Monday, June 28, 2010

Manufacturers to Riders: Go Sponsor Yourself

As humans, we all possess the innate ability to delude ourselves. This self-delusion is necessary to get through life, for the reality of our universal insignificance untempered by the illusion of importance would cause most of us to realize that effort of any sort in the face of our frivolity is completely absurd. What really is the point of, say, going to work, or cleaning the bathroom, or fastidiously grooming one's pubic hair, when eventually we will all meet the same end and be consigned to the grave like so much mulch? Indeed, without self-delusion we'd all be like Bartleby in that Melville story, saying "I prefer not to" when presented with any task. For this reason, self-delusion is as involuntary as any bodily function regulated by the medulla oblongata, since the very future of our species depends on it.

Of course, life isn't all self-delusion; there's also recreation, and doing stuff for the sheer delight and pleasure of it. Pushing our body's happy buttons with a cool swim on a hot day, or a fermented drink containing ethanol, or even just some good old-fashioned genital manipulation can elicit the sort of enjoyment that transcends angst and that does not need to be reconciled against the overbearing reality of our inconsequence. It is at these moments when we inhabit the intoxicating twilight between delusion and insignificance, and dwell fleetingly in joy. Riding a bicycle too can be one of these sources of "no strings attached" delight.

But what if you don't enjoy "joy," and you insist on applying the yardstick of self-delusion against even the simple act of recreation? Well, for these people, there is amateur road racing, a world in which even a Cat 4 cannot be coaxed onto a bicycle unless the effort it takes to propel that bicycle is measured with an electronic device so it can be downloaded later and compared to the effort expended on previous rides. This sort of behavior--the quantifying of our own fruitlessness--would appear to be the very pinnacle of self-delusion. It's like keeping a masturbation journal in which you document the duration of your "sessions" and the volume of your "issue."

So if some of us find our own fruitless behavior so compelling, then naturally the behavior of professional cyclists would seem almost sacred, and I pondered all of this while perusing the latest issue of Rouleur while sitting on the toilet:

I thrill to professional cycling as much as any fan, but I realize when I read Rouleur that I do not take it nearly seriously enough. This lavish periodical doesn't simply report or comment on the sport; instead, it fawns over it, slavers on it, and fondles it like it's Humbert Humbert and professional cycling is Lolita. In Rouleur, the simple washing of a race bike becomes akin to Mary Magdalene washing Jesus's feet. This is not to say Rouleur is a bad publication; far from it. Many people share this view of professional cycling and Rouleur articulates it like no other. If you thrive on the history, imagery, and lore of the sport you will certainy enjoy it. However, I can't even take the Bible seriously, much less bike racing, so when I read Rouleur I generally feel like a child sitting in a religious service and trying not to laugh.

Also fascinating to me are the advertisements in this and other cycling publications, and the way in which the simple tools the professionals use to ply their trade is like unto gold, frankincence, and myrhh ("myrrh" was an early form of crabon fribé) for the self-deluded. Yes, you too can own an "Asymmetrical Dogma" (only $17,900 with Di2), just like the one Bradley Wiggins hardly cares he's riding. (Incidentally, "Asymmetrical Dogma" is also a pretty good summary of the Bible.) The difference, of course, is that the pros get it for free in addition to their salary, but if you want it you have to "Sponsor Yourself:"

("Sponsoring Yourself" is Foffing Off 2.0.)

This ad in particular caught my eye, not only because Assos clothes are apparently designated by "clima range" and require use of specific "body insulators," but also because the model's left foot hangs mysteriously next to his pedal:

This seems an odd detail for Assos to have overlooked. I suppose he could be in the process of clipping in, but judging from the model's expression and position on the bike it looks like he's supposed to evoke that moment in the local group ride that everyone drives to in BMWs just after the roll-out and just before the first town line sprint. The conversations about home improvements have ended and the leadouts have begun, so he certainly would have been securely clipped in for some time now. My best guess is that he was simply standing on a little prop, which was subsequently erased by somebody who does not understand how a pedal works.

Of course, if you really want to be like the pros, you should buy a Madone from the Great Trek Bicycle Making Company. Until now, their proprietary broken steer tube technology was only available to top riders like George Hincapie:


Now, however, you too can apparently experience the thrill of mid-race handlebar detachment with the new Madone:




Strangely though, instead of touting this as a feature, the Great Trek Bicycle Making Company is "going all Mavic" and blaming the consumer:

Trek says over-tightening stem bolts, incorrectly placing spacers above and below the stem, and using incompatible stems can all cause point loading (uneven clamping force) on the steerer tube, weakening it and causing it to break.

