Friday, August 26, 2016

This Just In: I'm Out Until May 6th, Happy Labo(u)r Day!

Yep, that's right, the title says it all.  I realize I did pop out for a bit last week, but this is it, my Actual Summer Vacation, as provided for in my contract with Bicycle Snobbing Industries Ltd. LLC. Inc.

You don't like it?  Take it up with the union.

The above notwithstanding, it's fairly likely that posts from me will appear on the Citi Bike and Brooks blogs in the coming days, and if that happens before I return rest assured I'll post a link here to let you know.  I wear many blogging helmets, so even when I'm gone from this blog echoes of me remain.

Other than that though, this is it until Labouring Day.

And with that, I wish you the very best for the rest of the summer, I thank you sincerely for your readership, and I'll see you all back here on Tuesday, September 6th.

Yours in Bicycle Cycling,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On Your Left! Blog Post Coming Through!!!

Darn mountain bikers!  Remember last year when one burned his toilet paper and charred like half of Idaho?  Well now another one has apparently set fire to California (and their Cousin Eddie-like neighbor Nevada) due to a single instance of pedal strike:

“The cause of the Rock Creek fire that started on August 5th has been determined. Investigators have concluded that the fire was started from a bicycle pedal strike to a rock. Conclusive evidence was found in the fire origin area that was on the Lower Rock Creek mountain bike trail. A fire ignition from this type of trigger is a testament to how dry the area is right now. All residents and visitors are asked to be extremely careful with anything that may cause a fire while you are out in the forest,” the post read.

Really though?  Really?  I dunno, sounds far-fetched to me.  But who am I to argue with a confusing cheese metaphor?

Speaking on behalf of the Inyo National Forest, fire prevention technician Kirstie Butler told BikeRadar that, while the exact cause of many forest fires go unresolved, the evidence in this instance was definitive.

“All the holes in the Swiss cheese lined up perfectly,” Butler said.

Still, I can't help but wonder if she's laying it on a bit too thick, like Mario Cipollini slathering his partner with Camembert at his notorious annual "festivo de quattro formaggi" bacchanal:

According to Butler, while this may seem like an incredibly unlikely chain of events, the US Forest Service has evidence that this has happened before. She notes that sparks from chainsaws and lawn mowers are frequent causes of wildfires. To date, there have been 4,084 wildfires in California, burning a total of 150,498 acres in 2016.

Okay.  Quiz time.  Which of these does not use an internal combustion engine?




Well at least I'm assuming #1 and #2 use internal combustion engines.  I live in an apartment building in New York City, what do I know?  Maybe this stuff has gone green now and runs on electricity and kitten farts.  Anyway, I'm sure if I'm wrong I'll never hear the end of it from from the Lawn Care Freds:

("Hey Fred, where's your helmet?")

And for that matter I don't know the first thing about forest fires either, so I should probably shut up about it.  However, I'm a blogger, and when has ignorance regarding a certain topic ever stopped me before?

Nevertheless, the danger here is that this could serve as a pretense to ban mountain biking from the area, but fire expert and cheese enthusiast Butler assures us this is not the case:

Butler, who is a mountain biker and has frequently ridden the Lower Rock Creek Trail, doesn’t believe the incident will result in trail closures to mountain bikers, nor does she view mountain bikers as more of a fire hazard than any other trail user group.

“This is not about pointing fingers; we know it wasn’t done maliciously. We understand that mountain biking is a popular activity and we’re not trying to say that this is a reason to stop. It’s just something to be aware of,” said Butler.

Though if they could find a way to pin this all on e-MTBs and ban those I'd say that would be a win-win for pretty much everybody--except maybe this guy:

Actually, if they could pin it all on that guy so much the better.

In the meantime, expect IMBA to recommend that mountain bikers in fire-prone areas ride with oven mitts over their feet.

