Category Archives: bicycles

Gravel Grinder

A quick post with a pic of my latest bike mod.  I have been in a quandary about my Specialized Tricross. It is a very nice bike with components I like, but it never fit me correctly. Not horribly small (56cm, vs a 59-61 which I really fit on), but a little undersized and the bars sat a little too low for an old fart like me. After an attempt to sell it, admittedly half-hearted, I decided to make some small but functional mods and see if it changed my mind.

Specialized Tricross "Gravel Grinder"

Specialized Tricross “Gravel Grinder”

I actually saw my first “gravel grinder” reference after I finished the bike, but that matters not. It accurately describes the bike, though I would also accept “Suburban Assault Vehicle”. The only mods were swapping out the Crabon Composite fork for a Surly Cross-Check all-steel and beautiful unit, and swapping the stock wheels for a “niner” wheelset and 700×35 Conti CyclocrossPlus knobbies. All parts courtesy of eBay, and I had Berlin Bicycle perform the fork swap so I could rest easy about that phase. As it turned out I still needed to set up the headset tension, but not much else.

Ride Report: Yep, these tires are kinda draggy, and I have made a few tweaks to the fender setup to get the spacing right. Under hard acceleration there is the occasional rub of rubber on fender/brake, and I am not sure why. The good news is that it is a blast to ride, feels like it is on rails, and swallows up bad road surface like yours truly swallows up rum punches. That means, with alacrity. The Surly fork let me keep an uncut steerer, and that got me about an inch of stem height. My back and neck are very happy about that.

Final Analysis: Great mod, easy to execute, achieved desired result, and didn’t cost much. My Rivendell is still a better bike for my style of riding, and I could run these wheels as a second option with not much more than a brake adjustment. Which is pretty much where I am ending up. It is still a great bike, but I think I have to make a full-hearted attempt to find it a good home, and in stock trim with the original wheelset.

Anybody want a good deal on a clean Tricross?

American “Helmet Culture”

Having suitably pimped for the excellent Urban Velo magazine, I can now get into one of the things that really caught my eye: The November 2012 issue, and John Greenfield’s excellent interview with the “pope of urban cycling” Mikael Colville-Andersen. And like the pope, he hails from the Vatican City of Bikeolicism, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Being a bike evangilist in Copenhagen is like being a cheese evangelist in Paris. Lots of choir to preach to. So when I read about Mikael getting irate about our American “obsession” with helmets, well, I think it lacks context. Going on the obligatory rant about why he is a charletan is pointless because he isn’t, and I both respect his expertise and appeeciate his opinion. But the upshot is that he misses the point. If we had Denmark’s bicycle infrastructure and were all nerded up about helmets and Spandex, his comments would be apt. But we don’t. And purposely or not he makes a badly drawn criticism of our dilemma.

The dynamic has alot to do with both the history of America, and the current state of the discussion over transportation. We have a history involving half-baked concepts of “rugged individualism”! Which is a problem now that corporations are people, and they get massive government handouts, but if you are a regular ‘murrikin individual you go without a bike lane and any of that candy-ass shit and strap on a styrofoam helmet and roll the dice. Denmark has, I am sure, plenty of rugged individualists, or maybe more specifically, rugged socialists. They have made a massive committment to public services in all sectors, but you see it in transportation infrastructure immediately and clearly. I have heard that when you buy one car in Denmark, you pay for three. The usage taxes roughly triple the cost of purchasing a car. They have made a committment to socializing the cost of the automobile, and using the proceeds to maintain roads, and diversify transit modes. I saw it firsthand in 2009 and it was a shocke to be on a divided highway, and seeing a parallel bike path over the entire length. As well, it was roughly parallel to a train route.

