Friday, October 2, 2015

BSNYS Friday Fun Quiz!

It's Friday, which means the weekend is coming, which means you're going to ride your bike, which means if you're the sort of idiot who rides around with your skewers open you'll want to make sure your bike isn't included in the massive quick release recall:

So don't forget to do the "#2 pencil test," by opening your quick release and making sure you can fit a pencil between the handle and the rotor:

"If the pencil fits between the handle and the disc, you're fine."

Uh, no, you're not fine, you're RIDING WITH THE SKEWER OPEN.

I find it disturbing that we've reached the point where riding with your quick release open is just assumed, and that the bike companies are obligated to adjust their safety standards accordingly.

If it were up to me I'd just let them all crash.

Then again I am a truly miserable and unforgiving person.  I realized this during my last trip to the Philly Bike Expo, which Stevil of All Hail The Black Market attended with me.  After the show we went to get cheese steaks, and on the way to whichever grease-slinging tourist trap we eventually chose we passed a parked bicycle that had its skewers done up all wrong.  (The owner had clearly twirled them shut like wingnuts instead of levering them closed, which I would guess like 70% of the population does.)

I just scoffed and muttered "friggin' idiot" to myself like I usually do, but get this: Stevil stops walking, kneels right there on the filthy Philadelphia sidewalk (in the cheese steak district no less), and fixes the skewers.

For a stranger.

It was then I realized there are genuinely kind and thoughtful people out there, and that I am definitely not one of them.

However, far from feeling ashamed, it only reaffirmed my thoughtlessness, because as long as there are suckers like Stevil out there helping people for me then why should I even bother?


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 then WOW!!!, and if you're wrong you'll see someone go from aero to airborne.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and careful where you stick that pencil.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) According to some guy from the Wall Street Journal, New York isn't a bike city because:

--It's not Amsterdam
--Bike share offers "a sensible alternative to sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic"
--Bike share works well
--All of the above

("The heck they will!")

2) Washington, DC public school students will:

3) The New York City Department of Education recently sent a letter to parents in certain "crash-prone" areas asking them not to let their children walk or ride bikes to school.


4) While riding his favorite climb, this Fred keeps finding:

5) For a brief moment in bike advocacy, pushing your bike along on the sidewalk like a scooter was called:

6) A Toronto cyclist was charged with mischief for:

--Smashing a driver's windshield with a u-lock
--Deflating a driver's tires after a roadside altercation
--Throwing a driver's keys down a storm drain after the driver hit him
--"Failure to apologize"

7) A New York City cyclist is suing UPS for:

--Reckless driving
--Blocking the bike lane
--Losing the vintage bicycle frame he purchased on eBay
--Backing into his bicycle while it was locked to a city bike rack

"Bike Lane Freakout Goes Mainstream-Ish-Themed Bonus Video!"

(Via a reader, thank you reader.)

I'd high-five him if I could.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Indignity Of Just Doing Whatever You Feel Like

It's hard work being a semi-professional bike blogger, father of seventeen (18) children, and mother of six (six) more:

("Calgon" was 1980s slang for "Valium.")

That's why I feel it's important to treat myself to some mid-week recreational bicycle-cycling from time to time.  In particular, it had been awhile since I'd ridden a rugged all-terrain-style bicycle--so long in fact that the shin scabs from the last time I'd done so had already fallen off.  So this morning I resolved to remedy the situation.

Because I deserve it.

(Oh, also, Hurricane Joaquin may hit us next week, and if that happens there may be no mountain bike trails left.)

Normally I ride from my mansion to the mountain bicycling trails, but these days I'm on borrowed time, and the interest rates are usurious.  Therefore, after some deliberation, I decided "Fuck It" and used THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK.

("I'm not even gonna open my mouth, my eyes say it all.")

Hey, it's just shy of an hour to ride there but it's only like a ten minute drive, so when you do the math it's like the car is a time machine I'm actually gaining time by driving to the trail.

Plus, I will always be "bridge and tunnel" at heart, so even though I spend much of my time on a smug-cycle and blogging about how much motorists suck, every so often I'm overcome by an overwhelming urge to drive around in a car while listening to Howard Stern.

