Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spending Power: Who's #1?

Since the dawn of cycling, humankind has sought to spend as much money on equipment as possible. In the 19th century, hale wheelmen would covet laterally stiff and vertically enormous handcrafted pennyfarthing frames, quasi-legal narcotic-infused brain tonics, and wheels shod in the finest Amazonian rubbers. Decades later, in the era of Fausto Coppi, early proto-Freds would don shorts with mink chamoises and glue tires spun from the silk of debutantes' undergarments to their ultra-low spoke count 36-hole rims using glues made from the hooves of Thoroughbreds. This tradition of gross expenditure continues today, as Category 5 investment bankers quaff quasi-legal energy tonics, straddle $10,000 worth of crabon fribé, and monitor their meager power output with exotic electronic equipment that would shame a Stanford University earthquake researcher.

All of this raises an important question: "What is the most expensive cycling discipline today?" This query is especially crucial if you work for a bicycle company, since it's vital to know which component of the cycling demographic is most desperate to spend too much money on crap that will either break for be "obsolete" by season's end. For many years, the common wisdom was that the biggest spenders were roadies, who would actually pay for snake oil if you told them it was good for lubricating ceramic bearings. Then came mountain bikers and their lust for vulgar Kleins and machined anodized purple boutique componentry. In turn, both of these groups were then eclipsed by the triathletes, who thought nothing of paying thousands of dollars for a slight aerodynamic advantage while at the same time employing a stem riser and riding in sneakers.

However, today a new cycling super-consumer has emerged. He (or she) possess the weight weenie-ism of the roadie, the dirt-oriented geekery of the mountain biker, and the grossly disproportionate dollar-per-mile ratio of the triathlete. This rider, of course, is the so-called "cyclocross" racer, and if someone willing to spend $1,500 on crabon wheels, $150 on a single knobby tire, and 5 hours driving in order to ride a bike for 45 minutes did not actually exist then the bicycle industry would have had to invent him.

At this point you may be saying to yourself: "Wait, I've heard of this 'cyclo-cross.' Isn't that the one where people hang out and drink beer, and where I don't need to buy a new bike because it's OK to race my vulgar Klein as long as I remove the purple bar ends? What's so expensive about that?" Well, there's nothing at all expensive about that--except the "cyclo-cross" of yestermonth bears about as much resemblance to "CX 2.0" as the pennyfarthing does to the latest 11-speed crabon fribé Fred-conveyor. While old-timey cyclocross was about barriers, CX 2.0 is about barriers to entry, as you can see from this list of "What to bring to a cyclocross race" from VeloNews:

As I read this, I had to keep checking the headline to make sure it was actually about cyclocross and that I hadn't been rerouted to some sort of instructional on producing your own music festival. Do you really need to bring a Coleman PerfectFlow to a cyclocross race so you can engage in the time-honored activity of "cooking your own brats?" Is that French press really necessary? Can you get by without the Crazy Legs Leisure Chairs and the Deluxe Bike Cubes and "The Stick" self-massage tool and the stationary trainer and the boutique embrocations with organic ingredients that would probably also taste delicious on your "brats?" Apparently, the answer to all these questions is: "Yes, you do need to bring enough equipment and furniture to reproduce the interior of a San Francisco coffee shop and/or survive 'off the grid' for six months so you can race in the rain for 45 minutes." And don't forget that "Lion of Flanders" flag, since this whole "flambullient" production hinges on maintaining the delusion that you're from another country.

