Saturday, November 7, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moser

I've taken delivery of an early '80s Moser 51.151, the bike released to commemorate Moser's setting of a new record for the Hour, 51.151 kilometers.

It's a little '80s ugly, and it's built out with Shimano 600 components, so I'm going to try to rework it with Campagnolo bits and pieces, but I'm WICKED FUCKING PSCYHED.

I had been mulling dropping a chunk of change on something new and shiny and high tech, but in the end, I thought it better to spend a little money on something old and classic and still quite good.

I bought a bike, rather than a fetish.

I'll get a picture for you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More on the UCI Radio Ban

Just a follow on from my comments about the UCI radio ban:

Cycling News - Michael Barry

It's nice to hear a pro rider saying the same things I was thinking.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More inspiration

I could literally watch this kid ride all day, then get a quick nap, get up, and watch him ride some more.

He's not human. He's a robot designed to kick ass.



Monday, September 28, 2009

Just some quick comments

1) The UCI has moved to eliminate 2-way radios from the pro peloton. I won't get into all the pros and cons of this move, but there's an article here on VeloNews about how Johan Bruyneel and Bob Stapleton think it's a bad idea. They say riders will be less safe without radios, but the truth is, in my opinion, Bruyneel and Stapleton just fear what will happen if they can't exert complete control over what their riders do on race day. Somewhere Bernard Hinault is chuckling to himself.

2) I'm happy for Cadel Evans. I've always liked him as a rider, even when he's come off as a whiney prick. Full disclosure, Evans is of Welsh descent, and I'm a Welsh robot, so he's been a natural favorite for me. Anyway, it's good to see him come good at the end of the season, and I'd add, not all too surprising that he wins his biggest race, not supported by the sad cast of Silence-Lotto, but rather by the aggressive riding of his countrymen. Note to Silence-Lotto, this guy can win big races if you support him properly.

3) There's talk Astana will lose their ProTour license. Duh. If you're running a show where teams are allowed to go without paying their riders for months at a time (keep in mind this is the very top division of pro cycling) and keep your license, you're running a pretty crappy show. Full disclosure on this one, I want Alberto Contador out of that team, so we can see him race Schleck, Wiggins, Evans, Menchov, Armstrong, et. al. on an even playing field, instead of hamstrung by a crew of cut-rate Kazak cyclists led by unrepentant doper Vinokourov.

4) I find myself plunging deep into fall without the benefit of a single road bike in my collection. What happened? How did I arrive here? And how can I solve this intolerable problem?

Cross Season

So, it's cross season. I've never ridden cross competitively, though my everyday bike is a cross bike, set up fixed for city bombing. I've had it off road, and it's what we, in New England, call "wicked fun."

So in honor of cross season, here's a video I ripped off of the Embrocation blog:

SCHOOL OF CROSS from Dave Christenson on Vimeo.

Monday, September 21, 2009

10 Things I Don't Like

1) When people call their bike a "whip."

2) When the stem and handlebars are referred to as the "cockpit."

3) When people ride track bikes with flip-flops on. DON'T YOU LIKE HAVING TOES?!?!?!?

4) The term "fixie."

5) That Bicycling Magazine puts bikes that cost more than $1500 in their "new riders" review bikes.

6) Single speed mountain bikes.

7) Guys racing Grand Tours to warm up for Worlds. Guys pulling out of Grand Tours to save themselves for Worlds.

8) Race radios.

9) Cyclo-computers.

10) Not having enough money to buy more bikes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Salvation

Is there a place called Salvation? And can I ride to it? How far? Century? Double Century? Or a wheel-spinning millennium?

How many saddle sores do I need to get in, and how much lactic acid do I need to be carrying? Is it uphill all the way? Is there a headwind? Will someone pace me? Will the echelons string across road like accordions of mercy and deliver me, just as a hole develops in the heel of my old wool socks?

Will the Earth spin under my wheels, and will all the trees blur into one, tall green spire? Will my chain run dry and my cables stretch thin, on my way to Salvation?

Can you even get there on a carbon fiber horse? I'd best run steel. To be safe.

The sweat soaks all the way out the brim of my cap and the lycra lets hold its grip. The road turns up and disappears, asymptotic in the distance. There's a rasp in my chest and a creaking in my bars, and I used my last spare tube hours ago. It doesn't matter, because the side walls of these thins tires are nearly gone. I've gone sallow in the cheeks, almost gray. I blend into the winter-bleached asphalt, pebbly and rough. And cars swish by, oblivious, the radio on too loud.

I'm near Salvation now. I know I am, but how much further?

How much further?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday Video - Julien Dupont

This dude is really a very serious mother fucker. I don't even give half a shit that he ain't pedalin'.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Something I love about bicycles - Part VII

Headhunters.

A headhunter is a special kind of commuter, the kind that is very, very competitive, seeking to pass the maximum number of riders during his or her daily commute. It doesn't matter whether the headhunter lives a mile from the office or twenty. Each day they set out to destroy the competition, the college kids on their rusty, old ten-speeds, the mountain bikers riding two inch knobbies on the pavement, the department store bikes and the carbon fiber dreams. The headhunter merely wishes to pass. To pass is to win.

I have been a headhunter. I have vanquished old women with baskets full of flowers. I have derived smug pleasure from passing a lycra-clad roadie and from burning past kids on freestyle BMX bikes. I don't know why. I don't know what I was hoping to accomplish or what I was proving about myself. I've certainly let all that go now.

But I love the headhunter still, even if I put up a little resistance as he tries to pass.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Something I love about bicycles - Part VI

CRASHING!?!!?!!??!!?

Crashing hurts. The older I get the more it hurts. And because I've been riding a long time, my crashes happen quickly. I don't find myself in slow-motion, "oh-no-what's-going-to-happen?" crashes. I'm riding, and then I'm down. And bleeding.

A good crash reminds me I'm alive. A good crash pegs back my more aggressive tendencies and keeps me safe for months.

Some crashes are funny and help me take myself less seriously. Some crashes put me out of commission for a while, which gives my body a chance to recover, not just from the crash, but also from the daily pounding I give it.

Crashes win you sympathy. And scars.

A crash teaches you where the edges of things are, where you stop and the asphalt starts.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Carnicería masiva

That's Spanish for 'massive carnage.'

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Something I love about bicycles - Part V

I love joggers. Where I ride in the summertime, part of my route anyway, runs up through a park that ribbons along a river, and this particular stretch of urban parkery attracts myriad joggers, many of them college-aged women. And what amuses me about them, other than the obvious gift of youthful svelteness, is their preference for a certain genre of aggressively sloganed t-shirts.

These are shirts that say things like: "No pain, no gain," "Don't mess with me," "Pain is weakness leaving the body," "Only the strong survive," "If you're gonna beat me you better RUN!," etc, etc, etc. They're so earnest, so positive, so playfully A-personality deranged.

I haven't the heart to tell them they'd be faster on a bike.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Daveed Millar

I am generally loathe simply to post a link to content on another site, unless that content is a kick ass video that involves shredding of hot asphalt, slaying of beasts or large animals deficating.

In this instance, however, and in lieu of actually saying something substantive about the Vuelta España, I will direct you here for David Millar's diary entry from yesterday. It made me laugh. It gave me information. It made me laugh again. And then it exposed the raw, human side of pro racing that we so seldom get to see.

Read it. If you like bike racing.

I do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

So what? Shut up!

OK, so I haven't been here for a while. We're in a fight, in case you hadn't noticed.

When was the last time YOU called ME? Huh? Why is this relationship all one way?

Here's a video of a guy slaying the proverbial beast. He has no brakes. I don't know why, but I'm psyched they left all the crash bits in there. It makes me feel less like throwing all my bikes on the train tracks and walking away.

Monday, August 24, 2009

On riding fixed

I've been riding mostly fixed for the last two years. The exceptions have been a couple rides on my mtn bike and a little bit of Sunday cruiser travel. So it's been a pretty complete immersion. I've even ridden some middle distance road rides fixed with my friend Sam. And let me say, I like riding a fixed gear bicycle. It's fun.

To be sure, it's very much the fad in American cycling at the moment. I get the impression that the same is going on in Europe and Japan as well.

It's at the point, here in Boston, where I see businessmen in their business casual rolling around on track bikes, which, lest you get the wrong impression, I think is totally awesome. The more the merrier. Cycling fads sell bikes, get people excited about pedaling their asses around and generally contribute to the overall velocipedic karma of the city.

