Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And The Wind Whispers "Wednesday"

Ostensibly this is a humorous blog.  However, there are times when even the most fatuous blogger must put on his reporter's fedora and play the journalist.  So with Sandy bearing down on New York City like an EPO-addled peloton on a doomed breakaway, I set out on my bicycle to document the storm and its aftermath, and you can view all my photographs here.

Yeah, right.  If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you should know perfectly well by now that I'm the sort of person who spent the duration of the storm sobbing under a table and then only ventured outside about forty minutes ago when my cravings for fresh bagels finally became too strong to resist.  Even then, while walking, I made sure to stay as close to devoutly religious people as possible, figuring that just in case "God" exists He'd be less likely to smite the devout with falling tree branches.  (By the way, despite their many differences, one similarity between Orthodox Jews and Muslims is that they both object very strongly to being shadowed by cowardly bloggers.)

Fortunately though there was a real bike blogger imported from Portland in the form of Jonathan Maus of BikePortland to take up the slack, and while I was simpering and whimpering he was out investigating:

In fact, even before the storm he managed to take the sorts of photographs that have eluded me throughout my entire blogular career.  For example, here's a shot of Bradley Wiggins in 20 years:




A picture like this would be the culmination of my entire blogging career.  Meanwhile, this guy hops off a plane and bags it as easily as a slice of pizza.  I mean, I knew I sucked, but it's still humbling to realize exactly how deeply I suck:


Still, at least I'm enough of a journalist to visit the HarderBikes website, where I learned that this is a "prone" bike:


Here's the backstory, which reads more like a cautionary tale:


The beginning was a single-speed mountain bike geared up for a rapid commute with a little suspension, front and back. As time went on, the gearing rose, pedals clipped and softtail gave way to hardtail with a suspension seatpost. Once speeds grew to a point where the bikepath was no longer a welcome home, the bike had to be made more demanding. Thoughts wandered to charging full time and how to make a ride for that purpose. No matter how far the bars and stem were lengthened and dropped, very little weight could be shifted to the upper body with tradition frame geometry.
Hence, the project. Since the saddle wasn't necessary, the prototype frame was simple once the angles were chosen. A steeper head angle and short rear "triangle" helped balance out the lengthed wheelbase created by the elongated cockpit. The downtube was stretched 12 inches longer than that of a 21" mountain bike frame. a short headtube and mild bottom bracket drop kept the posture as aggressive as possible.

First you're "slamming that stem," next you're getting an even longer one, and before you know it you're ridin' doggy style.  Still, I'd like to congratulate the designer for inventing the exact opposite of a practical bicycle--though it's still no H-Zontal:


The H-Zontal is the "Dark Side Of The Moon" of prone bicycles.

Speaking of the storm, by about 4:00pm on Monday it was rapidly approaching full strength.  Outside the window the trees were thrashing about like mullets at a Slayer concert, and with each flicker of the lights I waited for the power outage that, amazingly, never came.  I also checked Twitter for news updates, and at exactly 4:26pm I saw this:

Good for you.

By the way, Armstrong continues to be stripped of accolades like a Bikesdirect fixie gets stripped of parts, and the latest to go are his keys to the city of Adelaide:


Which, judging from the accompanying photograph, were presented to him inside of a shoe.  However, the Adelaide City Council won't actually come here to collect the key because they can't afford it:

The website reports that rather footing the expense of travelling to the US to retrieve the key, Armstrong's name would be removed from the honour board where the recipients are listed. 

Presumably because they've been spending too much money giving celebrities keys:

Others to have received the honour include Cher, who sold her key on eBay for close to $93,000 earlier this year, the Dalai Lama and comedian Barry Humpries who is perhaps best known as Dame Edna Everage.

And because last year they went all the way to Austin to give Armstrong his key, only to find him not at home:

In 2011, Yarwood travelled to the US to hand-deliver the key to Armstrong, with Adelaide rate-payers covering the partial cost of the trip however, the American was not in residence in Texas. The key was later posted to him.

