Monday, August 31, 2009

From the mailbag

I hope everyone had a great weekend with some good riding. Today's post comes from the ol' mailbag.

Dear Bike Lemming,

Do women need to adjust anything, you know, down there while riding? I ask because on a ride the other day I saw a woman reach down in to her shorts at a stop before taking off.

Yours truly,
Gender confused

Dear Gender confused,

Thank you for writing to the lemming. The lemming usually does not address issues such as this, he can provide insight but suggests contacting the MellowVelo for a definitive answer as she is a woman and she rides.

That said, are you sure that she wasn't a he? If you are sure then there are many reasons you might have seen a woman reach in to her shorts at a stop before continuing a ride. It might be possible she was applying chamois cream (pronounced shammy creme).

Possibly more probable is that she was doing long-term saddle reviews for female anatomical saddles and was checking for numbness. Women can suffer from the same numbness men can and you'll probably see her review in an upcoming issue of Bicycling. Either that or she was adjusting something.

Next letter....

Dear Bike Lemming,

Now that Levi Leipheimer put on his "Gran Fondo", is "Gran Fondo" going to be the next big buzz word on the charity ride circuit and cycling in general for 2010?

Vorrei essere un pilota moto

Dear Vorrei essere un pilota moto,

Thank you for reaching out to the lemming. Yes, it is the lemming's prediction that "Gran Fondo" will become the big buzz word in cycling for 2010. Expect to see a bunch of "Gran Fondos" popping up all over the country. As you may know "Gran Fondo" is said to mean "big ride" in Italian, although not literally. I should note that "Gran Fondo" will be a big buzz word in every country but Italy, there the buzz word will be "big ride" and you'll see "big rides" popping up all over Italy, because "big ride" means "Gran Fondo" in American.

Some other buzz word you should watch out for are:

malaking sumakay - which means "big ride" in Tagalog

tequila grande - which means "big tequila" in Spanish

Rosie O'Donnell - which means "big ride" in all languages

大型車 -which means "big ride" in Japanese

đi xe lớn - which means "big ride" in Vietnamese

سوار بزرگ - which means "big ride" in Persian

büyük yolculuk - which means "big ride" in Turkish

μεγάλη βόλτα - which means "big ride" in Greek

Thanks for the letters, the lemming might answer any more burning questions at

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend supplemental

For those of you read, enjoyed and savored How to Avoid the Bummer Life, Stevil has moved on to a new venture. Check him out at All Hail the Black Market. I trust the same mayhem and hijinx (is that how I spell it?) will be present there. That is all, ride your bike!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bike commuting - riding to work without losing your dignity or your life

The lemming got all riled up today and this post is the result of his overactive sense of frustration with advice articles. He's been doing a lot of group rides lately, hoping to partake in the city limit sprints and be asked to the grassy field bump sessions. Ironically, none of that has happened. He hasn't seen a city limit sprint so far and no grassy field bump sessions have been initiated. But anyway, that's not the point of today's article. Today's article is about commuting to work without losing your dignity or your life.

1) Find a safe route - The lemming doesn't like smelling exhaust or getting honked at or getting passed too close. Hell, I drive my car down Watkins to Peachtree, that doesn't mean I ride my bike on that same route. Google Maps has this really cool thing called street views that show the actual street view, plus you can pull and drag the route on a map to a different route. Use it and find a safer and more tranquil way in to work. Your lungs will thank you, your stress level will thank you, and your family will thank you.

2) Get one of those blinking lights - You want to be seen, get a blinking light for the back at least... Seriously you're hauling all of your shit along in either a backpack or panniers anyway, a blinking light isn't going to put you over any weight limit or make you look any sillier, and it might just save your life when a driver is smoking, drinking coffee, and talking on her cell phone while putting lipstick on.

3) Get a squeeky horn - Many others riders don't like to wave, if you are a person who needs the acceptance of others this can put a serious damper on your day. The solution is a squeeky horn. Meet another rider and squeeze this little guy and you'll warm the hearts of nearly everyone, except triathletes and CTS athletes who may be too serious to smile for fear of going out of their heart rate/power zone. This also works as a horn when cars are about to turn in front of you.

On to saving your dignity....

4) Wear the bike shorts, but leave the yellow jersey at home - We all have our favorite jerseys and shouldn't care what others think, but the fact of the matter is we don't want to continuously defend spandex to co-workers. So a baggier mountain bike jersey is in order... It's still closer fitting, still sweat wicking, but it looks like a t-shirt. Or...

5) Compare cycling to other sports - If you feel the need to wear spandex and want to fight the futile fight of defending it to co-workers you can simply say, "Why do you wear a glove and hat when you play softball?" or "Do you wear cleats when you play football?" or "Why do you need a bib in an all-you-can-eat buffalo wing contest?" Of course, there is a third option...

6) Self-deprecation - Everyone likes humor, all you need to say is, "Well, I'm off to put on my clown suit, hopefully you don't run my slow ass over on the way home". This will get a laugh and ease the tension that throttle pushers might experience as they get in to their car to sit in traffic as you ride along on your safer route listening to birds sing and watching rabbits mate.


