Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Have you ever thought to yourself, "You know, I love the Bike Snob blog, but I really wish that instead of reading his brilliant insights I could hear them intoned to me in a whiny, nasal voice."

Well, wish no more, because I'm a guest on a podcast!

The only thing better than listening to me prattle on is listening to me prattle on about helmets.

Hey, they asked me.

In other news, the anti-cyclist screed is a time-honored journalistic tradition, and it harkens back to a simpler time when racists were still closeted and "fake news" was simply called "bullshit."  Of course here in Canada's uvula such screeds appear less frequently now that the media is preoccupied with the imminent collapse of our "democracy," but a positively exquisite example of the genre recently appeared across the Atlantic in the Daily Mail.  Now I should point out that it completely failed to incense me, which could be because: a) it's from another country and we Americans find Britishisms endearing, even the ones that are supposed to be insults; or b) because everything seems quaint now given the imminent collapse of our "democracy."  Nevertheless, this does not diminish the piece's deft execution, so let's begin:

First of all, when excoriating cyclists, it's crucial to evoke both Lycra and smugness, and this particular article does not disappoint:

Forget road-clogging Chelsea Mums on the school run in their 4x4s. Never mind fist-shaking, foul-mouthed road ragers. Don’t fret about the old lady in a Skoda you inevitably get stuck behind.

There’s a force on the road far worse than all those —- and more likely to send your blood pressure soaring: the smug cyclist.

These Lycra-clad darters between cars, these self-styled saints in the saddle, are clogging up our roads with self-satisfaction.

Of course, what the authors of these screeds fail to realize is that Lycra and smugness are, for the most park, mutually exclusive.  For example, smug cyclists who are members of food co-ops and who move residences by bike tend not to wear Lycra, whereas the plastic bike-wearing Fred set who do wear Lycra are often the sorts of people who drive their bikes to rides.

Nevertheless, it's crucial to marry these two concepts in the mind of the typical bike-hater, much in the same way our current administration constantly conflates immigrants and crime.

Another crucial tactic in gaining support for your bike-hating article is to concede some small point in advance to make yourself seem gracious and level-headed, and the writer employs this device too:

This is not to say that there are no cavalier or dangerous drivers on the road — of course there are. 

But you can't leave this offering out on the table for too long, lest it begin to occur to people that drivers kill left and right whereas cyclists kill virtually never.  So be sure to snatch it back quickly before your reader has time to think, and then go back to beating up on the cyclists:

It’s just that they don’t make such a song and dance about their chosen mode of transport.

It's true, drivers are very understated about their enthusiasm for cars.  This is especially true of the British, which explains why they created the world's most popular car show:

Cyclists, on the other hand, are entitled egomaniacs:

The holier-than-thou attitude among many riders is exacerbated by officialdom’s flattery of cyclists, its stroking of their already swollen egos.

Ridiculous.  Everybody knows if you attempt to stroke the ego of a British cyclist you'll get rug burn from all the tweed:

By the way, they're not even dressed up, that's just a typical day.

Yep, that's what all that flattery from officialdom will get you.  And worst of all, they don't even appreciate it:

(Johnson took revenge with Brexit, so who's laughing now?)

Anyway, once you've established that cyclists are a bunch of spoiled children, it's crucial that you explain how encouraging people to ride bicycles results in a dystopian society that, to anybody with half a brain, actually sounds like a utopia:

We all know about the endless miles of cycles lanes that have been built across the country. But now, it seems, cyclists can get away with the kind of rule-breaking for which the rest of us would likely be cuffed and carted away.

Wait, endless cycling lanes (miles even, and not those stupid kilometer things), national health care, and you can get arrested for hitting someone with your car?  I'll gladly trade places with any disgruntled British motorist.  You'll love it here!  Not only can you pretty much kill whoever you want (car or gun, choose your weapon), but we've got a fantastic president who's turning things around bigly.

Meanwhile, what kind of sick society treats riding a bike on the sidewalk less severely than robbery or assault?

One North London borough has just said it will no longer issue fixed £50 penalties to people who cycle on the pavement. Officers in Camden say they’ll no longer enforce this law ‘without good reason’. They’ll have a little chat with the cyclist instead.

Would they extend the same courtesy to other people who broke the law? To the bloke who nicked a hundred quid from the tills at Aldi or the woman in the grip of drink who punched a total stranger? ‘My dear, why did you feel the need to do this?’ No, of course not.

Yes, the writer would be a lot more happy here in America, where doing things "without good reason" is now national policy.

And finally, always be sure to point out how discouraging driving somehow results in more pollution:

In London, hundreds of millions of pounds are being pumped into getting more people on bikes. This has included turning ever more road space into cycling lanes.

As a result, the space for cars has shrunk dramatically, so they’re more likely to get stuck in traffic jams and to pump out fumes.

The irony is almost too much to handle: air quality in London has suffered as cyclists have become kings of the road, because demonised motorists now find themselves stationary for longer times in longer jams, their cars coughing out smog as cyclists speed by.

Fast-forward to the year 2030, when the headline on the front page of the Daily Mail reads: LAST REMAINING MOTORIST IN LONDON STARVES TO DEATH AFTER BEING TRAPPED IN HIS CAR FOR WEEKS BY A SEA OF CYCLISTS.

Lastly, while we're on the subject of literary forms, yesterday I mentioned Bicycling editor Bill Strickland's approach to bike reviews, which included such criteria as this:

Who needs this bike? Who imagines they do with enough ardor that it might as well be true need? Why did the bicycle and I do that through that corner, or go fast there, and how much was bike and how much was me and how much was that (silly to say but real so here it is) mystical mixing of the two of us?

And this:

Changing any element changes things but that means all things, the entire bike, the whole ride and, because you are as necessary to the ride as the bike is, changes you while you are with that bike. 

Offhandedly I mentioned that I think I prefer the VeloNews approach, but after checking out their recent review of the $10,660 Cannondale Whatever I take that back:

Here's why:

That’s primarily because the SuperSix can adapt. A day in the mountains? No problem. Weekend crit? It’s got you covered. It’s all about the balance of stiffness and comfort that makes it a jack of all trades, not just in name, but in performance. Our stiffness testing reveals the SuperSix is solid in both the bottom bracket (0.8mm of deflection) and head tube (0.6mm of deflection), but not nearly as unyielding as an aero bike like the Trek Madone (0.41mm of deflection in both the head tube and bottom bracket). That little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel, a certain something that connects to the curves and is just malleable enough when you’re throwing your weight around on climbs.

Okay, so the differences in deflection between the Cannondale and the Trek are as follows:

A .39mm difference at the bottom bracket (that's the thickness of about four pieces of copy paper);
A .19mm difference at the headtube (that's the thickness of about two pieces of copy paper).

Are you fucking kidding me?  This makes the Cannondale "not nearly as unyielding" as the Trek?  At least the Strickland approach can confuse you into believing it, whereas when they start showing numbers you can actually quantify how meaningless as it.  They're gonna give the whole scam away!  Come on, you've got to figure there's more than a .39mm deflection difference in your foot from day to day due the thickness of your calluses, not to mention all the other crap between your foot and the frame.  In fact, I bet if they threw two different Cannondale (or Trek, or whatever) samples on VeloNews Deflekt-O-Matic™they'd find a similar variation.  But sure, that "little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel," and "is just malleable enough" to notice "when you're throwing your weight around on climbs."

In other words, if your bottom bracket isn't stick enough, put four pieces of copy paper in your shoe.  That ought to cover it.


Serial Retrogrouch said...

Bang.... fuck ted

Ted K. said...


213. Because of their need for rebellion and for membership in a movement, leftists or persons of similar psychological type often are unattracted to a rebellious or activist movement whose goals and membership are not initially leftist. The resulting influx of leftish types can easily turn a non-leftist movement into a leftist one, so that leftist goals replace or distort the original goals of the movement.

Joe said...


Serial Retrogrouch said...

... for Mike:

"That little bit of flex gives the HER a more lively feel, a certain something that connects to the curves and is just malleable enough when you’re throwing your weight around on climbs."

...You're welcome

Kraig said...

Hey if you can't tell the difference of a .39mm deflection, you gotta work on your FTD* wildcat!

* Functional Threshold Deflection

The Dave said...

Obligatory Daily Mail song:

Crosspalms said...

I think a jack-of-all-trades bike should be able to take fenders and go to the grocery sometimes, but I live in one of those bubbles everybody's been talking about, so I guess I'll just pack a bag and wait for the political reeducation committee to knock on the door.

N/A said...

"Ride on the sidewalk" the car idiots say. "Why aren't you getting in trouble for riding on the sidewalk" the car idiots say. Make up your minds, car idiots. Where are we supposed to ride? It's not like there are ditches everywhere.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

nine-rd! Scranus!

Hee Haw the Barista said...

A jack off trades bike?


Anonymous said...

I was once walking my dog and a fredly type of a larger group stopped a short distance in front and was futzing with his saddle. As we passed he was muttering he'd forgotten to adjust the height to compensate for different chammy thickness of his shorts. So 0.39mm - bigly deal!

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Tweed Burn. El-O-el.

