Wednesday, September 4, 2019

New Outside Column, And More!

As a semi-professional bike blogger and semi-competent parent I'm in a strange place at the moment: summer is, practically speaking, over, and yet school has not yet begun, which means I'm in a sort of limbo.  This is by way of explaining why I have not yet formally announced the rules for my upcoming Jones SWB Bike Giveaway Extravaganza.  But I will be doing so shortly.

In the meantime, here's my latest column for Outside, which is about why you shouldn't ride like an asshole:

Sure it's annoying when people step out into the bike lane, but shouting "Bike lane!" at them instead of, like, feathering your brakes and altering your path slightly is really the pinnacle of douchery.

Speaking of summer, as I mentioned I ended up bringing my new-to-me "forever bike" along with me on vacation, and I'm pleased that I did:

Not only was it ideal for this sort of thing:

But was also sufficient for bacon portaging:

And for some gravel road exploration:

Though at one point I did get in over my head and had to turn around:

We've been vacationing in this same spot for the past four years, but we're never there for very long so while I'm learning my way around it's a slow process akin to picking up "Moby Dick" once a year and reading it for a few hours.  Certainly the Jones would have allowed me to press further, and the more familiar I become with the area the more likely it is I'll choose that bike to accompany me.

Still, as I mentioned, I've grown extremely fond of my vintage Fred sled, and our time away together only served to strengthen the relationship.  Indeed, my only regret is not replacing the worn Campagnolo Ergo hoods before I left, as they were beginning to hang off the levers like oversized hoodies.  Instead, I installed new ones immediately upon my return, and it's like riding a new bike.  So I guess what I'm saying is, if you've been pining for a new bike, just get some new brake hoods and you'll be 90% of the way there.

Of course, the ultimate would have been taking both the Fred sled and the Jones, but I was on vacation and I wanted to keep it simple.  Also, I brought the kids' bikes with me, even though they invariably (and understandably) choose lake time over saddle time.  The Saris SuperClamp EX handled two bikes out back with no problem:

And the runt of the litter rode up top:

Getting the roof rack to work with the tiny bike wasn't as straightforward as it looks, but by reversing a few things I made it happen--though the two (2) bells and the penguin horn made mincemeat of my fuel economy.

I should also mention that on one rainy day we did take a day trip to the New York State Museum in Albany, our glorious capital, which was even more interesting than I expected it to be--and it even had some token bike content!

I actually set off the alarm when I leaned in for a closer look:

Hey, it's no Classic Cycle, but what New Yorker wouldn't dork out over a historical century ride rest stop list?

Here's a closer look:

Roughly five seconds of popular search engine jockeying reveals what at least one of those establishments looked like at the time:

And just think, they did it all without gravel bikes.

And that wasn't the only museum we visited, either.  Did you know there's a replica of the Star Trek set in Ticonderoga?  Well we didn't, but we stumbled upon it while availing ourselves of the local laundromat:

I'm not even remotely a Trekkie, but my elder son and I took the tour anyway, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it:

Sure, I could have taken my son to visit Fort Ticonderoga right down the road, but Star Trek is obviously a more significant component of our national identity.

Anyway, upon returning to the city I pivoted to my plastic bike and partook in the final club race of the season, which I'm pleased to report I passed:

This bike has just a fraction of the personality of the "forever bike" (though that could be because, apart from a longer stem, it's set up exactly the way it emerged from the box), and when I'm setting out for a road ride I choose the latter almost exclusively.  Nevertheless, the plastic bike is a truly stupendous park racer.  I doubt that it's meaningfully faster than the "forever bike," but when you hop onto a bike that's probably four pounds lighter it sure feels that way.  Also, while I adore the ker-THUNK of Campagnolo 10 speed (not sure the 11 and 12 speed groups have the same ker-THUNK, I have yet to try them), batting at a brand-new Dura Ace shifter is so fast and smooth it leaves you wondering what the point of electronic shifting is.  (I loved the Di2 on the Tan Tenovo, but I also don't miss it at all.)

Then, after reading James Huang's story on Engin in CyclingTips, I hopped aboard my own:

Apart from the builder, this bike has virtually nothing in common with the bike in the story.  Also, what with its primitive 135mm spacing and QR axles, "narrow" tires, rigid fork, and one-speed drivetrain, it's hopelessly dated and wildly off-trend.

In other words, it's perfect.


Anonymous said...

BRAVO Snobby - The Pedestrian Is Always Right. Think about when YOU are walking - do you want some a-hole barreling past yelling "Outta my way!" or someone riding slowly, perhaps ringing a bell to let you know they'd like to pass?

HDEB said...

"The Pedestrian is Always Right" and "Slow the eff down" -- beautiful, simple advice. The Engin is the coolest bike Tan Tenovo owns : )

Anonymous said...

