Phone home

September 28, 2014 § 22 Comments

It had been an epic, bitter, full-gas NPR replete with unhappy blabberwankers, squealing baby seals looking for their freshly stripped pelts, fraudsters who cut the course and flipped it before the turnaround in order to catch the break, and the usual collection of complainers and whiners who missed the split, blaming their weakness on the “stoplight breakaway” and the usual complaint of non-racers who object to September beatdowns — “It’s the OFF SEASON!”

We swirled up to the Center of the Known Universe. Most ordered coffee. I leaned against the plate glass seated on the bricks, waiting for the throbbing in my legs to subside. Within minutes people were seated alongside with their phones out.

There wasn’t much conversation at first because everyone had to check email, then look at missed calls and figure out which excuse to use when they finally phoned in around ten. “I was in a meeting.” “There wasn’t any cell coverage.” “I was on the phone with a client.”

And of course Facebag had to be checked, texts had to be sent, and Strava had to be carefully reviewed. Some people kept their phones on their lap the entire time we congregated. One or two put them away. Almost everyone sporadically checked, interrupting conversations to gaze down at kudos and incoming dickpics.

Not me. I didn’t have my phone. It was sitting on the chest of drawers next to my bed. That’s where it stays nowadays when I ride.

I remember back when there were no cell phones. After a ride, or during a break, the Violet Crown guys would talk. Or smoke a big, fat joint. Usually both. Whatever the protocol, it always involved lots of gab. Sitting down after a ride meant rehashing the ride, inventing new rumors, or talking shit about a good friend who happened to be absent.

Compared to those conversations, the ones nowadays aren’t as much fun, and I think it’s because the flow of talk gets constantly broken up by constant cell phone monitoring. The fact is that no one has anything important to do on a cell phone in the morning. If they did, they wouldn’t be on a bike. And there’s something about conversation that, like a bike ride, requires a certain amount of warm-up. Then, once you’re warmed up, you sort of get going. It doesn’t work very well — like riding — when every few seconds or minutes the other person is checking his screen.

“But what do you do when you can’t get in touch with someone who you’re trying to meet for a ride?” is a common question. Back in the day we all knew where to meet, and if someone didn’t show up, you didn’t ride with him that day. It was pretty simple.

“But what do you do if you have an accident or your bike breaks or you have an emergency?” Back in the day we generally waited until someone called an ambulance, or we bled out, or we flagged down another rider for a tool or a tube. That was pretty simple, too.

“But what do you do if something happens at work or your wife needs you?” Back in the day we ignored that shit when we rode. It was one of the main reasons we cycled.

Since shedding my power meter, my Garmin, and now my iPhone, my riding is a lot more peaceful. More importantly, I’m about half a pound lighter on the bike. Now that matters.

END

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Great day for a ride

September 27, 2014 § 2 Comments

Hoofixerman looked out the window at the blue and sunshiney sky. “This looks like a great day for a ride,” he said to himself as he dialed up his pal. “I’ll meet you in Redondo at 9:30, Wanky,” he said, and Wanky said “Okay.”

Hoofixerman put on his bicycling outfit and had a few minutes to spare, so he grabbed the tweezers and sat down to work some more on a splinter in the ball of his foot. He had been sitting on the back porch the day before drinking some beer when he got the urge to go tear out the floor of the bathroom that he’d been working on.

Without bothering to change, he grabbed the sledgehammer and got to work in his underwear and bare feet. Pretty soon he had torn out most of the tile floor, but in the process he’d gotten a splinter in his foot. And it hurt.

Now, Hoofixerman took out the tweezers and started digging into the flesh of his foot. But he couldn’t get the splinter. He looked at his watch and realized he was going to be late if he didn’t get going right then. Hoofixerman jumped up but the second he put pressure on the ball of his foot he almost fell over from the pain. Thanks to his Home Depot doctoring, the splinter had gone deeper and now any pressure on the foot was agonizing.

He stumbled over to the desk, got out a magnifying glass and his ultra-old-man reading glasses, and had another go at the splinter. After ten minutes of blood and skin and flesh and his teeth gritted so hard he almost cracked his molars, Hoofixerman got the splinter. It was a tiny piece of white bathroom tile perfectly shaped like an arrowhead. He slapped on a bandaid and shot off a text to Wanky. “Running late. Be there in fifteen.”

Then he hopped on his bike and blazed off towards Redondo.

However, his pal Wanky had left his phone at home. Wanky waited at the rendezvous for about ten minutes. “Where the hell is Hoofixerman? He’s never late.” Figuring something had come up and Hoofixerman had bailed on the ride, Wanky rode off.

