Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It Takes A Curmudgeon To Know A Curmudgeon

Yesterday I mentioned how a bunch of hurt-in-the-butt suspension bicycle owners on Facebook were aghast at my suggestion that it's possible to ride a rigid bike, (I guess your butt gets very sensitive when you coddle it with suspension all the time), and now it appears that Bicycling magazine's Facebook is under siege by a cadre of "bike industry farts:"
Evidently these are the "bike industry farts" in question:
And these are the Bicycling staffers moving the magazine and society forward:
Anyway, picking your way through Facebook comments is about as pleasant as pulling thorns out of your scranus after falling into a briar patch, but as far as I can tell what happened was the farts took issue with this article:

Upon which I cast my expertly critical eye and found to be basically sound, inasmuch as it's essentially a bunch of people from a bunch of bike shops offering their perspective on their customers:

Considering this is the same magazine that blew the lid off the poop doping phenomenon, I could find little to get upset about.  Plus, I'd argue a "listicle" about how to shop in a bike shop is valid for two reasons:

1) Even in our age of kinder, gentler bike shops, walking into one can still be a stressful proposition.  Indeed, even as a "bike industry fart" myself (or at least a bike media industry fart) I still feel the same way walking into a bike shop as I do when I go to the doctor in that I know I'm about to be shamed for something;

2) It's 2017 and everyone shops online now, so walking into an actual store is becoming positively archaic.  It's the retail equivalent of installing tubulars, so in this sense alone a primer is probably warranted.

Evidently however the patriarchy does not share my opinion, and while I confess it's not productive to make inferences based solely on physical appearance I must say that I've never in my life seen four people who look more like they should be wearing helmet mirrors:

Anyway, as for the nature of their objections, they seemed to involve speculation about the current staff:

Tom Petrie Ray Keener, Bicycling (or, as I call it "11 ways to count to 10" because of their insufferable and incessant listicles) is hardly about bicycling. It appears mainly written by Manhattan-based eating-disordered non-cyclists who couldn't get a job at "Seventeen" magazine. With a few notable exceptions (e.g., Matt Phillips, Patrick Brady) it's an embarrassment. I recently unsubscribed. I couldn't take it any longer.

(Youv'e got to love the characterization of a magazine staff based in Emmaus, PA as a bunch of urban sophisticates.)

Distaste for the accompanying photo:

John S. Allen Just what is supportive of young females in bicycling about showing one in a jaw-droppingly stupid pose, grinding chain dirt into the armpit of her shirt? Emily O'Brien, what do you think of this please?

And accusations of ageism and reverse racism and sexism:

John Schubert Matt — you'd be surprised at how many grey-haired guys know useful information that 20-somethings don't know. Not all of us are here to defend our own egos.
And really, if sexism is wrong in discriminating against young women, it’s wrong in discriminating against old men.
Here’s a story about age and gender discrimination: Some years ago, I participated in a review of some bicycle facilities in New York. We found that one facility, if you obeyed the traffic signals, would only allow an average speed of six mph (and that’s in uncontested traffic conditions). That’s unlikely to generate much compliance with the signals. We found other stuff, good and bad. We reported on it.
So a few years after that, I found that some know-it-all had decided we were all irrelevant because we were old white guys. And published a picture of us, comparing it with a picture of Mia Birk of Alta Planning. And said how much greater Mia is, because she’s an attractive younger female, and we weren’t.
Birk is known for defending bicycle facilities that cause bicyclists to get crushed underneath turning trucks whose drivers never saw them. (Hint: Google “truck bicycle blind spot” for some important information.) Most of the people saying, “No, don’t build this crap” are old white guys.
But our viewpoints should be ignored, because we’re old and white.

All because of a short piece on how to walk into a bike shop and not act like a douchebag.

We are clearly living in extraordinarily petty times.

I mean sure, it's kind of a silly photo since nobody works on a bike with the chainring under their armpits:

But inasmuch as it's clearly a stock photo who really cares?

Plus, it doesn't really obviate anything in the story.  Maybe if it was an article entitled "How To Work On Your Bike In The Proper Fashion And Without Getting Grease In Your Armpit" then the outrage would be warranted.

Anyway, as someone who has spent most of his blogging career mocking the behavior of people younger than him, I can assure that it's best to surrender to the younger generation before you devolve completely into Old Man Yelling At Cloud:*

*(Unless you happen to have my razor sharp wit and finely honed writing skills, of course, but how many people do?)

None of this precludes sharing with people the benefit of your experience, but by the time you've had a colonoscopy you should probably learn to temper that with a bit of open-mindedness, because apart from a few absolute truths our culture is fluid, and if you don't learn how to flow along with it you're nothing but a stick in the mud.

Hey, that's not to say I don't make fun of listicles, because I totally do:
Then again I also write my share listicles so I feel perfectly entitled.

And while we're on the subject of bike storage, I should mention that the only bike I store inside is my Brompton, but only because when folded it is roughly the size of a large cat.  This is because I hate living with bikes inside my home almost as much as I hate living with my cat--and believe me, when it comes to keeping bikes inside I've paid my dues.  Yep, I've done it all:

--Bike right inside the door leaning against the wall;
--Bike hanging off wall hook;
--Bike hanging from ceiling hook;
--Bike outside in common area causing fire hazard;
--Bike assuming pride of place beneath mantel during that brief period when I had a mantel.

