Bang, Zoom! Straight to the Moon!

Yesterday I mentioned that Martian intergalactic space rover thing.  Well, little did I know at the time that it was actually a Litespeed:

Presumably NASA are still buying into that "last rover you'll ever buy" titanium hype from the 1990s, which means they'll be "upgrading" to a crabon rover in about six months at the taxpayers' expense.  Also, it figures that a bunch of engineering dorks would go with a six-wheeled recumbent:

I'm sure there's at least one guy at NASA who races cyclocross and wears shants who pushed for a custom steel rover from Vanilla ("Dude, let's make it a singlespeed!"), but presumably Sacha White's interminable wait list is too long even for a government agency.

Meanwhile, as the media fixated on the Mars landing, a group of determined retrogrouches finally flew a successful mission to the Moon:

The lugwork on that space cannon is breathtaking, and I hope they packed some good wine in their canvas handlebar bags to wash down that moon cheese.

Also yesterday at least one reader was disappointed(!) with my race walking comments:

Anonymous said...

Bike Snob NYC makes fun of race walking? I'm disappointed! Not only old and boring but also stupid.

Why don't you next crack hilarious jokes about silly swimmers who use butterfly or back stroke? Would they still refuse to front crawl if they saw a shark approach them?

August 8, 2012 3:32 AM

OK, now you're just being silly.  Sharks don't live in swimming pools.  I mean come on.  However, I do wonder what would happen if a shark approached a triathlete during the swim leg, though my best guess is that the triathlete would somehow manage to crash into something, since that's what they tend to do on their bikes.  Consider Simon Whitfield's unfortunate crash during the Olympic triathlon, to which I was alerted by Klaus of Cycling Inquisition, among others:

Now, I should point out that Simon Whitfield has sustained a broken collarbone.  I'm genuinely sorry to hear that, and I wish him only the best.  I also have no intention of mocking his misfortune.  At the same time, this is a cycling blog, and I do feel that it's important to address the mankini-clad elephant in the room, which is that triathletes do tend to be a bit, well, crashy.  Consider, for example, Whitfield's own explanation for the crash:

"I just hit the speedbump – there’s a speedbump on the course – we’d scouted it, I knew it was there, but I just hit it at exactly the wrong moment, just as I was switching my hands."

You'd never see a road racer do anything like that.  Road racers just forget to go right instead:

(Spartacus leading a revolution against turning.)

In another account though, Whitfield attributes the crash not to a change in hand position, but to not having his shoes on yet:

Whitfield was trying to slip his bare feet into bike shoes when he veered sharply to the left and was thrown into a barrier lining the course in London's Hyde Park. He also had contact with the front wheel of competitor Leonardo Chacun and the Costa Rican went down.

"I hit the speed bump just as I went to put my shoe on, I think," Whitfield said. "I'm not quite sure what happened. I hit the speed bump on a funny angle and ended up crowd surfing, which is good for concerts and not so good for sport events."

Which is borne out by the fact that his foot is bare when it comes off the pedal:

And his shoe is still stuck to it:

Which raises an important question:

Should triathletes use clipless pedals at all?

This is not some cheap shot at their bike-handling skills.  Rather, it's a legitimate question.  Now, you may or may not agree with Grant Petersen's analysis that clipless pedals are useless.  However, are the theoretical performance benefits of clipless pedals really worth it in an event like triathlon, when the trade-off seems to be that they have the power to completely undo a competitor, from the Olympic level on down?  (Way down.)

Wouldn't it be faster to just jump onto a pair of specially-designed flat pedals while barefoot?  Would you really lose that much "power transfer?"  Is there any point to fumbling about or crashing because you hadn't managed to work your foot into your shoes yet?  Better yet, what about going with adhesive soles?  If Simon Whitfield had used flat pedals and a pair of topless sandals, not only might he be wearing a gold medal today, but he'd also go on to revolutionize triathlon in the same way Greg LeMond revolutionized cycling with his time trial helment and aerobars, or Mario Cipollini revolutionized tanning by having his blood replaced with olive oil.  But I guess we'll never know.

The book will contain Wiggins's trademark "candour:"

Matt Phillips, editorial director at Yellow Jersey Press, called Wiggins “a bona fide superstar”. Phillips paid tribute to Wiggins’ “humility” amidst outstanding success and “refreshing candour” in an environment where “sports heroes speak like PR automatons”.

As is clear from its title:

By the way, the blurbs are already in, and they're all raves:

"Uh, yeah.  I read it.  Uh.  Heh, heh."
--Former teammate and dynamic cycling personality Dave Zabriskie

"The Jensie knows how to suffer.  When I am reading this boring book I just want to sleep but I yell 'Shut up, eyes!' and keep going."
--Affable German Jens Voigt

"It’s a good spondee.  Cunt.  Face. You can’t stress one or the other. Two big stresses."
--Acclaimed author Martin Amis

"I skipped to the parts about me."
--Olympic gold medalist Alexandre Vinokourov

I only hope the book also covers Wiggins's subsequent conversion to Orthodox Judaism:

Save the payos for me, they look delicious.

Lastly, after blowing the lid off the whole "quad-off" thing, the New York Times is officially scraping the bottom of the velodrome with a hard-hitting look at dernys:

I can't wait until the Cat 6 racers in Brooklyn have their own personal derny pacers.
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