Friday, November 30, 2007

Fixedgeargallery...of fads, faux pas, and falsehood.

Grass-roots innovation has always been a part of the fixed-gear scene, and for better or for worse some of these innovations have now become part of the cycling canon. For example, putting bullhorn bars or a top-tube pad on a fixed-gear was once something riders did on their own--now they are de rigeur and some mainstream companies are shipping bikes with these features already installed.

Undaunted by the corporate appropriation of their style, fixed-gear riders are continuing to innovate, and one area in which they're doing so is brake lever placement. In fact, it would appear that having a stupidly-placed brake lever is the new brakeless. And while I encourage thinking outside the box, if you're considering placing your brake lever anywhere other than your handlebar you should keep the box closed and sealed so you can bring your stupid idea back to the store immediately for a full refund.



This uniquely-placed lever has the advantage of offering a linear, kink-free path for the brake cable to travel. Unfortunately, it has the disadvantage of being almost completely useless unless you have lobster claws for hands. This rider gets full points for creativity, but somehow I don't think the warthog-tusk brake lever is going to catch on.








Slightly more tenable but still absurd is this placement, forwarded to me by a reader. It would appear that in the process of installing the lever the owner was suddenly smitten by some kind of paralytic dementia and instead diverted it to the top tube. I suppose there could be some kernel of logic buried in here somewhere--perhaps its placement comes in handy for stunt riding, or perhaps the clamp helps secure the top-tube pad from theft. Still, though, I remain recalcitrant and continue to insist that it's better to have both hands on the bars during a panic stop.


But this (thanks to Brian F. of Minneapolis for the photo) may be the pinnacle of brake lever placement inanity. Precious few people have raised stupidity to an artform in our time--among those who have are Jerry Lewis, Wile E. Coyote, and 80s Bobcat Goldthwait. You can now add the inventor of the head-actuated brake lever to that exclusive list.

Another area in which there has been considerable innovation has been in the areas of branding enhancement and elimination. As Americans, we have a love/hate relationship with labels. Some of us want to flaunt them, and some of us want to take great pains to hide them. In either case though we all seem to want what's underneath. Now, I'm all in favor of subtlety when it comes to branding--like many cyclists, I am dismayed that it is now impossible to buy a bicycle that doesn't have a URL on the inside of the chainstay. At the same time, though, I feel like taking great lengths to obscure a label is actually more conspicuous and vain than just leaving it there. It's inconspicuous consumption. It's one thing if the label just peels off. It's another when you have to attack it with gallons of chemicals and a ball of steel wool--or worse yet wrap it in tape:


Covering logos in tape is like hiding hiding money in a wallet or marijuana in a bong--everyone knows what's in there and you're not fooling anybody. Pista owners in particular are prone to this sort of behavior. I suppose they're self-conscious about the fact that they're riding a very popular bicycle. But there's nothing wrong with riding a popular bicycle. There is, however, something wrong with clumbsily and shamedly obscuring it like a suspected pedophile shielding his face from the press.


On the other hand, I suppose I prefer tape in the service of logo-obfuscation to tape in the service of logo embellishment. Decorating a bicycle in tape is the lowest form of adornment. I feel strongly that tape should only be used on a bicycle to finish your bar tape or to mark your seatpost height. Anything else is like putting Hello Kitty stickers on your notebook.

Still, though, I'll take tape decoration--and even quasi-lug fabrication--over the fabrication of a fake pedigree. The owner of this bike claims that "it used to belong to the singer of The Misfits:"

One is tempted to wonder if the owner of this bicycle also has Jon Voight's LeBaron parked in his driveway. Personally, I find it very difficult to believe that former punk crooner turned heavy metal homunculus Glenn Danzig ever owned a Spalding road bike.


In fact, the color scheme, the beach setting, and the coconut call to mind a much more likely former owner:



Thursday, November 29, 2007

BSNYC Thursday Fun Quiz #4

It can be difficult to tell today's misshapen carbon wonder-bikes apart. Consequently, it can be even more difficult to tell the reviews of these bikes apart. Like the bicycles they describe, these reviews contain lots of material but somehow carry very little weight. Today's quiz contains twelve quotes, compiled from two different reviews: Bicyling on the Specialized Tarmac SL2, and Cyclingnews on the Trek Madone 5.2. Simply read each quote and click on the review from which you think it comes. If you're correct, you'll see Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Tour of California. If you're incorrect, you'll see something life-changingly profound (involving Arnold Schwarzenegger). I've also included a special bonus question at the end, as well as the links to the original reviews. (Please don't read them until after you've finished the quiz!) Thanks, and good luck.

"However, that same no-frills race tool design also offered increasingly fading showroom appeal...and its purpose-built appearance was looking increasingly dated amidst a sea of more progressively designed competition."


"The hyper-wide bottom bracket shell, grossly oversized down tube, and asymmetric chain stays of the [deleted] clearly pay dividends as drivetrain response is exceedingly efficient..."


"The[deleted] has a huge down tube and bottom-bracket area, and an integrated BB design with bearings that reside in the frame that allow exceptional power transmission, but the ride isn't close to harsh."


"At low speeds or high, this bike goes where you point it..."


"I'll be blunt--this is one of the best bikes I've ever ridden."


"...like a perfect, high-performance extension of my body that was at the same time reasonably forgiving."


"It surges forward from a standstill and in all-out sprints, and eats up long stretches of pavement like I go through gummy bears."


"Any speck of conservatism has clearly been tossed out this time around, and the head tube even sports a new logo."


"The top tube is curved, like a leaf spring, to be more vertically compliant, and also wide, to resist twisting forces."


"...the aforementioned tube shaping ­allows [deleted] to build in more vertical compliance..."


"Our [deleted] was uncannily smooth with a magic carpet ride over rough pavement..."


"The mind-blowing steering is ­precise, instant, never twitchy."


SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: Which review mentions "vertical compliance" more often?


The reviews:

Bicycling
Cyclingnews

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hoodwinked: The Wild World of Cycling Sweatshirts

When somebody says “iconic American garment,” a number of things come to mind: the ten-gallon hat; the blue jean; the sneaker; the t-shirt emblazoned with the logo “Italians Do It Better;” and, of course, the hooded sweatshirt, otherwise known as the “hoodie.” Here are just a few great Americans who have worn hoodies:





It’s no surprise then that the hoodie has become the go-to brisk weather garment for the discriminating urban fixed-gear cyclist. Among the things you want for cycling in cold weather are a shell that blocks wind and doesn’t become heavy with moisture, and a head covering that stays on in wind or at high speeds, doesn’t impede peripheral vision, and allows full range of head mobility. A hooded sweatshirt offers none of these things, and thus is a logical choice for cycling.

