Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Drawing the Line

Firstly, last week I wrote for Outside about Elon Musk and his various ventures, and apropos of that here's a truckload of Teslas blocking a bike in Brooklyn:

I think you'd call this ironic, but ironically in 2018 I don't even know what irony is anymore.

Secondly, last weekend I failed a bike race in Central Park by not completing it:


Overall I've been greatly enjoying my return to the pastime of go-fast sport-Fredding, but on this particular morning the idea of pushing harder seemed not so much impossible as it did unappealing, like when you're halfway through that giant bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and just decide "Fuck it," pull the napkin out of your shirt collar, and go flop down on the couch.  And so I quit.  What I realized after this (apart from the fact that I suck, which I already knew anyway), is that I needed to undergo a period of de-Fredding by riding around in regular clothes for a few days and just going wherever.  And yesterday that's what I did.

The joy of the Fred ride is that when you're in all the stretchy clothes and riding a special bike with those crazy pedals where your shoes click into them and stuff you're fully committed to riding.  The problem, however, is that you're fully committed to riding, and sometimes the best thing about being on a bike is stopping for awhile to do other things.  It can indeed be quite enjoyable to ride a bike while dressed like a human being, and to carry a bag with a lock in it and stuff, thereby opening yourself up to new experiences.

Sometimes the best thing about riding a bike is getting off the bike.

Anyway, as I prepared to head out, I had an idea: I'll bring a skateboard with me!  There's a skate park I'd been meaning to visit, and while I kept telling myself I was going to scout it out to see if it was someplace I should bring my kid (he's interested in skateboarding) the fact of the matter is I wanted to try it out myself.  And I shouldn't have to tell you that at my age and with my lack of skills this was a very bad idea.

Besides physical injury, my biggest concern was embarrassing myself, but fortunately when I arrived there was only a small handful of truants present.  Nevertheless, I did my best to stay out of sight when I goofed around, and I'd say it was a solid 20 minutes of pathetic flailing on my part before I fell right on my ass.

Clearly this was a sign that I should quit before sustaining more serious injury, and so I got back on my bike and undertook a rather pleasant spin around the city.

Of course the truly enlightened cyclist gains some insight from every ride, and the insight that I had during this one is that maybe my obsession with riding bikes isn't such a bad thing inasmuch as it keeps me out of trouble--and most importantly away from other human-powered wheeled conveyances.  Alas, had I only stayed in the saddle yesterday I wouldn't have such a sore ass today.

With profound insights such as these maybe I should start a YouTube channel:


Welcome to the fold.

Finally...ebikes?  Pshaw!  The solution for cycling uphill without getting tired is "pump action":


And it's designed by the "inventor of the fake yellow line you see on football games," so you know it's sound:


Why it took a physicist to invent that, and what any of this has to do with bicycles I don't know, but when the man who invented the idea of showing a line on TV speaks you damn well better listen:


Of course, unless I'm missing something, this appears to be incompatible with derailleur drivetrains.  And certainly having a wide range of gearing options is a hell of a lot more helpful for going uphill than an elastic pulley system.

But then again he did invent that line thing.  So I'll be upgrading all my bikes immediately.

39 comments:

stephenallen28 said...

Podium! At last I've been waiting for years to make this happen

ItsBeenDoneBefore said...

Did some one say pump action bicycle?

Robert Oppenheimer said...

Trust me I am death

Sam said...

Podio! Fully agree on the need for helmetless, regular clothed rides, especially in Colorado where tryharding feels like the state pasttime some days.

cdinvb said...

Took off clicky pedals. Bought nice something or other shiny metal. Bought some blue-jean shorts. Cheap shoes with velcro, put fancy shoes on the shelf. Improved my bicycling experience immensely. I still wear my Spam jersey. And fix my own flats.

Pist Off said...

I just wanna see someone take their pump-action bike to the pump track. Hilarity should ensue. What is it about bicycles that inspire so many useless inventions?

Mechanical Engineering Fred said...

"And certainly having a wide range of gearing options is a hell of a lot more helpful for going uphill than an elastic pulley system."

