"So the moral of the story is, always buy that cheap metal frame with canti studs, even if you can't put a derailleur on it, because if you've got an ample spare parts bin you can have fun with it about twenty different ways."
Naw..That ain't the moral... The moral is that you have brakes and are a pussy as a result...
DECEMBER 17, 2013 AT 8:46 AM
Upon reading that I immediately removed the brakes, and for the first time in my life I actually feel like a man.
I gotta tell you, it's kinda gross.
By the way, remember when that was a thing? Riding around with no brakes and bragging about it? How funny was that?
(Answer: it was very funny.)
By the way, I regret to inform you that, after a tragic incident in which he tried to remove a spoke card from his front wheel while riding, his tattoo now says "No Bra."
Speaking of brakes, last week was a bad one for them. First, it turned out that Trek's signature Fred Sled came with a faulty one in the front:
The affected models were built with a faulty attachment bolt on the front brake quick release. The bolt can come loose, allowing the cable clamp to detach, the consequences of which are predictably bad.
"Hey, at least it was predictably bad," said Trek in their own defense. "Because we pride ourselves on building bikes that fail like they're on rails."
Then, like a day later, SRAM recalled every single one of their fluid-actuated velocity curation devices:
It has recently come to our attention that during last weekend’s Cyclocross racing in the US, in sub freezing temperatures, several failures were reported. In these conditions the master cylinder seals failed to hold pressure resulting in abrupt loss of brake power, and an inability to stop the bike. These failures are related to product that is outside the originally stated date code range and unrelated to the original failure mode. No injuries have been reported to date.
As a result of this new finding, SRAM requests that anyone who has a bike equipped with SRAM Hydraulic Disc or Hydraulic Rim Brakes stop using the bike immediately. All products shipped to date, and currently in the market or in inventory will be recalled.
Upon reading this, retrogrouches around the world wove flowers into their beards and danced arm-in-arm around the lugged steel maypole, reveling in the irony that the very conditions in which hydrolic dick breaks are supposed to excel were instead their undoing. Meanwhile, the experts at SRAM have been working around the clock to find a new way to convince people that you need hydraulic braking for slow bicycle races that last only 45 minutes to an hour in which you have access to a spare bicycle roughly every five minutes.
As for the hydraulic rim brakes, all SRAM has to say about that is that if you actually bought those then the joke's on you.
Oh, right, the jogger:
I had a jogger jump out in front of me on the Boulder Creek Bike Path and I stopped on a dime without skidding.
This is not to be confused with the buttonhook at the shopping mall, which is why you need electronic shifting:
A couple of weekends ago, we had a race here at the nearby Flatirons Mall on a grassy hillside above the Denver-Boulder Turnpike. One corner was an uphill buttonhook around a tree after dropping off of a downhill sidewalk and descending along the sidehill. I noticed most riders in my category repeatedly pumping their lever to shift from their smallest cog to their largest in anticipation of the buttonhook that required coming to a near stop and then turning sharply left uphill. They couldn’t pedal hard down toward the corner due to the decreasing gear as well as all of the hard effort from their right arm. I, on the other hand, could pedal most of the way to the corner in a high gear, and just as I started applying my brakes, I could just hold down the right downshift lever and keep turning my feet. It doesn’t require nearly the force, concentration, or time to make the shift all of the way from one end of the cogset to the other, and I closed some gaps on that downhill that way.
So between hydraulic rim brakes and electronic shifting you basically need a $15,000 bike now to ride on a multi-use path and occasionally suck ass in a cyclocross race held at a shopping mall.
Now that's bicycle-cycling American style.
(This used to be bicycle-cycling American style, but then riding without a helment became tantamount to suicide, and pulling gears and brake calipers with wires became the equivalent of using a telegraph instead of a smartphone.)
Meanwhile, having completely failed to perfect hydraulic braking for road and cyclocross bikes, SRAM are now moving on to electronic shifting, and so far it's about what you'd expect from the company that invented the exploding master cylinder:
Of course, the only thing that makes Freds tighter in the chamois than electronic shifting is Jens Voigt, though it turns out that when you push him to say more than "Shut up, legs!" and ask him about drugs he's actually not all that adorable:
CN: With all due respect if you had gone down the path of Bassons it would perhaps be fair to say that you wouldn’t have ridden for some of the team managers that you have ridden for.
