Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Millennials Love This Tire Inflation Hack!

How many times have you attempted to inflate your rear tire only to sever your hand at the wrist?  Never?  Well Bicycling's got you covered anyway:

Evidently this is enough of a problem that they went through the trouble of making a video about it, and the solution apparently is to harness the awesome power of opposable thumbs:

Next up from Bicycling: How to lube your chain without getting your tongue caught in your drivetrain.

Of course I realize that as an old fuddy-duddy my insistence that impaling yourself on your cassette is a non-existent problem could be entirely due to the fact that I am totally out of touch.  See, now that everyone's riding gravel bikes with 10-52 cassettes and deep-section cray-bone rims there's now only like two millimeters of clearance between the valve stem and the low gear so maybe it is a real issue.  Also, one can't be expected to pay attention to proper valve orientation during inflation when one is so preoccupied with making sure the #whatpressureyourunning is accurate to the .000000th PSI.  It's not like the old days where you had a 19-tooth low gear and a rim with the depth of a fingernail and you just kept inflating your 21mm tire until the pump head blew off by iteslf.

Speaking of being out of it, despite a biblical streak of rainy weather I attempted to participate in a bicycle race on Saturday morning.  Since it was already raining when I woke up at an hour so grotesquely early I won't even share it I decided to spare the Renovo the indignity of getting dirty and instead rode my Milwaukee, even though it is outfitted for leisurely mixed-terrain rambling and not high-speed park-Fredding:

As I rolled down to the park in the rain I couldn't shake the feeling that my heart simply wasn't in it, and as the race began it became immediately clear that my legs weren't either, and I became detached from the pack as quickly and expeditiously as a bicycle pump head being flicked off the valve by a pair of thumbs in a Bicycling magazine instructional video.

Then I went to retrieve my bag, only to find it had been befouled from above by a bird:

By way of penance (and because it was still barely 6am) I figured I'd head over the GWB for some Fred mileage, but by the time I reached 125th Street I was more or less soaked through and the idea of heading anywhere but home was profoundly unsavory.  So I limped home wet and defeated, and in a way I suppose it was punishment from the Great Lobster On High for so flippantly writing about quitting bike races last week:

Though in fairness to myself at no point did I consider pulling a Siskevicius and riding eight laps in Central Park by myself.

Then on Sunday I did decide to head over the GWB to River Road, which turned out to be an incredibly stupid idea since it was the day of the Gran Fondo New York, aka "Attack of the Freds":

As the curator of a local cycling blog I should have known that, but those green jerseys have become so ubiquitous I now seem to automatically tune them out.  Therefore, I only realized it was going on when I was already on River Road and I saw signs informing me it was closed for a bicycle race.  Naturally I ignored these signs, but then a police officer fired up the ol' megaphone and told me the road was closed "unless you're in the race:"

For a moment I considered telling him I was in the race, but it seemed silly to run afoul of the law just for the sake of riding a road I've traveled roughly eleventy billion times before.  So I turned around and made my way back home via the High Bridge, thus capping off a weekend of extremely poor cycling decisions.

Finally, as you may or may not have seen, Outside got lots of ridicule for this tweet:

Naturally people were indignant over the notion that nobody's heard of Marianne Vos, but the fact is that most people haven't heard of Marianne Vos...or Peter Sagan, or really any current top-level cyclist for that matter.  Maybe they've heard of Chris Froome because he won the Tour de France and he's been in the news a lot for the salbutamol or the somnambulism or whatever, but that's about it.

So it doesn't seem so ridiculous to me, but what do I know, apart from everything?

Friday, May 18, 2018

It's Friday, Suckers!


Putting on my smugness cap for a moment, please allow me to foist upon you my latest entry in Reclaim, the Transportation Alternatives magazine:

As it happens, this very morning on my ride I watched someone in one of those douche-tastic Dodge Durango SRT "performance SUVs" complete with Blue Lives Matter sticker and rear windshield decal in the shape of an assault rifle with the word "Freedom" stenciled over it run a solid red light.  This is of course in no way remarkable, though for the first time it occurred to me that the nice thing about Blue Lives Matter stickers is that when you see one you know there's a 100% chance the driver is going to run the light, and a 75% chance he's going to fuck with you somehow.  (They should expand the stickers to say "Blue Lives Matter...But Crosswalks Don't" since that's where you'll usually find them parked.)

