Monday, June 29, 2009

How not to be a lemming

Late last week and over the weekend the lemming received a bunch of great stuff in the ol' mailbag. The most striking was this short video sent to me from reader Matthew. Normally the bike videos I limit myself too are Fat Cyclist shorts such as the most adorable mountain biking video ever made or the brilliant Dangerous Hicks Beer cans of Death stunt bike jump in which I find something new and hilarious to laugh at each time, but I gave this one a look.

Wow! That's the best way to describe it, "Journey as Destination" put together by Dave Achtemichuk, with additional footage by Linden Hulme is one of the better cycling videos I've seen published in a hellluva long time. The synopsis of the short video reads, "An exploration of some of the highest, most remote, and most challenging roads in the world, filmed while on a 4500km cross-Tibet cycling trip in 2007. A visual account of the local culture, the challenges faced there, and a sampling of the cycle touring lifestyle."

The description doesn't even come close to capturing it, but you'll just have to see for yourself below. Suffice it to say, their adventure is not lemming-like. That's in the traditional sense of the word of course, and there are much easier ways to not be a lemming, but in the end, sneaking through checkpoints and such, Dave has balls of steel. I can only live vicariously through people such as Dave and Linden and Sucka Pants.

That's all, take a watch below or here if for some reason it doesn't work below...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday fun, music, beer, and pictures

Another week has come and gone, that means the end of the work week for me and even less thinking about my blog, which as my 7 readers can tell has been rather sparse as of late. Blame it on the incredible riding weather, or perhaps the sweltering heat that has cooked my brain, but for today at least I've got something for you.

As always I've got some music from for everyone to listen to on this fine Friday. I'm really digging except that as many of you know, I'm easily amused, and unfortunately also easily distracted. Consequently just listening to one song turns a 30 min blog post in to an all night epic as I see new songs pop up that I'd like to listen to or hadn't heard in awhile and then my eyes continue to be averted to new songs popping up.

This week I've got the Voodoo Glow Skulls for you hailing from Riverside, CA. The Voodoo Glow Skulls can be described, I guess, as a rock/ska band. I know what you're thinking, ska reminds you of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and while they were "ok", not something you are thrilled to be recommended to listen to. Well, the Voodoo Glow Skulls are much better than that. Give these guys a shot though and let me know what you think.

I think this weekend I'm going to hit some of my favorite Franziskaner hefe-weisse. Their website describes their hefe-weisse as full-bodied and aromatic. Since I'm less eloquent I just find it smooth and tasty. The Fit Chick may be able to chime in with the ingredients this beer consists of as she surely has had this tasty beer, however the lemming sadly can not, my palette is not that refined. I can just tell when beer tastes good, I can't tell that it was fermented in 7 year old cherry wood containers with hops and blackberries picked by Germany's finest virgins on a cool, yet overcast fall day. As an interesting tidbit, their brewery dates back to 1363, which when you think about what has gone on in the world between 1363 and now, that's mind boggling. Debate it over a few of the Franziskaner hefe-weisse and it will be even more insightful.

And now on to my favorite section, pictures I've pilfered while reading my blogreader throughout the week.

Courtesy of Soulcraft Bikes

Courtesy of Rantwick

Courtesy of Paddy's Peloton

Courtesy of MellowVelo

Courtesy of MellowVelo (congrats!)

Courtesy of bicykel

That will do it for this week. Give your bike some love this weekend and remember to never drink and ride unless you can find a cool stash of Bud under a log or need to pop a double with a bonfire in the middle.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's official, Portland rocks...

By virtue of my not-so-official blog-o-meter, I'm proud to declare Portland the bike mecca of the world, followed strangely enough, by Singapore. Of course, this declaration is based solely on readership of the BikeLemming and nothing else, so it could just be that mainly readers in Portland and Singapore enjoy the type of drool I spew out. Undoubtedly it is further complicated by the fact that my clone lives in Portland and any day now plans to eat me, assume my identity, dispose of my derailleur in a non-incriminating way and move the rightful location of the lemming from Pottawatamie to Portland, thus completing the circle of life.

