Friday, October 5, 2007

Keeping Your Balance: The Key To Cycling

It's in my nature to seek out symmetry in things, especially with cycling. In fact, it's in all of our natures--scientists say that humans are attracted to and find beauty in symmetry. (Though I can think of plenty of symmetrical things that are ugly, among them: ergonomic computer keyboards; Larry King; and Treks.) Still though, if you're anything like me you can appreciate the cosmic hum you feel in your core when something lines up just right, and I think on a certain level it's the feeling we're all after when we ride. And recently, the scent of symmetry has been in the air--at least for me. Here are just a few examples:

Some time ago, I stumbled upon the above tattoo. I don't know whose it is or who it represents. The yellow jersey and lonestar helmet would indicate Lance Armstrong, but the Colnago suggests otherwise. Perhaps its a tribute to somebody else altogether. Perhaps it's highly personal. Maybe you're the wearer, or maybe you know the wearer, and you can provide some insight. In any case, though, I was troubled by the origins of this mysterious marking. And then Stevil Knievel of the great howtoavoidthebummerlife sent me this:

Somehow this tattoo made everything OK. Maybe it's because the yellow jersey tattoo suddenly had a counterpart in the universe. A Pepsi to its Coke. A Campy to its Shimano. A Balki Bartokomous to its Larry Appleton. I don't know what to call it except symmetry. And it made everything all right.

Then, today, I saw that Fat Cyclist made a flattering reference to my site on his, which was undeserved but highly appreciated. It also made me think about how we are very different yet, in a way, complimentary. In a sense, I like to think I'm the Luke Skywalker to his Luke Skywalker:

But that might be pushing it. Perhaps this comparison is more apt:

At any rate, I think there's a balance there. (Thanks FC.)

And the symmetry inherent in the cycling culture is quite apparent this weekend here in New York. On one end of the Long Island Land Mass, Erwin Vervecken, Ryan Trebon, and other cyclocross luminaries will compete in Southampton, summer home of Sean Combs, Howard Stern, Steven Spielberg, and their innumerable landscapers and domestics. This will be a great opportunity to see your cyclocross heroes racing knee deep in money instead of mud.


Meanwhile, on the other end of that storied two-pronged glacial moraine, on the gritty streets of Brooklyn (well, at least it used to be gritty, and maybe it still is if you consider West Elm gritty), the "Battle at the Banks" will take place. Expect more front trispokes than a triathlon, more naked bars than a red light district, and more skid marks than a prison laundry. (Though I'm not sure if "banks" refers to the incline on the flyer or the fact that they keep opening new ones in this part of town.)*

*(This just in. Brooklyn Banks actually in Manhattan. BSNYC stupid, symmetry blown.)
So whatever your cycling inclinations, I think there's a certain beauty in the fact that, for one weekend at least, a big hunk of land will be transformed into one giant balance scale, with fixed-gear freestylers vying for supremacy on one end, and cyclocrossers battling it out on the other. And there's even a crit right in the middle at the pivot point if you're not sure where you belong.

So whatever you're riding this weekend and wherever that ride takes you, just remember what we'd be left with if cycling were to lose its beautiful symmetry and balance: recumbents.

58 comments:

alliwannadoisbicycle said...

Green jersey!!!!



The cross race is going to be Awesome. so much better than hipster posturing competitions. are you gonna be there Bikesnob??

Anonymous said...

second!

fatcyclist said...

Thanks, man. Together we will rule the galaxy.

Or at least the fast-growing and extremely lucrative comedy cycling blog market.

Derisory Velo said...

Yes; the cross race will probably be better, but why hate? Let the hipsters do their thing, at least the fad is riding bikes! However annoying this may be to some of us, it could be a whole lot worse. And as useless as a lot of the "tricks" these guys (freestylers) are doing it does demonstrate an exceptional amount of bike handling skill; granted, the majority of the hipster fixie crowd is comprised of posers, who ride slow and worry more about how they look on the bike than actually riding it. Nevertheless, I maintain the belief that the more people riding the better. Once again: I salute you bikesnobNYC, great post.

todd said...

That "Lance" tattoo is so confusing it's amazing. It's the perfect storm of Comic Book Guy levels of bike geekery. Just how many mistakes can you spot?

Aside from the Colnago, his shorts are Pearl Izumi, which he only wore in 1999 and the Lonestar helmet came out years after. Perhaps we can get a physicist to decipher the pattern of the blurred spokes to reveal the wheel maker.

The only thing that could make this tattoo any more perfect is if it were on a hairy leg.

mr.complaint said...

That is one hairy leg.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to be sick. Fixed gear freestyler fucks are going to overrun the Brooklyn Banks? What? How can this be? That place is legendary in the BMX world that has been a big part of my world for the past 27 years. The fixie freestyler thing evolved from the areas of the bike world that makes fun of us BMXers. How dare they imitate us while their first cousins laugh at and talk shit about us!

Now is a good time for the pipe bomb idea that Matt from Massachusetts presented to us awhile back. We've got the dates and times. It's an easy target.

