Friday, February 27, 2009

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Before beginning this week's quiz, I must make two corrections in the name of responsible "journalism." Firstly, in yesterday's post, I stated that the Lotus rider spotted at the Tour of California was listening to motivational audio on his iPod. However, yet another reader who managed to get a shot of this great cyclist points out that it is quite clear from the bulge in his pocket (that's his rear jersey pocket) he actually opts for the Discman:


(The "lone wolf" smiles beatifically.)

I'm tremendously embarrassed by having made this mistake, since it's common knowledge that the Discman is the audio player of choice for the "lone wolf" cyclist. However, in my defense, I was thrown by the white headphones, as well as by the fact that the player wasn't in the traditional "lone wolf" location--that being secured to the bicep area with Velcro. Incidentally, a number of readers expressed curiosity regarding the setup of the Lotus. According to still another reader (!) who managed to get close to the man and his machine, he is in fact running/rocking/rubbing/rolling/slaying a freewheel, and the brakes are actuated by twisting the attachments at the ends of the aero extensions (sensuously, one would assume).

Secondly, in Wednesday's post, I mistakenly identified one of the celebrity participants in the World Naked Bike Ride:


A higher-resolution shot sent to me by "bkjimmy" reveals that the rider in the propeller beanie is in fact a certain professional golfer and not David Alan Grier:


Now, I'm not a golf fan, but I'm guessing it's either Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. Also, you can see Joachim Phoenix in much greater detail--right down to the ersatz knuckle tattoos.

Moving on, it's now time for a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right, you'll know. If you're wrong--and I almost hesitate to do this, because it's so awful--you'll see "The Triathlon Song."

Thanks for reading, and ride safe--unless you're doing Monster Track, of course, in which case "Nobr Akes!"


--BSNYC/RTMS






1) Which phrase is not a part of the sales pitch for this Toons custom?

--"The pure freshness!"
--"...she will shread the street or track."
--"Hand-painted MKS Sylvans with hemp double straps not included."
--"For those who have the heart to stand alone."




2) Where was this baby spotted?

--The Tour of California, Solvang
--The Macaframa premiere in Sacramento, CA
--Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
--A free fixed-gear conversion clinic in downtown Los Angeles



3) What is this gnome doing?

--Singing a song about the joys of cycling
--Making fixed-gear cogs
--Sabotaging somebody's bicycle
--Balancing a Fixedgeargallery submission on his head





4) This bike, for sale on the Austin, TX Craigslist, once belonged to:

--Tyler Hamilton
--Laurent Jalabert
--Bo Hamburger
--Bjarne Riis



5) I recently spotted a Spalding road bike. According to the Fixedgeargallery, what famous punk frontman once owned a Spalding?

--Henry Rollins
--Ian MacKaye
--H.R.
--Glenn Danzig


6) What's the most reasonable explanation for the seat angle on this Trek?

--It's a hill-climbing bike and the saddle is actually level on extreme grades
--The rider follows the old bike-fit rule of thumb which states that an imaginary line drawn from the nose of your saddle should intersect with the front strap of your frame bag
--It's hanging its saddle in shame over those Spinergys
--There is no reasonable explanation for the seat angle on this Trek


7) Who said the following?

"Dont get me wrong, I Love Cycling, and have been one myself since my brother got me my Bianchi Spelissimo back in 1989. Greg LeMond is one of my heros…although, Miguel Indurain was quite a great cyclist when they were battling. I just want to see Lance come clean and retire already. There are many cyclists these days that I would like to see succeed, and he has done his time, and done well. Let some new blood come up."

--Paul Kimmage
--Joe Lindsey
--The "Yellow Devil"
--Levi Leipheimer


8) Which is not a quote from a recent "Men's Fitness" article about fixed-gear bikes?


--"it's like a mobile spinning class"
--"you mustn't stop pedaling"
--"you feel more like a part of the bike"
--"brakes are for 'woosies'"



***Special retro-collabo bonus question***



These "shoes" were a collaboration between component maker Race Face and which footwear company?

