Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Cakes and Cheese

While this guy and his Minnesotan ilk will scoff, we received significant snowfall yesterday here in New York. Nonetheless, I did commute by bicycle today. I did so not to prove my mettle (I readily admit I don't have much mettle) but simply to provide a public service to my fellow New Yorkers by bringing you the BSNYC Bridge Report (sponsored by Ragtote, makers of high quality tampon cases. I keep a patch kit in mine. Thanks Ragtote!) And I'm pleased to report that, to my complete surprise, the Manhattan Bridge is almost completely clear:


I'd watch for icing on the approaches later this evening, but otherwise things are looking good.

The other reason I commuted by bicycle was because this may be my last chance this winter to engage in one of my favorite hobbies, which is "carcake spotting." If you don't know what a carcake is (which you probably don't, because as far as I know I invented the term), it's a great big loaf of snow that sits atop a motor vehicle after a snowstorm which the driver was either unable or unwilling to clear. Most often you'll see them atop taller vehicles such as SUVs. Here's a good example of a classic carcake, which I spotted on my commute this morning:



This is a fine carcake. Not only does the cake itself have a pleasing symmetry, but there's also a secondary structure on the rear bumper which completely obscures the license plate and looks like a headless bird in flight. Once the car gets up to speed, it should be fun to watch it the carcake fly off the roof spectacularly and land squarely on the car (or cyclist) following it.

Carcakes can also resemble hairstyles. My favorite is the snow-hawk, which results when the driver makes a halfhearted attempt to clear the top of the car from either side of the vehicle, but cannot reach all the way across, thus resulting in a strip of snow down the middle of the roof that resembles a mohawk. Unfortunately, I didn't see one of those, but I did see a halfway decent wind-sculpted "high and tight":



And besides carcakes, I also got to see a messenger riding a Bilenky cargo bike:


I'm now confident I made the right decision to skip the NAHBS in Indianapolis, since it turns out I can experience cold and exotic bikes right here in my own backyard!

But while the messenger was obviously riding a Bilenky, he was not using a "bike messenger mirror," which you can purchase for only $15 on Craigslist:




Bike Messenger mirrors - $15 (Downtown)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-03-02, 2:56PM EST

Beer cap Bike messenger mirrors. Great for riding in traffic. May caps available or send me your favorite. attaches to your helmet, made from a beer cap and a bicycle spoke! $15 including shipping.


The helmet mirror is perhaps one of the dorkiest cycling accessories, second only to the reflective vest. But there's nothing wrong with safety, and you've got to respect the seller for trying to give the helmet mirror some "street cred" by renaming it and incorporating beer. Still, a helmet mirror is a helmet mirror no matter what it's made out of, just like a reflective vest is a reflective vest even if it's being worn by a model and has a skull and crossbones on it:


Expect to see pant cuff retainers made out of hot dipped galvanized chain soon.

Speaking of things that are custom made, followers of Lance Armstrong's Twitter may recall that he received a "super sweet mix tape" during the Tour of California:


Well, it turns out that this "tape" was mixed by none other than vertically-advantaged cyclocross sensation and VeloNews diarist Barry Wicks, who is the guy below with the severe tan lines riding in his underpants:


Not only that, but I was fortunate enough to receive from Wicks my own edition of his "super sweet mix tape."

By the way, Wikipedia has this to say about the cultural phenomenon that is the "mix tape":

A mixtape, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler, can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape's intended recipient. Essayist Geoffrey O'Brien has called the personal mixtape "the most widely practiced American art form",[1] and many mixtape enthusiasts believe that by carefully selecting and ordering the tracks in a mix, an artistic statement can be created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs, much as an album of pop music in the post-Beatles era can be considered as something more than a collection of singles.

