Cyclist, Cover Thyself! [More … ]

December 1, 2015 § 29 Comments

Although I generally disdain using this space for anything useful, here’s something useful: Using MedPay insurance to defray your medical bills.

If you get hit by car, you now know (because you religiously read this blog–and by “religiously” I mean “daily,” not “becoming an angry white Christian man and shooting up an abortion clinic”) that it’s a great and inexpensive idea to have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

However, whether you have such coverage or not, once the driver’s insurer admits liability and issues you a check, you have the problem of healthcare insurance liens (and so does your lawyer, and frankly, whose problems are more important–yours or his?). In short, when your healthcare insurer pays for your medical bills after fighting tooth, claw, nail, fang, whip, hammer, icepick, baseball bat, and slingshot, the terms of their agreement with you allow them to assert a lien against the bodily injury settlement money you get from the insurance company of the driver who hit you.

In other words, you finally got them to cover your accident, and your humble lawyer finally dragged a few dollars out of the offending driver’s insurer, and lo! The health care insurance company wants its cut. “After all,” they piously intone, “we paid your hospital bills.”

Now you’re probably thinking, “Like fuck you did. I paid them–it’s called a fuggin’ insurance premium. Why should you have any claim to the money I get from the baddie who mowed me down?”

Answer: Because they have the gold and they write the rules, and California rules say that they can. Don’t like it? Become a major insurance company. I hear it’s a growth business.

If this seems like it sucks, that’s because it does, and as time goes by health care providers are getting harder and harder to negotiate with regarding these liens. Used to be, your savvy lawyer could phone them up and say, “Look here, Mr. Dikbag, I worked my butt off to get this settlement. If it weren’t for me you’d be getting zero, so cut me some slack and reduce your lien.”

They’d hem and haw and do it. Now they still hem and haw, but the reductions aren’t as high, and in many cases they don’t reduce them at all.

It’s often the case, especially when you get hit and your injuries are moderate or minor, that the ambulance ride and the follow up treatment greatly reduce your eventual recovery. In essence, by filing a claim and hiring a lawyer, it can seem like all you’re doing is working for free for the healthcare provider: Getting the driver’s insurer to cut you a check which then gets (mostly) handed over to the healthcare provider. They think it’s great. You (and your humble lawyer) think otherwise.

Since the healthcare insurer has first priority over the settlement check, he gets paid before you, and before your lawyer. Lawyers don’t like that very much, and neither do you.

So although the message might seem to be, “If you’re going to get hit, make it a catastrophic injury and get hit by someone with a billion dollars of coverage,” it isn’t. The message is that there is at least one low-cost way to keep the healthcare provider’s grubby paws off your money so that it can remain in your grubby paws and the even grubbier paws of your lawyer.

Here’s how: Get MedPay coverage added to your auto liability coverage. If your insurer doesn’t offer MedPay, switch insurers. MedPay coverage is an add-on that lets you send medical bills directly to your auto insurer when you’ve been hit by a car. Your healthcare insurance pays zip, and therefore has no lien on your recovery. For small and moderate cases, MedPay coverage is great, and some insurers will offer benefits up to $25,000.

You submit the bills directly to YOUR auto insurance company, they pay you or the doctor/hospital/ambulance directly, and you submit your claim for pain, suffering, and lost wages to the insurance company of the offending driver. When you reach a settlement, your healthcare insurer (Kaiser, Anthem, Providence, etc.) has no claim to any portion that was covered by MedPay.

The other good (great) thing about MedPay is that it kicks in regardless of fault. In other words, you don’t have wait until the mud wrestling match is completed with the offending driver’s insurer to receive the benefits, and in the event you’re tagged as being the one who caused the collision, your MedPay coverage still pays as long as your injury isn’t covered by worker’s comp.

One added note about MedPay: In some states, and California is one of them, MedPay does have a right of reimbursement in the event you are “made whole” by your settlement. Although it’s beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss the “made whole” doctrine, even a MedPay insurer may be able to claw back some of its payments from your settlement. In any event, MedPay gets you paid more quickly and will cover co-pays and other out of pocket expenses that your healthcare insurer will not.

Be sure to check the policy for exclusions, reimbursement rules, and read the fine print; every insurer’s policy is different.

So before you lawyer up, MedPay up.

