Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's Wednesday And They're Coming For Your Top Tube

Further to Monday's post, here's a fun one:
As we all know, every time a motorist parks a car they're doing something monumentally important.  Indeed, it's a monumental engineering feat as significant as the Moon landing.  The rest of us, however, are merely in the way:

You can guess where this Twitter exchange went next.

Yes, thanks to the post-Apatow "inside the tortured soul of a comic" film and TV genre there's a sentiment among even middling comedians now that they're all misunderstood geniuses.  That's why when something they say elicits jeers because it's totally out of touch they deflect any critique with the whole "whiny PC white privilege" thing:
Wow, those two smuggies got under his skin as effortlessly as a puppy burrowing under a blanket.

Of course, in fairness to the comedian, he may have been traumatized by a failed attempt to walk over the Williamsburg Bridge years back:

It was an okay bit until the hackneyed stick-in-the-spoke comment.

Ultimately though, both the bike lane thing and the dooring rant share the same underlying theme (bicycles aside), which is that a lot of people lash out when they've done something wrong because they feel embarrassed.  A greater understanding of this would probably bump this guy's comedy up a notch, but he's been "doing just fine" as it is according to him, and I suppose there is a certain dignity to embracing mediocrity so good luck with that.

In other news, are step-through bikes becoming the new helmet?  Well, maybe, if a Dutch safety foundation has its way:

VVN claims that, based on a Swedish study, women’s bikes are safer because cyclists assume a better posture while riding women’s bikes and they have a lesser chance of getting a serious head injury when they are involved in traffic accidents. Other reasons given by VVN to ban men’s bikes in traffic are “dads giving their kid a ride with their bike” because this “may cause the child to fall off the bike or the bike to fall over as the dad takes a seat.”

Yes, the deadly allure of hitching a ride on a top tube is almost impossible to resist.  Just ask The King of Park Slope:

Okay, fine, neither passenger is actually hitching a ride on the top tube, but I just couldn't resist using the photo again.

Anyway, as the story points out, the whole idea of assigning genders to bicycles based on whether or not they have top tubes is kind of ridiculous:

They have a point; nobody complains about Citibikes and other shared bikes being gender neutral. In fact there is no reason to bring gender into it at all; racing bikes, where every ounce matters, have cross bars because the triangle is the most efficient structural form, and women racers have them. But in the city, a few ounces don’t matter all that much. It’s a design and safety issue, not a gender issue, when it comes right down to it. And thanks to the bike share systems, I don’t think any male rider is actually embarrassed by riding a bike without a crossbar.

Though I would argue that there are some riders who should be embarrassed to ride a bicycle without one.  Consider the Y-Foil for example:

And while it's debatable as to whether the beam of a Softride counts as a top tube, those too are a source of great shame:

Plus, if you try to give someone a ride on one of those then there's a good chance they'll get catapulted into next week:

So on balance the whole premise is pretty ridiculous, since obviously an upright step-through bike is more practical in a lot of non-sporting applications.  However, I do thing the thing about rider position and injury is an important point nobody seems to make (and hit has nothing to do with whether the bike has a top tube or not).  Consider a rider in this position:

And a rider in this position:

In the event of a crash, who do you think's going down harder?

Still, it's important to keep in mind that this same safety foundation also partnered with Shell on trying to get Dutch people to wear helmets, as someone mentioned in the comments on the article:

(Amusing headline wording courtesy of Google Translate)

Trying to sell the Dutch on helmets makes about as much sense as trying to open a Red Lobster at the Western Wall:

Finally, we all know that cyclists are part of a conspiracy to steal private property from hardworking Americans:

I looked Mitch Henck and was delighted to find that not only is he a radio host, but he's also a stand-up comedian:


Needs more bike material.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Well, So Much For Today's Post!

There I was, all ready to curate an ample serving of the day's mediocrity, when I got a call from the Apple factory informing me that my littlest kiddie is sick:

(Not my kid.  When my kid's sick he gets really pissed off and goes for your nuts.)