If you haven’t noticed, the discussion in America is about maintaining the infrastructure we have, or at least it should be. There is a bit of head-in-the-sand going on in the current infantile political morass we are being subjected to. But we can at least pretend that there are adults involved… Whether it is bridge maintenance, paving, safety measures… much of it is either lacking or failing, so improving and diversifying it just doesn’t get onto the radar. This collides with the fact that most Americans who want to ride a bike are doing it on motorways. Those roads are designed for, optimized for, automobile traffic. It is the kind of place where a bicyclist might need to take evasive action, or even lay their bike down. They can be rough, potholed, and if you ride on the shoulder or breakdown kane, strewn with jagged debris. Since most cities have ordanances prohibiting bicycles from sidewalks (a bad place to ride a bike anyway) you are sharing a lane with cars, and often parked cars as well. This can put you into the “door zone”. There, an inattentive driver will flip open their door, right in front of you, and you get a “door prize”, aka a “dooring”. How do you feel about helmets now? You will ride on roads with poorly enforced speed limits, where traffic hits highway speeds in residential neighborhoods. Helmet? What color? Despite your day-glo specialty clothing, which Mikael especially loathes, you are left dodging potholes and texting drivers, stoned teens, golden-agers, and all sorts of fun folks, while trying to predict their behavior and “ride safely”. Visor, or no? Urban cool or road racer style? Why double down on a broken collarbone with a side of TBI if you don’t have to?

So without belaboring the point, there are many reasons why an American bike rider would wear a helmet. Looking past the criticism of the device, the helmet, I am totally fine with the point behind the snark: could we build effective infrastructure for modes like the bicycle or walking, lessening the need for excessive safety equipment, and making those modes more accessible to all? That is a dynamic that has the power to shine through even the densest, sootiest, Scandinavian Smug.

Bicycle Thoughts in Deep Winter – 2

One great resource for bicycle reading is Urban Velo magazine out of Pittsburgh. In the great tradition of mags like Tape-Op and Beer Advocate, it is a sharp focus mag with a strong identity and strong opinions. In this case Urban Velo has a fixed-gear focus with a strong undercurrent of Bike Friendly and Bike Awesome development. Check them out, and if you like them get a subscription and support them.

Been There, Haven’t Done That

As much as I like what I see in places where bikes have a place in every day life, it is not lost on me that for every Portland, OR story or Manhattan High Line, there is China. China was bike-dominated until as recently as 15 years ago, and has since given over to the automobile in a huge way. I believe that is an indicator that much of this urge to return to bike-friendly fantasy land could be seen as a First World thing, a luxury item where it is easy to want it when you don’t feel you need it. But the difference, as I see it is about where on the development continuum you are. China is a rapidly growing economy with a huge demand for western conveniences. In time they will want to be less dependent on fossil fuels and want a return to bicycle-scale transport. What “First Worlders” have in spades is the opportunity to become more flexible and less dependent. Bike lanes in places like the US could be like Social Yoga, bringing flexability back to a too-rigid frame.

Aggro Culture

In my small part of the world the bike world is dominated by “racer types”. They are nice folks and all. You know, some of my best friends wear spandex bibs! There is a kind of split in the bicycle world between “racer types” and pretty much everyone else. Everyone else rides for fitness or for enjoyment. Racer types ride in more of a competition mindset, and they typically ride faster (less differential between their speed and the speed of a car). Far from being the spandex mafia (though they are) the racer type is a good fit when you lack bike infrastructure. That physical and mental profile can get you comfortable with sharing roads that lack even the most basic bike facilities, like a shoulder with painted line. In areas with real bicycle infrastructure the rider is able to ride in a more relaxed fashion, in normal clothes, at a more moderate pace. The bicyclists we see in Amsterdam, or Copenhagen, or Montreal for that matter, don’t have to duke it out with inattentive drivers on their commute. The “barrier to entry” is much lower, and in the best cases the barrier is actually higher for automobiles. As opposed to some cases where there is a “chicken or egg” paradox, in transit there is no paradox. The transit follows the path of least resistance. The best infrastructure provides the least resistance. If we had throngs of square-peg dorks on Dutch Bikes clogging up secondary roads it would be obvious, but in the case of suburban New England, the bikes are the effect, not the cause.

Back to the Future

To tie back in with the previous post: In central Connecticut, I think that the pessimism over Fastrak is based on lack of experience with successful transit projects. We have a popular rail-to-trail system that recreational bicyclists love, but it does not act as a commuter route for most users. That is recreation infrastructure (linear park) but it is a bad example for a commuter solution. The target for Fastrak is getting people into Hartford for work or entertainment, and then home safely. As the Capitol of Connecticut, and one of the most commuter-intensive cities I have ever been around, there is hope that demand for a better/cheaper solution to local transportation should be a winner. The on-the-books population of Hartford is roughly 125,000, but the “daytime” work week population gain is anywhere from 70,000 and up depending on your data source. A city that bloats from 125,000 to 200,000 in the morning and then deflates by 6pm. That is a commuter rich environment, and an option poor environment.

