OK, I Fold: Tears of a Clown

When an ordinary person says one thing and does another, it's called "being a hypocrite."  However, when I do it, it's called "being exceptional."  See, I don't have to meet the standards I set for others, because I'm more talented and more important than everybody else.

Consider yesterday's commute, for instance.  It was the first day of spring, and there I was, waiting at a red light and admiring the bike salmon who had been awakened by the vernal equinox:

After the light changed, I began pedaling, and with my smartphone still in hand I decided to place a phone call.

Now, ordinarily I'd be critical of someone making a phone call while riding a bicycle, especially during rush hour in a city that vacillates between indifference and hostility with regard to cyclists.  But it's important to remember that I'm exceptional.  Not only do I have incredible bike-handling skills and years of experience riding in New York City traffic, but my phone calls are also more important than everybody else's.  Consider this phone call, for example, which was about what to have for dinner.  That's the kind of shit that just can't wait.

So I placed the call, and just as I raised the phone to my ear the diminutive front wheel of my tiny folding clown bike hit a minor irregularity in the road surface, and despite my incredible bike-handling skills (which really are incredible, I can't stress that enough) I went down immediately, my state-of-the-art smartphone skittering along the pavement along with some plastic bits from the bike's collapsible pedals.

When you fall off a folding bike while trying to use a cellphone, you immediately forfeit any claim to mercy or assistance from passers-by.  Nobody asks you if you're all right or attempts to help you up--nor should they!  You, as the idiot who just fell off a clown bike while trying to make a phone call, must embrace the fact that you looked so sublimely and entertainingly stupid that to expect people to do anything but point, laugh, and take pictures is completely unreasonable.  Indeed, as you collect your belongings and drag yourself to the sidewalk you're effectively providing a public service.

After performing my public service for the day, I dragged myself here and assessed the damage:

The phone was fine, I had incurred abrasions to my hand and knee, and I had torn my pants, though fortunately not in an area that would expose my genitals.  The plastic bits snapped right back onto the pedal, and the bike was fine--other than the fact that it folds, but believe it or not that isn't a defect.  Once I completed this check, I once again placed the phone call, only to learn that the person I was calling was far too busy to speak to me.

Oh, and if you're wondering whether I was wearing a helment, the answer is, "Of course not."  Riding a folding bike while wearing a helment looks even dumber than falling off of one.

I mean, come on.

In any case, I did learn something about folding bikes, which is that the little fuckers are twitchy, and I totally wouldn't have fallen if I'd been riding a real bike with a sufficiently long stem:

Though I did fall off that one not too long ago when I rode over a wet metal plate.  (Yes, I was wearing a helment, but only because helments match with road bikes.)

I think I may suck at riding bikes.

Also, you feel pretty stupid riding a folding bike with torn pants and a bloody hand, but you feel even stupider when you roll up next to a fixie and a Maserati:

If only I'd been wearing the airbag backpack to which I was recently alerted by a reader:

As far as I can tell, the way it works is that, upon impact, a pair of pneumatic penises burst out of it and surround you from both sides:

(Between a cock and a hard place.)

There's no safer place to be.

Speaking of urban cycling, have you ever longed to count traffic?  Well, if you support this Kickstarter your dreams might finally come true:

It's like Strava, only for amateur urban planners.

Speaking of Kickstarter, in browsing it I stumbled upon an older (and funded) campaign for a movie called "Give Chase," which purports to be "a short action film featuring a relentless bike chase through the fringes of Brooklyn."  Here's the pitch--which, as it turns out, has very little to do with bikes or chasing:

Like most white people of my generation, I'm acutely aware of the problems of racial prejudice in Hollywood and elsewhere--not because I've ever experienced it, but because I used to listen to Public Enemy on something called a "Walkman," which was basically an analog iPod.  Nevertheless, I was a little confused:

But as I started to look deeper into how I fit in this career path, I started to find myself becoming marginalized.  At least the people who looked like me in films--or really any ethnicity other than white--were either the exotic or the fringe or the expendable.  And of all the visual mediums, I found film to be particularly lacking in diversity.

