Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Big Budgets: Round and Round the Hamster Wheel

Like most people, I have an Internet browsing routine.  First, I get drunk off Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, which I acquired a taste for in middle school.  (Wine coolers were invented to hook children and were the alcoholic energy drinks of the 1980s.)  Then, I fire up my web-enabled Apple Newton, at which point I desperately seek out folding bike porn until I pass out on the fire escape.

By the way, nobody does hardcore folding bike porn like the Dutch.

Anyway, last night I was on something like my ninth pomegranate raspberry when I discovered that the publication formerly known as VeloNews was looking for a managing editor:

This surprised me, since last I heard everybody was leaving and the staff had been reduced to basically this:

That wheel spins up nice.  I bet the bearings are ceramic.

In any case, I swore off working when I became a bike blogger, and in the ensuing years I've degraded into something that is not only completely unemployable but is also perennially unshaven and exudes a strange aroma during certain hours of the day.  Even a bedraggled outfit like VeloNews would surely never hire me, since I look and act like something that might transmit lice to the other hamsters.  However, by this point Old Man Bartles and Old Man Jaymes were at the helm (just as they were in high school when I applied to SUNY) and once I saw how easy the qualifications were I figured I'd try to land myself a job:

In addition, the ideal candidate is intimately familiar with acronyms/abbreviations such as UCI, USAC, ASO, WADA, NCCA, IMBA, HRM, LBS, TT, KPH, OTB, JRA and, of course, DFL.

That's easy, here goes:

UCI: United Cheese Institute
USAC: United Society for the Appreciation of Cheese
ASO: American Society Organization
WADA: Washing A Dirty Arse (British Internet slang)
NCCA: National Cheese Cheese Association
IMBA: IMBA!?!  Damn Near Killed Her!!!
HRM: Her Royal Majesty
LBS: [Abbreviation for pounds]
TT: Tea Time
KPH: Koala Pals Humping (Australian Internet slang)
OTB: Off Track Betting
JRA: Jewish Riflery Association (the world's smallest shooting club)
DFL: Dorky Fred Loser

Obviously I got through that one all right, but the next one was tricky:

The ideal candidate will be able to spell names like Frischknecht, Maaskant and Vinokourov from memory.

Fortunately, not only can I spell those names from memory, but I can also type them with my eyes closed:


Emboldened by success, I was on to the next hurdle:

The ideal candidate can list off every winner of the last 20 Tours de France.

Now, I may have been drunk, but not so drunk that I wasn't able to spot a trick question a flamme rouge away.  As any pro cycling pundit worth his suitcase of bad metaphors knows, due to the decades of doping scandals, subsequent disqualifications, unsuccessful appeals to the CAS (that's the Cheese Appeal Society), and so forth, the winner of every Tour de France for the last 60 years is now officially Walter Diggelmann:

When Diggelmann finished 50th in the 1952 Tour de France, he surely wouldn't have dreamed that he'd one day be elevated to the status of winningest rider in Tour de France history--winninger even than Lance Armstrong, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, and unfrozen caveman bike racer Eddy Merckx, shown here in the famous Molteni orange:

("Back in the day," Merckx cut a striking figure atop the podium.)

Anyway, having nailed the last qualification, the next one was laughably easy:

The ideal candidate is able to fix a flat tire in under 10 minutes, using only tire levers and a mini-pump.

Puh-leeze.  I can do that, and so could Walter Diggelman:

As for the final qualification, in my case that was merely a formality:

One last thing — a sense of humor always helps.

Oh yeah, I have one of those.  Here's a knock-knock joke I just made up:

--Knock knock.
--Who's there?
--Walter who?
--Walter Diggelman.

I only hope they'll pay my relocation expenses to Boulder, where I plan to move to "The Peleton," which became my dream home ever since I first learned about it:

Looks like the developers at "The Peleton" could have used a better managing editor.

Speaking of cycling publications, I was reading Bicycling magazine's "Buyer's Guide" in the bathroom recently when I noticed some interesting items.  First, there was the "Cane Creek Angleset Headset:"

About which the magazine had this to say:

"Properly installed, it performs flawlessly, with only occasional creaks."

The only time it's acceptable to say something performs flawlessly with only occasional creaks is when you're referring to the sexual prowess of Mario Cipollini:

("Properly installed, the Cipollini performs flawlessly, with only occasional creaks.")

It's not his fault if the bed frame is a little creaky--though the excess hair oil usually quiets things down after a few minutes.

