Monday, May 22, 2017

From Smug to Single

As a semi-professional bike blogger and world-renowned author it is vital that I do not restrict myself to one form of cycling and instead partake in the entire spectrum of velocipeding--and if that means occasionally lowering myself by attempting bicycle polo:

Or trying out a recumbent:

(Via Rivendell)

Then so be it.

For I am nothing if not a Renaissance Fred.

(Also, when Grant Petersen tells you to ride a recumbent you don't argue about it, you just do it.  Unless you want to get stabbed with a lug.)

Anyway, it was in this ecumenical spirit that this past weekend I rode from one end of the cycling rainbow to the other:

It all began on Friday when I donned a suit, unfurled a Brompton, and waded waist-deep into smugness at the Transportation Alternatives Bike Home From Work Party:

Actually, now that you mention it, I think I very well may register:

After all, what better way to celebrate Father's Day than by totally humiliating myself?  Sure, by the looks of things I fall far short in both the sartorial and fitness departments:

But  some simple upgrades may be all I need to win the race, and to that end I'm trying to decide if I should go with the crabon trispokes:

Or else the paired 16-spoke setup:

Most likely I'll just bring both and make the final decision based on race day course conditions.

So if you go to the Harlem Crit and you see someone in a suit with a Brompton sticking a moistened thumb in the air be sure to come by and say hello.

(Though generally speaking I'd advise against approaching strangers wielding moistened thumbs.)

Yes, with the addition of some sweet, sweet crabon I can transform my Brompton from this genteel circus bike:

To this slightly less genteel circus bike:

And in the process forever consign my dignity to this:

Oh and speaking of today's Bike Forecast post, here's the uncensored version of the note I left on that SUV:

So if your money was on "fuckstick" as the censored word I'm afraid you lost the bet.

Then yesterday I went from smugness to singlespeed when I partook in the "Singlespeedapalooza" race for derailleur-challenged mountain bicycles at Stewart State Park:

("Weed Road."  Heh heh.)

According to my commemorative pint glass my last appearance at the start was in 2009:

And as you can imagine it wasn't pretty:

(From here)

Well, I'm only getting slower, but I do have a fancier bicycle:

And I also got a really good number:

As for the race itself, it was the most fun I've had on the bike in awhile, even though we had to share the park with these people:

There will be kennel club activity throughout the weekend using live and blank ammo.  We have contacted them, and there is a mutual understanding that we both have a permit to be in there and must respect each other's event.  If you are pre-riding, and during the race bump into one of the kennel participants, be courteous and cautious as they may be driving from one location to another.  This is just one of the many hurdles in dealing with Stewart.

Who were kind enough to remove some of the course markings, which as I understand it resulted in the lead riders getting totally waylaid.  (Fortunately I was nowhere near the lead riders and managed not to get lost.)


Then after the race I ate pork:

In all it was a thoroughly well-rounded weekend of making bike.

Friday, May 19, 2017

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Hello class.

Okay, settle down, settle down.

And you in the back, get that pencil out of your nose.

I'm now pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right you'll see the item, and if you're wrong you'll see triathlon action.

Thanks for reading, ride safe, and buy yourself something nice today because you deserve it.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

PS: Remember, if you don't like tests there's always more me over at the Bike Forecast, and who doesn't want that?

(Science Fact: It's impossible to sustain an injury if you're wearing a helmet.)

1) A Dublin cyclist who was hit by an unlicensed and uninsured driver was deemed partially responsible because he didn't happen to be wearing a helmet.


(It should not surprise you that Freds need step-by-step instructions to eat oatmeal.)

2) Which is not one of the six mistakes you're making with your oatmeal according to Bicycling magazine?