I realize talking about racial stuff is even more dangerous than talking about helments, but I have to admit I was thrown by his rant because at first I thought he was white--sure, maybe not Portland white, but white.  Then again, as he spoke and it became apparent that he wasn't "white," I certainly had no trouble believing he could find someone to be prejudiced against him, since after all this is America, and most Americans are morons.  Still, without knowing anything about him, if I had to describe him to the police and they asked me what race he was I'd probably be like, "Uh, I dunno, white maybe?  He coulda been a Sephardic Jew, I dunno.  Is that considered white?  This is making me uncomfortable.  Look, he was a beautiful manifestation of 21st century diversity and the golden-browning of America, OK?  All I know is he was riding a Trek hybrid with really epic bar ends, which is how he gored me:"

And don't think I'm implying anything by talking about describing him to the police.  It's just the only legitimate scenario I can think of in which you'd be asked to quickly identify a stranger in ethnic shorthand like that.  In fact, I've been in exactly that situation--not the goring, but a cop asking me what race somebody was--and I was similarly unable to answer definitively.  Look, some people are more distinctive-looking than others.  For example, if I had to describe this guy to the police, it would be a little easier:

"He was some albino guy who looks like Conan O'Brien but with no eyebrows and a jersey with a picture of himself on it."

Same with this guy:

"He had a spray-on tan, a whale's baleen for a mouth, and he was dripping in olive oil."

Or this woman:

"It was some naked Canadian chick on a recumbent, I don't know how she got the wallet out of my pants without slowing down."

Nevertheless, in a city like New York not everybody stands out like that, and you simply can't always instantly assess someone's ethnic heritage.

Speaking of labels, I received an email from some company that wants you to name their grip for them:

Given that it looks like pretty much every other grip on the market they're going to have to go with something really distinctive, which is why I suggest they call them "Control Dildos."

They might want to rework the pattern on the grip, though.

Wednesday Is The Loneliest Number

Yesterday I mentioned Lululemon and their translucent yoga pants, and if you're looking for continuing coverage of this titillating lack of coverage then you can rest assured that Aries Poon of the Wall Street Journal is all over the story:

I'm obligated by my own immaturity to point out how awesome it would be if Ms. Poon were to marry someone with the surname of Tang and then hyphenate her name.

Anyway, apparently the translucency issue isn't limited to the pants, and Lululemon also let some see-through swimsuits out the door:

In addition to the problem with bright colors bleeding, the company had transparency problems with some colors of swimwear shipped for last spring as well as a subset of light colored pants, Mr. Buss said.

This story just keeps getting sexier and sexier--unless you're a Specialized-lululemon rider, in which case you have to be fearing for your job:

Yes, with the company's stock falling it's only a matter of time before they start making cutbacks, and you have to figure the bike racing team will be the first thing to go.  Alas, the writing is on the wall for this brave band of She-Freds, and it's as clearly legible as a tramp stamp under a pair of sweaty Lululemon yoga pants.  

Kelly says that as he approached a red light at 30th Avenue at a low rate of speed, the van starting veering into the bike lane. "I looked at the guy and said, 'Don't drive into the bike lane.' And I proceeded to move forward, and he did too, and that was when he hit me the first time with the front panel of the van." Kelly says that when the van struck him again, it was "moving slowly, but fast enough that I couldn't get off of it." As he clung to the front of the van, he speculated that the driver "thought I could somehow escape from this. I was yelling for him to stop, and just shouting, but he had to slow down because there was a car in front of us and he would crush me."

Instead the van crushed Kelly's $1,700 bike, and gave him a few scratches. The police arrived after Islas called 911, and interviewed Gustafson, one of the four witnesses who offered to come forward. "[The police] were very matter-of-fact, very quick. It was my understanding that they would pursue the case and try and catch this guy."

Human beings will be horrified by the driver's utter lack of regard for a person's life, and bike dorks will be horrified by the fact that the victim paid $1,700 for a KHS.  Fortunately, there's a picture of the van, so it's only a matter of time before the police apprehend the driver:

Just kidding!

Kelly said he was told it wouldn't be worth their time: "At the end of the questioning, they said that it's not likely that they're gonna be able to get this guy, because the company that owns the this van may or may not give up this driver; they could say it was stolen. So the police said my best option was to try and sue the owner of the van to pay for the property damage, but that may cost more than the bike is worth."

Clearly the NYPD have hit a new low when it comes to laziness and total lack of traffic crime enforcement.  This is turnkey for chrissakes!  How much easier could it be?  The phone number on the back of the van is 718-TO-FIND-PAT!  All you have to do is dial a phone and the whole thing is solved!  This would be like a nine second episode of "Law and Order:"

MCCOY: Someone ran down this cyclist.  Comb the area for clues.

BRISCOE: Wait, there's a phone number.

[Briscoe dials cellphone.]

BRISCOE: Hello, may I speak to Pat?  Yeah, hi Pat, this is Detective Briscoe, NYPD.  Come to jail.  OK, see you soon, bye.


