August 8, 2015 § 22 Comments
“Hey, Wanky!” said the email, “Let’s check your chub!”
I said to myself, after checking the sender’s address and noting that it was from a respectable, upstanding person, “That can’t mean what I think it means.”
So I started over:
“Hey, Wanky! Let’s check your chub! I bought two tickets to the Body Spectrum fat scanner, one for you and one for me. It’s in Santa Monica–we could pedal over after the Friday coffee ride. What do you say?”
I said, “What in the world are you talking about?”
She said, “It’s this thing where they tell you your fat content, bone density, menstrual proportionality, and cranio-fibular viscosity.”
I said, “I already know my fat content: too much.”
She said, “But it will be FUN!”
I said, “Do they dunk you in a vat of kryptonite? Or is it the deal where they strip you naked and pluck your fat off the underlying tissue with those torture pincers?”
She said, “Neither. They just lay you on a table and scan you.”
I said, “With what? A bar code reader?”
She said, “No, silly, with x-rays.”
I said, “I don’t want to get irradiated like a piece of food being prepared for a bomb shelter just to be told I’m chubby.”
She said, “It’s free.”
I said, “Okay.”
As we pedaled over to Bulletproof Coffee, where I had a large cup of coffee made with a stick of butter, I said to her, “Look, I know my fat content. It’s between 13 and 15 percent, give or take a point. Guaranteed.”
She said, “How do you know?”
I said, “There are about 10,000 online fat calculators. Do ten of them, take the average, and that’s your fat. And no cancer-causing x-rays.”
She said, “But what about your bone density?”
I said, “My bones can’t be dense. I ride a bicycle and my resistance training consists of trying to resist having seconds. My bones are like peanut brittle, guaranteed.”
She said, “You’ll feel better knowing.”
I said, “I never feel better knowing. I always feel better imagining.”
We got to Body Spectrum and they very nicely made me take all the metal out of my pockets. I asked if I could leave in my fillings and the plate in my head. They said yes.
The nice lady scanned my body. Then a different nice lady sat down with me to review the results.
She said, “You are not fat.”
I said, “Did someone say I was?”
She said, “But you have some fat around your viscera.”
I said, “You mean I’m chubby inside?”
She said, “Yes, but not unhealthily so.”
I thought about Wednesday when we went to the coffee shop and the nice counter girl asked if were a cyclist. I was wearing floppy shorts and a t-shirt and all my friends were wearing stretch underwear. “No,” I said. “I’m just a person.”
“I didn’t think you were a cyclist. You look ill … ”
“I do?” I asked.
” … suited. I meant to say ill-suited to be a cyclist.”
I gave her no tip for service, but a $5 tip for being so unintentionally cruel.
Back with the chubby checker, things were better. “Your numbers look good,” she said. “16.3% body fat is fine. You might want to do some resistance training, something to build bone density.”
I started to tell her about all the second helpings I was resisting, and all the booze I’d resisted in Germany, but didn’t. I quit while I was ahead.
100% butter made with pure butter.
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August 5, 2015 § 37 Comments
One thing I realized pedaling on heavy bikes across Germany is that nothing beats flat pedals, so I put them on my $75,000 racing bike and they go super awesome with my new Ceramic Speed bearings from FastForward. The pedals are made of plastic, which is pre-carbon, and they are 100% pre-carbon, made completely of pre-carbon.
You probably think I’m joking, but ask Toronto and Hollywood and Ronan’s hockey coach, who all saw me out running errands on Monday afternoon, all fredded out with my walking shorts and regular shoes and flat pedals and backpack, which was filled with two onions, a bag of celery, a bag of carrots, and a whole chicken because I was making chicken soup for dinner.
But I’m not joking, and if you want to turn your $75,000 full-carbon race machine into something that is:
- Easy to ride.
… then we are talking about a $10 upgrade, unless you want to get really fancy and buy high-performance flat pedals for $20 bucks or so. High-performance onion/celery/carrot/chicken carrying is the next big thing.
I’m really not joking.
How many times have you thought, “Fuck, I’d like to hop on my bike and get a quart of milk and some condoms,” but then you’ve immediately thought, “Fuck, I have to wear cleats, and then carry flip-flops, and then switch back and forth from cleats to flip-flops at the milk store and again at the condom store, ahh, fuck it,” and then you got in your car and spent $2.79 in gas and ruined part of the Amazon to drive down to the corner when you could have saved Mother Earth and been part of the solution not the problem all because of those sorry clip-in pedals.
