Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Save a few watts!

I was a little behind on the bike tabloids and sat down with Bicycling tonight. Armed with a six pack of Franziskaner Hefeweizen, I told myself I could have a beer everytime "saving a few watts" or "ceramic bearings" were mentioned. I'm now two beers in to the second six pack and it doesn't appear to be letting up anytime soon. I've already called in sick for tomorrow and had to hide my credit card lest I order all new ceramic bearings for my bikes in a drunken frenzy.

In the marginally-better-but-not-really ol' days of Bicycling "saving a few grams" was the buzzword vs. "saving a few watts". I remember lusting over a pair of Cook Bros. racing cranks when bigger hills still required a dismount on my part, it was sheer craziness and I probably honestly thought the bling would be as effective as simply riding my bike. Still, I was flabbergasted to see the suggestion to spend $109 on a set of Enduro ceramic pulleys to "save a few precious watts". It would be more effective to burn a $100 bill and let the tears you shed lighten the load and make you go faster.
The sticker shock on the $109 pulleys were enough to make me sober again, but I had to down another beer to cope with reality when I found out that Competitive cyclist has them for $199.99, zoinks! $199.99 for two little pulleys that are going to get covered in dirted-up grease? Are they cleanable with Simple Green? What about when the little teeth get chewed up by the chain? I can picture someone showing up to a group ride with $199.99 pulleys on a carbon bike only to get shelled by someone rubbing Shimano 105 pulleys on a mid-90s Giant.

So I wondered, does anyone ever read Bicycling, see parts like that, and think "oh hell yeah, I gotta have that!"? Does a purchase like that happen after a whole lot of alcohol? Does it come with a whole bucket full of remorse or better yet, a Bontrager Speed bottle and cage for $70? Do the writers actually believe what they are writing?

I'm just taking a guess here, but I've put together a couple of other myths that are about as believable as a $100+ set of derailleur pulleys making you faster:

* New shoes make you run faster

* Drinking alcohol makes you a better driver

* Your pants shrunk in the dryer

* Herpes allows you to be beautiful and happy with a love of biking and kayaking

* Adding a performance filter to your car yields 5hp

* Your wife isn't cheating on you

* Rogaine will make your hair grow back

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Bicycles should be banned and bicyclists should all be thrown in prison."

UPDATE: I received an email from Andrew Neubauer, and after taking time to clarify some things and talk with him a little, it's my belief that he had no ill intentions and just made some very unfortunate choices, so I'm cutting him some slack. You can read more about it here.

I just love satire, that's why I read the Onion each week. But I especially love satire from college Journalism majors because they have such a broad perspective on the world, especially when they found a school newspaper, or invent the internet.

I wanted to write a funny response to this, but honestly I'm just tired of it. As if Zack Colman getting death threats and having his Passover Seder interrupted wasn't enough, the ignorance continues to propogate and the "funny" satire articles continue to be written. This time Andrew Neubauer is the latest Journalism major who attempts to try and increase the hits to his school newspaper by bashing cyclists. I'm sure Zack Colman's little piece brought the State News the most traffic it has ever seen.


According to his profile on the Kansan, Andrew Neubauer has "extreme narcissism, irritability and chronic need for adulation", that is if I can read his chronic need for praise beyond what is merited correctly? Andrew Neubauer hopes to go to law school and claims to have "a wide variety of superpowers". Good luck with that one, here's a hint, prospective employers do Google searches when you apply. Do you really want crap like this tied to your name? What if your future manager is a cyclist? Take a guess on if you'll get the job...

It's Andrew Neubauer's desire to go to law school that I find most disturbing, especially when a person states, "Bicycles should be banned and bicyclists should all be thrown in prison." and "Maybe they should be subject to public flogging when they try to sneak a pleasant Sunday afternoon ride through the park."

A lawyer wanna be should not contradict himself by saying "Legally, in Lawrence, bicyclists are required to keep to the road." and then later saying "When those who have places to be honk or pass, they then yell things like, “I have a right to the road, too!” This isn’t even true. Roads were made for cars and totally rockin’ motorcycles."

Come on Andrew Neubauer, grow up, read the Onion if you want to see what true satire is. You are a senior now, prospective employees and possibly even prospective law schools are going to be looking at what you've put online when you apply. Hopefully you'll be stuck riding your bike everywhere when potential employers deny your application based on these articles and you have no money for gas. That would be prime material for satire. Not only that, but I doubt, being in Lawrence, Kansas, that you've ever personally seen a "Critical Mass" as you suggest. I'm just saying...

