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Lazy and Shiftless

Good morning.

[Ahem.]

Yesterday I was on the radio because they haven't locked me out of the studio yet, and you can listen to that show here:


(They really should be wearing helmets.)

Of course the real reason I took the radio gig was because of the nearly 40 (!) mile round-trip bicycle commute to Brooklyn, which yesterday also served as something of a recovery ride since I did a mountain bike race on Sunday that kicked my ass:


I raced in the singlespeed category, and as you can see they staged the fat bike category before us.  (They like to keep the novelty bike doofuses together, you see.)  An aborted Central Park race the weekend before notwithstanding, it had been quite a few weeks since I'd raced a bicycle; moreover, it had been a good two years since I'd raced a mountain bike.  (I believe my last competitive outing was the so-called "Singlespeedapalooza" race in 2017.)  And on top of all that, this particular race starts with a lot of climbing, which meant that within minutes my face was bright purple and my heart was trying to eject itself from my throat.

Despite my distress, I was able to move up a bit, though as you might expect it's really hard to pass fat bikes on rooty climbs, especially when you're on a singlespeed bicycle.  See, the fat bike is all about taking advantage of a low gear and lots of traction, whereas the singlespeed is all about getting up that climb as fast as you possibly can so you don't lose momentum and fall over.  So basically, with a bunch of fat bikes ahead of you, it's like trying to sprint up the subway steps at rush hour.

Anyway, despite moving up I never really recovered from the effort, and by about halfway through the first lap the rest of the singlespeeds passed me and that was pretty much that.  Ultimately I did manage to finish in the top five, but I should probably disclose that the singlespeed field consisted of exactly five riders.  (Singlespeeds are totally out of style, remember?)  Even so, the race was well worth it, because signing up for a race ahead of time and paying a bunch of money is pretty much the only way I'll ever ride someplace different for a change.

Also there was beer after:


Also also, in addition to riding someplace different, racing is also pretty much the only situation in which I'll actually hose my bike down afterwards:


The politically incorrect plastic shopping bag is to protect the Brooks.

Finally, this past Friday I received a delivery from Classic Cycles:


Which went right onto my new-to-me Litespeed:


Now it's a "forever bike."

New Outside Column!

Hey, it's Friday!  I give every last one of you full permission to leave work early and head out for a ride--and I also give you permission to dress like a total slob:


I'm sure my mention of flip-flops will enrage those of you who have overtorqued sphincters.

Meanwhile, it continues to rain incessantly here in New York, and so lately I've found myself spending a lot of time on my Milwaukee:


While I may run a multi-media empire (Internet, print, radio, interpretive dance...), I also manage to do so without a single employee.  Incredible, right?  However, to a large extent it's my bicycles that are my work force, and occasionally I assign them to different departments in order to maximize workplace efficiency.  Such is the case with the Milwaukee, which currently plays the role of long-haul commuter-cum-rain bike.

Of course, when putting the Milwaukee in its new position I had to explain to it that this was in no way a demotion.  Indeed, this is a role that requires strength and fortitude, and in many ways entrusting a bicycle to it is the ultimate vote of confidence.  Predictably, the Milwaukee, then replied, "Oh yeah?  Then where's my raise?"  I then explained that there would be no raise, but I would equip it with these theft-proof skewers so at least its wheels wouldn't get stolen:


Though arguably the filthy state of my wheels is theft deterrent enough:


In fact this past Monday I had to change a tube and by the time I was done I looked like the Wile E. Coyote after a TNT mishap.

But yes, few bikes lead harder lives than this one does, and I even wake it up early for dawn rides when it's raining:


The Milwaukee handles it all with nary a complaint.

Speaking of bikes and harsh treatment, I was perusing the Twitter recently when this story about someone who rode Dirty Kanza on a "Walmart bike" caught my eye:


Eagerly I clicked on the video, only to learn it's just one of those high-end crabon bikes sold by a company that happens to be owned by Walmart:


At that point I felt duped and stopped watching.  Get back to me when you try it on a $324 mail order special:


I mean really, what kind of "Walmart bike" doesn't even have a pie plate?!?

The Dirt Week That Wasn't

[Pssst: if you want to listen to my radio show from this past Monday it's here.  Or, if you want to listen to Carcass, you can do so here.]

Hey, everybody!  I've got some great news!

For me!

