Monday, December 11, 2017

Up And At 'Em!

Good morning!  Firstly, awhile back I was a guest on Lifehacker's "The Upgrade" podcast, and I see from the Twitter this morning that now the episode is ready to go into your ears:

Don't worry, I won't judge you if you listen to it while riding.

Secondly, in the context of plugging a recent Outside column, I noted a phenomenon I call the "Minnesota Humblebrag:"

Basically, the idea is that any mention of cycling and winter will result in at least one (1) Minnesotan working in a seemingly casual yet in fact highly contrived reference to how cold it is there:

All you have to do is, say, mention gloves and in comes Captain Snotsicle with a question he already knows the answer to, like "When riding in temperatures of −128.6 °F, which glove material do you recommend, PVC or Neoprene?"

Anyway, my latest Outside column has hit the Facebook:

And here comes Fred Frost right on cue:

Jack Kukowski The author has obviously never lived in Minnesota, where windchill values in winter (and sometimes the actual temperature) regularly dip to -30 or lower...working up a good sweat inside my house on my trainer during evenings like that IS time well spent...

Hmmm, I thought the tipoff that I've never lived in Minnesota is my sophistication and erudition, go figure.

And of course there was the usual deluge of indignant commentary:

Stephanie Morris This article reminded me why I don't read Outside any more.

Except you obviously do read Outside.  Presumably she also wakes up hung over every morning, heads over to Finlandia's Facebook page, and tells them their vodka is why she doesn't drink anymore.

Then there's my favorite, which is when people double down on the thing you're poking fun of as if that's somehow convincing:

Natasha Hilts I guess you’ve never been on a Peloton. It’s more than a bike and definitely not a hamster wheel. Suck it #Ridepeloton

Ah yes, Peloton:

I could totally relate:

"This is your house."

No.  That is so not my house.

"This is you waking up."

Again, no.  I wake up in a bed full of empty Finlandia bottles and puke and proceed to excoriate them on social media.

"This is you, tiptoeing past your family while they're still asleep."

Wait, is she bailing on the family and starting a new life somewhere else?

"This is what you woke up for.  This is your Peloton."

No, I woke up to go to the toilet.  And if I lived in a beautiful modern house in the forest the last thing I'd do is climb onto an overpriced exercise bike and work out with other people on a video screen.  I'd go outside and enjoy some nature sounds.  Maybe I'd even meditate next to a stream or some shit before the kids wake up and start braying for breakfast:

"When fashioning a mandala in sub-zero temperatures and 100mph winds what's the best kind of gravel to use?"

Anyway, you've got to love the irony of people who read a magazine called "Outside" being offended at the notion that instead of riding the trainer you should go outside.

Friday, December 8, 2017

BSNYC Friday Un-Quiz!

It's Friday, which means it's time for my latest Outside column!

I know what I'm talking about, too, because believe it or not there was a time when I used to ride the trainer.  Now of course I know better, and I'd give absolutely anything to have all those hours back.  And you know what I'd do with them?  Absolutely nothing.  I'd sit on my ass and watch TV, because that's exactly what I should have been doing then.

In other news, I went for a ride on a bicycle with voluminous tires today:

It was a ride of a little over 30 miles and one that used to result in some hand numbness towards the end back when I was using regular bars.  Well, I'm pleased to announce that with the Jones bars those days are over, and I'm feeling so dexterous I could easily knit you some booties or mend your clothing with a needle and thread at this very moment.  There are "upgrades," and then there are things that actually make your bicycle way better, and these bars have proven themselves to be a perfect example of the latter.

Indeed, the only blemish on this delightful outing was the fishing line I discovered in my derailleur after my chain started jumping around on the cassette:

"No problem," I thought.  "I'll just take the pulley out and extract the fishing line."  But wouldn't you know it, the multi-tool I was carrying did not include the proper Allen key.  Instead, it appeared the good people at Park Tool had seen fit to equip this particular model with both Phillips and slotted screwdrivers instead of the smaller Allen keys.  Therefore I was forced to hack away at the line with the slotted screwdriver blade until I could pull out most of the obstruction.

And of course as I struggled with and cursed whichever angler had failed to clean up after himself I thought of all the poor creatures who must get stuck in this stuff in a regular basis.  I also thought that birds probably use fishing line to make some badass nests, and I bet they tout their layup and weave pattern just like manufacturers of crabon bikes do:

(Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant.)

