Friday, December 22, 2017

[Enters Trepidatiously] "...Hello? Is Anyone Here?"

Hopefully you're all in the midst of abandoning your respective posts for the holidays, but in case you're still staring at a screen for whatever reason you should know that Outside have deigned to publish my latest column:

Yes, sometimes nothing beats hopping on a bike and knocking around the city:

I stayed off the dirt jumps though:

And with that I resume my absence, and I'll see you back here either next time Outside posts a column or on January 2nd, whichever comes sooner.

May your holidays be disgustingly joyful,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Friday, December 15, 2017

Well, That's It For The Year! (Kinda)

So here we are, Friday, December 15th, and not only am I failing to keep the Christ in Christmas, but I also neglected to keep the Dinosaur in Hanukkah:

I can't tell you how hard I'm kicking myself for not ordering that right now.

Oh well, there's always next year.

Anyway, what with the holidays and the year winding down and all the rest of it I am sort of wrapping this blog up until Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018:

Now keep in mind when I say "sort of," what I mean is that I'll almost certainly be back here before then to flog Outside columns and whatever other extracurricular content might get published during that time.  Or maybe I'll have some other piercing insight I have to share with you that simply can't wait until next year.  Who knows?  I certainly don't.

I should also mention that the Bike Forecast will continue through next week, since not everybody's a semi-professional bike blogger who can just roll down the shutters and close the shop whenever they feel like it.  So for those poor schmucks who have to trudge to and from work for another week I will keep the flame burning.

You're welcome.

Speaking of doing whatever the hell I want, earlier today I headed out on Ol' Piney (equipped with Jones H-Bars of course) and took a little spin on the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall:

People always look at me funny for riding through a mall, but I look at them funny for shopping next to a mountain bike trail, so it all balances out:

I even stopped for lunch at Whole Foods on the way home, so all in all the ride was a win for me and for consumerism.

Also of note was the guy walking five dogs and carrying a flag made of caution tape:

What, no dogsled?

Anyway, I finally swapped the stem on Ol' Piney for a shorter, stubbier one as per Jones's recommendation, and while it's only been one ride it does seem to be an improvement.  In fact, I think once I get around to taping the lower section of the bar I may have this new cockpit officially dialed in.  And between the fact that this bike is now: A) exceedingly comfortable; and 2) able to ride over pretty much anything, I suspect I'll be depending heavily on this bike to get me through what's shaping up to be a snowy winter.

Hey, at least I accomplished something this year.

As far as the lengthy list of things I did not accomplish, perhaps the most glaring is my utter failure to curate a proper BSNYC Gran Fondon't.  That means this past spring's Pre-Fondon't becomes the actual Fondon't by default, and the overall winner is whoever made it up the forced dismount first--which based on photographic evidence would appear to be this guy:

Please report here to claim your prize.

And with that I'm quasi-officially semi-signing off.  If you're still holiday shopping be sure to choose something from the gift guide, please let my warmest wishes fill you with holiday cheer, and may you ride boldly upon optimally-inflated tires into the New Year.

Most of all, thanks as always for reading.

I remain,

Yours truly,

Etc. and so forth,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Penny For Your Thoughts, A Dollar If You Keep Them To Yourself

The day has slipped through my fingers like a drinking glass proffered by Mario Cipollini (because it's all greasy obviously) and so as a shiny distraction I present you with this video about bespoke bicycles:

I gather we're supposed to think the bike is expensive but it doesn't really seem like that much:

Then again testing a $10,000 wooden bicycle may have totally blown the bottom out of my perspective.

Also, I'd just like to state publicly that while I'm profoundly happy for anyone who survives a bad crash I'm also not interested in your helmet anecdotes:

In this particular case I felt compelled to point out that descending Mt. Ventoux in no way warrants comparison to everyday cycling--I mean sure, by all means where safety gear when riding down a giant mountain--but that only prompted more anecdodes:

Again, I'm very glad anybody who takes a nasty spill is up and tweeting, but in this particular case I think more frequent pre-ride checks may be in order.

And finally, I've mentioned GoldenGate both here and on the Bike Forecast, and I'm pleased to see that the story has now made the New York Times:

It can't get enough attention as far as I'm concerned.

See you back here tomorrow to close out the week properly

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"They Froomey Under The Bus!"