--Making it with water instead of milk
--Not using a large enough bowl
--Forgetting to stir it
--Failing to upgrade from steel cut to crabon cut

3) A Giro d'Italia cyclist was recently fined for:

--Blowing a "snot rocket"
--Scrawling a message on his chest in which he asked a woman to date him
--Damaging the image of the Giro by engaging in "effeminate" behavior
--Refusing to air-kiss Mario Cipollini during a pre-stage ceremony

(Beloved Tour of California mascot Hypie the Hypodermic Needle-Wielding Devil-Bee)

4) The official Giro d'Italia mascot is currently:

--"Lupo Wolfie" (a wolf)
--"Orso Corso" (a bear)
--"Jenni Genetta" (a common genet)
--"Mario Cipollini (species indeterminate)

(Drapac was actually Tupac's arch-nemesis.  Just kidding.  Or am I?)

5) Cannondale-Drapac manager Jonathan Vaughters says "pro cycling is the best sponsorship deal in sports."  What is Drapac?

--An allergy medication
--A "property funds management business that identifies value through unorthodox means"
--A shampoo that restores thinning hair
--An "integrated and leveraged vertical platform that gives investors exposure to a broad portfolio of assets in order to maximize yields"

6) Which is not a recommended method for determining proper tire pressure?

--Purchasing an aftermarket gauge
--Sitting on your bike while it's on a bathroom scale
--Employing the 15% compression formula
--Squeezing the tires

7) In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece Myron Magnet said the next mayor should "rip out Times Square's pedestrian mall."


***Special "Well That's It, Cycling's Over, We Can All Pack Up And Go Home Now" Bonus Video***

Yeah that's right, he's using Zwift outside.

(I couldn't watch the whole thing, but I really hope it ends with him getting a ticket for not wearing a helmet.)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's Your Damages?

"Enough about the helmets," they said.

"A helmet saved my life," they said.

"Your disdain for safety is foolhardy and irresponsible," they said.

Oh yeah?

Well one day either you're all going to thank me for slowly chipping away at our obsession with helmet-shaming, or else you're going to wish you'd pitched in, because it's becoming clearer and clearer every day that there is no greater tool in the oppression of cyclists than the foam hat:

(via @Pflax1)

A cyclist who suffered a brain injury when he was hit by a Dublin van driver has been awarded €3 million.

However, the court was told that the injured man was deemed to have contributed 20 per cent of the negligence to the collision.

That percentage was reflected in the settlement he received, meaning the full sum he would have been awarded was €3.75 million.

Yeah, that's right.  If you're not wearing an EPS yarmulke when an unlicensed and uninsured driver slams into you it's 20% your fault:

The injured man, Alexandru Doroscan (33), was hit by a van while cycling in Blanchardstown in the west of the city on August 2nd, 2013.

The collision occurred at the junction of Ongar Distributor Road and Sheridan Road where he was struck by van driven by Declan Meade, Lisbrack Rd, Longford.

The hearing was told Meade was neither licenced nor insured at the time. And in a separate criminal case he was jailed for 3½ years, with 2½ years suspended.

And would a helmet even have helped?

Mr Doroscan, a married father of one child, was thrown around three meters into the air when Meade’s van hit him.

The Garda estimated the van was travelling at 57km per hour.

But sure, it certainly makes sense that the cyclist was 20% responsible for this.  In fact they should have docked him another million for not wearing a parachute.  After all, if only he had been then after being thrown into the air he might have floated gently to safety.

By this logic pedestrians, slip-and-fall victims, and really anybody who's injured in any conceivable situation should be partially responsible if they were not wearing a petroleum beanie:

People already think you're being irresponsible somehow by riding a bike, so reinforcing that idea by buying into the bareheaded riding taboo will only make it worse.

Meanwhile, from the Land of Helmets comes Wheely, a new bicycle light system:

Cyclists must take extra precautions when they ride. We often share roadways with vehicles, other cyclists and pedestrians, which can cause a host of incidents.

This is true, so for maximum safety always use on a bicycle with no brakes:

It's a funny thing about brakeless fixies: on one hand, when the trend hit full steam back in the late aughts it didn't exactly result in the mass carnage you might have expected.

