Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BSNYC Friday Fun Final Examination on Wednesday and Holiday Bjarne Riis-cess Announcement!

Firstly, with the holidays now an undeniable reality, I will officially be entering into a period of intense family immersion and as such will not be adding additional words and pictures to this blog until Monday, January 3rd, 2012 2011, at which point I will return with regular updates. So, if you're also the sort of person who adheres to social constructs such as "holidays" and "dates," you may want to mark the occasion of my return in your Mini Dachshunds 20011 Wall Calendar, along with other important appointments:

Trust me, that frijerater's not going to cleen itself.

In any case, as of today, I'm loading up my sleigh of smugness and vanishing over the horizon:

If anything important and/or fatuous comes up between now and then (like I get trapped under a meat tape-sealed box and need someone to help save my life) I'll apprise you of it via my "Twitter."

Which I'm sure will result in an outpouring of support from the cycling community:

Hey, if you think it will help--I'm willing to try anything at this point.

However, before I go, I should let you know that, if you've got a bunch of mountain bikes laying around and you need some last-minute holiday cash, you can always sell them to a pair of aspiring YouTube comedians:

CHEAP USED MTN BIKES WANTED to crash in our youtube show! (Fairfield)
Date: 2010-12-21, 2:25PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

Buick and Robby crash a lot of bikes in their youtube show and we’re just looking to see if anyone has any mountain bikes you’d like to sell for cheap because we’re not looking for any fancy bikes. We’ll pay $15-$20, ultimately depending on the bike. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be in good running condition, as long as the wheels aren’t bent outta shape and the frame and forks aren’t all tweaked. Any donated bikes are appreciated too of course : ). If curious, you can check out our youtube show at
this link.


Naturally, I did check out their YouTube show, and I was even amused for one or two fleeting moments:

I'm not sure how many bikes this Craigslist ad will yield, since $15-$20 isn't exactly top dollar (even if the 26-inch mountain bike does currently have the lowest resale value of any style of bicycle in the used marketplace), but I guess that NEA grant didn't come through and production costs are limited.

I'd also like to give my sincere thanks to everybody for reading, commenting, emailing, and even attending my "BRA" events during what has for me been quite an eventful and meaningful year, encompassing as it has the publication of my book, the birth of my son, and of course the completion of my high school equivalency diploma. (I originally decided to get the diploma after I was denied a job at my local Blockbuster video store, but now that the chain has gone bankrupt it means my accomplishment is largely symbolic.) I hope everybody has a great holiday, and, to paraphrase the Hamlet-Bot 9000, may we all be spared the slings and hot karls of outrageous fortune.

In closing, I'm pleased to administer a final examination. This examination will consist entirely of questions from previous quizzes, one from each month of 2010. If you're right, you'll know, and if you're wrong you'll see whatever the wrong answer video was from that particular quiz. (Incidentally, "curating" this final examination was harder than you might think, since almost every video I've linked to in the past year appears to have been subsequently removed.) Also, should you pass the final examination, you get to graduate to 2011, but if you fail you'll be forced to repeat 2010. Granted I have no way of enforcing this, but I trust everyone will adhere to the honor system.

Once again, thanks very much for reading, have a great holiday, and I look forward to seeing all of you (who pass, that is) in 2011.




According to "GQ," what is one of the "most salient" reasons "riding a bike is better than travel by foot or automobile"?



In the recent bike messenger episode of "Judge Judy," who won: the plaintiff, or the defendant?


How can you support this bike messenger in San Francisco?


"The only problem was that the three-man breakaway couldn’t get the skin off the custard. I mean really I don’t know what they were trying to do. Maybe they just wanted to go say hi to grandma or something, but they weren’t racing bikes. Honestly it was like they attacked, got in the break, and then said to themselves, “Oops, I don’t really want to be here!” They were going so slow we needed training wheels not to fall off our bikes! And needless to say, we caught them without even trying."

Who said the above?

--Jens Voigt
--Paul Sherwen


"Snow bikes" are poised to replace "monstercross" bikes as the Gratuitous Addition to the Stable that Never Gets Ridden (or GASNGR) of choice for 2011.



This wheel setup is known as the:


Apparently, being a bike messenger in Vancouver is a non-stop thrill ride.


(The Recumbent History Channel logo)

In recumbent circles (or, more accurately, horizontal ovals) April 1st, 1934 is known as:


This device is called:

***Special Year-End Bonus Question***

("Okay, now skid!")

The quality and originality of fixed-gear "edits" continues to go:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sock It To Me: Filling In the Blanks

I enjoy cartoons. This is why I always make sure to compose an entry for the New Yorker's weekly cartoon caption contest. For example, here's what I've come up with for this week's installment:
I don't actually send them in, and even though this one would almost certainly win, the sense of self-satisfaction I get from the act of composition is ample reward. I may be many things, but I'm no sandbagger.