Until that happens just remember, if you have an uncomfortable confrontation with a surly walker on a bike trail who, when he is in his car calls you Lance and yells at you to get off of the road, but then on the bike trail tells you that you're going too fast with walkers around, it's only appropriate to say, "aren't you supposed to have your dog on a leash" when there is a real dog along, not just a significant other.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday fun, the lemming slept in

The lemming slept in today. My laziness will have to be the loss of the 7 readers I have. I was going to attempt to write my Friday fun post at my mind-numbing, soul-robbing job, however my boss is pacing the platform above our cubes, ready to haze us with a paint gun if we do personal items at work. With that in mind, I'm going to do a blitzkrieg of fun for Friday and that will have to do.

A regular reader of the lemming sent me the photo below late last night. It appears as if it might be a Zack Colman sighting. For those of you who don't remember Zack Colman, a refresher is in order.

If this is indeed Zack Colman, it appears as though he has added bike racks for street cred amongst the cycling community after the article which got under the skin of so many cyclists. Luckily he still retains his self-proclaimed "opinionated prick" image with the "I live to pass you" bumper sticker on the hellaciously fast 124HP black Saturn SC2. This Saturn SC2 was in one of the faster left lanes so it appears like Zack Colman hasn't learned his lesson and is still trying to push his Saturn SC2 to the limits.

The last time I did a Friday fun, beer, music, and pictures, Philip responded with one of his favorites. This is what he had to say:

"By pure coincidence I was reaquainted with pints of London Pride this week its very quaffable....and should be enjoyed with some others to ensure quality control"

Lastly, as my overweight, cigar-smoking boss has been watching my screen closely for some time now and has raised the paintball gun several times in warning, I'll leave you with the Drive-By Truckers. Their style of music falls in to the Rock-a-billy genre, is very polished, and just innocently fun. The thing that sets the Drive-By Truckers out above the rest is that after you really listen to their music for awhile you'll find that they are lyrical geniuses. Listen close to the music or even find some of the lyrics and I'm sure you'll agree.

Drive-By Truckers - Marry Me

Drive-By Truckers - Gravity's Gone

Drive-By Truckers - Zip City

Anyway, that will do it for this week. Get out and have yourself some fun this weekend and keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm livin' in a van down by the river...

Yesterday I realized that my mailman left the current issue of Bicycling with my neighbor instead of in the mail chute of the van where I live down by the river. I knew something was wrong because up until that point I had been living a zen-like existence, devoid of all of the suffering Bicycling brings me, and my blog hadn't seen me log in for almost a week.

I never subscribed to Bicycling, yet every month it shows up on my doorstep like a Performance catalog and begs me take it in, to love it, to feed it, and to let it be read. It's like a train wreck for me, I don't want to look, but I have to, my eyes are drawn to it and I start thumbing through the pages, losing parts of my soul with each contradictory article I read.

This month I got a big kick out of the hype vs. truth article and thought I'd write my own. Heck, why not, it's not that I'm an expert, they just send that dang Bicycling catalog to me each month and it inspires me....

1) The taper

Hype: Before any big event you should take about a week off to taper and be well rested for your event.

Reality: The reality of this is tapers really only work if you are following a structured training program and actually riding and/or are just riding a lot and are near the edge for your fatigue levels. For instance, a taper will not work if you just ride willy-nilly every now and then and are pretty rested anyway. In this case it's better to get out and ride that week beforehand. Additionally a year-long taper is generally not considered to be a good idea. For example, it would not be good for a person to do the Pottawatamie Pounders Double Century this summer, then immediately start tapering for next summer's PPDC.

2) Sports drinks

Hype: Sports drinks keep you well fueled and make your workouts more effective.

Reality: Sports drinks cost lots of money, are loaded with sugar, and are probably making you fat. The human body has enough sugar packed away in the muscles to take you through a ride up to about 2 hours. Sure, longer than an hour and a half and you need something more than water or you will feel the dreaded bonk and that really sucks, but if you can't make it an hour and a half on a ride without a sports drink you should really look at what you are eating when you are not on the bike. That packet of gel you're downing on the last laps of a crit is only going to make people steer clear of you, not make you faster than them.

