Saturday, January 26, 2013

TRASHING GR AND THE WESTSIDE ONE BEER BIKE AT A TIME


The bike of the future? Is era of the Fat over already? Well have another beer, beer snob and Fat Bike lover and don't worry, it will be okay. Now blow into this breathalyzer you drunken loser.


There's a new bike in town and I wouldn't have know a thing about it until I ran over an especially snarky story posted on Fast Company Connection, written by digi-journo Mark Wilson about Joey Ruiter's latest two-wheel work of art. You can read the entire article here.

Mark Wilson is a writer who started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day. His work has also appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, ... 
Just so you don't think that the story and the writer aren't real, and that I've been "Catfished" by Wilson, drooling on my iPhone or laptop while I slip into my nightly coma reading his culture kidney-punching prose, above you'll find his photo and a sample of his digi-journo accomplishments. I love the part about "giving back." I think that's a lot of what I do so I'm beating him to the punch: Crazy Bastards -Giving Back Everyday™. 

Of course for all I know, this could be the "real" Mark Wilson, and the tin hat on his head could be the entire Fast Company Connection facility. But maybe not ...

Here's the complete headline and photo that kicked off the article about the unusual "Growler" bike. 
The Growler Bike: Pedal Power For Beer Snobs
THIS BIKE’S INSPIRATION IS THOSE WHO’VE LOST THEIR DRIVER’S LICENSE TO A DUI BUT MANAGE TO KEEP ON TRUCKING.

I'm okay with the headline, in fact slap some fat tires on this baby and you'll probably see them lined up by the hundreds in front of Founders every night of the week, standing by to cart the beer snobs and their Growlers back home. The other part, about the DUI inspiration, I found a little troubling. I wasn't quite connecting Micro-Brews and DUI's. The latter makes me think more "Miller Lite" and Sport Bars. But that's just me. Which is something the maybe Wilson should have said to himself sometime while writing this story. 


In the interview with Joey Ruiter, creator of some wonderful works of art on two wheels (maybe you've seen one of his bikes displayed at the Grand Rapids Art Museum during art prize) Ruiter tipped his artist's beret to the ingenuity of the people on the Westside that cobble together some pretty crazy bikes.

Here's an excerpt from the actual article. Read on, readers ...


“The West-ee’s is a term for people in our community that lost their license for DUI and now use bicycles for everything,” Ruiter explains. “Local bike shops help outfit commuters with a rack and such. The carts, baskets, trailers, packs, whatever, that they make are all really great.”





Here's what Ruiter was talking about. Hey, I could use that. Does it come in carbon?
Taking Ruiter's quote about his "inspiration" Wilson grabs the artist's paint brush out of his hand and turns it into a roller, in which he rolls over everyone in the Westside ...
Here's what Wilson had to say about Grand Rapids and the Westside:

I’d never heard the term “West-ee” before this interview, nor had I ever heard any word for people who now ride bikes following a DUI. But I imagine them as a highly ingenious sect of Ruiter’s hometown of Grand Rapids, a people who have all the charm of a cartoon hobo (the kind with the handkerchief tied to a sick) and all the ingenuity of an Apollo 13 astronaut.

Mark Wilson and his Editor, Cliff Kuong, didn't give us an illustration of what they think Westiders, or West-eeze looked like. But when you start calling people cartoon characters, I think you need to bust out the cartoon. 

A Konkles or a Kousin's kustomer? I saw him walking down Leonard just like this - and it was January!

But it doesn't stop there. Wilson keeps on going and his next interpretation of Ruiter's thoughts takes it to a whole new level, I think. But you decide.

The size, shape, and weight of the Growler creates a multitude of issues,” Ruiter tells Co.Design. “It should be as protected as possible, it should feel like the heart of the bike, the motor, the power, and really focus the attention on it. I overthink everything.”
But in reality, the Growler City Bike isn’t just about safely stowing your moonshine. It’s about moving on with your life after a bad decision--and finding a way to move on without the promise of making any better decisions in the future. In other words, it’s human nature on wheels.

