Thursday, May 28, 2009


Here is a large list of excuses the lemming CAN NOT use for posting no new material in awhile.

1) Trying to research if the Trek Y-Foil was indeed born from jets.

2) Joined a triathlete club, we go by a certain code of honor, and I was forced to swear to a vow of silence.

3) Training for my first triathlon

4) Busy trying out tips to lose weight.

5) Busy hitting amateur sporting events and yelling the names of pros at the participants.

6) Did a weight training "block" to be a faster sprinter this summer.

7) Have been trying out spin classes

8) Got engaged, she turned out psycho, and I took the ring AND the bike back

9) Loving the indoor trainer so much that all of my time gets devoted to it.

10) Tried to get in to a race, was denied, but paid an additional $1250 to get in anyway.

11) Busy shaving my legs

12) Busy working a second job to pay for all of the bike events I want to do this summer.

13) Furiously debating bikes vs. cars on forums.

14) Was hit by a black Saturn SC2 while riding.

15) Saw the last issue of Bicycling and was busy upgrading my bike with the newest bling, all in the name of saving a few watts.

16) Was out on a hundred mile out and back ride and flatted, no one offered to help, so I walked home.

17) Hitting up all of the agencies which use my tax money that I don't get to take advantage of because cyclists don't pay taxes.

18) Stopped at every stop sign on the ride home from work and realized it took much longer than expected.

19) Flatted and had so many people offer help that a small ride turned in to a several day epic journey.

20) My blogging coaches prescribed a recovery week.

21) Dating the grape eating, bento box toting woman at the bottom of my century buyer's guide and we all know what the first 3 months of a relationship are like.

The above 21 excuses would no doubt make great stories as to why the lemming hasn't posted new material for awhile. The above 21 excuses are not valid however.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Review: Hawaii Rides trilogy

Awhile back the lemming received Global Ride Production's Hawaii Series 3DVD boxed set for review, they even generously invited me to come ride the Giro with them as a recreational ride. I had to decline that offer as I'm really picky about the SAG wagons that I ride in after the main group has dropped me and left me for dead, preferring onboard margaritas and my own climate control.

I've never really done a review, unless you consider my review of the ugliest mountain bike ever, and have to say I was a little apprehensive. On the one hand writing a review means you have the possibility of being called a sellout, on the other hand you have the danger of being so immensely enthused about getting free product that you write a gushing review regardless of actual quality and your observations, completely invalidating any future observations you may make. Neither sounded good to me.

But I thought, why not risk the identified dangers for some cool bike product, the only other time I get free product is when utilizing the Performance demo program, which as the link suggests is purchasing product from Performance, using it for a short time, and returning it, something I should never do. Perhaps the scariest part of this review is that it is for indoor trainer riding DVDs. I loathe the indoor trainer and would rather pull out my toenails with a rusty pliers than ride anywhere but outside. If I do have to ride it I usually watch Nitro Circus to laugh at the antics and keep me from bursting in to tears over the loss of my soul. But just for this I pulled out ol' faithful, dusted off the cobwebs, lovingly lubed up the roller assembly and got to work. I've included as many movie references as I can as this is for training DVDs. Bla bla bla, let's get to it....

At first glance I read the box of the Hawaii Rides trilogy boxed set. I was amused and excited at the same time to read "one complete kick ass workout" on such a professional looking box. The DVDs held promise if only for that very reason, but I needed to give them a thorough flogging to see their trustworthiness.

As I got through the menus I saw I could have the music playing or shut the music off. This was a huge plus if the music would turn out to be carnival porn like what is heard on the Spinerval videos. In truth, the music was decent, although I might become suicidal if I was riding to the DVDs every night with the same music, but that's why you can shut it off and use your own if you want. I even had a giddy little giggle when a song by Fat Bastard came up and, in a trainer-induced fog, imagined Mike Myers in the Fat Bastard suit singing "If you want my body and you think I'm sexy", which he actually did as the bagpiper in So I Married an Axe Murderer. I'm easily amused by the little things.

