Monday, October 23, 2017

CSPC-Mandated Title You're Welcome To File Off Once You Get Home

Well hey, look at that!  I have another smug piece of extracurricular prose to share, this one from Reclaim:

How, then, are we supposed to mint the cyclists of tomorrow? Are they supposed to leap fully formed from the head of Zeus? Are they supposed to ride up and down the sidewalk in front of their building until they hit puberty? How does a child learn that cycling is a healthy and normal form of transportation when actually doing it with their parents is nearly impossible?

Of course there are those who would argue that cycling is not a healthy and normal form of transportation and that we should all do things the American way instead:

This certainly seems to be what people who follow Outside magazine on Facebook think, because on Friday they published this:

And as I predicted, the Facebook commentary was head-splittingly stupid.  For example, did you know that cyclists never have the right of way over a driver?

Then there's one of my favorite forms of Internet commentary, which is when some doofus tries to reduce you to a stereotype and fumbles it completely:

Wrong, dipshit.  I'll be making steak for dinner tonight, and I've often considered buying parakeets from Petco and using them as cat toys.  But sure, anyone who thinks differently from you is a "vegan," which is something you use as a pejorative because you lead a depressingly provincial existence.

That's not to say I'm not above stereotyping people myself.  For example, I bet Nicholas White is a guy who uses too much hair product and repairs vinyl seats for a living:

Hey, I was right!

Have a cracked dash or seat from the heat I can fix it, contact me for a quote - ‎Blanco Interiors LLC

Not that there's anything wrong with that, because it sounds like good, honest work.  In fact I feel sort of bad for him now, since I realize he's merely being protective of his livelihood.  But he needn't worry, because in a car-free future he can easily transition into bicycle saddle repair.

Hey, I'd hire him to repair my car seats, but unfortunately they're made out of cloth.  Nevertheless, if he'd like to suck the farts out of them for me I've got a sawbuck with his name on it.

Oh, and speaking of Outside columns, while I'm sick of the subject of suspension to the point of nausea I did spot this bike yesterday during a family outing to the Botanical Garden:

And while it's always a treat to spot a rolling time capsule I was particularly taken with the fork:

My knowledge of '90s suspension is fairly cursory since I was deep in the throes of Fredness at the time, but the Twitterati were kind enough to inform me that it's an AMP Research fork.

Alas, AMP research are now focussed on truck running boards and the like, so there you go:

Finally, just another reminder to join me for some beer and bloviation in Brooklyn on Wednesday:

Join us for a fast-paced hour of ideas, entrepreneurs and bikes, capturing the exciting things happening in the bike industry at DRAFT: NYC in Brooklyn.
61 Greenpoint Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn
The nearest train is G. Stop at Greenpoint Avenue and proceed to Brooklyn Bicycle Co. We're in suite 638 - buzz 970 and walk around the corner to the elevator and head up to the 6th floor!  
6:30 - 7:00 pm: Beer and banter
7:00 - 8:00 pm: Program + Speakers
8:00 - 9:00 pm: More beer and banter  
Speaker Lineup:
- Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives          
- Eben Weiss, Bike Snob NYC 
- Courtney Williams, The Brown Bike Girl 

As a father of seventeen (17) children I don't get out too much these days, so expect me to drink way too much free beer and pass out a good 20 minutes before I'm supposed to speak.

Should be fun.

Friday, October 20, 2017

BSNYC Friday No Quiz But One Of These Days I'm Gonna Drop One On You When You Least Expect It

Thanks for bearing with me while I forked off for a ride, even though you didn't have any choice:

(Who am I kidding?  They're all mellow.)

I should mention that I once again encountered skateboarding dog walker guy, and I'm pleased to report that this time he did not fall down.  He was, however, deeply engaged in taking video of his dogs with his phone while riding the skateboard.  I did briefly consider asking him for his thoughts on the recent sled dog doping scandal, but decided against it.

Anyway, I of course rode a rigid bicycle today, and as usual it was a highly enjoyable experience, despite the Internet's insistence that this is not possible:

Indeed, my Outside post on suspension continues to get people's baggy shorts in a bunch, for a number of people have informed me that the bros over at Pinkbike are currently having themselves a real bro-down over it.  Alas, I can't be bothered to link to it, and while I did skim it for a few moments my eyes glazed over as soon as I read the inevitable "cars and motorcycles all have suspension so bikes should too" comment.  I should also point out I've never read Pinkbike for the same reason I've never worn a Monster energy drink jersey, and all I really know about their community is this, which frankly is more than I ever want to know.

Anyway, it's odd that the baggy-shorts-and-shinguard set is so touchy about someone saying you don't need suspension all the time, since it clearly works for them and the kind of riding they do, and as far as I'm concerned that's never been in question.  Perhaps the reason they're all butt-hurt is that their posteriors are overly sensitive from years of coddling from suspension bicycles.