3) Recovery drinks

Hype: Recovery drinks are packed with everything you need to help your body recover and you should drink them after every ride.

Reality: Recovery drinks cost lots of money, are loaded with sugar, and are probably making you fat if you drink one after every ride regardless of length. The whole 4:1 bandwagon cracks me up. Why someone would drink something as nasty as Endurox when they could enjoy a Guinness and get some real food is beyond me. Luckily the hype with chocolate milk having that same magical 4:1 ratio at least had a good tasting beverage associated with it. I can't imagine if the cycling tabloids came out and said Tab had the magical recovery formula, cyclists would be downing that crap like a mystical potion from Merlin.

4) Caffeine

Hype: All of a sudden, or maybe not so all of a sudden, caffeine is the miracle beverage. It increases your perceived time to exhaustion, it burns tubloads of fat like a bunson burner, and it makes you look younger too.

Reality: If you like coffee, drink it with a feverish intensity. If it wakes you up and makes your ride more invigorating by all means go for it. If it's how you meet your online dates, don't stop drinking it. However, don't start drinking coffee because Bicycling and RoadbikeRider don't have anything better to talk about and because it's their latest miracle hype. For some people caffeine upsets their stomach, for some it causes fatigue, and for others their online dates are not impressed when they ask what the difference between an espresso and cappucino is.

5) Coaches

Hype: A coach can really get you to where you want to be and help you meet your goals.

Reality: Coaches are expensive and the average person can "coach" themselves pretty well. Do you really need to pay someone big money each month to tell you what day to ride intervals and what days to do one-legged pedaling and to take a break when you feel tired? The secret to riding strong and being good at an event is simply to get out on your bike and ride, train with similar conditions to your event, and be smart about your rest and eating. Consistency is a good thing too, the place where many people could benefit from having a coach is that kick in the butt to keep them honest about how much, or how little, they are riding.

6) Practicing in fields

Hype: Practicing bumping in to each other out in fields and rubbing tires is great for pack riding.

Reality: Bicycling sites and magazines continually mention this, but does anyone ever do it? Seems like there is always "that guy" who suggests it to his teammates or riding group, but then never shows up for a ride again. I think I'd rather just not bump in to people or rub tires on group rides and then just playfully practice it once in awhile with someone who is comfortable with it. I can't imagine bringing a newbie over to a grassy park and plowing in to him and making him rub my tires. Maybe that's why "that guy" never showed up for another ride again, he didn't see the fun in cycling after that.

7) Singlespeed/fixed gears

Hype: Singlespeeds and fixed gears bring back the simplicity of the bike and geared riders are dorks.

Reality: Ride what you enjoy. Honestly I can't see having to make your bike current with the latest fads as being simpler and more liberating. Slowly pedalling up a hill in an oversized gear and then trying to steer with a handlebar no longer than a beer bottle also doesn't seem simpler to me, but if it's what floats your boat then go for it. To the lemming the simplicity of a bike is in going places with it and leaving the car home, being able to effortlessly climb stuff and still play on all of the obstacles you find along the way, my clone doesn't agree and that's ok.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Taking fixed gear to a whole new level

One gear, no derailleur, my bike_lemming clone would be proud!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Better living through chemistry

After a ride and some oh so good Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock this weekend I headed over to Bicycling to get the yin to my yang. My self amusement of people who take things too seriously and contradictory information was the main stimulus behind starting this blog many moons ago. Sometimes I feel the need to go and view the train wreck so I can get all caught up in a bunch. At times I feel like I've deviated from this course, but what good is an epic ride, or long strange trip, without a little exploration?

I started out with the Fit Chick, because honestly I haven't decided on her yet. On the one hand the uber-seriousness and seemingly no fun at all costs is everything I am against. Yet, the fact that she responds to all of her comments and seems very encouraging and genuine has a seductive charm. I can't help but to think I'd enjoy having a wheat grass shot with her before going on an easy recovery ride which turned in to me gasping for air, puking my lungs out, faking a ride-ending mechanical and standing on the side of the road begging any rider that gazed upon my wretched existence for some Accelerade. My soul would be lost with a sip of the Accelerade, exiled to wander the earth aimlessly on a Cervelo in time trial position. For this reason I know I must never ride with the Fit Chick lest I be tempted by the Accelerade.

