Friday, May 25, 2018

Ride Bikes This Weekend. Or Don't! See If I Care.

As I mentioned, yesterday I overslept and missed my morning ride.  So, by way of a make-up, I did the next best thing and took an evening ride:

Yes, thanks to my proximity to the legal mountain bike trails at Highbridge Park in Manhattan I can zip down there in no time and knock around a little bit before the sun sets.  Sure, it's not exactly an "epic," but sometimes all you need is a small helping of dirt, roots, and rocks (and a little broken glass)* to get yourself back on track.  Plus, it was a lovely warm evening, summer was in the air, and everybody out on the street was in good spirits.  Best of all, on the way home I stopped at Target, where I refrained from taking off my shoes and cooling off in this open hydrant for awhile:

That Jones bag, by the way, has been just the ticket for my sub-epic non-bikepacking lifestyle.  It affords me just enough room for a pump, some snacks, my sunglasses, and an extra t-shirt in case I need to look presentable and/or not feel disgusting.  Basically it's my purse is what I guess I'm saying.  As for Ol' Piney, I continue to love the bike, and I'm glad to be reunited with it after a long, wet spring during which the trails were muddy and best left alone most of the time.

Not only did I do a make-up ride, but I also managed to wake my ass up early today and do a quick double sawbuck on the Renovo.  And if that weren't enough, a few hours later I headed out again on Ol' Piney up to the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall [html tag for dripping blood font]: 

Yeah, that's right, I did two rides in one day, and that's not even including this morning's school run!  It's all very impressive--so impressive Strava says I'm "right in the zone" this week, which is the nicest and most encouraging thing anybody's said to me ever.

Anyway, with any luck I'll manage to counteract all that activity by parking myself on the beach this weekend.  (Though now that I think about it, chasing kids around the beach requires much more energy than recreational bicycle cycling.)  Hopefully your long weekend is an enjoyable one, ride safe, and I'll see you when I see you.

Yours and so forth,

Wildcat Etc.

*Glass quip aside, the trails at Highbridge were in fantastic shape and very clean.  I assume I have the hard work and dedication of NYCMTB to thank for that.  Lob knows I don't do shit.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Shoulda Coulda Wood-a

After the publication yesterday of my cloyingly smug Outside column about the joys of riding super early in the morning:

(Yeah, I just plugged it again, so what?)

I set my alarm for a super-early ride this morning.  However, I must have turned it off in my seep, and by the time I finally woke up it was too late to ride.

So much for that.

I also took a lazy and gauche mid-day ride yesterday, so clearly I'm reverting to schlub mode just as we move into prime morning riding season.  And it was on my ride that I saw this kludge-tastic skateboard deck fairing:

It's hard to see because I didn't feel like squeezing past the parked car, but there's also a fender made of two (2) skateboard deck tails on the back of the bike:

Speaking of wood, I was also on the Renovo:

Which I hadn't ridden for awhile owing to the fact that until a couple days ago we've been subjected to a near-constant soaking from above and I'd been riding my bike that was already dirty:

Having now shuffled the Renovo into my deck of bicycles I've had ample opportunity to compare it to the others (if you're wondering about my one-bike resolution I promise a full accounting at the end of the year) and at the risk of sounding like a douchebag (oh, who am I kidding, I've been sounding like a douchebag for 11 years now) I think I'm finally buying into Renovo's claims:

Renovos have an unequaled smooth ride. This is because vibration is absorbed by the wood itself, enhanced by our designs where appropriate.

Well, okay, I shouldn't say "buying," since there's no way I'd spend ten grand on anything I couldn't live in (and no, I'm not becoming RV Snob), but going from bike to bike it does ride really, really nicely in comparison.  I also can't discount the wood's role in all this since it rode more or less just as nicely with a pair of cheapo Shimano wheels.  Really, the biggest problem I have with the bike now (apart from the single bottle cage, which I'll keep mentioning forever) is that it feels too damn fancy--I just look down at that woodgrain and I can't relax completely.  It's kind of like walking around in a pair of new shoes you're afraid to scuff.  I mean there's no reason the Renovo shouldn't get gouged and notched like a bar or a stairway handrail, but despite my forced irreverence I still harbor an Inner Fred who remains overprotective of certain velocipedal items, especially when they're expensive.  So I should probably just take my own advice and ghostride it off a flight of steps to get it banged up a little bit.

