Friday, June 29, 2012

BSNYC Friday FUn CKwiz!


This blog will be closed next week.

Actually, it won't technically be closed, since you're free to enter and wander about wherever you'd like.  It's just that I won't be updating it, nor will anybody be around to clean the bathrooms.  If you're wondering why I'll be gone, the detailed answer is because I have to do some stuff.  However, once I've did that stuff I'll be back on Monday, July 9th with regular updates.

Secondingly, speaking of America's Favorite Family Fun Park, this coming week Americans will observe Independence Day.  If you're unfamiliar with this holiday, it's a magical time during which we take a break from shooting at each other with guns and instead focus on blowing ourselves up with fireworks:

Actually, the narrator of the above video sounds like he might be Canadian, but almost melting your face off with a Roman candle mounted to a department store bike is still very much in the July 4th spirit.

Thirdsly, tomorrow begins the annual touring of France known as the Tour de France, during which the fastest riders in the world who are not injured, suspended, or incarcerated will compete to win the fabled mayo jawn, which is the second-most coveted prize in cyclesport (the first being an exoneration in a doping investigation).  Amazingly, it's now gotten to the point that the favorites are last year's winner Cadel Evans and no year's winner Bradley Wiggins:

("Where the hell did I leave my sunglasses?")

The hopes of an entire nation rest on those sideburns, and it will be sad to watch those hopes slowly sink like a bunch of kittens adrift on a pond in a boat made from construction paper.  Of course, if he does win, I'll gladly travel to the UK and publicly eat my hat, but only because that's still vastly preferable to partaking in British cuisine.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz, which you'll have a whole extra week to complete.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right then get excited and punch the cat, and if you're wrong you'll see the Shark bike.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and if you must light fireworks please refrain from pointing them directly at your face.  I look forward to seeing you again, faces intact, on Monday, July 9th.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) Amazingly, the cycling media continues to treat Levi Leipheimer like a serious contender in the Tour de France.


2) Trick Question: Though it briefly visits other nations, the Tour de France takes place almost entirely in which European country?


(Author Martin Amis, abjectly miserable in his brownstone prison.)

3) What is a "good spondee?"

--"Strong. Place. You can’t stress one or the other. Two big stresses.”
--A refreshing chilled beverage sold by 7-11
--British slang meaning "money well spent"
--Australian slang for exceptional fellatio

4) According to Edgar Allan Poe, baptism is a bad spondee.


5) Which of the following is not among the reasons to ride a bike as listed by the AAA?

--"It's a great form of exercise"
--"It's good for the environment"
--"It's fun to ride"
--"It's a good last resort for when your license is suspended or your car is in the shop."

6) "LumaHelm can also:"

--"...visualize heart rate to make other (road) users aware that the helmet wearer is a fragile human being and makes visible to others that the wearer invests physical effort."
--"...emit a series of chirping and whirring noises to alert (the wearer) to danger."
--"...stumulate dopamine receptors in the brain to make the wearer's ride more pleasurable."
--"...let the world know that the rider owns a vast collection of 'Star Wars' memorabilia and has never had a romantic relationship with another human being."

7) The film "Fixed Gear Addis Ababa" is about a rider who, after being forced to walk his fixie up a hill in Ethiopia, experiences the epiphany that he should just grow up and get a bike with derailleurs already.


***Special Trick Bonus Question***


Simply calling something a trick question is sufficient to make it a trick question.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Instant Identity: Just Add Money

Further to yesterday's post, a reader left the following comment:

Anonymous said...

Mandatory helmet laws weed out the people who don't LOVE riding their bikes. Fight it, but ride not matter what!

June 27, 2012 8:56 PM

This is exactly the problem.  I don't want to "weed out the people who don't LOVE riding their bikes." People who love riding bikes are obsessive-compulsive freaks, and I say this as one of those people.  For the most part, America is a crappy place to ride a bike, which is why the people who actually ride bikes anyway are such weirdos.  I don't want to be surrounded by other weirdos like me.  American cycling badly need an infusion of people who aren't especially excited about riding bikes but do it anyway.  This is the only way we can water down our extreme dorkitude.  Otherwise, cycling in America is going to continue to look like this:

Before you complain that this image is not safe for work, please explain to your boss and colleagues that I am using it in a sociological and anthropological context, and therefore it is no more offensive than anything you're likely come across in "National Geographic" while waiting for your dental appointment.  It's also a valid cultural exploration, since the guy on the right is no doubt an authentic Rastafarian, albeit by way of Lake Forest.  And now, thanks to the miracle of Kickstarter, you can sponsor this image and others like it by giving money to "Positive Bodies: A World Naked Bike Ride Supporters Art Show:"

This project is very important, and here's why:

Unbending in the face of pressure and criticism for not posting these images on the web, he has been waiting for the right moment to exhibit these striking images as prints that can truly honor the courage of the participants.  After three years nearly 400 WNBR-C tastemakers have collaborated in this comprehensive collection in support of positive body image and freedom of expression.

Or, if you prefer, it's perhaps the most powerful argument against mandatory helment laws that it's possible to make, because as long as we keep cycling marginalized and freakish then people like this will be compelled to keep shoving their unkempt genitalia and unfortunate body art in everybody's faces.

Speaking of Kickstarter, "social panhandling" is rapidly becoming a potent force of social change.  See, you can ascribe as much metaphysical or spiritual significance to human existence as you want, but the simple fact is that life is mostly about exchanging stuff.  We all need stuff--food, water, shelter, boutique deodorizers formulated specifically for caucasian dreadlocks--and societies evolve around the sharing of this stuff.  This is because you can't just go around kicking people in the nuts and taking what you want.  There needs to be rules for who gets what and how.  Until recently, here's how "stuff exchange" traditionally worked in our society:

--You need stuff;
--You go to someone else who already has stuff and ask them if you can help them manage all that stuff in exchange for some stuff of your own (this is called "getting a job");
--You do your job, and in your free time you enjoy your stuff;
--As you accumulate both stuff and experience, you eventually strike some sort of happy balance between stuff management and life enjoyment, and this unique balance determines who you are;
--You die.

Now, though, all of this is hopelessly outdated, since thanks to Kickstarter all you need to do is just come up with an idea and then ask people for money:

The real genius of Kickstarter is two-fold, in that it:

1) Inverts the concept of "supply and demand."  It used to be that people had demands, and so they paid other people who were able to help them fulfill those demands.  Now, the way it works is you simply demand money from other people, and then you supply them with something they didn't even want in the first place;

2) It cuts out that pesky middleman known as "evolving" and instead allows you to conjure your identity from thin air.

Best of all, it allows you to "bundle" your leisure and creative endeavors.  Before Kickstarter, maybe you'd save up your money to take a long bike trip.  Then, maybe after the bike trip, you'd record some music about that trip.  If you were lucky, maybe people would enjoy that music, and if you were extremely lucky, maybe people would enjoy it so much that they'd even want to see a documentary about how you made that music.  This tedious process could take years, and success was far from guaranteed.  Now, though, you just ask for money so you can do the bike tour and the album and the documentary all at once, like when Disney releases a movie and a toy and a "making of" special and a fast food meal deal all on the same day, and the success is just assumed:

To me, this is the most fascinating aspect of Kickstarter--the way so many projects walk the fine line between self-reflexivity and auto-fellatio:

("Help me help you help me make art about my art.")

Of course, it's essential to keep in mind that these are merely the cynical musings of somebody who's hopelessly staid and ornery and whose blog is itself a daily act of auto-fellatio.  Certainly if someone wants to take a bike trip and someone else is willing to give him money for that bike trip so that he'll burn their name into his guitar then by all means they should all sit back and enjoy the fellatio.  Who knows?  The ensuing album/documentary could be a masterpiece.  And certainly some of these projects do have the potential to make a real difference.  Consider this one:

Creative endeavors are one thing, but you can't tell me we don't need more "deditcation to the peace building process:"

Anyway, this project reached its funding goal last year:

And since then they have indeed been "bi-keen for peace."  In fact, I visited their website, where I learned they've been saving the world by having incoherent interactions with the locals:

He talked fast and continued to use his hands and arms enthusiastically to emphasize whateverthehell point he was trying to make. He continued on about “papas”. Julia and I smiled and nodded. We understood “potatoes” but we’re sure of the details. We continued to attempt successful communication. We used phrases from my lonely planet phrase book to try to get him to slow down. “Puede mas despacio por favor?” We even pointed to the written phrase in the book. He looked at the words, but appeared to not read. Instead of trying to understand, he treated it as a game. Talking faster and using more hand gestures. Julia and I resolved to play along with his game. We used more hand gestures and talked of irrelevant things. It didn’t matter. The innocent boyish smile on this older mans face glowed with joy that there were people in his big and lonely cab to ride with him.

That's $5,180 well spent.  Say what you will about Kickstarter, but there's no more effective tool for launching ill-prepared Americans into the world at large, where they proceed to practice a strange form of altruism that mostly involves asking poor people for favors.

We may need less kickstarting and more restraining.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You Can't Spell "Wednesday" Without "Wednesday," Though You Can Abbreviate It

Further to yesterday's post, a reader informs me that, according to a local news poll, 79% of the kinds of doofuses who participate in local news polls think cyclists should be required to wear helmets:

I'm willing to get behind a mandatory helment law, but only if we also pass a law that says all pet cats and dogs must wear helments as well at all times--and that includes indoor cats, because you never know when a potted plant is going to fall off a windowsill and clock Mittens right on the bean.  However, I'm willing to bet that a pet helment law will never happen, since while non-cycling New Yorkers are perfectly happy to demean cyclists by forcing them to wear foam hats for no reason, they actually tend to treat their pets with some measure of dignity.

Speaking of helment laws, another reader tells me Felix Salmon (who is not a cartoon character) is also against them--and he's actually smart, so in your face:

First of all, consider this chart:

Then consider this:

The x-axis shows bikers as a percentage of total commuters, while most bike trips in New York are not home-to-work commutes at all. If you included all New York cyclists, New York would have a higher ratio of cyclists, and fatalities per cyclist would go down. Put it this way: the chart is taking the total number of bike fatalities, and dividing it by the total number of bike commuters, rather than the total number of bicyclists as a whole. 

Yeah, I didn't understand any of that either, and that's how you know this Felix guy is one clever Salmon.  All I know is that I'm pretty sure the "X-Axis" is a new mountain bike pedal from Time, though I'm not sure what that has to do with cycling fatalities, unless that chart is just showing the float/release curve.

But here's the part I did understand:

Liu is also pushing to make helmets mandatory; I’m not such a fan of that idea. For one thing, I have yet to see any empirical data showing that mandatory helmets increase safety. And in general, insofar as a mandatory helmet law would reduce the number of cyclists, it would also reduce the safety-in-numbers effect.

To that I would like to add an emphatic and articulate "What he said."  I also appreciated this little bit of irony:

Liu also wheeled out the media-relations guy from AAA New York, of all people, to say that the best way to prevent cyclists incurring serious injuries is to force those cyclists to wear helmets. That’s just depressing: one would hope that a car-drivers’ organization might at least pay lip service to safer driving, rather than putting the onus entirely on the bikers.

Taking bike safety advice from the AAA media-relations guy is like taking new car advice from David Byrne:

("The Huyndai Elantra is the obvious choice.  It comes in lots of pretty colors and the cupholders are awesome.")

By the way, if you want more cycling tips from America's premiere motoring club, just watch this instructional video:

This video tells you pretty much everything you need to know about riding a bike along the skidmarks of Canada's soiled underpants.  First of all, there are only three (3) acceptable reasons for an adult to ride a bicycle, and those are:

--"It's a great form of exercise"
--"It's good for the environment"
--"It's fun to ride"

So remember, if you ride for any other reason--like because it's practical, or because it's less expensive--you are a godless communist and should take the next steamship back to Amsterhagen forever.

Also, make sure you're highly visible at all times to ensure that you're readily identifiable as the freak you are.  Acceptable attire includes Tridork:

Human Margarita:

And of course Chalk Outline:

Just kidding about that last one.  Police only use chalk outlines at crime scenes, and everybody knows that in America it's perfectly legal to run over cyclists.

In any case, even Felix Salmon does have some concerns about the bike share program, those being:

Meanwhile, my biggest fear is that we’ll see the opposite: a bunch of people who have no idea what they’re doing, riding on sidewalks, salmoning, and generally causing chaos.

I particularly enjoyed that Felix Salmon used the term "salmoning," though it's unclear if he means it in the "riding against traffic" sense or the "riding while interpreting data" sense.

Also pertinent to yesterday's post is this comment, which was appended to it by a reader:

Anonymous said...

I actually feel for someon who has had their bike, or any other hard earned property, stolen. I wish I could be as cavalier as you wild cat but then again I don't own a stable of expensive artisinal bikes for every occassion. It don't think it's comparable to a serious crime but it still sucks hard.

