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New Outside Column! ...and More!

Hey, would you look at that, I've got a new Outside column about in America you're better off dying with a helmet than surviving without one:


Basically it's just assumed that a child is going to wind up under a Toyota Tacoma, and that's fine, just as long as they're wearing a foam hat.

Also, I've gotten to test some pretty cool bikes over the years, but I'm really just in it for the chamois underwear:

KOR CYCLING CHAMOIS UNDERWEAR
Cycling/Spinning Chamois Underwear Short

Same performance as traditional bike shorts, but more efficient, more stealth and no friction against your skin. There's no stitching in the bikini line = no irritation. The lightest weight fabric from Italy for zero resistance on every pedal stroke. 

Yes, when Kor offered to send me a pair of their cycling-specific undergarments I eagerly accepted.  Currently they're offering women's underwear, and inasmuch as I am not of the female genderway I turned them over to my wife for evaluation.  They arrived in a fancy musette-type bag complete with subtle logo to which my aging smartphone and poor photography skills do not do justice:


And were elegantly packaged:


Which resulted in a consumer experience considerably more rarefied than when you receive your custom team kit order and it arrives in a cardboard box that smells like cigarettes:


As for the garment itself, the attention to detail is clearly evident:


And this is certainly the most technically advanced undergarment I've ever seen--aside from my "smart underwear," that is:


I use smart underwear because I'm hoping scranial electro-shock therapy will help cure me of my bedwetting problem.

Anyway, the Kor costs $95, which may seem like a lot for underpants, but certainly not for high-end cycling shorts, which is a more apt comparison.  Also, the main reason I accepted them (apart from the opportunity to dazzle my wife with the gift of fancy cycling underwear at our bi-weekly dinner at Applebee's) is that I really want a pair for myself whenever they introduce a men's version.  See, I love nothing more than a Lycra-free jorts ride on my Jones, but once the mercury creeps up into the 70s (that's American Freedom Degrees, of course) the regular underpants can become something of a liablility:


(That's sweat, not urine.  I only wet my pants at night, hence the smart underpants.)

I'd been meaning to address this matter with some sort of shorts liner for quite some time.  However, between raising kids and chasing creaking sounds on wooden bikes and all the rest of it I never got around to researching the bewildering landscape of cycling-specific undergarments.  Then along came Kor, and a cursory Internet search indicates that they're probably making nicest stuff out there, and to accept anything less would be a failure to live up to my "snob" epithet.

Hey, I may seem like a schlub, but my favorite winter cycling garment is a cashmere Helmut Lang sweater, so there you go.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is I plan to wear these and nothing else at the next Singlespeed World Championships.  You have been warned.

Hats Off To You

Further to yesterday's post and Mario Cipollini, a commenter commented thusly:

Doc Sarvis said...

Tried and convicted in the court of public opinion 
We'll all be there soon

March 12, 2019 at 9:58 PM

No we won't.

In other news, this morning I went to adjust my fancy new Shimano Dura Ace front derailleur, partially because it felt like maybe it could use some adjusting, but mostly because I didn't put the bike together and I wanted to understand how the thing worked:

The latest Shimano front derailleurs work a little differently than the ones you're probably used to, in that there are basically more adjustment screws.  Typically what I do when learning how to work on a new component is dive right in and screw it up, but this time I was determined to do my homework, and so I not only read Shimano's service instructions but also watched endearingly soporific tutorials on YouTube. 

By the time I actually confronted the thing I had a good idea of how it worked and was able to adjust it rather easily.  However, true to form I did manage to screw something up anyway.  Now, it's hard to tell from the stock image, but the new Shimano derailleurs wear a plastic hat:


The purpose of the hat is to tuck in the end of your cable since the routing works a little differently than the old ones.  Basically you just pop it off, but of course I managed to break it in short order:


Without the plastic hat there's no way to secure the excess cable short of cutting it off, which I wasn't going to do since that would make any future adjustments a major pain in the ass.  Like any terminal Fred my first impulse was to list the compromised bike for sale immediately, but after taking a few deep breaths and blotting my tears I was able to engineer a solution by tucking it into the braze-on tab:


Not only did the cable remain tucked neatly in place for the duration of my ride, but I also figure I'm enjoying some serious weight savings by omitting the part. Nevertheless, I can't help suspecting this is Shimano's way of nudging everyone towards Di2.  Also, as someone who prefers Shimano, I'm disappointed to see their increased reliance on tiny plastic covers, which began some years back on their shifters when they re-routed their brake cables under the bar tape.  I shouldn't have to look down while I'm riding and see something this ugly.  (I've already got to see the lower half of my body when I look down after all.)