One of the weirdest arguments is that nobody will use infrastructure. Every example seems to point in the opposite direction. We have Metro North rail system linking the shoreline from New Haven to NYC and beyond. It is positively clogged with riders, and any increase in capacity is filled in short order. We have rail-to-trail and greenway projects that are again, filled to the brim with walkers, bikers, strollers, birders, and if you want to observe the Yeti-like rollerblade, that’s where you go. The same for State Park infrastructure, rivers with fishing and swimming, and boating opportunities, and infrastructure of their own. So we can assume that if you build it, people use it. Just as in those scenarios we can facilitate that use, just as we have done by connecting hundreds of thousands of rural residents to highways and malls with vast networks of solid two-lane. Nobody is asking for infrastructure at that level, but the scale shows how resources are allocated to support a single mode of transportation.

Bicycle Thoughts in Deep Winter

The winter of 2012 was a wonderful aberration. In most of New England it was the “winter without a winter”. While some people remember the lack of skiing, skating, ice fishing, or snow plowing, my memories involve bicycles. Not the lack of bicycles, but the amazing gift of a winter bicycling season. Unseasonably warm temps meant that I was taking rides around town in January, and not covering every inch of exposed skin against frostbite-inducing winds.

This winter, not so much. It has been business as usual with heavy snows, cold arctic-born winds, and our favorite form of frosty excitement: Wintry Mix! If it is, say, 37F and raining, and maybe some ice, sleet, snow, or other unknown matter is along for the ride, you’ve got Wintry Mix. Actually it is formal slang for “crappiest of winter weather” and can mean anything from a foot of ice nuggets to rain showers onto frozen ground at 19F… black ice machine weather. As a result there has been less time for riding and more time for thinking about riding.

Bike Curious

On top of that I have been following the progress of CT Fastrak, the project previously known as the New Britain Busway. It has many of the markings of a successful transit diversification project. As a pure transit service concept, this particular project is a loser. It provides one mode, rubber-tire buses on a closed roadway, in an effort to provide a service that nobody asked for. At least not that we know of. I have been around Connecticut long enough, and New Britain specifically, to know that it is possible that *many* people in New Britain are big fans but don’t have a voice or don’t feel comfortable in the current discussion.

There is a silver lining for some of us, tarnished as it may be: the southern half of the Fastrak project includes a 5 mile bike/pedestrian path. That solves a problem for me by eliminating one of the worst sections of my bike-to-work route. As usual, it creates another problem by dumping me in a residential area with zero bike infrastructure. That is where I would have been anyhow, but the idea is that the bike route ends near absolutely nothing. If there is nothing but the chance to ride on the shoulder of the road and battle it out with the texting and driving crowd, it can very easily turn into a kevorkian-esque piece of social machinery.

One thing I would like to find is a commitment to development that leverages the Fastrak project. If you are a struggling city you could do worse than have your own transit corridor to jobs and commerce. Location of residential or commercial development with good access to the Fastrak system would seem to be a given. To me, that is the identifying trait of successful transit development. The city needs to buy in for it to be a success. This could mean residential development in the South End or on the East Side, with solid tie-in to Fastrak.

I need to see more about mayor Tim O’Brien’s planning vision before resolving that question. I think he is doing a solid job as mayor, so maybe I need to look harder. In fact, I will. To hear the anti-busway voices, providing transit from New Britain to Hartford, Connecticut is a masterpiece of unintentional comedy. And of course, if that drives the dialogue, they could be right.

Bike Friendly

I recently had the very good fortune to attend a few events where the new direction of the Connecticut DOT has been touted, and even illustrated. The Bike Walk Connecticut membership dinner was a last minute thing, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Bike geek stuff is usually a hit with me. On top of that I was able to see Dan Esty, the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP, where I am employed), speak on the topic of transit infrastructure and how great bicycles are! I have seen the same thing as part of my job, but seeing it “in the wild” was good for some perspective. Dan Esty was an infotational and positive as always. That is a compliment.

As well, there is a 600lb gorilla in most of the high-level communication about bike transit. I appreciate the enthusiasm, no doubt, but most of these presentations miss the fact that those bicycles are ridden on roads with zero bike-safety structure. You might get some painted lines, maybe even a “sharrow” or two. Might. probably not.