Speaking of my ride, it was lovely, thank you for asking:

One highlight was my artisanal lunch stop, during which a woman casually asked me to hold onto her dog while she got coffee:

On one hand, I was kind of put off by the cavalier attitude with which she approached me, as though she took it for granted that there was no way I was going to say anything but "yes."  In fact, she pretty much put the leash in my hand and walked away before I'd even processed what was happening.  On the other hand, I was just sitting there, and really there was no reason I couldn't hold onto the dog, so maybe I should just loosen up and be more accommodating.  I dunno, I guess it's sort of the human condition to go through life wondering "Does all of humanity suck or is it just me?"  As for the dog, it had little interest in me, and I don't even know anything about the dog as the owner didn't bother to introduce us properly and I was afraid to check its genitals to determine the gender.  You'd think she could have at least introduced us, like "Hello, would you mind looking after my dog, Philip?  He enjoys cream cheese and the smell of dirty laundry."  Nope.  Instead she just dumped the thing on me and we sat there awkwardly together like two patients in a gastroenterologist's waiting room.

Also noteworthy was that I saw the immediate aftermath of a really nasty car crash on Route 9 in Yonkers--so immediate that traffic was only just beginning to back up and a bystander was still in the middle of placing the 911 call.  Both cars were completely destroyed, and I'd be stunned if there were no serious injuries or worse.  The airbags had deployed in one vehicle, and the other vehicle appeared to predate airbags, which gave me a full view of a driver who appeared to be barely conscious.  Fortunately this was in sight of a hospital, and clearly there was nothing I could do except appreciate my own good fortune, and so I continued on as the sirens began to sound behind me.

And was only just as I sat down to start typing this that I saw the latest news:
Freedom indeed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Outside Column!

I've got a new Outside column live on the Internet, and the subject is something I know a lot about:

Making an effort is like sooo tacky.

Speaking of tacky, I mentioned sandals yesterday, which seems to have touched a bunion:

Anonymous said...

sandals are stupid. Fuck sandals. I hate them. Where is the rest of your shoe, loser! who died and made you Jesus? Spartacus called, and he wants his shoes back! sandals are for old people and best worn with knee high black dress socks. If you're going to look like some kind of friggin doofus you might as well go all in. Fuck sandals.

May 15, 2018 at 2:57 PM 

You have to wonder what happened to this person to make them feel so strongly about sandals.  Perhaps the commenter is former president George W. Bush:

Ah yes, everyone's a critic, for a little later someone weighed in on my brake levers:

Adam said...

Yoo Snob, what's up with that brake lever angle?

May 16, 2018 at 4:01 AM

Uh, I dunno, maybe I positioned them there because it's where my hands go and it's comfortable?

I mean I tried to rotate them vertically so they're pointing straight up at the sky but it just didn't work:

But sure, I guess I should straight out in front of me like the clutch on a Harley Davidson because that's the way your Trek Fuel came when you bought it.

I've learned a lot in nearly 11 years (!) of blogging, and one of them is that mountain bikers are way more petty than roadies.

Finally, nobody asked for it but it's here anyway.  Meet the Rapha saddle:

We’ve been designing the world’s finest bib shorts for years, yet we’ve never had control of their interaction with saddles. Until now.

Wait, what?  Does it force you to stand up and sit down at set intervals?

I don't know, but apparently Rapha are now pairing certain saddles with certain shorts like some kind of overbearing ass-sommelier:


A saddle for riders who need a lightweight build which is comfortable when riding hard, this race-ready model is the perfect partner for our Pro Team Bib Shorts II. Handmade entirely from carbon, it is designed for comfort at a minimum weight – the narrow version weighs 144 grams. For added pressure relief, a cutout version is available, weighing in even lighter at 141 grams.

They said "comfortable when riding hard."  Heh, heh.

But wait, there's more!


No two riders are the same, yet most saddles are designed and produced as if they were. To challenge conventional wisdom on saddle fitting, Rapha saddles are designed to work in tandem with our bib shorts. Using a few key pieces of information, our fit calculator recommends a saddle and bib short combination tailored to you.

Most saddles are designed like all riders are the same?  Please find me a saddle manufacturer that doesn't offer at least eleventy billion different saddle models--though granted their fit calculator seems more logical than the stupid Fi;z*i'k thing where you're supposed to divine your scranus animal:

Oh I see some bull alright...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Surf N' Turf

You'll be pleased to know that during a little upstate getaway this past weekend I finally found my new bicycle:

It was a bargain at $2,200:

Though of course I talked the shopkeeper up to three grand because buying expensive things makes me feel special.  You'll also note that it's a "signed edition," and while I have no idea by whom it was signed, this only contributes to its mystique.  Anyway, while the rest of you suckers pay city prices for your vintage wares, I'm upstate finding the real bargains.