Anyway, flimsy cover notwithstanding, I'm greatly enjoying my new plastic bike, shown here in one of my preferred trash-strewn urination spots:


I still have yet to change a single thing on the bike, nor do I plan to in the near future--partially because it feels great as is, but also because if I do change anything I'm bound to break it in the process.  Also, I'm not even remotely a weight weenie, but it's pretty amazing how light a "mid-level" out-of-the-box bike is these days--though of course I am running the front derailleur without the plastic cap, so there is that.  And yes, I realize I'm probably risking my life in doing so, since the excess cable is liable to dislodge itself on a descent and the whiplash could throw me from the bike.  But don't worry, I'm going to reach out to a custom bike company and commission them to make me a replacement out of titanium.  (I'm budgeting $500 for the job.)

And if you're nonplussed by my preponderance of boring monochromatic bikes, rest assured that when you look at this one up close it sparkles like a disco ball:


("My God, it's full of stars!")

So there you go.

End of an Error

No doubt by now you've seen the CyclingTips story about Mario Cipollini's history of domestic violence:

Like most American cycling fans, I was simultaneously in awe of Cipollini's results on the bike and entertained by his unctuous antics in a laughing-at-him-and-not-with-him kind of way, hence my incessant references to him.  Of course, Cipollini already stopped seeming funny to me back in May of 2017, when I saw him in person and realized he wasn't a cartoon:


But now that I know who he really is it's officially the end of an era.

I guess if you write a bike blog long enough you'll eventually see all your memes become unfunny:


Though maybe it just I who have become unfunny:


Hey, I may not be able to amuse you with my words, but at least my physique is always good for a guffaw.

By the way, I'm not sure what to make of the fact that the CyclingTips story didn't mention Cipollini's Rock Racing days:


In retrospect it was fairly obvious he was morally bankrupt.

Speaking of Eroica California (that's where that unfortunate photo of me was taken), I continue to use it as an excuse to fuck off and ride my bike in the middle of the day, and today I headed out astride the Renovo:


In recent weeks I've been alternating between bikes made of steel, "stainless" steel, and crabon, and I must confess that, even with Gatorskins and a cheap pair of wheels, the Renovo does have a preternaturally smooth ride quality that I can only attribute to one thing:


At the same time, the bike is still creaking--not a lot, but it's there.  Having swapped wheels, snugged everything up, installed a new cassette, and so forth, at this point it's hard not to blame the frame:


Also, on various parts of the frame there are these cloudy spots that look like unbuffed wax:


I have occasionally rubbed the bike down with rags soiled by lubricants and solvents of unknown provenance [insert "rubbing my wood with soiled rags" joke here], so maybe that's what's going on, but about a year and a half in the Renovo has become that exquisite chest of drawers that is all dinged up and liable to collapse at any moment, but you'll be damned if you're gonna get rid of it because it's an heirloom and also who wants to spend half the day putting together a new one from Ikea anyway?

Also, early in the ride, I was getting a persistent knocking sound while out of the saddle.  I decided to ignore it, only to eventually discover that my tool roll had spontaneously ejected itself and the sound I'd been hearing was the toe strap buckle knocking against the seatmast.  By this point, I was basically here:


Which is roughly three miles from my home.  The tool roll could have fallen off anywhere, but I couldn't in good conscience abandon it, since it contained the following invaluable items:

--An inner tube
--Tire levers
--A patch kit
--A chain tool
--A multitool (I think?)
--The combination pedal wrench/coupler opener for my travel bike
--One of those round spoke wrenches that fits lots of different nipple sizes
--A little wrench that fits these theft-proof skewers I wasn't using

(If you're wondering why I was carrying so much random crap it's because I'd taken it off my travel bike and hadn't bothered to edit the contents.)

As you can see, between the contents and the tool roll itself that was like $100 worth of crap, and so I had no choice but to look for it.  So I backtracked, and after about a mile and a half I finally found it on Broadway where it had clearly been run over by a truck:


It's got a few holes in it now but everything appears to have more or less survived. 

And with that I stuffed it in my jersey pocket and continued on my way.

I Call Dibs!

Are you a pro cycling fan?  Well, if so, you'll no doubt be disheartened to learn that the Pope questions your morality:
Speaking at the Annual Congress of the European Cycling Union, the pontiff praised cycling as a discipline which promotes “virtues such as patience, integrity, altruism and team spirit. In road cycling we can see how the whole team works together during races.”

But he added a warning over the ongoing questions of cycling’s moral compass, when “prestige and profit” lead astray. 

Oh, gimme a fucking break:

Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church's international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.

Though I suppose Pope Francis is feeling smug because he never accepted a Golden Colnago:


See, pontiffs with integrity only accept DIY bamboo bikes:


It's what Jesus would have ridden.