As for me, yesterday afternoon I headed out for a ride on my Milwaukee:

I'm pleased to report I set absolutely nothing on fire, and that includes the Strava leaderboard, because not only am I slow as warm Camembert, but I also don't use Strava.  Indeed, I'm proud of being slow.  Plus, if I rode quickly I'd miss out on the local fauna:

Shortly thereafter I came to this raging stream.  "Hey beaver, why don'tcha chew me up a nice dam?," I shouted at the nearby varmint:

To which he replied with a scowl, probably because he wasn't a beaver at all, he was a groundhog:

Of course I didn't realize that at the time, and I thought he was just being lazy.  Fortunately though after a couple of hours I finally mustered up the courage to cross the stream myself:

In case you're wondering, I shouldered the bike and used a staff I whittled from a tree branch to check the depth.

For awhile after that all was going well.  I stopped at a café and spent like $47 on an iced coffee and a gluten-free cookie.  Then I headed over to the paved bike path for the return trip:

"On your left!," announced a voice from behind, and I turned as a Fred on a fancy new carbon bicycle passed me, another rider on an old metal bike glued fast to his wheel.  As they continued on their way I wondered why this intrusive and distracting announcement was even necessary.  After all, I was already all the way to the right and traveling in a straight line.  Furthermore, the bike path was both amply wide and totally empty.  So why not just pass me in silence?

No sooner had I completed this thought then there came another "On your left."  This time it was a group of five riders.  Already annoyed from the last encounter, I was now doubly so, and to make matters worse another rider in the very same group also said "On your left" to me as they passed:

This was three "On your lefts" now in about as many minutes.  Worst of all, after passing me they just kind of sat there in front of me, so my only choices were to either pass them back or stop and fire off some angry tweets about Freds who say "On your left" to put some distance between us.

I chose the latter.

Even so, I passed them two more times: once when they were stopped for a group chat, and again as they were loading their bikes onto the trunk racks of their cars.

I also passed this couch:

"On your left!," I did not say to it.  Why?  Because it was already on the right and it was behaving perfectly predictably.  You know, just like I had been when all these people said "On your left" to me.

I mean really, if you need to pass just pass.  And if you think the person ahead of you needs to know you're coming because they're swerving or something, sure, go ahead alert them--but try to be more polite about it.  For example, why not work in an "Excuse me?"  You really shouldn't address people differently on a bike then you do on foot.  Even a simple "Passing on your left" can make a world of difference.  Do you say "On your left" to your fellow shoppers when you're pushing your shopping cart down the produce aisle at the supermarket?  Of course not.  You sweeten it up a little.  (But not too much.  "Excuse me, do you mind if I get a look at those melons?" can easily be misinterpreted in certain situations.)  It's those three monosyllabic words alone that can be so infuriating.  I'm sure Martin Amis would explain that it's because "On your left" is a molossus, and those three stressed syllables impart a sense of urgency and unrest.

Perhaps most vexing of all though was this sign:

Let's have a look at this turn that's so hazardous it requires dismounting your bicycle.  First you approach it like so:

Then it goes this way:

Then it's completely straight for miles:

I'm lucky to be alive.

Lastly, a reader by the name of Don alerted me to this video, which contains language that is NSFW (unless you work in a cursing factory):

Duuude!  He's the SoCal Keith Maddox!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Taste the Wednesday!

Saturday, September 10th is the New York City Century:

And the good people at Transportation Alternatives who organize it would like you to know that the price goes up on Friday at midnight so you should register NOW:

Price increase alert!

There are only 3 more days to sign up ​for the NYC Century Bike Tour before registration prices go up, up, up. Secure your spot by midnight on Friday, August 26th to ​save big on registration for the best bike tour in New York City.

Now of course "midnight on Friday" is confusing because if it's Thursday night and the clock strikes midnight then it's technically now Friday at midnight, which would mean the price increase kicks in, yet most people probably think that "midnight on Friday" means when it's already Friday and then it turns midnight, even though that's technically Saturday at midnight.

So which is it?!?

Wel, I have no idea, and so you probably shouldn't take any chances and instead register on Wednesday at like 4pm-ish.

And don't forget that you get $5 off if you register with the discount code "2016BIKESNOB," as per the ad over there in the right-hand margin.