Of course, while following this guide may successfully transform you into the biggest Lion of Flanders-waving, cowbell-ringing, "brat"-grilling cyclocross dork of all time, it says nothing about the actual bicycle you'll need in order to compete in the increasingly competitive arena that is CX 2.0. "Back in the day" (by which in this context I mean last season) pretty much any steel or aluminum bike with cantilever studs was sufficient, but now only the laterally stiff and vertically marketed ride of crabon will do:


By the way, if $2,500 for a cyclocross "module" doesn't sound like a lot of money to you, keep in mind you'll need two of these since it's essential to have an identical bike in the pit. And obviously once you've built up your two "modules" you'll need multiple sets of mud-shedding crabon wheels glued with tires for every conceivable weather condition. As for how to transport two bicycles, multiple pairs of wheels, a Coleman PerfectFlow, a French press, cowbells, nationalist symbols, coffee beans, "brats," chairs, embrocations, a trainer, massage equipment, and presumably your own body, the article doesn't address that either, but something like this is a good choice:

Just be sure to opt for race venues that are conveniently situated near harbors with adequate stevedoring facilities.

Granted, it's also possible that this list is simply a "red herring," and that it's actually intended to frighten away the "hipsters" who have been threatening to infiltrate cyclocross racing for the past couple of years. No "hipster" could ever amass, care for, and transport this amount of equipment. Even the ones who form the mobile "hipster" strike forces known as "bands" can barely manage to keep a couple of guitar amps working or keep a dilapidated van from getting towed, which makes CX 2.0 as portrayed in the VeloNews piece out of the question.

I'd argue that it's unnecessary to try to frighten "hipsters" away from cyclocross, since at this point it's pretty clear to me that they're only interested in the bicycles--which is why they get excited about idiotic bikes like this. However, there are still those who worry that a few of them might actually attempt to ride their cyclocross bikes (or cyclocross-themed track bikes) in a race. This could also be why the VeloNews article contains a sensational warning about caustic mud:

Dried mud from racing is not the same as a spa treatment and can start to burn or sting as it dries.

Yes, who hasn't headed out on a warm-up lap, only to wind up writhing on the ground in pain and screaming, "It burns, it burns!!!"? Indeed, expensive "performance skincare" is your only line of defense--especially if you tend to race near ports with stevedoring facilities, where groundwater toxicity can be unusually high.

Meanwhile, a reader has alerted me to the fact that, in the KLM airlines in-flight magazine, the Dutch are congratulating themselves for taking over the sidewalks of New York City with their giant bicycles:

For those of you unfamiliar with New York City, it should come as no surprise to you to learn that the Dutch bike riders pictured above are "salmoning" wantonly. Note also that the story identifies someone named "Chris Clement" as a typical example of "the new breed of New York commuter." Apparently before buying a Dutch bike, Clement commuted by car from Brooklyn to Manhattan. "There wasn't any alternative," he explains. "The subway was overcrowded and inconvenient, and dangerous roads were choked with trucks and irate motorists."

Actually, there are transportation alternatives for gentrified dandies who find the subway distasteful, and they're called "Vespas." However, increasingly the Vespa customer base appears to be defecting to Dutch bikes:

Clement’s biking epiphany hasn’t stopped at abandoning his luxury German sedan though. In June, he upgraded his ride to a Batavus stadsfiets, a traditional, two-wheel Dutch bicycle, purchased from Rolling Orange, a newly opened Brooklyn bike shop owned by Dutchman Ad Hereijgers.

Hereijgers intends Rolling Orange, with its array of stadsfiets and bakfiets (bikes with cargo crates) to be much more than a simple cycle store. “I want to bring Dutch biking culture to New York,” he says. “I want to encourage New Yorkers to switch gears, slow down and enjoy their travel time. I call it the Slow Revolution.”


Evidently, whether it's cyclocross or Dutch bikes, the average American is only able to partake in cycling if he can spend a lot of money and pretend to be from another country while he does it. However, not all riders are adopting Low Country affectations--some remain proudly American, like the seller of this bicycle, which I learned about on the Tweeter:


2010 Trek 1.5 - $850 (Azusa, CA)
Date: 2010-10-04, 6:08PM PDT
Reply to: [deleted]

This bike has been a great friend to me but I am joining the Marine Corps and need to sell it. I know that it would be a great shame for this bike to sit in storage while I am away.

