Monday, June 2, 2008

It's Not About The Riding: Cycling, Blogging and the Grey Lady

One of my favorite things about cycling—and about our culture in general—is that you don’t have to deal with pesky things like time, effort, and experience if you want to do or be something. All you need is money. After all, “understanding” is overrated. It’s much more satisfying (and a whole lot easier) to simply bypass all that, fork over the Amex, and have everything handed to you in a shiny bag with a big logo on it.

Take for example “The Climb,” a new blog on The New York Times website to which a number of people have alerted me:

..The Climb is a blog that will chart my attempt, as a 41-year-old beginner cyclist who has never been in a bike race of any kind — and had never ridden even 50 miles in one day until last Saturday — to find out what it takes for an ordinary, not-particularly-fit mortal to survive a single, grueling, mountain stage of the world's greatest cycling race.

Basically, about a year or so ago the author, Robert Mackey, rode a hybrid around Central Park a few times and decided he wanted to know what it would be like to ride in the Tour:

I began to wonder how my struggles to get myself up the steep hill at the northern edge of the park compared to what the television commentators described as the "suffering" Lance and the rest of the peloton endured on their way up the Tour's great climbs in the Alps and the Pyrenees.

If Mr. Mackey had contacted me back then with that question, I would have saved him some time. Firstly, I’d have explained to him that they don’t compare at all. Secondly, I’d have told him that all real cyclists, regardless of ability or riding style, understand the “suffering” of the peloton because they too know what it’s like to suffer on a bike. They suffer in amateur races; they suffer on long solo rides; they suffer over technical terrain; they even suffer to and from work as they risk death on streets teeming with SUVs driven by road rage-addled idiots because they’d rather be injured doing something they love than while away their mornings in a box being miserable.

So had Mr. Mackey really wanted to know what suffering is like, he’d simply have kept riding as much and as hard as possible. Maybe eventually he’d do some group rides, which would introduce him to a new level of difficulty. Then, once he got comfortable, maybe he’d try a race and get to ride up that same hill in Central Park at race pace at the back of the Cat 5 field. (Assuming he wasn’t dropped by then.) But of course, all this would take time and effort. Also, we’d have been deprived of his blog. Thankfully, though, he wisely took the “spend money now and the results will follow” approach:

I found a travel company in Nebraska with a French name, Velo Echappe, that takes Americans to France to ride in L'Étape. I signed up for their deluxe package, which includes entry into the race, two private feed zones along the route, the attention of professional mechanics and three nights in "the finest hotel in the entire Pyrenees Region," conveniently located across the street from the starting line.

To that end, when I did buy a bike to take with me to France, I got a Cervelo R3, the lightest one I could (nearly) afford.


I suspect at this point some of you out there might be getting mad. But I say, Good for you, Robert Mackey! You’re special, and you know that as a special person you shouldn’t have to muck about with the tedious and indignant process of riding your bike before knowing what it’s like to be a professional athlete at the very top of what is very possibly the most physically demanding sport in the world. Some of you might also be wondering, What qualifies this person to blog about cycling under the imprimatur of a newspaper of record like The New York Times? Well, like all newspapers The New York Times is wilting due to increasing irrelevance, so it’s only natural that they would want to publish a cycling blog on their website in an attempt to seem vital. It’s also only natural that they would go for a blog with a stupid reality show-esque premise and an author who’s a complete dilettante and appears simply to be looking for an excuse to buy expensive stuff and go to France. And most importantly, the Times has a rich heritage to uphold of publishing insipid articles about rich idiots and their expensive bikes. Like this one. And this one. And this one.

Hey, it’s the right of every privileged person to put the cart before the horse (or in the case of Mr. Mackey, the Cervelo before the whore) by buying lots of stuff before understanding how to even use that stuff. And hey, how can you be expected ride your shiny new Cervelo when you’re busy?

... just over a year ago, fate dealt me a kind blow. I got a new position at The Times, as a Web producer, and the transition made it nearly impossible for me to devote enough time to training for the race, so I put it off for a year.

Never mind that the world is full of doctors, lawyers, executives, business owners, construction workers, parents, craftsmen, contractors, plumbers, law enforcement officers, and so on who also manage to ride their bikes and race competitively. Fat Cyclist has a full-time career, a wife who’s ill, and like seventeen kids, and he not only rides every one of his fourteen bikes but he also races them and blogs about it incessantly. None of those people are Robert Mackey though, and none of them understand the difficulty of being Robert Mackey nor can imagine the demands placed on Robert Mackey on a daily basis. Also, he got sick:

...I barely rode my bike all winter, felled first by a bad case of bronchitis, and then by a badly infected tooth and what might turn out to be an allergy to my cat.

Hey, Mackey’s hero Lance Armstrong may have ridden his bike while recovering from cancer, but I doubt even Mellow Johnny himself could have stood up to cat dander.

Fortunately, though, it seems Mackey has recovered enough from the sneezing and itchy eyes to start spending money again. It would appear that with a few weeks to go he’s done what any sensible non-cyclist would do and paid someone to bail him out:

I’m finally two weeks into a serious eight-week training program sketched out by a coach at a place called Cadence Cycling in TriBeCa here in New York, whose other clients all seem to be training for insanely hard triathlons on even more insanely expensive bikes than mine. When I described what I wanted to do, and what little I’d done so far, my coach offered this assessment of my chances: “it’s not impossible.”

“It’s not impossible” indeed. Nothing’s impossible if you pay for it. Speaking of money, Mackey wants you to know every dollar he’s spending on this ego-fest is his own:

I am paying for all this entirely on my own and am not in any way sponsored by any of the companies that I’ve mentioned or linked to so far. I paid full-price for the bike, the coaching package, the trip, and the three-day immersion course in climbing (and descending!) skills I took last summer in North Carolina.

Thanks, Robert. Some of us were starting to question the extent of your self-indulgence. I would have been dismayed to find out some of this stuff had been given to you, and I’m relieved to know every bit of gross excess is your own. I’m also glad that you’re writing about all of this now, instead of waiting until after you’d finished and maybe actually learned something. Because that’s the point, isn’t it? Buy now, pay later. I’d wish you luck, but it doesn’t sound like you need it. Once you do cross the finish line, you will have accomplished something truly special in that you’ll have gone from being a clueless hybrid rider to a clueless Tour de France stage finisher without ever having experienced the joy of cycling or the satisfaction of discovering something for yourself. So in the spirit of putting the cart before the horse, I’d like to congratulate you on your fine finish in advance. I look forward to hearing what expensive hobby you decide to flirt with and blog about next.

205 comments:

1 – 200 of 205   Newer›   Newest»
ant1 said...

first?

ant1 said...

sweet, I've finally won a race.

Jewbeard said...

Finally, BSNYC after a long weekend drought.

ant1 said...

Do I win a date with Jamie?

techb3 said...

maybe third after jebeard since ant1 posted three times

Mark said...

In the top 10 and I read the whole thing! Hey, ride and blog about my rides, too, but I don't work for the NYTimes. I think I have to say, Mike-Papa-Hotel! Go out and ride some single track for a day and write about!

Anonymous said...

Simoni!

Stuggy said...

Top Ten!!!!!!

Jim said...

dude should just get a tandem and pay someone to pedal his lazy ass up the hill.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Human Powered said...

I was feeling pretty good this morning. Now I'm angry, bitter and somehow this made my back hurt. Job well done mister snob.

Anonymous said...

Whoa... just missed the sprint!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, BSNYC, for venting all the hate I feel for the agents in your reporting. I would love nothing more than a video of you calmly inserting your frame pump into Mackey's front wheel as he trained through the park one Sunday afternoon (a'la the Italians in Breaking Away). In fact, I'll sponsor you to do just that - where can I send the Zefal?

Mr. Beattie said...

Hopefully he'll bring the Cervelo with him to the top of Mt. Everest as well (or at least the Sherpa will). This might be a good publicity stunt for Cevelo if they haven't already had a bicycle placed on the roof of the world. Perhaps next May though, he needs to start training.

leroy said...

Great post! Just the right tone and just the right message.

More to say later, but I'm going riding. The weather is beautiful and work is slow!

sh said...