Nope, I’m dead serious, clip-in pedals suck and they always have. What they are, is an improvement over the old toe straps where you had to coast, wobbling, while bending over to fiddle with a leather strap as you struggled to steer around a pothole and brake in time not to shoot out into the intersection and wet yourself or break your humerus in three places. Clip-ins were a big improvement over that shit.
Also, clip-ins made you faster, not because of some stupid circular pedaling mumbo-jumbo or pulling up on the back stroke, but because they chained you to the beast and allowed you to transfer more force to the pedal while allowing you to hold onto the bike in a vise-grip fear of death, further increasing the power transfer.
Otherwise, clip-in pedals suck huge donkey pustules because they discourage you from using your bike to, you know, do useful shit like riding to the bike shop to buy more bike stuff to make your bike even more useful for running errands like riding to the bike shop.
For example, once you get flat pedals you can buy a pair of these pants on one of your trips to the bike shop to get more bike stuff to enhance the usefulness of riding your bike, and yes, I’ve already ordered a pair and am saving up for the mountaineering thingy key chain and the fancy brickwork.
Clip-ins are also hell and ruination for new riders. We’ve all been there. Some friend/S-O/sucker gets interested in bikes, or more likely, gets guilted into it by you, saves up $75,000, and asks you for help at the LBS in getting set up. You go to the bike shop together, in a car of course. “Gotta have Campy 19-speed, full carbon.”
“Gotta have a Giant full carbon aero frame made of 100% carbon.”
“Gotta get tricked out in a StageOne carbon summer kit with bibs, fall kit with windbreaker and vest, and winter kit with long-sleeve insulated jersey and matching leg warmers.”
“Can’t walk out of here without three cases of artisanal electrolyte replacement drink mix.”
“And you need these shoes. They are full carbon.”
“Why do I need the shoes? I already have shoes.”
“To fit onto your pedals. They are full carbon, too.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The pedals are like ski bindings. They lock your foot to the pedal.”
“So I’m locked onto the bike?”
“What happens when I need to get out of the pedals?”
“You twist hard.”
“What happens if I can’t do it fast enough? You know, like at a stop sign?”
“You crash. But you’ll learn quicker that way.”
“So I have to crash my $75,000 bike in order to ride it?”
“Pretty much. Until you learn how to use the pedals.”
“How long does that take?”
“Depends. Some people get the hang of it in a few weeks, others take longer.”
“How much longer?”
“Oh, some people never get it down.”
“And all the while they’re crashing because they can’t take their foot off the pedal?”
“Something like that.”
“Well fuck that.”
And then the friend/S-O/sucker walks out of the bike shop with all the purchases still on the counter and takes up hot bikram crossfit golf.
Even worse are the thousands who buy the bike and pedals, fall over a few times, and never ride again. And remind me what the purpose of the pedals was for these BEGINNER BIKERS? So they can ride faster? Faster than what, a mailbox? I recall my old girlfriend from college who hated bicycles and couldn’t really ride one, so I badgered her into getting a $275 Nishiki with toe clips and straps. On her maiden voyage down the block she tumped over, feet strapped into the clips, whammed her head, got a concussion and had a short seizure. Welcome to cycling and the excitement of being tied to your bike! She never rode again, of course.
See you on the road. Hope you like my knickers.
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July 10, 2015 § 10 Comments
The 3rd Annual South Bay Cycling Awards will be held on Saturday, October 17, 2015 at Strand Brewing Co.’s new facility in Torrance. The event begins at 5:00 PM. Mark your calendars now. Award presenters Sherri, Steph, Lisa, and Chris are already getting their stiletto heels and high-slit dresses ready.
In addition to the usual nonsense, self-congratulatory platitudes, and having the chance to play “Who’s that cyclist I ride with all the time but can’t identify unless my face is four feet from their ass?” the following activities are on the calendar.