If I were an Adelaidean taxpayer I'd be really, really fucking irritated by now, since apparently this key racket is costing the city a fortune and the only person actually benefitting financially from it is Cher.

By the way, I'm also fairly sure that the Dalai Lama's key was accepted by Barry Humphries, who looks exactly like His Holiness when he's not in drag:


(Humpries as Dame Edna (L) and out of costume (R).)

Or maybe it was the other way around and they actually gave Dame Edna's key to the Dalai Lama in drag.  When you give away so many sets of spare keys it gets very difficult to keep track.

Meanwhile, the Tour de France-winningest American cyclist is once again Greg LeMond, and by now you've no doubt read his impassioned (but apparently not proofread) plea to impeach Pat McQuaid:


Can anyone help me out? I know this sounds kind of lame but I am not well versed in social marketing. I would like to send a message to everyone that really loves cycling. I do not use twitter and do not have an organized way of getting some of my own "rage" out.

LeMond is certainly entitled to bask in his moment of glory, but has anyone reminded him that he does use Twitter?



I mean, he's got the blue check mark and everything. 

Of course, one professional cyclist who is well-versed in social networking is Jens Voigt, who recently wrote a blog post assuring his many fans that he never doped:



So, to summarize, over the years Jens Voigt:

--Came up in the East German sports program alongside men who ate Volgas and women with beards;
--Turned pro the year before the Festina affair;
--Rode for Bjarne Riis;
--Rode for Johan Bruyneel.

Yet during that time he "never saw anything firsthand," which means he's somehow missed out on the biggest moments in modern sports doping history despite being right in the middle of pretty much all of them.  In other words, he's basically the anti-Forrest Gump.  

As for me, I've become jaded, which is why I now only follow bike racing for the costumes--like this one:


Now that's cycling I can believe in.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Aftermath

As you're probably aware, this happened last night:



Stunningly I'm sitting here with dry feet under a working lightbulb and in front of a computer with working Internet, but many, many others aren't and I'm acutely aware of that fact.  Here's hoping that you managed to stay safe in the storm, and that your recovery is as speedy as possible.  Consider today's post a moment of awed silence, and I'll return tomorrow with regular updates.


--Wildcat Rock Machine






Monday, October 29, 2012

The Clam Before the Storm

Good morning!  As you may know, here in New York City we're being menaced by Hurricane Sandy, which is supposed to wreak all manner of devastation and inconvenience around these parts sometime this afternoon-ish.  I wasn't especially worried when they closed the subways, since they closed the subways during last year's Irene-branded storm too.  I also wasn't worried when they closed the schools, since they close the schools for pretty much anything nowadays, including obscure Jewish holidays which frankly sound made up.  However, when I got an email from my bank saying they were going to be waiving fees for the next few days I panicked, since if a financial institution is actually foregoing an opportunity to charge a fee then it's a clear sign that the end is nigh.  My bank actually charges you a fee for paying a fee, so this makes me feel like a Make-A-Wish Foundation child.

Nevertheless, pending the apocalypse I'm staying at home because I'm not in an evacuation zone:

Fortunately, I live in Zone D:


All city services and FEMA are under strict orders to neglect us until every resident of Park Slope is safe and accounted for and their frozen yogurt vending services are completely restored.

Pray for us.

By the way, just to give you a sense of how difficult life is here in a neighborhood that is only marginally gentrified, consider this doorway:


In particular, look at this sticker:


In Park Slope I'd know this was placed there by an actual math tutor attempting to solicit business from helicopter parents who hyper-educate their children.  In Williamsburg I'd know "Math Tutor" was some intentionally dorky "indie band" who websites like BrooklynVegan say are from Brooklyn even though they moved here from Indiana only seven months ago and will be living in Portland by January.  (Math Tutor would consist of six members, all of whom play vintage 1980s Casio keyboards.)  Here though I have absolutely no idea.  Really, it could go either way.