Next, I noticed the "Industry 9 I25 Wheelset:"

Which is apparently not a race wheel:

"Add in the feathery weight, and these look an awful lot like race wheels.  And they could be, but they also have a 23.5mm rim, setting the tire beads farther apart and creating a larger-than-normal tire volume.  The result allows lower pressures for better damping of road vibration from an otherwise stiff, race-worthy wheel."

If an $1,000 pair of wheels with a total of like eight spokes is not a race wheelset, then what is a race wheelset now?  So I went over to Competitive Cyclist, where I learned that if you want race wheels in 2012 you have to get something like this:

These seem expensive at $3,600, but it won't be long before you want to upgrade to these:

Sure, $6,000 for a set of wheels may seem completely insane, but that's only because it is.  So is $1,750 for that matter, but apparently that's merely a "budget" race wheel now:

Privateer gear. This is something we discuss at length in mountain biking, but don't address enough on the road. Most of us sponsor ourselves. We need components that are practical; we need parts that are light, strong, and fast and that can do it all on a budget. This intersection on the component matrix is filled admirably by Reynolds with their Assault Carbon Clincher Wheelset.

Most of us do sponsor ourselves, and if this is the current state of affairs in cycling equipment then our sponsors really need to come to our senses and drop us immediately.  Plus, all of these crabon wheels will be obsolete even before they reach the end of their incredibly short service life, since the poor crabon rim braking performance is already forcing the move to disc brakes.  And, worst of all, due to the low spoke count you probably can't even use spoke cards:

I thought the spoke card had gone the way of the top tube pad (and the dinosaur for that matter), but at least one entrepreneur is using that to reduce the great cities of America (as well as Washington, DC and Chicago) to hunting grounds for hipster kitsch:

For the initial run, there will be five spokecards for each city. Each spokecard will have a theme, and guide you to four places around that theme that you can bike to. For example: The four best photobooths in Chicago, four under-appreciated monuments in Washington, DC, or four places to play Buck Hunter in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to that, if you go online, I'll have bike routes and additional tips for bike adventures on!

Visiting Brooklyn to just to play Buck Hunter is like visiting Mario Cipollini for the conversation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Overwrought: Hang It On the Wall and Call It Art

Last night, I made art:


I don't like to use the word "genius" lightly.  For that matter, I also don't like to use the word "scranus" lightly.  So when I say that the above photograph is a work of scranus-tingling genius then you know I'm being serious.  Then again, I shouldn't even have to tell you how serious I am, because when you look at a work of Art-With-A-Capital-A like this you just know.  It's the same feeling you get when you gaze into the Mona Lisa's preternaturally knowing nostrils, or stare at the Milkmaid's jug (that's jug, not jugs), or contemplate the floppy little penis of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

It may surprise you to learn that I know so much about art, but the fact is that I do.  I know that truly great art can lay bare the very workings of the Universe.  I know that some of the greatest art in the history of humankind has been rendered in the age-old medium of macaroni.  And I know that a genuine masterpiece is equal parts mastery and serendipity, with just a sprinkling of paprika for flavor.

Take my masterpiece, which "Photo Slut" magazine has already said is "like having sex with God on a hot bed of sauerkraut."  Sure, to some extend it's the product of a lifetime of training: the elite boarding schools; the nine years as an undergraduate at Bard; and then the successive MFA programs in 1970s billboard art, limerick poetry, and modern phrenology.  After that came the tough years of paying my dues as an aspiring artist in Brooklyn, quaffing artisanal cocktails and living in a $3,500-a-month apartment in a building still redolent with the cooking smells of the ethnic families my peers and I had only recently displaced.

To be honest, there were moments when I had doubts, like Jesus on the cross when he came this close [indicates small distance with fingers] to giving up the whole martyrdom thing and getting back into carpentry.  Sometimes at the bar, when I was feeling the financial pinch and had to pass on that sixth $21 dark chocolate-infused malt liquor-and-single-barrel rum mojito, I'd catch myself thinking, "Maybe I should just take that limerick-writing gig at Hallmark."  But then, on just such a night, as I teetered once again on the edge of selling out, I spotted a Knog light submerged in a glass of water, withdrew my $5,000 camera from my $500 bag, and produced what will undoubtedly be one of the most enduring images in photographic history.

But as inspiring as my story is, it's hardly unique.  In fact, the same self-affirming moment of artistic catharsis happens somewhere in Brooklyn every night, and this means only one thing: all these hipster assholes are here to stay.

