Even so, I'm all too aware of the fact that I am a bad cyclist. I don't mean that I'm slow (even though I am), or that, like a Vancouver messenger, I'm unable to stay on my bicycle. No, what I mean is that I don't get excited about the stuff that, as a cyclist, I'm supposed to find exciting. Consider classic road bikes, for example, of the sort you're likely to find on sites like "Fyxomatosis:"
You may recall that, some time ago, I "curated" a Fyxomatosis photo contest, which yielded a variety of images from the innocuous to the pornographic--including this salacious shot of a woman posing next to a track bike while exposing her vulva:
(Click here for the uncensored unsafe-for-work version.)
By the way, if you click on the uncensored version as linked above, you'll notice insightful viewer comments such as "nice pussy" and "rad biscut," proving that this was very much a "thinking person's" contest.
In any case, all of this is to say that, while I respect the work of Mr. Matosis and consider him a blogular colleague (or "blogleague"), I am also unable to get excited about classic road bikes or pictures of classic road bikes. I realize, of course, that the fault is all mine, and that as a cyclist I'm supposed to fawn over Colnagos, and lugs, and gaudy paint jobs. I'm also supposed to go to bike shows clad in a wool hat and "shants" and slaver all over artisanal bespoke bicycles while appreciating whatever "boutique" beer I'm drinking. However, I just don't seem to be able to do this, and I seem instead to be afflicted with "bike porn impotency." And it is porn, too. In case the subtleties of the above Fyxomatosis Colnago crotch shot eluded you, it's supposed to look like a reclining person presenting the genitals:
Critics of regular porn warn that it can cause the viewer to become desensitized to "normal" sensual contact. This may or may not be true, but I do worry that consumption of too much bike porn can lead to an inadvertent "Clockwork Orange" brainwashing scenario in which people become unable to look down at their bicycles without thinking of genitals and unable look down at their sexual partners without thinking of bicycles. Right now, in a bed somewhere beneath a poster of Fausto Coppi, a "vintage" bike enthusiast is absent-mindedly reaching for a nipple thinking it's a downtube shifter. Meanwhile, who knows what's going on during those "group rides" nowadays, or what they're doing with all that Rapha unguent. To complicate things further, we also get images like this:
I get the "pretty lady taking a bath" part, but why the wrench? I guess it means she's about to do something really painful to your nuts.
But not all bike porn is of the "it looks like a penis or vagina" variety or the "I'm holding a giant tool" variety. Some of it is of the simple "you know you want it" type, like this:
I don't mean to single Mr. Matosis's work out here, but the fact is that he's probably the preeminent bicycle pornographer working today, and as the Larry Flynt of bikes his work covers the entire range of styles. I also know the reason I don't get excited by the "you know you want it" pictures is because, again, there's something wrong with me. Some people see an exquisitely restored classic, but all I see is a blue and yellow bike that could use some clipless pedals and a pair of integrated shifters. More than that, the truth is that I happen to resent anything that expects me to simply look at it and want it. I hate Apple ads for exactly the same reason, since it's usually just a picture of the product with no additional information:
The implication is that the product is so elegantly designed and inherently desirable that it merely needs to bat its eyelashes at you to get you to buy it, and I find this sort of salesmanship unbearably smug. I'll take an old-timey huckster in a straw hat flogging a bottle of snake oil or a desperate Jack Lemmon in "Glengarry Glen Ross" any day--at least they seem like they need the money.
Then of course there's the "highbrow bike porn," like Rouleur, and I happen to have received the latest issue recently:
Rouleur is less about the "you know you want it" aesthetic and more about black-and-white pictures of machines and getting way too into the way things smell. Also, just as there's usually a self-satisfied Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker, there's generally something in Rouleur about the romance of tubular tires--which is another thing I'm a bad cyclist for not caring about. Tubulars certainly have their advantages in certain situations, but judging from the typical question posed to Lennard Zinn of VeloNews, helping their users maintain a grip on the road of sanity is definitely not one of them. Then again, clincher users can get pretty crazy too. Consider this recent question:
Typically, I use a standard air pump to fill my clinchers to 100 psi in front and 110 psi in back. After about a week, the air pressure drops to approximately 70 psi. When I have a flat on a ride, I use a CO2 cartridge to fill the tube. I don’t know the psi as I don’t have carry pressure gauge, however, the tires feel harder than 110 psi. For tires that are filled with CO2, the pressure remaining after a week is about 50 PSI. In other words, the CO2 filled tires seem to lose CO2 more quickly than tires filled with air (78% N2, 21% O2, 1% Ar, and 0.039% CO2). Does CO2 escape more quickly from an inner tube than air? One would think that CO2 would escape more slowly as it is 1.5 time denser than air.
I can't begin to answer Gerald's question, but I do think he may be obsessive compulsive, and I also suspect he may have an Oedipal complex.
Anyway, I guess my inability to appreciate the more rarefied aspects of cycling is why, when it comes to bike porn, I've always preferred the cheap and sleazy stuff. For example, some people like to look at the pro bikes on CyclingNews, but when I want to see a professional road bike I seek out something like this:
PROFESSIONAL ROAD BIKE FOR $250 ASAP - $250 (QUEENS)
Date: 2010-10-26, 1:46AM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]
PROFESSIONAL ROAD BIKE WITH FIXED GEAR, 56CM..I AM ASKING FOR $250 . CALL ME ASAP 347-608-[deleted] CARLOS
Yes, all the pro roadies are "running" filthy Oury grips that are migrating inexorably stemward.
Also, I'm not just into cheap road bike porn; I also like to "get dirty" with some department store mountain bike action. Fortunately, a reader recently forwarded me this ad for the world's most expensive Pacific:
>>> Mountain Bike Blue wheel caps barely used Lights dynamos extras < - $545 (Saint Paul)
Date: 2010-10-22, 9:39PM CDT
Reply to: [deleted]
Price Reduced. Make me an offer before I move it to storage! I am moving. For sale is a barely used mountain bike. In addition to tons of extra accessories, I will throw in a newer Free Bike Rack for car / van.
The bike is worth around $300. The blue discs, especial lightings, electrical bells + all the extras + labor cost me way over $600. Discs + some parts imported from abroad. Everything cost me for a total of around $1000. I can let go for half. All accessories are not on the Bike. More Pictures of the bike and all the accessories + Bike Rack at: [here] If you are looking just to buy a Bicycle, then this is not for you. You can get a much better deal at your local bike store. But if you like what you see, the colorfulness, the wheel caps, the lights(when you brake, the tail light lights up, it has turn right/left signal lights, Head lights, clip on blinking light, electrical multi tone buzzers, etc), Pump, dynamo sets, then you are the right person and email me. A bike that is cool and dashy and that is for adults and kids. And will make an excellent present. 26 " wheels including the tire and the height is adjustable by about a foot to accomodate any height. Aluminum Frame. Several speeds.
I'm guessing he dumped most of his money into those wheel covers.
But even more dangerous than excessive bike porn consumption is excessive bicycle accessorizing, and even more dangerous than that is when you can no longer fit any accessories onto your bike and so you start putting them on yourself instead:
There's a world of difference between liking to look at bikes and dressing up as them, just as there's a world of difference between liking to watch "Star Wars" and actually dressing up as the characters:
Then, after that, come the tattoos:
It's enough to make little Eddy want to crawl back in.