1. Receive tremendous swag offerings from SPY Optic, our sponsor. SPY’s CEO Michael Marckx has supported this blog and grass roots cycling from the day he took over as boss in Carlsbad. Those of you who attended last year will recall the SPY glasses that were given to category winners (not to mention the ones that were stolen by drunken attendees), the SPY t-shirts, and all of the other support that Michael & Co. personally delivered on the day of the event. This year I’m leaning on SPY again to bring the HAPPY, and they have already delivered.
2. I won’t be drunk at the mic. The down side is that I probably won’t have much to say. The up side is that since we’ll be at LA’s best brewery, no one will notice or care.
3. This year I’m flying in a special guest, the legendary Steve Tilford. I can’t do a better job of introducing Steve than by sending you over to his blog, www.SteveTilford.com. But I can tell you this: Steve is one of the greatest cyclists this country has ever produced, and he still races with the intensity today that he brought to the sport as a junior more than thirty years ago. Steve is a fitting keynote speaker for the event because he has been an advocate of clean racing for decades, and has paid the price for refusing to cheat. Yet the reward he has reaped–a career marked by integrity and amazing palmares–shows that some things are worth fighting for. Steve will also join the Saturday morning Donut Ride, where you can try to follow his wheel. Good luck with that!
4. In 2015 we’re introducing a South Bay Cycling Hall of Fame. The first inductees are people you will recognize for their advocacy, their skill as cyclists, or for their contribution to the unique culture that makes LA one of the best places in the world to ride a bike.
5. Award categories this year will be posted soon. You’ll get a chance to vote, and like any good authoritarian regime, votes will only be counted to the extent that the comport with a pre-ordained outcome.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and keep up with the super exciting planning for the 3rd Annual South Bay Cycling Awards. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
PS: Don’t forget to take the 2015 Bike Racing Survey here.
June 16, 2015 § 14 Comments
After enjoying two of its best years since the world-renowned performance eyewear company was acquired by Italian megabehemotholithic ubercorporation Luxotica, Oakley trumpeted its strong sales and growing market share with a dramatic corporate restructuring. Long-time CEO and engineer of the brand’s smashingly successful Prizm brand, Colin Baden Powell, has been restructured to the position of Chief Design Engineer in recognition of his important work in developing this benchmark product.
CitSB got a chance to sit down with “Scoutmaster” Colin and talk with him about the exciting prospects for Oakley’s future.
CitSB: You must be pretty excited about this demotion, I mean, restructured up-leveling.
Colin Baden Powell: It’s the highlight of my career and I’m so appreciative that Luxotica has shown me this level of confidence.
CitSB: Can you tell us a little bit about your work with the Prizm and how it has helped revolutionize the performance eyewear market?
CBP: Absolutely. We decided to start from scratch, clear the slate, and come up with something that has never done before.
CitSB: Which was?
CBP: Develop a reverse-breakaway product.
CitSB: What’s that?
CBP: In bicycling, a “breakaway” is where you “break away” from other riders and then pedal off quickly to be the champion winner. So we wanted to “break away” from our competition. It’s a bicycling sport term. That was our concept.
CitSB: Pretty cool.
CBP: Yes. So in order to “break away” from our competition and pedal to the championships we decided to do that in reverse. In other words, instead of trying to get ahead of everyone we would drop behind them and do something innovative that they couldn’t see and copy.
CitSB: Because you’d be behind them?
CitSB: And that’s the Prizm?
CitSB: Pretty neat. Then what?
CBP: As was part of our plan, the first two years we’ve been far, far, far behind the competition, tucked safely way behind them. In bicycling sports it’s called riding off of your back.
CitSB: Being off the back?
CBP: Whatever. So we successfully did the reverse breakaway off of your back and the main office in Milan was blown away by the execution. They are crazy for bicycle racing sporty stuff in Italy. They went crazy when I showed them what I meant by a revers breakaway. I don’t speak much Italian, but they were excited, I can tell you that. Who is Fausto Coppi?
CitSB: Coppi? He’s, uh, Italy’s most famous standard breakaway rider. So they probably really did appreciate the reverse breakaway concept. Maybe you could call the next generation the “Fausto.” They will love that. So how has this concept been received by the market?
CBP: The response has been incredible. We managed to keep sales way down from the date of launch ’til now. In fact, we’re doing 1/10 the business of our competitors.
CitSB: Sounds like you have this riding off of your back stuff down.
CBP: I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a pretty hardcore amateur bicyclist myself.