So Wilson has really flipped the switch here. You're not riding a bike because you want to, it's because you made a bad decision, you're stupid and you'll never make a good decision in you're life because you're not capable, or because you're not from Kalamazoo, where Wilson is from. And Micro-Brews are now "moonshine." I'll alert Founders, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, Hop Cat, Brewery Vivant and the new Perrine Brewery today.

So here's what Wilson sees when he looks at the Growler Bike:


From the language, I'm thinking this is Pulaski Days - How Westee can you get?


 I sense a sense of superiority by Wilson and company. Maybe it's because they are from Kalamazoo. Maybe it's because there are no windows in his mom's basement. But  I can "totally" see why you'd feel so above it all living in Kazoo. Kalamazoo is the the real center of the cultural universe, isn't it?  I mean look at what they've contributed to society.


I'm sitting by my drool covered iPhone waiting for a call to do a story on my new bike design. What do you think I should call it? 

My thought is the "Whiner-Winer." What do you think?

Monday, January 21, 2013

CZECKING DISCS BRAKES, THE RIVIERA AND CRANKY BELGIES



 Martin Bina took the win on a snowy and slippery course in Hoogerheide this Sunday. 

With the top guys like Nys, Albert and Pauwels falling on their asses all day, in what I could understand the announcers describing as "Holiday On Ice Performance," Czech rider Martin Bina just rode away from the crowd to take the win. This isn't the first time I've seen a Czech kill it on ice - they are pretty good at - and it was a great day for Bina to shine, it's his best finish, in a big race, ever.


Here's a look at the last lap of Hoogerheide, with Bina taking the win - pretty tricky riding and racing, and plenty of crashes. Czeck it out!


Here's Bina in unhappier and muddier times.

Since I had never heard of Bina before, I was like "who-the-hell-is-he-what's-team-and-what's-riding?" before the dude had even crossed the line. I haven't really researched his team much, which looks like just a big "E" or something, but I got on the bike right away. At first I thought it was Specialized Crux, first because it looked like a Specialized Crux, and two because the most famous Czech rider, Mr. Pink himself Stby-Stybar rides a specialized, and since there are only about six people in the Czech Republic that race cross, I thought maybe Styby just let him use an old one - on that wasn't pink.


Here's Styby on his pink Specialized Crux, with matching Specialized helmet hat.


Martin Bina's bike: It's a Merida! Who knew?

While I was a total fail on the the Bina's Team I did find out what bike he was riding. It's a Merida. Ever hear of it before? Me either. While there wasn't a lot of information on Merida website, which seemed to cater to the Australian market, with the catalog copy was nothing but a boatload of bad Chinese translations - the company was pretty forward looking, though, and both the high and low (carbon and alloy) bikes in their cyclocross series both featured disc brakes. Here's what the Merida site had to say about that:

"Once the UCI allowed unlimited use of disk brakes, cyclo-crossers have extended their enormous application range once again: They are sporty like a road racer and master off-road rides like MTBs. Making it the ultimate solution for sports equipment and/or everyday riding fun."

 I'm not sure about what extending enormous application range, means or WTF the ultimate solution for sports equipment and/or everyday riding fun ... is all about, but okay, that's cool, just get a better translator next time, I'm not going to hold it against the bike. So I'm thinking while everybody was falling on their ass Bina was riding that shit like he owned it because of his awesome disc brakes, right? 

Well on closer inspection it looks like Bina Czecked out a Merida with canti's, instead of disc brakes for his World Cup racing and winning Holiday on Ice performance.


On closer inspection, and after an eye test, those were canti's on Bina's bike, and Albert on his wheel at Hoogerheide this weekend.

So you'll say I'm just a disc-brakes-for-cross hater, but oh well, that's life. I did however enjoy all that Merida website copy. Check or Czeck it out about what they had to say about the history of cyclocross.