As for the parts, they're all holding up well.  Since last November I've only charged the Di2 once, in early March, and it still seems to have plenty of juice.  The crabon wheels remain true, and the braking remains noisy, but not unbearably so.  (Seems to depend at least partially on atmospheric conditions.)  The Continental Grand Prix Whatever-Number-They're-Up-To-Now have also held up well, though I'm going to change them soon to 25s to see if that increases the sumptuousness factor at all.  And I like the handlebar shape, but still not the fact that the tops are bare.  (When the bars need re-taping I'll wrap them all the way up, but since the current tape is that Lizard Skins stuff I don't expect it to wear out until roughly 2032.)

So yeah, I'm a pathetic middle-aged club racer on an expensive wooden bicycle and I've got absolutely no problem with that.

Of course the only thing left to do now is compare the Renovo to a state-of-the-art high-end crabon road bike, but the chances of my either buying one or receiving one gratis are virtually nil.

Finally, they've deleted it now, but the LAPD had some advice for cyclists recently:

The above is a screenshot from a Twitter thread, and it's a shame it doesn't include the complete photo because it showed that the car was in the bike lane with a crushed bicycle beneath it.

So yes, a reminder to cyclists to wear helmets, but no reminder to motorists not to drive in the bike lane or run over any of the cyclists they might find in said bike lane.

Got it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New Outside Column!

Just a quick Post-it® note to let you know that this week's Outside column is all about the glory of early morning riding:

Though if I'm to be totally honest it's really just a fantastic illustration of me with some words under it.  I mean seriously, that is uncanny.  In fact I actually wore a jersey in that same color scheme yesterday, which I'm just now realizing means I'm being followed.

I guess I should have been suspicious when I kept seeing someone on a recumbent with a sketch pad...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Millennials Love This Tire Inflation Hack!

How many times have you attempted to inflate your rear tire only to sever your hand at the wrist?  Never?  Well Bicycling's got you covered anyway:

Evidently this is enough of a problem that they went through the trouble of making a video about it, and the solution apparently is to harness the awesome power of opposable thumbs:

Next up from Bicycling: How to lube your chain without getting your tongue caught in your drivetrain.

Of course I realize that as an old fuddy-duddy my insistence that impaling yourself on your cassette is a non-existent problem could be entirely due to the fact that I am totally out of touch.  See, now that everyone's riding gravel bikes with 10-52 cassettes and deep-section cray-bone rims there's now only like two millimeters of clearance between the valve stem and the low gear so maybe it is a real issue.  Also, one can't be expected to pay attention to proper valve orientation during inflation when one is so preoccupied with making sure the #whatpressureyourunning is accurate to the .000000th PSI.  It's not like the old days where you had a 19-tooth low gear and a rim with the depth of a fingernail and you just kept inflating your 21mm tire until the pump head blew off by iteslf.

Speaking of being out of it, despite a biblical streak of rainy weather I attempted to participate in a bicycle race on Saturday morning.  Since it was already raining when I woke up at an hour so grotesquely early I won't even share it I decided to spare the Renovo the indignity of getting dirty and instead rode my Milwaukee, even though it is outfitted for leisurely mixed-terrain rambling and not high-speed park-Fredding:

As I rolled down to the park in the rain I couldn't shake the feeling that my heart simply wasn't in it, and as the race began it became immediately clear that my legs weren't either, and I became detached from the pack as quickly and expeditiously as a bicycle pump head being flicked off the valve by a pair of thumbs in a Bicycling magazine instructional video.

Then I went to retrieve my bag, only to find it had been befouled from above by a bird:

By way of penance (and because it was still barely 6am) I figured I'd head over the GWB for some Fred mileage, but by the time I reached 125th Street I was more or less soaked through and the idea of heading anywhere but home was profoundly unsavory.  So I limped home wet and defeated, and in a way I suppose it was punishment from the Great Lobster On High for so flippantly writing about quitting bike races last week:

Though in fairness to myself at no point did I consider pulling a Siskevicius and riding eight laps in Central Park by myself.

Then on Sunday I did decide to head over the GWB to River Road, which turned out to be an incredibly stupid idea since it was the day of the Gran Fondo New York, aka "Attack of the Freds":

As the curator of a local cycling blog I should have known that, but those green jerseys have become so ubiquitous I now seem to automatically tune them out.  Therefore, I only realized it was going on when I was already on River Road and I saw signs informing me it was closed for a bicycle race.  Naturally I ignored these signs, but then a police officer fired up the ol' megaphone and told me the road was closed "unless you're in the race:"

For a moment I considered telling him I was in the race, but it seemed silly to run afoul of the law just for the sake of riding a road I've traveled roughly eleventy billion times before.  So I turned around and made my way back home via the High Bridge, thus capping off a weekend of extremely poor cycling decisions.

