BSNYC Field Trip: Philly Bike Expo

(Gmail: A disturbing and unwelcome window into the self.)

As you know because you either live in the Northeast, watch news about the Northeast, or know a person who lives in the Northeast who won't shut up about it, we here in the Northeast received something of a freak snowstorm this past Saturday. It just so happens that this past Saturday was also the day I was scheduled to visit the Philadelphia Bike Expo and bore the attendees right out of their "shants." Naturally then, as the forecast grew increasingly dire, I worried that travel to and from the City of Brotherly Love might be difficult.

Sure enough, it was cold and rainy on Saturday morning, and snow was clearly on the way. But was I daunted? I was not. "The people of Philadelphia must be bored!," I announced to Toucan Sam, who was staring at me skeptically from a box of Froot Loops. Finishing my morning repast, I packed my bag, applied embrocation and chamois cream liberally, slipped into my finest Rapha, gave my bike a final going-over...

...and drove to Philly.

Sure, traveling by means of a four-wheeled internal combustion recumbent is not "epic," nor is it "smug," but I was wearing Rapha pants, and I was also using a David Byrne Air Freshener™:

(The David Byrne Air Freshener™: Smells like Smugness.)

Just because he doesn't own a car doesn't mean he doesn't want yours to smell nice. Especially since he probably needs a ride.

Sure, I would have liked to have utilized some sort of bike/train "collabo" to get down there, but I also didn't want to spend the night in Philadelphia should rail travel go awry due to the weather. It's not that I don't enjoy visiting that fair city--in fact I admire it very much. It's just that I'm something of a homebody (or, if you prefer, a "woosie") and every night I spend in a bed other than my own I lose a little piece of my soul.

Of course, the other non-"epic" option is always "If it rains take the bus," but buses in and out of New York tend to flip like pancakes. Also, I have a fear of motorcoaches that dates back to my "teen tour," during which I was trapped on a bus for two whole months with a bunch of children who had had incredibly lavish Bar Mitzvahs. (You don't know the meaning of perdition until you've seen a teenager rapping while wearing a leather Louis Vuitton cap and gold chai medallion.)

And then there was all the free giveaway crap I had to portage schlep, and as I motored along the Turnpike being pummeled by what amounted to a sampling platter of every type of popular frozen precipitation, the trunk of my 1967 Corvette Stingray (converted to run on vegetable oil) full of blinky lights and designer "taint cream," I imagined that, should the state police have to extricate me from the vehicle with the Jaws of Life, in my last moribund act I would produce a "hipster cyst," switch it on, and utter the words, "May this weigh heavily on your souls."

Fortunately, none of this happened, and I made it to and from the Expo smoothly and without any sort of problem whatsoever. I attribute this to the David Byrne Air Freshener™, which doubtless served as a talisman.

Anyway, when I got to the expo, I savored the irony of the fact that, even though I had been invited down there to talk to everybody, I didn't actually have any friends to hang around with since nobody likes me, and so I bided (bidded? bade? bode?) my time by lurking in the rafters like the Phantom of the Opera:

From there I surveyed the proceedings, including the "epicness" that was the Rapha booth:

Speaking of Rapha, they were one of the three concerns generous enough to provide stuff for me to give away, the others being Knog and the Just Coffee Cooperative. I'd like to give them all my sincere thanks. I'd also like to thank Bilenky for inviting me. Most of all, I'd like to thank the people who actually showed up to listen to me for actually showing up and listening to me, and here's picture of them that I found on the Internet:

(They're only smiling because I haven't started yet.)

Thanks very much to all concerned.

Then, after my talk, I stopped by the Brooks booth:

Where I had a disconcerting conversation with one of the freaky hallucinations from the 1990 psychological thriller "Jacob's Ladder" starring Tim Robbins:

This sort of thing happens to me more than you'd think, since it turns out the councelors on my "teen tour" were putting some sort of experimental drug in our frozen yogurt.

By the way, if you want to style yourself as a dashingly cosmopolitan urban cyclist, you can do no better than getting some Rapha jeans, a Brooks jacket, and then riding around on a "smugness flotilla" that's powered by a leafblower:

It's the only look that shouts "class" loud enough to be heard over the flatulent din of a 50cc engine.

In any case, even though my visit to Philadelphia was brief I enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact, it was exactly like racing cyclocross, inasmuch as I drove a car 200 miles round-trip just to make a complete fool of myself for 45 minutes.