CBP: Fifty miles a week, consistently, six or seven months out of the year.
CitSB: So tell me more about the restructuring. That really sounds exciting.
CBP: It is, and the folks in Milan recognized that I didn’t just do it on my own. They’ve given Ted Li, our incredibly innovative senior vice president and general manager of the North American market, which is globally the biggest for Oakley, an amazing opportunity to work as a sales manager at Quiksilver.
CitSB: The surf underwear company?
CitSB: I didn’t know that was part of the Luxotica corporate sausage machine.
CBP: It isn’t, but he had so much success here with the Prizm and our other authentic products especially the bicycle racing market thing that Luigi Florentino dello Cappucino, the CEO in Milan, decided to give Ted the opportunity to go innovate somewhere else. What is it that the surfer people say? “We are like stoked dude, mahalo.” Right?
CitSB: Um, right. Other exciting promotions?
CBP: Well, our senior VP of products, and formerly strategy, Chris Donnelly, has always been a key part of what has made Oakley the following-edge company we’ve become, exemplified by the Prizm, and Luxotica gave him the dream promotion.
CitSB: What was that?
CBP: He has always wanted to do high-speed corporate turnarounds, so they gave him an hour to clear out his office and “turnaround” out the back door. Proud to say he got ‘er done in 59:00 flat. Taught that boy everything he knows. Josee Perault, SVP Global Sales, and Link Newcomb, SVP Retail, were already restructuring for a major promotion into a free market job search position scheduled for September, but they were told they don’t need to bother coming in the building ever again as a kind of going away “thank you.” They were touched, really touched. Carline Starner, SVP of HR, was given an exit package that she probably had to create herself. Awkward, perhaps, but it was the highest compliment if you think about it.
CitSB: Sounds like Oakley’s on a tear. Any thoughts about the future?
CBP: Yes, once we get finished with our reverse breakaway project we are going to segue into “Project Sprunt.”
CitSB: What’s that?
CBP: It’s another pro bicycling term, sprunting. It’s where you go lots faster than everyone else at the very end of a race but actually they all pass you. There is a really cool blog we all follow here at Oakley that has lots of deep insight into the pro cycling world. The writer is an expert on bicycle stuff. Inside tip here — he’s the guy who we get our best ideas from.
CitSB: What’s this, uh, blogger’s name?
CBP: Not sure. He goes by the handle “Wankmiester,” or “Wankmeister,” or “Wanky” or something like that. Say, mind if I show you our latest glasses? The Oakley Spruntmeister, engineered for reverse breakaway artists.
CitSB: Thanks, I think I’m late for another appointment.
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June 5, 2015 § 24 Comments
I had a pair of Mavic Open Pro 32-spoke wheels. Thet were aluminum box rim rims, “bulletproof” as people like to describe a wheelset instead of calling them “really fucking heavy and slow.”
These were sold to me by Steve Bowen, the wonderful guy who used to own the PV Bicycle Center. I had walked into the store one day with a glazed look that said “Ready to spend some money on something,” and Steve, the consummate salesman, recognized it.
He pointed to the wheels hanging from the ceiling, which I’ve always thought is a great place to sell products if your clients are giraffes. “These would be good for you,” he said. “Chris King hubs, 32-spoke, bulletproof.”
Like the old saying goes when you have a stud horse for hire, “The best time to breed the mare is when the farmer is in heat,” and I was in heat for some new wheels and Steve sensed it, despite the fact that my bike needed a set of “bulletproof” wheels about as badly as it needed a concrete saddlebag.
“Cool,” I said without missing a beat. “How much?”
“$1,200 for you,” he said in perfect contrapuntal time.
“Done,” I answered in rather more complicated 7/8 measure.
Then for five years I rode the dogfuck out of those wheels. Four BWR’s, 15k miles a year, races, trails, you name it, IDGAF what the road looked like, those wheels rode it, even the cliff down to the Nazi Camp off Sullivan Ridge. Yep, that cliff. On a road bike.
I rode the wheels so hard that I wore out the rims and had to replace them along with the rear hub. Then in November I cracked the front hub on the Nosco Ride. Apparently even bulletproof can’t withstand a mortar round. Of course, I sent the fucked over, trashed up, shattered, blasted, and deformed hub back to Chris King and told them that their product was plainly defective as it had only been driven for the last five years by a little old lady in Montebello who uses her bicycle to pedal .2 miles round-trip to the grocery store and back.
