Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Everything old is new again

Does anyone remember the 1975 TV special, Rudolph's Shiny New Year?  It was a sequel to the original Rudolph stop-motion televion show, in which Santa is a major ass-clown to Rudolph because of his nasal rouge colorway, resulting in him running away.  Well, in the sequel, Rudolph just returns from the infamous Christmas eve present run, (during which he is forced to swallow his pride and be harnessed and whipped by the jolly bitch), to be asked by Father Time to help find Baby New Year (named Happy), who has similarly bolted because he was being ridiculed for his large ears. (Where in the hell was the compassion for mild bodily disfigurement in the early 70's, anyway?)  I don't think they should have named him Happy, because I remember him being pretty pissed about the whole ear-thing, and rightly so. 

Anyway, Rudolph picks up an assortment of characters and they go looking for Happy in the Archipelago of Last Years all the while trying to avoid Happy's nemesis, a giant buzzard named Aeon.  In the end, it all works out and old Father Time is replaced with the new Baby New Year, and all that was once old was new again.

Why do I bother mentioning all of this?  Well, so too, is the cycling world finding rejuvenation of some long-standing traditions.  Take for example the changes we've seen over at the beloved BikeSnob NYC's blog.  Remember the old BSNYC's Seal of Disapproval?

Well someone must have been busy over the Christmas break, because look what we were greeted with last week.

Ironically, when I lifted this from BSNYC's blog, I noticed the jpeg's title is 'Seal 2_0' (as in '2.0').  If the irony of this is lost on anyone, I will direct you to a masterful piece of writing in which the illustrious Snob himself mocks the use of the number '2.0' to describe renewed or updated objects or events entitled: Pedal Stroke of Genius: Nonplussed 2.0.  And in case you can't read his new motto, it reads "Omnes Malefici Sugete Meos Testes."  Ye olde PooBah is not so quick on the uptake, but I eventually figured it out without having to use the all poweful Goggle search.  I'm sure you all fared much better in deciphering it.

But BSNYC is not the only one looking to revamp their look as we enter 2010.  French tire-maker Michelin is launching a $20 million advertising campaign to update the look of the iconic Michelin Man into a tire-tossing superhero. 

After doing a little research, I learned that the original Michelin Man was comprised not of car tires but of bicycle tires, and was a bad-ass in his own right.  Here he is smoking a cigar, riding with no hands, and busting a trick move on his fixed-gear.

And here he is again, smoking and making off with a woman in the dark of night through a field of bell jars.  (I don't get the bell-jar thing either.)

Just like BSNYC, the original Michelin Man possessed a latin slogan which was "Nunc est bibendum."  Translation: "Now is the time to drink."  They eventually shortened his slogan to just "Bibendum" which then became his actual name for years.  But instead of liquor, he drank road debris....screws, nails...broken glass.

Long about the time Michelin decided to invest more money into car tire advertisements, and less toward bicycle tires, "Bibendum" changed from a stogie-smoking, nail-swilling, cyclist to a boring dough-boy.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Someone over at Michelin should give him a PBR and slap his ass back on the bike.   Just because things are old, doesn't mean they're not better.

Not to be outdone, we here at COMO CYCO are making some changes for the new year as well.  We've decided to hire an intern.  Despite readership being on the decline, someone has been clicking on the Goggle-placed advertisments for adult diapers like a mad fiend, so we got a nice end-of-the-year kickback allowing us to reinvist the money into the site.  We held some working interviews which were pretty hardcore, if I do say so myself.  We came really close to hiring this guy:

Unfortunately, he outdrank me during lunch and then proceeded to beat me to the top of Easley Hill.  The ship can only have one Captian, Mr. Morrison....sorry. Anyway - everyone knows the best rock and roll-themed Primal jersey is the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon take that weak ass shit someplace else.

We ended up hiring Ricky.  He was pretty much a shoe-in from the moment we saw the photo he enlosed in his resume.  Plus, he was the only other applicant and still rides a triple, so I figure I might be able to take him.

