Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The answer, my Fred, is blowin' in the wind.

The End of Days.

Even before the whole thing with Femke and the motor, we all knew it was just a matter of time before the Lord held the sport of cycling accountable for its many sins.  The only question was exactly how and when He* would finally smite the infernal Lycra-clad Legions of Hades once and for all.  Well, we now have our answer to this two-fold question, and it was with a powerful wind this past Sunday that Our Father did lay waste to the Freds:

*Yes, God is a man.  Deal with it.  He's also white, a fictional character, and an asshole.

See, the Freds were vile and wretched in God's eyes:

And so at the beginning of the amateur bike race He did summon the Four Winds of the Fredpocalypse from the Eight Corners of the Earth**, which did cause considerable "bunching" of the field:

**The Earth is a flat octagon, anyone who tells you otherwise is part of the NASA round Earth conspiracy.

Though some of the Freds just went right on riding because their bicycles were motorized:

(Yeah, attacking into a 100kph headwind, that's not suspicious at all.)

Soon though even those with motors could not continue, and the godless Freds were like the chaff which the wind driveth away:

Or like the chafing which the chamois cream driveth away, if you prefer the King Fred Version.

Alas, the Freds could not find purchase upon the tarmac with their plastic clown shoes:

And the Lord did transform their wind-cheating wheels into sails which did carry their plastic bikes away:

Oh, no, wait.  That's a Wilier, the same brand of bike Femke was riding:

So yeah, forget all the God stuff, he must have just hit the "overdrive" button by accident and the thing's trying to wheelie away from him.

Anyway, it was then the Freds did realize with terror in their hearts that their Father had forsaken them:

Some gathered together in prayer:

But it was too late, and their Father heard them not.

Others attempted to invoke false prophets with their heathen Fredly incantations:

But hold their lines the Freds could not, even with the full might of their scranuses upon their top tubes:

And when the top tubes did snap they did writhe in scrotastic agony:

And lo the Fred race was canceled.

A-meh and Holy Luau.

Of course instead of canceling the race they could have simply turned around, or at least made it into a giant trackstanding contest:

But nobody's ever accused Freds of spontaneity.

Or of having bike-handling skills.

Speaking of turning the tables, Stan's NoTubes has won a court case against the world's most litigious bike company:

A patent dispute dating back to 2008 between Stan’s NoTubes and Specialized has been resolved in favor of Stan’s. The dispute centered on Stan’s ZTR rims with Bead Socket technology, a bead hook shape that allowed for easier and more secure mounting of tubeless tires. Specialized released rims in 2008 that used a similar design, and Stan’s filed with a U.S. District Court to protect its patent.

Wow, it's hard to believe a company so protective of its own intellectual property would copy somebody like that.  Ripping off Stan's is almost as bad as trying to claim you own the concept of a city in France:

"I had assumed I could not register Roubaix as a trade mark as it is a geographical location well known in cycling, not to mention the wide-spread use of the term Roubaix throughout the industry," Richter said in a press release sent out Saturday. "I thought I could freely use Roubaix ... To be informed I cannot use the name is devastating.  I invested my life savings, military severance pay, as well as all my Veteran's Affairs award for my illness into Café Roubaix."

Remember that whole thing?  That was fun.

Still, undeterred by their failures to both rip off Stan's and prevent other people from using the names of cities for their own nefarious purposes, Specialized now plan to introduce a new proprietary tubeless rim system that will circumvent Stan's patent.  It's called the Cleveland, and instead of using sealant you simply fill the tire with ground meat like a sausage.  Naturally, your choice of filling determines the ride quality, and it's particularly well-suited to fat bikes:


Sure, it's a little extra work and you'll need some new tools, but it's worth it not to have to worry about pinch flats anymore:

Though your cholesterol is another matter.

Lastly, in Berlin, some "left-wing extremists on bicycles" are committing what, here in America, would be the ultimate act of blasphemy:

A gang of about 50 masked left-wing extremists on bicycles torched or trashed nearly 50 luxury cars over the weekend in attacks to protest gentrification of the once-low-rent districts near the center of the German capital.

The attacks just after midnight on Saturday and Sunday mornings caused an estimated $1.1 million in damage and left behind the smoldering remains of 48 Mercedes, BMWs and Porsches. Some of the masked attackers smashed the windows of the cars; others threw plastic containers with flammable materials through the broken windows.

Apparently the idea is to prevent property in the neighborhood from becoming unaffordable:

This weekend's attacks came in areas where rents have soared and property prices have skyrocketed more than five-fold in recent years to as much as $615 per square foot. Many squatters live in areas near the attacks. Last month, 500 police raided one of the largest buildings occupied by squatters after some of the residents had attacked and injured riot police. The illegal occupants are still there.

Though this is sure to backfire, because when people in Brooklyn read that property in this trendy Berlin neighborhood is only $615 per square foot they'll be moving there in droves.

