Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hail Fellow Hel Ment.

As readers of "Rolling Stone" already know (just kidding, nobody reads "Rolling Stone" anymore), details on Bono's bicycle crash in Central Park have finally emerged, and they are not pretty:



While riding his bike through New York's Central Park on Sunday, the singer attempted to avoid another rider and was involved in what doctors have called a "high energy bicycle accident." Bono was rushed to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center's Emergency Department and underwent "multiple X-rays and CAT scans" followed by five hours of surgery. 

So who was this other rider?  A Strava segment-hunting Cat 4?  A weaving tourist on a rental bike?  David Byrne and Matthew Modine salmoning on a tandem?  We may never know.  One thing we do know though is that Bono is in pretty bad shape:

The singer suffered numerous serious injuries, including a "facial fracture involving the orbit of his eye," three separate fractures of his left shoulder blade and a fracture of his left humerus bone in his upper arm. The latter injury was particularly damaging, with the bone shattering in six different places and tearing through his skin.

I was sorry to hear this and wish him a speedy recovery.

Of course, whenever anybody is injured on a bicycle, regardless of the circumstances or the nature of the injuries, that means it's time to CUE UP THE MORONS!


Bono suffered injuries more serious than originally reported when he crashed his bicycle in New York’s Central Park on Sunday — and the extent of those injuries suggest the 54-year-old U2 singer may have been riding without a bicycle safety helmet.

Oh shut the fuck up.  The only injury a foam hat might have mitigated was the one to his face--and even then, according to the Snell Foundation, a helment is basically 50% effective in that department.  So basically what this means is that it's exactly as likely that Bono was in fact wearing a helment, which means that Bono's helment is basically the equivalent of Schrodinger's cat.

Plus, the same idiotic "article" then goes on to say this in big letters:

Injuries To Upper Left Arm Appear Most Serious, Broken In Six Places

But yeah, by all means, keep fixating on the helment.

I'd hate to think that, should I meet my fate out there on the mean streets of our metropolis, the media would speculate on my hat status in a similar fashion.  Therefore, for the avoidance of doubt, I've already composed my epitaph:


Sure, I do wear a helment a lot of the time, but I also know it's impossible for anything bad to happen to me while I have one on, so the epitaph will surely be accurate.

And if I must go, please let it be this way:


("The victim was not wearing a helment, and says to blow him."--The Daily Victim-Blamer)

Anyway, my biggest fear in all of this is that it turns out Bono was not wearing a helment, he gets all contrite about it after his recovery, and starts advocating for helment laws just as vigorously as he promotes his charity work.

Now that would really suck.

Speaking of helments, designers continue to attempt to disguise them as hats, and here's the latest attempt:



It's certainly better than some of the other ones I've seen, but it still makes you look like you're riding a horse:


See?


Not that there's anything wrong with that:


Now that's what I call "portaging."

Meanwhile, up in Halifax, a reader tells me the undead corpse of Margaret Thatcher is tryijng to get a bike licensing scheme going:


A Dartmouth councillor thinks it's time to consider licensing adult cyclists who are 18 years old and older.

"I think there would be more control over what they'd do. They'll be identified," said Gloria McCluskey.

"You're out there and you see them — no helmets, no lights."

McCluskey said the money raised from the licences could be used to pay for more bike lanes.

Hey McCluskey:

If you see them, then what's the problem?

Idiot.

Not to mention they already tried that and it didn't work:

But the co-owner of Cyclesmith, a bike shop on Agricola Street in north-end Halifax, said he remembers when the city used to issue bike licences in the 1970s. Mark Beaver said the program was shut down because it cost more than it brought in.

Then again, they didn't have the "Smart Hat" back then, so there's that:


Sometimes the technology just has to catch up with society's desire to oppress--though evidently the schmuck who came up with this thing still needs money:



We have the skills to fully develop smart hat and we are looking for interested parties to assist us in modest funding, co-developing & branding this exciting new product together.

