Monday, October 27, 2008

No Getting Around It: Cycling and Religion Clash Again

Few things are more stressful than awakening on a Monday morning to a full-blown local bike-related civic controversy. And once again, this one involves orthodox Jews and (forgive the simplistic catch-all term which is just too convenient not to use) hipsters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. You'll recall not too long ago the former group was scandalized by the fact that the latter group was riding through their neighborhood and inflaming Semitic libidos by displaying muffin tops, frayed underwear elastic, tramp stamps, and pale shoulders that have never seen the sun. Well, this time, on nearby Kent Avenue, it seems that during the Sabbath the city changed the parking rules from alternate-side to no standing. The result was that the orthodox Jews were powerless to move their vehicles since they were in the grip of self-imposed Shabbos helplessness, and subsequently they all got parking tickets. And why were these parking rules so wantonly changed? Because the city is installing a bike lane on Kent Avenue--which not only means that they can no longer park their cars there, but that they will also surely be beset by more muffin tops.

You can read a little more about it in the Post, but I learned about it on local cable (yes, I have cable to go along with my hot and cold running water) news channel NY1:



Note how the bystanders in this interview are a perfect cross-section of the neighborhood as it is today. Note also that two members of the Human League were kind enough to take some time out of their busy schedules in order to attend, and that between them they almost have a complete haircut. Most importantly, it was a relatively cool 53 degrees, which prevented the situation from boiling over into a full-scale "Do The Right Thing" style riot.

While the city has rescinded the tickets, the bitterness remains, and it seems unlikely that the tensions between orthodox Jewry and cycling hipsterdom is going to go away anytime soon. And like most disagreements of this nature, the root of the problem is a lack of understanding on both sides. So once again, I feel it is incumbent upon me to put on my Cone of Mediation (it looks like a Cone of Smugness except it's got a picture of Condoleezza Rice taped to it) and try to broker a settlement.

What the orthodox Jews need to understand is that Kent Avenue is a vital part of the Great Hipster Silk Route. The hipster cultural economy depends on the easy flow of hipsters and hipster goods from Williamsburg (represented by Jerusalem) to the remote northeastern region of Astoria, Queens (represented by the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, the only place in Queens they know) and the southwestern region of Red Hook, Brooklyn (represented by the Obama Bike, which was photographed in Red Hook). Moreover, hipsters sojourning in all parts of Brooklyn and Queens must be able to travel to and worship in Williamsburg, which is their ancestral home. (At least since the late 1990s.)


(The Great Hipster Silk Route)


If you've ever traveled along the Great Hipster Silk Route, you've doubtless seen hipster caravans on Kent and Flushing Avenues. Like their Bedouin counterparts, they travel slowly in small groups and are often huddled together against the wind, but instead of camels they ride old crappy ten speeds and shoddy Craigslist conversions with wobbly rear wheels and steel rims, their skateboarding helmets crooked on their heads and their messenger bags brimming with dirty clothes as they perform the time-honored ritual known as the "ride of shame."

Sure, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "It's 2008. The hipsters can exchange their cultural currency on the internet." Not so. Even today the hipster cultural economy relies heavily on the Great Hipster Silk Route. What happens when a hipster in Red Hook wants a tattoo that can only be obtained in Greenpoint, or a hipster in Long Island City wants to drink with and attempt to mate with a hipster in Clinton Hill, or a hipster in Fort Greene wants to rehearse with his bandmates in Dumbo? And that's to say nothing of the drugs and STDs, both of which are key components of hipster culture and which even today are still not downloadable.

Of course, like a recent Bard graduate this situation swings both ways, and what the hipsters need to understand is that double-parked minivans in the advanced stages of road salt-induced corrosion that perform u-turns suddenly and without warning are as essential to orthodox Jews as riding crappy bikes to crappy bars is to hipsters. In fact, the Talmud sets forth highly specific rules pertaining to the mandatory use of a cellphone while driving, the placement of bumper stickers bearing the likeness of Menachem Schneerson, and the sacred use of a coat hanger in place of an antenna. Also, what may appear to be seriously erratic driving is actually ritual driving, and if you were to watch from above you'd realize they are spelling out Hebrew prayers.

Armed with this knowledge I'm confident that both groups can take at least one more step towards understanding each-other and living in harmony.

I'm way less confident about the economy, though. It's one thing when things like investment banks are suffering; it's something else entirely when it's affecting cyclists directly. A reader recently forwarded me this troubling Craigslist ad:

Colnago Road Bike - $4000 (Upper East Side)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-10-26, 7:15PM EDT

Beautiful hand crafted frame with a one of a kind paint job, with top of the line gears (dura ace), mavic cosmic elite wheels, computer, carbon fiber seat post and stem, paid $5000 year ago for this bike, economy got me down, have to sell, take advantage, your gain, a sure beauty for any bike collector/enthusiast -- Price is negotiable



It is hard to match the tie-dyed ugliness that is a Colnago, and it's always sad when someone is forced to part with one. Understandably, this particular seller is too distressed to mention small details like frame size and model, though judging from the photographs it's one of the older aluminum ones. These truly are rare bicycles, since most of them broke. Still, it's upsetting to see the economy forcing someone to part with his baby, even if that baby looks like something you might find in a hippie's laundry hamper.

Concerned, I realized I had to take a closer look at the cycling economy--one that looks beyond the PistaDex. As such, I amassed some data in order to determine the current Chris King Headset Composite Index:

Unlike the PistaDex, which is influenced by fashion as much as it is by the economy, the CKHCI is a much more reliable indicator of people's willingness to part with money for used bicycle products. If you're unfamiliar with the Chris King headset, it is a component that retails for about $130. Online retailer Competitive Cyclist says the bearings are made from "surgical grade stainless steel," which is essential if you ever need to smuggle it in a body cavity, and that they "provide an impervious barrier to the worst grit and grime of riding," which makes them ideal for hipsters on the Great Hipster Silk Route since they are usually pretty grimy.

Unfortunately, though, grimy people usually can't afford them, since even used Chris King headsets generally sell for pretty close to what new ones cost. This makes them probably the most conservative investment in the cycling world. Of course, if Chris King headsets start going cheap, you know we're all in trouble. Looking at the data above, you'll note that the average closing price for the six headsets that sold on eBay recently was $89.79, which means that the CKHCI is 89.79. (The CKHCI does not account for variables such as headset color, diameter, or threads or lack thereof, since these rarely affect a headset's cost in the used marketplace.) Generally, I don't grow alarmed or suspicious unless a Chris King headset trades below $70.

The PistaDex in New York City is at 475 right now, which is a bit low but not alarmingly so. And with the nationwide CKHCI hovering at around 90 I'm cautiously optimistic. Together, I sincerely hope we can get through this. So don't go throwing your ugly babies out with the bathwater quite yet.

114 comments:

Anonymous said...

yeeeaaaaa

Jim said...

that close!

Mark said...

I am a PODI UMHO today!

The Ride said...

deeenied.

Anonymous said...

top ten

Anonymous said...

AHHH

Anonymous said...

anon1st!ish

ice cube said...

top ten!

Anonymous said...

almost!

Anonymous said...

Tie-dyed ugliness on a Colnago? For shame, Snob.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Jim said...

double-parked minivans in the advanced stages of road salt-induced corrosion that perform u-turns suddenly and without warning are as essential to orthodox Jews

I sure hope that road salt is kosher. Otherwise, you'll have to wash all those vans...

Jim said...

and Jim 1:14, get another name. Mine's already taken, by me.

Might I suggest Obadiah?

Anonymous said...

$5000 a year ago for an alu Colnago? WTF? That's got to be the cycling equivalent of the 2007 Blackstone/Equity Office Properties Trust takeover. If its true (doubtful), what a numbnuts. No wonder there's no liquidity in the markets.

Anonymous said...

He paid $5000 for that Colnago? He got fuuuuuucked. He ain't gonna get un-fucked for anywhere near $4000 either.

