Thursday, February 4, 2010

Superheroes: Refined by hand

Yesterday I wrote about feeling conflicted over enjoying female bicycle "pin-ups" while recognizing the complete absence of substance within such images.  Last night, however, I discovered something that has left my conflicted mind at peace:  a cycling pin-up calendar which actually serves a purpose (other than raising the seat post). 
The TyK ( Project was:
 "....created to address modern day stereotypes of women.  Frustrated with being pegged as either mechanically savvy but asexual, or cute but inept with their bikes, these PinUps showcase the dual nature that women cyclists embody."

The women featured in the calendar are everyday cyclists from Chicago and the proceeds from the sale of the calendars go directly to the Chicago Women's Health Center.  Of equal and obvious importance as helping an important organization, however, is the knowledge that I can, once again, oogle lovely women wearing unrealistic outfits, and striking uncomfortable poses with their bicycles, but now do so entirely guilt free.  Thank you TyK for returning a piece of my soul.
This year, the TyK project has also made a calendar of male cyclists, dressed as superheroes.  If the reasoning behind displaying women as pin-ups is in reaction to frustrations of female cyclists being seen as either "mechanically savvy but asexual or cute but inept" are we to gather that dressing up male cyclists as superheroes is out of frustration that we are perceived either as 'fashionably challenged yet obsessed with depilation or fond of dressing in tights but are slow?'  Of course, those are both obvious truisms where I am concerned...but beyond that, men, in general, also just like to play superheroes.  Even when they are already the fastest men in the Cancellara.
So strong is the affinity between cycling and superheroes, that a Geman-based bicycle manufacturer called Fixie Inc, uses as their slogan "Cycles for Heroes."  Specializing in steel frames, they make road and cyclocross bikes, but exhibit their clear passion in fixed gears, as their name suggests.  And because they are fixie-fixated, one can imagine that their ad campaign features absolutely nothing to do with fixed-gear bikes, but rather tries to capture the enigmatic urban cycling culture.  Take the cover of their 2009 catalogue.
I'm not sure how riding a fixed gear bicycle makes one a hero (or heroine as the case may be), but it has clearly upset this poor women wearing a latex corset with pearl crucifix to the point where she is crying her mascara away.  Related to Fixie Inc. is the following: If you've not yet heard, Bicycling magazine and Colavita are sponsoring a contest to win a trip to Verona, Italy to ride in the 2010 Granfondo Eddy Merckx by describing how you incorporate olive oil into your cycling.  What does this have to do with Fixie Inc?  If you were going to say that the young lady above has to grease up with it before squeezing into that outfit, you would only be partially correct.  The real answer is that Fixie Inc. sells a singlespeed bike called "The Rusty" which comes, pre-rusted.....
...a very labor-intensive process they refer to as "refined by hand" which requires the frame to be regularly sealed with olive oil, extra virgin.  Leaving it outside in the rain for a couple months doesn't hurt either.

The folks at Fixie Inc. are clearly so obsessed with their own awesomeness, that I'm sure once they bust into the olive oil, there is much more than their rusty frames that are being "refined by hand".  But I digress......Instead of merely playing dress up (whether you be a pin-up, a hand-refined rusted bike, or superhero), some truly embody the act of a superhero, like old-school Graeme Obree who invented the 'Superman' posture while competing in the hour record, which was later adopted by Chris Boardman and used in the individual pursuit.

Because the 'Superman' position has now been banned, current competitors must ride the 4km (3km for women) in a more conventional time trial posture, which is exactly what Jack Bobridge did a couple days ago when he posted the second fastest time ever at 4:14:427.  The fastest time was established by Boardman's (4:11:114) at the 1996 World Championships but was completed using the now defunct 'Superman' position.  Could not positioning himself in the 'Superman' really explain the differences in time?  I wonder if oiling up his skinsuit with some extra virgin wouldn't shave a little more off of Bobridge's time...a little hand-refining never hurt....

Pedal on!


  1. Fixie Inc. also sponsors the Karlsruhe, Germany bike polo team. If you search facebook for "Candy Colored Clowns", you'll find their fan page and a gallery of their 3 bikes. I saw them in Philly at the world championships, and they're pretty damn nice.

  2. Thanks for the heads up....I saw where there is a huge tourney going on this weekend in Karlsruhe...

    Here's a link to the sweet poster advertising it...