Last night I rode a Citi Bike, so of course immediately afterward I checked my Cat 6 Strava (that's the Citi Bike website) to see how I did compared to last week's ride. The result? I'm getting slower! 19 seconds slower, to be exact:
NINETEEN SECONDS?!? That's an eternity in competitive cycling! It's the difference between putting on the maillot jaune and slipping into total obscurity! (Assuming you pass all your drug tests of course.)
So how could this be? It couldn't be aerodynamics. I was wearing the exact same non-aero puffy jacket and knit hat as last week. I was also riding the older model Citi Bike both times. (Even though the new bikes are designed by Ben Serotta I prefer the older models, so I guess that makes me a bike share retrogrouch.)
If anything, I should have been much slower last week, for the following reasons:
--My bike last week was seriously fucked up, barely shifted, and the drivetrain sounded like an egg beater trying to smooth a bowl of gravel;
--I'd eaten myself stupid at a fancy restaurant before checking out the bike;
--I had a chat with someone as I rode across the Manhattan Bridge span;
--I was snapping photos as I rode.
None of these things were true of this week's ride, from which I can only conclude I've already stuffed a Gazzetta dello Sport down the front of my jersey and am officially on the descent to irrevocably diminishing fitness and, ultimately, death.
Either that or there was more of a headwind last night.
Oh wait, I did take one photo last night of a police car in the bike lane:
This was in front of the Apple store, so I can only assume they were apprehending someone for attempting to steal an overpriced pair of Chinese headphones.
Can't wait until President Trump sorts that whole thing out so I can stick a tiny plastic piece of America in my ear hole and crank up the Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Anyway, given my poor performance on the Citi Bike last night I figured I'd better do some training this morning. Fortunately, my privileged position as a semi-professional bike blogger means I can semi-work wherever I want, and I've engineered a "commute" for myself that conveniently takes me through a park with mountain bike trails in it. So I threw some stuff in a backpack and went to grab the Marin Pine Mountain 1, only to find that one of the tires was flat:
I had the appropriate inner tube but I didn't have even a moment to spare, and so I said "Screw it" and grabbed my Engin instead:
After a week of riding a bike with big fat plush tires and a wide range of gears I thought that maybe a singlespeed with comparatively narrow rubber would seem difficult to ride in comparison, but this was not the casem and in fact it felt awesome. (When it comes to handling it's tough to beat a rigid non-suspension-corrected bicycle.)
Sure, an artisanal singlespeed is a bit pretentious, and I'd never tell anyone they need a custom bicycle, but I congratulate myself for buying that bike every time I ride it.
Speaking of wheel sizes, further to yesterday's post a commenter expressed confusion and frustration over bicycle wheel nomenclature, specifically with regard to the Marin Pine Mountain 1, which employs a size they're now calling "27.5+." It's really not complicated. 27.5 is just what people are calling 650b now, and the "+" just means the rims and tires are extra wide.
As for the tubes (assuming you still use tubes), they're readily available, and in fact I picked up an extra at a well-known outdoor store on my way to the mountain bike trail this morning:
See that? It's clearly labeled with both terms:
Sure, it's not technically "+"-sized, but that shouldn't matter too much owing to the expansification properties of the tube once you shove it full of air with an inflatoratory device.
So don't worry, addled commentator, nobody's trying to put one over on you.
Anyway, there are few things better than some snow-dusted singletrack on a cold winter's morning:
Especially when your bladder has been duly voided of its contents:
And here we are.
Also further to yesterday's post, you may recall I made mention of Rapha:
Well, I must have my hand wrist-deep in the Zeitgeist because check this out:
I love headlines with obvious answers, and in this case the answer to the above question is clearly this:
Really, it's not complicated. Rapha make some very nice stuff, but it can be expensive, and their marketing can be insufferable. It's really no different than, say, BMW, who also make some very nice stuff, but it can be expensive, and their marketing can be insufferable. And I don't mean that as an insult to Rapha, who are very good at what they do. It's just that it's impossible to sell high performance to men without making it expensive and surrounding it with a culture of douchebaggery. That's just physics.
Even so, I read the article, and was amused to learn about something called the "Shadow collection:"
Earlier this month, Rapha unveiled its new Shadow collection and even the staunchest supporters of the brand were taken aback by the £480 price tag for the jersey and shorts. Critics came out in force on social media ridiculing the price, pointing out that the jersey cost twice the price of its obvious rival. “Two hundred and sixty pounds for a pair of shorts is a grotesque amount of money!,”said one. “For £260 I could buy 32 and a half pairs of Decathlon’s finest!,” screamed another.
So when they say "obvious rival" do they mean the "Kuku Penthouse?"
I don't know, but one Henrie Westlake objects to Rapha on the basis that they're now the official uniform of Fred 2.0:
Henrie Westlake is 42 and has been road cycling all his adult life, but would never contemplate wearing Rapha’s clothing. His choice is not down to the cost, nor the quality. “It has become the uniform of a certain sector of ‘new’ cyclists,” he contends, “and by that I refer to the stereotypical cliché of ‘all the gear, no idea’.
I'd agree with Mr. Westlake that Rapha has become the uniform of the 'new' cyclist. Head out to Route 9W on warm weekend and you'll see legions of wobbly Freds and Fredericas on new crabon bicycles, all with matching Rapha gear complete with that ubiquitous and vaguely fascistic white armband:
On the other hand, Rapha deserve credit for making novice cyclists look about a thousand times better than they did ten or twenty years ago. For example, I can very clearly remember wearing this jersey:
Not only was it like two sizes too big, but I also didn't even own a bike with a Headshok and I wore it while riding a road bike. For the life of me I have no idea why I thought this was something I could wear in public. I can only assume I deemed it slightly better than other Fredly alternatives of the time, such as the Primal Wear collection:
Had I had access to Rapha in those days then perhaps I'd have avoided this sartorial Sophie's choice.
Then again, it's worth asking: is the tasteful monochromatic conformity of today's comparatively stylish Freds in fact preferable to the gaudy, clashing, and occasionally seizure-inducing fashon palette of the Freds of yesteryear? Perhaps not. In fact perhaps in sparing new cyclists the indignity of wearing truly embarrassing jerseys we're also sheltering them from the hazing and attrition that will make them better cyclists and, ultimately--dare I say it--Rapha-worthy. Indeed, in this sense, it would seem that Rapha may have effectively undermined themselves by creating sort of a Fredly fashion inversion.
Fuck it, I'm leasing a BMW.