Monday, November 28, 2011

Halos and Dandies: Laterally Stiff and Vertically Complacent

What's the most important holiday in the United American States? Is it Thanksgiving, during which we spend time with family and reflect on our good fortune? Is it Memorial Day, on which we pay tribute to those who gave their lives for this country? Or is it National Poetry Month, during which aspiring poets read their compositions in coffee shops in front of friends and family who are profoundly embarrassed for them?

Well, as any true American knows, the correct answer is "None of the above," for by far the most significant holiday in these United States is #BlackFriday.

On #BlackFriday (when rendering the name #BlackFriday in print, it is a sin to omit the #Holy #Hashtag), millions of Americans visit our local place of worship. Here, we pay tribute to the G-d of C-nsumption in two forms: Money, and Extreme Violence. While the G-d of C-nsumption accepts cash, His preferred method of payment is via high interest bank card. As for the Extreme Violence, we Americans don't need to be told how to engage in that since violence runs through our veins like high cholesterol, but blasting your fellow shoppers worshippers with pepper spray is always a good bet. Indeed, it is by engaging in the Twin Mitzvahs of Spending and Harming Each Other that we keep the Universe Economy in balance and maintain that Zen-like state of contentment known as Complacency. A-meh.

As for me, I did my part on #BlackFriday by going on a shopping spree at my LBS:



I'd like to think my method of worship is unique, but there are more videos on YouTube of cars crashing through storefronts than there are stupid fixie videos, so apparently retail hit-and-run is as American as apple pie. (Or, more accurately, as American as suing McDonald's when you scald yourself on your searing hot apple-flavored pie filling.)

Speaking of #BlackFriday, while it may be over it's never too late to repent spend money. To that end, why not Buy a dashing on-the-bike wardrobe just like the one the famous and ostensibly Scottish bike racer David Millar wears?

A number of readers brought this pictorial to my attention, and I know what you're thinking: "Nobody rides around like that." This is true. When commuting in an urban environment, the vast majority of us adopt a more upright position and dress a lot more casually, like this:

But the best part of the pictorial is that it has a handy "Shop This Story" button, and when you click it you go right to a page containing like nine million dollars' worth of crap:

Instead of trying to protect big businesses by censoring the Internet, I think Congress should simply mandate that every single online article, blog post, video, Tweet, etc. include a "Shop This Story" button that immediately takes the reader to a page where you can buy a product from every single company mentioned in it. Or, if no products are specifically mentioned, it will just go by keyword. Take, for example, this Tweet by smarmy retired sprinter Mario Cipollini:

Sure, he doesn't actually mention any products, but a congressionally-mandated "Shop This Story" button could take you right to "The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus:"
This way, everybody wins: the giant online retailer, the government to whom it pays taxes, and the 51% of the US population that is equipped with a vagina.

But when it comes to bikes and dandyism, nobody can compete with Rapha, the company who not only effectively trademarked the concept of "epic" but also pioneered the concept of the $70 cycling schmatta. Most recently though, Rapha has dominated both the men's and women's field at the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships in San Francisco, CA:

Lamely, however, both winners avoided getting the traditional winner's tattoo. Regardless of what you think of irreverent world championships, or of singlespeed bicycles, or of tattoos, you'd have to agree that winning the SSCXWC and then skipping out on the tattoo is like saying you're #Occupying Wall Street because you drove down from Greenwich, popped your head in at Zuccotti Park for 20 minutes, and then spent the night at the Marriott Downtown eating room service. (Or, if you're Mario Cipollini, eating something else). Even worse is that Rapha are crowing about having won the race, which basically makes this perhaps the first-ever case of ironic world championship sandbagging in the service of high-end retail marketing. You can read more insight about the controversy at All Hail The Black Market--or, if you're one of the many people who don't care, you can watch a video about how to make goat cheese at home.

Speaking of high-end retail, Cyclingnews and BikeRadar technical editor James Huang has written an article about so-called "halo bikes" that has generated considerable volumes of discussion-shaped Internet comments:


In it he explores the thinking behind the various bicycles with five-figure price tags and lots of gratuitous initials in the name (SL, Di2, LTD, etc.) as well as the strong reactions to them, and then sums it up thusly:

As with anything that lies out of our financial reach, halo bikes aren't there to taunt us, mock us, or to remind us of what we want but can't have – they exist simply because they can. Moreover, no one's forcing anyone to buy anything and whether directly or indirectly, we all benefit.