Yes, that's right, my new Jones bike has shipped!  Unfortunately I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you what it is yet, but that doesn't make me any less excited.  So in the meantime here's a picture of my current one as a placeholder:


In anticipation of this I had also dubbed this week as "Dirt Week," and had planned to set aside the road riding for a bit and spend as much time as possible on a bicycle with knobby tires instead.  However, it's been raining heavily pretty much every day so far, and so I've been forced to stick to the road instead:


Fortunately I don't mind so much, since I'm still all agog over my new-to-me titanium Forever Bike and relish any opportunity to ride it, even if I'm just making circles in the park:


In addition to the Jones I've also got some new-to-me wheels for this bike headed this way, which will nudge the bike more firmly into the "classic" column and further increase the Campy factor.  Hopefully they'll also help reign in my Fredness just a bit, otherwise before I know it I could find myself getting busted for doping at a Gran Fondo:


Regardless of how you feel about Gran Fondos, you've got to admit they're doing the cycling world a great service by keeping the zany, madcap spirit of doping alive.  In the pro ranks they're all using TUEs, which is like totally boring, but down in the Fondo ranks they're hatching sitcom-quality schemes:


That's why you should always have a pit twin.

Tune In Turn On Get Dropped

Well, they haven't kicked me off the radio yet, and today I'll be on at 10am talking about kids, bikes, and kids and bikes:


I'll also be talking to Henry Cutler of WorkCycles, makers of my personal Smugness Flotilla:


Henry was my guide on my trip to Amsterdam, which I wrote about in my third book, and we'll compare our school drop-off routines as well as marvel over the fact that in the Netherlands kids can ride on their own by the time the're like 10, whereas in America you've basically got to lease a Hyundai just to cross the street.

Also, awhile back I mentioned I divested myself of the Ritte Rust Bucket, and I'm pleased to announce that it is now part of the Classic Cycles collection on Bainbridge Island, WA!


This is all true, by the way:


The Ritte and I had a good run, but once my new-to-me titanium road bike entered the stable the trusty Rust Bucket could sense it was now the old nag destined for the glue factory:


Not only is the bike pictured above refreshingly bereft of rust and sweat stains, but it also rides beautifully, and having now logged a few hundred miles on it I've come to the conclusion that all that crap I've been hearing over the years about the marvels of titanium is totally true.  In fact, I like this bike so much it may very well have ruined me for my other road bikes, because my brand-new plastic Fred Sled now feels harsh and jittery in comparison.

Anyway, given the Ritte's storied and dignified history, it only seemed fitting to re-home it with the museum.  There, it joins the Renovo, and just as soon as I earn my first billion I'll endow that esteemed cultural institution with an entire wing in which to house them.

Speaking of my plastic bike, I headed out to race it yesterday in the predawn hours.  It was raining when I rolled out at like ass-thirty or whatever it was, and as I seem to do at least once a year I found myself slipping off the back almost immediately, like an elephant seal slathered in Vaseline and trying to climb a water slide.  This was mostly because, you know, everyone else out there was much stronger than me.  But another factor was that, as I hit the first descent, gritty wheelspray hitting me in the face, all I could think about was Phil Gaimon's recent tweets and how I really didn't want to spend Fathers Day on a gurney.  You know, you can work with not being strong enough, and you can work with bad weather conditions, but combine the two and you're asking for trouble.

After all these years you'd think I'd have learned the most important lesson of park racing by now:

If you wake up and there's any rain at all, go the fuck back to bed.

Oh well, there's always next week.

New Outside Column! And Other Stuff Too!

Firstly, I've got a new Outside column, and it's all about how I've become one of those sniveling sidewalk cyclists:


Deal with it.

Secondly, I had an interesting final caller on my RADIO SHOW this past Monday, which made the digital pages of Gothamist:

Here's a more direct link to the show:
I'm still very much figuring this radio thing out, and I didn't respond at length to the caller because I thought I was out of time.  (My guest did however respond in a thoughtful and diplomatic manner.)  I suppose there's a certain type of person out there who gets off on making facile ethnic characterizations on a public forum (in fact one of them happens to be president), but even so I regret not pointing out to the caller that:

B. It's disturbing that, when a driver injures or kills a cyclist, this is the attitude of the person whose job it is to respond to the call and assess the situation.

Finally, when you're knee-deep in all this policy stuff it does start to weigh heavily on the soul, and so I do like to lose myself in the pure joy of bicycle cycling whenever possible.  One of my favorite tools for doing so is the Jones SWB Complete:


And I'm pleased to report that in the not-too-distant future I will be receiving another Jones bicycle, about which I am very, very excited, and about which I plan to type many words, and of which I plan to take many lousy photos.

I'm so excited I may even have to cut myself a new pair of jorts.