Cross-over Appeal: It Shan't Gonna Happen

Generally speaking, cyclists tend to excitable, and at any given moment there's usually some fashion, product, controversy, or event that is sending all of us into a collective tizzy. Currently, there seems to be growing fear among cyclocross devotees that their beloved sport and its concomitant affectations (obscure cantilevers, anything Belgian) are going to be infiltrated by "hipsters." If you're one of these fretting barrier-hoppers, you're undoubtedly disturbed that SICX is coming to town this weekend.

No, I'm not referring to this guy:

Though if he were coming to town this weekend I'd be disturbed too.

"SICX" also stands for "Staten Island Cyclocross," and this is disturbing to people who wear skinsuits and mountain bike shoes because the race actually takes place in New York City (yes, technically Staten Island is part of New York City). For the most part, cyclocross races tend to occur in areas which are inconvenient to "hipsters" (unless their parents have a country house there), so this means that, while they might idly discuss going to the race in the same way they talk about going to the velodrome, they almost never follow through. There are exceptions, of course, such as Portland. There, "hipsters" can easily access cyclocross races, and the results are predictably disastrous. Consequently, many people fear that holding a cyclocross race in "hipster"-ridden New York will be like putting a tweed hat on somebody with head lice, and that before you know it every cyclocross racer in North America will be scratching his or her head and wondering what the hell happened and why all the "hipster" cycling bloggers are now posting pictures of their "vintage" XTR M900 cantis.

As frightening as all of this is, I don't think anybody has anything to worry about. Some people cite the difficulty of cyclocross as the reason "hipsters" will never take to it, but it's even simpler than that. The truth is, it's too early, and no "hipster" worth his carefully-"curated" musical library is going to curtail his evening activities in order wake up in time to get to a 'cross race. I mean, just look at the schedule on BikeReg--both the singlespeed race and the requisite ironic World Championship race take place before noon!

On top of that, it's Thanksgiving weekend, when almost every New York City "hipster" has flown back to northern California in order to sleep in a clean bed for the first time in six months and negotiate with his parents for next year's living expenses. (Hint: be sure to cover up that new ink so Mom and Dad don't figure out that they're paying for your "sleeves.")

If anything, the real concern should be that a New York City cyclocross race will result in an infestation of roadies, which is far more insidious and potentially dangerous for the sport. (A single power meter will kill it faster than a thousand fixies with riser bars.) Fortunately, though, most cyclocross races are too late for roadies. Even though they're feeling guilty for that half a beer and that bite of pie they had on Thursday and feel compelled to race it off, they also like to be finished with their riding well before lunchtime so they can download their numbers and get on with not enjoying the rest of their day.

Speaking of New York City, yesterday I mentioned I didn't like any of the winners in that "Biking Rules" contest, but on closer inspection I realize that's not entirely true. I gave this one good marks, and I failed to notice it ended up winning the "Best HD/HDV Video" category:

According to my personal criteria, any video which includes a bad sitting-on-a-bike-with-no-seat joke gets automatic approval. On the other hand, according to this same criteria, anything involving a "professional bike fitting" gets automatic disapproval. As it happens, "Bicycling" magazine has included one in their 2009 list of "The Best Gifts for Bicyclists:"

While you should certainly be as comfortable on your bike as possible, it's important to remember that any kind of long-distance or "sport-oriented" cycling (basically, any kind of riding you do in lycra) is going to involve some degree of discomfort. It's also important to take the time to perform your own adjustments and figure out what works best for you, since the process of doing so can be far more useful than having somebody else try to do it. Most importantly, we all have a different relationship with pain and suffering, and each one of us needs to discover for ourselves what this relationship is.

For example, if you're the kind of person who likes to look at disgusting pictures of men with bleeding knees, enjoys discomfort and needless suffering, and indeed feels that these are essential ingredients in an "epic" ride, then you should forego any sort of bike fitting (whether outsourced or self-administered), don some Rapha and ride yourself stupid. On the other hand, if you're one of those people who's constantly whining about minor pains and thinks cycling should involve no sensation whatsoever, no amount of bike fitting and component swapping is going to make you happy and you should just grow a beard, stock up on half-shorts, and buy a recumbent.

Of course, you can always sell somebody on the notion that you can magically make their cycling experience more enjoyable, which is why I'm working on a new recumbent bike-fitting system. Here's a prototype of my "fit cycle:"

The process is very simple. If the rider is too upright, then he will complain and possibly cry, and if he's too recumbent then he'll simply fall asleep. Therefore, by gradually reclining the recumbent fit cycle, I can slowly lower the rider until I find that "sweet spot" between total absence of physical sensation and sleep in which every recumbent rider aspires to lie. A helmet mirror angle adjustment is included with every session, though soft drinks and potato chips are extra. Also, BYOS. (Bring Your Own Snuggie.)

Apart from the bike fitting, I also noticed that the editors at "Bicycling" stealthily included almost an entire head-to-toe "Nü-Fred" wardrobe in their gift guide. Firstly, there's the wool cycling cap:

Yes, you're not a real "urban cyclist" until you own a wool cycling cap. If you're thinking of buying the Nü-Fred in your life one of these, be sure to pick the color that most closely matches his facial hair, since ideally it should sort of look "combed into" his beard and coiffure like a good toupee. Be sure that he also wears it while off the bike as much as possible, so that everybody in the coffee shop knows he rides a bike. For this reason, wool cycling caps are also known as "bike culture yarmulkes."

Next, there's the "hoodie:"

While the hooded sweatshirt became popular as casual wear in part because it was an inexpensive garment easily purchased in any sporting goods or army-navy store and not at all because it was especially good for cycling, if you're buying one for a cyclist you should be sure that it's not only very expensive but also sold by a cycling-themed company. This one is an excellent choice, and is sold by Outlier, makers of fine Snapple-proof shorts.

At this point, as a gift-giver, you may be tempted to include a nice pair of pants with the "hoodie." Stop! While this is perfectly logical in the normal world to which you are accustomed, in the world of bike-themed street clothing one shan't go forth without "shants:"

And finally, no Nü-Fred ensemble is complete without the latest essential non-essential item, the cycling-specific sneaker:

Yes, the "urban cyclist" in your life needs these, because "pedal hot spots" are a big problem when riding six blocks to the bar (or other local pedal-themed hot spot).

While these are all excellent gift ideas, I was disappointed to see that "Bicycling" omitted the new Cadel Evans t-shirt, which was forwarded to me by a reader:

It bears a quote from one of his many outbursts, which is "Don't stand on my dog:"

Personally, I think he should have gone with the one about the botched wheel change:

Or else he should enter the lucrative world of "urban cycling" apparel:

It shan't miss.

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