END

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New UCI rule allows customers to spend more money

November 30, 2015 § 57 Comments

The UCI Rules Committee announced that professional teams will be allowed to use disc brakes in all races for 2016. “We think this will help cyclists at all levels spend more money,” said committee chairman Snookie van der Sluit in a press release.

“There is a significant need for disc brakes among manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in every market segment,” said van der Sluit. “And disc brakes allow them to meet the need for more customer expenditures, which is a key component in making cycling even less affordable as a sport or recreational activity while simultaneously accelerating the twin trends of planned obsolescence and product incompatibility.”

Reactions in the cycling world were generally positive. “I don’t give two fucks what we ride, all my shit’s free,” said Fabian Cancellara when asked about the rule change.

Mike Sinyard, president of Specialized, was equally enthusiastic. “I’d definitely give two fucks, probably even ten,” he said. “Although braking performance in wet conditions is offset by the greater weight and the pain-in-the-ass factor of through-axles, getting every pro on a disc brake is crucial if we’re going to make weekend warriors insecure about not having the latest trick shit. And that’s the fulcrum behind every meaningful bike purchase these days.”

Simon Mottram, CEO of Rapha Clothing for Gentlemen and Gentlegirls, saw huge opportunities in the new rule. “Cyclists have shown a huge appetite for spending more money, and the fact that disc brakes are better in the rain, an environment in which no one with a brain ever rides, is a key sales point. Now the flabby flabber who only goes out when it’s 65 and sunny can buy a whole new bike and wheelset to feel better about the possibility of riding in the rain, even though the actual chances of him doing it are zero. And we have a new line of disc gentlemen rainy pink clothing to go with it, a cute motif of baby whales with pink spouts.”

Derek Bouchard-Hall, the new CEO of USA Cycling, gushed about the new ruling. “Expensive? Yes. Requires replacement of your current $15k wheel quiver? Yes. A guarantee that fewer kids will get into cycling? Yes. More ad revenue as manufacturers and retailers seek our platform to tout the new technology? YEEESSSSS!!!”

Frumpy McDangle, local trail boss for the South Bay Sunday Fritter Crawl, was more circumspect. “I’m sure it’s a great idea,” he said, “but I haven’t bought a new piece of bicycle equipment since they came out with derailleurs, so unless it helps me with my morning dump I’ll probably pass.”

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Brazilian wax. Or San Diego.

November 3, 2015 § 33 Comments

I went down to San Diego last Tuesday to get my legs plucked off by Ryan Dahl, among others. While we were sitting in the coffee shop waiting for the plucking to begin, we chatted a bit because once the ride starts the only conversations you’ll ever hear go like this.

“Hey, Bill.”

“Hey, Sam.”

“How’s it going?”

“Good. You?”

“Good.”

Ryan and I had been teammates on SPY, which is like me saying that I was teammates with Tom Brady because I bought a Patriots jersey. [Note: I had to close my eyes and strain for thirty seconds to come up with the name of a single famous football player who isn’t named Earl Campbell, and then another ten seconds of scrunched up forehead to remember Brady’s team.]

I had seen Ryan wearing a new kit called “Wend,” and had seen on the ‘Bag that he had a new bike shop called Wend, except from the Facegag pictures it didn’t look like one.

“So what is ‘Wend’?” I asked. “Facebag says it’s a bike shop but it looks like a candle factory.”

Ryan laughed. “No, it’s actually not a bike shop or a candle factory.”

“What is it?”

“It’s the family business. Wend has been making ski and snowboard specialty waxes for over forty years.”

“Then why were there a bunch of bikes turned upside down?”

“It’s a sideline I’ve gone into.”

“Upside down bike waxing?”

“Sort of. Do you know about using paraffin to lube your chain?”

Unfortunately, I did. The week before Fukdude had set the 40-y/o hour record at the Carson velodrome, he had given me a lecture about chain waxing. This was three years ago, and you had to send the chain(s) to a guy in Colorado who dipped them in paraffin and sent them back all waxed up.

“What the fuck for?” I asked Fukdude.

“Dude,” said Fukdude, “you fuckin’ dip your chain in and it saves 1.5 watts per mile. Fuckin’ glides over the teeth like a lubed condom.”

“How much does it cost for those 1.5 watts?”

“About $25 a dip.”

“How long does it last?”

“About 200 miles.”

“Ouch,” I said.