Speaking of artisanal bikes, this past Friday I indulged in a ride on my hand-curated singlespeed mountain bicycle:

Not only that, but I did so after riding a bicycle with those curly-type handlebars like they use in the Tour de France earlier that morning.  Doubling up like that is something I hadn't done for quite awhile, and there are few things more satisfying than chasing a road ride with a mountain bike ride.  It's basically the cycling equivalent of ordering the surf and turf platter.  Cunningham Park in Queens is also an exceptionally enjoyable place to ride a singlespeed, and probably the most fun place in the whole city to ride a bicycle.  Sure, you won't get to justify your overwrought suspension bike or indulge in that Instagrammable bikepacking bro-down, but despite the park's diminutive size and manageable scale they just keep managing to add more trail in there which makes it the perfect place for a stress-free pop-in ride.  

Of course, to me it seems like only yesterday that the trails at Cunningham Park opened, but in fact it was way back in 2007, a simpler time when the fixies roamed free and cowardly anonymous bloggers emerged to cash in on the phenomenon by making fun of them.  Also in those days the 29-inch wheel was still cutting edge, and wide tires meant anything over two inches:

Now everything's 27.5+ and my singlespeed wouldn't even qualify as a gravel bike.

Nevertheless, I regret nothing.  Indeed I'm glad I preserved the platonic ideal of the mid-aughts 29-inch rigid singlespeed in amber by ordering a custom designer version of it, because I love riding them, and now that they're out of fashion they're getting harder and harder to come by.  I suppose for me it's because I'll always be this doofus:

Though I'm not quite enough of a doofus to go out and buy a BMX at my age.  


Speaking of trends, a commenter recently alerted me to this:

And it's been hard not to notice that riding in sandals is now very much in fashion:

Ridiculous as that may sound, signs of change are a(bare)foot — beloved B-list Instagram cycle-touring celeb-influencer Ultraromance has done the seemingly impossible in raising Bedrock Sandals to a status of coolness in certain circles. Stranger things!

B-list?  I'd say Ultraromance is an A-lister by cycling standards.  Everybody knows the B-list is populated by retired pros and washed-up bike bloggers.  In any case, as a bit of an open-toed shoe apologist myself it's good to see people moving past the "OH MY GOD YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE ALL YOUR TOES!" attitude when it comes to riding bikes in sandals, flip-flops, or what have you.

Finally, congratulations to Manual For Speed for accomplishing the unthinkable:

Yes, somehow you managed to turn an interview with the world's most exciting pro cyclist into a video nobody could possibly sit through in its entirety.

Well done.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

New Outside Column!

Happy Wednesday, everybody!

As you may or may not know, Central Park is officially going car-free forever this summer, and this week's Outside column is all about how people started driving through it in the first place:

Writing this column was easy, as it's a verbatim reproduction of the spiel I give tourists when I take them through the park in my pedicab.  (Though I left out the part about how the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man shot John Lennon to death in front of the Dakota, which is why there's now a part of the park called Marshmallow Fields.)

Anyway, you'll excuse me if I seem testy today, but yesterday was a difficult one.  Firstly, I awoke and drew back the curtain only to be greeted by perfect weather, which meant I was going to have to take a bike ride.

Goddamn it.

The soggy, kugel-like trails of spring have been keeping me on the road in recent months, and my Midlife Fredding Crisis in particular has kept me bent over the drop bars, but now that the sun has arrived to stay I figured a casual dirt ride was long overdue.  So I hopped on Ol' Piney for a t-shirt-and-jorts ride:

During which I had to cope with bursts of color like this:

And excellent trail conditions like this:

If I were ever to curate a Dirt Fondon't this is pretty much the route I'd use.

And if having to ride a bicycle on a beautiful day weren't onerous enough, during my ride I stopped to check my email, only to find one from my neighbor on the subject of Yankees tickets.  Evidently he had some for that very evening and wondered if I wanted to go.

I looked at the cloudless sky and imagined myself drinking beer under it with some solid mileage in my legs as dusk fell and professional athletes scurried around for my amusement.

"Yes," I replied.  "I will go to the baseball game."