June 26, 2012 4:32 PM

First of all, I don't own a stable of artisanal bikes for every occasion, and I'm conspicuously lacking a handmade lugged 650b brunching porteur with a handlebar-mounted French press.  Secondly, as for wishing he could be as cavalier as me, my response to that is "You're welcome," because my "job" is to be cavalier about this sort of stuff so that you don't have to be.  Here is an extensive, though by no means complete, list of bike-related stuff I feel duty-bound not to give a shit about:

--When someone's ugly bike gets stolen, as in yesterday's post;
--When that same person gets his ugly stolen bike back because he constantly kisses the asses of a bunch of music dorks on Twitter, and then writes an article in "Salon" about it;
--Helments, and the wearing or non-wearing of same;

--The new Dura Ace and how it compares to the old Dura Ace;
--The latest crabon bike and what some reviewer writes after sitting on it for five minutes;
--Amateur bike racers' results, data, and race reports.  (This is because being good at amateur bike racing is not a talent.  At best, it's a dubious skill, like being double-jointed and grossing out girls in the school cafeteria.)

Fortunately, if you want to hear people giving a shit about these things, you're in luck, because it describes the entire rest of the cycling Internet.  And if something bike-related is not on the above list, it's safe to assume I also don't give a shit about that either--unless it pertains directly to me, in which case I care about it passionately.

Speaking of yesterday's post (and myself), in that post I remarked that I couldn't believe how much free time the people involved in that stolen bike recovery had.  Well, ironically, that very afternoon I suddenly found myself with a small yet enticing window of free time, during which I resolved to ride a bicycle.  Now, ordinarily when cycling for enjoyment I'd put on a bunch of stretchy clothes like the latent Fred that I am, but given the small amount of time this seemed even sillier than it usually does.  Plus, awhile back I read this book buy this guy:

In it, the guy says it's OK to ride a bike in your underpants, so I decided that's what I was going to do.  (Though I also had clothes on over my underpants, because I'm just self-conscious that way.)  Then, for the first time since returning from Italy and the puzzlingly-named Full Bike Day, I removed my detachable travel chariot from its case and reassembled it.  I'm pleased to report that even after being molested by baggage handlers in four countries (I'm referring to the bike bag, and not me, though I suppose if I'd been molested by baggage handlers in four countries I'd have a potentially lucrative lawsuit on my hands) it was still in good shape.  The only maintenance I needed to perform was taping the bars--though when I say "tape the bars" I obviously mean this:

New handlebar tape is for effete roadies and one percenters.

I also schmeared overpriced cream cheese on the underside of the saddle Eric "The Chamferer" Murray made me, because he said if I didn't he'd fucking kill me, and then he put his chamfering knife in my nostril for emphasis:

By the way, one might say I haven't quite earned the "World Traveller" sobriquet, but if riding from a hotel to a book signing and back again and then ordering room service in four (4) countries (one of which isn't even English-speaking) doesn't qualify me as a world traveller then I don't know what does.

Anyway, thusly equipped, I rode until I wound up at the beach:

I should add that, in addition to wearing underpants, I also wore a fanny pack:

There was a time, many years ago, when I would often ride this very same route clad in a t-shirt and a fanny pack, simply because I didn't know any better.  Then came the stretchy clothes, and the clicky shoes, and the aversion to "junk miles," and before I knew it I had to read a book to remind me of how much fun I'd been having back in the fanny pack days:

Anyway, I didn't have much time to hang around and relax, so instead I took a picture that made it look like I was hanging around and relaxing in the hopes that doing so would convince me that I was actually relaxing:

I suppose taking a contrived relaxation picture is the underpants-and-fanny-pack equivalent of Strava.

Speaking of world traveling, the guy who made this movie forwarded me this movie:

And you'll either be relieved or disgusted to know that people still haven't tired of parading themselves in front of the poor people of the world on their fixiebikes:

Apparently, our cities are no longer "edgy" enough, so in order to feel special they have to travel to places like this:

("I'm gonna gentrify the fuck outta this town.")

Then, they have to act like drinking coffee is a big deal:

At first I thought the smiling guy on the left was under the mistaken impression that he was actually watching the filming of a real TV show or documentary, but then I realized he was probably smiling for altogether different reasons:

Anyway, hats off and underpants on for the filmmaker:

And lastly, from North London comes this cockpit:

Which incorporates Grip Shift nubbins to stunning effect:

Strangely, the reader who sent me these pictures called the setup "subtle," though I guess that's just the British spelling of the word we here in Uh-merica spells as "suttle."  He also speculated that the setup was designed "possibly to accommodate an extra pair of tiny t-rex hands."

