Thursday, October 15, 2009

Essential or Extraneous? One Person's Helmet is Another Person's Wheelbrow

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(Power meter prototype, forwarded by a reader)

If you read Fat Cyclist's blog, you know that he is as synonymous with curating extravagant contests as he is with being fat and with cycling. Well, what you may not know is that Fatty is also descended from a long line of cycling writers and contest masterminds, and he can trace his lineage all the way back to a popular 19th century Harper's Weekly columnist called the "Porcine Velocipedist" who famously gave away one of the world's first pennyfarthing bicycles in an "epic" pie-eating contest. Well, if he hadn't tragically choked to death on a rhubarb that day and instead somehow lived to be like 180 years old, the Porcine Velocipedist would no doubt be extremely proud of his great, great, great (the word "great" seems stranger every time I type it--or rather, every time I dictate it to my helper monkey, Vito) grandson, who informs me he is is now giving away an Ibis bicycle of your choice.

But wait, there's more! Once you've won the bicycle, you get to ride it wherever you want along with Fat Cyclist and Scot Nicol of Ibis. And, and, apparently they've somehow wrangled cycling great and wearing-giant-glasses-in-snowstorms enthusiast Andy Hampsten to come along too. This means you not only get a new bike and a cycling vacation, but you also get to pester Andy Hampsten with irritating questions like: "What was it like to win the Giro d'Italia?"; "Which is harder, the Giro d'Italia or the Tour of Italy?"; and, "Why were glasses so giant in the '80s?" (I've asked him all these things, but only by email, and he never replies. In person though he'll have no choice.) Obviously, this is one sweet contest, and as the sex worker said to the mental patient as she gestured to her "viscous comfort zone," you'd have to be crazy not to enter this.

Speaking of grand tours, Christian Prudhomme recently unveiled the route for the 2010 Tour de France, which, shockingly, goes all over France. Even more shocking was that, for the first time, the world got a glimpse of the "new" Alberto Contador. A reader has forwarded me the following photo, which shows that not only has Contador adopted a radical new facial hairway, but he's also outsourced his trademark "fingerbang:"

Like the executive who hires a secretary to place his calls for him, or the blogger who delegates menial tasks such as bicycle maintenance and writing to a helper monkey, Contador has now hired somebody to save him the trouble of making his own cocky hand gestures. Presumably, we'll see Contador's new "fingerbang" assistant sticking a hand into the frame whenever Contador crosses the finish line first, or steps up onto the podium, or simply poses for a photograph. Actually, if he's any good, his "fingerbang" assistant will probably also issue a "fingerbang" whenever Contador does something noteworthy, even off the bike. For example, successfully opening a stubbornly-sealed bag of chips, or getting a question right while watching "Jeopardy," or even achieving sexual climax are all moments at which a really good "fingerbang" assistant will form his hand into a pistol shape and perhaps even orally recreate the sound of a gun firing in celebration of his employer's accomplishments. Rumor has it that Lance Armstrong plans to counter Contador's bold move by hiring someone to follow him around and say "Boo-ya!" periodically, but the question remains as to whether there is room for an "exclamation domestique" in the Radio Shack budget.

Meanwhile, yesterday I made the mistake of mentioning helmets, which prompted one commenter to write: "Why you persistently hate on helmets but champion other dorktastic utilitarian accessories (ahem, fenders) is beyond me." This puzzled me, since as far as I know I've never "hated" on helmets (with the exception of that ridiculous "Fuseproject" helmet, though if anything it's the hat that goes over the helmet which bothered me the most). Also, if I appear to champion "wheelbrows" over helmets, I only do so in the context of keeping your ass dry, and I'm sure even the staunchest helmet advocate will agree that a fender will do more in that regard than a helmet will, even if you clip your helmet to your seatpost like a "filth prophylactic." Similarly, as much as I appreciate "wheelbrows," I also admit they're pretty much useless when mounted to your head. Still, like a helmet, when used properly they can be quite useful in certain situations. Helmets are very useful when you fall on your head, and "wheelbrows" are very useful when the streets are wet. Incidentally, today is a wet day here in New York City, and my "wheelbrows" were so effective that they inspired me to take this photo while crossing the Manhattan Bridge, which is titled "Wheelbrow Days on the Big Skanky:"

