Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shop Noise

Bike shops play two types of music. Sales and mechanic.

Sales is what you hear when you walk in. Usually radio. Which is generally warm, inviting, and evokes a feeling of content. A typical choice is a classic rock station. Classic rock offers some feel good nostaligia as well as a little edge once in awhile. But, as with most radio music, it's all the same pretty much everyday.

To truly experience the heart and soul of a shop, you must lend an ear to what the wrenches are playing. The one thing the boss does not control is the music of his beloved mechanics. He knows that the crumbs of open musical selection are as important as the $10,000 a year shop regular. A happy mechanic is one that chooses his own soundtrack. Mess with this and you mess with the holy grail of every shop owner: profitability.

The following is a sampling of what we've had in regular rotation the past few months:

Thin Lizzy - The Definitive Collection
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory
Burning Spear - Marcus Garvey
Bad Brains - Rock for Light (pretty much the entire catalog including the new Build A Nation)
Led Zepplin - Remasters
Tones on Tail - Nightmusic
The Abyssinians - Satta Massagana
Fugazi - 13 Songs
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Joy Division - Substance
Van Halen - Van Halen
The Upsetters - Return of Django
Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today
Cro Mags - Age of Quarrel
Refused - The EP Compilation
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom
Rush - Moving Pictures
Manu Chao - Clandestino
Wedding Present - Bizarro
Slayer - Reign in Blood
U2 - War
Gang of Four - Entertainment!
Maritime - We, the Vehicles
The Police - Ghost in the Machine (and a homemade greatest hits disc from Wild Bill)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How to Buy a Bike: The Mongoloid Way!

Oonga moonga!

If mongoloid want ride bike, it important know how to look for bike that good and strong and big. Me not scientist, but me know how pick best bike like crazy. Better than anyone you can know. Even better than bike shop people who know nothing and want money. So, me tell you secret of buying best bike the mongoloid way!

1) Never trust bike sale person guy. He only interested in proving mongoloid know nothing about bike and want show how smart in front of girlfriend.

2) Find bike in best color with big size. Cool name also important for look good.

2) Lean bike away and put foot on pedal (it help if have shoes) and push hard to side to see if bike strong. If frame move, then bike weak and should get discount.

6) Shift bike gears a lot to see if click good. Bike shop sale person guy say not good for not moving bike, but what he know? Do again when he say not do. This give upper hand in discount ask.

J) Flex brake levers many times for feel strong grab. Bike to be moving when do this. If not strong grab bike good for nothing but good discount for not have the safety.

coconut) Grab seat and roll bike to see if go straight. If go this way or that, then good discount make for sure.

31) When ready for ride test, ask for seat all down and point down too. This make sure bike cool and the balls not hurt too much.

B) Before ride test also get asking for helmet with bigness so straps not choke the throat much. If sale person guy say on backwards, he trying impress you girlfriend the two times with his smart.

7) Say girlfriend wait in car now for time to bike buy alone.

0) Now ready for ride test! Start bike by run fastly for getting speed. Put foot mark with "L" on pedal and move the foot mark "R" over seat that is there and make touch other pedal.

123456789) Go straight now and make shift to gear that is mark of "H" on the both sides. This best gear for the riding everywhere.

&) Test bike ride over the big objects and make jump. This shows handling the hard riding and good control for making you look like the pro.

4237) Make sure tires make black line when stop. Best stop is longest line that is black.

.1111522) When make best choice that bike good for buying, ask for new bike that not been riding. This really be best bike then!

2/3) Now ready to buy but must ask best discount and free helmet, lock, pump, bag, levers, and kickstand. If sale person guy say "no I will not" say other shop would do deal but want give sale person guy chance today for make great sale.

14b) If sale person guy still say no, tell not happy and missing lots of sale from friend that want best bike too.

-*/%) Still no? He tough cookie to break so give number if change mind and find good discount at shop next.

Wow! We did it to learn buy best bike mongoloid way! If not ride much, then not feel bad because good discount was got and bike also make good the clothes hanging to dry too!

Kosuke Masuda

Cycling culture is intertwined with the art world.

Always evolving.