"Ambitious road racers visualise tough athletes on mud covered bikes when they think of cyclo-crossers. This challenging bike sport was "officially" born at the French Riviera around the turn of the century 1899/1900 after it had gradually emerged from the winter training season of road racers. The appearance of cyclo-cross machines have changed and have developed mass appeal over time–without negating their origin."

Well I'm certainly glad that cyclo-cross machines have changed and developed mass appeal without negating their origin, 'cause that would suck and I would have a whole garage full of "negated cross machines" in the garage with nowhere to go. I was also surprised to learn that cyclocross was born on the French Riviera. That's news to me - I mean can you imagine a cyclocross race here?



The French Riviera - where cyclocross was born? You're kidding me ...



Yeah, there's  a few really nice sets of barriers down by the beach you can practice on ...


Wait, you mean Nationals isn't going to be on the French Riviera again this year? F#%#@ that sh*t! (Jeff "Lil Pony Weinert picking up a top-ten finish at Nats but probably wishing he was racing on the Riviera, I'll bet.)

IN OTHER BAD TRANSLATION NEWS, THE U.S. AND NYS GET DISS'D BY THIS JACKHOLE ...


Who is this guy with crazy hair product, squatting with a road bike in the snow and hating on Nys and America? Let's find out, shall we? 

Adam McIntyre sent me a link to an interview with what appears to be the Sunweb Napoleon Games Director Sportif, as we call 'em; a guy named Jurgen Mettepenning. Seems like this Jurgen, or Jurgie as I like to call him thinks he can manage both cyclocross and football (really, it's soccer) and he's pretty bad-ass at both - or so he thinkgs. He also has a lot to say about Nys, Albert, Kevin and Klaus and having the World Championships in the U.S. The whole thing is like the worst translation ever, even worse than the Merida website, so if you'd like to ready some garbled snarkiness by the guy above go here. Otherwise I give you my own take below.



"Jurgen Mettepenningen: "Sven should show less disposals'"

What in the hell the headline above means, I'm not sure, but maybe Jurgie is saying that Nys should recycle more and not throw so much stuff away - like all those trophies and bouquets he throws out of the window of his tricked-out camper.

Here's a description of Jurgen by the writer:


"He came out on the football field and in the drive they had but little of him. But Jurgen Mettepenningen today is a figure in the microcosm of the cross. His team, Sunweb Napoleon Games, won Klaas Vantornout the BK and in two weeks, it is to Kevin Pauwels. "I've always said I will not stop until I'm a world champion."
I can't figure out who will be World Champion, Pauwels, or Jurgen. You tell me. Here's what Jurgie had to say about Nys ....

"Sven would totally fit in my team. Three years ago I have been in negotiation with him. It was close, but I'm glad we did not come to an agreement. Look at his camper: his own logo stands higher than that of the sponsor. I think Nys takes his own person more important than the team. 
Brave sponsors who accept it. "

I'm glad you didn't get Nys either, Jurgie. Smart move on everyone's part here. And, oh yeah, it would take a brave sponsor to rake in all the dough Nys would make for you. Here's what Jurgie had to say about Mr Personality, Kevin Pauwels ...

"He is my top favorite. The trail is perfect on its size. And he can totally relax go: for us this season have nothing. We have Belgian sweater and victories in seven television crosses. Our year is double thick and successful. "

I think the trail he's referring to is the course in Louisville. The old double thick and successful deal, I'm not so sure about.  But I think whatever you're talking about, Jurgies, it would have been double-double-double thick with results if you had bought everybody, including your top favorite, one of these things this year.


Yeah, Jurgie, next year, if you're not managing Manchester United, buy some chain keepers for your boys.


Just a few weeks ago a dejected Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) at the finish in Rome after a last lap mechanical cost him a podium result. (His chain fell off.)