"So if you don’t cut your fellow bipeds some slack while you’re riding then you’re no better than the spoiled motorists who become apoplectic at the very sight of a cyclist in their path."

Don't become what you hate. The same vehicular bullying that put you out of sorts on the road is NOT to be poured out all over pedestrians, or others using the road, like some kind of emotional diarrhea. Just because you got bullied does not excuse you bullying anyone else on the road.

theEel said...


Anonymous said...

Welcome back

I was nearly killed by a cyclist while pedestrianing this morning. Not really, but it was enough to raise my heartbeat for a nanosecond.

Don't be a douche

Ride On

Die free said...

Welcome back. You've been missed.

Beam me up, Scotty said...

I hope that this is what you heard when the doors opened at the Star Trek exhibit.

And agreed - slow down and if you want to race get a license.

Pist Off said...

Almost every cyclist is guilty of shitty behavior toward others somewhere, at some time. So please, if you ride a bike, accept that you can be wrong. Slow the F down should be in the front of our minds when around pedestrians. This applies double to the asshole enduro bros on every Colorado hiking trail. Bikes on trails are supposed to yield to hikers and equestrians in Every Situation, Mr. Half-Lid-with-Goggles. Uphill users have the right-of-way, you damn Strava fucks. Within ten years I expect my local trails to be closed to bikes given the cyclist behavior I’ve seen this summer.

Anonymous said...

Campy's 10 speed ergo was/is the pinnacle of the road groupset and everyone should have just stopped, realized perfection was at hand, and adopted it. Every change to anyone's groupset (shimano, SRAM, and Campy) since that time was/is just change for changes' sake and not an improvement at all.
NO YOU DON'T NEED 11+ speed cassettes.
thank you,

Unknown said...

I have been reading your columns at Outside Online for a long time, but I just discovered this website here. I would have told you that your columns there are excellent and I almost always agree with you, but there is no comment section at Outside Online, so I am telling you now.

mikeweb said...

Couldn't agree more with the cycling speed advice. When riding in the city, I keep it to 10-15 on the streets, but on the big wide avenues I allow myself to go faster.

Also: Don't block crosswalks when sitting at a red light - not even a part of it. Don't ride on sidewalks. Don't ride the wrong way - this is especially dangerous for pedestrians only looking where traffic is supposed to coming from on one way streets. If you want pedestrians to see you at night as opposed to walk right out in front of you - USE A FRONT LIGHT (preferably a white one) - remember, they don't have headlights, so your reflectors are useless for them. At least try to smile and be friendly.

Happy hump-day y'all.

1904 Cadardi said...

Pretty much yes on all points. Except the Campy thing. Shimano just works better for longer.

leroy said...

Welcome back.

My dog says he doesn't know how you type all those words.

But that may be because he prefers to dictate.

BikeSnobNYC said...

1904 Cadardi

I agree with you on that--though I wonder if it's still true. I don't seem to hear about 11 speed Campy needing to be rebuilt regularly or anything like that.

--Tan Tenovo

wishiwasmerckx said...

Oh, drat!

We are not launching into a Campy v. Shimano debate, are we?

Because that shit will go on for weeks...

As for me, I have bikes with Campy Super Record and Shimano Dura-Ace. They both perform impeccably and with very little actual difference.

If I am honest with myself, my preference for Campy is probably more due to Euro-centric bias than any actual functionality.

Anonymous said...

"Campy wears in. Shimano wears out." Seem to remember hearing that somewhere. Never owned Campy myself, and I doubt I ever will*. Damned if I see why you would even want elebenteen cogs. Seven, with 32 teeth on the big cog always served admirably. And barcons, friction, please.

Hard-earned fourth degree black belt in retrogrouchery, dontchaknow.

Some guy from upstate said...

The State Museum? You never call when you're in town ...

Did you have the snoblings compare and contrast the actual Adirondacks to the Adirondack exhibit? I don't remember bicycle content, but it's been a few years (basically since the kids were smaller). I may need to stop in, maybe when the snow starts to fly next month.

Anonymous said...

Back when I was an ass-hat know-it-all at a bike shop we offered a satisfaction guarantee. This was when "pro" quality bikes were built up to order rather than yanked out of Chinese cardboard boxes. If you didn't like the frame or groupset you chose, we'd swap it out for what you liked. Changed a few frames over the years but only ONE groupset - from Dura Ace to Record...and we told the guy he wouldn't like Shimano, but he wouldn't listen.

huskerdont said...

Reading the campy/shimano/sram debates are good times. I don't much care and will ride whatever. I'll even ride a fixie, but I do love my 11 speeds, and once or twice in the mountains on my 10 speed I've run out of gears. I survived anyway.

