Showing posts with label cycling clothing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cycling clothing. Show all posts

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Classless Society: Pinko is the New Black

Last night, at Sid's Bikes, in Manhattan (which is an island with tall buildings all over it that is a suburb of New Jersey), The Bicycling Magazine Bike Repair Challenge, Sponsored by Park Tool "went down." In it, nine brave contestants strove to complete feats of bicycle maintenance such as changing an inner tube as quickly as possible in order to win an array of fabulous prizes, and as they did so they looked remarkably like the "upperclass twits" trying to unhook the bras in that Monty Python skit:

Of all the contestants, one fearless fumbler reigned supreme--Roy DeGuzman, Port Jefferson resident and self-admitted BMXer, shown here with his booty (as well as his prizes):

My job during the contest was to heckle and ridicule the contestants (or at least that's what I decided my job was, for all I know Bicycling may only have invited me in the hope that I'd help clean up afterwards). However, I must admit I felt guilty as I did this, since I doubt I could have out-repaired even the slowest among them (and I can assure you, some of the contestants were extremely if not preternaturally slow). This is partly because I'm generally inept, and partly because I view flat tires not as inconveniences but rather as opportunities--a chance to let that field ride away from me, or to be late to an appointment, or to just generally loiter on a street corner while a deflated butyl tube dangles from my hand and a string of drool hangs from my chin.

Speaking of ignorance, as an American I am of course completely ignorant when it comes to other countryways that are not my own, and what I do know about them is informed mostly by movies, television shows, and broad stereotypes. For example, I know that Japan is a land with a strong work ethic where everyone is a martial arts expert; I know that every man in Ireland is either one of three (3) Daniel Day-Lewis characters or else a quirky artistic type in the manner of Elvis Costello; and I know from listening to people like Michael Moore that Canada is a milder version of the United States where nothing bad ever happens, where free health care falls from the trees, and where the only violence the gentle people know is in the form of hockey fights. Also, their chief exports are maple syrup and comedians.

Of course, like any American, I also grow sad and disillusioned when I learn that one of these faraway lands of make-believe isn't really exactly like I thought it was, since like my fellow countrymen I've been raised with the notion that the world should conform to my whimsical fantasies. This is why the recent news out of Toronto has shaken my belief system to its very core. First they elected that mayor who thinks that when people die on bikes its their own fault, and then they got Colonel Sanders's more "flambullient" cousin to say even more crazy bike stuff about bikes at the swearing-in ceremony:

When I first read these comments and saw that they were attributed to Don Cherry, I wondered why the noted trumpet player and stepfather of the pop singer Neneh Cherry was so against bicycles, and more importantly, how he had channeled these sentiments from beyond the grave. Then I realized this was actually a different Don Cherry, and that he's an ice hockey commentator and some kind of "Canadian personality" (which strikes me as being something of an oxymoron, since I thought if you had a personality in Canada the government exiled you to the United States, hence the whole comedian export thing). In any case, Toronto has now catapulted itself to the top of my list of cities I'm afraid to visit, trumping even Reykjavic, which I had also resolved never to visit because I'm deathly afraid of elves.

Speaking of Nordic countries, yesterday I mentioned those Ikea holiday gift bikes, and it would seem that they are already making their way onto eBay:

As well as Craigslist:

ITTET, it's worth noting that receiving any sort of holiday bonus is impressive, even if it's a really crappy bike--especially when you consider (as I understand it, at least) that in addition to the bike Ikea employees also received a decent-sized cash bonus, with which they can presumably buy better bikes, or else "curate" fantabulous cockpits for the Ikea bikes they already own--ideally using pieces of Ikea furniture. (I'd give almost anything to see an Ikea bike with a handlebar-mounted Fredrik 11-piece workstation accessory set, and perhaps a Snöig lamp for good measure.) Still, this bicycle defaces my image of Sweden in the same way that Don Cherry has dispelled my illusion of Canada--though I also think two very valuable things have come from this:

1) Many cyclists have often wondered what the world's cheapest new bike would look like, and now we know because Ikea has finally commissioned it;

2) The socio-political implications of the Ikea bike have plunged the smug populace of Portland into a spiral of infighting and self-doubt.

Ever since I first saw the story on BikePortland I've been following the comments, and judging from the controversy it has generated this innocent bicycle may very well be the thing that finally tears their "bike culture" asunder. Some Portlanders are disgusted by the poor quality of the bike; others are disgusted with them for being disgusted; and still others are accusing Ikea of being "classist" and exploiting their workers by photographing them with cheap bicycles. It's a symphony of self-importance as delightful as anything ever composed by the likes of Mozart or Tchaikovsky.