Wow, and I thought it was just a bunch of songs! It turns out this is genuine American folk art. I guess it's not surprising I didn't know this, since I don't make "mix tapes" and instead practice my own unique forms of folk art. In addition to "carcake spotting," I'm also really into making "meals." This is a highly personal statement in which I create a conceptual mix of foods linked by a theme or mood. For me, it's not just enough to eat one single food at a time. Instead, I'll have soup and a sandwich, or pasta and a salad. Also, I believe that choosing a condiment is a form of self-expression, and in the context of sandwich eating I express my inner longings through judicious application or withholding of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and even barbecue sauce. Furthermore, a pizza is not just bread and cheese to me. Instead, it's a great tabula rasa, and when I order one I gather friends and family close and convey my feelings towards them through my choice of toppings. Extra cheese means that my heart overflows with tenderness and warmth; peppers means I'm feeling angry; and half onions, half olives means I'm feeling bitter about the past yet remain optimistic for peace in the future.

Anyway, in the context of "meals" I finally understood the power of the "mix tape," so I was excited to receive one. Wicks assured me I was getting the same mix Armstrong got, though I did get my own artwork:




Fresh indeed. Here are the toppings Wicks put on the musical pizza:



So I put the "tape" in my Discman, Velcroed it to my bicep, and listened.

Although I was skeptical, I must admit that this "mix tape" made me feel a personal connection to Wicks. I also felt one to Armstrong, who had listened to these very same songs in the very same sequence. More than this, many of the songs Wicks selected seemed to speak of an inner longing, and to simultaneously evoke a loss of innocence yet a nostalgia for it. The overwhelming sense I got was that, as the saying goes, "You can't go home again." I believe this is a feeling that many of us share and that motivates our endeavors. So much of what we do is simply a vain attempt to recapture a happiness that is really irretrievable, and the knowledge that this is just a part of the human condition is simultaneously sad and comforting. I'm confident that this is indeed what Wicks meant to express, since he reaffirmed it in a personal message to me:



I'm pretty sure the "this" Wicks is referring to is life itself, and it is indeed bittersweet. Either that, or he wants me to suck on the actual "mix tape", which I refuse to do for fear of choking.

But when it comes to folk art, the "mix tape" has a rival sitting right on its wheel, and that rival is of course the "fixed gear freestyle video." Like the "mix tape," the "fixed gear freestyle video" uses music to convey a theme or mood. But thanks to the miracle of video, it can be instructional as well. Consider this video, which not only shows off the rider's "skillz" but inadvertently gives a lesson in how to install a tire "fixter" style as well:

How To Install A Tire "Fixter" Style

Step 1:


With tire completely off the rim, place the tube inside of it.

Step 2:



Once you've got the tube inside the tire, push the tube and the tire onto the rim at the same time. (As you make your way around the wheel, make sure to mount both beads at once.)

Step 3:


Inflate the tube with a floor pump, making sure to hold the chuck onto the valve stem instead of using the thumb lock.

Step 4:



When re-installing the wheel rear, be sure to do so with the bike turned upside down.

Step 5:



You're done! Now bust mad wheelies on the sidewalk!!!

Like Wicks's "mix tape," this video filled me with longing, though it was simply the longing for a time when people know how to install a tire. Alas, you can't go home again...

Though you can keep your patch kit in a Ragtote!

120 comments:

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

yiha!

ant1 said...

fuck yeah, it'd been a while.

Anonymous said...

Whatevs.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Quattro.

Shane said...

Number 1

ken e. said...

missed by that much!

mander said...

Top Ten, Bitches!

The Crabon General said...

Warning:

A quarantine has been issued for all owners and people who may have been in contact with crabon front wheels. A mutation has occurred, causing massive failure during correct usage.

-----------------------------------------

Do not approach the infected or attempt to contain the outbreak. The severity of the disease is compounded exponentially by attention it receives.

Anonymous said...

i'm not even trying and i'm top ten

el presidente bicisport said...

top ten!!!

Karl Rover said...

LMFAO is one of my favorite songs, too!

CommieCanuck said...

Exactly how many Yewtube videos of people changing tires does the world need?

It's a bike, it's simple, kids have it figured out. Bike shop mechanics are brain surgeons, ...if you ask them.