Finally, as you may or may not have seen, Outside got lots of ridicule for this tweet:

Naturally people were indignant over the notion that nobody's heard of Marianne Vos, but the fact is that most people haven't heard of Marianne Vos...or Peter Sagan, or really any current top-level cyclist for that matter.  Maybe they've heard of Chris Froome because he won the Tour de France and he's been in the news a lot for the salbutamol or the somnambulism or whatever, but that's about it.

So it doesn't seem so ridiculous to me, but what do I know, apart from everything?

Friday, May 18, 2018

It's Friday, Suckers!


Putting on my smugness cap for a moment, please allow me to foist upon you my latest entry in Reclaim, the Transportation Alternatives magazine:

As it happens, this very morning on my ride I watched someone in one of those douche-tastic Dodge Durango SRT "performance SUVs" complete with Blue Lives Matter sticker and rear windshield decal in the shape of an assault rifle with the word "Freedom" stenciled over it run a solid red light.  This is of course in no way remarkable, though for the first time it occurred to me that the nice thing about Blue Lives Matter stickers is that when you see one you know there's a 100% chance the driver is going to run the light, and a 75% chance he's going to fuck with you somehow.  (They should expand the stickers to say "Blue Lives Matter...But Crosswalks Don't" since that's where you'll usually find them parked.)

Speaking of my ride, it was lovely, thank you for asking:

One highlight was my artisanal lunch stop, during which a woman casually asked me to hold onto her dog while she got coffee:

On one hand, I was kind of put off by the cavalier attitude with which she approached me, as though she took it for granted that there was no way I was going to say anything but "yes."  In fact, she pretty much put the leash in my hand and walked away before I'd even processed what was happening.  On the other hand, I was just sitting there, and really there was no reason I couldn't hold onto the dog, so maybe I should just loosen up and be more accommodating.  I dunno, I guess it's sort of the human condition to go through life wondering "Does all of humanity suck or is it just me?"  As for the dog, it had little interest in me, and I don't even know anything about the dog as the owner didn't bother to introduce us properly and I was afraid to check its genitals to determine the gender.  You'd think she could have at least introduced us, like "Hello, would you mind looking after my dog, Philip?  He enjoys cream cheese and the smell of dirty laundry."  Nope.  Instead she just dumped the thing on me and we sat there awkwardly together like two patients in a gastroenterologist's waiting room.

Also noteworthy was that I saw the immediate aftermath of a really nasty car crash on Route 9 in Yonkers--so immediate that traffic was only just beginning to back up and a bystander was still in the middle of placing the 911 call.  Both cars were completely destroyed, and I'd be stunned if there were no serious injuries or worse.  The airbags had deployed in one vehicle, and the other vehicle appeared to predate airbags, which gave me a full view of a driver who appeared to be barely conscious.  Fortunately this was in sight of a hospital, and clearly there was nothing I could do except appreciate my own good fortune, and so I continued on as the sirens began to sound behind me.

And was only just as I sat down to start typing this that I saw the latest news:
Freedom indeed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Outside Column!

I've got a new Outside column live on the Internet, and the subject is something I know a lot about:

Making an effort is like sooo tacky.

Speaking of tacky, I mentioned sandals yesterday, which seems to have touched a bunion:

Anonymous said...

sandals are stupid. Fuck sandals. I hate them. Where is the rest of your shoe, loser! who died and made you Jesus? Spartacus called, and he wants his shoes back! sandals are for old people and best worn with knee high black dress socks. If you're going to look like some kind of friggin doofus you might as well go all in. Fuck sandals.

May 15, 2018 at 2:57 PM 

You have to wonder what happened to this person to make them feel so strongly about sandals.  Perhaps the commenter is former president George W. Bush:

Ah yes, everyone's a critic, for a little later someone weighed in on my brake levers:

Adam said...

Yoo Snob, what's up with that brake lever angle?

May 16, 2018 at 4:01 AM

Uh, I dunno, maybe I positioned them there because it's where my hands go and it's comfortable?

I mean I tried to rotate them vertically so they're pointing straight up at the sky but it just didn't work:

But sure, I guess I should straight out in front of me like the clutch on a Harley Davidson because that's the way your Trek Fuel came when you bought it.