Then again, it doesn't take too much to send Portanders into a tizzy. Even this ridiculous Chris King espresso tamper stirred up a little concerto of conceit:

Comments on that one seem to range from (to paraphrase) "You've got to be kidding me," to "How dare you not understand the tribulations of the working barista forced to handle inferior equipment?"

Personally, I'm still waiting for a decent Ikea bike "disembodied hand" shot, though I did receive from a very astute reader a photo from a Cyclingnews review of the Cannondale CarbTastic SuperX-Whatever-o-Cross in which the bike is being propped up by a disembodied stick:

Incidentally, the accompanying text is:

"The horizontal squish of the chainstays as they meet the bottom bracket shell seems to be a source of flex under pedaling."

In other words, the bottom bracket junction is just not "beefy" enough.

One can only imagine what the reaction in Portland would have been if Ikea had had the temerity to gift its employees with sub-par cyclocross bikes. They probably would have formed a mob and stormed the Ikea corporate headquarters with artisanal Chris King espresso tampers and given those "classist" Swedes the tamping of a lifetime.

Lastly, yesterday I also mentioned the Outlier "six foot scarf," and while I may scoff I'm sure Outlier are on to something big because it's no secret that the "fixerati" love to cover their faces and pretend to be bandits when they ride. Here in New York, this happens as soon as the temperature drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is "freezing" on the fixed-gear scale. Here's another variation on that theme from San Francisco-based Martin Clothing:

You really need that for those brutal San Francisco Mission District winter nights.

Speaking of things that aren't beefy enough, the Martin model is definitely a candidate for the title of "America Next Top Fixie Model:"

Though not if Outlier have anything to say about it. There are a number of ways to approach the fixed-gear model shoot, and Outlier prefer the "story" approach. In this one, we see the model riding the bike:

And then we see him chasing after the guy who stole it:

Cadence clothing, on the other hand, appeal to fans of the "I'm in fifth grade and I walk to school all by myself" look:
Which is a variation on the non-threatening tough guy "Who you callin' a Nü-Fred?" pose captured by Mission Workshop:

And the "designer hoodlum" look embodied by the gynocentrically-named "Vag-X:"

I wonder how many Portlanders have ever received the message: "Hey, I think I left my Chris King espresso tamper in your VagX last night." Probably more than a few.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coming Apart at the Hems: Excessive Panting

Even though I throw together (I tend to "throw things together" instead of "curate" them) a cycling-themed blog, very few companies take the time to notify me of their new products. Still, once in awhile somebody does take the time to copy me on a press release, and for one glorious moment I feel special and legitimate because I know I'm reading something only a select few people are important enough to receive. For example, I recently learned of a "miracle increasing solution" that will "make your pecker glorious." I also just found out about a "CUSTOM KEYCHAIN FOR FIXED RIDERS :-)" that can be "customised as you like:"

This keychain comes all the way from Lyon, which is in France--a country in which Greg LeMond is a "rock star" and the roadies consume pâté like it's Gu. Not only does this fixed-gear-specific keychain allow you to express your derision for precipitation, but it also allows you to share your gear ratio with other riders:

This is actually something that could come in handy, since each group of cyclists has its own customary salutation, and for fixed-gear and singlespeed riders that salutation is "What gear are you running?" This way, you can just point to your keychain instead of squandering costly syllables. Incidentally, other common cycling salutations include:

"What pressure are you running?" (Cyclocross)
[Scowl and avoid eye contact] (Road riding)
"Where did you buy your mankini?" (Triathlon)

Unfortunately for cyclocrossers, roadies, and triathletes, none of these greetings are available. Then again, cyclocrossers, roadies, and triathletes don't carry their keys on the outside like fixed-gear riders do. Instead, they simply leave them in their race bags, or they keep them in their jersey pockets, or they secret them in an orifice so as not to spoil the lines of their skinsuits. (This partially explains the scowling and avoiding eye contact.) Consequently, any message emblazoned on a keychain would remain unseen. In any case, besides sharing your feelings about rain and your gear ratio, you can also broadcast the following:

Apparently in France, fixed-gear riders like to have sex with cars, which is something they share in common with American tourists:

Yes, the "myth" of the "ugly American" is not a myth at all; we really do travel to Europe and hump police cars.