You could use the same photo this weekend (if I could find it) only with a dejected Kevin Pauwels crying over his bike after his chain fell off while he was in contention for the win, or at least a podium finish at Hoogerheide. It was just more of the same .... here's what Lars van der Haar, who finished second to Bina this weekend at Hoogerheide had to say about the incident.


“The initiative only came from Kevin [Pauwels] or me. When he (Pauwels) dropped his chain it was up to me. I came back on him but then I bobbled. In the final lap I came close again but not close enough,” Van der Haar said.

Final Jeopardy question for Jurgie was about the World Championships in the U.S. this year ...

Finally, what do you think of that World Cup in the United States?
"Honestly, I do not see the point in that. When I see what it cost my team, I say it can not. All respect for the work of Peter Van den Abeele with the UCI. He has an interesting vision and delivers excellent work, but must cyclocross really internationalize? All sponsors are Belgian-Dutch oriented. Let us be honest: Cyclocross is a sport for Belgium and neighboring countries. So let us also here the crosses organize. Here we have least knowledge of. "


Least knowledge, for sure Jurgie ...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WELCOME TO THE CYCLIST LEPER COLONY AND THE NEW LANCE EFFECT


Yeah, fly it to the moon, will ya? I've just about had enough of both of you.

So last night I work late, can't make the regular ride so I opt for a short spin around town. I wear the wrong gloves and my hands are freezing so I stop for something warm at a nice restaurant and bar. I cozy up to the bar, start to order a glass of something, when I notice everyone in the place is looking at me. Admiring my sweet kit? Marveling that I am such an awesome/asshole kind of guy to be riding in such cold weather? No, none of the above ...


Walking into a bar in cycling kit last night during the Lance news segment was like being Cleavon Little's Black Sheriff in the Racist town in Blazing Saddles.

It took me a moment to get it. Then I look up and see three or four big screens with Lance all over it. Lance riding. Lance time trialing. Lance climbing a mountain. Lance drinking champagne. Lance climbing onto the TdF podium. Lance lying to reporters. People are pointing and laughing at me - "hey, there's Lance, right there!" On-the-screen graphic meanwhile are shouting: DISGRACED CYCLISTS ... LIAR ... CHEAT ... and so on.


Not my favorite sport or rider right now, just sayin'.

So while I'm sitting there being laughed and smirked at because I'm stupid enough to be a cyclist, I start thinking that I'm getting this shit just because Armstrong wants to race in sleeveless, mid-drift jerseys with Magic Marker scrawling on his arms and legs. I already don't care for Triathlon Culture now, this could turn me into a Tri-Hater. I really hadn't come to throwing down on the whole "Lance Thang" but this just about cut it. I mean pop culture crap like Oprah just doesn't do it for me, so I don't watch - but you can if want to - that's your problem. The other thing that came to mind is that Lance is more addicted to attention than he is to anything else. So I guess Oprah appearances are about right. Douche.

So here are the top questions, in 2013 that I'm already sick as f*ck of hearing:

#1 WHAT DO YOU THINK OF LANCE ARMSTRONG?

#2 DO YOU HAVE A FAT BIKE?

#3 DO YOU THINK DISC BRAKES HAVE A FUTURE IN CYCLOCROSS?

My answer to all of these questions is the same - watch this video and learn, kids!




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mechanical Failure Tuesday With Race News And More!



Apparently the sticky frozen at Nationals was a problem for disc brakes and other moving bike parts. Photo CXMagazine.


Here's a little look at the race and conditions on Sunday - watch it until the end - lots of footage of Tom Burke, who turned a great performance in his race, taking a Top Ten - and apparently on Disc Brakes, as you can see in the footage. More about Michigan racers at Nationals later this week.

It appears that tough conditions at the USA Cyclocross National Championships, in someplace called Wisconsin, uncovered some issues for disc brake technology on cyclocross bikes, just this past weekend. While many of you know I have been a long-time disc-brakes-for-cross-bikes denier, you probably think that I felt vindicated in what went down on Sunday. But not really ... well maybe.


