Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hövding and the Angry Inch

With American Thanksgiving down and the Judeo-Christian gift-giving retail clusterfucktackular nearly upon us, there's no denying that winter is swiftly approaching, which means now's the time to put fenders on your bike:

I totally meant to clean the bike before putting the fenders on, but I totally didn't--nor did I clean the fenders after last winter (or the one before that, or the one before that...).  The upshot of all of this is that the entire bike is basically covered in crud and filth, so by the time I finished installing the fenders I looked like a Dickensian chimney sweep:

Indeed all my bikes are similarly filthy, and I can't so much as fix a flat without begriming myself like Citi Bike begrimed New York City:

Anyway, the immediate impetus behind my velocipedal fenderization was that the weather is kind of Portlandy today, by which I mean it's cold and wet and the sun is hiding behind thick layers of clouds and smugness.  Indeed, as I rode my newly be-fendered bike I reflected on my own time in Portland, which made me wonder what's been going on there lately.  So I headed over to BikePortland, where I learned that the city is in the midst of a cycling-themed real estate boom:

In the case of the Peloton Apartments, the developer of the 268-unit project says inspiration for the name came from being located on Portland’s busiest bicycle corridor.

Gus Baum of Security Properties shared with us via email this morning that, “Since inception, the Peloton site was focused on taking inspiration from the unique community on N. Williams, and in particular the bike gateway to the city via Vancouver headed south and Williams headed north.”

“Literally hundreds of avid bicycle enthusiasts,” Baum continued, “from commuters to casual riders use the thoroughfares to navigate to north and northeast Portland every day. We wanted our multi-family apartment project to embrace not just the two major streets surrounding our project but to bike culture in Portland overall."

Yes, nobody strikes that jarring note of tone-deafness quite like real estate developers:

The word peloton comes from the French “platoon” and today is used to refer to the main group of riders in a bicycle race. Baum is likely unaware of the irony of using a name from competitve cycling for a building on streets where high-speed bicycle riding — also known as “Cat 6” or “hipster racing” according to the Urban Dictionary — is rampant and often ridiculed.

But is he unaware of the irony?  Or is he a marketing genius?  I can only imagine that if you built a luxury development called the Cat 6 Arms at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge it would be a smashing success, especially if it had amenities such as its own Citi Bike station complete with valet service, and a Cat 6 soigneur to cuff your right pant leg for you.

By the way, this isn't the only apartment building with the name "Peloton."  There's also one in Redmond, WA:

Though there's no mention of anything bike-related anywhere in the lengthy list of amenities:

But hey, there's FIOS.

Then in Boulder, CO you've got "The Lofts at Peloton:"

In case you're wondering, "all that you love about Boulder" refers to ski jackets and white people.

And while there don't seem to be any bike-specific amenities here either, there is shuffleboard:

I'm pretty sure that I read an article in "Bicycling" about how playing shuffleboard while wearing compression socks is the ideal way to recover from that "epic" century ride.

Still, if you're going to call an apartment building "Peloton" you could at least throw in a free bike with every apartment, like maybe one of those "plus-sized" mountain bikes everyone's talking about.  As you know, I've got one on loan myself, so I've got plus-sized mountain bikes on the brain lately, which is why the following review caught my eye:

The second-tier Stumpjumper FSR Expert 6fattie is still a lot of money but with so few performance compromises made in the process, it’s akin to hitting the trail packing only a teensy bit extra around the middle the day after Thanksgiving – while having a fair bit left over in your wallet.

Okay, I don't doubt it's a really fun bike and all, but what kind of wallet are you carrying if you've got anything left in it after spending $6,500?

I guess the thinking is that if bike reviewers keep saying really expensive bikes are cheap, everyone will start to believe it's true.

Speaking of big puffy things, a reader named Torsten informs me that Hövding (makers of that sublimely hilarious head airbag) are making a big media push in Sweden:

Which sent me into a deep hole of watching highly addictive Hövding porn such as this:

Yes, in the event you take a long ride off a short pier, your head becomes a flotation device:

(Erik the Red about to float his way to Greenland in his Hövding)

Though how this applies to any real-world situation you're likely to encounter is beyond me.

Then there's this video, in which an instructor teaches a rider how to fall properly onto an air mattress:

Here she is in mid-fall:

Though you'll note that the Hövding doesn't appear to deploy until after her head hits the mattress:

At which point it begins swallowing her head:

And finally finishes engulfing it on the rebound:

It's like I always say:

If you're going to crash, make sure you do so onto an air mattress.

