Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Official Post-Pre Announcement!

[Please note there will be no post Friday, April 21st as I'll be doing "ride reconnaissance," but I'll be back on Monday the 24th with regular updates.  The Bike Forecast will not be affected.]

Remember how yesterday I pre-announced the pre-ride to the Gran Fondon't?

Well know I'm officially announcing it, and here's the official flyer.  Officially:

So I guess everything after the flyer qualifies as a post-announcement.

Also, please note that officially the official name of this ride is the "BSNYC BOOMB! Pre-Fondon't Ride."  The "BOOMB" stands for Beers On Old Man Brooks.  This is because the Brooks Bicycle Saddle-Making Concern is buying the beers afterward.  Isn't that nice of them?

You bet it its.

Plus, if you show up on a bike equipped with a Brooks saddle you get...well, you get nothing, apart from perhaps the sense of smug self-satisfaction that comes from owning a Brooks.

"I want to join this ride of yours!," you're now shouting into your monitor or smartphone.  "How do I register?"

You don't.  Just show up.  For past rides I've asked people to RSVP via email, but screw that.  Just come to the corner of Broadway and 9th Avenue in Manhattan this coming Saturday morning and be ready to roll at 8:30am:

It's very easy to get there via the Harlem or Hudson River Greenways, the subway, or even the Metro North, but if you're still confused then maybe this isn't the ride for you.

The Route

We'll ride north through Van Cortlandt Park into Westchester, up the South County Trailway for a bit, then cut over over to the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) for the return trip.  The OCA is unpaved and there are roots and rocks.  While this will justify your recent purchase of a state-of-the-art gravel bike, your regular road bike will work just as well, though I'd recommend tires over 25mm wide--which you're undoubtedly using anyway, because skinny tires are like soooo out of style.

The South County and the OCA are flat, but we'll go up a couple of decent climbs in between.  If you've never ridden the OCA it's a lot of fun.  We can also work in a coffee stop.

I still haven't decided where we'll go for beers afterwards, but most likely it'll be reasonably close to where we started.

Total distance will probably be around 30 miles, give or take.

If you need a GPS route map complete with elevation and exact mileage then maybe this isn't the ride for you.

The Pace

My racing days are long behind me and as the father of seventeen (17) children I don't have much hustle left in me.  If you want pacelines and attacks I'm happy to point you towards the Gimbels Ride.  In fact there's a pretty decent chance I'll be rolling up in cutoffs and a t-shirt because that's where I'm at in life.  At the same time it's not like I have all day to futz around, so you should be able to get over a hill or two and handle your bike on dirt.  This should be a spirited ramble as opposed to a slog.

Your End of the Bargain

As I mentioned yesterday, in exchange for the free beer and my expert guidance through suburbia I ask that you snap some pictures during the ride and email me at least one good one afterwards, along with some words for context if warranted.  I will then incorporate these pictures into a future post which will most likely appear on the Brooks blog.  So if you've ever complained about my shitty photography, now's your chance to do better.

That should about cover it, but if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments.  Otherwise see you Saturday!


--Wildcat Rock Machine

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Where the hell have you people been all day??? (Also, a low-key pre-announcement.)

Remember awhile back when I said that there was a 59% chance I'd curate some kind of Pre-Fondon't?

And remember how I said that if it did happen I'd give you short notice?

Well, here's your short notice:

Yes, that's right, THIS VERY SATURDAY, I'll lead whoever feels like it on a moderate-length mixed-terrain ride.  Then, we'll stop for beers, which I'm pretty sure I can get one of my generous sponsors to pay for!  How's that sound?

Of course, this being merely a pre-Fondon't build-up ride, this is merely a pre-announcement for the pre-Fondon't ride.  I'll give you all the exact details between now and Friday, mostly because I'm still inventing them.  That will be the Actual Announcement.  Nevertheless, I'm sure you have many questions in the meantime, so here's an FAQ:

Why the short notice?

Two reasons:

1) As a semi-professional bike blogger, noted author, father of 17 children (and mother of 9), and lead guitarist of the rock group Unicorn Glitterfuck, I'm incredibly busy--so busy it's difficult to find a free day to ride bicycles in a recreational fashion.  Therefore, instead of waiting for the perfect day, which will probably never come, I just figured, "Fuck it, let's do it Saturday;"

3) Giving short notice means nobody has time to do anything stupid like travel to get to this thing, and that there will probably only be a few of us. 

What time will it start?

Probably 8:30am.  I'll get back to you.

Where will we meet?

Probably Upper Manhattan or the Bronx.  Or maybe Central Park but I don't know if I feel like going all the way down there.  I'll get back to you.

What's the route?

We'll head north via the Bronx, cut a swath through lower Westchester County, and wind up back in the Bronx at a place where beer is served.  There will be pavement, dirt, and some trespassing.  I'll give you more details in the official announcement.  Total distance will probably be in the neighborhood of 30 miles.

What do you want from me?

Ah, yes, I'm glad you asked.  You know that annoying thing they do at weddings where they put a disposable camera at every table and ask the guests to take pictures?  (Come on, you remember: you got drunk and thought it would be hilarious to take a picture of your own crotch.)  Well, we all have cameras in our phones now that we're living in the future, so all I ask is that afterwards everyone send me at least one (1) photo from the ride (and not of your own crotch) along with a few words for context if warranted.  I will then incorporate some of these into a future post.

In other words, you'll be doing my job for me.

All of this is already WAY too many words to say "Let's all ride on Saturday."  Stay tuned for more details.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Bloviate" is "voilate" with the letters rearranged and then a "B" in front. Think about it.

Well, you missed one heck of a talk about the mountainous biking yesterday evening, unless you didn't:

By the way, regarding the bike above...titanium rims?

Spinergy titanium rims, 21 speeds, dual mountain and street bike. Bike is a mountain bike that has been updated to ride in mountains and streets. Price negotiable. contact Jeff. 

I certainly don't remember Spinergys coming in titanium but perhaps I've blocked it out.

Anyway, if at the start of my blogging career 10 years ago you'd told me that one day I'd be making wisecracks about mountain bikes in the basement of an REI I'd have said, "Hmmm, that sounds about right."  By the way, here's what I look like when I'm in the middle of bloviating:

And here's what it looks like when I'm catching a baby that's been thrown at me:

Never say, "No applause, just throw babies" because there's always someone who'll take you literally.

Anyway, NYCMTB put together last night's event, and if you ride the knobbly-tired bicycles around here you should find some way to support them.  This would go a long way towards assuaging my guilt, because these people do a lot of hard work to maintain the trails, whereas my only "contribution" is making stupid jokes about dropper posts.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the answer is yes, somebody did arrive by pennyfarthing:

And this very same person was kind enough to gift me with another 19th century relic.  Ever seen one of these?  It's called a "book," apparently:

Basically you just open it up and swipe:

Pretty cool!

I look forward to reading it, which I will do just as soon as I get a new prescription for my monocle.

And with that I accepted my customary payment in Clif bars and was on my way:

(It was a two-box night, which means my 17 children can eat for a week.)

You'll forgive me then for signing off, since last night's event kicked at the ungodly hour of 7pm and thus kept me out way past my bedtime.  It was dark when I got home and everything!

See you tomorrow.

I love you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine (aka "Unicorn Glitterfuck")

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Future's So Shocking I Gotta Wear Pads

***Importent Reminder***

Tonight this is happening:
Rest assured that I've been preparing assiduously--not by working on my presentation (I still have no idea what I'm going to say) but by riding one of those stupid all-terrain bicycles with only one gear ratio:

And then going to the taco truck:

I've also got caps and stuff from Walz to give away, and according to UPS there's a box o' coffee from Just Coffee currently en route to my palatial estate, so if all goes according to plan at least some of you will be going home capped and caffeinated.

Plus, if you're willing to reach into your wallet, purse, or wherever you keep your currency, you can buy a copy of my latest book, The Ultimate Manual Of Velocipeding on Velocipedes: A Velocipede Primer, which I will even bedazzle for you:

So don't miss it, because New York Magazine called it "the hottest ticket in New York City:"

So there you go.

In other news, remember the Specialized FutureShock?  It's that road bike suspension system you're not using:

Well, a friend alerted me to the drama of professional cycling person Niki Terpstra's crash due to a failed FutureShock:

Apparently, despite the vertical frame compliance and comfort across all of the major touch points afforded by the FutureShock system, Terpstra just wanted an old-fashioned rigid bicycle.  However, instead of giving him one, Specialized gave his FutureShock some Viagra so it would behave like one.  The results were disastrous:

The FutureShock system relies on a cartridge between the stem and the steerer that allows the cockpit to move in response to road input. According to Specialized, Terpstra requested a rigid component so his handlebars did not move, so Specialized developed such a piece. A pre-production rigid cartridge ultimately made it onto Terpstra’s bike due to a communication error. This cartridge was not approved for racing use. Quick-Step’s seven other riders used the non-rigid FutureShock system during the race.

Specialized, of course, apologized profusely:

Heading into Paris-Roubaix, a few of our riders asked to try a rigid cartridge as well as the fully-active Future Shock on their new Roubaix bikes. In response to this, we developed a pre-production rigid steerer cartridge and later an approved engineered cartridge for the race.

In the days leading up, Niki Terpstra chose to race the rigid option. Unfortunately, a missed communication on the Specialized team resulted in the pre-production part remaining in Niki’s bike instead of being replaced by the approved engineered part. Ultimately, this failed during the race. All other riders raced on Future Shock equipped bikes.

Though I can't help thinking this is the Fredly equivalent of putting a horse head in your bed, and a message to the world that all Freds who refuse the forward march of technological progress will be systematically eliminated.

As for me, I'll stick to my Rivendell road bike suspension system, thankyouverymuch:

Yes, between that and my Rivendell electronic barend shifters I'm enjoying all the hot new cycling trends while staying true to the retrogrouch ethos:

And yes, of course there's a friction option:

Now all I have to do is add a Rock Bar and I can do some serious "weighted cycle training:"

Train Smarter!

- Bring your training to the next level with the Rock Bar. Designed for use in weighted cycle training, the Rock Bar is available with specially designed, fully adjustable weights.

- The design allows the Rock Bar to be attached to the bike at the best locations for weighted cycling...below your center of gravity. Attach below the down tube or the top tube.

- Adding weight to the bike while cycling will increase your strength and power at your ideal cadence. With today's bikes getting lighter and lighter, it is important now to incorporate weights while cycling. The Rock Bar is available with 7 pounds of weight.

Guess the new question is going to be #whatballastyourunning.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Holy Thursday, I Just Realized It's Good Friday Tomorrow!!!

So tomorrow is Good Friday.

What's so good about it?

I won't be posting, that's what!

I will, however, be back on Monday, April 17th with regular(ish) updates, and of course the Bike Forecast will continue unmolested.

Another wonderful thing about Monday is that I'll be bloviating about the burgeoning pastime of "all-terrain bicycling" at the REI in the popular South of Houston* neighborhood in Manhattan:

(*It's not pronounced "Houston" like the city, it's pronounced "Dallas" for reasons unknown.)


--My highly subjective opinions about bicycles presented as immutable facts;
--Exciting giveaways, including caps from Walz and coffee from Just Coffee;
--The opportunity to pay NYCMTB money in exchange for a copy of my latest book, which I will even sign and bedazzle for you if you'd like:

And in terms of practical advice, I'll clue you in on how to get to and from some pretty good dirt riding in and around New York City without having to rely on a car (or an expensive bouncy bike, for that matter).

This could lead to a whole new career for me:

"If you think abut the disc brake in everything, whether it’s the car or the motorcycle and also the mountain bike, it’s so logical because with the disc brake you can have so much more precise control, and I believe it’s adding more safety, not danger," Sinyard said. "If anything the chainring on the front is the more dangerous piece. The disc brake is the future. In the future we won’t look at road bikes that don’t have disc brakes. They will all have them.

Well in the present I won't look at Specialized bikes regardless of what braking system they use, so I suppose that's fair.

Of course, Sinyard is specifically talking about the Pro Freds here, but the fact is once he conquers them the Amateur Freds will then fall like dominos (or like triathletes), since Amateur Freds grow squeamish and uncomfortable when their bikes no longer reflect what the pros are using--and that means he gets to sell them new frames, new wheels, new everything.

It's genius.  GENIUS I TELL YOU.

And for the record, let me say I'm all for it, because I can't wait until all the little Freddies are riding around with these stupid things on their bikes:

(It's the 21st century "lawyer lip.")

But don't worry, little Freddies, the ones on your bike will be crabon:

Pictured here are pre-production 3D printed prototypes, the finished product will – unsurprisingly for Tune – arrive in carbon fibre.

If nothing else, the elegant simplicity of the road bicycle has now gone the way of rotary phones and, well, pretty much every other kind of phone.  For that matter, so has the idea of a quiet road bike.  Hit your local Fred route and you'll be amazed at how loud road bikes have become.  Between the whooshy crabon wheels and the incessantly ticking BB-whatever bottom brackets they already sounded rickety enough; then came the discs and the concomitant rotor rub whenever the road surface was anything but completely dry.  Throw these new disc brake pie plates into the mix and the road bike in the future is sure to sound like a real rattletrap.

I love it.

And with that, I'm off, but will see you back here on Monday.

Ride safe.

I love and miss you,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednes·day ˈwenzdā,ˈwenzdē/

Do you long to be liberated from the chains of drivechains?  Do you dream of a bike with the mag wheels of a vintage BMX freestyler, the dork factor of a folder, and the geometry of an early 19th century Laufmaschine?  Well, your wait is finally at an end, thanks to...this thing:

Of course the bicycle took its current form like 130 years ago and since then we haven't looked back.  (Especially the triathletes, because when they look back they crash.)  So why then are we poised to make a return to the old-timey velocipede?  Well, because now that we have disc brakes the technology has finally caught up with it:

Yes, disc brakes can breathe new life into any contraption no matter how dated, which is why I'm looking forward to the return of the pennyfarthing:

The massive front wheel diameter will have you rolling over gravel with ease, though you'll definitely want to shift your weight back when applying that powerful brake, because taking a header on a pennyfarthing is easy enough as it is:

You learn something new every day, and today I learned a pennyfarthing crash sounds like a Victorian-era thief dropping a sackful of silver while he's escaping through the window.

BUT WAIT!  There's also rear-wheel steering, so you can turn on a farthing:

Though when you really think about it you never need to make such tight turns, with the possible exception of bike polo, but even then due to the tight wheelbase and small wheel size you'd need to get all new mallets:

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, you've got this:

If only there were some kind of bike that split the difference between a tall bike and a chainless 21st century velocipede...

Ah, forget it, it'll never happen.

And in apparel news, you'll be pleased to learn that Fred slippers have finally broken the $1,000 barrier:

We first saw them on Dan Martin’s feet at the 2016 Tour de France, and now Mavic is bringing the Comete Ultimate shoes to market. They can be yours this fall for the eye-popping sum of $1,000.

You read that right. For a cool grand, you get two-piece construction — an outer carbon shell with a swappable liner within, akin to ski boot design — that Mavic says will create a more connected feel between rider and bike. The system is also supposedly more efficient: 4.2 watts saved per pedal stroke, according to Mavic. Two Boa closures snug up the carbon shell over the soft liner.

Hmmm, an outer shell with a swappable liner, eh?

So in other words it's basically a Fredly take on the SPD sandal:

Except with SPD sandals you've got to buy the liner separately:

Anyway, the idea of $1,000 crabon roadie sandals seems almost as ridiculous as the idea of shoes that require dedicated socks...which has also happened, so never mind:

At this rate the only way you're going to turn any heads at the rollout of your next Fred ride is to show up in a pair of $1,030 Manolo Blahnik pumps that have been retrofitted to accept a road cleat:

All the expense and Euro flair of a road shoe with even less walkability.