--John Fluevog
--Dr. Martens
--Steve Madden
--Spear's Specialty Shoe Company--Custom Made Clown and Theater Footwear Since 1983

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Inspiring Rides: True Greatness Knows No Discipline

Obviously, cycling is fraught with fashion-based politics. A "violation" as minor as a misaligned tire label or a backwards front skewer is enough to have you banished from some circles. This is to say nothing of the contempt the various cycling sects have for each-other. The roadie hates the mountain biker; the mountain biker hates the fixter; the fixter hates the triathlete; the cyclo-tourer hates the triathlete; the recumbent rider hates the triathlete; and so forth. Indeed, the tool that can break this chain of hate has yet to be invented, and as much as I long for a day when we can all live in harmony and mutual respect I fear that day lies far in the future.

Still, I maintain that we can learn a lot from the "lone wolves" of cycling. These are the riders who follow no rules but their own, and their independence should serve as a source of inspiration. If we sectarians can't respect each-other, then we can at least join together in our mutual respect for them. You may be disinclined to wave to the roadie with the spotless white booties and matching shoe covers, or to the fixter with the expensive jeans and the handmade man-purse, but you can certainly find it in yourself to doff your helmet or cycling cap or flat-brim to a fellow like this:



We met this rider on Monday, but another reader has sent me this photo of him actually in motion, and I'm sure you'll agree that the sight of him in flight is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Notice how he uses the forearm pads to achieve a more upright position. Notice also the golden fleece, which matches his tires, as well as the radiant white sneakers, unfettered and unmarred by toe clips. He's also staying hydrated, thanks to the handlebar-mounted cupholder. It's difficult to ascertain how fast he's going; while the hair would indicate speeds in excess of 30mph, the bundle of paper flyers he's got resting on the aero extensions isn't aflutter. Speaking of unflappable, his facial expression belies a state of inner strength and confidence that few of us will attain in his lifetime--aided, no doubt, by the motivational audio he's listening to on his iPod.

Of course, he can afford to be confident. He knows that his arch-nemesis, Bart Kaufman, is miles away, locking up the World's Greatest Madone as he gets ready to either buy a suitcase, or visit the chiropractor, or pick up some sushi, or take a Bikram yoga class, or cut up the rug at Dance Connection:


These two riders have four things in common: impeccable taste in bicycles; a bitter rivalry; a penchant for white sneakers; and a love of motivational audio. As you can see, Bart's also listening to an iPod, though he's more into money-making than ass-kicking. I literally get chills when I imagine what it would be like to see these two riders in head-to-head competition. It would be more powerful than a hundred Alpe d'Huez Tour de France finishes multiplied by a thousand Tours of Flanders, yet still somehow reminiscent of the movie "The Bucket List." Cycling really needs a Don King who can set this up.

Speaking of inspirational rides, check out this one on The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company's Levi Leipheimer TOC micro-site:



Unfortunately, I think Trek really missed the mark here. Firstly, where's the rack?!? Secondly, as far as I'm concerned, there is only one bear-themed bike, and all others are just cheap imitations:


"There are no cables because the brake is in the pedals." It doesn't get much more aero than that. You'd think that after all that wind tunnel time Trek would have figured it out by now.

By the way, I'm pleased to announce that, in addition to having discovered the World's Greatest Madone, I've also discovered the World's Smallest Seven. Actually, it's less of a Seven than it is a Six-and-a-Half:




37cm Seven Cycles Aerios Titanium Road Bike W/Full Dura Ace - $1100 (Brooklyn)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-02-24, 11:47PM EST


37cm Seven Cycles Aerios Titanium Road Bike W/Full Dura Ace

Here is your chance to own your dream bike for less than purchasing just the frame and fork new. This bike is in excellent condition. Full Dura Ace 10 Spd Group The Aerios is Seven's most popular frame in the extensive lineup because it is both light weight and responsive making it great for club riding, group rides, centuries, and everything in between. The Aerios Double butted Ti tubing featuring the top quality, U.S.-sourced seamless 3-2.5 titanium and proprietary butting technology.