The latest blog had the supplements she takes. Selene later went on to clarify that she doesn't take them every day and her day isn't ruined if she doesn't take them, but it just makes the lemming wonder how many newbs read the blog and started formulating their own diabolical plan of what they must take if they want to finish the local MS150 this year. The list went as follows:

Optygen HP - $74.99 (30 servings)
SportLegs - $26.99 (40 -3 capsule servings)
MultiV - $49.99 (30 servings)
Muscle Armor - $89.99 (30 servings)
Phosphagen Elite - $59.95 (20 servings)
Ultragen - $44.99 (15 servings)

That's a lot of supplements, and a lot of cash, nearly $400 a month. Being a writer for Bicycling has its perks, she mentioned that she doesn't pay for most of them. I remember as I was getting started riding, one person would mention a supplement and everyone else thought they had to have them. We were fortunate in having an older mentor who told us to forget about all of that and ride our bikes, a lot.

Selene rides her bike, a lot, and she does other activities, a lot. It's certainly justified that she supplements her probably already stellar diet with a little extra. And to be honest, if any of that "engineered nutrition" were thrown at me for free I'd probably wolf it down like a hungry dog, hoping to become some sort of super cyborg cyclist who felt no pain and snapped crankarms as if they were the bones of my feeble competitors.

My hope is that no Bicycling newb reads the post and believes that she needs to fill her water bottle with some sort of sports drink for an hour ride, and then down a 60g of sugar, 320 calorie recovery drink immediately after, because she doesn't need to, in fact, she shouldn't.

I would be interested in knowing what supplements Selene would believe in enough that she would still take if she had to shell out her own money for them each month... Selene?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday fun - beer, music, and pictures

I've decided to try a little something different on the lemming for Friday fun. Hit the comments and please let me know if you like the change on Friday or not, maybe it will suck and I won't do it again, or it will be fun and become a regular thing.

Bikes, beer, and music, three of my favorite things. Fortunately one doesn't have to sign up for an organized century, pay $65, and ride to the finish enduring Accelerade and witty remarks from motorists to enjoy them all in one place. So that's what Friday's are going to be about, I'll introduce some good music, highlight a favorite beer and showcase some great pictures I've found during the week while reading Friends of the Lemming. I'll need the help of anyone who can give it, email me at with your favorite beer or music ideas.

I was conversing with reader Nick the other day about the idea, and he had this to say,

"There is a local cycling team NorEast cycling, fairly large team. Sponsored by Smuttynose, a local brewery. The beer sucks.. imagine being sponsored by a brewery and being unable to choke down a single swig of their beer. Poor team NorEast cycling. Atleast that is how I feel everytime I attempt to drink one of their perfume enhanced choke fests."
Being sponsored by a microbrew and not being able to drink it? Now that would be my personal hell...

Now that we've set the stage, let's get to it. This week I want to highlight a band I was turned on to awhile back, Anadies out of Colorado. It looks like from their site that they've disbanded, which is a damn shame. Their style reminds me of Evanescence and is pretty polished for a band that never hit the big time.

Take a listen, give it a chance, and tell me what you think. Regret by AnaDies

Let's move on to the beer I am going to be enjoying, and I invite you to join me.

The first time I tried Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock a friend recommended it to me. Doing an organized ride of some sort the next day I thought it would be a great beer to drink while "tuning" up the bike. I should have known better than that as my last minute "tune-ups" usually result in disaster, long nights, and a poorly shifting bike the next day, without alcohol involved. The beer was good, so good that I didn't realize the 6.7% alcohol it was packing. While that may not seem like much to some, while you're just working away and replacing one as it's gone, it's A LOT. As a reprieve each bottle does come with a little goat tied to it via a string. As you enjoy each beer you can move the goat from the bottle to the handlebars and use the power of the mountain goat to get you up hills the next day, you'll need it.

As I was reading the Friends of the Lemming blogs this week I was introduced to a creative, witty and highly entertaining site mentioned on the Xvelo Design blog. The pictures below pretty much sum up what the entire site is about and it's worth any spare time you've got.