Just keep in mind that if you do buy one of these keychains and you want people to actually read the message on it, you should make sure it does not get lost among the vibrant print of your pants, the enormous logo on the waistband of your underpants, and the inviting shape and positioning of your posterior:

Actually, given the fact that fixed-gear riders almost always expose their underpants while riding, this company probably would have been better off selling customized elastic waistbands. That way, "hipsters" could coordinate their underwear with their gear ratios, which would not only be clever, but would also provide for ready-made excuses at alleycats. ("I'd ride faster, but my bigger gear is in the wash.") As it is, the model is wearing a pair of "Insane" underpants. I had never heard of Insane underpants, though I found their website using a popular search engine and they are active in cycling sponsorship:

("All You Haters Supplement My Income")

By the way, I'm not sure "Insane" is a great name for a brand of underpants. I can understand trying to be playfully seductive, but implying that what's going on in the wearer's crotchal region is downright "Insane" just seems off-putting. If you go home with someone whose genitals are "insane" you can probably expect to find dreadlocked pubic hair, an inordinate amount of piercings, and at least one STD. Getting to "third base" with someone who has an insane genitalway could be like sticking your hand into a sweatsock full of broken glass. These underpants are a warning, not an invitation. Then again, that may be some people's idea of "Physical Culture:"

I was disappointed to see that the Times omitted Insane from the test, though I guess it's possible Insane don't do seamless. (They probably do crotchless, but the Times would doubtless shy away from that kind of testing.) I was also disappointed to find that, in the recent bicycling pants gear test (forwarded to me by a reader), there was not one pair that featured a pink zebra print:

Yes, more and more companies are making bicycle-specific casual pants, and here is the "origin story" of this hot retail segment:

UNTIL recently, any pants could be considered biking pants: all you had to do was roll up the cuffs or wrap some Velcro bands around your calves. But for people who commute by bicycle, those were not ideal solutions. Spending too long on a bike in regular trousers can wear out the seat of the pants. The rear pockets may rip from too many miles carrying a U-lock and the cuffs may get scarred with grease or shredded from encounters with the chain.

I have nothing against bicycle pants, though I do worry that their proliferation indicates that the lines of defense are retreating from the bike to the body. Why is the fact a U-lock can rip your pockets a reason to buy a new wardrobe? Why not just keep the lock in your bag or carry it on your bike? If you're having a problem with greasy and shredded cuffs, why not install a chainguard of some kind? If your pants are getting filthy from road spray, why not just use fenders? If the seat of your pants is wearing out, why use a saddle with a worn leather cover, or with rivets, or with embroidery?

Of course, the answer to all of these things is obvious--"vintage" racing saddles are cool, and U-lock brackets, chainguards, and fenders are not. It's much cooler apparently to migrate everything to your body by using special clothes and various holsters so people think you've come to read the meter until they notice the little logos which show that your work clothes have an extra zero on the price tag. The other thing to consider is that you only need to purchase one set of commuter accessories for your bike, but even the most dedicated schlub (and I consider myself a dedicated schlub) can't wear the same pants every single day. It's much more cost-effective to set up one commuting-specific bike than it is to purchase a week's worth of new commuting-specific clothing.

That said, as a schlub, I don't "curate" my cycling wardrobe; instead, I "throw it together," and as such I'm probably not qualified to comment on bicycling pants. If they work well and you like the way they look, by all means throw a pair of bicycling pants over your seamless and/or crotchless Insane underwear. You might find yourself so exuberantly comfortable that you totally slay a backwards wheelie, as you can see in this new video which has sent the entire fixed-gear freestyle world into a collective flat-brimmed tizzy:

Joel Weston from MACAFRAMA on Vimeo.

Apparently this is some kind of breakthrough, but to me something boring is no more interesting when it's performed in reverse. I know this to be true because I tried. As a test, I actually listened to that 30 Seconds to Mars song backwards, but it still sucked--though I did discover subliminal messages that alternately implored me to conform and to add the movie "Prefontaine" to my Netflix queue.