Past the music selection I saw that I could listen to the instructor in English, Italian, and Australian. I lauged to myself thinking about Steve Irwin yelling out commands in a spin class by cracky! Then I thought it might make for a halfway enjoyable trainer ride to envision myself as Dave in the Little 500, riding with rage after the Cinzano bastards stuck a bike pump in my spokes, causing me to ride back in to town all bloody and rip down my posters while crying, mourning the loss of my fake Italian accent. As I rode to the DVDs more I found that the Australian and Italian versions were in English simply with Australian and Italian accents, that made it even cooler and made me feel very Euro and Pro at the same time, as well as obviously giving me more ride variety.

The first disc I ended up nicknaming "Attack of the grimacing man". Like any good trilogy, the hero was missing from the second movie for all but a small cameo at the end where he smiled, and the third one I lovingly named "Killing it with the grimacing man". This DVD was by far the most fun as your point of view and the grimacing man attack and pass each other over rollers for the entire DVD. It reminded me of super fun rides with buddies where you go out and just punish each other. The first DVD, "Attack of the grimacing man" showed his major kahunas as he rode the road to Lahaina, which is always packed with rental Mustang convertibles, something that would make anyone grimace. He also hugged the cliffs on northeast side of Maui where no rental Mustang convertibles are supposed to go, and had me drooling for some of Julia's Best banana bread.

The scenery on the DVDs are spectacular, it's Hawaii. As I rode to the first DVD I realized that the Hawaii Rides trilogy is exactly how I had hoped spin classes would be before I came to the realization that they were simply glorified aerobics classes, with awesome visualization of beautiful scenery and an instructor that you could listen to or simply do your own ride. The start of the DVDs had static images of Hawaii, whereas the cooldown had static images from rides around the world, that was nice, although the same on each DVD. I found the static image below amusing as this is how I feel when I usually ride the trainer, although I had no inclination to jump while riding this time.

The only thing I might mention is that the riding seemed very slow in the first DVD. Most of it was climbing and at the rider's speed, which provided realism but sort of lost my interest at the same time. Luckily it had frequent shots of the grimacing man that helped change it up and keep me motivated. Sometimes I tried to drop the grimacing man, other times I pulled faces back at him. At the end of each DVD there were strength training, pilates, and yoga respectively, which were all very sound and cycling specific. I was able to complete it several times, but other times I kicked the video and sound up to 2x, trying to relive the days of my youth where we did the same thing for 3 Amigos and laughed after Hefe told El Guapo that the 3 Amigos called them scum-sucking pigs in double speed. The DVDs are great and highly recommened for indoor training, but go to 3 Amigos if you are looking for double speed comedy.

So the final verdict... The Hawaii Rides trilogy is $75 as of today on the link provided. Considering all of the crap many people buy for training that won't do a dang thing to make them a better rider, this is an easy purchase, skip two tubs of the 4:1 recovery drink this winter and buy this instead. It's relatively inexpensive and will pay off dividends if you can actually stomach the trainer.

Which brings me to the ever important rating system, which I've divided in to lemming points and super serious Powertap points. On the lemming system, I'm giving the Hawaii Rides trilogy 3.8 out of 5 lemmings. This might be interpreted as very good since I've never done a review before, and because I really don't like training indoors, but it held my attention quite well.

On the super serious Powertap rating, I am giving the Hawaii Rides trilogy 8 out of 10 Powertaps. If I were a serious racer type, who rode my bike all winter on the trainer, or even a non-serious racer type who has the fortitude to get on the trainer in the winter, this would be a crucial part of my indoor training plan.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Racing out of category....

A little lighthearted humor for the weekend courtesy of Racing with K-Man. I would think this is even cuter and even funnier if I weren't passed by little kids going faster than me in races all the time.

Nonetheless, it's cute and you can see more pictures of the little guy over at Racing with K-Man. Have a great weekend and get out and ride!

Monday, May 11, 2009

6 Articles Bicycling or Chris Carmichael could write that would change the face of cycling forever

Monday morning and life is good even if I'm back at my mind numbing job after a weekend of riding. The 3 readers who read my blog know that I'm almost obsessive compulsive about trying to read the blogs of others who are nice enough to link back to the lemming. I've found some great blogs this way and luckily it's so easy to do that even I can do it.

