This Just In: I'm Going Somewhere!

This morning I am off to visit our passive-aggressive neighbors to the north.  This means tomorrow's post will not exist.  However, I will return on Monday, October 1st with regular updates.  In the meantime, here's where I'll be in Hamilton if you wish to avoid me:

Before I leave though I thought I'd update you on the Budnitz, since we had our first day real day out on the town yesterday.  First I locked it up while I got a haircut, which I needed badly since without one there was no way Canadian customs would let me into their country:

Any thief operating in this residential part of Brooklyn was likely to be an opportunist on the lookout for unlocked bikes rather than the professional kind equipped with power tools, but even so I secured it with chain lock, u-lock, and cable lock through the dainty ass-pedestal.  Note how delightfully "urban" the titanium downtube looks when it's chained purposefully to a city bike rack.  I'm sure Old Man Budnitz is delighted:

Though he'd probably be less delighted to know how scratched the bike already is.  In any case, when I emerged from the barbershop the Budnitz was still there, thanks no doubt to that King/Winfrey talisman.  The Budnitz was also appalled to learn that I had gotten my haircut for less than $200.  I explained to it that I don't go in for that sort of nonsense, and anyway I was only going to Canada, where sporting a designer coiffure would be casting pearls before swine.

As for the experience of actually riding the Budnitz, unsurprisingly it rides nicely, though that requires ignoring the constant ticking sound which I had attributed to the loose skewer but is in fact probably coming from the bottom bracket:


I tightened the wedge bolt on the eccentric bottom bracket as much as I dared but the sound is still there, and it underscores exactly why these short-term bike tests are so ridiculous.  Anyone qualified to properly evaluate a bicycle would also be driven mad by such a sound, which means they're either going to be miserable the whole time, or else they're going to spend the entire testing period trying to eliminate it.  As for me, I don't have time to be pulling bottom brackets and regreasing them (I have Canadas to visit for one thing), and there are few things more embarrassing than riding around on a $5,600 titanium city bike with a ticking bottom bracket.  With every pedal stroke you're telling the world, "I'm rich and clueless!," though in my case hopefully my cheap haircut makes it clear that I'm merely clueless.  In any case, it would be nice if Budnitz had supplied me with a properly-assembled bicycle so I could focus on riding the thing, but I guess that's too much to ask from a design firm.

The other problem with the ticking bottom bracket is that it makes "Cat 6" racing difficult, since it eliminates the element of surprise.  Make no mistake: the typical Budnitz owner is going to want to Cat 6 the shit out of this thing, and in a sense it's the ideal Cat 6 racing machine in that it's a bike built from top-of-the-line racing components that is completely unraceable.  So after getting my haircut I decided to swallow my pride (which is easy since my pride is so tiny) and test it out on one of Brooklyn's premiere proving grounds, the "hill" in Prospect Park:

First, at about :08 seconds, I pick off the guy on the Pista.  Then, at :14 seconds, I give the couple out for a leisurely bike ride "The Look" (which, on a Budnitz, is a rarefied blend of the one Armstrong shot at Ullrich, "Blue Steel" by Derek Zoolander, and having to fart).  At :29 seconds I make mincemeat of the middle-aged woman in the sandals.  Then, at :38 seconds, I finally get "on terms" with my most dreaded adversary, the guy on the blue road bike wearing running shoes, and in a stunning burst of douchebag-fueled ticking titanium fury I drop him and power to the "summit."  The bottom bracket protests loudly the entire time, and I can assure you the motor sound at the end of the video is from a nearby lawn-edger and not some secret Cancellara power-assist on the Budnitz, which I realize is difficult to believe given my blistering speed.

