Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Mail: Testicular fortitude and apologies

I recognize that many readers may stumble upon this blog from somewhere other than Columbia, Missouri, and if you are one of those individuals, first, let me say sucks to be you how sorry I am.  Whereas if Portland, Oregon has become the bicycling Mecca of the United States, Columbia has become, at the very least, the Medina....we ride a lot, but for better or worse, don't feel the need to get as naked as our Oregonian brothers and sisters while on the bike.   Secondly, let me also say check out the great local shit you're missing!! that I am sorry for the regional nature of the inital part of this post which focuses on some local upcoming cycling events.

Sunday, January 31 @ Klunk Bicycles and Repair:  The 2010 Missouri Gravel Grinder series comes to Columbia.  A 46 mile ride will ensue led by our own Karl of Klunk Bike Shop. 
Portions of the ride will cover the MKT and KT trails, and there looks to be much climbing, but also partly sunny skies.  You can check out the map here.  And for more information, go here.  And on another note...if you have never had the good fortune of visiting Klunk's, and have never met Karl, then your cycling life, my friends, is not complete.   Let me give you a brief introduction to the myth, the man, the photo pretty much says it all....

Wednesday, February 17 @ The Blue Fugue:  The Bamboo Bike Project Benefit will be going down with much music and libation to support the Bamboo Bike Project which is an organization that educates people of African nations to build safe and sturdy bicycles from locally grown bamboo to provide efficient transportation to those in need, thus raising their quality of life.  There is a $5 cover, 100% of which goes to the organization.  Drink specials and sweet, sweet door prizes will be available!

And now lastly, let me apologize in advance for the remainder of this post, which is completely devoid of decent writing, decent content, or decency in general....I thus bring you this week's mail:

Dear PooBah,
Recently, Chris Horner, soon-to-be team Radio Shack workhorse and Lance domestique,  posted a photo on Twitter with the question of whether or not we, the readers, knew how he keeps his favorite Mavic cycling shoes "so hot".  See below:
Do you have any ideas?
Mary F.

I'm guessing by hanging them from the crotch of his chamois bibs like a pair of truck nutz?

Dear PooBah,
I am an avid cyclist, but also own a motorcycle, which in my opinion, is the ultimate form of two-wheeled freedom.  My two obsessions have always co-existed peacefully....but the other morning, when I walked out into my garage, you would never believe what I saw.  I've read the acronym POIDH, meaning 'picture or it didn't happen' - so I did just that...captured a shot of this disturbing scene....What do I do about this?
Trenton P.

Well there are one of two possible scenarios:  First, some bikes, like some dogs, will express their dominance, by mounting others.  Thus, your reflector bedazzled Giant may not be interested in the sex at all, but rather is trying to force your Ninja crotch rocket into submission out of jealousy.  The second possibility is that your bicycle is hornier than a hoot owl....and I'm guessing by the size of his derailleur, that he's not a fixed I might be making some room in the garage for a bunch of little....

Dear PooBah,
I saw that you finally made the Chicks and Bikes blog roll....but probably did so at the expense of your female readership.  I hope you know what you are doing....because the world of female cyclists is rich and growing all the time.  I thought I should send you a photo of myself to help lure those women back who might be pissed at you for showing gratuitous sexy female photos, but never show any of men.
Rich E.
No question, your photo should take care of my readership......

Dear PooBah,
My Moots seatpost keeps slipping in my seat you have any suggestions?  I'm attaching a photo of it so that you might be able to see if there is anything wrong with it that would cause the slippage.
Thank you!
Mandy J.

Dear Mandy,
I would try to ease up on the silicone a little.

Thanks for reading everyone!  Have a great weekend and ride safe....

Pedal on!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Validation: Of chicks, bikes and bowling

Yesterday we discussed one way in which professional cyclists mark their success by personalizing their bikes and gear.  But how is success marked by bloggers?  Initially I thought I had achieved some measure of success by the gradual waning of the hate mail......but then realized a new level of achievement when I received a case of free pomegranate juice.  But early this morning, I discovered another accolade that had been bestowed upon me for which I feel largely undeserving.  Those that choose to waste time reading this blog instead of doing far more productive things (like cutting their toenails or organizing their sock drawers) know that upon occasion, I put a photograph of a scantily clad woman with a bicycle on the pages within.  Such has been the inspiration from a gratuitous site called Chicks and Bikes, which features photographs of a subject matter one can guess from the title that may or may not be safe for work, depending on the day. 