Anyway, as I thought about art I thought about longing, and about how the two are intertwined.  Then I went to Craigslist, where I saw this Ross Apollo:

There was once a time when I longed for a Ross Apollo.  I coveted its split top tube, and its lofty sissy bar, and its noble ape hanger handlebars.  However, I never got one, and while I'm not sure why it's probably because my father rightly recognized that the bike was completely stupid and thus refused to buy one for me.  Now, though, I'm a member of the 1% (not in the #Occupy sense, but in the "Skim Milk Appreciation Society" sense), and the $250 it would cost me to own a Ross Apollo is a mere pittance when you consider I spend about that on a single night of spirited artisanal cocktail quaffing:

But this is where the cruelty of longing reveals itself.  Sure, I could own a Ross Apollo now (and an "orking" one at that, which is nice because all too often the orking feature on a 40 year-old bicycle is broken), but the truth is I don't want one any more.  Yet, while I no longer long for a Ross Apollo, I still have that same longing for other things that lie just beyond my reach, like waterbeds filled with champagne, heated dimmer switches, and solid gold remote control bidets.  Furthermore, I may obtain some of these things, or I may not, but either way at some point they'll wind up just like that Ross Apollo--something I once wanted with every cell in my body but which now means nothing to me.  Yes, material gratification is fleeting, and the only constant is the rosebud of longing, that gnawing sense of discomfort and non-fulfillment that torments us all until we die.

Speaking of longing, the North American Handmade Blah-Blah-Blah is almost here, and bike dorks from all over will converge in Sacramento, where they will slobber all over custom replacement horses while longing themselves right out of their shants.  Many of these bicycles will be steel (increasingly stainless steel, probably because of all the drooling) but for sheer ferric abundance it's tough to beat a Ross Eurotour:

The only aluminum parts on the Eurotour are the shifters, the brake levers and the brake calipers. Everything else, except for a few plastic parts is steel. The weight before accessories is 39 lbs.

Now that's what I call a North American steel bicycle.  By the way, he didn't specifically exclude the tires, so I'm going to go ahead and assume they're steel too.  As I read this, I fantasized about dropping a 40lb Ross Eurotour from a helicopter and onto the Sacramento Convention Center, where it would crash through the roof like a set of janitor's keys through a piece of wet tissue paper.  Then, Don Walker would have to rent one of those scrap metal magnets just to get it out again.

Also, I was interested to learn that, "back in the day," Ross bikes were manufactured right in my backyard:

The company moved its manufacturing plant to the old Arverne Hygeia Ice plant in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York in the 1950s.

Though by the time I was longing for an Apollo they had probably moved to Allentown--not that I cared where they were made, for as far as I knew the lovely Apollo bicycle was dropped from a helicopter straight from heaven.  Lastly, I had no idea Ross even dabbled in high-end race bikes like two or three bike booms ago:

This was also the year the pricey high-end Signature series, which featured Cro-Mo tubing and Campagnolo or Shimano 600 components, was launched with Tom Kellogg in charge of the division.

Meh.  Sounds pretty wimpy.  As far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't sink hub deep into moist soil then it's not a true Ross.

Speaking of Sacramento, a reader has forwarded me this article about the inventor of the "Bike Valet:"

How come nobody calls cars a "clunky burden when it comes to putting them away?"  People build entire houses for their cars, yet apparently a simple bicycle remains the greatest storage challenge of the 21st century.  In any case, one man has risen to that challenge, and this article contains the inspiring story of how he came up with the idea for a decorative bike hook:

Tiller, a carpenter and furniture maker who kept bumping into his bike in his cramped apartment, went to sleep one evening mulling over the problem and awoke in the middle of the night with a solution – one that's getting buzz on design websites and bike blogs throughout the U.S. and beyond.

I don't need to tell you the rest--after waking up and falling over his bike yet again, he simply hung it from his "night boner" while he went to the kitchen for a glass of water, and the rest is cycling history.  It's a story as famous as Tullio Campagnolo inventing the quick release wheel skewer, or Mario Cipollini inventing breakaway thong underpants.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, a reader in Cape Town, South Africa sent me the following photo, which proves Portland isn't the only place brimming with bicycle businesses (even if they are car-themed):

Plus, while you're waiting for your car to get fixed, you can always enjoy some fat cock:

As the reader explains, it's probably a phonetic transcription of a food called "vet koek" in Afrikaans, but a cock by any other name would be as fat:

I wonder if it could "portage" a Ross Eurotour.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Slip It In: Finding New Places For Crabon

Celebrated American author Charles Dickens began his most celebrated novel, "Hamlet," with the following sentence:

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect-like creature."

