The Price of Meh: How Low Can a Fred Get?

This past weekend was an auspicious one in the world of riding road bikes as quickly as possible, for it marked the start of the Giro d'Italia, which is a three-week bicycle cycling race that takes place in Italy. I'm pleased to announce that this race is off to a flambullient start, for with only two stages down we've already gotten to see both a Mark Cavendish temper tantrum and at least one close-up of Mario Cipollini, whose tanned and unctuous visage looks uncannily like a freshly-oiled Brooks. (Cipollini has actually been known to exploit this resemblance for lascivious purposes, as you can see in this unsafe-for-work video.) Also, as I mentioned on Friday, I'm "covering" the Giro for the "Bicycling" magazine website, and they've even devised a special graphic to accompany my missives:

Not only was I pleased to find that "Bicycling" did not exhaust all its considerable design prowess with their "epic" redesign, but with a few minor tweaks I will also be able to repurpose this image when I launch my new sandwich blog:

Some might call that stealing, but I prefer to think of it as sustainable logo recycling.

Meanwhile, closer to (my) home, yesterday the Gran Fondo New York took place, and by the looks of things it was a total "Fred-pocalypse:"

I was sequestered on my own side of the "Big Skanky" yesterday, but when I look at this image all I can see are thousands and thousands of profoundly disappointed mothers.

Speaking of absurd contests and stunning graphics, you may recall that on Friday I also announced the "There Will Be Action Wipes" contest:

Well, subsequent to this announcement something of a Twitter frenzy ensued (by "frenzy" I mean one or two people exchanged Tweets), and the upshot of all this social networking is that, in addition to winning actual Action Wipes, you can also win a Liz Hatch video courtesy of Cyclefilm:

That's a £12.99 £7.99 value! (£7.99 is roughly equivalent to US$978.00). Now, I'm not going to tell the winner what to do with a pack of Action Wipes and a Liz Hatch DVD, but whatever you decide I suggest that you keep it to yourself. In the meantime, the contest entries have been coming frequently and often, like a person with a pack of Action Wipes and a Liz Hatch DVD. Just some of the submissions I've received include this public restroom door-worthy example:
This simplified rendering, complete with "flavor saver:"

(Via "Pseudo Rhys")

And this bold imagining which shows the proposed international symbol for cycling in situ and even incorporates some Action Wipes product placement:

As for the slogan, this should not imply that Action Wipes are not safe or gentle enough for a baby's butt--they certainly are, because they're not moistened with toxins, caustic acids, and recycled developer recovered from old photo labs like some of their competitors' wipes.

Of course, not every submission adhered strictly to the "international symbol for cycling" requirement, but while this may cost them overall victory it does not make them any less artistically valid:

One day, this will hang from suburban bedroom walls all over North America, right next to the Justin Bieber posters. I feel strongly that the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork would make a wholesome and inspirational role model for "the youth"--much more so than those fixie riders with their rapping musics and their designer sweatshirts, and even more than professional cyclists with their unfinished tattoos and their doping scandals.

This is not to say that doping is the exclusive domain of the professional--far from it. When it comes to emulating the pros, some Freds do not stop with the crabon wheelsets and the power meters, and some even go as far as to taste the forbidden nectar of the performance-enhancing substance. In fact, a reader recently informed me that one such rider, journalist Andrew Tilin, has written a book about his experiences as a doping Cat 4:

Tilin started doping in January of 2008, and his results as of that date will be nullified. So what were those results? Well, you can see them here, and they basically amount to a bunch of mediocre finishes in his local races. Evidently, even with the aid of performance enhancing drugs, Tilin was unable to reach the podium in a single Cat 4 race. I'm guessing his goals were more journalistic than they were competitive, but even so, if he needs to dope in order to be a lousy Cat 4 than he should probably give up cycling, in the same way that someone who thinks the Grateful Dead suck even after smoking a bunch of "wednesday Weed" should probably quit trying to be a Deadhead.

But such are the perils of Fred-dom, and as much as the bicycle can be a tool for self-discovery and actualization, so can it lead you to your own demise. Who among us has not either known or indeed been a Fred who got sucked into the delusional spiral of training, and spending, and upgrading, all at the expense of personal relationships, professional advancement, and happiness? In this regard the bicycle can be a malevolent seductress, and a siren leading us to perdition. This is not limited to the traditional Fred, either, and the so-called "NĂ¼-Fred" can also fall victim. Consider this video, forwarded by a reader, about a rider preparing for the Red Hook Criterium:

Evidently, the filmmaker is aiming to become the hipster Bud Greenspan, and amazingly he has raised over $1,000:

Here's the pitch:

This is a story about one rider's journey towards his first-ever Red Hook Crit. Frank Warren, owner of the Breukelen Coffee House in Crown Heights, is a passionate amateur cyclist who dreams of making a podium finish and cementing his name on the fixed gear circuit. But running a successful business while training for the biggest race of his life is a difficult balancing act. Can he do both?

It's depressing that fixed-gear self-glorification has come to this, a movie that asks the question: "Can one man balance a job and a hobby?" Plus, he's not even having fun:

"I wanna win. I'm not doing this for fun."

Then again, maybe I'm missing the point of the film. Maybe it's a parody. Or, maybe it's actually about being in complete and utter self-denial. To wit:

"This ain't no hipster shit."

No, not at all. I'm looking forward to the sequel to this movie, in which a freelance graphic designer attempts to balance his grueling 20-hour workweek with his burning desire to never, ever miss a single happy hour.

Speaking of Kickstarter, it is rapidly establishing itself as a real incubator for gratuitous cycling accessories, and I recently learned via the Tweeter that someone is working on a pair of titanium salad tongs that doubles as a bike lock:

On one hand, this could be a failure since hipsters can't stick it in their back pockets. On the other, it could be a huge success, since when you arrive at a barbecue you can easily remove your own frankfurter from the grill. Either way, if this ever makes it to market, they should make sure to include at least one disembodied hipster hand, as forwarded to me by yet another reader:

Now that's choking your Cinelli.

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