(There's no "God." That's a lobster, you silly goose!)
Actually, I'm thankful every year that I'm not going to Interbike, chiefly because it's in Las Vegas and there's no place I want to visit less than Las Vegas (with the possible exception of a Park Slope Food Coop meeting.) This year I'm doubly thankful though, because not only will I not have to go to Las Vegas, but I also won't have to look at a bunch of road bikes with disc brakes:
It's not even that I'm against the idea of road bikes with disc brakes, since disc brakes obviously work pretty well on all sorts of bicycles, motorcycles, cars, and so forth. (Unlike other gimmicks companies attempt to foist on cyclists, such as belt drives, which are pretty much only used on big farty Harley-Davidsons.) Nor am I skeptical that Freds will eventually embrace road bikes with disc brakes, since paying someone else to bleed their brakes before the big century ride is exactly the sort of outsourcing that gets Freds excited. Rather, it's the next few years of incessant marketing and constant refinements and expensive new "standards" that get cast aside immediately that I'm not sure I'll be able to stand.
The fact is, disc brakes on road bikes is inevitable, since if there's one thing that Freds hate it's knowing how to work on any part of their bicycle. Instead, they prefer to have a rolling inscrutable mystery between their legs that they take in to the bike shop at regular prescribed service intervals, like a leased BMW. The bicycle industry has served them well, too. Thanks to integrated seatposts, they can no longer raise or lower their own saddles. (And even when they could they couldn't do it without paying for a professional bicycle fitting first.) Thanks to crabon wheels the tubular tire has made a resurgence, which is something no Fred knows how to glue. Thanks to electronic shifting they need a qualified technician to plug their derailleurs into a diagnostic tool like they do when their BMWs display a "check engine" light. The weak link is of course the brakes, which even the most inept Fred can still figure out how to adjust, but with the advent of disc brakes the only form of maintenance a typical Fred will be able to perform on his road bike is refilling his water bottle.
Speaking of gimmickry, you'll recall that last week I announced a contest to give away a Biomega Boston folding bicycle cycle, brought to you by the publishers of a book called "100 Best Bikes:"
If there's not a Trek Y-Foil in that book then they've got a serious false advertising lawsuit on their hands:
(The Trek Y-Foil is universally regarded as the greatest bicycle ever made.)
Anyway, one of the requirements was that all the contestants had to be victims of bike theft, and in reading the entries I've learned that if you want to keep your bicycle you should adhere to the following rules:
--Don't lock your bike to a scaffolding;
--Don't use a cable lock;
--Don't lend your bike to a friend;
--Don't play racquetball.
I honestly can't recall how playing racquetball led to someone's bike getting stolen, but it did, and ultimately it doesn't matter since you probably shouldn't be playing racquetball anyway unless you're a stockbroker from the 1980s like in the movie "Wall Street."
In any case, after receiving hundreds of worthy submissions I found the idea of choosing a single winner rather daunting. Nevertheless, I grit my teeth, took a deep breath, played an Oliver Stonian game of racquetball with an acolyte that sort of served as a metaphor for our relationship and what was going on in the film, and decided that I would award the Biomega Boston folding replacement horse to Anna in Marblehead:
I'm Anna, and I live in Marblehead- just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I am currently the mother of three children under the age of 5, which is a lovely job even though my kids stubbornly refuse to match my 401k contributions. (That makes my 401k worth three dollars instead of the six that it could be) My favorite tv show is Parks and Recreation. All of the characters are smug and Rob Lowe acts like a Fred.
I used to make my way around Boston on my bicycle and that's where it was stolen. The bike racks are sadly lacking around here which is particularly vexing because I'm crabby and don't want to lock my bike seven blocks away from my destination. The other options are to take your bike inside with you or hand it directly to the guy that rides around on his three-wheeler shouting at pedestrians all day. I'm pretty sure he's the head of a bike thief cartel; his bellows a signal to his minions. Anyway, the first time I attempted to take my bike inside on a quick errand, I took it upstairs with me in one of the building's giant gold elevators. It seemed to be common practice there and everything was fine until a few more passengers attempted to board the elevator on the eighth floor. The subsequent events are a bit fuzzy to me even now, but in my effort to make more room I somehow managed to allow my bike to tip over onto an uptight young man in a bankers tie with an excessively slim-cut oxford shirt. Obviously I'm a moron but his response seemed disproportionate to the crime and I was left with emotional scars that would prevent me from ever taking my bike inside again. So it would later get stolen off a bike rack seven blocks away.
It was locked but I suppose the three-wheeling bike thief can foil even the stoutest u-lock. Also, it wasn't that stout. I learned that I need a folding bike because I think I'll be less likely to drop it on someone. I have been reluctant to even consider buying one because I didn't fancy looking like a circus bear on a tiny bike but the biomega one doesn't look absurd so that's nice.