Many left-wingers in Berlin, where squatting has a long and vibrant tradition, feel they are entitled to defend their way of living and that burning the luxury cars will scare away yuppies and wealthy investors.

Wrong!  Gentrifiers love burned-out cars, it's the ultimate in street cred.

I'd say it's pretty likely this gang of so-called "left wing extremists on bicycles" is being funded by the real estate developers.

Monday, February 8, 2016

No Shoes No Service

Did you know the Eskimos have over 100 clichés for snow?  It's true!  They include words that translate as "fresh snow," "more goddamn snow," and "it's enough with the snow, put a friggin' harpoon in me."

Similarly, we cyclists have a more sophisticated relationship with everybody's favorite throwable form of precipitation.  In particular, we know when the snow's rideable and when it isn't.  If you're a seasoned cyclist, a quick glance out the window is enough to tell you whether you should head out into the whiteness or stay inside and fire up your digi-Fred avatard on Zwift:

Such was the case on Friday when we received a few inches of the sort of fluffy, crunchy, sticky snow that makes for ideal riding.  So I headed onto the Marin Pine Mountain 1 and into the virginal whiteness:

All was quiet save for the odd amateur nature photographer or snow runner, and emerging from beneath the snowless overpasses into the pristine wilderness felt positively Narnian:

The snow was deep and crunchy enough to provide protection for the trail and traction for me, and the temperature was warm enough that there was no ice hiding beneath to make the going treacherous:

After awhile the footprints disappeared and the trail was a blank page upon which I would write Tales of Mountain Fredness with my knobby tires:

By the way, due to its weighty clinginess, ideal riding snow is also ideal carcake snow, and I did take a break from my ride to do some carcake-spotting:

The best carcakes are the "goatee" kind that extend onto the hood:

If you're lucky you get to see one of these goatees make liftoff when the driver hits 40mph, at which point it will fly up in the air and land in an explosion of snow on the vehicle behind it.

If you're unlucky the operator of the vehicle behind it will be you.

After contemplating the carcakes I resumed my trek and crunched my way up one of my secret deer-ridden climbs, affording me a view of the Hudson and the Palisades beyond:

Although all of this probably would have been manageable on a "regular" mountain bike the "plus"-sized Marin was ideal, and at this point the whole "fat-but-not-FAT-fat" thing has pretty much won me over as it really is an ideal "just grab it and do whatever" bike:

(It's NOT a fat bike.)

I suppose I should return it to them but you really can't evaluate a bike properly until you've ridden it for an entire calendar year, and even then you really should keep it for at least another year or two to account for any variables, not to mention annual fluctuations in precipitation due to climate change, etc.

In other words Marin can expect it back by 2020 at the earliest, by which point I'm sure we'll all have moved onto another wheel size.

Meanwhile, the Etixx-QuickStep professional bicycle racing team has been omitted from this year's Tour of Qatar owing to "discipline" problems:

What kind of discipline problems?  Well, apparently it takes them too long to change their shoes before podium ceremonies:

Al-Thani cited a lack of respect for the requirements of live television coverage as the principal reason not to invite Etixx-QuickStep, complaining that the team’s stage-winning riders had delayed too long before reporting for podium ceremonies.

“For the podium, we asked them not to do interviews [immediately after the finish] because we have limited time for the podium, we are live on air. But they take too much time to change their shoes,” 

Oh, silly Al-Thani.  They're not changing their shoes.  They're swapping blood and urine samples to evade the drug testers!

Hey, it takes time to set up a Whizzinator:

As for the women's team, according to Al-Thani, they're just lazy:

Al-Thani said. “At the Ladies Tour of Qatar, they don’t change their shoes, but QuickStep wanted to take a chair, they wanted to change their shoes, lie down and after that do an inteview. We told them for a couple of years not to do it but they still did it.

Plus, they're not even nice to the special hurry-up lady!

“Last year we sent a special lady to hurry them up and they talked to her not in a very nice way and they would wave her off like that. That is not good, you know.

Wow, the nerve of those women, wanting to relax in a chair after racing across the freaking desert.  Frankly I find it shocking that a country with Qatar's impeccable women's rights record wouldn't be more accommodating:

Women’s Rights

Provisions of Law No. 22 of 2006, Qatar’s first codified law to address issues of family and personal status, discriminates against women. Under Article 36, a marriage contract is valid when a woman’s male guardian concludes the contract and two male witnesses are present. Article 57 forbids husbands from hurting their wives physically or morally, but article 58 states that it is a wife’s responsibility to look after the household and to obey her husband. Marital rape is not a crime.

Still, I guess Ettix-QuickStep is lucky they don't get treated like the typical migrant worker over there:

Workers typically pay exorbitant recruitment fees and employers regularly take control of their passports when they arrive in Qatar. Many migrant workers complain that their employers fail to pay their wages on time, if at all. Migrant workers are prohibited from unionizing or engaging in strikes, although they make up 99 percent of the private sector workforce. Many migrant workers are obliged to live in cramped, unsanitary conditions, especially those working without documentation.