BRNS URGN

Der Blaue Reiter said...

hey wait a sec! I place the tube all the way in the tire and pump it up a bit before I seat it on the wheel, what's up with that? Is my bike going to catastrophically explode?!??!?!

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it bike snob, but the reason that snow disappears so quickly is due to the mad amounts (and type) of salt used to melt away the snow on streets. I was happy as hell to be biking on a snow-less street to work the other day, then the next morning, my chain was completely orange (I don't run/rage/rub a colored chain) as were some other key components! Oh well. Hey, by the way, nice work on the bridge report!

carlos said...

read

Surly Bastard said...

Carcake!

hillier99 said...

Top 20!

Anonymous said...

they forgot "make sure your tire is ss/fixed compatible".

Bod said...

Bike snob felched my nan!

wishiwasmerckx said...

Snob, your posts lately have been dripping with existential angst.
For those of us hanging on your every word, could you please clarify if it is the onions which are bitter and the olives optomistic, or the other way around?
Second, do those condom mints you write about leave your breath tingly fresh?
Finally, the Ragtote tampon case is guarenteed not to open in your purse or pocket, and I was wondering if you have had to submit a claim under their guarantee.

vanna white said...

'may my last chance this winter'

can i have a be?

pasticpine said...

weak ;P

Anonymous said...

This blog would be much improved by the addition of some LOL beavers.

Slappy said...

Boner!!

Jimi said...

Ha, a sad impression of a mix tape.
no Zep, no cred

Disgruntl Ed. said...

"the longing for a time when people know how to install a tire"

Such a fabulously correct post (though I guess I added my own "be"), and then this.

I wonder about this time that you are longing for. Could be in the future, could be in the past. Could be right now but in another dimension.

Where is your home?

jolene said...

i not even talking about no rag bag you sick cityfolk seems to pick up yer doggyshit and cary it with you around the blocks now you carry yer used tampons i dont never gittit now yer gonna incist i caint take me a smoke into a bus what for my trips to se e fammly

red dont you start with how you got yer name now

Grammer Nazi said...

Apparently, Mr. Snob, you couldn't write your way out of a brown paper bag. Who knew?

The Time Traveller's Wife said...

Makes perfect sense to me.

Wrench Monkey said...

I always thought of those things as "Snow Hats" and if you've got one you're an "Ass Hat."

BikeSnobNYC said...

Disgruntl Ed.,

I like to think I put "know" in the present tense because, for me, that time exists somewhere eternally.

I like to think that, but I'm lying.

Plus, if I didn't make mistakes you wouldn't have the fun of pointing them out!

--BSNYC

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

You got a compilation, a mixed tape is just that mixed/blended with no gaps.

Anonymous said...

so much time, so little wit

Critical Ass said...

That would be a cool body mod...a beer bottle cap embedded in the side of your face after a crash. Submit that to bmezine

KVonnegut said...

I was shattered to find yet another typo:

"knowlede"

But I was made whole once again after I Yahooed it to find this.

http://www.grain.org/photos/?id=146

I always thought you'd be caught up in some sort of seed-saving initiative.

And so it goes...

shmaltz herring said...

I always knew Nazis were stupid. It's "Grammar Nazi" not "Grammer Nazi."

Stan the Man said...

Mettle is a pretty good record, man.

You can get a ticket for having a Carcake in Boston, but I've never got one on my bike for blowing a light or making a questionable left in front of a cop, man.

I've said it before, but why isn't cyclocross dorky? Just curious. Man.

Peace man.

Disgruntl Ed. said...

...mar Nazi

Now now. He's one fine writer. Were it not so, what sport would there be in finding his lapses?

Perhaps too it is no mistake. This is simply the nature of longing.

Anonymous said...

You think Armstrong comments on these? Anonymously?!

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

snobb,if the east bridges get albany approved tolls and the mta takes over mgmt., i bet the manhattan and brooklyn bridges will never get cleaned and salted within a day or even a week, i'm trying to worry you. You're powerful and influential and really popular can't you do something?