You can email Andrew Neubauer directly and fulfill his chronic need for praise beyond what is merited at aneub58@ku.edu or via a form here, but just remember that he has "a long-standing fear of bicycles (more specifically, people riding bicycles) that grew out of a harrowing experience from my childhood" and he sounds more than a little unstable.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Caught on tape, secret triathlon photos

It's been a great day of user submissions for the lemming. Like a shipment from Columbia House, I received a package in the mail from HTATBL Stevil's friend Robert Ives (Blue Collar bikes). Remember Columbia House? You signed up, got 12 CDs free and then had to buy 8 at over-inflated prices. You even signed up a second time using your dog's name, somehow thinking you were beating the system and that they were going to lose money from your clever scheme.

Anyway, after admitting I hadn't even heard of Minor Threat, he was kind enough to send my continuing education package and I've been listening to them on the way to my mind-numbing job all week. Details are sketchy on the price I must pay to complete my contract, but I'm putting together a few CDs to send back.

Next I received few pictures taken during a weekend triathlon from a reader who wished to remain anonymous, and these pictures are pure goodness. Watch close, this is going to get a little bumpy...

At first glance you might ask what's so peculiar about this photo. The BRIGHT orange mountain bike, the tattoos, the toe straps, the ripped-ness, the sunglasses that make him look like he's either a policeman or an army drill sergeant, or even that he's reaching behind to pull out his concealed weapon lest we find the picture funny, all of that is "normal" for a weekend triathlon. I'm amused at the great care that was taken to remove the handlebars, pull off the bar ends, the grips, the brakes, the shifters, and then put the bar ends back on in reverse. Hand position is king...

That will never get old...

This girl is killing it and getting rad! Also a part of the orange mountain bike club, she seems to take the latest trends a little far. Being a fixed gear, no brakes hipster wanna-be, but not being mechanically inclined enough to make her own fixed gear, she opted instead to go no brakes as a staunch retaliation to the system that's trying to keep her down.

They don't allow recumbents in triathlons, I'm really surprised they allow fixed gear, no brakes hipster wanna-bes!

Lastly we've got Jeff, who took to heart Men's Journal 12 weeks to your first triathlon article by Megan Michelson. With just 12 weeks and $3649, Jeff was able to complete his first triathlon in style. Note that the Men's Journal article did not discuss helmet orientation.

John, avid Men's Journal reader, aspiring to do his first triathlon in an aerodynamic tanktop

His training partner John however, wasn't as lucky. I hope I didn't lead him astray when I mentioned that Megan's expert advice of going aerodynamic with spandex didn't make sense when his cotton wife beater was pretty aerodynamic by its own admission. Sorry John, maybe Megan forgot to explain that spandex wicks moisture away from the body better than cotton, sorry...

And lastly, from the WTF files, "dude, it's your first date, look at her face, not her chest!" A Taiwanese inventor, Chen Yugang, has created a face-to-face tandem, and there is still no cure for cancer.

He had this to say about it, "On a traditional two-person bicycle, the rider in the rear seat can only see the back of the one in front. So I started wondering how I could get them sitting face-to-face."

Looks like you can ride traditinally (happy couple), face to face (new couple or that weird swinger couple who always has to tell you about their weekend), or even back to back (old married couple). "The bicycle is very easy to change. Any person can change the riding mode in around 10 seconds without the help of tools," says Chen.

Oops, Chen will explain it better, "Face-to-face is suitable for a parent and child, or dating couples, while the back-to-back mode gives both riders a good view, and the one at the back can have both hands free to shoot pictures or eat snacks." Personally I would be pretty pissed if I was up front doing all the steering and my significant other was on the back eating snacks.

Lastly, if you've made it this far, I wanted to say thanks to the small number of readers that read the crap I put out a couple times a week. I watch my site stats fairly close and take the time to read the blogs of every single reader who links to the lemming. There is some good stuff out there, and I've linked to them on the side of this blog under "Friends of the Lemming".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Motorists call me Lance

The other day I opened the gate and quietly slipped my bike out on to the street to go to work. It was a brisk, dry morning and every sound seemed to echo in the vastness of the morning air.