As for the ride itself, I recommend it, and I'm even thinking of joining this year.  (Last year you'll recall I merely settled for doing a "preview ride.")  The Century is generally billed as an "opportunity to ride 100 miles without leaving NYC," and while that may sound like a Flying Dutchman-esque nightmare it's easy to forget this is one big-ass city.  Therefore, this ride is a good opportunity to check out certain corners of town you might not otherwise visit.  Indeed, as per the email it's also going to take in some new terrain:

Take in NYC’s Most Epic Sights

For the first time ever on the NYC Century, you will get to experience riding...
Through seaside City Island
Over the new Bronx Connector from Randall’s Island 
Around the scenic Reservoir in Highland Park

I can vouch for City Island as an eminently worthwhile destination, though I'm ashamed to admit I haven't checked out the Randall's Island Bronx Connector yet, and I don't think I've ever checked out Highland Park, which lies deep in the no-Fred's-land between Brooklyn and Queens.

Oh, the ride also goes right through what is almost-but-not-quite literally my backyard, since I consider Van Cortlandt Park my backyard even though technically it's not:

Van Cortlandt Park: Did you know you can hike in New York? This park is the place, but you’ll get to take the Old Putnam Trail on two wheels.

For the low, low price of $50 I'm happy to furnish you with a detailed guide to what tire pressure you should run for this portion of the ride based on your physical dimensions and equipment details.

Best of all, you might even see a whale:

And of course, you’ll get to pedal through perennial favorite Floyd Bennett Field. See what “wide, open spaces” really means while you ride the open airstrips in New York’s first municipal airport (now decommissioned for you to explore) -- and Ft. Tilden / Jacob Riis Beaches, where thanks to cleaner ocean waters, whales and dolphins are now regularly spotted!

Regularly spotted, really?  I spent basically the first 40 years of my life in the general vicinity of this stretch of coastland and have never, ever seen either a whale or a dolphin, so either they've cleaned the shit out of it recently or this is simply not true.

That's not to take anything away from the area, which is one of my very most favoritest in the whole city, but just don't get your hopes up for seeing Flipper is all I'm saying.

So there.

Speaking of #whatpressureyourunning, I happened to read an article on the bikey Internets recently about a new cyclocross/gravel bike, which people keep insisting are two different things:

Otso™ Cycles officially launched today, lifting its media embargo after many months of planning and product development. The Minnesota-based Otso Cycles is a new bicycle company from the engineers at Wolf Tooth Components, and today the new company unveiled two innovative bikes in the form of its stainless steel, drop bar Warakin, and a carbon fat/plus bike in the form of its new Voytek hard tail. Naturally, we’re focusing most of our attention on the Warakin, and will be giving you a full test on the new bike in the near future.

Now I should start out by saying I wish Otso™ Cycles nothing but success with their new bike.  However, it's worth noting that we've officially reached a point where the gradations between different styles of drop-bar bikes are now smaller than those between different types of tires.  And this bike takes it to another level:

Otso’s description of the Warakin sounds exactly like like a Lycanthrope, but Warakin certainly rolls off the tongue easier. Regardless of the name, the shapeshifting bike can go from wolf to sheep with a quick change at the dropouts, allowing the bike to be optimized to carve up your hairpin-laden cyclocross course, and then your float through your gravel gran fondo the next day.

Sure, you could just change tires, but why stop there when you can also make imperceptibly subtle changes to your bike's geometry?

It's sort of sad that the cyclocross/gravel/whatever set has officially eclipsed roadies, mountain bikers, and even triathletes in anal retentiveness, and that your next off-road ramble will probably involve someone in your group saying, "Wait up everybody, I have to optimize my rear end!"

Though the fact of the matter is that nobody who buys one of these will ever adjust the dropouts because they'll soon discover it's hardly worth the effort, and indeed they'll completely forget about this feature until something starts creaking.