1.5 Aluminum Frame
56cm
All Bontrager Racing Extras (wheels, tires, handle bar assembly)
18 speed.
Step-up Braking System

Also Including Bontrager Bike Pump, Kryptonite Bike Lock, Giro Helmet and Specialized Gloves.

This bike is more than just a bike, its mechanical poetry.
Riding this bike is like discovering an extinct species still living in some enchanted forest, or making friends with a T-Rex. It is like walking on the moon while eating a funnel cake- like falling asleep on a bed of cotton candy, like slow dancing with Joe DiMaggio.

The frame was forged in the fires of Mt. Doom, and it's handlebars pulled from the horns of a raging bull.

This bike is guaranteed to make you physically capable of doing things that Superman himself dreams of. With its help, you will fly into the night like a white-hot bullet of justice and awesome. This bike will make you three times as likely to win a date with Scarlet Johannson, and twice as likely to make you mayor of your city.

To pass up this work of glory is like not finishing the all-you-can-eat hot wings challenge when you have only one to go.
So please, don't miss this opportunity of a lifetime. It will make you a better person, a better friend, and a better lover.

So help me God.


Best of all, because it's a road bike, you won't need any culinary equipment.

104 comments:

Comment deleted said...

This author has been deleted by his post.

samh said...

"As long as I breathe, I attack." - Bernard Hinault

Anonymous said...

overcoming the eastcoast bias!

Anonymous said...

Top 10!

Owen D. said...

This author has been deleted by his post.
PORT LAND

Owen D. said...

PORT LAND

brant@shedfire said...

Yawn. Bit slow

hillbilly said...

Nice one. I can't say I like the mass roadie takeover of cyclocross.

Anonymous said...

Plasticiser

tail said...

freight

Anonymous said...

case of the tainted taint
interview dave z

Anonymous said...

ha

Anonymous said...

Almost! dang it

Anonymous said...

ha

bikesgonewild said...

...improving constantly on a steady diet of plasticizers alone...

Anonymous said...

podium!

Anonymous said...

My Godness Cyclo-Crossers what would the Minimalist say!?

Bad Lawyer said...

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics.'
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.

Paul Bowen said...

The xx!

Anonymous said...

Seems like the Dutch have also brought their love cycling in the cross walk to New York too!

samh said...

"Fixed gears are the most."

OBA said...

Bikefight! You called that bike "idiotic"! A hit sir! A palpable hit!

Comment deleted said...

samh has been formidable in the final charge of late, so for a humble deleted commenter, this finish is all the sweeter. I'd like to thank my loyal teammates, Raolo Relegated and Bertrand DeEneff.

I am not a good consumer engine said...

Cyclocross extravaganza, I think not.

Two years ago I went to see the tour de farce (the one lance was not at).

The French spectator could teach a few lessons on conspicuous consumption in the search of making spectator history.

Consuming that shit is just the cyclocross competitor trying to look as if he has team sponsorship.

Anonymous said...

The Trek ad must be a gag. If it was real, the tattoo would have gone the other direction so it wouldn't be upside down in the riding position.

Anonymous said...

I once bought a bike off Craigslist. Just so that I knew I was getting the real deal, I haggled the guy up to three times his asking price. Only a pauper would do less.

g said...

not finishing the all-you-can-eat hot wings challenge when you have only one to go

Doesn't having eaten "all you can" mean that you passed the hot wing challenge, regardless of how many wings are left?

I thought about CX, to "cat up" in the off season. I realized I don't race or hold a license and just decided to drink beer at home instead. Hasn't failed me yet.

Anonymous said...

g- I don't think "cat up" means what you think it means.

Anonymous said...

I'm racing cross now. I've seen the setups described. But, I've also seen a whole bunch of us that are riding 10 year old steel frames, have shoes that are barely holding together, and have handed over a wheel while not racing so that a complete stranger didn't have to DNF. Not all of us have money, and if we had it, not all of us would spend it like this...

crosspalms said...

Do those chairs come with the Trek?