Hoofixerman got to the rendezvous point two minutes after Wanky left. “Wank’s always on time and that fucker never waits.” Hoofixerman shot off two more unseen texts and another unanswered phone call.

“Yo, Hoofixerman! What’s up?” shouted a pal who was sipping coffee at the Starbucks.

“Hey, Freddie! Did you see an ugly looking skinny weird biker guy with a fake beard here a few minutes ago?”

“Yeah, man. He looked like he was waiting for someone, then he started cussing and rode off.”

“Thanks!” Hoofixerman yelled. Then to himself he said, “If I hammer down Catalina I can probably catch him.” Unbeknownst to Hoofixerman, this wasn’t going to happen because Wanky had taken the bike path. Hoofixerman raced off again until he thought his lungs would pop, but no Wanky, so he sat up and soft pedaled all the way to the bridge.

At the bridge some wanker coming in the other direction was looking at his Garmin. “Hey!” yelled Hoofixerman, because the guy was coming straight at him. Hoofixerman veered right and the wanker veered left. Hoofixerman turned left and the wanker turned right. Hoofixerman went straight and the wanker did too.

“Hey man, are you okay?”

Hoofixerman was looking up at the wanker in a daze from the tarmac. “Define ‘okay,'” he said.

“Anything broken?”

“Hell if I know.”

“Okay,” said the wanker, who pedaled away, satisfied that Hoofixerman’s answer was good enough to avoid a lawsuit.

Everyone on the bridge, especially the old guys with the fishing poles and stinky bait, was staring at Hoofixerman. He walked his bike over to some apartments where they couldn’t see him in his shame as he checked out his bike. Blood gushed from his elbow and knee. There was another wanker with his bike turned upside down in front of the apartments trying to fix a flat.

“Hey, man, you got a spare tube?” asked the wanker, who had a pile of airless tubes nested in a pile near his feet like a bunch of dead snakes.

“Yeah, but it’s my spare. My only spare.”

“Dude, I got an appointment with my broker in PV at 1:00 and my wife isn’t home. Can I please borrow your spare?”

“Borrow? As in ‘borrow some toilet paper’?”

“Yeah, please?”

“It’s an 80mm stem, man, so if I get a flat there’s no way in hell anyone’s going to have another one if I flat.”

“My broker …”

“And your wife, I know.” Hoofixerman sighed and handed over the tube. “You might want to check your tire and rim more carefully if you’ve already gone through three tubes.”

The wanker ignored him and put in the new tube. Off they went, at least for about a mile. Then the wanker’s tire flatted again. “Sorry, dude,” said Hoofixerman. “But I gotta go.”

A couple of miles later, Hoofixerman, whose tires never flatted, got a flat tire. “Shitcakes,” he said, without even bothering to get off and flag down another cyclist. The blood had clotted, but his wrist was really sore, his new cycling underwear outfit was torn, and his elbow didn’t bend properly.

He rode the next ten miles home on the rim. “How was the ride?” asked his wife.

“It was okay,” he said. “But I learned a couple of things.”

“What’s that?”

“Always carry two spare tubes.”

“And?”

“Don’t tear out the tile floor in your underwear.”

END

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If you wanna get to heaven (you gotta raise a little … )

September 25, 2014 § 14 Comments

“Manslaughter and I are going for a slow spin around the hill. Leaving in five minutes.”

I read the text and started changing. I caught them in downtown Redondo, flipped it, and we started around the peninsula. It was 9:30 AM on a Wednesday, and too early on-a-day-that’s-not-a-Friday to contemplate drinking. The chatter was the same as always. Derek talked about losing weight. Manslaughter giggled. I wondered what I was going to blog about.

Manslaughter began talking about Santa and Jesus, and how he didn’t believe in either. Then Derek turned and said, “That’s fine, being an atheist and all, but then what exactly is your plan for getting into heaven? You don’t cruise across the line into heaven in the middle of the pack, sucking wheel. Getting into heaven is a time trial, and Jesus better be in your support vehicle.”

“Not to mention your water bottle,” I added.

Manslaughter giggled and suggested taking a “dirt road.”

“What kind of dirt road?” I asked.

“A flat one,” he lied.

Derek and I agreed since we were on our road bikes and, hell, we had done the BWR, right? How bad could it be? Manslaughter turned off the pavement to the left of where Tink had once splatted and where Toronto’s daughter had hit the seam in the road and launched into the curb and where Little Sammy Snubbins had flipped into oncoming traffic at 30. Ah, memories.