I'm not exactly the biggest sports fanatic in the world, so only after accepting this extremely generous offer did it even occur to me to look up who the Yankees were playing.  Of course it turned out to be the Red Sox, which even a bike-riding non-ball-sports-playing "woosie" like me knows is a hot ticket.  Anyway, it was all just as enjoyable as I imagined it would be, even if the beers did cost like $75 each.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a lucky bastard.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Punk's Not Fred

I was perusing the Twitters when I came across this on Bill Strickland's feed:

This is the professional casual upper garment of Those In The No. You have spread your peanut butter with the wrench, you remember the chamfer measurement of a proprietary square taper, or have even considered spending a fairly hefty sum on a fairly hefty cork puller, and you know.

Sorry, no it's not.

Sure, it's impossible to define punk.  It's an elusive concept.  If anything it's like porn in that you know it when you see it.  Furthermore, punks are like Jews in that if you pick two at random it's highly unlikely they'll believe in any of the same things.  (Some have long beards, others wear Mets yarmulkes, and still others seem just like regular people until Passover rolls around and suddenly they won't eat bread.)  And most crucially, just as only the true messiah denies his divinity, no actual punk would proclaim to be punk, nor wear a t-shirt describing anything as punk.

It is for all the reasons above that it's 100% safe to say that Campagnolo is in no way punk.  I mean come on.  For one thing, let's go back to that copy:

This is the professional casual upper garment of Those In The No. You have spread your peanut butter with the wrench, you remember the chamfer measurement of a proprietary square taper, or have even considered spending a fairly hefty sum on a fairly hefty cork puller, and you know.

Now I'm no punk, but I tried damn hard to be one when I was a teenager (unfortunately for me trying damn hard is just not punk), and I can assure you that I never say anyone spreading peanut butter with a Campy wrench at a Nausea show on the Lower East Side.  I mean sure, I was merely a suburban interloper, and maybe the actual punks were holed up in a squat with a peanut butter wrench, a sleeve of rice cakes, and a jar of Skippy peanut butter, but I tend to doubt it.

(Skippy is punk as fuck.)

And let's consider Campagnolo.  Granted, I'm no old-timer, and I don't have the Campy street cred described in the aforementioned copy, but I have been the owner of a full Campy group.  It was the Record 10 speed one, when they first introduced the crabon:

In fact I had it on that exact bike, which I bought entirely because it came with that group, and which I got a good deal on because even at the time it was ugly as shit and nobody wanted it, plus Festina was tainted by scandal unlike the pure riders of USPS.  The frame cracked in short order (Specialized replaced it with an Allez frame painted to look like an S-Works which I'm still angry about), but the Campagnolo stuff lived on, though eventually I sold it because I decided to go back to Shimano again.  (A decision, the designers of the shirt would have it, that is emphatically not punk--which, obviously, makes it totally punk.)

Anyway, thinking back to why I coveted that group in the first place, it certainly wasn't because it seemed "punk."  Indeed, it was quite the opposite.  That iteration of the Record group was positively decadent at the time.  It had ten speeds.  The levers were crabon.  And for some reason, so was part of the rear derailleur, an innovation that offered no tangible performance benefit but added hundreds of dollars to the price over the otherwise identical Chorus group.  Wanting this stuff was avarice on my part, plain and simple.  There was nothing to it beyond a bad case of expensive bike part lust.  And it was especially pathetic since at that age and in that income bracket and sucking the way I did at bike racing I had absolutely no business being on a bike that dear.  Really, the whole enterprise was about as punk as living in your parents' basement so you can afford the payments on a BMW.

Oh, I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Campy's still punk, you just didn't understand it."  Maybe, but that still doesn't address Campy's much-touted "Italian-ness"--which is definitely not punk.  I mean sure, Italy had punk bands and stuff (I even have an Italian punk record in my painstakingly curated adolescent record collection), but there's really nothing punk about Italy.  You need shitty weather and wild income disparity to be punk.  There's nothing punk about male chauvinism, or proximity to the Mediterranean, or mouth-watering cuisine, or the design aesthetic that produced this:

Though wrecking one in an act of rebellion against your parents certainly qualifies.

Anyway, if you disagree go ahead and order the t-shirt, but if you agree you might want to consider my alternate design:

Come on, how punk is that?

