Hairy Situations: Embracing Patterns

This past weekend afforded me little opportunity for relaxation, in that I had to prepare for my upcoming BRA tour. In particular, I had to ready my bicycle for my travels. This is harder than it sounds, for I will be visiting cities with wildly disparate climates and terrain which will almost certainly necessitate different cockpit set-ups. Fortunately, I have ready access to bar ends:

Bar ends are the bicycle equivalent of duct tape in that they can be used to facilitate all types of kludges, workarounds, and jury-riggings. Why spend time and resources changing bars and stems, replacing cables, or unfurling and re-wrapping bar tape when with judicious application of bar ends your hands can find purchase wherever they may land? I expect that by the time I am finished my bicycle cockpit will look like a geodesic dome, and it will evoke the infinitely replicating and expanding patterns depicted by fractals:

Best of all, my thousands of bar ends will also serve as sort of a roll cage in the event of a collision or fall.

Meanwhile, the world of professional cycling is still reeling from an unexpected confession. Many riders and fans have laughed off the notion that Fabian Cancellara used a hidden motor to win both the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. However, following his Tour de Suisse time trial win Cancellara has now decided to come clean, though in an unexpected twist it turns out the motor is actually hidden in his body and not in the bicycle:

"I have an engine, but it's in my body," Cancellara stated unambiguously. "This is the strongest one you can imagine." We can safely assume that Cancellara means this literally, since he is Swiss and thus incapable of irony. Incidentally, while bionic doping is a new development in the world of cycling, the practice has long been in place in the field of aeronautics, and I'm very much looking forward to the episode in which Cancellara finally takes on Sasquatch:

It may look campy now, but in the 1970s people regarded this as an exquisitely-wrought metaphor for the energy crisis and the decline of the hippie movement.

Of course, as the saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same"--which is something you realize is completely untrue the very first time you attempt to peel and eat a four week-old banana. It is, however, at least somewhat true of energy crises and hippies, for then as now the two seem to go together like oil and hair. Consider the World Naked Bike Ride, which took place in New York City this past Saturday. In honor of the fact that it has successfully stopped the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, I've prepared a (mercifully brief) World Naked Bike Ride Crotchal Scramble. All you have to do is match the right crotch to the face. If you're right, you'll see them both together, and if you're wrong you'll see Mario Cipollini, the patron saint of naked cyclists.

World Naked Bike Ride Crotchal Scramble!*
*(WNBR photos by Jim Kiernan)

1) Which crotch is mine?

2) Which crotch is mine?

3) Which crotch is mine?

By the way, I was impressed to see that no less a personage than screen legend Robert De Niro stopped by in order to have his nipple professionaly painted:
Also, at least some of the participants sported formidable sideburns:

Though in lieu of the traditional placement on the side of the face, they instead wore them on their inner thighs:

I'm glad to see that, despite the wholesale absence of chamoises, the participants did indeed take the issue of crotchal chafing seriously by using the natural protective qualities of pubic hair. (It's nature's "shammy.")

If nothing else, the World Naked Bike Ride serves to underscore the overly complicated relationship many Americans have with clothing, especially when it comes to cycling. For example, the existence of Lycra cycling clothing continues to vex and confuse both cyclists and non-cyclists alike, and people seem unable to grasp the concept that some rides call for Lycra and some do not. Instead, they divide all of cycledom into Lycra wearers and non-Lycra wearers , and even not wearing Lycra has to have a special name, which is "cycle chic." Moreover, it's apparently even newsworthy, as one reader informs me:

I may be naive, but I continue to believe that one day humanity will reach a point at which we will no longer need to feel special while we do something normal. Putting on pants will cease to be the subject of a feature article. The notion of a "bike culture" will dissolve like body paint in the rain. Riding a bicycle in street clothes will no longer be "cycle chic." Best of all, we will no longer need to be cultural aspirants or fashion models to ride to the store, and the simple act of buying something at that store will not need to be a statement about "sustainability." Instead, we will be regular schlubs doing regular crap, and we will be confident enough to do so without naming it and without baring our inner thigh sideburns in the process.

Of course, there is the danger that we may sweat in the process, but the article did have this bit of helpful advice:
The same advice is quite handy when it comes to pants (thanks to the magical fluid-concealing properties of patterns, Mr. Furley could pretty much do anything in his trousers without anybody being the wiser), though the danger with "embracing prints" is that you could end up wearing something like this:
Perhaps no cyclist is as distressingly attired as the "freerider," whose wardrobe manages to simultaneously evoke video gaming, mixed martial arts, and paintball. People in jerseys like these can often be seen assembled at trailheads not riding long-travel bikes, or else riding them for very short distances and shouting things like "Woo-hoo!" the first time they encounter something big enough to compress their suspension. This jersey also manages to combine two of the most dubious design elements in cycling fashion--these being the faux "six-pack" and the tribal tattoo. Surely the designers at Primal are scrambling to outdo them by incorporating both of these as well as some "Terminator"-style circuitry-under-flesh imagery into a delightfully cheesy ménage à fromage.

Ultimately, though, it is not for us to judge whether someone's choice of bicycle or attire is "right" or "wrong." Really, all that matters is that it works for them. Still, fit can be important, and this video spotted by a reader at "Zlogblog" (which is relatively unsafe for work) shows one technique for determining proper standover height:

While wearing a leotard, simply straddle the top tube and move the bicycle backwards and forwards:

If you experience inner-thigh chafing, then you need a smaller frame--or at least a thicker pair of "sideburns."

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