They sent me a hub the next day and Boozy P. built ‘er up on one of the afternoons when the brewery that he lives behind was closed for remodeling.
Then in 2014 I got in heat again for some wheels and for the first time in five years spent some money on my bike. Local bike shops have gone bankrupt waiting for me to spend more than six dollars at a time. I decided to test out something that wasn’t bulletproof, that is, some full carbon made of 100% carbon, you know, carbon wheels.
As soon as I bought the FastForward full carbon wheelset, my old Mavics violated the Wanky Rule of Wheels: Thou shalt have no more than two.
So I went on Facebag and posted “that” photo. You know the one. It’s where your cyclist friend leans his wheels up against the closet door for a photo and everyone on Facebag world realizes that 1) All cyclists live in cheap apartments and 2) We all have the same carpet.
I offered these beautiful wheels for the low, low, low, low price of $200, and in response to my offer received a number of caustic replies, all related to the condition of the wheels after five years between the forks of someone with a reputation as terrible as mine.
“Fuck all you wankers,” I said. “I’m calling Vinnie.”
Vinnie is an aged Cat 1 racer who is also a teacher, longshoreman, part-time bike mechanic, and most importantly, an eBay savant. Vinnie sells on eBay like he races, and by the way, he has the fitness of a bath towel. Doesn’t matter. For Vinnie, every race is a study in aerodynamics. He can finish any crit in the top ten simply by drafting.
He treats other riders as a scientific review of the principles of aerodynamics, and I have seen him reject perfectly rotund, excellent Cadillac drafts in favor of bodies that are slightly more advantageous in terms of slipstream. I have seen him do 60-minute crits without pedaling more than eleven times. He is a connoisseur of body types, and an even more assiduous student of the psychology of eBay buyers.
Vinnie will take your old frame, your old shifters, your old socks, your old boyfriend, WHATEVER, and sell it on eBay for far more than you could ever get on your own. Then he will ship it and charge you 30%.
Vinnie studies eBay like Warren Buffett studies stocks. In other words, Vinnie knows suckers.
He put up the wheels for sale and got back with me seven days later. “They won’t fetch anything as-is.”
“WTF? They’re immaculate! Perfect! Bulletproof.” It’s like having the obstetrician tell you that your baby isn’t just ugly, it’s actually a rhesus monkey.
“Yes,” he said, “they are perfect in every way. But that’s not how they’re perceived. They’re perceived as second-hand junk that has been beaten to shit and that will likely explode after two days’ worth of riding.”
“The hubs are new!”
“They’re Chris King!”
“The rims are practically new, sort of!”
“I’m a gentle rider!”
“I picked only the best lines in the last four BWR’s!”
I sighed. “Okay. So I guess I’ll come get them.”
“Not so fast,” said Vinnie. “We will get $400 dollars for them.”
“Yes, but it’s going to hurt.”
“$400 never hurts.”
“We will cut away the rims and just sell the hubs.”
“Huh? That’s nuts! We’re not going to waste those awesome rims and spokes!”
“Yes, we are.”
“What idiot would buy a pair of hubs instead of a pair of wheels?”
“Because when they see the wheels they think, ‘Those rims have been grudge fucked by Godzilla on a meth bender.’ But when they see they see the hubs, all nicely polished and leaning against my closet, they think, ‘Whoa! Chris King hubs! Imma build up some bitchin’ wheels with those bad boys! Bulletprooooooof!'”
“You’re joking, right.”
“Wanky,” he said.
“I never joke about money.”
“Do the surgery.”
Seven days later I got the text. “Hey, man, hubs sold for $400. Come get your money.”
I don’t know if he also does hits. But if does, I’m pretty sure he always gets his man.
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June 1, 2015 § 32 Comments
Some people should not be allowed to do the following things:
- Purchase bicycle tools
- Use them
Unhappily, one day I was watching Boozy P. straighten out my hanger thingy and in a flush of excitement and Can-Do Attitude I rushed home and decided to clean my chain. This took a long time and consumed a lot of Simple Green, which is hard to get out of your hair and teeth.