The dirt was fine until it turned up, then up again, then massively up. Manslaughter, currently ranked #23 in the nation for mountain biking, and therefore a never-miss descender and climber, misjudged a turn, fell off his bicycle, and ended up looking like a pubic crab on its back wiggling a very tiny bike in the air. We laughed and passed him, trying and failing to run over his neck.

Derek slowed, having lost too much weight the night before, and I raced by. I kept him behind me by weaving all over the steep and narrow trail. I’m not sure why he kept saying “motherfucker,” but he did. After a while we caught a rider on horseback.

“That horse is pretty sketchy,” I thought. “If I sneak past it I bet it freaks and maybe kicks and kills Derek and I win to wherever the fuck this climb goes.” Manslaughter had been dropped a long way back, which was fine, except that he was the only one who knew the route.

I picked a tight passing lane and went to shoot through it. The horse sensed my presence and looked like it was going to turn away from me, which was fine, until I realized the pivot was actually an aiming maneuver. The last thing I saw was its rump rising up to make room for its rear legs to clear and then lash out.

The next thing I knew, I wasn’t on a hot dirt road in Palos Verdes anymore. It was cool out and cloudy, but I was above the clouds. I saw a big pair of gates. I could see through them. There was Prez, wearing a halo and what appeared to be a peacock suit made of lycra, winking at me and holding a pair of new Michelin tires over his head with no video camera. There was Erik the Red, waving. Those were the only two people I knew.

Then I saw Charon manning the gates. He had a big book in front of him. “Wanky! You signed up for the wrong race again! Better head on down to your proper category.”

I felt myself falling. Now it was hot again, really hot, but at least I saw more people I knew. Hell, I knew everyone. But there was a black river of steaming hot energy gel to cross in order to get to them. I climbed into the boat waiting on the shore as a hooded guy started to row me across. “Brad?” I asked. “Brad House? Is that you?”

“Naw,” said the oarsman. “He went to somewhere really hot and miserable and filled with sinners. He’s in Texas.”

I debarked and got into a long line. “Where do I sign up for the 50+?” I asked.

Lane, who happened to be standing next to me, said, “I don’t know. I’m here for the Strava competition.”

“Who the hell is in charge around here?” I demanded. Soon enough I got to the sign-in table.

A huge three-headed angry Marine wearing an FBI men-in-black suit and Blues Brothers SPY shades glowered at me. “What the fuck do you want, cupcake?”

“Chris?” I said. “Is that you?”

“Who were you expecting to meet? Mitt Romney? You just signing up for eternity? Only $10 for the second eternity.”

“There’s been some mistake,” I said. “Manslaughter’s the atheist. He’s the one who wanted to suck wheel on Jesus. I’m always at the front. How do I get back up to Prez and those tires?”

“Ha, ha, cupcake,” Chris laughed as he gave me my number. “You’ve just been entered in the BWR from Hell.”

I shuddered. There in the distance stood MMX with a whip and a giant purple card, beating a drum that was slightly out of tune. He sneered at me. “What’s wrong, Patsy? There’s only 8 billion miles of dirt through a live volcano this time.”

“No!” I screamed. “Noooooooooooooooo!”

Suddenly I was lying on my back and the horse lady was saying, “He didn’t give me three feet when he tried to pass. He’s lucky poor old Sukey didn’t kill him.”

Manslaughter and Derek were splitting a bag of sport beans waiting for me to wake up. “If you help me wipe up the blood,” I said to them, “I’ll have Mrs. Wankmeister pick up a case of Racer 5 and make us some quesadillas with mushrooms and salsa.”

It sounded like a good idea to Derek and Manslaughter. Suddenly it was okay to drink before noon on a not-Friday-day. And we did.

END

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Facebike

September 23, 2014 § 8 Comments

One day I was pedaling home from the NPR and I saw Scrum, a buddy. “Hey, man, I tried to message you on Facebag but couldn’t find you anymore.”

“Yeah,” Scrum said. “I deleted my account.”

“How come?”

“Every time I got on there it depressed the shit out of me. Everyone has a perfect life except me, it seems.”

“Oh, that’s just PR bullshit. People only put up what they want you to see. You know, happy stuff. They still get cancer and get fired and take Prozac like everyone else.”

“At least they can fake it. Anyway, I’m a lot happier now. Back to my old self. Best thing I ever did.”