Speaking of Brooks, back in January they sent me a sample of their wares:

And I'm pleased to announce it's been sitting atop my Big Dummy since then, where it's been both serviceable and comfortable:

It's also become all tanned, smooth, and shiny, like Mario Cipollini after a two-week vacation in the islands of Greece. (Every morning, he pours three liters of olive oil on himself and then lies in a hammock for 14 hours.) Oddly, this didn't happen gradually. Instead, it seemed to happen all of a sudden after I rode home from the beach one day in soggy salt water pants. I can't explain the reason for this since I'm not a scientist, nor am I versed in the subtleties of having a dead animal's hide bolted to your seatpost, but it looks good and it feels good and so, like most consumers of animal by-products, I'll just switch off my brain, absolve myself from any responsibility, and enjoy it.

In other saddle-related news, I also saw this Fizik display at the expo:

And I'm not sure I've ever seen anything that begged so plaintively for a Richard Gere reference:

(Richard Gere says: "It's gerbil time!")

I'm happy to oblige.

As it happens, I find Fizik saddles comfortable and have for quite a number of years, which is why I have one on my Ritte von Finkelstein:

(I very much enjoy riding my Ritte von Finkelstein roadening bike.)

However, I've been increasingly uncomfortable with their evolving marketing technique, which now involves categorizing people (or, more specifically, their crotches) as "snakes," "chameleons," and "bulls." Evidently, which one you are depends on how your pelvis moves while you ride or something like that, and then you're supposed to choose a saddle accordingly:

This is both creepy and ridiculous, and categorizing people as "snakes," "chameleons," or "bulls" based on the way they wriggle and writhe while they straddle something sounds like the way Mario Cipollini probably categorizes his various sex partners. Can't they just call the saddles "soft," "medium," and "hard?" I guess that sounds sort of dirty, but it's positively chaste in comparison. Still, it's great that Fizik have managed to bring the irritating Starbucks sizing concept to bicycle saddles. Hopefully one day I'll be able to go into a bike shop to buy a cyclocross tire, and when they ask me what size I can say "sawtooth eel."

Lastly, for decades, people have argued about the point at which a pop-cultural trend is officially dead. Some say it's when it's used in advertising campaigns for mass-market products. Others insist it's when the trend is available for purchase in "big-box" stores such as Walmart. I suspect, though, that the true sign a trend is dead is when white people start rapping about it non-ironically, as in this video that was forwarded to me by a reader:

In it, this guy makes contorted hand gestures and says things that rhyme:

And my favorite part is when he says, "Fuck that fixie hipster shit we ride fixed gears" and then gives us the finger:

I realize that, as the father of 17 children who owns a luxury cargo bike and who drives to Philadelphia, I've officially reached the point in my life at which I'm hopelessly pampered and "out of it." Nevertheless, I can't possibly be alone in hearing a line like "Fuck that fixie hipster shit we ride fixed gears" and then wondering, "What could possibly be the difference?" It's like saying, "Fuck that hippie shit we listen to Phish." Evidently though, according to the video, the difference between "fixie hipster shit" and non-"fixie hipster shit" is doing this:

Though somehow now I'm even more confused.


Are you sick of the fact that some people have nice bikes and others have crappy ones? Does the iniquity of the fact that 1% of the cycling population controls the majority of the world's artisanally hand-crafted bicycles while the 99% must make do with mass-produced bikes from Taiwan fill you with rage? Do you like sandwiches? Well, if you answered "Yuh" to at least two out of three of these questions, then join me tomorrow for #OccupyPhillyBikeExpo!

That's right--from 2:00 to 2:45pm tomorrow I'll be #Occupying the Philly Bike Expo, smashing cycling industry greed (except for my own, which doesn't count), and redistributing wealth by showing a bunch of funny pictures and then giving away stuff from Knog, Rapha, and Just Coffee Cooperative, all of whom are giant multinational soul-sucking corporations who are ruining the planet. (Knog make their blinky lights from endangered lizards, Rapha's offshore drilling operations are spilling millions of gallons of chamois cream into the Gulf of Mexico, and Just Coffee Cooperative regularly works with the CIA to install puppet regimes in South America.)

Let it be known that I intend to #OccupyPhillyBikeExpo for as long as it takes for the 99% to prevail--or until 2:46pm, whichever comes first.

And in addition to bringing the finest in lights, embrocations, and coffee, (the gold, frankincense, and myrrh of the cycling world), I'll also be bringing an entire day's worth of crap-tastic weather!

