In yesterday's post, I mentioned morning routines and the truncation thereof. Minimalist pretenses aside, the truth is we can all benefit from cropping a few seconds off of our AM ablutions, thus allowing us to spend more time during the day enriching ourselves and our employers and restoring America (Canada's smarmy chest hair thatch) to greatness. One way of doing this is by paying less attention to our personal hygiene. For example, by shaving seconds instead of faces (or other less visible body parts) we can return to the days of hairy, unkempt prosperity we enjoyed back in the frontier days. By not brushing our teeth, we enrich our nation's dentists, artisanal wooden teeth makers, and, ultimately Serotta (four out of five dentists ride Serottas). And my generally not bathing, our collective national musk will overpower our unpopular foreign policy, and the world will look doe-eyed and lustfully upon us, smitten with and intoxicated by our powerful pheromones.
For my part, I'm proud to announce that I've already saved over 15 minutes from my own morning routine simply by switching from piña coladas (which are time-consuming to prepare) to much simpler rum-and-Cokes (otherwise known as Cuba Libres--or, if you use RC instead of Coke, Cuba Gooding, Jrs.). However, there's one activity that I will never excise from my morning routine, and that is writing in my "dream journal," which looks like this:
I strongly believe that dreams are the key to understanding ourselves, so I always record mine as soon as I wake up. Here's this morning's entry:
I am the proprietor of a hair salon called "Hair Ye, Hair Ye" in Ozone Park, Queens. It's five minutes before closing and I've just finished shellacking my eighteenth "Carmine Gotti" when three bedraggled young men walk in. Each one of them looks like a young Bob Marley if he had been a white lumberjack. They explain they are from Portland and are on a semi-ironic "epic" fixed-gear cycling tour of non-hipster New York, and that their goal is to explore the limitless possibilities of the fixed drivetrain, laugh at working people, and copy their tattoos. They're also making a feature film, and their videographer appears to be tremendously amused by the person sweeping the floor and is simultaneously taking video of him and poking at him with a U-lock.
The riders go on to explain that they've come in for an emergency dreadlock delousing, and when I explain that I'm closing they become petulant and offer to give me a $750 backpack made by one of the 17 cycling bag companies sponsoring their journey. For some reason, I agree, but just as I'm about to start they become petulant once again because the chemical I'm using is not "organic." It's at this point that the one with the knuckle tattoos that say "BAGW HORE" suddenly transforms into serial retrogrouch and über-curmudgeon Jobst Brandt, and as he launches into a tirade about the importance of stress relief and the propensity for anodized rims to exhibit cracking around the spoke holes, I am consumed by a feeling of inexplicable terror and I wake up reaching frantically for the Park TM-1 I keep on my nightstand.
I have no idea what any of these means, though I suspect it's the result of either work-related anxiety or eating too much salsa just before bedtime.
Unfortunately, my organic-themed night-terror (or, more accurately, night-smugness) did not end upon awakening, for once I padded over to my computer and checked my email I was alerted by a reader to the imminent "droppage" of the new "Brooks Organic Saddles:"
Back in the mid-aughts, when the first "hipster" bolted a hand-chamfered English touring saddle to his Japanese Keirin racing bike and undertook that fateful half-mile ride to the bar, his fellow hipsters were beguiled. "What new curiosity is this?," they wondered aloud. It was a revelation--the fashion equivalent of that monkey scene in 2001, except with a Brooks saddle instead of a bone.
Now, years later, given the substantial break-in period for a Brooks, the hipsters' investment should just be starting to pay off. Even those half-mile rides add up eventually, and many of these riders' saddles are only now beginning to grow comfortable. However, the hipsters were investing in fashion, not in comfort, and with Brooks saddles now commonplace their appeal is inevitably diminishing. So what to do? Certainly it would be foolish to completely redesign the venerable Brooks, cherished and faithful ass companion of the retro-grouch. So instead, Brooks has wisely looked beyond the saddle itself, opting instead for a sort of meta-redesign. In short, their revelation was this:
"We shall not change the saddle. We shall change the very cows from whose hide they are constructed!"
This is nothing short of genius, for it opens up a whole new realm of style "curation," fashion-based one-upsmanship, and surcharges. Sure, you may have a Brooks, but what did it eat? Where did it live? What did its big dumb eyes gaze upon before its flesh met Eric "The Chamferer" Murray's blade? Next, people will ascribe mystical ride properties to certain cows in the same way that they do with different types of steel tubing. "Nothing caresses the taint like the hide of a cow that has supped on the waving grasses of Iceland." Ultimately, all of this will culminate in a custom saddle program wherein you simply visit the Brooks website, browse their Gallery of Cows, and personally choose the beast whose remnants you want between your legs. This will also allow Brooks to appeal to the increasingly large "cyclist foodie" market, since they can offer you cheeses from the same animal that provided your saddle. Best of all, Brooks can charge by the pound, so such an enterprise promises to be extremely lucrative.
Speaking of redesigns, while many designers attempt to redesign the bicycle, perhaps the most misguided design attempts are those that concern head protection. While it is certainly not my intention to provoke the dreaded "helmet debate," I do believe that it's vital for all of us--even the most staunch helmet advocate--to recognize that the purpose of the helmet is to protect the head and not to enhance the appearance of the wearer, and that any attempts to integrate aesthetic appeal or fashion or to create some exciting new design that will suddenly make helmet use "cool" is inherently misguided and certain to fail. Let cycling helmets be and look like helmets. They're cheap, they're light, and they're comfortable. Do not try to make them look like hats. It's perfectly fine to let something look like what it is. You could put a thousand designers to work on the "problem" of helmet aesthetics and not find a solution, as this contest that was forwarded to me by a reader conclusively proves. Entries included this futuristic synthetic babushka:
This woodgrain yarmulke that will offer you minimal protection in the event that your matching wooden handlebars snap:
And of course the combination conquistador helmet and shopping bag:
Though the eventual winner was apparently the repurposed paper honeycomb party ball:
A cyclist in a typical bicycle helmet looks no more ridiculous than a pedestrian in a raincoat. However, a cyclist in any of the pretend-hat bicycle helmet designs I've seen looks like a nerd waiting to get into a "Star Wars" premiere. Really, most of these designs are about as elegant as wearing a plastic soda bottle on your head--though not nearly as elegant as using a plastic soda bottle to protect your hands, as in this "Cockie" contest submission via "Cyclingreporter:"
Notice that the green bottle is on the left in accordance with International Cockpit Curation Rules. This helps insure that proprietors of ZBCs (or "Zany Bicycle Cockpits") pass each other on the proper side so they can avoid entangling their bar ends and other accessories like a couple of fighting bucks. In fact, successful ZBC navigation can be so difficult that some riders even use radios, as spotted by "The Bike Dork:"
Sometimes, beauty isn't just cockpit deep, and that is certainly the case here. In addition to the Greg LeMond drops complete with aero extensions, multiple data sources, and radio, the excitement extends beyond the cockpit in the form of a characteristically stomach-churning Landshark paintjob and ultra-rare Rock Shox Paris-Roubaix fork. This is an optimal setup for outrunning the forces of good taste. "Breaker! Breaker! I got a smokey on my tail and a Landshark between my legs, and I'm headed straight for dork city. Yee-haw!"
Considerably more understated is this subtle design, spotted by a reader all the way in St. Petersburg, Russia:
It's strangely owl-like:
It's strangely owl-like: