Think about it, and then crawl around on your hands and knees as you attempt to recollect the shrapnel from your blown mind.
So Australia! How many times have I mentioned I'll be going there? Once? Twice? Three times a lady? Well, regardless, I'll be going to Australia, and in between flushing toilets to see if the water goes down the wrong way I'll be participating in presentations or something:
@treadlie @bikesnobnyc From intellectual discussion to slide shows to actual bike riding, #MWF13 will have it all!Wait a minute. "Intellectual discussion?"
— MWF (@MelbWritersFest) August 8, 2013
Fuck that, I'm not coming.
I mean really, when they invited me to Australia, I naturally assumed anything "intellectual" was off the table.
Then again, I think "intellectual" means something different in Australia, so hopefully I'll be able to muddle through.
Speaking of muddling through, I'll readily admit that I'm muddling through life, and I'm doing a fairly mediocre job of it. Consider this blog. In my heyday, companies threw crabon bikes at me like so much tickertape. However, it quickly became apparent to everybody that a jaded Fred at the twilight of his amateur racing "career" was pretty much the worst bicycle product reviewer you could possibly imagine, since I was already coming to terms with certain inalienable truths, chief among them being:
--I suck, you suck, we all suck;
--All of this stuff is mostly just the same crap;
--Crabon is stupid.
And now that the sun of my racing day has dipped completely beneath the horizon and inky black night has fallen over my Fredly aspirations, these fundamental truths have cemented themselves in my mind to the degree that I've actually had them tattooed on my scranus.
So now people still offer to send me stuff, but it sure ain't bikes. No, it's only the most desperate companies who offer to send me their wares, and in most cases I can't even figure out what these products actually are. Consider the latest product I was offered, which was the "Shine" by Misfit Wearables:
The "Shine" is a "physical activity monitor," and as far as I can tell its sole purpose is to confirm that you're still alive.
"But wait," you're saying. "There has to be more to it than that." Well, yes, there's slightly more, in that it not only reminds you that you're alive, but it also tells you when you're finished doing something if you're the sort of barely sentient person who has trouble figuring that out for yourself:
"Japanese metal," you say?
Wow, Kiss totally ripped these guys off!
Anyway, here's how the Futuristic Japanese Metal Space Puck works:
The Shine is a tiny circle not much larger than a quarter that’s made from Japanese metal or aircraft-grade aluminum. It has LED lights beneath the surface that glow through minuscule holes on the metal itself. Those lights form a ring, indicating how far a person is toward completing their activity goals for the day. You tap the Shine twice to see how much progress you’ve made. If half the lights shine, you’re halfway done. If they complete a circle, then you’ve hit your goal.
Yesterday I mentioned a pair of $1,700 pedals that tell you in numbers how badly you suck at bike riding. I think they're ridiculous. At the same time, as a reformed Fred, I can at least understand the obsessive-compulsive urge to compare past shitty performance with present shitty performance in order to delude yourself that all the "training" and "upgrades" are working. (They're not.)
This, on the other hand, just seems to tell you when you're finished doing things that it should be obvious when you're finished doing them (how's that for awkward syntax?):
I had a chance to test it out for a week or so, tracking everything from regular walks to dancing and downhill mountain biking.
Downhill mountain biking? Come on now. When you're at the bottom of the hill you're done, and if you start going uphill again then you've gone too far.
It's also really ambiguous to program, like a digital watch from the 1980s:
Throughout the day, the Shine tracks how much you walk or run. It also handles sleep, swimming and cycling, but you have to program it. To do that, you tap the Shine three times, and it will recognize whichever activity you set up in the paired app. Unfortunately, like the other activity trackers, it doesn’t handle yoga (and as someone who practices pretty much every day, the Shine and other competing products are missing out on an hour of physical activity).
Good thing it handles sleep. I've been looking for an alarm clock that doesn't tell me what time it is. As for the fact that "it doesn't handle yoga," do you really need a Futuristic Japanese Metal Space Puck to tell you when you're finished with yoga? Yoga is just bending yourself. Here's a clue: If your own genitals are in your mouth, it's probably time to stop for the day.
Oh, it also costs $100, but at least it's easy to lose:
6. Is it easy to lose?
It's a common problem to lose small things, especially when you're wearing them. Shine is probably going to be no exception. We think that by making something beautiful and precious like Shine, you’ll be less likely to lose it. You’re more apt to lose things you don’t value.
Anyway if you actually want one of these but you don't want to spend $100, I recommend wrapping your iPhone in about fifteen layers of duct tape. Sure, it will be larger, but it will be just as functional.
