Tongue and Groove: The Future of Bike Construction

There is right now, taking place over the sea, a bicycle racing called "The Touring of France." In this racing, the men winning the race at those moments will be Thomas Voecklers. He wears a Glorious Shirt of Yellow™, and his tongue goes like this:

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I admit I've never been much of a Thomas Voeckler fan in the past. The suitcase of courage; the tortured expressions; the failed breakaways... Really, a Thomas Voeckler ride was exactly like a Lifetime movie special: long, overly melodramatic, and you knew exactly how it would end.

Now, though, I find myself feeling differently. As I mentioned on the Bicycling website, Voeckler has proven himself to be a possible contender for the overall, and suddenly very much I want him to win. Voeckler becoming the first Frenchman since 1826 to win the Tour de France would be a turnaround of profound historical significance. Meanwhile, what do we get if Andy Schleck wins? We'll just see him do more of that that lemon-sucking face he does:

Even a Cadel Evans victory would just encourage more of his trademark "fierce kitten" behavior:

There's only one problem, which is Voeckler himself:

I don't want to lie to the public. Maybe it would be good to say I'm a possible winner of the Tour de France but I'm not interested in that. I don't want to say that I have a chance to win. The Tour has been designed with the last week to be decisive. I'll fight, that's for sure, but let's be honest: I have 0% of chances to win the Tour de France.

O% chance of winning?!? That must be his Frenchness talking. I mean, he's probably right, but clearly he needs to take the American approach by surrendering himself to delusions of grandeur and adopting a grossly swollen sense of self-importance out of all proportion to his natural ability. He could also probably use some American-style motivation:

That oughtta light a fire under his chamois.

Speaking of Andy Schleck, he was recently subject to the extreme indignity of walking through a restaurant while carrying a cup of his own pee-pee:

Then I had another one at the hotel, we hit the restaurant and had to walk through holding a cup of my own urine which I’m sure the people eating dinner really appreciated. Then I woke up and had another test in the morning.

If all that wasn't bad enough, the restaurant also charged Schleck a €150 "corking fee" for bringing his own beverage.

Meanwhile, as the professionals go about their business over in France, many of us do our best to emulate them--though some of us try harder than others. One way to do this is by riding the same bike they do, and a reader has forwarded me this video of somebody who sounds like he's masturbating while reviewing the $15,000 Specialized McFadden Verde:

Yes, that's right: the Specialized MacDonald's Penga costs $15,000. However, the reviewer says it's worth it. Actually, he says he'd pay more than that:

I’m a 44 yr-old, Cat 2 Masters Racer. I can drive a line, bridge a gap and finish mid pack. I looked down at the speedo while jumping between groups and I was going 31.5 mph with a slight sidewind and not at full effort. 15k? Really for that sensation and speed, I’d pay more.

Really, he'd pay more than $15,000 for this bike? Wow. Well, you know when I'll take a single word in this review seriously? When he actually does this and furnishes a receipt to prove it. I'd love to see a bike reviewer willing put his money where his bad metaphor hole is. In fact, I'll even take him at his word if he pays the $15,000 "base price." However, I'm pretty sure that he won't, because even he must realize that $15,000 is a great deal of money, and that in order to spend it on a bike like this you'd have to be completely insane.

Then again, on the Specialized MacPherson Vulva you can bridge gaps between bloated Specialized dealers on demo rides at will. Plus, you apparently don't even have to pedal it:

The ground effects are real. In the various groups I rode with, before punching out of them, I’d roll up on the wheel in front of me without pedaling.

Well, Mark Cavendish is riding one of these, and if the above were true then he'd fire his leadout man Mark Renshaw. HTC doesn't have a sponsor for next year, and I'm sure they could use the money.

None of this is to say I have any issue with Specialized spending a bunch of money to develop a bike that may offer their pro riders a slight advantage. I also have no problem with them trying to sell the bike to the general public since, hey, they might as well, right? I even believe that you might ride the Specialized Malcolm McLaren Venti Soy Latte and think, "Holy shit, this thing feels fast." Still, it's important to maintain some perspective, and if you want to spend $15,000 to experience what it's like being a pro bike racer, then spend $2,000 on a Scattante and the rest on a Toyota Corolla. Make sure the interior's in decent shape too, because you're going to be living in it.

By contrast, paying $6,000 to stick a walnut between your legs seems like a bargain, and according to another reader you can now do just that:

Really, who hasn't been stoned on the sofa and wondered, "Dude, what if the coffee table was a fixie?"

The build quality—custom made in American Black Walnut with aluminum and titanium metal parts—seems exquisite. So simple and beautiful. I'm sure Steve Jobs is ordering one right now.

Right. I'd wager that Steve Jobs is probably a little more concerned with his health right now than he is with riding around on his living room furniture like an idiot.

Of course, if you do opt for the walnut fixie over the Specialized McMuffin Henge, just make sure you don't spoil its minimalist woodgrain Jobsian lines with a plastic water bottle. Instead, you should probably just drink out of a coconut. And speaking of coconuts, yet another reader informs me that the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork Bret wholeheartedly endorses coconut water:

By the way, if you're wondering about Bret's odd riding position, he's just using the old "one-cheek" sitting technique. It relieves pressure from the perineum while simultaneously sparing you the indignity of a noseless saddle.

Anyway, nobody with any sense would buy a walnut bicycle, since everybody knows that the alternative frame material of choice is bamboo. Until now, if you wanted a sweet bamboo bike, you had to ride something that was lashed together like Tom Hanks's escape raft in "Castaway." Now, though, yet another reader tells me you can simply grow the bike into its final shape:

That's right, no more joining:

Mr Vittouris, 25, was originally planning to use processed bamboo fibre to make the vehicle. But harvesting, weaving and compressing the bamboo tends to be energy and labour intensive. ''I thought, why not just grow the vehicle into the shape that's required in the first place,'' he said. And that's what he did, literally growing the bamboo vehicle, called Ajiro, by molding bamboo onto a skeleton frame, a process called arborsculpture.

In other words, "arborsculpture" is to bamboo what "monocoque" is to crabon. This could spell trouble for today's artisanal bamboo bike fabricators:

While his bamboo vehicle would be quite expensive initially, eventually he hoped it could be mass-produced, or rather mass-grown. ''It may be possible to plant a field of vehicles.''

Watch out, Craig Calfee, you're about to be replaced by a trellis.

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