Frame size 37cm c.c

Top tube length- 46 cm

Frame-Seven Aerios 3-2.5 Titanium

Fork-Seven Reynolds Ouzo pro

Shifters-Ultegra

Derailurs- Dura Ace

Stem-Ritchey Pro

Handlebars-ITM Millenium

Wheel- AmericanClassic Sprint 350 650

Cassette- Dura Ace
Brakes-Dura Ace

Seat- Vitesse Fizzik

Seatpost-Thomson Maserpiece




Actually, $1,100 seems like a pretty low price for a Seven--even a really small one--and it's possible that this is a scam. Either that, or the bike was stolen from Dave Zabriskie's house. (It's too small for him, but it might have belonged to one of his Marvel Sideshow statues.) However, if it's legit, I think the owner of the Seven with the giant head tube should purchase it as a companion piece:


Then he can take a picture of it with his cat using the litter box in the background.

Incidentally, the ad specifies "full Dura Ace," though the bike has Ultegra shifters and a non-series compact crank. Maybe this is the new Dura Ace 7900, which I understand Shimano actually specs with Ultegra shifters now due to the current state of the economy. Also, the bike has a Thomson Masterpiece seatpost. Many people don't realize that unlike the Thomson Elite post, the Masterpiece requires a proprietary grease:



This will not only keep the post from seizing in the frame, but will also make it delicious. They even make a special compound specifically for crabon frames:



It's also guaranteed to liven up your next "Peleton" sandwich from Boneshakers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A World Gone Nuts: Missing Junk and Missing Pants

As you have probably read by now, professional cyclist, crotch cream magnate, and occasional Twitterer Dave Zabriskie returned home from the Tour of California only to find that his house had been burglarized:



I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling outraged over this crime. This is nothing like the Astana bike heist in Sacramento--we all knew that The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company would quickly replace those bikes. Even Lance Armstrong's custom one-of-a-kind time trial bike was eminently replaceable, since Trek clearly have the capability to crank out new Armstrong customs at a moment's notice. If Armstrong Tweets about eating a burrito, they send him a burrito-themed bike; if he decides to sit in on the local group ride for a few miles, they send him a local group ride-themed bike; if he takes a ride with Robin Williams, they send him a Robin Williams-themed bike with a disconcertingly lifelike body hair paintjob and a forearm applause meter SRM readout.

No, the Zabriskie heist is something else entirely. They broke into his home, and they took a lot of stuff, including many personal items. I mean, look at this list:

Items stolen include the following:
Black 2008 Subaru Outback, Utah plate A189NC

Black 2006 Toyota Scion, Utah plate 094VWM

Giro D Italia Race Medal (approx. 6" circumference)

Olympic Seiko watch
Beijing Olympic ring (silver) with initials "DZ" engraved ($4,000)
Olympic Time Trial Bike, plus 12 other bikes (combined value of $100,000)
Cervélo (black/red) bike frame - team issued ($5000)
Tag Heuer watch ($6,000)

Bose Speaker/Receiver System ($15,000)

Sony 52" flat screen TV ($4,000)

Two Mac Books and one Mac desktop, plus hard drive ($8,000)

A pair of Space legs, a recovery compression system for legs ($5,000)
7 Marvel sideshow statues ($11,000)

I'm glad to see that Zabriskie is a part of "wristwatch culture." I'm also glad that during these difficult economic times, Zabriskie had his money in secure investments like Marvel Sideshow statues. I only hope they were insured. Obviously, if you have any leads, or if someone tries to sell you comic book-themed collectibles and a Giro race medal, you should contact the authorities immediately. And if you're still not upset about this theft, maybe this image will hit home:


Obviously Zabriskie's "junk" is still comfortable thanks to his eponymous crotch cream, but he's been robbed of pretty much everything else--including his pants. I hereby call upon the domestic peloton to come to Zabriskie's aid. Yes, I'm looking squarely at you, Michael Ball. After all, you're the King of Pants, and if you had any human decency at all you'd donate a new wardrobe. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if Ball is a chief suspect in the investigation. We know that Rock Racing is in dire financial straits and is now shopping at Bikesdirect. Thirteen bikes would probably be enough to keep the team rolling for another year, and you can probably expect to see either a Subaru Outback or a Scion with anarchy signs painted all over it following Rock Racing at their next stage race. Either that, or Ball will seize upon the opporuntity to do more viral marketing, this time releasing a video depicting a fixter strike force carrying a bunch of stuff out of Zabriskie's house.