You can thank me afterwards (if you can catch me before 2:46pm), and if it rains feel free to take the bus.

Speaking of #Occupying, you'll be not even remotely surprised to learn that the people #Occupying Portland have built...a bicycle generator:

How anything in this video is any different from pretty much any other given day in Portland is beyond me. In fact, building bicycle generators is Portland's answer to pretty much everything. The 99% is broke and unemployed? Build a bicycle generator! We've been fighting two different wars for the entire 21st century? Build a bicycle generator! Bicycle generator on the fritz? Build a bicycle generator! Building a bicycle generator is Portland's version of "Uh-oh, we'd better stock up on bottled water and duct tape."

In any event, if you're reading this on a bicycle generator-powered computer, you'd better keep pedaling because it's time for a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll #OccupyBeingAwesome, and if you're wrong you'll see...this.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and hopefully I'll see some of you in Philadelphia.

--Wildcat Rock Machine (#Occupied)

1) Most tech pundits believe the "next big thing" in cyclocross will be:

(Peta Todd giving good headdress.)

2) Mark "The Man Missile" Cavendish's significant other, Peta Todd, is:

--A woman of profound cultural sensitivity
--All of the above

3) In a phenomenon that Pope Benedict XVI has now officially recognized as a miracle, a statue of Mario Cipollini has been dripping oil continuously since 1999.


4) Today marks the end of PETA's:

--Cat Week 2011
--Dog Days of Autumn campaign

5) You can now own Falkor the Luck Dragon in saddle form.


(Japanese flag slippers are not technically acceptable for cargo cycling, and turning to stare at your load is a major faux-pas.)

6) According to weird smugness style diktats, the preferred footwear for cargo cycling is the:

(One of these guys actually said this.)

Cycling convert Gary Kemp, ______________'s guitarist, remembers the first time he clocked the carefully art-directed photography of the Rapha website four and half years ago. 'It was like the time I saw the Sex Pistols at The Screen on the Green and swore I'd never wear flares again. Here was a new tribe and I knew that I had to be part of it. Within minutes I was buying clothes from this supercool English company, and I didn't even have the bike!'

7) Gary Kemp is the guitarist for which band?

***Special Missed Connections-Themed Bonus Question***

(But does he wear Rapha?)

She blinded me with:

The Winter of our Discontent: All You Haters Occupy My Malls

When Steve Jobs died, one quote was repeated and re-"Tweeted" incessantly, especially among bikey people. I'm sure you know the one I mean:

("Are mind," huh? At least one YouTube user could use a bigger bicycle.)

While most of us can appreciate the sentiment, I cringed every time I came across it. First of all, the bicycle he was talking about was a recumbent:

(Recumbents: Eeew.)

Secondly, it's highly ironic--and not in the entertaining way, but in the depressing way. I'm sure Steve Jobs didn't mean it that way, but think about it: Americans hate bicycles, but we love computers. Also, consider the iPhone. (Which is essentially a computer, despite the name.) I suppose in an idealistic sense it's a bicycle for our minds, but in practice for most of us it's more of a big electronic clitoris that we're constantly fingering in order to experience instant and fleeting gratification.

None of this is to diminish Steve Jobs's boundless vision, or the computer's profound and transformative effect on humanity. It's just that when it comes to any incredible tool--like the bicycle, or the computer--there are two ways to use it:

The Transformative Way, in which we use the tool to transcend ourselves;


The American Way, in which we buy the tool on credit and then use it as a great big erogenous zone until the new version comes out and it's time to "upgrade."

You can use your computer to start a revolution, or you can use it to look at porn. You can use your bicycle to transport yourself efficiently, or you can customize it and admire it underneath you while you do trackstands and go nowhere. The idealistic view of all this technology is that it has brought us all together, and the cynical one is that it has simply enabled us all to spend all day blowing ourselves. We are a nation of visionaries, but we are also a nation of insatiable auto-fellators, and I suppose it's this contradiction that defines our national character.

I also couldn't help feeling cynical recently when I received an email from some PR company announcing that they had been "working on a number of health related initiatives promoting health and wellness for the citizens of NYC," which I take to mean the Department of Public Health has hired them to make a bunch of PSAs. The PSAs are designed to get people to stop drinking swill and becoming obese, and they contain scare tactics like this:

We've reached a frightening phase in our evolution when we're being threatened with the prospect of walking. If we had any sense, we'd take this as an advertisement for Pepsi and not an anti-soda PSA, since enjoying a nice cool soft drink and taking a leisurely stroll across town sounds like a great way to spend a couple of hours. "Great, now I have an excuse to walk!" But that's not the way it is, and I guess this PR company knows that people are actually more frightened of walking than they are of the prospect of losing their feet to diabetes. I guess it's just evolution, since in a few hundred years we're not going to need feet anyway.