Facebag, of course, has its problems, one of which is its moniker, “social media.” When I was a kid there was one phone in the house, we got our news from newspapers, and the only way you could socialize was by being around other humans. Talking to the cat never qualified as social. Instead, it often meant having to talk to Mrs. Wint, our nosy neighbor, who would run over to the house every time someone got divorced, pregnant, busted for smoking weed, kicked out of school, or caught screwing a non-spouse.

Social, in other words, meant having to suffer through her bad breath, stupid ideas, repetitive stories, receding gums, and un-bra’ed, floppy breasts in order to get to the good stuff. It was like shelling pecans. You had to peel away the bad part with quite a bit of effort to get to the meat.

Social is the one thing that Facebag is not because you don’t have to endure the physical irritants of your “friends” that you would have to put up with if you really were face-to-face, instead of screen-to-screen. When they bore you, or share their racist rants, you simply hide their feed. Most unsocial of all, you and only you get to pick the moment of interaction. In the old days you pretty much had to deal with Mrs. Wint whenever you ran into her, which was all the time. If you were social, you stopped to talk. If not, you waved and kept going. Quickly.

How many people do you know on Facebag who, when you run into them, are completely different from their profile? The friendly Facebagger who’s an obnoxious ass. The tough-talking badass who’s a pussycat. In the old days, Mrs. Wint was always Mrs. Wint.

Like quitting big-hopped beer, I’ve never been able to stay away from Facebag. The two times I deleted my account, I returned within months. With the help of Scrum’s sage advice, though, I’ve been able to make some very positive changes. I log in when I get up and spend no more than five minutes on it. I don’t endlessly scroll through my feed. I never click “like,” and rarely comment on anything. I post occasional things about gun violence to satisfy my twin needs of tweaking my gun-nut friends and doing a bit of Internet advocacy. At the end of each month I go back and delete most of the stuff from the previous month. I subscribe to a Sunday newspaper and read books instead of cat postings and self-congratulatory photos of third place at the Olde Bumfucke Crit and Shamefest.

But most of all, I’ve tried to get out of my shell and socialize on Facebike. Facebike is that two-wheeled thing that leans up against the wall in my bedroom. It lets me get next to friends, or behind their sweaty butts, and chat with them. Yesterday Derek and Aaron and I rode out to Latigo, and a good portion of it involved an old-fashioned political argument.

Remember those? When people exchanged heated opinions in person and then somehow had to come off the passion of the moment and the differing ideas and still be friends afterwards? When you couldn’t just end an argument the Facebag way — comparing someone to Hitler and deleting all their comments? Besides, after a hundred hard miles, who wants to argue anyway? And how can you argue when you’re begging for their last gel?

Facebag is still one of the world’s greatest bulletin boards, and that’s how I use it now. But when’s the last time you called someone “social” who spends hours a day staring at a bulletin board?

END

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The Rule

September 19, 2014 § 19 Comments

The Rule, and there’s only one, is this: The harder it is, the better you’ll feel when it’s over.

Bryce came whizzing by us on the bike path. He had hairy legs and a new $7k Cannondale with electronic shifting. Bryce nodded at us as he flew by.

“You know that wanker?” I asked Nate.

“Yeah, nice kid. Fitted him on his new bike last night.”

“He’s going awfully fast.”

“I guess it was a good fit,” said Surfer.

In Santa Monica we ran into him again, after we’d split up from Nate. “Where are you going?” asked Surfer.

“I was about to turn around and ride back to Hermosa.”

“You’re welcome to join us if you want to.”

“Where are you guys riding to?”

“We’re just doing a couple of climbs on the West Side.”

“Oh, yeah, I know all the roads over here,” Bryce said confidently.

Surfer, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of every street in Southern California, paved and unpaved, said “I bet you don’t know all the roads.”

“I work for the power company putting up utility poles. I know all the roads.”

Surfer smiled at him. “Then you’ll know where we’re going.”

I wanted to tell Bryce to turn back now, while he still had the chance. As a new cyclist out to test his legs, the last person you would ever want to run into is Surfer. Instead, I egged the kid on. “You look like a pretty good climber,” I said as we started going up Amalfi.

To his credit, Bryce was game. He punched away at the long climb. “Hang tight here in just a bit,” said Surfer. “It’s going to be unpaved for a little bit.”

We went through the gate and indeed the going got kind of rough. I took another look at Bryce’s deep-dish racing wheels. He was breathing hard, then really hard. We’d been climbing for a long time. “Hey,” he said. “How much farther to the top?”

“We’re almost there,” I lied.

