Monday, January 7, 2008

Hiding in Plain Sight: Why Cycling Is The World's Most Popular Underground Activity

Cycling is everywhere. People ride for fitness, pleasure, competition, transportation, and work, and it’s something just about everyone knows how to do. (Sure, you occasionally meet adults who never learned how to ride a bike, but you generally regard them with the sort of suspicion you reserve for people who don’t use email or who can’t do their own laundry.) Nonetheless, cycling is still regarded as a fringe activity. Sure, there are places where cycling is part of the mainstream culture, like Belgium, the Netherlands, and Portland, Oregon, but none of those places are in the United States. Here, cycling occupies approximately the same niche as pornography, in that it’s something that pretty much everybody is familiar with, yet few people seem willing to openly embrace. Lately I’ve been putting some thoughts into just why this is, and I’ve come up with three primary reasons:

1) Negative Portrayal in Hollywood

Over the years, various ethnic groups have been successful in challenging the stereotypical manner in which they have historically been portrayed in film. Cyclists, however, have not. Just watch a film like, say, “You, Me, and Dupree,” in which a dopey Owen Wilson pedals around town on an old Schwinn, tapes his bars from the tops down, and attempts to emulate Lance Armstrong. Or check out “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” in which riding a bicycle symbolizes immaturity, sexual ineptitude, and general dorkitude. You’ll feel madder than Malcolm X watching “Driving Miss Daisy.” Sure, cycling had its Blaxploitation moment with “Quicksilver” in 1986, but other than that it’s pretty much been nerds on 10 speeds.

Which is not to say that cyclists aren’t dorky, mind you. Many of us are. But that doesn’t mean we need to look that way on film. If Hollywood can convince people that pimps are lovable (“Hustle and Flow”), lawyers are interesting (“Michael Clayton”), and Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are still alive (“The Bucket List”), they can make cycling look cool too.

2) Pro Road Cycling

For better or for worse, it takes professional level competition to legitimize any athletic endeavor. Cycling is no exception. And of all the pro cycling disciplines, road cycling gets the most exposure, the most sponsorship money, and the most coverage in the mainstream media. However, apart from the whole Lance Armstrong thing, pro cycling has completely failed to capture the public’s imagination. And that’s going to get worse before it gets better. Why? Teams like Rock Racing.

Jeans and cycling have not come together with more disastrous results since that time your buddy tried to do a double century in his Levis and had to be hospitalized for 3rd degree jock itch. Team owner Michael Ball, with the help of his tan, has been hiring pretty much every disgraced pro he can get his hands on, mouthing off to the press, and generally trying to become the Vince McMahon of cycling. If cycling were a 15 year old girl, he’d be offering her liquor and trying to get into her pants.

But that’s not the problem. I don’t really concern myself with issues like doping and ethics, and I prefer to leave the sporting coverage to the professionals. What I do care about is aesthetics, and Michael Ball is bringing a bad one to cycling. His Rock & Republic clothes are for the kinds of people who watch shows like “Miami Ink,” covet custom choppers, use excessive amounts of Armor All on the dashboards and tire sidewalls of their motor vehicles, and who count things like flat screen TV ownership, toned abs, and threesomes among their life goals. I’d take a hundred Cadences and a thousand boring bank sponsors over this kind of cheese. They even use Escalades as team cars. While I suppose that gives people a rare chance to see one of the word’s most obnoxious SUVs with a bicycle on top of it instead of underneath it, it’s still an offensive image.

Bikes, jeans, and Balls don’t mix. Please take your bling back to 2002 and leave cycling alone.

3) Helmets and Brakeless Riding

It goes without saying that it’s better to wear a helmet than not to wear a helmet. And certainly people should be encouraged to wear them. However, the degree to which people are being encouraged to wear them may be backfiring.

Pro-helmet vehemence has reached the same level as anti-smoking vehemence, which means that many non-cyclists have the impression that simply mounting a bicycle with a bare head is tantamount to suicide. This makes cycling (helmeted or not) seem like a riskier endeavor than it is. Similarly, some riders who do wear helmets consequently feel a layer of security which is falsely enhanced by a sense of self-righteousness, and which runs deeper than the mere inch or so of foam on their heads.

In fact, people put so much faith in helmets that it’s now commonplace to see fixed-gear riders wearing helmets on bikes with no brakes. Choosing a helmet over a brake means that riders are putting way too much confidence in helmets alone, and it suggests a disturbing trend of blind faith and passivity in cycling. This is the same mentality that once made people think that filters would protect them from their cigarettes. Riding a bike with a helmet but no brake is like leaving the stove on when you go to work because you have homeowner’s insurance, or like wearing a condom while you shoot heroin with a dirty needle.

The result is we now have a population split between the notion that cycling is too dangerous to pursue, and the notion that a helmet will save them from anything. And of course both of these notions are wrong. So what happens is, half the people don’t ride in the first place, and the other half wind up lying on the ground under their brakeless bikes wondering why their helmet didn’t make them stop fast enough.

115 comments:

rageahol said...

first!

Anonymous said...

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!

Kevin Jaeger said...

Finally - a podium!!

Anonymous said...