I happen to disagree with the taunting and mocking part, for as he also points out:

Top-end bikes are also cheap in the grand scheme of expensive playthings. Consider that one typically needs less than US$10,000 to buy the exact same machine as what top pros are using and then compare that to motorsports, where that same amount of money gets you a used Honda Civic. Sure, that Ducati nets a heck of a lot more speed per dollar than any bicycle but it's not the best. If you're truly after the exact same equipment as the pros, we dare say that Valentino Rossi's machine might cost just a little extra.

This to me is precisely the problem with the sport competitive cycling at the amateur level. Just as the pro fantasy bike isn't that much more expensive than the somewhat less absurdly priced "value" bike, the typical amateur cyclist isn't that far removed from the professional--or at least he thinks he isn't. That's because even a slow Cat 3 occasionally lines up with Cat 1s or even pros, and on a good day might even finish in the pack with them. This fuels the delusion that he has "talent," when in reality he was only able to hang because the pros and the Cat 1s were tired from spending the previous night sleeping in the back seats of their economy cars. TrekCialized then meets his delusion halfway by letting him think he's getting a bargain when he spends $7,000 on a bike instead of $11,000, and then ameliorates any remaining concern by touting the fact that the plastic from which the bike is made is now recyclable.

For this reason, my only real problem with "halo bikes" is that, if anything, they're too cheap. I agree that "no one's forcing anyone to buy anything and whether directly or indirectly," so why not just price them all at $150,000 to underscore the difference between the typical club racer schlub and the few genetic and/or chemical freaks that are actually paid a living wage to ride?

Still, it's important to know your bike is special, which is why I won't ride anything that doesn't require government disclosure, like this bike forwarded to me by a reader:


Brand New, never assembled Cannondale SuperSix EVO Team. Made from military grade Ballistec fibers so rare and controlled that Cannondale has to prove to the government how many bikes it made with the fibers to keep it falling into enemy hands...really!

I don't doubt this for a minute, and I'm sure that Al-Quaeda and the North Koreans are working on a "collabo" halo bike even as I type this.

But when it comes to stuff you don't need, you can't beat a "fender blender," which was forwarded to me by another reader:

I have no idea why you'd need a blender on your bike, though this one is certainly positioned perfectly to capture your posterior perspiration. Nothing adds zest to a beverage like ass sweat.

97 comments:

g said...

Podium!

JPLF said...

Aahhh! Top 10! www.jplf.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

3rd

Buy-cycle said...

Top 5?

Kenny said...

AND THAT'S HOW BILL ATE THE SLAW!

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

i have used this blender to raise $5000 for cancer support and research.

So take that DoucheMachine!!!

oh and happy thanksgiving

alex said...

too posh.

Rob said...

Top Ten, we missed you WRM!

samiam said...

top 10!!

this one is for you uncle wilbur!

Charles said...

Top 10!!

g said...

Good to see The Onion is getting in on the debate here.

JB said...

Turkey burritos for all!

I said...

I wonder if I can sue McDonald's if my hot apple pie filling isn't quite hot enough. Just not the right level of expected hotness to be considered hot. Like it's almost hot but really just very warm. Like Julia Stiles.

Anonymous said...

Top twenty, oh Lob!

Paul Bowen said...

Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Re:Rapha. Thank you.

The entire episode really irked me.

Also, Barb Howe was in my qualifying group. Running accross Ocean Beach sand, up the the Lyon Street Steps (both while shouldering her bike) and of course the uphill sprint. None of which Julie Krasinsky did.

I suspect Barb could've won but didn't want the tattoo.

ken e. said...

and those are some nice tires!

mikeweb said...

In Brooklyn, we prefer our blended drinks without ass sweat.

BTW, I have NOT slept with Vanessa Rae.

Charlie Didrickson said...

My new company is 1% Bikes and our tag line is...

Bikes for the few, not for you.

Ben Levy said...

Greetings #WILDCAT
Hope your holiday leave went well. Great to enjoy your posts once again.