I'm inclined to agree.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Popularity Contests: It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

The world is full of injustice and misfortune.  Natural disasters decimate cities.  Corrupt totalitarian governments oppress their citizens.  Millions of people are still in thrall simply because of their gender or ethnicity.  For example, did you know that in parts of Canada it's still illegal for people of Scandinavian descent to vote or own property?  Well, it's true, just listen to this recent piece on NPR.

On the other hand, here's something that doesn't even register on the injustice scale: When a bike gets stolen.  However, you wouldn't know this by the way people carry on publicly when it happens to them.  I realize it's politically incorrect in the cycling world to suggest that stealing a bike isn't actually tantamount to abducting a child.  I also know it's frowned upon to be completely unmoved when someone absconds with someone else's special two-wheeled snowflake.  Nevertheless, this is how I usually feel.  

Sure, you can call it schadenfreude, but that's not what this is.  According to the dictionary, schnadenfreude is "enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others," and I don't enjoy it when someone's bike gets stolen, I just don't give a shit.  Actually, even that's not true.  Sometimes I do actually give a shit.  Here are the circumstances under which I am emotionally moved by a bike theft:

--The bike belonged to me
--The bike belonged to someone close to me
--The bike belonged to a stranger but was taken from them violently
--The bike belonged to someone who was so dependent on it that without it he or she is going to starve

Other than that, when I hear about someone's bike getting stolen, a shrug of the shoulders and a quick "Huh, that sucks" is pretty much all I need to shake off the story and get back to enjoying my Froot Loops.  It's not that I lack compassion for my fellow cyclists.  Every time I read another story about a rider getting injured or killed I am gutted.  But when I hear yet another tale of woe about someone's fixie getting nabbed from in front of the bar I'm indifferent.  That's just the way I'm calibrated.  That's also why I didn't find this story even remotely inspiring:

It also didn't help that a key player in the bike's recovery was Sasha Frere-Jones, whose writing embodies pretty much all that I find loathsome:

In fact, it was a team effort. I was helped by several dozen strangers; by Slate's political blogger Dave Weigel and film critic Dana Stevens; by New Yorker music critics Sasha Frere-Jones and Alex Ross; by singer-songwriter Neko Case; by three plainclothes New York City policemen; and especially by writer and musician Nick Sylvester. All those people—and Twitter—found my bicycle.

Nor that the owner didn't even lock up the bike in the first place before adjourning to a coffee house where he proceeded to basically just dick around:

Except that I hadn’t locked the bike. Maybe I was delirious from the heat, or maybe I was just careless. I’d leaned the bike against the parking meter but neglected to chain it. I bought an iced coffee and settled down to work. I remember glancing up a few times and seeing my bike sitting there. I wrote a sentence or two. I surfed the Internet a bit; I typed a tweet. The clock ticked. Somewhere, an angel wept. And just after 2:20, I looked up. The bike had vanished. 

Which is not surprising, since bike theft is a "national epidemic:"

Of course it had. Bicycle theft is a national epidemic. Each year, more than 1 million bikes are stolen in the United States. In 2010, the most recent year for which the FBI has figures, stolen bikes accounted for 3.3 percent of U.S. larceny-theft cases. Those numbers only begin to tell the story, as most bike thefts go unreported. New York is widely regarded as the nation’s bicycle-theft capital—Kryptonite’s signature bike lock is called the “New York Lock”—and in New York, as elsewhere, bike stealing spikes during times of economic distress.  

Is it fair to count yourself as a victim of a national epidemic when you didn't even lock your bike in the first place?  Sure, technically it was stolen.  And sure, regardless of whether the bike was locked or not a crime is still a crime and the criminal deserves to be punished.  Nevertheless, the fact that it was a bike is more or less incidental, since if you leave anything even remotely portable on the sidewalk in New York City someone is going to make off with it eventually.  Sure, it had two wheels and a chain drive, but practically speaking there was no difference between it and an old discarded computer monitor.

Anyway, if you're old enough, you may recall the ironic expression "Alert the media!"  Well, thanks to social networking, now you actually can alert the media, and that's exactly what this person did:

Neither Book Court nor Brian Lehrer (nor Jay-Z, nor Mayor Bloomberg) answered the call. But the news was getting around, thanks to friends and colleagues, some of them with large Twitter followings. Slate’s Dana Stevens (9,600 followers) and Dave Weigel (64,000) retweeted it. So did Slate, the mother ship (370,000-plus). The New Yorker music brain trust, Sasha Frere-Jones and Alex Ross, spread the word to their combined 46,000 followers. One of the subscribers to Frere-Jones’s Twitter feed is the indie rock star Neko Case, who retweeted my plea to her 59,000 followers.