Sometimes in life you feel like a sucker.  Everybody experiences it at one point or another.  Maybe you sign a cellphone contract and find out they tacked on a bunch of extras you didn't want.  Maybe you bought a Specialized bicycle.  Or maybe you appreciated all this bike infrastructure the DOT has been putting in, so you made a point of stopping for lights and being considerate of other road users, but then you realized the NYPD doesn't give a crap about you and none of the mayoral candidates is willing to support the bike lanes anyway so what's the point?  If they're not going to hold up their end of the bargain why should we?

For that matter, why do I even pay to register and insure THE CAR THAT I OWN?  The other day I happened upon this:

So you're telling me all this time I could have been making my own license plates with a Magic Marker and construction paper, and that instead of waiting on line at the DMV I could have just have the kids at my son's nursery school scribble me some shit?  Well, I'm done registering my car as of now, and not only that, but I'm making my own vanity plate:

If you see me run down a cyclist or a pedestrian, just call 1-800-TUF-SHIT.

Of course, some people think the answer to all of this is for cyclists to wear plastic hats, and speaking of helments, BikePortland reports that kitchy plastic novelty cycling hat maker Nutcase is expanding into Europe:

Which prompted a number of uncharacteristically reasonable comments from Portlanders, such as this one:

They don't wear helmets in Europe. Only America is still into helmets, religion, and other things that provide illusions of protection.

That's why I never leave home without a helment, a religious pendant, and a musette full of dental dams.

Anyway, watching Nutcase try to scare Dutch people into wearing plastic watermelons on their heads should be good for a laugh.

Lastly, you'll be pleased to know that Lance Armstrong is making baby steps towards hobnobbing with celebrities again by starting with the ones who are too baked to have any idea what's been going on with him lately:

At this rate he should be ready to tackle Alpe d'Huez again in a couple of decades.

The Only Thing Worse Than Being Talked About Is People Telling You What You Can Do With Your Genitals

Remember how yesterday I posted the trailer (trailer is pretentious for "commercial") for my new book?  No?  Well you should probably go see a doctor and get your brain checked (I know a great brain guy, he even takes Obamacare)--unless you didn't read my blog yesterday, in which case you should cancel that doctor's appointment.

Anyway, the reason I mention it is that I wanted to thank My Dutch Bike in Sausalito for lending us the bakfiets:

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area please visit them for all your Dutch bike needs.

[By the way, if you're wondering what it's like to ride a bakfiets over the Golden Gate Bridge, I wouldn't know, because hilariously and ironically we picked it up and returned it via SUV.  Go USA!]

Speaking of my literary output, a reader yesterday expressed the following concern:

Angie Kritenbrink said...

Did you manage to slip some sexist stereotypes into this book also?

it's kind of odd how your books all contain sexist stereotypes but your blog is so enjoyable and never sexist. I'd rather look at that picture of that topless woman on the recumbent with David Byrne's face covering her nippes or whatever than that picture you have in your book of the girl on the girly bike salmoning or whatever. 

Please don't be sexist any more! Thanks

March 19, 2013 at 3:20 AM

I'm pretty confident that the book is not sexist since my editor forced me to cut the "Barefiets and Pregnant" chapter.  Nevertheless, I'm certainly happy to oblige you on the topless-woman-on-the-recumbent front:

Oh, sorry, I forgot to put David Byrne over the nipples, but this should make up for that:

David Byrne's disapproving gaze is more than enough to make you forget you just saw a pair of nipples.  It's like a "Men In Black" memory zorcher for the libido.

[And please don't complain that the recumbent image is "NSFW."  If your boss complains just show him that photo of David Byrne, he'll forget all about it.  Or she'll forget all about it.  Because women can be bosses too--except for that pesky "glass ceiling," of course.  Damn this capitalist phallocentric hegemony!]

Maybe pro cycling team sponsor Lululemon should put a David Byrne iron-on transfer onto the crotch of their see-through yoga pants:

Apparently due to a problem at the factory, there is “a level of sheerness in some of our women’s black Luon bottoms that falls short of our very high standards,” the company said today.

It's also wreaked havoc on their stock price:

Lululemon stock fell 3.8% today and is down another 5.2% in after-hours trading.

Though on the bright side, most yoga classes are experiencing a 300% increase in male registration:

("Just hopin' to spot some labe.")

