Thursday, March 15, 2018

No New Cockpits Under The Sun

Great news!  The biplane has landed:

So far, response from social media has been enthusiastic:

Obviously the first question that comes to mind is a highly technical one, and it is as follows:


Duh, because gravel, that's why:

The Hover bar is Canyon’s totally unique integrated carbon cockpit that the new Grail gravel bike was designed around. 

The Hover bar (otherwise known as the ‘Canyon CP01 Gravel Carbon) was developed in a bid to improve front end comfort and control without the added complication and weight of a Future Shock-style system or a suspension fork.

So instead of the suspension fork you don't need you've now got a double-decker bar you don't need.  Plus, the design falls short of even amateur cockpit engineering efforts, since it doesn't incorporate braking from the additional hand positions:

Confused yet?  You're not alone:

Unlike every other drop bar in existence — where the stem attaches to a clamping area in the middle of the tops of the bar — the Hover bar places the tops of the bar above a stem that connects to an additional bar that in turn connects the apex of the hooks.

If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is, and I highly recommend you closely examine the included photos to actually begin to understand what’s going on.

But it's still not as confusing as the bar I'm designing:

The real question on my gravel-specific Mobius Bar is going to be which direction to wrap the bar tape:

Of course it may have occurred to you that if you want a funky-looking bar that offers various hand positions for all-terrain riding you could always go with a Jones H-Bar:

Which is why the savvy among you have no doubt already figured out that this design is less about control and front end compliance for gravel-grinding and more about people who suffer from crabon-itis yet can't come to grips with the fact that they need a few more headset spacers, an angled stem, or perhaps a bike with a taller headtube:

Canyon developed the Hover bar for two reasons: to provide a long-distance friendly upright riding position without resorting to using a super-long head tube or high-rise stem, and in a bid to improve front end compliance.

Oh sure, this is way more elegant than a taller headtube or angled stem:

Please it even makes this look elegant:

It is truly astounding the lengths (and heights) people will go to in order to attain the riding position of a Rivendell with a crabon bike:

And let's not forget the prescience of Sheldon Brown:

Canyon?  More like Can-yawn.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Outside Column!

Hey, look at that, I've got a new grouping of words over on the Outside website!

I'm sure it will inspire much "Vehicular Cyclist Exceptionalism" as well as various quasi-libertarian comments about "personal responsibility."

Speaking of which, here's a story about New Zealanders questioning the absurdity of helmet laws:

Note the co-anchor foregoes his helmet when he rides to the "deery."

I have no idea what that means.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Don't Buy Upgrades, Ride Software Upgrades

Well, racing bikes outside had a good run.  In 1869 it was high-wheelers gentlemanly glove-slaps:


In 1903 came the first-ever Tour de France:

And for some reason to this day cyclists keep racing against horses:

How is that fair?  Shouldn't Casper also have to pull a passenger?

Actually, for it to be truly fair he should have to pull a horse.

Regardless, after well over a century and a half of thrill, spills, and doping scandals, it appears the days of racing bikes outside are over, only to be replaced with this:

Someday in the not-too-distant future, the world’s premier cycling races are held inside arenas packed with screaming fans. The cyclists do not travel an inch on their bicycles — instead, they pedal invisible miles on a stationary trainer. The attacks, counter-attacks, and strategic drama play out in the virtual world on a computer screen. Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of fans tune in to watch.

This is Frank Garcia’s vision.

And if your first thought was that Frank Garcia must be a masters racer with too much money on his hands, then it shouldn't surprise you to learn that you're right:

Garcia, 53, is a software engineer and entrepreneur from Tucson, Arizona. A longtime cyclist and masters racer, Garcia was an early adopter of the virtual training platform Zwift. Garcia’s passion for Zwift racing was so strong that in 2015 he rode the entire elevation of Mt. Everest in the virtual world, pedaling 165 miles on his stationary trainer over the course of 17 hours.

Over the past year, Garcia has bankrolled a series of virtual races on Zwift, called Cycligent Virtual Ranking, or CVR. In 2017, he held live CVR World Cup tournaments in Las Vegas, Paris, and London; each event was broadcast across the globe via a webcast that included live commentary, racing metrics such as power output, and even athlete interviews. CVR’s next event is the March 25 World Cup race at the VELO Sports Center velodrome at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles. CVR will award $100,000 in cash and prizes to its competitors this winter.

As antithetical as all of this might appear to be to the spirit of cycling and bicycle racing, the truth is I only have one problem with it, and it is this:

If it's all virtual, then why wear cycling clothes?