Bike Agnostic

Being bike-friendly at the destination is about showers and bike storage. We have had that at DEEP headquarters for a while now thanks to a few people who saw opportunity and bingo! Bike Racks! I had the good fortune to attend an awards event where a Deputy Connecticut DOT Commissioner awarded a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Business award to DEEP because of the agency’s bike-friendly policies and basic infrastructure (Bike Racks!). The DOT showed up with a great slide show on the bicycle infrastructure improvements in Connecticut. I am looking for a link to that content. It is a good example of how priorities at the top effect the actions of the agency.

One of the projects he brought up was Fastrak. I took the opportunity to ask, after the meeting broke up, “why didn’t we get the last 5 miles of bike trail on Fastrak?” Apparently the right of way was too narrow to accommodate more bike lane. I nodded and all, but I have a hard time believing it. I believe the answer, but I wonder what the prospect for the entire project is with the half measures and lack of continuity. As another attendee said “If they needed the space for cars, they would get it”.

I am happy to have a 5 mile section of bike path, so it is a net positive for me [less likely to be run down by a driver hitting 65mph on Cedar Street]. But, it would be many times more useful if Fastrak extended into Hartford. The right of way issues should be a spur in the replacement infrastructure department, but it seems to be off the radar. The challenge now will be to upgrade the roadways that extend from the ends of the bike path, giving them wider shoulders and better sightlines, and allowing more of the surrounding population to reach the trail by bike, and end up in bikeable distance to their destination. That is how you link a community to a job source, and consumers to stores, without tying them to the car as a solution..

YAPP – Yet Another PED Post…

I have written a few posts about Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) here on the blog, and I am pretty sure this won’t be my last. I find it fascinating that major media outlets like ESPN seem to completely miss the reality of the story despite the constant attempts of the story to explain it to them.

The fundamental premise I work under is that PED use is ALL about recovery (with an asterisk for endurance sports). The prevailing theme is that it is all about MUSCLES, like some deranged Popeye comic strip. But little by little the inescapable thrust of PED news is all about recovery from injury. A-Rod, or as uber-mensch Steve Somers would say, A-Roid, gets identified as a possible user of Deer Antler Extract! Fucking “deer antler extract” is where these people are willing to go to enhance their ability to recover from injury and surgery. Alex Rodriguez is, in my opinion incredibly gifted as an athlete, and a complete tool in his interaction with the public. He is also enduring the derailing of his top-flight, top-paying career by injury. He isn’t getting body slammed by linebackers, or enduring the physical grind of hockey. He plays third base for the New York Yankees. Not exactly the decathlon, but they play a 162 game regular season. As I previously opinionated with respect to Barry Bonds, these players have the physical tools, but they have to be able to recover from the constant onslaught of games, batting practice, and conditioning work.

My point here: is it really fair to keep upping the ante in team sports, and not give players tools to recover? Equipment gets more specialized, playing surfaces become more specialized, training diets become honed to a razor edge… but when a player takes a ligament strain, repetitive motion injury, contusion, bone break, etc… we basically tell them to use 1968 technology for recovery. I am well aware of the need for continuity in the record books, but that doesn’t mean that Jacoby Ellsbury has to play in 1940’s footwear. Nobody is telling Vince Wilfork to strap on the leather helmet.

While it may seem like I am promoting the opening of the PED floodgates, I am actually saying the opposite. I believe that the floodgates are open NOW, and that many athletes know what and when and how to dope, and most do not get caught. They use facilities like anti-aging clinics and overseas blood-therapy clinics, and they are not going to stop. They have too much riding on it. IT WORKS, for one thing. They have to negotiate ridiculously short recovery times after surgery or injury in order to stay on the field. And if you can take something to prevent injury, well that is just a whole lot easier and any sane person would go that route.

Back to the centerline of the sports-media depiction of PED’s: They are not looking for better controls on use, or better research, or better testing. The real story is the interaction of sports culture, sports technology, and sports medicine, and the disconnects in that network. As the sports fan (and media) becomes more accustomed to the television revenue, salary cap and team payroll issues, the entertainment factor, and the business factor, should they not also acclimate themselves to the medical realities of sport?