One of the first reports of disc brake failure was made by the guy who races this bike.

I first heard about what was happening with disc brakes at Nationals from a Face Book post by Leonard Zinn. While I don't usually read a lot of "Zinn," because I'm not 8-feet tall and don't need 195 crank arms, this headline immediately caught my attention, because as I said, I am a Disc-Brakes-For-Cross-Bike Denier, and probably a bit of a hater, too.

"Bright future for disc brakes fades briefly under a coating of Verona mud"

At first I wondered, where the hell is Verona? Italy? No, it's just outside of Madison, WI, where the Cross Nationals have been held for what seems like the last 19-years. Instead of relying on his own load of technical knowledge, it looks like Zinn went out and did a little investigative reporting. Here are a couple of excerpts from his VeloNews article ...

VERONA, Wisconsin (VN) — The bright future of disc brakes in cyclocross faded briefly under a patina of watery mud at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, as early competitors found themselves brakeless after a lap or two of sloppy racing going into the weekend ... 



Well you could always take them off and use them for Pizza Cutters ... (my comment, not Zinn's)

“I’ve suddenly become a disc-brake hater!” says Michael Robson of Moots, who has reviewed cyclocross disc brakes all season for VeloNews.com. After taking a number of practice laps on Friday in anticipation of his 40-44 race Saturday and having no brakes left at the end of each lap, he planned to ride his cantilever-equipped bike and relegate his BB7-equipped machine to the pit.
“I totally see now why the Euros don’t use them,” he says. “Cranking brakes down every lap – hell, no!”


While I had also eschewed the use of disc brakes because of the additional weight (Adam Myerson's number reason for disc-hating) plus the cost of retrofitting wheels with pizza cutters, the crappy noise they make when you ride them in wet and dusty conditions, along with the fact that I don't think you need that much braking power on a cross bike, I never thought that the f*cking things would just quit working in wet and muddy conditions - one of the selling points had been that they would be better in bad conditions, right? Well I guess not. Maybe product testing should have included riding them through some mud, huh?


Not only does mud screw up disc brake performance, but large snakes can also hinder braking, and going performance.


Here's where I learned most of what I know about putting disc brakes on anything but Mountain Bikes, where God meant them to be.


And here's what I'm thinking bike engineers manufacturers were planning on making the switch to all disc-brake equipped cyclcross bikes and technology future looked like after Zinn's article came out on VeloNews this week.

Of course now they (whoever they are) are saying that the problem will be solved once hydraulic brakes are brought into the mix and new pad designs and materials are put in place and so on. Unfortunately it sounds like a bunch of excuses. But maybe the guy they've put on the job can do it!


Disc Brakes for Cross Bikes! That's a fantastic idea! But I'll need to make a few adjustments ...

IN OTHER MECHANICAL AND DESIGN FAILURES: FAT BIKES REFUSE TO STAY-UPRIGHT ON SNOW! PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF!


Fat Bikes don't work so good on snow? Say it's not so!

A great series of photos by Julie McGraw from this week's Farmer's Fat Bike Race at Cannonsburglar, revealed the fact that Fat Bikes just tend to fall over on their sides in wet snow. It was topple over and crash, or just push that monster along - which would be easier with a lighter bike. Yeah, I'm a Fat Bike Denier too, so figure that in the hater-equation. Just click the link at the top of this paragraph to see all of Julie's photos of the falling and fun at this race.

OTHER RACE NEWS: TURNING YOURSELF INSIDE OUT FOR FUN AND FRACTURES!


There was so much happening this week the Inside Out Race slipped right by me: until I heard about it from the Koala Bear.

According to the Koala the Inside-Out Race just wasn't a fun and crazy race, it was something like a World Championship affair attracting the top names in the country. It was sooooo competitive that racers went to the extent of injuring themselves to get that prized step on the podium.


Inside-Out Second Place Trophy: A broken wrist (artist dramatization of a "Red" second place cast. First place were Blue crutches).