I don't want to spoil the ending, but Finny dies.

This morning, I woke up to a revelation a thousand times more horrible than any existentialist entomological crisis.  See, as I slept, I had uneasy dreams of Fredness.  Then, when I awoke, I realized that I had been losing precious wattage through inefficient power transfer.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered a meal, and then when the meal arrives you realize it sucks, but even though it sucks you eat every morsel and sop up all the remaining juices with a piece of bread and then finally lick the plate clean with the enthusiasm and relish of a cat cleaning its privates?  Probably not. Nevertheless, this behavior is the essence of Fredness.  Even though we suck, we labor under the delusion that we need to channel every bit of our pathetic power output and ungainly pedal stroke into the drivetrain of our overpriced bicycles in order to propel us to a rarefied realm of glory and achievement that exists only in our minds.  And when it comes to this behavior, the equivalent of that piece of bread you use to sop up that lousy sauce is the $395 crabon insole, forwarded to me by a reader:

Actually, this insole is not the equivalent of the bread so much as it's the equivalent of paying a surcharge for an ultra-stiff table to help you consume your crappy meal more quickly and efficiently.

Let's just pretend for a moment that there aren't like 26 bones in the human foot, and that it doesn't move at all.  Let's also pretend that you could get a shoe with an upper so stiff and with fasteners so tenacious that you could lock your totally rigid foot with its fused joints into position so firmly that it wouldn't flex so much as a fraction of a millimeter.  Finally, let's pretend that this rigid foot scenario was actually desirable.

On top of this, since we're talking about Freds, we can already assume that the frame is crabon, and the crank is crabon, and the pedal is crabon, and the sole of the shoe is crabon. 

Why, then, would you also need to slip in another layer of crabon in the form of this insole?

Well, because Freds live in a "bizzaro" version of "The Princess of the Pea," and any material even remotely yielding must be eliminated at all costs.  (Apart from their own doughy physiques, of course.) This is why I know my new line of crabon socks is going to be a huge success:

(Crabon sock prototype: laterally stiff and vertically hobbled.)

Or, if you're a "weight weenie," you can just skip the socks and the shoes and opt instead for my crabon insole modification:

The ultra-high modulus crabon toe thong coupled with the three-hole cleat mounting platform transforms your crabon insole into the lightest, stiffest racing flip-flop available.  

Of course, once you've eliminated all traces of flex from your Fred sled you're then ready to hit the park where you can ride around and around in circles while regaling other Freds with tales of your upgrades.  Fortunately, if your park of choice is Brooklyn's Prospect Park, you'll be pleased to know that the Department of Transportation has finally removed the "Barrels of Shame:"

I mentioned the Barrels of Shame last month, but while they may be gone we're only free temporarily because it's only a matter of time before the DOT implements some sort of "Phase II:"

"City transportation officials removed dozens orange traffic barrels intended to slow cyclists on a crash-prone hill in Prospect Park — and now they want your advice on what to do next."

It's odd that the DOT is so concerned with cyclists in the park, yet I've never heard anybody complaining about the high number of cars that speed through it during car-free hours.  For example, the park is closed to cars all weekend long, yet early Saturday morning I actually had to dodge a speeding car salmon.  Of course, he had his hazard lights on, so that makes it OK.  Actually, maybe that's the answer--hazard lights clearly legitimize every type of traffic infraction, so if we were to put them on our bicycles maybe we'd have total immunity too.  

In any case if the DOT really wants suggestions for what to do about cyclists in the park, here's my idea:

Buy us off.

Sure, I can't speak for everybody, but for the low, low price of $100,000 from the City of New York I'd happily agree to never, ever ride my bicycle in Prospect Park again.  Then, I'd take the money and invest in the Crabon Fred Miracle Dynamo Light, invented by acclaimed director Werner Herzog:

I don't know how it works since I'm not very knowledgeable about science, but my guess is that it's filled with tiny demons.  Anyway, I'd be sure to make millions, and then I could buy and sell your measly little park like that. [Snaps fingers to indicate ease with which he could buy and sell park.]

In your face, DOT.

Speaking of entrepreneurial ideas, here in New York City it's fairly commonplace to receive deliveries by bicycle, but a reader informs me there are other parts of the country in which the concept of bicycle delivery is as mysterious as a light filled with tiny demons:

Consider the writer's amazement when a single human is able to carry three (3) whole bottles of wine while riding a bicycle:

I live on a cul-de-sac in downtown Raleigh, south of Oakwood. We're grateful the pizza man even remembers where we are. So it was with awe that I watched as a trim young man on a bike rode up to my front porch and pulled from his Swiss Army backpack three bottles of wine that I had selected online just an hour before.