But the real test would soon follow.  After my mighty victory, I took the douche chariot to one Brooklyn's douchiest neighborhoods, DUMBO, where I had a lengthy appointment.  (As for the nature of that appointment, all you have to know is that it was protracted douche business.)  Unlike the neighborhood in which I got a haircut, there was a chance the Budnitz might attract a professional thief here, but I was sure to give it a fighting chance by securing it with plenty of hardware:

There it sat until nightfall, and when I returned it was still there:

Sure, it wasn't Manhattan where they really steal bikes, but this unattended sojourn at a bike rack brought the Budnitz that much closer to not getting stolen during my tenure.  Next I fired up my Knog Blinder (which nearly gave me a sunburn):

And with that I was off.

Speaking of Knog Blinders, that's what winners of The Second Biennial Cock-Off contest will win, and if you still want to enter please do so before 11:59pm tonight, which I've just arbitrarily decided will be the deadline.  Good luck, and happy cocking.

Lastly, one more thing about the Budnitz: it is equipped with Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes.  I happen to like these brakes for the simple reason they're very easy to maintain, and for this reason I currently use them on no fewer than three (3) of my bicycles, which means I have a pretty good amount of experience with them.  On the Budnitz, however, they do something I've never experienced on any other bike.  What happens is, when you're gradually slowing (as you might when you're approaching a stop sign or a place to get a $200 haircut), they seem to hit a certain frequency at which they howl like a ship in a harbor:

The issue isn't the sound, though.  (If you don't like brake noises don't use Avid BB7s.)  The issue is that along with the sound comes a deep vibration that travels through the entire bike and then right up to your scranus.  It's extreme and rather disconcerting, though I'm sure there are some people who would find such a thing pleasurable.  I've never experienced this with Avid BB7s on any other bike, and I don't know if it has to do with the swoopy titanium fame tubing or it's just some confluence of atmospheric conditions, pad wear, lunar phase, and so forth.  If it is the frame, then Budnitz may have inadvertently designed a taint-blaster that does to the scranus what the building in "Ghostbusters" did to New York City.  But again, I've only had the bike for two days, and it's yet another reason why short-term bike tests are ridiculous.

And with that, I'm off to Canada with the tingling from last night's ride still fresh in my downstairs area.  Have a great weekend, ride safe, and I'll see you on Monday, October 1st.


--Wildcat Rock Machine

The name Wednesday continues Middle English Wednesdei. Old English still had wōdnesdæg, which would be continued as *Wodnesday (but Old Frisian has an attested wednesdei). By the early 13th century, the i-mutated form was introduced unetymologically.

Firstly, here's today's Happy Wednesday Fun Fact, brought to you by the Wicking Pedia:

According to the Thai solar calendar, the color associated with Wednesday is green.

Interpret that as you will.

Secondly, yesterday I took the bus, and it wasn't even raining!  Here's what the cockpit looked like:

(Sun-drenched bus cockpit.)

I almost never take the bus, and when life conspires to force me out of my home I generally look to the bicycle--unless the distance I need to travel from my home is shorter than the length of an actual bicycle, in which case I walk because riding there would just be silly.  (For example, I don't ride to my next-door neighbors' apartment when I need to borrow some maple syrup for my bath.  When your rear wheel's at your departure point and your front wheel is at your destination you're only being stupid.)  Or, if the weather is especially foul, I might take the subway instead, since at this point in my life I simply have nothing to prove by riding in foul weather.  (If I did I'd actually put on pants once in awhile.)

Generally speaking, however, the bus simply does not enter into my consideration.

But it did yesterday, because yesterday I was picking up a Budnitz.  I did not have the Budnitz dropped off at my home for the simple reason that I don't want anyone seeing my home.  (My next-door neighbor Martin Amis resents the intrusions, and he's mad enough as it is since I keep "popping 'round" for maple syrup wearing only a bath towel.)  Instead, I had it delivered a short distance from my home, but not short enough to walk, and I wasn't going to ride there because I had to ride the Budnitz home, and the subway was out of my way, and then I realized our meeting point was right on the bus line, and next thing you know I was on a fucking bus.

I took the bus.