Form and function coexist.


Kosuke Masuda Web

Kosuke Masuda Video

Monday, June 25, 2007

Character Subtracted

Back when I had my old Concorde Squadra TSX, I used to get comments about the paint in perpetuity. First they would notice the Colnago-esque airbrushed paint scheme, which was without clearcoat and quite less stunning to behold. It was a strange palette that I can only describe as "ugly-chic". Upon closer inspection, they would notice the chips, scratches, and peeling decals and say "You should get that repainted, dude." My typical reply was something like "Aww, hell no." Or, "Fuck that."

Thing is, I liked the way it looked. It was aged and worn, no doubt. But, it had character. And I had helped shape that character by riding the shit out of it for over 15 years. There was a little bit of myself in that frame and I couldn't stand the thought of suffocating it under a bland "me-too" powdercoat. I preferred the bike as it was over some saccharine dream of what I thought it should be.

I like to think of bikes as having some form of personality. They're not just tools or toys or objects that the unenlightened deem them. I suppose it's a Buddhist way of thinking, but those that have been around and have put their miles in know what I mean.

Personality in bikes, however, goes deeper than just paint. Even if a bike is the same make and model, it's somehow a little bit different. Maybe the chainstays are a little bit more crooked this way than that (note to Joe Consumer/materialistic curmudgeon- no bike is EVER perfect). Or the overspray from the paint details on the seatstays flecked onto the seat tube in a weird way. Regardless, like what they say about snowflakes: No two are ever alike.

It's what makes us gravitate to different fabricators, philosophies, and styles of frames. What makes us choose a hardtail mountain frame from Steelman versus a double boinger from Turner. Or, the zippy carbon racer like a Pinarello Paris versus the traditional elegance of a steel Rivendell Legolas. Huffys and Pacifics have personality too, but they're the dull and inept wallflowers that nobody talks to and silently wonder why they were invited to the party in the first place.

Whichever way you go you're getting something that was the creation of imperfect hands (or machines) with imperfect materials in imperfect environments and built up with imperfect parts imperfectly. All of this culminates into a creation that is, with faults and all, unique. A bike that is quick, stiff, smooth, harsh, pokey, veers to the left, plush, silent, solid, tough, nimble, or a combination of any one of these and more.

No, I will never send a frame of my own in for repainting. I will not capitulate. Though the Concorde is no longer with me, I know the friend I sold it to will treat it with the same respect for its stock existence as I did. I can't say the same for all the other bikes that have moved in and out of my stable, but I hope they are preserved in their original glory as well.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Questions to Ponder While on Vacation

I leave for a brief vacation tonight. No bike. No work. Just me and the wife and the hope that our car won't break down when it hits the 125,000 mile mark. At least if it does, I'll have alot of sweets and drink to survive on for a few days. She's the opposite of my procrastinating, never think beyond a half hour ass. Anyway, here's some shit to whet your appetites while my car jangles it's way to Kentucky.

- Why do the folks that are the biggest, arrogant, dicks ride the nicest bikes?

- Will a Frenchman ever win the Tour de France again?

- Will I ever be as fast as I was ten years ago?

- Will I die on a bike?

- Why do people feel the need to yell out their car windows to tell me how gay I am?

- Why did the town over suggest all sorts of ways to drive and park for their annual festival without one mention of cycling to the event?

- Why is it always the bike shop's fault when something on your bike breaks?

- Why don't seemingly well reasoned people understand that a clean bike works better than a dirty one?

- Why do motorists peg the accelerator just to pass little ol' me on empty roads?

- Will we ever stop planning cities and towns around automobile convenience?

- Why do I hate saddles with holes in them?

- Why do tools disappear when I need them?

- How many bikes is too many?

Have a great weekend all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

God Save the Retards

"I'm surrounded by assholes." - Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

For all the chest thumping and hard attitudes, the U.S. is looking more and more like a country made up of a shitload of blameless, stupid, pussies. Look no further than New Jersey for the latest in weak-kneed prissiness.

"The New Jersey bicycle business may be in serious trouble unless retailers and suppliers take immediate action. State legislators earlier this week approved a bill banning the sale of all bikes equipped with current quick release wheels and tabbed tips."

