In these lean times, corporate entities must do whatever they can to get free publicity. This is especially true of Rock Pants, for whom times are very lean indeed. Of course, a great way to get free publicity if you're a pants company with a bike racing team is to have that team win races, which, to Rock's credit, they did in stage 1 of the Tour of California. But another more slimy way is to create viral videos, like this one, to which I was alerted by a reader:
As much as it pains me to help spread the Rock virus by sharing this, the desperation of which this smacks makes it impossible to ignore. Yes, this video appears to depict a small graffiti strike force actually painting an anarchy symbol and the words "Never Surrender" on the wall of the UCI headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Though the soundtrack is, of course, completely inappropriate. The video works much better with this, which gives it the appropriate bumbling Euro feel.)
Moreover, the strike force seems to be comprised of fixed-gear riders on bicycles with Brooks saddles:
I'm not sure how this strike force was assembled, but I'm guessing that either Michael Ball placed an ad on the Lausanne Craigslist, or else he made the errand a prerequisite for the team's European members wanting to ride in the Tour of California.
By the way, even though Rock Racing don't claim responsibility for this act of petty vandalism, it's still obvious that they're behind it. After all, only Michael Ball would be trite enough to try to reheat the anarchy sign, which has been the international corporate symbol for mall punk since the early 1980s. The whole aesthetic make Poison's "God Save The Queen" cover seem edgy. Also, just check out Rock's site:
By the way, I agree with the "Rock's Not Dead" sentiment wholeheartedly, since it's true of both rock and roll and Rock Racing. Neither of these things are dead--they've just become incredibly lame. At any rate, if you watch the stupid video on the site where they show slow-motion images of the riders to moronic rap/metal musical accompaniment, it opens with the same logo from the UCI video:
Incidentally, I'm not sure I understand the sense behind forming a bike racing team, registering with the UCI, and then painting an anarchy sign on their headquarters. Nobody asked them to register with the UCI, and as far as I know nobody's demanding that they surrender either, so I don't see what they're rebelling against. Wouldn't it be more anarchic not to have registered in the first place? If Rock really wanted, they could be the most anarchic team in the world. They could live as freegans by dumpster-diving for their kit, equipment, and meals, and they could do wild stuff like rotate away from the wind instead of into it and wear their shorts on their heads. In the words of the People's Poet, "now that's what I call anarchy!"
At least it's good to know that Rock Racing embrace anarchy enough that they feel it's OK to paint on whatever you want. I only hope they can afford to come to Harlem again this year, because I can think of some logos and slogans that would look great on their Cadillacs.
Of course, if Rock Racing really wanted to be edgy, they'd have hired Chad Gerlach. Attentive readers might remember Chad as the former US Postal rider who fell victim to crack addiction and life on the street, and who was the subject of an episode of the TV show "Intervention" which I used as a wrong answer on a Friday quiz. Well, I'm pleased to report that Chad has found a team anyway, as I learned from this article in my favorite suggestively-titled periodical, Sacbee, forwarded to me by a reader:
Frankly, I think at this point cocky panhandlers would be a lot more useful to Rock Racing than viral videos.
Meanwhile, the Tour of California rolls on, and as it does I marvel not over the fact that the riders manage to brave "cold" and rain on a daily basis, but that anybody has the time to actually follow it. Don't get me wrong--I'm very pleased we now have a race in this country that draws a lot of top riders, and I'm also pleased that it receives so much TV coverage. (Even if one of the announcers is a complete mimbo.) It's just that I'm stretched pretty thin as it is, and between watching two hours of wet cold Tour of California action and my usual backlog of "Gossip Girl" episodes, something's got to give.
This is why, instead of following the Amgen Tour of California this year, I'm following the Rapha Continental Tour of California. This is much easier to follow than the actual Tour, since it consists mostly of photos of studiously "edgy"-looking people riding their bicycles while wearing Rapha clothing:
Thank you, Ralpha, for distilling the Tour of California to its essence for me. Races are complicated, but fashion shoots disguised as epic rides are simple--though I could have done without the ice baths.
One way the Ralpha Continental riders might have avoided the indignity of having to bathe in ice would have been to opt for the resilient, laterally stiff, vertically compliant, and horticulturally deciduous ride of birch wood:
Actually, after scrutinizing the photos of the birch bike for some time, I've come to the conclusion that it's a fraud. Clearly, that's not a wooden bike--it's simply an 80s Kestrel wrapped in woodgrain shelf paper:
And that's not the most vexing bicycle on Fixedgeargallery either. I was even more distressed by this one, largely because of the Nimble front wheel:
When it comes to "upgrades," most of them are pointless--especially for the sort of non-competitive riding most fixters do. Really, most "upgrades" just involve substituting one component for another, nearly identical component made in the same Taiwanese factory but priced significantly higher because of the logo that's been placed on it. Still, if you insist on "upgrading," at least follow some sort of logic in your upgrading. Putting a $700 front wheel on a bike with Truvativ Touro cranks is like wearing an Old Navy sweatsuit and one Prada shoe.
Now I have nothing against inexpensive cranks, but if you insist on spending money pointlessly at least "upgrade" the cranks before buying a stupid front wheel like that. If people are going to make pointless fashion-based upgrades, I strongly believe they should at least follow some sort of mandatory order, kind of like PEMDAS in math. There also definitely needs to be a rule prohibiting more than a $400 differential between front and rear wheel cost, as well as one banning both tubular and clincher wheels on the same bike. Instead, judging from the bar and stem, this rider simply seems to be working from front to back. Hopefully by the time he reaches the bottom bracket he'll either have gone broke or come to his senses, thus sparing us from yet another overwrought bike.
At the very least, he might have adorned his wheel with a catchy slogan. Even if "All You Haters Suck My Balls" is too mainstream for you, there are plenty of others to go around. Here's an interesting variation on the crotchal theme:
A deep sentiment to be sure, though literally speaking, depending on the rider's physical attributes, "balls deep" isn't necessarily that deep at all. Unless it's just missing an apostrophe, and he's a fan of the viral work of Michael Ball. Maybe he's one of the UCI taggers.