Anonymous said...

Spelling Nazi attack: susicious is not a word. Unless it is a hip new combination of "sussing out" and "suspicion" in which the susicious person suspiciously reconnoiters a location, probably an ex girlfriend's new place of residence.

kale said...

I don't grow alarmed or susicious

If that has anything to do with running a churro cart on the Silk Road, count me out!

I have to make money somehow, with all these Phil Wood hubs I've been accumulating for the eventual Road-Warrioresque decline of our economy. I need to separate them from the headsets otherwise The Humungus will attack and all will be lost.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:33pm,

It is too a word. It means more than delicious.

--RTMS

leroy said...

Well, I'll be danged.

I live on the great Hipster Silk Route.

That explains a lot.

Except for why the property values are still dropping faster than (a) [fill in name of pro rider you wish to lampoon here], (b) acid at a Great Society concert, (c) new flat brimmed caps at trendy Billy Burg boutiques or (d) gerund ending "g"s at a Sarah Palin rally.

Now, excuse me. I have to go man a toll booth.

Anybody know how to make change for a Chris King headset?

(My therapist says all you really need is to want to change, but I'm not buying it.)

leroy said...

BSNYC --

Hipsters like Vans.

The ultra Orthodox drive vans.

Surely, this is common ground for rapprochement.

Let the healing begin.

Anonymous said...

check your geography bikesnob. that obama bike looks like its photographed on the east river from williamsburg.

From red hook you'd see the empire state building with the downtown skyline in the forefront.

Arn't cyclists who ride over bridges supposed to be more in touch with the land/water geography/skyline of the city?

Camp Cupboard said...

Can we pronounce CKHCI like "Kick-chee"? I think a cutsie name will help promote usage.

michael said...

hebrew prayers...

haha

Mongo Pusher said...

The CKHCI doesn't account for all of the "Rasta" models smuggled in from The Congo.

Anonymous said...

While the orthodox Jews of Brooklyn are a perplexing group, they follow in a long tradition of keeping neighborhoods nice enough to attract the next wave of gentrification. While the hipsters have invaded their haunts of Billyburg, on the left coast, the homosexual community has taken to adopting the former orthodox enclave of West Hollywood as their new (fabulous) ancestral homeland.

If ever there were strange bedfellows, it's flamboyant gays and orthodox jews. You will be sure to see both en masse when cruising Beverly and La Brea.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:43pm,

The photo looked to me like it was taken near Valentino Pier, though on closer inspection you're probably right.

--BSNYC

Commiecanuk said...

Man, tensions in NYC are turning that part of town into the Gaza strip, NYC. I can see what's coming: muffin top checkpoints and no-spandex zones. I'd worry about suicidal hipster terrorists, but it's hard to hide a bomb while wearing spandex, or buy a bomb after using up yer weed money.

I always wondered what idiot would invest in sub-prime mortgages, apparently, it's the same idiot that paid $5000 for a aluminum frame designed specifically for clown racing (pedals hold those big shoes). The damned thing doesn't even fit him, as he has enough stem height to even please Grant Petersen. Although these pages have shat on Cervelo owners (like me), I think the true uber-twat is the Colnago owner. Kind of like seeing a $460,000 Ferrari sitting traffic beside you in your rusty Geo, it screams: what's the fucking point?

Chris King parts are the gold bullion of cycling, when else fails, you head to Switzerland with a suitcase full of surgical-grade headsets, hence the need for surgical-grade bearings when you have to mule headsets in across customs and traffic in your ass. "First, you get de money...den..you get the headsets..denn..denn you get thee weemen."

Been there, done that.

Anonymous said...

Libide.

jza said...

Didn't Krugman just get a Nobel for discovering that steerer tube diameter did effect the market price of a Chris King?

Something to do with the inverse of the pista dex multiplied by the severity of the buyers current hangover, divided by the number of years claimed use by the seller.

leroy said...

Commiecanuk --

You ride a Cervelo?

Is that what Marx meant with that "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" thing?