Anonymous said...

welcome back, Douchebucket!

frilly said...

Oh yes, please buy the book!

ant1 said...

ant1st!

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

No comment.

Anonymous said...

I suspect Rapha entered the race as a way to garner "edgy" credibility.

Ultimately they confirmed their identities as the prissy, affluent roadies we all despise.

Anonymous said...

We have a couple of those blenders at my work (bike shop); they're used for open days and exhibitions so's people can blend their own fruit drink thingies. And they get broken and then I have to fix them....again....

hey nonny mouse

crosspalms said...

Welcome back, maestro!
HASH TAGS
HALO BIKE
OCCU PIED

I'd love one of those blenders for Festivus, but I'd kick it over ever time I got off the bike. Or on.

Anonymous said...

does 'that' book come with stickers?

Anonymous said...

Kenny 11:54am

AND THAT'S HOW MARIO ATE THE SLAW!

...fixed it for ya.

Anonymous said...

yes, we all truly despise prissy affluence or any affluence, for that matter, which, as we all know, can only be offset by "edgy" credibility. On second thought, there is something kinda cool about prissy,,

wishiwasmerckx said...

Hey Anon 12:45, as a prissy, affluent roadie, I resemble that remark...

string_theorist said...

In reverse order:

One needs a fender blender to mix sublime margharitas for spectating at a 'cross race! C'mon dude.

A 'halo bike' is worth so much because the rider gets 'reach around' felation while the fool and his money are parted. BTW, if I put Di2 on my HongFu, will it make it into another article on 'halo bikes?'

Win the SSWC and don't get the tattoo. Simple answer to this problem. DQ until you get to the first rider who will get the tattoo. The tattoo is the whole point! Rafa sponsored posers.

Anonymous said...

ASSS WEAT

Marcel Da Chump said...

Eating hot dog.

free_to_race said...

Any USAC Pro at SSWC would have risked being fined by USAC for racing outside their federation.
Even though this rule is likely unenforceable in many ways, no racer in the U.S. dares challenge the UCI/USAC.

Meanwhile, OBRA and ACA racing is growing. USAC is not. Stop subsidizing USAC!

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/uci-to-enforce-rule-barring-pros-from-non-usa-cycling-events

JB said...

So, single-speed cylcocross is probably the most "edgy," "non-conformist," and "alternative" cycling in which one can participate right now. (Unless there are dual-suspension pennyfarthings.) But, if you win the world championship, you must conform and get a tattoo? Huh. Maybe Rapha is edgy.

ervgopwr said...

Gotta say, I knew those Rapha peeps wouldn't get that dirty.

I myself am ink free as well, but if I ever did win something as rad as any kind of WC I think I might reconsider.

So welcome back #WCRM and #Frilly too!

Anonymous said...

nice tires.




balls.

carbon_from_china said...

Question: if I buy Winspace carbon frame sets and then charged 10x the cost, what company am I?

Answer: Ritte

Anonymous said...

carbon_from_china,

Wrong answer! The right answer is Focus.

McFly said...

Where can I get blue urban camo tread? Swwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeet

McFly said...

Where can I get blue urban camo tread? Swwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeet

Anonymous said...

Sooo JB, we're waiting for you to proclaim what's edgy and non-conforming so we can mock that too.

Turnabout is fair play and all...

Anonymous said...

In the future I will make all my purchases based on the 'grand scheme of things' metric. $150 lunch? Well, I COULD be paying a billion dollars for a Condor egg omlette and snow lay-oh-pard sandwich, so really...

Focus said...

The point of Halo bikes is; like halo cars (and halo medical procedures, and that > $900 rucksack in the linked story) is to have a product at the very top of your line that is underwritten by the profits from the beige merchandise that creates the bulk of your product line bought by the great unwashed that is an actual "value" (ie non profit generating) to those who can afford it.

Billy said...

Welcome back, WRM! I had to work last week and it was the longest work week of my life.

Anonymous said...

Snob,

How about some euro fredliness? "woo-hoo" speed is considerably higher over here... apparently.
77mph

Anonymous said...

If you can afford it, buy it. That goes for Halo bikes, Rapha, or carbon hoops.
Those upper middle class douchebags who "play poor" during their twenty's and thirty's,knowing they have the safety net back in Greenwich, are the real joke!

