Off The Back: How To Dismount Your Replacement Horse

Fixed-gear bicycles.  Remember those?  Well, despite what you may think, not only are people still riding them, but they also continue to invent creative new ways of getting off of them:

I like this dismount, particularly because it involves doing sort of a "Triple Lindy" off of the rear filth prophylactic:

Just add a stiffer fender, a kiddie pool, and some sound effects and you've got yourself one sweet dismounting "edit."

Meanwhile, as you may know, "fiets" is the Dutch word for bicycle, and if you're like me you've never, ever wondered about the origin of the word.  However, Dutch speakers have wondered about it, since apparently its etymology has been shrouded in mystery.  Finally though, the shroud has been lifted.  Yes, linguists have finally solved the mystery of the "fiets," and the reader who forwarded me the article was kind enough to translate it for me:

Two language professors from the University of Ghent have solved perhaps one of the biggest mysteries in the Dutch etymology: where did the -quite recent- word "fiets" come from?
The discovery was actually accidental. Gunnar de Boel, professor of comparative linguistics at Ghent University, offered cider  to German friends from the southern Rhineland.

It then became clear that they regarded cider as "vice wine". They call it "Viez", a substitute for wine, as it were, and in certain parts of Germany that is pronounced like"fiets".

de Boel made ​​the connection with our "fiets" and  proposed his hypothesis with Professor Luc de Grauwe.

In German, the new vehicle with pedals was called "vice Pferd" at the time, literally "replacement horse." This was later shortened to "Viez", like the abbreviation from "automobiel" to "auto". The word that is pronounced like  "fiets" must have later been blown over to Flanders and to the Netherlands.

The word "fiets" emerged in Dutch around 1870 for the first time. Since 1886, the origin of the word became stuff for intense debate among linguists. For 140 years no one could adequately demonstrate where the word came from, until today.

So it is likely that the Dutch word for bicycle originated from German and meant something like "substitute horse". This etymological explanation also clarifies the pejorative synonym "stalen ros", meaning "steel steed", a common expression in Dutch.

I'm not sure I really followed any of that, but in any case I share this with you for two (2) reasons:

1) While the subject of Dutch etymology may seem a bit dry, being able to hold forth on the origin of the Dutch word for bicycle is exactly the sort of skill that can get you "laid" in Portland.  In fact, if you arrive at a Portland bar, execute the "Triple Lindy" fixie dismount, and then segue into the whole "fiets" thing, you'll suddenly be the most eligible bachelor or bachelorette in Multnomah County.  (Having a sweet old-timey moustache helps if you're a man, and having sweet old-timey underarm hair helps if you're a woman.)

2) From now on, I will refer to my bicycle a "replacement horse."

Speaking of Dutch cycling, a reader just sent me this photo of the Rabobank replacement horse racing team engaging in some early spring training:

(Somewhere, someone with white bar tape now thinks McDonald's is "PRO.")

Clearly they intend to Super Size their results this season.

Moving on from etymology to techny-ology, on Tuesday I mentioned belt drives, and when it comes to replacement horses you can bet that pretty much anything being touted as revolutionary replacement horse technology has been around for years in various incarnations.  Consider, for example, Biopace and "Biopace II: The Sequel."  (Tagline: "It's back, only this time it's even more expensive and lobsided.)  So I found myself browsing a popular user-edited online encyclopedia, where I found myself reading about the Bridgestone Picnica, a belt-driven folding bike that was introduced in 1985:

Being unfamilar with the proportions of the Picnica, the above photo sent my sense of perspective into a tailspin.  At first I thought the woman in the bumblebee hat was a giant, and then I thought the guy in the yellow shirt was tiny, and then I finally gave up and decided to watch more Brompton folding porn instead:

(Forwarded by a reader.)

To paraphrase an eloquent music fan, "More interpretive folding bike dancing, or Ima fucking kill you!"  In fact, the only thing I enjoy more than Brompton folding bike porn is "Star Wars"-inspired custom helmentry:

As you've no doubt guessed, the above rider and was spotted in Portland, and if you're looking for the equivalent of a "Three Feet Please" jersey that will ensure any potential dating prospects keep a safe distance from you at all times then I don't think you could do much better than an R2D2 helment.  I'm not sure where he's going, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was on his way to a hardcore action figure role-playing session with Wikipedia Nonplussed Bib Short Guy:

(Bib shorts are the ideal undergarment when wearing a Stormtrooper costume.)

By the way, the caption for the Wikipedia Nonplussed Bib Short Guy photo is:

"A man wearing bib style biking shorts. Normally a jersey would be worn on top."

Normally, yes--but not always, as this photo from a reader in Australia proves:

(International Fred Hand Signal for "Slowing!!!")

It's always a good idea to wear your bib shorts over your jersey.  That way, anything you're storing in your jersey pockets remains safely inaccessible, and you can focus on the hunt for bike lane romance:

Looking good in the bike lane - m4w - 30 (East Village)
Date: 2012-02-20, 6:01PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

So I think we got off on the wrong foot last night just before 8pm. You were standing at the corner of 10th and 2nd Ave (I think that was it, I was riding pretty fast though) in the middle of the bike lane, gazing intently at your cell phone. I was on a bike (obviously, it's the bike lane afterall). I rang my bell at you (real slick, I know) and said something to the effect of "YOU'RE STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING BIKE LANE", or "GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE BIKE LANE" because I really didn't want to crash into you. Hitting girls is not what I'm about. That's when you fired back, "Whoa, chill the fuck out dude" and I knew that we had something special. In an instant whatever was captivating you so much on your cell phone while you were standing in the middle of the bike lane was no longer significant. You see, I didn't have many options at that point. To my right there was traffic and even cars making left hand turns down 2nd Ave so swerving in that direction simply wasn't happening. And I definitely didn't have an option on my left, with things like parked cars and curbs so that wasn't going to work either. You pretty much just needed to get the hell out of my way, so that's why I said those mean things to you. Maybe I did it because I already care deeply for you. Who says there's no such thing as love at first sight? So, how's about we put the past behind us and meet up for a drink or two? 

Isn't stopping an option?

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