About 20 minutes in to my ride, a driver yelled "go Lance" out his window to me. I yelled back, "thanks, he's not my favorite, but I'm glad you can see my ability". On a commuter bike with panniers and a hipster cyst, in baggy shorts and a baggy shirt, I must have been doing something really special to be equated with the grand poobah Lance Armstrong. I arrived at work with a spring in my step, and slowly the daily grind completed its task of crushing my spirit. But as cyclists we like to claim we really know how to suffer, so enduring a life-sucking, soul-robbing job for 8 hours is not the end of the world, and soon I was back on my bike with a smile on my face.

Then it happened again, another motorist yelled "good job Lance", after that I think he turned up some Ozzy because I heard the laugh of Crazy Train, but the guitar was missing. Again, I took it as a compliment even though I ride because I enjoy it and want to get out of my car, not to be like Lance. Besides that, my shirt was wrinkled from being at my desk, and I was going much slower due to the energy robbing meetings I had endured in my own personal hell earlier that day. Admittedly the nice compliment fueled me more than any caffeine which RoadBikeRider just can't seem to let go of would ever do and I arrived home rejuvenated.

That is, until Stevil burst my bubble. Apparently motorists yell "go Lance at him too. For a moment I held the delusion that Stevil and I must be freaks of nature, and it was a bizarre coincidence that we both get called Lance. Then I read the comments and saw even more people get called "Lance" when just out riding, I knew the jig was up.

Being more passive aggressive than confrontational and knowing motorists can run over me easily if I even make a gesture back to them, I feel it easier to simply apply the same logic to anyone else out doing a hobby or something that makes them happy. I figure, if I do the job well enough, it will eventually come around to the sarcastic Lance-calling drivers.

Next time you see anyone playing basketball, whether it be an all-out game or just shooting hoops in the driveway, yell "drive the lane Shaq!". If the player looks like an accused rapist who later was found to be innocent, yell "I thought you were framed Kobe!" If they are nice enough to invite you to play, insist to them that LeBron James isn't a true athlete like Lance is.

If you see an impromptu football game going on or a dad playing catch with his kid on the front lawn, yell "nice pass Manning" or if you want to be not as nice, "how are your dogs Vick?". I don't condone that one. If they are nice enough to invite you to play, be sure to ask why they insist on wearing cleated shoes, because apparently they think they are in the NFL.

Tennis is another sport/hobby that you can question why the players need to dress like pros as I doubt anyone will be out there playing in jeans and cowboy boots. For those with trouble thinking of tennis players on the spot, reference this hot female tennis players blog. A good one might be "nice swing Anna Kournikova", creating an unintended pun and making you sound clever.

An obvious one here is "get off the roids Bonds!" This one should be an easy one to spread around as there are so many softball games going on all summer long all around town. Just remember softball often includes drinking, and drinking can make some more hostile, a wise exit plan is in order.

Hunting or singing
"Hey Ted Nugent" is a great one for either of these. What follows may need to be altered to apply to the correct hobby, but you get the picture. You might think twice about sarcasm around the hunters.

This is just a very small list to get us started. If we can show everyone doing a sport or hobby how we realize their idolization of the pros, then everyone will get the satisfaction of being associated with a pro athlete in whatever sport or hobby they are pursuing, even if they are out simply doing it for fun and because it makes them happy. That would make me happy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A note from Stevil for those in Minneapolis

A note from Stevil at HTATBL for those in Minneapolis.

Hello esteemed friends,

Remember all of the nice things I've done for you over the years? Truthfully, the list is pretty short, but if you'd really like to get back in my black, as it were, help spread the word that our struggling little buddy Steve is having a show. This is the same body of work that made heads spin at the New York Times last October, so spread the word, and if you find yourself in or around The Little Apple, then by all means stop through and save him from himself.

You guys are the best. I really mean it.

Looks sweet, if I were anywhere near Minneapolis I'd be there. Click on the picture for a larger version of the flyer with all the relevant information.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Zack Colman needs to stay in slow lane

Zack Colman

I must apologize for the terrible writing style of this particular blog entry. I attempted to keep it as intact as possible from the original on the State News here, with the exception of actually creating paragraph structure, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I didn't make paragraph structure. For someone such as Zack Colman who is aspiring to be a journalist since age 10, the writing is indeed painful. That said, enjoy...