Ah, nothing like a well-edited length of scathing commentary to kick off the week. Mondays rule.

Anonymous said...

i saw this article in the times and read the first few sentences before i got bored and clicked the Jure Robic sidebar link.

Thanks for putting it in its appropriate context.

Anonymous said...

Great post BSNYC! That guy is such a poser... like the people who hire guides to schlep them up Everest so they can make a phone call and brag about how special they are. Ego, ego, ego.

FROG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wishiwasmerckx said...

I hope Mackey doesn't blog about his sex life. No awkward teenage encounters in his parent's basement, behind the gymnasium or in the back seat of a car. No siree. Instead, just like with his cycling career, he started right at the top with a high-priced Manhattan call girl. Now he's an expert at that, too. He goes around to the sets of porno movies, and reshoots the scenes with himself as the star after the real production crew has wrapped for the day.

Anonymous said...

Good article.

And can we ban the "first" idiots? Congratulations! You're the equivalent of the fixed-hipster blogging on how he just passed a lycra-clad cyclist on a recovery ride.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Harsh, kid. Not saying you're wrong or unfair, but that couldn't have been fun to type, could it?

Maybe it's because the target was so oblivious, or easy.

BG dubs what's your read?

daddo.one said...

guy is a total douche - i hope he suffers his balls off on the way up and cracks his skull on the way down - yep, Mackey, i said it! come and catch me!


...if you can...

Anonymous said...

Maybe he'll have an accident early on in the race -- making the congrats on crossing the finish line unnecessary.

ant1 said...

anonymous 1:51

I don't quite see how I'm the equivalent of a hipster passing a lycra wearer on a recovery ride and bragging about it. Are you the lycra clad rider? And are Mondays your BSNYC recovery day, meaning you're not racing to comment first today?
If this isn't the perfect venue for people trying to claim superiority over others based on something trivial, please let me know where to turn, I will go flex my commenting muscles there.

wishiwasmerckx said...

I figure that the first time Mr. Mackey hits the deck and loses some serious skin off an arm and leg, not to mention tearing up a pair of $180 Assos bibs, that will likely be the end of his cycling "fantasy camp."

Anonymous said...

What is really funny is that BikeSnob's disdain is real and not even at all the stuff of humor. I read the blog entry, threw up a little in the back of my mouth, and decided that if that douche can write a blog entry on the Times, the Times really has hired a monkey to do its editing.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:52pm,

Mackey cites the Times’s approach to journalism and said that part if it is to accept no gifts and so give no quarter when reviewing any product or service.

Apparently their approach does involve letting non-cyclists write vacuous blogs about cycling, though. As such I felt compelled to "give no quarter" when reviewing their product.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if he's also hired an expensive skitching coach. I have a feeling the only way he's making it through the stage is with a tow rope tied to a team car.

If he doesn't have one, I'll voulenteer. I'll also teach him the absolute joy of having a stick tossed through your front spokes while decending at speed.

No wait... that might damage that frame and whatever I do to this guy, the bike has to stay intact. Maybe I'll just let him road train and see if I can bump him off the road with my tow-package mirrors on my giant SUV. Yee-Haw.

Anonymous said...

Let's offer a service for rich people to experience road rash without having to waste time falling off a bicycle!

Anonymous said...

Actually, won't we all be paying for it when he takes a dollar for dollar tax deduction off his income taxes for his costs and expenses to produce the blog and article ? Or is the deduction limited to only 50% ?? Any tax guys out there ?

Eric said...

Being a clever cynic is one thing, but wishing bodily injury on a well to do non-cyclist with a seriously ill informed plan of action, is another. I understand BSNYC's point, but do we really hope he cracks his skull? At least he's riding a bike. At least he stimulated the economy, a lot. Why don't we just hand the guy a tire-deflator before the start and then join him for beers after mile 8 and tease him? He'd probably buy.

Anonymous said...

In other news:

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/non_doping_cyclists_finish_tour_de

Anonymous said...

Good point Eric...

Our sentiments are abundantly clear, and I'm sure this post, and the comments section, will have a wide audience over the next couple of days.

Anonymous said...

Can I have the Cervelo when he's done with it? We all know in a year or two when he moves on to the next attempt at career advancement it will sadly be used as a clothes hanger and collecting dust.

mr.complaint said...

I drove to work this morning in my old Toyota. Do you think I could make it faster if I bought an Escalade?

Rich said...

I don't know if it's fair to call competitive cycling the most physically challenging sport, as I think at peak professional level any endurance sport is going to require the athletes to push themselves to the limit of physical endurance, otherwise someone else will and they will lose.

Poker just doesn't get the respect as a sport it deserves...

Ka_Jun said...

I'm working on his kit right now, sponsorships from Zyrtec, Erythromycin, Geritol, and Ben-Gay.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Eric, I don't wish bodily injury on anyone. The potential for serious bodily injury just happens to neatly sum up all that is wrong with this guy's approach. You laern to handle a bike in all kinds of situations, on all kinds or road surfaces, and in all kinds of weather by payihg your dues -- grinding out the miles over an extended period of time. You don't learn it by paying a coach in North Carolina for a weekend. I certainly don't want to go on a group ride with him. Its like giving the keys to a Ferrari to somebody with a learners permit.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea. For five grand I'll beat your legs with a baseball bat and throw buckets of freezing mud on you for 45 minutes plus one lap. I'll call it "The Belgian Cyclocross Experience Camp" and it can happen in your own back yard. For an extra two hundred dollars, I'll find angry fat people in Wellingtons to throw beer at you and question your manhood.

Der Blaue Reiter said...

...when someone with cash buys their way into a real experience...


... you pass 'em.

keep riding!

Scott Rosenbaum said...

Please Lord grant me the wisdom to not piss off the BSNYC and incur his withering scorn.

One of your best.

Anonymous said...

Because of his job and how he has committed to this France excursion I'm sure he'll go. I'm also sure he won't finish it. The question is what interesting ailment will be his face saving way out. I'm betting on a mysterious case of food poisoning. Bad trufles.

Anonymous said...

Or bad goose liver pate!

thejakesnakes said...

Good writing.
There's really no need for us to get mad about him doing this. Apparently he is failing to prepare and go through the motions of the journey before arriving at the end. His financial mistakes are merely representative of poor decision and insight of the prior mistake.

So I ask, is it ever "ok" to extend our credit?

thejakesnakes said...

also,

what we perceive as "the journey" is solely our perception. He's embarked on some other kind of "journey" that we may be failing to see. Of course we can use our tools to identify why we think he is wrong, but really, he doesn't share our vision, so let him be.

ChrisB. said...

Thank you BikeSnob, you are the Cesar Chavez of the working class cyclists everywhere.

Dear Mr. NY Times,
I rode 51 miles yesterday on my mid-nineties Cannondale, which including an upgraded carbon fork, cost me just over 450 dollars.

Oh and with my full-time job, my family, and my only moderately successful music career, sometimes I'm forced to ride at night, with a light . . .even during allergy season. Sometimes I ride indoors while enjoying the incredible array of programming on my $12.00 cable package (which doesn't include Versus)!

Oh and whilst riding through the rolling hills of the Pioneer Valley yesterday, I never once thought about what it's like to be Lance Armstrong, or Andy Hampsten (sorry if the latter name is a bit too obscure). Instead I thought about things like . . . if these guys keep up this pace, I'm going to throw up . . . I wonder if another package of Sharkies will make me feel better. Also I never for a moment yearned for a Cervelo. Instead, I thought about how grateful I was to be out on my bicycle on perfect day, burning legs and all. Never once did I wish I was in France.

-Chris

Anonymous said...

thejakesnakes --

Using your logic, let us be, too.

Anonymous said...

Great review of the article. It's humiliating the NYT promotes this sort of lifestyle and bullshit.

Your assessments remind me of this NY Press Article about posers and assumed identities -

http://www.nypress.com/21/20/news&columns/feature.cfm

db said...

Thanks, that was pretty much my reaction to that article, too. I'll be glad when cycling returns to the shadows beyond the media spotlight.

KanyonKris said...

As The Snob as skillfully opined, I pity Mr. Mackey. Sure he's in for some hurt with the training and actual climb, but it's like ripping off a bandaid fast - over too quickly. What about all the moments he'll miss with this dine and dash?