I've learned a hell of a lot about the physics of cycling from riding fixed. I can say honestly that I'm a better bike handler now, and the learning process continues. It feels as though I understand some added nuance every week that passes.

Having said all that, it is also true that I find myself pining for gears and coasting. Perhaps it's my obsession with pro racing that fuels this derailleur lust. Perhaps it's just time for me to move on, or at least to let some other horses into the barn.

One thing I've never quite understood about what I'll call the "fixed gear community" is the way (and yes I'm totally generalizing) is their need to denigrate other cycling genre. I see stickers like "Fixed Forever!" and "No Fucking Gears!" the latter of which is pretty funny, cause bikes don't actually go with no gears. I think what they meant was "One Fucking Gear!"

Still, to each their own.

I like bikes. All kinds. I jumped on the BMX bandwagon when I was a kid. Next came ten speeds. Then mountain bikes. Then I rode road bikes for a bit, before going back to mountain, and then fixed. Rather than seeing a problem with my lack of consistency as regards my cycling preferences, I think the world is FULL of bikes I haven't ridden yet. I look forward to a whole lot more bandwagon jumping in the coming years.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Video - The Return (ENECO Tour)

I've been neglecting my duties here. Life has been busy. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Anyway, here is your Friday Video, a snippet from the bunch sprint at the ENECO Tour. This is Tyler Farrar's first big win of the season (after finishing second to Marc Cavendish so many times). There's also some pretty significant ouchey here.

Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Game Idea!

Throwing hot Capri Suns at asshole cabs.

Work up your own scoring system.

Up

After many weeks of intending to get my ass on the trail for a little bit of mountain bicyclery, I finally managed the trick, up at our place in Vermont. For this bit of trail-oriented dering-do, I enlisted the companionship of a former pro racer, who, fortunately, has long since given up the hammer. We agreed, during a telephonic planning session, to roll for an hour or so, over a smooth, flat fire road, that hugs one of the local lakes. All was to be calm, controlled and relaxing.

We drove to the trailhead, discussing the loathsomeness of driving-to-ride, and then disembarked, squidging our way out of the parking lot and onto the former railway bed that serves as a hiking/biking trail in summer and skiing/snowmobiling path in winter.

Chit chat ensued, as we made few demands on the give and take of our front forks. I could have carried a cup of coffee. I might also have been able to complete a paint-by-numbers, such was the smoothness and steadiness of the trail.

Then it turned upward.

"No problem," I thought. "We'll just crest this little rise and then resume relaxing rollery."

But the fuckin' thing just kept going up, bending to the left, going up, bending to the left, going up, bending, up, bending, up, ad absurdum. Thankfully, my traveling (travailing?) companion dispensed with pedaling early on, and instead applied a technique I call ride-n-walk. You ride until you hit your own personal redline. Then you get off and try not to vomit. Then you walk the bike, until it's flat enough and the bile has receded enough to go again.

We did that for about an hour, then we rode the descent we'd earned, and that was, as the kids say, "the balls."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Let Down

I took the new ride to my LBS, received a variety of advice and helpful information, took the bike home, disassembled its headset, reassembled its headset, readjusted and found it wholly improved. Having said that, this bike still just isn't right, and I have neither the time nor the money to go on tweaking and upgrading right now.

So I pulled various and sundry parts off it and reapplied them to the old whore and resumed riding her everyday.

God, I love the old whore.

I hung the new ride in the rafters next to my dusty mountain bike and resolved to revisit that project later.

It took me some days to overcome the feelings of disappointment deriving from this episode. You see a frame. In your mind's eye you build it up. You fantasize about riding it across town. You spend hours trying to decide between the black cranks or the chrome. You spend money. You toil away in the shop. (I should digress here to make clear that what a mediocre bike mechanic can do in about an hour, takes me a full week). Eventually and finally you have a bicycle you can ride. The joy of the moment is immense, the realization of a dream.

And then the bike isn't right. Your LBS tells you that the frame is not as awesome as you thought. The steerer tube may have "ovalized." A panoply of improbable mechanical solutions are offered, all of which are beyond your ken and budget.

My wife says, "Well, it was a good lesson to learn, right?" And though she's right (she's ALWAY FUCKING RIGHT), the disappointment lingers. You will one day make something good of that frame hanging from the rafters, but it cheapens your dreams, fills you with doubt.

There's nothing for it but to ride the bike you DO have. Until your legs want to give out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Just built



Of course, because this is the first day I've ridden it, it's still a complete mess. The steering is all over the place. Not sure why. Going to consult with my shop guru on the way home. I'm pretty pleased with the way it looks though, especially since, to complete it before the end of the summer, I completely ass raped another of my bike's. You know, for parts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Raddest New Bike Videos...

pale in comparison to videos of large animals taking massive dumps.





You. Are. Welcome.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Friday Video - Bicycle History

I owe you a Friday Video, even though it's Saturday. Sometimes love don't feel like it should

Anyway, I've been reading David Herlihy's Bicycle: The History, and it's got me wondering about what it was really like to ride boneshakers and penny farthings and all those old, strangely-shaped, direct drive velocipedes.

So I dug this up. Of course, it's from Australia, which is where crazy lives. I find it particularly amusing that all the racers are decked out in lycra. Shouldn't they, technically, be required to wear tweeds and bowler hats?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Bike Art

Have been messing with stencils lately, as evidenced by the bag picture I posted a couple weeks ago.

Here are two canvases I finished spraying last night...you know, cause real art goes on canvas, right?


This is Fausto Coppi, the Champion of Champions, in his classic climbing pose. I did this one with water color paper, which, in retrospect, gives too much tear out to be really good for stencil making.












This is Raymond Poulidor, the Eternal Second or Le Deuxieme Eternel. I cut this one out of an empty granola box and sprayed it up with Krylon Flat Black. That thin cereal box cardboard strikes the right balance between stiffness and cutability.








I have more of these. Email me if you want one. We'll work something out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back from Vacation - Tour Wrap Up

I'm back, bitches. And now I'll give you my final Tour de France comments for 2009, cause I know you don't want me to go on boring you with this crap.

Here goes:

1) Big congratulations to Yauheni Hutarovich, Champion of Belarus, for winning this year's Lanterne Rouge. Most uninformed folks look at the Lanterne Rouge as some sort of pathetic, no talent ass hat. He finished last. He must suck.

HOWEVER.

He does not suck. He is a great rider. I wonder how many water bottles Hutarovich carried. I wonder how much time he spent grinding his way back from the team car to the peloton. The Lanterne Rouge is a hero, my kind of hero.

2) Mark Cavendish is young. He makes the mistakes a young guy would make. It's one thing to mouth off with a microphone in your face. That can be entertaining, especially if you can back it up, and by and large the Manx Missile has the skills to pay those bills.

HOWEVER.

You don't talk down a giant Norwegian before you've got the Green Jersey tied up. Otherwise, he might just prove he's a better bike rider than you are. Write that down, Mark. You'll probably need it next year.

3) As a fellow 37-year-old, I'm proud of Lance Armstrong finishing third. Nice job. Good ride. That's all.

4) Alberto Contador is not a doping suspect just because he won the Tour. That kind of mentality is what will end up destroying the sport more quickly than the dope itself. There are tests. If they come back negative, riders are innocent. It's that simple.

AND.

Greg LeMond is doing a good thing in bringing to the fore new ways of detecting drug cheats and advocating standardization and transparency. But, jeeze louise, Greg, could you try to act like less of a sanctimonious prick while you do it? Publishing a piece in LeMonde before the end of the Tour, calling the sport's golden boy out? Not classy. Not helpful. Not effective. You really want those top riders to cooperate with you, which is a taller ask when you're constantly insinuating that they're cheating.

5) Some have said that Pellizotti is an unworthy Polka Dot Jersey because he wasn't the best climber in the race, and that is perhaps true.

HOWEVER.

The King of the Mountains competition this year wasn't designed to identify the best pure climber. Like the Green Jersey competition, the KOM is a contest within the contest. It's set up in advance, and everyone knows the rules. Pellizotti won according to those rules. And he has a ridiculous golden perm. That makes him worthy in my book.

6) I love the Tour, but thank gosh o' golly that thing is over, cause it was eating my life.