The other day during my searches I found a post in fixedgeargallery about flatting twice and all of the riders who continued to ride right by without offering help. I realized with all of the posts I've written, I haven't fulfilled my true purpose which I have in my header "Be happy with the bike you have, ride for fun, stop and help someone that has a flat tire, say hi to someone as you pass them, ask for permission to "draft", don't be a lemming..." and as such my path to enlightenment is incomplete.

So, I present "6 Articles Bicycling or Chris Carmichael could write that would change the face of cycling forever". I've worded the title as they would need to be phrased for a Bicycling magazine article. Obviously they will need to be spun as only Bicycling can spin them, that is beyond my writing abilities.

"Stopping for stop signs, the hidden secret to increasing your maximum power" - As this article will have a little truth to it, Chris Carmichael will have to write it. The dirty truth is, I hate stopping for stop signs on a bike. You lose your momentum, you have to exert more effort to get going again, and it really sucks on a downhill. And red lights, if you are the only one there and it has a weight pad, you could sit for hours if another car doesn't show up to trip it. That said, if a car is anywhere within sight distance of me I always stop. As cyclists we always make the sarcastic argument that a car can't get to their destination 5 seconds later by giving us safe amount of distance while passing. Drivers seem to focus on cyclists not stopping for stop signs as their biggest concern. How about we get to our destination 5 seconds later by stopping for stop signs and give drivers one less thing they can bitch about us for?

"Stopping to help someone with a flat, how a 5 minute power rest can pay off big in time trial wattage" - Remember that day that you flatted? The first tube had the valve stem rip out, but you had a spare and life was good. But then you flatted again and found that your patch glue had dried out. This happens to the most prepared and it sucks when it does. A few weeks ago I had this very thing happen on a concrete bike path. With all the people I've stopped to help over the years I figured karma was on my side and someone would stop to help. 5.2 miles of walking and 37 cyclists passing me later I was home. No one shouted "got everything you need" as they sped by or even looked at me. A few even yelled, "get off the trail". This had to be the biggest fuck you I'd ever received in all of my years cycling.

More eloquantly, a quote from the same fixedgeargallery post hit on exactly what I was thinking, "Upon cleaning out my grandfolks house when they moved to assisted living places I found an old cycling encyclopedia of sorts from the early 70's. There was an entire chapter on etiquette that mentioned much of what you all are talking about. The author made the point that if one of "us" acts like a jerk it reflects on the whole of us whether we like it or not. It's amazing how people forget this so frequently in all aspects of life." Words to live by as we are out there riding...

"Say hi to riders you meet on the road, how this little known secret can increase lung capacity and make you climb better" - I understand that some people are "training" and can't have fun, saying hi might raise their heart rate out of their zone and blow their entire build period, and others must feel that they are above saying hi to someone as the other rider is not deserving of common courtesy, but good God we're all cyclists. It blows my mind when I go out for a ride and only 20% of the riders I meet, pass, or get passed by say hi, wave, or even acknowledge me when I say hi or wave. We're out there sharing a common love, at least acknowledge your fellow man and build that camaraderie even if it's just to say "sure is nice out" while you pass them. If we can't even be civil with each other, how can we expect drivers to care about us? Why not bond together as cyclists and be stronger, it starts with saying hi.

"We're all cyclists, how accepting others different than you can make the cycling community stronger" - Sure I like to poke fun at triathletes every now and then, and don't believe this necessarily applies to recumbents, but every bike out there makes us stronger as a whole. The in-fighting between cliches of cyclists is downright silly and only serves to alienate us all. Who cares if someone wears spandex, or cuts their bars short, shaves their legs or doesn't, or hucks their bike off 5 foot ledges? That person you are shunning is riding as well, they could be in a car yelling at you to get on the sidewalk, but they are on a bike, give them respect.