At my absolute worst I not only had bikes both on hooks and leaning against wall, but I also had an off-site storage unit and was withdrawing and depositing bicycles on a seasonal basis.  Storage space is by far the dumbest thing in the world you can buy, because you will never, ever get rid of it.  If you're thinking of renting a storage space do yourself a favor and take up smoking instead, it's much easier to kick.

And now you have the benefit of my considerable years.  If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna toss my bike under my armpit and service the drivetrain.


  1. vsk said ...

    Maybe Podio after just comenting on yesterday's!

    It's in the Mod's hands now !!


  2. Good to see you stirred the pot. I like it.

  3. Another podium lost to administrative time lag?

  4. Whatever happened to well-rounded people?

  5. Top ten, maybe; I don't know, but I feel lucky.

  6. That chain looks pretty dry anyway.

  7. Can I say that something was a good post and that i found it hard to care about any of it? Well, it's true.

    It's funny though, the Cosmo jab, because bike magazines and women's magazines have a lot in common in that the only new content they can cover ad nauseous is stuff you can buy. Outside of that, it seems they have the same problem. "10 sex tricks to try during football season" is as dusty a topic as "how to fuel your ride." Trying to sell me on folding gravel e-bikes is as uphill a battle as high waisted culottes (which are actually great for cycling in, but I digress). They take relatively simple things that could be covered in a book; the premise doesn't really support a subscription. Buy Just Ride or the Enlightened Cyclist (a good guest plugs her host) or you get a copy of The Little Dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior and you're set, right?

  8. Mostly say hurray for our side

  9. 2018 Outolook: People still favoring cranks to rotate their chainrings! And florals for spring!

  10. Those guys...


  11. My dog informs me that I look a lot more like the curmudgeon cadre than the Emmaus urbanistas and, for once, I have to admit he has a valid point.

    But as for Bicycling's direction, I think the curmudgeons are misguided.

    Friedman's piece in 2016 about Kathryn Bertine and depression is insightful.

    Gloria Liu's piece this morning on exorcising demons is moving.

    Moreover, any article about how not to be a jerk in a bike shop should be welcome by all.

    These are about cycling - even if they don't fall into the "how-to-fix-a-flat-in-23-easy-steps" category.

    And as for Mr. Petrie's dishing on writers who couldn't get a job at Seventeen, that's not much of an insult and sounds a bit like Tucker Carlson's ill-considered dismissal (stick to Arianna Grande's thigh high boots) of 26 year old Lauren Duca who has been turning out brilliant political commentary at Teen Vogue.

    Good writing is where you find it.

  12. dag it - i KNEW armpit/chainring girl was too good to be true! (..or be a bike mechanic..)

  13. Oh come on...can't everybody SEE that not only is she adjusting the centering of the wheel between the chain-stays, but she's also CLEANING the chain AND ring at the same time with her shirt? They've always said women are better multi-taskers than men. You GO girl!

  14. the picture to me suggests shaving my armpits or not wearing sleeveless shirts. will go with the latter.

  15. And she's also checking the tire-tread for thorns with her OTHER hand. I bet she gets good tips at the shop with service like that!

  16. Road Bike Action mag is not better and in some areas worse than Bicycling. Can't think of any cycling related mags worth spending the money.

  17. Three ways to drive your mechanic nuts?????......I can only think of one.......Put a steering wheel in his pants.

  18. With the exception of Patrick Brady? Please

  19. "I never want to be in the middle of an old man versus young women spat, that's not Fabian."

  20. janinedm … your excellent (and VERY amusing) comments actually give unexpected hope to the possibility of cycling-related sanity …

  21. Before writing a listicle, you should write a Test Listicle, because it sounds like Testicle. - masmojo

  22. Listicles are so passe. Taking advantage of the interactivity digital content provides and SurveyMonkey technology, all the cool online content outlets are publishing testicles.

  23. Your photoshop skills are commendable.

  24. High waisted culottes may be just the thing for next riding season. They can't be any sillier than what's popular now.

    The ten new MUST HAVE items for next season
    1. High waisted culottes
    2. Corduroy EVERYTHING

  25. Lieutenant ObliviousOctober 17, 2017 at 5:19 PM

    Here are my BikesnobNYC listicle suggestions-

    Your best season of commenting begins now!

    Train for your first comment in only 6 weeks!

  26. Leroy, those are some good articles! Also, what about making a microfiber shirt where you could clean your chain with your armpit? It's no worse than a smart phone bike bell.

    Also, I have word (and maybe this was counted in yesterday's comments) was that the pictures of the protest where they had the Mafia Lane etc signs was a joke. There really was an anti-bike lane protest, but the other thing was a satire of how dumb that is. 2017 truly sucks.

  27. This post brings up a very important and rarely discussed gender inequality.
    Those old white guys don't look attractive at all in their photos.