Etherhuffer said...

My 3000 dollar maki-e fountain pen is just so yesterday. Maybe a halo model by a national treasure artisan in Kyoto for 8000 would be better. I wonder if they can add carbon fiber threads to the gold dust thats in the lacquer.....

Anonymous said...

BUTT ZEST

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 2:00pm,

"If you can afford it, buy it" only works for people who actually know what they can afford. Amateur bike racers do not fit into this category.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

grog said...

top fifty

in gold we trust

Anonymous said...

i opt to rider a cheaper bike so i can attribute my inferior performance to inferior technolgy. i would hate to pay say $5,000 for custom made bike and still suck, it would make me feel bad every time i got on the bike. of course you could spend that much and still pay for inferior technology, say a steel frame, and still have an excuse.

Anonymous said...

53rd - ish...

JB said...

Anon @1:36: I wasn't trying to mock CX (I don't do it, but it looks like fun), just pointing out a bit of irony of the conformist tattoo.

Anonymous said...

Snob I have to agree with you, us amateur bike racers are delusional lot.

Marcel Da Chump said...

I can't take it any longer!
So, I'll confess:
I'm Violet Blue.
And...yes!
Buy the book.
I want a halo bike.

Buffalo Bill said...

What is the #Holy #Hashtag for wednesday weed? I'm trying to organize an #epic ride and I don't want to screw it up.

Anonymous said...

@JB
Dual-suspension penny farthing!

Brilliant! I must have one, where do it get it?

Andre The Giant Has A Pussy said...

Your recent comments re: M. Cipollini lead me to believe that he might be an enthusiast of this comical site:
http://thekittencovers.tumblr.com/

Anonymous said...

Drafting buffalo is dangerous hes breaking wind in more than one way..must be those cappichinos and panninni ?#EPIC ? all the way to SOHO?

MR..pissta thinkng the next fad may be 70's folders...

66th>?

Anonymous said...

One does not need to be equipped with a vagina in order to enjoy receiving cunnilingus.

Having a vulva, however, is essential.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or in the car crash video does it look like that dude in the tan shorts is ripping the place off? He runs from the upper left to behind the cash register in the lower left. Another friend comes behind the register, not one of the workers with the caps on. He seems to be looking out. Tan short guy then goes in front of the case and sits down, looking casual. Could this all be a setup? The car came close to him, so I doubt it...but that guy didn't take long to at least look like a criminal...

Anonymous said...

@ JB

Whatever one thinks of "hipster-ism," and conformity, the simple fact is that since Single-speeds world's inception the rule has been, DON"T WIN IF YOU DON'T WANT THE TATTOO."

If don't fancy a tattoo, don't win the race.

Lucky for me I'm slow, because it really is a gawdawful tattoo design.

Anonymous said...

@ Focus 1:51,

thankyou thankyou thankyou for bringing back rucksack

RUCK SACK

Anonymous said...

You aint seen nuthin til your down on the muffin.

JDH said...

Hey, Po-diddly! What? Shit.

bikesgonewild said...

...whenever i get really mad to the point where i'm fuming, i always look for free fumigation...

...just sayin'...

dux de luxe said...

ralpha sounds like ralph which serves as a descriptive noun for vomiting, how cool is that...

expensive bikes are routinely sold for pennies on the dollar at an intersection near you, or the local swap meet...

pussy is a good thing...

Steve Barner said...

I've long said that "No one ever regretted not getting a tattoo," and I'll bet that still holds true for the guys who won the SSCXWC.

Anonymous said...

At the (high) risk of being *that* commenter, I'd like to let you know about a doc film called Hot Coffee (http://www.hotcoffeethemovie.com/Default.asp) that explains pretty well how the corporate/business complex spins so called frivolous lawsuits like the McD's scalding coffee to their own advantage.

Allen said...

Rapha taught me an important lesson the very first time I looked at its website. The lesson was that by wearing a $9 cap with World Champion stripes on it, I was being pretentious. How ashamed I was to be informed of this undeniable truth. Fortunately, the magnanimous Brits had a solution for me: a $60 Rapha cap with no stripe. Problem solved! Thanks Rapha--I'd hate for you guys to think I'm pretentious!

leroy said...