Anyway, may the Pinkbros ride on, and may their Red Bulls be eternally chilled, their pick-ups brilliantly polished, and their Go Pros always fully charged.

Finally, speaking of Outside, they've just posted my latest column, and I'm pleased to announce it has absolutely nothing to do with suspension:

I look forward to many Facebook posts about how drivers pay for the roads and how without cars we'd never be able to get our full suspension bikes to the trailhead.

Ride safe this weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Just a Couple of Quick Things

Apologies for the late post, my cat flushed herself down the toilet again.  Given the lateness of the hour I won't keep you, but I will let you know that on Wednesday, October 25th, this is happening:

Join us for a fast-paced hour of ideas, entrepreneurs and bikes, capturing the exciting things happening in the bike industry at DRAFT: NYC in Brooklyn.
61 Greenpoint Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn
The nearest train is G. Stop at Greenpoint Avenue and proceed to Brooklyn Bicycle Co. We're in suite 638 - buzz 970 and walk around the corner to the elevator and head up to the 6th floor!  
6:30 - 7:00 pm: Beer and banter
7:00 - 8:00 pm: Program + Speakers
8:00 - 9:00 pm: More beer and banter  
Speaker Lineup:
- Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives          
- Eben Weiss, Bike Snob NYC 
- Courtney Williams, The Brown Bike Girl 

Yep, there I am, one of the featured speakers.  As for what "exciting things happening in the bike industry" I'll be speaking about, I haven't decided yet, but I'm open to suggestions.  At the moment I'm considering a treatise on how to determine the correct tire pressure, but if I give away all my pneumatic curation secrets I'll have nothing else left.

Also, a reader was kind enough to forward me the following commerical:

In it, Dad comes down the drive in his shiny GMC douchewagon:

Delighted, his son comes running:

Oooh boy, Dad has something special!  What is it?  A new bike maybe?

Nope!  Kids don't ride bikes anymore, silly!  It's a plastic truck!

Of course the kid is delighted:

And immediately takes off in it while wearing a fucking helmet:

All of which raises an important question:

If kids are now expected to wear helmets while driving, shouldn't adults be expected to do the same?

It only stands to reason.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


This morning I off-fucked for a ride because I'm a bike blogger goddamn it and if you can't take a ride once in awhile then what the hell is the point?

As you can see from my Strava, the ride was wholly unremarkable in both distance and duration, though it was quite enjoyable nonetheless.  I find that 20 miles is the ideal distance for the busy cyclist in that it's short enough to work into your day yet long enough to make you feel like you did something.  To that end I have established sort of a basic loop I use, and then I season to taste with various climbs and dirt sections depending on my mood.  This allows me to maintain my tenuous grip on sanity's pinky toe, though I'm always a missed ride away from losing it altogether.

By the way, there's a little dongle on the ride where I briefly considered taking a different route but then changed my mind, doubled back, and returned to my usual one:

Conditioning is a powerful thing.

Anyway, all that aside, there was one remarkable aspect of today's ride, which I will relate forthwith.  I was rolling out on the South County Trailway, which is a paved multi-use converted rail-trail thingy that looks like this:

Indeed it was just after my little detour, and as I rode I came upon someone "walking" at least six nearly identical large brown dogs while riding a skateboard.  Due to the large number of canines I assumed he must be a professional dog walker, though usually they're walking a wildly disparate array of dogs: a great dane, a dachshund, a Bassett hound, a chihuahua, a poodle, and so on.  This guy's dogs however were completely interchangeable (no, I don't know what kind they are, I'm not a Dog Fred), so either he specialized in large brown dogs or else they were all his own and he was practicing his dogsledding.

As you can imagine, Nanook the Schook and his team were taking up the entire width of the path.  Furthermore, owing to the gradual rise in the path, he was moving very slowly on his skateboard, pushing with his right foot, then switching quickly to his left, and then reverting to the right again.  It was a pathetic display.

Nevertheless, I always strive to be polite to a fault when sharing these sorts of paths, and so as I approached I searched my brain for the proper phrase with which to announce my presence so that I might pass him.  Of course "On your left" simply wouldn't do, and "Mush!" might cause his dogs to bolt, so clearly I had a lot of thinking to do.  In the meantime, while I curated just the right phrase, I figured I might as well hang back and take a photo of this profoundly selfish tableau.  

Naturally, as a recovering Fred I keep my phone in a Ziploc baggie, and so it took me a few moments to fish it out.  Finally, just as I did, the skateboarding dog walker turned around, looked at me, and then went flying into the air as though his board was spring-loaded.  Now I don't know if this is because he was startled to see me, or because he'd hit a stick or some other obstacle (the pathway was loaded with them), or some combination of the two, but as he hit the deck and tumbled it occurred to me that it would be ungentlemanly of me to take a picture under these circumstances and so I slipped it back into my pocket again.  