Now that things are getting a little chilly here in New York I figured it was high time I started shopping for a cycling hoodie to complement my cycling jeans. Here’s just some of what’s out there:

My first requirement in purchasing anything is that the company I’m buying from has a philosophy I can really sink my teeth into. Cadence does:

Taking chances, asking question, providing answers, acknowledging fear, acknowledging love.

Establishing goals, following them, allowing them to change.

Embracing that change...Welcome to the winter project!

Holy crap! These guys sure have my number. I set goals and then change them when they prove to be too difficult all the time. I also embrace change, and I’m looking for answers. More importantly, though, I’m looking for a really cool hooded sweatshirt. So what have they got?

Cadence Noir


Black on black. Reflective detail on hood. Button base to block neck from elements.
$59.99


This is a well-though-out garment. The “button base” is a nice touch, and that “reflective detail on hood” is all about protection. Any vehicle approaching me on my left is sure to think twice about running me down, assuming I’m not already under the front wheels by the time the driver gets close enough to notice it. It also has the requisite artificially distressed abstract pattern that will look dated even before my lime green Deep Vs. Best of all, I can tell from the model that this garment embodies the company’s philosophy. He actually looks like he’s taking chances, asking question, providing answers, acknowledging fear, and acknowledging love—all at the same time!

Very tempting, but I owe it to myself to see what else is out there before I buy.

Wolfpack Hustle

I’ve heard about the Wolfpack thanks to my readers. Apparently their regular moderately-paced ride around Los Angeles is the stuff of legend. Judging from video I’ve seen, it’s also one of the few group rides in the US that includes smoke breaks. What I didn’t realize though was that they were branching into clothing. So what’s their philosophy?

Wolfpack Hustle is dedicated to fixed gear, track and road bike culture in Los Angeles, a city currently dominated by the lowly automobile. No we aren't Olympians or roided-out weekend warrior types... not even close. We are simply here to ride stronger, faster and to assert our rights to these gritty streets.

In addition to riding we have collaborated with Xlarge Clothing to create X-Hustle, a clothing line inspired by our ride that intends to blur the lines between streetwear and functional cycling apparel.

These guys are speaking my language. I hate automobiles! Automobiles are for lame authority figures like my parents, librarians, teachers, postal workers, and municipal employees. Those are the people in whose faces I want to thrust my anti-authoritarian fixed-gear lifestyle! And those LA streets are gritty—the other day some aspiring actor tried to steal my Coffee Bean card! Best of all is the part about blurring the lines. Only roided-out weekend warriors have separate on-the-bike and off-the-bike wardrobes. Me, I want those lines blurrier than a liberal arts college student’s sexual orientation. Oh, yeah, I’m ready to think about buying a hoodie from these guys. What have they got? I scrolled down past the reversible(!) top tube pad and found this:


"American Apparel light-weight fleece"
Made by Xlarge

Sweet! An American Apparel sweatshirt with bikes and wolves on it! But how much does it cost? I couldn’t tell from the Wolfpack site, so I figured I’d extrapolate by visiting the Xlarge site. A bit about Xlarge:

Of course, you can't talk about the early days of XLarge without talking about Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Mike helped Eli and Adam in creating a unique concept for XLarge. XLarge however was and continues to be the brainchild of Eli Bonerz- from first conception to final execution. Blending skateboarding, hip-hop, and art culture, XLarge made an original style fashion out of the mix. After 15 years, XLarge remains an innovator and pioneer in streetwear.

Hip Hop? Skateboarding? Art Culture? Now I’m getting nervous. This may be taking me someplace I don’t want to go. I mean, I started out looking for a cycling hoodie. Now I feel like you do when you’re online looking at regular porn and two hours later you somehow wind up on some weird site with barnyard animals in lingerie using kitchen utensils on each-other. At any rate, I’m going to assume the price of the Wolfpack hoodie is somewhere between the price of the “OG Gorilla Hoodie” ($53.30) and the "All Over Logo Print Hoodie" (description: "logo prints all over,” $60).

Hmmm. This decision’s going to be tougher than I thought.

R.E.Load’s bags and top-tube pads are quite popular, so I decided to look into their clothing. Unfortunately, things started off on the wrong foot, since their sober, austere Protestant work ethic didn’t thrill me nearly as much as the Cadence and Wolfpack philosophies did:

The R.E.Load™ messenger bag was born in early 1998, as a direct response to the lack of durability and features of existing bags on the market. as working Philadelphia messengers, we (Roland and Ellie, the R and E in R.E.Load) began the slow and steady process of continuously improving upon our existing designs so that we might offer possibly the finest bags available worldwide.

Slow and steady?!? Who am I gonna scare with “slow and steady?” I ride a fixed-gear with no brakes! I’m dangerous! All right, on to the sweatshirts:


Special edition print by Emily G. "The cog on the bike goes round and round"! Printed by Outlaw Print Co. on American Apparel California Fleece Zip Hoodies (please see their site for sizing info). Small front print on left side, large back print. Both are two-color.
$45

Sorry, no sale. The adaptation of the children’s song leaves me cold. If I’m going to buy an American Apparel hoodie with a design on it, it’s gonna be from Wolfpack. I want my purchase to be a symbolic act in which I reclaim my portion of the gritty streets, not some tepid celebration of the joy of cycling. Color me disappointed.

Okay, I couldn't find a philosophy here. In fact, I couldn’t find anything—my screen just went black when I plugged in the URL. But then it hit me. Not having a philosophy is even more badass than having a badass philosophy. Plus, the name says it all. Overgeared and turning the pedals over at 30rpms is how I roll. Good so far. So what about the hoodies?



The Outlaw hoodie is really the best thing you will ever own. Zipp Hoodie 50/50 Featuring a detachable face shield that not only protects you from the cold, but also keeps you hidden while committing your favorite crime. Whether it be skidding down your best friends tire, or knocking off the side mirrors of bad motorists, the shield still allows you to breathe freely without moistening your skin. The face shield features 3 eyelets in the front that allow moisture out, and 4 snaps for removal/attachment of piece. The top snaps have 2 options: 1) Regular Head and, 2) Big Head. If Big Head is not big enough, you probably should not be going outside.

The Outlaw hood also features the same pockets in the back as the Jersey Hoodies, which come in handy for holding the face shield, amongst other things: Keys, Tools, Phones, radios, tubes, spray can's, guns, fireworks, explosives, cheeseburgers, small animal's, PSP's, etc...

Cold wash, tumble dry low...