Regardless of how you feel about helmets or fenders, I'm sure we can all agree that what one rider deems necessary another rider feels is superfluous. Some mountain bikers require suspension to enjoy their rides, while most roadies prefer to ride without suspension or enjoyment. Some riders can travel 100 miles with nothing but a couple of water bottles, some energy bars, and a small saddle bag, while others require $1,000 worth of canvas luggage, a quill stem that's longer than their top tube, and a full beard. And some riders require the power and modulation of a pair of brakes, while others are quite happy with just one brake or even no brakes, preferring instead to involve their entire bodies in the simple act of slowing in the same way that a rock musician has to leap around the stage and strain in order perform the simple act of playing the same chord over and over again. And speaking of brakes, a reader recently forwarded me this lamp, which incorporates a brake lever:

Supposedly the brake lever is "an invitation to touch, to experiment and play." However, I don't think this lamp is going to sell very well, since a stylized lamp like this is clearly designed for hipsters, and no hipster is going to let anybody see him grabbing a brake lever, even if it is just to turn off the lights. If anything, Christian Vivanco should have introduced the concept of "fixed-gear lighting," which would consist of a lamp that simply stays on all the time until the bulb burns out. This is the opposite of a dimmer switch, which is the equivalent of a 10 speed drivetrain with a triple crank, and also much more "zen" than a regular on/off switch, which is the equivalent of a singlespeed freewheel. At the very least, instead of the brake lever, Vivanco should have specced the lamp with the Clapper. In the world of interior lighting, the Clapper is like having a coaster brake, since it gives you the ability to turn the lamp on and off yet allows you to keep the "clean lines" of a fixed-gear lamp.

Another thing that some riders feel is necessary and others feel is excessive is custom geometry and paint. If you're a part of the former group, then you may be interested in this Seven Alaris, now on sale via Craigslist for $3,800:

Seven Cycles Alaris Bicycle with Custom Paint Job - 56 - $3800 (Midtown East)
Date: 2009-10-10, 5:55PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

Pictures available at the bottom of the posting.
Seven Alaris Titanium Frame
Custom-painted Bontrager carbon fork
Chris King headset
Sram Force 10-Speed Groupset
Campagnolo Eurus Wheels
Cycling Computer
Selle Italia SLK Saddle
Speedplay Pedals (Regular pedals also available)

Frame Specs: Full 3/2.5 Titanium frame. 3/2.5 means 3 percent aluminum, 2.5 percent vanadium, and 94.5 percent titanium. The two titanium grades used in bike frames are 3/2.5, and 6/4. High-end titanium frame makers such as Serotta, Indy Fab, and Seven work exclusively with 3/2.5 because of its superior ride quality, and integrity. 6/4 is only manufactured in sheets, and is then formed and welded into a tube. 3/2.5 is milled into tubes, and comprise a frame that will never fatigue.

Frame Geometry: Seat tube: 57.0. Top tube: 55.9. Head tube: 17.

Frame Ride Characteristics: This frame is a custom order from Seven. To keep it simple, the frame was designed to be razor sharp, as well as comfortable enough for long rides. Being a long-time Colnago aficionado, I ordered the frame very close to 57 cm. Colnago geometry. Seven delivered with a ride that surpassed my Colnagos. I have owned three Colnagos, and this frame is quicker, and just as comfortable as all of them. I am very happy with the performance of the Alaris, and am now ready to invest in Seven's higher-end Aerios model, so the Alaris has to go (running out of room in the stable).