And as can be seen from the example above, the photographs on any given day may be more about the 'chicks' and less about the 'bikes' as one has to look with some effort to see the partial shadow of a bicycle on the pavement alonside these lovely ladies in this particular shot.

As I arrived at my place of work this morning, I started the day with my typical routine....try to dodge the plucky phone operator who always wants to chat with me, switch the mail in several co-workers mailboxes, activate the autoreply function of my email to let everyone know I will be in a meeting from 7:00 to 8:00, create a fictious excel spread sheet to consume my monitor and then open up Chicks and Bikes in a window that can be easily concealed by said spread sheet at a moment's notice.  And this morning, what did I discover?

Alongside a women clad in the retro-way fashion, reposed upon the torn pages of a magazine advertising bicycles, I saw this blog's name on the blog roll list, positioned between the 'Chic Cyclist' and 'Copenhagen Cycle Chic', as though I was in a 'Chic' menage-a-trois!  All at once I was both excited and afraid.

My fears stem from two things:
#1) I have an overwhelming Wayne and Garth-esque "I'm not worthy" trepidation and am quite concerned I won't be able to live up to the pressure that being on such a blog roll instills in supplying the mothership with more "sexy-female-oriented-bicycling" photos.
#2) I don't want to offend any women who might read these pages by my excitment for the aforementioned association which can only be descibed as juvenile.

Thus, being inspired by the non-partisan message of our president last night, I bring you two gratuitous sexy cycling photos which should please whichever gender-way you choose to associate with.  Before you scroll further, click here to assist with the concealment of the photos that follow.

For Chicks and Bikes:

For the ladies:

And speaking of watching the POTUS last evening, the COMO CYCO dog and I finally put our Xmas presents to good use as we fell asleep on the couch, each tucked away in our respective Snuggies.  In order to protect the anonymity of us both, I've chosen to use a photograph of models representing what we looked like:

I understand that remaining anonymous might be frustrating to the 6 people who actually read this blog.  Therefore, I thought I would actually break down and show a brief video that captured me in my cycling prime, several years ago, when I was living and racing in Europe. 

This is of obvious little help in identifying me if you don't know anything about I captured a still frame to help you pick me out.

Even though the differences that distinguish me from the field are subtle, here are the keys to knowing this is me:
1) I've fallen off the back.
2) I'm rather large and a little hairy.
3) I have no teammates.
4) I'm trying like a mo-fo to catch a draft off of somebody (anybody)...but no one will have any of it.

I'm not the only one out there looking for a team.  Floyd Landis is still without a team having not yet signed with Rock Racing.  And despite Michael Ball declaring that "Rock's Not Dead!"...Rock Racing might be.  They have been denied a Professional Continental license by the UCI, and now Ball is considering moving the team to Mexico, Venzuela or Colombia just to get a license to race this year.  Despite all of this, Landis recently rode in the Tour of the Bahamas last week wearing Rock kit, where he broke the time trial course record previously set by David Zabriskie while not even riding a TT bike.  When asked about his future with Rock, he said:

"I honestly don't know.  I don't know even if Ball has thought about the team these last two weeks.  I don't know what is going on.  I'm focusing on my training and my bowling.  I need to think of my future after cycling and bowling might be it."

Having a back-up plan is always a good idea.  Should my day job ever fall through, I've already submitted my resumee to the Snuggie corporation for product development.  I've invented a modification which is a crumb catcher pouch on the front for when I'm eating crackers and cheese in my Snuggie.

Pedal on!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Personalization and Flare

How do you know when you have achieved the pinnacle of success within your profession?  Occasionally, our society lures us toward promotional gain with certain perks and fringe benefits that await the top rung of the ladder we are attempting to climb.  Not infrequently, those accolades take shape, not in the form of a bonus, but rather an alleviation of something undesirable.  For example, I knew I had advanced in my place of work when I got to switch my office away from the one which shared a wall with the women's bathroom.  I refrain from calling it a 'restroom' because the wall betwixt my office and the bathroom stall was thin, and to be sure, very little 'rest' occured in that room.  The doors to my old office and the ladie's room were side by side, such that I became the "gatekeeper" for the loo which must have only possessed a single stall.  I know this only because I would frequently hear a knock on my door with an anxious looking female co-worker in my doorway asking me if anyone was using the can.