And never mind that this used to be a standard feature on road bikes that nobody misses unless they're looking to do a fixie coversion:

Meanwhile, in other news, an Uber driver beat up a cyclist and the NYPD couldn't be bothered to do anything about it:

There was nowhere to go, because the gutter was clogged with double-parked cars near Mr. Piña. The guy honked and I looked over my shoulder like, "Yo." At that time, I had no idea, but I left a slight [handlebar] residue on his window, which happens maybe one out of 25 times: I touch a car when I go between them. I think that's why he hopped out of the car, I think, but I'm not sure. He went wild on me.

Okay, I admit I don't know what "handlebar residue" is.  (Maybe she's running those new Cipollini bar ends?)  Nevertheless, I have no problem believing the driver flew into a rage because she touched his car, because nothing brings out people's inner psychotic like when you make contact with their precious motor vehicles.  It's the height of insanity that people believe they can operate and store giant multi-ton machines on public streets in the biggest city in America without somebody inadvertently touching them or--GASP!--scuffing them.  You're more likely to get away with touching a stranger's child than with touching their car.  (Though, and I can't stress this enough, please do not go touching people's children.)  Furthermore, I also have absolutely no problem believing that the cops discouraged her from filing a report:

James recounted that the cops acknowledged seeing the attack, and though pedestrians and the hack's two fares offered to serve as witnesses, the officers discouraged her from filing a police report.

After getting both side's stories, the cops purportedly told her that her schedule is probably too busy for her to attend the necessary court dates, and that prosecutors would be likely to drop an assault charge to harassment anyway. One privately tried to explain away the cabbie's behavior, saying, "The guy had a bad day," and adding that his father was a cab driver who "used to beat people up all the time."

Unfortunately the article does not identify the cops by name, but given the personal details one of them revealed I'd start by asking around for an Officer Bickle.

(Dear Ol' Dad)

Lastly, Heath Evans's Wikipedia page has proven to be as mercurial as an abusive taxi driver, for yesterday it looked like this:

But alas today it looks like this:

I was sorry to see the bit about running over cyclists was removed, but you'll notice it also no longer mentions his Christianity.  From this I can only conclude he's now renounced his faith, and arguably that's an even bigger victory than teaching him to respect cyclists.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Today's post will be short but sweet, or at least short.

First of all, I'm sorry to report I performed dismally on the New York Times's "Do you speak Australian?" quiz:

In my defense, not only were there no helmet-related questions, but also every single phrase sounded like either a sex act or a slang term for the genitals:

I mean come on.

Secondly, meet Shoka:

Shoka is not an Australian slang term for the genitals.  Soka is of course the world's first handlebar-mounted smart cheese grater:

Or maybe it's a bell, I can't be sure.

Either way, like every other "smart" device for bicycles (smart helmets, smart locks, smart lights, etc., yada yada, and so forth), it has lots of functions in addition to the one (1) you actually need it to perform.  Furthermore, in addition to all of these auxiliary features being highly unnecessary, it's extremely unlikely that any of them will actually work:

(Disclaimer: I may have added some of these features.)

Indeed, even the bell function doesn't work, because instead of emitting the pleasant metallic chime recognizable the world over as the sound of an oncoming cyclist, it instead makes your bicycle sound like R2-D2 for some reason:

These aren't the Freds you're looking for.

Anyway, I have no doubt this ingeniously ambiguous gizmo is going to make its inventor, about whose name there is nothing even remotely funny or suggestive, so you shouldn't laugh at it, an extremely rich man:

By the way, check out Daniel Falus's huge lock:

Hey, it's a really big lock, that's all I'm saying.

Lastly, further to yesterday's post, the San Diego PD clearly knows a good social media opportunity when they see one:
And for one glorious yet fleeting moment, Heath Evans's Wikipedia entry was delightfully accurate:

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Monday, August 22, 2016

I'm back, and as usual everything went to hell while I was gone.

Imagine a world without sports.

Sure, without sports we wouldn't have watery beer, stadium boondoggles, or sweatpants as casual wear.  Then again, we might also have fewer media outlets for people like this guy, who wants to hit cyclists with his car:
Bicycle riders you do not own the road! Respectfully, Heath (I wanna hit you w/ my car) Evans.


As a dedicated non-fan of the NFL and ball sports in general (pocket pool excluded) I didn't know who Heath Evans was, so I looked him up on a popular user-edited online encyclopedia:

Evans is well known for his Christianity...