Then again, on the other hand, it did and still does necessitate a completely idiotic style of riding.

Getting stuck behind some doofus whip-skidding his way down the Manhattan Bridge was annoying back then, and now that we've got an actual bicycle rush hour it's doubly stupid.

It's like walking on a crowded street and getting stuck behind someone doing this:

Please accept my apologies for posting the Monty Python silly walks skit.  That is Peak Dork.  I might as well add three or four Simpsons clips for good measure*.

*[Insert "Worst Blog Post Ever" image here.]

Lastly, where would we be without Bicycling?  For example, did you know you're making six (6) mistakes with your oatmeal?
Mistake #1: Not allowing it to cool before using it as a chamois cream.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Is All About Pushing the Boundaries of Tardiness

There has been much hand-wringing in the Fred community since Toms Skujins's nasty crash in the Tour of California:

Luckily the riders were able to avoid him and Skujins, who had torn most of his jersey apart and lost a lot of skin attempted to ride off. Almost hitting a kerb, Skujins the slowly made his way down the descent looking worse for wear.

Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who were clear the Skujins shouldn’t have been allowed to continue the race.

Yes, this was definitely a "Down, down, stay down!" moment:

And it's inspiring the cycling world to take a look at the sport's post-crash protocols, or lack thereof:

Changing this culture would undoubtedly take years to accomplish, and perhaps even changes to the rules. If a rider sat down after a crash, could he reenter the race the following day if he was deemed to be OK? The change will also need to come from within. Can directors convince riders to abandon their ambitions in the wake of a crash? Can riders train themselves to react with extreme caution after falling off the bike, rather than with the frantic desire to catch back on? Will teams ever grant riders a pass on bad results in order to recover from a head injury? Could we see a day when Toms Skujins simply walks over to the side of the road and forgets about the stage win? Time will tell.

I suspect the answer is probably "no," since the sport of cycling does not have a strong riders' union.  Nevertheless, in the meantime, elsewhere in the same publication one writer suggests a possible solution:

But when it comes to riders who matter--you know, the ones sponsored by property funds management businesses--he believes the solution is crash-sensing helmetry:

A helmet sensor would remove reliance on the judgment of a potentially concussed athlete in a high-stress situation. There is no way to definitively link a certain level of force with a head injury, so pulling a rider based exclusively on sensor readings would be medically and ethically questionable. But such a sensor would at least alert medical staff of the need to check out a rider immediately.

We may be closer to this type of solution than you think. There’s already a commercial product that does this: ICEdot. The sensor is packaged in a yellow disc about the size of a strawberry and links up with your cell phone to communicate directly with an emergency contact if triggered.

Astute readers of this blog (I have five total readers and of those maybe one or two is astute) may recall seeing the ICEdot system mentioned on these pages, and if not here it is again:

Since the riders are already wearing helmets I suppose adding some impact sensor isn't a bad idea.  But would it actually work?  As the writer points out, the riders don't carry phones, so "the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means:"

A racing application of ICEdot’s tech would need to be modified slightly. Riders don’t have phones in their back pockets, for example, so the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means. Luckily, forces within cycling are already adding telecommunications to pro bikes, sending us power, heart rate, and speed data for TV broadcasts. There’s no reason this system couldn’t also send notification of a rider in distress.