However, if you are a professional cyclist, success seems to be rewarded through personalization of your stuff, which is all the rage, these days.  This seems fairly ironic since, as any professional cyclist succeeds more, they instantly become more recognized by the spectators and sports writers alike, so why the need to further personalize everything they own?  Ours, obviously, is not to question, but rather to report...

We previously mentioned the recent personalization of Mark Cavendish's Scott bicycle for the 2009 Tour de France which he had adorned with a World War II era pin-up girl.

Aside from his name accompanying the scantily clad brunette lounging on Cav's headtube, I've recently learned that this particular piece of flare has a deeper level of personalization for the Manx Missile, in that the original version bears a striking resemblence to his girlfriend, according to artist and Rapha graphic designer, Justin Greenleaf.  This original version is a bit racier, thus prompting me to cover the nippular areas with double fezzed-Shatners to render this image safe for work.

If, however, a fezzed-Shatner is frustrating you and you want to see the original version in all of its titillating glory, you can do so here.  Just can see it here.

Cavs is not the only top-dog who is into the personalization craze.  As everyone (especially the child laborers in Thailand) knows, Nike is a major sponsor for Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong campaign, despite the fact that they no longer make cycling shoes.  Yet LA is issued special "one-off" Nike cycling shoes decorated with the "Livestrong" name across the heel.

And even though the ankle-high dark sock is old-school cycling fashion at its finest, when worn with white shoes with gold decoration, it makes him look like he will be running for the presidency of La Boca Vista retirement community in Florida.

As Cav keeps his flare on his head tube, and LA on his feet, British cyclist Ben Swift of Team Sky likes to keep his personal touch a little closer to his taint, so tucks a Union Jack between the sit pads of his Prologo saddle.

Cadel Evans on the other hand chooses not to discriminate between locations to flaunt his personal touch, and has thus adorned multiple sites with the World Championship rainbow stripes, like his helmet, seat stays and socks.

As well as his choice of lip gloss....

Perhaps personalization is less a sign of achievement, however, and more about making a statement about one's self.  Certainly, a case can be made for the desire for self-expression and such activity might be encouraged as long as it doesn't border on the obscene.  Take the bicycle that the GEEC and I found one night after dinner last week on Broadway:

Yes the many layers of deteriorating stickers all over the frame were unique and might reflect the personality of the cyclist, but not as much as what was jammed up under the seat.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, tucked up under the Brooks saddle was a spare stem, hanging loosely from the saddle rails.  Carrying spare tubes and tires is a given amongst most cyclists, but finding a spare stem is a unique finding.  As this stem seemed to be rather weathered, it first occured to me that perhaps the cyclist stole this part from another bike and adorned theirs with it as a prize, much like some tribes of cannibals would wear necklaces made of fingers or toes taken from their fallen enemies.  Similarly, there is currently a company in Australia that sells jewelry made of human teeth.

I'm not sure where the teeth come from, but I have hesitant feelings about carrying around someone else's yuck mouth on my fingers, personally.

Or maybe this cyclist is familiar with the 2006 Paris Roubaix when George Hincapie's stem failed resulting in this and thus always wants a spare handy.

At any rate, I'm thinking of joining the trend and personalizing my new Pinarello.  I've asked the GEEC if she will let me paint a nude pin-up-style image of her on my head tube like Cav's but she was less than enthusiastic about other cyclists getting to look at her naked image as they blow by me this season.  Thus I've come up with another idea...

Pedal on!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lord of the Chain-rings: Fellowship of the Fixie

As predicted, my ride on Saturday found me in the midst of a steady downpour of ice-cold rain 20 miles south of town.  I was so cold after that ride, that the GEEC and I went to Schnucks to buy ingredients for some potato and leek soup.  While there, however, we had a Lord of the Rings (LOTR) encounter.  Such moments do not happen frequently, and the last one I had was when I encountered a client at work this past summer who was wearing flip flops which revealed feet hairier than Sam Gamgee's.

This encounter was entirely different though and involved the GEEC and I seeing Boromir and Aragon buying some pork chops at the Schnuck's meat counter.  Thankfully, the GEEC had her camera with her and was able to snap a couple of paparazzi-style photos of the two LOTR warriors stocking up on much-needed provisions for their long journey ahead.  Godspeed, you two.  May your blades taste the blood of many orcs....

