Monday, February 9, 2009
Coming and Going: Taking Liberties and Taking Leave
Firstly, I'd just like to take the opportunity to let you know that my blogging coaches at Carmichael Training Systems have insisted that, after today, I use the rest of this week as a "recovery period." This recovery period of course follows this past weekend's intense motorpacing session, which you're well aware of if you follow my Twitter. (Motorpacing for CTS bloggers involves typing what Chris Carmichael is saying as he speed-reads aloud from Johan Bruyneel's autobiography, "We Might As Well Win.") Rest assured, though, that I will not be idle. This is going to be an "active recovery period," meaning that I will be writing--I just won't be updating this blog. Instead, I'll be adding to my book of inspirational cycling-related sonnets entitled "Pressure-Relieving Cutouts For The Cyclist's Soul (And Crotch)". But rest assured I will return on Monday, February 16th with regular updates.
Pending this recovery period, I have received many items of note from readers, including this Face Plate-Mounted Brake Lever (or FPMBL):
Unlike some other brake lever mounting techniques, the FPMBL is at least usable. However, there was still something insidious about it to me. Certainly at least part of the effect was due to the fact that this setup is evocative of an ant's pincers. But as I looked closer I realized what was really creeping me out was the mysterious figure reflected in the bell:
There was something haunting about this presence clad in black, standing before a bare tree and a white cottage. Moreover, it was oddly familiar as well. Frightened yet intrigued, I fired up the BSNYC/RTMS Enlargerizer (sponsored by TYR triathlon apparel, makers of the Apollo Racer mankini) for a closer look:
Suddenly, I realized where I'd last seen this eerie specter:
To me, this is a clear indication that signs of the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse have been manifesting themselves as early as February 13th, 1970, when this album was released. Furthermore, while Black Sabbath fans have argued for decades about the meaning behind the acronym N.I.B., it is now obvious to me that it is a veiled reference to the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse and it stands for "Not Into Brakes."
Speaking of things that will make your skin crawl, another reader informs me that Motor Trend has done a feature on Rock Racing owner, pants maker, and noted smarm-monger Michael Ball's car collection:
The above photo rattled me even more than the bell on the FPMBL bike, and like the eerie specter, Ball too evoked an image from the past:
Interestingly, it turns out that Ball secretes irony even more heavily than he secretes oil (in these lean times, Rock's mechanics are reportedly blotting Ball hourly and using his natural oils to lube their riders' drivetrains), as is clear from the following excerpt in which he takes a great deal of liberty with the truth:
Ball describes the scene when his team arrives "tattered out" in their Cadillac "armada" to a race. "When we roll into town, man, people are just freaked out," Ball says. Asked what the skulls represent, he replies, "Take no prisoners - it's the old pirate creed. To roll up to a race in a Cadillac Escalade that's tattered with green on a black Escalade, everything's blinged out chrome, shit, even rolling up to a five-star hotel, people turn their heads and go, 'What the hell?'"
Ball had a prior relationship with Cadillac through Rock & Republic and convinced the automaker that sponsoring the team would be a good venture. "They said 'no we're not interested, our cycling initiative is Saab.' I said, 'the same guys who buy my $350 jeans are the same guys who buy the $12,000 bicycle, who buy your $80,000 Escalade. This is where you want to be.' They got on board for the first year in a small way, saw the return, said 'this is amazing,' sold a shitload of cars. That's exciting. We hope to get some hybrids for sure."
First of all, "tattered" means "ragged," so I'm not sure why Ball would brag that his team is "tattered out." I suppose it's possible that he means "tatted out," though since Kayle Leogrande's suspension for doping I'm not sure who else fits that description. Even more baffling is Ball's claim that, ever since Cadillac signed on as a sponsor, they've "sold a shitload of cars." Between 2007, when Rock Racing began, and today, GM stock has plummeted from a high of $42.64 to its current price of $2.88:
Using GM's sales as a positive indicator is like creating an ad for a diet product with a thin "Before" model and an obese "After" one. If anything, this probably means Rock Racing helped kill GM.
Sadly, though, we seem to be living in a time of devolution. And speaking of devolution and "Before" and After" shots, another reader has alerted me to a devolving Waterford:
This just goes to show that all bad conversions aren't necessarily fixed-gear conversions. I'm all for practical bikes, but forcing a road bike to be a practical bike is like having lugged soles installed on your dress shoes. Sometimes, you've just got to wear different shoes. (Unless of course you take it all the way, like the World's Greatest Madone.)
On the other hand, here's another bike that actually wants a rack. Indeed, ever since I featured a Seven with a tall headtube last week, readers from far and wide (well, I only got like two, but one was from far and one was from wide) have been proudly forwarding me photos of their own giant front ends. Here's one reader's Romic, in the suggestive 69cm size, with its bars held aloft by a truly magnificent headtube:
It would seem we have entered into an age where cyclists are once again taking pride in the length of their headtubes, and this could very well presage a trend. I only hope companies like The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company are taking note. And something tells me they will, because Trek have just announced that they've opened a new design studio that "feels like a loft in a metropolitan area":
Personally, I find the notion that Trek have created a little hipster microcosm in the wilds of Wisconsin fascinating. It's like some sort of trendy space station, or one of those particle accelerators where scientists try to re-create the birth of the universe. Now, Trek designers can adopt the mindset of a Williamsburger or a Missionite and create things that will appeal to those people without having to actually live among them. I eagerly await the announcement of the first bicycle or product born entirely out of "Thing One." It will probably be well-executed yet still ineffably eerie, like Dolly the sheep. I suspect Trek is also leaving out the fact that "Thing One" is heavily fortified and doubles as a bunker in which John Burke and the rest of the Trek higher-ups will survive the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse. Then, years later, after the fallout, they will emerge and sell the survivors Districts.
At least the post-Apocalyptic future will be free from squeaky drivetrains.
See you again on Monday, February 16th.