You really can't lose.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


(Does that sticker say "I [heart] TRI or I [heart] TRUMP?")

Visiting Gothamist yesterday, the headline "How To Bike In NYC Without Being A Jerk" caught my eye:
"Oh, great," I thought to myself.  "Another blowhard whining about how those crazy 'bikers' don't follow the law."  So I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to pick the thing apart, only to find out the story was in fact mine:

It's always strange when you bump into yourself online like that.

I do still have an issue though, which is that the link says I'm "inimitable," when I am in fact totally imitable:

When my 10-year blogaversary rolls around I'll probably give you the "Bike Snob NYC" title if you ask nicely.

I'm keeping Wildcat Rock Machine, though.


Speaking of mountain bikes, BikeRadar "takes the piss" (as they say over there) out of singlespeed mountain bikes:

I was very disappointed to see this--not because I think people shouldn't make fun of singlespeed (they absolutely should), but because I thought people had finally forgotten about them now that it's all about fat bikes and plus bikes and "bikepacking" and low gears that dwarf even the most massive pie plate.  Once people start griping about something this way it usually means that thing is coming back into fashion.  Frankly I don't think I could live through another singlespeed mountain bike craze, and the only worse scenario I can imagine is an Aerospoke comeback.

Also, I will say that while I appreciated the contrary attitude behind this this spirited take, I do think the writer got it exactly wrong.  Consider this:

The problem here is, if you review a singlespeed as a mountain bike, it should get a terrible score – no matter how well it’s built. That’s because it’s a terrible mountain bike due to having a 3mph operational window on purpose.

Oh, I dunno about that.  Singlespeeds are much faster uphill than geared bikes.  In fact, most Mountain Freds can't even make it up a hill because they lose momentum halfway up and proceed to fall over due to their overdependence on tiny gears.  Plus, once you make it to the top of a climb, gear ratios don't really mean that much, and the real factor in how fast you descend is gravity.  No Mountain Fred in the history of visored helmets has ever utilized his or her big/small combo.  Ever.

As for flat terrain, sure, singlespeeds are slow there, but so are squishy bikes or ones with 3-inch tires inflated to 9psi.  And who the hell rides mountain bikes on flat terrain anyway?  That's what those new gravel bikes are for!

And this:

Singlespeeds are terrible in the way iron tyres on wooden wheels are terrible. They’re terrible in the way the smoking room in a Zeppelin is terrible. They’re terrible like old British money, which was all like “That’ll be 3/16ths of a bob, nine shillings, a half-crown, a florin, 4d, six sovereigns, 240 pennies and thruppence… and there’s no use trying to load that flintlock pistol, sir. I’m closing up in 30 minutes.”

These things are all terrible in that they simply don’t need to be that way any more. Nowadays we have inflatable tyres, commercial jets and simple cash. We have the technology to change gears.

We also have the technology to obsessively track our feeble mileage and performance and we shouldn't be doing that all the time either.  Indeed, it's mountain bike shifting and suspension systems that are like the clunky wheels and currency of yore.  There's a reason a mountain bike that's only 10 years old looks like an antique, which is that this crap doesn't last: either it fails during use, or the rider simply gives up on maintaining it because it's "obsolete" now.  Mountain bikers also make even the most terminal road Fred seem like Grant Petersen in comparison.  Sure, the legions of roadies scowling their way over the GWB with their fascistic matching Rapha armbands are sort of depressing, but there are few things sadder than watching someone unload a $6,000 mountain bike from the hitch rack of a Nissan Armada and inflate the tires with a goddamn air compressor just to ride around in a city park in Queens.

Take a decent singlespeed and the latest boingy/squishy bike and I guarantee you that in 10 years' time the former will offer you a much better riding experience, while the latter will basically be tomorrow's Wildcat Rock Machine.

And yes, I realize I'm taking this far more seriously than I meant to, but how else am I going to justify my artisanal singlespeed?  (I do happen to think having a fancy singlespeed and a cheap geared bike is the appropriate allocation of resources.)

Lastly, ebikes are terrorizing Australia:

$1,200 fine...and he was even wearing a helmet!