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.


Monday, August 17, 2009

New Game Idea!

Throwing hot Capri Suns at asshole cabs.

Work up your own scoring system.


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?