Oh sure, Frilly says buy the book.

It's okay to buy the book, but you get weird looks if you bring home the video, CD, illustrated T-shirt, interpretive dance routine pamphlet or vintage Donna Summer album (featuring that "Love to Love You Baby" song).

Honestly, relationships can be so difficult.

My dog says I wouldn't be so tongue-tied if I had bought the Ultimate Guide instead of The Complete Idiot's Guide.

Hmmmph, what does he know. He licks himself.

And this weekend, he and his riding buddies mixed up Margaritas in the toilet. It was working fine until one of them decided to add a bit more tequilla and blend by flushing.

He's not gonna live that down for a while.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Anon 9:32, until I read your post, I had successfully avoided being baited to responding about the hot coffee reference.

Stella Leidbeck suffered full-thickness third-degree burns to her crotch and inner thighs. Anyone who ever sees those regrettable photographs will forever realize the bill of goods the US Chamber of Commerce has sold us about that case.

See the movie.

I was going to let it slide until I read your comment because I figured that the comment section of a snarky bike blog is not the time or the place...

Anonymous said...

I suspect that a $150 department store bike gets more speed per dollar than any motorcycle, especially a ducati

Anonymous said...

@ wishiwasmerckx

As chance would have it, I spent this Thanksgiving with an old friend, an ex-pastry chef. She recounted some kitchen horror stories, all involving caramelized sugar. Yes,scalding hot sugar is a deadly thing, and apparently sugar was in early ingredient of incendiary weapons until cheaper substitutes were found.

Anonymous said...

fum, eat me, it with blood ][[

Mike said...

I'm pretty sure the bald guy feels up his fellow crash victim at :50 and again at 1:25.

bikesgonewild said...

...i'll bet leroy's dog was fuming...

Anonymous said...

I like the no underwear rule.
No underwear rules!

Magic carpet rider

Anonymous said...

The woman in the car-crash video - with the crutches - was she shopping for one of these?

http://twitpic.com/7jo75f

http://twitpic.com/7jo72v

http://twitpic.com/7jo79k

Red Star Cycles said...

so you hold a bike race in San Fran, with only american entrants and call it a WC? That's ................ironic

Red Star Cycles said...

I'm wearin' my rainbow jersey to work tomorrow

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

"That's because even a slow Cat 3 occasionally lines up with Cat 1s or even pros, and on a good day might even finish in the pack with them. This fuels the delusion that he has "talent," when in reality he was only able to hang because the pros and the Cat 1s were tired from spending the previous night sleeping in the back seats of their economy cars."

Good Stuff Snob.

Target demographic said...

Thanks to your ironic and frequent mentions of your sponsors' products and services, my brand awareness has increased ten-fold! Including links to these companies only ices the cake: it's so easy for me to make my lifestyle choices! I am forever in your debt.

Jasper said...

@Red Star Cycles said...so you hold a bike race in San Fran, with only american entrants and call it a WC? That's ................ironic

What, like the "World Series" of baseball? It's not even like the Cubans are allowed to join in...

This is why Americans always seem to go so nuts about the Olympics, as it's the only time their top national sportspeople can line up against anyone else and occasionally whup their arses.
Though of course there is Lance sticking it to Frenchie all those years...

Kenny Banya said...

no comment

Downtown Hotel said...

I've been reading this blog for a couple of days and having never heard the term "fred" as used here, wondered what it meant. (Several accepted definitions, according to Wikipedia.)


But mostly I just wanted to point out the Ur-Fred is still alive and 100 years old today, his birthday Nov 29!

Happy Birthday, Fred Birchmore!

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Fred-Birchmores-Amazing-Bicycle-Trip-Around-the-World.html

Downtown Hotel said...

Aw, dammit. Fred's spending his 100th birthday in the hospital, it seems.

Get well soon, Fred.

http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2011-11-29/birchmore-hospitalized-100th-birthday

yyz113 said...

"Nothing adds zest to a beverage like ass sweat" -- altho smug ass sweat adds xtra zest:
http://www.xtracycle.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/b/i/bikeblender.jpg

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Fixie Bikes said...

False.

Most important American Holiday is July 4th.