Also, there was a certain elegance in the juxtaposition of the bus trip and the ride home on this lavishly expensive designer douche chariot:

(Budnitz No. 1, as photographed by Martin Amis)

All of this is to say rather circuitously that I'm now in temporary position of a loaner Budnitz.

Now that you're up to speed, I hope you'll indulge me and allow me to get serious for just a moment:

Puppy Disease

Sorry, sometimes you have to be heavy-handed in order to set a serious tone.

Also, while we're being serious, I'd like to point out that I've been writing this blog for something like five years.  Sure, I'm a hack; yes, my blog looks like crap; absolutely, I wrote my best post sometime during week two and it's been on a downhill slide ever since.  Nevertheless, you'd think my sheer longevity would afford me just a tiny bit of respect.

But you'd be wrong.

More specifically, let's say you're giving a bike blogger a $5,600 titanium bicycle to review.  And let's say that bike blogger's entire raison d'être is making fun of expensive stuff and pointing out embarrassing errors and oversights on the part of marketing people.  And let's also say for the sake of argument that you hope your exquisitely-crafted $5,600 titanium dream bike will win him over and melt his icy heart, if not force him to eat his words.  Well, certainly you'd give the bicycle at least a cursory examination before handing it over to make sure, for example, that the wheels are properly installed in the frame.

Here you'd be wrong as well.

No, when the Budnitz marketing guy handed over the Budnitz the first thing I noticed was that the rear wheel bolt-on skewer was not tightened.  I don't mean it was a little loose, either; I mean it was open to the extent that you could fully rock it back and forth in the dropouts.  Surprised, I pointed this out to the marketing guy, figuring he must have transported the bicycle by car or by subway and simply didn't notice.  Instead, I was shocked to learn, he had ridden it all the way to Brooklyn from Manhattan that way and said he hadn't noticed.  I'm amazed that the wheel didn't pop out when he was going over the bridge, but I guess that's why the Almighty Lobster On High invented the vertical dropout.

Now I should say at this point that I don't want to get this guy in trouble with Old Man Budnitz or anything like that.  He's a very nice guy.  He was punctual.  He was accommodating.  He went way out of his way to lend me a bike.  At the same time, it seems to me that handing a nitpicky blogger a bike in this state is like a fashion designer lending Vogue a suit with pecker tracks in the crotch, and as such I feel it's my obligation to report it.

Anyway, we went to tighten the bolt-on quick release, but for some reason it wouldn't turn.  I figured it must be bottoming out somehow, or that maybe there was some theft-proofing mechanism that wasn't immediately apparent to me in my hurried squatting-on-the-sidewalk state.  So finally, figuring he had made it this far and that I would probably survive too, I just rode it home as it was and refrained from using the rear brake.  The bike creaked as I pedaled, almost certainly due to the loose skewer, which further led me to wonder how he hadn't noticed it.  (Though it did distract me from the clunking of the headset, which was also rather loose.)  Finally I got home and removed the skewer, at which point I learned that the reason it wouldn't turn was that the little spring was hopelessly mangled and caught in the nut:

So I replaced it with one of those cheesy plastic ones that would doubtless make Old Man Budnitz plotz:

(Eeew!  It's not titanium!)

I also tightened the headset and made various other adjustments, at which point it suddenly occurred to me that they probably weren't lending me the bike to review, since the typical Budnitz customer would never read this blog.  Instead, they probably pawned their tester off on me for the free maintenance!

It was a chilling and humbling revelation.

By the way, at this point you may have noticed I've spent more time futzing with the bike than I have riding it, which is exactly why all these bike reviews you read in all these magazines and websites are so ridiculous.  What most of them call a "long-term test" is, in the real world, barely enough time for a bicycle to be broken in.  You can't properly evaluate a bicycle until you've worn through at least one set of tires, brake pads, cogs, and grips.