She should go to Portland, where the sight of a soup delivery bike would probably melt her face:

By the way, if you're like a lot of people you probably have trouble keeping your chowders straight, so when you're ordering soup by bicycle in Portland try to remember:

--New England clam chowder is the white one;

--Manhattan clam chowder is the red one;


--Portland clam chowder is the one filled with tiny chunks of smugness.

Also, if it's your first time eating Portland clam chowder you should be very careful--those smugness chunks are a choking hazard.

But while it's oddly satisfying that people are amazed by the concept of bicycle delivery, I miss the days when the bicycle still had the power to terrify a team of horses:

("On Your Left," by Frederic Remington)

A reader tells me the above painting hangs in the Amon Carter museum in Fort Worth, Texas.  Frankly, I'm not sure which is more amazing: that they actually have art museums in Fort Worth, Texas, or that people were once able to undertake "epic" bike rides without the aid of social networking or Kickstarter.  Certainly that's not the case now, and here is his modern-day equivalent:

(Forwarded by yet another reader.)

But while cyclists may not scare horses now, they can make people drop their knitting needles:

Man on bike, cat on sidewalk. - w4m - 21
Date: 2012-02-24, 8:00PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

I was walking. We made startled, awkward eye contact as I yelled after a tabby that had just run between my feet, "YOU, CAT ! ARE YOU MISSING?" I was trying to communicate with the tabby because, a block prior, I had witnessed a distressed youth hyperventilating before a LOST CAT sign posted to the trunk of a sycamore. You understand. 

You: Were on a bike, waiting on a red light. You probably always wait at red lights. I like that. You looked like you have at least one toddler at home. You're one of those guys who has mastered the art of making "fuck me" eyes with strong undertones of "I'm taken and happy, so get lost" eyes. You were hot. Like, Billy Zane when he's wearing a wig, hot. 

If you are this guy, a lost tabby, or some hyperventilating youth, hit me up. I'm a decent looking brunette, and I'm ready and willing to drop my knitting needles for the time it takes for dinner, a movie, and a good-night kiss on both cheeks. 

Though they're not quite powerful enough to overcome sexual orientation, even when paired with exotic pants:

British gay dude on bike....commented on my pants - w4m - 28 (Manhattan)
Date: 2012-02-27, 12:13AM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

You commented on my bike gear, and considering the fact you were wearing shorts today, we need to have this conversation. My pants were Outlier ( and they're the best pants I've ever owned.


You're gay, so this is totally platonic, but I still want to chat with you! You got my number but I'm not sure if you got the right one, because you never texted me. 

Your name was Alex (I think), you did some reporting for the BBC, we were going to chat about Occupy related get back at me! 

I think someone may have given someone else a fake number.

Friday, February 24, 2012

RHSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Here in New York City, we've been experiencing preternaturally springlike weather.  Ordinarily this would please me, but as I get older and increasingly crotchety I now just find it unsettling.  The whole thing's just too strange for me, and I don't know whether to go out and ride my bike or start digging a bomb shelter for the Apocalypse.

Nevertheless, yesterday I decided on the former, and though I didn't have much time to spare I did manage to slip into my Fred costume and ride a bicycle with drop bars in circles around Prospect Park. It was sunny and warm, and eventually my suspicion gave way to enjoyment.  As Mario Cipollini once said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."  (Actually, now that I think about it, that was Oscar Wilde.  I believe the famous Mario Cipollini quote was, "Please make the sit on my face.")  Similarly, as I always like to say, "The only thing better than sneaking in a bike ride on an unseasonably warm day is sneaking in a bike ride on an unseasonably warm day and also spotting the noble and elusive Y-Foil:"

A finer example of this sadly extinct breed you're unlikely to see, and it's even got the amber tires to match the amber frame.  Of course, when admiring a Y-Foil in the wild it's important to be quiet, since they scare easily and when startled they can trap you in their frames and punch holes in your body with their exposed seatposts.  I've seen people die this way, and it's not pretty.  In fact, the only thing more dangerous than startling a wild Y-Foil is sneaking up on a faired recumbent:


Frankly, the maker of this video is fortunate to be alive, and he should thank his lucky beard he wasn't sucked into the cockpit and devoured whole.  (Or, worse, the rider could have been in there, in which case he would have bored the filmmaker to death with his observations about efficiency and aerodynamics.)  Anyway, I like the part where he says the recumbent looks "like a little bullet," though I was thinking it looks a lot more like a suppository.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right you'll be ecstatic, and if you're wrong you'll see evil Dutch pro-bike propaganda.  (Which, depending on your own personal smugness quotient, might also make you ecstatic.)