In any case, given the nature of my hobby, you can imagine how pleased I was to find my blog referenced in a recent "Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery" cartoon:

Of course, the best part of receiving an Internet mention is the barrage of negative comments that inevitably ensue, and in this respect the Yehuda mention did not disappoint. While an Internet "nube" might cringe, as a seasoned blog "curator" I know that there's no surer sign of online success than a bunch of commenters talking about how much you suck. However, that doesn't mean I'm not open to some constructive criticism. For example, one commenter was apparently dismayed by my foul language:


My problem with his blog is the language he often uses. I can see only so many examples of foul language before my distaste for it overwhelms any pleasure I might otherwise take in whatever I'm reading. Recently I read an interview with him about the book he wrote, and even in the interview he couldn't keep his language clean, which just reminded me of why I don't read his blog.

Yesterday, 11:40:27

Frankly, this comment inspired me. Unfortunately, instead of inspiring me to clean up my act, it instead inspired me to find the filthiest reference I could, and while I didn't have all day I think I did pretty well under the circumstances. Here's what I came up with:

I'm sure commenter "Widsith" will be disgusted with me instead of with the staggering 164 people who gave the "Hot Karl" act a "thumbs up" on Urban Dictionary, which as far as I'm concerned exemplifies much of what's wrong with our society.

Also, I don't know where "Widsith" has been, but the Yehuda Moon cartoon can get pretty "blue" too. Just click to enlarge:

Even I couldn't bring myself to reproduce that last panel. Frankly, the cartoonist should be ashamed of himself.

My other favorite kind of negative comment is when someone tells a rambling story about how "over" my blog they are:


Bike Snob NYC sits in my RSS reader. I used to let 2 or 3 collect before trying to slog through them. Then 5 or 6... 12 or 13...

Eventually the tally would go up to 25 or so before I would mark them as read without bothering to read them. I just checked, my Bike Snob feed unreads are are now at 14. Time to remove that feed.

Yesterday, 16:01:01

That was a truly "epic" story of RSS feed "curation"--sort of like listening to an elderly person describe cleaning out the fridge. "First I took out the cottage cheese. Then I checked the expiration date. It had expired six months ago. So I threw it in the trash. Next I opened up the crisper. Uh-oh, celery was wilted. Threw that in the trash. After that I moved on to the egg tray..."

Clearly SDMSS leads a wildly exciting life.

Speaking of thrilling stories, I was visiting Urban Velo recently, where I learned that a new "poetic murder mystery" called "Verse" has dropped, and it's all about a "young bike messenger poet" who discovers a lost manuscript. Needless to say, I eagerly checked out the first episode, which I highly recommend you do not do, since the nearly 10 minutes it will take would be much better spent cleaning out your fridge or deleting your unread RSS feed subscriptions:

Instead, I'm more than happy to do your dirty work for you by summarizing it, which is just the sort of selfless act the people who read Yehuda Moon fail to appreciate. (I like to think of it as taking a "Hot Karl" for the team.) Anyway, first we meet our protagonist, a hopelessly out-of-style bike messenger on a mountain bike of all things who nevertheless executes a nearly flawless salmon-to-schluff transition:

Next, he goes upstairs to drop off his package, where he finds the recipient not only completely bald but also thoroughly dead:

(Filmmaker may have tipped his hand too soon, that mole looks highly suspicious and possibly cancerous.)

This he takes as an opportunity to engage in what people in the entertainment industry often refer to as "acting:"

(Method acting: "When I get freaked out my scalp itches.")

After which he calls 911 and actually says, "Yes, hi, 911?," as though he's calling a friend's house, or like he's tried to call 911 in the past and been told, "No, sorry, wrong number--this is 912."

Then, he examines the package, which has suddenly become...mysterious:

So mysterious that it compels him to ride around and "act" more:

(Method acting: "I purse my lips tightly and look askance when I contemplate recent events.")

At this point, our protagonist is faced with a moral dilemma: Does he violate bike messenger ethics and open the mysterous package? Or does he simply turn it over to the authorities, forget about it, and finish eating his panini?

The answer is an emphatic "both." (Waste panini not, want panini not.) By the way, by this time I noticed the cloyingly folksy Lilith Fair music in the background was describing what was happening--"Open it, open it now," the singer warbled--and from that moment forward as hard as I tried I could not tune it out.

Anyway, it turns out that the envelope contains a manuscript, and once home our protagonist retires to the comfort of his shoe pile in order to read it with his lips moving:

(La-Z-Boys are "out;" shoe piles are "in.")