- Pedaling at 90% effort at new-found speed only to discover at the turnaround that you've had a tailwind and now must pay the piper to return.

- Setting off under idyllic weather then being treated to an icy rainstorm at the farthest point from home with no cell phone and no civilization to be seen for miles.

- Jury-rigging your bike so you can limp home and having the pride not not make the call of shame.

- One word: crash.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of suffering that seasoned cyclist have to keep afloat.

Vincenzo said...

Ah the irony of having the economic prowess of Mackey but no real understanding of cycling life. Commute on your race bike on 23c tires? Of course I will, and I bring valve extenders as well as 2 CO2 canisters. Yay for cycling!

frilly said...

Wow, this guy just about cured me of my roadie lust.

But, hey, if he's buying the beer...

BOB said...

i love how the Times articles are not in the sports section, but in fasion and style. all three of them. this proves that cycling is no longer a sport, nor hobby; it's a fasion statement.

Anonymous said...

BSNYC-

Why is it that you consistently put such a negative spin on people who work in cubicles? I understand your respect for people who choose to “risk injury rather than hate their mornings in a box” but the reality is that without cubicles you and I wouldn’t be using these things we call computers. I can assure you plenty of people at Microsoft hate their mornings, but yet you and I both take full advantage of the tools that they have provided us with. I’m sure a lot of people would choose to work as messengers if it wasn’t for the fact that they want to ensure their kids have an education and adequate health insurance, not to mention a father or mother that will retain all limbs over the course of their careers.

While you can have utmost respect for people who live life outside a cubicle you should hold back on attaching total negativity towards conventional office life. No cubicles equals no BSNYC. We’re not all a bunch of Robert Mackeys, so easy with the constant hate on everyone who works in an office. By the way I’m selling my Pista for ten grand if you’re interested.


*If you could give me an honest response to this comment/question I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

last sentence, sixth paragraph: "while" should be "whittle" (?)

veloben said...

Goal setters, what is it with extreme goal setters? Not even having been at 'A' for more than 30 minutes they want to do 'Z' now.

Cycling is composed of many, many parts; There's what you ride -diamond or bent, how you ride - MT, Cross, Road, Commute. why you ride "they’d rather be injured doing something they love than while away their mornings in a box being miserable." And, for me, most important - who you ride with.

Each of us mixes these and many other parts up in a unique, but shareable glop of experience and attitude.

RM skips all that, worst he seem not to even to know any of these important formative parts and experiences exist. His ride is just another project to manage. ID a goal and work backwards from there.

More offensively he is doing it in solitude (except for a few paid retainers) so he'll never get to experience why those nameless others at the coaching clinic are so driven.

I don't wish physical harm to anyone, except the SOB in the Bimmer who cut me off this morning so he could wait an extra 15 seconds at the next light, it's just this guy seems to have helicoptered in to use an important/revered/historical cycling milepost while avoiding everything that makes what we love more than just sitting on a bike.

I feel robbed by him. He is, with his position and visibility, gutting the whole complex idea of what is cycling and reducing it to a simple ethereal, disconnected metric - can he do one epic ride with minimal investment of time and soul.

I'm leaving early and ride the really long way home, maybe the bitter will ease.

bikesgonewild said...

...gosh, i wish the bsnyc/rtms wasn't so restrained by his professionalism ...ga'head, howja really feel???...whadja really think???...

...it's actually an interesting dichotomy...any long time serious cyclist (relative to our individual lives) probably feels a certain resentment at someone trying to, in essence, 'buy' their way into the sport/activity of cycling...

...but at the same time, we're all aware that the real price will be paid out on the road...experience can't be bought, only earned...you can gain street creds on a "varsity" or a "P3" but only by toughing it out...the real telling proof will be in what he writes in his ny-times column...either way, i'm sure the writer will expose his true nature...

...i'm waiting for the ny craiglist posting:- "P3 for sale...excellent shape...a number of limited, mostly flat training miles on bike...never been raced (technically an etape is a supported ride, not a race) ridden slightly but slowly in france...guaranteed never ridden up or down steep mtn passes (see: supported ride above)...small scrap on top tube from an unclipping (or not) incident...BO...contact (deleted) @ NY Times...ps:- will throw in minimally used clothing...

..i say, let the chips fall where they may...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 3:06pm,

When I said "box" I wasn't referring to cubicles at all. I was referring to cars. My point was that some people commute by bicycle even in a hostile environment, simply because they love to ride.

--BSNYC

techb3 said...

re: bikesgonewild 3:09

"Fuck Martha Stewart. She's polishing the brass on the titanic. It's all going down man." -Tyler Durden

Anonymous said...

Veloben,

I think you hit the nail on the head by saying you feel robbed by RM. I agree -- by not paying his dues I feel that he's stealing. What a cheater.

Is stealing fashionable and stylish these days?

Philip Williamson said...

Jim's tandem idea is very fine.

I suggest the fella should hire a bicycle rickshaw and driver to haul his ass to the top of the Tourmalet.
I'd pay to see the descent, though.

bk jimmy said...

thejakesnakes

It's not our job to say what his journey is. We are simply a part of it.

mr.complaint said...

Snobbo

I prefer the "hostel environment." I'm having quite a problem with boredom on the rail-to-trail. I might have to move to China or India.

How's that for thinking outside the box?

bikesgonewild said...

...re:-- techb3/tyler durden...careful, amigo...you know the first two rules...you wrote the first two rules...

techb3 said...

re: bikesgonewild

"three pitchers of beer and you still can't ask?"

wishiwasmerckx said...

Snob, thanks for that clarification. When you wrote of spending the morning in the box, I thought that you were using a crude colloquialism for the giant vulva bicycle taxi.

Anonymous said...

I used to teach woodworking at a college of fine reputation. A student came to me once wanting to make a mandolin. This student had no experience with woodworking in any way. None. I compared her to someone who didn't know how to swim, yet wanted to go to the highest platform to attempt a diving backflip with a triple gainer (whatever that is); but despite my protestations that a project of this sort required a multitude of skills gained strictly through experience, and that at the very least the student would do well to make one project of smaller stature first, the student insisted on proceeding. Needless to say, the project failed miserably and the student lost interest in not only this mandolin specifically but woodworking in general. A shame.

I don't understand people like this. It strikes me as the height of vanity and hubris for a guy like this to suggest that since some people (artists, athletes, whatever...) make some accomplishments look easy those accomplishments can be easily achieved without a comparable amount of talent, experience and effort.

"Oh, but it was the cat allergies. That's why I couldn't achieve..."

Give me a fucking break.

But thanks for exposing yourself to the ridicule! Great fun! And great post, RTMS.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

This guy's an idiot with more money than brains. Makes me want to start riding my 18 year old Miyata that I "upgraded" with a seven year old 105 gruppo. Nothing more satisfying than riding that old clunker and flying past some dude on a $5000 bike.

Kinda reminds me of neighbor. Last year when I finally decided to retire my Miyata, she shows me her full dura ace Cervelo. I asked her how often she'd been out, and she said she'd only had it about two months and so only had one ten mile ride. I told her I'd had my new bike for a month but was just about to hit 1000 miles on it.

Matt Boulanger said...

Just think of Mackey as the dumb, rich kid in college:

1. He's paying full tuition (full retail)
2. So you can go to school on scholarship (cop the occasional bro-deal).
3. And he'll probably offer to buy the beer all the time so you'll hang out with him. (And he'll probably offer to buy the beer all the time so you'll hang out with him).

Anonymous said...

fuck this guy. i hope he flies right off a cliff.

Anonymous said...

Mackey is actually just investing his money in a tried and true business model. But he's doing it poorly.

Examples: Perhaps the luckiest (as in most money for the investment) was Jon Krakauer. He bought an Everest expedition with the intent to write a book about it. He wound up in an author's wet dream in the situation of "Into Thin Air", pissing off everybody in the mountaineering community in the process. He made lots of money.
Another is Bill Bryson. He bought lots of backpacking crap and went to hike the Appalachian trail with the intent of writing a book about it. He didn't even finish the trail, but he pissed off most AT thru-hikers with his book that made him lots of money.
There are lots of less successful books about Everest and the Appalachian Trail. They were mostly written by people who decided to write the books after the fact. They did not go into the "journey" with the intent of writing a book.
Mackey is going into this with the intent of writing. But his writing is not nearly as entertaining as Krakauer or Bryson and I'm not sure he's going to have the fuel for a successful book.