And now we move on.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tour Comments

I'm away on vacation, but thanks to the miracle of wifi am still able to reach out and touch you with my cycling love. Unfortunately, the miracle of wifi does not come with the added cable sports package necessary to watch today's stage on the miracle of Versus.

Regardless, some comments on yesterday's stage:

1) I really, really wanted George Hincapie in the yellow jersey. I don't know what's so compelling about Big George. In interviews, he has all the charisma of an already licked postage stamp. I guess it's the years of service to better riders and the crap luck he's had in the Spring Classics. Anyway, it would have been nice to see him wear the jersey for a day.

Having said that, suck it up, everybody. He was eight seconds too slow. It wasn't Garmin's fault. It wasn't Columbia's fault. It wasn't Astana's fault. It just didn't work out. This the Tour de Freaking France, not High School Musical. Sometimes the endings aren't happy.

2) I like Thor Hushovd. Nice guy off the bike. Hard worker on it. He somehow remains competitive in the sprints, despite having no lead out train to speak of. But seriously Thor, get over it. I've watched the video half a dozen times, and I don't see Cavendish blocking you. A braver man makes that gap every time. And I hope the margin of Cav's penalty isn't what puts you in the Green Jersey in Paris, cause you're gonna feel like a fraud if it does.

Christ, I hope Thor Hushovd doesn't show up at my house to kick my ass. Dude is huge.

So that's it. Today the Tour heads up, which is when we'll finally find out which are the men and which are the boys.

Finally.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Video - Greatest Pro Racer Ever

The cure for Lance overdose:

Some stuff that may be true about Lance Armstrong

These are unsubstantiated, but probably true:

1) Everyone knows Lance has one nut, but that nut is actually made of gold.

2) Lance did your mom.

3) Your mom is kind of a whore.

Something I love about bicycles - Part IV

Milk crates.

I don't know who the nerd-ass-motherfucker is who first dared to strap a milk crate to his rear rack, but there are legions upon legions of nerd-ass-motherfuckers who owe that guy (or gal) a huge debt of gratitude. It's the poor man's panniers. It's the trunk, or the boot if you're in Old Blighty. It's a place keep your tools or a severed head. Or...um...some milk.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Race Radio

Today is the first of two TdF stages that is being raced without radios. By and large, the riders seem to be really pissed off about it, too. Some say racing without radios is going backwards technologically, that radios are a natural progression, like carbon fiber and wind-tunnel testing. Some say they make racing safer by alerting riders to obstacles and tricky spots on the course.

On the other side of the argument, the one taken by ASO, the company that own the Tour, people are saying that the radios take the thinking out of the race. The riders just have to wait for their director to give them instructions. Bernard Hinault called radios, "A gameboy with a gigolo on the other end." Riders who see the benefit of racing without an earpiece say that they actually make things less safe, because every rider in the peloton is receiving the same direction for tight turns, i.e. be on the outside or be on the inside, so that all 150 of them try to take the same line through the turn.

I see both sides. And I'm inclined to that latter view, that radios take something OUT of the race by making it too controlled.

I'm not religious about that view though. What I think about today's kerfuffle, with talk of a boycott or a neutralized stage, is that if the teams were going to pitch a hissy, they should have done it back in June when the UCI validated ASO's decision to run two stages sans-radio. That would have been the time to band together and protest, not in the thick of the race.

By and large, I take the riders' side. They were right when, during the Giro, they neutralized the stage in Milan due to parked cars being left on the tight and twisty course. That made sense. It wasn't good to see that stage killed, but the organizers should have had more respect for the riders' safety. And even in this case with the radios, I might prefer to see them race without, but if they really think their safety is being compromised, I have no problem with them using radios.

What I do have a problem with is the disorganization. Pro cycling is always this way. The teams can't get together to speak with one voice. The UCI and various other testing, oversight and race organizations can't agree on protocols. It makes being a fan harder. It injects emotion in all the wrong places and leaves us thinking about rules when we should be watching races.

I love pro cycling. I really, really love it. But, what I like is the race, not the side show.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fuel to the Fire

From today's Guardian:

"One cherished Tour tradition is the fans' habit of covering the roads with hand-painted exhortations to their heroes. This year four black and yellow Livestrong vans are travelling ahead of the race, selling the wristbands and promoting the charity while neatly stencilling the course, a kilometre at a time, with messages from Armstrong's supporters: "Get a goal and reach further", "Enjoy living not just life", "It's about hope, not the bike".

Ever since I went to a Celtics game (my one and only basketball game, I might add) and witnessed the painful commercialization of sport (music playing all the time, new advertisements emblazoned all over the court and walls and hoarding every fifteen seconds, idiotic automated "let's make some noise" announcements, playboy bunnies shooting t-shirts out of handheld air cannons into the crowd, and an interruption every two or three minutes for some inane showpiece on the court (trampolining, middle school kid shoots a free throw for a bag of Doritos), I've been terrified that this kind of nonsense is going to overflow into the rest of the world and ruin its fine sporting traditions. Apparently it's already happening at football matches in the UK, and now, apparently, the soul of the Tour de France (or what is left of it, at least) is all but sucked dry.

When the US men's soccer team (or Team USA! USA! USA!) finally and inevitably win the World Cup, I will pack up my few worldly possessions and head for the hills. I couldn't live in a world like that.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just Happy

I'm just happy that Lance is back in the Tour, on account of I had totally forgotten about cancer! I suspect the rest of the world had too. It's nice of him to sacrifice himself to remind us. Never seen a less self-aggrandizing person in my life. So refreshing. And his selfless corporate sponsors too.

It's just like in the old days of cycling.

When people rode for the fun of it.

Modern life is rubbish.

Bah.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stenciled Bike Bag

Here is the new bag I wrote about the other day, with Fausto Coppi stencil applied.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tour de France - Voekler's Big Win

Hey, so Thomas Voekler won yesterday's stage after a long, dramatic breakaway that outlasted the peloton by just seven seconds.

My friend Sarah Beth was amazed that "the lead withstood the winds with only six of them while the rest of the peloton battled it together and got totally split apart."

And it brought up a really important bit of cycling dynamics that sometimes allows these breakaways to work and thrill us all with the audacity and grit of a single rider.

See, it all depends on when the attacks come and where the wind is at the time. Also, the peloton is harder to organize than a six man break. A disciplined break can be very efficient. On the other hand, it can be hard, within the main group, to decide who is going to do the hard work of chasing down a break.

Typically, in the flats, you expect the sprinters' teams to do the work, but there has been some controversy in recent days because Columbia has felt they were doing too much work, while the other sprint teams (Garmin, Cervelo, et. al.) sat back and rested. Any ambivalence in the peloton about who is going to set the pace gives an advantage to the breakaway. That ambivalence, coupled with unpredictable wind conditions, can make the peloton an unwieldy weapon.

Also, specifically as regards side winds, when the peloton is forced into echelons (those diagonal formations across the road) to fight the wind, it is far less powerful than when the riders are arranged in an arrow formation into a head wind.

This bike, highlighted on one of my favorite cycling blogs, is an excellent primer: http://redkiteprayer.com/?p=183

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Better to be lucky than smart

There was a dump truck pulling a long, low, flat trailer down one of the main stretches of my commute this morning. It had perfect handholds on it, so I cruised up and took ahold of the one on the very end of the trailer. I thought I'd just let him pull me about a mile down the road and then let go. I could easily have passed him, but there was a free ride, so I held on at the back.

Then he started to drift over, so I let go and backed off a little. The trailer swung into the bike lane and pinched right up next to the curb. I would have been crushed. I yelled, but he didn't hear a thing, just kept on trucking.

"Fuck," I thought. "That was lucky." At the next light I rolled by him fast, and kept going.

Half a minute later I was skidding to a stop, as a woman threw her passenger side door open, straight across the bike lane, and stepped out directly in front of me. "No! No! No!" I yelled. "You can't get out in the middle of traffic like this!" She smiled and apologized and skittered away onto the sidewalk.

Her boyfriend/husband/driver then honked at me and called me a "fucking asshole" and then bade me fuck myself. I told him he looked very tough sitting in his car. Again, I rode away. I'm a cyclist, not a ninja.

And then I thought (as I often do in the post-conflict period when my adrenaline and sense of righteous indignation are all aflutter), "He's lucky I didn't kill his girlfriend." While he was busy hurling expletives at me, it never even occurred to him that, had his significant other waited two more seconds to fling her door open, I would most certainly have completely wrecked her. She would have been pulling my headset out of her face. She might have been pulling my front wheel out of her...well...you can picture it.

