This puts a whole new spin on the incident, and while I don't believe in telling strangers what to do, in this case O'Brien's advice to "Get a light" was probably warranted. First of all, as a respected figure in cycling who was even quoted in the New York Times just two weeks ago, I'd argue that O'Brien is entitled to give other riders pointers on the fly. After all, people pay him hundreds of dollars for bike fits, so the Fred on the Trek should have been grateful for the free advice. That's like bumping into a dentist on the subway who takes a quick look at your molar and saves you the time and money of making an appointment. Secondly, in these trying economic times, you really can't blame a shop owner for trying to drum up business. O'Brien's utterance of "Get a light" may not have been an admonition at all. Rather, he might be having a big sale at his shop, and he simply identified the one item the riders didn't have and as such might be most interested in buying. Had Fred and Wilma simply listened instead of flying into a rage, they might have heard the rest of the sentence: "Get a light--50% off this week only at Chronometro!"
(UPDATE: Assailant has been apprehended!)
Speaking of big, big savings, it's that time of year, and as such various periodicals are publishing their holiday gift guides. A reader informs me that USA Today, the Ryan Seacrest of newspapers, has even produced one for bike commuters. In addition to such items as a $70 Ralpha t-shirt and a $500 Castelli jacket, they also suggest a Rock Racing t-shirt:
Now that's a gift. In fact, I was so excited by it that you'll notice I tagged it with the BSNYC/RTMS Pleasantly Surprised Holiday Gift Lady, a distinction reserved for only the best presents:
And who wouldn't want to back fashion mogul Michael Ball and his iconoclastic bike racing team? After all, the King of Pants is as generous as he is iconoclastic--so much so that he's recently been granting "10-minute Q&A sessions with select publications," such as Bicycling and Pez. Actually, Pez managed to get 15 minutes, and the drama and excitement that surround a brush with Ball is palpable in the intro to the interview:
The BlackBerry alarm rings at 05.30 and the red light is flashing; I've got mail - it's from Rock Racing's Sean Weide. "I can get you 15 minutes with Michael Ball - as one of only five media representatives who will be interviewing him tomorrow. He can talk about Rudy, the 2009 roster, Tyler, etc." Wow! Let's see what Mr. Ball had to say.
I must admit that Ball's considerable savvy is clearly in evidence here. It's very hard to get noticed in the world of fashion, where Ball is overshadowed by vastly more successful and douchey characters like Marc Jacobs. So wisely, Ball bought his way into the much smaller and quieter world of domestic pro cycling, where people actually think he's a "mogul," where having a few Cadillacs seems impossibly lavish, and where he can be stingy with his time when dealing with the very media on whom his team's livelihood depends. (I'd like to see Ball try his "I can get you 15 minutes" tactic with Vogue or even Women's Wear Daily. "15 minutes with who?")
Which is not to say Ball doesn't deserve respect for sponsoring a cycling team, or for winning the Stars and Stripes jersey, or for employing some young riders. It would just be nice if it didn't all come with so much ego, hair product, and general smarm. But hey, if Ball needs to grease the wheels of cycling with his own unctuousness to make things happen, then so be it. (Plus, I already had my face time with Ball, when I got his autograph.)At any rate, let's say you're looking to buy someone a t-shirt for the holidays but the person you're shopping for doesn't back the iconoclastic bike racing team owned by Rock & Republic fashion mogul Michael Ball. Well, in that case, you can always get them a BILF t-shirt on eBay, which I was alerted to by a reader:
"Bicycle I'd Like to F**K American Apparel T-Shirt. Colors: Black, Red, Blue, Olive Sizes: MENS: small, medium, and large WOMENS: small, medium let us know what size(s) you want via email. thanks. "
There's certainly no question this t-shirt warrants a carefully-placed BSNYC/RTMS Pleasantly Surprised Holiday Gift Lady:
Personally, I think it's strange to want to have sex with a bicycle. If it's simply a question of wanting to have sex with things that are thin and cold, you can always go trolling for models in the nightclubs of LA with Michael Ball instead. But I suppose I'm in the minority when it comes to my aversion to velophilia, because the demand for BILF t-shirts is so high that another company is making them as well:
By the way, the same company will also sell you plenty of other extremely witty and irreverent shirts, such as: the "10 Reasons Why My Bike Is Better Than My Girl" shirt; the "Team MILF/Director Sportif" shirt (which I may order for Michael Ball); and of course the hysterically funny "I'm With Wheelsucker" shirt:
But there's more to cycling gifts than t-shirts and Rapha stuff--even if it's 30 days of Rapha, which would cost you approximately $96,000 and is kind of like going on a Dom Perignon bender. This Ralpha jacket alone goes for $750:
You don't have to be a fashion mogul to see that they copied it right down to the shoulder panels.
Yes, Rapha may be the first name in ultra-luxury cycling apparel, but Cadence is right on their heels. Cadence's winter collection is nothing short of remarkable, in that it takes garments that are impractical for cycling and adds little flourishes which are supposed to make them functional but instead just make them complicated. Take this scarf:
I don't understand the scarf as a cycling garment, mainly because they flap around in the wind. There are also other ways to keep your neck and chest warm on the bike that don't make your head feel like an egg in a loose nest of billowy fabric. I suppose Cadence are attempting to ameliorate the flap factor by putting a little slot in it so you can cinch it, but in doing so they seem to have also limited the ways in which you can wear the scarf and maximize its effectiveness. In any case, ineffectual scarfs are an essential component of the "hipster" wardrobe, so I suppose this sort of thing is inevitable.
How do you make an item that's not particularly good at keeping you warm a little bit warmer? You add a superfluous dickey type thing. That way your American Spirit-ravaged larynx will stay slightly warmer than your chest. Brilliant, and perfect for when the mercury dips below 65 degrees. (Brrr!) I wonder if it's compatible with the scarf? I don't see any slots.
My favorite garment by far though is the arm warmer with thumby slot. (This winter it's all about the slot.) I like it so much I gave it a BSNYC/RTMS Pleasantly Surprised Holiday Gift Lady. The advantage of this design is that it keeps the top of your hand warm while leaving your fingers exposed to the elements and making it inconvenient to wear gloves--perfect for maintaining knuckle tattoo visibility on slightly chilly days. The only thing that would make this better would be if Cadence also sold little individual wool finger cots so you could warm your digits on those rare occasions when knuckle tattoo visibility isn't essential.
Actually, like Rapha, Cadence also seem to be mining 80s pop culture, because I could imagine Madonna wearing some of this stuff during the "Like A Virgin" era. (I think the arm warmer would look great with lots of those black rubber bracelets.) And as you can see from this photo, forwarded to me by a reader, she is a serious roadie:
Expect to see visors (hopefully with slots) in Cadence's Spring collection.