Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Motivation and Litigation: The American Way

Depending on where you live, you may be experiencing the cold, snow, and snotcicles associated with what meteorologists call "winter." Furthermore, if you're one of those people who rides a bike but really doesn't enjoy it (or what some people call "a roadie"), you may be searching for "motivation" to continue riding your bike until we reach the "woosie"-coddling months of spring--at least that's what various cycling-related websites and periodicals seem to think. Fortunately, these same publications are ready to come to your aid with advice to help you through this difficult time. Here's just one example:

I have no problem finding "motivation." I just enjoy riding my bike, yet at the same time I have no real problem not riding my bike if weather conditions are such that riding a bike becomes totally unpleasant. I'm not necessarily saying "If it rains take the bus," but I am saying that if there's 19 feet of snow on the ground and people are dying then it's perfectly fine to stay in and watch a movie.

Still, I am fascinated with the literature of cycling motivation, and the one above was a good example. And while all of these reasons were fairly ambiguous, I found this one by far the most vexing:

Legitimize Your Training

Another reason to stay motivated is that it makes training seem more important. When you are motivated, your workouts take on a greater meaning. They are part of a bigger picture.

What you do defines who you are, and doing what you want to do makes your life seem like it has more meaning. There is no need to go to your Facebook page to look for "existence verification". You are out there doing what you want to do and it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks.

What does that even mean? Have I just discovered the secret of Fred-dom? Is the notion that "training" is somehow different than just riding a bike what gives people the will to live? This is a frightening thought. If anything, I think anybody searching for "motivation" to ride through the winter is in serious need of some good de-motivation. To that end, here are my four tips:

1) Your workout is meaningless. Do you enjoy doing hill repeats at the crack of dawn on 20 degree days? Great, if that's your idea of fun then by all means keep doing it. But don't confuse it with an activity that has "meaning," because there's no "bigger picture," and your "workout" is about as meaningful as a dog humping somebody's leg.

2) If you're looking for motivation to ride, don't ride. You're supposed to be having fun. Needing "motivation" to ride your bike is like needing porn to have sex. Your desire to ride should be self-sustaining, like your erection.

3) Repeat these words to yourself: "Fuck it, it's too cold outside." The "sponsor" your club team cajoled into letting you put their name on your jersey couldn't care less how you do in the races nobody's going to be watching this coming spring. In fact, they'd prefer it if you just left them alone. If you don't feel like riding then do something else until you do feel like riding.

4) Stop watching your weight. Do you enjoy riding your bike in winter? Me too. So just keep in mind that seals and sea lions have a layer of fat for a reason, and you should not be drinking Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmos all winter in some misguided attempt to stay fit. Here's what happens to people who don't gain weight in winter: they "motivate" themselves to ride by starving themselves and riding when they don't want to, they get sick right away because their bodies are weak and defenseless, they keep riding anyway with their Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo-sipping friends because they all need to stay "motivated," and they spend the entire winter in pacelines, inhaling each others mucus mist, re-infecting each other, and generally being sick and miserable. So please, drink lots of beer, it's the best thing for you.

Of course, the exceptions to all of this are professional bike racers, because unlike us it's their job to ride even when they don't want to. And yes, like any employee, sometimes these professional bike racers need incentives and motivation in order to keep doing what they're doing. For example, one way a directeur sportif might motivate a rider is by putting an eagle on his jersey that will bite off his "pants yabbies" if he slows down:

Yes, it's the 2012 Team Saxo Bank kit, as modeled by Alberto Contador:

Shown here giving his best "a bird of prey is currently threatening my genitals" grimace:

I can't wait until this kit is available for sale, because the eagle should look particularly menacing when it's being stretched by all those protruding Fred bellies. In any case, I guess in the world of pro cycling couture scary birds are the new fake "six pack:"

Of course, Team Saxo Bank will also be riding the Specialized S-Works UltraWhateverWhoCares SL8 McLaren Vulva, and not the Volagi Liscio, which is made by a company Specialized is currently suing:

Here's a closer look at the bike:

According to the Mercury News, Specialized are accusing the two former employees who designed this bike of stealing "trade secrets" in order to do so, and as far as I can tell those Specialized trade secrets include:

--Using the color red in conjunction with the color black;

--Using a logo comprised of the first letter of the brand name;

--Employing pointlessly swoopy crabon tubes and ascribing mystical ride qualities to them;

--Affixing a high price tag to the bike;

--Equipping the bike with two wheels, handlebars, and a saddle.

In particular, Specialized claim the Volagi Liscio is a ripoff of their "Roubaix" bikes:

Specialized alleges in court documents that Choi and Forsman schemed to design a bike to rival their line of "Roubaix" bikes, which can sell for as much as $11,000 and is described as one of the company's "most significant sources of revenue."