Frame Paint: The frame finish is a very exclusive paint scheme that is not normally offered. It is white with the Seven logos painted in winter mint green. The Seven logos are usually decals over paint, but not this frame. The Seven logos are painted.

Fork: Again, being a long-time Colnago aficionado, I prefer a straight blade fork. They offer more stable tracking than curved alternatives. Seven only offers curved forks, so I had to custom-spec a carbon Bontrager fork. The fork specs were submitted to Seven prior to the build, and the frame was designed accordingly. It is carbon, with an aluminum steerer, and has a 45 mm rake.

Fork Paint: The fork was custom painted by Dave Sem of Sem Custom Paint, with hand-painted graphics (no stickers). The outside of the fork is white, with Sam-I-Am from Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham on the left side. The right side of the fork is white. Sam is on an egg shell bacground, that is beautifully faded into the surrounding white. The inside of the fork blades are painted the same orange as the original 1960 book cover. If you are riding this bike, you can rest assured that there is not another one like it anywhere in the world--always a cool conversation piece during group rides. The hand-painted Sam-I-Am is an exact match, and really shows Dave Sem's artistry. Take a look at the close-up picture to get a good look.

There are no dents or dings on the frame or fork. The saddle in the picture is not the saddle that comes with the bike. The saddle that comes with the bike is a light black / grey.

Copy of original spec-sheet from seven also available.

Obviously, the real standout here is the paintjob on the fork. As the seller points out, this is "a cool conversation piece during group rides"--provided of course your typical group ride conversation is highly Seussian and involves constant repetition and rhyme. But even more impressive than the fork is that this carefully curated Seven is merely a "gap bike"--as the ad says, "I am very happy with the performance of the Alaris, and am now ready to invest in Seven's higher-end Aerios model." Presumably, being a "Colnago aficionado" who prefers a straight-blade fork, the only way he could live with this curved one was to have it custom-painted, and I'm sure his new Aerios will boast a custom straight-blade model complete with "Cat in the Hat" stripey colourway to draw maximum attention.

But just as one rider's necessity is another's superfluosity (which I don't think is a real word), one rider's dream bike is another's "frankenbike," and a Seven with Colnago geometry and a children's book colourway could very well qualify as the latter to many people despite its considerable cost. So too might this patriotic bike, which I spotted recently in Manhattan:

The only thing missing is a pair of "wheelbrows."


Anonymous said...

not bad for a schluffer

Unknown said...

back in the game

Strayhorn said...

Oh, Alberto, in case your friends won't tell you, I will: No.

Anonymous said...


Asterisk said...

top 10

Anonymous said...

Top ten!

Unknown said...

where's my Cera?

Astroluc (Find me on Tumblr and Instagram @Astroluc) said...

top 10, at least?

Astroluc (Find me on Tumblr and Instagram @Astroluc) said...


honkybucket said...

Freakin' DSL.

mikeweb said...

Peter Gallagher warning!!

Alberto Contador said...

¡Ay, caramba!

mikeweb said...

In the TdF route photo, is Andy(?) dozing? Is Lance sporting a 'shiner' to go along with his Shiner?

Anonymous said...

RE: that picture, Lance looks nonplussed at the 2010 route, AC looks like he is in denial about the disembodied hand next to him and the Schleck brother (can't tell which) is obviously texting...

bikesgonewild said...

...what the hell ??? it my look ???...practically mid pack & they send me straight to the drug testing tent...

...hardly had a chance to towel down...

...i think they see me as essentially extraneous...

udder said...

I give that Seven a "5."

Asterisk said...

I am Sam
Sam I am

That Sam-I-am!
That Sam-I-am!
I do not like that Sam-I-am!

Do you like
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like
green eggs and ham.

Would you like them
here or there?

I would not like them
here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.

I do not like
green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Anonymous said...

Andy Hampsten, former professional racer and now a Tuscan based fun-hog.