Meanwhile, I'm still smarting from the suggestion that it's stupid to live in New York if you like to ride bikes, because the fact is we've got it pretty good:


Indeed, from my abode all I've got to do is head over the George Washington Bridge (that's the span you see looming in the background there) and the riding is quite lovely indeed.  I've also recently rekindled my love affair with my "stainless" steel Ritte Rust Bucket, which pairs quite well with the crabon wheels from my Renovo:


As you can tell, I'm in serious training mode, since I've got to prepare for Eroica California, where on Saturday April 6th I'll participate in the Nova Eroica:


And on Sunday, April 7th I'll do the Classic Eroica:


Flights are booked, accommodations are secured, and, most importantly, a minivan has been rented.  (And yes, the passive voice has been used.)

Moreover, both the bikes I'm riding will be completely new (or at least new to me in the case of the bike I use for the Classic Eroica), and as soon as I'm done with them I will give them away FOR FREE to another lucky Eroica rider, since I head back to New York the very next day and I like to travel light. And rather than curate some sort of contest or other overly complicated mechanism for determining who gets each bike, all you've got to do is find me at Eroica California and call "dibs:"



Yes, that's right: if you see me riding and you call "dibs" the bike is yours after the ride--assuming of course that you're the first person to do so, since that's how calling dibs works.  (Also, only one bike per dibs-caller, you can't call dibs on both.)

By the way, if you're wondering what I'll be riding I have no idea yet, which is sort of the point.  Just figure both will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 56cm--and, once I'm done with them, invaluable pieces of cycling history.  In fact, if you want to turn around and sell them go right ahead, and I can only imagine how much a bicycle ridden by arguably the world's greatest cycling writer the world has ever seen in the world would fetch at a Sotheby's auction:


I am keeping the pedals and bottle cages from the Nova Eroica bike, though, so there.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted, and if you're looking for me during the ride I'll probably be changing near a porta-potty.

I Came, I Saw, I Participated

It's the tail end of a New York City winter that hasn't seen much snowfall until now.  However, it looks like nature has decided to sell off its excess inventory, because as of last week it seems to be coming down every few days.  In fact, in a cruel bit of irony, the first bicycle-cycling race of the season was supposed to happen this past Saturday, but it got cancelled due to snow.

Of course, in the 21st century you're supposed to blame global warming for this sort of thing, but the truth is in this case it's all my fault.  As you know, I'm in the throes of a midlife crisis, which in my case means a return to doing stupid stuff like effing up my foot on a skateboard and waking up at 3:30am to get dropped from bike races in Central Park.  So severe is this crisis that I even procured a new crabon Fred Sled recently, which was to become my dedicated park racing bike:



(There's no need for me to take a photo of my bike because it's exactly the same as the one pictured; I haven't changed a single thing besides adding pedals and bottle cages and leaving a single spacer beneath the stem.)

Alas, despite my entreaties to not take riding bikes seriously and stuff, I am in truth a massive hypocrite.  See, as of the end of last week the streets were pretty messy, and despite the fact that I got this bike specifically to use for racing in the park I didn't want to get it dirty while racing it in the park.  (I am still clinging desperately to the intoxicating quality of whatever the bicycle equivalent of "new car smell" is.)  And so, last Thursday, I sacrificed some of my precious cycling time to get my Ritte back into rideable condition, figuring I'd use that instead:


This bike was my workhorse at this time last year, and as a result of slush and road salt it had become so befouled that the brakes and rear derailleur had seized up to the point where they were no longer useable.  And so, rather than take the time to free them up again, I simply replaced them with older units I had in my parts bin.  It all came together pretty well despite my haste, and I daresay if you squint it even looks like one of those titanium bikes you may have read about in the Wall Street Journal:

I confess I haven't read the article, but what says "lab-tested sterility" more than a titanium bike, which is basically as close as you'll come to the aesthetics of a surgical implement?  Unless you lived during Victorian times or you're going to a steampunk surgeon to get your moles removed, when was the last time you saw a lugged steel scalpel?


In any case, once I'd gotten the Ritte back into rideable shape I thought to myself, "Wow, that looks pretty good."  Then I took it for a test ride ride around the block and thought to myself, "Wow that rides pretty good too!"  By this time I was pretty excited to ride it in Saturday's race, but then the race got cancelled and since then we've only gotten more snow, which means I haven't been able to ride the thing at all--divine punishment, obviously, for being the kind of terminal Fred who curates two basically identical bikes because he doesn't want to get one of them dirty.

And that's why this shitty weather is all my fault.

Meanwhile, this year's winter workhorse has been my Milwaukee:


Which as been so versatile and dependable that it deserves some sort of award:


Though so far I've repaid it with nothing but neglect:


Nevertheless, it has carried me dutifully through a winter which, at this point, is getting pretty freaking old already:


As a season, winter certainly has its charms, but by the time March rolls around it's mostly just dismal:


I definitely deserve some kind of award.