That meant I had to go pick him up, because a sick kid can't properly assemble the new iPhone X and it's a real drain on productivity.

Worst part is they dock his wages, and at $.15 an hour that's really gonna hurt my family's bottom line.

As for my productivity, it looks like that's going right out the window now that I've got to put on the Parenting Smock:

(Daddy's parenting smock gets results.)

Rest assured I'll strive to get this operation back on track, but in the meantime the Bike Forecast is updated and available for your perusal, and you can read about how the city of West Haven, CT is banning "reckless and dangerous" cycling in an attempt to outlaw kids on bikes:

See, this sort of thing is going on all up and down the East Coast:

And it's driving the squares crazy.

Anyway, that's all from me for now, but I'll certainly see you back here by tomorrow at the latest.

Thanks for understanding, and if you don't understand then you're always welcome to go fuck youself.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Monday, September 18, 2017

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say About Cyclists Then You're Probably An Idiot

Cycling: it's the closest you can get to the sensation of flight without leaving the ground.  (Not counting the inhalation of spray-on deodorant through a bath towel, of course.)  Whether you're riding to work, riding to the store, or just riding for no reason at all, you feel like you're miles above the ground, and once you're seduced by the kinetics of riding a bike you need it to feed your soul.

Unfortunately, there's always someone in a car out there ready to send you crashing to the ground, either literally or metaphorically.  It could be a hurled invective, it could be a violation of your right of way, or it could be them actually hitting you, either on purpose or by "accident."  But of course you've got "the same rights and responsibilities" as drivers [insert wanking emoji here], so as far as most people are concerned that's just the way it is.

As infuriating as this is, it used to stop there.  What I mean is that once you finished your ride and came home (assuming you made it home) you'd shut your door, crack open a recovery beverage, and eventually whatever frustrations you'd encountered out there on the road would melt away.  Not anymore.  Now the battle rages on across social media and in the comments section of any article on the subject of cycling, no matter whether the article's positive, negative or indifferent.

The upshot of all this is that unless you've one of the very few people who have managed to remain totally disconnected into 2017 then the "Runnem inna dyyyitch!" never, ever stops.

Take this recent piece by Peter Flax, former editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine:

Which itself is born of a Twitter exchange:

Surely my life would be more tranquil if I muted this acrimony, but when people threaten my way of life I find that watching funny cat videos or simply celebrating the awesomeness of cycling isn’t enough. I need to know what we’re up against.

Anyway, I had a Twitter exchange one early morning this week that really hit me hard. I had screenshot and then tweeted comments from four people, all expressing emphatically that they disliked bikes and wanted them off the road. (My favorite: “I hate when ppl ride bikes in the street like they cars…plz get hit.”)

Whenever I post this sort of stuff or share links about cyclists getting hit by cars, I typically get some pushback, sometimes genial and sometimes irritated, from people who feel like I’m being too dark. I’m used to it. In this case, a friend in the bike industry responded that my effort “seemed like a big waste of time” and that I should “go get a cup of coffee” because “we’re making progress.”

I think this idea of progress is at once empirically true and obvious bullshit.

It's a very good piece.  (Though I'd argue that when you're about to make a comparison to the Black Lives Matter in your cycling article it's time to take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard for a bit.)  But of course it wasn't long before the article elicited a new wave of toxic commentary:
I scanned some of this commentary, and it's the usual stuff about how cyclists feel entitled because their bicycles don't pollute, and how they're unfairly subjecting poor innocent drivers to their vulnerable presence, and that cyclists are somehow on the wrong end of Darwinism when anyone with half a brain can see it's the driver that's the plodding dinosaur and it's the cyclist who's the nimble and adaptable little warm-blooded mammal.

You know, bullshit.

Meanwhile, this past weekend Drunk Cyclist tagged me on another hateful exchange begun by someone apparently involved in something called "Barstool Sports:"
I was unfamiliar with Barstool Sports, but I looked it up and it turned out to be pretty much exactly what I suspected it was:

The site has received repeated criticism over content posted on Barstool Sports that critics of the site allege normalizes rape culture. Comments that have sparked debate include a post on a 2010 blog where Portnoy said "[E]ven though I never condone rape if you’re a size 6 and you’re wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right?"  Other elements that have received criticism include comments such as “we don't condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties ... however if a chick passes out that's a gray area”.

In light of this it was difficult to get too worked up, inasmuch as I've been defining myself in opposition to the American Sports Bro for pretty much as long as I remember.  I don't think there's every been a period of my life in which I haven't encountered people like this being hateful douchebags.  Given this, why wouldn't the people who hated me then not still hate me now?  It's hard to muster up the mental energy to waste on Kurt and Ram from "Heathers" when you resolved to stop doing so in elementary school:

Indeed, it's getting harder and harder for me to muster up the mental energy for any form of idiotic cycling commentary, inasmuch as it's so manifestly stupid that it sort of undermines itself.  At a certain point you might as well debate a flat-earther or a creationist.  At the same time, it's hard not to take inventory of all the hateful commentary with which we are now inundated, both cycling and non-cycling related, and wonder what it says about us and our future.  I mean surely the fact we have an internet troll for a president means we've hit some sort of intellectual low water mark, right?

Maybe.  Or maybe it's as simple as humanity's idiot quotient being sort of a universal constant, and all we're seeing is the digitization of that idiocy and the inevitable fallout.  Either way, from a strictly cycling perspective, here's the bottom line:
They can try to choke us out with our coal, but our victory is inevitable.

Friday, September 15, 2017

This Just In: New Outside Column!

Remember how I said I'd let you know when my new Outside column was up?

Well my new Outside column is up:

I always keep my word.

Or at least sometimes.

Well I did today.

See you Monday!

--Wildcat Etc. And So Forth

BSNYC Friday No Quiz But Don't Get Complacent Because I'm Liable To Spring One On You at Any Time

It's Friday, and as usual my latest Outside column is gestating inside whatever magic machine they have that puts it onto the Internet.  Rest assured that as soon as it's rendered I will duly flog it here.  So watch this space:

(When I snap my fingers you will wake up thinking you are Mario Cipollini.)

In the meantime, I'd like to apologize for my extremely poor performance on this morning's mountain bike outing:
(The only thing worse than my choice of line is my choice of jokes.)

Oh, what's that?  You were waiting for me?  Too bad.  As a semi-professional bike blogger I must always heed the Call of the Bicycle.  Also, there's always the Bike Forecast to keep you occupied, and if you don't want to read it because you don't live in New York then that's your own problem, isn't it?

Yes.  Yes it is.

Anyway, I should explain that when I say "poor performance" I don't mean riding slowly.  These days, riding slowly is what I do, and if anything I strive for slowness as it is stately and dignified.  Riding quickly is like shotgunning a fine wine, and I hold those who do so in deep contempt.

No, what I mean by "poor performance" is that I lacked the grace and poise I usually exhibit when riding an all-terrain bicycle.  Indeed, I was putting my foot down out there like this was a command performance of Riverdance:

Oh sure, I can blame the fact I haven't ridden a mountain bike in awhile, or that I was riding someplace I usually don't.  I can even blame the fact that I didn't use a precisely calibrated instrument make sure my #whatpressureyourunning was accurate to five decimal places.  But sometimes--just sometimes--you have to come to terms with the underlying problem:

Which is why I'm going to address the problem by upgrading to a far more expensive bicycle:

Maybe I should get a Farley:
Always kinda funny when corporate irreverence totally backfires.

Then I could set it up with one of these:
Sounds like something you'd keep in the kitchen drawer for making salads.

In any case, by this point we've all got one foot in the weekend so I'll let you go for now, though I'll be popping in again once the Outside thingy is ready.

Enjoy your weekend and ride safe,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Next year in Jerusalem!

So say the Giro d'Italia organizers, who will run three stages in Israel in 2018:

The Giro d’Italia cycling race will begin in Israel next year, marking the first time any leg of the sport’s three Grand Tours will take place outside of Europe.

Organisers said on Thursday that details of the exact route of the three stages to be held in Israel will be announced next week, with Italian and Israeli ministers making the announcement in Jerusalem along with the recently retired Spanish cyclist and two-times Giro winner Alberto Contador.

Yes, the inclusion of Contador is no accident, for now that he's in retirement he's finally embraced his true faith:

Contador's relationship with Hasidic Judaism began after the tainted steak incident, after which he would only eat meat that had been slaughtered under rabbinical supervision.  Then it just snowballed (or, if you prefer, matzoh balled) from there.

The website has also reported that the Israeli government will contribute towards running costs and will also be responsible for security, with the event expected to be the biggest security operation in Israel’s history.

Makes sense.  The Six-Day War took six whole days, and with only three stages it sounds like they're going to repel the Giro in about half the time.

And not only will the race begin in Jerusalem, but it's going to end at the Vatican:

According to the publicity firm that issued the press release, the race is to end at the Vatican, with a theme of co-existence and peace.

Wow.  Inasmuch as the route will basically cover the period from the Jewish diaspora to the establishment of Catholicism as the "one true church," it is now basically a giant Judeo-Christian Theme Ride.  Furthermore, this officially makes it the World's Most Ambitious Theme Ride, and it promises to put anything those irreverent Portlanders might come up with to shame:

Including this:

Onesies and Twosies—This is the type of oddball theme ride the month was made for. Dress in your best onesie and tour dive bars that serve drinks costing $2 or less. *Italian chef kiss*

And even this:

Pasta Costume Ride—Much like our last pick, we just really appreciate the idea of people gluing pasta to their clothes and riding bikes in the middle of the day. Pasta provided, but bring your own sauce. Seriously.

Yes, there's nothing quite like the smell of a Portlander's beard when it's full of clam sauce.

Then again, I hear there's a Passion of Jesus ride in the works for next year, and I suppose that could mount a significant challenge:

(Jesus portaging his crucifix onto Golgotha)

And yes, there will be towel hand-ups:

I can hardly wait:

Moving on, we've talked about Lucas Brunelle quite a bit this week, and here's something to help put that sort of riding in perspective:

I don't know what happened, there's no schadenfreude whatsoever on my part, and people are already pointing out the livery cab does not appear to be properly registered, but at the same time the video does not look good:

So whatever the circumstances, Brunelle waving his dick around in traffic while this sort of thing happens to cyclists too goddamn often is probably at the core of why I find him to be so contemptible.

Be safe out there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It's Wednesday, And You Know What That Means! (It means tomorrow's Thursday.)

Firstly, I'd like to thank the New York Cycling Club for inviting me to speak at their monthly membership meeting last night:

Which took place at a pub in Times Square:

Not only did I meet a lot of great people, but I also got two (2) beers out of it--plus an entire plate of food!

Hey, when you're a bike blogger you've got to learn how to live hand to mouth, and I'm not above ranting for my supper.

So what did the NYCC get in return?  Well, they got to hear me browbeat them for using the phrase "On your left," the abolition of said phrase being perhaps the pettiest and most quixotic of the many frivolous causes I champion:

Then to add insult to injury, they got to spend money for a copy of my book, which I further devalued by signing.

In ten (10) years of bike blogging I've given my share of talks to groups of bikey people, and without fail I'm always stricken by the graciousness and good cheer of the cycling community, and by the subsequent revelation that most of my criticisms of it apply entirely to myself--well, me and that maniac who yelled at me on the GWB last week for no reason.

I still don't know what happened there.

