Monday, March 31, 2008

From the BSNYC Culture Desk: "Bike Shorts" Wear Thin


A lot of people refer to something called a “bike culture,” though I’m not sure exactly what that is. Even I use it on the heading of this blog, though the only reason I do is that “bike culture” sounds more sophisticated than “bike stuff.” Recently though it occurred to me that maybe there really is a “bike culture.” Moreover, I figured that, since I not only ride a bike but also write a blog about cycling that is read by literally dozens of people each day, I might even be part of it. “How nice,” I thought. “Maybe ‘bike culture’ means there is a community to which I belong—sort of an extended family, even—where as a cyclist I know that I can find support and encouragement.” So although I generally spend the better part of my day dreaming up creative new ways to avoid contact with other people, I nonetheless found this idea appealing.

To that end, I decided to seek out and experience “bike culture” last night at an event called “Bike Shorts.” Bike Shorts is a regular event where people screen bike-related short films, so I figured if I were to find “bike culture” anywhere I’d find it there. It takes place at the Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you’re wondering what an “Art Space” is, it’s a bar. Galapagos is famous for its fetid, stagnant reflecting pool, which takes up like 25% of its useable square footage. Galapagos used to also host a lot of McSweeney’s-related events, and there are those that say that Dave Eggers’s unctuous smarm is one of the many fluids of which the reflecting pool is comprised.

I arrived by stretch SUV with a small entourage and found a sizeable contingent of the bike culture already waiting outside for the doors to open, their bicycles clinging to every street sign in the area like mussels to pier pillars. The variety of bikes was stunning. There were fixed-gears with colored rims that matched, and fixed-gears with colored rims that didn’t match. Some of the fixed-gears had narrow bars, and some of them had really narrow bars. Some had stickers on them, and others had a lot of stickers on them. I might even have seen someone coasting, though that might simply have been a trick of the light. Clearly, though, a wide cross-section of the “bike culture” was in attendance.

The first thing I noticed about the “bike culture” itself was that it smokes cigarettes just as much as the rest of the culture. In fact, I’m surprised the tobacco companies haven’t noticed this, since I think they’ve got a lot to gain from targeting their advertising towards this demographic. The second thing I noticed was that members of the “bike culture” walk around with their polo mallets the same way that people in Park Slope walk around with their yoga mats, proving that indeed bike polo is the new Wiffle Ball. I was clearly in the presence of some serious cyclists. I’m not lying when I say I was a bit intimidated.

Soon the doors opened, though the process of ID-checking and money-taking was a slow one. It was almost exactly like boarding a flight, except there were a lot more messenger bags, I didn’t have to take my shoes off, and nobody was pulling elderly Jewish women out of the line to check them for explosives. Another lesson: “bike culture” involves a surprising amount of red tape. Finally, we made it in. By now I knew the night was not going to be an easy one, so I placed a multi-tiered drink order and set to anesthetizing myself.

Eventually my entourage and I made our way into the screening room, which was already teeming with bike culture, and secured ourselves some wall space. We waited quite some time for the films to begin, but there appeared to be some kind of delay. Eventually my anesthesia began to wear off, so my handler and I set out for the bar, tripping over bike polo mallets and getting our feet caught in messenger bag shoulder straps with every step. Upon arriving at the bar the flustered bartender informed us that he’d have to go change the kegs since all the taps were emitting was a shampooey foam. As we waited, the films finally began, so I returned to the theater as my handler graciously attended the beers.

I walked in and found a little place to stand behind a guy with a hairstyle he stole from that guy from The Prodigy. I then turned to the screen and found that the very same guy was being featured in the film. He was standing in that playground where they play bike polo and cursing and ranting and making bike polo-related inside jokes. The hairstyle guy must have been an important person in bike culture because the audience seemed quite taken with him. He also seemed quite taken with himself, and I could tell from his expression that he was quite pleased about how his hairstyle looked on film.

The film ended, my handler arrived with the rest of the beers, and we ran the mallet-and-bag gauntlet back to the rest of my entourage as I did my best not to spill anything on my tuxedo. (The flustered bartender apparently announced to my handler his intention to tender his resignation to the management that very night, and to emphasize this he gave the beers to my handler gratis. This was to be the highpoint of the evening.) Next was a film I can’t remember. Then there was some vintage Charles Kurault CBS piece from the 80s or something about a bike messenger, and then a clip of the same messenger being interviewed by David Letterman. Then there was a weird and awful Maya Deren-esque film that drove the audience to heckling, which was followed by a sort of cute stop-motion film in which a cog, a bit of chain, a chain tool, and a Surly Jethro Tool have a race. Then there was an unfunny narrative film that was like “Jackass” without the stunts or jokes. Then there may or may not have been something else, and then there was a movie about this guy Niki who went for the Hour Record at Kissena Velodrome, which I happened to already know the background on, but which you’d never know from watching the film because the filmmaker couldn’t be bothered to establish where this was taking place, who the various people in the film were, what the actual hour record is, who Niki is, or even what his last name is. Then I announced to our entourage that we were leaving, and we ran the mallet-and-bag gauntlet again. But someone convinced us we should stay, and I felt like I should give him the benefit of the doubt since I want to be part of “bike culture” so badly, so we watched the end of that Conan O’Brien thing where he works as a bike messenger, and then that bike moving video came on. That cracked my resolve, so I once again announced we were leaving, which we did, this time successfully.

In conclusion, I learned that I’d rather watch bad videos on YouTube, since instead of making difficult trips to a poorly-organized bar I can keep the bottle right next to me. Also, I can do it in my underpants. I also learned that when you make bike-related short films you don’t have to make them entertaining or provide any background information since you’ll only be showing them to your friends who will be so excited to see themselves on camera they won’t really care about what they’re watching. And if someone’s not your friend or not in on the joke you shouldn’t care about them or bother trying to engage them, because who cares, right? Penultimately, I learned that David Letterman and Conan O’Brien are both really funny despite a connection to “bike culture” that is tenuous at best. Lastly, I learned that simply having and riding a bike does not necessarily make you a part of “bike culture.”

Friday, March 28, 2008

Into The Void: Sharing Cycling With The Universe



Sometime last summer I re-buried my time capsule, and now that Spring is here and the ground is beginning to thaw, I'm starting to get antsy again. Unfortunately, though, I just can't dig it up and deny the next generation the opportunity to see how stupid we are. So in an attempt to satisfy my restlessness I've decided to fire a satellite into space. The satellite, which I'm calling the BSNYC Intergalactic Space Nugget, will carry on it my equivalent of the Voyager Golden Record. Except instead of a phonograph record, I'm using an assortment of YouTube videos. And these videos aren't so much "a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings" as they are a cosmic cry for help. Maybe this way extraterrestrial life will get to experience our ridiculousness along with our descendants. Perhaps they'll even come to Earth's rescue. Here are just some of the videos I've chosen to represent various cycling subcultures:



Fixed-Gears



I love self-appointed experts. If you've ever spilled your bearings while overhauling a hub over a tile floor you can begin to imagine what it's like trying to keep track of all the various bits of misinformation contained in this video. My personal favorite quote: "You feel almost like a Jedi knight...you feel like a god." Who better to represent the fixed-gear species?

29ers



Gary Fisher is 29ers, so he gets automatic selection. Plus, his wardrobe should make the aliens feel at ease. Gary makes some good points here, though he does lose the trail a little bit towards the end. To me, though, the highlight is one of the viewer comments: "Some people say that Gary has vintage porn hidden in his hat."

Road Bikes



Sweet Caddy. Unusual lever positioning. I suspect this may be the Rock Racing team mechanic.

Recumbents



This video proves that recumbents are ideal for mountain biking--provided of course that the terrain is relatively flat, and that the most technical trail feature you encounter is a mud puddle.