Oh, wait, sorry about that:

That's better.

Anyway, I hope the next fish that guy catches bites him in the nuts.

And with that I set you free.  May you fly into the weekend like the Helmet-Crested Fredbird.

I remain,

Blah blah blah,

And so forth,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, December 7, 2017

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬Come On With The Rain I've An Umbrella On My Bike♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

The search for a way to protect cyclists from the elements is as old as the bicycle itself:

And while we still haven't found the perfect solution:

We are certainly living in a golden age of precipitation-repelling technology.  Given this, in the interest of preserving this water-averse watershed for posterity, I have undertaken a brief survey of some of the more innovative products currently available--products such as the LeafXPro:


With features this handy and smart optional storm accessory that makes you look like you're riding around in a sling:

Then there's the Nubrella, which you can incorporate into any activity, not just cycling:

Nubrella Hands Free Weather Protection from Christina Ricci on Vimeo.

And yeah, it's basically just a giant hat:

Albeit one that looks like some kind of robotic space nautilus is eating your head, but yes, still just a hat:

Indeed, it's enough of a hat that if the tax on umbrellas was 50% and the tax on hats was 5% you could totally make a compelling argument to the IRS that you only have to pay the latter.

Of course you may be wondering why anybody would bother with any of this stuff instead of, say, wearing a raincoat, but why do that when you can wear an umbrella?

As seen on Philadelphia local news:

If nothing else, the Under-Cover undermines pretty much every stereotype about German engineering.

By the way, I tried to find the Under-Cover on Kickstarter, but all I saw was this changing kilt for prudish bros:

Frankly I think it works better as a garment:

And if nothing else that entire video is just an advertisement for the importance of riding in regular clothes.

Anyway, amid all this innovation you've got to appreciate the unapologetically poor design of the Uberhood, which I've featured before on this blog:

I should really get one of these for my Jones bars.

Speaking of products I've been trying, remember the Renovo?

And remember how I said I'd conduct a thorough investigation into why it's creaking?

Well, it's a long story, but the sort version is that instead Renovo are going to take the bike back and figure it out for me.  Then once they have I'll report back and let you know.  In the meantime I'll refrain from speculating as to the cause, and for the time being consider the test on hold.

At this point I'd like to point out that by the time my environmentally sustainable wooden bicycle is done flying back and forth across the country it will have the carbon footprint of a herd of yetis.

(And that's not even accounting for all the crabon fiber on the bike.)

As for the Jones bars:

I continue to love them, and even though I think my position's working well as is I'm still going to try a shorter stem in deference to their philosophy.  Hey, maybe they'll feel even better that way, who knows?  I'm nothing if not open minded.

And there you have it.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Just Breezing Through

Sorry I'm late!  What a morning!  First I had to drop off urine at the doctor's office, then I had to pick up a receptacle for my compost (yes, New York City is composting now, eat that Portland), and by the time I was done I hardly had any time left to fork off for a ride.

But I did anyway:

While I usually head north and beyond the city limits today I felt like a plainclothes, flat-pedal spin through the Bronx, so that's what I did.  Pictured above is the bike repair stand on the Randall's Island Connector, and next time someone sends me a bike to test I'm totally bringing it here to assemble.  As for how I'll get it there, maybe I'll finally get myself a trailer.  Then I'll get a kayak and start boating on the Bronx River.

Now that's the life.

Anyway, with like half the day gone now I won't keep you, but I would like to share this:

At one point in the video, an officer on a bicycle comes close to an ATV and jumps off as he tries to reach for the rider, but he misses and falls to the ground. A police cruiser following him and the ATV stops. D.C. police said the officer on the bike suffered minor injuries.

I'd also like to point out that as the officer leaps from his bike his helmet appears to fall of his head:

And then he appears to trip over it:

Okay, maybe that's not exactly what happened, but it kind of looks like it.

So while we can debate the importance of helmets all day long, I think we can all agree that wearing an unfastened one is worse than not wearing one at all.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Titles Are Like Valve Caps: Who Needs 'Em?