Astroluc said...

wow... imagine mow much milk and babies all that stuff weighs, that the average CX'r has to portage... perhaps it's time to add a bakfiet into the mix!

SLOW REVO

bikesgonewild said...

...i went to school w/ a guy named 'steve doring'...

Anonymous said...

I just chugged a gallon of plastic. Will one of those really really awesome NYC-based teams PLEASE let me ride with them now?

Anonymous said...

Bisquick Bitch!

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Proto-Fred said...

Me?

Anonymous said...

Shoot, now my Bianchi San Jose is gonna be the target of hipster scorn.

Anonymous said...

Shoot, now my Bianchi San Jose is gonna be the target of hipster scorn.

beltedone said...

THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME BIKE AD I HAVE EVER READ. OMG, AFTER MUSTERING OUT, I SEE A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN ADVERTISING FOR THE GUY.

AWESOME.

CYCLE

ant1 said...

ant1st!

mikeweb said...

I appreciate the allusion to the quote by Voltaire about the existence of God (a.k.a. Lob) at the end of paragraph three.

Oh, and hi everyone!

leroy said...

Scoff if you like, but if Mr. Contador had grilled his own brats, he might be in the pickle he's in.

When it comes to curating one's meat, one can't be too careful.

Anonymous said...

I wore gym shorts over long johns to my first cyclocross race. I also tripped over a barrier, and landed on the next one with my feet in the air. I was soaked with mud, freezing and bruised by the end of the race. Cyclocross feels miserable to the body. No amount of spa treatments, lotions, or specialty coffee is going to change that, although a beer and a dry set of clothes does help. It's the excitement of meeting an unpredictable challenge that makes 'cross worth it. Besides, there's always some obscure freak-of-nature at 'cross races who will lap you on a MTB while doing a wheelie and picking his nose at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I think that craig's list bike guy moonlights as a republican strategist.

mikeweb said...

Anon 2:08,

I would agree with you, but the part about "slow dancing with Joe DiMaggio" threw me for a -ummm- loop.

ken e. said...

TREX FRND

Anonymous said...

the few, the proud, the stupid

Fred said...

If I take off the bar-ends, can I ride my recumbent in CX races?

Not that I ever would. Racing involves spending time around other people. That is not the Fred way.

Anonymous said...

I hope the frag wounds don't mess up those tats!

g said...

What the fuck is with this "Service not available" message?!! I type the post of the day, hit publish and that bullshit comes up. Naturally, I have already forgotten what it was and can't replicate it, but the stupid ones all seem to make it through.

Minimalism, cyclocross, 39 things, ....dammit!

Van Vander Van said...

Or American buddy has a new sport to go with his tatoo:

http://bit.ly/9W0DMD

bikesgonewild said...

...re: the 'god fearing, star spangled, all american, fantasy inducing trek'...

...whew...after smoking this post-perusal cigarette, my only question is "was it good for you too ???"...

Anonymous said...

As my wallet is still too hot to touch after some recent additions to my Big Dummy I thought for sure you were going to say that the smug crap hauling crowd were the biggest/worst spenders.

The Big Dummy for example has 50% extra surface area on which to mount expensive crap, not counting the cargo which might include BBQ, picnic chairs and cyclocross bike. The beauty is that you can categorise whole other bikes simply as accessories for the cargo bike when filling in the spending application for the wife.

Also, once you start telling yourself that you are replacing an entire car and its ensemble of commonplace features with a bicycle you open up a whole new dimension of spending justification, and you can be creative. For example:

Air conditioning = any cycling garments that might enhance comfort.

Instrument panel = any electronic devise you care for

Alternator and headlights (now remember car lights are pretty bright) = dynohub/Supernova E3 triple LED

Reliable gearbox = rohloff hub

Car stereo = ipod

Window tint = new sunnies

What, you can't afford it? Don't you know the planet is counting on you. You can't afford not to! ce

Anonymous said...

I see that Astroluc had a similar thought. ce

bikesgonewild said...

..."...today a new cycling super-consumer has emerged. He (or she) possess...blah, blah, blah...the grossly disproportionate dollar-per-mile ratio of the...blah, blah, blah...and if someone willing to spend...blah, blah, blah...did not actually exist then the bicycle industry would have had to invent him."...

...THAT is a brilliant summarization of the present day bicycle industry...props bsnyc/rtms...lucidly astute...

Tom Purvis said...

As I gazed at the vulgar Klein photo I noticed that there was no disembodied hand holding it in place, that it in fact stood in the grass seemingly balanced (oh those Kleins, they were so well balanced).

Then I saw the ghostly shadow of something photoshopped out near the farthest handlebar grip. Ghost! Disembodied spirit holds up the dream mtb of yesteryear!

Charles said...

Snobby:

"spend too much money on crap that will either break for be "obsolete" by season's end."

Great post!!

PhilboydStunge said...

Anonymous CE, you are the man.

American seller of 2010 Trek 1.5, Hooah!

Chris Clement said...

I cannot ride the subways, they are so full of the poor

Slonie said...

@ Anonymous 2:44,

You could always use a Big Dummy as your race bike:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slonie/3019242881/

g said...

Tom, there's a stand on the rear non-driveside wheel. Sorry, still no ghosts.

ringcycles said...

After I got really deep into my cyclocross addiction, I just started ordering two of everything at my LBS. If I need new parts, get two, new mtb shoes = two pairs, new bar tape? order two rolls.

Even I think the french press pot and flemish flag are excessive.

Wicked Witch said...

I love cooked brats.

DIRT BURN

MECH POET

MONT DOOM

Rick Donkey said...

...a traditional, two-wheel Dutch bicycle...

No podium for me, I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that bikes traditionally have two wheels.

bikesgonewild said...

...my jersey's look like a 'phlegmish flag' after any good ride...road or cx...

...just sayin'...

ant1 said...

snobby - sorry for the delay, but "crap that will either break for be "obsolete" by season's end."

"Guppy" Honaker said...

"What is the most expensive cycling discipline today?"

I actually have no idea what the most expensive discipline in cycling is these days, but I can guarantee that the largest number of cyclers are "Mormon" missionaries.

A cycling company would do well to do product R&D in Utah and other large Latter-day Saint populations. (I was a Mormon missionary. I had an old, rust bike that was lent to me as I was serving in Florida, waiting for my Visa to go to Brasil. Nothing is worse than trying to go up a steep hill on an old, rusty bike.)

- David

Aloe Vera Juice Benefits
Holistic Nutrition and Health

g said...

David,
Where did you find a hill in Florida?

Error 503 said...

Service Unavailable

Yesterday, I took Nogocyclist out of the contention for the podium. Today, I caused g to forget what he was going to post.

Tomorrow
My plans for tomorrow are so diabolical I can't wait.....

Error 404 said...

503, where've you been? I've been looking all over for you.

Anonymous said...

Here's what you need to know about the Dutch when they ride a bike: they do whatever they damn well want to. Riding on the sidewalks, salmoning, running red lights, darting in front of trams (A'dammers), etc., etc., etc.

I keep trying to tell my Dutch friends that to ride like they do in the NL will get them killed here and they just shrug and call me a stupid American. Okey dokey...

Error 503 said...

Error 404 I have been looking all over for you. Every time I tried to go to your address, I was told page not found!

I am not an old Congressman or a Senator. I have no desire for a page. I was just looking for my old friend, ol' Error 404.

Error 404 said...

Reunited, and it feels so good
Reunited, 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
'Cause we're reunited
Hey, hey

dux said...

1978, I call gary klein to order a klunker in aluminum
and he goes mental and refuses to consider such a thing. He thought his overpriced road bikes were enough and he would never build an off road klunker.

Charlie Cunningham had a better idea and built me a beautiful bike. Now klein builds overpriced klunkers
that will never equal Cunningham's bikes.

A weird paint job is no substitute for quality.

John said...

Sounds like a perfect time to bring folding bikes!

thegock said...

