What the hell was wrong with that!?!

Speaking of our shared wank-tastic future, Strava has launched "Strava Local," which presumably lets area Freds CURATE their own ride guides:


Strava has launched Strava Local, a new data-powered and athlete-curated travel guide for cyclists available in 12 cities worldwide.

Over 38 million Stava activities and billions of GPS data points from London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Milan, Denver, Melbourne, Sao Paulo, Barcelona and Sydney have been used to provide locals and visitors with the best cycling (and running) routes in each city along with top coffee stops, places to buy gear and great photo spots.

Amazing.  That's a lot of "data points."  Can you imagine if the Freds of the world actually channelled their energy into something useful?  If just a fraction of them strapped cardboard boxes to their handlebars and collected some scratch for UNICEF then world poverty would be a thing of the past.

Strava product manager, Andrew Valko, said: “City guides have long been a valuable tool for travellers and locals alike, but ours are based on actual data. We have been able to work out where, when and why athletes tend to stop, which we have used to curate a selection of Top Stops and photo spots for each of the 12 cities.”

Really?  You need 38 million "Strava activities" and "billions of GPS data points" to tell you why "athletes" (read: Freds) stop?  Everybody knows they stop for two (2) reasons:

1) To drink coffee;
2) To pee.

Wow.

Perhaps next they can explore the causal relationship between these two activities.

Then again, "Strava Local" could be the think that finally gets me to join.  I figure if I "curate" a one-way ride over the George Washington Bridge, across the Delaware Water Gap, and into the wilderness I can rid New York City of its Fred population once and for all.

Just call me the Fred Piper.

Lastly, a Twitterer tells me that Mario Cipollini was on RAI talking about motors in bikes.  Unfortunately I don't understand Italian, but I did appreciate the Italian bike rap intro:


Also, a group of people gathered around Cipollini to soak in his wisdom (and assorted other bodily fluids) is an image that transcends language:


It's like Caravaggio painted "The Last Supper" on velvet.

And here's Cipo himself:


Again, I don't understand Italian, but I can make a pretty good guess as to what he's saying:


("My glandular footprint is huge!  I don't know about the bikes, but 'Li'l Cipo' has a motor that keeps him running all night long!")

You can't spell Cipollini without "pol(e) in," and you can't cure Cipollini without Cipro.