4!

thefutureofamerica said...

I think maybe those helmeted brakeless guys just haven't finished installing their head-activated brake levers yet. I'll bet its their New Year's resolution.

That Guy said...

Insightful comments, gentleman.

Kevin Jaeger said...

Gads, what have I done?? Those comment races are the dorkiest cyclist-related thing since the arrival of track stand competitions - and now I'm one of them....


But anyway, Here, cycling occupies approximately the same niche as pornography,

On that topic, I'd like to see the snob turn his derision on these:
http://copenhagengirlsonbikes.blogspot.com.

Fashionable European chics on bikes with boots and high heels - edging pretty close to pron territory.

Anyone can mock fixed gear hipsters and the rest of us dorks on bikes. It would take a real talent to heap derision on hot chicks on bikes. I wonder if the snob's up to it.

Go Dutch said...

The dutch girls on bikes site is way hot, maybe if i moved there i could get some ass

Anonymous said...

Snobs already covered the fashionable girls on bikes in NY, so I don't think covering ones in Europe is too much of a difference.

printenv said...

Brakeless bikes is just another example of survival of the fittest.

Anonymous said...

Roadbikereviews: Wranglers cut-offs

http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/clothing/shorts/wranglers/PRD_21262_1655crx.aspx

or cut/paste/connect

http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/
clothing/shorts/wranglers/
PRD_21262_1655crx.aspx

If neither works, go to roadbike reviews, click on shorts, and cut to near the end of the alphabet for "W".

Josh said...

As Snob pointed out in a previous entry, the brakeless phenomenon is almost certainly resulting in an increase of cycling fatalities.

For example:
http://tinyurl.com/33zh7j

Polygraf said...

So sad,as I'm walking back from lunch I watch a brakeless rider attempt to put his helmet on while riding up 9th ave, I guess he didnt hear the sirens behind him or noticed the traffic pattern completely changing around him, well he got cut off and ran into a parked car just before he could get the helmet on, oh well.
To the brakeless riders out there regardless of your motivation the sad day will come when you strip your cog or break a chain and wish you had a front brake, I learn everything the hard way.

Chris said...

My wife and I are proud to be a cycling dorks. Though we don't do the comment-races, we do have "sprints" for city/state limit signs when we're in the car on long trips to actual races.

With regard to helmets, mine has saved me in two bad crashes in road races. Hence I will continue to wear mine. However, I think Jerry Seinfeld put it best when talking about helmets. He said that helmets were invented because people didn't want to stop their head-cracking lifestyles. In most cases, the helmet is wearing you for protection.

Just my $.02.

Michael S said...

the apocalypse is upon us:

http://tinyurl.com/34sl38

lost fixer said...

Dear BSNYC,
Would it be better if I mounted a brake to my helmet? That way I don't have to mount it to my bike's fork and I'll have double safety.
Please advise me...

sh said...

Michael Ball, with the help of his tan...

Haha! Reading this section was immensely satisfying.

Thank you.

ayendeewy said...

well if nothing else michael ball's escalades ensure that no matter how well his team is doing(which probably won't be that well)the mechanic will always be last in line in the team car caravan. ball has no idea how to run a team. at least frankie andreu had the good sense to bail.

USF cycling said...

Wait, Portland, Oregon isn't in the United States?

Anonymous said...

haha portland isnt in the us.

wait....

nope.

i don't get it.

Sprocketboy said...

Jeans and pro cycling really don't go together: the Team Coast fiasco was bad enough but who could forget Team Carrera's denim-look racing shorts?

On the movies and bikes theme, I always think of Pee-Wee Herman. Or Dave, in "Breaking Away." Can't call them dorks/nerds can you? Well, uh...

Barry Bonds said...

Who needs helmets when 'roids give you a natural helmet. My hat size jumped up 3 sizes!!!

If anyone asks, just say it was a vitamin B-12 shot.

Jim said...

Wonderful screed. Michael Ball... Major League [. . .]hole. Hoping to become the Al Davis / George Steinbrenner (combined) of cycling, apparently.

Helmets, eh? I'm not moralistic about it, but I've busted three of them in the last 18 months, including a fairly high speed face-first crash into a tree on the MTB last weekend. The cracked and crushed foam on the inside of the helmet in each crash would likely have been a busted skull and damaged gray matter if I hadn't been wearing the 'dorky' helmet.

So I'm a believer. I'm not moralistic about it but really have problems with foolhardy bastards who expect the rest of us to pay, through increased insurance premiums, for their foolishness.

Roger Clemens said...

That's not a bad idea!

mojito said...

Quote of the day, on the use of Escalades as team vehicles: "While I suppose that gives people a rare chance to see one of the word’s most obnoxious SUVs with a bicycle on top of it instead of underneath it, it’s still an offensive image."

I had no idea about the origins of Rock Racing until I read this blog. What could be more gangsta and edgy than tatts and lycra? I'll look out for it next time I trawl through the bargain bins at TJ Maxx.

One question, why is this idiotic brand deemed "infamous"? Was it behind the anthrax scare of '01, all as a big publicity stunt? Were the jeans so tight they threatened David Beckham's manhood when he donned them? Did it sponsor OJ's Vegas lawyers?