So I threw some clothes in a bag, tossed a bike onto the roof rack, and drove responsibly to the trailhead:

As I pulled up I really hoped nobody was there.  The truth is that over the past few years I've become unbearably smug about riding to the trailhead, and when I do I enjoy nothing more than passing all the mountain Freds in the parking lot milling about their SUVs in various states of undress, messing with their shocks and fretting over their tire pressure.  Generally what I do is ride around in circles for awhile until someone notices that I arrived on a singlespeed and without a car.  Then, when they ask where I rode from I just say "city"--which is true only in the most literal sense in that I do technically live in New York City.  However, for the purposes of regional colloquial speech and casual parking lot conversation it's an out-and-out lie.

Then I scamper into the woods with the speed and agility of a cottontail and do my best to wait until I'm out of view before succumbing to the inevitable crash.

Sadly, this time someone would see me get out of a car, because to my surprise I encountered this:

(Note tire tracks, I assume morons come here at night and do donuts.)

It turns out Giant Bicycles were setting up for some sort of dealer demo day, which meant I'd better make this ride a quick one before the Shop Freds showed up.  Nevertheless, as I rolled by I did take some spy shots of the Liv bikes:

And the Giants:

I briefly considered revealing myself as the greatest semi-professional bike blogger this side of the Spuyten Duyvil and asking if I could try some of that sweet, sweet crabon myself.  However, I decided not to, because if experience is any guide it means either they'd have no idea who I am, or else they'd want to punch me in the mouth--or, most likely, both.

Apparently though the unwashed masses can demo the bikes here on Sunday, and you can find more information on that here and here.

So if you're in the New York City area maybe you can find the Fred Sled or Bouncy Mountain Chariot of your dreams.

Another reason I had been hoping nobody would be there was because, in my haste, I had assembled sort of a strange outfit which I tied together with these woolen retro-style Brooks half-shorts:

(No, I'm not peeing in this should tell yourself if it makes you feel better.)

The shorts were a last-second choice because I hadn't worn them since L'Eroica one year ago, and when I realized the ride was this weekend I immediately became nostalgic because it remains possibly the most fun ride I've ever done.  So I dug them out of the ol' bike clothes drawer, figuring maybe they'd help allay my sadness over missing this year's event.  And while I happen to think the shorts are pretty cool, the problem is they're a bit small on me, which meant I'd have to take great care to hide my posterior:

Heaven knows I didn't want all the Shop Freds to see my "coin slot," and so I stopped from time to time for a "butt selfie" to make sure I remained modest:

(No, I don't have a "tramp stamp" of the Brooks should tell yourself if it makes you feel better.)

Anyway, fall is now in the air, and there's no better time to ride a mountain-style bicycle:

Mostly because the goddamn bugs that like to hover around your face while you ride in the summer are mostly gone:

As for the bike, I rode my Engin, which I still congratulate myself for having purchased:

A bespoke custom-curated artisanal rigid singlespeed may seem a bit over-indulgent at first glance, and of course it is, but to me it makes sense because no matter how much or little you spend on a bouncy bike with gears and shocks it's going to be obsolete in short order, whereas a rigid bike with one speed is a rigid bike with one speed.

Really, the only thing that's going to become obsolete is me, and I suppose there will come a time when I can no longer handle the thing, but so far the enjoyment I get from riding it is undiminished, even by age and lack of fitness.

Of course I've also added some pretentious artisanal touches, such as the hand-chamfered leather saddle:

And the custom-etched WiseCracker I've probably used once, because I don't lead one of those awesome lifestyles that involves hanging out for hours drinking beer after the ride:

Oh, it even says "BSNYC" on the other side if you look closely:

I do keep it humble however by using 36-spoke wheels I built entirely from cheap mail order parts:

I do have a fancier pair of tubeless wheels, but because I don't lead one of those awesome lifestyles that involves hanging out and drinking beer for hours after rides, I also haven't had time to mount new tires and reseal them.  Instead, I've just been using these--and despite being made from budget stuff they work great, go figure.

I did splurge on the name-brand front hub though:

By the way, speaking of front wheels and dick breaks, have you heard about the recall?

