Rest assured the bike's just on its side because I was too lazy to find something to lean it against while I stopped to relieve myself, and not because I fell over for want of an industry-approved gravel bike.
In addition to riding bikes I went shopping for plastic crap at this really cool and trendy store called "Target," and while I was there I threw a leg over this sweet fat bike:
First I did the "lift test" and was surprised to find it was lighter than I expected--by which I mean it felt like it weighed a hundred pounds instead of the thousand pounds I was anticipating. Then I rolled it down the aisle and squeezed the brakes. This felt a lot like calling your cable company about an outage, in that you know you took action on your end but there's no evidence that anything's going to be happening any time soon. Still, part of me was tempted to purchase the bicycle just to mess around with it, but I'm not exactly made of money (I'm actually made of halva), nor do I have some great big workshop in which to house all this crap--and most of all, I've got 18 or 19 kids now, which means I don't want to squander my precious riding time on department store fat bikes.
Therefore, I figured I'd replicate the experience of riding a Fracture by taking one of my own mountain bikes, disconnecting the brakes, and filling the tires with kitty litter.
By the way, this Fracture should not be confused with the Fracture road bike from Broken Bones Bicycles--though of course you should never ride either without wearing a hjëllment:
I'm surprised the CPSC hasn't made them replace that sticker with one that says: "Warning: There's a 50% Chance The Fork Is On Backwards."
Anyway, after handling the Target fat bike I needed a bit of a palate cleanser, and so today I selected pretty much its exact opposite:
Hopped a train:
And disembarked at an undisclosed station, where I lifted up this satanic manhole cover and disappeared beneath the street:
(If you put your ear to it you'll hear this.)
It's where I get my powers.
In other news, Esteemed Commenter Daddo One informs me that, despite their funny accents, people in the Boston area are just like everybody else in that they don't give a shit about velodromes:
In an Olympic landscape stalked by white elephants, the velodrome just might be the lead pachyderm, skewered by critics as the ultimate symbol of the waste and excess required to host the Games.
Goddamn right! Remember back in like 2007 when fixies were big and the people we used to call "hipsters" were all whining about how they needed to have velodromes so they could ride their track bikes and show off their knuckle tattoos? Well, it's a good thing nobody listened to them, because if they had the entire country would now be littered with the shells of unused velodromes, desolate and lying in wait for some natural disaster when they could finally see use as emergency shelters.
At least the stupid NJS track bikes they don't ride anymore aren't getting in anyone else's way. (With the possible exception of their parents in the suburbs in whose basements they're now being stored.)
I mean come on, we're talking about track racing here! You'd have better luck getting people behind indoor fly fishing arenas. Even USA Cycling is like, "Track racing? Who cares?"
But even velodrome believers admit getting Americans excited about the sport is not easy.
Watching muscular racers on fixed-gear bicycles with no brakes hurtling around steeply banked tracks is popular in Europe. But in the United States, “it’s sort of a marginalized discipline,” said Andy Sparks, director of track programs at USA Cycling. “You say, ‘track cycling,’ and people are not familiar with the concept.”
Way to stand behind one of your core disciplines, USA Cycling.
Of course, one of the problems here is that nobody even knows what the hell a velodrome is:
That is partly because hardly anyone knows what a velodrome is, particularly in New England. There are only 28 of the oval-shaped tracks in the United States and the one closest to Boston is in Breinigsville, Pa., 317 miles away. The only American velodrome that meets Olympic specifications is in Carson, Calif.
This is all cycling's own fault. Why the hell do we still call them "velodromes?" It's so 19th century! If you're going to Yonkers Raceway you don't say "I'm off to the hippodrome to partake in some equestrian sports betting," do you? Of course not. You simply get on the free bus shuttle from the subway and sip booze from a bottle concealed in a paper bag. So why should track racing be any different?
Instead of velodromes they should be calling them "no brakes bike tracks." Problem solved.
I mean come on, isn't "velodrome" a little highfalutin for something like this?
The last velodrome in New England, a humble asphalt course built on a former go-kart track in Londonderry, N.H., closed in 2011 after struggling to attract cyclists.
Of course it did.
And of course the very worst way to get anybody interested in a velodrome is to insist it's going to benefit amateur bike racers:
Kross and other boosters point out that Boston has a high concentration of competitive cyclists, and harsh winters. A velodrome, they say, would provide a place for these cyclists to train from November to March and draw fans willing to plunk down $15 to watch races.
Come on, everybody hates amateur bike racers. They're inconsiderate wankers! Why should we give these people anything? "Oh, it's snowy in winter, I can't train." So go skiing! Arguing that a velodrome will give them a place to train in winter is like like saying they should build a new shopping mall so muggers will have a place to ply their trade in inclement weather.
Anyway, everybody knows the only reason track racing is still even in the Olympics is it's one of the relatively few sports British people are good at.
Speaking of amateur bike racing, I continue to be fascinated with the media hype over the new Specialized Venge-Schmenge. Last week's CyclingNews review was amusing enough, but now that Lennard Zinn's weighing in with his own it's like Eddie Van Halen blowing a high school band recital off the stage with a blistering solo:
Think of time savings as water pouring into a bucket. Sagan, since his power savings are so much higher with the new equipment than yours are, turns the faucet up high, but he pulls the bucket away sooner because he’s done with his 40km sooner; that limits the total water collected in the bucket. Because our power savings would be lower for the same change in equipment, we would have the faucet on a lower flow rate. But since we’re out there longer, our bucket stays under the faucet longer and ends up with a similar amount of water in it as Sagan’s does.
Actually, I guess it's less like Eddie Van Halen and more like Bill Nye after he's just taken a huge bong hit.
Of course, the best part is that in order to reap the maximum benefit you've got to use all of this stuff together, right down to the shoes:
Specialized has come up with a time savings number for each individual piece of equipment, adding up to over five minutes of total predicted time savings.
Well done, Specialized, well done.
After all, it only takes one incorrectly-worn helme(n)t to erase all those hard-won gains:
That thing's just a few inches away from being a scarf.