After a while we went through another gate and the dirt climb stretched out forever, still going up. “How long you been riding?” asked Surfer.

“Six months,” Bryce said between deep breaths.

“What’s your longest ride?” I asked.

“Thirty-five miles,” he answered. “How long is this going to be?”

“Longer,” said Surfer.

Bryce got off his bike and started walking. We pedaled up the grade and waited in the shade.

“How much farther?” he asked when he reached us. “I’m done. I can’t go any more.”

“That little section is the hardest part,” I lied again. “You’re doing great. It’s pretty much a gentle climb from here to the top.”

“You’re lying,” he said. “You guys are assholes.” We were high upon a dirt ridge out in the mountains now. It was hot and he was out of water.

“We’re not just assholes,” said Surfer with a grin. “We’re the biggest assholes in Southern California. Want some water?” He handed over his bottle and Bryce thirstily drained it. “Need some food?” Bryce nodded and gobbled up the BonkBreaker. “Know this road?” Surfer asked.

Bryce looked at him, then laughed. “No. No, I don’t.” It was the laughter of “I’m cracked and hot and waterless and lost and I hope these guys don’t leave me.”

We pedaled on for a ways until we came to the final section of the climb, a solid quarter-mile where you had to get out of the saddle and hump it. I was glad I had on a 28. Surfer and I waited beneath another tree for a while. “Think he’s going to quit?” I asked.

“I hope not, because if he does we’ll have to go back down this damn thing and look for him.”

“I think he’s going to quit. Kid’s game, but this would break anybody. He was struggling back on Amalfi.”

At that moment Bryce appeared, grim and covered with red dust. “These shoes suck for walking,” he said. We gave him the last of our water. “I know that whatever you tell me is going to be a lie, but how much farther to the top?”

“This is it,” said Surfer.

He brightened. “Really?”

“Yes, but be careful after we make the right. The downhill can get away from you.” I looked again at his delicate carbon wheels and was grateful to be on my 32-spoke aluminum rims with wide, thick tires. Bryce banged and bumped and bashed his way through the ruts, over the rocks, and along the endless washboard descent, almost crashing hard a couple of times.

We stopped at the old Minute Man silo, filled our bottles, and poured water over our heads in the searing heat.

When we finally hit the pavement, he said “Where are we?”

“Mulholland, just a couple of miles from the 405.”

Bryce perked up. Finally, a road he knew.

We had been going at a snail’s pace up in the hills in order not to lose Bryce, but now we had to get home. Surfer wrapped it up to 30, gave Bryce a very short lesson on drafting, and off we went.

Bryce had gotten a second wind and was a quick study, rotating through smoothly and keeping the speed. Until San Vicente, that is, when the thousand-yard-stare set in.

“I don’t feel so good,” he said.

“You’re bonking,” said Surfer, offering him the last gel packet.

“Next time we do this I’m going to kick you guys’ ass,” said Bryce. The kid was game.

The closer we got to Hermosa, the happier he got. “Hey, guys, thanks for dragging me along. This is my biggest ride ever!”

“You rode like a champ,” I said. “Not many people could have done what you did today.”

“For a couple of old guys you and Surfer go pretty good. But don’t think I’m going to forget about this.”

“We won’t, either,” I promised.

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Go to the front

September 18, 2014 § 31 Comments

A guy who is one of the best racers I know said to me, “Seth, when I first met you I was convinced you were ruining a whole generation of bike racers.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“Seriously. Always telling people to go to the front. That is not how you win races. That is how you lose races.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. There are only three ways to win a race. Attack and ride in solo. Go with, or bridge to a break and outsprint your breakaway companions. Or win the field sprint. Going to the front of the peloton and hammering like a knucklehead will guarantee that you never win any races.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. And there you were, telling all these young kids to ‘Go to the front!’ And they were doing it. It’s the complete opposite of race winning tactics. Going to the front will only fry you. In a race or even on these training rides people love it when you go to the front. You fry yourself, they get a free ride, and leave you like you were chained to a stump at the end. What’s the point?”

“Well, if people don’t go the front and make it hard, then how do you end up with a good training ride?”

“There’s always some idiot who will do that. Just don’t let it be you.”

“Really? I’ve been on plenty of rides where no one takes the bit and it’s just a wankfest shitshow with one or two hard efforts, usually on a climb.”

