Friday, April 30, 2010

BSNYC Friday Cheese Plate!

Cyclists in New York City and elsewhere have been following the Patrick Pogan Critical Mass trial with rapt attention, and as you probably know by now the jury has reached a verdict. While they somehow found Pogan not guilty of assault, they did find him guilty of falsifying his report. If you're a criminal layperson like I am, you might assume that being convicted of falsifying a report isn't as bad as being convicted of assault. However, it turns out that the whole falsification thing is a felony, but the assault charge is only a misdemeanor, so he was actually convicted of the more "serious" crime--so the verdict isn't as benign as it seems. You might also have trouble understanding how Pogan could be innocent of committing the actual assault yet guilty of subsequently lying about it, but such is the nature of the legal system. I also have trouble understanding the point of a three-speed fixed-gear hub, so I'll just assume that this verdict is the legal equivalent of that wishy-washy component.

In any case, now that Pogan is an ex-cop and a convicted felon, you can be sure he's looking for security guard work, and I can guarantee you that I will not be engaging him to work at my appearance at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn tomorrow:

I very much hope that at least some of you will join me at this event, to which I will be bringing not only a special and embarrassing (to myself) PowerPoint presentation I'm still at this very moment working on (or at least thinking about working on), but also various prizes from sponsor Knog to give away in a manner I have not yet determined.

Also, the following morning I'll be at the Five Boro Bike Tour, so if you're participating (or even if you're not) please come by the Toga Bikes tent at the start, where I'll be working. There will be copies of my book as well as opportunities to purchase last-minute ride necessities you may have forgotten (this does not include "Wednesday weed") and to have your bicycle repaired by experts (or, if you're unlucky, me). If you've ridden the Five Boro Bike Tour in the past and have visited the Toga tent I very well may have inflated your tires for you since I help out there every year, but this time you can at least put the douche to the face. (I will "Tweet" my exact location on my "Twitter" when I know what it is, and I may or may not also bring one or two of these to either event.)

Having thoroughly and grossly plugged myself, I'm now pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll know, and if you're wrong you'll be exhorted to "bring out your best."

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and I hope to see you Saturday or Sunday.

--BSNYC/RTMS




1) Mark Cavendish's recent controversial victory salute was intended as:

--"A message to commentators and journalists who don't know jack shit about cycling."
--"A message to Bradley Wiggins."





2) Cavendish is sorry.

--True
--False




3) Why is this Tour of the Gila rider smiling?

--He just won a stage
--He has taken the overall lead
--He's holding the race's official (and venomous) live Gila monster mascot
--He has a bird's-eye view of the podium girls





4) Which city will host the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships in 2010?

--Seattle
--Vancouver





(Hangin' it up.)

5) "Messenger chic" is over; now, it's all about:




6) What are these cyclists looking for?

--A game of bicycle beach volleyball
--Lone Starr and Princess Vespa






7) Where does this professional leg shaver ply his trade?





***Special Bicycle Maintenance-Themed Bonus Question***



When is a chain whip useless?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BSNYC Scrapbook: What I Did on my Autumn Vacation

Yesterday, the Tour of the Gila began in New Mexico, and defending champion Levi "Letle Viride" Leipheimer is already in the leader's jersey. The Tour of the Gila is noteworthy in that top American pros like Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong, and David Zabriskie like to form "ad hoc" teams and ostensibly use the race to fine-tune their form. However, it's readily apparent to even the most casual observer why they really participate, as evidenced by this photo which was pointed out to me by a reader:

When you're based in Europe eating pasta and muesli day after day you find yourself getting homesick for hamburgers and milkshakes. Similarly, when you're constantly getting kissed by spindly European podium girls you find yourself longing for more substantial American fare. So, you head to New Mexico, sandbag, and enjoy the view of the sandbags from the top step. I'm sure if you asked Leipheimer he'd deny it, but his line of sight begs to differ:

(Leipheimer revels in both victory and ample stateside serving sizes.)

Speaking of traveling abroad, last fall I had the opportunity to travel outside of the United States of America by visiting Portland, Oregon. As you already know, I wrote an article for "Outside" magazine about my trip, but there's just something cold, impersonal, and glossy about magazines (at least the non-pornographic ones). Plus, seeing the article in print made me nostalgic. So, since I think of us all as family by now, I thought we could all gather around the coffee table and take a look at some snapshots. Of course, if you hate family (or coffee tables) I won't hold that against you and you're free to visit more interesting corners of the Internet, but for the rest of you who are wondering what Portland looks like in real life (inasmuch as "real life" can exist in a place like Portland) I hope you'll squeeze onto the couch, grab a handful of Ruffles® (I bought Ruffles®), and join me.

