When you buy into a bike, you need to take several things into account:
- Road or mountain: Not everyone knows this, but most modern bikes are built with a specific application in mind. Some are better for going fast on smooth pavement. Some are built to handle offroad riding, letting you go up and over roots, rocks, you name it! Before you go into a bike shop, make sure you have a good idea which kind of bike you want.
- Cheap or very expensive: You’d be amazed at the great gulf that separates the least expensive bikes from the most expensive. A good-but-reasonably-priced bike can cost less than $700, while a custom-made exotic can cost ten times that amount. Ironically, the more expensive bike may weigh only one tenth as much. You’d think it would work the other way around.
- Which part of Taiwan was the bike built in? All bikes are now made in Taiwan, but not all of them are built in good neighborhoods in Taiwan. Ask the salesman, “Which city in Taiwan was this built in?” I’m sure you’ll get a prompt and helpful answer to that question.
- Was it built using IsoTruss technology? If it wasn’t, it’s simply not worth having.
What you may not have considered, however, is the bike color. The fact is, your bike’s color can say a lot about you, your riding style, and your value as a human being. Yes, it’s really that important. Consider:
- Red: If your bike is red, it says that you like to go fast, and also that you do not fear the sight of blood. If you are a timid rider, do not get a red bike.
- Black: If your bike is black, it says that you are either Emo, or that you don’t mind constantly cleaning your bike, because black really shows every speck of dust. I hope you’re not Emo, because Emo riders aren’t fun to ride with. They’re always listening to sad music, sighing heavily during the ride, and applying more black eye makeup during rest stops.
- Green: Don’t buy a green bike. If you have a green bike, someday you’ll lean it against a green tree or lay it down in the green grass and — poof — it will literally seem to disappear, due to the camouflage effect. Then everyone will have to get down on all fours and search for your bike by touch. It’s just not worth it.
- Orange: Depends on the color of orange. If it’s the color of orange juice, that’s fine, because that’s an honest orange. Same thing goes with pumpkin. Blaze orange is also good, but for a different reason: it will protect you from hunters. All other colors of orange are forbidden.
- Yellow: What, you think you’re some freakin’ “Mellow Johnny?” Is that it? Well, you’re not. There’s only one “Mellow Johnny,” and it’s Lance Armstrong. OK, I’m glad we’ve settled that. No yellow bike for you.
- Carbon Fiber: If I had all the money in the world, I would buy a nice steel frame and have it painted to look like carbon fiber. I think that would make an awesome statement.
- White: White is a terrific bike color, if you like to be boring.
- Grey: If you own a grey bike, everybody you ever ride with will feel slightly sadder, without knowing why. Also, they will know that you took this bike because it was in stock and on sale, not because it was really the bike you wanted.
I could go on, but I’ve lost interest.
PS: For those of you wondering why I didn’t do an April Fools’ post this year, it’s because I was busy writing one for a friend at a tech website. Click here to check it out.
I’m generally pretty good at being able to tell what I ought to wear on a ride just by looking out the window. A glance at the sky and the trees tells me what I need to know.
And so, last Friday, as I prepared for my inaugural bike commute to work, I put on tights, a long sleeved base layer, and a long sleeve jersey.
I rolled outside, got about 20 feet down my street, and turned around to go put on my Warm Front Chest Warmer (OK, it’s a dickey), a jacket, and some heavier gloves. It was cold out.
The Grand Irony of Cold Weather Cycling
Of course, just because I started out cold doesn’t mean that I stayed cold for very long. Two miles after I start riding, my commute turns up sharply as I ride up and over Suncrest — a four mile climb with 1500 feet of vertical gain.
Overweight, out of shape, and carrying a full messenger bag, I really felt that climb. Even with the strong wind and the cold day, I started sweating. A lot.
The fact is, it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside (up to a point, which I do not intend to cross). As long as you’re climbing, you’re warm.
The Evaporative Effect
Feel free to file this in the “too much information” category, but I’m a whole-body sweater. Face, arms, legs, chest, back, everything. When I ride, I am an incredibly efficient evaporative cooler.
Which, on a cold, windy day, when you’re facing a four-mile descent, is problematic.
Flying down the North side of Suncrest, I looked over at a catchbasin pond. It was iced over. So I knew, at least, that I wasn’t being a total baby about how cold I felt.
The big, open feel of the North Suncrest descent lets you see way ahead of you, giving you time to think. Here’s what I thought about:
- I need to reduce my riding distractions. Last year I really got into listening to an iPod while I rode. As I rode Friday, though, I didn’t have an iPod and realized that — at least sometimes — I prefer it that way. I think this is because when I’m listening to music, I’m thinking about music. When I don’t listen to music, I can think of other things. I’m not much of a multitasker; I can’t listen to music and think at the same time.
- I really like riding my bike. I’ve been riding the rollers for so long I was beginning to think that’s what cycling really feels like. It’s not. At all. Even though I was suffering badly from the climb, I was happy to be out again.
- My legs were channeling air into my crotch. My legs, due to their natural inverted V-shape that leads up to my crotch, are incredibly efficient at funneling as much frigid air as was physically possible right up to my nethers. On a warm, sunny day, this would be downright refreshing. But it wasn’t warm. And my tights were soaked with the sweat from my climb.
In short, my nethers became so cold it was actually painful. I became concerned about frostbite. And without becoming too descriptive, I think it’s reasonable for me to say that if it came right down to it, there are some digits I’d rather lose than others. And this was not one of the ones I’d put on the “OK to lose” list.
Eventually, of course, I got to the bottom of Suncrest, and rode into work. My nose, toes, tips of ears, fingers, and one other part were all well and truly numb from cold.
You know what really hurts? When a body part that was numb from cold starts warming up.
But you know what really really hurts? When an exceptionally sensitive body part that was numb from cold starts warming up.
And that is why, for the first twenty minutes of Friday, I kept my office door closed. I didn’t want my coworkers to see me curled up on the floor, whimpering.
And then, of course, eight hours later I got to do the whole thing again, but in the opposite direction.
And starting out with damp riding clothes.
I don’t think that I’ve mentioned before that my good friend Kenny is being sponsored by Spot bikes this year. Yeah, that’s right: the company doing that radically cool new belt drivetrain.
Well, they just sent him his bike (Unfortunately, Kenny hasn’t received the seatpost, saddle, or (saddest of all) drivetrain yet — those arrive next week). So Kenny — who just happens to have a photo studio in the back of his store — took and sent a few pictures. Always wanting to engender good feelings among my female demographic, I’m happy to share.
As a service for the ladies out there who want to make Kenny their desktop image, you can click on any of the below pictures for a larger version.
Kenny does his “Blue Steel” look. Little does he realize that I’ve let the air out of his front tire.
Insert drivetrain here. Also, check out those sexy spoke nipples.
Look at the components here. This was not built on the cheap.
I notice three things about this picture. First, Kenny looks so happy he may soon bust out into giggles. Second, due to the way the crank is positioned, it looks like Kenny’s wearing very high heeled shoes. Third, those glasses make him look like he needs to get back to work on at turning the lathe.
Like a lot of cyclists, I’m very interested to get a firsthand look at that belt drivetrain. Once Kenny’s got his bike together, I promise a good long writeup, with lotsa pictures…both of the bike and of Mr. Jones.
April Fools Jokes for Cyclists
A Note from Fatty: I’ve got a new article posted at BikeRadar today. You know the drill: you can read a snippet below, or click here to read the whole thing at BikeRadar.com.
April first is right around the corner, which means you need to put all other thoughts aside and ask yourself: “How can I, as a cyclist, make a fool of my friends and family?”
Due to the expensive nature of the sport, the complex social interactions involved, and the obscene amount of time cycling requires, your April Fools’ jokes options are practically unlimited.
I offer these as examples.
If you are anything at all like me, you have from time to time tried to sneak a bike into the stable, hoping your better half won’t notice one more bike among the legions already there. Therefore, if your significant other is anything like mine, she (or he) makes a point of scanning the garage on a daily basis, taking inventory of your bike stable to see if it has grown.
So, this April Fools, borrow a bike — a really nice bike, of about the same size of your other bikes — from a friend. Not to ride, but just to park. Put it by your other bikes in such a way that it looks like you’re trying to hide it.
And then don’t say a word.
When your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever eventually notices and asks about the bike, simply reply, “It’s just a bike.”
“You bought a bike without consulting me?” will be the response.
Look away. Swallow. Stammer. Then say, “Not exactly.”
“Exactly what, then?”