But can we blame people for being frightened of walking? "Back in the day" you might be afraid to walk from Central Park to Yankee Stadium because you'd get mugged. Now, you're almost certain to get run down by a motor vehicle, after which the NYPD won't even have the decency to return your family's phone calls. This is because we live in a place where "I didn't see you" is actually a valid excuse for killing somebody. Even in New York, you're not considered "visible" unless you're in a car, and if you're not "visible" you are fair game. So if you want protection from the law, at the bare minimum you'd better visit the Kia dealership, because you literally need to have a "lease on life."

This, then, is why American-style cycling has its own unique character, which is embodied perfectly in this photo taken by a reader in Seattle:

Indeed, I'd say that there are three images that define us as a people. "Washington Crossing the Delaware" embodies our patriotism and bravery:

"American Gothic" captures our steely resolve:

And "Captain America Peeing" expresses the manner in which toys with wheels drive us absolutely insane:

Speaking of insanity, as I've pointed out many times, people are insane for anything "artisanal," and a number of readers have informed me that even distinctly non-artisanal "newspaper" USA Today (the "Captain America Peeing" of newspapers) is onto the phenomenon:

I'd almost be tempted to compliment USA Today on its astute cultural criticism, if only they hadn't published this article just a couple months prior:

Though I suppose the ice cream is legitimately "artisan" since it comes from Portland, whereas the Domino's pizza is emphatically not.

Anyway, with "artisan" atop an increasingly lofty pile of words that have completely lost all meaning, along with others like "curate," "minimalist," and "dignity," at least one commenter believes "occupy" is now on its way to a similar fate:

Anonymous said...

It seems like now we just put the word "occupy" in front of whatever we're upset about. For instance in the image preceded by this comment: "And as for the competitors being able to fix a flat, while I did see this, I also saw no evidence that he completed the job successfully:" This is a great example of "OccupyFlatTire". There is little evidence of a plan for "change" (though his his wheel is off), but more importantly, it doesn't look like he'll be going anywhere soon.

October 27, 2011 12:04 AM

So is this true? Is "occupy" the new "nonplussed?" Have we officially branded and marketed our discontentment? Or is it simply shorthand for the unique brand of petulance we exhibit when our auto-fellating consumerist ways catch up with us? I don't know, but according to the New York Post (the periodical that consigned the word "newspaper" to the pile of meaningless words), in true 21st century fashion, Occupy Wall Street's "artisanal" cuisine has become so popular that there's now basically an "Occupy Occupy Wall Street" consisting of freeloaders:"

Ultimately though, this article really only proves one thing, which is that a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch will print anything that implies the protesters are hypocrites.

But can you blame us for being consumers and auto-fellators and freeloaders and soda-guzzlers? Modern life is confusing, and sometimes you just need a little retail therapy. And when it comes to cycling, sweet, sweet crabon is the sodee pop of bicycles. But what if you can't afford it? Well, just buy a bike with some moderate damage, like this one which was forwarded to me by a reader:

Scott Speedster 54 CM Carbon Fiber Road Bike - $200 (Medford,NJ)
Date: 2011-10-26, 3:55PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

I have a Scott Speedster 54 cm Road Bike that is a carbon fiber Frame and Fork. It has a waterbottle holder on it and the fork is still connected with the bearings and headset. Also comes with the front rim that is a alex rims race 28 pro with a scott hub. The bike was given to me and was ran over by my friends neighbor and has damage in 3 spots. But I know carbon fibre is repairable and this would be a good canidate. Asking $200. If interested please email me or text me at 856 524

Oh yeah, $200 is a bargain for that. Those scratches will buff right out.

It's a bicycle for the modern mind.

Mating Rituals: Heeding the Call

When you think of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Earth, do you think of this?

Or this?

Or, like most people, do you just think of this?

Well, this coming weekend, Philadelphia only means one thing: Bikes, Bikes, Bikes!!! (Okay, technically that's three things.) That's because it's time once again for the Philly Bike Expo, Philadelphia's finest bike show and cream cheese-tasting festival!