"Riding your bike, how this little secret is better than any bling or nutrition recommendation" - This article will never make Bicycling as it shakes the very foundation that Bicycling magazine is built upon. Charles Manson once said, "I’m the paté on the Universal cracker. I’m the grout holding your shower tiles on. I’m out of the saddle, sprinting up that hill and eating glazed donut bracelets off the right arm of Jesus", at least according to BSNYC. What he meant was that the secret of being a strong rider is that there is no secret. Strong riders don't read Bicycling and make plans to purchase the newest and lightest upgrades, strong riders don't read the latest hype and dump their recovery drink of the day for chocolate milk. Strong riders ride their damn bike, a lot. It's easy to get caught up in all of the hype, as there is a lot of it, but one day a light switch will flip on and you'll realize that the only way to be strong is just to spend time on your bike, and you'll be much happier for it.

"Hiking your favorite mountain bike trail, how cross-training can make you a better rider" - Mountain bikers are getting closed out of trails left and right. Hikers obviously have the ear of lawmakers even if their whining sounds like nails on a chalkboard. Yet even if you are the most courteous rider, all it will take is one day of hiking on your favorite mountain bike trail to see why hikers whine so much. All bikers aren't courteous and some are downright dangerous. Most probably aren't being this way on purpose, they simply don't know trail etiquette. Sadly, they won't learn it on their own, it's up to those of us who call ourselves courteous to educate them, nicely. If we don't, the whole cycling community will be looked down upon because of the bad apples, and that sucks balls.

So ends my "6 Articles Bicycling or Chris Carmichael could write that would change the face of cycling forever".

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shattered reflectors and shattered dreams

It's easy to get caught up in the news stories of cyclists and drivers clashing and the misinformed hilarity that ensues in the comments of those stories. Usually the hilarity involves misspelled comments, the reading comprehension of a challenged 2nd grader, and unfounded claims about each other's politicial party standings. So easy is it to get caught up in the hilarity in fact, that it could make life very unhappy, working yourself up in to a frenzy over the loss of faith in the human race. With every comment you read, you feel intelligence escaping from your brain never to be used again.

When a reader in Colorado sent me this story of a law in Colorado attempting to make things safer for cyclists. I thought to myself "a law requiring people to use common sense, finally a step in the right direction for cyclists". My sunshine quickly was clouded as I read the comments and learned that bike riders are liberal hippie socialists who "force cars to get in to head-on collisions in order to pass them". Pegging the redline on the bullshit meter and feeling myself on the road to getting worked up in to a frenzy, I decided to poke around on that site for awhile in search of comic relief instead of worrying about the comments of people seemingly barely intelligent enough to comprehend the contents of their spam containers.

That's when I stumbled on to this little story of buying a bike on ebay. Now admittedly, death threats are no laughing matter and neither is buying your girlfriend a bike, because odds are she'll leave you and still want to keep the bike. Nonetheless a $200 bike for the girlfriend was found on ebay, and one way or another I could tell this story had its roots in heartbreak.

"“We thought that one looked good because it said ‘brand-new,’ ‘spotless,’ and ‘perfect paint,’” he said. “But when it came, it was definitely not like that.”

When it came, Blackwelder said, there was a shattered reflector, scratches all over the frame and rocks in the treads."

Scratches all over the frame are heartbreaking, especially on a brand-new and spotless $200 bike, but a shattered reflector and rocks in the treads are where I draw the line. For something even more annoying, just ask the many Cannondale owners who had to return their Cannondales for lack of a pie plate, because it poses a fall hazard, why did they even buy it if it was missing a pie plate? I saw no mention of missing valve caps in the story, hopefully the bike came with those.

The story reminds me of the lemming's most priceless moment in a bike shop, I was in there getting my chain lubed (I'm kidding) when someone walked up behind pushing his bike, obviously upset. As another mechanic came up to ask if he could help him, the guy let loose a tirade. "I've had this bike for 4 months and this is the second flat tire I've gotten, what the hell kind of crap did you sell me?"

On the one hand it's hard not to feel a sense of awe for someone whose biggest troubles in life seem to be flat bike tires, on the other hand it's infinitely harder to not bust out laughing only to tell the angry man that you were thinking about a South Park episode when his anger turns to you.

