Nobody, that's who!
I mean, nobody doesn't like them. Which is to say everybody likes them. You know what I mean.
Ordinarily, Save The Dates (or is the plural "Saves The Date?") are used for wudding niptuals, but in this case I'm employing the tactic for the Purposes of Book Whoring. See, I wrote a new book, which you can learn more about by clicking the picture of it over there in the right-hand margin, and I will be flogging it in a few places in the coming months. The plans for these whorings range from half-baked to almost fully-baked, and here are a couple of dates to save so far:
Saturday, April 20th
More details to follow when I figure out what's happening.
Saturday, April 27th
Something in Cleveland, Lob help me:
(I can't believe I'm actually going here.)
This is the "crown jewel" of by mini-BRA tour, and in Cleveland I will browbeat the three or four people who bother to come at 1:00pm at the Market Garden Brewery, where Visible Voice Books will have copies of my book for sale. I will write in those books if you want, or if you don't want me to I won't. Or, if you don't want a book but you just want to point and laugh at me, that's fine too. I just want any kind of attention you're willing to give. Also, as I understand it, the annual "Tweed Ride" rolls out at 3:00pm, so if you're planning on doing that afterwards maybe I'll head over point and laugh at you too before beating a path back to civilization.
Other BRA plans are forming faster than a saddle sore on a Grand Tour rider's scranus (it looks like something will happen on May 18th in Boston, for example), but those are the ones that are the most nailed-downest at this moment.
Moving on, do you love movies about bikes? Of course you do. If you like delightfully whimsical Saveses the Dateses then obviously you love bikey movies too. Here's one that promises to be a grassroots (and by "grassroots" I mean "amateurish") version of "Premium Rush:"
I don't mean to sound naive, but this is going to be a porn, right?
I thought so.
Speaking of amateurs, James Huang, the technical editor of Cyclingnews and BikeRadar, wants amateur bike racers to know how insignificant they are, and to that end he has published this incendiary screed:
The cycling industry is funded by the masses but in terms of innovation and image, it's still largely driven by racing. If you pin on a number each weekend, kudos for helping fuel the sport and maintaining its healthy atmosphere – and if you're doing well, even better. But if those local results are also coming with a Manwich-sized bite of self-entitlement when it comes to endorsement proposals, let me offer a good-intentioned, honest dose of reality: sponsorship is not and has never been about you.
Now, I should stress that I agree with him, in that it is important for amateur bike racers to realize how utterly futile and meaningless their endeavors are, and that if they choose to fritter away their lives by "training" for riding around and around in circles then that's their problem. In fact, I'd go a step further and say the same thing is true of professional cyclists--and, at my most cynical, I'd say it's actually true of everybody and everything, that sentience is merely an illusion, and that we're all just dust specks blowing aimlessly through an indifferent cosmos.
Nevertheless, I feel it recumbent upon me to defend my Fredly brethren. Sure, the typical bike racer is a borderline douchebag who, hilariously, considers himself (or herself, but I'm going to stick with the masculine for simplicity's sake) an "athlete," and who thinks other people are actually emotionally invested in his on-the-bike exploits. (In reality the only people emotionally invested in amateur bike racers are their families, and that investment inevitably proves about as shrewd as an investment in Cannondale stock since he's always too tired from training to return any of their love and affection.)
At the same time, given the way bicycle components are marketed, why is anybody surprised that Fred is braying for sponsorship and discounts? If the industry finds Fred annoying then it should blame only itself. Take this wheel, The Mavic Ksyrium Whatever Whocares, for example:
Here's Mavic's description:
The most demanding racers need a do it alla Wheel-Tyre System that can : strong, stiff, aerodynamic, comfortable, durable… Ksyrium SLR brings all this characterictics together making it the best Wheel-Tyre System choice for these racers.
Okay, well obviously that doesn't make any sense whatsoever, so naturally Fred relies on a retailer to parse it for him:
So this wheel costs almost $1,800, which today is considered inexpensive. Your typical Cat 4 probably thinks this is the bare minimum for bike racing, since the retailer would have you believe that not only is this a sensible investment for an everyday wheel, but that a less expensive wheel belongs "in the stone age" and is good for little else than "enduring the ride on them." This, I should not have to tell you, is batshit crazy, unless the wheelset you're comparing it to is this:
So why is the Mavic Bullshitium (again, a "cheap" wheel by today's standards) wheel so much better than any other wheel that's round and has bearings? Here's why:
Unlike traditional spokes that flex under greater loads, Tracomp spokes compress to continue supporting the rim, preventing further wheel deflection so you your wheels don't feel noodly on descents and you don't lose power in a spring [sic] finish.
Wheels so flexy they feel noodly on descents? What kind of Fredly fear mongering is this?!? If your wheel was so severely under-tensioned as to feel noodly or to cost you power in a sprint then you wouldn't make it from your front door to the end of the block. But of course nobody's going to tell Fred that. None of these manufacturers or retailers or technical editors is going to tell Fred that he can't lose power that he didn't have in the first place. Instead, they're going to tell him that the bulbous front end of his crabon frame is going to give him the bike handling skills he doesn't possess, and that his wheelset is going to conserve every watt of his nonexistant wattage, and that it will come from the superior bottom bracket interface that creaks like crazy because he doesn't even know how to service it.
Needless to say, all of this puts Fred in a tizzy. Everyone's treating him like a real athlete and everyone is telling him he needs lots of very expensive stuff to be the very best athlete he can be. So naturally he does what athletes do and asks for some sponsorship. After all, this shit is expensive! And what happens when he asks for that sponsorship? The very people who are trying to sell him this stuff call him a jerk! I mean, he is a jerk--a big jerk. James Huang is absolutely right, Fred is not entitled to shit. But at the same time it's completely unreasonable to expect Fred, who is by nature the worst kind of shameless gear whore, to somehow also be possessed of the dignity it takes not to be a complete schnorrer.
It's like taunting a thirsty dog with water and then getting mad at him for drinking out of the toilet.
(And if you are inclined to point out that "elite" amateurs or whatever are not Freds, I would strongly disagree with you. In my road racing worldview, there are Freds and then there are professionals, and even then the only difference between the Freds and the pros is that the pros are Fred-for-pay.)
Sure, it's no way to treat a customer, but it's still better than actually making them bend over:
I went into my local store to return my Astro pants and Invert crops, both purchased this month. I was asked to BEND OVER in order to determine sheerness. The sales associate then perused my butt in the dim lighting of the change room and deemed them "not sheer". I felt degraded that this is how the recall is being handled. I called the GEC to confirm this is their protocol, and they verified that yes, the "educators" will verify sheerness by asking the customer to bend over.
Though I'm pretty sure Fred would be willing to do it.