Monday, August 2, 2010

Itineraries and Agendas: Bicycles at Work and Play

Today is August 2nd, which marks not only the birthday of deceased actor Carroll O'Connor, but also the end of my "Summer Reese's,"--brought to you, paradoxically, by British confectioner and military contractor Cadbury, makers of both the deadly "Cadbury Creme Egg" warhead as well as the delicious Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile candy bar. I'm pleased to report that I engaged in a number of pleasurable activities during my absence, both cycling- and non-cycling related. Sadly though, I did not undertake an expensive and life-changing exotic cycling-themed vacation of the sort you can often read about in the New York Times:

Ideally, we would not need such vacations, instead weaving strands of responsibility and pleasure into the laterally stiff yet vertically compliant crabon fribé of a balanced life. However, in today's fast-paced, silicone-enhanced, and exploding dessert-filled world, this can be difficult. So, in the absence of balance, we instead take the "binge and purge" approach to existence, pausing occasionally from overwork in order to undertake brutal and punishing holidays. In this case, it's five days of cycling through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona (cost: $1,895 excluding the airfare), and here's the group that has assembled in order to defibrillate their lives with the invigorating jolt of pre-meditated catharsis:

There are many things you can call this group: fellow vacationers; traveling companions; even siblings-in-arms. However, you cannot call them a "peloton," despite the writer's use of the term. Despite what some people think, a "peloton" is not simply any group of cyclists riding together; in order to be a "peloton," they have to be racing. Groups are defined by their purpose. Similarly, not every group of people on a long line is "a bunch of schmucks;" they have to be waiting for something stupid, like the new iPhone or a pair of limited-edition Nikes.

In any case, unlike Robert Mackey or that Men's Journal guy, the writer at least seems to enjoy his trip. Not only that, but he also gains enlightenment in the process, for he ultimately learns what cycling is all about:

With all due respect to cyclo-cross and kamikaze downhill mountain biking, and every other mutation that two wheels have taken in recent years, this is what a bike was really intended for, no? To spin down a deserted road that’s as straight as a compass arrow, moving fast through big, empty country.

Of course, as anybody named Cees or Geert will tell you, cyclocross is not a "mutation" that has occurred in "recent years;" indeed, people have been racing cyclocross since before much of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona had electricity and running water--which is to say since before 1996. Granted, cyclocross as it is practiced in Portland is a mutation, but I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant. (With regard to downhill racing, I have no issue with his portrayal of that discipline as a mutation, and I'm guessing that most participants feel the same way.) As far as "what a bike was really intended for," this if course is highly subjective, and the real beauty of the invention is that it can be used and enjoyed in any number of ways. But while I would certainly never have the audacity to declare that only I truly understand what "the bike was really intended for," I am reasonably certain that when John Kemp Starley started selling the safety bicycle in 1885 he did not have in mind psychotherapists vacationing in the American West (if only because, back then, they would most assuredly have met with death by scalping).

As I continued to read, I grew concerned that this story would not meet the "epic" vacation's Quota of Misery. Clearly, the editor felt the same way, for towards the end the writer inserts a gratuitous list of cycling-themed ailments that feels a little tacked-on:

By the end of Day 4 — more than 300 miles down, with one day to go — the group was happy but hurting. Muriel had “hot foot.” Bob, a retiree, had “handlebar palsy.” Bruce was considering putting moleskin on a place for which I’m pretty sure moleskin was never intended.

I'm guessing the "place for which...moleskin was never intended" is the "taint," from which I will infer that Bruce was suffering from the dreaded condition known as "randonneur's scranus." While all of these afflictions sound painful, the vacationers can at least take solace in the fact that they managed to avoid other common forms of cycling discomfort such as "crankarm dropsy," "the fixie colic," "grimpeur's toxemia," "swamp crotch," "paroxysms of Fredliness," and of course "velocipedist's vulva."