If the fixed-gear freestyle community is wondering what to name this trick, I would suggest calling it the "Hem," which, like this wheelie, is simply "Meh" backwards.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Epic-curious: Riding Long and Hard

As I posted yesterday, this past weekend I took the winner of the Fat Cyclist contest on a typical New York area road ride. However, while it was both typical and enjoyable, it was by no means "epic." Frankly, as a mediocre cyclist in all respects I don't possess the necessary passion, fortitude, and effortless style to lead an "epic" road ride. For that matter, I don't possess the proper clothing either. Sure, I once thought I had all these things, but then I read about the Rapha Continental:

Here is how Rapha define an "epic" ride:

No formula exists for epic. It happens when the right conditions are present and it cannot be manufactured. Mental, physical and emotional stress are all components as is suffering, which in the case of cycling, usually means extended periods of self-inflicted pain. Exposure, distance, duration, elevation, great camaraderie, road surfaces, waning sanity, exhaustion, rapidly fading sunlight, weather, empty pockets and broken chains. And competition both healthy and not so healthy are all likely a part of any epic ride. Epic is essentially the result of a series of intense experiences and hard riding.

I like easy-to-follow formulas, so I was disappointed to learn that I cannot employ one to have an "epic." Even though "mental, physical and emotional stress" are important components, as is "self-inflicted pain," these things alone cannot make your ride "epic." I know this because I recently thought really hard about the dire state of the economy while reminiscing about childhood traumas and administering a "purple nurple" to myself during a ride in Prospect Park, and while highly unpleasant, the ride was far from "epic."

Further proof of my intrinsic lack of "epicness" is my experience at the Runcible Spoon. When Rapha visits the Runcible Spoon on an "epic," everything is all sepia and "epicy:"

When I go, it looks like this and I get served a hairy muffin:

But does this mean I lack soul and "epictude," or do I simply lack epic photography skills? Is there really such a thing as a serendipitous state of cycling perfection--a narcotic cocktail of pleasure and pain called an "epic?" Or is there simply a calculated state of visual cycling perfection--an opiate haze of seductive images and words called "epic roadie marketing?" Is it possible to experience this blissful state by riding with the Rapha Continental team-that-is-not-a-team who shave their legs in cold mountain streams and who poke at their deadened muscles with pins to elicit the last few spasms and twitches that will get them over that final, nearly insurmountable 19% climb at mile 135? Or do they just want me to buy some shorts?

I don't know, but whether it's reality or illusion or some combination thereof there are few other cycling companies that could get away with it--although I'd love to see them try. One such company who might want to consider taking a shot at marketing the "epic" is Primal Wear, makers of novelty cycling apparel such as the "Crankkin' Stein" jersey:

Primal Wear are often criticized for their outrageous, tasteless, and arguably hideous graphics. However, I think they should be applauded for having the courage to produce a jersey like this one that empowers Jewish cyclists. I'm not sure what the "Crankkin' Stein" jersey says on the back, but I'm guessing it's something like "Crankkin' Stein Cranks, but Never on Shabbos."

In my ongoing efforts to jump the shark, Primal Wear represents to me the great white. Sure, I may have a column in Bicycling, but that's just hopping over a baby nurse shark on a Razr scooter compared to my actual goal, which is designing Primal Wear jerseys. To that end, I've been working on some concepts, which I'm pleased to share with you here in rudimentary sketch form:

Primal wear have demonstrated a fondness for sexually suggestive double entendre in the past, so I'm hoping this "Derailleur?!? Damn near killed her!!!" design (complete with long-cage Sora rear derailleur) appeals to them as well. Obviously it needs some heavy airbrushing, but you get the idea.

If that's too subtle for them, maybe they'll go for this "I've Got a Compact Crank" design. Because it's not the size of your chainrings; it's how you spin them.

But Primal isn't only about bad puns. It's also about references to popular culture. That's why I think this homage to Charlie Sheen's epic hair in the 1989 baseball comedy "Major League" will be a home run.

But as Rapha has proven, it's not just about showing the clothes; it's also about showing what you can do in the clothes. (And I don't mean relieving yourself in them during a triathlon.) This is why Primal also need to market their version of the "epic" by putting together a group of riders who embody the Primal spirit. This group would be called the "Primal Continental" and they would participate in charity rides across North America. Of course, they'll also need bikes. Rapha Continental has tapped the country's most respected framebuilders to construct for them some of the most pretentious bikes ever made:

Likewise, Primal Continental would have access to the finest bicycles that Performance has to offer:

Plastic, stamped steel, and aluminum play indifferently, ride sufficiently, and look acceptable together. This bike would also look great in front of the Runcible Spoon--as photographed by me, not by Rapha--during a hairy muffin stop on a Primal "epic." Actually, I wonder if Primal would be interested in making "hairy muffin" jerseys. That would be epic.