Black turbocharged GTO. That's the car I drive -- and if you're Zack Colman on the road, but not in the slow lane, I hope you're wearing your seatbelt, because I will blow right past you. Maybe not intentionally. But you see, with all these things I can do in my car nowadays, such as go over 65mph, turn on my seat warmers because it's cold outside and my car actually has them, I might not notice you. And, considering you are where you should not be, I might blow right past you.

The simple fact of the matter is, the DOT has so kindly provided the slow lane for people who want to go slow and others whose car just can't make it up to the speed limt, and the law should be revised to require Zack Colman to be there too. The DOT has outlined slow lanes on certain roads, but Zack Colman can’t just create an imaginary fast car to use the left lanes like he does. I cannot drive fast in the slow lane, so why must you drive that Saturn SC2 where I drive?

Many of my friends have cars that are slow, so I’m not trying to berate a whole demographic of drivers. I appreciate drivers who advocate purchasing the lower model cars, since they are paying for the research and development put in to my car. I respect Zack Colman who uses a Saturn SC2 as a form of transportation, since people certainly are spending way too much on their commuter cars. But for as much as I respect and appreciate Zack Colman, I will not hesitate to flash my headlights when he is interfering with the other lanes. My concern is not merely about inconvenience.

Zack Colman and Saturn SC2s on the road are a driving hazard to people in who can get their cars over 65mph, since many Saturn drivers make turns without using their turn signals and drive too close to other vehicles when there is no designated slow lane. For example, I was driving to work Tuesday when a Saturn SC2 pulled up in front of my car in the left lane on I-405 going northbound where it intersects with Pottawotamie Boulevard. There is no slow lane at this portion of the road, and I needed to be in the left lane to avoid all of the other slow cars, but the Saturn SC2 was in the way. Instead, I had to speed ahead and veer away from the fast-approaching rear end of the car in front of me, just barely making it into the left lane.

Some will say I could be more patient on the road. But roads are for real cars, not Saturn SC2s. The Saturn SC2 should not have been in the fast lane.

It’s possible Zack Colman is trying to live out his dream of being Matt Kenseth, and the open road offered by the left lane where fast, Saturn SC2-eating cars are designed to travel on are more desirable than the right lane where everyone merges on to the highway. I get it, Zack Colman — you’re in the Daytona 500. Well, in your head at least.

But in reality, my turbocharged, dual exhaust car is trying to get around you, Zack Colman the Saturn SC2 driver. And you, Zack Colman the Saturn SC2 driver, prefer to drive, not along the right lane of the road but in the exact middle. Maybe in your head you are actually driving a real car. Maybe that’s why you believe you should be behind a pickup truck and in front of 15 other cars trying to pass you. And maybe you are Kenseth, so talented and in focus and able to drive so, so fast. But Kenseth wouldn't be caught dead in a Saturn and his average speed in the 2009 Daytona 500 was 132.816 mph, which is almost exactly double the terminal velocity of a Saturn SC2.

Plus, I’ve had difficulty finding drivers who actually obey the speed limit anyway. It’s common for motorists to drive at least 5 mph above the speed limit, which makes your task to push your Saturn SC2 to the limits all the more daunting. And considering you’re not actually Kenseth (even if you do have a #17 window sticker and muffler the size of a coffee can on your car), you likely are not going 65 mph.

And, oh yeah, Kenseth is competing when he is driving — your leisurely drive down the highway might not even register on a police radar. But, hey, snap out of it. You’re not Matt Kenseth. And those are the headlights of my black turbocharged GTO bearing down on you.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Pontiac Aztek of mountain bikes

When General Motors revealed the Pontiac Aztek at the Detroit auto show a gasp was made by the audience that could be heard 'round the world. This gasp wasn't a gasp that one hears when showing elation, but more one makes when attempting to grasp how a company could have come to such a horrid design.

Packed on to a minivan platform, which it wouldn't have taken anyone older than a six year old to say that's a bad idea, the van, err Aztek, was supposed to be "sexy, edgy, and a bit off-key". In the lemming's opinion, minivans are never sexy, even when they have their own fan club, or are equipped with a "peppy" engine, standard air mattress, and car ass diaper (tent). Although one owner (Doug) notes that his Aztek is great because "my girlfriend loves the camping package for our little 'get togethers' in secluded areas", while his wife appropriately drives a Rendezvous. An Aztek owner that can land two women? Maybe the van is sexy.