One of the biggest sports stories of 2012 was the recognition by the NFL that brain injuries were becoming a factor in both current players, as well as retired players. Several high profile suicides, and a general easing of a taboo on talking about mental health and brain function issues by NFL players, brought the issue to the fore. Simultaneously there was an eruption of PED-related news, including the spectre of PED’s influencing baseball Hall of Fame voting to Lance Armstrong confessing to Oprah about PED use. (Egad! is that what it comes to? Oprah as Confessor? No wonder the sports media are so thoroughly screwed.) The facts were there for anyone who was interested. Yes, Lance Armstrong is an endurance athlete (asterisk mentioned above), and his PEDs were more in line with oxygen management drugs, but I feel reasonably sure that enhancing recovery from both daily stages, races, and training was part of his regimen as well. I think an honest assessment would indicate that recovery in multi-day events was Job One.

Just like A-Rod and Bonds, and most of the NFL from what I can tell, Lance has some amazing natural abilities when it comes to human strength and endurance (if only I could endure him as well… he has become the Ray Lewis of the bike, simply unwatchable). But as you might expect, so are many of his competitors. Pro-level athletes are both self-selecting and benefit from sport-specific training. Anyone who thinks that a doughy, pot-smoking couch potato is dropping some HGH and running a 4.2sec 40 yard dash should stick to comic books. But if you are watching a 325pound NFL lineman run a 4.6 40, consider that he might be able to handle that kind of exertion, plus the exertion of four months-plus of benchpressing his opponents if he has a pharmaceutical tailwind. You should be OK with that, within reason and out in the open.

As I have already gasbagged it enough here, I’ll just say that i think it is time for the sports fan, the sports media, the sports industry, et. al. to grow up and realize that their ravenous demand for more, bigger, faster, stronger, ouchier sports is not fed by faceless laborers on some distant planet. Real doctors working within a real testing program can keep those highly paid athletes healthy longer, both on the field and and beyond their playing days. You just need to stop pretending that Tinkerbell is the ideal sports league commissioner.

 

Why you should ignore Lance Armstrong

There is a habit among many in the mainstream media, and an outright addiction in sports journalism: “pacing the story”

If you go to the heart of the matter up front you undercut your ability to milk a story using incremental updates over a week or more, filling a lot of column inches or hours of talking-head TV and radio programming.  I hate that, which is one of many reasons I am a bad candidate for conventional journalism.

So I’ll condense Lance-gate: The people who want to use the legal system to recover money from Lance can’t get their money if he is prevented from being Lance Armstrong, Inc.  So get off his back and let him earn a living, and then US Postal and the Times of London and all the other people whinging about how they were “taken” can find some meat on the bones if they win in court.  Otherwise they get symbolic victories, and no actual cash.

Got it?  Good.  Now we can all avoid being taken for a ride on the Lance-coaster, and not have to watch him tightrope his way through his half-assed “confession” with Oprah.

This whole Lance-charade is a personal-scale take on “too big to fail”.  Remember that if I owe you a few hundred dollars you might just have me whacked and cut your losses.  If I owe you a million(s) you are going to to put much more value on my continued well being.  Consider it “Citizens United” through the looking glass. Personal Corporate-hood.

You can read all about it next week after the requisite media buffet-line has been satisfied.

I Like A Bike

Now for something much less serious… bikes!

I have always had a love for bikes. Whether it was a sidewalk bike, my old Stingray, the 10 speed that my dad didn’t use (but I sure did), a freebie BMX crasher that I rode around the parking garage in college… all the way to the present where I can afford a “decent” road bike. I like the feeling of freedom, the uncomplicated nature, and the sights and smells that I am shielded from in a car. Back in the late 00’s I had not been riding as much because of some attitude and health issues. As usual that didn’t last long.  I always end up back in the habit of riding, one way or another. I decided to give the bicycle another shot as a part of a fitness program, and this time it was a program designed (by me) to not cause any injury and allow me to keep up a steady level of activity without burn-out.  FWIW, I’m in year three and so far, so good

As many of the male persuasion are wont to do, I became somewhat “serious”. Ick. Clipless pedals, bike shorts, and other trappings of the “Spandex Mafia” ensued.  In my case I was lucky enough to have a few chance encounters that changed things for the better. The first was that while searching for some kind of accessory, maybe pedals or a rack, I stumbled upon Rivendell Bicycle Works of Walnut Creek, CA. The products were neat, and the attitude reminded me of the old Patagonia catalogs or The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance. I kinda plugged the name “Grant Petersen” into the back of my mind and went on about grokking the website.  I started reading the articles, and they led me to a grand realization: I Like Riding Bikes. The articles on the Rivendell site are a collection of essays on thing like how to fit a bicycle to a rider, clothing, shoes, and so on. The common thread is one of keeping it simple and fun.