In the meantime, though, I still can't help but feel inadequately "epic" most of the time. Not only do I have a hard time getting the rarefied blend of leather, carbon, camaraderie, and self-inflicted pain just right, but I also don't have that much time. Sadly, the best I can do most days is try to make my commute "epic." Fortunately, I often succeed--as long as your definition of an "epic" commute includes the words "infuriating" and "miserable." If an epic road ride involves steep climbs, gravel roads, road rash, mechanical mishaps and inclement weather, then an epic commute includes something like this:

Not only is this car disgorging an oblivious passenger on a cell phone right in the middle of the bike lane:

But it turns out the door was also hiding an oncoming bike-salmoning "Beautiful Godzilla."

Even more irritating than the Rapidly-Appearing Bike Salmon (RABS) are the Rollerbladers, whom I've been encountering in the bike lane with increasing frequency:

I wonder if it's possible to do an "epic" Rollerblade ride:

It seems more "meh-pic" to me.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Intimidation: Betraying Looks, Expressive Calves

Celebrities often have stylists who shop for them and dress them. As image-makers, they never know when a camera will find them, so they must look good at all times. Unfortunately, though, celebrities do not hire bicycle stylists, because if they did Jake Gyllenhaal would not be rocking a pie plate on his Madone:

Gyllenhaal is also wearing a Ralpha Classic Sportwool jersey. According to their website, "a good jersey is an indispensable workhorse, performing multiple roles; protecting from the elements, carrying important cargos (from tools and valuables to food), regulating body temperature for maximum performance on the bike." Wow, who knew! They also cover your chest and nipples, the description fails to add. So it's nice to see that Gyllenhaal is using both an indispensable workhorse and a disposable dork disc (or "nerd rotor"). It also picks up the sun nicely, as does his leg hair.

Anyway, brokeback pie plate aside, it's good to see Gyllenhaal out riding on what appears to be a lovely day. He does appear to be eyeing something in the distance with considerable concern though. Could it be an oncoming vehicle? I don't think so. No, any true cyclist knows what that look means. It's a look of fear. Even Gyllenhaal's Oakleys cannot mask the fact that Gyllenhaal has spotted another rider who is clearly his superior in every way: stronger; faster; better-equipped. He's so intimidated that he's probably about to wet his Rapha shorts. And there's only one rider who can inspire that sort of fear. The Lone Wolf.

I happen to know that the Lone Wolf was on the prowl in the Los Angeles area recently, because a reader managed to get some photographs of him in flight:

Gyllenhaal may be a talented actor who can convincingly play a bubble boy, but even he can't keep his face from betraying his true feelings when he encounters cycling greatness:

And this is clearly no casual jaunt for the Lone Wolf, either. He has no less than six bottles of water in his Profile bottle holders, with a seventh in his jersey pocket for good measure. Dehydration shall not find the Lone Wolf. He also doesn't need to be swaddled in Rapha like some sort of simpering manchild. His own jersey carries his "important cargos" just fine--including the most important "cargos" of all, his Discman. He's also left the Lance Armstrong-autographed singlespeed Lotus time trial bike back at the lair, opting instead for a mountain bike complete with wheel cover, kickstand, and front fairing.

And while Gyllenhaal fears the Lone Wolf, pro cyclist- turned-celebrity-turned celebrity pro cyclist Lance Armstrong fears the Lone Wolf's sworn enemy and arch-rival Bart Kaufman, owner of the World's Greatest Madone:

Armstrong fears him so much that he's even attempting to "bite" Kaufman's flat-bar style:

Armstrong's even copied Kaufman's saddle choice, but the lack of carbon tubular wheels, foot retention, and a rack is glaringly obvious. I'm sure Kaufman's unconcerned, since all he'll be seeing of Armstrong is a quick glimpse of him in his dual rear-views.

Speaking of intimidation, there are few things more intimidating than rapping. So when a street-credulous hip-hop artist combines both cycling and rapping, you can bet the results are downright horrifying. Check out this "joint" by Canadian rapper Abdominal (né Andy Bernstein) which was forwarded to me by a reader:

Abdominal's "Pedal Pusher" even includes the lyric "slip on the Discman," which is an obvious "shout out" to the Lone Wolf. Moreover, Abdominal proves that he too does things his own way, since the yellow sticker on his front chainring can only mean that A-dom is a Shimano Biopace fan:

This will ensure that his pedal stroke is as smooth and effective as his rhymes. Still, Biopace isn't exactly dripping with "street cred," so one wonders if Abdominal is rubbing any tattoos in order to make up for it. It seems that tattoo trends have been changing, too. Sure, knuckle tattoos are still hot, as are tattoos that serve as references. Here's another such tattoo, which presumably helps the wearer remember that his lockring is reverse-threaded:

Lefty-tighty, righty-loosey, totally dorky.