A group of bicycle companies, in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA), is engaged in a safety recall involving quick-release devices which, when improperly adjusted or left open while riding, may potentially come in contact with the front disc brake rotor. Watch this video to see if your bicycle is affected.

No shit, that's why you do this:

Anyway, things were going wonderfully until my rear wheel broke loose on some rocks and I fell over, creating some new scabs and taking a shot to the knee, which is always worrisome since every blow to the kneecap takes you that much closer to not being able to ride one-speed bicycles anymore:

I'd like to blame the cheap, worn tires, but the truth is that I suck.

So I took this as a sign I should wind the ride down, and finished off with a little loop on the easy terrain:

I did scuff the Brooks too:

But I'm sure it will buff right out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Get Wednesday!

(Do what the sign says, kids!)

As we all know, "Riding a bike in NYC with your kid on the back is basically child abuse"--which is why I've been portaging mine on the front:

(Child has already disembarked.)

Indeed, we've both been enjoying the kiddie seat on the WorkCycles FR8, for the following reasons:

--The kiddies love having their noses in the wind, especially on the descents;
--When you need to text or tweet, you just let your child steer for you (I always drive with a kid on my lap for the same reason);
--If you lose the kid you know right away, whereas if you hit a speed bump and they fall of the back it could be miles before you notice.

In all seriousness, the front seat is great.  My eldest human child is getting pretty sizable, so shifting that weight from the stern to the bow has made the schlepping much easier, and we're both quite comfortable.  If you have school-age offspring you wish to transport smugly I highly recommend it.

Anyway, after I dropped mine off at the brainwashing factory I returned a book to the liberry:

Here's the book I borrowed, in case you care:

I checked it out to read on my summer vacation, yet I only just finished it owing to my hectic type A lifestyle, and if you'd like my complete review of the book you can find it here.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I do fully embrace the fact that I've become the sort of old fuddy-duddy who rides around town on a utility bike returning liberry books.

Don't laugh, it could happen to you, too.

Hey, it's best to age gracefully as a cyclist, because if you're not careful you could wind up with a camera on your head chasing kids half your age:

Anything but that.

Speaking of the supposed "dangers" of schlepping a kid on your bike, the truth is they're probably a lot safer there then they are simply standing on the sidewalk minding their own business:

See, at least on the bike you're a moving target:

At least four pedestrians, including multiple children, were struck by a livery cab driver early this morning on a Bronx sidewalk. There are currently no reported casualties, although two children are in critical condition.

Hmmm, judging from the condition of that car it's clearly safe to assume the driver was following all traffic rules and was driving at the new citywide 25mph speed limit.

Or, maybe the driver is just one of the hundreds of people in New York City who have tragically fallen victim to a defective accelerator:

I'm still waiting for someone to address this epidemic of supposedly defective accelerators.

It's almost as though every single one of these drivers is lying.

By the way, at least one of those "accelerator defective" collisions says there was also a "failure to yield the right of way" on the part of the other driver.  This is raises an interesting question:

So if an out-of-control driver is hurtling towards you is it still your responsibility to yield?

The answer to this--and any question regarding motor-vehicular mayhem in New York City--is of course "no criminality suspected."

Oh yes, things can get pretty crazy out there on the mean streets of New York City:

Which is why one "journalist" wants to remind you that "New York isn't a bike city:"

Journalism isn’t typically considered among the riskier of professions—at least if you confine your reporting to the five boroughs. But I undertook an assignment on Wednesday afternoon that put me in imminent physical peril: I rode a Citi Bike for the first time.

Firstly, it seems to me if you're not taking risks as a journalist you're doing it wrong.  I mean, at least lie about it, like Brian Williams.

Secondly, Citi Bike isn't dangerous.  In June alone there were 941,117 Citi Bike trips--and since the system debuted in May 2013 not one of these trips has ended in death.

Anyway, this particular risk-averse journalist learned there was a Citi Bike station near him when his neighbors started kvetching about it:

I learned of this ostensibly felicitous development while walking my dog one night and running into a couple who live on that block. They moaned about the number of automobile parking spaces the docking station would consume.

I’ve since heard from others encouraging me to investigate journalistically the arrival of Citi Bike in our neighborhood. Some suggested nefarious motives; others conspiracy theories.