Which is when you say “April Fools!” and you both have a good laugh, or you get clobbered with the nearest heavy, blunt object. Could go either way.
Let the Air Out of One Tire
Before the ride, let all the air out of one of your riding buddy’s tires (while they’re not looking, of course). It’s a well-known fact that cyclists have a conditioned reflex to flats: go into FFTT (Flat Fix Time Trial) mode — see how fast they can fix the flat, without ever taking into consideration the possibility that nothing at all is wrong with the tire, except of course that there’s no air in it.
The best part of this trick is, of course, watching them futilely hunt for the offending thorn or piece of glass in the tire. Just for fun, keep count to yourself of how many revolutions of tire inspection they go through before giving up.
Bonus money-saving trick: After your riding friend has changed the tire, volunteer graciously to take the tube. You’ll get points for taking a bad tube off their hands, with the added benefit of having been given — absolutely free — a perfectly good tube.
Click here to continue reading “April Fools Jokes for Cyclists” at BikeRadar.com.
Here’s an amazing fact about one of my best friends, Brad Keyes: he makes a living as an independent mortgage broker.
I’ll let that just soak in for a while. Once you’ve recovered from your dumbfoundedness, I’ll be happy to continue.
Brad is also working on putting a couple of yurts on some land he just purchased on Gooseberry Mesa, which will give him the bar-none most-desirable mountain biking camping destination in Utah, which is saying a lot.
By the way, I have already gotten him to promise to do a contest on my blog to win a guided overnighter to Gooseberry once he’s all set up. It’s going to be the most hotly contested contest on this site ever.
And today, Brad’s got yet another venture he’s announcing, and a chance for you to win.
I’m not certain what makes Brad try doing what he does. But he tends to pull it off.
One of the things he’s doing right now is inventing his own sports drink: CarboRocket. Right now, he has only one flavor: mango, though I understand he’s come up with another flavor he likes just as well: kiwi-lime. He’s tried coming up with other flavors, but he’s scratched them, because they didn’t taste good.
It is, without question, the most awesome sports drink I have ever tried. Because it tastes good. It’s mellow. Not particularly sweet.
And it’s made by a friend of mine, either in his garage or kitchen (I hope it’s in his kitchen, but I haven’t asked and don’t think I will).
And, as of today, it’s for sale. You can buy it at CarboRocket.com. And you should.
But you can also win a canister of it. By — naturally — writing an awesome limerick about CarboRocket.
The idea behind this contest is ridiculously simple, although perhaps more ridiculous than simple. In my comments section, write a limerick about CarboRocket. Brad will pick as many of the limericks as he likes and combine them into a CarboRocket Theme Song Mashup, which we shall force Kenny to sing (Kenny has an awesome singing voice, and I’m not kidding). We’ll record it, put it to music, and make it available for download. Hey, maybe we’ll make a video.
If he likes your limerick, you get a 20-serving canister of CarboRocket, free. It’s that easy.
But I have a couple restrictions I’d like to arbitrarily impose, just because, as the world’s best sports blogger, I can.
- Mind your meter: If the meter of the limerick feels forced or is just plain off, it’s disqualified. Kenny’s gotta sound good when he sings this thing; you can’t expect him to squeeze in an extra three syllables into the bar just because you couldn’t think of a shorter word that rhymes with “triumverate.”
- No fake rhymes: I hate sight rhymes. I hate near rhymes. If it doesn’t seem like a rhyme to my six year olds, it’s not.
- Be both clever and bizarre. That’s not actually a restriction I’m imposing; it’s more of a tip to help you ingratiate yourself with Brad.
- Do not use the word “pocket” in your limerick. I know, it’s the most obvious rhyme to “rocket.” Too obvious. So I’m eliminating it, just to throw my weight around. You should just be glad I’m not also eliminating “socket,” “locket,” and “knock it.”
Good luck. I’m sure you’ll win. But maybe you’d better go ahead and order a canister right now, just in case you don’t.
Dear Mr. Vaughters,
I’d like to congratulate you on having your pro cycling team invited to the 2008 Tour de France. That’s quite an honor. Or at least I think it is. It’s hard to say for sure, anymore.
- Don’t let anyone eat an actual burrito
- Ask — nicely — to get a different kind of trophy
- Cut out the argyle gag. It’s not nearly as funny when you’re sober
- Do something with Zabriskie. But I’m not sure what
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