???



???

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Worlds Are Colliding

It has probably been said somewhere at some point by somebody that cycling is about extremes. Indeed, many hues are refracted through the prism of cycling, and it is a spectrum of light that is beautiful to behold. It’s a very wide, spectrum too. It goes all the way from this:



To this:



But what about the stuff in between? The technicolor skinsuit of cycling is truly a busy one, and we all occupy a different part of it. (Though we all try to stay as far as possible from the chamois.) Personally, I try not to get too wrapped up in labels. My identity as a cyclist is as ever-changing as a moron’s Rubik’s cube. When I am on a road bike, I am a road biker. When I am on a mountain bike, I am a mountain biker. When I am on a recumbent wearing a chicken suit, I am a guy on a recumbent wearing a chicken suit. And when I’m on a cyclocross bike, I just suck. My identity is the mercurial wind, and it truly is as mixed as that last metaphor.

There are signs also that the rainbow Italian ice of cycling is melting, and the colors are all mixing together. But is that disgusting or delicious? Well, it all depends on whether you’re the sort of person who likes to scrape at it with a spoon while it’s frozen, or the type who likes to let it get all mushy and then slurp it straight from the paper cup. The point is, I recently saw this on polarizing style maven, fixed-gear architect, and BSNYC conspiracy theorist Prolly's blog:





Ah yes, alleycat "racing" and cyclocross are now coming together in a succession of bad mud-related puns. What does this mean? Well, certainly it was inevitable that New York’s urban fixed-gear riders’ minds should start wandering off-road. We’ve actually got legal trails in the Five Boroughs now, and running lights and dodging cars just gets boring after awhile. Furthermore, there's certainly nothing new about unsanctioned off-road racing, and I'm sure this sort of thing happens in the godless rain-soaked trend sponge of Portland all the time. But does this presage a major shift in urban cycling style? Will “fixters” indeed venture into the woods en masse? (We know they're already dirt-curious.) If they do, will they get along with all the singlespeeders who are already there? Will tire clearance now be a frame attribute more prized than track geometry? Will canti bosses become the new horizontal dropout? Will we now see a new breed of urban rider who takes pride in his bicycle’s versatility and his own adroitness on a variety of terrain? I don’t know, but they’re definitely going to have to learn proper bike-portaging technique first:

(Photo misappropriated from here.)


Perhaps most important is a message on one of the flyers: “Use of fixed gears encouraged, not required.” This too might indicate a coming change. People may well learn that the line between fixed-gear dedication and sheer obstinance is as thin as a derailleur cable and as subtle as a spring and a pawl. They may also discover for themselves what people have known for decades now, which is that in many situations outside of a velodrome coasting and braking equal increased overall speed. Perhaps the era of the fixed-gear as the dominant urban bike species is at an end.

Or, more likely, this might just be a bunch of people getting drunk on Randall’s Island.

So if you tend to scrape your Italian ices, you can look at this as another sign of the Apocalypse. Or, if you prefer to slurp them, you can look at this as a joyful coming-together of cycling subcultures, and one more step towards a day when we all mutually embrace the unbridled joy of cycling. All I know is, if it's the latter, I hope we don't all start hugging. Because I'm just not comfortable with that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fixedgeargallery...of TTMBLs.

Dear Readers,

We’ve had a lot of laughs here. Yes, it’s been controversial at times. Sure, there have been arguments. However, I think in the end we’ve all been able to come together in the spirit of mirth beneath the giant technicolor Parapluie d’Amour that is the cycling community.

But today we need to get serious.

For the last however long it’s been I’ve dedicated a small sliver of my life to pointing out bike-related foibles and transgressions, and I like to think I’ve made a little bit of a difference. But as hard as I try and as vigilant as I am, I just can’t change the world. In December, I happily reported that only 3.3% (or four in 120) of the most recent Fixedgeargallery submissions were sporting top tube pads. Unfortunately, as of today, that percentage has increased to 5.8% (or seven in 120). And one of them was even soaked in blood:




Personally, I consider any top tube pad an affront to decency. And I find a sanguineous one especially offensive, regardless of whether the blood was the result of a crash, the manifestation of Fixed-gear Apocalypse-related stigmata, or even the aftermath of the rare but documented phenomenon of man-struation. So I find myself coming to grips with the fact that, despite my best efforts, instances of top-tube pads seem to be increasing. And this would appear to mean that, while a man-pon can stanch the man-strual flow, I cannot stem the top-tube pad tide.

Am I discouraged? Yes. Will I be thwarted? No. Will I acquiesce? I don’t even know what acquiescence is—literally! (Sounds liquidy.) Instead, I will turn my attention towards a more insidious and disturbing trend that has manifested itself in recent weeks: Top Tube-Mounted Brake Levers. (Or TTMBLs.)

TTMBLs belong right up there with WMDs, PCBs, STDs, SBDs, and OPPs on the list of acronyms to be avoided at all costs. Certainly we’ve seen them before, but their appearance was sporadic and seemingly random. Now though it appears they may be coalescing into a bona-fide trend.

In the same 120-bike sample that yielded a TTP index of 5.8%, I counted two TTMBLs:


(TTMBL #1)



(TTMBL #2)

Interestingly, it would appear that owners of Schwinns are most at risk of developing TTMBLs.

If I were a doctor, and this were a fixed-gear colonoscopy, then I just found two growths. I’ve also just tested them, and by God, they’re malignant! So what must we do, you ask? The answer is simple. We must do as the doctor would do: nip them in the butt.

(Forgive me for being graphic, but I told you this was serious.)

Of course, the real question is how do we excise them? Well, as we all know, legislation won’t do it. Look at drugs, or at teen smoking and drinking. When you tell someone they can’t have something they just want it more. Fear and guilt won’t work either. After all, Catholics still masturbate—they’re just really furtive about it. No, the only thing that will work is peer ridicule. The person with the TTMBL must be made to feel like a freak and an outcast. Only when they understand the sheer stupidity of their brake lever placement will these riders relocate them to the handlebars on which they belong. They need to know that there are much better and more enjoyable reasons to reach between your legs. (Just ask any Catholic.)

It's incredibly important that we remain positive in the face of a potential epidemic. As one porn star says to another right before the big threesome scene, "Together we'll lick this thing!"

--BSNYC

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Separate Peace: Brokering the End of the Cyclist/Driver War

"There is a juggernaut out there - the tension between the cyclists and the drivers is so high that it's become a war," said triathlon coach Marc Evans... [from an article on SFGate]

Yes, it should come as a surprise to nobody that a war has been raging between cyclists and drivers for nearly as long as there have been cyclists and drivers. But the time has come to say: Enough! (Or “Enuf” if you prefer to make your voice heard via text message.) To this end, I am proposing a treaty that will hopefully end this war once and for all. Let us please adopt it in the interest of peace.


TREATY
Between Cyclists and Drivers


It is hereby agreed as follows:

Division of the Roadways

Drivers can have all highways, freeways, expressways, and interstates. Cyclists keep everything else. Motor vehicles shall not be allowed on local roads, and bicycles shall not be allowed on highways. The exception to this will be the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly the Interboro Parkway) between Brooklyn and Queens in New York. This shall be renamed in honor of professional cyclist and alleged sex symbol Mario Cipollini, and it shall be used exclusively for high-speed hair product testing. (First to be tested will be Mario’s new combination hair gel/chamois cream, which not only prevents crotchal chafing but can also keep a coiffure stationary at speeds in excess of 200mph. Will be marketed under the brand name “Taint Movin’.”)