Nevertheless, I do intend to use the bike in the manner in which its marketed, by which I mean as a "city bike," and that will involve locking it up outside if need be, here in my hometown of New York City, bike theft capital of the USA.  Shrewdly, Budnitz have equipped this city bike with fancyschmancy everything: Fizik Aliante saddle, White Industries hubs, Paul brake levers, and even a titanium Chris King headset (about three times more expensive than a "regular" aluminum one) to make it sting that much more when the bike eventually gets stolen.  Therefore, last night I set about "uglifying" the bike like they're always telling you to do in those stupid Internet theft-proofing instructionals.  Here's what I did.

First, I found the ugliest picture I could:

(Ugh, revolting.)

Then I made with the scissors:

(Ikea scissors, non-titanium version.)

And showed that, while I'm helpless when it comes to digital imaging, my old-school artz and craftz skillz are positively top-notch:

Next I fired up the frugal man's laminator (clear insulating tape):

And stuck the whole mess right on the downtube:

It was touch to apply since the bike is so damn swoopy.  Even so I doubt anyone will touch it in this condition, and I'm sure Old Man Budnitz is beside himself by now.

Moving on, while Budnitz spared no expense in "speccing" the No. 1, I may still upgrade to the "bong trigger rims," as forwarded by a reader:

vintage specialized carbon fiber road bike - $700 (mission district)
Date: 2012-09-25, 7:34PM PDT

vintage specialized road bikes super light 16 full carbon fiber frame and forks richie crank bong trigger rims and tires all the components on this bike Shimano 600 except for the derailer it's dur 1 sweet ride interested Rick (650)630 [deleted]

Though I'm not sure if they're "dick brake" compatible (via the Tweeter):

full suspension PacificYX8500 - $125 (Gresham.OR`)
Date: 2012-09-24, 8:29PM PDT

selling a 24 speed Full suspension mt PacificYX 8500
has a front dick brake
Easy of front tire
125 or best offer
Call or text
503 [deleted]

And I'd gladly trade the Budnitz for this baby:

The bicycle above forwarded to me by a reader who saw it on the Cincinnati Craigslist. ("Cincinnati Craigslist" sounds like a euphemism for a particularly filthy sex act.)  Sadly the ad has since been deleted, but happily the image survives.

Lastly, you can still submit an entry to the Second Biennial Cock-Off contest, but not for long.  Here's a refreshingly subtle entry:

I call this style "The Weightlifter:"

Then there's this one, for which the entrant was kind enough to supply a completed checklist:

  • the eye-hook mounted through the toptube.
  • the plastic bags
  • the bungee corded lock
  • the upsidedown bars
  • the two mirrors
  • the electrical tape bar-tape
  • one bell
  • one light mount (no light)
  • one computer
  • one electrical taped Canada flag, with spear tip
  • two cell phone holders
  • one bar mounted bag (ziptied)

Here's that eye-hook:

And the plastic bags:

Which leads me to believe it's a dedicated dog-walking bike--or even a dog-assisted bike, since the handlebar placement is ideal for controlling a bicycle towed by a canine:

The seat also keeps the rider (or, Carl) warm in the Canadian tundra:

Here's the entire bike, photographed at the North Pole:

Finally, there's this astounding canopy bike:

(Keep left!)

Though due to the non-conforming subject line of the entrant's email I may have to disqualify it.

Slightly Jarring: Warning Signs

Yesterday, I mentioned for the 219th time that I'll be in Hamilton, Ontario, Cadania later this week.  (I'll be doing a guest stint as a teacher's assistant for an intro to psychology class at McMaster University.)  However, what I did not realize was that Mario Cipollini himself will be just a few "kilometers" away in Torontee, and he'll even be leading a "guided bicycle tour" of Ontario's wine region:

(Ontario?  Wine region?  Who knew?)

Join the “Lion King” Mario Cipollini on a guided bicycle tour of the scenic roads surrounding Ontario’s wine region with varying tour lengths to suit every rider.

Sadly I'll be back in the United States of America by then, because I would give almost anything to witness the "epic" spit-take Cipo will do when he samples some of that fine Canadian wine product.