Speaking of "what the bike was really intended for, while some believe its ostensible purpose is to "spin down a desert road," others feel it is the perfect vehicle with which to draw attention to yourself and your cause. Consider this Paul Revere theme ride in New York City, which apparently had something to do with gardening:


Apparently, some people on the Lower East Side are worried about their community gardens, which aren't going anywhere but I guess could now conceivably go somewhere, so instead of sitting idly by they decided to meet the problem head-on by embarrassing themselves:

The ride seems to have been organized by "Time's Up," which is "NYC's Direct Action Environmental Organization." In case you're wondering what "direct action" is, it means that they will not hesitate to don ridiculous clothing at a moment's notice wherever gentrification and smugness is threatened. Let's say, for example, that the Hasidim make it slightly more difficult for a young Williamsburger to ride his brakeless bicycle in an irresponsible manner, or someone paying a lot of money to live on Avenue C may in theory lose a place to grow his or her own basil. Well, that's when it's time for "direct action," and then this happens:



While I'm all in favor of communities and gardening, and while I realize this display did ultimately net them the press coverage they wanted, I still wish they hadn't implicated bicycles in their display. It would have been fairer to everybody if they'd at least kept everything garden-themed and pushed each other around in wheelbarrows. Instead, by making this into a theme ride they've turned the rest of us who ride bicycles into unwitting social protesters for their cause. It's almost as if, in protesting for better treatment of cyclists, I'd pelted the mayor with homegrown tomatoes.

Still, I suppose I prefer using bicycles to promote gardens to using bicycles to promote cars, as in the Honda Jazz "hipster" commercial which a number of people have forwarded me:

I have nothing against cars or even the marketing of cars (or the mocking of hipsters for that matter), but I do have a problem with this commercial. First of all, why does your bike have to fit in your car? That's what racks are for. Then again, I suppose this is an accurate portrayal of "hipster culture," since a fundamental part of it is dreaming up impractical solutions for carrying things. (The latest example of this is the U-lock-mounted axle nut wrench.) Also, while the commercial is ostensibly humorous, it does have an insidious message:

After mocking "hipsters" for their conformity, it makes them feel self-conscious about their bicycle use:

Implying that they should all drive Honda Jazzes instead, as if somehow this is original:

This in turn could usher in a new "hipster car culture" that will have the world pining for even the worst "bike culture" excesses. It's almost a matter of time before they discover "Cannonball Run" and ironic cross-country races become the new alleycat--or worse, one of them decides to try "running" his Honda Jazz brakeless.

Meanwhile, the "fixie" has also made a cameo in the latest Crate & Barrel catalog, as forwarded to me by Aaron from Boston:

I'm not sure why a bicycle with no brakes and a tilted saddle is supposed to complement a tastefully-appointed living room. It's like putting a pop-up toaster with a fish sticking out of it in the kitchen shot. Then again, bikes with no brakes are more interesting, as forwarded to me by another reader:

Given that they ran into a police car they might otherwise have avoided, I can't really argue with that.

93 comments:

Desert Rider said...

Foist!

Anonymous said...

pod?

wishiwasmerckx said...

Podium?

Paul Bowen said...

Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Welcome home!

Shu-Sin said...

big bang

Spencer said...

Welcome Back

Anonymous said...

post-holiday crit

sherpa said...

thanks for coming back. it was the birthday present i always wanted.

Bad Lawyer said...

Welcome back, Snob!

Milkbuff said...

Top Ten?

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Trek Rider said...

Welcome back Snobby! top 20 aint bad

ant1 said...

snobby - "did net ultimately them the press coverage"

Anonymous said...

Top20

Astroluc said...

back in the pack, bebeh...

TriSnob said...

First timer, top 20

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

Ant1, I noticed that typo too. Snob rarely has typos. Late nights with the baby???

g said...