I was wondering who has been hogging all the fun!

hillbilly said...


way to go ant1.

i'd like to incorporate the exclamation domestiques into the race itself, if at all possible...and I would like them to be doped to the gills as well.

Anonymous said...

BSNYC says:

Rumor has it that Lance Armstrong plans to counter Contador's bold move by hiring someone to follow him around and say "Boo-ya!" periodically, but the question remains as to whether there is room for an "exclamation domestique" in the Radio Shack budget."


I wan the the exclamation domestique job. But can I say something like, "Test Positive!, Lance"--I never really got the Boo-ya thing?

Actually I served 3 years in the army and didn't hear that expression once at Fort Ord, Fort Knox, or overseas--not until, Scent of a Woman and it was Al Pacino's line. 'Not saying, it wasn't said, but not in earshot of my person--of course, I mostly heard tank rounds, and the inhalation of uncontrolled substances.

Test Tickle said...

i may have peed mice elf while reading the light analogy. brilliant.


honkybucket said...

"his "fingerbang" assistant will probably also issue a "fingerbang" whenever Contador does something noteworthy, even off the bike. For example, successfully opening a stubbornly-sealed bag of chips"

I've actually considered getting myself onto an intense upper body weight training program specifically to open bags of Kettle Chips.

Unknown said...

The Artist Formerly Known As Contador


Anonymous said...

I do not like green BALLS! and ham.

Fred said...

Those are not pointy sideburns AC is sporting, those are aero-peyos.

Yep, AC has converted to orthodox judaism. It's a mitzvah!

kfg said...

"I mostly heard tank rounds, and the inhalation of uncontrolled substances."

And it's best not to get these mixed up. Don't ask me how I know.

Asterisk said...

Belmont Sledgehammer,

I miss Kettle Chips. Though we have Boulder Canyon Chips out here. Much easier to open so you don't need the upper body weight.


Anonymous said...

that is one seriously curated floor lamp. Beware: the link leads to Rapha-territory.

Matt BK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
omowo said...


Matt BK said...

You go out of your way to mention Andy Hampsten and don't point out that the UND Cycling Team in Grand Forks, ND, the town he grew up in, is auctioning off sponsorship on eBay this week? Come on Bikesnob, was the connection too obvious?

Seriously though, if you know someone who wants their own collegiate team (starting at $100), click through:

Mr Donkey said...

If I won I'd just ride to the local dispensary then to the local tavern in Santa Cruz. The Rush Inn perhaps. Play pool. Play music on the box.

Maybe talk baseball.

Anonymous said...

a helmet is a good idea if you are going to do BMX tricks in a UK tunnel

db said...

"I am very happy with the performance of the Alaris, and am now ready to invest in Seven's higher-end Aerios model."

If you're "investing" in a bike instead of "buying" a bike, I might dare suggest that you've crossed the threshhold of "too much money/too little intelligence".

There is very little that is right with that ad. I'm tempted to "liquidate my stable" and just ride a Razor instead.

Anonymous said...

what is that Seven owner palping in the end of the handlebarway is that a mirror?

Anonymous said...

The light? WTF! What's wrong with, like, just a regular light?

And I could not, would not, ride that bike. What a douche. I wish I had the money to waste on custom painting the "inside" of my fork to match a childrens's book cover. The inside of my fork is mung-colored, as in, it needs to be cleaned.

Anonymous said...

the CAAD5 screams ex-CAT5 racer. As in,
'Gee mister, what an extravagant frame for bumming around on!'

'Oh, I used to race.'

g said...

I think AC was planning on that move to Garmin and was required by JV to grow some silly-ass version of the sideburn. With Astana coming through with the goods, I suspect we'll not be seeing those again.

Anonymous said...

Hey pic of Bad Lawyer pre-helmet, but with intact wheel brows circa 1964.

CommieCanuck said...

Il Contadoper's sideburns reveal his Vulcan heritage. This explains his shite sense of humor.