The guy was/is an idiot. But then, so am I. This morning we were BOTH more lucky than smart.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Papa's got a brand new bag.

I bought a new bike bag. I don't call it a courier bag or a messenger bag, on accounta I ain't a courier or a messenger.

So. A new bag.

Let's start from the beginning. I'm not getting any younger. My legs are always sore. So're my neck, back and shoulders. I'm one good crash away from being an invalid. You might think a backpack might be a good idea. But then I'd tell you this, and you'd see that a backpack just won't work:

I sweat a hell of a lot. I'm sweating now. Typing really gets me into a lather. You can imagine what riding a bicycle does.

I've seen a million (this is hyperbole) different backpacks with "venting systems." None of them work. Anything that holds my shirt/jersey/pelt next to my skin will cause all areas of my robotic flesh to transform into salty liquid in mere nanoseconds. The whole reason for getting a new bag is that my everyday bag (a Chrome Citizen) is too big. It turns into a de facto blanket in summer time when it's got less stuff in it. I can't wear a blanket to ride in. That's just dumb.

And sweaty.

So I decided to get a smaller bag, one that, when full, would have only a small point of contact with my back. With that criteria (criterium actually...double nintendo) in mind, I looked at a million-and-a-half different bags. Nine-hundred-thousand of them were too expensive. Sorry, I've got kids, I can't spend $300 on a custom bag that is the fruit of a year of collaboration between some esoteric bag company and some kid I've never heard of before who is a designer AND a fixed-gear trick master. Oh, I would LOVE to buy one of those bags, but I've got kids. And gray hair. I ain't foolin' nobody ((double negative implies I might actually be fooling someone) probably myself).

After untold (untolled?) hours converting yen to dollars and euros to yen and straw to gold, I decided on a bag from these guys. I got the C-Scow, their smallest sack.

It has the following going for it:
1) It's the right size. It just fits my small took kit, a change of summer clothes and some food.
2) It's made of recycled materials. Sail cloth and old tire tubes.
3) It's ugly.
4) The sail cloth doesn't absorb smells (odors, if I'm honest) like canvas bags do.
5) It's very light.
6) It's water proof.
7) Cinched up tight and full of stuff, it makes a very small contact point on my back, which allows air to dive down the collar of my shirt and mitigate the accumulation of perspiration and limit the deleterious effects of alliteration.
8) It's going to take a stencil very nicely.
9) It was only $80, which is super cheap for a handmade product, if you ask me.
10) It was made in America. In Michigan, which given its national-high unemployment rate, means that I've done more to stimulate our economy than everything congress has done in the last decade.

Once I get the stencil sprayed on, I will take a photo, and you can commence to pining for a summer bag of similar coolness.

Monkey on a mini-bike!!

The Tour So Far

OK. I didn't expect Cancellara to win the Prologue. I thought Contador would take it, thus establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of Astana. I still think he should be their leader, even if Lance is higher on GC today. Does anyone think Lance is going to drop Contador on a climb? If AC can out time trial LA, then what chance has old man Texas got?

Next, fucking Cavendish. Seriously? Seriously? Are you really just going to win every sprint stage? Cause that's kind of rude. I mean, it's totally awesome to watch, but leave a crumb for Hushovd or Bennatti, please? Also, get a better I-won-the-stage salute. And get a new for Contador while you're at it. That gun shooter thing he does is SUPERFUCKINGLAME!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Friday Video on Thursday

Cause I'm off to Vermont to sit by lakes and drink coffee and rest my tired legs.

Also, though I'm not a big Lance fan, what he has to say here is pretty interesting.


Tour Preview

No. No. No. I'm not going to go on and on about the coming Tour (Prologue is Saturday, BITCHES!!!!!), even though there is a TON to talk about. It'll all be on Versus in this country (USA), though their website sucks such complete ass that I can't give you a schedule.

I'm going to limit my comments to this:

1) I don't think Lance will win it.
2) I am pulling for Carlos Sastre or Andy Schleck.
3) Alberto Contador will probably win.
4) Someone will get kicked out for doping.

I will probably have a lot more to say as the thing goes on. I won't be able to resist.

So you can suck it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Monkey Riding a Dog!!!!!

This reminds me of the first time I went mountain biking:

Roubaix Every Day

I'm a big fan of the Spring Classics, those one-day races across the roughest roads in Belgium and France, the ones that thrash the taint ride out of the sports hardest men. These races are bit like the cycling equivalent of cage matches. And cage matches are awesome.

So, when I'm thrashing my own taint all over Boston, in my ten-year-old brain I'm racing a cobbled classic.

And then the other day I was riding away from home. I'd taken a few days off to rest a knee injury, and as my front wheel found it's first potholes and cracks and bumps, I felt a sharp pain in my wrist. Ow. It fucking hurt. Then I realized that it was more or less the same pain I always feel, just more intense.

My body is beaten. I'm not ten anymore. I'm thirty-seven.

And Boston is a bit like the road to Roubaix. No, there aren't long stretches of murderous cobbles, but there are so many streets that have been ripped up and patched and ripped up and patched and ripped up and patched, that the net effect if pretty close to the same.

I wrote in the spring about how some of Northern Europe's cobbles literally came to the New World, as ballast in the hulls of trade ships, and then, once unloaded on these shores, were used to pave our roads. So, the pavé of Belgium are also the pavé of Boston, even though, in most places, they've been paved over.

Still, riding Boston is like riding Roubaix every day. I feel it in my knees and ankles, in my wrists and neck and shoulders. In some very small way, I am one of the hard men of Flanders.

You know, in my mind.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday Video on Saturday - More Horner

Just cause he's earned it:


Chris Horner prepares for the Tour de France










Friday, June 26, 2009

On Behalf of Chris Horner

I just have to comment on Astana's decision to leave Chris Horner off their Tour de France roster.

I just read Horner's blog in the Oregonian here, and I have to say that I really, really respect the calm, mature way he's analyzed and then accepted his situation.

It surprised me in reading the comments on the Oregonian site, that so many blame Alberto Contador for Horner's exclusion, because Contador insisted on taking ONE of his guys, Sergio Paulinho.

This seems ridiculous to me. Before Lance Armstrong decided to come back, Contador was the unquestioned captain of that team. It's only subsequent to LA's comeback that Contador lost so much political juice in the squad, and it's sort of an insult, for the top stage racer in the world, to be relegated to only brining ONE of his preferred domestiques.

If you want to blame someone for Horner's exclusion, I'd look first to his friend Lance (for throwing the team into relative chaos), then to Levi Leipheimer (whose fatigue after racing for too many GCs already this season probably warrants a rest), and then to Andreas Kloeden (who hasn't been in such dazzling form and has doping allegations hanging over his head back in Germany).

To my mind, as much as Leipheimer's form might be in question after a gruelling Giro, Kloeden's exclusion makes the most sense to me given the doping cloud hanging over his head. Two years removed from Astana's removal from the TdF after Alexandre Vinokourov's disgrace, I would have expected team management to be a little more sensitive to sending guys with any dubious doping problems to the sport's signature event.

And let me just say I have no idea what Kloeden did or didn't do. I've always liked him as a rider. I'm just saying, if I'm putting together a Tour roster from the Astana payroll I send Horner before I send Kloeden. Horner is in good form. He's incredibly astute tactically. He will kill himself for his captain, and he's shown he has a lot of gas left in the tank, a crash at the Giro notwithstanding.

And at 37 (my age too), this may be Horner's last chance to ride the Tour, and that makes me sad.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Something I love about bicycles - Part III

Department store bikes.

Yes. I know they suck. They're cheap and badly made. They tend to agglomerate around college neighborhood back porches. They rust. They creak. They go unlubed and unloved.

But, consider this. Not everyone appreciates an expensive bike. They're mainly interested in transportation, and I'd wager that cheap, department store bikes log more miles in this country than carbon fiber crotch rockets. I'd bet that there is FAR more point A to point B getting accomplished by shitty, low-cost bikes with non-functioning front shocks or oddly molded aluminum frames, than by the things that you and I ride.

We are the exception. They are the rule.

And I think they rule.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Video Twofer

Suck it, bitches! Go ride yer bike!





What?!?!? A third video!?!?!? You're welcome.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

So You Think You Can Bike?