Last top 20.
Welcome back. Did you get us anything?

ant1 said...

anon 1:30 - it's a little game he plays. every time someone catches one of his supposed typos, he sends them $100. combine that with the $50 first comment prize, and you can make some serious dough following this blog. anons can't win, so if i were you, i'd get myself a blogger id.

Jefe said...

Ant1, stop giving away information. I was going to make a downpayment on a new gruppo with that money.

Anonymous said...

CRIM SPRE

PART FOUR

Anonymous said...

Welcome back and here is a link for you on the latest top tube accessory, poodles: http://www.austin360.com/recreation/two-wheels-and-four-paws-cyclist-rigs-platform-742332.html?imw=Y

ant1 said...

Jefe - don't worry. what are the odds he finds the directions to register for the contests. there's three years of comment pages to sift through.

g said...

You guys got paid?! All I got was a poorly spelled IOU from some damn monkey (to be honest, it smelled like poo).

Anonymous said...

i'm actually a member of adventure cycling. never been, or plan to go on one of their tours though. i cringe when i see those long shots of the deserted, straight-as-an-arrow desert highways. pretty enough, but boring. who wants to stare at the same landmark for hours at a time. i like turns.

Popovich said...

Man, I thought for sure you would be showing MC Spand X's new video today - surely you have seen this.

Anonymous said...

bsnyc, tx for the nytimes link!

i never read that rag, so appreciated the heads up. i dug the piece and hadnt heard of lizard head cycling guides before and will check them out. (also, the article wasnt anywhere near the doosh-quotient of other articles you've referenced)

*note to the skeptical and/or ironically defensive: this comment was not sarcastic.

ant1 said...

g - you must have registered after vito's hiring. shitty for you!

g said...

I was posting anon for a while. That may have caused some licensing issues. Oh well, I can wait for the $50. I hear Nashbar has a big closeout sale in September.

tept said...

Here's a wacky mutation of biking for you:
http://www.youtube.com/v/67i6d9Hxjgg

like biking, but hate all the sitting that goes with it?

swamp crotch kill you? Lose the saddle.

now you can wear running shorts that show off you balls while biking!

etc,etc

yikesbikes said...

This is great...

SteveL said...

The presence of a bike in your front room, fixie or freewheel implies either that you have no space elsewhere, or you have an obsession with bicycles which whoever you live does not mind. Sadly, my spouse does mind, which is why all the bicycles now live downstairs.

My italian friend, Claudio, used to keep his road bike in his bedroom, but it used to upset his (many) girlfriends. Not the bike, more the way he'd suddenly start saying "oh, you are you beautiful, I want you by my side forever", which got their hopes up, only for them to discover he was talking about his campagnono equipped frameset, not the woman.

Mountain bikes are never allowed in the living room if used correctly. Too much mud. And sometimes its "farm mud", with its own unique smell.

Nogocyclist said...

Popovich, are you referring to "Reel?"
I am still trying to figure out what it is supposed to be saying. Snob does seem to understand those type of things better than I do, but would probably not post his view unless it was something truly enlightening.

Or he may just too busy watching videos that have nothing to do with cycling like this one.

Matt said...

Doesn't the Honda Hipster get hair gel all over his sunglasses? Or are they camouflage, like the little eye patterns cats have in their fur above their actual eyes so it always looks like they're awake?

Not only does removing the brakes from the car make it more interesting, the real purist gets rid of that needless transmission and goes direct drive from the crankshaft to the wheels. It is a Zen thing, the purest form of driving, though going in reverse is tough.

Daddo said...

velocipedist's vulva!!!

hahahahah!

I took a girl on a date riding once and discovered halfway through she neglected to take off her lacy underthing below her shorts. I marched her into a gas station stall and made her throw them away.

innerlighter said...

Welcome back Snob. A good Reese's gives you that "beginning-of-the-blog" smell.

meh

samh said...

Welcome back, BSNYC. Seems like it's been ages. Also, fyi, "...that will have the world pining for even[t] the worst "bike culture" excesses."

mikeweb said...