“As the technology going into today’s bicycles has increased, so has the responsibility of the mechanic and rider to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions exactly,” reads Trek’s statement. “This issue is not unique to Trek, but is specific to carbon steerers from every manufacturer.”

Bryan Vaughan’s FSA Plasma stem after his steerer tube broke.

According to Trek, there are three keys to safe and successful installation of a stem on a carbon steerer:

1) Always use a torque wrench, and never over-tighten stem clamp bolts.
2) Always use spacers above and below the stem. Although less obvious than correct torque, a minimum of 5mm and a maximum of 40mm spacers under the steerer, plus a 5mm spacer above the stem are required. Riders should factor in these spacers when sizing their bike.
3) Use only the stem brand and model that came with the bike, because not all stems will work with carbon steerers. Often the lighter the stem, the less chance it will be compatible with a carbon steerer. Weight-relieving cutouts on the stem clamp and steerer interface can create stress risers.

Vaughan’s FSA stem was incompatible with the steerer, Trek said.

The part about the stem is particularly audacious, and I wonder if there is a comprehensive list of stems that are incompatible with Trek steerers, or if Trek simply waits for failures asks what kind of stem was involved, and then says, "That one." Cunningly, they've also added the torque-and-spacer qualifiers, so even if the failure occurs with a stock stem they can point to faulty installation. Most interestingly, “As the technology going into today’s bicycles has increased, so has the responsibility of the mechanic and rider to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions exactly,” which means that in 10 years we should finally see the advent of the completely unrideable, proprietary, and non-serviceable road bike.

Fortunately, not all bicycle engineering comes at the expense of durability. Consider this "tiger bike," spotted by a reader in Portland:

Complete with integrated tail/wheelbrow, the "tiger bike" makes a compelling argument for emulating not professional cyclists but, rather, the beauty of nature. Also, it goes great with this:

Tiger shirts are ideal when even Primal jerseys are too subtle.

92 comments:

samh said...

G'day, mate.

Chazu said...

podium?

Anonymous said...

eh.

tail said...

primal

Anonymous said...

top 10 aw yeah

Anonymous said...

top 10 aw yeah

ringcycles said...

So, close, yet so far.

Anonymous said...

top 30

singlespeedspinning said...

oh yeah

Perry said...

Top Ten?

Matthew said...

Top 10 and read the article.

Anonymous said...

drats

Anonymous said...

bonne journée

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight...

Karl said...

Hey BikeSnob, are you going to be giving us a preview of the Tour de France? I'm not sure who to cheer for. Normally I pick the Dutch because they have pretty jerseys, but this year Garmin has a very similar style.

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Loved the ' "Asymmetrical Dogma" is also a pretty good summary of the Bible. ' line, couldn't have phrased it better myself.

brain bucketeer said...

"medulla oblongaTa," if you please

Not to be confused with "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida," which is equally difficult to knock out of your head.

stovtop said...

Lance made the front page of the Austin newspaper,and I mean a big picture filing most of the page. So why do I write this? Talk about sponsor yourself... he is the king of self sponsors... just sayin'.... but the article was mostly about drug testing. I'm a big fan; but look at the cost to his psyche that skepticism brings to the sport.

Anonymous said...

"Asymmetrical Dogma?" Meh.

Tex said...

Trek also mentioned they are making a running change in the forks, to add some more crabon to the steer tube. But there is nothing wrong with all those broken ones. They broke a couple of centimeters below the stems because there were no spacers above the stems. Which are incompatible. And incorrectly installed.

Chicken shits.

Anonymous said...

My preist told me that I could break my "steerer tube" by foffing off too agressively.

Ah, the Catholic Church...

hillbilly said...

guess you could say Trek really steered us wrong. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAgggggggggrrrrrrrrrrr

ant1 said...

ant1st!

ant1 said...

snobby - format typo "...when I read Rouleur that I do..." both Rouleur and that are italicized.

Anonymous said...

"which means that in 10 years we should finally see the advent of the completely unrideable, proprietary, and non-serviceable road bike."

While I assume you're being facetious, I've long felt a disposable bike was the ultimate goal of a few big manufacturers.

I really dislike Trek.

Anonymous said...

There's been a tiger bike in in San Francisco for years. It has the ability to wag its tail. I never could figure how the owner kept the fur clean, but he does.

boys on the hoods said...

You are in fine form today!! Everything from ones' insignificance in the universe, ah la "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" to the biblical significance of asymetrical chainstays to our collective ability to emulate "Big George" coming between someones legs thanks to the great Trek bicycle company.

What a way to start the week.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

eagleapex said...

Also,someone got Monotype Corsiva all over those rims. Shame. I bet it will wipe off with some alcohol.