Oh, please, let there be a Kickstarter!  Pleezpleezpleezpleez...

By the way, when I plugged the term "Smart Hat" into a popular Internet search engine, the first thing that came up was this:


I'm fairly certain that's what Bono was wearing when he crashed.

Lastly, even though cycling may be stagnating in Portland, and even though they're only the #4 bike city now, and even though nobody even cares about Portland anymore now that there are cooler white people cities like Des Moines, they're not giving up.  Well, I mean yes, they're giving up on bikes, but they're not giving up on being #1 when it comes to riding around town on non-motorized stuff with wheels.  Instead, they're moving on to skateboards:



As we wrote last year in an interview with the group’s founders, the rise of skateboard transportation has been driven in part by rapid advances in skateboard technology. And as NWSC members Cory Poole and Tessa Walker explained in a podcast episode last winter, that’s only one of the parallels between the skateboarding and bike transportation movements.

Wait a minute. "Rapid advances in skateboard technology?"  It's a freaking board with wheels.

Let me know when they're using skateboards to deliver soup.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This Wednesday is Your Wednesday, This Wednesday is My Wednesday...

The Hall of Useless Bike Inventions is littered with crap designed by people trying to "improve" an already perfectly functional piece of cycling equipment that simply isn't for them.  All those anatomic seats, for example?  Simply the product of riders who won't accept that they belong on a recumbent:

Or how about that rolling hernia truss?


Same thing there: deep, deep recumbent denial.

Clipless pedals are another invention that work quite well for what they are, but are not for everybody.  If you enjoy the sensation of having your shoes attached to your pedals for certain types of riding, there are many different proven styles of clipless pedals from which to choose.  Or, if you find clipless pedals annoying or useless, which they arguably are in plenty of scenarios, you can always just say "Fuck it" and ride with any of the gazillion styles of flat pedals out there.  And then you've got all sorts of toeclips, straps, bits of nylon and Velcro, and so forth if you want something in between.

Done, and done.

Nevertheless, there are some people who insist on using clipless pedals even though they don't like them, and now one Kickstarter is harnessing one of nature's greatest unsolved mysteries to create an alternative foot retention system:


I am referring, of course, to the magnet.  Behold: The Maglock Magnetically Locking Bike Pedal!




Here are the Maglock inventor's issues with regular clipless pedals:

1) Tough to clip out:

No it isn't.

2) Tough to clip in.

Also no.

3) There's a steep learning curve.

It takes a few rides really, not a big deal in the context of a lifetime of cycling.

4) Not all clipless pedals are adjustable.

Yeah, but a lot of them are, so if you want adjustable pedals just use those.

5) The existing clipless pedal isn't compatible with street shoes.

Isn't that the point of them?

By the way, I have a sincere question: the inventor lives in Salt Lake City, he's suspiciously clean-cut for a mountain biker, and he's got a shirt with a collar on it:


("I am now going to eat this Maglock.")

So is he a Mormon or what?

I just like to know what I'm dealing with here, that's all.

Anyway, instead of just not bothering with clipless pedals because he finds them to be a pain in the ass, he's gone ahead and made these magnet pedals:


"Instead of having to twist your foot, all you have to do is pronate it and it will pop right out."

Seems to me any pedal that releases when you "pronate" your foot isn't offering you the type of foot retention you'd find useful for mountain biking anyway, and so you might as well just use flat pedals and be done with it--though I do think they'd be great for triathletes:



Clipless pedals serve absolutely no purpose for triathletes other than making it even more difficult for them to mount their bicycles.  I'm not sure why they haven't realized this and simply started riding in their running shoes, but apparently they think clipless pedals "legitimize" them as athletes somehow, so a remedial idiot-proof magnet system with no real performance benefit seems like it would be perfect for them.

Speaking of gratuitous retention, here's a helment hook called the "Helmetor®:"




This is a problem, really?  I thought everybody knew this is how you hang a helment from your bike while not riding:


I do like the name Helmetor® though, since it sounds like some kind of vehicular cycling superhero:



And if you like bike advocacy jokes you'll love this cartoon:


Huge nerds are already debating the accuracy of Forester's wardrobe on Twitter, so you know they nailed it.