I've learned a lot in nearly 11 years (!) of blogging, and one of them is that mountain bikers are way more petty than roadies.

Finally, nobody asked for it but it's here anyway.  Meet the Rapha saddle:

We’ve been designing the world’s finest bib shorts for years, yet we’ve never had control of their interaction with saddles. Until now.

Wait, what?  Does it force you to stand up and sit down at set intervals?

I don't know, but apparently Rapha are now pairing certain saddles with certain shorts like some kind of overbearing ass-sommelier:


A saddle for riders who need a lightweight build which is comfortable when riding hard, this race-ready model is the perfect partner for our Pro Team Bib Shorts II. Handmade entirely from carbon, it is designed for comfort at a minimum weight – the narrow version weighs 144 grams. For added pressure relief, a cutout version is available, weighing in even lighter at 141 grams.

They said "comfortable when riding hard."  Heh, heh.

But wait, there's more!


No two riders are the same, yet most saddles are designed and produced as if they were. To challenge conventional wisdom on saddle fitting, Rapha saddles are designed to work in tandem with our bib shorts. Using a few key pieces of information, our fit calculator recommends a saddle and bib short combination tailored to you.

Most saddles are designed like all riders are the same?  Please find me a saddle manufacturer that doesn't offer at least eleventy billion different saddle models--though granted their fit calculator seems more logical than the stupid Fi;z*i'k thing where you're supposed to divine your scranus animal:

Oh I see some bull alright...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Surf N' Turf

You'll be pleased to know that during a little upstate getaway this past weekend I finally found my new bicycle:

It was a bargain at $2,200:

Though of course I talked the shopkeeper up to three grand because buying expensive things makes me feel special.  You'll also note that it's a "signed edition," and while I have no idea by whom it was signed, this only contributes to its mystique.  Anyway, while the rest of you suckers pay city prices for your vintage wares, I'm upstate finding the real bargains.

Speaking of artisanal bikes, this past Friday I indulged in a ride on my hand-curated singlespeed mountain bicycle:

Not only that, but I did so after riding a bicycle with those curly-type handlebars like they use in the Tour de France earlier that morning.  Doubling up like that is something I hadn't done for quite awhile, and there are few things more satisfying than chasing a road ride with a mountain bike ride.  It's basically the cycling equivalent of ordering the surf and turf platter.  Cunningham Park in Queens is also an exceptionally enjoyable place to ride a singlespeed, and probably the most fun place in the whole city to ride a bicycle.  Sure, you won't get to justify your overwrought suspension bike or indulge in that Instagrammable bikepacking bro-down, but despite the park's diminutive size and manageable scale they just keep managing to add more trail in there which makes it the perfect place for a stress-free pop-in ride.  

Of course, to me it seems like only yesterday that the trails at Cunningham Park opened, but in fact it was way back in 2007, a simpler time when the fixies roamed free and cowardly anonymous bloggers emerged to cash in on the phenomenon by making fun of them.  Also in those days the 29-inch wheel was still cutting edge, and wide tires meant anything over two inches:

Now everything's 27.5+ and my singlespeed wouldn't even qualify as a gravel bike.

Nevertheless, I regret nothing.  Indeed I'm glad I preserved the platonic ideal of the mid-aughts 29-inch rigid singlespeed in amber by ordering a custom designer version of it, because I love riding them, and now that they're out of fashion they're getting harder and harder to come by.  I suppose for me it's because I'll always be this doofus:

Though I'm not quite enough of a doofus to go out and buy a BMX at my age.  


Speaking of trends, a commenter recently alerted me to this:

And it's been hard not to notice that riding in sandals is now very much in fashion:

Ridiculous as that may sound, signs of change are a(bare)foot — beloved B-list Instagram cycle-touring celeb-influencer Ultraromance has done the seemingly impossible in raising Bedrock Sandals to a status of coolness in certain circles. Stranger things!

B-list?  I'd say Ultraromance is an A-lister by cycling standards.  Everybody knows the B-list is populated by retired pros and washed-up bike bloggers.  In any case, as a bit of an open-toed shoe apologist myself it's good to see people moving past the "OH MY GOD YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE ALL YOUR TOES!" attitude when it comes to riding bikes in sandals, flip-flops, or what have you.

Finally, congratulations to Manual For Speed for accomplishing the unthinkable:

Yes, somehow you managed to turn an interview with the world's most exciting pro cyclist into a video nobody could possibly sit through in its entirety.

Well done.