My wife is watching So You Think You Can Dance? I don't want to say much more about that. Truthfully, I think it's a pretty good show, if you like shows where people work their asses off and then get ripped to shreds by a panel of obnoxious judges. It's like the slightly fruity equivalent of being jumped into a gang.

And anyway it got me to thinking of show called So You Think You Can Bike?

People would ride by me, and then I'd give them a critique. I'd say things like:

"When you bought the folding bike, did you imagine it would get you laid more? It's not working, is it? No. I didn't think so. And yeah, the wheels are small. I can see that."

"Can you just fucking lube your chain? Don't you hear that awful sound? Did you think crickets were following you where ever you go? Seriously, do you hate your bike? Why do you hate your bike? Don't argue with me. You DO hate your bike! No one who loves their bike would ride around without lubing their fucking chain! You don't even deserve that bike! Give it to me! Now go away!"

"Snow gear? It's 70. Do you know what you smell like? Seriously?"

"That's a nice bike. I see it has just one gear. It's fixed, isn't it? They're neat, aren't they? That bike looks Italian, too. It's a Colnago carbon frame? Wow. Wizard! Do you commute on that? How long is your commute? A mile? Whoa! A three thousand dollar fixie was a good choice. Please kill yourself."

No. No. No. I'm not that big a dick. I'm no hater. I'm just glad people are riding.

I can't wait....CAN NOT WAIT...to see my first folding fixie, though.

And at the end of my show I'd blow up a dirigible with a twelve gauge. THAT would make some good TV.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Video - Parkour

Parkour, or free running, is for freaks:

Things I Love About Bicycles, Part II

So this morning I was riding down the river, as is my wont, when I all of a sudden I rolled up on a guy with a fishing bike.

A FUCKING FISHING BIKE!!!

He had his tackle box in a basket on the front, and he had fashioned a rod holder out of an old head tube that was affixed to a rack on the back. It was amazing.

He was fishing for stripers and carp in the Charles on the way to work. Amazing.

He also had a portrait of William Tecumseh Sherman tattooed on his calf.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Something I love about bicycles - Part I

I really love those old guys you see riding along on ancient ten-speeds, wearing gardening gloves.

Cause here's the thing. Their hands are cold. They garden. They have gardening gloves (which are also cheap). That follows

Maybe they're on their way to garden.

Maybe they have a bad case of poison ivy and they don't want to have it last forever by passing it back and forth between themselves and their grips.

Or maybe they're just batshit crazy. They spend their days tying flies for fly rods they don't own. They have every newspaper from the last decade in their garage. They're building a fucking ark.

Whatever the case, I think they're awesome.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Despite the utter lack of bicycles

...this is a cycling video.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The decision not to decide

I read a lot of bike blogs. Lately I've been hoovering up the fixed-oriented blogs, but I also read some pro road blogs. I read stuff about cross, bmx, old English cruisers, mechanic blogs, product-related info. I read it all. And, invariably, I bring some of it back here to sift through.

What struck me recently, especially as regards all the fixed gear blogs sprouting, is that I can't imagine confining myself to one type of cycling. This blog can be pretty erratic, but I think that's a good thing. In my mind, cycling is about freedom, the freedom to escape, the freedom to wander, so that's what this blog tries to be.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A dream

I dream of living in a Holland-like place.

I dream of the Mass Ave Bridge being travelled only by bicycles and of the coffee shops being surrounded by piles of bicycles three deep.

I dream of excellent music playing from loudspeakers on every corner, of snow falling but never hitting the ground.

I dream of a chain that never needs lube, tires that never need air, legs that never need rest.

I dream of getting around the office by bicycle, the perfectly smooth linoleum floor squeaking under my rubbery weight.

I dream of living in a neighborhood where my kids can ride safely, where horns don't honk and brakes don't squeal.

I dream of running right the fuck out of oil and not caring at all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Legs

Sometimes on Monday you have Monday legs. Monday legs are strong. Monday legs see a hill and attack it. Monday legs sprint for the light. Monday legs crank you off the curb. You always want to have Monday legs.

The catch is that if you use your Monday legs too much on Monday, you don't have them on Tuesday. You spend the rest of the week bashing your quads for more energy.

So on Mondays I try to ride hard but hold something back. In a perfect world, I use a little bit of Monday legs every day of the week, and then on Friday I wind it out on my way home. Sometimes I succeed. It's so cool to have Monday legs on Friday. You get that sprinting for the weekend feeling.

And then you go mtn biking on Saturday and drag yourself around the trails like a zombie, because jeebus bezeebus you gotta take a day off sometime. Don't you?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Video Inspiration

The dude that made last week's cyclocross documentary has a new film coming out. This is the trailer. I'm gob-smacked.

Back on the trail

Only sort of.

I busted out the door last Sunday for my first trail ride in an eon-and-a-half. I live a little over a mile from an excellent trail head, so you can imagine what sort of incursions have been made on my free time to prevent me from off-roading more or less since my first son was born four years ago.

So, here's the funny thing. Leaving the house, I noticed that my MTB shoes had two different cleats in them. Ha! That's funny! Why would that be?

Oh yeah, it's because I gave some SPD pedals to a friend a year or two back, and I wasn't sure which cleats went with which pedals, so I set her shoes up with one of each of the cleats I had and told her to figure it out. Well, apparently, afterward, I was too f'ing lazy to put my shoes back the way they were.

So I left the house with mismatched cleats, though there were both SPD, so I thought, "How big a deal could it be?"

And on the road on the way over, the smooth road, there was very little problem. The right clip was tight, and the left was less sturdy, but rideable. I hadn't been on the trail in a long time, so I wasn't really expecting peak performance anyway, so I kept rolling.

As it turned out, as soon as I hit the first rocky patch, roughly ten yards up from the trail head, my left foot went flying out of its clip. Problem. I couldn't keep the fucker clipped in. It was completely debilitating. Couldn't climb. Couldn't descend.

I grunted and sweated on for about a mile, before I decided to cut bait. Then I just pulled out of the woods and rolled home, disappointed but not homicidally enraged, which I would have been had I tried to make it all the way around the six-mile loop I was on.

So, an ignominious return to mountain biking, but a return nonetheless.

I am pleased to report that, even in my hobbled state, I was able to get a tiny peek back into the joy of trail riding, and after this minor set back, I foresee a summer of bruised palms and bloody knees, so that's cool.

GIRO Comment:

I've been pulling for Carlos Sastre, and he has taken two exciting uphill stage wins, but it looks like he'll finish just off the podium now, unless he pulls off the TT of his life on Sunday. Good race this year. Excellent race. And great coverage from Universal Sports.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Giro comments

I try not to talk about pro cycling TOO much here, because I know not everybody is into it, and I really like to keep room here on the bracket for ALL kinds of cycling, but I can't let another Saturday pass without just a couple of comments regarding the Giro d'Italia, currently underway in that funny, boot-shaped country where they eat all them noodles.

1) Wow! Di Luca, Menchov, Leipheimer, Basso, Sastre. Any of those guys could win this thing, and I wouldn't be surprised. Unlike the seven snooze fests that the Big Lance won in France (ok, they weren't ALL boring), this is real race. Wide open. The English language commentary is pretty slanted toward Leipheimer pulling something out of his rear passage, but I have to believe that Di Luca is the real monster. He's obviously super-motivated, has huge crowd support and has his whole season built around winning the Giro. Dark horse candidate to win: Sastre. I doubt he'll push too hard for it, saving himself for the Tour, but if he's in striking distance and he can gap some guys on one of the remaining climbs, don't be shocked.

2) Cavendish. The dude is clearly the fastest sprinter in the world now, and the lead out his team gives him is also the best. But to pull out of the Giro now, after winning three stages is lame. I don't understand this at all. I didn't like it when McEwen did it. I didn't like it when Cippolini did it. I don't like it. Race the race or stay home.

3) Lance. I'm not talking about Lance. There's really nothing to talk about.

4) Universal Sports rules. Great coverage. Free. On demand. I miss Phil Liggett, but really, for an event that's not on TV, Universal's coverage is awesome.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Video - Cross Doc

I've never raced cross, but it fascinates me. Perhaps one day.

Seeing the Future

Riding in the city requires foresight. There are a number of forces at work against you. Cars. Pedestrians. Potholes. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Being safe means being able to anticipate what is going to happen next. People who have been riding cities for long periods of time develop a sixth sense, an awareness that mostly not even aware of. It leads them to tell non-riders that it's really not that dangerous riding in thick urban traffic.