Exchange of Prisoners

Cyclists will return to drivers all German automobile-driving Blackberry users in exchange for the return of their CSC kit-wearing, mountain bike shoe-wearing Cervelo riders. As it happens, most of the former are also the latter, so they should all be relieved to be reunited with their respective bicycles/automobiles and to make their garages whole again. Cyclists will also return all UPS, FedEx, and DHL (the Nashbar of courier companies) truck drivers in exchange for all bicycle messengers and cycle-rickshaw drivers captured in battle. There have been some lonely bongs in the cyclists’ ranks, and cyclists can expect the celebratory sound of gurgling water to ring out well into the night upon the prisoners’ return.

(As discussed during last week’s secret summit, since cyclists don’t want the recumbent riders and triathletes back, and since drivers don’t want the operators of forest-green minivans and Lincoln Town Cars back, we’ll just drop them all off on Bikini Atoll. War is hell, but at least something good has come out of it for both sides.)

The Wilderness Theater

While a truce may have been struck on the roads, apparently the war rages on in the woods as the ATV riders and mountain bikers continue to fight. How many paintballs need to be fired, and how many suits of body-armor splattered, before this madness ends? Probably a lot. So let’s just agree to look the other way and let them burn themselves out in there. They’ll all get tired eventually.

Slurs

Drivers agree to stop calling all cyclists “Lance Armstrong.” It’s enough already. If a driver absolutely must call a cyclist something, the driver may call him “Wim van Est,” or else “Heidi Van de Vijver” if the cyclist is a woman or person of indeterminate gender. In exchange, cyclists agree not to get all self-righteous and “green” during altercations with drivers. This includes: demanding that the driver stop driving; lecturing the driver on his or her vehicle’s gas mileage; and blaming the driver for yesterday’s unseasonable cold spell or for global warming-related polar bear drowning deaths.

The Forming of an Ineffectual Body to Enforce These Provisions

To ensure that cyclists and drivers continue to live side by side in peace and mutual respect as they undoubtedly will, a weak and indecisive group will be formed to oversee and enforce the provisions contained herein. This group will consist of representatives from the various Cyclist and Driver subgroups. The following subgroups of cyclists have been identified and acknowledged to date: Roadies; Randonneurs; XC Mountain Bikers; Downhillers; Freeriders; Messengers; Fixed-Gear Freestylers; Commuters; That Guy At Work Who Has A Bike He Never Rides But Is Always Asking About Yours; Cyclocrossers; and BMXers. The following driver subgroups have also been identified: Idiots; Idiots from Jersey; Women Who Are Dwarfed By Their SUVs; People Who Don’t Go When The Light Turns Green Because They’re Too Busy Texting, Flavoring Their Coffee, or Checking Themselves for Pubic Lice; Delivery People; Lost Idiots from Jersey; and Taxi Drivers.

More subgroups will be added as they are identified.

Signed this Twenty-Fifth Day of March, 2008,



__________________
Cyclists


__________________
Drivers

Monday, March 24, 2008

More BSNYC In Print: The Reign of Terror Continues

At the end of last week I revealed that I had entered the rarified world of cyclists who get special online discounts just for being themselves. At the risk of further alienating my readership, today I’m also proud to announce that I’m apparently a VIC. (That’s a “Very Important Cyclist” to you.) That’s right, I’ve just been published in the Official Program and Ride Guide for the Five Boro Bike Tour, which is sponsored by some bank whose name I’m not going to mention. I’d also like to put additional emphasis on the fact that this is the official program, and not that pirated version floating around that directs you to a totally different starting place where you’re robbed of your bicycle at gunpoint.

In the program, I am published alongside three other VICs. They are: Charles Schumer (he’s from the Senate, and not that lame House of Representatives that anyone can get into); Dan Doctoroff (I don’t know his deal but I’m assured he’s real important); and David Byrne (the guy from the thing I panned awhile back who was also in some band). Coincidentally, this was also the podium of the 1981 Het Volk semi-classic, so I truly am in illustrious company. Anyway, the [whatever] Bank Five Boro Bike Tour is a cool way to see the city. You even get to ride car-free on that weirdo Sufjan Stevens’ favorite thoroughfare, the BQE, so check it out. (Many thanks to Hannah B. of Bike New York for asking me to contribute.)



That said, I’m now going to make sure there’s no remaining good will towards me by hitting you with a surprise Monday post-Easter quiz. As usual, consider the question, read the choices, and click on your answer. If you’re right, you’ll see the item. If you’re wrong, you’ll get this. Good luck!



Retired Classics star Johan Museeuw’s new line of bicycles is constructed from a hybrid of carbon fiber and what other material?

-- Bamboo
-- Flax
-- Hemp
-- Strands from his hair plugs






These oddly-shaped handlebars, which sport a tape job that looks like Bruce Banner’s wardrobe post-Hulkification, belong to:

-- Lennard Zinn of Velonews
-- Bill Strickland of Bicycling
-- Jobst Brandt
-- James Huang of Cyclingnews



Which is NOT an actual quote from the website of Bike Riders Tours, a luxury cycling tour you can find advertised in the pompously irrelevant periodical The New Yorker?

-- “Nothing is between your Cannondale and the road ahead to Donna Teresa's kitchen. Except the distinct sensation of fresh lemon scent as your pedals stroke along Mount Etna's citrus groves.”
-- “We welcome you to stand out from the crowd, to travel small to get more, to go out and say bonjour, to savor the peppery tingle of freshly pressed Umbrian olive oil on real bruschetta, to haul in lobster traps from Maine's Penobscot Bay, or to listen to the invigorating crash of the North Atlantic on the jagged shores of Galway Bay.”
-- “We welcome you to witness the sense of a place, to live the moment, to be saturated in the locale.”
-- “Inhale air heady with the aroma of fresh basil as you urge your bicycletta towards the next village, where a colorful array of charming locals waits to soothe your sore muscles, ply you with homemade wine, and feed your every appetite.”



The PistaDex in New York City is currently at:

-- 520
-- 320
-- 600
-- 800

According to the seller, how much does this bike weigh?

-- 8 pounds
-- 10 pounds
-- 10 kilograms
-- 10 stone

Special BONUS POLL. Simply watch the following videos and make your choice. (No right or wrong answer—full credit given regardless of your choice.)








Friday, March 21, 2008

The BSNYC Good Friday Over-Share

Remember cyclocross? You know, that thing you tried a few years ago, swore you'd never do again, and ever since then has somehow become the highlight of your season? Well, I'm pleased to announce that the new issue of Cyclocross Magazine includes an article I wrote about why 'cross will never jump the shark. (And it has nothing to do with the fact that placing a shark tank between a pair of barriers is not only UCI-illegal, but also prohibitively expensive and downright dangerous.) Look--they put my name on the cover and everything! And rest assured there are also much better articles and interviews in here concerning people who are actually good at 'cross as well. So if you love 'cross (or if you hate it, which you undoubtedly do if you partake in it) check it out.


Moving on, there's something else I'd like to share with you as well. As the author of a popular cycling blog, I've gained access to certain perks and benefits that are simply not available to the average cyclist. For example, I no longer pay for tubes. They just show up at my house--free! Also, I get special treatment at bike shops. I mean, they still ignore me when I come in, but they don't actively insult me. But perhaps best of all is the secret website.

That's right--when you reach a certain level in the cycling world, you get to use a secret website that gives you huge savings on all kinds of cycling gear. If you read this blog regularly, you know I'm not easily impressed, but I have to say that the secret website is absolutely amazing. The way it works is, they send you emails with a special code. Then you go to the website, order what you want, and put in the code. It's a lot like buying marijuana from a delivery service actually, and it's every bit as intoxicating. Except it's a lot cheaper.