Oh my God. I think I may have just found my sweatshirt. This thing makes the Wolfpack hoodie look like my great-aunt's bra. Firstly, the only thing that says you’re an outlaw louder than wearing something called “outlaw” is wearing something called “outlaw” that also includes detailed washing instructions. Secondly, I want to instill fear in people’s hearts as I ride around town on my bubblegum-colored fixed-gear, and there’s no better way to do that than by looking like a rock-hurling member of the Intifada.

In fact, looking at this garment makes me feel like Alex at the end of “A Clockwork Orange.” My eyes roll back into my head as I slip into a reverie in which I’m riding slowly down a trendy urban street on my fixed-gear freestyler, drawing admiring gazes and waving to women like some kind of cycling Austin Powers. My peripheral vision is only slightly obscured by my Outlaw Hoodie, and as I pass trendy boutique after trendy boutique I suddenly notice a plain brick wall. I dismount my bike in that cool leg-over-the-bars way, reach into the pocket of my Outlaw Hoodie, withdraw a can of spraypaint, and start tagging. I’m halfway through the “N” when I hear that familiar “whoop-whoop.” Uh-oh. It’s the po-po! But one-time’s not gonna do me like that. I cast my paint can aside, hop back on the whip, and tighten the Toshi double straps around my canvas girl-Keds. It takes me a few blocks to get the 49x16 gear up to speed, but once I do I’m flying. As I reach the intersection of Wythe and Metropolitan however I’m unable to stop my brakeless bike and wind up getting hit by a Mini Cooper. Next thing I know I wake up in the Brooklyn House of Detention where I spend the next 24 hours crying and blowing my nose into my detachable face shield.

Okay, well that ended badly, but I’m still quite taken with the garment. The only issue is the price. $75 is pretty steep for a hoodie, even one that comes with it’s own schmata. Before I commit, I find myself considering an intriguing possibility: perhaps I can adapt a non-cycling sweatshirt to cycling use. But where can I find an American-made garment with a hood and a pocket that will be suitable for my purposes? A quick Googling brought me here:

All American Clothing (formerly The Union Jean Co.) first opened in 2003 and is organized under UFCW local 1099. We provide union made and USA made clothing for your individual needs, company/organization, special events or garment fulfillment programs. We supply only USA made products selected from America's best manufacturers! Our current products are made in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia.

BO-ring! Eeew, aren't those red states?!?

OK, let’s see what they have. It looks like I’ve got two options:



Soft 80% cotton 20% polyester heavy weight fleece pullover hoody. Muff pockets.
Union Made in the USA

Meh. No graphic. How are people going to know it’s a cycling hoodie when I’m off the bike? If you saw me in a store or in a bar you wouldn’t even know I own a fixed-gear! Then there’s this:



Supersoft 80% cotton/20% polyester heavyweight fleece full zip hooded jacket with kangaroo pockets.

Union Made in the USA

No way. Look at that model! He doesn’t look like he’s “taking chances, asking question, providing answers, acknowledging fear, acknowledging love” like the Cadence guy is. He looks like he’s mulling over the relative attributes of Subway vs. Quiznos. No way I’d wear a sweatshirt like that.

It’s gotta be the Outlaw.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This Just In: Pullin' The Plug (a BSNYC publicity update)

Just a brief word to let you know that I've been interviewed by my blinky-lighted siblings over at bikecommuters.com. If you're interested, go check it out, and please know they used the "Unknown Comic" photo despite my protestations.

We now return to today's post about ethical quandaries.

The Ethics of Craigslist: What's Your Integrity?

It's that time of year when many cyclists start thinning the proverbial herd in order to make room for new cattle for next season. If you want to avoid the shipping hassles associated with eBay and the low financial return involved in selling to friends and riding buddies, you might find yourself tapping that filthy conduit of raw sewage that is Craigslist. Of course, the business of selling a used bicycle often involves balancing honesty and self-interest--especially when the customer is clueless, as Craigslist buyers so often are. Following are some hypothetical questions for you to ponder. Some are based loosely on my own experiences, and some are completely fictional. There are no right or wrong answers here. This is simply an opportunity to peer into your own soul.


You are selling a cyclocross bike. The buyer arrives and informs you that he is looking for a bicycle to use for entry-level triathlons. He doesn't know what "cyclocross" is but is ready to buy the bike. What do you do?

--Explain to him that this is not what he's looking for
--Don't say anything and sell him the bike anyway
--Explain to him that this bicycle is not ideal for his use but sell it to him anyway
--Tell him you're sickened at the thought of your cyclocross bike being used for triathlons and throw him out of your house

You are selling a bike old enough to be considered "vintage." The buyer spends an absurd amount of time scrutinizing the bike and grilling you about the provenance of the components. You ask him if he'd like to take it for a spin and he refuses, explaining he's only a collector. You:

--Answer his questions and encourage him to buy the bike
--Refuse to sell him a bike that won't be ridden
--Ask him if he's got an XO-1 and if so would he like to trade
--Invite him in for a bike geek tea party with your life-sized cardboard cutouts of Grant Petersen, Tullio Campagnolo, and the kid from "Breaking Away"

You are selling a road bike. The size is 57cm and was clearly listed as such in your ad. The buyer turns out to be 5'4" and can barely straddle the top tube. You tell him it's too big for him but he takes it around the block and wants to buy it anyway. What do you do?

--Take his money
--Reiterate your concern and make suggestions for adjustments, but take the money anyway
--Refuse to sell him a bike that's too big for him
--Also talk him into a matching 130mm stem you've got lying around in a color that perfectly matches the frame

You are selling an old fixed-gear. You really have no use for it and figure you'll sell it for a fair and attractive price. You immediately get an email from a person ready to buy, you agree to sell, and you arrange a meeting for the next day. An hour later you check your email and you have 30 more replies--clearly you're sitting on a hotter commodity than you thought. What do you do?

--Reply "Sold" to all of them, delete the ad, and sell to the original person
--Go back to the original person and ask for more money
--Tell the original person you just found a crack in the frame and then re-list the bike on eBay
--Tell the original person to get lost, keep the old bike and watch the PistaDex closely

You're selling a bike and you also have lots of spare parts. Your potential buyer is on the fence but wants you to make some parts substitutions to close the deal. You don't mind getting rid of the parts, you're just not sure you want to do the labor. What do you do?

--Agree to make the swaps, take a deposit, and tell him to come back in two hours
--Say "Sorry, the bike's being sold as-is"
--Say you're happy to sell him the additional parts and that he can either install them himself or take them to a bike shop
--Throw in the extra crap for free

You're selling a mountain bike. You come to terms with the buyer and also agree to swap out some parts so the bike will fit him better. He leaves a deposit and says he'll be back in two hours to pick it up once you're done. It's clear from your interaction that he knows almost nothing about mountain bikes or bikes in general. What do you do?

