It's a well-known law of physics that any bicycle photo posted on the Internet will attract negative commentary. I know this because I started a blog based on doing just that. Now, I'm going to complain about it, because another well-known law of physics is that bloggers are hypocrites.
For road bikes, negative bike commentary usually consists of inane yet odorless little Fred farts like "the bar tape should match the saddle" or "slam that stem!" (This sort of irritating mental flatulence is caused by consuming websites live "Velominati.") In the heady days of the fixie craze, dozens of people who had been riding bikes for less than three months would argue over whether a track bike's chain tension was correct. I'm not sure what the go-to recumbent complaint is, but I'm sure it happens with them too, and I'd imagine comments are along the lines of "that bike's too upright" and "the rider's head should be level with his scranus."
But when it comes to useless critiques, it's mountain bikes that attract the true dingbats.
"Those bars are too narrow." "The brake levers are angled wrong." "Needs suspension." "Those tires suck."* And so forth.
*[Seriously, you haven't figured out all these tires are the same yet? Idiots.]
It seems especially futile to quibble over the finer points of a mountain bike given the endless variety of terrain in this world. Even within a single region one area might call for a completely different set of equipment than another, and that's not even accounting for the seasons or for each rider's individual preference and riding style. This is why mountain bike critiques are the lowest form of Internet bike dork wankerdom. It's like this guy:
Calling out this woman for not wearing a parka:
(That surfboard carrier sucks, riding in flip flops is stupid, where's your helment, and so forth.)
Not that this stops the average Mountain Fred (or "Barney" as some call them), who will then move on from your locally-appropriate bike to critiquing your native environment and insulting you because "you don't have any real mountains where you live," as though you somehow singlehandedly "wussified" millions of years of geologic evolution, or that your average person who does not race bikes for a living should pick up and move in pursuit of Internet bragging rights.
I was thinking about this yesterday as I rode this bike, because as I headed off into the woods I noticed there was indeed something egregiously wrong with it:
I'm sure Mountain Freds have found fault with nearly every single component of this bicycle, including those not visible to the naked eye, but tellingly nobody noticed the only actual problem, with is that I had this thing on upside-down:
(Not my bike or my thumb.)
I must have done so the last time I switched the fork, and of course the upshot was that the caliper was angled all wrong and the pads were only grabbing like half the braking surface of the rotor. Oddly though, I've been riding it like this for months and noticed no adverse effects. The bike stopped fine--in fact, much more than fine. Moreover, when I stopped and re-installed it correctly I didn't notice much of an improvement.
My conclusion from all of this is two-fold: 1) I'm an idiot; 2) Internet Mountain Freds are even bigger idiots, because while they're worrying about my brake lever angle my fucking brake caliper is on wrong.
Or, to put it more elegantly, my idiocy is proof that people are idiots.
As for the Mountain Freds, their conclusions will be: 1) You didn't notice an improvement because your brakes suck in the first place, you need the Hydro RTX Vulvulator SLs running DOT 666 fluid cut with baby oil; 2) You didn't notice because you ride "woosie" trails that I could ride with my road bike; 3) You should move to British Columbia/The Rockies/The West Coast/The High Desert/The Swiss Alps/the Antarctic etc. where if you install your brake wrong you will die.
In any case, even though my brake was now correct the rest of the universe seemed somehow out of whack. Everything seemed to go slightly wrong for me after that, including when this enchanted tree grabbed me by the backpack and stopped me cold as I made my way through the little Hobbit habitat:
On the plus side, after the tree relinquished me I emerged from the Hobbit habitat with special powers, for on the way home I saw someone who was driving like an asshole. "What an asshole!," I thought. Then, a short while later, we both stopped at a red light and I noticed that the word "asshole" was keyed into the side of the car.
I was unable to obtain a photo because the light turned green a moment later, but I swear on the Lord Jesus Christ's "pants yabbies" that all of this is true.
Therefore, it's obvious to me that I now have the power to manifest my thoughts in physical form, and that I scrawled the world "asshole" on this douchebag's Nissan Rogue with my mind.
So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
In other news, here's something for all you Retro-Freds out there:
If you're wondering why this guy doesn't just switch to clipless pedals, it's because these conform to L'Eroica ride rules, which is like NJS for the wool jersey set:
Article 6 - Criteria for admission
Only cyclists with "L’Eroica" bicycles will be permitted to participate.
"L’Eroica" bicycles are bicycles which have all the following characteristics:
road racing bikes, built before 1987 (not cycle-cross or time trial bikes);
steel frame (the only aluminium frame bikes permitted are ALAN or VITUS with either screwed or glued joints);
gear shift levers on the down tube of the frame (exceptionally, only pre-1980 bar-end gear shifts are allowed);
pedals with toe clips and fitted straps (quick release pedals are not allowed, except Cinelli M71 pedals);
passage of brake cables outside the handlebars (the passage of cables inside the frame is acceptable);
wheels must have at least 32 spokes with a low profile (less than 20 mm).
If I were a L'Eroica commissaire or whoever enforces the rules for the ride, I'd look askance at a workaround like this, though I'm way into the hypnotic animated GIF on the website:
The wagging Retro-Fred heel is making you sleepy...very sleepy... Now, when you hear the rattly sound of a vintage derailleur moving a chain across a five-speed freewheel, you'll wake up and think you're Italian cycling great and noted centerfold model Fausto Coppi:
("Phénomène" is French for "wang.")
Speaking of France, while New Yorkers continue to debate the future of Citi Bike, Vélib' in Paris is busy launching a bike share program for kids:
Why should adults have all the fun on bike share?
Paris is launching bike share for kids, P'tit Vélib', in parks and designated areas throughout the city. A range of kids' bikes, from balance bikes to smaller step-through styles that resemble their larger counterparts with front baskets and full chainguards, will be available for children ages 2-8.
It makes me sad that something like this would never happen in America, where Gatorade is considered a juice, parents make their kids wear helments to play video games, and children gestate in minivans and eat McDonald's until they're 20, at which point they emerge with the protective layer of fat they need to survive in a country where people drive on the freaking pedestrian and bike paths:
Apparently, the person in the car was driving to his (or her, the article doesn't specify) job as a "bridge tender:"
"VDOT has modified procedures for access to the bridge, which restrict bridge tenders from utilizing vehicles for shift changes. Bridge tenders must now walk or utilize a motorized cart. When a vehicle is required, it will be accompanied by a walking spotter to identify any potential safety issues."
Motorized cart?!? Here's a crazy idea: if you work on a bike path, maybe try riding a fucking bike to work! Also, I'm glad to see they're conducting a thorough investigation:
The Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed Monday the driver of the car in Saturday’s accident is a bridge tender. VDOT says the contract employee has been placed on administrative leave while the agency investigates the accident.
Wow, the investigation has only just begun and already they know it was an accident. Something tells me that by the time they're finished they'll come to the conclusion that cyclists and pedestrians should be banned from the bridge and it should only be open to cars.
That's how we do it here in Canada's FUPA.