VACA OVER

I am the Product said...

Yes, Jack Kerouac had in mind what and how you consume when he said that.

bikesgonewild said...

...welcome back from your 'peanut butter cup', bsnyc/rtms...

...some of us have been using the time to study chinese but all to no avail it would seem...

Clark Nikolai said...

They have hipsters in Australia too?

Anonymous said...

ok, i checked it out. $1,895 for that trip doesnt seem expensive to me. the trip sound pretty f*ckin sweet. bsnyc, 'fess up - did you check the price tag before calling it expensive?

regardless the nyt article and your highlighting it will no doubt be sweet for our new friends over at lizard head ... and good for them. the more people making a living helping people have fun on bikes, the better ...

Jen said...

Thank heavens you're back to mashing your chocolate in our peanut butter.

BTW, the "Jazz" is the what they call the Honda Fit in parts of the world where people actually follow the World Cup, and did not invent jazz.

bikesgonewild said...

...hmmm...quoting kerouac in a 'honda jazz' commercial...

...palping a paradox pretentiously...

bikesgonewild said...

...always a warm spot in my heart for cadbury's...

...i won my first bicycle in a contest they held when i was a kid (don't ask - yes, there were roads)...

...without cadbury's, i might never have become bikesgonewild...

...however i don't think it's fair of you to admonish their complaint department about the issue...

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Thank Lob your back Snob. Oh and "Paroxysm of Fredliness" Thanks, I always wondered what the clinical description was for the condition of which I suffer.

Tinker said...

Not sure why you persist in spelling Cabron Fribe as Crabon Fibre. Cabron, as any fluent speaker of Tex-Mex can tell you, is a horny old goat, and is used in much the same way as DUDE!

Ay Cabron!

(It's a shame we don't have the requisite upside down exclamation marks on a US keyboard, to spell that phrase properly.)

CommieCanuck said...

Suckers...you're all working, while we are enjoying the greatest holiday of the summer, the specifically-named, "Civic Holiday", as it's affectionately known, "non-denominational government workers holiday to push beer sales", where we traditionally stay home and watch Star Trek movies -or anything with Sir William Shatner. A festival of meh, or, in Canadian, m-eh.

Sigh, "The Shack" has the first doper of the 2010 post-Tour. Shocking.

BTW..my 3.5 year old's new bike stops when you stop pedaling, which he calls, "stupid". I'll take the breaks off his biek tomorrow.

anon 2:55 neé 2:25 aka Cæsar said...

tinker, if you're on a PC:

- press and continue to hold the ALT key
- hit 0, 1, 6, 1 in that order
- let go of the ALT key

¡mágico!

works for all sorts of goodies.

(shoulda been anon 2:55 neé 1:56 aka Cæsar) said...

take two

theshepherdsdog said...

welcome back snob.

Anonymous Coward said...

Commie, my 4yr-old's bike came with "no brakes" stickers on the chain stays. Unfortunately it did not come with the temporary knuckle tats to match.

Anonymous said...

That "peleton" was full of Serotta's.

Salty and Sore said...

Great.

I'm waking up from the post-Tour slumber only to learn that my bike is, now, less cool than that of a four year old.

I guess I can no longer live in the state of denial of which I am so well accustomed.

Does this mean, I shouldn't keep a bike in the bedroom anymore too?

PS: Claudio is my cousin, so stop thinking that!

Anonymous said...

I like turtles.

I take offense. said...

"...wherever gentrification and smugness is threatened."

Do you really have a problem with this?

Actually, I think this is the exact opposite of threatened gentrification. I am pretty sure there have been gardens in the LES decades before the GAP. BTW, for those that do not live in NYC, not everyone who lives in Manhattan is wealthy, and not everyone who gardens there is smug, white, or activist.

So they protested on bikes? Do you honestly think you will now be "implicated?" I just find this strange coming from you, who has implied a bike friendly city is a better place to live. Well I would say the same thing about the gardens.