    Maybe that can be a new Bicycling article:
    Eight ways to seem attractive in your cycling profile pic!
    (Subtitled: Even if you're an old white asshole who's ruining the world!)

  28. A shed, just right for the stuff that is a pain to have in your living room, grows in Yonkers

  29. Come on, Snob. There is no group in America more discriminated against than rich, old white men and you know it. The yearly number of lynchings alone should be enough to convince you of the dire nature of their situation. This doesn't even get into the economic and social disadvantages of being an old, rich white dude.

  30. That generation of white guy was the most privileged class of human in the history of Earth.

  31. As an old white guy, I savor the reverent silence that greets my every utterance, born of deep experience and - what? Was I snoring again? Damn.

  32. bad boy of the southOctober 17, 2017 at 9:18 PM

    This oldster made it back to NC and boy,are my legs tired.

  33. Is Ray Keener drinking a Foster's while wearing a robe? He obviously has his finger on the pulse.

  34. Dior's little Dick is brilliant, for sure, but Vogue is worth the subscription because even the ads are Art. You've gotta love it. Specially Italian Vogue. Soooooo beautiful.

    Thank you, Leroy, for Exorcising Demons. Brilliant. #MeToo gained traction uberquickly because Every Single Woman knows some form of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault if not continually, then at some point in time. Of course ours is a rape culture. We're taught early and thoroughly. Blame it on religion. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Mo..... oh wait. No, she's just a quaint little fucking virgin.
    And Christianity isn't alone, either. The rest of em are equally evil.

    Did someone say Thigh High boots?? I love thigh high boots!! Mmmmmm Thigh Highs: Your lengthy guide to riding seven inches
    and I oh so hear you, snobberdoodums.
    The Bike House: Hey! Bikes are people, too!

  35. Freehub Mag - check it, worth it.

  36. bad boy of the southOctober 18, 2017 at 11:24 AM

    Oh,yeah, before I forget. I saw a couple of them whipper snappers wheelie ridin' in da Bronx by van cortlandt park near katonah ave,whilst doing a short visit back in the ol' neighborhood.

  37. Angry old white guys opposed to progress? Trying to return to the good old days when people listened to their views? Why does that ring a bell?

  38. "Devolve"? Look it up. You might as well write about breaks and peddles.

  39. Boston Driver,

    Third definition:

    :to degenerate through a gradual change or evolution The scene devolved into chaos.

    I'm describing a person degenerating with age, word is perfectly appropriate.

    But thanks for playing.

    --Wildcat Etc.

  40. I wonder if Rapha will introduce a line of high-waisted culottes? As an old white man (well, middle-aged, but definitely white and a man, so however that all works out. I can't keep track anymore.), I'm not sure if I can pull off the look, but if it's on a Bicycle list who am I to fight it?


  41. http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/making-some-adjustments-to-her-bike-royalty-free-image/497154431

    That link will show you more images of the bespectacled surprisingly clean bike mechanic.

    I know Emily O'Brien, Emily O'Brien is a friend of mine, this model is no Emily O'Brien.

  42. beyond any rational excuse i'll comment anyway indeed... nice looking glasses wearing armpit posing wrench plying wenches are far superior to any grizzled old fart collection of bicycle fredricks... and shit...
    when confronted with some confusing but tasty treats always choose the girl with glasses...
    ciao bello, and shit...

    this just in from robot headquaters... click/buzz...

  43. Hey! What's wrong with helment mirrors?!

  44. I let them know that I thought the chainwheel-armpit photo was stupid.
    Snob, you're not on your game. Because THAT is what you shoulda piled on. "This photo was so silly that these old guys came out of nowhere to criticize it." And then offered your own tastelessly condescending nonsense.

  45. Unknown,

    Post is a week old, move on.

    —Wildcat Etc.

  46. The young vibrant editors you adore all said, "The chainwheel armpit photo was stupid, but since we bought the photo instead of shooting it ourselves, you shouldn't criticize it."
    And then it got nasty. Lee Atwater nasty.
    To be clear -- if you read my comments on the article, I wrote two things. One, that the chainwheel armpit photo was stupid, regardless of who took it or who paid for it. Two, regarding the content of the article, I said, "Hey, since Rodale is being bought by Hearst and all these people are nervous because they are going to lose their jobs, you have to cut them some slack."
    For that, Flax and Pillip accused me of being sexist.
    Snark is one thing.
    Slander is another.
    You're talking to the first editor ever to appoint a female Olympic medalist as a contributing editor and publish her articles.
    Hell, back before the snob was born, I appointed a lesbian athlete to be sports editor of my college newspaper. That may get a yawn now, but at the time a lot of people thought it was an audacious act. Here's what it did: it equalized sports coverage for men's and women's athletics. Overnight. Not as cosmic an accomplishment as creating world peace, but you are free to call that woman today and ask her to assess my character.
    So no, I don't usually wear a helmet mirror, and I think the snob should go piss up a rope for piling on the 'sexist' slander.

  47. I hate to bruise your ego, but I don't pay attention to your NewYawk ego, and didn't see this until a few minutes ago. Someone called this column to my attention. I didn't look at the date.