Speaking of exploiting workers, Uber is "disrupting" the bike messenger industry by not providing benefits:

Uber does not pay workers' compensation insurance because it classifies its couriers as independent contractors, who are considered to be in business for themselves and are not covered by state and federal labor laws. (For basically all of its New York drivers, Uber pays workers' comp through the Black Car Fund, which was established years ago for the hired-car industry.) Traditional courier companies, by contrast, are required to hire messengers as employees and to pay workers' comp, unemployment insurance and other fees.

Furthermore, by classifying their couriers as contractors, neither Uber nor other on-demand companies have to pay minimum wage—a potential issue for foot messengers, who don't necessarily make enough deliveries in an hour to earn $9 in commissions.

I'm not sure why a company with over a billion in revenue needs to take over a quaint industry like bicycle delivery, but I guess that's how Silicon Valley does sandbagging.

Friday, February 5, 2016

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz It's Snowing Outside Oh My God I Need A Fat Bike!!!

Do you like lights?  Do you like multitools?  Well, have you ever wished you could have both of those things together in one unwieldy object?  Me neither.  Nevertheless, here are some people who want $70,000 in order to sell you just that:

And while I'm not particularly taken with the product, I do give the inventors credit for making what very well may be the greatest entrance in the history of Kickstarter:

Incredibly, they've simultaneously managed to evoke a pair of supervillains welcoming you to their underground lair, and a pair of swingers welcoming you to their key party:

Either way, they're going to erase your memory before you leave:

Thank god for that.

Anyway, the way the combination bike light/multitool works is that you're riding along a path at dusk when you encounter a fellow rider in mechanical distress:

So you stop and offer assistance:

And which point she turns around and HOLY FUCKING SHIT SHE'S A ZOMBIE!!!

But she's a friendly zombie, and so you remove your combination bike light/multitool:

And proceed to overhaul her shifter in the dark:

Sure, it's 2016 and your smartphone probably already has a light in it, but Kickstarter isn't about stuff you need, it's about asking for large amounts of money so you can combine random stuff that hasn't been combined yet.

Then, when you get home, you can use it to open a box:

Even though you probably have a million other things in the house you could also use for this purpose, not to mention lights.

Also, you can keep it on the fridge:

Or hang it awkwardly from your wrist:

Or even shower with it:

By the end of the video, it became fairly clear to me that the inventors are indeed supervillains, and the combination bike light/multitool with its freaky eye and alien shape is actually some kind of mind control device:

Meanwhile, speaking of futuristic things you probably don't need, the mayor wants to build a streetcar along the Great Hipster Silk Route:

Mr. de Blasio said on Thursday that he planned to build a new streetcar line along the waterfront from Brooklyn to Queens, a stretch of real estate that now commands stupefying prices but offers almost no public transit options. “Not everybody rides bicycles,” observed Richard Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor.

Of course, streetcars would aid and abet the rampage of gentrification.

Not that more public transit isn't a good thing, but I really wish they'd stop making excuses for people when it comes to riding bikes.  Sure, I realize this is mostly a gift from de Blasio to the real estate developers, but I'd love to hear somebody in an official capacity say, "You people in this part of the city have subways, buses, bike lanes, and a shitload of Citi Bike stations.  How much more do you need?!?  Ride a friggin' bike already!"

Then, instead of lavishing more amenities on the Great Hipster Silk Route, they could build some light rail somewhere people really need it:

But I guess that wouldn't look snazzy enough in the renderings:

And to be fair the city would probably face a lot of opposition from people crying, "THEY'RE COMING TO GENTRIFY US!"

I'm sure by 2035 you'll be able to leave your million-dollar studio apartment in Astoria, check out a Citi Bike, ride it directly onto a streetcar, and ride right off it again in Brooklyn to your brunch in Sunset Park without touching foot to pavement.

I know what you're thinking:  "Yeah, right.  And they'll send a Canadian to the Moon."

Hey, it could happen.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right that's fantastic, and if you're wrong you'll see why cargo bikes are for "woosies."

Thanks very much, ride safe, and ride safely.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) Alleged motordoper Femke Van den Driessche's father and brother are currently facing charges for:

--Drug trafficking
--Tax evasion
--Parakeet theft

2) What is this?

--An onboard cooling system
--The Spin Doctor Clean Machine Colon Cleaner from Nashbar*
--Helmet doping
--All of the above

*Enter discount code "IRRIGATEME" at checkout

3) Eddy Merckx rides an ebike.


4) Because they require different doping programs.


5) Why is this cyclist nonplussed?

--He showed up late for the bike polo match now everyone's already gone
--His helmet strap buckle keeps getting caught in his beard
--He's wearing a salad bowl on his head
--All of the above

6) I'm STILL not getting a fat bike.


7) Earn money while you ride by becoming a:

--Food delivery person
--Pedicab driver
--Human billboard

***Special Fred-By-Numbers Bonus Video!***