Or we could just raid it. Take over their little "Battle" that requires an entry fee to participate and turn it into a free Bike Jam where the cops show up and people flee. MUAHAAHAAHAHAHA!!!

Or we could just all ride together as one and be a big happy family fucking in the streets.

Anonymous said...

I will be haunted by these tattoos for weeks to come.

Matt in SEA

gewilli said...

they beauty and symmetry is summed to perfection in your last sentence.

brilliant...

fahking brilliant

Anonymous said...

The Colnago in the "Lance" tatoo appears to be a fixed gear or single-speed... with STI levers.

hatten said...

"Expect more front trispokes than..."

"...what we'd be left with if cycling were to lose its beautiful symmetry and balance: recumbents."

rofl
shit never gets old

Anonymous said...

Why is it that everyone takes pot shots at recumbents? sheesh!!!! They still have balance & symmetry going for them.

Scott said...

Todd,

Other problems with the "Lance" tattoo:

Lance almost always wore black socks.

The shorts appear to be the shorts for the U.S. World's team, not USPS or Disco. And wearing a yellow jersey with the World's kit makes absolutely no sense.

Anonymous said...

Technically BMX is Bicycle Moto-Cross, which is true head to head competition on a dirt track. Redlines and PK Rippers taking some air.

How exactly did BMX come to represent a bunch of free-stylers on bikes made out of plumbing pipe riding in empty swimming pools and grinding pegs on any urban piece of concrete over 12 inches off the ground?

Anonymous said...

the brooklyn banks are actually in manhattan bikesnob.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:21pm,

People take pot shots at recumbents because they're easy targets. Triathletes swerve too much.

--BSNYC

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:35pm,

Well, so much for symmetry.

--BSNYC

quaffimodo said...

Undressing her for the first time only to find.....that? The horror......

Anonymous said...

More skid marks than a prison laundry. F'ing brilliant. I wonder if skid marks are what Johnny Cash secretly lamented while singing Folsom Prison Blues . . .

Anonymous said...

quaffimodo, you mean, you don't want to hug her for a long time, like the tattoo illustrates?

Anonymous said...

I'd much rather look at this this weekend than a bunch of hipsters on ugly bling-bling fixies competing to stand still.

Robosauce said...

hahaha the owner of that "hug life" tat is a forum goon over at somethingawful.com and is pretty much universally mocked for it.

sh said...

Robosauced,
i cannot BELIEVE that you're dissing the Hug Life.

that full belly tatoo is friggin' GENIUS!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Robosauce,

Wow, so it's actually real, huh? I wonder if that's the world's first tattoo to incorporate a top-tube pad. (BMXs excluded.)

I would give anything to see a "Lug Life" tattoo with Grant Peterson and Richard Sachs in the exact same pose.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

Scott,
These are the shorts-
http://www.theage.com.au/news/sport/armstrong-used-epo-says-report/2005/08/23/1124562864513.html

It was USPS. Lance wore white socks, just like everyone else, until 2003 or so.

Johnny come lately.

T

bikesgonewild said...

...the lance? tat, that's certainly the only definition on that leg...baby got that big body tat to commemorate her newfound love of fixes & the hipster who hipped her to the scene...first time he went down on it, he freaked & rode away...nice that she's got a "little" something to remember him by...
...balki & larry, whoa...somebody give you a shovel, bikesnob ???...talk about diggin', sheesh...
...fat cyclist, one way or another, a direction i'm heading towards...consider him b-marked...
...garrison keillor & a snarling cat ???...i never use this abbr: but WTF ???...i must be slipping...
...bsnyc, don't worry about blowing the island symmetry...what with vervecken, trebon & the rest of the cross-dressers in the 'hamps', the balance is way tipped from the gun...a crit, hipsters & fixsters, a wet t-shirt contest & the second coming couldn't bring equilibrium to that scene...score big for southhampton...montauk could slip into the 'sound'...wonder if locals will put 100$ bills in their empty beer cans, champagne bottles sit to high...(obscure cross reference)...
...naked bars...red light districts...skid marks...prison laundries...you ARE bringing 'gritty-fication' back, aren't you ???...
...& finally, gosh dammit, even 'bent' riders need love & balance...i just don't think they're gonna get it here...

foreverever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
foreverever said...

Oh god. . .Lance is all over the tatt world. .
http://www.airpoweredtattoomachine.com/Tattoos
/Realistic_tattoos/tattoos_16559.html

Rob said...

Hey, did anyone else notice the girl in the tat looks like she's getting a crooked boner...ok, maybe it's just me.

Jim said...

The only way out for the chick with those tragic tattoos is to get gi-normous, saggy breast implants that cover up 90% of the tats, so that when she takes her shirt off, all you can see is Tits on Wheels. It would totally turn the situation around.

A complete waste of time said...

So....white lycra and cyclocross (or anything cycling)...i understand it but just don't get it...

Anonymous said...

to: A complete waste of time.
Because he's the frickin' world champ... and the world champ jersey is white... so they wear white shorts as well to stand out... you know, his team (fidea) probably has enough money to give him a new short and shirt for each race or even for each day of the season. Cyclocross is big over here in Belgium.

Miriam said...