I was actually so disturbed that I decided to launch my own investigation. Naturally, I started by checking Craigslist, since most of the stuff on there is being fenced anyway. I chose the New York City Craigslist--even though it's pretty far from Utah, I figured stolen stuff eventually winds up here anyway, and at least it would be close enough for me to try to retrieve it. Almost immediately, I found something suspicious in the "Missed Connections":



Red hed black dog hot girl red car pink bike - 36 (Babylon, NY)
Reply to: [deleted]

Date: 2009-02-19, 7:34PM EST

I saw you leave the pink bike and take what looked to be a velveteen pig to a park with your red hair with blonde streaks. You are as hot as the pig is cute. I saw you yell "You ran a red light asshole" and figured you must be a strong and independent woman! You had me at "asshole!' Nice legs! They look just a bit buffer than your arms! Quite a package for a smart girl.


Yes, you read that right: it says "velveteen pig." If my comic book knowledge is correct, the "Velveteen Pig" is a Marvel superhero, and I'm pretty sure that a Velveteen Pig Sideshow statue was one of the items taken from Zabriskie's home. So be on the lookout for a woman with red hair, blonde streaks, and nice legs riding a pink bike.

Figuring I was on to something, I continued to browse the "Missed Connections," and soon found this:



Don't buy that freeze-dried coffee - m4w - 23 (Grand Street Key Food)
Reply to: [delete]
Date: 2009-02-18, 8:39PM EST


You were about to make the mistake of buying freeze-dried coffee at the Key Food when I rescued you by suggesting that you go to Gimme! instead.


We seemed to have a little moment. Got the vibe that maybe you have a boyfriend. But maybe not.


Anyway, when by the time I got outside, you were gone. I tried to find you, but my raviolis got caught in my bike spokes and spilled all over so I had to discontinue my search.


I'd love to get a drink. We do live in the same neighborhood, after all. I hope your spaghetti was good.



Well, I'm not sure this one's going to help break the Zabriskie case, but I do think this serves as an effective warning as to the dangers of riding while carrying ravioli.

Speaking of warnings, yesterday I mentioned the "underground/mainstream inversion," which can only be a bad sign. Well, I recently received the latest catalog from the Secret Website, and discovered something even more horrifying. Yes, it's the dreaded "Microshift/Ultegra Price Inversion":


Sure, the Secret Website may have upgraded its shifters, but for them to be more expensive than Ultegra shifters can only be a sign of the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse. Skeptics will point out that it's only the triple Ultegra shifters that are cheaper, and that the double shifters are still way more expensive, but I'm not sure it matters since I think you can use the triple shifters just fine with a double crank.

And that's not all. Things are even scarier over at the Secret Website's sister company. Not too long ago I revealed that Performance is actually the middleman in a sordid Australian-US pornography-smuggling ring. Well, it gets worse. A reader tells me that they're now brazenly selling sex toys too:

For shame, Performance! This sort of thing is best left to the Kinky Llama. The only innocent explanation I can possibly come up with for this is that some factory in Taiwan makes these and they randomly brand some as chain cleaners and some as plastic phalluses. Plus, nobody would ever buy something like this to clean their chain--everybody knows chain cleaners don't work. They just spread the filth around. (Kind of like what Performance is doing.) The only way this thing works is if you put "clean your chain" in quotes. And when used in conjunction with the XTR hub (which you may recall is "designed to cradle the balls"), well, let's just say it can really cut into your riding time.

Then again, I could have this all wrong. Maybe Performance is trying to atone for the Knog debacle and this is actually an updated version of a Victorian anti-masturbation device. I've also found another wholesome use for it. Instead of censoring photos in the traditional way (the original unsafe for work version is here):



All you need to do is use the Spin Doctor Clean Machine "Chain Cleaner":


(image by bkjimmy)

I still don't know why (from left to right) Lamar from "Revenge of the Nerds," Joaquim Phoenix, Sarah Vowell, Thurston Moore, David Allen Grier, and Anthony Bourdain felt the need to take a naked bike ride together, but at least now their respective "junk" is covered. Bourdain better be careful, though--I think I see some ravioli in his spokes.