But even the most dedicated knuckle tattoo fans have to admit that sometimes you can't reduce each and every sentiment to eight letters. That's why the latest tattoo fashion is to use the lower part of the leg instead:

Whereas with knuckle tattoos you sometimes find you need to drop letters, when using the lower leg you actually havee the luxury of adding letters for emphasis--note the inclusion of the extra "E."

But brevity can extend to the lower leg too. Here's another set of leg tattoos, forwarded by a reader, that would actually fit on the knuckles with a digit to spare:

Personally, I think it could use a few more "U"s.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lookin' Good: Holiday Cycling Fashions

(CBGB: from storied rock club to sportswear line)

Further to yesterday's post in which I mentioned the attack in Wisconsin, I did not realize when I went to press that the victim was actually the owner of a high-end bike shop:

This puts a whole new spin on the incident, and while I don't believe in telling strangers what to do, in this case O'Brien's advice to "Get a light" was probably warranted. First of all, as a respected figure in cycling who was even quoted in the New York Times just two weeks ago, I'd argue that O'Brien is entitled to give other riders pointers on the fly. After all, people pay him hundreds of dollars for bike fits, so the Fred on the Trek should have been grateful for the free advice. That's like bumping into a dentist on the subway who takes a quick look at your molar and saves you the time and money of making an appointment. Secondly, in these trying economic times, you really can't blame a shop owner for trying to drum up business. O'Brien's utterance of "Get a light" may not have been an admonition at all. Rather, he might be having a big sale at his shop, and he simply identified the one item the riders didn't have and as such might be most interested in buying. Had Fred and Wilma simply listened instead of flying into a rage, they might have heard the rest of the sentence: "Get a light--50% off this week only at Chronometro!"

(UPDATE: Assailant has been apprehended!)

Speaking of big, big savings, it's that time of year, and as such various periodicals are publishing their holiday gift guides. A reader informs me that USA Today, the Ryan Seacrest of newspapers, has even produced one for bike commuters. In addition to such items as a $70 Ralpha t-shirt and a $500 Castelli jacket, they also suggest a Rock Racing t-shirt:

A Rock Racing T-Shirt ($15 and up, shows the world that you back the iconoclastic bike racing team owned by Rock & Republic fashion mogul Michael Ball. 

Now that's a gift. In fact, I was so excited by it that you'll notice I tagged it with the BSNYC/RTMS Pleasantly Surprised Holiday Gift Lady, a distinction reserved for only the best presents:

And who wouldn't want to back fashion mogul Michael Ball and his iconoclastic bike racing team? After all, the King of Pants is as generous as he is iconoclastic--so much so that he's recently been granting "10-minute Q&A sessions with select publications," such as Bicycling and Pez. Actually, Pez managed to get 15 minutes, and the drama and excitement that surround a brush with Ball is palpable in the intro to the interview:

The BlackBerry alarm rings at 05.30 and the red light is flashing; I've got mail - it's from Rock Racing's Sean Weide. "I can get you 15 minutes with Michael Ball - as one of only five media representatives who will be interviewing him tomorrow. He can talk about Rudy, the 2009 roster, Tyler, etc." Wow! Let's see what Mr. Ball had to say.

I must admit that Ball's considerable savvy is clearly in evidence here. It's very hard to get noticed in the world of fashion, where Ball is overshadowed by vastly more successful and douchey characters like Marc Jacobs. So wisely, Ball bought his way into the much smaller and quieter world of domestic pro cycling, where people actually think he's a "mogul," where having a few Cadillacs seems impossibly lavish, and where he can be stingy with his time when dealing with the very media on whom his team's livelihood depends. (I'd like to see Ball try his "I can get you 15 minutes" tactic with Vogue or even Women's Wear Daily. "15 minutes with who?")

Which is not to say Ball doesn't deserve respect for sponsoring a cycling team, or for winning the Stars and Stripes jersey, or for employing some young riders. It would just be nice if it didn't all come with so much ego, hair product, and general smarm. But hey, if Ball needs to grease the wheels of cycling with his own unctuousness to make things happen, then so be it. (Plus, I already had my face time with Ball, when I got his autograph.)