Anonymous said...

Your description of those R and R guys is spot on. In 10 years histroy will look at guys like that the same way we look at dudes with IROCs and mustaches. I'd never read anything about this Ball guy before that Velonews interview. What a douche. I need a shower.

George Mitchell said...

I knew it!!

mario said...

Michael Ball is right about the need of pro riders to unionize, however--and because I strongly doubt that many other owners or managers will support that, I am content to let Ball do his thing.

nolucker said...

Wearing a condom while using a dirty spike only works if you do them at the same time. Some idiots think that if you use a condom for sex it will protect you from hepatitis and hiv when you have that after sex hot shot-well, it just don't work that way. Try wearing a bike helmet during sex.

urchin said...

Great post, snob. By the way, one of the L's fell off the title. Not to be nit-picky..

The post and resulting comments remind me of my own least favorite helmet-related group--the geniuses (genii?) riding around bare-headed with a helmet dangling from a backpack or (worse) a handlebar. Gonna whip that baby on only if you need it?

It seems like there used to be a semi-cool aesthetic for roadies to perch their helmet on the bars/shifter cables during hot stretches, but that's gone the way of the Softride since helmet rules stiffened.

As Hunter Thompson spent his life reminding us, Americans don't cotton to halfway measures: if you do it, do it All the Way. If it's no helmet, go ahead with no sleeves, no brakes, and a sharp pair of scissors in your teeth. If you do go for the helmet, get a monster block of foam with a do-rag on it. Let's get this right.

Anonymous said...

reminds me, anyone know where i can get a copy of that cops on bikes show/that was nothing like baywatch. pacific blue i think it was called.

bikesgonemild said...

Did Hunter S Thompson say that before or after he was shot out of a cannon?

What a waste

gttim said...

My favorite on the helmets is guys who ride during the winter wearing hats because it is too cold, however they cannot be bothered with a helmet.

Say what you want about Vince McMahon, but the guy is getting rich off of sweaty men dressed in spandex! And RAW's rating are well over twice what Fox News' highest rated show, O'Reilly Factor, is. Of course that isn't really saying a lot and you might actually run across the truth on wrestling- called a "shoot."

I have no problem with Rock Racing hiring a bunch of drugged up cyclists! If a cyclist wants to drug himself to the gills for my entertainment, more power to him! Hell, like the WWE, I think cyclists should be able to whack the crap out of whack other with metal folding chairs! I know the race officials looked the other way when I pushed Cipollini up Brasstown Bald, so they can look the other way when he is swinging a chair!

Matt in Seattle said...

BS, this was a great post and really identifies some of the sources of cycling's image woes here in the States. Your beef about Ball is right on the money and made me laugh pretty hard. 15 year old, that's most certainly the quote of the day. Thanks for a great year of insight and entertainment in 2007, you're well on your way to a stellar 2008.

Cheers!

curmudgeon said...

Didn't Cadillac use New York bike messengers in an ad campaign to sell the Escalade a couple years ago?

The last paragraph is spot-on. Except I phrase it another way: the world is divided between those who think they have no control over their own bike safety (traffic is too dangerous), and those who choose not to exercise that control (now that I have my own helmet, I'm freed from all restraints like traffic rules). But wait, there's a 3rd category: those who look at the non-bikers and the reckless bikers, and think that the government should do something to make biking safer.

erik k said...

does that mean i should also wear a helmet while ridding around in the team Escalade?

Anonymous said...

Peoples Republic of Portland not part of the US. Now that's funny.

Monty Burns said...

WooHoo
More velocipedes without brakes I say! Let these former skateboarding neer do-wells have their fun. They can record it on their videometer apparatus and rather than watching these imbeciles cracking their helmetless heads while attempting rail slides down multi-flight stairwells on their skating boards, I can watch their actual death due to their inability to perform a skidding stop on these fixed cog velocipedes.
Besides it will thin the masses for Smithers and I when we take out the tandem Raleigh for a quick spin around the nuclear plant.

Bully for them I say!

Smithers said...

I love you, Sir.

Cayle said...

Your just jealous because your not in Oregon where we ride our fixies in skinny jeans, with brakes and helmets while saving the planet.

leroy said...

gttim is on to something.

If pro roadies could wack each other with folding chairs, the sport would really take off.

I mean, look what that sorta thing did for roller derby.

But, gttim, when you tell us you touched Cipollini's butt, you're obviously bragging.

Heck, on most Monday mornings, I can't find my own butt using both hands.

Half asleep on the Brooklyn Bridge this morning, I was passed by a guy on a Dahon.

YTC Matt said...

Bravo! This entry is a cut above and definitely will get me through the rest of the work day.

I still can't figure out if the whole Rock Racing team is some kind of hoax or if I should just be really depressed.

Anonymous said...

Riding a fixed gear without a front brake is indeed dumb because outrageous accidents do occur, like chains breaking, cogs slipping, and five thousand pound hunks of metal suddenly veering in front of one's path.

That being said, a front brake is rarely used if the rider has any clue how to operate his bicycle and learn to avoid large chunks of metal. Think of it as a air-bag for a bicycle.

