Monday, October 20, 2008

Anywhere, Anytime: Cycling and Mobility

Recently, while going about my business on the Ironic Orange Julius Bike, I encountered the following disturbing sight:

Yes, that is a bicycle with a scooter attached to it like a shark with a pilot fish on it. I'm not sure if the bicycle is a fixed-gear or just a singlespeed because I was too afraid to approach lest the scooter leap onto me. The only conclusion I can draw from this (apart from the possibility that an untreated "hipster cyst" might eventually grow into a full-scale "scooter tumor") is that this rider is part of some kind of elite urban strike force. I'm not sure why such a strike force would exist nor what master they would serve. Most likely it's an extremely specialized unit of the NYPD equipped for maximum maneuverability in trendy neighborhoods. I would imagine that a strike force like this could operate quite efficiently, in that they could pursue the more gentrified criminals both in the streets as well as on crowded sidewalks. Should some new breed of arch hipster criminal attempt to evade the police by, say, disappearing into an American Apparel dressing room or slipping into the Apple Store and nonchalantly playing with the widgets on a MacBook Pro, this strike force would be able to swiftly pursue and apprehend him.

I'm guessing the new NYPD Gentrification Strike Force has different specialists as well. In additon to the fixed-gear/scooter combination seen above, BMX/skateboard and flatbar road bike/rollerblade would also be very effective depending upon the demographics of the particular neighborhood. There's probably even an amphibious triathlete unit that could pursue criminals attempting to flee by water. An amphibious triathlete officer probably drives an unmarked Saab SUV or similar vehicle with a Swim/Bike/Run (a.k.a. "Dork/Dork/Dork") decal on it and a Guru with aerobars on the roof rack. (Actually, a roof rack would be a dead giveaway, since no real triathlete could possibly operate one. Trunk rack is more like it.) Just imagine how simultaneously thrilling and dorky it would be to watch as the amphibious triathlete officer chases some Upper West Side gentrifugitive in a Mini Cooper S up the Henry Hudson Parkway. After shooting out the Mini's run-flats, the fugitive would then attempt to flee on foot, at which point the officer would hop on the Guru. Then, naturally, the fugitive would leap into the Hudson river and attempt to swim to Jersey--only to find the mankini-clad officer right behind him, his biceps glistening with slimy pollution. ("NYPD" would be scrawled on them with magic marker too, of course.) The TV drama series practically writes itself. And depending on how you feel about triathletes, your dinner may practically regurgitate itself as well.

But let's be honest--part of the bicycle's appeal is its swift mobility. What cyclist hasn't fantasized about living in some kind of Apocalyptic wasteland with only his bicycle and his wits to keep him alive? Who wouldn't want to live in some sort of real-life "Red Dawn" and carry out guerilla attacks on bicycles under Patrick Swayze's capable leadership? Well, probably very few people, and I suppose that's why cyclocross is still not that popular.

(Post-Apocalyptic "Red Dawn" Cyclocross Strike Force bikes ready for mobilization. Blue will be effective camoflage in a radioactive future.)

If you were actually in a "Red Dawn" scenario and you needed to assemble a bicycle strike force, you'd probably want a bunch of cyclocrossers. Unfortunately, though, we're not in a "Red Dawn" scenario (at least until the economy finishes collapsing and we all need to boil and eat our SIDIs to stay alive) so right now cyclocross is still just a relatively small group of masochists running around in fields while wearing skinsuits.

Sure, it’s becoming increasingly popular, but the fact is it’s still very much a grassroots sport. And "grassroots" is just another word for "illegitimate." Certainly, the cycling world (at least the part of the cycling world that tries to sell you stuff) would like to see cyclocross legitimized. And as a fan of commerce, I'm here to help. Because let's face it--there’s a lot that could be done to refine cyclocross and make it more attractive to new participants. Chief among them:

Better Courses

The biggest mistake organizers of cyclocross races make is in venue choice and course layout. Local parks can be pleasant to congregate in, but they also often contain elements like grass, mud and sand. These are discouraging to riders and serve only slow them down. Furthermore, too many organizers lack the resources and manpower to clear their courses of obstacles and debris. These obstacles are often severe enough to require participants to dismount their bicycles. And there’s absolutely no reason a rider should be forced to dismount his bicycle in a bike race.