Bike maintenance is comedy all in itself. I've obviously gotten in much deeper than my proficiency allowed on several occasions and had to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, only to make my "tuneup" worse. The next morning frantically calling several bike shops to beg someone to "look at it quick" before a race. Ironically, the races that are most prevalent in my memory are when a mechanical forced my bike out of the race, but still I'll never understand people who take their bikes to a shop and pay them to fix a flat.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I like Velveeta, and beer

While the debate on to wear or not to wear helmets rages on over at Copenhagenize, a separate and more sinister war of whether or not you should be bringing your cell phone along on rides is being waged over at Among other things, the propopents say it's a good thing to have if a friend has a heart attack or you get hit by a car or meet some cute biker chick out on the trail (ok, I added that one), Ed Pavelka and his minions say that bringing your cell phone along on a ride gives you an out and you will be calling home to have someone come pick you up when you are tired of riding.

The lemming thinks that whole discussion is silly, but at least they've finally gotten off the whole caffeine discussion. Trying to dictate whether someone should or should not take their cell phone along on a ride is like trying to argue with a preschooler that cheddar would taste better than Velveeta on their grilled cheese. It's pointless, and who really cares? Seriously, who really cares? Perhaps the scarier part of the whole discussion is someone bailing on a ride simply because they can, that is an ideology that I have a hard time grasping, but maybe it's just me.

Ed is probably just lucky that the readers shot down the Twitter idea, feigning no interest, otherwise he'd have to have his phone along on rides to tweet and do twitpics.

Aside from that, RoadBikeRider had a link to a good video that proves that even in a road race you have to watch what is coming from behind.

And last but not least, Andrew Neubauer emailed me the other day and we've been having a little dialogue back and forth. The details are right here:

"I am really, really sorry about that opinion article and I feel that I owe you (along with the other folks I've heard from) an apology. I meant the column as a poorly written, highly contradictory and poorly researched joke. You have to realize, bicyclists are revered in Lawrence and I thought I was taking a jibe at what is a well-respected group in a largely suburban town. Any allusions to violence being visited upon cyclists was meant to be comically over dramatic or absurdly draconian and not taken seriously at all. The opening story is true, although my bike-centered phobia may have been blown a tad out proportion (I'm really only afraid of bikes when I hear them but cannot see them, as ludicrous as it sounds). I had absolutely no intention of making any sort of rallying cry to anyone who would actively choose to abuse cyclists for any reason. As sadly pandering as this sounds, I do myself own a bicycle and enjoy riding. Unfortunately, my roommate blew out the front tire recently and still hasn't given me the money to replace it, and even more unfortunately I seem to have deviated wildly from my original point. It is clearly my fault for doubting the power of the internet to broadcast my article to portions of the country where my extremely dumb sense of humor could be understandably misinterpreted as remotely serious.

Bicycle riders seem like great, easygoing people and there is no way I would want harm or incarceration visited on any of you. Also, there is no way in hell that I would want to be anything like Zach Colman or anyone else who would be irritatingly brazen enough to declare themselves an "opinionated prick" as if it were something to be proud of. "
Looking back at his piece, he actually had some good points about bikes riding on the sidewalk unannounced and wasn't trying to say the same thing as Zach Colman, although admittedly he made poor choices with the article and has owned up to it. Where he went wrong was joking about rights to the road. He realizes now that it is a very sensitive subject with cyclists, regardless of intent, and probably wasn't the best choice for an article. That even joking about it doesn't help the uphill battle cyclists face on the road every day if even just one person takes his thoughts seriously. After Andrew apologized, he also let me know that my blog of Franziskaner Hefeweizen was a good choice, and said I should try Bitburger.

I've never revealed this, but I suffer from a debilitating disease called homer simpson syndrome, my small brain is lined with an extra layer of fluid which allows me to be hit in the head over and over with seemingly no ill side effects. What this also means is that I have a preponderance of inclination to fall in to discussions of beer. Maybe I've been hit in the head too many times, or maybe I'm just a softie when it comes to beer, but I've decided to cut Andrew some slack. After several emails back and forth with him I genuinely believe he didn't have ill intentions and just made some unfortunate choices, something I can't say the same of Zach Colman.