Disgruntl Ed. said...

I am he and you are he as you are me and we are all together

woah

Anonymous said...

I've been on that bridge!

Anonymous said...

Woot! Woot!

christy said...

i was very nearly run over by this bilenky messenger as i crossed the street - with the signal, quite legally, but blindered by my massive hat/hood/scarf combination - as he bike salmoned up the very middle of broadway near canal street. he continued on that way as far up broadway as i could see, which, admittedly, was not far (see: hat/hood/scarf combination).

Dave! said...

Try as I might I just can't see the "severe tan lines riding in {Barry Wicks's} underpants." But just knowing that they're there makes me wonder why a chamois comes in any color but brown.

Grammer Nazi said...

Schmaltz herring, you are harshing my mellow.

Anonymous said...

Podium!

Mister Grammar said...

is someone calling me?

leroy said...

No riding this morning.

I'm mettle fatigued.

But this post helps.

NAHBS attendee said...

OMFG-hip fixters have invaded Indy!

Portland was a given--Indy caught me offguard and without street cred _OR_ PBR's

But then roller races and beer are always a good time.

retodd said...

That cargo bike is pretty sweet, but $2600?! Ich don' think so!

For just $300 more you can rock/run a bakfiets, and have the creds of riding Dutch, yo. http://www.dutchbikeseattle.com/html/bikes/bakfiets.html

Or you can save about $600 and get the Big Dummy.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that the word "Velcroed" (as used in todays blog) and "Velo Cred" are just a simple letter swap away? What could this mean? Coincidence? I think not. Only the Snob can say.

Top 100...Sweet! Just like my usual race results haters!

Compact Triple said...

Hmmm, most of those artists made the NPR program All Songs Considered's best songs of the year list for 2008. Maybe your mixtape is some sort of collabo between VeloNews and All Songs Considered. Does Bob Boilen run/rock/rub/rotate a fixie?

Anonymous said...

anon 2:06, you don't deserve to sit in that chair.

anonymous panda said...

While I am technically a carnivore, my diet is 99% bamboo.

I can't get a tire on any kind of rim. These big paws.

Daddo said...

Been calling it a "Cake" for years...

..and totally disgruntled when people "bake" one on their cars.

3 days from cycling on Tucson for a week - 80 degree temps here I come!

Dan O said...

A reflective Pabst Blue Ribbon vest combined with a beer cap mirror would make cool combo.

albert camus said...

If you push/rub/rock/ride a fixter to the top of a hill, it will only roll back down and you will have to do it over and over again, forever.

leroy said...

Thanks BSNYC! Now I understand the mix tape as American folk art.

It's scrap booking, but with audio. Quilting, but with sound.

I wonder if I can find a starter kit in the hobby aisle at Target.

Looks like I'm cruising the Atlantic Center this weekend.

Gosh, I feel hipper already.

bamboo said...

+1 panda

libertyonbikes! said...

DAN O - and a cross between a helmet and the twin beer can hat would finish it off nicely. maybe it could be a Camelback/PBR, of course make it Limited Edition and in a COLORWAY.

so is the Ragtote to fool would be muggers? or is a kotex kruiser in the works?

CommieCanuck said...

Folk art? I thought mix tapes were step three to getting laid.

This means that 120 years from now, some fat guy from Boone NC will be on Antiques Roadshow with one of my mixed tapes.

However, I think when Lance talks 'mixed tapes', it's likely the code word for the latest concoction from Dr. Ferrari.

Anonymous said...

I like most of those artists on that mixtape list... Do you have the song names? jus woderin'

Anonymous said...

Was it really a mixtape or a CD...

It would seem as if there's plenty of time in cornvallis for barry to make an actual tape, but then agin...

Mutt said...

Snobby, you have plenty of mettle. In fact, I think you have so much mettle that you're probably made of Heavy Mettle.