AH said...

Yes! The vitriol has finally returned. I f-ing love this blog!

A top-10 entry in your future best-of collection.

Scott said...

With any luck, a blizzard will consume this guy, too.

Thank you for a wonderful post, BSNYC, that highlights the stupidity of the fringes of many different sports.

Anonymous said...

I understand the premise of this blog, but I have to side with thejakesnakes on this one. At what point do we live and let live? If you take a look at the blogger in question here, he openly admits that he is an inexperienced cyclist and is woefully underprepared for this challenge. That's the WHOLE POINT of the blog - he's writing about what it's like for someone with no cycling background whatsoever to attempt something as insane as climbing Tourmalet. He's not claiming to be the snobbish know-nothing-yet- self-proclaimed-expert we're all assuming him to be. And, IMHO, for someone so vastly underprepared, he's doing a fairly decent job of researching and writing from a point of view that would be understandable to the average, non-cyclist reader.

I'm all for irony and humor and bitterness, trust me. I even applaud this post - it's got the classic dry wit we've all come to appreciate. But when the comments section degrades into pure, misdirected hate, it's depressing.

I guess what it all boils down to is this: For a group of self-proclaimed experts, us BSNYC commenters are rather close-minded. If someone isn't exactly like us, they're wrong.

Anonymous said...

You all need to get over yourselves. Seriously. Do you really think a blog full of uppity bike snobs is any less off putting than that NYT bike blog?

Maybe spend your time enjoying your own bike and riding rather than worrying about whether someone else is worthy of theirs.

Boz said...

I think Mr Mackey should stat with something a bit easier, say Paris-Roubaix. Nice, country roads, with shorter climbs and a cool ride around a velodrome at the end. Maybe he could find a school where they teach the bike throw and various victory salutes without falling off the bike. Piece of cake.

Anonymous said...

i want this guy's money so i can pay for a bike trip in france and the drop of a hat

what a douche

i think a firing squad is in order

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:07pm,

Isn't it possible to do both?

--RTMS

techb3 said...

death podium results are in!

1)Harvey Corman-complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm
2)Bo Didley-heart failure
2)Yves Saint Laurent-fashion victim

Anonymous said...

@4:08

Yes, you can do both. And I understand why you do. It's certainly generated plenty of comments and traffic for your site.

But what a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

What "race" does this jitbag think he's training for? He's doing L'Etape...a *ride*.

I think Bob Mackey has the potential to podium in some metric centuries if he buys an expensive tandem and some douche to pedal it for him. Are Mercer or Koschara available? This looks like the gravy train for them...

bikesgonewild said...

..."this is your life & it's ending one minute at a time"...& techb3, maybe that's why the ny-times writer is doing what he's doing...it's his "softer, gentler" approved method of fight club & we'll see if he even follows through...

...i've read a few of palahniuk's novels & have friends who trip on his work but ultimately for me, having lived kinda counter culture all my life, cycling has always been my fight club...

...if i said more, it'd just sound pretentious..

Adam said...

I gotta admit, I'm actually stoked about what this guy is doing.

It seems like this year alone, he's pumping in more than $20,000 into the industry, more than I've spent over my lifetime. Good for cycling? Absolutely.

He wants to find out how much "suffering" (in quotes - as if he doesn't believe them!) top cyclists go through. Well, he won't discover that for awhile, because top ten suffering is a lot different from getting dropped suffering. Either way, he'll soon respect what cyclists go through, and maybe be inspired to get better.

The only thing I'm worried about is that once he doesn't make the time limit and gets picked up by the van, will he have gained a newfound respect for cycling? Hopefully he will, God knows he won't be able to blame it on his equipment.

Anonymous said...

Nice dose of the daily vitriol. :-) Well written.

aahunter said...

Anon, 4:00p. Krakauer did not buy a trip to Everest--Outside mag paid for it. He was an accomplished mountaineer long before then. The book came out of the experience as a complaint about the type of person who buys a trip up Everest. At least read the things about which you complain.

daddo.one said...

wishing bodily injury on a well to do non-cyclist with a seriously ill informed plan of action IS being a clever cynic!!!

techb3 said...

preach on bikesgonewild! "it's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." i personally like the book SURVIVOR.

ice cube said...

What's even better is passing guys like him on a twenty-three-year-old 25 dollar yard sale special. Oh and it has a cassette utilizing one gear no phil wood hubs or campy bla blah blah.

bikesgonewild said...

...techb3...don't wanna get preachy but when you look around, you see the many ways people create a self-controllable form of pain in their lives which helps them deal w/ the pain they see & feel in & surrounding their own lives ...

...cycling just happens to be a beautiful & healthy form of that same idea...

Anonymous said...

Ian Buchanan and Fit Werx suck

krazygl00 said...

Bravo Chrisb. @2:37, well put, sir.

And Bravo BSNYC/RTMS, an excellent post.

Reading the three NYT articles about the idiots buying bikes far beyond their capabilities only served to make me angry and frustrated. But it also gives me hope. Now that this is becoming more of a phenomenon, my hope is to catch these fools out on the road someday. Hopefully I'll be riding my cheapest, crappiest bike, and I can totally school them.

Also, what must that scene in the bikeshop be like, at the moment of Clueless Cervelo Acquisition (CCA)? I picture the Bike Shop Guy with his eyes glazing over.

frilly said...

techb3 & bgw-

Not sure what you're discussing but if there's 3 pitchers of beer involved, ask me.

ice cube said...

krazyg100:

I've seen it! No shit about it. I watched a guy point and buy a cervelo much like his. I then had the pleasure of over-hearing the buyer to shop proprietor about the lack of pedals and how he spent xxxx amount of dollars and there were no pedals. I left at that point but very amusing. I kinda want to know what transpired...Maybe he didn't buy it after that?

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind the point of the blog is to show the public (not cyclists) how freaking hard pro cycling is. I think BSNYC critique's the mackey under the assumption that mackey's blog is targeted at cyclists. It's not.

Although BSNYC is always humorous and enjoyable and this isn't an exception; Mackey isn't proving anything to us, he's just giving himself the best chance to succeed, while assuming he's going to suffer like nothing else.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Techb3: SURVIVOR? I haven't read the book, but I enjoy the adaptation for television.

Anonymous said...

this guy is definition of a "Wannabee" unfortunately the world is full of pricks like this

Anonymous said...

How does one know when one is worthy of a certain bike ?

techb3 said...

i disagree, bikesgonewild. if you are in a position to create "controllable pain", it isnt really pain at all. the concept of control is what gets people into trouble in the first place. you have to lose the idea of control. there is very little that we do control. the way in which we deal with the unpredictable pain thereafter is freedom. at least that's how i interpret it. "losing all hope was freedom." "hope" can hold many definitions. "hope" could be an expectation, a belief in your ability to control a situation, etc... structure. lose the structure, then you're dealing with it.

Emily said...

Someone beat me to the "Into Thin Air" comment! Damn! But Krakauer was actually writing about *other* inexperienced climbers paying their way to the top. I'm gonna get the book deal on this guy's spectacular failure, if BSNYC doesn't beat me to it. Look for my paperback in Urban Outfitters soon, next to the skinny jeans!

techb3 said...

wishiwasmerckx,

SURVIVOR is a reference to the book by C.P. author of fightclub, choke, etc.

Sprocketboy said...