Though in the case of Skujins it doesn't seem like any means would have worked since they were in some sort of telecommunications Bermuda Triangle:
I also wonder how well devices like the ICEdot actually work.  For example, I tested a Coros LINX, and I couldn't get that stupid hunk of foam to call anybody:

Though I suppose it's possible nobody was taking my call, since as you might imagine hitting the "Decline" button when I come up on the caller ID is pretty much Pavlovian for the people in my life:

Furthermore, whenever you write a blog post or newspaper article about how you don't need to wear a helmet, 20 people immediately weigh in with a "BUT MY HELMENT SAVED MY LIFE!" comment.  Yet after consulting The Internetz I couldn't find a single testimonial about an ICEdot helping somebody after a crash.  Even the testimonials on the ICEdot website just talk about stickers and stuff:

The ICEdot sticker was the selling point for me.  I placed my sticker under the bill of my helmet.  First responders know that in a motorcycle accident, the helmet is not to be taken off until the physician gives the OK.  That sticker under the bill is small but VERY noticeable against the black interior of the helmet!  What an awesome idea.

And the VeloNews review of the product just seems to assume it will work without providing any real evidence:

The Crash Sensor will likely outlive your helmets — assuming you replace your helmets after each crash, as you should. At $150, the Crash Sensor is not cheap, but this is a device that can save your life should you take a spill on your next solo adventure. That $150 also includes a year-long ICEdot premium membership. Additional one year premium memberships are $10.

So are helmet sensors a scam, the latest way for companies to cash in on Helme(n)t Hyster(n)ia and sell you a "premium membership" along with your expensive hunk of EPS foam?  I have no idea.  (Though I suspect "yes.")  Anyway, Strava seems to have them beat anyway:

Beacon, our newest Premium feature, is the note on the fridge for the connected athlete. Instead of a lonely sticky note, Beacon safety contacts will get to see where you are during an activity in real time on a map. If you aren’t back on time, they can check to see where you are or if you’re stopped. If something were to happen to you, they’d be able to see your GPS location.

Seems like something that would actually work--though it could get Fred in some trouble if he takes a detour and loses track of the time:

Lastly, in Giro news, a rider was fined for scrawling a message on his emaciated torso:
"You call that a chest?," the organizers were quoted as saying.  "This is a chest:"

The Giro organizers most certainly do have an image to uphold, and it's muscled and oily.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Your Name Here: Sponsoring a Pro Cycling Team

As any cyclists knows, the Tour of California is in full swing.  Or it's over.  Or it's about to start.  Or it's been cancelled due to lack of sponsorship.

Just admit it, you're not paying attention, which is why you may be surprised that Cannondale-Drapac manager Jonathan Vaughters says that "pro cycling is the best sponsorship deal in sports:"

Indeed, according to Vaughters, Cannondale-Drapac could have been Team Netflix:

But this time I was waiting for a call from Netflix. We had put together a plan to kick off its European-branding campaign in a way nothing else could. We were in talks to announce a naming-rights sponsorship of our top-level cycling team just before the start of the Tour de France, the world's largest annual sporting event.

If only the streaming giant wasn't so short-sighted:

"We can't promote that," I was told. Which was too bad, for Netflix. They’d missed out on the best deal in sports sponsorship, especially when it comes to the younger generation.

Did they really miss out on a fabulous marketing opportunity though?  Taylor Phinney has been the next big thing in cycling for the past eight years now, and Toms Skujins's recent crash underscores how quickly even a top-tier bike race can devolve into a rolling shitshow:

Skujins immediately tried to get back up as a neutral service mechanic picked his bike up, but struggled to stand after appearing to hit his head.

He then tried to mount his bike but then crashed on his left-hand side as he continued to look dazed.

Appearing to try to retrieve his Garmin which had fallen off in the second crash, Skujins then almost collided with riders chasing on as they came past and he tried to cross the road back to where his bike was.


Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who were clear the Skujins shouldn’t have been allowed to continue the race.

Unfortunately his team car was some way behind with Skujins in the breakaway, and phone and TV signal wasn’t allowing the team back at the buses to see what was happening on the road.
In no way is this to blame anybody for what happened, nor is it to suggest frightening injuries don't occur in other sports, but I also doubt the marketing people at Netflix are exactly kicking themselves right now for not putting their logo on that torn jersey.