If I was given a free folding bike? Well I'd be beside myself actually. I haven't been able to replace my old one yet and not having a bike sucks. Won't the world be a better place with one less awkward non-folding-bicycle-in-an-elevator schlepper? (Because I surely won't be locking my theoretical new bike outdoors anymore, even if it is "theft proof," and that means more indoor bike transport shenanigans.) Slim-cut Oxford Shirt would be happy to hear that I'll no longer be a menace in the gilded elevators of his office building and then we'll all sleep better at night.
Thanks for your consideration, Wildcat.
Why Anna from Marblehead? Here's why:
--She followed all the submission rules;
--She's from Tyler Hamilton's hometown but she's not him;
--She says she's "currently" the mother of three children under the age of five, which implies maybe she's contemplating leaving them if she doesn't get a free bike, and I won't have that on my conscience;
--The bike is called a Biomega Boston, and she rides in Boston, so obviously this bike is made for her;
--She was victimized in an elevator by a member of the 1%;
--She knows that it's the small things that make the world a better place, not the pretentious stuff like "helping people," "giving," or "curing diseases;"
--She's agreed to cease worshipping false idols and become a devout Lobsterite.
Actually, she hasn't agreed to the conversion yet, but I imagine she will when she receives a visit in Marblehead from someone known only as "The Proselytizer:"
Disposable Bib of Justice and gets to work with her Lobster Tools of Righteousness the heathen generally renounce their faiths in no time at all.
So congratulations to Anna, and many thanks to all who entered. I'd give you all free bicycles, but unfortunately I can't, thanks to those greedy bastards on Wall Street.
Speaking of Tyler Hamilton, he wrote a book about taking drugs in order to ride bikes better, and everybody's favorite professional cyclist Jens Voigt recently had this to say on the subject:
When asked about recent revelations and admissions of doping, Voigt said, “Some people have been more open about their pasts, some haven’t, and I wouldn’t put them all in the same box.”
“Obviously there have been some crazy times in cycling and it’s all coming out now. I’m a big fan of truth and justice but sometimes you’ve got to say this is so long ago and we’ll never find out everything, we should somehow find a moment and a way of saying lets draw a line and concentrate on making the sport better now.”
It's funny how nobody ever accuses him of being part of an "omerta" just because he's lovably cartoony and he sounds like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brüno.
As for me, sometimes I feel as though the only beauty that remains in cycling is that of a majestic cockpit. That's why back in 2010, before cockpits were even cool, I totally had a cockpit contest, and this was the overall winner:
Well, as I mentioned last week, in the interest of giving away more free stuff and of reveling in cockpit porn, I've decided to "curate" another cockpit photo competition. To be honest, I never thought I'd have another cockpit contest for the simple reason it's hard to imagine anything topping the one above, but at the same time there have been tremendous advantages in the field of cockpit technology in the past two years so it's possible that we could be on the cusp of a whole new generation of cockpit greateness. In fact, one reader was so excited about the new cockpit contest that he submitted a photo of his own:
It's worth noting that recumbents are the only bicycles on which the drivetrain is arguably part of the cockpit, and in any case those bar-end shifters are clearly flipping dignity "the bird."
Anyway, here's how the Second Bi-Annual Cock-Off is going to work. First, take a picture of a compelling bicycle cockpit. (See the last contest for style guidelines.) Then, email that photo to bikesnobnyc (at) yahoo (dot) com with the following subject line:
COME ON WILDCAT LIGHT MY COCKPIT!
The winner or winners will then receive exciting state-of-the-art and potentially seizure-inducing rechargeable bicycle lights from Knog, just in time for the fall riding season:
By the way, these are not to be confused with "Exposure Lights:"
Which were forwarded to me by a reader since their site features a "helment" compatibility chart:
I'm not sure if the Knogs are helment-compatible, but I will test them and let you know. At any rate, that's the contest. Happy cockpit-hunting!
Lastly, from another reader comes this article from a Canadian newspaper (yes there really is such a thing) which says that in the future we'll all be David Byrne:
Sadly, though, your lack of car ownership isn't going to impress anybody anymore:
Similar trends are in place in Canada, Australia, Europe and Japan. The Japanese call it “demotorization.” Cars used to be status symbols. Now, they’re becoming unaffordable burdens.
This seems like good news for people who like to ride bikes and walk without dying, though the writer does draw some strange conclusions:
I have a theory that the model city of the future is not Toronto, Austin or London. It is central Bologna or Venice, where the car is either non-existent or scarce. There is a reason tourists flock to tiny Venice by the millions: It is to be in a city where streets are for people, not cars, where you can talk without being overwhelmed by the din of engines, and where you can buy life’s essentials within a 10-minute walk.
I'm pretty sure the reason tourists flock to Venice is to gawk at the guys in the stripey shirts who row the funny boats, but other than that it sounds lovely.