Dude from the 60's said...

Did I see Diane Keeton dressed in her "Annie Hall" outfit in the video of the British old-timey cyclists, or was it just the Woody Allen film score jazz riff that dug her image out of the deep dark recesses of my brain?

paulb said...

Creating jobs in the prison-industrial complex: arrest the smug.

Frickus Rungus said...

Sorry... How much deflection is recommended to achieve optimal malleability when schleping my not insubstantial weight up a climb? Can you convert that into DFUs?

paulb said...

Bike versatility means fitting lots of different width tires. Grant said it, I believe it, that settles it.

Anonymous said...

Tweed ride video drinking game: Take a drink every time you see a Paschley. Finish your beer when you see a penny farthing.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend, once a public transit/cycling commuter, has landed a new job and has begun driving to work.

Since she has started driving, her evening summaries of how her day went have begun to involve complaining about cyclists contributing to traffic. I remind her that she is choosing to navigate a multi ton box metal through one of the most densely populated areas in the continent, she has no right to expect to get anywhere fast, and furthermore it is the thousands of multi ton metal boxes that create the traffic, not the dozen thin little 20 pound bikes she encounters on her drive.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

I was waiting to see that British Tweed Cycle-Palooza morph into the Yakety Sax ending of a Benny Hill show. That's how all British video should end.

You know that VeloSnooze is serious, they measured the Trek's deflection down to the one-hundredth of a millimeter - that's the equivalent of 1/22 of a pubic hair's thickness!

CommieCanuck said...

Ahem. I'll just put this out there: forever, VerylowGnus has been comparing frame characteristics by riding bikes with different wheels and tires, then coming up with completely Kellyannish terms like "feel" and "curve connection" and them coming up with very precise ratings like 87/100. Not 86, or 88, ...87. Oh, and regardless of body size or frame size, their measures matter.
It gets really good when Lenny Zinn writes technical articles completely out of his highly elevated ass, some of which contradict others, and leads to pages and pages of internet discussion about rubber hysteresis which is usually headed by some twat who defines himself as an engineer (toilet bowl flappers) and typically contributed by people who have so much time to worry about this shit I doubt they even ride bikes.

In conclusion, I use Prell because it gives my hair 23% more lustre and 17% more radiance, and that's just science.

CommieCanuck said...

I was waiting to see that British Tweed Cycle-Palooza morph into the Yakety Sax ending of a Benny Hill show. That's how all British video should end.

Well, thank Lob for Al Gore.

N/A said...

I had to quit using Prell, because it wasn't gravel-ready. It did make my hair 47% more aerodynamic, though. I miss that, naturally.

BeerDrivenCyclist said...

Twenty turdst? Awesome.

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...


... I see what you did there.


N/A said...

I read in article on SmeloNews that Prell is only for summer fatbiking.

N/A said...

*an* article.

Just because I'm stupid doesn't mean I don't try to type gud.

cdinvb said...

time for me to air up my tires

cdinvb said...

Oh, and hey. Straw is cheaper; grass is free. But I wonder if it's safe for me to be using my snow bike on sand roads way down south in the land of seasonal visitors.

hellbelly said...

Typos seem to be a byproduct of how incredulous you find the subject matter. The ride is always fun nonetheless.

thats what she said said...

@bikesnob - PIZZA. PIZZA PIE...the only pie that counts. Don't you ever answer that incorrectly again.

Anonymous said...

Is this a prediction Trump will turn left soon?

Brilliant Ted!

1904 Cadardi said...

Speaking of trafficways:

This morning one of my co-workers asked me "Why do people on bikes always get in the left side of the left turn lane?" I said "The left side of the left turn lane? They're doing it wrong, they should be in the CENTER of the left turn lane. That's the law and it's the safest way to make a left turn when a left turn lane exists."

JLRB said...

Slugging someone whilest in the grip of drink? Guf-Faw

Bryan said...

Read the article in Jeremy Clarksons voice...yeeeah,

Putin on the Ritz said...

What is it The Donald is working on, oh yeah, learning Russian.

ubercurmudgeon said...

The imminent collapse of Britain's "democracy" is only delayed compared to that of Canada's groped pussy, because Brexit is in a phoney war phase, before the official triggering of the EU's Article 50 clause. But be in no doubt that when that's done, when negotiations are completed (or more likely have collapsed), when the foreigners have been kicked out, and Britain is a vassal state of Trump's America, the likes of the Daily Mail will turn their attention even more fully on "internal threats" like cyclists.