I hope they all used plenty of DZ-Nuts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anarchy for Sale: No Brakes, No Masters

It's late February, but spring is in the air here in New York City. Actually, that's completely untrue--it's cold and windy, and the only thing in the air is bits of garbage. Nonetheless, the racing season looms, and I recently received an email from Michael Green of Bike Blog NYC (and victim of the classic "Yo, let me see your bike real quick" flim-flam) asking me to help" spread the word" about this weekend's Monster Track alleycat.

If you're unfamiliar with Monster Track, it's basically the Woodstock '99 of alleycats. Here's the description from Michael's email:

This weekend, Monster Track X, the tenth annual edition of NYC's most intense underground alleycat street race, will be blazing through city streets making heros out of ordinary messengers, and a legend out of one. Monster Track, the most outlaw of outlaw alleycat bicycle races, has only one rule: No Brakes.

You may remember that last year's Monster Track was fake-cancelled, presumably in order to confuse the interlopers and generally pare things down so that it could run more stealthily. I can only imagine this year the organizers are implementing a similar ploy, because as far as I can see there's nothing "underground" about this race at at all. Most likely this announcement is for some kind of "decoy" event, and the real race will take place elsewhere. Just take a look at the flyer:

Firstly, there are few things in the world that are less "underground" than brunch. Sure, maybe brunch is an edgy meal for the sorts of people who purchase designer dog clothes, sport spray-on tans, and wear soft leather driving loafers, but that's about it. Secondly, some of these sponsors can only have been secured by a PR firm. Sure, Continuum Cycles and Affinity Cycles are bikes shops, and R.E.Load and Outlier make cycling bags and clothing, so those make sense. But what about the rest of them? Curious, I went and checked them out.

First, I visited the Incase website. Yes, nothing says "underground" and "outlaw of outlaw" like a company that makes protective cases for Apple products. While there's certainly nothing wrong with owning a laptop and wanting to protect it, doing so does not exactly qualify you as a menace to society. Furthermore, designing such products is highly unlikely to foment revolution--even if they do have some sweet "collabos," like this one with Hiroshi Fujiwara:


You may recall that Hiroshi Fujiwara is the person who got Eric Clapton into collecting track bikes. I guess Hiroshi's pretty into iPhones too, because "these limited-edition cases are featured in Hiroshi Fujiwara's new book about the iPhone and iPhone-related culture." This came as a surprise to me, because until I read this I didn't realize that it was possible to base an entire culture on something as specific as an iPhone. I guess the standards for what qualifies as "culture" have been significantly lowered recently. (Maybe this is part of Obama's economic stimulus plan.) If so, it sure is easy to join a culture now. If I check the time, am I part of "wristwatch culture?" If I use a urinal, am I part of "urine culture?" If I eat a Chicken McNugget with sweet and sour sauce, am I part of "Chicken McNugget culture," or "sauce culture?" And if I use a fork to do it, am I also part of "fork culture?" Hmmm, I think I liked it better when something actually had to stick around for a few centuries to qualify as a culture. Navajos have a culture; iPhones have touch screens and a headphone jack. (Though I hear you can now download a "belief system app.")

Next on my Monster Track X sponsor tour, I checked in with Mishka. Mishka is a New York City-based clothing label, and it may be familiar to readers of this blog as the sponsor of the D.A.R.T. cycling team. Naturally, as a clothing company with a distinguished cycling pedigree, they now make cycling-specific clothing like this flat-brimmed baseball cap:


Our Death Adders Road and Track project is now branching out and producing clothing. Starting today, we're slowly making some gear specific to the people who are riding their bikes in the elements everyday and we are pleased to say that the D.A.R.T. New Era marks the first piece in this series

Crafted from New Eras signature "no shrink" wool, this hat will keeps its shape after it's soaked in sweat over and over again. When you're not wearing a helmet, top off your outfit with this hat which features the D.A.R.T. headbadge and logo in a colorway to fit any wardrobe.