Is any of that on the tape/compliation/mix/blend?

grog said...

so i'll be rollin/rockin a Schwinn reflecto-jersey and a Rolling Rock bottlecap/spoke mirror. No bamboo.

ASU said...

A Boone, North Carolina reference?????

CommieCanuck, you have any connection to Boone?

Beautiful place, good mountain biking.

Bill said...

and i am the most unmettled of the mettlefree

Bearshirt said...

I love the car-hawk, I leave one on my wife's car everytime it snows. She hates it, but I always tell her that she can clean off her own damn car then.

Proud to say I drove around with a cake on my car today, I even dumped some snow on an @sshole behind me.

bikesgonewild said...

...mettle or crabon...it's a personal choice...

...re:- "ragtote"...i thought "ragtoting" was taking yer girl anywhere during that bitchy time of the month...

...re:- 'beer mirror'...
...guy's buddy to doctor- "ya, doc...he crashed on his face & drove the spoke part right into his eye socket !!!"...
...doctor to patient & buddy- "now don't be alarmed, son...you've lost the eye but look at it this way (poor choice of words, doc), you get great street cred using a beer bottle cap as an eye-patch"...

kale said...

I have mettle peddles on my crabon tandom.

thejakesnakes said...

My mind read it as "Velocred"

CommieCanuck said...

I just shout out random places to appease the crowd.

Hello Athol, Mass.! Are you ready to ROCK!?

ASU said...

Well done Commie, consider me appeased.

When I went to school in Boone I knew a guy from Canada. He had a personalized license plate with the word "Canuck". He wore massive amounts of flannel and smelled like moose.

I though you might have been him.

Anonymous said...

beer cap looking back
every beer I ever drank
snowhawked SUV

CommieCanuck said...

Having a "canuck" license plate in NC is like stapling a target to your back with a sign that reads, "I bet you might could shoot me".

I prefer beaver over moose, but Rocky and Bullwinkle over Leave it to Beaver.

Frenchy aka Bike Boy said...

The picture of Wicks is another clue to who BS is...
The picture is from the SSWC in Napa this year and BS had another picture of the headlands from the same time period.

Which means that BS is a Brooklyn riding single speed maniac: all I need to do is look through the results for single speed for anyone living in Brooklyn.

music snob said...

that was such a predictable faux-indie compilation, kinda like how LA loves name dropping people like sufjan stevens, etc

ASU said...

Commie, Why would you staple a target to your back in the first place? I mean there are many ways to adhere something to your body that don't involve skin-piercing metal.....mettle.

But yeah, if I had a dollar for every time someone here in your vision of the stereotypical south wanted to kill a Canadian, I'd be able to quit my job running moonshine to wealthy plantation owners.

derp.

kale said...

FAKABB 4:30-

Duh.

gnarlygnu said...

check out Lance's "other twitters" http://lancestweets.wetpaint.com/

Strayhorn said...

The CommieCanuck opined thus: Folk art? I thought mix tapes were step three to getting laid.

Perhaps, but did you get a look at the "artist" list on that tape? What a lame group of posers and hacks. I suppose it would get you laid in a bar where the women were sipping PBRs while fumbling with their Ragtotes, which they ironically use to carry their menthol ciggies.

/your band sucks

Anonymous said...

i bet those bands have stupid tattoos like loser bike woosies

Anonymous said...

Commie, speaking of Canadian license plates, I saw one yesterday shaped like a bear. It was from the Northwest Passage. Very impressive.

Anonymous said...

Commie, personally, I prefer moose knuckle, but that's just me.

alex p keaton said...

wow, that mixtape was awful by any standards. is that the same guy making the beer cap mirrors.
now i am not surprised that lance i right wing...

CommieCanuck said...

ASU.. stereotypes form for a reason.
My highlight of three years in NC was getting shot at from pickup truck while riding on a nice Sunday morning.

NC Troopers informed me that I really shouldn't be riding a bike on the roads.

And if they still don't 'shine in NC, then that awesome stuff I bought in plastic jugs must have been chain cleaner.