Whoa--lots of people here harshing my mellow. On the one hand we have Robert M., who is excited about going for a tough 105 mile bike ride in Europe and has spent lots of money to try and do it. He is welcoming suggestions and has been getting lots of them from the helpful, inclusive cycling fraternity. On the other hand, here at one of my all-time fave blogs, the cycling fraternity is less supportive of this newbie. As someone who did not grow up in any kind of cycling environment and who has spent years working up through an ever-increasing quality of challenging rides and better equipment, I do not feel particularly offended that Robert wants to join the party and experience l'Etape du Tour. He is still going to have to ride those climbs on his own and his blog will make non-cyclists aware that this really is not an easy thing and that you have to invest time and keep up your motivation. If his experience is a positive one he will encourage others and seek out new challenges on the road. He is fortunate to have a coach so he does not need to make the idiotic training mistakes I did, and an excllent bike so he does not have to experience miserable and unresponsive handling as those of us who began in the 70s "sport" bike craze did. Do we all have to look down on people who don't solder their spokes when they build up their wheelsets? Lighten up, folks, and let's see if Robert can stay motivated enough to find out what it is we all love about riding.

chefesque said...

if you read the comments of the NYTimes blog, then you'll realize there are many "cyclists" reading this. Most of them appear to be the "I rode a century once" type, who feel they know the secret of suffering...in their case avoiding it by riding with a triple, and spinning your way up. So even if it is written for the public the audience is at least somewhat familiar with bicycles.

I just watched Hell On Wheels again, which reminds me that riding the l’etape without having spent the prior two weeks chasing down hopeless breakaways in 250km stages and laying down skin in poorly designed finishing circuts, is not suffering.

Suffering is racing with a broken coxyx, and scrubbing the gravel out of your road rash with a toothbrush in the shower. BSNYC/RTMS is right suffering cannot be bought, it is earned through saddle time. A six week training program will not give you that.

bikesgonewild said...

...frilly...let me put it this way...

...in essentially discussing a philosophical viewpoint regarding the 'enlightening virtue' of pain from author chuck papahniuk's books, i realized my own local library books are way overdue & that i now have about $20 bucks in fines...

...so while this realization brings me great pain, it turns out, what i'm actually discussing is IRONY & i could use a pitcher of beer to kill that pain...

g said...

"If someone isn't exactly like us, they're wrong."

Now that's a statement that makes sense!!

smartypants said...

frilly:

Screw those guys. I make my own beer, you can have as much as you want.

Which gives me an idea. Perhaps I should go start a blog called "Beer Snob NYC" so I can officially scoff everyone who thinks spending $5 a pint on Stella makes them a beer enthusiast. . .

BGW and techb3, you guys are invited after all, as long as you agree to post witty comments on my BSNYC (BEER snob NYC) blog. . .

smartypants said...

bgw,

You need to move to my town. The librarian is a sweet little old lady with memory problems. I *never* pay fines.

bikesgonewild said...

...well thank you, smartypants...w/ our total combined wit, we can all get together & have a brew-ha-ha...

...techb3...but while in letting go, fight club had strict 'rules' which in essence controlled the pain, because you could stop...later, project mayhem had rules also but only to protect itself...& that was about letting go, all the way w/ no stopping...

...i gotta get outa here...meet cha all later at smarty's...

Pai Mei said...

I have read many of your articles and this is certainly one of your finer posts Bike Snob, gave me a giggle and kinda saddened me at the same time.

Unfortunately I know a few cyclists who is exactly like this, and you hit the nail on the head when it comes to the mindset of riders him and the people which you spoke about in your article.

When the fixie/triathlon/lance armstrong wannabe roadie craze goes out of fashion, the real cyclist shall still be putting up angry drivers, crap weather, potholes to do what we love everyday.

bikesgonewild said...

...& frilly, please wear pink...

...ciao...

Giles said...

Your posts have been getting a little meh lately, but I do like this one. . . . Righteous indignation suits you better than general snobbery, and that you truly believe this guy to be a total fucking ass-hat shows through.

Fuck this guy and everyone else that has a bike with a pricetag higher than their annual mileage.

Anonymous said...

aahunter:

Who's complaining? I just said that Krakauer paid (a lot of money) to go do something with the intent of writing a book. And I was wrong that he intended to write a book--he intended to write an article for Outside. And yes, the magazine did invest the money in his project.
I liked the book. It was a very entertaining read. I also enjoyed Bryson's book--hilarious. If a very talented author were to drop 20,000 to go and get dropped in a supported ride through France and then write about it, I'd probably enjoy that, too. My point was that the problem isn't really with what Mr. Mackey is doing, its that I don't enjoy his writing.
Heck, lets get a pot of money together and see if we can pay for RTMS to go on some expensive ride through the Alps. That would be a great read.

Are you up for it Snob?

Anon 4:00PM

frilly said...

So, throw the books in the night slot, take the $20 & get some beer. You can always make good the next time you go.

Palahniuk-now there's some light reading.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 5:55pm,

Absolutely, provided that accommodations and meals are top-notch.

--RTMS

frilly said...

Smarty-

Thank you for the rescue. Homemade brew? Could be interesting.

Mi amore-I actually do wear a lot of pink. I keep telling you I really am a frilly chick.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the people who are defending this guy. The whole point of the Snob's rant is that the guy wants to find out what it's like to suffer without, you know, doing any of that icky suffering. Of course that's annoying.

What's even more annoying is that he has a fair chance of making the time cut because this year's etape is relatively easy. If it had been the big Alpine stage, which does the same climbs as La Marmotte except that it goes over Galibier from the easier side, he would have had no chance. As it is he'll spend the rest of his life claiming he knows all about cycling because he once did an etape du tour.

frilly said...

RTMS-

I could be your own personal tifosi.

Anonymous said...

tifoso, per favore

julie jules said...

I'm a surfer, and as many people may know, in surfing there is a TON of this "kook" crap going on. Someone (or someone's parents) buys an expensive brand new board and all the trendy gear to go with it, then they paddle out, sit there for a while, and paddle back in, without ever having actually stood up on a wave or even tried to catch one. Then they call themselves "surfers" instead of just admitting that they're learning. I learned on a piece of junk used board when I was 8 that was all cracked and got waterlogged, and then when I got better over the years I got better boards. Kooks are everywhere though, you can't escape it, you just deal.

frilly said...

grazie.

urchin said...

Anon 5:55

I think you've got this all wrong. I wouldn't pay much money to read Snob on what sounds like a pleasant and meaningful experience. That might be like listening to the happy John Prine albums--where's the good stuff?

I'd put a few bucks into forcing the chap to endure the Seattle to Portland annual ride. The endurance part wouldn't be the distance, it would be putting up with giant mobs of cycling neophytes with aero bars on their hybrids. I would definitely read a post or two on that.

STP is the local equivalent of this 'hey, why don't I go do a Tour stage, I've still got a few weeks to get a bike...' weekend rides get progressively more crowded until that lovely day when they all take off to choke the roads somewhere else. Then most don't touch a bike again for nine months, if ever...

I would personally put five, no, ten bucks into the entry fee...

Korps said...

I love your blog. It gives me a mental picture of what the "big city" guys do with their time and money. Sounds like this guy is just a poser looking to fit in with what he thinks is "real world cycling". Maybe on of his buds, who is in shape and rides a bike he built, planted a seed. Ya never know. Anyway, Down here in N. Carolina, it's riding all the time, every day.
Cheers on your blog
Korps.

Anonymous said...

Urchin,

If you look at this from the point of view of a cyclist, then yes. He sucks. But he's not writing for cyclists. He's writing for the people who read the New York Times who do not know what its really like to ride a bike. If he does it well, they will read about it and then try to make coversation about "the climb" with you in the office because they know you ride your bike sometimes. They will think Mackey is a really cool dude.
When people find out I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, most of them say, "Have you read A Walk In the Woods?" That's what they know of the trail because they read it. Its a great book. It comes very far from describing what a thru-hike is actually like.
That's why we need to pay Snob's way to France. So there is something worth reading even though it might or might not actually describe serious cycling.

I'm putting $8.75 in the pot.

Anon 5:55PM

Michael Baehr said...

Jeez, snob, that's the most bitter post you've ever penned.

You've outdone yourself.

*clap*

Andy Pandy said...

Go to the bathroom, heave until your lungs are in the sink. If you still have a desire to do it then you have to have some bike guru set up your bike and charge you a quadzillion dollars and still be uncomfortable because you did not break in your expensive fizik seat and suffer the indignity of saddle sores after one lap of the park. Plus he should have been on a Trek as we know only stylish lads have Cervelos .... just sayin

Jesse G said...

I hope he got a powermeter to track his watts on this grueling voyage. Otherwise it will all be for nothing...