I have to admit though that over the last few months I've started feeling a little guilty about it. I mean, who the hell am I? Why should I get special treatment? In fact, I started to think that maybe I should share the secret website with my readers. Finally, this morning, I got an email from the secret website that was so unbelievably tempting that I decided I finally had to spill the beans. Here it is:



Yup, you read that right. An additional--additional--10% off on orders of $75 or more. Just because it's Easter! You don't have to be Christian, or even like Jesus at all. (They don't check--trust me.) And they have sales like this all the time. I think you can see why I can't sit on this thing any longer. All this time I've felt like a hen, sitting on a hatching egg as the chick's beak pokes me in the crotch. So I'm finally letting the cat out of the bag--or the chick out of the egg. Of course, I can't reveal the actual URL of the site (I'm too scared to lose my priveleges) but you can see the secret discount code in the lower left of the image, which should give you a clue.

Oh, one more thing--they even invent their own components. Check this out:

Ever removed your seatpost and not remember where its position was? This rubber piece fits around your post as a reminder, aesthetically improves the seatpost/frame junction, and provides additional protection from crud getting around the seatpost. Black.

Amazing. Not only do I lose track of my saddle position all the time, but I absolutely detest the aesthetics of my seatpost/frame junction. Get out of my head, secret website. Get out of my head!

Finally, there's one more thing I'd like to share with you. (Don't ask me where all this munificence is coming from. It must be the change of season.) A reader recently shared this with me. I've been whining for awhile about the lack of variety in cycling-related TV. I've even pitched my own shows. But I've now seen the future of Bike-er-tainment, and its name is the Opinionated Cyclist:




Give this guy a talk show and a sidekick and you're in business.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Worst of Craigslist: Hot, Vernal, Allergy-Inducing Bike Love

Stopping in at the Fixedgeargallery recently, I saw something which chilled me quicker and more deeply than a Sub-Zero wine cooler chills some whiny Upper East Sider's Chardonnay:


According to the photographer, "Spring is trying to get unsprung so I took a ride up the trail today only to spot two cool fixies locked up on the Loughborough Mill sign . The Red one is a De Bernardi Track Bike with Deep V rims and rise bars, the black a Spicer with an aero wheel and flat bars. On the other side of the bench is my Raleigh fixie, which took me 26 miles r/t on the trail today instead of doing a conference call . What could the hipsters who own these be doing in the woods on a Tuesday afternoon?"

Yes, what could they be doing indeed? There are a number of possibilities, and each is more disturbing than the next. Here are just a few of the most obvious scenarios:

--They're taking a fixed-gear spirit journey in which they light a fire, speak incantations, and try to divine what the next pant style will be from the way the smoke whisps curl. (My money is on surgical scrubs fastened at the waist by a length of garden hose.);

--They're filming an independent movie called "The Blair Fixed Project" that will be the toast of YouTube;

--They're mating and will eventually reproduce;

--They're abandoning their fixed-gear lifestyle wholesale and embarking directly on the newest trend, organic farming. (Representative quote from the article: "Having a cool cheese in your fridge has taken the place of knowing what the cool band is, or even of playing in that band," she said. "Our rock stars are ricotta makers." Obviously this article annoyed me tremendously, though I confess I would kind of like to see someone smash or melt a giant cheese onstage.);

--They want to become fixed-gear mountain bikers so they're doing recon on foot. (Why must some people apply fixed-gears to every style of riding, regardless of how ill-suited it is? People have to try everything with a fixed-gear the same way teenagers have to try everything stoned. "Dude, but have you ever clipped your toenails high?!?")

--They're part of some kind of "Young Goodman Brown"-esque cabal that meets in the woods with designs to hasten the coming of the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse and the Apocalyptic Alpaca.



(image by erik k)


Well, whichever way you slice it, it's olive loaf, and it's disgusting. Figuring that Spring is at least partially to blame for this behavior, I nipped over to the Craigslist Missed Connections to see what kind of bike-related depravity the seasonal change was wreaking. I wasn't disappointed. Sickened, yes, but not disappointed:

Bike Shop, Lafayette Street - m4w - 39 (SoHo) [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/mis/609301809.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-03-17, 3:40PM EDT

I walked in last Friday March 14th at 10.10 am in the morning, You with track bike, talking to the store person about leaving for San Francisco. Bike chain on waist (I think) - you did not hang long, looked a little rushed, brown hair wavy, medium build, I'm guessing 5'7" tall. I'm guessing arts-related lifestyle. We briefly locked eyes and I thought what a cool energy you have. I had an old school Trek road Bike. When you return from San Francisco I would love to get to know you.


Firstly, the only thing worse than referring to your old crappy bike as "vintage" is referring to it as "old school." The phrase "old school" needs to finally be consigned to the slang incinerator, where it should be placed atop the ashes of "bling" and immolated immediately. It's getting to the point where people are going to start re-using condoms and saying, "Hey, baby, check out my old school rubber!" And that's not going to be good for anybody.

Secondly, it's "10:10 am," or "10:10 in the morning," not "10:10 am in the morning!" It's also not an ATM machine, nor is it 54° degrees. I really can't stress this enough without meeting you in person and strangling you until your face is blue in color.

Finally, your shrewd appraisal of her and your conclusion that she leads an "arts-related lifestyle" does not bode well for your compatibility. Should you finally meet, I don't think she'll respond well to questions like, "Do you like rock music?," I doubt she'll like that you call a person who works in retail a "store person," and I don't think she'll think the fact that you collect comic books qualifies you as artsy. I'm also guessing she was in a hurry because she sensed you were itching to use that "old school" condom.


Brown Acura MDX on I-95 "Swim Run Bike" - m4w [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/fct/mis/611833997.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-03-19, 6:32PM EDT

Were you driving the above today on I-95? Drop me a line if so ... please.


This is interesting. At first it seems like a romantic entreaty, but on second read it could just as easily be something else altogether. Since the driver is a triathlete, if she drives like she rides it's possible she ran over this guy's dog or something and he's trying to track her down. The ellipses before "please" also imply desperation or resignation. It could be a sensual sigh...or a despondent one. (Perhaps resident ellipses enthusiast Bikesgonewild can provide us with some insight here.)

Triathletes with cars love to advertise their perverse inclinations on their vehicles, and the "Swim Run Bike" sticker is one of the more popular ways they do it. I suspect I must have some form of dyslexia though, because all I see is "Dork Dork Dork." Generally though it's unnecessary for them to display their proclivities in bumper sticker form since it's pretty obvious when a vehicle belongs to a triathlete. It's usually some kind of "sporty" dork-tastic SUV, and it's usually got either a trunk rack or one of those roof racks that clamp the bike on the downtube because they don't know how to take their front wheels off. Or if they're hardcore they're driving an Isuzu IronMan, the car that looks like it might burrow itself somewhere in your unmentionables:


In any case, I'd advise this guy to avoid her at all costs. Let's be honest--triathletes are creepy. There's just something wishy-washy about the way they flirt awkwardly with three disciplines. They're like David Bowie's sexuality, or like people who grew up in multiple countries and who can speak three languages, yet they speak each one poorly and with an untraceable accent. "Swim Bike Run?" "Avoid Avoid Avoid."

HOT Bearded Boy on Bicycle - w4m – 25 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/mis/611902659.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-03-19, 7:33PM EDT


I see you all the time zooming around billyburg on your vintage bike. My bike was stolen by some native polish or puerto rican person. god i cant these losers that know nothing about the arts and on top of that they steal!! anyway youre hot and id love to stop and chat if i see you again. my name is Raine and im from Portland. been in brooklyn for 1 year. hope i see you again soon!!