There are about a million compelling reasons to go to the Philly Bike Expo this year: because you want to see awesome bikes; because your significant other, spouse, or life partner is a huge bike dork and is making you go; because you live in Philadelphia and there's nothing else to do... But one reason that's not even remotely compelling is that I'll be giving a "seminar" at 2:00pm on Saturday:

This is why the Philly Bike Expo is changing its slogan from "Artisans/Activists/Alternatives" to "Artisans/Activists/Alternatives & A-holes:"

Of course, if you've been to one of my appearances before, you pretty much know what to expect:

However, once I'm finished I promise to wake you up so that I can give away fabulous prizes. These prizes will include:

--The contents of a box of stuff from Knog that I haven't opened yet but that makes the sound of awesome when I shake it;

--"Skincare" from Rapha;

--Coffee from the Just Coffee Cooperative, the cooperative that can beat up any coffee shop in Portland;


--50 custom titanium Seven bicycles The remainder of my lunch, provided I'm not able to finish it.

So please show up and get free stuff, if only so I don't have to portage schlep any of it all the way back to New York with me.

With that out of the way, you may recall that yesterday I mentioned Mark "The Man Missile" Cavendish's target of choice, Peta Todd:

(Peta Todd attempting to cover her breasts with her hands and missing.)

Well, as you probably noticed, she has the same first name as a popular animal rights group, and I happened to notice in the news today that this popular animal rights group is suing SeaWorld for slavery:

The suit, which PETA says it will file Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, hinges on the fact that the 13th Amendment, while prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, does not specify that only humans can be victims.

While I have my own reservations about zoos and animal theme parks, I also think this lawsuit is absurd, as it's clearly meant to deflect media attention from the fact that PETA itself is being sued by the model for "Kitty Takeover: Cat Week 2011:"

Mittens claims the animal rights organization used his image without his consent and seeks damages to the tune of $8.6 million. He also claims that Peta founders Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco plied him with catnip before the shoot.

Speaking of cats, and animal rights, and famous sprinters and reproduction (as I was yesterday), in a controversial experiment this cat:

Was exposed to Mario Cipollini for five minutes:

And six hours later, this happened:

The two most shocking things about this experiment were that: 1) All Cipollini did was look at the cat; and 2) The cat is a male. Such is the reproductive power of Mario Cipollini, who is himself part cat:

(What's with the sneakers?)

And all hormones.

Also further to yesterday's post, one reader left the following comment:

Anonymous said...

Extraordinary: a kind of triathlon where ppl actually do have bike handling skills, and better, they can fix a flat !!

October 25, 2011 12:52 PM

And included a link to the following video:

Inasmuch as you're about as likely to find good bike-handling at a triathlon as you are to find pants on Mario Cipollini, I watched the video with interest. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the bike-handling skills to which the reader referred. For example, they weren't here, where someone just rides off the trail for no reason:

Nor were they here:

Or here:

Or even here, on a flattish section of trail with nobody around:

Of course, I realize that these people have just swum a whole lot, so they're already tired. I also realize I've never ridden in Hawaii, so I'm unaware of the unique challenges posed by the terrain. For example, the fallen riders may all have been the victims of invisible lizards. Still, I can't help thinking that the race contains an awful lot of walking for a non-ironic world championship:

And as for the competitors being able to fix a flat, while I did see this, I also saw no evidence that he completed the job successfully:

Without substantiation, I'm just going to have to assume he's still out there.

Of course, I'm more than aware that there's no way I'd be able to complete a grueling athletic endeavor such as the XTERRA World Championships, and I also admit I walk so much while riding offroad that I should probably trade my mountain bike for one of these. Still, I also see nothing in that video to alter my suspicion that, for the vast majority of humanity, bike-handling skills dissolve in water like so much Alka-Seltzer.

And finally, thanks to Craigslist, I think I may finally have discovered the mating call of the "hipster:"

Auburn hair walking on southside of Manhattan Ave - m4w - 30 (WIlliamsburg)
Date: 2011-10-25, 2:15PM EDT
Reply to:

You we're walking on the southside of Manhattan ave behind the school at 2:45 on monday. I was riding my bike. You with your auburn hair, blue jeans and boots. Me riding by in my black hoody. I let out an "ewf". Sorry, you struck me pretty hard. That's all that would come out. Just wanted to let you know. You're a fox.

So if you're ever walking in a trendy neighborhood such as Williamsburg and hear a lilting, "Ewf, ewf, ewf...," just know that you're being courted. It may also be accompanied by some lizard-like head bobbing. Unless it's Mario Cipollini, in which case you'll hear nothing at all until the babies come.