If you ride your bike a lot, you know there's no better choice of headgear than a flat-brimmed baseball cap. Unlike a traditional cycling cap, the baseball cap has the advantages of not fitting under a helmet, having a huge brim to catch the air, and having a huge brim that cannot be flipped up or down. Also, unlike a lightweight cycling cap, the wool baseball cap is too heavy for summer, yet unlike a winter cycling hat it won't keep your ears warm. You can, however, use it in conjunction with a "hoodie" to keep your hat from flying off your head if you ride more than 10mph. (Which, if you're the kind of person who wears hats like this, you probably don't.) Most importantly, it comes in lots of "colorways," which are like colors, only trendier.

Mishka also have a "lookbook." (All revolutionary movements have lookbooks. Mao Zedong's "Little Red Book" was the first revolutionary lookbook and was full of hot Marxist fashions.) As you can see, they offer lots of great clothes to wear to the Monster Track "outlaw" brunch:


I'm sure between mouthfuls of fries they're discussing how to tear down "the system" from within. Yes, revolution sure is delicious--and it comes in lots of great colorways, too!

After my virtual brunch, I visited Mishka's comerades-in-arms and fellow Monster Track sponsors, BoundlessNY:


BoundlessNY is a streetwear clothing retailer that sells various "underground" and "outlaw" clothing brands and stocks products that come in a stunning array of "colorways." They also seem to have appropriated the "Ruff Ryders" logo:



This is fitting, since the clothing BoundlessNY sells doubtless appeals to fixed-gear freestylers, and fixed-gear freestylers are to track bikes what Ruff Ryders are to sport motorcycles:






As a sponsor of an "underground" bike race, you'd expect BoundlessNY to have an "underground" sensibility. And what's more "underground" than worshipping money and celebrating rampant consumerism? A search for the word "money" yields no less than 17 items on the BoundlessNY website, including this "All Over Money" flat-brimmed baseball cap (perfect for cycling, of course):


You can also use it in conjunction with this matching "All Over Money Hoody":


There's no better way to express your rejection of the mainstream than by swaddling yourself in money. I think "Get money all over the globe" is actually a Che Guevara quote.

Saddened, I then made my way over to DQM, hoping to finally find some "underground" products and "outlaw" energy. Instead, I just found more stupid hats:



They really should think about changing the name from "Monster Track" to "Monster Hat."

The last Monster Track sponsor I visited was Boneshakers, which is a vegan cycling-themed cafe in Brooklyn under the same ownership as Trackstar bike shop:



Well, at least this business is cycling-related, and whatever you think of veganism at least it's more of a challenge to the status quo than the "All Over Money Hoody." Also, the sandwiches have irreverent names, though I was disappointed to find that "peloton" had been misspelled:


In any case, it seems like a lovely place for a post-ride brunch.

Incidentally, this weekend also marks the start of the New York City road racing season. At first glance, lycra-clad investment bankers on expensive crabon-fiber bicycles would seem to be the very antithesis of "underground" and "outlaw." However, in reality, the local road races take place very early in the morning, nobody watches, and there are no trendy sponsors. Moreover, the bankers are now unemployed, but the "outlaws" seem to have their hands full peddling streetwear. Could it be then that we are in the midst of some kind of "underground/mainstream" inversion, in which the "underground" has gone mainstream and the "mainstream" has gone underground? Or maybe it's much simpler, and this is all just a case of evolving language--"underground" now means "trendy," "outlaw" now means "annual," and "culture" now means "fad."

Either way, if you go to Monster Track, bring an appetite for brunch and money for the DVD, but don't bring brakes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bike Buzz: Old Bikes, New Humiliations

As a new week begins, sadly we must say goodbye to the Amgen Tour of California. Granted, I didn't really have much time to watch it, but still, it was comforting to know it was there running in the background like anti-virus software. And now that it's over, I find myself growing sentimental--so sentimental in fact that I visited the Amgen Tour of California Store in order to purchase a keepsake. At first, I thought I'd purchase a stuffed bear:

I figured this would serve as a soothing balm by giving me something cozy to clutch as I cry myself to sleep. (Currently I cry myself to sleep with an old Mapei jersey, but it's starting to get a bit threadbare.) However, as I continued to browse the store I noticed I could also purchase an entire gift bag for $50 (valued at $250!) which contains not only the teddy bear but also a bunch of other stuff I could hold, wear, or otherwise use while I cry :