Seriously, isn't all this stuff optimized for propelling a bicycle forward while being outside?  Seems to me that aerodynamics mean nothing here and cooling is everything.  I mean what's with the sleeves?  Have they never seen a SoulCycle class?

Indeed, at the pro level it would probably make the most sense to compete "Full Cipo" for maximum cooling, with perhaps the judicious application of some small taintal pad to protect the perineum--and if virtual racing really is the future I may start selling a new product called the "Stand-Alone Chamois:"

Just add a light adhesive and you're off (virtually) to the races.

Oh, and one other thing bothers me about this whole thing:

Why hold the races in a velodrome?

Isn't that like going to a movie theater to stream Netflix on a tablet?

I mean really, you're already in the clothes, and you've already got the bike, and there's a perfectly good track 20 feet away, so why not just...oh, never mind.

Sounds like thrilling viewing:

In September, Garcia held his third race at the National Velodrome in Paris. The tournament featured a prize purse of $44,735, paid in part by Garcia and through donations — fans that tuned into the broadcast submitted cash through online transactions to boost the prize pot. Similar to the previous competitions, every athlete had a camera pointed at them throughout the racing.

If you can't get enough of sweaty people wincing in a non-sexual context then clearly this is the spectator sport for you.

By the way, speaking of competitive pedaling without going anywhere, whatever happened to roller racing?  It was having a big comeback until everyone gave up on track bikes and defected to gravel bikes:

Oh, well, it was fun boring while it lasted.

In any case, as long as pro bike racers are desperate for money there will be no shortage of virtual cycling competitors, which means the future of the sport is all but assured:

“For $100,000, I’ll do any bike race, any format, it’s all suffering one in the same,” said Jelly Belly rider Ben Wolfe.

For $50 he'll also help you move.

And even USA Cycling, that most desperate of sports governing bodies, is in the "early stages" of exploring it:

UCI representatives did not respond to queries about any future relationships with CVR. USA Cycling provided a statement that said any plans between the governing body and Zwift are “still in the early stages.”

“We are exploring engaging new ways to collaborate that offer more value to our core racers as well as bring new riders into the sport,” the statement said.

USA Cycling should probably just stop with the bike racing and pivot to becoming a moving company already.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Riding Up Escalators Is The New Skitching

When last we met, I'd appended the following video to the end of my post:

And I now see that this video has made the local news down there in the Miami area:

Welch said he is not mad at the driver, who stayed at the scene, and helped him get medical care. He said he posted the video of the accident on YouTube to make others aware.

"Here we have a chance to educate drivers and also educate cyclists," Welch said. "I won't let somebody else's mistake like this one hurt me again in the future. I will be extra vigilant."

This is a commendable conclusion to draw.

Anyway, various people weighed in with their analyses of the collision, and as is invariably the case at least some of these comments had an undercurrent of "this sort of thing would never happen to me"-type smugness.  In a way it's a cousin to the "Minnesota Humblebrag," and a good name for it might be "Vehicular Cyclist Exceptionalism." After all, as we've seen before, only the VC adherents have the secret knowledge which enables them to move through American traffic unscathed.  To wit:

Scott B. said...

Motorist should have signaled and merged. No vehicle—cyclist in this case—should ever pass on the right. 

This appears to be the consensus on this thread. I only mention it again because all of this is vehicular cycling orthodoxy. It's plainly true in this case, and Bike Snob is misdirecting us with his complaint that the motorist didn't look—which is the least useful thing to say about this eminently preventable accident.

MARCH 7, 2018 AT 9:27 PM

Now, as I pointed out in the comments, I do agree that the cyclist in this case was going too fast.  Certainly also when riding between traffic and a curb with driveways one should always be prepared for a squeeze, and it took two wrongs to make this collision collabo go down.  Nevertheless, I maintain that the fact that the motorist didn't look is in fact the most useful thing to say about this "eminently preventable accident," for when one knows that motorists often don't look one can then adjust one's riding style appropriately.  Specifically, one can make a point of riding at a prudent speed in places where motorists and pedestrians are wont to enter the bike lane unexpectedly.

Conversely, saying that no cyclist "should ever pass on the right" is not useful at all.  Moreover, it's just plain wrong.  Look at this configuration, with the bike lane on the right and the motor vehicle lane on the left:

Are we really to believe that a cyclist should never pass a car while riding in the bike lane on this roadway?  Should he or she instead cross over and pass on the left in all circumstances?  I think not.