7) Obviously having a shower at work would be "the bomb" as I become a sweaty mess no matter how slow I try to ride. However, not everyone is this lucky. Please, PLEASE, do not take a container of Wet Ones along, wipe yourself off with that, and expect that it's as good as a shower. Anyone who says that "does the trick nicely" has probably never actually done that, just like most people who talk about city limits sprints or practicing something in a grassy field have probably never done that either. Smelling like alcohol wipes all day is not a good thing, and you might just attract the wrong kind of attention.

8) The spongebath - The better option, sans shower, is the spongebath. However, don't do this in your work bathroom unless you don't have access to another bathroom on some other floor where your co-workers don't go, as defending the sponge bath will be worse than defending spandex. And if you do find a bathroom like this, then beware of closet dumpers. Closet dumpers are co-workers who roam the floors looking for remote bathrooms to take a dump in so that they won't have to face co-workers coming in or going out, but that's a whole other topic. Perhaps the best option is to spongebath in a gas station near your work, but that is shady and it won't be long before they kick your ass out, so look for that remote closet dumper bathroom for sponge bathing. Just be aware that you might have an uncomfortable conversation on your hands when a closet dumper awkwardly pops in to do his business.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: Park Tool BBQ-2 grill set

Cyclists are an eclectic group, and they sure don't all get along. There are the roadies, pre-occupied with the power numbers, setting personal bests, and besting everyone they meet on the trail even if it means passing them as they have a flat tire and are wantingly looking for help. Then there's the mountain bikers, laid-back, overweight according to the obsessed roadies, and more interested in fun and the after-ride beer than how many other riders they could pass. Throw in the hipsters with their little handlebars, oversized gearing, and no brakes, and then mix it all together with bmx riders, charity riders, mega-huck downhillers, recumbent riders and triathletes.

What do all of the members of this group have in common? Not much, but if you take away the triathletes and some roadies, what you are left with as a common denominator is a group of people who enjoy working on their bikes. What better product to bring all of the groups together than the Park Tool BBQ-2 grill set.

First off, let me just say that Park Tool did not totally unsolicited send me a BBQ-2 set to review, in fact I've never seen a Park tool BBQ-2 set in person at all. As such, I will have to make stuff up as I review this seemingly great product.

Park Tool is the holy grail of bike tools. Any shop worth their weight in titanium will be well stocked with Park Tools tools. As you know, titanium is light and expensive so being worth their weight in that says a lot, right? Any home bike mechanic will have his fair share of Park Tool products as that will make him look very Euro and pro. Bicycling magazine even gives Park Tool tools away when your ex-boyfriend takes the bike back that he bought for you. What I'm trying to say is that Park Tool kicks ass.

The finish on the BBQ-2 set is simply what you would expect from Park Tool with their signature blue handle and beefy product. You wouldn't buy a Porsche and expect the quality of a Chevy Cavalier, nor should you expect anything but the best from Park Tool.

The spatula appears like it not only flips burgers, but could also do second-duty as a pedal wrench. The tongs flip chicken, kabobs, and vegetables and also double as spanner wrenches.

If I had a Park Tool BBQ-2 spatula and were flipping burgers with it I might mention that it flips burgers in a quick and precise manner, consistent with other high-end spatulas. The handle might employ a rigid yet forgiving feel.

The spring action of the tongs might have more pop than an old Manitou suspension fork while still giving an accurate and grippy feel, exactly what you need for picking up chicken.

Overall I think that I would really like to flip burgers in my backyard with the Park Tool BBQ-2 grill set had they totally unsolictedly sent me a set to review.

Bicycling-type summary
Buy it if: You like working on bikes and grilling up dead animals.

Pass it up if: You are a triathlete and don't know what the big deal about Park Tool is or are yuppie scum who hates grilling and gets most meals at Outback.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How to change a flat fast

It's been a little while since the lemming has made a quality post, he's been having too much fun reading the submissions of readers from the previous photo caption contest. That and nice weather and more miles in the saddle have put entertaining others on the back burner. But as an interesting sidenote, Feedburner reports that the lemming has almost 100 subscribed readers now. Seriously? That's more than I ever expected with my satirical look at the sport that I love and I have to thank everyone who actually reads the ramblings I put on to this blog, actual readers are more like 7 if I had to guess. Hopefully I've found everyone who has linked to me and put them in my Friends of the Lemming section, if I haven't just email me.

I was trying to keep up with the blogs of my readers the other day when I noticed Travels with my Mule had a link to a cycling site with rank potential. Not the smelly rank you might expect, like your gloves smell like when you don't wash them for weeks of riding, but ranking of sites that put themselves on there in some sort of popularity game.

Anyway, long story short, I went and added the lemming there so that people could rank it all they wanted, whether it be to say they love it or that it's the worst thing they've ever seen and they only read it once because highlights of this years MS150 didn't get aired on the local news like was promised and they needed to see something bike related.