Speaking of inequality, yesterday I snuck in a bicycle cycling ride since a bunch of snow was about to fall on us, and on my way home I passed a street preacher.  He was hooked up to a microphone and he was very upset about how people of the same gender sometimes like to rub their parts together and get married.  "God created Adam and Eve!," he bellowed, "not Adam and Steve!"  He said it with smugness and pride, beaming as though he had come up with the phrase himself.  Clearly he thought it was Oscar Wildian in its wit, even though it's one of those phrases that instantly reveal the speaker as a moron, right up there with "D'uh," and "Help, I got my testicles caught under the car hood again."  (Sorry to be sexist again.  Of course women also work on their cars, and I'm sure every so often they get their labia caught under the hood.)

For a moment I thought of challenging his logic.  Who's to say God didn't create Adam and Steve?  How does he know they didn't live in a tidy, fashionable section of the Garden of Eden where Steve ran a boutique that sold designer fig leaf loincloths?  Then I marveled at the sublime audacity of using one total bullshit story to debunk another--as though story of Genesis is perfectly sensible, yet the idea that God might have also made two guys who like to hump each other is somehow ridiculous.  Finally I realized I should just keep my mouth shut in the interest of my own safety, because anybody who plugs himself into an amplifier so he can shout about the evils of butt sex is obviously completely insane, and possibly also violently horny.

Nevertheless, I learned two things from this encounter:

1) Americans are stupid, and many of us think that if something rhymes it has to be true;


2) Cyclists are really no different from religious lunatics.  Think about it: believing in Adam and Eve but not Adam and Steve is just as arbitrary as thinking road racing is "cool" yet triathlon is "dorky"--especially when you consider the substantial evidence to the contrary:

(By Klaus of Cycling Inquisition)

I watched that for at least 45 minutes, and I challenge you to look away any sooner than that.

And here's some more evidence, forwarded by a reader:

What is this Fred doing?  Riding an invisible bicycle?  Playing basketball?  Reenacting the creation myth of Adam and Steve in mime?  It's anybody's guess.

I will acknowledge that as animals we do need to have some taboos.  After all, we can't just go around killing each other, eating our young, and inbreeding, as much fun as all of that would be.  I suppose this is why we evolved into the sorts of animals that invent religions--it's about survival of the species.  At the same time, we're uniquely equipped to disregard these taboos when it's convenient.  For example, your religion may tell you not to kill people, but if someone insults your religion then obviously they have to die.  Also, the law may tell you not to kill people, but it's perfectly fine as long as you're driving:

Oh, and here's some shocking news:

The city also recorded 18 cyclist fatalities, down from 22 in 2011, and 35 motorcyclist deaths, an increase from 32. For the third year in a row, the city said, no pedestrians were killed in crashes with cyclists.

I don't believe it.  You mean to tell me cyclists haven't killed anybody in three years?!?  Following the local news had given me the impression that cyclists were the most dangerous people on the road.  The New York Post alone makes it seem like we're killing like ten people a day.  Next thing you know, people will start realizing that drivers are the real problem and then the DOT will finally start installing speed cameras--oh, wait, no they won't, because the police don't want them:

“Many speeders are unlicensed, some are operating under the influence and sometimes they are fleeing crime scenes or carrying weapons,” the group’s president, Patrick J. Lynch, said in a statement. “Cameras let all those dangers slip by.”

He said that money allocated for speed cameras would be better spent in hiring more officers.

Yeah, that's a great use of funds.  Think of all the cyclists they could ticket.

Maybe we really should ride invisible bikes like that Fred I mentioned earlier.  Here's one potential design forwarded to me by another reader:

Though that might be as useless as tits on a bull--or on a tire, as forwarded by yet another reader:

Cannondale R300 Touring Bike - $500 (Lindenhurst)

For sale. brand new 13 year old Cannondale R300 24 Speed Touring Bike. dark green color. aluminum frame, mavic rims. it has a 23" inch frame. Bought brand new in 2000, rode around cycle shop parking lot and then put away. brand new, "tits" still on tires. asking $500, but if im out of line, give me a call and let me know a fair price. call Steve at 516-476-2380 for info. Thanks for looking.

I don't know what "tire tits" are, but I'm pretty sure that's sexist.

Bicycle Moto Cross

New Old School

Image by Elmer.

This Just In: I'm In A Video! (And I Have A Book Too!)

Remember how awhile back I had to go somewhere to make a video with a bakfiets?  No?  Well, it's not important, apart from the fact that here it is:

This is where you Stalin clap:

Thank you.