"If the "best years" of your life took place in high school, then, for your sake I hope you died tragically at nineteen."

"Number of people who think "Forrest Gump was a good movie" has an inverse relationship to the "Number of times they have been told, while out running, "Run, Forrest, run" by a complete stranger."

I guess being called "Lance" while out riding isn't as bad as what runners have to put up with.

And lastly, on to the pictures. If I've got you showcased here and you don't want to be, just shoot me an email and I'll take you off. But for now, enjoy what others have been up to and have a great weekend.

Courtesy of Paddys Peloton

Courtesy of Team Two Wheel

Courtesy of Fermaguiana

Courtesy of Sonya Looney

Courtesy of bicykel

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dolly the sheep's got nothing on me

The lemming doesn't use Twitter. I have been dabbling around with for possible use with a new Friday Beer, music, and pictures post, but I'm too wordy for Twitter, I can't get everything I need to say to fit in 140 characters. When I tried I failed miserably, ended up frustrated, and nothing got accomplished. Attempting Twitter could have easily been the source of the great blog dryspell of May 2009 which culminated in having to make excuses that I could not use as to why I had been gone. Just for fun though I do have some random searches which survey the twitterspace for any interesting happenings.

Today I saw a fun post from e2pii (Vanessa) that said,

"@bike_lemming Was this you?".

Assuming someone just assumed I have a Twitter account since I'm on the cutting edge of technology, I decided to go and have a look. After all, they did try to send it to me, and who am I to turn down possible good content?

The link sent by e2pii (Vanessa) was from Jonathan Maus of BikePortland and said,

"- Reader email: "My husband saw someone riding a bike in the center divider of I-5 north of the Marquam Bridge last night.""

Ironically although I am crazy, the crazed rider spotted was not me riding in the center divider of I-5 north of the Marquam Bridge. I'm a mountain biker by heart and admittedly when I can't get out to some buff singletrack I will take it anyway I can get it. Riding in the center divider was a little more adrenaline packed than I was up for last night however, even if I needed a little pick-me-up after missing the mark so badly on the chain lubing styles of nearly 50% of my 7 readers. But why did Vanessa think it was me? And more importantly, who is this mysterious Vanessa?

As I read more of Vanessa's posts, I noticed apparent "conversations" with bike_lemming. It was then that I realized I have been cloned. I don't know much about my clone except that he is Keith Banks, bike_lemming. As is probably par for the course, I don't remember being cloned and am probably glad that I don't. Nonetheless, this was good news to me as I could really use some help writing blogs once in awhile, even if only to give me ideas and warn me of my grammatical errors before someone makes me look silly.

While researching my clone, I was disturbed to find what must have been a dangerous glitch in the whole DNA duplication process. His first post is what sounded the alarm,

"cooking a pesto, feta, mushroom pizza, 7:47 PM May 11th from web".

Immediately I became worried. Pesto upsets my stomach and often mimics the symptoms of Montezuma's Revenge. If my clone can now ingest and even enjoy pesto, it's only a matter of time before he eats me and assumes my identity. Although this was disconcerting, I knew more research was needed to see if my clone is good or evil. Knowing that my clone is probably too clever to reveal anything about himself, I turned again to Vanessa (e2pii),

"@bike_lemming given that half the class is about your favorite thing, the derailleur.... maybe not so much. 9:59 PM May 14th from web in reply to bike_lemming"

Gulp... It is worse than I thought. My clone has snubbed the derailleur. Not only that, but it appears he voices his disdain of the derailleur in courting rituals to win over the ladies. I enjoy rocking a singlespeed on occasion, but without a derailleur I could never do cool things like climb the Blue Ridge Parkway, get to work in a timely manner without being all sweaty, or attend geared group rides where I get dropped and have to ride home in strange territory on my own. This can only mean one thing, my clone has evolved to a superior state and most surely will not tolerate the inferior DNA he was created from.