I hope everyone will help me making him feel welcome.  Happy New Year to everyone who happens to read this from time to time.  As ever, thanks for stopping by.  Ride safe and see you in 2010.

Pedal on!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Changing views....

The offseason for me, and perhaps other cyclists as well, is always such an odd one.  The routines we work so hard to  maintain in the spring, summer and fall suddenly become disjointed, as motivation to jump on a trainer is a struggle.  I've tried many things to stay motivated on the trainer - and each of them tends to involve changing the view.  I've tried watching old Tour de France DVDs, the news, college basketball and movies.  But I think my favorite thing to watch is Giada de Laurentiis cooking anything on the Food Network.

(By the way - big thanks to the CC GEEC, and my partner in cycling crime, for the new Giada cookbook she got me for Xmas....not sure how the recipes are yet - but the photos are lovely and it should fit nicely on the bookstand on my handlebars).

Of course, if you are Lance Armstrong, changing the view from your trainer means you hop on your private jet, dart off to the big Island of Hawai'i and exchange the trainer for a beautifully paved highway with a view of Maui.

Lucky for him, a recent report that examined Hawai'i visitor injuries revealed that only 4% of all visits to the Emergency Room by non-Hawai'ian residents were related to bicycle crashes.  The number one reason (24% of visits) was related to falls (apparently not off of one's bicycle - unless one was looking at pictures of Giada marinating breasts from a chicken while riding). 

But Lance isn't the only member of the pro-peloton looking to mix up some training tactics during the off season.  Yesterday, we reported on Andy Schleck getting hit by a car the day after Christmas.  Well, today he reports in his own blog that both he AND his dog, named Minke, got banged up over the Christmas vacation.  Apparently, while on a jaunt through the woods, Minke jumped into a fox hole and got into a scrap with Mr. Fox and took a bit of a beating as well.  Sensing some evil juju magic swirling about Schleck and Team Saxo Bank, directeur Bjarne Riis had he and the other Saxo Bank riders gather around a bonfire, into which they were to cast written descriptions of their evil spirits.  Andy describes the scene:

"We had to huddle around a fire while we each wrote down one thing on a piece of  paper before casting it into the flames.  Whatever we wrote down, whatever trouble or problem, it would burn away into the night and not return.  You're probably thinking that I wrote Alberto Contador's name down.  Well you're right, but it was only a joke and I showed the entire team, who found it hilarious.  What I really wrote down has to stay a secret."
Whatever you say, Andy:

Twitter has also revealed some major view-changing for a couple of other big names.  First, Floyd Landis is on the verge of signing with Rock Racing after leaving Team OUCH a month ago.  Michael Ball's Rock Racing team is always in the business of changing their view - and staying on the cutting edge of fashion both on and off the bike.  Take for example their new "Anarchy" bib shorts:

Aside from the novel lightweight stretch quick-dry fabric these are constructed from, my favorite part is the large red splotch precariously positioned over the crotchal region.  Nothing says cycling toughness like displaying that you literally ride until your taint sloughs.  That is anarchy.

But as suggested above, cycling apparel is only one half of Rock&Republic's fashion line.  Check out what they've got for the tots at home:

Yes, for a cool $180, you can put your 9 year old son in some R&R designer jeans and T-shirt that comes complete with lipstick marks all over the shoulders.  But of course, those lipstick marks are probably meant to represent kisses from the boy's mother - right?  Because R&R doesn't forget about the mothers out there...not even the expectant ones.  Ever wonder what former Rock Racing star and admitted doper, Tyler Hamilton is doing now?  Stamping his name on R&R designer maternity jeans.

Could all of this be what inspired Floyd to recently tweet this cryptic message?

And someone whose view is about to be changed quite drastically is Tom Zirbel, former graduate student in Chemistry turned professional cyclist 4 years ago.  Results from tests taken during the US Pro time trial championships (where he finished 2nd) just revealed a positive finding for an endogenous steroid (DHEA).  He has been dropped from the Garmin-Transition roster and is nervously awaiting confirmation of the tests with the B sample.  DHEA is a steroid precursor that converts to testosterone in the body, and despite its debatable efficacy in enhancing performance, it is a banned substance.  My suggestion for a more natural testosterone booster?

More eggplant!

Pedal on!

Monday, December 28, 2009

May The Force be with you!

Christmas brought some snow to Columbia, which, despite impeding my personal cycling habits, is still not necessarily an unwelcome site to my northener eyes.  Missouri winter weather also seems to have pleased Mr. Paul Mazan of Rocheport who recently wrote into the Columbia Tribune:

"Where have all the sunshine patriots gone who were going to free us from dependence on imported oil, reduce their carbon footprint end global warming and clean up our air?  Surely these people whom the city, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to make a "special class" of citizens, immune from being yelled at, honked at or roundly cursed, haven't abandoned their holier-than-thou attitude and taken to their automobiles to avoid the discomfort of riding in the rain and freezing weather!"

Not that I have any allusion that Mr. Mazan reads this blog, but should he somehow stumble upon it, I want him to rest assured that I, for one, have not abandoned my "holier-than-thou" attitude that my "special class" status has afforded me.  It is this power, and occasionally only this, that truly allows me to deflect the jeers, and curses of individuals like him while on my bike, rather than the appreciated, but largely ceremonial, anti-harassment ordinance.

But as much as Mr. Mazan wishes to convince us of his distaste for fair-weather cyclists, and perhaps cycling itself, his name betrays the possible rich cycling heritage that may run deep in his blood.  If my geneaology serves me correctly, the name Mazan, is French in origin and is shared by a town in the Vaucluse department (or region) of France whose most notable landmark is Mont Ventoux, one of the most famous road cycling mountain climbs in all of France.  Here's a picture of Marco Pantani winning the stage atop Ventoux in front of Lance Armstrong wearing the maillot jaune in 2000.

But Monsieur Mazan knows all of this already and is just being cheeky with us, methinks.  But speaking of "holy attitudes" and "special classes," I recently noticed some other writings of special cycling cults with mysterious powers while perusing a page on that reviewed the history of the fixed gear bike.  As part of the article, the author makes specific mention of some of the standard features on today's fixie:

"Most fixed gear bikes do not feature breaks...."

I'm guessing this fixie cyclist, who videotaped himself attempting a brakeless skid stop, would disagree with that statement.

I'm obviously giving the folks at the 'business' for misspelling 'brakes' as 'breaks'. This really isn't fair of me at all since it detracts from the impact of the following statements the author makes regarding the use of brakes on fixed-gear bikes.

"In fact, riding without brakes has developed an almost cult status in certain places.  This is due to the perception by some riders that brakes are not needed when riding with intense concentration."

Are we to surmise from this that by simply concentrating on slowing and stopping, some fixie riders may will themselves to do so, as though they have The Force?  And that by executing said Force-like powers, they may find themselves achieving admission into a special cult?  Perhaps this explains why Andy Schleck crashed his bike into a car that crossed in front of him on Saturday, while heading out for a training ride.  Andy was quoted as saying,

"A car crossed in my path and pulled right across me.  I couldn't avoid the crash.  I didn't have the speed on but I couldn't avoid it."

Clearly, this was a case of him not concentrating intensely enough.  Even though he didn't have "the speed on", he also obviously didn't have his 'Yoda' on.  But this isn't that surprising, really.  When you take the time to look at some photos of Andy, he frequently looks rather confused and dare I say, unfocused.

Here, in two photos, we can see Andy disoriented and reaching out with his right hand, elbow flexed, palm askew, confusedly questioning the direction in which he is supposed to go.  This is not the sort of Force-like intense concentration that is required should he wish to be able to mentally command his bike to slow or even stop.  Why, even this young Jedi-in-training knows how to direct the Force as seen in the advertisments for the new toy called the Star Wars Force Trainer which supposedly trains concentration.

Andy, take note:  The elbow is extended and the palm faces downward.  The mouth is not agape, but rather the lips are pursed. 

I just ordered my own Force Trainer, because I want to see if it can teach me some mad Jedi Force skilz to help me levitate my bike over the snow drifts...

Pedal on!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cycling Music Videos 2009: the Good, the Bad and the Fuzzy.

When I started this blog many months ago, I did so to explore the culture of cycling, and all of its oddities, and also how it affects me and those like me, who tend to spend a lot of time thinking about cycling.  But as I was exploring one culture, it seems another culture was exploring me....And that was the culture of music.  Recently, I was asked to be interviewed by music aficionado, and fellow COMO blogger, Ms. Elizabeth, over at A Ravenous Horde regarding a cyclist's perspective on music for this year, and this decade.  Come to find out, Ms. Elizabeth is a bit of a cyclist herself and wanted to know what I was rocking out to on my iPod as I slog away on the trainer.  Under the cover of night, and a veiled fez, I granted her an interview which you can read here.   To say I feel honored is an understatement.

But this entire experience reminded me of how cycling culture is intersecting with other cultures more and more these days, and music is certainly no exception.  Friday last, we spoke a bit about the new video for the song called 'Kings and Queens' by Jared Leto's project, Thirty Seconds to Mars, which features Mr. Leto striking douchetastically Bono-esque poses in front of a fading sun, interspersed with scenes of him riding his fixed gear around  empty city streets.  This video has been lampooned by both cycling and music cultures here and here, respectively.  Not wanting to beat the proverbial dead horse, I will leave you with the prior two commentaries as both individuals are much more accomplished writers than me (or should that be 'I'....dammit!)  Anyway - no one can parody Leto better than himself.

Right about the same time that Leto was putting together his video, another group, The Flaming Lips was recruiting cyclists for their video for the song 'Watching the Planets'.  But instead of costumed urbanites, frontman Wayne Coyne wanted his cyclists completely naked.  Of course, if one needs to find cyclists ready to shed their clothes quicker than you can say "scrotal chafing", one needs to look no further than Portland.  And indeed, a veritable bevy of nude, anatomically flapping, Portland cyclists responded to the call.  The only thing they were confused about was that they wouldn't be shedding their clothes for any particular cause, but rather to just appear naked in a video.  This was to be no outcry against traffic, or stolen bike lanes, or lack of service in the drive-thru window of Burgerville, but rather to make a music video involving what can only be described as a giant, fuzzy vagina ball.

I have watched the entire video.  Once.  And I can safely say that not only is it Not Safe For Work (NSFW) but like many naked cycling endeavors, it's NSFYR (Not Safe For Your Retinas) either.  Because of this fact, I have chosen not to post the video here, but rather provide a link to it, if you feel so inclined.  Just click the words "Giant Fuzzy Vagina Ball" if you feel like having the rest of your day somehow altered.

Like the 'Kings and Queens' video, Coyne's video has been mocked and ridiculed by many non-Oregonian cycling groups as well.  Thus, it would seem, that the two attempts to merge cycling and musical cultures this year in the form of music video have unceremoniously flopped like a Portland penis on a San Marco saddle.  At least that's what I thought until a good friend of mine passed this little gem on to me yesterday.

Ladies and gentleman, I bring you the 2009 Cycling-related Music Video of the Year:  'Only Love You For Your Car" by Immaculate Machine.  100% free of douche-bags, genitals askew on bike seats, floppage, and poseurs.  100% chock full of home-made, road-warrior, bicycle-part weaponry goodness.

I knew I was going to like this video from its opening shot:

Pedal on!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dear PooBah: Friday Mail

It's Friday and there is snow in the forecast, which made me think of the perfect winter bike I found on Craigslist the other day.  I thought I would share it with you in case anyone was interested.

"Perfect for commuting and just leaving outdoors.  Great for everyday use.  Great "Winter bike".  I can't remember if it is a Mens or a Womens, but I know it's 3-speed.  Pick up only.  Bring a shovel."

On to the mail!

Dear PooBah,
I read your post yesterday with great interest.  Right up until the end, when you mocked the most famous of all bikes, the Penny Farthing, by showing some shleprock in an endo as your version of "Biking 1.0".  Not cool, PooBah....not cool at all.  Consider this reader "not amused", as you like to say.  Oh, by the way - I thought you would like to see my ride.
Chauncey H.
Secretary, Mid-Missouri Regional Penny Farthing Club

Thanks so much for your note.  Nice bike.  I didn't know Velocity made deep-V rims in dayglo-green!

Dear PooBah,
Dude, I need your help.  I shacked up with this chick that I met on my bike commute home last night on the trail.  She seemed a little kooky - but hot as hell!!!  We ended up back at my appartment and she stayed the night.  During the night she got up to do something - but came back to bed pretty quick - so I thought she just might have gone to the bathroom and didn't think any more about it.  Anyway - I got up early this morning for work and told her to make herself at home and leave whenever she wanted to.  When I got outside and tried to retrieve my bike from the rack outside my building, this is what I found.  I took the bus instead.  WTF do I do now???

I'm just going to take a stab at things here, but I think she may be wanting to take the relationship to the next level.  On the upside - if she is as serious about you as I think she is, maybe she'll clean your bike for you?  The thing's a wreck!

Hey PooBah!
I have been trying to think of a color scheme for the new fixie I'm building up but can't decide on any.  Well, last night, I was looking through GQ and saw this!  What do you think of these colors?

I agree the color scheme is impressive, but not as much as the pants this guy has on.  I mean - with that much room in the crotch - you've got the space to carry your patch kit, a pump, your lunch and maybe a small squirrel that could act as your butler.

Dear PooBah,
Do you really think Bradley Wiggins finds his inspiration in Johnny Rotten, as you wrote about in one of your posts last week?
Sid V.

Perhaps you're right.  That photo of Wiggins I used was taken last year in Boulder, CO at the 2009 Garmin-Slipstream Team Welcome party, so was a little outdated.  This year, I think he might be channeling Twiggy.

Dear PooBah,
I hate my parents!  They don't understand me at all.  I just want to take off on my bike and ride as far away as I can!  Are there any bike gangs you know of that I could join, like the marauding bike pirates you spoke of yesterday?  Like the kind that is depicted in the new 30 Seconds to Mars music video?

Can you give me some advice?

Well it looks like you are halfway there!  You've got the bike and some sweet jammies that could double as your bike-gang costume.  My only suggestion is that you ditch your little brother's Etch-A-Sketch for spreading pirate-like anarchy in place of an iPhone.  They have an app for that.

Hey PooBah-
I thought your 'Ninja Rider' post was completely ridiculous.  That is, until I found this picture of Alberto Contador taken while he was training in Italy last week!  Do you think he could be moonlighting as one?
George M.

Could be.  But I'm thinking he's moonlighting as the lead singer in a new boy band with Boonen and at least one of the Schlecks instead. 

Thanks for reading everyone.  Stay warm this weekend and ride safe.

Pedal on!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reinventing the wheel

If there is one thing Columbia has no shortage of, it's a general disdain from a segment of this community toward cyclists.  Take some comments published in the Tribune this week in response to the city not approving the installment of surveillance cameras downtown.

"Well everybody needs to stand up and take note of what happened last night in Columbia with the city council.  They decided not to put up the cameras downtown for surveillance, but yet they were all in favor of voting for the bicycle ordinances.  So what does this tell us?  They are more concerned with people who ride bicycles than the consensus of the general public...."

"I was hearing that the eggheads of our city council voted no on the cameras again.  Seems to me like $50,000 is not really that bad for putting cameras downtown to keep people safe.  Hell, they blew more money than that on those stupid bike lines.  What's wrong with them eggheads down there?  Don't they care about people's safety in Columbia?  Man, this place is beginning to be a real crap town to live in, I'll tell you that."

Interestingly, there was not even any discussion of bike ordinances at this particular council meeting when the issue of cameras was brought forth.  It thus seems as though the well of cycling hatred has become a  depository in which the ladel of blame may be dipped for any public gripe.  Escalating crime in the city?  Well, if the eggheads hadn't spent so much money on those silly bike lanes, we could have afforded to pay more police.  Small businesses hurting?  Well, if those damned cyclists would quit riding and start shopping more, we probably wouldn't be in this mess!  And speaking of "crap town", are park grounds being overwhelmed with dog feces?  Well, if those damned morons on bikes weren't riding around all the time, then dogs would magically stop crapping.

Furthermore, surveillance cameras don't make people safe....people not hurting other people makes people safe.  And aside from the packs of naked ninja riders roaming the streets, I've not heard of any bicycle gangs or marauding bands of cycling pirates pillaging the city (although it does kind of sound like fun if they let you actually dress like a pirate). 

Perhaps what enrages non-cyclists so much is the rudimentary status of the mode of transportation which we so love.  For example, just before Thanksgiving, I had to make a last minute run to the grocery store to get ready for a large dinner I was preparing.  I was running late and therefore in a big hurry.  As I entered the check out line at the store with some tomatoes, a couple blocks of asiago cheese and a large toilet plunger, I received some strange looks from fellow shoppers.  But if I have learned anything in my time on this planet, it's that nothing clogs a toilet like the holidays.  At any rate, in the checkout lane, I found myself behind a middle aged woman who had purchased enough food to feed Team RadioShack for, perhaps not the Tour de France, but certainly enough for the Dauphine.  When it came time to pay, she slowly withdrew the billfold from her macrame purse and began paying in bills and change: actual paper currency and small metallic disks.  I got increasingly anxious as she meticulously fumbled through the archaic legal tender, making sure she had the exact amount.  I thought to myself, "Come on, lady - bust out the plastic - swipe it - and let's go!"  But perhaps this is how drivers feel when trapped behind me riding my velocipede up Chapel Hill?

Well, lucky for everyone then, must be the new cycling development that MIT researchers released at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change called the Copenhagen Wheel.

Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory and the Copenhagen Wheel project says about the wheel, "It's sort of like 'Biking 2.0' - whereby cheap electronics allow us to augment bikes and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system."  What would any modern endeavor be, after all, without cheap electronics and on-demand capabilities?

What this device does is recuperate the kinetic energy otherwise wasted during the act of braking, which then is used to power the rear wheel at a later time, for example if you need some help pedalling up a hill.  In addition to that, the wheel is a veritable iPhone with a wealth of other gadgetry to monitor speed, direction, distance traveled, air pollution and the location of the cyclist's friends.  And speaking of iPhones, all these actions are coordinated and managed through an app on an iPhone (of course) that is mounted to the stem.

One of the major marketing ploys of the new wheel is the ability to accrue "Green Miles" which is the new term to refer to the miles ridden on your existing cheapo CATEYE bicycle computer.  With the "Green Miles" program, you can upload your ride and miles totalled to a social networking site, and thus brag to your cycling companions.  They liken this to a 'frequent fliers' program minus the opportunity to get loaded on gin in the hospitality "crown room" prior to boarding your flight.  Time may prove me wrong, but I think we need another social networking site like Lance needed that other testicle.  The first one seems to be doing the trick.

As we learned earlier in the week, marketing your bike or bike product with the use of models that might resemble the projected purchaser is important, and the folks at SENSEable City Lab have done just that by retrofitting the Copenhagen wheel onto a Cinelli fixed gear ridden by a scarfed, European blonde woman in knee-high boots for the online promos:

Of course, for this young lady, other successful and less expensive modes of powering her bicycle up a hill would be to ditch the boots and not be riding a fixed gear in the first place. 

So the question remains of who exactly is the target market for a device that the inventors have labeled as one which will "Transform your ordinary bicycle into a hybrid E-bike..."  Ratti has called this advancement "sort of like Biking 2.0...." which has brought forth some geniused ribbing from BSNYC.  If the Copenhagen Wheel is "biking 2.0", then I'm guessing carbon frames must be somewhere around a "1.8", gear technology would have to be "biking version 1.4" so that would mean "biking 1.0" would have to have been....

Now that would be something to see on a surveillance camera....

Pedal on!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Less is more; Of Jeeps and Maseratis

Yesterday's post shed some light on the elusive, naked cycling ninjas that are prowling our streets.  But in reality, as more and more cold days descend upon us, only the most stout-of-heart continue to brave the frigid wind on their bicycles for endeavours other than commuting.  This of course leaves lots of time for other cycling-related shenanigans such as the recently reported roller races, which is a feigned attempt to make indoor training sexy, which in my opinion, is an impossibility.  And yet, we force ourselves onto the torture machines that live in our basements, spinning the cobwebs out of our legs, and there is nothing sexy about it.  But as we stand on the brink of the holiday season and all of the excesses it brings, moderation it would seem, is a powerful concept to remember.  At first glance, the concepts of "less is more" and sexiness would seemingly oppose one another, but perhaps this winter, this is not so.  Especially in the department of clothing.

Take these new Vermarc Wamup Tights I discovered on CyclingNews:

At first glance, they would seem to be normal tights.  That is, until you advance through the gallery of thumbnail images and you arrive at this shot:

Now I fully admit that I might be reading into the attempt at suggestiveness of this photo much as a Victorian gentleman would be excited by the accidental appearance of a young woman's ankle due to the fact that we are now in the heart of winter, and visualizing cyclists' bare skin is a rarity these days.  However reading the associated text accompanying these photos reveals some kind of overtones as well...

"In literally 10 can strip these off and toss them aside (to a waiting partner...)leaving your muscles warm when the gun goes off, and yet still properly attired for full-blown efforts..."

After all, one should always possess the proper attire whilst executing full-blown efforts and certainly when the gun goes off....Quarter or half-blown efforts require nothing so formal (or expensive) however, which is probably why mediocrity abounds in today's cycling circles.

Interestingly, these pants aren't the only item in the cycling world looking to reveal a little cyclist skin this winter, as the Italian Mr. Cycling 2009 competition was recently held in Cardano al Campo, Italy which pitted some of the top names in Italian cycling against one another including Petacchi, Simoni, Chicchi, Corioni and Pellizotti among others.  The last three of which engaged in a strip-tease battle to decide who would take the crown.  Each shedded their clothes and struck epic poses in attempts to woo the judges.

First Francesco Chicchi threw himself into an Oompa-Loompa-esque forward lunge...

Then Franco Pellizotti attempted The Thinker pose....

But neither could compete with Claudio Corioni's Elvis point which won the show.

Perhaps moderation this winter, therefore, actually refers to the costs of laundering, thus promoting more excuses to minimize clothing as an inspiration to stay on the bike, or trainer, as the case may be.  Take this story regarding new "Naked Gyms" in the Netherlands.

Important to note is that in each of the above photos, the individuals so ready to shed their winter clothing and prance about in all their glory (or lack thereof) are dudes.  The irony of this is that the male figure is really rather similar to an appliance, and is in this way, much as Elaine pointed out in an episode of Seinfeld, not unlike a Jeep.  In fact, the most famous of Jeeps were actually called 'Willys'.  And yet speaking as a Jeep, we find it quite amusing to flaunt our plugs and tailpipes about, as though we were, say Maseratis, when in fact, we are not. 

So with full respect to the female readers, and more specifically to all the male eyes that suffered through this post, just remember that if you are riding your indoor trainer this winter and need something to ignite that full blown effort, try keeping your clothes on instead and hanging this calendar on your wall with 12 months worth of real gear-mashing, ass-kicking Maseratis courtesy of cyclepassion.

Pedal on!