Data Wranglers: Fred Fight at the Flat Bar Corral

In the 17 years that I've been "curating" this blog, I've witnessed many things I never thought would come to pass. I've seen "fixies" sold at Walmart. I've seen Letle Viride play his first gig since 1969, when he took that bad acid and locked himself inside a port-a-potty for 46 hours. And now, I've seen Cadel Evans win the Tour de France.

Like most cycling fans, when I woke up this morning I thought I'd merely dreamed Evans's victory. However, once I hit the bathroom and opened the newspaper I realized that my dream was actually reality:

I found the entire article quite moving, but perhaps no line was more evocative than this one:

“It was really amazing to see him grit his teeth and just keep coming,” Jeffrey said.

Wow. Jeffrey must have been watching the uncensored European coverage, because here in America we didn't get to see that on Versus. Then again, we're a prudish culture. Sure, we did get the "Big George After Dark" special, but it was on pay-per-view and you had to be over 18 to order:

For my part, I'd just like to set modesty aside for a moment and point out that: 1) Yesterday I filed the very first 2012 Tour de France preview (suck on that, "legitimate" journalists); and 2) I called the Cadel Evans victory way back on Stage 4:

Oh, how they laughed when com filed my posts under "Expert Analysis"--and nobody harder than me, since calling me an "expert" on professional cycling is like calling Jerry Seinfeld an expert on aviation because he made a bunch of airline jokes. Moreover, being an "expert analyst" on is arguably like being the sommelier at the Olive Garden anyway. Nevertheless, I feel I've now earned my expert stripes, and emboldened by my own sagacity I'm going to go ahead and predict that Cadel Evans will become Prime Minister of Australia within the next 10 years.

Sure, it may seem far-fetched, but when those bushy eyebrows are staring back at you from the Australian $17 bill (Evans's first act as Prime Minister will be to introduce a $17 bill and put his face on it) remember where you read it first.

Also, next time you're at the Olive Garden, may I recommend the Boone's Farm. It goes good with everything.

Speaking of the Tour de France, if you were watching yesterday's stage on Versus (the Olive Garden of sports networks) you might have seen this commercial, to which I was alerted by an esteemed reader:

In it, two Freds drift into town like tumbleweeds who shop at Performance and roll up to the local watering hole. One of them is on a flat bar bike, and the other on a bike with like those curly-type handlebars that they use in the Tour de France:

After securing their dorkcycles to the hitchin' post, they begin comparing units surreptitiously, like two businessmen at a urinal:

Flat Bar Fred has the new iBike Dash from iBike, and we can see from his easy-to-read and simple-to-navigate display that he's ridden eight (8) whole miles:

This is the expression a Fred with a flat bar bike makes when he sees he just cranked out eight freaking miles:

("Uh, can you say, 'Killin' it?'")

Meanwhile, Drop Bar Fred has some stupid old-fashioned computer like the kind the Amish people use on their buggies:

We don't see how many miles he's cranked out, since his display is miniscule and almost impossible to navigate. However, we do see that he wears a look of consternation, like a man who's having trouble in the bedroom:

("This never happens, I swear!")

Then we go back to the Flat Bar Fred, who has a full-on data boner. We can see his speed, distance, time, and even power:

Note that Flat Bar Fred has attained a maximum speed of 25.9mph, which is more than half the speed at which a Fred goes, "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!"

Presumably then, the Flat Bar Fred has not gone, "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" However, given his self-satisfied demeanor, we can infer that 7.9 miles and 25.9mph are the exact distance and speed at which a Fred becomes unbearably smug. We can also draw the following conclusions about the Fred-iverse:

1) Flat bar road bikes are the new drop bar road bikes;
2) "Decades" are the new century;
3) No ride is too slow, too short, or too pathetic to share and immortalize in digital form.

Of course, any true retrogrouch would scoff at the notion of using a smartphone as a cycling computer. If you like your rims boxy, your frames lugged, and your shifting friction, then you also surely use the age-old practice of "chamois divination."

Soothsayers of old used to tell the future by examining sheep's entrails. Similarly, the retrogrouch can ascertain every detail of a ride by studying the appearance, odor, and residue inside a pair of cycling shorts. Speed, distance, power...the well-calibrated nose can tell all of these things from a single whiff of a post-ride chamois. Even today, an experienced European soigneur is more accurate than the most sophisticated computer, smart phone, or power meter. Allen Lim may make his riders swallow thermometers, but his wizened Belgian counterparts are able to base entire training programs on taintal funk.

Nevertheless, Freds continue to adorn their cockpits with instrumentation that would be more than sufficient to pilot an aircraft--and speaking of aircraft, another reader tells me that, while David Byrne may not own a car, he does travel by helicopter:

Evidently, Byrne has forgotten a fundamental Law of Smugness, which is that you don't get to brag about not driving when you travel by helicopter. Jets, helicopters, boats, tour buses--sure, those are all fine, just as long as you don't ever hop in a Honda Civic. Of course, he did take a bike ride after the helicopter trip, so I guess it cancels out. Still, taking a helicopter to the ride makes the mountain biker who drives three miles to the trailhead seem like a food coop volunteer in comparison.

Lastly, here's a helicopter-inspired cockpit that was spotted by a reader:

I think this should have been included in the iBike Dash commercial. It would have given them both cockpit envy.

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