It is. It's very dangerous. But there are some things you can do to develop this sense, to make yourself a little safer. Here are some tips (and I'd love to hear more if anyone has them):

1) Know your lights. I'm talking here about both the traffic lights AND the walk signs. I find it really, really valuable to know when walk signs signal an upcoming red traffic light or when a red light gives way to a walk sign moving the same direction, a situation that makes the intersection relatively safe, rather than crowded with cars moving perpendicular to your path. The truth is, I cheat on lights all the time. I run them. But I don't do it in the kamikaze rush I did ten years ago, plowing into the intersection and hoping to figure my way across once I got there. No. Now I know the lights that have long yellows. I know the timing of the turn signals and the walks. I can look at the walk sign and know what the traffic light will do. I use all that information to make decisions about when to plow forward and when to pull up.

2) Read the pedestrians. Pedestrians are slower than you are. By and large they look before they cross in front of cars (if not when they step in front of bikes), so coming to an intersection, you can usually tell whether you need to stop by seeing what the pedestrians are doing. Here on the East Coast, no one waits for the walk sign. Folks cross against the light all the time. You can use them to know what's going on down roads you can't see down yet. You can also use them as shields, since cars very, very seldom plow through a gaggle of foot-bound humanity. I use them to protect me from turning cars and as canaries in the mine of wide intersections.

3) Profile drivers. If you see a motorist on the phone while smoking a cigarette, it's a good idea to assume they're going to drive like an asshat. If you see a driver ahead of you squeezing into the bike lane (where there are bike lanes) or switching lanes without signaling, you really have to be extra careful passing them. Also, you should ALWAYS beware of women driving Volvos, men driving pick up trucks, cabs, buses, cops and box trucks. I won't get into the reasoning behind singling these people out. Just take it on faith that they are dangerous and keep a safe distance.

4) Talk to yourself. The biggest danger in urban riding is ADD. There is so much input coming out you at high speed from every corner of your vision, that maintaining concentration is a real challenge. I talk to myself, articulating what's going on in front of me. If I see a cab driver getting ready to pull out of a cab stand, I say, "Douchebag in the cab. Douchebag in the cab," over and over until I've passed the danger. It makes you look and sound crazy, but it reduces the risk of getting creamed by a douchebag.

5) Use your lizard vision. Coming into a crowded intersection, it's very difficult to see all the things you need to see. At times like that I try to let my sight blur a bit, using my peripheral vision to see left AND right at the same time. This is especially useful when watching for cars on one side and pedestrians on the other.

6) Sometimes brake lights are turn signals. In Boston, only about 40% of the population uses their turn signals. Every time I've been hit or nearly hit, it's been because a driver has suddenly cut across my lane with no signal. I've come to see that when a car brakes coming into an intersection, it's often because they're going to turn. I try not to get myself between them and their turn. I try to slow and insert myself in the space behind them, so that, as they turn, I can slip ahead of them on the left, without blocking traffic or getting crushed.

There is more. I will try to get more of these things down in the future.

Be safe.

Video coming later. It's Friday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Redeemer and redeemed

Once upon a time my every day bike, a black Surly Cross Check set up as a 44x17 fixed gear, was just a frame hanging on a wall in my man cave. There it hung for a month or two while I collected bits and pieces to bolt to it, handmade wheels; an old, white, Italian saddle; a new, heavy-duty chainring. And then I brought it to life, redeemed it from a life of dusty wall-hanging.

And now I ride it nearly every day. It is my road whore. It is my speed machine. It is my death bringer and head banger and quad burner.

And when my day is bad, and I need a helping hand, and nothing is very much fun anymore, that bike picks me up by the scruff of the neck. It launches me off curbs. It marshals the winds and washes the gray right out of my hair. Calgon! Calgon! Take me the fuck away!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A morning of epic fail.

I woke up to a 4am hangup call. It's either my sister-in-law or some issue regarding her. Since there is some high school game going on, she didn't leave a message, but did call back 30 minutes later. Again not leaving a message. Ok. Fine. I'll get up.

I packed my camelback the night before so I'd be ready to leave for a ride to work with no futzing around. I fill up my camelback, grab a jersey undershirt, and my bike socks and hop in the car. I throw all my gear on the passenger seat and my camelback on top. I'm off to the park and ride. I park. I ride. My bike.

It's a little cold at the park and ride. So I grab my jersey undershirt. It's soaking wet. I grab my socks. They're soaking wet. I look and see my camelback mouth piece was under the weight of my pack. It drained out all over my seat and clothes. I ride with soaking wet socks.

I'm riding really well. Very strong. I'm a bit surprised. It's been a week since I last rode. I'm flying. I'm freezing, but I'm flying. I'm in the home stretch now. About a mile from the office now. Really cruising! A bug hits my nose. I rub it. Blood pours out all over. I stop and open my pack and bleed all over it. I search in a pocket. No tissue, just a skull cap. I stand in front of some guy's house as his sprinklers come on and hold the cap to my face to wait out the clotting. No, the sprinklers didn't hit me. We'll save that for the movie version. My nose stops bleeding and I leave a pattern of blood droplets on the curb and mount up.

I get to work. The company gym. I think I have blood all over my face. I can't tell. Haven't seen my reflection yet. I'm pretty sure I have blood smeared on my face. No one says anything. I hit the locker room. Yeah, I'm covered in blood. I hit the showers. I come back to my locker. I un-pack my camelback and dress. I manage to get blood from my pack all over my shirt. Looking real professional today.

I get on my bike and ride to my building. I adjust my sunglasses. I break the arm in half. Of course I broke my glasses. I am not even phased at this point. I get to my office. I turn on my music. I lock the door behind me. Fuck the world.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Two things that bother me

1) People who ride with headphones on. Hey, I wanna listen to music while I ride too, but when I do that I can't hear people coming up behind me. Yeah, you're in the middle of the lane and no one can get by you, and you can't hear me yelling at the back of your head.

2) Roller bladers. I have a lot of time for pedestrians and even for some drivers, but really, roller bladers? Just cut it out.

Bonus thing that bothers me:

Saw this guy a few weeks ago on a vintage Colnago track bike that he had set up with mustache bars. He was pedaling along at two miles an hour. He had sandals on. Now mostly, I stick to the mantra, "I don't have to ride your bike, so I don't care what you ride," but riding a Colnago track bike like it was a cruiser is just rude. It's like using a Ferrari for golf cart. Cut it the fuck out.

Dilemma

So I've got two everyday bikes, a Bianchi Pista (I couldn't resist the chrome) and a Surly Cross Check. Both are set up as fixed. The Cross Check takes fenders and is a less tight ride overall. The Pista is fast. People hate on Pistas, but they fast.

Anyway, I also have an old Gios Torino Professional frame that I was planning on building up as another fixed gear, but that's stupid. Who needs three? Especially when that same person also wants a new road bike and maybe a freestyle BMX.

So what I'm thinking is I'll strip the Pista, move as many parts as possible onto the Gios, and then sell the frame. I can probably get $300 for it, and I can use that to finish off the Gios with a Cinelli stem and some other geeky shit.

What do you think of that plan?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Green Eyed Monster

I was listening to The Rosewood Thieves and grilling some chicken breasts when I spotted a guy riding by on a brand new Trek Top Fuel. It was brand new. That bike costs a lot of money. Even a used one is outside my (wet) dream budget.

And I got to thinking of all of the bikes I've owned and how sad it is that I made terrible financial decisions and now have nothing to show for them except a Swobo. Don't get me wrong, I love the Swobster, but I do think longingly of my Cannondale Track frame with full Suntour Superbe Pro groupset. I dream sometimes of my Willier Alpe d'Huez. The way I feel when I see a Colnago Dream that looks like my old Colnago Dream doesn't bear thinking about.

I'm an ex-cyclist. I have to accept it.

But I'll be damned if I'm going to accept some a-hole brazenly flaunting his Trek Top Fuel around the neighborhood. I'm off to wreak some havoc.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A New Road Bike?

Hey, I'm thinking of investing in a new road bike. Something in the sub-$1500 range. I ain't racing nobody.

Any thoughts?

I know the Cyclosaur will say I should build a custom Torelli, but I don't think I can do that for under $1500.