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Title Of This Post Will Be Made To Measure And Ready In 8-10 Weeks

You'll no doubt be delighted to learn that it was a highly successful weekend of bicycle cycling-related exploits for both me and my assorted progeny.  First I grabbed the Renovo:

And polished it with some Bona:

Okay, fine, that's a lie.  I didn't polish it with the Bona, I merely took a photo of the bottle of Bona at target the other day because it sounds like "boner" and I'm about as mature as a kid who's preparing for his Bar Mitzvah.  At the time I figured I'd use the photo to make some jokes about putting my Bona on my bike, but after few days passed I thought better of it and decided not to.  However, by telling you all of this I've effectively made the joke anyway, but by framing it as a confession I don't have to deal with the responsibility, so ultimately I've managed to polish two bikes with one Bona.

Well done me.

Anyway, on Saturday while anybody sane was still asleep I partook in a bicycle cycling race in Prospect Park, and incredibly I managed to finish on the same lap as the winner and slightly ahead of the last-placed rider:

Then on Sunday the whole family headed out to the Orchard Beach Crit, and while I spared them all the embarrassment of racing myself I did have two horses in the kids' races, and here's one of them:

As you can see, when it comes to on-the-bike fashion his sartorial inspiration is Grant Petersen with a dash of Marvel.  As for the race, he got off to a blistering start, but somewhere around the halfway point he forgot he was racing and began straying off course, at which point his priorities shifted from winning to pointing and laughing at some seagull poop.  So in other words he's a chip off the old wooden bike.

However, judging from the opening, he really doesn't:

Twenty years ago, riding a bike through New York City was seen as crazy — a radical act reserved for bike messengers, die-hard commuters and former Talking Heads frontmen.

Today, the city is covered in green lanes filled with tourists on Citi Bikes, lawless delivery men on electric bikes and hipsters coasting on Dutch utility bikes or brakeless fixies. But one type of bicycle that is rarely seen is a mountain bike — its knobby tires too cumbersome in Midtown traffic, its handlebars too wide to squeeze between taxi cabs.

Wow, talk about pissing all over New York City cycling.  At the very least you should spend years as a failed bike racer and start a bike blog before you do that.   Also, in what alternate reality is a mountain bike "rarely seen" in New York City?  The goddamn things are everywhere, and even in the age of the ebike they're still extremely popular among food delivery riders:

Oh, wait, sorry, that's Ol' Piney.  (Don't worry, it's reverted back to normal.)  Here's a typical New York City food delivery bike:

As for the bars being too wide to cut through traffic, apparently he hasn't noticed that the fixie set are all using super wide bars now, even in New York:

(Pic from here.)

Yes, they can still ignore brakes but they can't ignore the principles of leverage.  Plus, chopping your bars is so 2009:

Anyway, none of this is to disparage Horse Cycles, about whom I know little, but who seem to be making a pretty cool bike:

Mr. Callahan, 38, is a lifelong bike fanatic and the owner of Horse Cycles, a custom bicycle company based in Williamsburg that he founded in 2007. Known mainly for gorgeous steel-framed urban bikes, Mr. Callahan recently turned his attention to building what he described as “the ultimate East Coast trail bike.”

“The trails around here are really technical, so you don’t get many smooth, easy climbs,” Mr. Callahan said. “I want to make something that gives me more stability and strength when climbing, but also will allow me to start riding more challenging, bigger, steeper terrain.”

It's just that after reading a bunch of stuff like this I still don't know anything about it:

Instead of trying to compete with top-of-the-line, full suspension bikes from big brands like Cannondale and Trek — these have a giant, shock-absorbing spring or piston built into the frame — the Hell Cat is a throwback to the first generation of mountain bikes. It is what’s known as a hardtail — a rigid, high-grade steel frame, with only a front suspension fork.

I mean, I realize this article isn't written for experts, but it could at least mention what size wheels the thing uses.

Also, this bothered me:

Mountain biking is not a cheap sport — a top-of-the-line Cannondale can cost more than $7,000 — and for those hoping to get a Hell Cat of their own, it will take some money as well as patience. The Hell Cat frame alone costs $2,200, and a fully customized bike, tailored to a rider’s geometry and with a personalized paint job, takes about eight weeks, start to finish.

Sorry, but mountain biking is an extremely cheap sport.  Just throw on some jorts, hop on a Surly, and go nuts.  Honestly the most expensive thing about it is probably the weed.  I mean sure, you can spend more than $7,000 on a Cannondale, but it should be said that anyone actually does spend $7,000 on a Cannondale is kind of an idiot.  (Unless of course $7,000 simply isn't a lot of money to you, in which case mountain biking still isn't an expensive sport.)  You know what's an expensive sport?  Yachting:

Aluminum hull?!?  Wow, over 66 million Euros and you don't even get crabon....