But the worst part about being under threat of a hurricane is that you have to rely on The Media, which we all know can't be trusted.  Anyone who's read enough George Orwell, smoked enough marijuana, or smoked marijuana while reading George Orwell knows that The Media is simply in the service of Big Brother, or The Man, or The Big Brother Man.  The Media isn't in the business of truth, it's in the business of manipulation.  That's why I only believe what I can see--and what I see when I look out the window is this guy:


I've mentioned before that I gauge the weather conditions by the state of undress of the guy who smokes on his fire escape, and you can see him above wearing only underpants, which is typical attire for him.  However, when I looked out the window this morning what I saw was far more alarming--even more so than an ample-breasted man in his underpants:


Yes, he was wearing an actual tracksuit with the hood pulled over his head:


(If you're smoking on a fire escape during a hurricane maybe you should consider quitting.)

For this guy merely to put on pants is a sign of a severe weather event, so if he's actually wearing a shirt and covering his head too it means we're all going to die.

In fact, I was so alarmed that despite my mistrust of the media I turned on the TV and tuned into PBS (I figure I should watch as much PBS as possible until Mitt Romney gets elected and they replace it with infomercials) only to hear a report from someone named Lauren Wanko:


Who actually said that people in Cape May were going to "have to hold onto something hard and steady" without a hint of irony.

Wanko?  Hold onto something hard and steady?  No wonder Mormons find public television so upsetting.

Anyway, in all seriousness I hope everybody's staying safe, unless you're not in the path of the storm in which case go do whatever the hell you want.  It's also a good day to simply stay home and enjoy the company of loved ones, or if you live alone to just sit back on the couch and, uh, take Ms. Wanko's advice and hold onto something hard and steady.

Moving on, given the impending storm I made sure to cram in plenty of activity this past weekend.  In particular, on Saturday I got into a four-wheeled gasoline-powered recumbent and rode it to Philadelphia, where I spoke at the Philly Bike Expo.  Then, after I spoke, I hung out at the merchandise table where I watched people pick up my books and look at them:


In any relationship there's generally an impulsive party and a sensible party.  The impulsive party is the one who does things like pick up books written by idiots and consider purchasing them, and the sensible party is the one with the wherewithal to say, "Put that stupid thing down:"


Even though my livelihood depends on the impulsive parties I have the utmost respect and admiration for the sensible parties.

Sometimes people would pick up other stuff too, like Knog lights:


I'd tout their convenient rechargeability and retina-scorching brightness, because I figured if I was just sitting there anyway that I might as well, and they'd back away slowly with polite smiles on their faces, at which point I'd realize I was drooling or had a substantial booger hanging out of my nose.

I was not cut out for retail.

After I finished repulsing people I high-tailed it back home, where the woman I tricked into marrying me and I got on our bicycle cycles and rode into the city in order to watch a professional funny person be professionally funny.  On the way we stopped to eat, only to find some hipster's moped parked at a bike rack:


I'd have surreptitiously removed the spark plug and dropped it down a storm drain if I thought it was possible to get that close to a moped motor without laughing hard enough to give me away.


Friday, October 26, 2012

BSNYC Friday Strange Filmy Substance on the Subway Seat!

Firstly, I'd please like to remind you thank you that tomorrow (Saturday, October 27th) I'll be speaking at 11:00am at the Philadelphia Bike Expo, and I hope you'll please come and see me thank you:


Cheese.  Steak.

Bike.  Snob.

Douche.  Bag.

Now that's good spondee.


("I Drink."  "Milk shake.")

Still not sure I understand spondee but whatever.