“Why here? Why east of Park Avenue? Why so many?” one wrote.

You have to be a psychopath to live in Manhattan and expect street parking.  This is like moving to the country and complaining to your neighbors, "WON'T SOMEBODY COME AND BUILD SOME SKYSCRAPERS???"

To his credit, our "journalist" seems to have more common sense:

Maybe I’m just naïve, but I tend to think of a bike-share program as a good thing. Bikes don’t pollute. They provide exercise. And they offer a sensible alternative to sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic while your blood pressure rises in direct correlation to the soaring fare on the taxicab meter.

No, you're not naïve, that's exactly true.

Yet for some reason he can't seem to come to grips with the idea of riding a bike here:

But one reason I wasn’t tempted to mount the sturdy-looking bikes earlier is because they would seem to pose risks even more pressing than those of a cardiovascular nature.

Namely, that you could get thrown head over heels by a car door opening unexpectedly in your path, or crushed under the wheels of a tractor-trailer.

I don’t care what anybody says, New York isn’t a bike city.

I certainly believe that this whole "America's Most Bike-Friendly City" thing is bullshit, but that doesn't mean bikes don't make sense here, since they most certainly do.  By his metric New York really isn't an anything city.  And it's certainly not a car city.

For one thing, there's no place to park.

Anyway, after all this, he finally checks out a Citi Bike, rides it for 20 minutes, and has no problems whatsoever:

I also managed to complete the entire odyssey within 20 minutes, and without any wounds.

Which the person responsible for Citi Bike summed up thusly:

Oh snap.

He just got Sadik-Khan-ed.

But while our intrepid journalist may have an irrational fear of bikes, he's not too timid to go swimming in the pond of his country home:

His own pond, huh?

He must live over on Breyer.

Meanwhile, in our nation's capitol capitle city where all the monuments are, public school students will now learn how to ride a bike in second grade:

This is great:

The students are among the first to take part in a new D.C. Public Schools program to teach every second-grader how to ride a bicycle. The school system, with help from the District Department of Transportation and private donors, purchased 1,000 bikes that will rotate to every elementary school by the end of the school year.

Wow, building bike infrastructure and encouraging people to use it?  Who'd have thunk it?

Kenyon said the District wants to make sure that students in all parts of the city know how to ride a bike, a skill that many people take for granted. In wards 7 and 8, with high concentrations of low-income families, officials are concerned that less access to bicycles, fewer bike lanes and no bike shops means that fewer children there are learning how to ride.

That concern comes as bicycle riding in the District and its suburbs is growing quickly, with a rapid expansion in popularity of bike sharing and miles of new bike lanes installed in recent years.

I can only imagine what Old Man Milloy thinks of all this:

("It's got my bib shorts in a twist.")

Unfortunately the stupid plastic hats are getting in the way:

“My friends know how to do it, but I don’t know how,” said 7-year-old Lachae Taylor as she began to learn at Walker-Jones on Wednesday. After a few minutes of wobbling, her helmet was pitched to the side of her head and both shoelaces on her sparkly high-tops were untied. Every time she lifted them to the pedals, the bike tilted to one side.

“I wish I had training wheels,” she said.

But I suppose I shouldn't be too picky.

Lastly, have you ever struggled to figure out a place to put your glasses when you're not wearing them?  Well, this guy has invented something anyway:

All else aside, I was amazed by this claim:

"One afternoon I went up on old San Marcos Pass and I probably found six or seven pair of glasses lying on the side of the road."

So are Santa Barbara Freds so concerned with their Strava times that they don't bother to pick up their glasses when they drop them?

I think we may have reached Peak Fred.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fire up the oil lamp, polish off the ol' monocle, and start reading.

Yesterday I received a book in the mail, which will be available imminently:

The idea of the book is to encourage kids to do cool stuff so they don't waste their time holding up banks and watching Regis.  Awhile back the authors asked if I'd contribute an essay about riding bikes, and I agreed, since it seemed a lot more productive than yelling at teens to get off my lawn.  Now here it is in print, with illustrations and everything:

I can assure you I get right down on these youngsters' level, and in addition to telling them how "cool" and "hip" bicycles are I remind them numerous times to do good in school and stay off the pot.