Anonymous said...

Hey Snob,

Speaking of sponsoring yourself, I thought you'd like this:

http://www.actbolder.com/

Lots of bike related challenges and some really funny posts.

Anonymous said...

samh looks like a pervert

wade said...

tucking the tail between the legs must be to keep it from being sucked into the rear brake by the wheel and simultaneously yanking the tiger off the back of the bike ...

graham said...

That tiger bike has me a bit perplexed - what is that silver handle protruding from the fur on the neck? While it looks a lot like the handle of a vegetable peeler I own, that seems really unlikely. Is it some kind of light saber? Or is that the control of the elaborate tail-wagging device alluded to by an earlier anonymous commenter? Some follow up would be helpful. Perhaps the owner follows this blog and can elaborate.

Whatever that lever is, Fabian Cancellara should get one of these wagging-tiger-tail devices to secretly reach down and activate at just the right moment to propel himself to victory in the Spring Classics. That would be the most awesome sight ever.

Anonymous said...

trek confusingly refers to the non-use of risers to increase the risk of stress risers. I am thinking that the stress to a bicycle rider over the use of trek/crabon is leading to stress risers and point sourcing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Trek is audacious. Blame it on the consumer? Who's the consumer when George Hincapie's steer tube cracks? And who pays the mechanic's salary? (p.s. maybe I'm being naive about team sponsorships)

I'd like to see the carbon steer tube with 40 mm spacers sandwiched around the stem.

Spike said...

Anon 1:01

A trip to the zoo or just watching a house cat will answer your question about how the owners of tiger fur keep it clean.

Udder said...

The model with only one foot on the pedal in the ad is demonstrating the newest hipster trend- one legged pedaling.

In fact, the next step is to remove the crank arm all together to make it more difficult. This makes as much sense as fixed gear riding with no brakes.

Daddo said...

OK! OK! I'll ditch my foff-off log...

..but I'm holding onto Elisa Basso's!

ringcycles said...

I am waiting for the Rouleur comprehensive guide to dilettante racing. That is where we do a fast ride around the suburb. Winner is determined by aver. watts x retail cost of the bike & cycling kit minus number of hours of training this year.

mander said...

This post is absolutely outstanding snob.

Tex said...

Ringcycles,

Are you a physicist or an engineer or sump'm? That's brilliant!

Anonymous said...

In Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener, the office copyist, faced with a dreary task, says, "I would prefer not to." Take a page from Bartleby

this is from Dear Prudence section of slate online Posted Thursday, June 24, 2010, at 7:04 AM ET

I am sure Trek would have something to say about spacers on this.

gene99 said...

Snob, Methinks your self-delusion is blaming your suckiness as a racer on people who take it too seriously (i.e., more seriously than you do). Perhaps a bit less time foffing and a little more training and you wouldn’t be so bitter - oops, snobish.

Anonymous said...

gene99,

you are 99th on the list of genes. take a page..

ervgopwr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ervgopwr said...

What a way to start a Monday?!

Philosophical, critical and timely as always.

The book is timeless, but mocking trek, and non-sense ads will never get old.

TIGR BIKE

RAWR MEOW

3G said...

All of Trek's stock madone photos on their site have one thing in common...no spacers

karmie said...

Great post, covering everything from the ridiculous to the sublime! Also, Spike at 1:19, re: tiger fur maintenance, superb!

grog said...

Nicely done, Snob,
medulla oblongata is one of my favorite body parts.

TRIK TREK

Shu-Sin said...

if the rider with the tiger t were to ride the tiger bike while tucking his penis between his legs, he could march for women's rights AND animal rights at the same time. plus, he would be sponsoring himself since he wouldn't be able to foff off.

Salty and Sore said...

Double-knuck-tat kind of day:

CORP RATE
RSPS BLTY

STER TUBE
EPIC FAIL

STAY HOME
SPNS RSLF

Another post full of awesomeness, Snobbie!

Test Tickle said...

BS - when are going to have separate windows open when I click on links, such as when answering wrong on Friday quizzes? Call me a whiner, but it's pretty annoying to always have to wait for a reload.

Just saying, er, bitching...

balls.

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

I'd hit it.

thegock said...

SCRI VNER

Anonymous said...

i am embarrassed to report that i like the tiger bike.

Spike Milligan said...

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
Lookout! You'll set the jungle alight.

Anonymous said...

so, I was riding yesterday morning in palisades park and given the heat I opted to go helmetless. That seemed to draw the ire of several other helmeted riders, a couple of which even felt the need to express their disatisfaction verbally ("nice helmet", etc). To those thoughtful riders (assuming some may by chance be readers of this excellent blog), I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you for caring about my well being and to also say mind your own fucking business.

leroy said...