“I know. Fukkin’ expensive shit,” said Fukdude. “But I’m not gonna set up a fuckin’ crock pot in my bathroom and fuckin’ boil wax before every ride. Wife thinks the whole fuckin’ bike thing is fuckin’ crazy as it is.”

I relayed this to Ryan, who laughed. “We’ve kind of solved that problem. Let me send you a sample.”

The next day, after getting a new pair of legs at Legs ‘R Us, a package arrived. In it was a bottle of cleaner and a bar of roll-on underarm deodorant. I pulled off the cap and saw that it was actually wax.

Cool Wend socks!

Cool Wend socks!

Cool Wend rag!

Cool Wend shop rag!

Chain cleaner stuff!

Chain cleaner stuff!

Wax-on (I also tried it as deodorant and it was awesome.)

Wax-on (I also tried it as deodorant and it was awesome.)

GQ6 recovery drink.

GQ6 recovery drink photo on my iPhone 2 (gonna upgrade to 3 any day now).

Something I found on the table for Mrs. WM.

Something I found on the table for Mrs. WM.

Ryan had also sent a link to a YouTube video showing how to clean the chain and apply the wax. Apparently the whole process would take less than two minutes.

Calculating my usual ten-thumbs factor, I set aside four hours in the morning to get the job done, and another two hours I’d likely need to clean the wax from the sofa, toilet seat, paper shredder, and nose hair trimmer. Amazingly, the whole thing took less than two minutes, which is a lot less than it takes to kill the smell of my armpits:

  1. Wipe the chain.
  2. Roll the wax on the chain, just like you roll it on your armpit.
  3. Voila, your chain is now waxed.

I’ve ridden it twice now. My normally nasty and noisy chain is quieter than a Scientologist stalking a confused college freshman. This stuff is amazing. Plus, on my first Wend wax ride I almost beat Derek going up the Switchbacks.

No more lube for me, and after you use this stuff, it’ll be no more lube for you, either.

END

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Where have I heard this before?

October 8, 2015 § 45 Comments

Cruising the ‘Bag yesterday I ran across a strong statement about the superiority of handmade Italian carbon frames. The writer was pimping Cipo’s new brand, which has the amazing benefit of being 100% fully made completely in Italia, and it is all Italian. The writer went on to say “You can feel a substantial difference between hand made Italian and the Asian made stuff.” For a minute I wasn’t sure the subject was still bicycles.

But he brought me ’round when he said “Specialized, Trek, Cannondale — wish they could say that #notchinese.” Then things came hot and heavy and illiterate with this gem:

“… to say Taiwan isn’t part of China is like saying Texas isn’t part of the US, both think there independent but in reality there not. The point is about Quality and workmanship. Nobody way back in 1998 said were sending our production to Taiwan/China because the workmanship is better, it was to increase profits with cheap labor. I have a few Asian bikes other then my felt’s and they ride fine, I might be wrong but made in Taiwan was not much of a selling point… BTW- I’ve shot over 15,000 x-rays on all manufactures and there is a distinct difference in workmanship with the big box Asian brands the smaller Euro brands. I’m pretty sure I’ve x-rayed more carbon then any man alive and can tell the subtle difference between the quality & run of the mill brands.”

So while the author trumpeted the awesomeness of Italian racing frames, a market they once owned and now have a tiny sliver of an itsy bitsy percent, I was left to try and understand what the fuck he was talking about. And then I got it! I’d heard it all before! Just substitute “Asian stuff” (because Asia is one place with one nationality), “China,” “Taiwan,” and “run of the mill brands” with the word “Japanese” and we’ll go right back to the early 1980’s–without even needing a flux capacitor.

Once upon a time …

The Japanese entered the U.S. market with transistor radios, courtesy of Akio Morita and SONY. In a short while they destroyed the U.S. market, first with products that were as good and cheaper than ours, and later with products that were much better, more innovative, and more expensive. Remember the Walkman? The PlayStation? Bet you’ve never owned a Sylvania TV.

The little Asian people who were only good at copying and ripping off the smart white man quickly proved his equal, then his superior, in the entire field of electronics.

Then Honda and Toyota got in on the act. They first had an uphill struggle even finding people willing to sell their cars, and the first Japanese vehicles I saw in Texas were labeled “rice rockets,” “rice burners,” or simply “ricers.” By the way, these are all considered pejorative, racist terms. As with transistor radios, Americans quickly chose cheap, reliable, efficient quality over the shitbombs that ‘Mercan ingenuity flung from the anus of mighty Detroit. Remember Lee Iacocca’s “The K cars are here!”