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and beware of rabid Y-Foils.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) Belt drive is out; ______ _____ is in.

--Shaft drive
--Direct drive
--String drive
--Quartz drive

(Fiets of strength.)

2) The dutch word "fiets," which means "bicycle," is linguistically descended from a German phrase meaning:

--"Replacement horse"
--"Substitute mule"
--"Auxiliary stallion"
--"Crotch chariot"


3) David Byrne discovered the bicycle.


(Police accessories for your Segway: So hot right now.)

4) The hot new accessory for your replacement horse is:

--The cockpit-mounted periscope
--The on-board nail clipper
--The suede top tube pad
--The houseplant

5) This rider's helment is an homage to which "Star Wars" character?

--Chewbaccadiah the Mennonite Wookiee

("Electronic yodeling pickle?"  Is that what they're calling them now?)

6) Pickle delivery by bike!  Must be:

--San Francisco

7) Artisanal jerky and artisanal springs!  Must be:


***Special Technology-Themed Bonus Question***

Breakaway _______:


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Off The Back: How To Dismount Your Replacement Horse

Fixed-gear bicycles.  Remember those?  Well, despite what you may think, not only are people still riding them, but they also continue to invent creative new ways of getting off of them:

I like this dismount, particularly because it involves doing sort of a "Triple Lindy" off of the rear filth prophylactic:

Just add a stiffer fender, a kiddie pool, and some sound effects and you've got yourself one sweet dismounting "edit."

Meanwhile, as you may know, "fiets" is the Dutch word for bicycle, and if you're like me you've never, ever wondered about the origin of the word.  However, Dutch speakers have wondered about it, since apparently its etymology has been shrouded in mystery.  Finally though, the shroud has been lifted.  Yes, linguists have finally solved the mystery of the "fiets," and the reader who forwarded me the article was kind enough to translate it for me:

Two language professors from the University of Ghent have solved perhaps one of the biggest mysteries in the Dutch etymology: where did the -quite recent- word "fiets" come from?
The discovery was actually accidental. Gunnar de Boel, professor of comparative linguistics at Ghent University, offered cider  to German friends from the southern Rhineland.

It then became clear that they regarded cider as "vice wine". They call it "Viez", a substitute for wine, as it were, and in certain parts of Germany that is pronounced like"fiets".

de Boel made ​​the connection with our "fiets" and  proposed his hypothesis with Professor Luc de Grauwe.

In German, the new vehicle with pedals was called "vice Pferd" at the time, literally "replacement horse." This was later shortened to "Viez", like the abbreviation from "automobiel" to "auto". The word that is pronounced like  "fiets" must have later been blown over to Flanders and to the Netherlands.

The word "fiets" emerged in Dutch around 1870 for the first time. Since 1886, the origin of the word became stuff for intense debate among linguists. For 140 years no one could adequately demonstrate where the word came from, until today.

So it is likely that the Dutch word for bicycle originated from German and meant something like "substitute horse". This etymological explanation also clarifies the pejorative synonym "stalen ros", meaning "steel steed", a common expression in Dutch.

I'm not sure I really followed any of that, but in any case I share this with you for two (2) reasons:

1) While the subject of Dutch etymology may seem a bit dry, being able to hold forth on the origin of the Dutch word for bicycle is exactly the sort of skill that can get you "laid" in Portland.  In fact, if you arrive at a Portland bar, execute the "Triple Lindy" fixie dismount, and then segue into the whole "fiets" thing, you'll suddenly be the most eligible bachelor or bachelorette in Multnomah County.  (Having a sweet old-timey moustache helps if you're a man, and having sweet old-timey underarm hair helps if you're a woman.)

2) From now on, I will refer to my bicycle a "replacement horse."

Speaking of Dutch cycling, a reader just sent me this photo of the Rabobank replacement horse racing team engaging in some early spring training:

(Somewhere, someone with white bar tape now thinks McDonald's is "PRO.")

Clearly they intend to Super Size their results this season.