Well, it was bound to happen:

Yes, noted asthmatic and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome appears to have taken one huff too many:

The cycling world woke up to a bombshell Wednesday: Cycling superstar Chris Froome could be facing a racing ban after urine tests revealed elevated levels of Salbutamol during the 2017 Vuelta a EspaƱa.

Details were confirmed by Team Sky and later the UCI ahead of reports from The Guardian and Le Monde.

Of course the performance-enhancing benefits of Salbutamol are debatable, which means this isn't nearly as bad as the situation with his fellow "asthmatic" Bradley Wiggins, who was getting injections right before Grand Tours:

("Athsma" my asth.)

But it still doesn't look good.  Here's Froome's explanation:

“My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage,” Froome said in a statement. “As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose.”

Though Vincenzo Nibali says Froome's full of it:

Well, if nothing else, this is more proof (as if you needed it) that the sport of cycling is merely a series of blood tests and that any riding of bicycles that may occur in between said tests is merely incidental.

Speaking of cheating and people who ride Pinarellos, Cyclingtips has a review of the new Nytro ebike:

I came for the bike but I stayed for the accent.  And it was worth it.

Anyway, you'll no doubt recognize this as the bike that Pinarello launched with a very poorly-received marketing campaign:

While the outrage was certainly justified, it's sort of remarkable how everyone piled on Pinarello until they withdrew the ad, yet somehow the entire self-lubricating Cipollini empire continues on unchecked:

Or to put it in more visual terms:

In any case the video is intriguing and so is the accompanying article--and not only because, in the age of ebikes, bottom brackets have gone from "beefy" to "vast:"

But also because it addresses the implications of ebikes:

The more I think and write about the road e-bike market the more it makes me think it’s a great idea. I’ll admit I was biased before — I was in the camp of “Pahh, e-bikes! They’re not proper bikes — they’re just mild motorbikes!” But after riding the Nytro, I’ve changed my mind. It’s a bike to help people get out and enjoy that feeling of riding further and faster than they may have been able to before.

Yep, I have about as much interest in an electric Fred bike as I do in an electric nose picker.  Nevertheless, these things are gonna be huge, no question about it.

I do, however, have a certain amount of interest in e-bikes for city use, specifically with regard to child-hauling, so I was curious about this:

While the phrase "British engineer" is almost as disconcerting as the phrase "midwestern bagel shop," he could be on to something with this, who knows?

And finally:
Sounds great, where do I sign up?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

With Elected Officials Like These Who Needs Enemies?

As the holidays approach, it's important to gather together with friends and family and remember that in general human beings are self-interested sleazeballs.  Consider this Twitter thread, which I mentioned on the Bike Forecast, and which I feel warrants some additional treatment here:

I strongly advise you to read the entire thread, but if you want the "TLDR" (or "Cliff's Notes" as those of us who grew up in the analog age used to say), the bike lane-commandeering, cop-impersonating, light-running placard wielder turns out to be Marty Golden, the New York State senator who has been fighting speed cameras for years:

Of course Golden has good reason to be against cameras, since he loves to speed in front of schools:

And occasionally hit people:

BROOKLYN STATE SEN. Marty Golden paid a hospital visit yesterday to the 74-year-old woman he accidentally ran over with his SUV. Hariklia Zafiropoulos, 74, was in critical condition at Lutheran Medical Center after Golden hit her at Third Ave. and 84th St. in Bay Ridge on Saturday. Authorities said she had been crossing against the light. "It's devastating . . . it's a terrible accident," said Golden spokesman John Quaglione. "He will probably visit her every day," Quaglione said. "I know right now his focus is on her survival and her recovery.

I have no reason to doubt the victim was crossing against the light, because why would a well-connected politician and former cop receive any special treatment from the NYPD?

Oh, John Quaglione, also mentioned in the article, wants to legalize parking in bike lanes.

So there you go.

Speaking of the holidays, it's time for me to put on my Santa helmet:

Fire up the Menorah of Justice:

And present my brief and utterly self-serving Holiday Gift Guide!

Firstly, is there a person on your shopping list who has a head?  If yes, then obviously they're going to want to cover that head with a genuine BSNYC cap:

And since you can't go around wearing a cap and nothing else you should also get one of these so they can put it on their body:

Order the XXL and maybe they can even get away without wearing shorts!