I will say though that as a burnt-out Fred I do have great admiration for the people in the cycling media who somehow still manage to get excited about all this stuff. I love riding bikes just as much as ever (actually more than ever, now that I've let my USA Cycling license expire), but after only six years of bike blogging I've become totally desensitized to all equipment, like a porn producer who can't get a boner. Meanwhile, people like Lennard Zinn have been writing about this stuff for decades, and they can still wax downright erotic on some brake levers (as forwarded by a reader):
I really like being able to wrap all four of my fingers around the front of the tall master cylinder sticking up from the brake lever. It’s a great position for pulling hard on a long, seated climb, especially on a hot day when my sweaty hands would otherwise be slipping around on the lever hoods.
Filthy dirty. He should be ashamed of himself. Someone wash his mouth out with Pedro's.
The other thing I've never learned how to do but is absolutely essential for reviewing bike stuff is praising it for doing stuff that other stuff already does perfectly well and then supporting this with spurious anecdotes about the pros:
The HRR (Hydraulic Road Rim) brakes are powerful and modulate very well. I’ve been riding a lot of mountain descents on them the past three weeks and find them to be confidence-inspiring. SRAM claims that Mark Cavendish said they saved him from crashing in the big stage 1 pileup in the Tour de France on Corsica. I had a jogger jump out in front of me on the Boulder Creek Bike Path and I stopped on a dime without skidding.
"A SRAM rep heard from a guy who's friends with Mark Cavendish's mom that he told his aunt that his SRAM ARGHHH (Actuatable Rim-Grabbing Hydraulic Halt-Helpers) brakes saved his life!!!"
As for the incident with the jogger, I've been on the Boulder Creek Bike Path, and I'm reasonably certain the scenario would have played out no differently if he'd been riding a coaster brake bike in flip-flops.
But he didn't skid, which means your current cable-actuated rim brakes are actually too powerful, so for your own safety and the love of god discard them immediately!!!
Meanwhile, the New York Times takes a look at a beautiful Mill Valley home, and in so doing furnishes us with a cautionary tale about life among Freds that reads like a Lifetime movie:
Nancy Goldstein likes cycling well enough, but with him and their two grown sons so crazy for the sport, and now all racing competitively, what choice does she have, really? She knows the lingo, keeps up with the American circuit and is resigned to having nine bicycles dangling from the garage of her sleek new house in Mill Valley, Calif.
Without the associated pull of spokes and wheels, there is no doubt she would have spent more of her time in out-of-the-way galleries searching for emerging artists whose work moves her, art collecting being her No. 1 sport.
It's sobering to think that if Nancy Goldstein hadn't been smothered by her husband and childrens' Fredness all those years, she might actually have amassed a priceless art collection. Instead, they've probably got a garage full of crabon--though maybe if they have a Serotta it will be worth something, now that Ben Serotta has been fired:
Early last Sunday evening while stopped at the side of the road looking at a paper map with Marcie, thinking about where we should head to enjoy the remaining hours of a beautiful sunny, mid-summer evening, my cell phone rang and I instinctively answered it. One of the current company owners was on the other end and he coldly started, “I am terminating you. Your email password has been changed and your building access code has been deleted. You can arrange to get your personal things on Tuesday.” And with that (no cause was given, aka terminated without cause) my life at Serotta the company, came to an abrupt end.
That's just fucked up.
Of course, what the current owners of Serotta probably don't realize is that when you mess with Ben Serotta you mess with every dentist in America, and the ADA is sure to send one of their "enforcers" to take revenge:
("Is it laterally stiff and vertically compliant?")
Lastly, in yesterday's comments a reader posted a link to the following article:
Basically, cycling is popular in the Netherlands because Dutch people don't like it when their children get killed:
In response a social movement demanding safer cycling conditions for children was formed. Called Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the Child Murder), it took its name from the headline of an article written by journalist Vic Langenhoff whose own child had been killed in a road accident.
Silly Dutchies. We have a much smarter approach here in Canada's pudendum, and it's called the "Better your kid than mine" approach. Basically, this involves strapping your offspring into a heavily-armored suburban troop transport vehicle (minivan), and whichever kids actually make it to the park alive duke it out on the soccer field, assuming they're still able to run after all the junk food.
We may be sedentary and useless and reliant on Futuristic Japanese Metal Space Pucks to tell us when we're finished taking a dump, but we can fly the shit out of a drone, so we'll be back to save all your asses again in World War III.
And we won't even have to leave the couch.