Monday, November 30, 2015

If only we'd known then what we know now...

Eight years ago, I received an email from the future.  It was from myself, and it was dated November 30th, 2015.  Here's what it said:

At the time, I merely marked it as spam and forgot about it.  However, every one of those things turned out to be true.  Pizza Hut does make a pretzel pizza.  I did run out of toilet paper this morning.  (Good thing I keep a stack of Pizza Hut menus by the toilet.)  And yes, there is now an electric fixie, which is additional proof (as if you even needed it) that there is no God:

Sure, we all knew on some level that the fixie would be the beach cruiser of the 21st century:

But while it was fairly obvious that most fixies would end up being ridden on boardwalks slowly by winos, few of us could have imagined that they would one day be electrified:

This is very much like the moment Bob Dylan went electric, only he did so when his career was on the ascendent, whereas the fixie craze spun out completely at least five years ago...so I suppose this is more like if Bob Dylan waited until today to go electric, which is to say nobody would give a shit.

Oh, also, it's one of those coasting fixies:

So in essence it's like a lip-synching Bob Dylan going electric in 2015.

Anyway, the so-called "eFixie" apparently goes 20mph, but according to the video it can actually hit 21mph, though I'm assuming you'll need a tailwind for that:

It's also capable of ascending the 21 hairpins of Alpe d'Meh:

Oh my god the test rider isn't wearing a helme(n)nt etc. etc.

Speaking of helme(n)ts, a twitterer brought the following article to my attention, which is still more proof that a) there is no God; and b) helme(n)ts are the instruments of our oppression.  Yes, according to the California Highway Patrol, if you get killed while not wearing a helme(n)t it's automatically your fault:

On Nov. 2, Judge Matthew Gary was driving his Toyota pickup truck on Fair Oaks Boulevard when he hit a bicycle ridden by Margaret Bengs, 66, who died the next day. Shortly after her death, a CHP spokeswoman said Bengs appeared to be at fault, in part because she was not wearing a helmet.

Though not only was the victim wearing a helme(n)t, but she was in fact in possession of a second, auxiliary helme(n)t, which indicates the CHP was lying about something that didn't even make a difference in the first place:

But a witness who stayed with her until paramedics arrived said she was wearing a helmet, and Bengs’ family says she had two helmets among her belongings at the hospital. Her relatives also note that Bengs died the day after the crash, not two days after, as the CHP had first reported.

Yes, this is the current state of affairs: one helme(n)t is no longer enough, and in order to be absolved posthumously for somehow causing your own death while riding a bicycle, you've got to establish that you were using multiple helme(n)ts:

Maffucci said she received two helmets in her sister’s belongings from the accident scene. One, marked with blood, she had been wearing, while the other helmet had been secured to her bike, Maffucci said.

And of course somehow, despite all this, you've got the "same rights and responsibilities as motorists:"

Christopher Gayner, a traffic accident reconstruction expert in Santa Barbara, said bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.

Which is of course complete bullshit.  You don't have the same rights at all, since driving is a license to kill whereas cycling is considered a death wish.  Furthermore, the notion that you have the same responsibilities while riding a 20lb bicycle as you do while driving a 3,000lb Hyundai is about as absurd as the idea that corporations are people--which evidently they are, so there you go, welcome to America.

Nevertheless, some people do recognize that it's absurd to treat cars and bikes like they're the same machine, and to that end a New York City Councilman has proposed a bill to correct this:

Silly New York Post, I don't need a law to let me do that, I'm doing just fine as it is.

Here, let me fix that for you:

That's better.

So what would this bill do anyway?  Well, according to the article:

Big Apple bicyclists would be allowed to cruise through red lights and stop signs after merely slowing down and looking both ways, under a proposed bill by a city councilman.

Wait, we'd have to slow down and look both ways?  I thought the headline said we'd be able to blow right through!  What a ripoff.  And why qualify the "slowing down and looking both ways" with the adverb (it is an adverb, right?) "merely?"  There's nothing "mere" about that, because it's certainly more than what most motorists do.

Of course, what do you expect from "bike-crazy Williamsburg?"

The measure, introduced by Antonio Reynoso — who represents bike-crazy Williamsburg — would lift the requirement that cyclists follow the same traffic-light rules as motor-vehicle drivers.