All right, that's it, I'm moving to Carmel:

Do I know which Carmel?  No, it was not immediately clear from the article which state this is.  But when I see an opportunity to mold an entire city in my image--and get paid for it--you'd better believe I take it:

The Carmel City Council is considering whether to add a new paid city employee as a bicycle program administrator. The position could be paid up to $69,000 a year.

City Councilor Bruce Kimball introduced the ordinance at the Nov. 20 meeting as a late add-on to the agenda. Some city councilors said they would feel more comfortable taking time to examine what the position would do before approving it, especially since it was added to the agenda just hours before the meeting.

Oh sure, $69,000 a year isn't much to uproot my entire family and leave the city of my birth, but just think of the opportunities for graft!  Remember the David Byrne bike racks?

(Times sure have changed, he'd have been pilloried for that sexist mud flap girl rack today.)

Well just wait until I commission a series of racks from celebrated minimalist designer Olle Nilsson:

Is there a celebrated minimalist designer named Olle Nilsson?  Not to the best of my knowledge.  However, you'd better believe he's going to present Carmel with some staggering invoices.

Then maybe I'll commission a series of special bikes, like these from Specialized, which were curated from an incredibly diverse group of six (6) bros and one (1) she-bro:

After ten (10) years of bike blogging, during which I witnessed the dawn and subsequent demise of the age of the fixie collabo, this sort of thing hardly registers with me anymore and I found it mostly whimsical and charming--though I did get a little bit of a douchechill from the "Madmen" bike:

Complete with beer taps:

And a crabon mini bar:

Hey, what can I say, that whole whiskey-quaffing Richard Spencer haircut-wearing retro-bro aesthetic just doesn't do it for me.

Speaking of bikes and intoxicants, you will now be able to deliver marijuana in California, but not by bicycle:

Delivery operations will be legal, but, interestingly, only with certain vehicles. Car and truck deliveries are legal; bicycles are not.

Hey, you wouldn't want to do something progressive without putting more cars on the roads, would you?

Of course not.

And in exciting foam hat-related product news, a press release informs me that Coros is flogging a new helmet:

Featuring their bone conduction technology:

Which I described thusly in my Outside column on the subject of headphones:

I once tested a helmet that incorporated bone-conduction speakers in the straps and basically pumped the music from your phone via Bluetooth into your cheekbones, and while I don’t see how this setup kept me any safer than those ubiquitous white earbuds, I can assure you it sounded terrible.

Yes, you may recall I wasn't impressed with that earlier iteration of the Coros, not least of which because I could never get the "Your loved one just crashed and is probably dead" feature to work:

In fact between the crappy audio, the random disconnections from my phone, and the seemingly bogus safety feature I ultimately consigned the thing to my helmet pile (come on, who doesn't have a helmet pile?) and forgot about it.

Glad to see they're back with something that does nothing you can't already do with Strava and a smart watch.

By the way, that's totally the Rickenbacker Causeway on Key Biscayne, I have Fredded there on multiple occasions:

I'm pretty sure it's the biggest climb in Florida.

Finally, Lucas Brunelle has important places to be:

A post shared by Lucas Brunelle (@lucasbrunelle) on

His entire oeuvre is a cry for help.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sorry I'm Late, All My Cyber Monday Packages Arrived At Once And I Couldn't Open My Front Door

Uh-oh, I'm worried, nobody on Outside's Facebook page has said they're going to stop reading forever because of my column about how driving kids to school sucks:

You also have to wonder that if even that crowd agrees we shouldn't drive our kids to school then why the hell do we keep driving our kids to school?

Well, obviously it's a rhetorical question, and the answer is that we're all massive hypocrites.

I did, however, open the door to the ol' Minnesota Humblebrag:

They never let you forget their winters are colder than yours:

Hey, my second grader takes the school bus, screw that--though we did have a pretty knarly shred sesh yesterday:

Of course we didn't actually ride, I just sat him down on that rock and lectured him on the importance of proper tire pressure for three hours, but that didn't make it any less exciting.

And with the holidays coming he's going to love his present:

If you're wondering why it's for kids, take a closer look at the scoop:

It's his only present this year and I don't think he's going to be disappointed at all.

Speaking of holiday gift ideas, do you like caps?  Well how about numbers?  Well, now you can order a custom cap from Walz with your very own number on it!