Yes, certainly.

"...unless I'm missing something, this appears to be incompatible with derailleur drivetrains."

Looks like the chain is always tight on top, and slack on the bottom, so I'm guessing at least a rear derailer will work.

But this idea has been tried several time over the decades (despite what the Kickstarter video says) and this one has the same drawback as the rest - you can't get your feet moving fast enough to achieve the same power output as regular pedaling.

Dooth said...

My favorite you cycling tube channel is by Kelsey Leigh.

Treadle Drive said...

Other "pump" action bicycles:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vintage/539182-treadle-bicycles-weird-cranks.html

http://ratrodbikes.com/forum/index.php?threads/alenax-trb-190-transbar-powered.51634/

https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/Bicycle_drivetrain_systems.html

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/alenax.html

http://lefthandedcyclist.blogspot.com/2014/07/graeme-obrees-beastie-lure-of-linear.html

https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/chainless-bikes/

Life Alert said...

Like the AHTBM sticker says."I'm not too old to ride askateboard. I'm just too old to fall down."

Kinda like it said...

Went to an island with my belle and her old upright bike with a basket in front of the handlebars - took my old cross bike and put no clip pedals on it. Wore restaurant appropriate clothing and shoes. We rode around together looking at birds and stopped every now and then to check out the scenery. Was an entirely different experience and frankly a bit more fun than getting my arse handed to me in Masters 45+. Yeah, I'm getting older and slower. But no one really cared about the results anyway.

JLRB said...

Three Uber idiots interfered with MY Bike lane this morning. Fuck it I’m going back to the indignity of taxis.

Ps - today’s late lunch patio style reveals a similar ratio of flats to heels - no spds so far

bad boy of the south said...

i think hans und franz would like that pump action bicycle.just sayin'.

JLRB said...

Ps - I lost too much skin to skateboards in the 70s to even consider it

Anonymous said...

DONE MATH

ken e. said...

falling off a skateboard is a good lifestyle choice for everyone!

Anonymous said...

i'm done with math. there is no math to be done. climb up a hill and note the time it takes and if you can beat strava then you're a hero.

Chazu said...

NPR just reinforced the helmet maximalism mantra:

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/06/06/doctor-paralyzed-mayo-clinic

Motorists see my kid noodling up and down the driveway* on a balance bike with no helmet, and draw parallels between my parenting skills and things like the aforementioned story, not capable of realizing that the biggest threat to my kid is their own shitty driving skills.

*it slopes gently downhill, toward the garage, away from the road.

Anonymous said...

Car dealership in Yonkers like to park their car carrier blocking the SCT at Barney St when they unload it, too.

1904 Cadardi said...

JLRB,

I don't think I ever lost any skin to skateboards in the 70's. I lost a bunch to pavement when skateboards rudely decided to stop suddenly, but neglected to inform me ahead of time so I could prepare a graceful dismount.

BamaPhred said...

Is there a gravel specific skate board?

BikeSnobNYC said...

BamaPhred,

Too lazy to link but yes.

--Wildcat Etc.

HDEB said...

Yesterday I fell off my skateboard and damaged the deck while playing around in the 'hood with my eleven year old. Some wood glue and barbells fixed it well enough. I am an expert at falling and suck at most everything else ; )

MrLobstermash said...

RRAD is just the terrestrial version of the Hobie Mirage Drive. Or a compact Ellipti-go. I actually wouldn't mind giving it a go, as it'd be a good way to train for kayaking.

J i m s t e r said...

I watched that pump thing with the sound off and there was 90% chat and not much bike. So that was telling.

And all that elastic and shit... more shit to go wrong. Another answer to a question no-one is asking.

der blaue Reiter said...

Video #2 from Dan is pretty damn adorable, i gotta say... C’mon, Wildcat, you hid your face all those years; how much longer do you plan to hide your naked belly?

janinedm said...

Just a few months ago I was chided for WALKING my bike without a helmet. I've actually gone back to wearing a helmet at all times (though if I'm having a tough time finding bike parking, I might take it off "early") I don't think it makes me any safer, but realize that 1) it deprives busybodies of a means to attempt conversation with me and 2) it provides obituary insurance. If a car ever kills me, the reports will say I was wearing a helmet at the time.