BSNYC -- I wasn't going to mention it, but I agree that the Obama bike looks like it was photographed in Williamsburg.

Gnarles Darwin said...

Shabbat Salmon

Anonymous said...

Fact check.

The Obama bike appears to be photographed on the Williamsburg waterfront.

That douche blond hipster in the first photo is a recently evicted Greenpoint resident who is trying to get as much face time as possible. No accident he is in the background pretending to be uninterested.

Anonymous said...

As a concerned orthodox Jewish cyclist, I've decided to do my part in bridging this profound culture gap by removing the brakes from my minivan.

Jim said...

"Those f***s at the Metropolitan Transit office know we don't roll on Shabbos, Dude. Shomer f***ing Shabbos!"

Anonymous said...

"It's got," BSNYC? I'm really disappointed in you for that grammatical redundancy. Mind your "It's got" when doling out the punches and roll with the "It has" crew. No need to read like the plebe's from Bedsty sound.

Mark said...

Hey BSNYC, you'll need to ride these lanes and give us a first hand report on how many mini-vans are blocking the lanes.

Walter Sobchak said...

F**ckin' hipsters. Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism....At least it's an ethos.

Frenchy aka Bike Boy said...

The Colnago guy has had that same bike for at least 4-5 years... if it is the same guy, I have seen him and his GF for years riding around the park riding on semi matching colnagos.

I have been using my own CKHCI for years: a true measure of the economy.

Anonymous said...

dnf

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:15pm, you've got to be kidding me.

Jim N said...

Anonymous 1:48 PM, the Hasidic part of Williamsburg is not the part that is getting gentrified.

red neckerson said...

aint never going to nyc the way you boys carry on i went me to nashville this week to go to the country music hall of fame and its right across from where they have the hockey games and they were getting ready to play one and it was cool to see all those merkins there they was beating the shit out of anyone who even looking fucking canadian and i bet they didnt have noone on the team with some stoopid forin name like alfreada fofonov or shit like that

frilly said...

Say what you will, but that blond hipster is pretty.

Wow, Snob, two posts in a row. Its like Hannukah except I'm not Jewish.

Anonymous said...

KRIS KING

dmitri fofonov said...

Unlike other posts which are insulting to Russian speaking peoples post today is found with humor. I cycle along true slik route for practice. I never see the Jews fighting hipskis, but babushka tell me that it happened long before invention of the minivan. She said Obama not to allow violence to happen. Not to tell her but I think babushka is constipated.

streepo said...

Jim 2:03
Excellent Lebowski reference.

commie,
when i kayak across the St. Lawrence and escape to Canada, may I have a Cervelo also?

John said...

BS! As mentioned before the Obama bike is not in red hook, the exact position is just down the block from the wonderful metal bar Duff's. Next time you're on kent, drop in for a brew, then take your bike down and recreate the pic.

Anonymous said...

Red, merkins = nice. And that's coming from a Yurpeen.

shoot first said...

More news on the Red Dawn remake please.

AustinBikeBlog said...

I'm incredibly worried about the approaching dramatic fall in the PistaDex. Can you imagine the amount of suffering and strife that will cause?

Carissa Wodehouse said...

I was just in Jerusalem, and noticed an alarming lack of hipsters. Perhaps you can broker a cultural exchange program? Hipsters Without Borders?

andrew rosenberg said...

anti-semite

Scott said...

BSNYC.... (first, i need your column more than coffee in the morning),

I don't think the OBAMA bike was photographed in red hook. By the looks of the shot, it looks more like the greenpoint waterfront, either on INdia or Java street, e.g. the hipster zion....

wishiwasmerckx said...

Snob, hot and cold running water? Really? Next you'll be telling us that you have an indoor shit closet.
BTW, that Colnago looks like Walt Disney threw up on it.

kale said...

Here's the link to the video I didn't see it posted




Just kidding here it is

Anonymous said...

Maybe the best way to disperse the hipsters is with Jews. Bring them from Israel in some sort of reverse birthright type deal, and have them send the cost of Williamsburg so far up that the trust funds run dry.

Lucky 7 said...

Serge Huercio was never called an asshole.


A

Anonymous said...

first thing on sunday when I left the house was a hasidic guy yelling and running at me - 'Die all you cyclists die'
no joke.

mander said...

This post is right up there with your best RT. Your critics should consider themselves sonned.

nick said...

this has to be one of the best post in awhile. reminds me of the nyc i left behind. keep it up!:)

Walter Benn Michaels said...

I'm confused. I thought it was Judaism was predominatly a "race" that happens to be religious in many of it's practices and not a "religion". & vice versa for the hipsters?

Andy Pandy said...

Do not think that Ernesto in his wildest nightmare would approve of those awful blue plastic coated biddons. Proving again that even the most beautiful piece of art can turn into trash in the right hands. But the give away that our fund strapped investment banker is in a world of trouble was that he has had to take in washing and hang it up to dry inside his hovel for subsistence

And as wikipedia states, the ancient Egyptians used the Silk Road for transporting goats and sheep, leave that up to you to decide who is who in NY.

Frills , I would have picked you as a Duran Duran fan

QA Dweeb said...

"sojouring"?

5th paragraph or so just above the Obama Bike link

Perhaps sojourning? Soldiering?

frilly said...

All right, AP, if you're going to make me confess...Nick Rhodes was always my favorite.

Anonymous said...

anti-Petersen-ite .

fwiw, my old rb1 doesn't need an angled stem to get that height...

sprider said...

lucky 7,
"Serge Huercio was never called an asshole."

Not in New York!

Anonymous said...

oh god this is the best post ever. Noah from Transportation Alternatives is boiling in his jewish hipster boots as I write this.

kale said...

You think if enough people were to e-mail the Colnago guy asking to part it out he might consider it?

I call leaving him with the Easton crabon seatpost, for sentimental value.

I gots dibs on the fork, but sorry whomever be stuck with the frame.

Caveman said...

http://newyork.craigslist.org/fct/bik/896011623.html

Me sell bike

Lucky 7 said...

Sprider,

Oh well be not schmuck,
be not obnoxious,
Be not bellbottom bummer
or asshole

Remember the story of Serge Huercio
He could walk down your street
And bikes could not resist his stare

Serge Huercio was never called an asshole...


It's amazing that Jonathan Richman could have foreseen the hipster-judeo crisis in '72. Great post today Snob.


A

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that if the Hasidim would simply make friends with the hipsters, they could solve their parking dilemma.

Hasid: Hello my friend. Would you mind moving my minivan for me on Saturday? There's a six of PBR in it for you?
Hipster: Duuuuuude.

Matthew said...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&item=180292832847
the market's a little worse than you thought.

Anonymous said...

Looks like RTMS has been challenged to a game of chess

wishiwasmerckx said...

I have never been able to make it through an entire opinionated cyclist video without stabbing myself in the eye with a sharp pencil, and tonight that streak is intact. Does he have somebody who pays him for each time he says "Bikesnob" in his post, or is that just a manifestation of his OCD?

Anonymous said...

Looks like I'm not the only recumbent rider laughing at BSNYC...

http://www.bentrideronline.com/

Nick said...

Bard rocks! Nice shout out!

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 11:59pm & wishiwasmerckx...

...re: the chess invite from 'oc'...

...first off, i'll call ya on that 'pencil to the eye' thingy & raise ya a second sharp pencil to the ear...jeezus h. khrist...

...to make yer 'point', wiwm, in only 4 minutes & 54 seconds or 4:54, that clown mentioned bikesnob 57 times...57 fucking times...

...15 seconds in, i realized the only way i could get through it was to start again, obsess & keep count...omg...

...aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh !!!...

Kloba said...

I commute everyday on the Great Hipster Route (in professional dress no less) and I have run ins daily with some Hassids that think they own the road. I have also gotten yelled at and spit at (once).

I think they should spend the Sabbath contemplating biker's rights and maybe even being better neighbors.

uglyyeti said...

