As a cycling blogger, every so often I get the opportunity to break a big story. For example, some of you may be old enough to remember the Aerospoke crisis of aught-seven and the panic that ensued. Well, it's entirely possible I may be on the scent of another scoop. An informant in Boulder, CO has sent me the following photo of team Garmin-Slipstream which could have far-reaching implications:
According to the informant, the team was trackstanding en masse on a grassy field. While an ordinary cycling journalist might dismiss this as simply being some kind of bike-handling exercise, I refuse to accept facile explanations. Would Woodward and Bernstein have broken the Watergate scandal if Woodward hadn't bothered to return Deep Throat's calls? Would Fletch have broken the big story about the chief of police being involved in Los Angeles drug trafficking if he had simply listened to his editor? Would we know that Kirstie Alley has gained 83 pounds if People was afraid to ask the hard questions? The answer to all these questions is, of course, "meh." This is why I choose to probe deeper, and I'm currently working on three theories:
1) Garmin-Slipstream director Jonathan Vaughters is involved in a sinister plot to bribe the UCI to make fixed-gear freestyling a sanctioned discipline beginning in 2010, and he is training his squad in anticipation of this. Garmin-Slipstream will continue to ride Felt bicycles next year, though they'll move from the F1 SL to the Curbside.
2) Garmin-Slipstream's title sponsor makes shoddy equipment, though the team is contractually obligated to use their GPS products at all times. As such, what was to be a five-hour training ride wound up being fifteen minutes of riding around in circles in a local park.
3) Garmin-Slipstream's rigorous anti-doping policy does not extend to recreational drugs, and the team has just eaten a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms and is "tripping balls." When asked to comment, Jonathan Vaughters replied esoterically, "All you haters trip my balls."
At the moment, I'm leaning towards theory #3.
Of course, until I catch somebody red-handed (or at least with dilated pupils), all of this is simply speculation and my Pulitzer is but a fantasy. What I really need is 100-150 people to take to the streets on my behalf in order to uncover the truth, but another reader informs me they're already in San Francisco looking for a stolen bike:
Stolen Messenger Bike (In front of 400 McAllister)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-05-05, 9:35AM PDT
Stolen : This bike was stolen from in front of the SF superior Court house around 4pm to 4:20 pm on Monday, 5/4/09. Please understand that the bike described below is the way I make my living and there are approx. 100-150 people looking for this bike. All of these people have a tendency to take this kind of action against an individual of our community very personally, so the return of this bike is highly recommended. I will not take any responsibility for what they might do to anyone caught with this bike. I will pay a reward for any information that leads to the recovery of this bike. Also understand that there is a police report filed with the SFPD and this theft is considered grand larceny, a felony.
57cm Lemond Road Bike, Blue and White
Components are listed as such;
Chris King Headset- silver
Campi Centaur brake set - gunmetal grey
Campi Xenon cranks - 170mm length
Campi Chorus BB
Campi Veloce rear derailleur
Campi Chorus Front derailleur
Vuelta XRP Comp wheel set w/ Continental Gator Skin tires
3TTT Morph bars
Campi Chorus 9 spd shifters ( the right shifter paddle is a cut out version while the left one is not)
Black top tube pad and tan and white checker pad on seat tube
Thompson Elite seat post
F' izik saddle
Ritchey comp stem
CMWC Seattle sticker on the top inside of the seat tube
Black print sticker on white background stating " If you steal anything off this bike you will be beat about the face and head. "
The rear wheel was "free locked" to the seat tube with my Catlike helmet(white) attached to it.
IF YOU STOLE THIS BIKE AND RETURN IT, NO QUESTIONS WILL BE ASKED AND THE "DOGS" WILL BE CALLED OFF!