What is it about bicycles that inspire so many useless inventions?
I see this a lot in the other big money/time sink in my life: music. Guitar specifically. I used to give beginners lessons at this school to subsidize my own classical lessons and I've seen enough to develop a theory. Many if not most people, want to be good at a thing but don't actually want to do the thing. Put another way, they want to be great at guitar with the chops to play Cliffs of Dover, but don't enjoy playing guitar enough to have a good time just strumming through Hotel California, running scales against a metronome, and other dull stuff that doesn't impress anyone. To get truly good at a thing is to spend a lot of time doing it. Spending that time is easier when you just like it. This is not the same thing as enjoying being able to impress others. So they look for shortcuts. Rather than just playing the guitar, they but some finger trainer doodad. Rather than riding their bike to get faster, they try some random oval crank. So, my theory is that people buy crap because they don't want to rides bikes so much as they want to be seen as being fast on a bike.

Off topic: my move has turned out amazing, bike-wise. There's a non-trash-dump courtyard with a drain where I can clean/service my bikes. There's an added hill to my commute!

JLRB said...

1904 - Exactly! Thanks for correcting my imprecision

BamaP - While bicycle riding along the C&O canal tow path (on a non-gravel certified bike) I came across a guy carrying his electronic skateboard. I didn't see any lost skin, but he must have determined the off road was not a good idea.

One wheels are another story ... just ask Steve

JLRB said...

Dan, please Please PLEASE put a shirt on.

Pist Off said...

After actually absorbing the video spiel for the RRAD, a much-smarter-than-me person decided that regular-crank bicycling is just too hard and inefficient. Mind you, the bicycle is the most energy-efficient form of transport already. To janinedm’s point, if you like cycling you’ll do more of it, get better at it, and get stronger. If it’s a struggle to bicycle and it needs to be made easier, you might not ride so much, and instead think about refining and patenting a century-old treadle drive because apparently we’ve all been doing it wrong for the last century. Fascinating.

Crosspalms said...

Pump action? Either that physicist is trolling McFly or that physicist IS McFly trolling the rest of us.

pbateman eats rice a roni said...

I just subscribed to cycling with Dan, thanks for sharing that Snoober.

I find them to be ...kind of a nice bit of zen after reading snob which causes so much shame, and anger and warmness in my saddle area.

out in san francisco this week. going to have some rice a roni and maybe ride that wine trail up in napa if i can find a cheapy bike on the cragis list

figure a rental is about $80 a day or i can just buy something like this for $50 and then donate it when i'm done. this is actually a pretty sweet little deal as long as i dont get murdered: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/d/gt-karakoram/6604328958.html

hope that rice a roni jingle is stuck in your head now. you are welcome.

BamaPhred said...

Although I was just being rude, I did remember that I had seen off season skis using inline wheels. I looked them up, and yep, off-road skate boards are called mountain boards. They look like fun.

Seattle lone wolf said...

I agree with janinedm on the obit insurance reason. My other big reason for almost always wearing the helment is the tiny mirror attached to it. Started using that because I wear glasses for distance, so peripheral vision doesn't cut it until I can learn to twist my head around like an owl. But now that I've gotten used to it I think I'd stick with the mirror even if I was 20/20 uncorrected. Being able to watch my six and look forward at the same time is a good thing. Yeah it looks dorky, but I really don't care about that.

McFly said...

Feeling Horney?

JLRB said...

Alone in Seattle - I was walking down the street behind someone wearing a bike helmet with mirror while walking. I think it is an addiction.

Seattle lone wolf said...

JLRB - I totally get that. While walking I sometimes catch myself attempting to glance in the mirror that's not there. It's a reflex.

Beck the Biker said...

The US patent office had a separate 'bike patent only' office in the late 19th century to deal with all the bicycle related patents flooding its desks. I suspect this coil return mechanism is a redux.

Scott Maurer said...

He kept looking over my shoulder.