And here in America's Number One Bike-Friendly City According To A Magazine Based In A Pennsylvania Borough With 11,000 People In It, things continue to get better for cyclists, and the new 20mph speed limit in Central Park should help with the constant police attention that makes this such a great place to ride a bike:


Yes, in most discussions of the new speed limit the subtext seems to be that it's because of all those killer cyclists:

In late September, Jill Tarlov, 59, died from injuries she sustained when a cyclist crashed into her in a crosswalk on West Drive at West 62nd Street. About a month earlier, a 75-year-old jogger was killed after being hit by a cyclist on East Drive at East 72nd Street. This past weekend, U2 frontman Bono hurt his arm while cycling in the park.

DNAinfo reported last month that within Central Park, 35 people had been hit by cyclists in Central Park while only one had been hit by a car so far this year, according to police. 

Oh, please.  It's totally irresponsible to imply that the old speed limit was responsible for Bono's crash.  Not only do I doubt Bono could crank that Specialized up to 25, but I also happen to have it on good authority that he hit the deck after his jersey snagged on his Helmetor®.

That's not to say I'm not for a safer Central Park, or that there aren't a bunch of bonehead cyclists in it, but given all the police activity there recently I'm relatively certain I'll never attempt to ride in there ever again.

Aw, fuck it, I'm just getting one of these:



Now that's vehicular cycling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cycling: Who Has The Time?

Did you know that long before people with beards made self-aggrandizing videos of their cycling exploits, people with beards made self-aggrandizing videos of their cycling exploits?



The difference, however, is that people went bigger back then--and I'm not just talking about the helments:


I'm also talking about the routes:


Sure, it was a little easier back then since the continents were slightly closer together in 1980 due to continental drift.   Still, that's a whopping 45,000 miles:



Which took them six and a half years to complete:


That is one long-ass vacation.  Indeed, to put it in contemporary terms, imagine how lost you'd be if you set out on an around-the-world journey in the spring of 2007 and returned to America today.  First of all, when you left phones looked like this:


And now they look like this:



("It has no buttons!  Do I need an implant in my brain?!?  Burn it!!!")

Also, the top-grossing movie when you left would have been "Spider-Man 3"


But you'd return to find the pop-cultural landscape completely transformed, thanks to innovative blockbusters such as "The Amazing Spider-Man 2:"


("Dear God!  They're back to 2 now?  Did the Universe collapse on itself?!?")

You also would have missed the whole economic meltdown, including that unfortunate period towards the end of 2008 when we had to eat our fellow humans to survive:



But please don't bring it up, because we've all agreed not to talk about it.

So it's pretty hard to imagine anyone checking out for six and a half years today, given that most of us now avoid going anywhere for more than a few days lest we have to catch up on all that streaming TV we've missed.

Those episodes of "Orange Is The New Girls" aren't going to watch themselves.

Yes, time moves inexorably forward--as does technological innovation, and here's a pitch I recently received for a new product:

Hello,
I want to introduce you to perhaps one of the most unique products you will ever come across. 

I doubt it, but I'm listening...

Our company’s name is HappySacs, and we make a product that was designed to eliminate public displays of adjustment (PDA).  What I mean by that is men have scrotums.  Scrotums cause a ridiculous amount of discomfort.  And because of that discomfort men seem to think it is okay to adjust themselves in public.

A "ridiculous amount of discomfort?"  Really?  Are men dropping to their knees and plaintively wailing, "Will this nutsack-induced agony never cease?!?"  I mean sure, there's occasional discomfort down there, but of what body part is that not true?  My arm fell asleep the other day, but I wouldn't say limbs cause me a ridiculous amount of discomfort.  So just because these people have freakish mutant "pants yabbies" doesn't mean they should try to pass it off as some curse of the human condition.