Realizing that he's on to something, he puts on his best shirt and executes a suicidally salmon-tastic left turn off of 4th Avenue and directly into oncoming traffic on the way to the Strand bookstore:

Where he meets his love interest:

Cunningly, he fools her with the old "I'm going to have you look up something on the computer while I ogle your cleavage" technique:

This is a tried-and-true bookstore staple almost as common the old " 'Hot Karl' in the travel book aisle" approach--which is why you should always avoid the travel book aisle at the Strand, no matter how badly you think you need a used "Lonely Planet" travel guide containing hopelessly outdated information about Katmandu.

Soon they get to talking, during which she explains to him that she's working on an MFA in poetry at Columbia University, which means that once the Strand fires her for flirting with the customers she will remain unemployed for the rest of her days:

Having secured himself a date, he consults a popular search engine for some vital information:

Which prompts him to send an email to Old Man Exposition, who reads that email out loud to us from the comfort of his own shoe pile:

Then he meets his love interest's lecherous professor, played by an actor who wakes up every morning cursing the fates because Paul Giamatti "made it" and he didn't:

The professor then recites for our protagonist a poem about "shants," which he acts like he's listening to with profound interest:

Here the first episode ends, but rest assured it will be continued:

At which point we will presumably learn whether or not our protagonist actually manages to get "laid," as well as whether or not the mole killed the bald man, or if we're just leaping to conclusions because the mole has hair growing out of it and our society always assumes the guy with the beard is the villain.

Maybe the killer was Colonel Mustard, in the travel book aisle, with the tube sock.

Monday, December 20, 2010

BSNYC Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide: Putting the "Pro" in Procrastination

With only five more shopping days left until Christmas, you may find yourself looking for that last-minute gift idea for the cyclist in your life. To that end, I present this brief and hastily-"curated" gift guide for your shopping convenience. If a cyclist is not absolutely thrilled by any of these gifts, then he or she simply isn't doing it right.

A New Wheelset

As any cyclist what's on the very top of his or her wish list and the answer will almost certainly be "A new wheelset." In case you're wondering what a "wheelset" is, it's just a pair of wheels that costs too much. As for wheels, those are the round spinny things that make our bikes roll, and in order for our bikes to roll good our wheels need to do three things:

1) Be round;

2) Have bearings (or, in Craigslist parlance "berrings") that are reasonably smooth;

3) Be round.

All of these qualities are very easily attainable using components that are readily accessible and affordably priced, and assembled correctly your wheels will be round, have bearings that are reasonably smooth, and be round--plus, as a bonus, they'll also be both durable and lightweight. However, "readily accessible," "affordably priced," and "durable" are all abhorrent to cyclists, which is why most of them spend thousands of dollars to downgrade their wheels almost immediately. Of course, the question is: "Which wheels?" Yesterday's exotica is today's "training" wheelset, and last year's "staggeringly expensive" is this year's "reasonably priced," so it's vital when purchasing wheels for the Fred in your life to get the Wheel of the Moment. Also, they have to have a cool name that looks cool in giant cool letters on the rim. That's why, for what's left of 2010, you can't go wrong with "Mad Fiber:"

I know what you're thinking: "Mad Fiber?!? That sounds like a breakfast cereal for constipated rappers!" (I can see the commercial now: "This cereal has Mad Fiber!," exclaims a delighted Lil Wayne as his thunderous bowel movement positively demolishes his toilet.) However, Mad Fiber isn't cereal at all; it's a pair of wheels that are "lighter, faster, stronger, better wheels optimized for athletes who are passionate about performance." How do we know this? Well, not only are they made with "Aerospace Engineering Rigor:"

(Guy in sweatshirt holds Mad Fiber wheel while his friend inserts a generic cartridge bearing, just like how NASA builds the Space Shuttle.)

But they're also "optimized:"

(Carbon is actually "optimized," not marginalized, victimized, or criticized as it is in other wheelsets.)

And, best of all, there's no rider weight limit:

This is vital, because it means even the most bloated, over-fed cyclist can "run" them. Actually, the biggest problem facing the bicycle industry today is engineering a carbon fiber wheel that can support the considerable heft of the typical "Fred," who stands to gain absolutely nothing from it in terms of performance yet insists on owning the stuff anyway. It's like Victoria's Secret having to design a line of sensual lacy undergarments for a bunch of Hell's Angels. In any case, Mad Fiber claim to have done this, and to have answered the following question:

What if? Rather than using carbon fiber to replicate wheel components originally made of metal, what if wheel design was optimized to realize the maximum potential of carbon fiber?

Actually, when you do that, I'm pretty sure you wind up with an un-true-able rolling gimmick, like this:

Though admittedly Mad Fiber have significantly reinforced the price tag with an all-important extra structural decimal place.