MG said...

Unbelievable... had no idea the NY Times was "dedicating" space to such wacked-out bicycling articles. I continually find it amazing how removed the mainstream is from cycling... incredible!

Anonymous said...

So, you all are going to tell me that if you won a $5000+ bike and trip/experience like this on a game show or in a raffle that you wouldn't accept it. If it was placed in your lap for free you would refuse? You're lying if you say no and a hypocrite if you say yes. Only difference is that this guy has the money to do it without winning some chance contest price.

What a bunch of pathetic, socialistic, self righteousness and jealousy.

MG said...

I believe the point is going from toodling around Central Park on one or two occasions and being challenged by a little hill to spending what I would consider a rather irrational amount on a bicycle and an even greater amount to haul your a#$ to France. It's not about being self-righteous... it's about pragmatism...

Andy Pandy said...

I have to ask and this will seal it for me, is he taking annual leave to do it or is his editor paying. At the end of the day he has picked up an idea and is running with it, and his ultimate goal will be that he climbs the slippery rope to stardom as a journo on the back of a stage ride in France and a nice few soft stories on pain, all whilst having a nice job to come back to. Next assignment Nascar driver, or matador or bungie jumping naked

Jonathan said...

Hello Anon,

"What a bunch of pathetic, socialistic, self righteousness and jealousy."

First off, I'm not jealous of this guy. Not in the least. I think he's an idiot to think he can just ride a stage in the Tour de France. He'll probably ride ten miles of it and just about have a heart attack. ( I have allergic asthma myself) The air is going to be so much thinner than he's expecting and he'll be grabbing his ventolin in no time. I feel kinda sorry for the dude. Cycling is how I personally meditate and put my life in peace, so since he's buying a one trip ticket to failure and he's missed out on what it's all about.

Second, if given the opportunity and the training and everything else if given two to three years to do it (what he's skipped on in reality). Yep, I'd go for it. Hell, I'd be in the best shape of my life even if I couldn't cross the finish line. But, here's the difference I would want to be properly prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Go ahead and apply any grocery list of names to me and the others here you want, but we're not out for the quick fix money can buy. We're in it for the joy of riding and to be the healthiest 80 year olds you can find down the road.

Matthew said...

Can anyone tell me what "RTMS" stands for, and why it is now appearing with BSNYC's comments? Google is no help, unless it really is "repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation."

Anonymous said...

What if this guy is actually taking a Mike Rowe approach? Maybe he plans to use the story to make us laugh at his own expense while trying to do something that is neither easy nor fun, thereby showing how truly heroic bicycle racers are.

Or he could be a total D-bag. Screw him.

R.

Andy Pandy said...

Matthew, it is like our NY Times journo, no gain without pain.Look through the past months

george said...

Thank you- well said, well done. i love this blog!

best,
George (Miami, Fl)

Anonymous said...

"What it's all about" ... says YOU.

Sounds an aweful lot like self rightousness to me.

g said...

Anon 8:30,
"If someone isn't exactly like us, they're wrong."

Guess how this applies to you.

Anonymous said...

People like him are a great source of lightly-used equipment I could never afford new. A friend of my wife's bought a Devinci Moonracer racing hardtail to commute to work a year and a half ago. After one week, it had a riser bar & stem and a rack. After two weeks, she claimed she couldn't find her helmet, and hasn't ridden it since. Score one MTB for the wife!

Greg said...

RTMS: Rip Torn's Mug Shot

Ronsonic said...

What pisses me off isn't this Mackey douche. A rider like him supports bike racing they way many golfers help their sport, they keep racers employed who would otherwise have to get a day job. They watch the commercials on TV, stay off the streets, buy a lot of gear and pay the coaches.

What was the NYT thinking here? That cyclists are going to be interested in this newb? I just want pictures when he takes down the pack with his sub class 5 skilz.
Do they imagine that ordinary people who know nothing will choose this moment to want to read about our stupid sport? From a guy as clueless as they are?

Or, is this a just a very careful targeting of the very special Elite-Douche demographic.

Whatever, it's all disgusting and stupid and I'm sorry I read about it. Now I'll just be all spiky and ehh.

Anonymous said...

o.k. so the dude's a rich douche. and it's somewhat offensive...we all love bikes, we love riding in whatever capacity it is that we ride...but does it matter...mainstream press publishes mangling profiles of everything from music to art to cycling to dumpster diving...the true riders know what's up and the posers pose...it's just the way it is...right?

Anonymous said...

9:48

It doesn't. I neither made the claim that I was ultimately right or wrong, nor did I accuse anyone of the same. I merely submitted my observation, and made my observation clear in the form of a analogy... which you obviously didn't get. "May I lend a machete to your intellectual thicket?"

Anonymous said...

As usual, I liked this piece, and BSNYC acknowledges that the guy is likely to succeed. But in reading some of the comments I'm reminded of the case of the former England international soccer player who, after recovering from leukaemia, decides he's going to take up cycling and ride every stage of the Tour one year to raise money for the leukaemia charity. This plan was the subject of a series of articles in 'Cycling Weekly' magazine, and like many I was very sceptical of his chances, despite his obvious athletic ability before he was sick, because he had no cycling experience. But of course he pulls it off, and then does it a second time for good measure a year or two later. Lately he's on the 'Cycling Plus' magazine training DVD giving advice on how to train for this year's Etape.

veloben said...

Urchin,

Donald and Lydia, Sam Stone, Your American Flag Decal..., Hello in There. I don't know, happy John Prine songs are pretty thin on the ground.

Illegal Smile has a good thread of paranoia, maybe Fish and Whistle or Dear Abby unless you're hairless and your rights are all wrong.

Thanks for sparking the memory.

Jonathan said...

Anon 9:41

Okay, if I am I am.

I find it awfully disturbing the tendency of American society to shortcut everything from cycling, art, gardening, cooking, loosing weight, gaining muscle, etc.

Don't you? Just a little?

Anonymous said...

Here in PDX we are just one BikeSnob short of Utopianism.

Thanks for one of your best posts ever. It was just what I needed today.

urchin said...

veloben,
I looked over the Prine discography and you're right--I guess I was just thinking about songs like 'Unlonely' or 'Wanna be with you always' that drop into a great album like 'The Missing Years' and make me say--wha?

Anyway, I still would pay money to pick an annoying mass ride and get/force RTMS (hey greg--don't give it away!) to participate and comment.

On topic again, I think the irksome thing is seeing someone decide to get into cycling heavier and go ten or twelve steps up the bike quality/cost food chain in one jump. Crap, I didn't know what kind of road bike I even liked until I'd built/upgraded a couple. And this guy whips off and gets one I'll never be able to afford. It's also kinda sad to see a $5000 bike out there with an inch of WD-40 on the original chain. Earn it.

That's the irksome bit.

As for the 'is it good for cycling' bit:

The phenomenon of these shows and articles about taking inexperienced people and giving them a year to do ironman or a marathon or a century is curious. I can see how you might expect this to get a few more Americans off their butts, but the focus on the goal kills that for a lot of people: it would be nice to do a little running, but if it looks on the TeeVee like I can't do anything really meaningful without dropping a bunch of cash on the gear, the coach, the trip to Hawaii, France, Nepal, well, maybe I'll just have another stack of Pringles instead. Working out in little bits for a year so I can get up to a 10k and lose 30 pounds in the process seems all too mundane. Spending a year in spandex just so I can finish a Cat 5 race before the organizers pack up and leave? Fugedaboutit.

And for the record, I'm writing as a guy who has spent the last year in spandex trying to get fast enough to keep up with Cat. 5 racers... An entertaining blog on that kind of thing is something it seems only the Snob can do...


Ahh, the late-night straggler comments...we can just rattle on cuz no one's reading...

Last one out, turn off the Lanterne Rouge..

Anonymous said...

Whatever Mr. Mackey soughts out to do, let him have it his way. But if he's all about shortcuts, he missed a vital agenda on his training list :


Shortcut to losing weight.

frilly said...

Urchin-

Yeah, I just had to have one more little peek before bed.