Same reason that freewheel bikes have double brakes. Funny, I never hear people making fun of single-speed riders with only a front brake. Ever had a cable snap before?

Elmira Gulch said...

I'll fix you my little pretty!

Anonymous said...

Snob,

Bit quote happy today? If you're going to play to our cultural savvy then it seems kind of superfluous to put every movie title or reference in "Quotes" as if to say "This is a reference to something you might have heard of or seen". Capitalization will do. And if the people reading it are lost due to lack of savvy or living in Nebraska, then I say eff it -- "Pity the fool".

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, neither a front nor rear brake is necessary if you're just a poser riding around on a fixie at 7 mph... But if you want or need to ride with even a minimal sense of purpose (i.e., to improve fitness or to actually get somewhere instead of trying to look cool on the way), you need a brake.

And the reason freewheel bikes have two brakes isn't to create a redundant system in the event of a cable failure, it's because there's no other way to slow the rear wheel on a freewheel bike -- unlike on a fixed gear, upon which the rear wheel can be very effectively slowed down by backpedal pressure...which is why no one bags on a fixie with only one brake.

mr.complaint said...

Hockey.

When helmets became mandatory in the NHL, head shots went up.

Cars feel "safer" driving near cyclists with helmets.

I feel safer on the bikepath.

Is riding no-handed the same as having your helmet on your handlebars?

Anonymous said...

Carrera Jeans deserves a nod here, as another bad combination of bike racing and "fashion" jeans.

Really you ought to applaud and encourage train wrecks like Rock Racing, for the same reason comedians supported Dan Quayle.

db said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Snob, your blog has become a growing addiction ever since I first stumbled across it as the "site of the day" on Velonews.com. It now even cuts into my internet porn time. So here is my question: How many hits do you get each day? Is it a state secret?

Anonymous said...

I took the liberty of emailing todays blog entry to Rock Racing. I also told them that their team image made me throw up a little in my mouth. Piles of shit like "Rock Racing" make me embarrassed to be human.

db said...

Wow, I had no idea that Rock Racing even existed. And now I wish that was still the case. What an egotistical dink.

Did Andreu actually bail? He's still on the team page...

Cycle Jerk said...

I saw the Rock Racing's panzer division at last years CSC invitational in Arlington, VA. (Which they took first totally by accident) The rest of the teams were are sporting cool Subarus and Vdubs but RR had two big caddies which took up most of the street.

Where is General Patton when you need him?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:51pm,

I don't follow a style manual, but the culturally savvy know that publications generally put movie titles in quotes, so that's my rule of thumb.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:51 PM,

You'll no doubt be surprised to learn that placing titles in quotes is merely the grammatically-correct way to use the English language. Props to BSNYC for adhering to a higher grammatical standard than most of the internet.

Anonymous said...

Re: mr complaint

Yeah, there was a newspaper article about that, maybe a year ago. (Anybody remember which paper?) In a crash you're obviously better off with a helmet, but apparently statistically your likelihood of getting hit by a car is actually greater with a helmet on.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:56

I'm sure the previous Anon understands the braking function of a fixed wheel. He's referring to the fact that the front brake is considered the primary means of slowing a freewheel bike (as detailed in Sheldon Brown's article on braking), and so for a lot of people the rear brake is thought of as a backup... much the same way a lot of fixed riders see the front brake as just a backup, though obviously neither one is "redundant."

Scott said...

gttim,

If you could only touch one but in the peloton, I suppose that Cipo's is not a bad choice.

But not washing your hand afterwards? That's just gross. Just from what I know of where Cipo's ass has been I'm terrified of what must be growing on it, and I'm sure my knowledge only scratches the surface!

clayton said...

apparently statistically your likelihood of getting hit by a car is actually greater with a helmet on.

this is hard for me to swallow.
newspapers are notoriously bad at reporting scientific or statistical data with any sort of accuracy or even proper context. even the nytimes does a horrible job of this, and i can't see any reasonable reason to believe the chances of being struck by a car are increased for helmeted riders.

urchin said...

Back to the subject of the day, although I really enjoyed the post, I fear another subset is missing from your analysis. The other volume of the trilogy of things giving cycling a bad rap would be us. Snarky cyclists and their enablers, along with the ubiquitous snarky bikeshop employees, really put up an obstacle to new recruits to cycling.
I have ridden for years and only recently started to race, but only after spending ungodly amounts of money and building up a couple of bikes for myself did I finally start feeling at home with Bike People. It came like an answer to a Zen koan: day after day, the bikeshop guy says 'fuck you.' After years, I now know the answer to this riddle: 'no, fuck you.'
Part of the joy of bikes for many of us (as this site attests) is mercilessly hacking apart the adherents of slightly different disciplines (and of course the merely clueless). We love to do it, and as many other BSNYC fans must agree, we really love seeing it done well.
In Snob We Trust. e pluribus snobum

iron fish said...

The Escalade is (lets hope) the height of pointlessly oversized, aggressive, low-function vehicles, even more so than the mighty Hummer, which at least has a vestige of its military heritage if you were trying to excuse it. The moment I first saw one it raised my hackles.