Tips for course layout:

1) Stick To The Pavement

Roads and paved paths are optimum surfaces on which to ride quickly. Furthermore, this will better enable racers to ride together and draft off of one-another, a technique which can save a racer tremendous amounts of energy (as Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen will remind you every 30 seconds during the Tour de France). This will also encourage exciting group sprints instead of the staggered finishes we see all too often in today’s cyclocross races. Just think—on a well-designed cyclocross course a smart rider who spends the entire race in another rider’s slipstream could suddenly emerge victorious. It would be like watching Cadel Evans, except with a win at the end. Now that’s exciting!

2) Minimize Turns

Turns slow racers down, and the sharper the turn the slower the racers must go. Would you water your lawn with a kinked garden hose? Certainly not! So why impede your racers with a twisty course? Remember—these races are timed, and faster courses mean more laps! And more is always better.

3) Easy Is Better

The best way to boost participation in an activity is to make sure everybody who participates feels like they can win. That’s why road racing is so popular. There’s nothing more thrilling than riding in a huge pack of people, each of whom is convinced victory can be theirs as long as they avoid doing any actual work until the last 15 seconds of the race. On the other hand, a race in which the strongest people win consistently means the less strong people (and that’s everyone else) won’t want to participate. This is a real problem. Would you play the lottery if only the same four or five people won every week? Of course you wouldn’t. So why would you organize a race that way? Sure, you might have people who come out and race because it’s “fun,” but “fun” is frivolous and if you’ve followed the previous two tips your race is no longer fun. Indeed, it's essential to give people the impression they're just some expensive upgrades and a little wheelsucking away from victory. This is crucial to the growth of the industry and the sport.

Fortunately, there are growth signs. Like the fact that $318 cantilever brakes are now considered "surprisingly reasonable."

And the fact that cantilever brakes are once again hot, hot, hot! means that I'm one step closer to getting funding for my new publishing venture:

Heel Clearance Magazine

The magazine dedicated to minimizing contact between the heel of your foot and your bicycle’s frame and components.

Features include:

"Cantilever Brakes: How Wide Is Too Wide?"

"Curved Stays: The Bend Is Your Friend"

"Crank Arm Heel Rub Scuffs: Minor Cosmetic Blemish, or Harbinger of Death?"

"Annals of Float: 500 More Reasons Why Speedplays Suck"

"Cankles and Q-Factor: One Rider’s Quest For a Friction-Free Pedal Stroke in a World of Ever-Narrowing Bottom Bracket Spindles"

Now that's exciting reading.


streepo said...


Anonymous said...


Daddo said...


Anonymous said...

drat, so close to podium.

Too much foffing off!

Georges Rouan said...

Nice post.

Anonymous said...

Top ten and fading. Just like a cross race ..


Luck E. 7 said...

Lucky is as lucky does...


Anonymous said...

top ten

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

ahh, I'm getting closer :-)

Soon, a podium will be mine, and then my life will be complete!

Anonymous said...

During participation at Velomir Bolshoya Farma cycling event I meet a Finn who tell me joke full of good humor: huomaa: tama tuote sisaltaa luonnonkumillateksia, joka aiheutaa obamaka presidentoika.

Is funny but I am concerned that translating from Finnish to Russian and then to English are to be draining story of humor. Americans are to be getting out more.

Anonymous said...

much like it is said that Monet's poor eyesight led to his artistic style (citation needed), I suspect you must drink a lot to take pictures like those. But you're one helluva writer and funny dude/gal.

Anonymous said...

top 20 bitches!

Anonymous said...

typing like this.... makes me look like... a moron..... .... .... .

Anonymous said...

I would appreciate an artice in Heelstrike on techniques for the bending of steel toe clips, and a touring pedal surface area shootout.

ant1 said...

anon 1:44 - It's not the typing dude.