Well said. I just did my first 5k not too long ago & damn it, I was quite proud. So it wasn't a marathon, but I'm not a runner and I had to work. So, I agree that when people read or watch these things, they're missing the experience of the struggle. You can't buy that experience.

Anonymous said...

150 comments. Snob, you certainly touched some nerves today.

Glenn Ammons said...

You're too hard on Robert Mackey. According to his blog, he rode 1500 miles in Central Park last year. Central Park! That's suffering! I'm serious.

bikesgonewild said...

...the one thing that hasn't been said here all day, is that even should he accomplish what he sets out to do, expensive first time bike or not, the man still won't really "get" what it's all about...

...that only comes w/ the desire to do it over & over, day after day, year in & year out...he may become a part of it but i sense it won't become a part of him, deep in his heart...

...appreciating it is one thing, living it is another...

Vincenzo said...

almighty! tell me i'm not the last one here...

Anonymous said...

You're not the last one here.

AnnaZed said...

Oh dearies it is to laugh.

“Without pain or sacrifice, we would have nothing…..think
of the word searing …of flesh…..This is your pain… this is your burning…”

…ass and scrotum Mackey NYT blogger Cervello dude!

You’re in for such a world of hurt that Chuck Palahniuk is really the only one who could completely articulate it.

Hint: riding a long distance on a barely broken in saddle when you have not spent long hours (years) on a bike means that your delicate nether regional skin will split, blister, supperate and then tear in the first 25 miles.

No amount of chamois cream or set of assos bibs will halt this inevitable outcome.

Matthew said...

Greg, thanks for expanding RTMS.

Andy Pandy, you may be right that it would have been more rewarding finding this out in the archives, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out: leave a comment, go for my daily ride through the coastal redwoods, and return to the answer.

Life is too short to know every damn acronym.

Ben Cornwell said...

brilliant post!

Bluenoser said...

God I love America.

-B

Jack said...

Brilliant post. What an awful guy.

But there is a very good and extremely funny book about a rookie trying to ride Le Tour, but done in exactly the right way, in contrast to this NYT poseur.

The book is called 'French Revolutions' and it's by Tim Moore. Published a couple of years ago. It maintains a laugh-out-loud quotient that rivals the best of the Bike Snob. Highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

There's a guy here in Brooklyn who drives some kind of Ferrari. Thing must have been shipped here with a Euro gearbox, cuz I never hear him shift out of 1st gear. Thing is, all this fancy stuff is what cologne drenched recent arrivals and juicebag choads use to elevate their status. They don't have the first clue how tacky they are. Like the douche bag wanna be's in Prospect Park with a support vehicle. Wild and crazy guys. Plastic bikes.

aarond said...

all I can say is I hope he chose a steep stage by unknowingly (not the alps) and will end up walking his fat ass up the hill. also that his "cervelo" doesn't have a compact crank and he has an 11-23. there's no way he's turning a 39-23 for 2+ hours up a major climb.

Anonymous said...

This morning I was making conversation with my 12-year-old daughter (a dancer, not a biker) and said this inexperienced guy was going to ride the Tourmalet and write a blog about it for the NY Times; within milliseconds she had it dialed right in: "He's a retard!", she opined. That's probably unfair to the many heroic developmentally disabled people out there who struggle on every day, most of them probably wiser than this guy.

SD said...

Matthew, you douchebag. You may now know what RTMS stands for, but you don't know why. Greg may have given you the Cervelo, but you can't pedal it up a hill.

J H Shannon said...

I have to agree. French Revolutions is much better than this idiotic poseur's blog. Plus the author did the whole friggin' Tour route (well, most of it) and not one stage with a bunch of pansies on a bike tour. He did it alone with panniers and 5 days of training in his legs. But more importantly he did it with a sense of humor and self-deprecation seemingly unknown to NYT authors. It's a hilarious read. I loved when he painted his own name at the top of a mountain climb so when the real TdF came through he could see his name on TV from his home in England!

Midi said...

I find myself sharing your anger on this one

oldFonzie said...

Really enjoyed your lampoon of NYT's "The Climb"! But it is possible to enjoy satire as well as the object of satire.

I am really rooting for the guy. He's doing something I've always wanted to do -- well as for as long as I have heard of l'etape and gotten over the fact that I'll never actually ride the real Tour.

The really funny thing is the guy is treating this bike tour like he's actually going to be riding in the pro peloton. There's no way I'd ride a nice bike like his in a crashfest like that... just the chance of wrecking in in shipping, not to mention the cost. It'd be more prudent to buy a decent Veloce bike over there.

How do I know this? I have spent countless hours mapping it all out as a way to keep my mind off of the chemo and radiation I've been going through. I have thoroughly scheduled trips to the Spring classics, the Giro, the Tour and the Giro d'Lombardia / Grenoble six day. I have it down to hotels, fondos to ride, bike shops to visit along with art galleries, museums and monuments to keep the wife happy and the best train / flight schedules. I've even gotten down all the old time stars I want to stalk for autographs and where they work and live today. I'm sort of embarassed by how detailed it all is.

It's really nice to read the trials of someone actually doing it... and of course fun to laugh at him and his fortune with the snob. I mean the guy's sort of a dweeb, but at least you know he's not going to run you off the road when he passes you. He's a good will ambassador for the fashion of cycling.

Great fun!

sumadis said...

guys like mackey generally skew toward the 'i'm gonna climb everest' crowd, which as everyone knows is a paid carpet ride of pre-set rope ladders, discarded oxygen and dead sherpas all the way to the top. i'm sure once he conquers france, he'll be off to tibet, where hopefully the chinese have stopped posting snipers to thwart rich-guy expeditions that might impede their damn olympic torch from making it's way to the top of the world.

ChrisB. said...

I don't mean to sound like a bitter asshole. And I certainly have no right to personally judge this guy.

But. . . it's the sort of non-stop "near-instant gratification" of the world we live in that drives me nuts.

Go ahead start a band, but would you please put together a set of 12 decent songs before you start booking shows, or put out a record?

Go ahead and enter the world of "competitive cycling" but could you first spend some time on a bike and learn what it is you really want/need in a bike before spending 3 to 5000 bucks?

It's like we as Americans have lost our understanding of how the journey in and of itself is every bit as important as the destination.

Write some short stories, join a writers group and then write a novel.

But no, we want results and the kind that really mean something. And that local hillclimb is not enough.

It just goes along with that basic American understanding of cycling . . . that the only thing that matters is the Tour de France. It's why so many Americans just assume that Lance Armstrong ("An American!") is the greatest cyclist that ever lived.

I understand the idea that target audience for The Times is not the hardcore cyclists. But wouldn't it be something if those people learned a thing or two about the very competitive cycling community in and around their local area? . . . about how difficult and competitive it is to complete the climb up White Face mountain? or MT. Washington? Or Bear Mountain?

Or is that just not enough these days?

davidh said...

Krakauer was no dilettante climber -- read some of his pre-"Into Thin Air" work and you get a sense of his life-long obsession with climbing. Mackey seems to be pursuing the same fish-out-of-water premise exploited by Bryson and Tim Moore, minus any sense of irony. What's especially weird about Mackey's story is the compressed time frame. It makes the whole enterprise that much more (1) random and (2) bought-and-paid for, as BSNYC aptly ridiculed. Who cares what kind of crazy feat some random middle-aged guy is going to try to accomplish in 6 weeks? Toothache or not, Mackey's rationale makes no sense. What I'd really like to know is what's going on in the mind of the person making cycling-related editorial decisions at the NYT. What sort of unrealized envy is driving all this coverage of rich people buying ridiculous $10k bikes?

techb3 said...

re: bikekesgonewild

"he'll never get the spiritual side of it. It's that place where you lose yourself and find yourself." -swayze (do i have to list the movie?)

Human powered said...

Don't be jealous that he is riding a nice bike, set your life in order so you can afford one too.

The thing that bothers me is he seems to think he can buy the experience of being a champion. He may replicate the ride, but he is not likely to experience the gut wrenching ambition and drive not just to get there but to do it better than everyone else. It is a dangerous and all consuming passion that nearly killed me at one point.

Then again the sport gets inside you maybe he will find by accident.

Anonymous said...