--Swap out only the parts that you agreed
--Swap out the parts that you agreed as well as some other minor stuff that you'd like to keep which he'll never notice
--Swap out the parts you agreed, replace the relatively new cassette and chain with old worn out ones you've got lying around in the parts bin, and replace the relatively new tires with some older ones
--Swap out only the parts that you agreed...and at the last second, the wheelset

You're selling a track bike. It's a race bike, brakeless, with tubular tires, a 49x15 gear, and clipless pedals. The buyer is a newbie who has never ridden a fixed-gear bicycle before. After the transaction he insists he is going to ride it home eight miles to Bushwick in the dark in his sneakers. You:

--Suggest he take the subway instead
--Offer to install an old front caliper you've got lying around
--Take his money, tell him to be careful, and hope you don't read something in the Post tomorrow
--Challenge him to a race and tell him if he beats you to Bushwick you'll give him back $50

It's post-sale and pre-pickup. You're taking the old beauty for one last spin when you discover some defects you weren't aware of. Which warrant telling the buyer about?

Tiny cracks around the spoke eyelets
--Tell
--Don't tell

Bottom bracket shot
--Tell
--Don't tell

Chainring bolt missing
--Tell
--Don't tell

Headset pitted
--Tell
--Don't tell

Possible hairline crack in frame
--Tell
--Don't tell

Seatpost seized in frame
--Tell
--Don't tell

Quill stem seized in steer tube
--Tell
--Don't tell

What is the window of time after closing the deal and parting ways that you'll address any problems or defects the buyer finds with the bicycle?

--Twenty-four hours
--One week
--Thirty days
--Caveat emptor, sucka! Take it to a bike shop.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Fall Guys: A Guide to Cyclists in Autumn

In the Northeast United States, the Fall is a beautiful time marked by vibrant colors, crisp temperatures, and people in wool sweaters traveling around in Swedish cars and watching trees change color. Personally, I don't get that excited about the foliage, but I do relish the effect the Fall has on the local cycling population, which changes just as surely as the leaves. If you're ever inclined to take a Fall cyclist foliage tour, here's a brief but helpful guide to some of the things you should look out for:

The Triathlete

At this point in the year The Triathlete has transitioned from short-shorts and half-shirt to full-length tights and loose-fitting long-sleeved runner's jersey (which is an outfit that is a helmet away from a pair of pajamas). However, he (or she, of course) has not yet transitioned from the 53x14 gear, nor from the "tuck" of questionable aerodynamic benefit that is less Pro Tour time trialist than it is pedantic professor resting his elbows on a lectern. Not even the vibrant colors of autumn are enough to distract The Triathlete from his or her mission of beating leisure cyclists over modest inclines, striving to improve on "personal bests," and abstaining from all aspects of cycling except for the going forward with your head down part.

The Alarmist

When the days grow shorter, the mercury dips below 65, and the first leaf turns, The Alarmist bolts upright in bed, throws open the wardrobe doors, and dons every piece of warm-weather cycling apparel therein. Before the clocks have changed, The Alarmist has changed into his balaclava, helmet cover, battery-heated booties, and three-fingered lobster gloves. If Assos makes it, he owns it. If they don't, Craft does, and he owns that too. He lives in mortal fear of illness-inducing chills, goose bumps and nipple erections, and he dreams hot and sultry dreams of cycling vacations to Death Valley, Equatorial Guinea, and the surface of Venus.

The Polar Bear

The Polar Bear is the polar opposite of The Alarmist. This rider is either unaware of or unconcerned with the fact that cycling apparel comes in varying lengths and thicknesses for various atmospheric conditions, and his cycling wardrobe consists of one short sleeve jersey, one long sleeve jersey, and one pair of cycling shorts. He may or may not also own a neon green windbreaker for the really cold days. An opportunistic leisure rider who normally doesn't ride in cold weather but just has to get out of the house occasionally, he can be seen riding on frigid days, his legs pink with cold and his sweatsocks pulled up to the knee as he laboriously turns his triple crank at 35rpm in the big ring. One is tempted to tell him of the existence of such innovations as full-fingered gloves, hats, and leg warmers, but one is also reluctant to break the concentration as evidenced from the determined look on his chapped, frostbitten, and frozen mucus-covered face--a look he will wear for days until it finally thaws.

The Serious Roadie

Even the serious roadie takes some time every year to relax. He's no longer worrying about the season that's just passed, and he's not yet preparing for next season. He's just having fun. As it happens, this period of relaxation was last Thursday, from 12:00 to 4:30, and if you're a roadie worth your embrocations then you're well into training for next year's meaningless park races. At this time of year The Serious Roadie can be seen riding alone, or he can be seen riding with other identically-clad cyclists in tight formations designed to discourage any sort of autonomy or enjoyment. The Serious Roadie has temporarily downgraded from his $2,000 carbon race wheels to his $1,200 aluminum training wheels. He's also got either a Power Tap or an SRM, he's watching his watts more carefully than a security guard at a lightbulb factory, and he is under strict instructions from a highly-paid coach that he is not to ride hard lest he inadvertently compromise his chances for a top-20 finish in a Tuesday night Cat 4 training race, or, worse yet, enjoy himself. And if his spirit is not yet broken completely, or if he doesn't quite trust himself, he might even be riding a pair of Power Cranks, the cycling equivalent of a Victorian anti-masturbation device.

The Undersea Explorer

Picture this: you're in the woods mountain biking on a crisp autumn day. You've stopped at the top of a small incline to take a bite of food, sip some liquid, and enjoy the quiet tranquility of the forest. Suddenly, in the distance, a twig snaps, and you in turn snap to attention like a frightened deer. The snapping sound is followed by the rustle of foliage, and as it grows closer you hear an insidious panting sound. What could it be? A wounded elk? A rabid bear? Some kind of arboreal sex fiend? Suddenly, it emerges--a frogman clad all in black with a hose over its shoulder and a visor on its helmet, sitting bolt upright atop some sort of dual-suspension undersea rover, it bobs and beelines toward you, spinning a great-granny gear whose "inches" can only be measured accurately in microns. It weaves up the incline until it dismounts from the contraption about halfway to the top. Like a deer, you remain stock-still, monitoring it from your peripheral vision until it pushes the stalled vehicle up the remainder of the hill, remounts, passes, and allows you to relax again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Worst of NYC Craigslist: Self-Loathing Bike Love

The typical bike-related missed connection usually involves either somebody using a bicycle as a pretense to get someone else's attention, or else somebody who has noticed a bicycle which has been used as a pretense to get their attention. Essentially, the bike is serving the same purpose as a haircut, a pair of shoes, a tattoo, or even a book--it's some tuft of brightly-colored feathers which is displayed in order to attract a mate. In this case, however, something much more insidious is going on. I hope this is one of those fake posts because the reality is too much to bear:

To the woman who opened her cab door into my bike - I love you! - m4w - 24 (Midtown East) [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/mis/484174599.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-11-19, 10:13PM EST

It was on 57th st. last week in the AM. You were probably getting fed up with the gridlock and opened your cab door right into my moving bicycle. You put a taxi-yellow dent in my handlebars and a huge purple bruise on my arm. A vulgar expletive exploded from my lips and a UPS driver unloading packages from the van in front of us started to laugh at me. As I was checking my arm for fractures and straightening out the wheel which you had knocked out of place, I began to well with anger...that is, until I saw you get out of the cab.