Anonymous said...

I thought heel strike added character.

Jim said...

It's totally realistic to view 'crossers as the first line of defense should the defunct Soviet Union invade. Well, unless they land in Portland, where a lot of 'crossers and everybody else seems sentimental about industrial marxism. Portland aside, I can think of several possibilities for successful tactics - putting captured invaders in tight skinsuits, making them sprint steep runups with barriers on them, making them ride 700x27 clinchers at 85 PSI, or drunken heckling.

We'd need a good battle cry first though.

I suggest "ant1st-verines!"

Mark said...

Top 20?

streepo said...

My heels aren't supposed to hit anything?

mogley said...

weakest post yet. it's time for another snobbatical

db said...

The Bend is Your Friend.



Cooper Barner said...

Monet? Seinfeld?

Anonymous said...

i been real depressed because it looks like a commie's going to be president so i was talking to my mountain biking buddy joe the plumber thats not his real name and he says listen here red youll feel better if you listen to lynard skynard lots more so i went to waffle house yesterday and asked for my hash browns punked pwnd and nuked and thye knew exactly how i wanted them it was freaky so i put 5 bucks in the juke box and i hit 166 which is sweet home alabama so it played 30 times in a row by the 20th time i was loosing consciousness and bleeding out the ears and you know what it really hepped i feel lots better now

BikeSnobNYC said...


I stand by "Cankles and Q-Factor," no pun intended.


Anonymous said...


Heelstrike; how else can I count cadance when my FlightDeck gets grimed up?

Anonymous said...

One of your better posts. An evocative glimpse into the fascinating world of topsy-turvidom that is cyclocross.

Huzzah and kudos!

ant1 said...

man, I'm getting more references than snobbie today.

Anonymous said...

NYPD Gentrification Strike Force:
The First Failure!

Have you ever tried pedaling a bike in rollerskates?

Anonymous said...

"Bike Computer Cadence Sensors: the Forgotten Cankle Smashers"

$318 cantilever brakes, $3400 Super Record Grouppos, $4500 LOOK frames made in Tunisia, $5600 Lightweight wheels, maybe we should sell all this stuff on credit to low income earners at no money down and low interest rates, we'll call it the Mellow Johnny Foundation.

Cyclocross would be more fun if it all had some kind of point, or something. I hereby suggest figure 8 tracks with ramps for potential mid-air collisions. Exxxtreme, and so forth.

Good to see the comments has a new ITotM. Now streamlined without punctuation for faster reading!

Anonymous said...


"Semper 85Psi"

kale said...

I suggest that there should be some sort of allycat-cum-cyclocross event to show who the most fucking awesomist commuter is. That's probably what 90% of the sales for cx bikes are anyhoo.


I: Instead of sand traps and silly "hurdles" we will have broken glass traps and potholes.

II: Like some of the more authentic allycats don't allow brakes (breakz), we will require a pair of panniers on each bike, as well as a set of full fenders.

III: The minimum tire width is 28c.

IV: The spectators will be part of the course and are encouraged to drive while watching.

V: Anyone wearing flip-flops and drinking coffee will be disqualified.

broomie said...

"just some expensive upgrades and a little wheelsucking away from victory."

That pretty much sums the delsuions of those who participate in any sport.

Unfortunately, Snob is incorrect about Triathletes being unable to operate a roof rack. The reality is that they have become so obsessive about their equipment they must be able to see it all times. Many times this results in the bike being transprted to the race in a suitcase in the passenger seat, which the driver peeks in at every red light to make sure its all there.

Gotta go for a 12 mile run in my mankini, now.

BikeSnobNYC said...


If you don't mind, I'd like to incorporate some of those into my PracticalityCat.


Anonymous said...

Those must be old Sidis actually made from animal hide instead of Lorica.

Oh why did I have to look "Lorica" up on wikipedia?


I like the cuirass definition better.

It's fun to tell people they'd look marvellous in a well-fitting cuirass.

Downhillers wear this stuff, don't they? But not for cyclocross?