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a box of Depends?
My steer tube impaled me with carbon bar ends.
Rode hard for no sponsor, no help from my friends.
So Lord, won't you buy me a box of Depends?

streepo said...

Excellent job, leroy, excellent job.

bikesgonewild said...

...i used to walk an "Asymmetrical Dogma"...

...all we did was go round & round in hypothetical circles...

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 12:34pm...

...if you're looking at the tail end of the tiger, that's not an eye, pal...

...just sayin'...

frilly said...

Anon 3:44--no shame, I LOVE the tiger bike! In fact, its given me an idea on how to re-purpose one of my cats, if & when one of 'em passes. Guess I'll need to find one of those medieval stretching device thingamajiggies.

Well done Leroy!

Sigurd said...

Trek is "too big to fail" in more ways than one. It's like the Galactic Empire recalling faulty TIEs. Some feeble knuckle tats:

WEAK TUBE
DOOM TREK
RIDE SLOW

Anonymous said...

Asymmetrical Dogma would be a great name for a band.

Anonymous said...

Leroy wins top prize today...

bikesgonewild said...

...well...that depends.........

...oh, never mind...i agree...

Anonymous said...

uhh ... something about a bad English class?

Anonymous said...

LEEEEEEEEEROY!!!!!

shelley said...

That tiger bike's tail is connected to a brake lever, and wiggles up and down all bonerz-like. Portland, I love you.

PawnShop said...

Cancellara really looks different with the beard & 'stache. While the silly race officials get distracted trying to catch him doping, and the world looks for motors in his down tube, his 'dirty little secret' leaked out unnoticed: his remarkable speed is due to having a Tiger In His Tank.

INCG NITO

David Henderson said...

Personally I find watt meters to be the OPPOSITE of delusional. It will quantify EXACTLY how powerful or weak you are.

I always prefer truth over fiction, and fact over opinion.

Anonymous said...

知道他有了外遇
面對他的低聲下氣妳冷嘲熱諷、無理取鬧
妳瘋狂似的大吵大鬧
甚至到他的公司去亂、向他的親友抱怨、向鄰居們哭訴…
妳把他的外遇鬧的人盡皆知
最後,妳把他的愧疚消耗殆盡…
最後,妳把他想要回頭的念頭打消…
最後,妳自己把他推向外遇的第三者身邊…

Anonymous said...

Just think of the Trek Madone as the cycling version of the iPhone 4. You're just not holding it right.

Anonymous said...

Spinning...

I am the engine said...

"...i used to walk an "Asymmetrical Dogma"..."

"...all we did was go round & round in hypothetical circles..."

all we did was go round & round in hypothetical ellipses

Anonymous said...

Sounds like we'll have to use NASA-like precision to check over our bikes before safely riding away on our crabon bikes. What a privilege.

H. Brown said...

high-larious. just started reading, so i'm still a little floored by the incisive sarcasm, and i don't have any witty response, just deep appreciation. thanks for the laughing out loud.

Anonymous Coward said...

@Balls

For the new window you desire, simply hold the shift key while clicking the link. Viola, instant new window.

Shaun said...

The world is paved in cobblestone and I'm wearing crabon fribé underpants.

Anonymous said...

Lolita and Bartleby in the same post? And then the Bible (which bears on Bartleby)---Snob, you must be a closet English major. Worse yet, graduate student or English teacher. As for the Trek junk, well, my aluminum bike might feel like riding a picket fence on wheels if you go more than 10 miles, but it always comes home in one piece!

Anonymous said...

人家都說男人到大陸都會外遇包二奶
老婆淚眼說擔心他外遇
他了解老婆的擔心,只好用錢去彌補分離的缺憾
漸漸的,老婆的電話愈來愈少…
她說,她是怕自己太依賴
漸漸的,他知道其實是她有了外遇
於是,面對自己外遇的行為,他忽然覺得好過了些…

Anonymous said...

人家都說男人到大陸都會外遇包二奶
老婆淚眼說擔心他外遇
他了解老婆的擔心,只好用錢去彌補分離的缺憾
漸漸的,老婆的電話愈來愈少…
她說,她是怕自己太依賴
漸漸的,他知道其實是她有了外遇
於是,面對自己外遇的行為,他忽然覺得好過了些…

Ronan said...

I think the model's foot is unclipped because he's about to ride into a giant silvery spider's web. Oh no! Too late, he's sexy lycra-clad toast!

minnesota lone wolf said...

me oh my

stiveaux said...

As a Cat 4 since 1993, I'm not sure I love the phrase "even a Cat 4," but you do crack me up. I don't have a wattage meter. Yet.

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