You had that hurried look of tension in your body that comes from a busy professional woman who is unaware of her own striking beauty. Your hips moved wildly from side-to-side as you stepped toward me to apologize hurriedly before walking off in your high-heels, your briefcase swinging gaily with the youthfully relaxed movement of your arm. I wanted to be angry, to yell, but I could only mumble something like "It happens" or "everything is great." All I saw as you walked away was the line of your legs and the curve of your shoulder. You looked like a carefully crafted precision instrument. Your skin reminded me more of the hard shine of steel than the delicate flesh of a woman.

You could have shot me in the guts with a gun right there, and I would only pray that I could taste your lips just once before the last beat of my heart.



You may or may not be aware that there is such a thing as a "self-hating cyclist." Curcumstances have somehow conspired to convince these people that their passion for cycling is not only less important than other aspects of their lives, but that it is something dirty and wrong. Consequently, like compulsive masturbators, they practice their loathsome habit furtively and only during stolen moments--often in the wee hours of the morning, long before their friends, families, and loved ones have arisen. Many are even forced to hide their bicycles and bike-related purchases like a teenager hides a dirty magazine under a mattress. Popular hiding places for bicycles include basements, poorly-secured bike rooms in apartment buildings, overpriced storage units, and--most depraved of all--outside.

What we have here is a self-hating cyclist. (And this is not only apparent from the fact that he's got an FSA carbon stem and a pair of wing bars on a 13 year-old Cannondale.) After being doored, he was indignant--and rightfully so. However, as soon as he saw that the doorer was an attractive woman his resolve melted like Pastali on a mountainous descent. Why? Because he is insecure. And insecurity breeds self-loathing. And self-loathing makes you stammer like a kid caught pilfering from the liquor cabinet after you're doored by some woman who's rushing to get to her Cyclists Suck meeting.

In a sense, dooring is the most insulting thing you can do to a cyclist. I'd rather be actively chased by an enraged motorist "Death Race 2000"-style than doored. At least the deranged motorist acknowledges that I exist. The doorer on the other hand is completely self-absorbed and oblivious. Cyclists do not exist in his or her reality. And there's no greater form of disrespect than non-acknowledgement.

If you're a non-cycling motorist and you happen to be reading this, here is the proper procedure for exiting your car into traffic in an urban environment:

--Pull all the way to the curb;
--Check your rear-view mirror;
--Check your side mirror;
--Open door a sliver, stick something reflective outside, and check again like they do for guards in prison movies;
--Close door;
--Open it again and peek out like an adulterer hiding in a closet;
--Close door;
--Slide over console into other seat;
--Exit onto the sidewalk.

Oh, yeah, and if you're in the middle of the street in traffic, STAY IN THE CAR!

This rider should not have let her get away with this, and the fact that he did means he's got a bigger case of Stockholm Syndrome than Patty Hearst. And even if her beauty was so great as to give him pause, he should not have then posted this entreaty once he had time to come to his senses. I mean, if he wants to degrade himself, that's one thing, but at least consider the rest of us. Plus, however attractive she may be on the outside, the fact that she is a doorer has opened the door to the ugliness of her soul.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

BSNYC Fixed-Gear Apocalypse Watch: The PistaDex

As you may know, I've been watching for signs of the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse for some time now. If you don't know what the FGA is, it is the day when the fixed-gear trend finally reaches the point of collapse and trendy cyclists the world over abandon their track bikes, conversions, and fixed-gear freestylers en masse for BMXes, vintage road bikes, recumbents with hydraulics, or whatever the next trend turns out to be. And in the spirit of public service, I've been sharing these signs with you so you can either abandon yours or swoop in and pick one up cheap, according to your own proclivities.

Of course, interpreting these signs can be very subjective--it's kind of like divining the future from sheep's entrails. This is why I'm proud to announce I've come up with a new, objective FGA indicator. It's called the PistaDex. Simply go to your local Craigslist Bikes for Sale section, search out all the Bianchi Pistas, and take the average of the prices at which they're being offered. That is your local PistaDex. A healthy PistaDex should be at or close to full Pista retail, or $579.99 for a 2007 model, and means the FGA is still a long way away. But should it fall below, say, $400, you'd better start shopping for a BMX. Let's take a look at the current PistaDices in our larger cities:

New York City:

2005 Bianchi Pista Track Bike (57cm) Chrome, $475 (West Village) [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/478180150.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-11-13, 10:08PM EST

As the title states, Bianchi Pista 57cm. Bike is in exceptional condition. Comes with a freewheel installed (wheel can be easily flipped for fixed riding). Also comes with installed front brake. Only "flaws" are semi worn tires (original tires), and 2 scraps on the handlebar tape. The price is FIRM. If you ask for a price negotiation I will not reply to your email. This follows in meeting up as well. $475 FIRM. Thank you.

BTW, please don't request pictures. This is not some form of a scam (local sale only) and the bike is EXACTLY as described. You can see a near clone (my handlebars have black tape) here: http://www.bianchiusa.com/06_pista.html . Again, the bike is chrome, not gang green. Lastly I'm 5' 10" and the bike feels great, but this size frame can accomodate someone relativelt shorter or taller easily.

OK, only one Pista on the NYC list at the moment, but at $475 it means the PistaDex is still well above the point at which we should be alarmed. There are also certain intangibles here that further assuage any concerns I might have, particularly the seller's brusque and borderline abusive manner. (In times of healthy PistaDex, sellers treat buyers as annoyances.) Also reassuring is the fact that the bike includes no "upgrades" beyond the addition of a freewheel and a front brake. Lastly, he couldn't be bothered to include a photo, and instead links to a different color bicycle on the Bianchi site. So while the PistaDex isn't through the roof here, I see no cause for alarm quite yet.

NYC PistaDex: 475

CHICAGO

Bianchi Pista, sized 49 - $300 [original URL: http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/482931410.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-11-18, 5:55PM CST

I have a clean Bianchi Pista sized 49 with no decals! The fork is also a size 49 (I believe it is a Benotto).