Anonymous said...

BSNYC -- I was asked to forward the following message. And I think we all know that I am nothing if not compliant.

My friends --

The threat of a re-emerging Soviet menace and the necessity of a well-equipped, well-trained bicycle strike force under the capable guidance of photogenic leadership is no laughing matter.

As a former Secretary of Defense put it: You go to photogenic but meaningless gestures with the bicycle strike force you have, not the bicycle strike force you wish you had.

That's why I'm proud to stand behind the Death Adder Road and Track cycling team.

Even if they won't let me wear one of their cool Mishka hoodies.

I'm John McCain and I approved this message.

broomie said...


I love your concept! Please tell me how I can help.

kale said...


So long as there is a commemorative ankle band instead of a spoke card I'm cool with it.

Unknown said...

only 500 reasons speedplay sucks? are you saving more for another issue?

kale said...


These look like frogs to me.

But you can only know how much they suck after you use them.

Anonymous said...

I think a Miss-America style sash incorporating these 2-inch letters for BSNYC might also be nice. 25-pieces per bag.

Yes quite expensive, but more easily read both day and night. Commuters will wear them or the sash could be can be affixed to messenger bag straps. Just raise the entrance fee and highlight the goodies. Those printed single-LED blinkies are cheap.

Anonymous said...

Ooo..not just any ankle band, a tri-color ankle band, because reflecting back three colors: red, white and green, says, "don't run me down, and I'm friendly to Mexicans or Italians." As we all know, Mexicans and Italians form the largest demographic of pedestrian Peysers.

I'm Sarah Palin, and I approve whatever involves shooting wolves.

Anonymous said...

First off, HOLY SHIT! A remake of Red Dawn?! Best news I've had in months!
I pretty much constantly fantasize about riding around on my bike in a post-apocalyptic world. Find food, avoid the occasional freak roaming the landscape and no more bills.
Sounds nice.

Anonymous said...

Starring... Sarah Palin as Angela Merkel.

Mongo Pusher said...

Lea Thompson was hot in Red Dawn!

Anonymous said...

Red Dawn? Fuck that.

We need a remake of "Mad Max" on bikes, which will finally give me an excuse to ride in my Assos leather assless chaps.

(sorry for the redundancy, chaps are, by definition, assless)

Anonymous said...

I approve John McCain.

Anonymous said...

Fuck McCain


for weaving in references to red dawn you get some points but find use for Band of the Hand and you truly will be a genius.

Anonymous said...

Snobbie if you're going to war (or cyclocross), I'd love to give you a proper sendoff.

Please wear the camo short/bib combo, mmmm.

Anonymous said...

McCain is about to get sonned.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

How come there is no mention of the Flying Wallenda bicycle Guiness World Record set in your own backyard on 10/15/2008, BSNYC, or what/evah you are today.

Nik Wallenda is Specialized!!!!!

Anonymous said...

on a fixie with no handlebars!...siiiick

Anonymous said...

The horror of boiling your sidis is completely repulsive. If and only if life becomes that bleak and desperate I would suggest out of reverence to Dino, a light tomato sauce, cracked pepper and field mushrooms/truffles lightly sauted in garlic. A feisty syrah if available would go down a treat.

Frills, once again this is a bike blog and not a scene from Casablanca.... Play it again Snobby

Anonymous said...

AP, re-read the comment, not one but two references to cycling. And, besides, that all the big-time racers have 'fans', don'tcha know?

I thought you were a rocket scientist.

Anonymous said...

Recently commissioned into designing new launch system for Dmitri Fofonov that will place him and his half empty vodka bottle into a new orbit. Yes references but laced with Frilly based lust

Anonymous said...

Admittedly, a half-assed attempt at subtlety. I can't help myself when I think about snob's bibstraps hanging over the top of those shorts. Wow. Roadies take note, thats hot.

Anonymous said...

Not too many more opportunities for sights like that its getting cold. I went for a ride before work-pitch black & 46 degrees. Brrrr.

Scottie said...