Yep, they just toss the dirty muddy nasty assed kit in the trash and get out a new one for the next race. Dealing with muddy wet spandex is gross.


The tattoo on the girl's belly - WTF? Thats gotta be one of the worst tattoos I've ever seen.

A complete waste of time said...

anon 5:42 and miriam,

oh..believe me, i'm well versed in the "rules" of cycling...like this one, "there's no rule in cycling that says you have to work".

I don't want to step on anyones toes here...especially a Belgian...since I was born in Brussels and saw the '00 Paris-Roubaix from the Wallers-Arenberg forest so that kinda makes "me" an expert on all things cycling....what i said was, I understand it, I just don't get it....

Have a nice day...

bikesgonewild said...

...jeez, i'm a mouthy bastard on this site, always something to say, but i guarantee you i'm not an "expert" on any subject here...well versed, knowledgeable on certain topics perhaps, always willing to learn, but...

...one thing i do know...as counter-intuitive as wearing white for cyclo-cross may be (my mom gave me that much sense), i frickin' love it...the world champion kitted out in his/her rainbow bands representing the world's continents on that sea of white... splattered w/ mud & dirt...
...awesome...that's cross, baby...

clintpatty said...

That girl's tattoo is really cute.

Prolly said...

Brooklyn banks are in Manhattan... idiot.

;)

Philip Williamson said...

Aside from the white-kitted crosser's codpiece, the eyes on his thighs are what really freak me out.

Mike said...

re "recumbents"... you forgot trikes as well, a peculiarly British horror I think...

A complete waste of time said...

bikesgonewild,

I agree...cross is cool....white lycra clad world champions are rad...my "expert" comment was written with tongue firmly in cheek....

Enjoy the racing...we don't get much of it in my neck of the woods....

Peace-out

Anonymous said...

Good tattoos aint cheap, and cheap tattoos aint good. That chick's tattoo is horrible and that lame ankle tat is barely worth mentioning.

Anonymous said...

To a complete waste of time from the Belgian... no worries; i wasn't on the warpath either. Cyclocross is a bit of a circus really... spectators go there for the fun and the beer (and with too much beer comes heckling, which in turn leads to this kind of acrobatics by Bart Wellens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKjmZ_KS8p4) and the sport is kinda like not that important really. Did you know Erwin Vervecken and Bart Wellens' team were the subjects of a weekly reality soap series on tv here for 2 seasons? What it did confirm (apart from the fact that too much partying and being 'stars' isn't usually good for your sporting achievements) is that most cyclists shouldn't really be on TV for anything else than races. Erwin and Bart are off the TV but Eddy Planckaert's reality soap is still going strong for the 4th or 5th season (http://www.vtm.be/deplanckaerts/index_programma_de_planckaerts.htm dutch only) and so is Roger De Vlaeminck's reality soap about his cyclocross team consisting of Zimbabwean riders (http://www.vtm.be/allezallezzimbabwe/index_programma_allez_allez_zimbabwe_jg4.htm dutch only too).
Maybe Belgians take their cycling a little *too* serious.

leroy said...

I think we should all lighten up on the woman with the "Hug Life" tattoo. At least her tat is spelled correctly.

And that's more than you can say for some of the folks my twin brother has dated.

I know I could make a fortune if I could get financial backing for my tattoo needle equipped with spell check.

I'm sure it would be much more lucrative than my last venture: King of the Mountain polka dot face painting. Looked like measles. Or acne.

A complete waste of time said...

Anon Belgian,

I agree wit cha...cyclists, TV and interviews just don't mix.....

Eddy Planckaert and Roger De Vlaeminck...nice. I'd love to sit down with a beer and chat about the "good 'ole days" when everyone raced everything...not just 1 tour...see what it really was like.

Later...have a good winter watchin' the Sixes...ACWOT

A complete waste of time said...

Anon Belgian, just saw the youtube video...SICK...that's hilarious.

Fritz said...

Another symmetry: BSNYC -- who clearly doesn't take himself seriously -- and several commenters who clearly do take themselves too seriously.

mpetry912 said...

Holey crap, these will take your ride to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220157301384

Right angle cranks ? Zut Alors!

mpetry912 said...

Whoops, sorry.

ebay item 220157301384

rotten said...

somebody beat me to it. I was wondering if the "hug life" tattoo was some kind of robotic-tranny-bike-love tattoo.

Two ambigously gendered cyclists about to touch bionic handlebar boners.

When are the bionic bike trannys going to have their parade in NYC?

Anonymous said...

The hug life tattoo could be an important milestone in the history of the top tube pad....

It could have been worse:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/
87598537@N00/65793979/

meh-wee-uhn said...

You know what I like the best about the thug life tattoo? The green fanny pack.

Mr. Negative said...

You guys tell me what is higher on the level of bike dorkitude...
a fixed gear freestyler doing a bunny hop, or a roadie deconstructing a tattoo (black socks, come on guys).

Sometimes I think this site is less a commentary on bike culture and more a social experiment to highlight the true bike dorks: the commenters.

High school cool guys picking on the goth kids... I wonder what Sinatra thought of the Ramones.

Anonymous said...

lanterne rouge!

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