And guess who ended up saving the day:

The pivotal player turned out to be Frere-Jones.

Thanks to the fact that he has friends with ample leisure time.

His retweet made its way to Nick Sylvester, a journalist, musician, and co-founder of the record label and production company, God Mode. (Thus his Twitter handle, @GODMODEINTERNET.) Sylvester was working at his office, just east of Union Square in Manhattan. He sent me an email describing his afternoon:

I was dead set on exercising but didn't have any clean gym shorts. This was around 4pm...[I] walked over to Paragon Sports on Broadway to pick up something basic. On the way I passed a bike with enormous white wheels. It was an absurd looking bicycle. I don't ride bikes, but I remember liking that the wheels had the words “Thick Brick” on them. I picked up shorts and went to the gym and did my whole routine and so on. Around 5:30 I got back to my computer. (I don't keep Twitter on my phone anymore, it makes me too anxious.) That's when I saw Sasha's retweet about your bike being stolen. Something about you tweeting "only 1 bike like mine in Brooklyn" made me click the link to the photo. There were those wheels again, the Thick Bricks.

It was at this point that I paused to reevaluate my life--not because I was humbled by how helpful these people were, but rather because I was stunned that they actually had so much time to be helpful.  I'm a semi-professional bike blogger, and you'd be hard-pressed to dream up an easier "job" than the one I have.  So why is it that, despite having the world's least demanding and most fatuous vocation, I still never find myself sitting around at 4pm on a weekday thinking, "Huh, I'd sure like to work out today, I think I'll meander on over to Paragon and go shorts shopping because I have a fuckton of time on my hands."?  I mean, you have to have serious amounts of leisure time to wander around the city helping to solve mysteries.  Frankly, I don't see how it's possible without being a member of the British aristocracy.  Clearly I'm doing something very, very wrong.  Actually, every person in this story seems to have a stupendous amount of free time, from the victim on down.

Anyway, ultimately it's clear to me that you can get your stolen bike back in New York City, provided you follow these three (3) simple steps:

1) Be popular
2) Be annoying
3) Have an absurd amount of leisure time

The rest of us, unfortunately, are fucked.

(And yes, when my bike gets stolen and I send out the inevitable "Help me" Tweet, please feel free to mock me.)

Of course, while it's pretty easy to steal a bike in New York, politicians seem intent on making actual voluntary bike share as difficult as possible, and now we have another official saying that everybody should have to wear helments:

Here's why:

Liu called for making helmets mandatory for bike share users, citing DOT statistics that in 97 percent of fatal accidents, the rider was not wearing a helmet. 

To which Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives has the logical reply:

A plan that forces New Yorkers to wear helmets won't prevent the crashes that put them at risk in the first place," she said. "To protect people from gun violence, we don't force them to wear bulletproof vests -- we correctly focus on stopping gun violence in the first place. "

Having already affronted the "bike culture" by revealing that I don't give a crap about bike theft, I'll also go ahead and add that I also don't give a crap about helments--especially when we're talking about bike share, since riding bike for ten blocks at 8mph without some foam on your head is just not that big a deal.  If the city's worried about lawsuits, maybe they should take a look at the police department, which seems to draw plenty of them--though they'll probably just force us to wear helmets all the time instead so nobody gets injured during all those stop-and-frisks.  Then, before you know it, we'll all be wearing these (forwarded by a reader):

Evidently, the idea is that the lights will remind motorists that you're special:

Furthermore, LumaHelm can also visualize heart rate to make other (road) users aware that the helmet wearer is a fragile human being and makes visible  to others that the wearer invests physical effort. Increased physical effort can lead to decreased attention, hence the LumaHelm makes visible that cyclists might not be in the same bodily state as their fellow road users such as car drivers, hopefully contributing to a better understanding of each other’s different needs, furthering the appreciation of each other.

I agree it's important to remind other road users of your different needs, though generally speaking I find a middle finger is sufficient.