Funny comment about Michael Ball being the Al Davis of cycling. When I was publishing a cycling zine back in the early nineties, I did an interview with Peter O'Neil, who ran the Gotham Ghosts of the National Cycling League. He actually worked pr for the Oakland Raiders before taking his shtick to the NCL. The sport seemed much more epic and legendary when you had to wait weeks to read the play by play of the big tours in Winning and VeloNews. So far cycling seems to be resisting attempts to dumb it down and cheese it up (NCL)or make it a mainstream sport without the Don from Texas.

Anonymous 4:51 said...

Well I'll be honest, my dog-eared edition of Strunk & White has served as little more than a doorstop over the past few years. And (yes, I'm starting a sentence with and), that's the way I plan to keep it. You see I'm of the mind to say fuck it, when it comes to a higher grammatical standard. Play loose and fast with the language while letting others know that you could, if you so desired, button it down like a starched shirt. That's mojo, my friend.

I'll tell you how the post reads: I imagine in the narrative that the "Air-Quotes"-gesture is used every time a movie title is referenced. Seems a bit strange. Of course most of the stuff I read, on and offline, takes the liberty of assuming that it's readers aren't total imbeciles -- though I'm certain there's a flustered fixed gear rider out there in the blogosphere whose eyes glazed over, complete with attendant drool, when they arrived at the word Quicksilver. Thank god you "quoted" it, otherwise a grand mal was sure to follow.

Don't let my tone betray my true feelin's. Love the blog, Snob.

Anonymous said...

re "go dutch said" (2:08pm), not sure if it was intentional, but Copenhagen is in Denmark, not Holland ...

Anonymous said...

nuts, that should have been "go dutch" not "go dutch said".

leroy said...

Clayton --

I remember the helmet study and article from the Times.

The study determined that cars passed closer to riders with helmets than riders without.

The author of the study hypothesized that drivers thought riders with helmets were less likely to swerve in front of them.

The study also suggested that drivers passed closer to men on bikes than women.

I wouldn't touch a hypothetical based on that second observation even with gttim's unwashed hand.

Here's a link, I think.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/somerset/5334208.stm

Obviously, you are still better off wearing a helmet if you fall.

And I'm still wearing my helmet.

Woody Allen explained why best (even before he took up with his step daughter): "My brain? That's my second favorite organ."

Matt in Seattle said...

curmudgeon, it's true about the Caddy/NYC messenger ads. I'm pretty sure it was the topic of a legal discussion since the image was used without the photographer or messenger's permission, similar to the Nike/Minor Threat situation.

http://www.sublimited.net/skateboard_industry_news/nike_minor_threat_ripoff.html

Anonymous said...

Rock Racing is a team for tards! Think of them as the Marilyn Manson of Cycling. How can Michael Ball be surprised by normal reaction to seeing something freaky? full body tattoo and lycra riding a bike is hard to comprehend...and its not like the guy was born with a defect.

CrankyCyclist said...

Here, cycling occupies approximately the same niche as pornography ...

You mean like this, or this?

Anonymous said...

The only thing that statistics support are Statisticians.

quentin loves caddy said...

hey nolucker: a hot-shot is not another term for a needle full of heroin. it used to be a term for a shot of of poison given to an unsuspecting narc to silence his flappy mouth.
had to clarify; i can't stand it when people get drug slang wrong.
and snob: i think a huge reason that potential bicyclers stay away is the LBS. there are only two bike shops in all of chicago where i don't mind interacting with the staff. in fact, i'd like to give one of them some publicity because the owner, eric, is such a nice guy: smart bike parts. they deliver all over the us and they're prices are generally really great.
peace for kenya!

Pooka MacPhellimey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pooka MacPhellimey said...

On the helmat thing, I have had many "boy-vs-car" saves, the only damage being the skid lid, but I did have one terrible face plant about 9 years ago upon encountering some bad road surfaces. The one time without a helmet on unfamiliar road I preformed an alé oop, leaving most of my face in the ensuing skid mark, I got a broken nose and a nervous brain doctor consultant. Put the s**ts up me.

It's not just the traffic you gotta worry about people.

Never heard of team Rock the Billy Bob Ye Hah!!! or whatever, but what do you expect given the current state of pro cycling, as they say; any port in a storm.

BRAKELESS RIDERS, hmmm. I ride a fixed wheeled bike at the moment. it is nice. I like it alot, but I'm the kind of person who thinks moutain bikes are just ripping off cyclo-cross, people have been going off road before the €5,000 full suspension bicycle so what is all the fuss? I've gotten off the topic, where was I? Oh, yeah, couriers. So the trend to have a fixie with deep Vs and riser bars and old track frames has caughten on over the pond. They think it is cool to cycle around with 50/15 gear ratios, then take the brakes off. I know it is a macho thing to say that you can stop a bike with that gearing but you can't. Think of the amount of torque on that steel frame and on your knees? Read Sheldon Brown on it. Plus it rains here, ALOT. So one rainy night on my way home in heavy traffic this guy over takes me with a full skid on, sans any other brake on this rig, goes for about another 6m and ends up in a busy pedestrian crossing. Simple rule of friction, no friction, no stopping. They'll all end up cippled with knee injuries in a few years and blame cycling.