Secondly, the maker of Chuey Brand cycling hats has been arrested in San Francisco under unhappy circumstances.  (Obviously most arrests occur under unhappy circumstances, but by all accounts this is one of those cases that's unhappy because the person getting arrested was the victim of injustice and police brutality.)  By way of helping him, Stevil Kinevil of All Hail The Black Market is donating t-shirt proceeds, and his supporters have also set up a legal and medical aid fund.  If you feel like helping him please do, and if you don't you can just come to Philly and tuck money into the elastic waistband of my sweatpants, and I promise you I'll use those funds to go on a Bike Nashbar shopping spree.  (Because you can never have too much Primal Wear.)

Lastly, here's a humorous video I saw on the Twitter:



I LOLed, and then I lulled, and then I listed left, and then I finally fell hard with my face onto the edge of the coffee table, and now I lisp.

If you'd like to donate to my dental reconstruction surgery, you can do so here.

I love you.

And now, I'd like to present you with a quiz, and so I will.  As always, study the question, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right $500 will magically appear in your wallet (but only if your wallet is made out of the hide of the highly endangered African wild ass), and if you're wrong you'll see a steep bicycle.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and either I'll see you in Philadelphia or I won't.

I love you,


--Wildcat Rock Machine, Attorney at LOL





(We're supposed to chuckle because the cyclist is getting hit by a car.)

1) This illustration accompanied an article about the Armstrong debacle in which periodical?

--The New York Post
--The NY Daily News
--USA Today
--The New Yorker






2) Nothing says "playtime" like

--A sick pet
--A bicycle "accident" fun set
--The Park Tool "My First Flat Repair Kit"
--The IRS "Li'l Taxpayer" Form 1040 For Kids! ("Schedule A" sold separately)







3) As if there aren't enough bike amenities in the Netherlands, now they're talking about:

--Paying bicycle commuters €2 per kilometer ridden
--Free bakfietsen for families with two or more children
--Heated bike lanes
--Clipless clogs








4) There's no surer sign of America's decline than:

--High unemployment
--Rampant home foreclosures
--An enormous deficit
--People riding bicycles








("Uh, where's the 'eject' button?")


5) If you donate $65 to "a free bicycle-powered pop-up art gallery that travels the world," you'll receive:

--A painting of a cassette tape that once spent some time in my "basement"
--A cassette tape forcefully inserted in your "basement"
--A pound of unicorn cheese, six magic Raisinets, and a talking dog named Rufus
--Six months later, if you're lucky, a note thanking you for your $65









6) According to "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News," Budnitz Bicycles has developed a proprietary technique called "Budnitzing," which will reduce creaking and further enhance the durability of titanium frame tubing.

--True
--Flase






7) Paul Budnitz is the Karl Farbman of the cycling industry.

--True
--False



***Special Anatomy-Themed Bonus Question***


Disembodied:

--Hand
--Foot
--Ear
--Sub-abdominal region





Thursday, October 25, 2012

Safety First: All You Haters Suck My Cheese Balls

Earlier this year and what seems a lifetime ago (specifically a cricket's lifetime since they only live for six months) I went to Puglia in Italy, where I took part in something called "Full Bike Day:"



And also stood face-to-face with the legendary Crazy Bike of San Vito dei Normanni:



It's so crazy that the only way you can adjust the rebound damping is with prescription drugs.

Well, the organizers of Full Bike Day are doing it again, and they've asked me to let you know about their new photo contest, which I'm now doing because: a) I like them; and 2) they said if I don't they'd come to New York and kill me:


(When I think of "The bicycle and mankind," I think of a 15 year-old in a sweatshirt.)

By the way, I never would have imagined it possible, but I think they may have actually topped the "OG" Full Bike Day poster:


Anyway, if you are inclined to submit a throbbing hunk of your photographic excellence to this contest, here are the rules:
I didn't take the time to actually read it carefully, but I did skim it, and I think it says the winner gets nothing and that the organizers get to keep the photos.

That's how they do things in Puglia.

Moving on to matters of bicycle safety, here's a Bike "Accident" Fun Set for your your child, which was forwarded to me by a reader:

(Ambulance-chasing lawyer in Escalade sold separately.)