Firstly, I'd like to state quite clearly that I have nothing but respect for bike messengers as well as all delivery professionals (except for UPS drivers when they block traffic). Secondly, I'd also like to state that I empathize with anybody who is a victim of bike theft. Thirdly, even though it's completely irrelevant, while I'm making sweeping pronouncements I wish it to be known that I think there are far too many flavors of potato chip on the market and I think we've reached point at which the government should step in. Lastly, it should go without saying that if you have any information about this bike you should get in touch with the owner.
That said, this may very well be the most self-important reaction to a bike theft since Pee Wee's bike got stolen and he implicated the Soviets in his eponymous "Big Adventure." It could be that this self-importance is entirely justified, since this person apparently commands an army of 100-150 people who are willing to kill or maim for him, though it also could be typical messenger self-righteousness. As cyclists, we're all self-righteous in our own way, and messenger self-righteousness manifests itself in the attitude that they are performing a public service and as such should be afforded by society the same degree of respect and gratitude ordinarily reserved for firefighters and war veterans. Consequently, the only crime greater than "rocking" a bike or accessory traditionally rocked by a messenger is stealing a messenger's bicycle--even if that bicycle has been "free locked." "Free locking" a bike means simply locking the wheel to the frame instead of locking the whole bike to something else, and the term is especially fitting since it means the bike is "free" for the taking. Simply locking your bike to itself is like marrying your sibling, in that it's only slightly more convenient but the consequences are far more likely to be disastrous. You should always lock your bike to something that's difficult to make off with, and since nothing's more difficult to make off with than the planet Earth try locking up to it or at least something securely attached to it. (Otherwise, if you're not a bike messenger who commands an army of hundreds, you might wind up like this guy.)
Then again, this problem may just be something specific to LeMonds, since another reader spied this example of an unlocked "LeMondFoil" recently in New York City:
More likely, though, the bike is unlocked because it would be difficult or impossible to lock a frame like this--even if only to itself. Instead, the owner must resort to flipping the bike upside-down in the hope that a thief will be too confused to figure out how to ride it. I must admit, it almost succeeds, since in this configuration it looks more like some kind of modern office building sculpture than it does a bicycle. In any case, it's better than my own method, which involves leaving a bag of barbecue-flavored potato chips near my bike so that I can follow the thief's orange fingerprints.
And thieves aren't the only ones confused by strange-looking bicycles. The UCI also finds them bewildering, which is why they're placing new restrictions on time trial bikes. A reader forwarded me this article from the New York Times (which has been covering cycling recently with alarming frequency) in which Cervélo expresses concern that these new rules might kill their company:
While this might sound like the sort of paranoia so typical of Canadians, the UCI pretty much confirms this is exactly what they're setting out to do:
This is no idle threat, either--after all, it was just this sort of ruling that killed the Y-Foil in the first place.
Personally, I'm all in favor of forcing all riders to do time trials on regular road bikes "Cannibal-style." But when aero is outlawed, only outlaws will be aero. Erik K sent me this photograph (of a Cervélo no less) in which a pair of bar-ends provide for an extremely aggressive position:
I'm not sure if this setup is allowed for mass-start races, and frankly I can't be bothered to look it up. Regardless, it certainly is dangerous, since there's barely any room between the bar-ends and the tire and you run a good chance of completely scraping off your knuckle tattoos. No, you're much better off using them in the traditional manner, which is to create antlers:
This setup keeps your hands safely away from your tire, as well as from your flashlight loudspeaker:
According to the copy, this device eliminates "faffing about:"
Apparently, though, it still allows for "foffing off," which is what the guy in the picture appears to be doing.
But what if you're a tinkerer yet you're not interested in safety or multiple hand positions? Well, you can always palp a pair of brass knuckle grips:
This is an ideal setup for hunting a LeMond thief among an army of hundreds, as well as for crashing, being unable to remove your hands from your bars, and breaking all your fingers--though I'm sure they look great with knuckle tattoos.
Of course, if you're more of a peaceful sort, you can always rub a Vegan Masi, as spotted by a reader in Seattle:
I'm not entirely convinced this bike is vegan safe though, since there's nothing cheesier than Aerospokes.