As for the reason men "seem to think it is "okay to adjust themselves in public," it's simply because men are assholes and think other people are interested in their balls--to wit, sending total strangers marketing emails about them.

I read on:

We have gone through many designs, and our final design will be finished in the next 30 days.  I would love to send a sample in the coming weeks so you can see the product for yourself. 

Yeah, please don't send me any painstakingly-designed testicular products, regardless of how positively "scrotastic" you think they may be:

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.  We will be launching a Kickstarter campaign the first week in December...

Of course you are.

Still, despite myself, I checked out their website, and this is their big breakthrough:


So keeping your nuts in a baby sock is what passes for innovation these days?


This country's in worse shape than I thought.

Not to mention I've already got a similar accessory, though I only wear it on special occasions:



Then I opened my next email, which was another product pitch making an incorrect assumption about me, this one for some kind of morning energy crap:

I wanted to reach out because I believe we have similar audiences and could create a mutually beneficial partnership. Similar to you, I want people to be healthy, the best versions of themselves.  

No.  People trying to be "the best versions of themselves" is exactly the problem.  It's why cycling is full of weenies.  If anything I want people to embrace just how badly they suck.

[And yes, I realize I'm projecting my own suckiness onto others in the same way the baby sock people are projecting their genital problems onto me, but I'm a solipsist so I win.]

Maybe people would lower their sporting ambitions if the Tour de France gets shortened:


“Nothing is untouchable,” he Spanish newspaper AS reported him as saying. “We want to plan for a better sport, in that the best riders compete in the best races. With the current structure of three Grand Tours of three weeks it is impossible. We have too many races and days of competition in a lengthy calendar, which requires a significant financial strain. The sport of cycling isn’t simple. We are looking for adequate solutions.”

It's true, nine weeks of Grand Tours every year is almost as absurd as a six-and-a-half year bike vacation.

I say shorten the Giro, the Tour, and the Vuelta to one week each, run them consecutively in July, and be done with it.


Monday, November 17, 2014

In Search of the World's Greatest City in America!

As "America's Most Bike-Friendly City," New York does her best to throw that cumbersome title off her back like a bucking bronco dispensing with a redneck.  To that end, her latest rodeo clown is Bono, humanitarian and vocal stylist for aging rock band U2, who has suffered a crash in Central Park:


Just days after he ‘cheated death’ following an in-flight emergency over Germany, Bono has been forced to pull out of a scheduled TV appearance in New York after falling off his bike in Central Park on Sunday.

The U2 frontman has since been left needing surgery for an injury to his arm – and cancelled the final leg of the band’s weeklong Tonight Show appearances because of it.

As a New Yorker I hate to see anybody get hurt on a bike in my town, so naturally I've been looking for somebody to blame.  I find it unlikely that the fault lies with Bono himself, inasmuch as he is almost as famous for his bike-handling skills as he is for his singing:



Though as he's gotten older he has devolved into something of a Fred:


("Fred ride, bloody Fred ride...")

Then again, haven't we all?

I know I have.

Nevertheless, if this incident had happened in the summer I would have blamed the sun, since judging from his complexion 20 minutes of August daylight would have been more than sufficient to cause Bono to burst into flames.  However, it's been cloudy and cold here in New York, so I was forced to exonerate the hated flaming orb that torments us from on high.

Next, I tried to blame Strava, but from what I can tell Bono doesn't even use Strava...unless he rides under a pseudonym, such as "Bono H." of Boring, OR:


This was a promising lead, inasmuch as U2 does have that song where Bono goes "Yeah!  Yeah!  Yeah!  Yeah!" over and over again.  However, there were no segments in Central Park on the day of the crash, so I doubt Bono was trying to reclaim his "self-important vocalist KOM" from that Arcade Fire guy when he hit the deck.

Therefore, I'm going to go ahead and blame Specialized:


And I'm also going to attribute this to "catastrophic crabon and Zertz failure" until I hear otherwise.