But Sunday's sunshine more than made up for Saturday's rain, and I might have actually made a little Vitamin D for the first time in weeks as I rode.  I don't make a habit of it, but while riding this weekend, I had my ipod with me.  I know it's unsafe, and as a general rule of thumb, I would prefer to listen to the sweet sounds of nature while I ride.  It's when those sounds are muffled by the relentless creaking of my carbon frame reminding me of the thick layer of blubber I've added over the winter that I start to contemplate drowning out the sound with some Jane's Addiction, much as I would crank the car radio to mask the roaring sound that the hole in my muffler causes.  And I must admit, I cannot deny the ironic effect of Perry Farrell telling me to "Stop" that makes me want to "Go!" which comes in quite handy when the headwind is coming out of the NW at 20 mph.  And let's face it, even in the absence of real music, who amongst us doesn't have an internal soundtrack playing while we are riding, as though we were in some Rapha ad, where all the roads are cobbled and precipitous and in grainy black and white.

You can practically hear Carmina Burana if you stare at this picture for any length of time.

Music piped through ipod ear buds, or coming from one's internal soundsystem seems to be a reasonable method by which to seek musical inspiration.  Apparently, this is not sufficient for some cyclists, however, who must take part in the act of having themselves filmed while riding and overlay this footage with some kind of soundtrack, marketing the final product as a "documentary".  As we discussed before, whereas cycling itself is largely enjoyable and can, upon occasion feel epic in a very private sense, watching non-professional cyclists ride bicycles who are trying to emote 'epicness' is boring.  Add in a soundtrack and depending on the choice of music, it becomes as irritating as a squeak in your Look pedals. 

And with that, I bring you the new video entitled Paris-Chartres from Julien Rideau who "documented" the Rock'n'Rollin' Fixie Riders Club cyclists as they travelled by fixed gear bicycle, yes you guessed it, across the French countryside from Paris to Chartres.  Like most stories, this one is about a journey.  And I cannot help but notice the similarities this rag-tag bunch of cycling renegades shares with the aforementioned members of the Fellowship of the Ring as they make their way from The Shire-esque comfort of Paris across the wilds of Middle Earth.

Our journey begins in the early morning hours, under the cover of darkness.  Our heroes stock up on provisions for the long road ahead....

In this scene, one of the Fixie Fellowship buys a box of prophylactics, as he's heard that the elves of Chartres are easy, but not so clean.

Then we are introduced to the main character of the story.  He is nameless, but clearly carries a heavy burden.  Is it the heavy burden of a metaphorical ring?

Alas, no.  It is a physical handicap which makes him wear his helmet on the back of his head.  Sadly, it appears as though our would-be Frodo is hydrocephalic as can be seen in this photo-analysis, with his helmet perched on his gargantuan head like a dixie cup poised on a bowling ball.

As the sun rises, bladders full of mead and Virenque energy drink must be emptied.

Much like the music featured in the LOTR trilogy, which combined both classical scores as well as songs sung by popular artists, so too does this documentary mix musical genres.  As such, immediately following this image of raw and unflinching urination, the soundtrack changes from an ambient instrumental score to feature the unforgettable "She's Like the Wind" sung by Patrick is the first (and best) of four 'wind'-themed songs which comprise the remainder of the soundtrack.

And as the cyclists continue on their journey, the camera bears witness to the special armor each rider wears to protect them.  No, these adventurers do not wear enchanted chain-mail made in the mines of the dwarf-kings, but rather thongs made of Parisien silk, each adorned with an amulet of their protector, Jerry Lewis.

Our heroes stop for lunch....a meal of steak and French fries.  But they are confused by a food which possesses a French name, yet is American. 

Treachery, it seems, lies around every corner.  And exactly like Tolkein's famous Fellowship, betrayal by one of the circle of friends is suspected!

It seems as though Fred is trying to change the maps!!  And our hydrocephalic hero is dumbstruck.....his helmet removed, his stocking hat barely able to squeeze on his engorged cranium....he is confused and speaks nonsensically.

And while the Fellowship teeters on the brink of disbanding, a lecherous Gollum-esque figure appears and shows interest in the heroes' quest...

What becomes of our Fixie Fellowship?  Well, before night falls they arrive safely in Chartres, across an ancient bridge which possesses no guard rails....

I was hoping for a Monty Python ending, myself.....something rather like this.

But then I remembered that this was a French film.....c'est la vie.....maybe if the foot was hairy, though....

Pedal on!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dear PooBah: Friday Mail....special Gargoyle edition.

I am haunted by gargoyles. 