Moving on from etymology to techny-ology, on Tuesday I mentioned belt drives, and when it comes to replacement horses you can bet that pretty much anything being touted as revolutionary replacement horse technology has been around for years in various incarnations.  Consider, for example, Biopace and "Biopace II: The Sequel."  (Tagline: "It's back, only this time it's even more expensive and lobsided.)  So I found myself browsing a popular user-edited online encyclopedia, where I found myself reading about the Bridgestone Picnica, a belt-driven folding bike that was introduced in 1985:

Being unfamilar with the proportions of the Picnica, the above photo sent my sense of perspective into a tailspin.  At first I thought the woman in the bumblebee hat was a giant, and then I thought the guy in the yellow shirt was tiny, and then I finally gave up and decided to watch more Brompton folding porn instead:

(Forwarded by a reader.)

To paraphrase an eloquent music fan, "More interpretive folding bike dancing, or Ima fucking kill you!"  In fact, the only thing I enjoy more than Brompton folding bike porn is "Star Wars"-inspired custom helmentry:

As you've no doubt guessed, the above rider and was spotted in Portland, and if you're looking for the equivalent of a "Three Feet Please" jersey that will ensure any potential dating prospects keep a safe distance from you at all times then I don't think you could do much better than an R2D2 helment.  I'm not sure where he's going, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was on his way to a hardcore action figure role-playing session with Wikipedia Nonplussed Bib Short Guy:

(Bib shorts are the ideal undergarment when wearing a Stormtrooper costume.)

By the way, the caption for the Wikipedia Nonplussed Bib Short Guy photo is:

"A man wearing bib style biking shorts. Normally a jersey would be worn on top."

Normally, yes--but not always, as this photo from a reader in Australia proves:

(International Fred Hand Signal for "Slowing!!!")

It's always a good idea to wear your bib shorts over your jersey.  That way, anything you're storing in your jersey pockets remains safely inaccessible, and you can focus on the hunt for bike lane romance:

Looking good in the bike lane - m4w - 30 (East Village)
Date: 2012-02-20, 6:01PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

So I think we got off on the wrong foot last night just before 8pm. You were standing at the corner of 10th and 2nd Ave (I think that was it, I was riding pretty fast though) in the middle of the bike lane, gazing intently at your cell phone. I was on a bike (obviously, it's the bike lane afterall). I rang my bell at you (real slick, I know) and said something to the effect of "YOU'RE STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING BIKE LANE", or "GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE BIKE LANE" because I really didn't want to crash into you. Hitting girls is not what I'm about. That's when you fired back, "Whoa, chill the fuck out dude" and I knew that we had something special. In an instant whatever was captivating you so much on your cell phone while you were standing in the middle of the bike lane was no longer significant. You see, I didn't have many options at that point. To my right there was traffic and even cars making left hand turns down 2nd Ave so swerving in that direction simply wasn't happening. And I definitely didn't have an option on my left, with things like parked cars and curbs so that wasn't going to work either. You pretty much just needed to get the hell out of my way, so that's why I said those mean things to you. Maybe I did it because I already care deeply for you. Who says there's no such thing as love at first sight? So, how's about we put the past behind us and meet up for a drink or two? 

Isn't stopping an option?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kicking It Over: Innovation and Self-Expression

So far this week, we've looked at two (2) videos made by two separate human-shaped animals, each of which states in its own unique dialect of moronese that people should ride their bikes on the sidewalk or else they should get run over and die.

Subsequently, one of these videographers (whose name I cannot recall) has made his video private:

While the other, "DonnieDudeDarnit," has removed his altogether:

I'm oddly fascinated by the sorts of people who take the time to record deliberately provocative videos, post them on a public forum, and then remove them when they actually elicit provocation.  It's a strange human impulse, like challenging people to fistfights and then running away, or sexually propositioning people and then making lame excuses when they actually accept.  ("Oh, sorry, I left my genitals in my other pants.")  I suppose what it comes down to is that certain people are oddly thrilled by the notion that someone might catch them doing their weird Buffalo Bill from "Silence of the Lambs" tuck-in-the-pee-pee dance and so they leave the blinds open, but when people actually start peeking in they panic and go back to sewing their bodysuits made from human skin.

Speaking of handicrafts, a reader has informed me that you can now purchase little planters for your bike:

Are you one of those people who is consumed by an unbearable longing for your houseplants when you're away from home?  If so, this horticultural "hipster cyst" is for you:

Do you love riding bikes? What about plants? Bring your plants on an adventure and let them enjoy some sunshine and fresh air! If you’ve ever dreamed about attaching a plant to your bike, now you’re in luck! This bike planter is made with 3D printing tehcnology, so not only will you be showing off your love of nature, but you’ll be showing off a little piece of the future.