But nonetheless, Aztek owners will always love their cars despite what the more cynical of us will say about them, and truth be told, the car did have some innovative designs. But what really does this have to do with a mountain bike? Well, I opened the issue of Mountain Bike that came with my unwanted issue of Bicycling this month and the same gasp overcame me, ending with me throwing up a little bit in my mouth.

Really, I shouldn't pass judgement on the Marin Mount Vision 5.9, I've never ridden it, I'll probably never even see one in my lifetime. Yet the first thing that came to mind when I saw it was "Pontiac Aztek", and just like the Aztek it is innovative.

In my years of reading bike magazines, I've yet to see one bad review, and of course Mountain Bike loved the Marin Mount Vision 5.9. If the lemming got to test one I'm sure he would find the Marin Mount Vision 5.9 "nimble and responsive" on the trail while exhibiting a "plush yet exhiliarating and efficient" suspension response. I also have no doubt that it climbs like a squirrel on crack, downhills like a snowball destined for hell, and blasts out of corners like an angry Ken Shamrock.

Yet, it's bizarre looking, the quad-link suspension is an unintended flashback to the day of Schwinn cruisers, stare at it long enough and you see a chainguard that's been rotated upward to link in to the suspension, or worse yet you'll see a praying mantis claw. It's a $6,300 bike that is constantly going to be asking you, "do I look fat with this suspension?"

Monday, April 6, 2009

This IS your next event!

Ever since the lemming started his lucrative Google AdSense campaign, the money has been rolling in faster than my e-book sales. Blended in to the bottom of my posts (where I thought nobody ever made it to) and stuck on the side (where it shows up randomly depending on lunar tides and Tyler Hamilton race appearances), each click lines my furry little pocket with a cold, hard dime.

What this means to you is that I've acquired the rights to the Pottawatomie Pounders Century with all of my newfound cash and I want YOU to come ride the event. In the paragraphs following I'm going to break down the details, but I'd like you to know that I'm capping this at 8,000 riders and I don't want you to miss out. If you do happen to miss the cap, you'll still be able to get in with a guaranteed entry via LTS Training Systems for $1250, which any similiarities to CTS and Leadville camps are purely coincidental.

First of all let me just say that I know the ride was $39 to enter last year. It might seem like a huge jump to $129 for the entry fee, but these are tough times and the margins are thin. That said, you get A LOT of cool stuff.

First off, the schwag bag! Inside the schwag bag you'll find coupons for local bike shops, entry forms for other rides, and a little sampler bottle of White Lightning! Oh, I almost forgot, silly me, you'll also get the Pottawatomie Pounders t-shirt which consists of a white t-shirt with weird little block animation bikes going up a curvy black road with bright yellow lines down the middle, hell yeah!

But the value doesn't stop there! Stocked at each rest stop I'm going to have watered down Accelerade that's been donated to the ride, energy bars cut in half, banana thirds that are brown and starting to ooze that shiny shit, and you might even get some M&Ms!

As always, I'll have super nice volunteers who will ask you how much your bike costs, keep you ROTFLMAO with funny comments like "hot enough for ya?" and remind you to keep the "silver side up" as you go out on the ride.

Cool down and relax after the ride with a tiny piece of chicken, a small portion of pasta salad, and one can of soda as you listen to my cousin Larry (the MC) go on and on about shit over the loudspeaker that you would normally hurl your brains out to have to listen to, if you weren't so tired.

For those a little more adventurous, I'm offering the 24 hours of Pottawatomie! What I've done here is find the boringest fucking gravel road I can find and you are going to ride that mind-numbing bastard until 24 hours is up or until your spirit gives out, it will be a battle of attrition. I'm only going to charge $225 for solo riders, $530 for 4 person teams, and $645 for 6-8 person teams. It's going to be epic and this will be the only year prices are this cheap, so sign up now!

One last thing, I like getting jerseys cheap, so I'm considering including a jersey in to the price of the century next year. The event fee would be about $230 in that case, I'll assume anyone wanting to do the ride also wants to have the jersey, am I right? I'm thinking something like this, it highlights all of the things important to us bikers nowadays, integrates funny bike cartoons, and even has a whimsical "I'm down with PP, the century"... I crack myself up...

No online entry form is available yet, if you'd like to do the ride, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you.