Shit, I don't even think my wife will go for that, but a girl can dream, right?

In other news, how about that Alessandro Petacchi? That mother fucker is fast. Maybe Mark Cavendish doesn't know everything there is to know about sprinting just yet.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Watching the Giro

Just a quick note for you pro cycling fans. You can watch the Giro d'Italia fuh free here.

I'm gonna.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Video - Giro d'Italia Special

The Giro starts tomorrow with a team time trial that runs the length of the sand bar that protects Venice from washing into the Adriatic.

In anticipation, I give you this video of the greatest ever Italian rider.

Things that have nearly hit me today

1) The School Bus - Just pulled right the hell out in front of me. Slammed on my brakes (yeah for having brakes on my bike!). Gave the universal sign for WHAT THE FUCK!?!?! Received apologetic wave. Rode on.

2) A Lexus SUV - This one I courted. He honked at a woman riding in front of me. I took it upon myself to harangue him, ride out in front of him tauntingly, ask him why he was in such a huge fucking rush to get to the red light thirty yards in front of us. Received one-finger-salute. Rode on.

3) The Brinks Truck - Yeah. 14,000 pounds of steel just cut over on me without signaling. Again, gave universal sign for WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!!? Again, received apologetic wave. Rode on.

Ran into a bike cop at lunchtime. Asked him what he thought about downtown traffic and whether he derives pleasure from writing tickets. He says he doesn't bother. "It's chaos down here," he reasons. "There's no changing it."

Will have video treat for you later. Because it's Friday. And that's what I do.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Epic Fail

Monday morning. Flying along the path by the river. A wooden footbridge. I'm going just a scoach (The scoach is a unit of measure. It transcends English and metric systems. One scoach is equal to approximately one CH) too fast. I lean into the turn off the end of the bridge and clip a pedal on the ground. My rear wheel flies out. My hand gets caught between my pursuit bars and the wooden railing, removing two large patches of skin from my right hand.



Blood runs off my hand. Drips down my leg. Splatters my cranks and shoes. FAIL!

This is how the week begins. Next I realize that my chain line is too slack. On the way back home I go to tighten the chain, but alas, there is too much stretch in it. The rear drop outs are not horizontal track drop outs. This is a cross frame. So I have to cut two links out of the chain to get it properly tightened.

Monday evening I descend to my basement man cave to perform the work. I line up the chain tool. I push the pin forward through the link, intending to leave it hanging there, stuck in the very outer plate of the back link. But I push a scoach too far. The pin pops out. FAIL.

You can never recover from this. No pin will be reinserted into a greasy chain. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!

I yell. I swear. I break some things.

On Tuesday I acquire a new chain. I take it home, measure it, cut it, attach it. I lube. I pump tires and reattach fenders. I buff. I polish. I leave the man cave feeling ready.

During the night the tube in the rear tire blows. There is a loud pop. The blowout is powerful enough to the lift the tire right off the rim. Wednesday morning is bleak. I am sad. In order to get to work, I have to pull a wheel off my other fixed ride (Who keeps two fixed wheel bikes? What kind of tool does that? Me. That's who.)

This seems like a good solution, but the cog and chain don't align properly. Every time I torque the pedals the chain grinds. FAIL!

Wednesday night I spend a half hour trying to fix the flat on the wheel that goes with my every day bike. My kids climb on me. I have to patch a tube, because I'm out of new tubes. I have a dozen flats that need patching. I patch several of them. None of those has a valve stem long enough to reach through the Deep V rim on the wheel I'm fixing. I give up. FAIL!

This morning I return to flat fixing. I patch two tubes. One of them requires two patches and then still won't hold air. The other one patches up fine, but I pinch it with the tire tool, trying to get the tire back on the rim. I'm out of patches. I have to keep riding the swapped, grindy wheel. FAIL!

Tonight I will buy more tubes. I will go the man cave. I will pray to the lord of velocipedic benevolence that the curse lifts, that my mechanical buffoonery abates.

Fuck, my hand hurts!

FAIL!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Look Mom! No Bike!

I went running yesterday. Running, for those of you who, like me, are primarily velocipedal, is like cycling, but without a bicycle.

I don't particularly recommend it. It's jolly hard work. Physically, it's a walk in the park (or, in my case, a run in the woods). The problem is figuring out how to attach all of my gear. I couldn't (for obvious reasons) use the allen screws provided to bolt the water bottle cages to my shins. So I had to wrap duct tape around the cages and behind my calves. It made the bottles harder to insert and extract, but whatever. It was fine.

More of a concern was how to make the speedometer and cadence meter work. I began by estimating the circumference of the (approximate) circle described by my right leg when running, and plugged that value into the computer. I then attached the speedometer magnet to my right ankle and... well yes. I couldn't attach the sensor to my left ankle because that wouldn't be stationary when running. My ingenious solution was to fasten a long wooden pole to my back (with more duct tape), in line with my spine, extending to about ankle height between my legs. To this pole, I attached the speedometer sensor.

So as to avoid interference between the speedometer and the cadence meter, I attached the cadence magnet to my right wrist, and the cadence sensor on the right side of my waist. This required me to move my right arm forward and back in perfect time with my right leg for an accurate cadence reading, giving me a somewhat lopsided gait. Next time, I think I will affix the cadence setup to the left side of my body.

I must confess to feeling somewhat conspicuous on the trail, but I comforted myself with the thought that should I trip over the wooden pole extending between my legs, I would at least have a soft landing thanks to the padded seat on my shorts. 

It was a good run. Distance: 357 meters; Time: 47 minutes; Average Cadence: 8; Average HR: 182; Max HR: 188. I'm hoping to improve for next time. 
 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Again, you will think this is not about cycling...

...but again, you will be wrong.

The Cyclosaur nearly got crushed by a car. He yelled and screamed and scared her so that she urinated in her pants. He should tell the story, though.

I'll just give you this, because you deserve it:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Many Less Cars

I want there to be many less cars in my city, Boston. They stink. They pollute. They're big. They're unwieldy. They're unsafe. They're ugly. They make people fat. They make people angry. They are, an awful lot of the time, unnecessary.

And so I have devised a plan to eliminate large numbers of automobiles from the city. Eliminate half the parking.

We can all tut-tut at people who drive a mile down the road to the post office or around the corner to the coffee shop, but those places are set up to drive to. In fact, though Boston is absolutely choked with cars, we just spent $14 billion to make it easier and faster to get into the city by car. Last year, though 4% of the population commutes by bicycle, there were just two city blocks of bike lanes in the entire city limits.

It's just too easy to drive, so people drive. I would do the same thing, if I didn't already hate cars and driving, so I can't really blame them.

So, if we eliminated half the parking, I think we could significantly reduce the driving (and traffic), because we'd make it less convenient to drive and more convenient to ride or take the bus/train. This will seem Draconian to some, but to me, it seems completely Draconian to allow 40 feet of roadway (two parking lanes on either side, two traffic lanes in the middle) to bisect crowded urban areas. So take 10 of those feet and give them to cyclists and pedestrians. Widen the sidewalks. Lay bike paths.

This will serve to lessen pollution and noise. It will turn our city back into a walking place (it's got to be the geographically smallest "big city" in the country.) It will cause us to interact with each other more and thereby become nicer (I'm stretching now), and it will help us be less fat.

And it will help me not get hit and crushed, which is something I am actively afraid of, though I go right on cranking my way back and forth across the city as if I'm invincible.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My stupid ego

This morning I rode up behind a woman on a slick all carbon Fondriest. She was all lycra and Sidi road shoes, and not the cheap ones.

I rode along behind her for a minute, during which time she horked one back over her shoulder that swooped back toward me in the wind and just missed my foot. I said, "Hey, careful up there," and she laughed and apologized and I said, "That's alright. You missed me that time."

So then we came to a light and she held up and I darted across, and I sort of assumed that she'd catch back up pretty quick, on account of she was riding the space shuttle and there I was on my slightly over-geared fixed ride.

But as I pedaled away I had this evil feeling come over me. I didn't want her to catch up.

Now, I don't know where she was coming from. She might have been warming down from the half century she rode before I even woke up. She might have just been finishing a cross country trip that started in San Francisco.

But in my tiny, reptilian brain, I wanted to beat the roadie. So I put the hammer down. And let me be clear that my hammer is one of those tiny, cute hammers that ladies sometimes keep in the utility drawers in their kitchens. So I put that down and rode away and kept riding and she never caught me, and when I turned off the main drag I looked back and saw her back behind me a couple hundred yards, and for some stupid reason I felt good about that.