As much as I wish I could just flit about the country making wacky videos all the time, the fact is I can only do it when it's a special occasion, and the occasion for this one is that I have another book coming out in May of this year:

If you told me ten years ago that I'd have published three books before the age of 40, I'd have replied, "Only three?  How many of them were New York Times bestsellers?"  When you told me that none of them were, I'd reply, "Wait, none?  So what color is my Porsche?"  Then when you told me I don't even have a Porsche, I'd ask in a quavery voice, "OK, so the beach house.  It's in the real Hamptons, right?  Tell me it's not in Hampton Bays or some cesspool on the North Fork, right?"  Then you'd tell me I don't have a beach house either, and I'd drop to my knees and emit heaving sobs over my profound failure.

Other than that though I'm tremendously happy.

Anyway, the book will be available from all the reputable booksellers and probably some disreputable ones too, and in the meantime you're welcome to pre-order it.  I'll furnish you with direct links in the not-too-distant future, but pending that if you let your fingers do the walking (that's what we used to say when there were phone books) I'm sure you can find it.

As for the book's content, I don't want to spoil it, but the short version is that it's about how riding bikes with your family is beautiful and about how when you do it in another country where it's normal you realize that the United States is a sick society with little regard for human life--but in an entertaining way:

At least for the time being, this will be the last full-length Bike Snob-themed book, and while I wouldn't use the word "trilogy" I do think this one will neatly tie the three books I've written together, and that they'll all look great sitting next to each other atop your toilet tank.

Lastly, I can't imagine anybody would want me visiting their city, so you'll be relieved to know that this time around the plan is to visit Cleveland and a small handful of other places.


Moving on, all the pro bike racers are congratulating each other on finishing Milan-San Remo because they took a bus instead of riding over a mountain:

At Pavia (40km), the sextet had 10:35 in hand, and they averaged a brisk 46.4kph for the first hour of racing. By that point, however, the rumours of snow on the Turchino had been confirmed and the race organisers were compelled to come up with an ad hoc solution to ensure the safety of the riders.

It was decided that the race would be neutralised for 46km between Ovada and Arenzano: rather than climb the Turchino, the peloton would stop at the 117km point and clamber back aboard their team buses, re-starting over an hour later.

This gave the riders time to enjoy a quick sandwich:

As well as a much-needed "massage:"

There's nothing better during a cold ride than a cup of cocoa and some warm blood.

(I generally like to give a blood bag a quick 20 seconds in the microwave before I transfuse it.  Then, when you put it in, it feels like you're peeing yourself, but in a good way.)

Look, I know it was miserable and all, but couldn't they have come up with something a bit more sporting than a bus ride?  Why couldn't they have just switched to fat bikes at the base of the climb?  Even those stupid "quads" would have been more in keeping with the spirit of a bike race:

(Bicycle racing for the beef jerkey set.)

Worst of all, everybody's fawning over Taylor Phinney again:

MILAN (VN) — Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) is sending shock waves through the peloton as it rolls through the classics. After a brave ride in Tirreno-Adriatico, he again went solo yesterday to earn a seventh-place result in Milano-Sanremo, the best finish for an American at the one-day race since 2002.

He's never going to get into a good dental school at this rate.

By the way, so who was that top-ten American back in 2002?  If you answered "Fred Rodriguez," you win a zebra print skinsuit:

Following in Fred Rodriguez's footsteps is almost as creepy as getting checked into Room 237 at the Overlook Hotel.

In other news, a cyclist in Brooklyn has been fined $1,200 for a single traffic stop:

Last August, cyclist David Segal received four tickets—three for running red lights and one for disorderly conduct—during the same traffic stop. Segal, the former spokesman for City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, was biking down Nostrand Avenue in Bed-Stuy when he was stopped on August 10th. While the disorderly conduct was dismissed outright, Segal appeared in court Friday and was found guilty in the three red light violations—which means he owes $1,250 for a single cycling stop. But Segal plans to push to get the laws changed to make the penalties for bicycles less than that for cars: "One guy was driving 30 miles over the speed limit, and he paid an $80 fine," Segal told us. "And they literally gave me a fine that is six times more than I paid for the entire bicycle. How does this make any sense?"

It doesn't make any sense at all, but it's worth noting that if he had been riding an absurdly-priced Venge Schmenge then the fine would have been more proportionate, at under 10% of the total cost of his bike:

I'm sure Specialized will somehow use this disturbing fact to their advantage.

Lastly, this past weekend in New York City saw the [who cares]th running of the "Monster Track" alleycat:

This raises an important question, which is:

Which is dorkier, the start of an alleycat, or a triathlon transition?

I'd say it's a pretty close call.

A Few Hours Inside The Velodrome

We did a couple of rounds before the security forced us to stop.
It was our first time to ride a track bike on a real track.
We hope that one day, track bikes would glide freely upon its slopes.

Keeping our fingers crossed.