Pushing riders up the hill is perfectly acceptable on the european circut, once everyone in the pack gets a little assistance. Ahh, the memories of those joyus sundays spent in the hills!!!

Pooka MacPhellimey said...

On the helmat thing, I have had many "boy-vs-car" saves, the only damage being the skid lid, but I did have one terrible face plant about 9 years ago upon encountering some bad road surfaces. The one time without a helmet on unfamiliar road I preformed an alé oop, leaving most of my face in the ensuing skid mark, I got a broken nose and a nervous brain doctor consultant. Put the s**ts up me.

It's not just the traffic you gotta worry about people.

Never heard of team Rock the Billy Bob Ye Hah!!! or whatever, but what do you expect given the current state of pro cycling, as they say; any port in a storm.

BRAKELESS RIDERS, hmmm. I ride a fixed wheeled bike at the moment. it is nice. I like it alot, but I'm the kind of person who thinks moutain bikes are just ripping off cyclo-cross, people have been going off road before the €5,000 full suspension bicycle so what is all the fuss? I've gotten off the topic, where was I? Oh, yeah, couriers. So the trend to have a fixie with deep Vs and riser bars and old track frames has caughten on over the pond. They think it is cool to cycle around with 50/15 gear ratios, then take the brakes off. I know it is a macho thing to say that you can stop a bike with that gearing but you can't. Think of the amount of torque on that steel frame and on your knees? Read Sheldon Brown on it. Plus it rains here, ALOT. So one rainy night on my way home in heavy traffic this guy over takes me with a full skid on, sans any other brake on this rig, goes for about another 6m and ends up in a busy pedestrian crossing. Simple rule of friction, no friction, no stopping. They'll all end up cippled with knee injuries in a few years and blame cycling.

Pushing riders up the hill is perfectly acceptable on the european circut, once everyone in the pack gets a little assistance. Ahh, the memories of those joyus sundays spent in the hills!!!

bikesgonewild said...

...good post today, dr. snob...

...bikes, jeans & balls == scrotal chaffing...physically & mentally...

...ya, micheal ball is cycling's version of mark cuban...but w/out the subtleties...both operate on the old adage::: there is no such thing as 'bad publicity'...

...the bike / pornography thing ??? ...kind of an un-vicious circle...

...& props to urchin, good response...

Anonymous said...

Gee, Jim,

"So I'm a believer. I'm not moralistic about it but really have problems with foolhardy bastards who expect the rest of us to pay, through increased insurance premiums, for their foolishness."

We hear this moronic bromide from time to time. The foolhardy bastards that are raising our insurance premiums are old people, who keep having heart attacks and getting cancer and type 2 diabetes and alzheimer's. If the insurance companies could deny them coverage, our premiums would drop like you on a single track. Let's get rid of them before they get real sick.

Nick said...

"Ever had a cable snap before?"

Actually, no. After 25+ years, no.

Tommy G said...

"...and Portland, Oregon, but none of those places are in the United States"
hahahaha

ltc tim said...

"Cycle Jerk said...
I saw the Rock Racing's panzer division at last years CSC invitational in Arlington, VA. (Which they took first totally by accident) The rest of the teams were are sporting cool Subarus and Vdubs but RR had two big caddies which took up most of the street.

Where is General Patton when you need him?"

Oddly enough he broke his neck shortly after WWI when his car hit a truck which unexpectedly backed out of an alley. I guess being a general and all he felt he didn't need to wear a seatbelt.

ltc tim said...

WW II

EatPlayLove said...

Poor Hollywood is to blame for our societal ills. How can an average American possibly embrace cycling when that would mean turning off their HDtv or getting their ass off the couch! Blasphemy!

Jim said...

Think of them [Rock Racing] as the Marilyn Manson of Cycling.

"Welcome to the Dope Show"? Is that what you're getting at?

We hear this moronic bromide from time to time. The foolhardy bastards that are raising our insurance premiums are old people, who keep having heart attacks and getting cancer and type 2 diabetes and alzheimer's.

Spare me. I'm a lifelong motorcyclist, between bikes, and that community has had the helmet debate ad infinitum. It's not about old people getting sick, it's about risk pools within demographic groups. I don't mind subsidizing the health care of old people in terminal illnesses a bit. Shit, they subsidized everybody else for a long time. I do have a problem with peak earners doing exceedingly stupid shit (beyond mere stupid shit) that raises my premiums and the cost of me participating in a sport. Any lawyers for bike companies around here? Thoughts?

At one point I was paying a $300 monthly premium to ride a liter class sportbike. I asked my insurance company why, repeatedly, and was a prick about it, and eventually got passed to an actuarial, who explained that young men, my age, on liter class bikes, rode so stupidly that the company simply couldn't pass on the expenses associated with asinine riding to other customers. They figured I had about 6 months of riding that first liter bike I owned, before I wadded it up into a car, hopefully only killing myself when it happened. Pretty blunt view of things but there you go. Of course this was in the age before 600s were routinely hitting 155-160 but the logic still holds - if there's a population doing exceeding stupid things they should be taxed for it.

