Waist Not Want Not: Excessive Wear

If you're unfamiliar with American folkways, the day after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday," and on this day we're all supposed to go out and buy presents, which we proceed to exchange on Christmas or one of its "ethnic" spin-offs. Tramplings, maimings, and other shopping-related mishaps are commonplace on Black Friday, and so I instead spent the day doing helmetless bike-salmon sprint intervals on the Long Island Expressway since I reasoned it was safer. Still, I was unable to avoid holiday shopping mania completely, because companies love to harness the awesome marketing power of bicycles during the holiday season, and when I logged onto eBay to check on my Hummel figurine auctions I saw this:

This in turn led me to wonder if the Chris King Headset Composite Index is healthy this holiday season. Last year around this time the CKHCI was at 72.21, so ITTET this year's figures should be quite telling. Are cyclists continuing to spend conservatively by putting their money in "bulletproof" headsetry, or are they once again growing more confident and investing in riskier areas such as idiotic concept bicycles and amazing bikes with mind-blowing wheelsets? I'm still waiting for this year's numbers to come in, but I will analyze and report them in due course.

In the meantime, there are encouraging signs that retail among cyclists is brisk. Despite the fact that New York City cyclists often carry gigantic messenger bags, wear all sorts of holsters on their belts, and even put baskets on their Colnago track bikes, these things are mainly fashion accessories and are almost always empty. When it comes time to actually bring something home from a store, they instead choose to carry it awkwardly in one hand while attempting to control the twitchy front end of their brakeless track bike with the other, and since I've been seeing this more frequently lately I can only assume it's because they're spending lots of money this holiday season:

If this is indeed the case, then Tour de France winner and exuberant fingerbanger Alberto Contador would do well to make some of his merchandise available to the cycling consumer. As it is, he is still polling people on what products they would buy, and the hat is still winning:

But if the 2009 Tour de France taught us anything, it taught us that Alberto Contador does not like to do as he is told. When his director tells him to ride defensively, he attacks, and when his fans tell him they want hats, he gives them t-shirts:

Here, the velvet blazer, the white Sidi, and the skin-tight fingerbang v-neck come together in a staggeringly tacky ménage à fromage. As frightening as this three-way is, what's even more horrifying is the fact that somewhere in Europe someone is thinking to himself: "You know, that shirt would look fantastic under that jacket." As far as I'm concerned though, it's enough to make you want to fingerbang your own eye out, which is what Contador appears to be doing here:

Really, the only thing worse than wearing a fingerbang t-shirt under a velvet blazer is wearing a used bicycle tire for a belt. Incredibly, though, a reader informs me that people seem to be doing just that. Yes, thanks to Retired Belts, you can now wear a San Francisco fixter's used Vittoria Randonneur around your waist:

While I can appreciate finding new uses for things instead of just throwing them away, I also feel wearing used bicycle components is a form of self-expression only slightly more dignified than wearing a sandwich board or painting your face at sporting events. American Indians wearing buffalo skins shows respect for the animals they've hunted, but hipsters wearing old bike tires just makes them look ridiculous. It's especially offensive since the only reason there's such a surplus of tire carcasses is that people insist on riding around in hilly San Francisco without brakes; if this wasn't the case then maybe they'd actually get more than a few weeks out of a tire and instead of wearing them they could just keep them on their bikes where they belong. Indians killed buffalo because they needed the meat, not because they wanted to show off their mad bow-and-arrow skillz to their friends. Still, if people are now willing to wear dirty bike parts then I'm tempted to start selling my used bar tape (it's quite useful as teffilin). However, judging from the above photo somebody already beat me to it and is marketing it as u-lock wrapping.

Also, there are other ways to recycle old bike parts that don't involve wearing them. Instead, you can keep using them for your bike. For example, people have long used toe straps in order to fasten things to their saddles. In the old days, those things were often tubular tires, but now another reader informs me they're things like "Bike Burritos:"

The Bike Burrito is basically a piece of fabric with pockets, and as far as I can tell it's essentially just a rolled-up shop apron. Between this and the tire belt, it's clear that "bike culture" is now mostly about pretending you're a bike and your bike is a person. This is why everybody's wearing bike parts but putting clothing on their bikes.

These must be the sorts of things the dangling shopping bag set are buying for each-other as holiday gifts. I, however, prefer to shop on Craigslist, where the bikes are bikes and the clothes are clothes (and, quite often, the brakes are "breaks"). For example, the British person in your life will surely appreciate this Brompton World Championship t-shirt:

Brompton WC 2009 Collector's item tee-shirt - $50
Date: 2009-11-30, 12:28AM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

Straight from the Brompton World Championship 2009 held at Blenheim Palace this past October -- Only one collector's item tee-shirt left for sale.

Brand new tee-shirt is sealed in original packaging (hence, no picture of actual tee-shirt here, sorry).
Color: Black
Size: Medium (uni)
Logo: Event logo on upper-left front and special commemorative "folded brompton" design on back.

If interested, please contact thru CL email. Meet in Manhattan. Cash only.

That race, of course, was won by Roberto Heras, who has clearly ended his cycling career not with a fingerbang, but with a whimper (and in a pair of "shants").

Then, there are always the Pistas. However, it seems as though here in New York we're currently experiencing a Pista shortage. At the moment there's only one Bianchi Pista for sale, and it's from out of town:

Bianchi Pista 51 cm seafoam green - $500 (out of town)
Date: 2009-11-29, 10:05PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

I've got a used Pista, seafoam green. It's pretty much bone stock with toe clips and drop bars. I'll swap out the drops for Nitto TT bullhorns if you'd prefer. Newer tires. The condition is USED. The frame has scratches and paint chips, but no cracks or dents. I will ship this bike to you from out of town via UPS, accepting payment via Paypal. This includes their fraud protection, so don't think that this is a scam. I'll email you a picture of the bike with a copy of today's newspaper. Actually, I don't read the paper, in the paperway format, so maybe I could send you a picture of the bike with a screenshot of the latest BSNYC post. The price includes shipping.

I don't know where this person is located, but wherever it is the PistaDex must be quite low, and shrewdly he or she has elected to market it here where the supply is limited. It's too bad about the "newer tires," though, since that means it will be awhile before you can wear them. It's also too bad the seller didn't watch someone build the wheels personally:

Few things would be more boring than watching someone build a wheel, and few things would be more irritating than having somebody watch you build a wheel. I've heard that serial retrogrouch and uber-curmudgeon Jobst Brandt once caught somebody spying on him as he was in flagrante rota aedificium edificium with a truing stand and a Mavic MA2, and then proceeded to savagely beat the voyeur with an Avocet FasGrip. It can, however, be quite pleasurable to watch somebody true a wheel--especially if that person is using the new "crotchal truing technique:"

You'll note that I have censored the image using the libido-dampening properties of Larry King's visage, but if you'd like to see the unsafe-for-work original it is here. Crotchal truing is a highly effective way of ensuring that a bicycle wheel is both laterally and vertically true. (Or, more accurately, labially and clitorally true in crotchal truing parlance.) Also, after truing your wheel crotchally, make sure to carefully measure the spoke tension:

Of course, crotchal wheel truing is gender-specific, and the male anatomy is simply ill-suited to the task. However, if you don't own or have access to the female genitalway, fortunately Park Tool have come to the rescue and are now selling a portable home crotchal truing stand:

With winter coming, "wheel truing" is now the perfect euphemism for what to do when there's too much snow to ride.

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