Can they possibly make the quick release simpler? How do these mongoloids survive each day without walking into open manhole covers or drowning in the soup du jour at the local Olive Garden? Should bike shops start welding the fucking axles to the dropouts now?

They always wrap this type of shit in some kind of "save the children" mantra. How about saving them from dipshit parents that teach them to deflect any form of responsibility with a finger pointing at someone else and an assload of excuses?

The idiocy is profound.

Thanks to Drunkcyclist for the nugget.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No Wampum and the Death of the Free Lunch

In the world of big business there is an understanding that palms must occasionally be greased to keep the wheels of commerce running smoothly. The same goes for even the most jaded and introverted of industries, such as the world of cycling. Or, at least that's the way I remember the way things used to work.

The scenario worked something like this: Rep walks into shop for first time in two months and wants to get his account excited about his latest widget. Rep knows owner is the typical industry hack that sees through the bullshit of unanswered phone calls and blown appointments, so he focuses on the malleable alliances of the underpaid and overworked backbone of the shop: The Crew.

Rep arrives an hour and forty minutes late, but, in hand is a large box of bear claws, strudels, and apple fritters. And, if said rep has been around the block a few times he understands that the crew isn't always just a bunch of hungry bastards prone to anarchy, so he'll hedge his compromised position with wampum. Socks, hats, shirts, or other small tokens of his "appreciation for your continued business" would be carefully distributed amongst the greedy horde, thus blinding their skepticism.

It was an arrogant and patronizing display, but it worked. The rep would leave with order in hand and a satiated Crew that once again despised their boss because he never bought them lunch or gave them anything like a free pair of $8 socks. Two months later, the whole wonderfully sleazy courtship began anew.

Sadly, today the status of bike industry rep generosity is dead. The two month stretch of being incommunicado is still common, but the days of free socks, XL T-shirts, and tacky little key chains are over. But, honestly. The hell with that shit. It's the food I miss. The glazed donuts and large coffees. The maxi-pads (strudel with raspberry center) and cream cheese filled bagels. But mostly, I miss the motherfucking beer.

What's going on with these cheap bastards? I refuse to buy into the "I'm broke" argument. I mean, goddamn. You're the one that just drove up in a new Audi A6 wagon and strolled in guzzling down a venti-mocha-double-caramel-pump-no-whip-skim-fruity-as-hell- latte with the equally faggy snickerdoodle cookie. I'm the one that's riding to work, bringing his lunch, brewing his own coffee, and making his wife drive around a used, twelve year old, piece of shit Toyota Corolla everyday to save a few bucks. And, I can still afford to spring for brews or the late afternoon round of sundaes for the Crew once in awhile.

Reps in the old days were a bunch of shifty dirtbags, but at least they knew what the hell kept the biz from spinning off it's axis. When that rep left the shop and I had a belly full of sugary goodness and a fridge stocked with beer, I was his, man. Putty in his hands. Nowadays, Crew and owner are one and the same: A bunch of skeptical, sarcastic, and downright surly sons of bitches that are tired of being blown off because the account two counties over is a "platinum" dealer and we're only "bronze".

Wise up and do your jobs like professionals everyday, chumps. Messing with the stomachs and livers of your accounts is like giving the proverbial monkey a loaded gun. We're gonna go off...someday.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mad Props Vol. 6

When I was a wide-eyed, cycling-hungry lad, I used to gaze at old black and white cycling photographs and marvel at how romantic the old days of cycling were. These were the toughest guys that ever lived, I thought. They seemed to always suffer, even at rest. Their skin looked like deeply tanned leather. Their jerseys, always oversized and scratchy looking. No rider quite captured my eyes more than the great, barrel chested Fausto Coppi. Here was a man that had panache and the pedigree of a champion. And, were it not for the five years lost to World War II, may have equaled or surpassed Eddy Merckx's incomparable palmares.

Few riders are remembered with as much adoration as Fausto Coppi. Not only was Coppi the most dominant champion of his time, he also almost single handedly transformed the public image of cycling. He also ushered in a revolution in both training, diet, and strict attention to cleanliness. Fausto also infused new strategies and tactics to the cycle racing world as well as aiding in the development of innovations.