Simply put - Don't ask the rest of us to pay for your stupid ass choices.

londogendang said...

[i]Bikes, jeans, and Balls don’t mix. Please take your bling back to 2002 and leave cycling alone.[/i]
Thank you...Thank you...Thank you.

Anonymous said...

See what happens when snobby takes a week off? We get this explosion of comments from bottled up readers.

How about Anon 4:51, who plays loose and fast with the language while letting others know that you could, if you so desired, button it down like a starched shirt?

While there's no denying how awesome his maverick commenting skills are, I have to wonder why someone with such a self-professed devil-may-care attitude would spend like 200 words to explain that a blogger's method of quotation is not studiously nonchalant enough.

You failed the cool test, Snob, and some guy typing in fingerless gloves called you out on it.

-Russ

By the way, nice touch, actually bothering to apostrophize out the g in "true feelin's"!

2drunk2shift said...

Holy shit man, you make me feel like a complete amateur ranter. Speaking of Escalades and something to rant about; did anyone see that Cadillac commercial not only w/Dylan's
song playing, but Bob staring in it as well?

That just pisses me off and the fact that I almost get ran over by those big pieces o shit weekly in Virginia Beach.

Anonymous said...

"Ever had a cable snap before?"
"Actually, no. After 25+ years, no."

You're lucky then. I've had multiple brake cable snaps, the most recent during last year. Cable wasn't too old either and didn't show much sign of wear.

Anonymous said...

Let's see what I've learned in a quick skim of the comments?

If I wear a condom while riding a bike, maybe women in sexy boots will get much closer to me in their Escalades?

Hmmmm....

sd said...

"I've had multiple brake cable snaps"

Maybe you should blame your mechanic, cause he must be doing something wrong. You remind me of the guy who has seen "multiple crashes caused by passing without warning" or my neighbor that has seen "multiple lawn fires caused by luminaries"

Eddie B said...

all that fluorescent lycra still out there doesn't do much for the image of cyclists either.

http://safetyissexy.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

fwiw, earl blumenauer is trying to make the rest of the US like portland :P

http://washcycle.typepad.com/home/2008/01/earl-blumenauer.html

cheers!

Anonymous said...

linky

Scott said...

ltc tim,

Patton wasn't wearing a seat belt because they weren't invented yet.

Anonymous said...

i've gotta say michael ball is a huge tard and pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth is ludicrous. hopefully he'll get bored of cycling and go away. on the denim topic though, bigmat had uniforms that looked like they had overalls on and i think there was a team who's kits looked like stoned washed jeans. super gay. thought you should know.

commie canuk said...

Ball finally brings NASCAR, MLB and WWF sports "quality" to pro cycling.
Now, he's hired Landis as a consultant. HED told him to fuck off when he hired Hamilton, and his other equipment sponsors are bailing fast. Seriously, this guy knows as much about cycling as Lance Armstrong knows about clean riding and dating women his age.

Too bad for American cycling trying to be taken seriously again in 2008.

Maybe Ball can pick up some of those Motobecanes cheap.

Anna said...

until my friends actually buckle the chin straps of their pro-tec skate helmets, i refuse to listen to them bitch about my lack of any helmet.


and i caaaan't put a brake on my lovely track drops...aesthetics are all that matter!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, Anna, so your skate pals are dumb. But that still doesn't explain why you don't wear a helmet. Oh, right, only aesthetics matter. So you're just as bright as your friends!

Zer(O)_o| said...

We should all be happy that bike are gaining visibility in society!

I'm sure surfers and then skaters all felt the same when they saw "their" hobby/lifestyle becoming commercialised (yes, it's spelt in REAL English) and extended beyond their idea of what their culture should be.

Bikes are freakin cool and are the SOLUTION to many of the worlds problems (hehe, that's a fun overstatement :) and we should celebrate the differences as it means greater acceptance by the general public... and visibility by the evil car drivers

Anonymous said...

-been riding a bike since i was, um, 6 years old, on all kinds of bikes. never seen a brake cable snap. ever. but if it did that would suck.

-anyone who rides in wet/snow/ice will understand why bikes have rear brakes.

-mr.complaint - no. riding no-handed is not dangerous, and sometimes useful. just watch out for potholes.

-pooka mcphellimwhat?- just because sheldon brown said it doesn't mean its true. i can skid a 54/12. because i fucking rule. (true fact. jobst brandt saw me do it. ask him.)

c_c_rider said...

as Dave Moulton so aptly puts it, "It is POBs that are getting killed, not cyclists."

c_c_rider said...

"cyclists will remain the redheaded stepchild.."

Dr. Martin Van Nostrand said...

I thought "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" was a documentary.

Anonymous said...

Cyclist portrayals in popular culture
Give this guy more examples!

Jeans and Cycling DO go together, dammit:
Andy Hampsten

jd 7520 said...

Anonymous 4:51,
While the culturally "savvy" nyu kids are posing with their bikes in Washington Square, those lost, backwards Nebraskans are actually riding their bikes. http://cycling.unl.edu/

Thank god those sensible Nebraskans haven't gotten caught up in the fixed gear fad.