I started to take a fresh look at bikes, and specifically *my* bikes. Why were they uncomfortable? Why was I having foot pain? Why was I worried about a one-pound tool kit when I was 30 pounds overweight? Why did I feel worse at the end of a moderate ride than when I started? All excellent questions, and they are all apparently akin to heresy in virtually every bike shop in North America. Aerodynamics, efficiency, and technological trickle down from the ranks of elite cycle racing are the themes that dominate most shops. All other forms of bike are pathetic and to be viewed askance, if at all. A mild exaggeration. Very mild.

First order of business: Fun-ifying my Specialized Tricross. Flat pedals, fenders, better saddle, lights. The transformation was dramatic. A bike that I would only ride on sunny days and on bone-dry roads was now a suburban assault vehicle. Foot pain: gone. Back pain: less. Fun Factor: elevated. One problem still remained: the bike was on the small side for me, and the fit was never going to be great. Most bike shops will put a rider on a frame about 4-6cm shorter than the rider would like. This is because sport riders find the smaller frame to be stiffer, and quicker handling. For most riders what they actually get is a cramped “cockpit” and handlebars that are too low. In my case I am a 6-footer and something in the 58-61cm range would be a good starting point, hence, I took the shop advice and ended up on a 56cm cyclo-cross-over. FWIW, the Tricross is a great bike, and it can fit a wide range of riders and riding. If I had gone with my gut, put my foot down, and got it in a 58 or 60, it might very well be my main ride today.

This “fun” epiphany led me to take another look at bikes that I own, but were sitting unused. I made a few simple modifications to my old mountain bike, and created a bike that was amazingly fun to ride. Before that it had been a truly awful mountain bike. Dating to the mid-1980’s, this Peugeot “Orient Express” is basically a small touring frame with 26″ knobbies and a straight bar. If I wanted to buys a Japanese-made lugged steel frame bike today, which is what the Peugeot is, it would cost me about $2,000.  I bought it used back in 1989 from a co-worker who was leaving to man a fire lookout tower in Alaska. I rode it on trails back then, but it was a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, it was several disasters that actually did happen! The bike sat in my garage waiting for me to realize that it was a great bike in bad-MTB clothing.  One set of cruiser-bike slicks, one swept back handlebar, and the springer seat from my Specialized Expedition, and suddenly it was a great freakin’ bike. Currently dubbed the “sand panzer” it positively reeeeeeeks of fun. Floating over every obstacle, stable on loose terrain (including its namesake sand), and comfortable on my normal 15-20mi rides. Do I look like a bit of a dork on it? Yes, yes I do. Am I having a great time? Hell Yes.

What the Peugeot taught me, again, is that I really enjoy riding a bike. Like the way a kid enjoys a bike. That I still enjoy the freedom, and I can still handle the physical nature of it, and maybe most important I am re-convinced that if it doesn’t feel good it probably isn’t good. This bike feels great.  Hence, the Tricross got a similar treatment: Clipless pedals, overboard. Racing posture, eliminated. Any excess gear, canned. I went back to riding flat pedals in sneakers* or hiking shoes, and keeping the technical clothing to a bare minimum.

With that bloated premise it should come as no surprise that the writing and thinking of people like Eben Weiss (bike snob nyc) and Grant Petersen have resonated with me. I recently read both Peterson’s “Just Ride” and the Snob’s newest book “The Enlightened Cyclist”. I find a lot to recommend in both. I’ll put full reviews in separate posts, but know that “Just Ride” is retooled material from Petersen’s website and Rivendell Reader newsletters, and The Snob wrote a nice philosophical treatise while still remaining Snobby as all hell.

Here in New England we are about to hit the best part of the bicycling season, and I thank Grant and Eben for helping me get back to the fun part of it, and re-engage the bicycle on my own terms.

*(One of the few times a random fellow cyclist has struck up a full-fledged conversation with me, and I mean a total stranger who I was passing at the time, was a man who was dumbfounded that I wasn’t using clipless pedals.  He was similarly shocked that not only did I know of them, but I had use them and ditched them!  I even had the audacity to know why they were causing the freakin’ neuroma in my left foot and that going back to flats had solved the problem.  He gave me this weird lecture about how I should really stop riding in street shoes.  Honestly… WTF?)