Fausto's life read like a great, dramatic novel. He had tremendous highs and horrendous lows. He was prone to depression and dismal performances. Coppi divorced his wife for the damma bianca, or "lady in white" and had a son named Faustino. The divorce had a debilitating effect on them and lead Fausto to seek seclusion off the bike.

Fausto's brilliant life ended on 2 January, 1960. He had caught malaria on a hunting trip in Africa and, initially, had been misdiagnosed for his illness. It seems the cycling world has never quite recovered from his premature passing.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

'Cuz That's How I Roll

After many years of riding I've developed a mental list of the do's and don'ts of cycling etiquette, style, and maintenance. Many people I know eschew some rules and take others to heart. Some ignore every damn one of them. Still others flat out think I'm being an elitist dick. That's cool. It's my list anyway.

-Acknowledge other riders as you roll with a wave or "Hello". Commraderie is cool and fun.

-Support your local bike shop.

-Wash your shorts and jersey after every ride. Riding behind you when you've got three days worth of armpit goo and chamois mushrooms is akin to sticking my head in a bloated opossum corpse.

-Check the cleats on your shoes regularly and replace when necessary. You like your teeth don't you? So do I.

-Rock the PRO kit. Fat or thin, short or tall, everyone looks better in the PRO kit.

-Let me warm up a bit before you put it in the 53x15 and choke the shit out of your bars to set tempo. I know you're strong, but I'm getting old. I need at least 10-15 miles to even remotely clear the cobwebs from my lungs and legs.

-Drink from the well of suffering often.

-Make sure we're out of the way when you blow snot. Mind the wind as well.

-Keep your bike clean and lubed. Respect the ride and it will respect you.

-Clean your waterbottles frequently. Especially if you're fond of the energy concoctions. They have a bad habit of molding up bottles in a hurry.

-Carry more than one spare tube in addition to 3 tire levers, pump, tool kit, and a couple bucks just in case (the greenback also makes a great tire boot that'll get you home when you're in a jam)

-Honor your word. If you tell your wife/husband you'll be home by noon, by God, it had better be by noon.

-Challenge motorists. You will lose.

-Ride like a dick. You will soon ride alone.

-Tell someone their new bike sucks. We don't need to discourage riders because of arrogant drivel.

-Put so much shit on your handlebars that it resembles the mixing table used for the next American Idol's over produced, piece of crap album.

-Ask me where my helmet is. If it's not on my head, it's pretty fucking obvious it's at home.

-Tell me to get off the road. I pay taxes for these suck ass streets too. Ya bastards.

-Throw your energy gel wrappers on the ground when you're done choking down the goo. Put them in your pocket like a responsible member of society, not a low funtioning dipshit.

-Keep new riders in the dark about how your group ride functions. If your group is fast and doesn't wait for the weak, let the rider know this before you commence smoking him.

-Get all hot and bothered because someone on the group ride almost caused you to crash or doesn't know how an echelon works. Be cool, not a chump.

-Ignore waves and "Hello's" from other riders. The world has enough smug assholes driving cars, we don't need them on bicycles too.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


The 2007 Giro was an exciting piece of three week riding and went to a deserving Danilo DiLuca. Andy Schleck the wunderkind and Eddy Mazzolini rounded out second and third, respectively.

Gibo Simoni and Little Prince Cunego were close (fourth and fifth), but not quite enough. Gibo has the excuse of being older than most of the young guns he's up against (if you can call 36 old), he's also won twice before. Cunego, it seemed, wasn't nearly aggressive enough or just didn't have the legs. Maybe for the TdF? Hope so.

The Giro's always been my favorite race. It doesn't have the pageantry and ego of the Tour de France nor the odd timing of the Vuelta Espana, which is a beautiful race in it's own right but would be better off in its old springtime running. Why, oh why can't the powers that be set aside ego and power to create a rational racing calendar?

Anyway, bravo Italy! Your tour is truly majestic.

Photo credit:

Monday, June 4, 2007