In the meantime, all best wishes to our brother-in-Fredness Bono for a speedy recovery.



Hey, by all means, go for it.  I'm sure it's lovely.  Judging from the video, Des Moines has half-empty cafés:


(Nothing says "cool café" like a carpeted floor.)

Mostly-empty comedy clubs:


(Kind of a morbid name for a comedy club, no?)

And boutiques that sell clever t-shirts:


(Almost as cool as the mall in White Plains.)

Though at no point do they come right out and say what the video and article are both implying:



Yep, that's right: Des Moines is 76.4% white to Portland's 76.1%.  I didn't think it was even possible for a city to be whiter than Portland, but there you go.  And after this most recent push I won't be surprised if they crack 80%, at which point they'll include a pair of plane tickets to Des Moines with your Bard degree.

Even David Byrne is stumping for them:

Talking Heads frontman and Des Moines fan David Byrne touched on that idea at the Social Club's launch party in this same courtyard, where he pondered why a music scene or an artistic scene or a theater scene develops in any city. "What makes it happen?" he asked the crowd of 500. "It's hard to say. There's no guarantees, but it is possible and it's certainly not going to happen unless there are places like this. And, sad for me to say, it's not going to happen in Manhattan anymore, which means it's up to you guys."

So wait a minute.  Because Manhattan's over everyone has to move all the way to Iowa?  Is there no middle ground?  There are other places in and around New York City, and there are even other cities on the East Coast.  I can hear Philly even as I type this:


Just kidding!  Here's what Philly is really saying:


But the biggest selling point of all for Des Moines is that it's the home of the world's most aerodynamic racing bicycle:

The most aerodynamic racing bicycle in the world is made in a business park five blocks from downtown Des Moines at Rüster. The bike runs $6,000 at the basic level, or $10,000 with all components. Ethan Davidson, the 24-year-old chief operating officer, wants to build a culture here that challenges the old way of thinking—that manufacturing world-class products should happen elsewhere. "Why not here?" says Davidson, walking through an office with desks welded and bikes crafted in the same space. "Why not manufacture carbon fiber composite products right here in Des Moines? It is happening here. It's real." 

Oh, it's real all right, and here it is:



(Disclaimer: I fell asleep a minute and a half into the video.)

So let's recap:

White as Bono's inner thighs?  Check.  Endorsed by David Byrne?  Check.  Artisanal Fred superbikes?  Check.

Good grief, they're more Portland than Portland!  So why the hell did "Bicycling" not name them the Number One Bike-Friendly City instead of us?!?

But what if you've decided to move to Des Moines but you don't want to ride an aerodynamic crabon Fred sled?  Well, you can always get a motorized fat bike instead:




According to the inventor, a motorized fat bike allows you to "go fast" and "conquer hills."  However, a simpler option would be to just skip the motor and not ride a fat bike, since basically all the motor is doing is merely overcoming the stupid fat bike.  It's like the hybrid SUV that gets 20mpg.

It is made of "aircraft grade aluminum" though:


It's always "aircraft grade," isn't it?  Like we're supposed to be impressed.  So what's lower than "aircraft grade," anyway?  Is there "sandwich-wrapping grade?"  I don't know, but Mr. Tan Shirt is going to be King of the Sidewalk on his motorized fat bike, that's for sure:


Best of all, by living in Des Moines you'll save so much money you can take up exotic hobbies like "ski biking:"
 


In 2007 friend of mine Kevin Laycraft introduced me to Ski biking. He let me use one of his ski bikes. Bikes he designed and built. I have to be honest, I was scared at first. At the end of second hour of ski biking at Lake Louise, I new that this is my winter sport. I felt so comfortable, safe, happy. Recently I built myself a second ski bike, based on Kevin's design.

She's a real beauty, too:

Though don't forget to wear your duck feet:


And here he is in action:




Fat bike my ass:


I was wondering what all those snowboarders were doing lying around on the trail in the video, but now I know they were probably doubled over with laughter.