Monday, April 28, 2014

Thought for the Day...

I don't have a lot of time for today's post as I need to finish drafting my dissertation entitled 
"Nuclear Fusion and YOU." Hopefully this will be the ticket to landing that Genius Grant from the MacArthur Foundation. 
Meanwhile, this comes across my radar via social media: 
And I am fucking outraged. Yeah it was a year ago, but hey word doesn't travel too fast these days. I mean, with all the social media out there, you can show me a picture of your fucking dinner or your cat. But when a kid is killed while riding a bike, it gets swept under the rug because motorists are protected by the law that says: "oh, you didn't see him?" or "oh, he should not have been riding in the streets." Since we don't matter to the general public, all you see on your Facebook feed is your relatives "sharing" the Tea Party agenda, or "Try this crazy wrap thingy, it really works!" Indeed, life has been made less important than your sepia-tone "selfies," and which restaurant has the best "cronut." 
I'm getting a little off topic, but I think you hear what I am driving at.

Basically, Lady in a huge ass SUV hits 3 teens riding bikes. All three were riding with traffic (which is correct) and hit from behind. The driver claims "in court papers the accident caused her “great pain and suffering” and accuses her victim Brandon Majewski 17, and his two friends of negligence, calling them “incompetent bicyclists...” 

She is suing the dead teen's family, as well as the two other teens she hit for "more than $1 million"
 for "emotional trauma." 

I can't even begin to rationalize this in any way. Nor can I accept it as reality. 

I'm going to stop here as I often make an ass of myself and say something offensive (more so than usual anyway) but I leave you with this: If you cannot operate your vehicle without killing someone, you just might be doing something wrong. If you cannot operate your fucking brain efficiently enough to realize that suing the person you killed is absolutely ludicrous on the face of it, well then there is a special place in Hell for you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

The one day a year we pretend to give a shit about our planet. Whether you ride your bike because it is "green" or because you simply love riding, today is a day you can celebrate the bicycle's ability to get you somewhere without costing you something. Unless of course there is a 30 MPH headwind in ALL DIRECTIONS,  in which case it may cost you the loss of the use of your legs for the rest of the day. Yeah, if I sound a little bitter, it's because today's commute sucked ass. I might have shit myself in that last push to get to work on time. Hell, it's over now. Sitting here enjoying my $5 coffee and typing away, hoping that the random ticks from the keyboard will congeal into something intelligible. Reflecting on the fact that I have spent $10 in gas in the last two weeks makes me feel pretty good about my "carbon footprint," which looks like this:

Now I know where the hipsters get that smug feeling from. It starts with Instagram pics of your shadow in high contrast, and ends when you suddenly become this:

Fuck it, I have already moved to Portland in my mind. 

Happy Earth Day everyone. Go ride your "mother fucking bike"

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

If your bike is making a noise, it is trying to tell you something. If you don't understand what it's saying, then it is a good thing for you that I speak Bicycle. Everyday I act as an interpreter between you and your machine. Just like an auto mechanic, I too will ask you to describe the sound. Mostly to laugh at the ridiculous sounds you will make, but in reality, to try to chase down the noise.

You: My bike is making a ticking sound.

Me: Is it a  tick or a click?

You: It's more like a creaking sound

Me: Hmm, that's a horse of a different color then.

You: What?

Me: Never mind. Could you describe it for me?

Me: It sounds like your bike is trying to have sex with you ;)

Seriously though, how can you simply ignore loud noises like this? If it sounds like a nest of baby birds, it is not because it is a beautiful day outside, it's because your chain needs lube. If it sounds like a Mack truck trying to come to a stop, you probably need brake pads. After all, it's not a truck, so it shouldn't sound like one right?

I have been meaning to share with you, one of my favorite moments over the winter. This guy comes in because his shifting is "sluggish."

"Holy shit dude!" I could not believe what I was seeing. I mean, sure, I have seen housing "shrink" but not on this level. If you are unfamiliar with what derailleur cable housing is supposed to look like, here's a "pictographical representation."

This dude's looked like this:

For the most part, I don't blame this guy. It was his first bicycle after all. But shit man, when you see wires dangling from your cable housing stops, it's probably a good idea to get that checked out. Also, when this starts to happen it makes the most fucked up noise of all. If you rotate the bars left or right, it sounds like the head tube is cracking in half. It is easily fixed, and even more easily spotted when YOU SEE FUCKING WIRES STICKING OUT WHERE THEY SHOULD NOT BE!!!
But I won't hold it against him
After all, it could have been worse. I mean, at least he's not this guy:

I kid because I care.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My favorite things: Made in the USA

The last time I spoke on the subject of my favorite things, I showed you a couple of brands that you can get either factory direct, or from a dealer, but both were made in China. To me, there is no shame in purposefully buying things from China or Taiwan because let's face it: most of the stuff in this industry comes from there. I compared each product I was speaking of to that of an American manufacturer.
The only reason for the comparison was the fact that most American made cycling products are simply the benchmark by which all other quality products should be measured. The argument I made for the other products was simply based on value for the dollar. It is understandable that most American made products are more costly than their foreign counterparts. I thought it only fair to share with you, one of my favorite products that is both made in the USA, and affordable.

It is no secret that I am a big fan of BikeSnobNYC, aka "Wildcat Rock Machine." He is a hell of a lot funnier than I, and as a result, more widely read than myself. Not only is he a blogger, but a published author, father of seventeen (17), and has collaborated with Walz Caps, to bring us some bike snob themed cycling caps. When I saw them, I decided that I had to have them.
I paid little attention to who made them because I was more concerned about the subject matter. Little did I know that the quality of the products from the California based manufacturer would far surpass the quality of caps I already own. I mean, I never gave any thought to who makes the caps that I wear. "A cap is just a cap, right?" Wrong. I currently own about 12 caps, all of which represent brands that I own (or had owned), brands that I trust, caps from shops I have visited, and caps that were sitting there on the shelf on days that I needed a cap (right place, right time). If I had one complaint about cycling caps it was that they only helped me in the winter. Keeping heat in, and with an ear band, kept wind out. In the warmer months however, I needed a way to keep sweat off my face and rain off my glasses when the clouds would roll in. I would find myself overheating quickly if I were to wear a cap in the same way as in the winter. That said, I feel I just might have found the perfect all-weather cap.

I got three (3) Walz Caps, 
and they all have distinct qualities that set them apart from the rest.
The first of those was the cotton, black and white, 4 panel BSNYC cap.

A very well fitting, and light weight cap. You would think that a negligible weight difference would not matter much, but a heavier fabric just cannot allow for moisture exchange. If it can't breath then it just stores heat and moisture. I like the addition of what seems to be an actual sweat band inside the base of the cap.

Rather than soaking up the sweat and showing it, it seems to have the wicking properties of any good base layer. Wicking as defined by Wiki:

 "The purpose of the inner layer is to draw the sweat away from the skin to the next layers, which makes the wearer feel warmer and more comfortable. The transfer of moisture happens due to capillary action. This is sometimes called wicking, and thus the used materials are called wicking materials. When moisture has moved from the skin into (nonabsorbent) clothing, it has more surface area and will evaporate faster."

If this was not the intention of the materials that Walz used, then it was one damn fine, happy accident (though I have not confirmed this with them, I am sure they knew what they were doing). After some hill repeats this week, I was sweat free in the head band area and could not be happier. Finally, a cap that I don't want to rip from my head mid-ride. 

The next cap is their wool offering. Complete with a "murdered out" color scheme.

Also emblazoned with the BSNYC theme with a bill that fits much more like a ball cap than a cycling cap.
Unlike most other wool cycling garments I have experienced, 
the fabric is very thin to the touch. It is extremely form-fitting so 
It fits very nicely inside a helmet without feeling bulky 
and is still just a warm as any other wool product.
This is a really well done cap. 
The price point is about $10 more than the cotton cap but hey, 
wool is not cheap. 