Yeah, I watch Star Trek.

CommieCanuck said...

It's great that lamps finally have brakes -how many more people had to die needlessly?

I'm still hard at work advocating Lawyer lips on forks and spoons.

Please, think of the children.

Anonymous said...

this monkey's gone to heaven

Anonymous said...


Besides, its a little more subtle than having AYHSMB tatooed on his face.

Sprocketboy said...

I would think a fixed gear light simply stays on until it hits something and then breaks.

Unknown said...

The Clapper, not be confused with 'the clap'

Glad to see Commie is back in the pack

leroy said...

Oh sure Mr. Hampsten rode through a blizzard on the Gavia Pass in '88 and the photo of him doing so is iconic.

But let's not forget which cyclist's intrepid ascent of a snowy Brooklyn Bridge was deemed worthy of note by BSNYC nearly two years before mention of Mr. Hampsten's achievment.

Podium, indeed.

I can't understand why Fat Cyclist hasn't sought to add a little cachet to his contest by inviting me to join his epic ride.

I'd welcome the opportunity ask his group if one can still say one has "turfed it" if all one has to show for one's effort is a face full of icy Brooklyn Bridge planks.

Or does one need actual turf?

Oh well, guess I'll have to enter FC's contest to find out.

BadBeard said...


BadBeard said...


BadBeard said...


CommieCanuck said...

I would think a fixed gear light simply stays on until it hits something and then breaks.

I'm already listing my rare Luxo on Craigslist, just putting on a new shade and a fresh bulb-incandescent, none of that pussy compact-fluorescent shit. Real lamps rub/rock filaments.

Toxteth said...


If you've ever read "A Clockwork Orange," Anthony Burgess had a dictionary in the back of his book for all of his 'new' words that are a part of the future vernacular.

a dictionary for your new words would be nice to bring everyone new up to speed. Or at least a link to the post where they originated.


kale said...

I <3 that 'dale

CommieCanuck said...

In case your wondering where I was, due to the CDN dollar being at par again I was in buffalo buying automatic assault rifles and a nice pair of Khaki Dockers.

CommieCanuck said...


CommieCanuck said...

So, Campagnolo has gone completely insane.

The new, affordable, cheapass Boras @$US3200 ($3200CDN) will leave lots left over to buy the 11-speed US$600/CDN600 jacket.

Asterisk said...


You mean you don't understand what it is to palpage a collabo you curated in a particular colourway so you can fingerbang at hipsters schluffing on the Great Silk Route while drinking their Y-water?

You better get yourself a whizzinator.


Anonymous said...


the power meter gif didn't come-up until this long-in, very cool! Does it come in mapleleaf-colorway?

Toxteth said...


At the end of the book, you don't need a dictionary because you know the "language" - I've been reading this book for a long time...Your sentence made perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

When I bought my Campy record gruppo it came with a gigantic corkscrew-freebie that I sold on ebay for $200-300. Maybe the $600 jacket comes with freebie euros stuffed in the pockets?

Asterisk said...





Anonymous said...

Loved the metallurgy lesson in the CL ad. Best part: not surprisingly, it's almost completely wrong.

CommieCanuck said...

You mean you don't understand what it is to palpage a collabo you curated in a particular colourway so you can fingerbang at hipsters schluffing on the Great Silk Route while drinking their Y-water?
You better get yourself a whizzinator.

That was schlongtakular.

Salty Seattle said...

"...hired somebody to save him the trouble of making his own cocky hand gestures."

Great. A new way to be offensively, propositioned that's going to go right over my head.

"Hey baby, wanna 'outsource' my hand gesture?"

d. fofonov said...

Malchik and droog are Russian words. Say them while raping women is giving them a certain charm.

Just speaking.

Salty Seattle said...

"I'm sure we can all agree that what one rider deems necessary, another rider feels is superfluous. Some mountain bikers require suspension to enjoy their rides, while most roadies prefer to ride without suspension or enjoyment."