I'm also not sure cycling has some magical pull for "millennials:"

Traditional team sports do not have the same appeal to millennials that they did to older generations; millennials want to participate in sports and their orbiting cultures, not simply sit in recliners with their remotes and consume them. This tech-savvy generation is finding ways around traditional broadcasting avenues, streaming huge amounts of content, sports included.

It's really time we stopped talking about millennials as though they're a different form of human.  They're not.  Trust me, I live right next to a college, and I can assure you that the dumb traditional sports bro is in no way a dying breed.  By the same token, the Europhile streaming "alt-sports" such as cycling is just as likely to be an aging Fred as a so-called millennial.  In fact, they're probably more likely to be older, since they have office doors they can close.

And sure, young people seem to like riding bikes in cities, but does that really translate into wanting to watch bike racing on TV?

Go to any major city, and you’ll see millennials cruising around on their bicycles, and there are bike lanes popping up everywhere. In no other sport is there a line that connects the kids out learning to ride bikes and bike commuters to amateur racers and world-class professional cyclists. They all experience a similar thing.

I absolutely agree that adult cycling fans are much more likely to be riders themselves than, say, adult baseball fans are to be baseball players.  However, I'm not sure the average urban "millennial" commuting in one of those new protected bike lanes gives a shit about pro cycling.  I also think the thing about cycling being the only sport in which there's "a line that connects the amateur racers and world-class professional cyclists" is totally untrue.  What do you call Little League?  You can plug your kid into traditional sports right out of the womb, but good luck entering your grade-schooler into a bicycle race.  In fact, good luck finding a grade-schooler who even knows how to ride a bicycle.

Of course, one way in which cycling is different from many other sports is that the sponsor's name becomes the team name, and so the spectators effectively become fans of that company:

Sponsors of teams usurp those ad buys because they’re woven into the stories of the athletes and the race itself. Most of us tune out ads during a football game, but it’s impossible to ignore sponsors in cycling. They’re on the clothing, but they’re also on the air for hours each race, and then in the media all day, as commentators announce the team names and myriad publications cover every race. Sponsors become part of a team’s identity. That’s just not for sale in any another sport.

However, there's only one problem with that: they're still just team names.  See, people tend to take names for granted, and therefore it's incredibly easy to not give a shit what these companies actually do, even if you're a fan of the teams they sponsor.  For example, I've seen the name "Cannondale-Drapac" every day for months, and while obviously I know what Cannondale is it wasn't until I started writing this very blog post that I even bothered to look up Drapac--and in case you're wondering, here's what I came up with:

Drapac Capital Partners is a property funds management business that identifies value through unorthodox means.

With Australian origins and an established track record, we set up operations in the US in 2011 to capitalize on the unprecedented investment opportunities following the financial crisis. Our core investment focus is on land, and we never take a short term view allowing us to do what others cannot – make logical and rational investment decisions.

Yes, millennials love property funds management.

Given all this, it's harder and harder to imagine Netflix wanting to sponsor a cycling team:

For Netflix, this would have been the perfect move because it captures the already established massive audience of Tour de France viewers without paying a media competitor to be ignored during a commercial placed in the race. By putting its brand name on one of the main actors in the content people were viewing, Netflix would have used the efforts and money of competitors to promote their own channel. Genius pirate swashbuckling!

Would it really have, though?  Does a content creator really want to put its name on content it can't control?  Netflix can control the plot twists in "House of Cards," but they can't control the doping scandals in the Tour de France.

Of course, there certainly are companies that do benefit from cycling sponsorship, such as Garmin:

Garmin, a company that was involved with cycling on a title-level for seven years, saw its market share, brand recognition, and overall revenues soar in the fitness sector after launching its products through a named team: Team Garmin. It was the exception that had enough lateral thinkers in corporate headquarters to figure out that the real bottom line is sometimes better when you take a few risks. And with risks come rewards.