It's not my job to police other cyclists regarding their behavior, so I hereby resolve that it is also not my job to police jaywalking pedestrians. I have in the past muttered the odd annoyance aloud when trying to get through a phalanx of jaywalkers trying to prevent me from making the light.

Anonymous said...

what kind of "museum" displays the non drive side of a bicycle?

Beck the biker said...

Glad to hear your choice of vacation bike worked out. Early mornings on a road bike at a vacation destination can be idyllic. The more years I ride, the more i become convinced that a road bike with widish slick tires is arguably the most versatile bike configuration across all manner of terrain. Sheldon Brown wrote a little muse on how much traction he got tooling around trails on skinny tires. The road:mountain=gravel mashup is a vaunted attempt to reinvent the wheel that didn't need changing in the first place. LR brake bikes with fat rubber beneath can traverse paths pave to gravel with speed afoot and confidence 3 inch minus gravel needs little more than a light touch on the handlebars(and bear spray if merited).

Snob's Rabbi said...

About that bacon picture, can you see me when you return from your vacation?

BikeSnobNYC said...


Why would running out of gears in the mountains be a 10-speed problem? Your low gear is your low gear, 11 speeds just means smaller jumps in between, no?

--Tan Tenovo

1904 Cadardi said...

Shimano made indexed shifting work before anyone else. Eventually Campagnolo caught up, then SRAM entered the fray. All three work incredibly well these days and I don't hear any complaints from my riding buddies about any of them. Now it's more about what lever motion you're used to. It's a good time to be alive and riding bikes.

BikeSnobNYC said...

1904 Cadardi,

It's true. Plus we're at what may turn out to be a particularly fortunate juncture in history in that all three are still offering mechanical, electronic, rim, *and* disc brake options--not to mention they'll all accept each-other's 11-speed wheels. (Yes, I realize Campy's gone 12, but still.) Invariably some of those options will start to go away and the accidental cross-compatibility will disappear as they each continue to add cogs in their own way.

--Tan Tenovo

huskerdont said...

Because that one goes to 11?

But yeah, a cassette with a larger cog could have done the job too, although I'm not sure if I can get a larger cog to fit with that derailleur. It's just that when you're about to plonk over sideways and kick the lever for a gear that's not there, you want another gear.

wishiwasmerckx said...

I'm still confused about how you take the family to Florida to see Bubbie and Zayde and end up in a museum in upstate New York.

That Star Trek transporter shit must really work.

Who knew?

STG said...

Can confirm that 11 speed Campagnolo does indeed ker THUNK into gear. All 11 speed shifters use ball detents and diaphragm springs rather than the "rebuildable" g-springs. The shifters can still be disassembled for cleaning/lubing/repair, and parts kits are available, but they do not require regular servicing like 8/9/10 speed levers. The shifting action is very consistent between new and worn levers because of the new mechanism.

I really believe in stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks but I really take issue with allowing pedestrians to have the right of way within cycling infrastructure. Being kind is good but if we allow pedestrians to take over the bike infrastructure then it doesn't work as bike infrastructure.

I half and half cycle and walk to work to mix things up and in both modes I'm overwhelmingly in greater conflict with drivers than with cyclists or peds. When I do have a ped / bike 'conflict' its ped-me skipping a half step or bike-me moving over 8 inches to create the room I need. It requires a mixture of awareness and realistic expectations (its a bike lane, I should expect a bike to be there / its a crosswalk, I should expect a ped to be there).

I'm never more fearful than when I am crossing a busy intersection on foot among turning cars. There are a couple intersections near my apartment that I will walk out of my way to avoid.

The one place where I really, really reject the idea of cyclists always yielding to peds is in the parks. Yes, there are peak times in central park where you are a fool to ride there, but I also don't condone complete tourist chaos. However on a weeknight in prospect park, I would appreciate some courtesy from runners and peds.

A runner gets to enjoy an unbroken loop in the park, however a cyclist has to negotiate runners and peds in crosswalks every few hundred yards along the loop. If I see someone crossing with the light, they get to go. But please, please, let us get our workout in. A ped or runner only needs to yield on entry and exit into the main loop. Cyclists have to constantly break our rhythm for you. Pay attention and cross when its clear, then zone out and enjoy the 95% of the rest of the park however you want. Please treat the park loop as the road that it is. The park loop is for recreation, don't judge me for wanting to ride fast as my form of recreation. Please don't let your child do circles on a razor scooter at the base of the hill.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a robot, but I'm willing to experiment after a couple of drinks.

Kindergarden Basics said...

Be nice to others even if it messes up your strava rankings

Sobiewan said...

Thanks for your "Be Nice to Pedestrian's" piece in Outside. It was a good reminder for me.