Do I love riding bikes?  Yes I do.  What about plants?  Well, I dunno, I never really thought about it, but I suppose they must love riding bikes too.  And it's true, it's not really fair to keep a plant cooped up inside all day--you can tell they resent it because sometimes when you've been away for a long time you get home only to find they've torn up your clothing and peed in your shoes.  Moreover, I have in fact dreamed of attaching a plant to my bike, though it wasn't a "Wow, if only..." dream, it was more of a nightmare in which my hands turned to vines, I started sprouting palm fronds from my head, and I became a permanent part of my Scattante.  It was awful.  Still, I think the bike planter is a pretty good idea, if only because I can finally fire my very expensive plant nanny and just take my houseplants with me everywhere I go instead.

Of course, if you have a lot of plants a bike planter may not be enough, and you might just have to get a botanical bakfiets:

No helments on those plants?  For shame!

And certainly no plant-portaging bike is complete without an ivy lock:

Sadly, it's no match for a decent pair of pruning shears.

However, for the ultimate in bike-and-plant smugness, you really can't beat using your bike to make fine art paper out of invasive plant species:

Simply gather some vegetation, run it through your bicycle-powered beater, and then write your most smug insights in calligraphy using 140 characters or less.  Then, frame it and hang it in your local coffee house or bicycle co-op.  This is known as "artisanal Tweeting."

I wonder if there are any bicycle paper makers in Portland.  If not, I think I may launch a Kickstarter for a sustainable bike-powered artisanal toilet paper business.  All I'd have to do is set up one of these bike-powered paper mills somewhere with a lot of plants, like maybe Forest Park, and then I could pedal away making toilet paper all day and sell it for $25 a foot.  Sure, that's a lot compared to a roll of Charmin, and my product will no doubt contain all sorts of irritating and possibly painful imperfections ("Oops!  Looks like some poison oak got in the beater again!"), but you can't put a price on a self-satisfied and utterly guilt-free bathroom experience.

In fact, I got so excited about becoming a toilet papersmith that I headed over to Kickstarter to see if anyone had beat me to it.  They hadn't, though there was someone who wants to make bike tacos:

Sometime during the past ten years or so food preparation officially surpassed filmmaking as the loftiest form of creative expression for the liberal arts demographic.  Furthermore, it's essential that this food be prepared and served from some sort of vehicle (preferably a truck or a bicycle) instead of from an actual restaurant.  Part of the reason for this is of course that it's cheaper that way, but it's also because gentrification moves so quickly now that you need to be able to descend upon a new neighborhood within hours of reading a Tweet about it so you can provide all those young "pioneers" with the food products to which their refined palates have grown accustomed.   In any case, I have no doubt that if Darren Aronofsky were getting started today he'd never have made the movie "Pi;" instead, he'd be selling actual pies from a bakfiets.

But when it comes to creative expression, one of the most timelessly uncool forms is the art of puppetry, and the Austin Bike Zoo are combining theater, puppetry, and bicycles in a way I'd always hoped was impossible:

The Austin Bike Zoo’s Human Powered Puppetry is dedicated to inspiring communities through the creation of unique human powered vehicles, bicycle-based theatrical performances and educational programs for youth.

This particular play is called "A Typical Day in Portland:"

And it features the World's Scariest Recumbent:

As well as some thrilling stage combat:

(The protagonist of "A Typical Day in Portland" fights the dreaded Crotch Monster.)

I always thought Austin's motto was "Keep Austin Weird," but apparently it's actually "Keep Austin in a State of Delusion Akin to the Latter Stages of Syphilis."

Lastly, speaking of recumbents, while browsing Kickstarter I also discovered this recumbent motorcycle:

I really think the inventor may be on to something, though I'd also recommend a few tweaks.  In particular, I'd add a second pair of wheels for stability, as well as a canopy or roof for protection from the elements.  The enhanced stability would also allow additional room for passengers and cargo.  Here's a crude rendering:

(Behold: The Recumbent Motorcycle)

Sure, it doesn't have the thrillingly raw appeal of a Harley-Davidson, but there's no reason you can't drive this bad boy while decked out in heavy boots, leather chaps, and a skid lid.  When you slip into formation with all those burly bikers, just explain to them you're riding recumbent motorycle, crank up "Born to Be Wild," and be sure to blip the throttle at the next underpass.