Comparing the community gardeners to the hipster vs hasidism is really obtuse. Or maybe you need to get out a little more.

ant1 said...

...offense - not everyone? really? damn, i wish snobby had mentioned that. i had no idea there were exceptions. here i sit, completely misled, thinking a simple mold would fit everyone. god, i feel so stupid. i can't believe i fell for it when snobby said all LES are that way. wait, what? he didn't? you just interpreted that way? oh, good. for a second there i though i was the fool.

Rhythmic Bedding said...

I just bought Honda Fit. To maintain my stature, it now looks like I'll need to accessorize it with a fixed gear (direct drive?) biek permanently placed in the back seat. So much for all that cargo space.

I am picking up some sarcasm said...

Dear ant1

Chill out. No one said snob said that said what said. Get it?

It is just a little tiring to read complaints about bicycle related activism. It was just being pointed out the blanket cynicism can be pretty unfair. Especially when it is applied to those who are getting out and actually working to preserve some of the most decent parts of the city. Instead of making risk-free anonymous comments on other people's weblogs.

Anonymous said...

tinker, the more common translation for cabron is asshole. but sort of in a friendly joking way that you would or may call your friends assholes. Comprende cabron?

ant1 said...

...sarcasm - i don't see them as complaints about activism. more like funny observations about bike related events. and regarding the "instead of...", how do you know it's not both? and what are you doing here exactly? it's like the pot calling something it assumes to be a kettle black.

João Faustino said...

Love the first comment about that u-lock 15mm wrench after-market upgrade... "in fact, it’s so comfy that i often even use it in my shop, despite having a 15 hanging right there on the pegboard."

I have this rock I found out back and whenever I need to hang a painting or kill a small animal, even though I have a hammer hanging right there, I grab the aforementioned rock, it's so comfy and fits my palm like the sands of time and the Earth's immense pressure formed it just for me.

Anonymous said...

ant1

Those are easy questions.

1) I know its not both, because I wrote both anonymous comments about the gardens, and I am not a gardener.

2)What am I doing here? I am making anonymous comments instead of getting out and working towards the ideals I espouse but do not take action on. "Armchair liberal" is what they call me.

Anonymous Coward said...

I love that the Paul Revere Guy with the bell is wearing a ringer t-shirt.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Bike protesters?

"Never underestimate the power of a few committed citizens to change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
-The Opinionated Cyclist

Fred said...

Isn't a paroxysm of Fredliness what caused Jens Voigt's horrific crash in the TdF last year? Hasn't the suffering gone on long enough?

Please, give generously to the Fred Strong campaign so we can stop this debilitating disease and the attendant road rash.

I'm still working on a way to create Fred Strong bracelets out of old tubulars, beard hair and glue. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

once again the hipsters are showing themselves to be worthless piles of shit.

Buffalo Bill said...

What an incredible guy!

Anonymous said...

Main Entry: quiff
Pronunciation: \ˈkwif\
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: circa 1890
1: British : a prominent forelock

2: a woman regarded as promiscuous.
3: a slang term for the female anatomy
4: a person who sniffs a woman's bicycle seat; typically the person becomes aroused.
5: a release of air from a lady
6: a gay prostitute

Sigurd said...

Well, the NY Times article was puffed-up and pretentious, but the journalist did his job - and well done. Those poor suffering riders in the "peloton" - who PAID to suffer - would have had much more fun for their hard-earned (?) money if they had been riding recumbents. Recumbent TRIKES. Yes, I have one. No, I never suffer on my rides anymore. Yes, it's dorky. No, I don't give a flying fuck what people think.

BUTT
OWIE

3KER
DORK

And I'll wrap up with the immortal classic:

LOVE
HATE

Popvich said...

NO, Spand X dropped a new flic bout "Gettin' Dirty" on a DH rig. It's a great follow up to Performance.