Oh, and while I'm sure they're all lovely people, every time I pass a Rapha group ride the right-wing aesthetic of people with matching armbands cycling in unison really creeps me out.

(It can't just be me.)

Anyway, my neuroses aside, it so happens that the NYCC is holding their annual Escape New York ride this Saturday, so if you're looking to take part in a two-wheeled exodus with a group of like-minded individuals then this is something you should look into:

I'd love to join myself, but these days I'm lucky if I can escape my block, so I don't know if it's gonna happen.  I'm also beyond remiss in curating another BSNYC Gran Fondon't--or for that matter curating the photos submitted by participants in this past spring's BSNYC BOOMB*! Pre-Fondon't, which featured at least one destroyed derailleur and an impromptu portaging section which I threw in there just to keep everyone honest and weed out the road cleats:

*[Beers on Old Man Brooks]

Rest assured however that I will recap that ride.  Not only that, but since so much time has gone by there will be plenty of room for fabrication, and it will doubtless take on epic proportions.  As for the Fondon't itself, I'm liable to spring that on you at any time.  Maybe I'll wait until the foliage is peaking.  Or, more likely, maybe I'll wait until I have a free weekend and the conditions seem favorable.  I've also been flirting with the idea of incorporating a barbecue, but to be totally honest I don't think I have the wherewithal to implement a plan so ambitious.  But who knows?

Regardless, I'll keep you posted.

Speaking of the almost stomach-churning goodness of the cycling community, I recently received an email from a reader in Washington (state) who asked me to share the following fundraiser, which I'm more than happy to do:

On September 10, 2017, The Major Taylor Project (MTP) had about 40 bicycles stolen* (valued at $50,000) from a storage container located at iDEA High School in Tacoma, WA.  MTP is an important program that "empowers youth from diverse communities through bicycling...students establish healthy habits, build relationships, gain confidence and discover their ability to affect positive change. "  MTP club locations are intentionally established to reach youth in low-income and diverse neighborhoods and can be found in middle- and high school throughout King and Pierce counties. They reach more than 500 students annually, where many test their skills and perseverance by biking 206 miles from Seattle to Portland on the annual STP. 

*UPDATE:  The number of bikes stolen is confirmed to be about 31, valued at about $25,000.

These bikes were stolen from our community and more importantly, from children.  These bicycles gave students the opportunity to:
* Go on weekly bike rides and explore their communities
* Learn about bicycle safety and maintenance
* Be a mechanism for advocating positive change in the community
* Receive training and leadership skills to assist and participate in bicycling events 

So if you're inclined to help out please do, because everyone deserves the opportunity to go on to a life of total Fred-dom.  I'd stop short of buying them Garmins though, because our society is clearly developing an overreliance on GPS as it is:

Gabriel Bishop of Sellersville, Bucks County, at 10:37 p.m. Saturday was driving on a bike path, running along the Lehigh River and parallel to Canal Street. Police said he was following a GPS unit, which led Bishop to drive onto the bike path from Hugh Moore Park.

Bishop then allegedly tried to reverse west on the bike path when he realized he couldn't head east any longer because the car couldn't fit under the South Third Street bridge.

Bishop was unable to stay on the bike path when it narrowed and the car rolled off into the river, landing on the driver's side, according to police. Investigators found the vehicle a quarter mile west from the South Third Street bridge.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that Gabriel Bishop of Sellersville, Bucks County selected the little bike icon on the Google Maps.

See, a lot of motorists think that menu is so they can choose which road user they want to kill, but it's actually directions specific to that particular road user, and therefore your well-intentioned murder plot is liable to backfire.

Finally, what's worse than Lucas Brunelle crashing your group ride?

(Lucas Brunelle: Schmuck On Wheels)

Some guy crashing your group ride on a stupid motorbike:

The salient moment is at around 3:10, and all I know is that this guy and Lucas Brunelle should definitely start riding together, because they'd make great skitch buddies.