As for the incident itself, if the cyclist had been riding more cautiously he may very well have been able to avoid the collision, but given the manner in which this driver turned across the bike lane without signaling it's also quite possible he might have right-hooked even the most cautious and alert cyclist:

Unless of course that cyclist was a Vehicular Cyclist, because they and drivers share a special mind-melding relationship:

By the way, it's worth noting that even "expert" cyclists have managed to get themselves taken out in exactly the same way:

One crucial difference here is that the driver did signal:

Also, Lucas Brunelle's humblebrags are in a category all their own:

Lucas Brunelle
Published on Nov 12, 2014

I was taught how to crash at the Olympic Training center and it paid off, here I actually ended up on my feet

Well, maybe not completely on their own:

I wonder if they received the same crash training.

By the way, it appears that Brunelle has relocated to Miami, so maybe that was actually him in the first video after all:

He's also grown so desperate for new thrills that he's now riding up escalators:

I'm not impressed unless they do it in Crocs:

I think he just found himself a new sponsor.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Putting the "Pro" in Pro Bono

Well the snowstorm they've been promising is arriving in fits and starts:

And I'm also curating the vomitorial stylings of a sick three year-old:

Which can only mean one training is in serious jeopardy!

Just kidding:

No, I'm not that far gone--though I do keep a training journal:

At this point however it's developing into a real "The Shining" situation:

Yeah, things are getting really creepy in my household:

I realize this is the sort of situation that drives people to Zwift, but last time I messed around with virtual reality things got weird fast:

What can I say?  It's just the sort of glamorous lifestyle we lead.

Anyway, the venerable and esteemed commenter Leroy's Dog informs me that the attorney who represents Russian doping doctor Grigory Rodchenkov in the film, one Jim Walden, Esq.:

(Not Jim Walden, that's the 1-800-LAWYERS guy.  I'm afraid if I use a photo of Jim Walden he'll send me one of those "Seasoned Insist" letters...though now I'll probably get sued by Mustache Guy.)

Is the very same lawyer who represented the NIMBY alliance who attempted to litigate the Prospect Park West bike lane in Brooklyn out of existence:

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — which includes Schumer’s wife, the former Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel — says it “plans to file suit” over a cycle path that it says was installed based on incorrect information by an agency that intentionally ignored the facts.

And here’s where the plot thickens: The group’s pro-bono attorney is none other than Schumer campaign contributor Jim Walden, whose name was tossed around in 2009 as a possible U.S. Attorney, though the job ultimately went to another Schumer ally.

He also offered to help Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side fight the Queensboro Bridge bike lane project:

Jim Walden, who has long fought the Prospect Park West bike lane on behalf of opponents, sent an e-mail to Community Board 8 offering assistance. 
UPPER EAST SIDE — Days after the city announced plans to bolster bicycle paths near the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the lawyer representing opponents of the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane offered to help Upper East Side locals opposed to the proposal.

Jim Walden, who represents "two community groups opposed to the two-way, parking protected bike lane on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn" pro bono, fired off an e-mail to members of Community Board 8 offering assistance, New York has learned.

And he even bravely represented some more NIMBYs in SoHo in their lawsuit to fight the installation of a Citi Bike rack.

Now, I won't call him a giant oily douche because that's no doubt slander or defamation of character or some other term I've seen used in the movies (it's definitely slander against douches, anyway), but is it admissible to call him an alleged giant oily douche?

Just asking.

Anyway, with Icarus having one the Academic Award in a weird way I suppose something or other has come full circle.

Finally, here's your Right Hook of the Day:

It's always "I didn't see you," isn't it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sweet and Savory

Good morning!  This is just a quick note to let you know that my latest column for Outside is up, and you'll be either pleased, incensed, or indifferent to find that I've set aside more important themes in favor of some whimsy:

I didn't mention that you should always wear a helmet when dating a non-cyclist, but I assumed that was obvious.

And don't worry, if it's too saccharine for you, you can always head on over to the Bike Forecast where today's post will crush your spirit into a thousand tiny bits and ruin your day.

You're welcome!

Until later,

I remain,

Yours and so forth,

--Wildcat Etc.

Monday, March 5, 2018

It's Not Really A Comeback If You Never Got Anywhere In The First Place

When it comes to cycling, New York City can be heaven and it can be hell.  You know all about our bike share program and our still-expanding network of bike lanes.  You also know about the NYPD's "no criminality suspected" approach to dealing with drivers who run down cyclists.  What you may not know is that, when it comes to bike racing, this city is a veritable paradise.

Beginning in March, you can ride to a bike race pretty much every single week, and you can keep this up until September.  Of course there are long-standing crits such as Grant's Tomb and the Harlem Skyscraper, and the Tuesday night series on the old runway at Floyd Bennett Field, and even the track races at Kissena Velodrome.  But the bread and butter, the meat and potatoes, the sour cream and borscht of the racing scene are the races in Central and Prospect Parks.