When I go anywhere, the first thing I need to know is, "Will there be Porta-Pottys?" Austin had them, and fortunately so did Portland. Here are a pair of them outside the Oregon Manifest Handmade Bike Show:

Relatively unmolested by crime, the people of Portland are free to ride around on all sorts of exotic wheeled contrivances, as you can see above. I know they are unmolested by crime, because every time I withdrew my chain lock in order to lock up the Ironic Orange Julius Bike a bystander would comment on it as though they'd never seen its like before. This happened without fail, whether the person was a porteur bike "palper" outside the bike show or a quasi-homeless guy towing a trailer with a Magna. Yes, in Portland you can just leave Rivendells sitting unattended and locked with a combination of dental floss and goodwill:

Then again, this being Portland, perhaps no thief would deign to steal a bike without bar tape.

Here's the inside of the bike show, where even non-bike dorks came to admire the local handiwork:

The cargo bike is an essential member of any Portlander's stable, since it allows them to help people move by bike, which is part of the "symbiosis of smugness" which holds their society together. I'm not sure what the people in this photo are saying, but I'm guessing the guy in the hat is asking the exhibitor: "I'm thinking of starting a human-powered organically grown fair trade pet food home delivery business. Would this be an appropriate bicycle for me?"

"Yes, it certainly would--though I should warn you that 'Coffee 4 Pets' is already doing something similar. Have you thought of delivering environmentally friendly toilet tissue?"

Also, it took a bit longer than I thought (roughly two hours after my plane landed) but I did finally see someone wearing the hoodie/flannel/elbow pad combination:

This is also known as the "Oregon Tuxedo."

Proportionally speaking, there seemed to be far fewer "tarck" bikes in Portland than in New York City, since the emphasis in Portland seemed to be more on functionality. However, I did see some impressive "fixie" specimens:

Spoke cards aside, that is perhaps the most product placement I've ever seen on a front wheel. I think when you've got more component manufacturer stickers on your bike than your bike has actual components you may have gone too far.

Another thing I noticed is that, in Portland, the saddle is the bicycle equivalent of the automotive rear view mirror in that it serves as a place to hang baby shoes:


Even when Portlanders are away from their bicycles they make sure to let everybody know they ride them:

And they do ride bicycles in Portland. Here's the rack outside of the Whole Foods, where I stopped to pick up some cockles:

Yes, that's another Rivendell (with wooden fenders to boot), which people apparently even use to ride to the store here. I don't think I've ever seen two Rivendells in a single week in New York City, let alone in the space of a day or two, and I've certainly never seen one locked up outside. (Then again, never having encountered a Rivendell, a New York City thief would probably wilt in the face of all that pretension, drop his bolt cutters, and simply run away.) If I ever were to see more than one Rivendell in a day in New York I would just assume some kind of beard convention was in town.

Here are the people who were kind enough to let me join them for bike polo:

(I'm standing behind the camera with the pathetic "Can I play too?" expression which I often wore in my youth.)

Here's me riding a bicycle with a top tube pad for the first time in my life (BMX bikes excluded):

I'll spare you my expression, which is akin to that of a kosher vegan being force-fed pork rinds.

Here's Forest Park, the official slogan of which is "Forest Park: It's Fern-Tastic!"

As a cycling New Yorker, perhaps the most attractive thing to me about Portland was the proximity to a place where you can enjoy car-free climbs, hear gravel under your tires, and urinate in ferns. (I had to urinate all the time due to the richness of the local coffee and beer.)

Not all bikes in Portland are designed for mixed terrain; some are simply built to haul irony, leopard skin, and pirate supplies:


"Where the hell are those pirate supplies?" asks an impatient tall-biker:


Ah yes, freaky forms of transportation abound in Portland. Here's someone riding an athletic field painter:


Some people don't even ride at all; they just stand around looking awesome:


As I mentioned in the article, I also visited the "Bike Shrine" at St. Stephens Episcopal Church. You can see that they spared no expense when it came to signage:

Or art:


If you want a post-nuclear religious-themed painting of your mountain bike, be sure to call Martin Wolfe:

Full of the "spirit" (as well as still more coffee-scented urine), I eventually signed the guest book and moved on...:


...to the Bike Temple, whose headquarters looked creepy in the night:


As much as I loved Forest Park, I can't say that I particularly enjoyed the cold and wet pre-Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships "Ride of Revelry, including feats of strength, daring, endurance, beauty and grandeur:"

This is mostly because I'm a weak and cautious person who lacks stamina and wilts in the face of beauty and grandeur like a delicate plant that's been doused with highly caffeinated urine. Also, I tend to get cranky on rides in which the rollout involves lots of people shouting "Woo-hoo!" as they crash their bikes one by one. And it certainly does take endurance to participate in an Ironic World Championship; in addition to the wet ride consisting of people who were way too excited about canned beer, there was also an ironic debate to decide the host city for 2010:


All of this before the actual race the following day, to which I took the so-called "MAX" train:


In addition to the SSCXWC race, I also participated in the regular Cross Crusade race, and both events were suitably muddy:

As well as muddy:


Here's a spectator dressed as a Venetian blind, which allowed him to fine-tune his irony intake:


Amazingly, though I was filthy by the end of the day, they did not kick me off the MAX on my return trip:

I did flirt with the idea of participating in "Zoobomb" later that evening, though to be perfectly honest the endeavor did not seem in the least bit appealing to me, especially after an exhausting (though thoroughly enjoyable) day of racing. Here's the scene as I approached:


I think it was the sight of the guy in the full-face helmet riding a modified child's bike menacingly around the "Zoobomb pile" that ultimately compelled me to skip the festivity, return to my hidey-hole, and pack my things for the return voyage the next morning:

It was a great trip, though in the end I was a bit homesick and ready to return to the burgers and milkshakes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alarming Data: Number Crunching and Gear Mashing

As I mentioned yesterday, I have wroten an article about my trip to Portland, OR for the May issue "Outside" magazine (or, as it is published in Canada, "Ootside"). While I highly recommend the print edition of the magazine for the simple reason that the format is handiest for reading in the bathroom, I also understand that there are people who eschew paper ("eschew," pronounced "achoo," is an onomatopoeia for sneezing at something). For some, paper avoidance is about saving trees, and for others it's about not spending money, which especially ITTET does not grow on them. So if the only thing you subscribe to is paperlessness, you'll be pleased to know you can now read the article online instead of loitering in the Barnes & Noble magazine section or waiting for your next dental appointment:

I should point out that "Outside" came up with the title, since I don't understand why people call Portland "PDX" for the simple reason that it has more syllables. LA, SF, and even NYC I can understand, but the only reason I can see for calling Portland PDX is so that people don't confuse it with Portland, Maine--though in that case they might as well just call it "PO." Of course, affectionate nicknames are something else--for example, New York City is "The Big Apple," and New Orleans is "The Big Easy." Both of these are longer than the city name (depending on how you pronounce "New Orleans"), but they are also evocative, which "PDX" is not. I just think if they're going to add unnecessary syllables, they might as well get something descriptive in the bargain, and if I were Portlandese I would lobby to have my city called "The Big Smugness." (Then again, I'm from "'da JFK," so what do I know.)

Speaking of getting your money's worth, if you're a fan of professional cycling you are getting short-changed, since a reader has informed me that a new study indicates that the "Grand Tours" have been getting slower since 2004:

This, the researchers conclude, indicates that pre-2004 gains were attributable to doping, and that anti-doping efforts are now resulting in slower races:

If this is in fact true, then the pros better start doping again, since according to the abstract "the average speed has decreased by 0.22 km/h per year," which means that eventually a Grand Tour will take an entire calendar year. In other words, the prior year's Tour or Giro or Vuelta finishers will be rolling across the finish line of the final stage just as the next year's riders are beginning the prologue. Even more disturbing, consider that the 2009 Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador, won with an average speed of 40.31 km/hr. Therefore, if the UCI allows speeds to continue to decrease at this rate, in just 183.23 years the Tour winner's average speed will actually be 0km/hr--or, to put it another way, he won't even have rolled off the start ramp in the first place.

Clearly, then, the current anti-doping model is not sustainable and will bring to an end bicycle racing as we know it. (The best case scenario is that in two centuries Grand Tours will become giant trackstand competitions.) This may be why at least some Belgians seem less concerned about cleaning up the sport in terms of doping and are literally focussing on cleaning up the sport:



Landbouwkrediet team manager Gerard Bulens, however, dismissed the clean-up efforts as "ridiculous:"

As for water bottles, Bulens said he would be surprised to see any left along the way after a race. The bottles are highly prized souvenirs for fans. “There are serious collectors,” he said. “A cycle race is an exceptional event. I am agree that we should think about the environment, but we must not get caught up in the ridiculous. "

As a proud owner of a small piece of Vladimir Karpets's tire, I would be inclined to agree that no piece of refuse is too insignificant (or even disgusting) for the typical cycling fan. I must say, though, that the idea of "drop points for rubbish" is an intriguing one. Perhaps they can institute a new type of "green" jersey by giving points to riders for managing to throw their water bottles and gel packets into recycling bins along the race route. It could be made of hemp, and they could call it the "Maillot Smugness." Best of all, those souvenir-hungry fans can then dive into the bin and fight for scraps like a bunch of hungry "freegans."