A New Bike

Are you the owner of a corporation or small business looking to make an empty gesture that evokes trendy ideas like "sustainable transport" and "supporting a healthy lifestyle?" Do you like the idea of a tax write-off and instant press? Do you use the terms "bikes" and "riding toys" interchangeably? If so, why not give the gift of a crappy bicycle?

Sure, shipping thousands of one-size-fits-few bicycles from China to America where they will spend the next 20 years slowly rusting in the garage next to that old treadmill isn't all that "sustainable," but then again if all you did was give your employees a gift certificate that let them purchase their own bikes locally you wouldn't get local news footage like this:

Cheap bicycles are already poised to overtake pens, keychains, and windbreakers as the most popular form of corporate-branded giveaway junk in America, so be sure to act now while they still have some cachet.

A Giant Neck Sweater

If you have a friend, loved one, or family member who's a "hipster," here's something you may not know: "Hipsters" are highly susceptible to neck chills, especially when they're riding their bikes. They may not use brakes, and they may have no use for bar tape, but as soon as the mercury plunges below 65 degress they will wrap up their necks like they're Michael Hutchence about to auto-erotically asphyxiate themselves. This is because they're constantly assaulting their throats with American Spirit cigarettes and cheap beer, which means even the slightest chill can induce week-long "Ratso" Rizzo-like coughing fits. So don't let your favorite hipster get cold this holiday season. Instead, go to your local bike shop boutique and buy them a giant neck sweater:

As you can see from the above photos, the hipster neck grows cold way before the rest of the body, which is why he's wearing a giant neck sweater with just a flannel shirt. Plus, hipsters also love being the world champion, so be sure you purchase a neck sweater that includes the coveted "dork en ciel:"

("I'm the world champion of having a warm neck!")

The giant neck sweater--it's like a doggie sweater for hipsters!

A Giant Neck Tattoo

If you have a friend, loved one, or family member who's a "hipster," here's something you may not know: "Hipsters" love neck tattoos. A neck tattoo is like a regular tattoo, only it's more authentic because it's worn on the neck, as the name suggests:

Prior to the advent of the neck tattoo, the knuckle tattoo was the authentic hipster tattoo of choice. However, there are two problems with knuckle tattoos: 1) Too many people have them now so they've officially become "uncool," like tribal bands and "tramp stamps"; and 2) They limit the number of characters in your message to multiples of five. Neck tattoos, on the other hand (so to speak), are still unusual enough among people with liberal arts educations that they will attract a second look at the bar.

However, you should keep in mind that, even though you can technically incorporate any text you want into a neck tattoo, there are informal rules that govern what constitutes an acceptable "hipster" neck tattoo message. Since putting a tattoo on your neck is a big commitment, the message should have an inverse relationship to this level of commitment and be something indifferent or even inane. This underscores how daring the "hipster" is, and how blithely he or she approaches important decisions. Appropriate neck tattoo messages include:

"My parents sent me to Sara Lawrence College and all I got was this stupid neck tattoo."

So make sure to get your favorite hipster a neck tattoo now, while they're still edgy enough to evoke prison. (Or at least a state-run institution, like UC Berkeley.) It's the perfect permanent undershirt for that giant neck sweater.

Something to Make Cycling Less Enjoyable

There are a lot of problems with cycling, but probably the biggest one is that it's tremendously enjoyable. It's cheap, it's easy, and there's only a simple machine between you and the road. Over the years, people have come up with many ingenious ways to make the whole endeavor less enjoyable and more "serious." Some use electronic monitoring devices that constantly inundate them with data that quantifies their poor performance; others remove the brakes from their bicycles so they have to writhe and backpedal and skid to a stop. But few of these methods are as absurdly sublime as PowerCranks.

PowerCranks are like ordinary cranks, only they're far more expensive, and they don't work. Here's a compelling video which shows PowerCranks in action:

The key to PowerCranks is that they allow you to pedal with both legs on the same plane, so that you look like a kangaroo in a hurry:

This can result in tremendous performance gains for amateur cyclists, though these gains are more mental than physical. This is because, for some reason, mediocre cyclists think that doing something pointless and inconvenient during the "off-season" will somehow allow them to to dominate their hobby next year. And what could be more pointless and inconvenient than riding on broken cranks? Basically, the more irritating the training tool is to use, the more effective it is, so at this rate I expect PowerCrank unicycles to be the hot "training" set-up for 2011.

Of course, PowerCranks do have tremendous physical benefits to athletes who compete in sports that are based on producing power while keeping your legs together, like sack racing:

I for one would be thrilled if sack racing were to replace the cycling leg in triathlons, if only because the remount porn would be even more entertaining. Watching people attempt to straddle pro-level time trial bikes is amusing enough, but watching them struggle and flail as they attempt to step into $2,000 carbon fiber potato sacks would be positively sublime.

So this Christmas, give the roadie or triathlete in your live the greatest gift of all--the gift of inconvenience.