Yeah, they're about ten years too late on that one.  Even the Post should be embarrassed to still be trading on the old "hipsters on fixies" stereotype.  Those days are long gone, and Williamsburg is well into the "douchebags in Ubers" phase.

Still, it's important to remember that New York City isn't Idaho:

The change would be even more extreme than the laws in Idaho, which has become known for the nation’s most pro-bike rules, allowing riders to treat red lights as stop signs and stop signs as yield signs. Such rolling stops have earned the name “the Idaho stop” among avid city bikers.

But bringing such rural rules to New York City, which has five times the population of Idaho, is being called a terrible idea by pedestrian advocates.

Yeah, that's a dangerous argument.  Maybe with five times the population of Idaho we shouldn't have any cars, either.

Nah.  Without cars how would we maintain our quality of life?

Friday, November 20, 2015

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz And I'm Outta Here, Suckers!

This coming Thursday, November 26th, is American Thanksgiving:

(Religious fanaticism and genocide is fun for the whole family!)

"So what is this having to do with me?," you ask from some socialist utopia that isn't America while a doctor tends to your wounds for free.

Well, what it means is that I'll be sticking my face into a turkey immediately following this post, and I won't be taking it out again until Monday, November 30th, at which point I will resume regular updates.

Yep, I'm taking the week off, and I advise you do the same.

You can thank me later when you're lying on the beach drinking oversized novelty cocktails, or else even later than that when the money runs out and you're destitute.

Meanwhile, if you ride a bike in New York City, you may be surprised to learn that the greatest danger you face is from other cyclists:

Though you're right to be surprised, because it's a load of fucking bullshit.

Apparently the headline refers to a bit of advice the author received from this guy:

For this trip, I went with my friend Joseph Phelan, a progressive media activist who was once a bike messenger in the city. Joseph has the cuffed pants, full sleeve tattoos and skinny tires of a real bike commuter.  He is my biking spirit animal. But the real challenge in the ride came later, when I biked back on my own.

Yeah, I think that's pretty much the opposite of a real bike commuter, especially the "skinny tires" part.

Anyway, in addition to telling the author that cyclists are more dangerous than motorists, he also gives here the world's shittiest cobblestone advice:

Basically from Christopher to 14th, whatever route we were taking seemed 70 percent cobblestone. Joseph said something about standing up, biking with my ass off my seat. 

“You get more control that way and it’s easier on your body,” he explained. I tried it and almost fell over. Again, not a real “bike commuter.”


Who the hell is this Joseph Phelan?  Skinny tires?  Standing while riding over cobblestones?!?  Of course she almost fell over!

This guy may hate salmon, but his advice is completely backwards.

He's basically salmoning logistically.

No wonder this city's in such a state, it's the cuffed-panted and tattooed leading the blind out there.

Speaking of the actual greatest danger to cyclists (and pedestrians, and themselves) in New York City, here's what it takes to get in trouble for killing someone with your car here:

UPPER WEST SIDE — The driver who fatally struck a local mother last year on West End Avenue had hit and injured three other pedestrians earlier in the year in separate incidents — including a hit-and-run involving a 13-year-old boy in Queens, authorities said.

Yes, incredibly this idiot was still on the road after already hitting three other people that same year--though apparently the Assistant DA thinks it's reasonable to assume an idiot of this magnitude would stop driving out of a sense of enlightened civic responsibility:

Those crashes "prove that he knows (or should know) that he is a bad driver," according to a trial motion submitted by Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Michael Pasinkoff, who prosecuted Mercado.

.Shouldn't the DMV know this guy's a bad driver and take away his goddamn license?!?

What a fucking disaster.

It's enough to drive you into the woods, though it's dangerous there too.  For example, remember this guy?  You know, the fearless Yonkers deer who practically dared me to get closer to him or else?

Well, I couldn't help thinking of that horse video I wrote about the other day--and specifically about how we're apparently supposed to kiss their giant timid easily-startled asses if we come across them while mountain biking:

("Hallo!  Please, I beseech you to proceed, for you are astride the noble equine, and I am merely a lowly fat biker.")

Well, next it occurred to me that if these horses are so goddamn anxious, and Yonkers deer have nerves of steel and are all like, "You want some of this?  I'll give your ass a twist of Lyme, bike boy," then maybe cross-breeding the two would at least make the horses less skittish:

By the way, I am deeply freaked out by that horse's different-color David Bowie eyes.