Thanks, Snob! So genius, I had to read it three times. There. I just read it again.

And it's so true! I'm told that enjoyment is another way to say junk miles.

honkybucket said...


Take a look at Kale's profile. He's palps a blog that breaks down some of the oft-used lingo here.

Anonymous said...

That Sam-I-am, that Sam-I-am,
I do not like that Sam-I-am.

He does not palp a wheelbrow pair,
He does not palp them anywhere.

He curates the rarest titanium cable, he has no Ibis in his stable.

Custom Sevens are his game, he rides a trainer to protect his frame.

By comparison Alberto's ride is chince, but he envies the way he looks like Prince.

He disdains decals in favor of paint, palps an SLK saddle to rest his taint.

But his homelife is shot, his wife is uptight, he gets up each hour to kiss his Aerios goodnight.

All you haters suck my Aerios.

Anonymous said...

Contador's 'burns; a vertical bangway.

article alert said...

"...who prefers as straight blade fork."

Schlomo Campystein said...

Contador with the peyos? Ach, if it weren't for those Hasids and all their rules, who wouldn't be a Jew? The fingerbang though, that's no Hebrew National. No doppelgänger for a long cigar, Herr Doktor. Single speed. That's what I'm saying to you.

Unknown said...

i almost bought that alaris over a year ago on ebay. it ended up selling for less than 3 grand, by quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

Say what you want, Alberto is totally rocking that skinny tie.

If he actually were a Marrano...oh, the mind boggles. The sexiest Jewish accountant on the planet.

Anonymous said...

The lamp metaphors were damn funny.

Asterisk said...


Thanks. Maybe some others can curate some creative Snobspeak sentences as well. Sure would be fun to read.


Disgruntl Ed. said...

Very nice. However:


This hyphen business has gone too far.

But the real outrage is the post-Seuss bicycle decoration abomination. Some infant missed the point entirely and grew up all wrong.

Gosh, this comes by way of my head:

"We like our bike. It is made for three. Our Mike sits up in back you see. We like our Mike, and this is why. Mike does all the work when the hills get high."

Salty Seattle said...

I must say the image of the New York-rainy day just feels like home.
[tear rolls gently..]

Cities look so beautiful in the grayscale..

Me said...

did u add the yellow arrow or is it on the cardboard box in the back ground?

northtexan said...

Hairway and fingerbang. Can't wait for 2010. What a year it will be!

Fierce Panties said...

I like to go big on the quill, but I can't grow a beard.

And now I'm a little miffed that I missed the good deal on the $1000 Caradice luggage set.

Fierce Panties said...

Everytimeways that I read an RTMS post about big quills I run to the work station and drop the bars. I rub it 1/2 a ride until my only titanium component, an intramedullary nail, starts to feel as incompatible like a Campy corkscrew and a vintage Shimano Merlot.

Fierce Panties said...

I've noticed an interesting trend of fixsters rockin' deraillers on non-crappy bikes in my burg. Is this spreading elsewhereways? Are hipters jumping ship before the Alpaca Lips?

Fierce Panties said...

I measured all the bikes, and I found only one quill taller than the headtube, one was equal, and the others were shorter.

RANTWICK said...

If bike accessories could fight, my SKS Chromoplastic fenders would kick the living sh.. snot out of any helmet on the market. Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Que la chupen y sigan chupando.
All you haters suck my finger.

captain said...

A 10 speed drivetrain with a triple crank? So, eh... how does that 1/3rd of a gear work? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh Lance! Oh! LAAAANCE! Yes, that race is yours and yours only, who the hell did that other guy think he was, winning YOUR race?

This Contadorfella is all news to me, having seen the Tour on Versus I was left with the impression that Lance won the whole thing. Phil and Paul brought to you ommercial free courtesy of Shysler!

Anonymous said...

@captain: 10 speed cassette/triple crank