All of that is a roundabout way of saying I have no photos of this event whatsoever, which is why I have been forced to recount the tale using prose.

Anyway, once he'd righted himself I of course asked if he was OK, and he said he was, and that was good enough for me so off I went.  Also, as far as I'm concerned I believe I have no culpability in this incident, but if you feel differently please feel free to let me know.

Moving on, here's the definitive video feature on helme(n)t etique(n)tte:

For the record, I was appalled by the suggestion that you should hang your helmet from the doorknob while using the restroom, since everybody knows you should always wear your helmet while relieving yourself in cycling shoes at all times:

Come to think of it, walking on a tiled floor in cycling shoes is probably the most dangerous thing you'll do on your ride.

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.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Guilty Pleasures

Life can be overwhelming, and at one point or another we all feel ourselves buckling under the crushing weight of work and responsibility.  Add to that a few dispiriting news stories and it's enough to stop you dead in your tracks.  That's why it's important to indulge yourself in a guilty pleasure every now and again, and some of my favorites these days include eating ice cream and crying, crying, and watching TV while eating ice cream and crying.

But I'm extremely fortunate that my most favoritest of guilty pleasures is also part of my job as a semi-professional bike blogger, and it it this:

Riling up the readers of Outside magazine.

By the way, note that I said "riling up" and not "trolling," since it's an important distinction.  See, trolling implies saying something that has no redeeming value just for the sake of upsetting people, but what I write for Outside does in fact have redeeming value because it's expertly curated artisanal content and it will only upset you if you're full of shit or stupid or both.  Consider my last column:

It's clear to the thinking person from the title alone that some hyperbole is about to follow, and if you missed that then there's the subtitle to really drive it home:

Why it will destroy cycling, society, and the planet if we let it

It should also be doubly clear within the context of our time, because while both the title and the subtitle may be objectively true of, say, our president, they are obviously not true of, say, a squishy fork.  And of course, anybody with any sense could tell the point of the article is that rigid bikes can be lots of fun and that the prevailing notion that you need suspension at all times is simply not the case.  Nevertheless, just as I knew they would, the "adults who play with toys" demographic got all hurt in their butts on Outside's Facebook page and it was a joy to read:

Brian, you sound like kind of a putz, so by all means don't wait up.  And Mike, what's wrong with having a 1997 Gary Fisher?  Anybody still riding a 20 year-old bike is awesome.  Thanks for the tech advice on the lockout though, I'll totally get rid of my rigid bike and start riding a locked-out suspension bike isntead.

Another common type of angry bike commenter is the frustrated tech weenie:

You do realize Outside pick the photos, right?  Spoiler alert: I didn't choose the font either.

And then there's always the person who wants to dismiss everything as youthful folly:

Nope.  Wrong, Paul.

Also, you're the one using emojis.

In any case, all of this proves something I've always believed, which is that when it comes to being simpering gear weenies the Mountain Bike Freds (or "Barneys") are a thousand times worse than the roadies.

Speaking of everything that's wrong with society, you may have heard about that bike lane protest in Minneapolis, but if not you can read more about it over on the Bike Forecast:

You'll want to click here once you have.

Meanwhile, up in America's Ceremonial Head Covering, an Ottawa driver has some damning evidence indeed that cyclists are profoundly reckless.  Here's the description:

This was shot from my dashcam near Algonquin College and is why I believe fine for bicyclists should be twice that of an automobile driver.

And here's the shocking video:

Cover your eyes in horror, but peek through your fingers as at 28 seconds a cyclist with panniers rides slowly through an empty intersection:

Seems to me the most dangerous moment in the video was when the driver yelled at him.

Friday, October 13, 2017

BSNYC Friday Self-Promotion!

Sorry I'm late, a short ride may have happened:

I really like that bike.  There's really not much you can't do on a metal bike with medium reach rim brakes.  (Or "rime breaks" in Craigslist.)  Also, if you live in New York City, here's the secret to happiness:

1) Easy access to the subway;
2) Easy access to a 20-mile loop that doesn't involve laps.

Everything else is gravy.

It's only been a few minutes now but I'm pleased to see it's already having the desired effect:
Whatever you say.

And if that's not enough for you, here's a little spin I took in Astoria, Queens recently and wrote up for the Citi Bike site:

For the record, "Tour De Queens" was not my title as I generally try to avoid the whole "Tour de [Blank]" thing.  Of course, it's still a much better title than "Putting the 'Ass' in Astoria," which is the sort of inanity I'm liable to come up with if left to my own devices.  So there you go.

So with that I'm now going to leave you to your own devices, and I'll see you back here on Monday.  Enjoy the weekend, ride safe, and may your tire pressure be eternally optimal.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine