Friday, October 30, 2009

Dear PooBah: Halloween Special!

Well, I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone that tomorrow is the big day - the Halloween MidMO Bike Ride to Rocheport and Monster Bash!  All the cool kids are going to be there with their bikes, so don't be left behind.  The festivities start at 9:00 AM at FlatBranch park and continue directly onto the MKT from there.  Come on out and get your freak on.

And, because it's Friday - it's time for another installment of Reader Mail.  So let's jump in:

Dear PooBah- 
I have been a long time reader, and admit to being occasionally 'put off' by some of your crude jokes.  Up until last week, I just chalked it up to juvenile shenanigans. 
But the photo in your most recent post of the woman wearing a bra made out of bacon was just too much. And now I'm left wondering if you're trying to "jump the shark" because no one is reading.  Well, I for one disapprove. There is nothing amusing about a woman wrapping her bosoms in such an unhealthy food.

Ms. Hillshire

Dear Ms. Hillshire:
I'm very sorry if I offended you.  First of all, I should clarify that the picture wasn't of a bacon bra - but rather a bacon-kini.  As you well know, women's swimwear has become more revealing over the years, which is really out of my control.  But what you may not know is that women have been using bacon to swim in for years.  In fact, I found this picture of my Aunt Polly taken in 1976 in a bacon bathing suit...and as you can see, the suits back then were just a lot more conservative:

Dear PooBah,
I read one of your recent posts which quoted a guy on CraigsList complaining that all the women out there are into guys who ride fixies these days.  So I went out and bought myself one, and posed on it in my living room for my new MySpace profile photo.  Can you tell me if you think this will help me get a date?  Thanks!

Mr. Pink

Wow - well done.  I cannot tell what I'm more fond of - the tattoo of a pistol on your hip, your ability to trackstand in your bare feet or the way you photoshopped bags of your favorite junk food dancing around you.  I tell you, if trackstanding in you pink tighty-whities with a bag of Funyuns doesn't bring the chicks, I'm not sure what else could.  Good luck!

Dear PooBah,
I've heard that spoke cards are the hippest way to personalize your fixie, but have noticed that all the cards are these tiny, boring squares of cardboard with designs that aren't legible from more than 3 feet away.  I thought I would go for a bigger card that would really let people know who I am!  Do you think  I went too far?


Dear Herp:
I think I can safely say that you have taken the entire spoke card art genre to a new level.  Not only does this card tell everyone that you have a fascination with large, naked mulleted men that enjoy snake wrestling, but you've also merged the conventional spoke card with the classic time trial disk-wheel.  Just remember - with a spoke card like this - you need to be careful in windy conditions and around male-strip clubs.  Either may make your bike really hard to handle.

Dear PooBah,
I'm troubled by your liberal use of the term "douche" and its derivatives ("douchebag, doucheriffic").  Not only is it demeaning to what is a necessary feminine hygiene product, but it is a unitless measurement. In other words, how would something mildly douchey be distinguished from something truly douche-tastic?

M.  Assengill

Dear M,
You are quite right - I should have expounded on the entire use of the term "douche" long ago.  You may be surprised to know that the 'douche-level' of something actually can be measured in units called 'LCUs' which stands for 'Lance Celebrity Units' and is represented by those celebrities LA befriends.  I hope this visual scale will be of some help:

Mildly Douchey = 1 LCU

Doucherrific = 2 LCUs

Completely Douchetastic = 3 LCUs

Hors Categorie

Dear PooBah:
Long-time reader, first-time writing to you.  I'm thinking of leaving my boyfriend...he's a professional cyclist but doesn't float my boat anymore.  How serious are you and this COMO CYCO GEEC you speak of?  Maybe you could give me a ride sometime?  

Yours truly,
P.S. I love bacon!

I'm flattered, really,  But it looks like you've got a great guy there.  I mean - he's got the perfect bike to get you around...and you clearly are beneficial for his training.  He may not float your boat - but he's willing to spin your crank...and he's obviously not taking it lightly.

Dear PooBah
I'm totally stoked about the MidMo BRR!  What do you think of my costume?  Can you tell who I'm supposed to be?

Miss chain-RING.

Great costume!  You absolutely look like you should be living at the bottom of a well.  Just one thing - seat's too low.

Hey PooBah:
Just thought I'd give your readers a tip.  All this "cargo-bike" stuff is nonesense.  I haul sheets of plywood from Home Depot all the time on a regular old bike - I just get my kid to help me.  Check it out!
#1 Dad

Yup - I think you're definitely on to something there.  And I'm particularly happy to see that you have your child in both a safety bike seat and a helmet.  You are, indeed, a #1 Dad.

Happy Friday and Happy Halloween everyone!  See you all on the trail tomorrow!

Pedal On!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Under compression

While reading VeloNews online the other day, I came across a review of some new compression cycling clothing by a company called Skins.  The new top of the line collection is called the C400, part of the 400 series.  If you've not heard, compression technology is the latest (maybe not all THAT late, really) investigated method of improving post-exertional recovery.  It started in cycling with some techniques team physiologist Allen Lim started trying out on the Garmin boys in 2008 via a device called the NormaTec MVP boots...but what quickly were renamed, the "Space Boots".

In this photo, we can see Dr. Lim adjusting the 'Space Boots' on Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, who is obviously busy Tweeting during the process (as any self-respecting professional cyclist would).  The things reportedly provide a "peristaltic pulse" that moves the blood from the bottom of the leg toward the top in a series of repetitive waves.  Dr. Lim is quoted as saying that this is a machine "designed to externally compress the limbs in a way that mimics normal physiology..."  Now, the only structure I know in nature that provides normal physiologic and directional peristaltic (or wave-like) pulses is the gastrointestinal tract.  So the only situation in which the Space Boots are mimicking normal physiology for your legs is if you were waist deep in the rectum of a whale.....backwards.  But I'm quite sure this technology was nothing new to Hesjedal as Canadians have been rocking the Space Boots since 1977.

And check it out - they're only 16.99 and come in two different spacey metallic tones.

Sure - I can scoff - but there is real evidence that these things work.  After all, LA himself has been busting out the knee-highs lately as well.

I've always consider this high fashion and just thought LA was getting caught up with the times.  But it turns out that this kind of compression, referred to as 'static compression'  (because it lacks the whole whale-rectum pulsatile pressure effect) has been proven to relieve post-exertional muscle soreness.  In fact one study showed that following "soft tissue injuy from maximal eccentric exercise" the wearing of a compression sleeve "decreased perceived soreness, reduced swelling, and promoted recovery of force production."

Enter the world of Skins.  Or as the website says if you click on the "How Skins Work" button, "Welcome to the world of Skin's bioacceleration technology!"

The marketing scheme is the use of the Columbia HTC boys which can be seen clearly having just finished frolicking about in their Skins jammies with bare feet, as though they are in the midst of a slumber party minus the pillows and stereo cranking Love Shack by the B-52s.  But here, they are posing jauntily with hands on hips....all except....wait a minute.  Who's that in the middle who doesn't have to put his hands on his hips?  Hey - it's Mark Cavendish.  I find their postures for this photo not just a little unsettling, and seem to remembed that there are those that actually study body language and what people are subconciously saying through the positioning of their arms, legs, etc.  A quick search of this revealed the following:

On a website dedicated to the Body Language of the Hips, I found several interesting things.

"Hands on hips pushes the elbows sideways making the body look larger and thus may be a signal of power or aggression.  Men may use the hip thrust with other men as a signal of power ('my penis is bigger then yours' or 'I am so powerful you dare not attack my exposed and vulnerable parts').

Obviously the Columbia boys didn't assume these positions of their own volition, and were posed by the team owner and manager Bob Stapleton as a flagrant act of exhibiting his teams' loin-laden prowess in an attempt to compensate for something....Maybe this photo of Bob explains what that might be.

At any rate, at the center of the Columbia HTC photo on the Skins page is Cavendish.

Arms crossed and not smiling.  I wonder what we can determined about his mood?

"Arms can act as the doorway to the body and the self.  When they are crossed, they form a closed defensive shield, blocking out the outside world.  Shields act in two ways: one is to block incoming attacks and the other is a place behind which the person can hide and perhaps not be noticed."

Cav certainly does have a reputation for not wanting to be noticed, so that is a possibility - but perhaps another reason is that he wants to hide the robin's-egg-blue, Mr. Roger's-esque team zippered cardigan they made him wear for the photo.

Apparently the Skins compression fabric moves better with the body and excels in providing excellent skin moisture management, optimizing skin temperature and blocks UV rays. In a sense - it is truly like a second set of skin - but only better.  Some of the other details include the company's use of "body mapping" in which over 400 athletes' bodies were scanned and 800,000 measurements made of both male and female forms to arrive at the most anatomically form fitting apparel ever made. 

The Skins homebase is in Australia - but yet again - I think the Canadians may have beat them to the punch on anatomically form fitting, skin-like apparel, that is gender specific.

Pedal on!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

The feeling of desperation is no stranger to cyclists no matter what little clique you fall within.  Trying to get to work on time and flatting, being dropped without the strength to hang on, experiencing a double puncture when you only have one tube, bonking hard on a group ride, or trying to maintain a cycling blog that will appeal to a mass of hypercritical gear junkies that typically overanalyze every mile they ride, let alone every cycling word they choose to read.  Thus, today I bring you stories of cycling desperation.

First, a Craigslist tale of two loves separated by a thief in the night in three Acts.

Act I: "I yelled "get the fuck off my bike!!!"

"as you rode away on my best friend, there I was, innocently receiving the sweetest kisses amongst the clover, only to realize it was just the precursor to one of the most heart-wrenching good byes i have ever had to make..." writes a forsaken cyclist from Toronto.  She continues, " is my love, my meditation, my physical well-being, and so fucking sexy.  i need it.  i need it back more than anything. so please, if you stole my bike to trade it for crack, stop!"

Act II: Guilt and Neglect

"I know that the spokes are rusty. i know that the chain is dirty.  i know that it APPEARS as though I have neglected it, but I think that my bike is perfect as is.  so stop.  put your wrench down!  give me back my bike."

Act III: Making Deals

"i will s yer d. i will show my beautiful breasts.  i will do anything!  Give it back! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE"

I ask you - after reading the pleas of this desperate women, who amongst us didn't just look over at our forlorned bike parked in our living room, or in our office or chained to the rack outside and want to go give her a bath and maybe, if no one is looking, a little peck on the head tube?

Next, a desperate man in San Fran living in a sea of cyclist-loving women: again, in three Acts.

Act I: Guys without Bikes

"I peruse the CL MC (missed connections) on the man end over here and I have to say, is there any love for a guy NOT on a bike? It's often the only identifying factor left to describe the man with whom you ladeis are so smitten.

You: Red road bike with clipless pedals. Me: Cute brunette...etc"

Act II: Plausible Scenario

"I'm just waiting for the ad that says, "You slammed into me from behind, knocking my coffee onto my boss and my laptop onto the ground which now has a cracked screen - I don't know if I'll be able to get my work off of it yet - and then you rode off kicking up gravel into my face as I sank prostrate on my knees behind you trying to recover myself.  You had the most amazing red fixed-wheel bike that zipped in and out of traffic, causing a minor accident in which a woman rear-ended an elderly man who still had the reflexes to stop before hitting you.  If you want to get coffee, I'd love to meet you!"

Act III: Making Deals

"I suppose I'm just hating.  It's the Bay Area and that seems to be what you ladies are into.  Just tell me, do I need to actually ride the bike or can I just carry it around so I can get noticed?  Because I'm willing.  Don't doubt it."

Our final story told in two brief Acts comes from the directeur sportif of Garmin Slipstream, Jonathan Vaughters told via Twitter during the Paris-Tours race which sprinter Tyler Farrar was favored to win.

Act I:  The greatest pants.  Ever.

Act II: Need better pants.