Another way to increase speeds would be to allow the riders to use electric bicycles, like this Lexus hybrid which was forwarded to me by a number of readers:




There is of course a strict rule in journalism that any article involving bicycles must include mention of either honey magnate Lance Armstrong or the Tour de France, regardless of how unrelated either of these things may be to the article's subject. What does an electric bike have to do with the Tour? It would also be less grueling if the riders were allowed to use cars or motorcycles, but I don't see anybody mentioning that when they're writing about Accords and Gold Wings. Anyway, I don't see what's so remarkable about a bike Lexus won't even put into production, especially when the electric bicycle has already completely taken over Chinatown and beyond. (I have near-collisions with people using electric bicycles on a near-daily basis--there are fewer creatures more silent and dangerous than the "Electro-Salmon.")

Really, the best thing about the article was its use of the term "man-made torque," which is apparently "Pedaling 2.0" (and not a euphemism for "foffing off," despite how it sounds). By the way, if you're a fixed-gear rider and you want to see how many gear inches your choice of cog and chainring will yield with the addition of man-made torque, you can now download "Chainvetica," which was forwarded to me by the creator:

It's basically like a regular gear-inch calculator, only with an attractive "colourway" and hipster-taunting copy. I was amused, but alas I think they might be a bit too late with this one, since discerning fixed-gear and singlespeed riders are now calculating their gears in sunglasses. ("Tight whip! How many babies does it weigh, and how many sunglasses are you pushing?"

Less whimsical but perhaps more pointless is this bike-sizing "app," which I saw on Trackosaurusrex:

The only situation I could envision in which you'd need an iPhone app to tell you what size bike you need would be if you're an aspiring NĂ¼-Fred, you're browsing Craigslist on your phone, you don't know what size bike you ride, and you stumble on what could very well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a famous "fixie" (forwarded by another reader):

59cm fixed single speed Bottecchia - $1050 (Nopo)
Date: 2010-04-27, 12:33PM PDT
Reply to: [deleted]

59cm fixed single speed '89 Bottecchia
Columbus SP tubing – all chrome underneath the classic Italian paint.
Velocity Deep V rims laced to Miche hubs- flip-flop (rear panaracer tire shows some wear in the center, front is at 85%)
New Ultegra headset
New Nitto noodle bars & tape (44cm)
Technomic stem (110mm)
Sugino cranks & chain ring (49t)
Euro-Asia Imports track cog (18t)
Shimano Cartridge bottom bracket
Vintage Shimano 600 break caliper (new pads)
Modern Shimano 105 lever
Fizik Arionne saddle (a year old with wear on the tip- still plenty of miles left!)
New Bar Tape

And yep. This is the bike from the youtube video Performance.
You will receive attention riding around on this bike. Absurdly short handlebars and spoke-card not included.

This bike is in excellent riding condition: wheels trued, chain line perfectly straight, bearings spinning smooth. The paint is in very good condition for a bike of its era, but there are some small chips. There are braze-ons for both derailleurs, shifters AND internal cable routing, should you ever decide to convert the bike back to a geared set-up.

Specs aside, this frame rides like a dream. Give it a ride if you’re a serious about buying. I need the money to travel abroad. $1050obo
5o three, 7o2 o3six2



At one point even I speculated that this bicycle was a good investment, but it seems that between the short shelf-life of the "Performance" video and fact that we're now living in the post-Walmart era its value is dropping precipitously. If I were the seller, I'd at least consider adding some interesting features, like a Top Tube-Mounted Auxiliary Brake Lever (or TTMABL):

This unique set-up was spotted by a reader in Boston, and a closer look reveals just how ingenious it is:

Awed, I simply stared at it while listening to this.

Indeed, it would not surprise me if the TTMABL were the hot set-up at this year's Five Boro Bike Tour, which takes place this Sunday. Of course, the world's most epic "race" is sold out, but you still might be able to weasel your way in and score yourself a pinny thanks to Craigslist:

BIKE NEW YORK BIKENY BIKE NY possibly 2 registrations available (midtown)
Date: 2010-04-28, 8:18AM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

I have been riding in BIKENY for years. Unfortunately I hurt my shoulder a few weeks ago. As of now ( Wednesday ) it is iffy as to if I am going to be able to ride this year. Even though I live in Northern CT - I still have to come down to NY on Saturday ( Peter Gabriel on Sunday night -- BOO YAAAA!!!!!! )

I will not decide until Saturday morning if I will or will not ride. I want to have a list of people I can call or email on Saturday if I decide I cannot ride.

If I cannot ride - and I do end up selling. Its very basic - will sell at our cost. You will get both of our envelopes with the vests, the number for your helmet -- everything contained.. I will also forward you all information on the pictures they take and everything else.

( SHAME ON ANYONE WHO IS TRYING TO SELL THESE THINGS FOR MORE THAN YOU PAID - I hope you get run over by a horse )

Jeff
Safe riding to everyone!!!!!!!!!


Following the words "Peter Gabriel" with "BOO YAAAA!!!!!!" is perhaps the best example of a "douche-clamation point" I've seen to date.