The specs can be found here http://www.bianchiusa.com/06_pista.html

I am just selling the frame and fork. It does not come with a headset or BB.

The frame has one tiny dent on the top tube. If interested please email me and I will send you some pics.

The price is 300 obo. I would also be willing to trade for a bigger sized track frame and fork. Thanks

When I saw this one, I almost panicked. $300 for a Pista?!? Fortunately though it turns out it's just a frame and fork, and doesn't even include a headset or a bottom bracket. Considering the fact that you can buy new fixed-gear frame/fork combos for around $300 means we're still in good shape here.

2004 All Chrome Pista - $500 [Original URL: http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/480386134.html]
Date: 2007-11-16, 12:40AM CST

For sale is a 2004 Bianchi Pista track bike. I've only ridden this for one season, always kept it indoors. No wrecks or significant scratches. I've stripped and clear coated the main tubes, leaving only the Bianchi symbol on the headset and "Chick Built," cause it's a cool sticker. Also has barely-ridden kevlar-lined Bontrager tires. Rear hub has flip track/single-speed gear. Ready to ride. $500 or best offer.



I was further comforted by this listing. $500 for a 2004 Pista complete with a set of (un)flop-and-chops sporting a nice dog-erection tape job. Of course I hate to see the "or best offer" because it implies the seller may be negotiable, but still, things are looking quite good in Chicago.

Chicago PistaDex: 450*

(PistaDex adjusted by adding a modest $100 to frame/fork price.)

DENVER

sell/trade my fixed gear Bianchi Pista for SS Mt bike or FS frame - $625 [original URL: http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/461650662.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-10-27, 6:29PM MDT

Bike has some upgrades. I painted the fork red and have red matching speedium tires, I will even throw in a set of black continental tires. All have many, many miles left on them. New black KORE stem and handlebars were flipped and cut to make bullhorn style. I replaced the awful stock plastic pedals for generic but decent metal ones. I have 2 front wheels for it as well the original and a cool looking black Grecal Parade with 16 spokes (I think) instead of the normal 32. plastic rear fender is just clipped on. Only drawback is that the rear tube is flat right now and it does not include the Brooks saddle.

If you want to buy it outright I will let it go for $675 which is exactly what I paid brand new so you are getting all the upgrades for free.

If you to trade I would take a single speed Mt bike or a full suspension frame. I would prefer something with disc brakes or disc brake mounts, so keep that in mind. Thanks.

This is a welcome sign. Butchered bars, questionable home paint job on the fork, crap-tastic extras of dubious value, and an asking price well over what a new one would cost. Praise the Mono-Cog Lord!

**2007 Bianchi Pista** Fixie, Silver/Chrome 56cm - $475 [original URL: http://denver.craigslist.org/bik/452740714.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-10-18, 12:09PM MDT

Bianchi, fixed/track bike, 56cm. I've put close to 200 miles on this bike in approximately a month...I have to sell it due to my knees...I've had both reconstructed and it is tearing them up...The bike is in great condition, beautiful, beautiful bike...All original equipment-you can read more about it here: http://www.bianchiusa.com/07_pista.html

Please see the attached pictures. Comes with flat pedals, I've taken mine off.

I'm sorry to hear about the seller's knees of course, but bad news for him means good news for Denver. His asking price of $475 keeps their PistaDex in the safe zone.

Denver PistaDex: 550

SAN FRANCISCO

57cm 2007 Bianchi Pista - $1000 (western addition) [original URL: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/481451012.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-11-17, 12:29AM PST

I am selling a 57cm, 2007 Bianchi Pista with additional upgrades, $2000 worth after completion. Here is a list of the upgraded parts:
Frame/ Forks- Bianchi.
Cranks- Sugino 75.
Chain Ring- Sugino 48t.
Bottom Brack- Sugino.
Rear Cog- Phil Wood 18t.
Rims- 622x15
Mavic MA3 (both machined).
Hubs- Phil Wood 32 high.
Bars- Deda Velociti.
Stem- Nitto.
Peds- MKS.
Toes- MKS.
Straps- EAI.
Chain- Scram.
Saddle- Bianchi.

This is what everybody who dreads the Apocalypse wants to see--a compulsively upgraded Pista that breaks the four-figure mark. Hallelujah! Reciting that list of components is an incantation powerful enough to make derailleurs all up and down the West Coast quiver and fall off.

Stolen Bianchi Pista, battleship gray 53cm - $500 (downtown / civic / van ness) [original URL: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/478790181.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-11-14, 11:25AM PST

I just had my bike stolen, it was a battleship gray bianchi pista with suntour superbe cranks. If you happen upon it, it's a stolen bike. Please contact me with details. Thank you!

I'm always sorry to see a bike stolen, but if the owner's willing to pay $500 to get it back that number must be factored into the PistaDex.

San Francisco PistaDex: 750

LOS ANGELES

Bianchi Pista 53cm - $600 [original URL:
http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/bik/480534887.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2007-11-16, 6:03AM PST
Bianchi Pista 53cm. Pretty much a stock pista with chopped Nitto B115 bars (have original drops (included). Ridden, but well taken care of with just a couple minor chips. Mavic Open Pros with Suzue ProMax 32 hubs, MKS SYII pedals.

One Pista in LA at the moment, but happily it's selling for over the MSRP.

Los Angeles PistaDex: 600

So in conclusion, it would seem that all our fear-mongering has been for naught. The combined PistaDex for these five cities is a robust 565, which is almost exactly what a brand-new Pista costs in a bike shop. Of course, whether this is good news or bad news is subject to debate. And we should not allow ourselves to grow complacent. Some of these cities are a $250 Pista away from doomsday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fixedgeargallery...of freakish folk art.

As a cyclist, perusing the entries on Fixedgeargallery can often be bewildering. However, it is much easier to understand them if you approach them not as bicycles but as rolling pieces of folk art. Fixed-gears have become a mode of personal expression in the tradition of graffiti, tie-dyeing, denim jacket painting, body modification, car and motorcycle customization, and paying companies for the privelege of promoting them by wearing their logos on your clothing. And like so many pieces of folk art, with fixed-gears the original purpose of the object has been disregarded in the quest to make it as expressive and ugly as possible. These recent entries open a window into our culture that should be closed, nailed shut, and boarded up:



This bike reaches a level of customization you don't see too often. Equipment-wise, it's pretty conservative--like most fixed-gears set up for road riding it's missing 100% of its brakes and 60% of its handlebars. It does have a cyclocross tire on the front and a road tire on the back, though, which make it a rolling mullet. But what's really impressive about this bike is the graphics. It looks like H.R. Giger threw up on it.