Nanook said...

Northwest Territories.

ant1 said...

Commie, like a friend of mine says so eloquently, "things are different in the mountains."

Anon 4:51 said...

Are you trying to tell me that there is a difference between Northwest Passage and Northwest Territories? Get outta here!

bikesgonewild said...

...now that is an awesome license plate, eh !!!...

jolene said...

i wont shewt ya if you weres a spandeks shorts boy howdy

Ian said...

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that the wheel that the guy mounts is laughably out of true...anyone else catch that?

bikesgonewild said...

..."northwest passage" = the salt water, constantly ice bound northern trade route that european explorers searched for, for years to expediate travel time to asia & it's riches...

..."northwest territories" = the northern landmass of what is now canada, where inuits & first nation peoples stood, pointed across the ice floes & laughed at the attempts of those european explorers as their ships were trapped or crushed by shifting ice, the men were suffering from cold & scurvy & undoubtedly not enjoying living on the the native tuck, ie: whale blubber...

...there may be a quiz in future posts...just sayin'...

Anon 4:51 said...

BGW, do you need permission for passage through the territories?

Dudley Dooright said...

Come on Commie , have some local pride and dump the moose and squirrel for me, a true son of the tundra. At least I do not need a mix tape to get Penelope Pitstop over the line, big leather riding boots and a pair of jodpurs do that nicely

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 4:51pm...
...nah...i believe that w/ the recent warming trend, in the summer months you can now get through in a rowboat, sperry topsider's & a bathing suit while the locals ply you w/ lemonade & knick-knacks...

...cultural depletion at it's finest...kinda like the hipsters in nyc...

Bluenoser said...

Out from behind...

Bluenoser said...

100.

-B

worm irks said...

100!

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

What a shit tire mounting job, it wobbles more than my sister in-law on christmas day.

Looks like you've accidentally captured a cyclist runnin' the light in your first carcake photo!

frilly said...

When I saw ragtote, my first thought was "Snobby, do not venture there, that is so off limits." However, after a look see, that thing is pretty spiffy. Best I can tell, all thats missing is a place to stash some chocolate.

Said said...

I [heart] carcakes!

noflyzone_allstars said...

CARC AKES

&

FNDR BRGS

Orthographic Orson said...

mother effing lode
not
mother effing load

L-O-D-E

Anonymous said...

I like the Chuck Harris mirrors.
He collects stamps, not bottlecaps.

5 beers deep said...

I like the Chuck Norris Mirrors. He eats stamps and shits bottlecaps.

Anonymous said...

http://jacksonville.craigslist.org/bik/1059375474.html

Do incredibly tall threadless stems play in the realm of giant head tubes?

innerlighter said...

snowy bridges have met their match courtesy NAHMBS

Snob,
You think you could get Inglis to send you one of these to compement the Perscatttante?

Snowman said...

That Inglis snow bike doesn't seem to have spikes on its tires. Personally I consider winter commuting with such summer tires suicidal.

Anonymous said...

Also it has those stylish fenders that fail to keep the muck off your $3500 Rapha snowsuit.

red neckerson said...

i wisht them beer swilling hose haired hockey playin commonists in the frozin north would quit making fun us us hilljacks cos we aint all stoopid just take jolene for instance well take her i done got enuff for now

shmaltz herring said...

Snob,

Don't be so quick to criticize the helmet mirror. Many God-fearing cyclists rock one based on the holy tradition handed down to us from the great sage of the previous generation, Dog Paw, who wore one attached to his glasses.

sprider said...

Snowman, you only need spikes or studs to run on ice. If you're commuting on snowy roads, they wear too fast.

Udder said...

You know what they say- "Once you go Bilenky, you never go back."

Anonymous said...

armstrong comments here all the time, the whole outfit is run by Trek.

Etoro said...

The suspect in the Zabriskie robbery...

http://www.sltrib.com/portlet/article/html/imageDisplay.jsp?contentItemRelationshipId=2338196

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