Hahahahahaha! NO, THEY AREN’T.

So the Japanese first knocked down our electronics and motorcycle and automotive markets with competitive pricing and competitive quality, then eviscerated it with vastly superior, innovative products that carried a luxury premium while Chrysler has been sold around to foreign automakers like a rusty old Colnago on e-Bay. Toyota is now the largest automaker in the world, and the first two Nobel prizes doled out in 2015, for medicine and physics, went to Japanese scientists. That makes a tally of 24 for the “copycat” race, by the way.

What happened?

What happened is simple. White people couldn’t fathom that “Asians” were able to learn, imitate, improve, and innovate. So what if they invented gunpowder, the compass, and Hello Kitty? When the ugly reality of WE’RE NUMBER ONE became a mantle assumed by Japanese carmakers, (number two is now German, give or take a secret piece of exhaust software), the former masters of the universe drowned their beaten pride in “classic car shows” and automotive memorabilia that glorifies some of the worst, ugliest, and poorest performing vehicles ever made: The “muscle car.”

So it’s no surprise that we have people like the ‘Bag poster dissing on Asian bikes while he reps Cipo frames on the side, and that he thinks “China and Taiwan” are just like “Texas and America.” It’s no surprise because racism and prejudice run deep, and when your “inferiors” kick your ass, take your markets, and scoop up your Nobel prizes, the best that most people can do is namecall and rest on laurels that haven’t meant squat since the first major American bike manufacturers began producing in China and Taiwan.

Why Taiwanese carbon bikes are the best

Actually, they aren’t. That’s because there is no “best.” Bikes are made to do a variety of things, and no single manufacturer does all of those things better than every other manufacturer. The U.S. handmade bike industry is proof positive that small shops with skilled craftsmen can satisfy many thousands of customers. And steel is not only real, it is one of many materials, along with bamboo, that has proven its mettle in the real world of real biking.

But Taiwan is the indisputable center of carbon fiber bike manufacturing technology, and its base is built on the world’s best carbon fiber which, if you want to name names, is made by Toray Corp. … a Japanese company, not an Italian one.

People like the ‘Bag poster can point to crummy carbon bikes that come out of China and Taiwan, but so what? Crummy cars come out of Italy, crummy cars come out of Japan, crummy cell phones come out of China, and crummy everything comes out of the U.S.A. This only points to market segmentation, not to bad products at the top. As surely as some Chinese manufacturers make shitty bikes, others make world class ones.

Do you really think that Apple uses Foxconn because they make a bad product? And do you really think that top of the line Specialized, Felt, Giant, and Cannondale bikes are anything other than superlative? Because if you do, you’re going to have to come up with something more objective than “there is a distinct difference in the workmanship.” Please do share some of these 15,000 scans with us and compare apples to apples. And then show us how those “differences in workmanship” which you can only see with a flux capacitor x-ray MRI electron scanning microscope translate into performance, durability, comfort, or aesthetic differences.

And this is what gets the “Made in Italia” people’s goat: China and Taiwan (and before them Japan) entered “our” markets with products that had a high cost/quality compromise, and now dominate the market across all segments, from entry level to expert.

Nor is the story limited to bikes, cars, and electronics. Canon and Nikon are all there is in the world of cameras; everything else is a tiny little asterisk, and the Germans haven’t gotten over that, either.

Code word: Bigot

Using words like “Asian stuff” and conflating Taiwan and China is racist. Taiwanese speak a language that is unintelligible to speakers of standard Beijinghua; it’s called “Taiwanese.” Taiwan has a completely different political system, a radically different history, and a totally distinct economy from China. Just because the writer is too stupid, too lazy, and too prejudiced to know the difference between Taiwan and China doesn’t mean that Italian bikes are better. It just means that he is stupid, lazy, and prejudiced. Oh, and the Taiwanese use traditional kanji rather than the simplified ones introduced by the communists, so the writing is different, too.

In other words, not the same as “Texas and the USA.”