Pretty soon, after my shoes had filled with Simple Green, the chain was cleaner but still not Boozy P. clean. For someone who lives behind a brewery and has franking privileges there, Boozy P. can really make your chain sparkle.
So I got on the Internet and found Pedro’s Chain Pig. This looked great. It was advertised as hassle-free and had replaceable parts, which was kind of weird because it also had a lifetime warranty, so I wondered why you needed to buy replacement parts if it never broke.
The chain pig is complicated but simple. You strap it onto your chain, fill it with Simple Green, and spin the pedals. The chain whizzes through the pig, and inside the pig there are little spinning brushes and stuff that scrub your chain with the degreaser. Then you empty it, fill it again, and after a few turns your chain is shiny and spotless and looks better than your date after you’ve given her her first toothbrush.
I did all this and was really proud of myself, although I thought Boozy P. would be kind of bummed because this is exactly the kind of procedure that usually results in a $500 repair job. Feeling like an ace mechanic I then looked at the cassette, which was clean except for the sand, tar, gum, and thick, black, congealed stuff that was all over it.
“I cleaned the chain,” I said confidently, “I bet I can clean that ol’ cassette.”
I opened up my toolbox, vaguely remember that many years ago I had thought about cleaning my cassette and had bought a cassette remover tool thingy, but gave up on the project when it came time to have a beer around noon. There was the tool, at the bottom of the box, and I took it out and tried to remember how it was used.
I couldn’t remember it because I’d never known, so I subbed in good old common sense. The tool fit into the grooves of the lock ring, and the edges of the tool looked like they fit a crescent wrench, so it appeared that all you had to do was put a honking crescent wrench around that baby and twist it, which would undo the lock ring, which in turn would let you slide the cogs off the freehub.
Now things got really lucky.
One day when I lived in Japan I broke my screwdriver. At that very moment a Snap-On truck was driving by. I flagged it down and asked the driver if he had any screwdrivers for sale. I didn’t know that Snap-On was anything special, in fact the name sounded so cheesy that I thought it was like Gemco or Acme or some cheap off-brand.
The guy was very polite and said that yes, he had a screwdriver or two he’d be happy to show me, which he did. I bought the screwdriver and it was really expensive. It cost me $75. Then, just before I climbed out of the back of the van, I noticed a crescent wrench. It was huge, with a massive head and a handle that was long enough to hang laundry off of.
I had no need for it of course, but it was big and shiny and expensive and new, so apropos of nothing I bought it. It cost me $568 and was heavier than anything I’d ever bought before except a piano.
That crescent wrench sat in my toolbox for twenty years and never got used once. Every time we moved, which was often, I’d hire an extra mover just to carry that wrench. I suppose it would have come in handy if I’d ever needed to disassemble one of those giant freeway girders, but I never did.
So there I was with the cassette tool hooked into the lock ring and my eye casting about for a suitably manly crescent wrench, and there She was. I picked Her up and tightened Her onto the cassette removing tool, and paused for a second to figure out which way to twist Her. The cassette was spinning backwards, so even though that seemed like the right direction, there was no way to keep it from spinning and hence that couldn’t be the right way to turn Her.
When you can’t go back, go forward. I grabbed the handle of that big honking ass wrench and gave Her a mighty crank. All of that solid Snap-On steel and all of that mighty leverage came to bear against the delicate aluminum locking ring that had been crafted and installed by nuns with soft hands and unblemished skin, and the ring made that grinding little complaining sound that things make when you strip them and strip them hard.
Even with the lock ring twisted into several pieces, the cogs still wouldn’t come off, so I got my screwdriver and started banging and twisting and hacking. I didn’t think this was how Boozy P. did it, especially because after all that twisting the perfectly round cogs had kind of a dish-shaped elliptical orbit like a Biopace chain ring. “Cool,” I thought, “this will probably save me a few watts.”
I bathed them all in more Simple Green and had a great time looking at them in the sun, all shiny and shit.
When it came time to put them back on of course they didn’t want to go but luckily I had some pliers and a hammer and a sharp steel thing that I don’t know what it’s for, only it is sharp and pokes holes in anything.
Pretty soon I had the whole thing reassembled except I had some parts left over, so I figured they were just extra weight anyway and chucked them over the balcony. “Extra parts is for wankers,” I said, noting how the cogs were all Biopace now and they jiggled a little bit on the freehub.