By the way, the cover's all shiny in real life too:

So if you want the child in your life to get off the couch you can always try this book, and at the very least if you throw it at them hard enough it's bound to do something.

Anyway, half the struggle is encouraging the next generation to ride bikes, and then the other half is making sure when they grow up they don't get suckered into stuff like this:

SEA: TEAGUE X SIZEMORE BICYCLE'S DENNY from oregon manifest on Vimeo.

You may remember this bike as the winner of last year's Oregon Manifest "Ultimate Urban Utility Bike" contest, and in particular its locking handlebars:

And toothbrush fender:

You may also remember that Fuji Bikes was going to put the winning bike into production.  Well, it occurred to me recently that this revolutionary bicycle hadn't yet taken over the streets of every city in the world, which seemed unthinkable given how terribly inconvenient regular fenders and u-locks are.  So I checked in with the Fuji website:

We will be communicating availability dates and pricing in the spring of 2015. Please be patient as we work with Team Teague x Sizemore to bring you The Denny. 

That was pretty much all I could find, so I'm assuming Fuji is hoping that everyone will forget and they'll never have to figure out how to mass-produce this silly bicycle.

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, you've got your artisanal side car bike:

Surf Side Car by Horse Cycles, Brooklyn, NY from Horse Cycles on Vimeo.

As a dedicated Rockaway Beach* boardwalk surfboard porteur it's definitely the most Brooklyn bike I've ever seen, I'll give it that.

All it needs is more crochet.

*[If you're feeling compelled to point out in the comments that Rockaway Beach is in Queens and not Brooklyn then please punch yourself in the face instead, because we know.]

And then you've got this:

Yep, finally--it's a folding bike with a built-in schluffing function:

Remember schluffing?

Those were the days.

Anyway, if nothing else, it's clearly the ultimate sidewalk-slayer:

When you see a cop all you have to do is switch to "schluff" mode and you can comfortably give the officer the finger as you roll past.

Meanwhile, in other smugness news, Paris went (partially) car-free this past Sunday:

About a third of Paris was free of motorized vehicles from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for buses and taxis. Car speeds were capped at 20 kilometers per hour in the rest of the city.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo, at the urging of activists, initiated the massive car-free event as a lead-in to the city hosting COP21, the United Nations’ upcoming conference on climate change. Paris is plagued by diesel exhaust, and the skies over the city were noticeably bluer yesterday, according to the Guardian. The exhaust cleared. The rumble of traffic was gone. People seemed happier and less stressed.

But then things got weird:
A photo posted by Héloise Fayet (@heloise.fayet) on
"Put back the cars!," millions of Parisians yelled in horror.

And in Toronto, a reader informs me that one cyclist struck his own blow against the Automotive Industrial Complex:

A cyclist has been charged with mischief in Toronto after he was struck by a car at the intersection of Queen and Spadina on Thursday afternoon and allegedly retaliated by throwing the driver's keys down a drain.

So a driver hits a cyclist but the cyclist gets charged for doing something annoying?

Is Robs Fords still Mayor or what?

The cyclist then left the scene but was followed by police before being stopped, Const. Clint Stibbe told CBC News.

"Reaching into a vehicle is risky at best," Stibbe said. "And you never know what the person inside that car is going to do to you when you do that."

Holy crap, "Clint Stibbe?"  No way that's his real name.

And risk?!?  The driver already hit him with the car, what else was there to worry about?

Well, I suppose the driver might have bitten him, but it seems unlikely the driver was Jon Voigt.

If anything, the cyclist should be commended for performing a public service by immobilizing a dangerous driver.

He just did your job for you, Clint Stibbe.

Either way, the cyclist clearly forgot the cardinal rule: it's okay to hit cyclists, but never, ever voilate the sanctity of Somebody's Car.

"Some people may think it's funny and maybe to that individual who dropped the keys," Stibbe said. "But in the end you don't know what that person is going home to."

Oh, poor motorist!  Yeah, I'm pretty sure I know what the driver was going home to:

No word on how long it took the driver to fish out the keys.