But neither Trump nor Brexit should have surprised any regular cyclist. We've been on the receiving end of hatred due to other people's desperate attempts to avoid their own guilt for decades. Now other groups are getting the same treatment. Liberals say that society is better if nobody is discriminated against for being a member of a minority. This is self-evidently true, but it would make reactionaries feel guilty for their own past acts of bigotry if they stopped for a second to think about it, so instead they despise liberals. Scientists say carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is cooking the planet. This is self-evidently true, but it would make consumers feel guilty if they stopped for a second to think about the emissions from their own consumption, so instead they loathe scientists. Likewise cyclists, by their very presence on the roads, say that there is a form of transportation that doesn't kill thousands of people a year. This is self-evidently true, but it would make drivers feel guilty if they stopped for a second to think about their own near-misses, so instead they detest cyclists. All those on the receiving end of such hatred have no real power, yet they are cast as terrible enemies because they have put others on the wrong side of history and evidential reality, and that really stings. Enough for many people to vote for anyone or anything that says it is OK to hate them, and to pollute and be racist and intimidate anyone who gets in your way.

Dooth said...

Wildcat Cultural Icon Machine,
we could sure use a bacon-related cycling event.

Chris said...

On a recent London commute home this gentlemen stepped out in front of me without looking. My lightning reflexes, well-maintained diek brakes, and considerable skill avoided a collision. He was nevertheless very angry and expressed as much to a passing constable who then lectured me about taking more care. Anyway, that seems to be the norm with cycling in London. Squashed under a lorry - your fault. Take out an oblivious pedestrian- also your fault. The upside is that your typical daily mail reader lives in abject misery and nothing they read in the papers will ever change it.

dancesonpedals said...

Are you fucking kidding me? This makes the Cannondale "not nearly as unyielding" as the Trek?

One can admire velonews' prose stylings...I'm not capable anymore ....I don't have it in me....I shit out my litotes in my diapers

Chazu said...

Instead of the question about pie, he shoulda asked "what beer you running'?"

Anonymous said...

You didn't sound as whiny or nasal as I imagined you might...#whatbitrateyourunning?.

There's a damn lot of pigs in I-owe-way. I was there once, damn, there's a lot of pigs in that state.

I was wondering if you were married before you started the blog. Seems that being the world's most famous semi-professional bike blogger would be quite an attractive quality in the mate market. Or not.

Pistil Pete said...


Dan said...

How about savory pies? Jamaican meat pies?
Really enjoyed hearing you on the podcast, no surprise there, I'm a zealous reader of your blog!
Interesting to hear your comments re: safety on the same day that I read that the number of Americans killed in auto accidents rose above 40,000 for the first time since 2007.
I'm dismayed more than shocked. It seems that almost every driver I see is at least glancing at a device, if not actively using one. And I'm one of those crazy Freds who does manage to ride over 10,000 miles per year in NYC and the surround.
Cheers, here's to our mutual safety!

Persia said...

Anon at 1.42PM:

Time for a new girlfriend.

Persia said...

The Daily Mail (UK) comes in convenient rolls, with perforations between the sheets, for your thronely pleasure. If constipated, merely read some pages and voila!

JLRB said...

I nearly got accidented by a salmoning bikecyclist who ignored me in a crosswalk this afternoon. The horrors.

And the stupid song in my head for the 'mute home was "Smugzilla"

Anonymous said...

Bit of background about the author of the Daily Mail article:

Anonymous said...

This Iowan thinks cheesecake is close enough to pie that you aren't other. I didn't like that divisive end to the interview - time to rethink that closing question. I think you'd hate RAGBRAI but would love to hear your thoughts upon riding it.

The dude said...

Just as a fyi even wikipedia has banned the daily mail as a source of information, period...

LG said...

The Daily Mail is referred to by many on this side of the pond as the Daily Hate, as this is more or less the tone of almost everything the publish. Its not so much an example of anti-cycling propaganda, as it is an example of how absolutely awful the paper and its readers are. In such ways are Brexits and orange Presidents made.

By the way, I would not even risk linking to that shit, lest the bastards make a fraction of a penny from the ad revenue.

JLRB said...

Finally had a chance to listen to the podcast - the answer is obvious - 3.14
It makes wheels go round

Anonymous said...

The article to which you refer is, however, from the Daily Mail. Wikipedia has recently decided to no longer accept articles from this source as references due to their somewhat scattergun approach to reporting the truth.

They supported Moseley in the 30s and they're currently somewhere to the right of UKIP. It's not known as the Daily Heil for nothing.


Helen said...

Oh, Brendan O'Neill. Pfft.

Alan said...

Don't forget this when you get back. Woof! Woof! He still had his gravel pads on or the pelaton would have been gravy in his dish...

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