Common, he may just do it.
I mean obviously if he was really worried he would have trained. There are just some people who have been blessed with a special gift that only very few have have received.
These people are what legends are made of and then the Movie begins,
Once Upon a time there was this nice blogger who quit his day job and....

Anonymous said...

what's with this notion that "cyclists" and "people who read the new york times" are entirely separate demographics?

swaged said...

This got me inspired...I rode in an airplane once.

I think I will pilot the space shuttle to motherfucking Mars.

veloben said...

Urchin,

It's the problem someone like RTMS gets when a following develops. "We love your art" yells the crowd, "now do this!" This may well be why he uses a nome de plume - to keep his life and sense of self away from our devotions and demands.

Really would we want the Snob ending up like Brittany Speers? Hitting other bikes, not wearing his helmet, having kids before he is emotionally ready, having mom run his life (unless, of course, if he is Jewish, then it's a positive cultural adaptation).

At some point the crowd or RTMS will move on and we'll all bump together again later around a new bright shiny object/blog/light.

Till then the question of what will be the topic every Monday through Friday is part of the allure.

You've set some goals that may appear modest, but they are stretching your sense of what you can do and you are taking the process to be as important as the ending, then go for it. BGW was talking earlier about the controllable infusion of self inflicted pain to gain perspective and peace. Two thing we can never have too much of.

Me, I shoot for a greater than 2,000 mile year and to ride in as many different places as I can.

Have fun and buy Frilly a beer for me.

Anonymous said...

re: chrisb.

Not to worry, you don't sound like an asshole...

it's the sort of non-stop "near-instant gratification" of the world we live in that drives me nuts.

...though after 170 comments it's not really necessary to continue restating the original post.

And that goes for the rest of you, too!

g said...

what's with all this "touchy feely" zen crap? I thought the second word in the name of this blog is SNOB. I come here for snobbery. If I want to have a feel good moment, I'll go to Bike Kittens and Puppies NYC.
Who cares if this guy can, should or deserves to ride that ride or the fucking bike? That's not what it's all about. There is tradition in this sport and that's what he's missing out on. It's the 'microwaving' of experience that's just wrong. The fact that he has such a half-assed attitude toward it only strengthens the arguement against him. Most of the people that will read his blog will see him no different than the rider that has a soul and has earned their Cat 5 placing.

urchin said...

Oh please, someone start up a BikeKittensAndPuppiesNYC blog...

or maybe that would be Portland

Anonymous said...

g, that was a great comment for the first five lines. but then it turned to boring rehash for about 10. you're the bob pollard of bsnyc commenting!

Anonymous said...

Veloben, "You've set some goals that may appear modest..." Yeah, like going to the bathroom OUTSIDE my pants.

mikey said...

As stated already, (& far better than I ever could), this guy is a complete asshole. How; without knowing this man & his real motives for this folly; can I make such a statement?

This guy speaks of 'suffering' up a hill.

15 minutes ago, I saw one of the most disturbing images I've ever seen. I'm sure some of you have already seen this picture posted at drunkcyclist.com or howtoavoidthe bummerlife.com (which has just now removed said image). If you haven't, I suggest you take a look. (It's not for the faint at heart.)

This picture encapsulates the reality of what we, as cyclists, (commuter, racer, whatever),deal with on a daily basis; & it's something we hope we never experience. (I have. Twice.) After seeing this picture, & then reading about this asshat's infected tooth, & subsequent feline-induced allergy preventing his winter "training"; I cannot contain my anger.

Struggling? Suffering? not even close, asshole.

Anonymous said...

Go back and look at your DVD copies of the Giro, Tour or Veulta. Watch the mountian stages, and try to count all of the people who have pedaled all the way up the passes like the Mortriolo or D'Huez. If you added up all of the fingers and toes of the people who read this blog, you wouldn't even be close to the number of crazed orange swathed Basques who rode their beaters up the rock.

It isn't an unacheivable feat to pedal to the top of a Grand Tour Mountain stage, and really, most of the people who take their time don't even "suffer".

Mr. Mackey will make it to the top, he'll drink wine, eat cheese and a baguette on the top, he'll go as fast as he feels safe down the backside, and he will blog about it. He's not going to suffer terribly, he's not going to get dropped by the tour group, he's not going to have to chase for an hour to catch the pack just to get dropped again during the next accelleration, but he will have a great time - just like any of us would.

Sure the guy is a pompous blowhard, and waves his expensive bike purchases around like a 5th grader shows off the copy of Playboy that he stole from his dad's stash. But he is doing his job - getting people to read his blog, buy papers, and, obviously, keep the buzz going.

Envy his trip to France. Then plan your own assault of the hallowed ground. Heck, start in the good ol' U.S. of A. Brasstown Bald isn't that far from NYC

Matthew said...

SD, leaving aside your erroneous assumption that I wouldn't know the significance of the expanded-out RTMS from reading the blog for half a year, your analogy suffers: If, as you assume, I learned what it meant but didn't inquire further, I'm leaving the Cervelo in the store. Indeed, one of my small joys is outclimbing, on my cheaper, heavier bike, those who have exchanged their riding time for the ability to afford that Cervelo.

frilly said...

Yeah, Urchin, buy frilly a beer!

Justin said...

What a bunch of whiners you all are?!

Your connection to cycling is so tenuous that you feel threatened and thus lash out at this guy.

Ask yourself who are the real posers? If this guy signed up at 41 to run the NY Marathon and blogged on it how runners would respond? No where near as insecurely as this bunch I suspect.

Sprocketboy says it best here I think while Giles indicates the depths of irrational paranoia....

Anonymous said...

Uh Matthew don't assume those of us who ride expensive bikes can't be fast. Mine is about 10k but I put in a lot of hard work in grad school and in the office so I could afford it. I will also be able to pay for my kids college and be able to retire comfortably someday. I have also put in a lot of hard rides at 5:30 AM so I can make it go fast. The same ambition that made me a successful racer a few years ago has made me successful at work, I'd be a fool not to put some of that hard earned cash into a nice rig.

Anonymous said...

Smacking face, disbelievingly.

Geezus. I thought we scared off all you well educated, expensive bicycle buying overlords with our bitter remarks about the guy BS mocked. WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO TO MAKE THE RICH PEOPLE SUFFER FOR THE SAKE OF OUR DISCONTENT?!?

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can hurt his feelings by not waving back when we see him out there "training."

Do Cervelos come with pie plates?

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

Swaged @ 11:28 AM wrote:

"This got me inspired...I rode in an airplane once.

I think I will pilot the space shuttle to motherfucking Mars."

Swaged, your comment was so funny that my husband and I have been quoting you and laughing all day.... brilliantly funny! Thanks!

iron fish said...

What's with all the knickers in a snit? Perhaps Mackey is looking to be his generation's George Plimpton--the writer/dilettante who went to training camp with the Detroit Lions football team, among other stunts. In any case, it's not fair to label him a non-cyclist, snob. If someone rides a bicycle, they are a cyclist--that's the beauty of it. And it's what gives hardcore riders fits, the fact that anyone can come along, hop on a bike (whether an old 3-speed or a Cervelo) and experience the joys (if not the horrible, horrible, really oh so horrible suffering) that "true" cyclists experience.

P.S. I love the guys with their yeoman garage sale beaters who get off on passing a rider on an expensive bike. What humility! What moral superiority! What physical prowess!

Anonymous said...

and now he's peddling too...
"Last Saturday, while I was peddling up a small hill near Alpine, N.J., in the rain..."

Anonymous said...

brilliant critique! Chapeau!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviewing "The Climb" for me Snob; I saw it listed a few days ago but after reading the synopsis, decided it was just another mark on the sidewall of the slide of decline that has been the NYT's path for the last decade...
I guess my fat ass gets Lantern Rouge for this post!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget those who really suffer on their bikes; people who can't afford a car, riding the bike they bought for $100 at MalWart to work on our lawns, or at MickeyD's, for crap wages, in the rain and the dark, getting hit by people who complain that they are in the way and should go back where they came from.

Anonymous said...

lanterne rouge

John P. said...

This guy is living proof that throwing money and excuses at a problem will almost never work.

I'd row my rubber raft across the Atlantic with my $200 1984 Schwinn and a fishing pole in the back and still kick this guy's ass.

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