May the next Nebraskan you meet satisfy your penchant for crude stereotyping by running over your a@@ with his John Deere.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why it has a bad reputation. Cyclists where I live ride right in the middle of the damn road blocking traffic - demanding that they have all the rights of any other vehicle on the road, then they blow right through stop signs and traffic lights without stopping - demanding that they aren't a vehicle. Most of us in a car think they can go to hell and ride on the sidewalk.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1/9/08 7:20pm,

Motorists where I live drive right in the middle of the damn road blocking bike traffic, then they blow right through stop signs and traffic lights without stopping. Most of us on bikes think they can go to hell and drive on the sidewalk. (Which they occasionally do as well.)

--BSNYC

Morganism said...

Helmeted riders are now nearing the level of "smugness" found only in a hybrid infested Southpark. Pretty soon they too will spend hours reveling in the bouquet of their own farts.

Anonymous said...

On the brake/no-brake dispute: If your chain breaks in the middle of a skid (rare but possible) or falls off on a nasty bump, it's a really great thing to have a back-up plan (i.e. a handbrake).

c_c_rider said...

those of us who have ridden smartly (geared, SS, and fixed) for years in traffic without any problems will now feel the wrath of litigation. the end is near... it's the tide i tell you... the tide. Nebraska is not immune from it. just the other day i stopped by my local shop to talk bikes and check out the new '08 inventory... and who walks in? a pair of 20 year olds on two bianchi pistas (brakeless ofcourse) that they had just bought. they had been out riding and crashed and had racked themselves while trying to do skid stops. they came in asking how to stop. WTF!!?!?? kids who look like they haven't ridden a bike since that wal-mart bmx'er their momma bought them for their 13th b-day have NO BUSINESS riding brakeless!! !@#@#!! the way they were dressed i'd say they were skateboarders (hoodies and all) who saw THIS and now want to jump on the bandwagon.

next week they'll take out some pedestrian or piss off the cops and before you know it the city will outlaw fixed gear bikes. thanks kids.

Judi said...

Yea! What a great post BSNY! And after getting my ass ripped to shreds on here last week, some of you will be happy to know I wore a helmet this week riding in traffic. And 45mph winds almost blew me off my bike.

The Skidmark AKA said...

I'm sorry none of you can figure out how to effectively stop a fixed gear bike without the assistance of a handbrake.

You can also "blame your mechanic" for a cog slipping, or a chain breaking. A chain doesn't break unless a pin isn't lined up right, like if you don't know how to operate a chain breaker.

Anonymous said...

speaking of bad portrayal of cycling in movies, check out jessica simpson's go at being a messenger in her new movie "blond ambition"

Anonymous said...

I ride a road bike with gears and all from April to November. During those other months I ride a fixie with no brakes. Here in Minneapolis it gets quite chilly out, and there are many days each year where anything involving a cable will be useful for about 5 minutes outside. At -20f, you can squeeze a brake lever once per ride, and only at the end, if you get my meaning.

Bucket Trucks said...

i80equipment is an online New & used bucket trucks store. Offers a wide variety of Digger Derrick Trucks, Boom Trucks & Crane Trucks.

dinoibo said...

Sesli sohbet Sesli chat
Seslisohbet Seslichat
Sesli sohbet siteleri Sesli chat siteleri
Sesli Chat
Sohbet Sesli siteler
Sohbet siteleri Chat siteleri
Sohbet merkezi chat merkezi
Sesli merkezi sesli Sohbet merkezi
Sesli chat merkezi Sohbetmerkezi
Sesli Sohbet Sesli Chat
SesliSohbet Sesli chat siteleri
Sesli sohbet siteleri SesliChat
Sesli Sesli siteler
Seslimuhabbet sesli muhabbet
sesli sohbet sesli chat siteleri
sesli sohbet siteleri sesli chat
seslisohbet seslichat
seslikent sesli kent
sesli sohbet sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli chat sesli chat siteleri
seslisohbet seslichat

assur said...

Adsense of Jordan Shoes : just do it!
Adsense of Moncler Jackets : sends to warm, give you more comforts of life!
Adsense of Moncler : sends to warm, give you more comforts of life!
Adsense of NFL Jerseys : everything is possible!
Adsense of Christian Louboutin : choice me is choice beautiful foot and body!
Adsense of Puma Shoes : champion is in the first line!
Adsense of Gucci Shoes : Allows you to enjoy the leisure life in the fun!
Adsense of Vibram Fivefingers : taste original life, wear the most morden and comfortable shoes!
Adsense of GHD Hair straighteners : why make our hair so beautiful and lots stylers, for choice me is choice happy!
Adsense of Clearance Nike Shox : Run the first forever!
Adsense of Michael Jordan Shoes : just do it!

ekle paylas said...

nice blog Thanks for sharing. voicesohbet was really very nice.
sesli chat siteleri sesli sohbet
sesli sohbet siteleri sesli chat
seslichat seslisohbet
sesli siteleri chat siteleri
sohbet siteleri sesli siteler
voice sohbet sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli sohbet seslisohbet
sohbet siteleri sesli chat siteleri
seslichat sesli chat
herkesburda herkes burda
sohbetmerkezi sohbetmerkezi