It's the Friday before a holiday weekend. As such, I feel like I can be somewhat informal with you today, and I hope you don't mind if I let my hair down. (I usually keep it in a tight and sensible bun.) The fact is, times are hard. First of all, I got that ticket yesterday, and between hiring Daniella Levi (who has won millions of dollars for her clients over the years) and the scary mustachioed guy from 1-800-Lawyers (I'm taking the CSC approach by fielding a twin-pronged assault on this ticket) I'm feeling pretty strapped. Second of all, it also turns out my mortgage is one of those exponential ones where the interest rate is multiplied by itself every month. It hardly seems fair to make me pay it since I didn't even know what an exponent was (I just thought it was a marketing term for "excellent"), but Daniella Levi and the mustachioed guy from 1-800-Lawyers tell me I don't have much of a case. Also, I rent my apartment, which makes the whole enterprise seem doubly shady.
So it's a very good thing that Rapha, the J. Peterman of cycling clothing, is taking pity on me and sending me free stuff in the mail. My need for cash is so acute that I was actually down to my last bandana, with no immediate hope of procuring more. So you can imagine my relief when I opened the package and found this elegant schmata:
Elated, I tied that thing around my neck faster than a hiker ties a tourniquet around his buddy's hemorhhaging limb:
I was so touched by this gift that I burst into tears and proceeded to fill my Rapha cravat with mucus. Thank you, Slate. I will treasure this.
So with times as hard as they are, it's no surprise I've been watching the PistaDex more closely than Cadel Evans watches the wheel in front of him. (There's always a wheel in front of him.) I do own some track stuff and it's crucial for me to know if I should sell and move my cycling-related investments into other areas. At the moment the NYC PistaDex is at 540, with these two offerings:
Date: 2008-08-27, 5:45PM EDT
2007 Bianchi Pista Track Bike, 53cm
Excellent condition fixed gear bike. Great for riding around the city, light weight, quick and fast. I've added bullhorn handlebars, and a front Shimano 105 break. It's been stored inside and never ridden in the rain. Perfect bike for someone looking to try out their first fixie.
Frame: Double-butted chrome-moly frame
Crankset: Sugino RD, 48 teeth
Rear Cog: 1-speed, 16 teeth
Handlebar: Soma Bullhorns
Stem: Bianchi aluminum
Headset: 1" threadless VP
Hubs: Bianchi hi-flange
Rims: Alex AT-400, 32-hole
Tires: 700 x 23c
Stand Over: 30.5"
Here's a link to the Bianchi website:
I'm not sure why people are compelled to point out a bike hasn't been ridden in the rain. What do I care? People seem to be under the impression their bikes are made out of Now and Laters or something, and that if they ride them in the rain they'll slowly dissolve. I'm here to tell you that's not the case. Water will not hurt your bicycle. If it did, how would you wash it? The fact that your bicycle may have gotten wet at some point is not going to prevent me from buying it.
bianchi pista 2008 51 cm - $600 (Upper West Side)
Reply to: email@example.com [?]
Date: 2008-08-26, 12:14AM EDT
brand new just a week old.
Well that was fast. But I'm confused. Is it brand new or a week old?!?
In any case, the PistaDex may still be fairly high, but when I see someone ditching a week-old ride I get nervous. This could presage a plummet in the PistaDex. More disturbing was this sign:
Campagnolo Record Pista Track 165 Cranks - $250 (Lower East Side)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-08-28, 3:01PM EDT
I'm selling a lot of my track stuff so that I can come up with the money for a motorcycle.
These Campy Record Pista Track Cranks are in really good shape. Normal wear. $250.00
DOES NOT COME WITH THE pedals. If you want the pedals, it's an extra $50.00 They are MKS NJS pedals with Black soma double cages & two sets of leather straps.
Here's somebody jumping off the fixed-gear bandwagon in order to jump on the motorcycle one. This would not be noteworthy in and of itself, but it so happens that the reader who forwarded me this ad says that the seller is none other than Kevin. This saddens me deeply, because I'm sure you'll agree that Kevin was a member of not only the cycling family but the family of this blog. It was only about six months ago that he was reluctantly selling his Mavic bars in order to fund a new build. Now he's leaving it all behind.
Frankly, I don't take anybody's leaving cycling lightly. We need all the riders we can get. Kevin, if you're reading this, I implore you to think twice about what you're doing. If you think motorcycling is a bold new world of renegade fashions and high-speed adventure, I'm here to tell you that it's not. Motorists will treat you just as poorly and with as little respect as they treat cyclists--except instead of going 20mph when they turn into your lane without looking you're going 70mph. Also, if you think track stuff is expensive in NYC, just wait until you start shopping for a motorcycle. The only thing more overpriced than NJS is UJM, because cafe racer conversions are the fixed-gear conversions of the motorcycle world. Moving from unwrapped bars to wrapped pipes will only cause you more angst. Yes, Kevin, your sleeves will look awesome on a motorcycle as you stretch to reach your clubman bars, but please, think twice before you leave us. We need you. The PistaDex hangs in the balance!
Fortunately, though, there are still those willing to make a lifetime commitment to the fixed-gear lifestyle, as you can see from this photo, forwarded by a reader:
As pleased as I am to see that there is at least one rider out there who will (ostensibly) never leave us, I will admit I was somewhat perplexed. My understanding of the knuckle tattoo was that the word break should be between the hands. This one, however, requires a Vulcan salute in order to read "No Brakes." Otherwise, it says, "Nobr Akes," who I'm pretty sure is a Greek bouzouki player who opened for Letle Viride a few times. Also, while this rider certainly intends to continue riding brakeless for the rest of his days, this tattoo will preclude him from occasionally riding a bicycle with brakes, because the sight of those paws squeezing a pair of brake levers (even useless ones) would be overwhelmingly ironic. And lastly, once upon a time at least, getting something tattooed on your knuckles was a bold statement. It said, "I'm an outcast and I don't care who knows it because I'll never be a part of polite society." It was a real commitment. Consequently, in the spirit of commitment, wearers of such tattoos would pick one phrase, like "Love/Hate" or something like that. Having two more or less unrelated phrases on the same pair of hands completely obviates that effect. It's like having two women's names on the same arm, each followed by the word forever.
In any case, who cares what I think, as long as he's happy. And he can certainly take solace in the fact that if he ever winds up on the inside he'll already have the Robert DeNiro "Cape Fear" remake look. Best of all, he might even get to fabricate LeMonds:
In an odd twist, an inmate at a federal prison in Williamsburg, South Carolina filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit in July, alleging that he and other inmates produce bikes for LeMond under the Federal Prison Industry Unicor Program for 12 cents an hour, a violation of minimum wage laws. The inmate also claimed LeMond bicycle are shipped to Iranian troops for training purposes, violating the “Training with Enemy” Act.
12 cents an hour?!? That sounds like pretty good money!