As you know if you suffered through my exhaustive profile in CyclingTips, I am a veteran of those park races.  From my first foray I was hooked, and in a burst of enthusiasm and River Road hill repeats I managed to accumulate just enough points to upgrade to Cat 3, after which I never saw the front of the pack again.  Still, I was out there week after week and year after year, and my role as New York City pack fodder very much defined my cycling identity and worldview.

Eventually however my life changed.  First, I became a world famous and deeply revered bicycle blogger.  Then I became a father, and after that I moved to the Bronx, from whence I could no longer roll out of bed and into Prospect Park for a 6am start time.  I could, however, easily access dirt trails, and so I transitioned to a lifestyle of fat tires and cutoffs:

This was a refreshing change, and for years I didn't look back.  However, once a Fred always a Fred, and to my surprise I recently found myself pining for the the pack.  So this year I renewed my USAC license for the first time since 2014 and joined the local racing club, and this past Saturday I rolled on down to Central Park for a 6:25am start.

The weather in the days leading up to the race was delightful:

But then on Friday we got slammed with an onslaught of rain, snow, and wind that laid waste the the area and caused power outages that continue as I type this.  By the wee hours of Saturday morning the storm had blown over, but it was still cold and blustery, and the streets were full of tree branches and mutilated umbrellas.  A lesser Fred would have shut off the alarm when it sounded at 4am, but I awoke ten minutes before it even went off, ready to throw myself back into the arena of futility.

My original plan was to race the Renovo Aerowood:

However, I pivoted on race morning for the following reasons:

  • It was really windy, and while I love riding the Renovo it just doesn't feel quite as "planted" (see what I did there?) as my other road bikes.  I don't know if it's the geometry, or the aerodynamic profile, or the 23mm tires, or some combination of the three.  Maybe it's just my psychological reaction to riding a really expensive bike.  Regardless of the reason, between the blustery conditions and my own rustiness I wanted as much stability as possible;
  • It was wet out, and my other bike already had fenders;
  • I was almost certain I'd get dropped, and I didn't want to be the guy who gets spat out the back on a $10,000 bicycle
And instead I ended up going with the Ritte Rust Bucket:

(It's almost as rusty as I am.)

Not only was the bike completely filthy, but I also made sure to leave both the saddlebag and the fenders on for the race so that as the pack excreted me it would be clear that I didn't take any of this too seriously.  (Even though if I'm to be perfectly honest I'm a Fred at heart so of course I take all of this incredibly seriously.)

Rolling out in the pitch black when it's 30-something degrees and windy is never easy, but there's also nothing like riding through the streets of New York in the Hour of the Wolf:

'The hour of the wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is the deepest, when nightmares feel most real. It is the hour when the demons are most powerful. The hour of the wolf is also the hour when most children are born.'

Think of it as the Hour of the Fred: when Freds and Fredericas from all corners of the city converge on the park, huddle over a registration table, and pin on numbers in the dark.  New York City is never truly quiet, but at this time of the morning it's as quiet as it gets, with most of the revelers having finally turned in or passed out, and the diurnal set not yet having awoken.  Certainly as a cyclist it's the very best time to feel as though you've got the streets to yourself.

In any case, we lined up as the sun rose, and we set off under its very first rays.  While I've been putting in a fair number of miles recently the fact is I haven't experienced anything like sustained race pace in years.  Had I approached this properly I'd have at least done a few group rides during the preceding weeks, but sadly those don't work very well since I keep "writer's hours" and do most of my riding on weekdays.  So as I clipped in I wondered what would happen.

The race was six laps around Central Park.  For the first lap I sat somewhere in the middle of the pack and thought, "Hey, I feel pretty good!"  By the second lap I realized I was now at the back and that, while I still felt pretty comfortable, I didn't quite feel like using the energy to move up into a safer position.  (Unlike Max von Sydow above I had but a few matches to burn.)  By the third lap I realized I probably wasn't going to be able to hang, and I believe it was the fourth time up Harlem Hill that I finally tripped the circuit breaker in my legs and slipped off the back like it was slathered in Vaseline.  

I was done.

Though a bit disappointed I was mostly sanguine, and I casually rolled over to the start/finish area to hang out and watch the Fred Parade:

Finally I headed back uptown, and I was home and contentedly stuffing my face before most people have even begun their day, which is maybe the best thing about racing in the park--well that and the park itself, because there are few things more satisfying than a spirited gallop through the heart of Manhattan.  

Anyway, we'll see if I can eventually claw my way out of this hole and finally pass a race again, but if not there's always a pair of cutoffs with my name on them.