Alas, I should have known it would come to this. I must say I was disappointed that all they're offering is a chainring and a t-shirt, though. Not that I think I'm worth more than a chainring or a t-shirt, but it would be nice if the chainring was at least ramped and pinned. At the same time, though, I'll also admit to being a bit flattered. I haven't had a Bounty on my head since middle school, when I committed the faux-pas of arriving at Brett Lipschultz's Bar Mitzvah sans yarmulke and had to improvise with a piece of paper towel.
Anyway, I suppose this means I should "defend" myself somehow. And as any road racer knows, you should always answer an attack with a counter-attack. Granted, I usually just sit at the back and yell "Close that gap!," but not this time. If you've ever visited Fyxomatosis, you know that it features highly stylized, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, and often quasi-sexual photographs of bikes, as evidenced by this Colnago crotch shot:
Well, I'm prepared to offer a pie plate to the reader who submits the best Fyxomatosis parody photograph. It should be an actual photograph (not a photoshop) and it should be in the Fyxomatosis style, which is basically high-class bike porn. Special consideration will be given to submissions that include human models. Here's the pie plate, so you know I'm not lying:
As you can see, I'm too disgusted by the pie plate to even touch it, so I'm handling it with my Rapha silk cravat. (My Rapha silk cravat has come in very handy for handling things I don't want to touch.) By the way, here's the chainring Fyxomatosis is offering:
Chainring or pie plate? You decide. (By the way, if you win, I'll even include a smock with the pie plate if you want one.)
Speaking of bike porn, a reader has sent me this disturbing video, which includes perhaps the most boring example of fixed-gear freestyling I've ever seen:
The reader surmised that the rider was attempting to copulate with his bike, but to me it simply evokes a baby chimp clinging lovingly to its mother. This video was apparently taken at the Milan premiere of something called the "Council of Doom," which turns out to be another one of these fixed-gear movies, like MASH and Macaframa. (At first I confused them with the "Minyan of Disorder," which was the name of the Jewish hair metal band that played at Brett Lipschultz's Bar Mitzvah.) Intrigued, I checked out the trailer for the film, which contains lots of dandily-dressed fellows doing those elephant trunk skids in picturesque settings. Like this one:
And this one:
And this one:
But it's not all teabags on riser bars when the Council gets together. These guys also ride hard, as you can tell by this guy, who has ridden hard enough to incur a hurtie owie boo-boo on his footsie-tootsy:
I only hope the guy in the pink shirt who looks like Zach Galifianakis gave it a big kiss.
I've long struggled to figure out what drives this compulsion to film the act of bike-riding and make it look more dangerous than it really is, and I think I've finally figured it out: it's music. Specifically, it's the advent of portable music players. See, it used to be inconvenient to listen to music on a bicycle. First, you had to carry a bulky portable cassette player. Then came portable CD players, but those were even bigger, and they skipped like crazy. But now that you've got devices like the Zune (and its Apple knockoff, the "iPod"), riding around with a soundtrack is easier than ever.
But this is dangerous--and not for the reasons you'd think. Sure, listening to loud music is risky because you can't hear traffic, but if you keep the volume low enough it is possible to both hear the music and the outside world. No, listening to music while riding in traffic is dangerous because it can make you delusional. When people add a soundtrack to their rides they can get a little too carried away with the fantasy and start riding outside their ability. First you're just riding along on your Pista, then some adrenaline-spiked song comes on your iPod, and next thing you know you're jumping in with a pack of strong roadies or something. But of course you can't hang, and soon you're slipping off the back of the pack like a koala trying to mount the greased hindquarters of a rhinoceros. And that's to say nothing of trying to beat that bus through the intersection.
The makers of these videos rely on the same effect--you'll notice these videos are always accompanied by aggressive music. This makes the riding seem outsized. However, the riding is generally a lot tamer than the music, and once you're aware of the smoke-and-mirrors effect a soundtrack can have often the effect is dispelled and you realize the only thing outsized are the egos. To that end, I've developed a litmus test that you can apply to any video in order to determine whether you're watching cutting-edge riding or just some guys parading the latest streetwear:
The BSNYC/RTMS Fixed-Gear Video Test
Step 1: Open the video to be tested in a new browser window. (In this case the "Council of Doom" trailer.)
Step 2: Pause the video and turn the volume on the video player all the way down.
Step 3: Open a second browser window and go here. Turn the volume on the player all the way up, play the video, and minimize the window.
Step 4: Return to the first window containing your test video, click play, and watch it with the new soundtrack.
I performed this test on the "Council of Doom" trailer myself, and was surprised to find not only that the riding looked a lot tamer but also that the new music actually fit better than the original soundtrack. It also worked great with the Macaframa stuff. However, I must confess that the Empire Begins trailer did pass my Fixed-Gear Video Test in that the new soundtrack didn't work as well as the original, though I suspected this was not due to the riding and was instead because of the New York City backdrop and its lack of palm trees and cleanliness. So I subjected it to further testing, substituting the music in Step 3 with this. Sure enough, the new soundtrack fit like a Knog love/hate glove. Just to be doubly certain, I also tried it with this, which also worked uncannily well.
Indeed, I have seen the man behind the curtain, and that man is Nell Carter.