Gargoyles that have mystical powers of thwarting my best laid plans.  There is no other explanation.  Case in point.  Last weekend was a three-day weekend if your place of employment honors MLK day like mine did.  The weather, as you know, was freezing fog. The riding; slightly more enjoyable than having my scrotum plucked.  Tuesday, I was back at work with precious little time to ride, and what happened?  The weather broke.  Patches of sun, with warmer temperatures.  By Wednesday, we were in the midst of a tropical heat wave, with sun, blue skies, balmy temperatures and dry pavement.  I sat and observed it from inside the asylum I refer to as my job.  And the gargoyles in the heavens, who parted the clouds, giggled.  As we approach the weekend, my weather obsession once again, begins to ramp up, and as I look into that magic 8-ball that has become to me, I see this.

I can practically feel the warmth of their rotten gargoyle breath on the back of my neck from the peels of their laughter as they look over my shoulder at the forecast on my screen. My gargoyles live with me year-round but are especially excitable during periods of cabin fever.....And they are invisible to all but me.  I have discussed them at length with the GEEC, but she thinks I'm crazy....."There are no cosmic forces at work against you," she says as I spill a venti cinnamon dolce latte in my crotch.  The heat of it initially feels good, until the scalding, burning sensation takes over.  I feel like Mr. Robert Wilson as he tries to fly home from a sanitarium where he just spent the previous 6 months recovering from a nervous breakdown in the Twighlight Zone episode called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

Not seen it?  Nevermind......I'm not surprised.  My gargoyles are my own - no one else can see them.  I alone bear witness to their scheming.  No one was there to see me try to drink from my frozen bottle while riding last weekend, only to have the plastic literally split in half within my squeezing hand, thus showering my face and chest with ice cold water.  I looked over my shoulder to see if they were on their bikes behind me, smiling with the smug satisfaction of possums sniffing shit.

And with that dear readers, I bring you another installment of Friday Mail.  Have a good weekend, and should you hear the flutter of wings, and the gnashing of talons behind you, do not fear.  They are not hunting you.....I am forever their prey.  Rest assured, they will find me with a pinch flat in the midst of a downpour on Saturday and will ensure that the GU gel I'm about to ingest is rancid and will give me the galloping trots for the remainder of the weekend.

Dear PooBah:
I am loving the Tour Down Under!  Did you see this photo of Allan Davis playing with a baby wallby and kangaroo?
Mike R.

Yup, I sure did.  There is a saying that goes "A fed animal is a dead animal."  This just refers to the fact that if you feed wild animals, then they may lose the drive to fend for themselves, and thus have a poor quality of life.  Therefore, by feeding kangaroos, you are actually not allowing them to pursue the call of nature.....But then again, kangaroos might be different....

Dear PooBah,
I used to be a junkie and my life was a waste.  But then I bought a bike, which allowed me to start riding to my religious services regularly and I've completely turned my life around....I just want all of your readers to know that cycling and the good word can work miracles!
Damien M.

Damien -
Fantastic news.....As a fixie rider, I bet you can bust some sweet tricks.  And I also see that you've got quite the spoke card collection.  I've got an idea.  I'm going to send you this new spoke card....put this in your wheel the next time you are hanging with your boyz and when it bursts into flames, pop a mad will be epic.

Dear PooBah-
Can you settle a bet for me?  Which cyclist has the best mane of all time?  Cipo?
Cyndi P.

Cyndi -
Not even close.....I'm calling a tie between Roberto Gaggioli and Laurent Brochard.

Dear PooBah:
I'm entering my first road race this spring and because I don't belong to a team, I don't know what to wear.  If I wear my replica Team Discovery pro kit, I'm going to be accused of being a poseur.  If I wear my Pink Floyd jersey, I'm going to be accused of being a Fred.  If I just wear a plain jersey, I'm going to look like a complete amateur.  Do you have any advice?
Yours -
Sheldon H.

Several things to realize.  You are in a no-win situation.  No matter what you show up in, you will be laughed at, either blatantly or privately, but more likely, both.  Welcome to the wonderful world of cycling.  Secondly, it's best to realize now that you are all three of those things....a poseur, a Fred, and an amateur.  So am I.  This is our lot in life.  Tough titty.  So, my best advice for being in a situation in which any decision is bad, is to go in deeper....all the way.  Don't be afraid of the Fred.  Embrace the Fred.  Be the Fred, Sheldon.  And remember this....."Do or do not.....there is no try".

Pedal on!