Or, if they hate me and my blog, order a vintage-style Cue Ball Cap with the number of your choice instead!

Hot tip: I hear "3" is gonna be the hot new digit for 2018.  And if you enter the following discount code you get $5 off:


Then there are my books:

You can get these wherever fine books are sold, just as long as they also carry books that aren't fine and are all about bikes.  And just listen to these rave reviews from people who purchased them on popular online retail stores named after rivers:

"This guy seems the sort who loves to hear himself talk."

Oh god yes!  You have no idea.  I've listened to myself on this podcast like 50 times already:
My only regret is nobody has yet asked me to record an audiobook.

I mean nobody would ever listen to it, but I certainly would.

Maybe I'll make one just for myself.

And while I'm pushing merchandise that has my name on it, who doesn't like a nice cup of coffee?

Not only is Just Coffee in Madison, WI as smug as they come, but they're also having a sale:

If you really think about it, it would cost you more money not to order!

And the fact that you should also patronize the fine companies who advertise on the right-hand side of this blog goes without saying.

Even so, I'm going to say it anyway.

Finally, Peter Sagan is putting on his advocacy helmet:

No word on whether or not he'll be giving up the custom Dodge Charger:

“We explained to him, ‘Peter, this [the car shown in the Fast and the Furious – ed.] is not a very functional car. It is a gimmick car. It is a car done for the movie. It is probably not very nice inside, it is not going to be what you think.’ So he has a Porche Turbo S 911, and he basically wanted a combination of a Porsche 911 with the violence and the raw power of an American muscle car.”

I'm guessing he's not.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Up And At 'Em!

Good morning!  Firstly, awhile back I was a guest on Lifehacker's "The Upgrade" podcast, and I see from the Twitter this morning that now the episode is ready to go into your ears:

Don't worry, I won't judge you if you listen to it while riding.

Secondly, in the context of plugging a recent Outside column, I noted a phenomenon I call the "Minnesota Humblebrag:"

Basically, the idea is that any mention of cycling and winter will result in at least one (1) Minnesotan working in a seemingly casual yet in fact highly contrived reference to how cold it is there:

All you have to do is, say, mention gloves and in comes Captain Snotsicle with a question he already knows the answer to, like "When riding in temperatures of −128.6 °F, which glove material do you recommend, PVC or Neoprene?"

Anyway, my latest Outside column has hit the Facebook:

And here comes Fred Frost right on cue:

Jack Kukowski The author has obviously never lived in Minnesota, where windchill values in winter (and sometimes the actual temperature) regularly dip to -30 or lower...working up a good sweat inside my house on my trainer during evenings like that IS time well spent...

Hmmm, I thought the tipoff that I've never lived in Minnesota is my sophistication and erudition, go figure.

And of course there was the usual deluge of indignant commentary:

Stephanie Morris This article reminded me why I don't read Outside any more.

Except you obviously do read Outside.  Presumably she also wakes up hung over every morning, heads over to Finlandia's Facebook page, and tells them their vodka is why she doesn't drink anymore.

Then there's my favorite, which is when people double down on the thing you're poking fun of as if that's somehow convincing:

Natasha Hilts I guess you’ve never been on a Peloton. It’s more than a bike and definitely not a hamster wheel. Suck it #Ridepeloton

Ah yes, Peloton:

I could totally relate:

"This is your house."

No.  That is so not my house.

"This is you waking up."

Again, no.  I wake up in a bed full of empty Finlandia bottles and puke and proceed to excoriate them on social media.

"This is you, tiptoeing past your family while they're still asleep."

Wait, is she bailing on the family and starting a new life somewhere else?

"This is what you woke up for.  This is your Peloton."

No, I woke up to go to the toilet.  And if I lived in a beautiful modern house in the forest the last thing I'd do is climb onto an overpriced exercise bike and work out with other people on a video screen.  I'd go outside and enjoy some nature sounds.  Maybe I'd even meditate next to a stream or some shit before the kids wake up and start braying for breakfast:

"When fashioning a mandala in sub-zero temperatures and 100mph winds what's the best kind of gravel to use?"

Anyway, you've got to love the irony of people who read a magazine called "Outside" being offended at the notion that instead of riding the trainer you should go outside.

Friday, December 8, 2017

BSNYC Friday Un-Quiz!