I also checked his Twitter bio:

10 Yr NFL Veteran & Analyst for @NFLNETWORK Don't dish it if you can't take it! 

Alas, I guess he dished it out but he couldn't take it, because he subsequently deleted his tweet and issued something that bears the same relationship to an apology as his shriveled 'roid nuts do to actual testicles:

Oh please.  You didn't mean to offend anybody when you said you wanted to hit them with your car the same way I don't want you to experience any pain when someone dressed as Jesus shoves a football up your ass.

Speaking of Jesus, what indignity could possibly have prompted his murderous outburst?  Yep, you guessed it, he had to slow down for some cyclists while driving once:

I'm not a Bible scholar so perhaps noted Christian heath Evans can remind me: Which is the gospel where Jesus gets really angry because some slow-moving lepers are holding up his donkey ride into Jerusalem?

It also shouldn't surprise you to learn that between his initial tweet and his retraction he explained that he thought that cyclists belong on the sidewalk:

You know, because it's safer for EVERYONE:

I realize this guy's probably taken many blows to the head over the years, but does he really think that would work out well for pedestrians?

Actually, it looks like he lives in Florida, so he's probably never even seen a pedestrian.

Speaking of "sports analysts," check out this she-bro driving in the bike lane:

She really should just drive on the sidewalk, that would be safer for EVERYONE.

By the way, this is someone who writes for Sports Illustrated.  SPORTS FUCKING ILLUSTRATED!  How does that even still exist in 2016?  The entire enterprise is entirely subsidized by an annual softcore porn issue for the rapidly diminishing number of horny teenagers and old men who still don't have Internet access:

But sure, why shouldn't she get to drive in the bike lane so she can crank out the filler they publish the rest of the year?

Lastly, for my fellow New Yorkers, here's your regular reminder that you're on your own:

Thanks to a civil suit filed by the family, information surfaced that NYPD never collected in its crash investigation. In her deposition, Venedam said she had gotten off the highway to call a friend and check her location on Google Maps, which remained open in her passenger seat as she merged back onto the highway.

The lawyer for Brenner’s estate, Daniel Flanzig, told DNA that this information was critical to Judge Regina Rinaldi’s decision and blasted NYPD for its “completely insufficient” investigation.

It's great to be back.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

This Just In: I'll See Ya When I See Ya!

Before we go any further, let's gather around the conference table and do some scheduling:

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016: I'm out, no post!
Thursday, August 18th, 2016: I'm out, no post!
Friday, August 19th, 2016: I'm out, no post!
Saturday, August 20th, 2016: It's the weekend, get a life!
Sunday, August 21st, 2016: (See Saturday, Augusts 20th)
Monday, August 22nd, 2016: I'm back, post!

So there you have it.

You can also expect me to vanish again sometime before Labo(u)r Day, but we'll bridge that cross when we come to it.

Meeting adjourned.

Moving on, some guy running for Supervisor in San Francisco wants mandatory bicycle licensing, and he's written the world's dumbest editorial to explain why:

(This person has a Subaru and a dumbass hybrid, so he deserves to be taken seriously.)

Bicyclists in San Francisco should have to register their bike, obtain a license and carry a minimum amount of liability insurance — the same requirements for driving a car.

Sure, that makes sense.  Bicycles weigh thousands of pounds and cause tremendous wear and tear on our infrastructure and environment.  They also travel at speeds well in excess of 50mph and are often used to carry multiple passengers, so naturally riders should receive standardized training and carry liability insurance.  And of course bicycle crashes result in over 30,000 deaths every year in the United States alone, not to mention large-scale property damage like this:

Oh, wait, sorry.  I was thinking about cars.  Bikes are the innocuous human-powered machines that are completely benign, right?  It's so easy to get confused.

But it's not really about any of that.  It's about cyclists having to "put some skin in the game:"

We have one set of roads long dominated by automobiles. But as a growing number of bicycle commuters assert political power to get their own lanes, they need to put some skin in the game. If cars and bikes are going to share city roads — which is where the future is headed — the responsibility for safe co-existence should also be shared.