Not only that, but you get $5 off your order if you use the following discount code:


And...and...if you show up at my next Fondon't ride with a 46 on your cap I'll waive the entry fee:*

*[I don't charge an entry fee anyway but don't you worry about any of that.]

Wow, between the sealant kit and the cap I may have to curate a holiday gift guide.

In other news, at the risk of repeating myself (though isn't that what I've been doing here for the past ten years anyway?), I'd like to share with you a couple things I mentioned in the Bike Forecast this morning.  First is this Canadian editorial about why riding bikes causes pollution:

As a consequence of the idling traffic, pollution levels have risen, contributing to what is now deemed a toxic stew. Ironically, cyclists are especially harmed, and not just because the bike lanes they speed upon are adjacent to tailpipes. According to a study by the London School of Medicine, cyclists have 2.3 times more inhaled soot than walkers because “cyclists breathe more deeply and at a quicker rate than pedestrians while in closer proximity to exhaust fumes … Our data strongly suggest that personal exposure to black carbon should be considered when planning cycling routes.” Cyclists have begun wearing facemasks as a consequence. A recent headline in The Independent helpfully featured “5 best anti-pollution masks for cycling.” Neighbourhoods endure extra pollution, too, with frustrated autos cutting through residential districts to avoid bike-bred congestion.

Anyway, I mention it again here, because not only is the writer an oil lobbyist, but it also turns out he's an anti-vaxxer a "vaccine safety" advocate.  I suppose there is a certain logic to his worldview though, since if people spend their entire lives inside of single-occupancy vehicles then maybe we won't need vaccines after all:

I have a bad feeling that mentioning vaccines is going to do the same thing for my comments section that mentioning vehicular cycling did, though now that I've switched on the "moderation" feature my blog is essentially inoculated, so there you go.

The other thing I wanted to mention was this video, in which a cyclist takes an NYPD officer to task for blocking the bike lane:

On one hand I think he's kind of out of his mind for talking to them that way, but on the other hand I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment behind it, and when you see the police blocking the bike lane to get their coffee day after day it's only a matter of time before you snap.

Finally, here's someone looking to raise a bunch of money for oversized stem caps:

Yes, we've all been tormented by ordinary stem caps for far too long, and it's good to know that the end of their reign of terror is a mere $15,500 away.

Friday, December 1, 2017

BSNYC Friday No Quiz!

Wait a minute--could it be?  Why yes!  It's another Outside column!

They should just let me write the whole damn magazine already.

Moving on, I'm pleased to announce I treated myself to a bicycle ride this morning.  No wood, no crabon, just a metal bike with metal wheels:

I am extremely fond of this bicycle--it's my favorite bendy-bar bike--and really when it comes down to it is there anything you can't do on a road bike with mountain bike pedals and medium reach brakes?  Well, sure, but it's pretty goddamn versatile, and it fits 35mm tires with plenty of room to spare:

I picked these tires up awhile back in the spirit of trying something new, and so far they've been great, but the venerable Panaracer Pasela remains my favorite.

As for my ride, you'll no doubt be thrilled to learn I enjoyed it very much, because there's nothing better than knowing other people are out riding while you're working.  I even treated myself to a fancy farm-to-table lunch at the Stone Barns Center For Food And Agriculture:

I spent $15 because that's just the sort of decadent lifestyle I lead.

Anyway, Stone Barns is a lovely place, though they have a patently absurd policy with regard to bicycles:

Keep in mind this rack is like half a mile from the cafĂ©, which would require like 15 minutes of cleated clomping each way.  Also keep in mind that while they don't allow bikes you're perfectly welcome to drive around the place in your car, and there are multiple parking lots on the grounds:

Yes, welcome to America, a topsy-turvy place where bikes are more dangerous than cars and guns keep you safe.

I should say though that any time I've stopped here I've ignored the sign and so far I haven't had any trouble.  There was this one time when the woman in the booth balked a bit, but I laid it on thick about how I'd ridden all the way up from the city and how I promised to ride really slowly.  She acquiesced, and incredibly I managed not to kill anybody with my 20lb pedal-powered death machine.

And with that, I leave you to your weekends.  Enjoy, ride safe, and thanks for reading.  Your bill is in the mail.

--Wildcat Rock Machine