Raine


I don't condone trolling, but I enjoy reading a good one now and again. I particularly like "Raine" because if she were real she could very well be the person the bike shop guy wanted to use his "old school" condom on. It also looks as though at least one hopeful soul was taken in by her:

re: HOT bearded boy on a bicycle - m4w [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/mis/611958984.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-03-19, 8:29PM EDT

"My bike was stolen by some native polish or puerto rican person. god i cant these losers that know nothing about the arts and on top of that they steal!! "

Jeezz girl, I'm sorry but you sound real f- dumb... no thank you, but I am not interested in stopping for a chat about "the arts" with someone who has her head up her ass. Please do us all a favor and go back to Portland. leave Brooklyn for the more intelligence inclined folk. ciao.


Ah yes, "leave Brooklyn for the more intelligence inclined folk" indeed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Words of Wisdom: The 21 Most Memorable Cycling Quotes


It’s important to take some time once in awhile to reflect on the beauty and joy of cycling. Over the years, this has been eloquently expressed by a wide variety of notable people. I’ve gone ahead and assembled what I think are the most memorable and inspirational of these quotes. Some of them are familiar, and others are less known. But all of them are sure to resonate with the cyclist’s soul.


Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. --Mark Twain


It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. --Ernest Hemingway


The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. --Christopher Morley


Give me good books, good conversations, and my Trek Y-Foil, and I shall want for nothing else. –George Plimpton


When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. --H.G. Wells


I’m the paté on the Universal cracker. I’m the grout holding your shower tiles on. I’m out of the saddle, sprinting up that hill and eating glazed donut bracelets off the right arm of Jesus. –Charles Manson


Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. --John F. Kennedy


Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring. –Desmond Tutu


Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things. --William Golding


My favorite toast is rye toast. –Paris Hilton


I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botanise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view - get hot, juicy, red - like a grilled chop. Get me on that machine and I have to go. I go scorching along the road, and cursing aloud at myself for doing it. --H.G. Wells


My father is the Hollywood equivalent of a clean, fillet-brazed frame. My brother is like one of those fat-tubed aluminum Cannondales. I’m more like one of those Taiwanese Masis. –Emilio Estevez


As a child growing up in pre-gentrification Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, I went everywhere by bicycle. My bike was in many ways the key to my neighborhood, which, at the time, was Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. This was in the 60s and 70s, before all the white people and restaurants. I really can’t underscore boldly enough the fact that I grew up in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, before it was gentrified. You could get mugged! --Jonathan Lethem


Bikes have wheels. –Noam Chomsky


If my career were a hairstyle, it would be helmet-head. –Laura Dern


Perhaps the most vivid recollection of my youth is that of the local wheelmen, led by my father, stopping at our home to eat pone, sip mint juleps, and flog the field hands. This more than anything cultivated my life-long aversion to bicycles. –Tennessee Williams


Bicycles are the new rollerblades, talentless is the new talented, and I’m in hog heaven. –Ryan Seacrest


Perhaps the most vivid recollection of my youth is that of being flogged by the local wheelmen, along with the fieldhands, the postman, and a young Tennessee Williams. This more than anything cultivated my life-long aversion to his plays. –Truman Capote


If, during the Second World War, the United States had retooled its factories for manufacturing bicycles instead of munitions, we’d be one of the healthiest, least oil-dependent, and most environmentally-sound constituents in the Nazi empire today. –Ralph Nader


Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia. --H.G. Wells


It’s like “Animal Planet,” except with bicycles instead of animals. –Ryan Seacrest, on his new all-bicycle TV network

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A BSNYC Exclusive: A First Look at the New Dura Ace!

Here in the Atlantic Northeast, it’s nearly Spring. Bike shops are beginning to swell with barely-ridden bicycles in for overpriced annual tune-ups. Fixed-gear riders are daring to remove their bandanas and expose their bare faces to the wind. And the air will soon be filled with love and pollen.

Another sure sign of Spring is when the cycling press starts spotting electronic road groups in the peloton. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that this is always tremendously exciting. Certainly we’ve all been spending the winter pondering such questions as: Is this stuff any closer to hitting the market?; Which expendable domestique will be guinea-pigging it this time?; and, Which part of the bike did they move the unsightly, bloated battery pack to this year?

Of course, the biggest question of all is: When will Shimano unveil a new Dura Ace group? It’s been like four years since the current version of Dura Ace came out, and a lot has happened since then. SRAM have come out with Red, and Campagnolo have come out with...Red. What’s more, Shimano have already overhauled XTR, which has an “X” built into the rear derailleur and everything! Finally, it’s well-known in the industry that a Daniel Day Lewis Oscar win generally presages a new Shimano innovation. In 1990 Daniel Day Lewis won for “My Left Foot,” and that same year Shimano released S.T.I. This year, DDL won for that milkshake movie, so you can bet they’re about to announce something big.

But will it be electronic? Well, so far it looks like the answer is no. In what is undoubtedly the biggest journalistic coup of my career, I’ve gotten my hands on what may be the very first image of the next Dura Ace group:



(Image courtesy of Jimmy from Brooklyn.)

Obviously, the most striking thing here is that Shimano seem to be staying with an aluminum crank. Without a press release we can only make inferences, but it’s possible that Shimano intend for the carbon FC-7800C to remain an aftermarket item. Interestingly, though, the crank does appear to have an integrated shoe, which leads me to believe that they’re extending their “total integration” concept to the shoe/pedal/crank interface.

The next thing you’re likely to notice is the improved ergonomics of the shifters. A source in the industry tells me that the new system will come in a full range of sizes so that each rider can customize his controls for perfect fit. The new system will likely be marketed as “Mammo-drive,” though we’ll have to wait for a press release to find out exactly why. (Early testers apparently already refer to the shifters as “breafters,” according to the source of the photo.) Word is that Shimano also intend to release a woman-specific shifter, though I was unable to obtain any images.

The third big change is in the rear derailleur. SRAM have long touted their 1:1 actuation ratio as superior to Shimano’s, so it would appear that the Japanese giant has gone back to the proverbial drawing board here. Again, without a press release we can only speculate, but a rear road derailleur should be quick yet compact, and certainly nothing is quicker and more compact than a chipmunk. Furthermore, while the rear derailleur is clearly not electronic, it is not cable-actuated either, and a closer look shows that Shimano may be moving towards some kind of hydraulic system:

The big question in my mind is whether Shimano will offer replacement organs for the derailleur should it require overhauling, or whether it will need to be replaced with an entirely new unit in the event of a failure.

In any event, this image will surely have the cycling world buzzing. This is a surprisingly organic turn for a company heretofore known for its mechanical precision. In many ways this image raises more questions than it answers, but one thing is for sure: roadies all over the world will doubtless be clamoring to get their hands on a pair of those shifters.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Grand (Re)Design: A New Look for Spring!

In cycling as in life, it is important to set goals for yourself. Neither endeavor is about enjoyment. Rather, both are about striving towards accomplishments that pay off in tangible form. As such, I made sure to take some time during my week off for introspection and to re-align myself with my personal goals. Fortunately, in turns out that both my cycling and life goals are one and the same: to own a state-of-the-art time trial bike like this one.



Just looking at a bicycle like this reminds me why I love cycling. First of all, whether you're tearing around Central Park with your head down as you strive for another "personal best," admiring it as you strap it to the trunk rack of your Infiniti crossover vehicle, or lying under it after you suddenly find yourself ensared in a retractable dog leash, you can be assured that your eyes will alight on a logo reminding you that you paid top dollar to ride the very best. Secondly, owning such a bike gives you automatic entree into a world in which actual riding is a small and non-essential part of the joy of ownership. Since the events that warrant a time trial bike are infrequent, you can instead immerse yourself in activities like VO2 max tests, taking it to the bike shop to have the rear derailleur barrel adjuster turned for you, and paying professionals for intimate yet legal and socially acceptable one-on-one attention.