The "Roubaix" line is of course Specialized's line of comfortable long-distance road bikes, and every bicycle aficionado knows that Specialized invented the concept of the comfortable road bike. Indeed, nobody had ever conceived of such a thing before. For that matter, Specialized also invented the concept of the long road ride (Specialized v. Rapha, settled for undisclosed amount), and the pneumatic tire (Sinyard v. Dunlop, 1887), and the road that goes from one city to another (lawsuit pending against Roman Empire), and the wheel (Sinyard v. A. Caveman, 1,000,000BC). So it's no surprise that Specialized should also take aim at a couple of upstarts who were audacious enough to market and sell a safety bicycle (Sinyard v. Lawson, 1876).

Oh, and Roubaix, France? You can rest assured they'll pay dearly for stealing that name, Specialized will see to that.

Needless to say, the guys from Volagi are indignant. Said Robert Choi of Volagi to Velo-whatever-they're-called-now:

“He’s saying ‘this is my fucking bike,’ just because the bike is red. They think they own the red color. I’m pretty sure SRAM has a component group called Red.”

“We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this. We spent more money on the lawsuit than the entire gross revenue of the bikes we’ve sold. Our houses are mortgaged. (Specialized) spent a million and a half dollars. For a million and a half dollars they should have bought our company,” Choi said.

I'm sure the lawsuit against SRAM is pending. Choi also had this to say to the Mercury News:

"We thought it was the American way for us to quit the company and go on our way. They just didn't like that we had a successful bike, perhaps. And they thought we would just cave."

Actually, he got that wrong. Until a few decades ago the American way was to work for a company until you die, but now the American Way is for a huge company to use the money it saves by making things overseas to sue its competitors out of existence.

Meanwhile, Specialized's Beloved Leader Mike Jong-Sinyard also made cycling news recently when he took on Amazon:

And in turn the cycling accessory brands who collude with them:

Participating brands include Pearl Izumi, Shimano, Louis Garneau, Giro, Bell, Fizik, Sidi and CatEye.

In other words, every company that isn't Specialized. And in so doing, Sinyard also too the opportunity to taunt a company that actually had the audacity to sue Specialized:

In related news of brands that leverage the IBD while simultaneously undercutting them, Easton-Bell Sports dropped the fruitless suit it filed against Specialized before Interbike. Was this legal maneuvering just carried out for publicity?

Here's what that lawsuit was about:

Bell Sports alleges that Specialized threatened to withhold high-end bicycle inventory from dealers carrying Giro cycling shoes and that some dealers were told they would not receive their year-end purchase volume incentives or manufacturer rebates if they continued to sell Giro cycling shoes. As a result, Specialized dealers who carry Giro shoes have canceled existing orders, retracted on verbal product orders or asked Giro to take back inventory on their shelves, the suit documents stated.

“A line has been crossed,” said Greg Shapleigh, senior vice president of Giro and Easton Cycling. “They’ve stopped simply providing financial incentives for retailers who support their brand and their business to telling them what they can and can’t buy even if they’ve met the obligations of the agreement they signed with Specialized initially. Retailers can’t buy the products they think are right for their business and consumers don’t in many cases have all the choices that they should have. All we want is the ability to sell our footwear to dealers who want to carry it.”

Whew! Between filing and defending against lawsuits, Specialized's legal fees must be astronomical. I wonder how they pay for it all:

(All You Freds Finance My Litigiousness)

Anyway, it's tempting to portray Specialized as a new-age Red Menace determined to gain a monopoly on the entire pursuit of cycling, but the truth is they're genuine innovators, and they would never use someone else's idea:

That grip looks pretty familiar to me, but I can't remember where I've seen it. It could have been on some douchey blogger's custom mountain bike. Incidentally, numerous commenters on yesterday's post took issue with my sublimely comfy grip choice for some reason, which inspired me to revise my New Yorker Caption Contest submission thusly:

The fact that people think they're dorky only makes me love them more.

Lastly, a number of people have forwarded me the following bike:

Which will be used on an expedition to the South Pole:

The cutting-edge polar exploration technology includes futuristic components such as a Brooks saddle:

The saddle is made of extra-tough organic leather and copper rivets. "A plastic seat would shatter like glass in Antarctica's sub-zero weather," says Fortune.

Power Grips:

The metal cage pedals are designed with power straps specially set to fit Skelton's snow boots. This will allow her to pedal with full 360-degree power as if she was in standard cycling shoes and pedals.

And a fetching red, black, and white "colorway," which will doubtless have Specialized's attorneys calling in short order.

They discovered the south pole, you know.


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