See?  One's all like this:

And the other one's all like this:


Lastly, the only thing Americans have more contempt for than bikes are the poor people who live under our highway system, which is why the only time bikes are used to represent truth and justice is in news reports like this:

I guess we're supposed to feel vindicated, but I mostly just felt depressed.

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 you'll whinny and neigh, and if you're wrong you'll see some sweet stunt riding.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and keep your voice down because you don't want to SCARE THE HORSES!!!

See you back here on Monday, November 30th.


--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) At the opening of London's first bicycle superhighway, mayor Boris Johnson was given:

--A Team Sky Pinarello
--A lesson in how to put on a helme(n)t
--A major award
--The finger

2) Which is not one of the Citi Bike rules?

--Yield to pedestrians
--Stay off the sidewalk
--Obey traffic lights
--Pull off into the wind

3) The Everysight Raptor cyclist smartglasses are marketed by a company that also makes:

--Fighter jet and rotary wing helmet-mounted display systems
--Integrated circuits as well as displays for smart phones and other consumer electronics
--Visual effects on live action films
--Groucho glasses, X-Ray Specs, and other hilarious novelty items

4) This lock solves which nonexistent problem?

--It shortens the process of locking your bike from two seconds to slightly under two seconds
--It requires a fingerprint for some reason
--It works like one of those arcade claw machines, which are never annoying
--All of the above

5) What is the purported advantage of the Proval chainring?

--It simplifies the process of front derailleur adjustment
--It keeps you from dropping your chain
--It prevents your pant leg from getting caught in your drivetrain
--It takes your load better

6) What's the purpose of Mario Cipollini's plunging neckline?

--It eliminates the problem of food and wine stains
--It allows him to remove his shirt at parties without messing up his hair
--Easier breastfeeding
--All of the above

7) Cat 6-ing a subway train is a great way to make a love connection.


***Special "Radball Is For The Children"--Themed Bonus Video!***

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Test-Cycle Chronicles Part II: The Indignity Of Riding Mountain Bikes While Other People Are Doing Actual Work

As you know, I am currently in possession of a Marin Pine Mountain 1 all terrain-style bicycle:

As a semi-professional bike blogger, I take my semi-vocation semi-seriously, and part of that involves subjecting bicycles to semi-rigorous testing.  For example, last week I rode the Marin Pine Mountain 1 in the woods for a few hours.  Then I drank beer.

A lesser blogger might have left it at that, but I'm ever so slightly better then they are.  I'm also perfectly comfortable ignoring emails with subject lines like "WE NEED THE BIKE BACK NOW," and so yesterday I resumed the testing by riding it again:

Somebody has to do it.

Even though I have the use of a luxurious motor vehicle with both a bike rack and a bank lien on it, I prefer to ride to the trail, which is pretty convenient from my little corner of the city.  There are a few ways to go about this depending on whether or not you want to ride on some dirt along the way, but the fastest route is maybe eight or nine miles, mostly on a paved multi-use path:

Now if you'll forgive me for a moment, I'm going to share a real estate tip, so if you're not a New Yorker you might want to skip this paragraph as it won't mean anything to you.  However, if you love to ride bikes recreationally yet you insist on living in New York City for whatever reason, the Northwest Bronx is probably the best spot you could possibly choose.  You can hit pretty much any type of riding you want inside of an hour, and if you're into that (apparently) oh-so-trendy multimodal thing you've got easy access to the Metro North.  Plus, unlike Brooklyn and increasingly Queens (not to mention the suburbs), you can probably still afford to live here.

Now you know.

Anyway, given my proclivity towards riding to the ride, I like mountain bikes that aren't too onerous on the road.  Before taking delivery of the Marin I was worried that the "plus"-sized tires might suck in this capacity.  And while yes, it does suck to ride 3.0 tires or whatever they are on pavement for multiple miles, it sucks no more than it does on any of my other mountain bikes, so if you have similar concerns then you don't need to avoid the "plus"-size tire thing on that basis.

The trails I usually ride sit on a ridge, which you've first got to climb:

The multi-use path takes you near the trails but not directly to them, which means you've got to put in a final mile or two of road time--and yes I'm riding on the sidewalk, because drivers treat this road like a highway, and you're about as likely to encounter a zebra here as you are a pedestrian, which means you're not bothering anybody.

So fuck that.

Once you're at the top, all that lies between you and the trails is a chainlink fence:

It's tough to see, but there were a bunch of wild turkeys running around in there:

They were about to be joined by one more.