Yes, too many cyclists have a TT bike-shaped hole in their stables, and I for one refuse to count myself among their ranks any longer. Unfortunately, prohibitively expensive bicycles don't just come up to you and place themselves between your legs like friendly dogs or people with low self-esteem. You've got to purchase them with money--like pedigree dogs or people with low self-esteem who have turned to prostitution. So in the spirit of goal-fulfillment and revenue-generation I've hired a professional to re-design this blog. Here's a sneak preview of what the new BSNYC is going to look like:

This is pretty close to what the final product will be, except you also have to imagine it flashing a lot. Of course, I realize not everybody's going to take to it right away. In fact, even I had some concerns at first. Here were my initial comments to the designer:

Which he allayed quite convincingly:

So if you don't like the re-design either, just think of it as a new Brooks saddle. Except whereas the Brooks eventually conforms to your contours and becomes comfortable, this new look will instead savagely beat your taint into submission. Which is exactly what I expect my new TT bike will do too.

See you in the park! (If I can be bothered to lift up my teardrop-helmeted head.)

--BSNYC

Friday, March 7, 2008

This Just In: I'm Out!

Recently, I negotiated a new contract with myself. While I can't reveal the terms of this contract, I can tell you that I did manage to wrangle some extra vacation time as part of my package. So I'll be cashing some of that in next week. Consider it a week-long "Snobbatical." I will resume regular updates on Monday, March 17th.

But rest assured, I will not be idle during this time. I'll be taking the blog in for extensive wind tunnel testing, as celebrity cycling coach Chris Carmichael informs me that I might benefit from a more aerodynamic font. And this blog is about one thing: results!

If you find yourself bummed out during my absence, I suggest you go here. Or, just curl up in front of the Snobbaticule Log:





As always, thanks for reading. See you on the 17th.

A Glimpse Into The Mind of a Madman

As we all know by now, in the wee hours of the morning yesterday someone on a bicycle set off a bomb at the military recruiting station in Times Square. We cyclists have perhaps been hit hardest by this attack. Certainly I can't be the only one who has been looked at askance since the bombing. In fact, word on the street is that an NYPD crackdown on bicyclists is currently under way. This is frightening. If they expect us to stop at red lights, next they'll want us to stick around after we mow down pedestrians. Where does it end?

So it looks like we're going to have to catch this guy, if only to improve our own quality of life. In fact, I've already done my part. In the hours following the blast, I visited the scene of the crime. While the authorities were doing their best to collect leads, I figured that it takes a cyclist to catch a cyclist. And surely enough, near the site of the explosion, I found this:



Unlike the letters that have been sent to Congress, this appears to be the genuine article. This is also perhaps the most vivid insight into the mind of a psychopath I've seen since Geraldo interviewed Charles Manson. It's simultaneously crazier than that milkshake movie, scarier than Mario Cipollini's chamois, and dumber than U23D. While we can still only speculate as to the bomber's identity, we at least now know a little more about his motivation. I'm confident in the coming hours that forensic examination and handwriting analysis will yield even more vital information.

In the meantime, if you know any hooded sweatshirt-wearing cyclists with annoying roommates, be sure to turn them in. I realize this describes about half of Brooklyn, but in times like this prudence is a luxury we cannot afford.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

BSNYC Product Review: Hitting the Road

Ever since I started reviewing bicycles and components, companies just will not stop sending me products to review. I’m sure some of you think that being constantly sternum-deep in the latest high-end gear is a dream come true, but I’m here to tell you that it’s more of a nuisance than anything. In fact, the degree of clutter has reached the point that I’ve had to find household uses for all of these products. So far I’ve built a coat rack out of carbon fiber handlebars, a toilet seat out of a deep-dish carbon fiber rim, and an extremely comfortable bed that uses Marzocchi suspension forks for legs. (Thank goodness for remote lockout.)

Recently I figured it was about time that I reviewed another product. However, I didn’t want to simply review the same high-end, overpriced gimmickry that the rest of the cycling media is always drooling over. Furthermore, I couldn’t find any components that weren’t now providing some kind of essential domestic service. (If you think I’m giving up my SRAM Red shower controls, you are gravely mistaken.) So I decided to do more of a “real world” review for the budget-oriented cyclist. And there’s one place above all where budgets and cyclists collide with spectacular results—that’s right, Craigslist.

I recognize that not every aspiring cyclist can afford to walk into a bike shop and get fully outfitted, so I wanted to see how the Craigslist experience compared to the retail store experience. It wasn’t easy to find a bicycle that met my dual requirements of being both inexpensive yet made by a reputable manufacturer, though. Until I stumbled upon this:






Yes, that’s right, a vintage Bridgestone for $150. Leaning seductively against the refrigerator like a cat rubbing itself on a shin, this bicycle spoke to me through my monitor like few others ever have. Sometimes, when you look at a bicycle, you can see yourself with it in your mind, and at that moment what I saw was this:




I knew I had to have it.

I had three questions for the owner, which I emailed to him. They were as follows:

--“How many speeds does it have?”
--“Is this a Grant Petersen Bridgestone?”
--“Do you take Paypal?”

Shortly thereafter I received an email from someone named Jeff, who answered my questions thusly:

--“it goes how fast you peddle it.”
--“i got it off this guy frank. if grant sez its his i dont know nothing about it.”
--“whats paypal. im not a homo.”

Convinced of the bike’s pedigree and confident in Jeff’s knowledge and integrity, I arranged to purchase the bicycle that very evening.

Even though I arrived at Jeff’s house at exactly the agreed-upon time, I had apparently not only interrupted his dinner of Cocoa Puffs but also hadn’t given him sufficient time to put on pants. Gruffly, he took my money and presented me with the bike. (Actually, he didn’t so much present it as he did roll it in my general direction.) He also indicated a Magna mountain bike in a corner that was being used as a clothes drying rack, and while it was difficult to understand him through his mouthful of cereal and milk I interpreted his grunts to mean that he would throw it in for another $40. I respectfully declined.

As I strapped my new Bridgestone to the trunk rack of my Smart car, I reflected on the exchange. Certainly buying a bike from a shop would have been a more genteel experience, but at the same time I never would have gotten a bicycle for anything close to $150. So despite the fact that I had been treated curtly and had received a face full of Cocoa Puffs, I figured that so far I was ahead of the game.

I soon had an unforeseen problem though. The Bridgestone was so heavy and my Smart car was so light that the bicycle actually lifted the car’s front wheels off the ground. Consequently I was forced to purchase the Magna from Jeff after all. By bungee-cording it to the front of the car as ballast, I was finally able to drive home. So now I had spent $190. Plus, due to the fact that my car now looked like a giant Easter egg being double-teamed by two stray dogs, I received even more anti-Smart car taunts than usual. And it’s hard to put a dollar value on that kind of embarrassment.

The next day, I examined my new bike more closely. The first thing I noticed was that I could not raise or lower the saddle no matter how much I loosened the binder bolt. I figured that the bicycle must have one of those integrated seatposts I had heard about, so I simply angled the nose of the saddle way down in order to compensate. Secondly, when I turned the bars there was a grinding sound, and a red powder fell like dandruff from the headset. Since the powder was the color of clay I assumed that the bicycle must be equipped with ceramic bearings, which according to publications like VeloNews and Bicycling is a significant upgrade. Score! Thirdly, when I spun the wheels I noticed that they were very wobbly. I took this to be what people call “speed wobble,” and I figured that it would help me go faster. The unpleasant transaction now just a memory, I congratulated myself on having found such a bargain.

Having thoroughly examined the bicycle, it was now time to ride. I wanted very much to look like the guy in the ad I had fantasized about being, but it was too cold for shorts. So instead I donned my cold-weather gear: a pair of New Balance running shoes, grey sweatpants tucked into striped tube socks, a hooded sweatshirt, and one of those hard-shell skateboarding helmets. I completed the ensemble by slipping a short-sleeved “BSNYC Test Pilot” jersey over my hooded sweatshirt. Looking sufficiently pro, I hit the streets.

I’ve read about bicycles handling “telepathically.” Now, I’d be lying if I said that this were the case here. In fact, to be completely honest the handling was more via USPS than telepathy. I’ve also heard about drivetrains shifting “crisply” and “cleanly.” In this case, though, shifting was more like listening to AM on an old radio with a dial, in that it was mostly about moving the lever up and down until I found a sound that was bearable. At this point I began to think that I had made a mistake, and this suspicion was confirmed shortly thereafter when the fork separated itself from the steer tube. Fortunately, I was wearing my hard-shell skateboarding helmet. Unfortunately, it did little to protect my chin, which is the body part I landed on.

In conclusion, as I sit here pensively stroking my scab goatee, I have to say that, while there are undoubtedly bargains to be found on Craigslist, there just might be something to the whole bike shop thing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Taking a Stand: Cycling and Politics

Recently I received an email inviting me to join a group called “Bike4Barack.” Now, while I appreciate the invitation, I’m afraid in this case they’re sniffing the wrong crotch. Inviting me to join a political group of any kind is like asking Paris Hilton to join a book club. I readily admit that I have no interest in politics, mainly because I’m extremely selfish and only care about things that affect me immediately and directly. The fluids of political change take way too long to trickle down and start dripping on my head for me to concern myself with them.

Moreover, as a group cyclists are extremely self-righteous, and generally speaking we have a tendency to think that our views are the correct ones. However, if you know your history, this is not always the case. For example, in the late 19th century a group called Pennyfarthings4Hayes was instrumental in engineering the “Compromise of 1877” that put Rutherford B. Hayes into office, despite the fact that his rival Samuel Tilden actually won the popular vote. As a result of this compromise, Reconstruction ended in the South, Jim Crow laws were established, and the seeds of segregation were sown.



The point is, cyclists can and do make mistakes. Furthermore, I think it is far more important that we address the many problems in our own cycling community before we start trying to effect changes in the outside world. Cyclists, we need to get our house in order! Here are just three of the many problems that are currently killing cycling and tearing us apart:

Amateur Meteorology

Despite weather balloons, satellites, and whatever else they’re using, weather forecasting hasn’t come very far. At the same time, though, thanks to the internet there is more information available to us than ever before. This has led to a dangerous development: the riding buddy who thinks he can predict the weather. Every group of riders has that one person who thinks he or she can look at the radar, interpret the data, and do better than the professionals. Sadly, this is not the case. Like the person who misdiagnoses himself on the internet only to die from a malady that could have been easily cured by a doctor, amateur meteorologists have grossly miscalculated routes and roll-out times and led many a ride to a tragic, wet, and cold demise.

Training With Power

In case you didn’t know, training with power is all the rage. In fact, Joe Friel likens getting a power meter to a person with weak eyesight donning his first pair of glasses. Of course, the reality is that riding with a power meter is more like having sex with an electrocardiogram, in that it takes the fun out of the whole enterprise and buffets you with data you don’t really need. Physical sensation will guide you through your ride the same way it guides you through sex, and if you can’t do either without electronics it’s possible you have a problem that technology by itself may be insufficient to address.

Rampant Anti-Semitism

Ah, yes, I sense a lot of readers shifting awkwardly in their chairs right now. Sure, nobody wants to talk about it, but the fact is that we all know anti-Semitism is deeply and tragically ingrained in the cycling culture. And until we talk freely about it, it’s simply not going to change.

Why are those safety tabs on fork dropouts still called “Jewish Mothers?” Why is skipping the ride on Saturday in order to rest and rip your friends’ legs off on Sunday still called “Kosher Sandbagging?” Why is pouring the contents of your water bottle over your head on a hot day still called a “Belgian Yarmulke?”

One word (or is it two?): anti-Semitism.

I will no longer be a part of this conspiracy of silence!

So, my fellow cyclists, before we band together to elect a Presidential candidate, let us first unite and better ourselves.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BSNYC Tuesday Fun Quiz!


Spring is in the air (at least in New York, and at least for the moment) and your attention is undoubtedly beginning to wander outside--especially if you're a cyclist. So in order to help you focus, I've put together a little quiz. As usual, just read the question and click on your choice. If you're right, you'll see the answer. If you're wrong, you'll see this awesome fixed-gear skidding video, forwarded to me by a reader.


Good luck!




The state of New Jersey is attempting to ban:

--Fixed-gear bicycles







According to this bicycle sales training video, how should you handle "casuals and most escalators?"


--Encourage them


--Avoid "over-selling" them


--Challenge them


--Don't waste your time with them








What complaint does the owner have regarding this bike?


--It's "dork ass ugly"


--It suffers from "shit ass pedal strike"


--It's got "lame ass braze ons"


--Speed wobble







What's Chris Carmichael's latest free morsel of training advice?













According to Mountain Bike Action, how should you ride through rock gardens?













The phrase "Shorts Liquidation" refers to:




--A Performance Bicycle sale














The "Buy It Now" price for this headset on eBay is only:


--$60.00


--$80.00


--$109.99


--$179.99




This picture shows:


--Two trends spooning


--The stuff of which every Williamsburg resident's dreams are made


--The apex of "hipster" ingenuity


--All of the above


***Special not safe for work springtime bonus question: conducting an innocent Google image search for which bike-related phrase is most likely to yield sexually explicit results on the first page?


--Nipple wrench


--Bike muffs


--Bicycle rear rack


--Headset press

Monday, March 3, 2008

Worst of NYC Craigslist Bike Ads #52-#56: Alpaca Lips Now!

(Alpaca Lips)


As usual, I spent this past weekend in my metaphorical crow's nest, scanning the horizon for the arrival of The End. And sure enough, a mast appeared. I removed my Cone of Smugness and peered into my Spyglass of Vigilance, only to see a ship so laden with Apocaliciousness that most of its hull was below the surface of the water.

Yes, that's right: Monster Track 2008 has been cancelled. If you don't know what Monster Track is, it's apparently the Lollapalooza of alleycats. The organizers have issued the following press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The organizers of Monster Track 2008 have decided, after careful consideration, to cancel this year’s main race. This decision did not come easy and was debated at length. Our reasons are many but the overall factor was that the race has become unmanageable due to the large participation and our concern for the participant’s safety.

As many of you know, Monster Track started as a race held for a small, close group of NYC bike messengers. It has now become an overwhelmingly all-inclusive event. This, on its face, may seem like a positive direction for a race but in the context of a solely track bike alleycat it brings many problems. First and foremost, the safety of the racers is compromised. We believe that this is not a tenable position for race organizers.

Although the main race is canceled, please join us for Gold Sprints on Friday evening, Fixed Gear Competition (track stands, skids, footdown, freestyle, sprints, etc.) on Saturday and the Velo City Tour, at Kissena Velodrome on Sunday.


This cancellation was almost certainly motivated at least in part by the recent alleycat death in Chicago. Indeed, alleycat racing is surely the slam-dancing of the bike world, and it is now well into the "moshing" phase, thanks to the overwhelming all-inclusiveness referred to above combined with the unprecedented popularity of riding brakeless track bikes on the street. Right now, if alleycat racing were a concert, it would be Woodstock '99 and Limp Bizkit would have just taken the stage.

If you still have any doubt, just read this article in yesterday's New York Times. If you're unfamiliar with the Times, it's sort of an obituary for subcultures, in that once yours appears there then it's already dead. And apparently, nobody alerted the reporter to the fact that Monster Track had already been cancelled before the article ran. But alleycat organizer Mike Dee did thave this to say:

Originally only bike messengers and their girlfriends came. Now it’s regular people on their bikes saying: “I want to do that, too. That looks fun.” It’s a cultural phenomenon for young post-college kids getting these yuppie jobs that don’t pay them any money, figuring they’re going to be paying off student loans the rest of their natural lives, or who can’t get a job anywhere but a coffee shop with their art degrees. They’re like, “I’ll just get this track bike and stick a U-lock in my back pocket and ride around.”

Surely, now that these trendy scavenger hunts have left the CBGBs and 9:30 Clubs of the cycling world, are being embraced by frat boys, and are becoming unmanageable mob rides in the same way that moshing became a form of date rape with live musical accompaniment, then we must be able smell the fetid breath of the Alpaca, right?

Well, let's see what's happening on Craigslist:


BIANCHI PISTA TRACK BIKE - $650 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/587443460.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-02-26, 12:10PM EST
semi custom bianchi pista chrome track bike.
Nitto vintage stem and vintage threaded fork in chrome.
MKS peddles with leather toe straps in chrome.
Brooks Black leather saddle.
Wheelset : Alex Crostini, Formula High Flange hub. S
ame rims that come off the Fuji track Pro.
Great bike for the summer month.If the bike sells for the listed price, I will throw in a kryptonic NYC lock and chain. $125.oo value.

Well, as far as I know, there's more than one month of summer, and I thought Kryptonics made skateboard wheels, but the fact that he's asking the absurd price of $650 is a good sign. Right?

Bianchi Pista 2001 - 53cm - $600 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/586783849.html]
Reply to: see below
Date: 2008-02-25, 8:04PM EST


Bianchi Pista 2001 size 53cm. use this bike for the past few years and its still in great condition. it has some paint chips but still looks fine. there are 3 minor scratches on the top tube as seen in picture below. doesn't effect the bike what so ever. most part are original except stem and handlebar. asking for 600 or best offer.

If interested please email me at [deleted]



And here's a seven year-old Pista for $600. Together this brace of Pista posts puts the NYC PistaDex at a stratospheric $625. Surely we're not facing the End of Days yet.

Or are we? Aren't all busts preceded by a boom? Perhaps we need to look beyond the PistaDex:

trade : chrome metro bag for kremlin [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/593285572.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-03-02, 4:00PM EST


anybody want to trade my all black chrome metropolis bag in good condition for their kremlin .

mines 2000cu in pretty freakin big

yours 3000cu. in.even freakin bigger

my bag is in great shape , i havent used it in a long time , great size for all your smelly shits.

I need something to cart packages to the post office , my bag is too small for the volume i deal with blah blah blah


Blah, blah, blah. I'm not sure what kind of bulk mailing operation this guy is running, but based on his reference to carrying "smelly shits" it seems that he's mailing large quantities of either marijuana or feces. Frankly I think he'd be better off with one of those folding carts people take to the supermarket, and I think we'd be better off without people like him. So if the Apocalypse is indeed coming, let's hope it dispatches with him faster than a messenger unloads his last package on Friday evening.

MINT - ITALIAN TRACK BIKE 52 CM BRAND-SPANKIN-NEW - $750 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/593249564.html]
Reply to: see below
Date: 2008-03-02, 3:26PM EST


Rode 2 laps around the park. Geometry not working for me.

$1750 for the whole thing... Paid 2000 + sales tax yesterday… OR $750 for the Cinelli Vigorelli frame which includes the fork & headset ($1090 MSRP-http://www.cinelli-usa.com/) and I'll leave on the bottom bracket - an additional $35 value. Velocity Aero Black Rims, Omas Hubs, Cinelli Post, Italia Gel Seat… Direct Contact: [deleted]




Geometry not working for you on your rides around the park, eh? Maybe you shouldn't have bought a freaking track bike then! It's not supposed to work for that kind of riding, idiot. Hopefully at least you're coming to grips with the fact that you should have bought the hybrid the guy at the shop told you would be appropriate for the type of riding you do. Surely right now the Apocalyptic Alpaca is breathing fire from his nostrils, as no deity could possibly resist the urge to smite someone like this.

Land Shark Track Frame and fork with campy headset, 54 - $650 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/593157515.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-03-02, 1:49PM EST


Yo! So I built this bike, but got a Croll track bike built up for racing and don't want this one anymore. I want a Land Shark road bike. So anyways, here is the bike specs from what i measured, got the frame from the original owner, but they didn't know the exact specs, you get the top tube pad too:

all measurements (c-c):

top tube - 54
seat tube - 53, it is more like a 52 (too short for me)
fillet brazed lugs

Cool, so basically I payed 700+shipping for the frame and fork, which was too much to pay, so I am trying to sell it for 600, but i put a new old stock headset on there so that is why it is 650. The bike is short, too short for me in fact.

e-mail me your number and I'll call you back today. It's nice out, so a great chance to come take a look.

Ok, that is it, nothing else is for sale, please don't ask, but if you buy the frame, you can talk to me about buying the other stuff...if you buy the frame.

It's really an amazing bike. Ok bye! Oh, one last thing. Please don't waste my time. If you are coming to look at it, I would expect you have got the cash and know what you are looking at and just want to confirm the quality of the frame. I'll deliver the bike to you for free.



Yo, the only thing uglier than a Land Shark is a Land Shark with a top tube pad on it. And surely there's no human alive who could possibly look at that bicycle without protective eyewear. Cool, so that means if someone actually does show up it could only be the Apocalyptic Alpaca, who will undoubtedly burn both you and your bicycle to embers with his Flamethrowing Snout of Death. In a fight between a Land Shark and an Apocalyptic Alpaca, I'll take the latter every time.


PINARELLO VINTAGE ROAD BIKE italian fixie fixed campy campagnolo rare - $1100 [original URL: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/591908990.html]
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-03-01, 5:09AM EST


Vintage Pinarello road bike. The frame is a top tube 54, from center to center, and a seat tube 54, from center to center. Bike is Columbus steel, and has campy dropouts. The cranks are Omega standard double, and in great vintage shape. Suntour front dérailleur, an old school sew up rear wheel, and a mavic front wheel. The bike is set up for drop tube shifters, although you can modify it to index if you prefer. Rear cassette is six speed. Serial number is R-371, which means this bike was low production.

While this bike is in functioning condition and has great ride quality, it needs a drive train with better parts, as well as new wheels to be in top/restored condition.

The frame is the beauty of this setup. It is rare and hard to find, and structurally, it is perfect. It has some scratches, and NO dings.

If you are looking for a vintage bike, or a project, this bike is as special as anything you are probably going to find. Made in Italy, and looks vintage.

PAYMENT: I will take $1100 or my highest offer. I live in California, and this bike is listed in both Los Angeles area, as well as Sacramento. I will package it for free, and ship it for $50, which is very reasonable. If you would like to pay Paypal for security reasons, I will accept, given you pay the 3% fee. I will take a personal check, but you must wait for checks to clear in my account before I ship. In a world of bullsh*t scammers, I can assure you I am honest, and lets talk on the phone and exchange addresses to prove it.

I do have a total of 12 pics available. Email if you want more.

If you are interested, email me and leave a name and phone number.



Do things in New York City look so bad to the rest of the world that they're attempting to sell us their overpriced vintage castaways from the outside? Apparently the answer is yes. Please keep your "italian fixie fixed campy campagnolo rare" bike and your "Omega" cranks and your "drop tube shifters" and your accute accent over the "e" in "derailleur" and let us at least meet our end with dignity. And don't worry, your own will come soon enough. So keep that Pinarello, you might need it.