Meanwhile, here in New York, cycling is raising the sorts of questions about "race, class and access" that make Portlanders terribly uncomfortable:

In particular it explores the inextricable association many people make between "biking" (pronounced "bi-keen") and "hipsters:"

"In no way do bike lanes cause gentrification," he says. "But when you only put bike lanes in neighborhoods that have been or are being gentrified, then people feel like, 'OK, that's gonna happen to me now. White yuppies in spandex going up and down those lanes.'"

This perception rests in part on the ubiquity of resentment of "hipsters," whom many blame for making New York less affordable. Sites like generally indict cyclists as part of the influx that is ruining the culture of Brooklyn and the city as a whole. "Here comes offbeat Ursula; the 18 month Brooklyn veteran cruising down the street on her rusty Schwinn (just not in the bike lane she fought for) in her clay stained granny dress from her pottery making hobby job," read one recent posting.

It should go without saying that not all cyclists in New York City are clueless hipster transplants (plenty of those clueless hipster transplants ride vintage mopeds and not bikes), but even so that was pretty damn funny.

Of course, the article does address some important questions and offer some compelling insights, though the greatest irony is that something as potentially cheap and accessible as riding a bicycle should even be fraught with these sorts of questions in the first place:

But wherever it goes, the presence of a bike lane doesn't mean residents can use it. They also need bikes.

"You would expect cycling to be a cheap mode of transportation everybody should be able to afford," Buehler says. "So you should see pretty much everybody on the bike because it's the cheap, inexpensive thing to do."

Only in America do people think cycling is too expensive for poor people.  Then again, this is the land of the $5,600 Budnitz city bike:

In fact, you may be amused to learn that the Budnitz people, either emboldened or enraged by my frequent mentions, have just furnished me with a Budnitz "Model No. 1" to test, of which I took delivery only this morning:

To my mind, the question is not whether a titanium Lynskey frame with high-end components rides nicely when you're cruising around town.  Rather, the real question is how long you will get to keep that bike when the town in which you're riding it is New York City, where even your fixie will wind up looking like this if you're not careful:

Granted, I don't intend to take any gratuitous risks with the Budnitz, though I do intend to treat it like the city bike it is supposed to be, and hopefully it remains in my possession for the duration of the testing period.

Speaking of luxury items, I recently received an email with the following subject line:

Like a Brooks Saddle- The Holdster

And the following text:

I'm writing to tip you off to a leather product we're launching on Kickstarter out of Burlington, VT: the Holdster Mason Jar Mug.  The Holdster suggests a vintage lifestyle, and appeals to people's desire for a durable, urban and stylish aesthetic.  We think it's a great product.

Which directed me to a Kickstarter campaign for this:

How is this like a Brooks saddle?  Yes, I realize it's made out of leather, but so are a lot of things.  A Brooks saddle is a useful component that lets you sit on a bicycle, whereas the Holdster is a superfluous leather jar bodice.  Or, as the inventors put it:

The Holdster converts mason jars into sexy, leather-bound mugs. Your beverage has never looked so good.

I'm not sure why people who hate gentrification fear bike lanes when in reality it's people drinking out of leather-clad Mason jars that they should be dreading.  There are two sure indicators that you can't afford to live in your own neighborhood anymore, and they are:

1) White people drinking out of jars;


2) Old-timey hanging store signs:

Obviously the second indicator doesn't apply to actual small towns where old-timey signs are just normal, but in New York City every one of these hanging signs might as well just say "You can't afford it."  This suddenly dawned on me the other day when I was riding home from the city and I noticed that every single establishment between the East River and Prospect Park had a sign like this, and that "the new folksiness" had finally succeeded in rendering over half of Brooklyn completely unlivable for anybody not in the Budnitz bike demographic.

Anyway, the leather jar holder thingy seemed as silly to me as--well, as silly as drinking out of a jar, but apparently I'm in the minority, since they've already raised almost $23,000:

At that rate they'll have a store in Brooklyn with an old-timey hanging sign outside in a matter of months.