Opening the gate, I let myself in, and then promptly "marked my territory" if you know what I mean:

If you don't know what I mean, what I'm saying is I urinated.

Gotta let those turkeys know who wears the "jorts" around here.

And yes, I was totally wearing jorts:

With almost ten miles of sluggish spinning in my pallid, stubbly legs I was ready to tear up the trails like a city employee tears up a parking ticket:

Then I realized I'm a giant "woosie" on the wrong side of 40, and so instead I rode sensibly and within my modest abilities.

As I mentioned, this part sits on a ridge.  In fact, the geography of the entire area is defined by ridges, which means there are lots of roots and rocky outcroppings, as well as plenty of short, steep climbs:

The reason I wanted to try the Pine Mountain 1 is that I figured a rigid bike with wide gearing and wider tires would work well for this sort of terrain, and of course I was exactly right, because I'm awesome.  It climbs very well, it's got great traction on leaves (of which, as you can see, there are many right now), and and it also rolls right over this sort of thing very easily:

"So what?  I'm an awesome mountain biker who lives in [insert cultural backwater near wilderness area here].  I could ride that on my road bike."

Good for you.  You're good at mountain biking, I live in a city that will eat you alive.  If the contest is life then I'm still winning.

As far as the plus-sized tires, I'm obviously new to them, so on my last ride I kept gradually lowering the pressure until I figured out where it needed to be:

Therefore, on this ride I had it more or less exactly right from the beginning, and thus freed from the distraction of the stop-and-futz I was better able to appreciate them:

When I ride a mountain bike that shifts it's this one:

I appreciate the suspension fork until it begins to annoy me, which it invariably does after awhile, because while I appreciate smoothness I am at heart a rigid bike person.  It suits my uptight personality.  So I end up going back and forth between rigid and bouncy by switching the fork from time to time:

It's like when you're in an unheated swimming pool and it feels really good, but then you jump into the hot tub and you're like "Aaahhh...!," but then it's too hot after awhile so you jump back into that cold pool and it's delightfully bracing, but that makes you crave the hot tub again, and so you keep going back and forth until you either pass out or become infertile.

If that makes any sense to you (which if you're sane it almost certainly doesn't) then you know how I feel about suspension forks.

Anyway, it's only been two rides on the Marin so far, but I suspect the plus-sized tire thing may be the perfect alternative to this "problem," since it smooths things out considerably while still riding like a rigid bike.  In other words, I think I like it better than my hardtail.

By the way, if you want me to be more critical of this bike, deal with it:

I've got seventeen (17) kids, limited time, and a basement full of bikes that need to be ridden, so if I thought the bike would suck I wouldn't have bothered with it.  But I didn't, and it doesn't.

Yes, at this point in my cycling life I'm as unflappable as a Yonkers deer:

I always thought deer were supposed to be timid, but these deer display no fear of humans whatsoever:

Anyway, after I'd "shredded" (cut carefully with safety scissors is more like it), I took a little rest:

(Pallid Fredly sat on a wall, Pallid Fredly had a great fall...)

And headed back to the gate, which is a portal into a magical world of unbridled consumerism:


Not only is it already Christmas here:

But it has been for like weeks now.

There was even Christmas music playing over the PA.

Part of me finds it disgusting, but part of me wants to move into the Shrek Holiday Hut and take all my meals at the Cheesecake Factory:

But instead I went to a popular overpriced supermarket chain:

You'd think they'd enhance their smug corporate image with some bike racks, but this is Yonkers so I guess they figured "fuck that:"

Anyway, it's hard to imagine too many people climbing up here in the first place, semi-pro bike bloggers excluded.

Once inside, I purchased baby formula and broccoli, as well as treated myself to an artisanally corporate taco repast:

It's important to buy the fancy baby formula because the other stuff's made from ground-up cat bones.

Hey, the kid's got me as a father, he doesn't need any more strikes against him.

Sadly I'd brought my tiniest backpack, which meant I had to purchase a bag in which to "portage" the formula, meaning the total bill came to around $246:

Though it was worth it for the gratification of explaining to the checker that no, I did NOT need my parking validated, for I did not come here in a car thankyouverymuch:

("Yeah, but you still have one, so...")

Once I'd lunched, getting home was merely a matter of spinning along this for awhile:

Until I reached the New York City line, where the paved path simply ends and you're on your own:

Abandon hope all ye etc. etc.