Can’t wait to test ‘er out in the sprint on Tuesday.
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March 20, 2015 § 42 Comments
No one ever asks me to review their cycling-related product or service. Perhaps it’s because of my disclaimer, which essentially guarantees that I will not say anything good, and that you’ll have to pay me for the bad review to boot. Or perhaps it’s because prior to requesting a review, the requester, who’s looking for a little “free publicity” clicks on my blog’s Bullshit Products link and comes up with a review like this, and concludes that his advertising dollar will more effectively be spent somewhere else.
Recently, however, a guy named Divad Zerep (not his real name) posted a link to one of his company’s products on my Facegag feed without bothering to sign up for the $2.99 monthly subscription and libel avoidance policy. He was touting the Samsung Gear Circle, which sounds like one of those mysterious bike parts that fits between the rear dropout, the pulley-wheel, and the turkey bushing.
However, it’s not an add-in to your electronic drive train. The Samsung Gear Circle is a plastic loop that fits around your neck so that you can listen to music when you jog, ride your bike, or have sex. True cyclists will not be interested in two out of those three applications.
The cool promo video shows cyclists listening to music as they sprint around the Carson velodrome, do bike tricks on the Golden Gate bridge, and look hot in their Lululemon stretch pants. Then, just before they get hit by a truck, they drop the volume with Samsung’s patented Sticky Finger Swipe Technology, so they can quickly hear the sound of onrushing tires and scoot out of the way.
After that, it’s more “all tunes, all the time.”
Once the promo video finishes, it segues into a 22-minute product analysis by a guy with tattooed fingers who dissects every aspect of the Gear Circle, with the possible exception of the jerk. He starts with the box and helpfully reads the label on the package because he knows that his target market cannot.
The last time anyone read anything to me it was because I was two years old, so I declined to waste any more time listening to a stranger review a product that I would never use, and more importantly, that my three regular readers would never use because they are a retired plumber in Texas who is still riding a steel bike that he bought in 1972, an ex-pro who makes wine and rides the same steel bike he raced on in Belgium in the 80’s, and an Englishman who lives the British motto of “God, Queen, Country, and Horribly Frugal.”
For years I have wondered about people who listen to music while riding their bicycles. Have they not noticed that they share the road with things called “cars” and often with things called “trucks”? Have they not noticed that these things are large, fast, and deadly? Have they not noticed that often the only clue as to the proximity of cars and trucks is something called “sound,” and that the sound of the oncoming truck cannot be heard when you have the equivalent of twelve screaming dicks stuck in your ear?
I’ve wondered other things about idiots who listen to music while they ride. For example, haven’t they noticed that when other people pass them, or they pass other people, they can’t hear anything? And that when someone says “Hello” and you don’t respond because you have twelve screaming dicks in your ear, they think you’re a Delta Bravo?
Nope, people who listen to music using the Samsung Circle Jerk and similar devices don’t ever consider these things. They just turn it up and keep on pedaling.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, Wanky, that’s unfair. I listen to music to relax on along rides.” Or, “Hey, Wanky, I listen to music to get me in the mood for my killer workout.” Or, “Hey, Wanky, the next time I see you I’m going to pound your face into raspberry pancake batter.”
Music may help your workout, but if you need twelve screaming dicks to eke out those last five watts, and those five watts are going to make the difference in The Most Important Masters Bike Race Ever, then you’ve got a big problem because on race day your training crutch won’t be allowed.
What’s weirder is the people who have to listen to music when they simply ride. This is weird and sad because they obviously don’t find enough in the act of riding the bike to occupy their brains. In other words, riding is boring. Can you imagine any fate worse than spending $10k on a bike and twelve matching sets of slick stretch underwear to do something that’s so boring the only way you can endure it is with twelve screaming dicks?
Worse, it’s evidence that the main therapeutic effect of cycling, which is to let your mind freely associate and drift away from the quotidien, doesn’t work for cycling music listeners. In other words, the unassisted noise in their head is so awful that the only way they can deal with it is by drowning it out with twelve screaming dicks stuffed into their ears.
This is the saddest thought of all, because the bicycle is the ultimate psychotherapist if you let it do its job. Screaming dicks not required.
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