The CKHCI is high due to the international market (unlike the pistadex), making it a true world-wide index! King headsets retail for $130 here in the States, but I've seen them for $225 in shops in Toronto (and that was with the dollar on par). So a $120 used headset north of the 49th ain't a bad deal. I bought one online for $90 in 1999, rode it for 8 years and listed it on eBay very honestly as an 8 year old headset. Sold it to a guy in Edmonton for $96 + shipping, so I made $6 on the deal - just like a precious metal.

Anonymous said...

If you need any idea what the Hipster Highway will be like, take a morning commute along Bedford Avenue starting at Myrtle going southward to South 2nd. Your experience in the bike lane will tell you all you need to know about biking around the Hasidum.

opinionated cyclist said...

Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob,Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob? Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob,Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob,BIKESNOB! Bikesnob, Bikesnob,Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob... Bikesnob!

Bikesnob, Bikesnob,Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob,Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob,Bikesnob, Bikesnob, Bikesnob,

Canadian Trawler said...

Commie

Cervelo? You surprise me, another lemming. Is it adorned with any cysts?

At least you are buying canuck. I'll give you that.

Commiecanuk said...

Leroy, Streepo, Trawler...

Yes, an R3 with Campy bits.
Marx doesn't apply here, it's more like Orwell: "Some Canadians are more equal than others".

I also don't have the heart to tell Red Neckerson what the standard of living is in Canada relative to the US or the fact that Canada has more billionaires per capita. Even "Trailer Park Boys" had to build a fake trailer park for the show. Sad.

and sorry Trawler, Cervelo is no longer a Canadian company, it's Swiss as of last year and manufacturing is in China. Gerhard Vroomen is dutch, and White is from Venus. I doubt Vroomen-White design will even be in Toronto past this year. More bad news, Tim Hortons is owned by Wendy's. When it comes to business, no one quite sells out with the panache of a Canadian.

You don't really expect me to put my life in the hands of something made in Canada?...LOL, Canadian engineering...the Montreal Olympic Stadium, the Ford Windstar.

Critical Ass said...

BGW-

That's one "bikesnob" every 5.158 seconds!

frilly said...

cc-Good to know cuz if anything happens to McCain or Obama, me & the kitties are heading north.

Fun bit-I've gone swimming in the Montreal Olympic pool, just on a visit. Also, same visit, first time I smoked hash. Go Canada!

Some Guy on the Innernets said...

OCD = Opinionated Cyclist Disorder? This guy has a disease named after him already? I thought that took years of peer reviewed research.

Anonymous said...

OC<3 BSNY

Anonymous said...

MUFN TOPZ

Commiecanuk said...

If you've walked around Montreal, you've smoked hash, it's cheaper than cigarettes.

Canada is not friendly to cats, the only natural predator of the common housecat is the Canadian beaver.

Canadian Trawler said...

Commie

I stand corrected...

but I will add that when you are proudly in the saddle of that Chinese built R3, your life is not in your hands but in the person driving the Ford Windstar, drinking a Tim Ho's and yapping on their Blackberry (insert chuckle here).

Keep your stick on the ice!

Anonymous said...

Commie, all that talk of pussy and beaver is making me hot.

dwight moody said...

"...like a recent Bard graduate this situation swings both ways."

ahahahahahahahahahaha.

It's a fun place to go to school. At least it was 10 years ago. I hear you can't smoke weed in the cafeteria anymore.

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tanookidan said...

I know, old post, but the poor i-banker sucking from the teat of unemployment was selling a Colnago Master Light frame, probably late 90s (obviously to support an unbridled starbucks habit). Actually a pretty nice, light, steel frame, albeit ugly.

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Anonymous said...

BTW, try Bluetooth jammer to block all secret transmitters in your home or at work.

J. Fonte for RogueRanting.com said...

This is so after the fact, but the platinum blonde man in the photo and the man with the assymetrical hair cut next to him are the lead singers and bassist (?) of Semi Precious Weapons. Ahahahaha, it is soooo freaking classic that they are in the midst of the hipster bike turf issue.

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