Popovich said...

http://robinmooreproductions.com/Get%20Dirty.html

Anonymous said...

Hey Clark,

Yes....we do.

i have noticed the few and unnecessary bike couriers in the city (seriously, the CBD here is 1 mile square) playing cards in their spokes, narrower and narrower handle bars and one dude tarckstanding at probably the longest wait traffic light in town.

when i see PBR at the local pub we will know they have fully arrived.

Anonymous said...

grog is happy to have you back, Snob. Wanting to see vacation pictures; slideshow of you and the missus and perhaps Vito in a trailer or backpack. The garden protestors were not on bikes; they were obviously on horse-like creatures. Additionally, the best vacation reading is a little golden book: Bike Snob systematically & mercilessly realigning the world of cycling. Did you know we collect $50 per plug?

Anonymous said...

Have you considered that I could call a group of people bicycling together whatever the fuck I want to call it?

Sure - peloton's a good start - but why stop there? Why not "Throbbing Gaggle of Cycling-Themed Boisterousness?" Or, "Dorks in Spandex" - or, "Glee Club."

It's a red-letter day when the snob seems more snobby than the NYT. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that a television commercial takes uses the fact that "hipsters" used to be a group concerned with ideas, whereas now they are obsessed only with product.

(and yes, I realize the above most likely gives previous incarnations of hipsters more credit than they deserve).

Anonymous said...

Are "hipsters" accurately represented by the marketing that is targeted at them? Hasn't there always been pop culture? Are you sure you are not confusing "hipsters" with "youngsters"?

Taking this car ad to represent hipsters is the same as saying Kool ads were an accurate representation of Black people.

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Want an Eliptigo?

$2200

ringcycles said...

BSNYC: while you were on reeses, I was reading other interweb sites, particularly one devoted to my favorite bicycle racing mutation, cyclocross. I nearly choked on my burito to read that you are bringing your BRA to the Rapha Cycle Club of NYC?!? You are on 8/12 going to expound on of all things "epic" in the lair of the macchiato swilling cafe ferret?!? Does BS Jr. already suck down so much organic raw locally produced "leche" that you are forced to take speaking fees from such "august" venues? I for one am extraordinarily non-plussed.

"Guppy" Honaker said...

It sounds like your summer of "Reese's" was a great one. Alas, all good things much come to an end.

- David

Aloe Vera 101
Top 10 Reasons to Drink Aloe Vera
Holistic Health Info.

Nogocyclist said...

Popovich, check out the Post on July 15, 2010. Get Dirty was covered then. Parroting Continual Conversations With the Road

I just assumed you meant the next one he put out.

WickedFixed said...

I rode my fixie 46 miles lasrt sunday on cape cod and woke up monday morning with a sore throat, cough and stuffy head..was that fixie colic?

Anonymous said...

eat shit, portland

Meth heads yelling at you for going too slow, REI geeks yelling at you for going too fast, hipsters yelling at cars...lots of yelling.

after many, many years of riding, it has become a drag...but I don't blame the bikes, I blame the people.

every clique has its products and its attitudes, its twitches and its spits.

ugly, ugly...I hate you all.

portland cyclists, eat shit and die

Anonymous said...

yo bike wad...
the gardens were started 20 and 30 years ago. in what was drug infested burnt out buildings.
In some cases, they're growing food to live on. In other's it's something you could very well make fun of.
But straight up. The city is fucking with the poorest and politically weakest.. hear. Not hipsters. This isn't petty stupid shit. This will directly affect you.
September 17th is the deadline.
We lose the gardens to them building condos, your kid will have emphysema before it's bar mitzvah'd, because there won't be any trees left in this city.

stream of nothing said...

high five

bobscott said...

I just sharted in my chamois.No more desert rides please.

gnarlygnu said...

I didn't know Kool Aid was marketed at black people.

Anonymous said...

those people with the blue car looks alot like the folks over at 3rd ward.

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