Which makes total sense, since they make a product for cyclists.  Indeed, since cycling fans are so likely to be cyclists themselves you'd think there would be more bike and component companies sponsoring cycling teams...until you consider it's really expensive to do so and the fundamentals are terrible due to the sport's exhausting scandal cycle.

If anything, the future of the sport lies in sponsorship from the Persian Gulf countries:

If I only had a Bahrain...

Monday, May 15, 2017

What Neurosis You Running?

Wondering what's going on in New York City these days?  Well head on over to the Bike Forecast where you can learn all about what this guy thinks about bike lanes:

Spoiler alert: he does not like them because his logic is as fuzzy as his mutton chops.

Anyway, this past Friday I operated a bicycle with those curved-type handlebars they use in the Tour de France over a variety of road surfaces:

I even ventured onto the secret mountain bike trails I can't tell you about because it's a secret:

As you can see, the deer was nonplussed:

The bike I usually choose for these sorts of rides is my Milwaukee, now in summer mode with no fenders and plumpish tires:

Note the fetching tool roll, by the way:

(A tool roll for a rolling tool.)

Indeed, between the Cambium, the chubby Paselas, and the rubbery bar tape I bought on a whim and ended up really liking I daresay I was almost too comfortable:

It goes against all reasoning that a bicycle without any misshapen crabon or cutting-edge decoupling devices could still offer such a pleasant ride, but the scranus knows what the scranus knows.

Also noteworthy is that somehow I managed to arrive at the appropriate tire pressure with a minimum of fuss, which is not the way it's supposed to work.  In fact, based on what you read in cycling magazines and websites it seems as though inflating your tire should an incredibly delicate process that lies somewhere between baking cream puffs and defusing a bomb in terms of sheer meticulousness required:

When you sit on a bike, your tyres compress. If they compress too much, they’ll writhe and squirm on the rims, making the bike harder to control, increasing rolling resistance and putting you at risk of pinch punctures. If they doesn’t compress enough, the ride will be harsh and there will be so little rubber on the road that grip will be reduced.

Somewhere in between those extremes, there must be an ideal compromise. How do you find it?

I dunno, inflate your tires until they're not squirmy anymore?  Am I missing something?  Apparently so:

Engineer Frank Berto, who investigated this issue for Bicycling magazine back in the late 1980s, came up with a formula based on the weight on each tyre (link is external); he reckoned that the happy medium involved a tyre being compressed 15 percent of its height.

As a recreational and touring rider, Berto was probably more interested in comfort than speed, so this idea is controversial, because Berto recommends lower tyre pressures than most of us use.

Comfort more interesting than speed?  Silly recreational riders!  Don't they know putting up with unnecessary suffering is what makes you a "real" cyclist?  Always add at least 10psi for some gratuitous scranial pain, otherwise your Rapha-esque riding smirk might soften around the edges.

Anyway, here's the chart:

And here's how to determine "wheel load:"

To determine the right pressure, you’ll need to measure the load on each wheel. Put a bathroom scale under one wheel and enough wooden blocks, books or old magazines under the other to level the bike. Lean very lightly against a wall to steady yourself and sit in your normal position on the bike. Get someone else to read the scale for you. Repeat the process with the scale under the other wheel.

Though if you're really so concerned with finding the optimal tire pressure that you're willing to try the above, there's an even better method: find a dark room, lock your bike inside of it, and don't open it again until you've gotten a freaking life.

Plus, it's only a matter of time before some Fred cracks his skull open on the toilet while trying to weigh his bike in the bathroom.

And of course you'll need an accurate gauge:

To set your tyre pressure right you’ll need a pressure gauge. Track pumps usually have one built in, but they’re often not very accurate, especially if the pump is a bit old and has been kicked around the workshop floor.

Though the truth is that if you always use the same pump the gauge only needs to be relative to itself.  I haven't even looked at the numbers on my pump gauge in years, I just know generally which angle the needle should be pointing depending on which tires I'm inflating.

Then again I clearly don't know how to ride bicycles.