This is a much better deal than the Rock Racing blanket, which costs $40 and doesn't even come with anything else (though you do get free shipping):



No, I'd much rather sob into a cuddly teddy bear's abdomen than beneath a Rock Racing blanket. Plus, I hear the gift bag is exactly like the one Levi Leipheimer got for winning the race, though he did have to share the contents with the rest of the team. (According to Chris Horner's Twitter, he actually called "dibs" on the towel the morning of the time trial.) Speaking of which, word from California is that Astana were thrilled over Leipheimer's third Tour of California win--so much so that they threw him a lavish victory party, complete with a surprise performance by pop sensation and mandolin virtuoso Letle Viride:



If you've never seen Letle Viride play, you really owe it to yourself to check him out (though Youtube footage is nowhere near as visceral as the real thing). Everybody knows that the mandolin is the "bad boy" of the lute family, and since Letle Viride is, in turn, the "bad boy" of mandolin players, this makes him exponentially bad. Time hasn't dulled his edge, either--he's just as vital now as he was back in the 70s.

But while Astana and an assortment of VIPs (Paul Sherwen is a huge Letle fan) watched a man smash a flaming mandolin to bits after covering "Sweet Child O' Mine," the general public celebrated as well. Some even did so a day early--here's one happy spectator who was photographed by a reader at the finish line of the time trial in Pasadena on Saturday:


It's rare you get to see something this sleek and aerodynamic--clearly, that baby was sculpted in the wind tunnel. (I am, of course, referring to the hairstyle, but the bike's pretty aero too.)

But let's not forget that this was California, and as such irony abounded. This was Floyd Landis's first race back after failing a drug test and being stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title. Despite his apparent transgressions, there was an outpouring of support, as evidenced by these photos taken by non-Serotta-riding dentist and gap bike apologist Dr. John Gowey:



Meanwhile, another reader informs me that Lance Armstrong, who's been found guilty of nothing except obsessive Twittering, found himself at the pointy end of either a hypodermic pitchfork or a dual crown suspension fork, I'm not sure which:


However, as the rest of the photos show, Armstrong handily dismissed the charges:









None of this is to imply that we should not support Landis, who has served his suspension and has every right to return to the sport. (Though I do feel that allegations he dabbled in recumbent riding during his suspension warrant further investigation.) Nor is it to imply that Armstrong was heavy-handed in his dealings with the heckler. After all, if I were riding in defense of the race lead and Andy Richter in a bumblebee costume started poking at me with a Marzocchi, I'd push him into a snowbank too.

Speaking of dorky things dressed as animals, the people at Renaissance Bicycles inform me that they have "dropped" a new creation, which they call "The Octopus Bike":


The Octopus Bike was "Originally a 1978 Raleigh Record Ace," but Renaissance have "updated it to be an over-the-top track bike with all new components." Well, it's definitely over the top, but it's still not a track bike--it's just a $1,850 conversion. I'm not sure why they settled on the octopus theme, but it might be because having eight arms allows you to multitask, and when it comes to being problematic this bike is working overtime. Why nothing to keep your feet on the pedals? Why no brakes? Why the bargain basement components? Well, at least they preserved the "Raleigh heritage" by wrapping the bars in Cinelli cork tape--though I'm not sure what one has to do with the other, and I wish they'd just done so by adding gears and brakes and keeping the original paint job. Speaking of octopi, if you divide the price of the bike by eight, you get $231.25, which is actually a fair price for the bike. (Though I'd still rather spend an extra $43.75 and get this instead.)

But when it comes to theme bikes, the Octopus Bike is a true work of art compared to the "Bumblebee Bike" from 718 Cyclery, of whom I was recently made aware by a reader:



Opportunists continue to start cheap bike conversion factories, and 718 Cyclery seems to be the latest in what feels like an endless procession of fixed-gear meth labs. Interestingly, the proprietor is comfortable riding around on a bike that looks like a bumblebee, but he's not comfortable with the idea of wearing cycling tights:



Not only would I recommend he purchase the tights, but I think he should take it a step further and get the whole ensemble:


Watch out, Andy Richter!