Wait, so is having a trunk rack a mark of a triathlete? I always preferred the trunk rack because I get better fuel economy with it and my bikes don't get covered in dead bugs. Plus I figured the dirt-covered mountain bike was a giveaway that I'm not a tri guy. I really hope I don't have to give up my trunk rack just because those tri weirdos can't deal with roof racks.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Scott, a trunk rack is the sign of a nonbeliever. A hitch rack or roof rack shows dedication to our cause, and those with bikes in the hatch because they spent their rack money on getting their shock Push'd instead are usually only steps away from canonization.

However, if the hitch rack is a Draftmaster set up for a recumbent trike, all bets are off.

Anonymous said...

Xooters are the pinnacle of urban chic.

Anonymous said...


SkidMark said...

Is anybody else getting bored with Frilly?

Anonymous said...

Bikesnob, this is by far the best entry I have ever read. I plan on filming this "NYPD Triathlete pursuit force TV feature"

Anonymous said...

Yeah for sure. Its time to give Frilly a rest. Anon here I come!

Anonymous said...

I have been stalking Frilly for sometime now and she is an upright dude , despite riding a POS and can ride with me anytime and the boyz from Dart

Anonymous said...

Hey don't play--if I scrape up enough gelding for a new road bike next spring, I might convert my POS to a single speed.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hey anon 9:43, "gelding" is a castrated horse. It's a little unclear how you convert that into cycling equipment. I presume you meant "gelt?" This means coin of the realm in Yiddish, the official second language of Snob and his Bubbie and Zaydie.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the correction. Yes, gelt would be what I'm needing for that new bike. Or if nobody has beat me to it--tomorrow morning in the park.

Prolly send me a link to your website.

What I Think said...

I might suggest a sister publication called "Toe Clearance Magazine." For all those little people with squished frames.

Anonymous said...


Are you kidding? I've read a lot of blogs and a lot of comments and Frilly has to be one of the most intriguing peronalities to grace a section like this. I sometimes look forward to her (and a few others) comments more than the original posting (sorry snob).

I'm guessing you're frustrated in a special way 'cause there's no reason to be bored by that.

The great thing about a site like this is that if you don't like something you can go away or ignore it.

Anonymous said...


Please don't go anon kiddo, that would ruin my day.

Anonymous said...

You know what this site needs? Full frontal Frilly!

Anonymous said...

Will I get more cooter and hooters if I ride my xooter?

Anonymous said...

A wise friend once said to me. "tri races are like the special olyimpics, everyone gets a medal and a hug at the finish line."

I wouls also like to add. If we could get cross races to run in better weather. That would improve things quite a bit. Nothing says bummer like cold race mornings.

Cafn8 said...

Why is the track bike being sold? I think one of the seller's sentences sums it up:


Don't make the same mistake he made.

Jim said...

Frilly's cool.

But I'd also be down with Thongy. Y'know, if you wanted to change your picture and identity, Frilly.

Anonymous said...

I too would prefer more frilly to less.

kale said...

You can't badger the token female, that's just not right.

KJ said...

Can YOU spot the differences between these photos? (HINT: There are 7 of them!) Good luck -

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Awww, Jim, that's sweet--ditto!

As for Thongy, interesting concept. I gotta lotta junk in my trunk & I don't know if a thong can handle this hot mess.


Caaah said...

Real "cross" sports don't require you to dismount your transport. If "cyclists" insist on a "cross" sport, can't we just do mopedcross (or 'pedcross or mocross) and be satisfied?

Of course, I don't know if the desk fan that mopeds use for an engine will get the moped across a patch of wet grass.

Joer said...

With Palin screwing around on the east coast who the hell's keeping an eye on the Ruskies? How do we know this Red Dawn scenario isn't happening right fucking now!

Fire up those radioactive blue Engins.

Chris Mattingly said...

You have NO IDEA how much I have fantasized about being a "six string samurai" in a post-apocalyptic world with only my felt F1-x and a samurai sword to uphold justice.

You just made my day--you have no idea
(yeah my day has been just that good)

-cross guy

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