See how everybody's smiling?  That's because the idea is to teach your children that running down cyclists in cars is a fun part of everyday life, like visiting grandma or going to the bakery.  In fact, it's perfectly reasonable to expect that you might run down one or two cyclists on the way to either place.  Just treat them like pigeons or squirrels--keep right on going until they notice you and get out of the way.  And if you hit them don't worry, because it's their fault for being too stupid to move, and anyway everybody will be fine just as long as the cyclist is wearing a helment.

By the way, if the toy store is out of the Playmobil set, you can always get the same thing in Legos:


Clearly this is a popular scenario.

Anyway, I was thinking about safety yesterday as I was riding my Scattante bicycle cycling bike in Brooklyn and found myself behind this person:


There are some safety-minded cyclists who would be bothered that he is not wearing a helment:


I am not one of those cyclists.  However, I am still safety-minded, and indeed I'd argue that because I'm not preoccupied with helments I am able to hone in on far more serious omissions, such as the complete absence of brake pads:


(Air brakes.)

I guess it was either the $10 brake pads or the $150 Chrome bag and he opted for the latter.  Given the state of the economy, who can blame him?  I can't wait for Mitt Romney to fix this damn country so people can afford to start stopping again.

Of course, everybody has a different approach to safety, and it's largely determined by how you answer this question:


For example, some people ask themselves, "What would happen if I didn't use brake pads?" and then just decide, "Ah, fuck it."  Other people ask themselves, "What would happen if I fell on my head?," figure it's better to land on foam than pavement, and so they wear a helment hat.  And still other people ask themselves, "What would happen if I used brake pads and a helment and I fell on my head but my helment was unable to place a phone call for me?," and for them there's the ICEdot crash sensor:




That's about 10,000 pairs of brake pads.

The inventors of the ICEdot recently emailed me about their product, and basically what happens is you fall on your head, your head calls your cellphone, and if you don't press the button in a certain amount of time your cellphone calls someone who can help you:


Or, if you prefer, it's the Fredly equivalent of this:


Depending on where you fall on the "What would happen?" spectrum this may or may not appeal to you.  Certainly anything that has the potential to save a life has value.  At the same time we all have a different threshold for the extent to which we're willing to be "wired" during a bike ride, and I confess that this one falls far beyond mine.  Still, I suppose I have a weak threshold, because I also refuse to use Strava, mostly because the "How it Works" diagram on their website makes no sense to me:


I'm fine with number one, which is grabbing a phone, because I do always carry a phone.  (It's a rotary wall phone, I keep it in my giant messenger bag.)  I'm also more than fine with number two, which is going out for a ride, because I do really like going out for rides.  However, it's number three--viewing my ride afterwards--where to my mind the whole system falls apart.  See, here's a little secret: if you skip number three, you can actually spend more time doing number two.  (By the way, you can also spend more time doing number two if you replace number three with eating an "epic" burrito.)  Why essentially just cut your ride short so you can look at it in the form of red lines on a map?  I thought the riding was the point.

I guess it's the same impulse that compels people to film themselves during the act of onanism, which could be why the map in number three looks suspiciously like a penis:
Though not as much like a penis as this one does:



I have posted this ride before but I feel it bears mentioning again, especially since the creator only has the second-fastest time on one of the sections:

That must be one hotly-contested penis.

Of course, all this safety is for naught if nobody can see you, which is why you can also get high-visibility clothing--and nobody loves high-visibility clothing as much as British people, as I learned during my visits to London, and which this article and video forwarded to me by a reader proves:


I was particularly intrigued by the fake police vest that says "polite:"

Apparently it backfired when the writer had a bottle thrown at him because people hate the police.  It would probably also backfire in America since here saying you're polite is another way of saying "Run me the fuck over."  Still, I suppose it's safer than riding a bike made from melting cheese balls, as forwarded by another reader:


It's perfect for your next gran fondue.