But there's more to folk art than simply expressing your aesthetic tastes. A true piece of folk art teaches the observer about your worldview. This GT-B is a rolling tribute to the straight-edge lifestyle. If you don't know what straight-edge is, it's for people who like the aggression of punk but still aren't ready to give up their Nikes or their nylon workout pants. As you travel down the road of alternative culture, it forks on the way to self-righteousness: going left leads to veganism, and going right leads to straight-edge. If you still like to watch football, you go right. So while this fixed-gear freestyler may seem like the type of bike you'd see in front of the local dive bar while its owner drinks cheap canned beer, you're actually much more likely to see it locked up outside of GNC while its owner picks up another three pound jar of whey protein powder. And the GT-B is a perfect choice for a straight-edge bike: it's wearing padding and that stiff aluminum frame's ready to beat you up.







We've seen style and we've seen statement. But we haven't seen fabrication--until now. The owner's playful intent in creating what is esentially a Hetchins parody bike does not elude me, nor does the impressive amount of work he's put into making it. At the same time, though, I feel that when a fixed-gear bicycle sports what are essentially fake lugs, some Rubicon of hot, bubbling Velveeta has been forded. Much like the custom motorcycle and auto world, bicycle companies watch what the custom builders are doing, identify trends, and then package those trends. As bad as spinning rims are, spinning hub caps are a thousand times worse. As ugly as custom motorycle paint jobs can be, they're infinitely more tasteful than adhesive graphics kits. Similarly, the existence of this bicycle means that we are one step closer to seeing pre-packaged cosmetic lugs with adhesive backings available from Performance and Nashbar. Let's face it--customizing your bicycle may be American, but putting a fake lug on it is a merkin.




Friday, November 16, 2007

The Indignity of Commuting By Bicycle: Friday Fun Quiz!

As bad a photographer as I am, I sometimes like to take pictures while I ride since it helps me to hone my bike handling skills. And in my ongoing battle against complacency, I figured I'd spring a test on people right before the weekend. Just study the picture carefully and click on your answer. If you're right, you'll see hematorcrit-manipulating former Tour de France champion, Team CSC owner and manager, and bon vivant Bjarne Riis savoring a glass of wine. If you're wrong, you'll see him looking heavenward for an answer. Good luck!


This is a picture of:

This car is headed into oncoming traffic because:


The signs they're putting on UPS trucks now are:
What's happening in this photo?

This sign is:



This car costs:

The sign on this cab is:



A good title for the "Untitled Project" being filmed here would be:

--“Bike Lane Blockers”
--“Attack of the Pushy PAs”
--“Trailer Trash”
--All of the above

Thursday, November 15, 2007

BSNYC Product Review: No Holds Barred

Among other things, the terms of my selling out stipulate that I must review products. Consequently, to walk into my home is to wade waist-deep through boxes and boxes of bicycle product. In fact, my living room makes Cadence look like Recycle-A-Bicycle. It’s gotten so bad that "Velonews" technical guru and whiz-bangery apologist Lennard Zinn has tried to break in so many times I’ve had to put a Jobst Brandt scarecrow outside. So I figured it’s time I reviewed something so I can get one more thing out of the house.

But even though I’m a sell-out, I won’t just review anything. No, if I’m going to review something it has to give me that feeling of pulse-pounding excitement all gear whores live for—it’s like that feeling you get right after you swallow a pill without knowing what it is and right before whatever it’s supposed to do to you starts happening. Unfortunately, I opened package after package and just didn’t get that sensation. That is, until I opened the one containing the Cinelli Neo Morphe handlebar. As soon as I opened the box and pulled that twisted carbon out from beneath the dozens of stale cannoli Cinelli had used for packing material, I knew this was it.


Sure, I know what you’re thinking when you hear “Cinelli.” You’re thinking, “Why don’t they put a bullet in this company already?” Apart from some nice cork tape and the Supercorsa, what have they given the cycling world since their old 26.4 bar clamp “standard” and a whole lotta quasi-innovative flash? With their latest line of products, Cinelli aren’t just thinking outside the box. They’re wrapping the box in metallic paper, placing it under an over-decorated Christmas tree, putting the whole thing in South Beach, Miami, and having the world’s tackiest holiday party. Cinelli have become the bicycle equivalent of a middle-aged divorcee in a Versace dress who drinks too much and starts hanging all over you in a hotel bar. They’re like Irenie in that scene from “Pootie Tang” where she’s sexually assaulting Truckie.

But this handlebar was something different. As all cyclists know, there’s just something objectionable about old-fashioned handlebars. Simply grabbing a piece of bent tubing transports you back to a time before universal suffrage, Polio vaccine, and indoor plumbing, and that’s a trip you don’t want to take. Meanwhile, as soon as I picked up the Cinelli Neo Morphe I started running around the house in my underwear, pretending to pilot the Millennium Falcon and making laser noises before I even knew what I was doing.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history of road bike handlebars, here it is in a nutshell. First there was this:

Then there was the “ergo bend.”



Then “classic bend” became the new ergo. (“Classic bend” is the same as the old-fashioned bars, but in black).

Then bars with flat tops became the new classic bend.


Then came the Cinelli Neo Morphe and buried them all.

OK, so it was time to install these bars on one of the BSNYC test-cycles (I’m fortunate to have two test-cycles). Unfortunately, there were no visible bolts on my shift levers, so for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to get them off. After wrestling with them for a couple of hours I gave up and brought everything to the LBS. The mechanic disappeared for four minutes, brought everything back to me ready to go, and charged me $75. The one thing I did do was wrap the bars myself once I got back home. I used Saran Wrap for three reasons: 1) it’s easier than fussing with complicated tape; 2) it shows off the bars; and 3) it lets me read the markings on the bar that mark the locations of the “Palm Zone,” “Power Zone,” “3 Finger Zone,” and “Revers Grip Zone.” (Thankfully, the text is all in English.)

My plan was to try these out on the local group ride, but as we all know you should always test something first before doing a race or a hard training ride. So I took the test-cycle for a spin around the block. It’s hard for me to describe just how sublime these handlebars are, but I’ll do my best. Just remember the most erotic dream you’ve ever had. Remember how your hands moved all over your partner, caressing every curve. Now fix those contours in carbon fiber and bolt them onto the front of your bike with a 31.8 stem. That on librium is what it’s like to ride these bars.