Lastly, in more news that's perhaps only of interest to New Yorkers, another reader has forwarded me this article, which reveals that Robert Moses actually liked bikes:

Consider this:

Such as bike paths. Few people think of Moses as a cycling advocate, what with his infamous—and unpardonable—refusal to include bike lanes on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (ostensibly for fear of suicides). But earlier in his career, Moses was a keen advocate of bicycling and built New York City's first true bicycle infrastructure. The Depression had set off a bicycle sales boom in the city, as people could no longer afford cars. In 1938, to accommodate all the new bicyclists, Moses announced a vast system of bike paths—"fifty miles of paved parkland roads exclusively for bicycle riders," gushed the New York Times, that would enable bike enthusiasts to "pedal from one end of the city to the other."

If you've ever visited New York and taken a taxicab from the airport, you've probably traveled along Robert Moses's handiwork in the form of the parkways.  Actually, if you took a cab you probably also traveled in a bike lane at some point too, since cabbies love to drive in bike lanes--though heavy-footed cabbies plying the bike lanes really isn't a big deal, just as long as all the cyclists are wearing helments.

Monday, June 25, 2012

There Goes the Neighborhood: It's Getting Highbrow Around Here

Once upon a time in Brooklyn, if you encountered a wiry middle-aged man with beady eyes who was spewing forth addled nonsense, chances were pretty good that he was homeless or on his way to the methadone clinic.  Maybe he'd even be rummaging around in your garbage for aluminum cans.  Now, more likely than not, that man is author Martin Amis, and he's just paid $2.5 million for the brownstone next door to you:

I don't know why someone who's just moves into what I would imagine is a very beautiful house looks so abjectly miserable, nor do I have the slightest idea what any of this means:

“Out there, it’s Arcadian,” he said. “It’s prelapsarian. It’s like living in the ’50s.”

Wait, is he talking about Brooklyn?  How the hell is it like living in the '50s here?  And, like, is that other stuff good or not?

“Best address I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s a good spondee. Strong. Place. You can’t stress one or the other. Two big stresses.”

I still have no idea.  What is a "spondee?"  Isn't that a drink from 7-11?  I guess it's true what they say, though--you just can't get a decently spondaic address in Brooklyn anymore for less than $2 million.

Actually, I'm not sure I understood a single thing he said in that article.  Granted, I realize my lack of understanding mostly just reveals the limitations of my intellect and my non-Bardian education.  Still, all I know is that, as I read it, I felt like I was watching "Ask Manson:"

I guess at a certain point, if you're lucky, your life becomes so rarefied that people just pretend to understand you and then look up every word you said on their iPhones when you excuse yourself to the bathroom.  You also get to say things like this:

“I’ve sort of hung out with a few thugs all my life,” he said later. “I love thugs. I’m keen on them.”

Right, I'm sure Mr. Amis will be spending lots of time making friends at the nearest housing project.  Maybe he'll even give a reading there.  I imagine he'll be very well received.  "More 'London Fields,' or Ima fucking kill you!"

Meanwhile, back in England, a reader received the following flyer in his mailbox:

Astute readers will recognize the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork Bret:

Who has, in his typically preternatural way, transported himself to the front of a pack of climbing cyclists--as well as obtained lucrative sponsorship from White and Sons realty:

It was good of the race organization to overlook both his trade team jersey in what I assume is the World Championships, as well as his use of aerobars in a mass-start event.   Then again, who would dare call out the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork Bret for a rule violation?  That would be like asking Martin Amis what he's talking about. 

Speaking of incoherent older men, another reader has forwarded me this, and I can't tell if it's supposed to be funny or not:

I mean, I guess it's supposed to be satire, but it mostly sounds like he put too much rum in his spondee:

Steroid-crazed cyclists—with their maniacal veering in and out of traffic, up and down sidewalks, and into lanes clearly designated "Pedestrians Only"—threaten joggers in Chicago, picnickers in San Francisco, sunbathers in Los Angeles and even retired nuns lollygagging along the banks of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia. They turn a casual midday Manhattan stroll into a terrifying gauntlet; they turn a postprandial constitutional along Boston's Charles River into pure hell. You have to go back to the time of Genghis Khan to find mounted marauders more bloodthirsty, more treacherous and more pitiless than American bicyclists.

I also don't think he's ever seen a recumbent rider in his life:

Even rail-thin, 60-something women demonically pedaling their recumbent bikes home in time to hear "Fresh Air" are on steroids.