“Look, racing is energy conservation. The winner conserves through tactics, then expends his max at just the right time, or meters high-output efforts so that there are only a few of them. But they count. Your philosophy of going to the front and slogging away is stupid, and the only person it hurts is you. Anyone can sit on a wheel at 27, which just isn’t all that fast. What’s worse is that it teaches bad tactics because you end up racing the way you train.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

“So why don’t you lay off the ‘Go to the front’ propaganda for a while? You might even get on a podium yourself.”

“Because winning races doesn’t mean shit.”

“Lots of bike racers would disagree with you.”

“I’m not talking about bike racing.”

“What are you talking about, then?”

[……………………………..]

What was I talking about?

A couple of days ago I got the best email that’s ever come my way. This is what I was talking about.

Seth, I saw something the other day that reminded me of you. It was a show about Japanese culture where they were highlighting various festivals and some of the instruments played during the celebrations. One important instrument is the takebue flute. They visited a very old guy who is a master takebue maker and he said something very interesting that I thought you would appreciate.

Traditionally, takabue are made out of bamboo that the customer will bring to the flute maker, and it goes without saying that people who are going to spend a lot of money on this special item go to great lengths to cut for themselves a piece of bamboo that is especially beautiful, clean, and straight.

The flute maker said that years ago a man brought him a piece of bamboo that was curved and very rough. It was not what he was used to working with, but when he began hollowing it out and cutting out the holes, he realized that it was very strong bamboo, and that its wood was incredibly dense. When it was finished, the sound was especially bright, and far superior to anything else that he had ever made.

The flute maker asked the man where he had gotten this bamboo, and remarked that it was the strongest, most dense, and most beautiful wood he had ever worked. The man told him that most people choose bamboo from the heart of the bamboo thicket. The bamboo in the middle of the grove is sheltered from the wind and the elements and therefore grows straight and tall, so aesthetically that is the bamboo that people choose. But the sheltered bamboo, hidden from the battering effects of wind and rain and sun is relatively soft, whereas the bamboo on the edge of the thicket takes the brunt of the weather. It is scorched, frozen, pushed, abused, misshapen, and beaten by the elements, and that is what makes it so very dense and strong.

Take care, brother.

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Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 levers may soon control Garmin computers

September 6, 2014 § 20 Comments

Shimano Corp. revealed at Interbike today in Las Vegas that it is teaming up with Garmin to create the world’s first integrated computer-bike control system.

“We have the technology to put the computer controls directly into the levers,” said chief engineer Shin Hayata, “and Garmin is the perfect partner. This allows them to reduce the size of the onboard computer as well.”

In addition to data control, the next-generation Shimano Di-3 Unilever will also incorporate a power meter as part of the bottom bracket. According to assistant lead engineer Haruo Nakajima, “More and more, cycling is a data-driven activity at all levels. Instead of having different components by different manufacturers that have to be synched, the Di-3 Unilever will be a truly all-in-one experience with a continuous wireless Strava or Garmin Connect upload that lets you read your KOM’s, PR’s, and more importantly, the data of other riders in realtime, as you ride.”

Perhaps most revolutionary for the average cyclist, the Di-3 will also include on-board controls that allow riders to instantly access email, bank accounts, and social media networks such as Facebag, Tinder, Grinder, and Slither. Marketing and technical outreach director Akiko Fuji explains: “Cycling is quickly becoming an extension of our daily life, and research shows that people become anxious when they are away from home on long bike rides, most of which last an average of 35 minutes. Our Fully Integrated Technology System [FITS] lets customers work, answer emails, balance their checkbook, and check the kids’ homework while they’re riding. It really redefines the word ‘fun.'”

Not everyone at Interbike was thrilled with the new Di-3 Unilever. “What’s next, an automatic tampon changer?” snarled Road Bike Action Guns and Lance Magazine technical editor Smithy Wesson. “Bikes were made for pedaling and for defending one’s home against abortion providers. This takes away from the essence of cycling although we expect massive ad buys as a result, which is a good thing.”

Fuji disagreed. “Cycling has become too difficult for most Americans,” she said. “With our FITS system, which will eventually utilize electronic hub-assist so that riders don’t have to pedal too hard, more people will be exposed to the wonderful world of bicycling. With direct downloads to Netflix and drone robots to do the actual pedaling in the Di-4 model, people can enjoy cycling on the couch, which is much safer than actually riding in traffic.”

Noted philosopher and bicycle maker Richard Sachs rolled his eyes when asked about the latest technical improvements. Speaking from a cave filled with hammers and other crude Paleolithic tools in the Massachusetts woods, Sachs claimed that “Bikes is bikes, stupid,” and asserted that “It is doubtful that having someone else ride for you can be considered ‘cycling.'”

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