Entertaining video of this weekend's INSIDE OUT RACE - it looks like Big Mac was wearing his Bissell Skinsuit of invisibility again.

Top finishers at this year's INSIDE OUT race, except those wearing cloaks of invisibility, will move on to compete in next year's BILENKY JUNKYARD CROSS, which is pretty much the same thing, and has a lot of going in and out of boxes, cars, and buildings, and also features a lot opportunities to pick up fractures, as well as cuts, bruises sutures and tetanus. Here's a sweet taste of what it's all about ...



IN OTHER CYCLING NEWS THIS WEEK: LANCE MAY HAVE DOPED.




Thursday, January 10, 2013

CRAZY BASTARDS BIRD RIDE REPORT


This is a dramatic depiction of our ride Tuesday Night - when we were attacked by insane birds!

Great ride last Tuesday. Plenty of riders and the roads were in good to fair condition, with just a little bit of ice, but not much. Temps were mild, and well it was just a better than average Crazy Bastard ride until ... the birds attacked!

I could go on for hours about how it all went down but I thought this dramatic recreation of the incident would be far more helpful. In the video below I'm played by Tippi Hedren, who bear a striking resemblence to me. We've replaced the bicycle with a boat and the slippery gravel road with the ocean, but I think you'll get the idea. Rod (what's his face) plays the part of Dr. Phil who was also attacked by one of the birds. Dr. Phil looks nothing like Rod Whatshisface, unfortunately, but you can't always have full realism in these dramatic recreations.


Back in the lot, having recovered from the incident, renowned naturalists, hunter, killer and wild-thang gourmand Aaron Huntington decided to go back and look for our attacker who had been seen flying into the brush after his brush with Phil and I.

Here's a depiction of Aaron going back to look for the bird. I'm glad to report that in this artist rendering captures the real Aaron in action.


Here's Aaron going back to the spot where we were attacked. At this point we thought the attacker was a hawk.


But upon closer inspection Aaron saw the thing in flight ... probably looking for another cyclist to attack. "THWATS THWNO WHAWK! YWOUTH STHUPID CWAYZEE BWASTARDS, DWATS A BWARN BWOWL! is what I think he said.


Here's what did the attacking. The ordinary Barn Owl. Not big, but believe me they can pack a punch.

After discovering the best, Aaron was able to capture it using his wild-life and culinary skills, that well, we can't disclose here, he took it home and made it part of the family. 

Here's what happened to the Barn Owl later that night at the Huntington home ...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP RACING


While some of us may have stopped racing - other's haven't. In fact some think this "second season" is the best racing the year. Maybe next year for me, I'll be a spectator for the rest of this winter ...


Adam Myerson isn't the only Adam that Won't stop Can't Stop racing this year. Adam McIntyre was once again hit the cross racing road, packing his trusty GoPro, for the New Year's Resolution Race in Chicago. If you check his FaceBook page you'll find clips and photos of the pro's racing yesterday which turned out to be far snowy and slippery than this race only couple of hours prior to the main event. Powers took day one after being harrassed from the start by a TJ. Adam, in the race above scored an impressive 18 out of 66 in the Men's Cat 2-3. He was 3rd in the Cat 3's. Nice job Big Mac.

WORLD CUP RACING IN ROME: HORSEY STYLE



Saddling up and going racing. On two wheels or four legs - it's still racing. This in fact looks just like the medal for the UCI racers in Rome today (Sunday). I guess it's the "U" in UCI. 

Held on a horse race track in Rome, today's World Cup was a fast one and was actually dominated by horses that could really get out there and go faaaaast! Here's a GoPro video from the helmet of the Italian that managed run his way onto the podium.


Well, we can just be thankful that the Romans didn't put the race in the old Gladiator Coliseum, because instead of looking like a horse race it would have looked a bloody/porno episode of Spartacus Blood and Sand. I think Fabian should star in the next season of this thing ...