JV: Be more precise with that.
CN: Okay so you may have ridden for Roger Legay but maybe not for Riis, maybe not for Johan Bruyneel.
JV: Well my friend now you’re making me mad and angry. You’re a journalist right?
JV: Do you know anyone called Murdoch? Was he your friend? Have you ever worked with him? Do you feel dirty working in the same business as Murdorch and all this illegal tapping of phone lines? How do you feel about that? Answer the question please.
CN: Well there’s difference.
JV: Is there?
JV: Well not for me. I’m asking you a straight and fair question. Answer the question. Are you a colleague of Murdoch? What do you think about that?
Wow. I haven't seen a pro cyclist get so defensive since they caught Mario Cipollini with that pin-up of a shirtless David Hasselhoff on his stem:
(Saeco mechanics scrambled to find this picture of Pamela Anderson in the wake of "HoffGate," but the damage was already done.)
Meanwhile, Esteemed Commenter Daddo One has forwarded me this article about how conservatives hate bikes, and it tidily sums up what we've been witnessing for the past few years:
In this respect, Rob Ford isn’t just a mess. He is a visionary—perhaps the first candidate to win an election in part by fanning public annoyance at those reckless, entitled, tax-and-spend bicycle riders. As new bike lanes make their slow incursions into downtown traffic patterns, it’s reasonable we can expect more such victories. It might seem frustrating for bike supporters, but there is one consolation: In politics, you get attacked because you matter.
It's good to matter and all, but sadly our only value is in the people who hate us. There's nothing in it for the politicians if they actually were to cater to us, because the very thing that makes cycling so great (it's cheap, as long as you avoid the stupid brakes and the power shifting) is also its undoing--namely, it's cheap, ipso facto no money, cognito ergo scum nobody really gives a shit about what we think--except for nouveau douche companies like Whole Foods, who use cycling as marketing. Why? Because it's so damn cheap to do so! Take the new Brooklyn store, for example:
See? They have bike repair:
Bike Repair and Parking: Bikes are beloved by Brooklynites and Whole Foods Market, so we want to support people's ability to maintain and ride them. This form of alternative transportation contributes to a reduced carbon footprint and a healthier lifestyle.
Yeah, that's cute. So they throw a few bucks at some bike racks or whatever, meanwhile everyone's going to drive there. There's no real future for cycling in Brooklyn, because Brooklyn is becoming too way too wealthy for people who ride bikes. Instead, it's going Full Subaru, which is the car for people who like bikes in theory but who don't actually ride them, instead expressing their affinity for them by shopping at grocery stores that have bike parking they don't actually use--oh, and records for some reason:
Vinyl Records and Wrecords by Monkey: A vinyl venue featuring music as well as reclaimed vinyl jewelry and accessories from Wrecords by Monkey, a Brooklyn-based design and lifestyle brand
Good for them.
And over in the UK, a reader tells me the BBC asked readers to suggest ways to protect cyclists, and the results are now in:
This one was kind of OK:
Make drivers cycle
"What about requiring that in order to get a driving licence, every driver has to cycle for three miles along a dual carriageway. This seems to me the best way to make drivers realise that cyclists have a right to use the road and not to be squeezed into the gutter. Most cyclists are drivers too or have been at one time but most drivers have no experience of what it's like to cycle in traffic and don't seem to believe that cyclists have any right to be on the road." Pedal Pusher, London
"A real radical solution? Any person sitting a driving test should have to sit a practical test on a bike. In traffic, in an urban area and also on a country road (the problems are very different), at night, in bad weather. It might not convert them to cycling, but at least they'll appreciate the other point of view a bit better." Graeme Allan, Keith, Scotland
Though I maintain the only solution is to make a law banning air conditioning, roofs, windows, seatbelts, air bags, or any other form of passive restraint from all motor vehicles. Maybe that way people would actually think before getting in the car and remember they're actually driving machines that require skill to operate, especially in foul weather, when all the idiots in SUVs get over-confident, lose control, and drive into each other. You know, there would be consequences for their stupid actions--consequences that affect them as well as the people they hit.
This would also put us on more equal footing, mostly because when they cut us off we could kick them in the head.
Lastly, Klaus from Cycling Inquisition has posted two sublime images in his most recent post. This one:
And this one:
It's the cycle of life.