At any rate, let's say you're looking to buy someone a t-shirt for the holidays but the person you're shopping for doesn't back the iconoclastic bike racing team owned by Rock & Republic fashion mogul Michael Ball. Well, in that case, you can always get them a BILF t-shirt on eBay, which I was alerted to by a reader:

"Bicycle I'd Like to F**K American Apparel T-Shirt. Colors: Black, Red, Blue, Olive Sizes: MENS: small, medium, and large WOMENS: small, medium let us know what size(s) you want via email. thanks. "

There's certainly no question this t-shirt warrants a carefully-placed BSNYC/RTMS Pleasantly Surprised Holiday Gift Lady:

Personally, I think it's strange to want to have sex with a bicycle. If it's simply a question of wanting to have sex with things that are thin and cold, you can always go trolling for models in the nightclubs of LA with Michael Ball instead. But I suppose I'm in the minority when it comes to my aversion to velophilia, because the demand for BILF t-shirts is so high that another company is making them as well:

You'd have to be a real pervert to wear this one, though, since it means you're sexually attracted to left-hand chainring bikes on which the chain inexplicably passes through the rear triangle and drives a right-hand cog. Also, the bike either has front and rear pie plates or extremely high-flange hubs. The only "sensible" thing here is the bar height, which is level with the saddle and which Grant Petersen would doubtless find highly titillating.

By the way, the same company will also sell you plenty of other extremely witty and irreverent shirts, such as: the "10 Reasons Why My Bike Is Better Than My Girl" shirt; the "Team MILF/Director Sportif" shirt (which I may order for Michael Ball); and of course the hysterically funny "I'm With Wheelsucker" shirt:

See that? It has a picture of two cyclists on it, with an arrow pointing to the wheelsucker. The people at Velotees don't miss a beat.

But there's more to cycling gifts than t-shirts and Rapha stuff--even if it's 30 days of Rapha, which would cost you approximately $96,000 and is kind of like going on a Dom Perignon bender. This Ralpha jacket alone goes for $750:

That's a lot to pay for a garment which is just a pretentious version of the Michael Jackson "Beat It" jacket:

You don't have to be a fashion mogul to see that they copied it right down to the shoulder panels.

Yes, Rapha may be the first name in ultra-luxury cycling apparel, but Cadence is right on their heels. Cadence's winter collection is nothing short of remarkable, in that it takes garments that are impractical for cycling and adds little flourishes which are supposed to make them functional but instead just make them complicated. Take this scarf:

I don't understand the scarf as a cycling garment, mainly because they flap around in the wind. There are also other ways to keep your neck and chest warm on the bike that don't make your head feel like an egg in a loose nest of billowy fabric. I suppose Cadence are attempting to ameliorate the flap factor by putting a little slot in it so you can cinch it, but in doing so they seem to have also limited the ways in which you can wear the scarf and maximize its effectiveness. In any case, ineffectual scarfs are an essential component of the "hipster" wardrobe, so I suppose this sort of thing is inevitable.

How do you make an item that's not particularly good at keeping you warm a little bit warmer? You add a superfluous dickey type thing. That way your American Spirit-ravaged larynx will stay slightly warmer than your chest. Brilliant, and perfect for when the mercury dips below 65 degrees. (Brrr!)  I wonder if it's compatible with the scarf? I don't see any slots.

My favorite garment by far though is the arm warmer with thumby slot. (This winter it's all about the slot.) I like it so much I gave it a BSNYC/RTMS Pleasantly Surprised Holiday Gift Lady. The advantage of this design is that it keeps the top of your hand warm while leaving your fingers exposed to the elements and making it inconvenient to wear gloves--perfect for maintaining knuckle tattoo visibility on slightly chilly days. The only thing that would make this better would be if Cadence also sold little individual wool finger cots so you could warm your digits on those rare occasions when knuckle tattoo visibility isn't essential.

Actually, like Rapha, Cadence also seem to be mining 80s pop culture, because I could imagine Madonna wearing some of this stuff during the "Like A Virgin" era. (I think the arm warmer would look great with lots of those black rubber bracelets.) And as you can see from this photo, forwarded to me by a reader, she is a serious roadie:

Expect to see visors (hopefully with slots) in Cadence's Spring collection.