The third cap is a bit more unique. Having nothing to do with Bike Snob, but everything to do with cycling.
In an effort to put caps back where they belong in their traditional place on the podium and cycling culture as a whole, this special-edition cap was inspired by Bill Strickland, designed by Superissimo, and produced by Walz. Upon receiving mine, I took the obligatory "selfie."

Beyond being another well-made cap, 
it's the message that is important with this one.
"Caps Not Hats"  Is not merely a Hash Tag or a catchy marketing slogan, instead, it is an attempt to preserve an important article from cycling's past. Replaced by a common ball cap, the cycling cap atop a champion's head showed his allegiance to his sponsors and team. See, back in the day, cyclists were not required to wear helmets and wore a chapeau which was not only functional as a sweat mop, but showed who they rode for and made them identifiable to the fans. Teams wore them as a sort of uniform. Now, with helmets required, caps seem to take a back seat because teams can paint their helmets with the team colors and name, making the job of the cycling cap, sort of obsolete. On the podium however, it is not the beloved cycling cap that they reach for, instead, the trendy trucker cap. 
Probably because some genius marketing strategist decided that 
"it's what the cool kids are wearing these days." 
Who gives a shit about the "cool" kids though? If it means selling out your traditions in order to reach out to a new demographic, then perhaps you are marketing to the wrong crowd. That's all I am saying. You don't have to be on the podium to wear a cap. No, you just have to know what it means to wear it. If you bike, it is your right. Even all the silly hipsters that use cycling caps to show which coffee they drink have continued the tradition of cycling in a cycling cap. Even if it was because it was pink and said "Campagnolo," it still honors, in its own way, cycling's past. What does that mean for the cycling cap's future? We will not know unless we put the cap back where it belongs. A cap for every head that has an ass on a bike. A bike for every ass and so on... 

So be sure to visit the great folks at, where you can find all sorts of awesome caps including caps for a cause, which benefit many great organizations.

Be sure to pick up one or five from them, or your local bike shop.
Then, get on your damn bike. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Training wheels...Who needs 'em?

I am working on a couple of longer blogs right now which I plan to post soon. In the mean time,
Am I the worst dad ever?! The question is rhetorical of course, as I do not beat the shit out of my kids. So at least I am doing better on the dad scale than some of the ass hats out there. The reason I ask is that as a professional bicycle mechanic who lives, breathes, eats, and bleeds bikes (and after all the eating and bleeding, occasionally shits bikes) shouldn't my 6 year old be riding a bike by now? Her bike is too small for her and it still has training wheels. She rides it in circles in my garage/bike shop, and occasionally on the side walk. Beyond that there is not much in the way of safe passage outside of those places. Plus, riding a bike with training wheels on a side walk can be really hard to do for a kid if the sidewalk is junk. Her mother and I are getting her a new bike but the question is: training wheels on this one? I say no. I know she is old enough to ride without them, but will she? I figure she may fall down a few times but,
A) We all did, and
B) Maybe she won't fall, 
but instead be naturally awesome like her Dad.

I picture it going something like this:

(...she will be a Storm Trooper in no time!)

In reality, she never really learned  to ride a bike, she just learned to pedal in circles. That said, she is a talented kid. She is really smart and I am sure she is up for the challenge. I just worry that she will get hurt and not want to ride a bike. My sense of urgency to teach her this year came after I had a conversation with a local mom who came in to the bike shop on Saturday. She went on and on about how proud she was that her "little girl just learned to ride without training wheels..." When I asked how old she was, I was embarrassed once she told me she was "6." Compared to the children of the non-"bikey" moms and dads out there, you would think that my kids would be riding circles around them by now. But they are not and that makes me sad. 
I bring this to you, the reader, to lend me your advise. While this blog only draws about 200 readers of each post, many of them are spread across the globe. Nations including Japan, Australia, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, India, UK, US, Canada and even Singapore, are reading my mindless dribble on a regular basis. Especially the European readers who live in places a lot more bike-friendly than here. How did you teach your kids? 
Seriously, what do you think?
...After all, I started this blog to start a dialogue, not to talk to myself. I really do value your advise, and could not be happier that people all over the world are reading this. Even if it is just to say "hi," please leave a (positive) comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks again for everything! -Jason