Remember kids, MidMO BRR is in 4 you have your costume ready? I've been asked a lot about what my costume is going to be.  Well - my costume has been selected due to my concerns over all this bad weather we're having.  Talk about desperation.  We need some sunshine on Saturday in a big, big way - and I'm hoping my costume will evoke that.  So as I said, desperate times call for desperate measures.  I tried it on last night and had the CC GEEC capture a brief video of me in action.  I've decided to show you all - so that everyone can recognize me hopefully bringing the sunshine behind all this rain on Saturday.  But everyone needs to help me by thinking this phrase:  "Rainbows, bitches....Rainbows"

Pedal on!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Ride Report: Riding Partners

Exciting weekend at COMO CYCO headquarters.  The PooBah's head bidon-washer, editor-in-cheif and all-around good eggette got herself a sweet, sweet new ride.  Actually, the bike is not new, but she is rather gloriously vintage and brought back to new life.  I cannot divulge details without bringing untoward paparazzi-like attention to her because she will be all-too recognizable around town.  Just know that there is brand-spanking new addition to the COMO CYCO cycling scene, and she's pedalling proud.

Before we picked up the new addition to the ever expanding COMO CYCO bike collection, I was lucky enough to get out for an absolutely beautiful long ride Saturday morning by myself on my road bike.  As I was spinning along, I passed some cattle with an interesting appearance, who all looked at me incredibly un-impressed.

I may be mistaken - but I'm pretty sure at least a couple of these are Scottish Highland cattle.  Zipping by them, I had a fleeting Walter Mitty-esque imaginary moment that I was Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree,
but then I looked down at my computer.  Whereas Obree's computer would likely have been registering something like 33.3 mph (which is what he averaged for a 10 mile time trial in 1997 the day before the British Cycling Federation 25 mile championship), my computer looked like this:
But as I was looking down at my computer, my eyes glanced over to notice that something had attached itself to my left shifter cable.  I carefully reached into my back jersey pocket and pulled out my cell phone and tried to snap a picture while still spinning along (not a wise thing to do).

Realizing this photo is as clear as mud - I will tell you, and you will have to trust me, that it was in fact, a fly, which had landed on my shifter cable and was pointed head first into the wind, his translucent wings fluttering gently.  Obviously, few things desirable or pleasant in life attract flies, and I figured this occasion was probably no exception.  Despite the coolness of the morning, I was still working up quite a sweat and hadn't exactly showered that morning before I headed out, so perhaps his presence wasn't that surprising.  I watched him for a while as I scooted along and was impressed that he was able to still hang on, but attributed this to either 1) how he kept adjusting himself to optimize his head and body position in perfect Obree-like time-trialing fashion or 2) that I indeed suck, and don't have the power to blow a fly off my shifter cable.  I decided it was probably the latter.

After about 2 miles of watching him thrust his bulbous, multi-eyed head into the wind, I started thinking about his motivation and wondered if he was taking enjoyment from the ride anything like this:

Ok - maybe that's a bit of a stretch.  And incidentally, I would rather have my dog along for a ride any day over a fly - but you get the analogy.  And speaking of bringing along the COMO CYCO dog for a bike ride - I have to confess that I've contemplated letting him ride in a BOB trailer, but I'd be worried about him behind me where I couldn't see him.  Plus, I think this would be much cooler, especially if I got him some goggles and a scarf:

Not only would this work to let him ride along beside me - but check out what a chick magnet a bicycle side car apparently is.

When I got back into town, the homecoming festivites were starting to ramp up in full force and I was the unfortunate witness to a tiger mauling a helpless retarded college kid on a BMX bike right in the middle of College Ave. 

I'm guessing he was in a lot of pain by his erratic cycling.  However, I did nothing to help him, as I figure tigers need to eat too, and would the world shed that many tears over the loss of a kid with a cerebellar disorder on a cheap BMX bike?  In my mind, this is Darwinian theory in action: survival of the fittest.  Plus, tigers are cool.

I parked my road bike, grabbed my commuter and hooked up with the COMO CYCO GEEC (Good-Eggette and Editor-in-Chief.  But please - it's prounounced "geech" NOT "geek" in honor of the Italian history of cycling and pronounciation of a solitary 'c' as 'ch' like in the word "Cinelli.")  We picked up her aforementioned sweet ride and tooled around campus together like a couple of 10-year olds, watching the insanity of Homecoming unfold.  Drunk undergrads yelled at us from their porches.  We smiled.  It was wonderful.

I recall an article written not long ago titled "Running Alone May Offer Diminished Rewards" which examined rats that were allowed to run either alone or with some buddies.  They found that the solo-running rats had less brain cell growth than those that got to run with others.  The scientists suggested that the potentially harmful stress hormones induced by exercise may be buffered by the social interaction one shares while running with others.  I'm not sure if this data can be extrapolated to cycling as I think they had a hard time getting the rats on bikes for some reason.  At any rate - I absolutely love riding alone.  That said - I can't dispute the sheer enjoyment of getting to share this with someone else.  As long as we never, ever look like the couple I spied on my ride home that evening.

Pedal On!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dear PooBah

What the hell?

I'm not sure, but I think somehow, someone in COMO has seriously pissed off the weather Gods.  As I sit and write to you from COMO CYCO home base, I've got three buckets on the floor and two on my desk trying to catch the water that is leaking through the ceiling.  Still, the floor is becoming a swamp and I need some help keeping up with it.  I called a custodial service who sent a guy over, but good help is so hard to find these days.

And all this comotion around HQ is poorly timed as we have cycling stories coming in fast and furious.  First of all, Astana, among other teams, have failed to comply with an October 20 deadline to submit an application for registration, which may give disgruntled Alberto Contador his free ticket out of Vinokouroville for 2010.  Lance Armstrong was asked to comment on the possibility of AC getting to go to a much stronger and well-organized team.  He declined to comment but the expression on his face was difficult to read.

Vino was also asked how he felt about the possibility of losing what some say is the strongest man in the peloton from his Team Astana.

Interestingly, he has chosen to remain fairly reticent as well.

At any rate - it's Friday - and therefore time for reader mail.  Let's get to it.  Our first letter actually comes in the form of a Tweet from professional cyclist Bradley Wiggins who placed 4th in this year's Tour de France and is fresh off of an overall win at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour:

As you well know, many cyclists have a penchant for adopting nicknames.....It was popularized in the golden age of cycling with Eddy "The Cannibal" Merckx, and before him Fausto "Il Campionissimo" Coppi, but continued with Marco "Il Pirata" Pentani, and more recently with David "DZ Nuts" Zabriskie, and Danilo "The Killer" Di Luca.  As most amature cyclists like to emulate their heroes, they too want to take on nicknames, thus frequently write into cycling forums under a pseudonym.  But no one wants a boring name - like Bob "The Grassmower" Johnson, or Linda "The LunchLady" they come up with something more colorful as you have indicated in your Tweet.  You may be interested to know, that I too have experimented with derivatives of my name "PooBah" to come up with a more clever nickname.  At first I tried just a shortened version, "PooB" but it sounded too much like "pube" so I abandoned that in light of one of our previous discussions.  But a reader recently wrote to me and addressed the letter with a mispelled version of my name which kind of acurately describes the entire blog - so it just may stick:  "PooBag".

Next up are some comments from readers 'melalvai' and 'tina elizabeth' from a post this week that I thought were worthy of addressing.  In reference to the area highlighted in this photo which was originally posted earlier in the week,

they commented:

Melalvai and Ms. Elizabeth:
For the record - you are both correct.  I'm not sure how you figured it out, but I was in fact sitting in the pizza joint at the BikeMo ride to observe and cover the event.  I was amazed that you could somehow see me through the dark and dingy glass of the pizzeria windows.  Concerned that my true identity may have been compromised by my own stupidity in posting the photo initially, I sent the picture to some friends at a photoanalysis forensics lab to see just how much of my image is potentially visible in that photo.  What they returned was a highly magnified and digitally enhanced cropped area of the original photo, focusing on the window in question. 

Wow. That was a close one.  The image you both saw was NOT in fact me, but rather a young William Shatner, also wearing a fez.  I don't have an explanation for this, as I was in the pizzeria at the time, and did not see Bill there. I think I would have noticed him, as I was the only other person in the place wearing a fez, and as hats go, they seem to be a fairly good conversation starter.  Alas, we'll have to chalk this one up to some odd paranormal activity since we are getting close to Halloween.

Dear PooBah,
I rode my bike to WalMart the other day to to pick up a 40 of Olde English.  I locked it to a pole in the parking lot before I went in, but when I returned this is what I found.  Who would do such a thing?

Pimped out Pyrite

You've got a bigger problem on your hands than that English 40, my friend.  Are you familiar with the 1964 film "Goldfinger" starring Sean Connery as James Bond?  In the film, the evil Auric Goldfinger kills a woman who betrayed him through having an amorous encounter with Bond, by painting her naked body in gold paint....head to toe.  She died of the dreaded condition referred to as 'skin suffocation.'  Her golden corpse was left for Bond to find, as a kind of calling card and warning to back off of Mr. Goldfinger's affairs.

My guess is that you have crossed paths with a nefarious Bond-movie copycat villian, who is leaving you a warning sign.  It's interesting that he took the time to cover your bike seat with a plastic bag before rattle-canning on the gold paint JUST LIKE the unsuspecting Jill Masterson's rear was covered in a bikini bottom prior to her shalaquing.  This kind of re-creational accuracy only speaks to the depravity of this individual.  My advice?  Get the hell out of COMO, Mr. Pyrite, and don't look back, or the next thing you know, you're going to be on your back with a laser pointed at your twig and berries.

Dear Mr. PooBah:
I met a wonderful woman last week at the grocery store.  We went out for coffee a couple of times and really seemed to be hitting it off.  We're both avid cyclists and seem to be obsessed with our bikes.  Last Friday she asked me to come over to her apartment for a home made Italian dinner.  She told me that I could ride my bike over, and to lock it to the bike rack outside her building.  She then told me to check out her ride which she said was the only bike parked out there.  She really wanted to show it off to me, I think.  When I arrived to the bike rack outside her place, this is what I saw.

I was so perplexed by this, that I called her on my cell phone and told her I was sick and couldn't make it - to give me time to try to think if I want to pursue this further.  But she is starting to wonder what is going on and has asked me to come over again tonight!  What do I do?

Please help!

No need to call me Mister PooBah - that was my father!  Anyway - listen, first of all calm down.  You met a great lady who is 1) into you and 2) into cycling and 3) maybe can cook Italian food.  These are good things.  I admit - riding a unicycle is a little different, but choosing to lock it up to the bike rack with handcuffs is definitely fringe.  Let's analyze the situation:  First of all riding a unicycle is HARD - and it requires excellent balance and impressive core strength.  Secondly, the fact that she used handcuffs as a bike lock could mean any of a number of things.  Maybe her Kryptonite U-lock got bic-penned.  Or maybe she's just really into handcuffs.  Hang on....excellent balance + impressive core strength + into handcuffs + cooks Italian.  You know what Confuzed, why don't you email me her name and number, and let me check this one out for you.  I will do a little homework and get back with you....

Dear PooBah:
I have wanted a fixed-gear bike for so long, and just finished making one up for myself from some spare parts laying around my garage.  I'm a little worried about the chain ring I used though, because I have some hills I need to get up for my morning commute.  Can you take a look at this and tell me if you think it will work?

Mr. G. Masher

Mr. Masher:
Wow!  What's that chainring - like an 800t?  I've done some quick estimation of the gain ratio of this baby over at Sheldon Brown's gear calculator and think you must be running about a 66.4 on this bad-boy.  Impressive!  With respect to the hills - I don't think you have a thing to worry about.  But you may want to invest in some larger pants...because if you keep with it, you may end up looking like this guy.

P.S. Your seat's too low.

Happy Friday everyone.  Remember to get your costumes ready and get registered for the MidMO Bike Ride to Rocheport going down in one week!

As ever, thanks so much for reading and for all those who comment.  See you on the road or trail this weekend - be safe and Pedal On!