It's Friday, which means it's time for my latest Outside column!

I know what I'm talking about, too, because believe it or not there was a time when I used to ride the trainer.  Now of course I know better, and I'd give absolutely anything to have all those hours back.  And you know what I'd do with them?  Absolutely nothing.  I'd sit on my ass and watch TV, because that's exactly what I should have been doing then.

In other news, I went for a ride on a bicycle with voluminous tires today:

It was a ride of a little over 30 miles and one that used to result in some hand numbness towards the end back when I was using regular bars.  Well, I'm pleased to announce that with the Jones bars those days are over, and I'm feeling so dexterous I could easily knit you some booties or mend your clothing with a needle and thread at this very moment.  There are "upgrades," and then there are things that actually make your bicycle way better, and these bars have proven themselves to be a perfect example of the latter.

Indeed, the only blemish on this delightful outing was the fishing line I discovered in my derailleur after my chain started jumping around on the cassette:

"No problem," I thought.  "I'll just take the pulley out and extract the fishing line."  But wouldn't you know it, the multi-tool I was carrying did not include the proper Allen key.  Instead, it appeared the good people at Park Tool had seen fit to equip this particular model with both Phillips and slotted screwdrivers instead of the smaller Allen keys.  Therefore I was forced to hack away at the line with the slotted screwdriver blade until I could pull out most of the obstruction.

And of course as I struggled with and cursed whichever angler had failed to clean up after himself I thought of all the poor creatures who must get stuck in this stuff in a regular basis.  I also thought that birds probably use fishing line to make some badass nests, and I bet they tout their layup and weave pattern just like manufacturers of crabon bikes do:

(Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant.)

Oh, wait, sorry about that:

That's better.

Anyway, I hope the next fish that guy catches bites him in the nuts.

And with that I set you free.  May you fly into the weekend like the Helmet-Crested Fredbird.

I remain,

Blah blah blah,

And so forth,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, December 7, 2017

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬Come On With The Rain I've An Umbrella On My Bike♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

The search for a way to protect cyclists from the elements is as old as the bicycle itself:

And while we still haven't found the perfect solution:

We are certainly living in a golden age of precipitation-repelling technology.  Given this, in the interest of preserving this water-averse watershed for posterity, I have undertaken a brief survey of some of the more innovative products currently available--products such as the LeafXPro:


With features this handy and smart optional storm accessory that makes you look like you're riding around in a sling:

Then there's the Nubrella, which you can incorporate into any activity, not just cycling:

Nubrella Hands Free Weather Protection from Christina Ricci on Vimeo.

And yeah, it's basically just a giant hat:

Albeit one that looks like some kind of robotic space nautilus is eating your head, but yes, still just a hat:

Indeed, it's enough of a hat that if the tax on umbrellas was 50% and the tax on hats was 5% you could totally make a compelling argument to the IRS that you only have to pay the latter.

Of course you may be wondering why anybody would bother with any of this stuff instead of, say, wearing a raincoat, but why do that when you can wear an umbrella?

As seen on Philadelphia local news:

If nothing else, the Under-Cover undermines pretty much every stereotype about German engineering.

By the way, I tried to find the Under-Cover on Kickstarter, but all I saw was this changing kilt for prudish bros:

Frankly I think it works better as a garment:

And if nothing else that entire video is just an advertisement for the importance of riding in regular clothes.

Anyway, amid all this innovation you've got to appreciate the unapologetically poor design of the Uberhood, which I've featured before on this blog:

I should really get one of these for my Jones bars.

Speaking of products I've been trying, remember the Renovo?

And remember how I said I'd conduct a thorough investigation into why it's creaking?

Well, it's a long story, but the sort version is that instead Renovo are going to take the bike back and figure it out for me.  Then once they have I'll report back and let you know.  In the meantime I'll refrain from speculating as to the cause, and for the time being consider the test on hold.

At this point I'd like to point out that by the time my environmentally sustainable wooden bicycle is done flying back and forth across the country it will have the carbon footprint of a herd of yetis.

(And that's not even accounting for all the crabon fiber on the bike.)

As for the Jones bars:

I continue to love them, and even though I think my position's working well as is I'm still going to try a shorter stem in deference to their philosophy.  Hey, maybe they'll feel even better that way, who knows?  I'm nothing if not open minded.

And there you have it.