Needless to say, these days I wish I had eyes in the back of my head. I'm just waiting to be caught on some hill in my 39x25 granny gear by a strong one geared rider lazily rocking a 50x15, turning to say hi, only to unexpectedly get a pump in the spokes. For now the only thing I can do is follow my clone on Twitter with my failed account and watch for any telltale signs of my own demise. If you are my clone and reading this, shoot me an email and I'll send you out my password, I could really use some help on this blog some days.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Trailer queens and lubing your chain

This weekend I woke up and had the wild inclination to go on a group ride. The closest one isn't too far from my lair, so I filled the water bottles, hopped on the bike, and rode over.

When I got there, I suddenly remembered that I'd probably ride in pain with the main group for awhile while discussing the latest sports drinks, but eventually would be dropped for dead and have to find my way home on my own. So I opted to not do the group ride, but instead to silently lurk as the riders got their bikes ready.

I saw a few people Mercx-ing it, which consists of riding their bike to the group ride for the extra training or sheery enjoyment of riding, and I saw a plethora of trailer queens. While trailer queen might make you think of missing teeth and a double-wide, it's actually an old drag race term referring to trailering the car over to the track because it's too fragile and finicky to drive it over under its own power.

While this fascinated me, what fascinated me even more was the different styles people used to lube their chains pre-ride. I obviously was not observant enough to catch them all, but I thought I would try and outline a few here, taking huge liberties as needed.

1) The Non-conformist - The non-conformist rarely lubes his chain, probably just enough that there is not rust on the chain, about once a month in normal conditions. On group rides the non-conformist is constantly asking anyone who will listen what that noise is, often stopping pedalling and starting to see if it is drivetrain-related. At stops the non-conformist will tighten his seatpost clamp, tighten his stem, and wiggle his cranks. The non-conformist is surprised his daughter is pregnant and doesn't know why his neighbors say his kids look like the mailman.

2) The perfectionist - Once done with any length ride, the perfectionist will Simple Green the entire bike to a spotless sheen. The perfectionist then cleans the chain with a chain cleaning tool, grabs a clean rag and lovingly dries the chain, patting not rubbing. Once dry and clean to his satisfaction, the perfectionist places the clean rag on the garage floor directly below his chain and meticulously applies ProLink to each individual link as he slowly turns the cranks, making sure to start at the connector link so as to ensure every link is lubricated properly. For celebration, the perfectionist rushes inside and has a 4:1 recovery drink before his 45 minute window of opportunity is exhausted. The perfectionist lives alone.

3) Wet spot sleeper - The Wet spot sleeper almost surely uses Rock "N" Roll lube. The wet spot sleeper doesn't put a lot of thought in to it and doesn't care if he gets a little splashback. The wet spot sleeper simply sprays Rock "N" Roll lube on as he wildly spins the cranks, then wipes it off when done with any rag he can find. The wet spot sleeper has lots of "visitors", but rarely does laundry.

4) Sponge bather - The sponge bather is a bastardation of the wet spot sleeper. The chain lubing style is exactly the same, except that the sponge bather actually cleans his chain every once in awhile. Of course, he cleans it with a sponge and soapy water because that's what he read in Bicycling. The sponge bather wishes he had as many visitors as the wet spot sleeper, which he might if he didn't use White Lightning.

5) Cheapskate - The cheapskate doesn't buy in to the fact that any one thing works better for chain lubrication. He usually prefers WD40 if he's got it in the garage, but will also use lawn mower oil or even diesel fuel if no WD40 is available. The cheapskate thinks that putting CoffeeMate in your coffee means you are a yuppie who likes "fancy" flavored coffees.

6) Arnold Palmer - The Arnold Palmer is not like the cheapskate, he's just grossly uninformed. Usually the Arnold Palmer uses good ol' 10W40 Pennzoil to lube his chain, but may have graduated to Phil Tenacious Oil as he's seen it in a bike shop. You can tell the Arnold Palmer by the splattering of oil all over his chainstay and wheels. One never wants to ride behind the Arnold Palmer lest you be tainted with splashback. Uninformed in all aspects of his life, the Arnold Palmer grew up believing that women don't like sex.

Note that I've put "he" in all of the examples, that's because I'm not clever enough to make it gender-neutral. Which type of chain-luber are you?