Top 21 Cycling Sites

Click on the picture above and I can see if I rank up there with the cool kids (like the top secret site BikeSnobNYC always mentions) or if I'll keep getting stuffed in to my locker. While you're there you should vote for Travels with my Mule as well and check out Philip's site if you never have. Right now there are so few blogs there that the lemming is doing awesome, it's like winning your category at a local race when you are the only one signed up. It feels good until people ask, "1st place, out of how many?" and you have to sadly tell them "one". But I digress, now on to the fun stuff....

I opened my email the other day to some more awesome spam. Never being one to be able to look away from a train wreck, I excitedly looked through the email for things that might pique my interest.

I looked on with horror... First hint, if you are changing a flat don't flip your bike upside down or try to disassemble the pulley wheels even if you are trying to save a few watts. That's never a good idea, people sit on the side of the road for hours covered in chain grease with random strangers trying to help them get the back wheel back in when they flip the bike upside down. Great if you are looking to meet new people while standing there in spandex, and like being covered in chain grease, bad if you want to ride. But anyway, that's a whole other subject..

Luckily, to my relief I found that the video (shown below in it's entirety) does not recommend flipping the bike upside down to fix a flat fast in 5 minutes and 40 seconds, instead you merely "open the wings of the brake lever", slide the wheel out, and fix the flat with the flat-changing equipment you've gotten out of the seat bag you removed from under the seat.

Now that, you'll have to admit, was some good stuff. I personally can not wait for the informational chain lubing video. I wonder what kind of luber Gale is?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Photo caption contest

A perfectly timed photo from

Rather than write a commentary on it, the lemming has decided to open it up to a caption contest. Winners of the contest will receive absolutely nothing, I don't have cool prizes like BikeSnobNYC does. I am working on a contest with prizes, but nothing so far.

A picture can say 1000s of words, especially as grimacing bystanders watch you smack your face on your own front tire. So here we go, what is your caption?

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's wrong with racing in a speedo??

The lemming had a pretty good blog draught going, and honestly he was ok with that. There are even things waiting to be written, just general laziness is keeping them from coming to fruition. Last night he read the latest issue of Bicycling, and while I thought it would rile him up, it didn't, he just sat there peacefully afterwards.

Then today it hit him, the typical email spam that he receives, with a simple question, "What's wrong with racing in a speedo??"

The lemming says if you don't know, then no one can help you. There's something to be said about a blissful and innocent existence, running around in a banana hammock, totally unaware of the cries of children and shrieks from women. We salute you Mr. Age Group Triathlete Speedo Wearer!

Unfortunately, asking the question again and again in the same forum could be considered slightly tacky. Which, in that case, we'll have to rescind our salute because you are probably just trying to justify something that you already know the answer to.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Women's triathlons, devil girls, and romantic weekends

This weekend was the annual women's triathlon over here in Pottawattamie. The problem was I didn't know the triathlon was going on as I headed over to the route I chose to ride this weekend. As I got closer signs and barrier fences started to emerge and dread started to come over my furry little body. Would I have to re-route? Would I not be able to resist the trainwreck and end up spending 4 hours watching people stumble out of the water as they ran clumsily to their slicked mountain bikes?

Luckily neither was the case and I was allowed to go about my ride directly on the course, which as luck has it is a recreational racer wannabes dream come true. See as a recreational racer wannabe you should always find opportunities to "test your mettle" against others. This course is also used for an annual time trial where recreational riders try to draft and follow and pass and pass out the paid racers as they go about their race. Stellar for the recreational riders, not so fun for the actual racers.

Luckily for most racers this weekend they were much faster than me anyway, I was left sad, alone and defeated, with only visions of race numbers sharpee'd on the calf. I guess perhaps I wasn't trying that hard, in the back of my mind I was thinking about tattooed Swedish devil girls. If you haven't read this story it's a weird one. 5 tattooed "devil girls" pulled a bloke off his bike and sexually molested him. I don't know what to think about the story, when I hear devil girls all I can think about is this guy.

Most guys will be quick to point out "what a lucky guy" and "I need to go ride in Sweden" as they envision the Swedish bikini team accosting them, to which most women will get disgusted with them, saying it's no laughing matter. But to play devil's advocate (pun alert), what if the devil girls are spitting images of the Red Devil above? Sorry for ruining the fantasy... Just to play it safe you should probably forget about trying to find the devil girls and instead spend a romantic weekend with Chris Carmichael.

Simply sign up for the wildly-popular CTS Create Your Own Comeback program and you can spend a romantic Valentine's day with CTS at a cycling camp probably learning things such as which sports drink is best, how to ride your bike, how to win the city limit sprint, getting tips on bumping in to friends on a grassy field and all sorts of useful information such as that. If you have a significant other, well, it's highly likely that you won't after you spend Valentine's Day at a cycling camp, and you may be out there looking for the tattooed devil girls after all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My submission for the BikeSnobNYC Fat Cyclist knuckle tattoo tribute contest

Figured I should get in on the bandwagon...

It may shed some light on as to why "Some American rider was very upset because he was positioned to be in yellow and some Swiss team worked to close the gap."

Has anyone else submitted an entry?