DRNK BEER

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

...gary klein has always assumed that going to m.i.t. gives him a fucking royal pedigree...

...social skills of a 'nose in the air' pedigree poodle..

Anonymous said...

re: "cross". i always thought it was a joke created by Bicycling magazine in conjunction with manufacturers to fill a small gap in the purchasing void between November and March. but then i was "drafting" some fellow turbo-freds riding 3 abreast last saturday on Rt.9 and they were talking about how one of them just picked up a really nice Ridley Al "cross" frameset for the upcoming "cross" season.

this is all well and good but then he qualified the Alumin(i)um by stating that it was "really high end aluminum" and not a pedestrian version of the beloved and popular metal.

i think the whole point of this CX thing was maybe to use your old road frame with the some heavy duty parts for a laugh during the cold months when your 60.1 crabon lost its vertical compliance. as is customary i am wrong. i will have nothing to do with this CX 2.0

Anonymous said...

That Klein is nice, except for the taint job, it reminds me of the good old days. Ahhh yes.

by the way, dux, I think Klein don't make bikes anymore, the guy makes telescopes now. To search for plastics in the universe of cycling.

The Great Auk said...

Does god ride an old steel bike on planet Kolob?

D said...

...as Category 5 investment bankers quaff quasi-legal energy tonics, straddle $10,000 worth of crabon fribé

Vulgar!

livingjetlag said...

The hipster cyclocross fixie had brakes on it! Ew, gross! I want to be the Mayor of Scarlet Johansen.

Anonymous said...

What Charles and Ant1 said:

crap that will either break for be "obsolete" by season's end

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Bringin up the sag wagon.
Snob great post!
I still think about racing bikes but like Fred said- crowds "Not the Fred way"
I think we'll have to agree to disagree about the Yamaguchi. That bike is fine. I'd love to ride that thing down to the drive-through cold sixer. Cross themed or not.

Anonymous said...

The Los Angeles hipster CX race team:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thedjneight/3492935960/in/set-72157607322790040/

Missing from the pic is the two 20-something guys from last year that had full beards. Maybe they're there and they shaves, I dunno.

Bad Lawyer said...

My next bike is going to be graphene.

David Henderson said...

The traditional time for an "off season" with rest and mental recovery has been replaced by....

bere said...

Oh man, i need to get that trek. Never wanted anything more but to be white-hot bullet of justice and awesome.

An unlikely survivor said...

Is Crabon Fribre some kind of a belgiumish dessert? Go J-Pow, TJ, and Jamey! East Coast Cross Rocks! clank clang-a-clank. Don't forget about the anti-chatter fork mounted cable stop. They're only 3.99$ and get rid of that annoying noise.

bdub said...

ummm you can't go to cyclocross race without one of these:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/littlepackage/2084553130/

Anonymous said...

Kooka!

Anonymous said...

Ziggy was the worst character of all time in the Wire Season 2. God damn those crooked stevedores and Greek drug cartels. Why did Omar have to die?

Graydon said...

BS, how many nu-freds will drop the hammer at charity events on graphene bikes in 20 years?

Graydon said...

further to my last post:

http://bigthink.com/ideas/24381

Stiveaux said...

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! The purple/pink Klein is pimpin'! Two bejeweled thumbs way up on that rig!!!

Anonymous said...

Does that "American" know his bike was made by foreigners?

Anonymous said...

New to 'cross myself I have yet to be taken in by the embrocations and/or pit bike necessity. Here in Maryland the 'cross promoters have found a new vein to mine and it's call 'tanDUMB cross' and it's hilarious. Ride what you bring! Costumes and drunken stokers welcome! Take a look....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKb7WSPrynw&feature=player_embedded

the MICHIGANSCENE said...

WHAT A GREAT POST!

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fixie bikes said...

"humankind has sought to spend as much money on equipment as possible."

A truer statement has never been said.

Anonymous said...

The VeloNews article reads like it was written by Rod Roddy.