Monday morning and I'm having imaginary races with oblivious roadies on the way to work. When my legs start to go later in the week, I'll think back on this and laugh at myself for being so stupid.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Video

"Like a flea on a dog...."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When the dog bites, when the bee stings...

So things aren't going that well today. I mean they're not going that badly. I don't have cancer. I'm employed. The people who love me all still love me, I think.

But my clients are acting like assholes. They're sending me snarky emails. I had a bad dream last night. It's going to rain again today. Whine. Bitch. Moan. Gurgle. Splutter. Barf.

And it's funny, and only really worth mentioning, because every time I start to feel crappy, I have this strong urge to go out and ride my bike. That's my happy place.

It looks like I'll be riding home in the rain. I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The difference between me and people who know how to ride.

I have been riding bicycles since 1977, I think. I've ridden BMX, banana seat cruisers, road bikes, mountain bikes, urban bombers, single speed, fixed gear, beach cruisers, and loved them all. For a while, when I was mountain biking a lot, I practiced observed trials. If you don't know what trials is, it's a bike handling discipline based around navigation of an obstacle course. Your feet are meant never to touch the ground. These courses may consist entirely of a pile of large boulders.

I practiced lateral hopping, climbing stairs, spins and pivots, hopping to table tops and park benches, etc. etc. etc. I was not very good at any of it, despite many hours frittered away.

This guy on the other hand has mastered the force of gravity, made it his bitch, locked it in a small cage in his basement, to use as he will, whenever he wishes. Behold his magic:



And then go ride your bike.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hello.

Hi, I still write. So you can shut up now, stupid Robot, with your doom and gloom IMs "So you've quit the blog?" I've been crazy busy the last few weeks. But I also did some interesting bike things. Namely made my Swobo into a fixie. When I say "made", I mean flipping the wheel and throwing on a 17 tooth ring, but for a second there it sounded like I was handy with a wrench. Which is cool.

My take on the fixie? I hated it. All the things I liked about my commute were pretty much negated by riding fixie. I like to coast. I like futz with my jacket. I like to reach into my pockets and pull out my phone and look shit up while I ride (I'm a retard). I like to screw up getting my feet in the clips and then coast while I flip the peddle over and slide in. These are things that do not occur with the fixie.

The fixie is always "on". You're either pedaling, skidding, or falling. Any other activity you want to be doing must include one of these. That didn't work for me (see things I like listed above). I feel I gave the fixie a good shot tho. I got pretty competent on the riding fixie. I even stopped trying to coast (don't do this) out of habit and got pretty good at controlling my decent speeds with leg muscles. Actually, I need to stop and relate to you an episode that occurred on the first day I rode fixie.

I was coming down this huge hill and and immediately got going super fast and my legs were just being yanked out from under me as I tried to use my leg muscles to control the speed of the bike. Things were going south fast, so I let instinct take over and I took my feet off the pedals. This is a bad idea. To get my feet back on the pedals, well it was like trying to jump out of a moving car and into a instant sprint to match the speed. I can't do that. (I tried. You just fall flat on your face and it hurts really bad.) So I just went down the hill with my feet sticking out in the air. When I got to the bottom of the hill I was all "Phew! That was crazy!" Never once did it occur to me to actually use my BRAKES to modulate speed. Ugh. Like I said fixie isn't for me. My brain just isn't wired up for it.

So last night I switched my bike back to it's original form. Then I rode it to the bus stop this morning. I coasted down the big hill over looking the ocean, scratched my nuts, and started fucking with my phone trying to see what time it was. This I like.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The continued sound of one hand clapping

I appear to be the only one here anymore. My comrades have abandoned the bloggery. I am sorry. You're stuck with me.

So...one last thing about pro cycling, and then I'll drop it until something really exciting happens. The Amstel Gold Race doesn't count.

Did you see Paris-Roubaix? F'ing crazy. Crashes. Smashes. Attacks. Tactical blunders. Mechanical meltdown. That race is like the cycling equivalent of Thunderdome. Tom Boonen showed he was the strongest (and smartest) on the day. He didn't let any of his Quick Step teammates get too far up the road without him, which is what he did at the Tour of Flanders, and that cost him (but not the team) the win there.

This time he rode on the front, which is always smart in PR, because when the inevitable mass pile up happens, you don't get caught in it. He also attacked at just the right time to break up the lead group. If Pipo Pozzato had really wanted to win, he should have put in an earlier attack. Instead, Boonen made the moves and rode his luck to win the prize.

Luck played a huge part as well. Flecha crashed and took two others with him, also holding Pozzato up, though again, Pozzato should have known better than to be on the back of the group over the cobbles. Then Hushovd crashed into the barrier. I mean, how embarrassing is that? It's too bad, too, because Hushovd probably had a chance at outsprinting Boonen in the end.

Great race. I'll watch it again and again.

Finally, I learned something very, very interesting last week about those Northern European cobblestones. It seems that ships leaving from Belgium and Northern France some centuries ago, would fill their hulls with those cobbles as ballast for the trip across the Atlantic, dumping them in New England and refilling with valuable cargo. The cobbles, or pavé as they're known in France, were then used to pave roads here.

Even on the street I live on, when a pothole goes deep, say 8-12 inches, you can see the cobblestone road underneath. So, it's sort of thrilling to think that, on a daily basis, I'm riding over top of the same cobbles that have been such a huge part of European bike racing for the last century and a half.

Wow. Just re-read that. I'm quite a tool, aren't I?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Roubaix DAY!!!!!!

No video. No trenchant analysis. No fanboy drooling.

It's Paris-Roubaix today, the best bicycle race ever.

Watch it on Versus at 5pm EST.

Or, if you're in Europe, watch it on your television. It'll be on.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Too Goddamned Dope Not to Spread


Steven Hamilton from The Day Is Over (2004) from Elliot Van Orman Productions on Vimeo.

Jealousy

I watch bike videos. I read bike blogs. I follow pro cycling. I cycle. I ride road and mountain. I have a cruiser. I have two fixed gears. I like bikes and bike stuff.

One of the things I see a lot now are fixed gear focused blogs that post videos of various young folks performing tricks on their track bikes. Of course, the track bikes are mostly modified for trick-doing. BMX stems. Beefed up rims, etc.

And I think it's super cool. Totally inspiring to see a group of people doing different things with their machines, pushing the bounds of balance and timing in cool new ways.

I wonder to myself, "What would it take for you to learn to do trick X or trick Y?"

I answer, "It would take riding around all day on my bike practicing and falling down a lot."

And then I think, "Gosh, I sure do wish I could spend my days riding around, practicing tricks and falling down."

Seriously. I wish that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Back Problems and Messengers

I have not been here for a few days. I have not ridden a bicycle since Friday morning. It was then that I stood up funny and my back went into spasm. This is what 37 years of playing like a five-year-old will get you.

So I've been off the bike. And that kills me, because it's a big week on the European road circuit that I take as such an inspiration in my daily riding. There was Stijn Devolder winning the Tour of Flanders again. Ghent-Wevelgem was today. A Columbia sprinter not named Mark Cavendish won that, and then it's Paris-Roubaix this Sunday. The very best of the classics.

Ah well, I'll be healthy again soon and back to pounding the asphalt.

I wanted to say something about messengers today, too. I don't know why messengers have become such revered bicycle riders. Most of those I see don't seem to know much beyond how to pedal (not that they have to be experts). They're mostly young. A lot of them seem to smoke. They're getting around and delivering packages, and that's cool.

There is nothing wrong with messengers. Don't get me wrong. I'm not hatin'.

I just don't see why people think being a messenger gives you some profound cycling experience that other people don't have. Also, messengers are NOT a homogenous group. Like the broader cycling community, the messenger population runs the gamut. There are roadies. There are punks. There are Freds. There are guys (and gals) who just can't get another job.

But, just as I don't universally respect racers or cyclocrossers or recumbent riders, I can't see that messengers deserve some exalted place either. As near as I can tell, they are almost indistinguishable from urban cyclists generally.

My overall feeling is that everyone who rides a bike is pretty cool, even those older ladies with their horrible hybrids and their neon yellow crossing guard vests. I mean, they're getting it done, aren't they? They're pedaling. And that's cool.