Wow.  Them's fighting words.  I'd say cyclists have plenty of skin in the game--you know, the skin we leave on the street when the morons pictured above hit us, you fucking moron.

But like most bicycle licensing advocates his main concern is that we help make the poor, persecuted motorists feel better, because, you know, it's not fair that they should have to go through all the trouble of getting a driver's license when the cyclists don't have to:

Mandatory registration, license and insurance could ease ongoing resentments between cyclists and motorists. Cyclists will get more protection while motorists will be glad they aren’t alone in being held accountable on the road.

Whoa.  Where's this accountability he's talking about?  Licenses and insurance are pretty much designed to eliminate all motorist accountability, and they've done a great job.  After all, as long as you've got a valid license and some insurance and aren't drunk you can pretty much run over and kill anybody you damn well please.  In fact, here in New York City you don't even need the license most of the time.

And what other completely unnecessary inconveniences should cyclists be forced to deal with just because drivers have to do them?  Should we be legally required to buy a certain amount of gasoline a month?  Do we need to start feeding the meters?  How about smog inspections?

Drivers fly into a rage when they have to slow down for even a moment because there's a cyclist ahead, but I'm sure the knowledge that the cyclist is licensed will restore the drivers' patience and end their maniacal sense of entitlement once and for all.

I'll get a bicycle license to make a driver feel better when that driver has to get a pilot's license and be trained to operate a 747.

By the way, if you're waiting for the "Some of my best friends are _____" part, here it is:

Before protesters on bikes jeer at me for suggesting this idea, they should know I’m pro-bike. I even rode my bike 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles for charity. I share a car with my husband but mostly take public transportation and walk — and we live on the westside, in the “suburban” part of town near Stonestown Mall where cars and parking spaces are still abundant.

Okay, that makes sense: you're automatically not anti-something if you once did something for a charity.  So if I make a donation to Dachshund Rescue of North America does that mean I get to fire a wiener dog out of a cannon, is that how it works?

Good to know.

("Get ready to get airborne, Wilhelm!")

And as for the insurance, he's only looking out for our interests:

Currently, bicyclists experience a lot more risk than well-insured car drivers. Seaman recently hit a car door that had opened into a bike lane he was riding in. His injury required 34 sessions of physical therapy. His bike had substantial damage. Yet his auto and home insurance didn’t cover his bike accident (not all policies do). He was on the hook for thousands of dollars in expenses.

Uh, he didn't "hit a car door."  That's not how it works.  The driver hit him with a car door.  Saying a cyclist "hit a car door" is like saying an assault victim walked into a baseball bat.  It's clearly the driver's fault, and and the driver's insurance should pay.  If it didn't, something's fucked up, and it's not that cyclists aren't carrying their own insurance policies.


Anyway, now that you have your bicycling license, are you bewildered by all the different styles of bicycle available to the 21st century consumer?  Are you unsure as to whether you need a cargo bike, or a fat bike, or a folding bike, or an e-bike?  Well, no, of course you're not.  Nevertheless, you no longer have to grapple with this nonexistent dilemma, because you can now buy a bike that is all of those things--and more!  Yes, meet the RadMini electric folding fat bike:

As far as I can tell, the target market for this bicycle is yachting enthusiasts in hilly cities who own small dogs:

So if this describes you then you'll want to give this bicycle a serious look.

This could also be the ideal bicycle for the Olympic Games mountain bike course, which appears to have caught fire:

"The UCI is aware that there was a fire this afternoon in the vicinity of the Rio 2016 mountain bike course," it said in a statement. "It is understood the fire is now under control. Assessment of any potential impact on the mountain bike course will be made [on Tuesday]."

Why is this even a problem?  Why not make it a course feature?  It seems to me this is just the sort of excitement the Olympic mountain bike race needs:

I know I'd watch.

And with that, I'm gone.  I'll see you back here on Monday, August 22nd, and in the meantime I'm sure we'll all be working on your bicycle licensing test.

--Wildcat Rock Machine