But people don't just hate cyclists because they're jar-sucking gentrifiers.  They also hate them because of the "affect heuristic:"

I tried the heuristics for awhile but I didn't like them, and ultimately I just went back to the regular hydraulics.

Mostly though, people just hate cyclists because they read stupid articles like this in the Wall Street Journal:

I can't help feeling like I've seen a similar article somewhere before.  I also can't make any sense out of much of it:

Identifying Gear: You can spot Roadies by their Lycra uniforms, which usually include tight black shorts and neon jerseys with pockets in the back. Other telling marks are clip-on shoes and serious expressions.

What the hell is a "clip-on shoe?"  Is that like a clip-on tie?  I do like how they work in the subtle product placement, though:

They ride sleek bicycles with curved handlebars called drop bars, like the Cannondale CAAD10 3 Ultegra ($2,450, ), which is made of aluminum instead of pricier carbon fiber. Roadies value the lightness because it lets them "feel" the road while providing a "supple" and "exciting" ride.

They also really nailed it with the cyclocross illustration:

He must be competing in one of those cyclocross triathlons.

Lastly, I was intrigued to note that is conducting a poll to determine what term they'll used for 650b wheels (which are the new 29-inch wheels, which were the new 26-inch wheels, which were...):

You can pick whatever you'd like, but I'm going with a write-in:

Yes, so-called "650b" will always be "demi-ballon" to me--even though I'd never even heard it until I looked it up on Sheldon Brown earlier today.

A Way With Words: The Art of Nonsense

Do you live in or near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, North America, Earth, the Universe?  Do you like cheese for breakfast?  Do you cry uncontrollably on escalators?  Well, if you answered either "yes," "no," or "maybe" to any of those questions, then come on down to the following places at the following times, because things will happen:

By the way, you may have noticed in the fine print that my visit is apparently sponsored by Petro-Canada, purveyors of fine fossil fuels to the fine living fossils who inhabit America's coonskin cap.  I'd attempt to make an excuse and blame McMaster University for this, and say that it's their event, and blahblahblah, but the fact is I don't feel the need to bother.  This is because I have no integrity and am therefore more than happy to accept sponsorship from any person, company, or entity in a position to offer it.  That's what happens when you have seventeen children and a $2.5 million Brooklyn brownstone to support.  (I live on Spondee Court in the fashionable neighborhood of Clitoral Hill, around the corner from Martin Amis.)  And if it makes you feel better, you can rest assured I'll be wearing this t-shirt as I stuff my face with Tim Hortons donuts on the Petro-Canada private jet that will be flying me up to Hamilton:

So can anyone tell me what the deal is with the tar sands?  Are they cool?  Is there any good riding there?  Which tire tread hooks up best with bitumen?

Moving on, last week there was this thing called "The Interbike" in the Las Vegas section of Nevadee, and the only interesting bit of news to come out of it is that, as I learned from a reader, mountain biking guy Brian Lopes picked a Twitter feud with Mario Cipollini:

I'd say Cipollini won that one hands (and, presumably, face) down.

Speaking of Mario Cipollini, his film career is flourishing, for not only has he taken over as the star of the lucrative James Bond franchise, but he's also the star of this incredible promotional video for the 2013 UCI Road World Championships, which will be held in Tuscany:

A reader alerted me to this bravura performance, which opens with Cipo smelling the heady aroma of the Tuscan countryside, or himself--or, most likely, a mélange of the two:

But while Cipollini's acting alone makes this well worth watching, it's the narration that makes it a truly sublime cinematic experience, and if you're a lover of language as I am you'll savor the douche-chills as words words like this wash over you:

Life, which in Tuscany, is the art of feeling.  An eternal and inexhaustible vision of one's being, causing a confusion of time and identity.

And here's Cipo experiencing that confusion of time and identity:

Either that or he's urinating in his chamois, it's tough to be certain.

And while you may think that last line made sense, there's not a person alive who could milk a drop of sense out of this one:

Gymnastics of perception, to be shared through touch.  Physicality, with respect for memories crossed on the road of knowledge.

Apart from Cipo, of course, who rides the road of knowledge with a goofy grin on his face:

And who somehow manages to make even the mundane act of braking seem obscene:

(Cipollini feathers the controls lightly with two fingers.)

Throughout the film, Cipollini is in perfect synch with the narration.  For example, when the narrator says:

Knowing and hearing.

Cipo makes it clear that he both knows, and hears:

Actually, I thought he was having a "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" moment and imagining a bluebird on his shoulder as well:

Though any bird foolish enough to get close enough to that hair would end up looking like this:

(Brought to you by Petro-Canada)

Oh, here's something you might not have known about Tuscany:

Tuscan nature is a generous gift of words.  Rewarding the need, rebellious and inborn, to know.  A medal for the desire to share and multiply scenarios.

What does that even mean?  Perhaps this will clarify:

Talking horizons.  Whispering hills.  Inspiring and irresistible urge to pedal on and move the word.

Or perhaps not.  Really, it sounds like something Petrarch might have written after accidentally ingesting some hallucinogenic funghi.  By the way, I didn't know Petrarch had climbed Mont Ventoux until I looked him up on the Wicking Pedia:

Fucking doper.

Anyway, the only part of the video that made even the slightest bit of sense was this:

Though the moral of the story is apparently this:

I guess this video is supposed to get you excited about who will be riding, feeling, and smelling their way into a rainbow jersey in 2013, but it mostly just made me want to take a scalding hot shower.

You know who else is a doper?  Mitt Romney's campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens:

(Via the reader who submitted the Sicilian Cockpit.)

Who some years back took a bunch of drugs to ride in Paris-Brest-Paris, and who would still be on HGH today if it "weren't so expensive:"

For me, it would be a quality-of-life question, not a performance issue. If the HGH weren't so expensive, I'd probably continue with it, at least until I had a good reason not to, like some new evidence that it makes you grow extra ears. (The side effects of HGH are reportedly mild—one is fluid retention.) If nothing else, it helped my eyesight, and I had more energy. Lately, I've been reading studies about how endurance athletes suffer from low testosterone, which leads to early signs of osteoporosis, so I'm going to continue to monitor my levels and, if they drop too far, consider boosting them with the cream.

From this I guess we can infer that he's back on the HGH, since presumably he can afford it now, and large quantities of drugs would go a long way towards explaining Clint Eastwood talking to that empty chair.

Of course, all the HGH in the world isn't going to do you any good if you don't also have a set of hormonal dropouts (via yet another reader):

1960's shogun special
It's a thread less 1". It has a modified steere tube and has been shimmed 1 1/8 cannondale stem. The frame is clear coated (raw metal, rust)/ brown with select tubes in a seafoam. Campy headset. Fits 700c. Hormonal dropouts. Aluminum seat post. And downtube cable stop. Bike does not include bb cups!

And if you're wondering what "hormonal dropouts" look like, here's your answer:

I was excited to learn that apparently one of my own bikes has hormonal dropouts, which would explain why the adjustment screw is in a permanent state of arousal:

That explosion of light on the quick release lever qualifies this photograph as ART, and to order a print of this image for only $74.99 just click here.

And lastly, on the subject of art, here is yet another inspiring submission to the Second Biennial Cock-Off, sponsored by Knog:

Says the contestant:

Taken from this angle because he is naked (WNBR, 2012, Portland, hello), and blue, but the key elements of this impressive array are visible.  The item on top stage right of the cockpit may be a deer whistle.  

He was handing out the shell necklaces from around his neck to all the ladies, telling them they had, via his bestowing, "been lei'ed."  He was my very special friend for about 10 minutes, until he got distracted.  I believe he goes by "Ragnar."

Now I need another shower.