I rolled up to the start of the group ride and immediately received the “oohs” and “ahhs” from other riders that every serial upgrader longs for. As we rolled out, I put my hands in the “Palm Zone” and started to spin. Soon the pace increased and the pack got strung out. I started to lose the wheel in front of me, so I moved my hands to the “Power Zone.” And that’s when it happened. I started going fast—really fast. Soon the other riders were a blur, and then they were gone. Suddenly I felt like I was in a vortex and I started passing riders that weren't even there: recumbents; Bonneville salt flat land speed record-breakers; guys on tri-bikes wearing Lt. Dangle short-shorts. Then, impossibly, I started going even faster. Like “Spaceballs,” I hit plaid, but then I leapfrogged plaid and went straight to argyle lycra. Then everything went black.

I eventually came to lying on the side of the road, just past the final sprint point. My bike was gone and all that was left were the Cinelli Neo Morphe bars I was still clutching in my hands. The rest of the group arrived 45 minutes later. Just try that with your aluminum classic bends.

Cinelli just raised the bar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pluggin' Away: Bicycle Product Placement

If you’re me, in some ways these are tough times: Bike Snob Chicago, Bike Snob Austin, and the Cyclelicio.us AutoSnob are all conspiring to make me redundant. Fortunately, I’ve got something to fall back on, and that’s my fake job as a cycling consultant to Hollywood. Despite the writers’ strike, things are going well on that front. Cycling has never been more fashionable or more politically correct, so everybody wants bikes in their movies. Not only that, but the bike companies have more money to spend, and they’re spending it on product placement. The result? Everybody wins! (Except you.) Here are some upcoming projects I’ve got on my pie plate:

"Speed Racer"

The big-screen adaptation of the popular anime TV series, directed by the Wachowski Brothers (“The Matrix”).

Product:

Nitto anodized handlebars and stems

Placement:

Speed Racer encounters a clan of hyper-fashionable alleycat racers in the backstreets of Tokyo. They are clad all in black and ride all-black bikes, except for their untaped and brightly anodized Nitto handlebars. Their leader lisps menacingly and strokes his pet gila monster when he talks. Speed Racer ultimately foils them when the gang is unable to follow him onto a KK Expressway on-ramp.


"Castaway II"

Tom Hanks’s son (played by his real-life son Colin), a UPS shipping executive, finds himself stranded on the same island his father was stuck on 15 years ago.

Product:

Performance Bicycle (mail-order retail outlet)

Placement:

Shortly after the plane crash, a box from the shipment the plane was carrying washes up on shore. It is a carton of parts from Performance Bicycle. Inspired by Craig Calfee, Colin Hanks builds a frame out of bamboo and explores the island by mountain bike. Eventually he figures out how to make some really big pontoons and pedals his way across the high seas and back to civilization.


"Untitled Kate Hudson/Owen Wilson Romantic Comedy Vehicle"

Another in an endless series of light romantic comedies set in a picturesquely trendy city in which a series of misunderstandings eventually brings two people together.

Product(s):

Bianchi; R.E.Load messenger bags, top tube pads, and clothing

Placement:

Zooey Deschanel plays Kate Hudson’s sarcastic and brooding fixed-gear-riding roommate. In one scene she comes home and tells Hudson about the crush she has on the local celebrity messenger and alleycat champion (played by Adam Brody from the “O.C.”), explaining that, “He’s really hot. He rides a Pista Concept, his sneakers match his rims, and his dreadlocks smell like kitty litter.” Then she sighs, pulls the hood of her R.E.Load sweatshirt over her head, and does a big bong hit.


"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

The long-awaited fourth installment in the iconic “Indiana Jones” series.

Product:

Rivendell Bicycle Works

Placement:

The producers have commissioned Grant Petersen of Rivendell to build a period-correct all-terrain bicycle for Indiana Jones to ride during his jungle adventures. Production was stalled for over two years while Petersen and George Lucas argued bitterly about the merits and chronological accuracy of 650B wheels. Petersen himself plays the reclusive framebuilder and black market artifacts dealer Jones finds in the Tunisian desert and hires to build his bike.


"Never Cry Wolf"

Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist whose calls for action go unheeded on the eve of the greatest natural disaster the East Coast has ever seen.

Product(s):

NiteRider lighting systems; Jandd panniers

Placement:

Goldblum’s character is an avid bicycle commuter. At one point he encounters a colleague on a Cambridge, Massachusetts street on a dark night. “Man alive, those lights are bright!,” exclaims the colleague. “I could see you coming all the way from Somerville.” Goldblum replies, “Indeed. That’s the idea. And these panniers are quite capacious as well. I’ve got the load-carrying capacity of a Prius. And much better mileage!” They both guffaw heartily.


"Made in America"

An issue-driven drama about the dangers overseas outsourcing presents to America’s people and economy. Denzel Washington plays the idealistic Washington attorney fighting to change international trade law.

Product:

Cannondale Bicycles

Placement:

The paint on foreign-built bicycle frames sold by various US companies is found to contain dangerous levels of toxins, date rape drugs, endangered animal by-products, and natural male enhancements. In the climactic courtroom scene, Denzel Washington makes a dramatic point by licking a Cannondale road bike frame from headtube to rear dropout and exclaiming, “Thank God my bike was made in the USA!”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bike Polo: Mallets 'N Mullets


In many ways, New York City is like a steel frame. Theoretically, it’s repairable, but in practice that’s too expensive so everyone just lets it rust and fall apart. Also, the streets are full of horizontal dropouts (though this type is usually panhandling for drug money while lying on cardboard). And, most importantly, as it gets older it’s going soft.

That’s right, I said it. New York is getting softer than a retired pro’s midriff. Once upon a time when people thought of New York they thought of deranged messengers putting their lives on the line in order to deliver relatively unimportant pieces of paper to people in pleated pants. But that image has effectively been de-mystified by the fixed-gear craze as people all over the world slip on that image as casually as you slip on a sweater in a drafty room. Even the bike thieves are becoming more civil—now they actually wait for you to get off your bike and lock it up before they steal it from you. And with the advent of bike polo the de-clawing of urban cycling is almost complete.

And it’s not just that it’s a horse away from this:

Or a pool away from this:


It’s not even the fact that it’s just hacky sack with bikes and sticks.

It’s that it’s too genteel. Riding languidly around a park in a fashion mullet and swatting at a ball with detached bemusement to the strains of indie rock is not going to put New York back on the map as an underground cycling force to be reckoned with. Nor is it going to inspire anyone to make another quasi-gritty laughable Hollywood feature like "Quicksilver." It's not even going to convince Specialized to come out with a line of zertz-infused carbon mallets and a bike called the "Polo Pony." No, all it's going to do is get us laughed at by people in Portland who probably play it better, are coddled by ample bike lanes, and race cyclocross in dresses. Hell, even the people in Dallas are doing it with more aggression and bodily harm!

That's why I believe it's of the utmost importance that people in New York leave this frivolous pastime to the rest of the world and focus on creating something new for people to copy.