Where are these demonically-pedaling women on recumbents?  I don't think I've ever seen a woman on a recumbent--apart from this woman of course:

I'm sure many people will rush to correct me, but based entirely on my own anecdotal evidence, recumbents are mostly something that men like to dork out on, like ham radios and Martin Amis novels.

Speaking of recumbent riders, I saw quite a few of them (all men) this past weekend, and it's a very good thing I had plenty of lovely scenery to admire when I turned to avert my eyes:

I also took a picture of my bicycle, because "upright" cyclists are gigantic dorks too, which is why when surrounded by natural beauty they just stare stupidly at their bicycles.

Though I guess it's better than this:

But only slightly.

Friday, June 22, 2012

BSNYC Friday Illegible Piece of Paper That You Found In Your Pants Pocket!

What is censorship?

Technically, this image is censored:

Yet is it not far more titillating than this image, which is technically not censored, and which in fact reduces the picture entirely to its forbidden elements?

The above illustration reveals something profound about perception, context, culture, marketing, and societal taboos, but it's Friday and I refuse to expend the mental effort to work out exactly what that is.

Speaking of mental effort, the world is apparently full of people who either refuse or are simply unable to expend any regardless of what day of the week it is.  For example, the other day I mentioned an article about speed cameras in New York City, and recently I noticed the following comment:

Yes, I understand 30mph, I understand to stay out of a lane that is now a bike lane, I no longer can drive down Broadway into Times Square, I can not travel through Central Park to make up for time to get to the theater or a meeting. If New York has money for all these changes... How come more than 85 percent of the roads and bridges are in worst shape than ever! I get a ticket and pay for it... fix the roads and highways I recieved the citation on and DON'T take all decade to do so.

It's good to know the reason we still don't have a car-free Central Park is that douchebags don't want to be late to the theater.  Complaining about how hard it is to get to the theater on time in your car is like complaining about how you're always late for your reservation at Le Bernardin because the city doesn't provide adequate mooring for your yacht.  What is it with drivers complaining about being late, anyway?  Sure, I realize they refuse to take any personal responsibility for running people over, but the least they could do is admit that they have poor time management skills.

Meanwhile, in Australia, things are getting increasingly sucky for cycling, and a number of readers inform met that the State Government of Victoria has now eliminated its bike infrastructure budget.  This compelled riders in Melbourne to unfurl the Blue Ribbon of Shame outside the Parliament House:

Whether it's mandatory helment laws, budget cuts, or mocking dooring victims on national television, it's good to see that Australia is committed to remaining at the forefront of bicycle subjugation.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with an quiz.  As always, study the items, think, and click on your  answer.  If you're right you'll know, and if you're wrong you'll see something Australian, forwarded by a reader.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and enjoy the "week end."

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) Seasoned veteran Dmitry Fofonov will lead Astana at this year's Tour de France.


("Yaw come back now, ya hear?")

2) Mavic's new CXR 80 wheelset features:

--Poor wet weather braking performance
--A stick-on fairing that is not legal in UCI competition
--A revolutionary new wind tunnel-derived round shape
--All of the above

3) A "Portland hit-and-run" is when:

--A cyclist rear-ends a Subaru and then rides away
--A bicycle soup vendor topples a rider on a tall bike and then rides away
--A rider on a Walmart bike rear-ends a rider on a custom bicycle and then makes off with it when they both dismount to exchange bike insurance information
--Two partners engage in hurried intercourse in a Stumptown restroom

4) The social network Strava is being sued because:

--It knowingly misrepresented hill gradients
--A rider died in an attempt to break a Strava "speed record"
--The term "KOM" is a form of gender discrimination
--It does not account for variables such as wind direction, precipitation, and rider equipment

(Bring your bike and plenty of forced irreverence.)

5) Due to "Raphagate," the winner of the 2012 Single Speed World Championship will be required to receive silicone breast implants in lieu of a tattoo.


(Where the fuck is the disembodied hand?!?)

6) Which has not been put forth recently as an argument against a New York City bike share program?

--New York City was not designed for bicycles
--People who ride bikes already own them
--Bike share costs drivers free parking spaces
--Public bicycles aid in the spread of Staphylococcus and herpes

7) "Cat 6" races often end in:

--Snot rockets

***Special Maybe-You're-Just-Getting-Old-Themed Bonus Question***

(Get off his lawn.)

Fill in the blank:

"I’ve biked dozens of American states and all over western Europe, and nowhere else have I encountered a cycling culture so cutthroat, vicious, reckless, hostile, and violently competitive as ________."

--New York's