The market is screaming at you, glad you’re listening

Ultimately, the “Made in Italia” hard-on that Cipo’s bikes are using to try and get a tiny sliver of the U.S. racing market is a good thing. The customer, who’s apparently lots more discriminating than an x-ray, has told Italy that their bikes suck. People don’t want to pay a premium for something that’s inferior, or that is only marginally better for an astonishingly bigger cost, which is why the Italian bike making industry has dried up and mostly blown away. It’s why Campagnolo is now a niche product and it’s why Shimano and SRAM dominate.

But it’s disingenuous to take a technology that was perfected in “Asia” and whose products saturate the global bike frame market and claim that this is somehow Italian, even when the brand is Mario Cipollini, a guy who doesn’t make, has never made, and will never make a bike. Italy has given the world some great things, and forgetting bikes for a moment, has given us the most wonderful food known to man: Pasta.

Oh, sorry. That too was originally MADE IN CHINA.

END

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If the shoe fits, wear it

September 26, 2015 § 13 Comments

bont_vaypor

For almost three years now I have ridden with Bont Vaypors. Aside from the bad spelling, they had some amazing qualities that led me to put them on my feet.

  1. They were free.
  2. They didn’t cost anything.
  3. Tensile strength of 130,000 MPa’s.

Of course there was a down side or two. As Alan Flores said, “Dude, when I got those things I took one look and put them on eBay. What a joke.”

Or as Joe Yule said, “I had a pair once, briefly.”

“How briefly?” I asked.

“As long as it took for me to look at them, put them back in the box, and put them on eBay.”

So here were the negatives:

  1. Hideously ugly.
  2. Incredibly painful.
  3. Tensile strength of 130,000 MPa’s.

Doing a cost benefit analysis ($0 cost versus 130,000 MPa benefit), I kept them, trained in them, and raced with them. Over the years they bruised my toes so badly that my nails all blackened, withered, and eventually fell off, but unlike the leaves of New England lovely maples, they never grew back.

How stiff were these shoes? It was like setting your foot in wet concrete, curing it for six months, and then trying to wiggle your toes. When you pushed on the pedals, the only energy transfer loss was from the tendons that snapped and the ligaments that tore as these flexless beasts conducted muscle directly to ball of foot to pedal.

I loved those Bonts because they had such a fearsome reputation for pain and discomfort that anyone who saw you still wearing a pair after more than forty miles became afraid, very afraid. There is no pain like foot pain and if you can endure the 138-mile BWR on Bont concrete specials you can endure anything, even accounting. Best of all, Josh A. always wore his while walking his two Chihuahuas, Stanley and Olive.

It’s an awesome shoe that lets you maintain an 2015 race winning percentage of 100% and clack around the neighborhood picking up mini-puppy poop.

After a while I think the Bonts actually bent the bones in my foot because my toes, which once were narrow, straight, slim and rather lovely, became twisted, blackened stumps that snaked over one another like a bad root system. I occasionally thought about replacing them, but not seriously because, hey, free.

Then one day I happened into Bike Effect and Steve Carre insisted on measuring my feet. I know, I know. “Well,” he said, “your right foot is a full size bigger than your left.”

“It is?”

“Yep.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that if your cycling shoe fits your left foot it’s probably horribly painful for your right, but if it fits your right foot then your left foot has enough extra space to open up a lemonade stand.”

That thought haunted me for a few months until, plagued by sneaky Internet algorithms that registered my ONE search for Shimano shoes and then showered every single page I visited for the next twelve weeks with ads for Shimano shoes (even http://www.skankytoe.com), I caved to the relentless marketing and bought a pair of fancy new Shimano R-somethings for $150.00. Stylish, sleek, lightweight, they looked comfortable in a way that the Bont torture chambers never had.

I was so excited when I went out for this morning’s ride with my new shoes. They didn’t hurt, but they didn’t fit worth a crap either. I wore them anyway because hey, paid for.

shimano_shoes

END

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Chubby checker

August 8, 2015 § 22 Comments

w

“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.

q

100% butter made with pure butter.

END

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It’s hip to be flat

August 5, 2015 § 37 Comments

flat_pedals

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:

  1. Fun.
  2. Useful.
  3. 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.

knickers

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.”

“Okay.”

“Gotta have a Giant full carbon aero frame made of 100% carbon.”

“Check.”

“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.”

“Done.”

“Can’t walk out of here without three cases of artisanal electrolyte replacement drink mix.”

“Roger.”

“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?”

“Basically.”

“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.

END

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