Putting it Out There: BRAs, Belts, and Cockies

In today's bewilderingly fast-paced world of electronic bicycle shifting systems, artisanal axes, and "Face Books," it can sometimes be edifying to reflect on simpler times. These were the days when people made an honest living off of the land and from their own labors, when neighbor greeted neighbor with a hearty "Halloah!" instead of a scowl and a foot to the groin, and when the noble art of cheese sculpting was still "keeping it real" and hadn't sold out to corporate advertising. The halcyon time to which I am referring, of course, was the spring of 2010.

I realize some of you had not even been born yet, but to me it seems as though the spring of 2010 was just yesterday--or, at most, four months ago. This is because it is the era in which my book, "Bike Snob" (available wherever books are sold or lent) was first published as a follow-up to my poorly-selling first book, an illustrated volume entitled "Lactose Tolerance: Great Civil Rights Leaders Rendered in Cheese." Reviewers panned my cheese book as being "soft and malleable," but "Bike Snob" fared considerably better. Not only did it go on to reach #7 on the Independent Stoop Sale And Sidewalk Vendors Bestseller List (right between a used copy of the February 3rd, 1997 issue of "Sports Illustrated" and a broken toaster), but it also became an Oprah pick. Granted, it was never actually selected for Oprah Winfrey's famous book club, but I do have it on good authority that someone named Oprah somewhere actually bought a copy.

Anyway, all of this gratuitous backstory is by way of explaining that, upon publication of "Bike Snob," I announced I would undergo a grueling series of BRAs (or Book-Related Appearances). The response was overwhelmingly negative, and I was repeatedly subject to the following questions:

1) So why aren't you coming to my town?

2) I thought you were supposed to be anonymous. Why don't you just stay the fuck home?


3) Why can't anybody make a decent toaster anymore?

Well, I'm pleased to announce that I've at least been addressing Question #1, and my ruthless publisher Chronicle Books is adding additional BRAs even as my helper monkey, Vito, types this. More details will follow, but as of now I'll be visiting Landry's bike shop in Boston, MA on October 1st; Cyclesport bike shop in Park Ridge, NJ on October 23rd; and the Philly Bike Expo in Philadelphia, PA on October 30th. I'll update you on the particulars as soon as I have them, but in the meantime you may or may not want to crayon those dates in your Just Miniature Dachshunds 2010 wall calendar:Speaking of my book, it does come with stickers (in fact, for tax purposes I'm technically selling stickers with some bonus text), and a reader in St. Louis informs me that he has actually placed one on his saddle:

While I'm deeply flattered, I can't say I necessarily approve, and I also hereby indemnify myself from any injuries caused by direct taintal application. (Though you can feel free to sue my publisher or, just for fun, Specialized bicycles.)

Having dispensed with all that, I'm now pleased to share some other publicity-themed information, which is that Gates Carbon Drive Systems is now fielding a belt-driven singlespeed cyclocross team:

Among other events, the Gates team will target the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships in Seattle, where they will presumably go up against one JT Fountain. As Stevil Kinevil of All Hail the Black Market pointed out some time ago, Fountain (who won the singlespeed race at Cyclocross National last year) believes that singlespeed cyclocross needs to "be taken more seriously," which is a bit like saying Cedric the Entertainer should stop with all the tomfoolery and apply his mind to economics. Hopefully the advent of a carbon fiber belt drive-equipped singlespeed squad helps Fountain's dream comes true. Then, perhaps USA Cycling will finally take over the SSCXWC and the riders will compete in $1,000 technical lingerie made by Pearl Izumi.

In any case, Gates claims this is "the first belt-drive singlespeed cyclocross squad in the universe," though I'm not so sure this is actually true. Just ask Stephen Hawking, who says that pretty much anything could be lurking out there:

Says Hawking:

'To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

Therefore, if the universe is so vast that the notion of hostile aliens is "perfectly rational," then it's also "perfectly rational" to assume there might be another belt-drive singlespeed team out there too. Moreover, who's to say they don't have designs on the SSCXWC? Certainly if this turns out to be the case and aliens on singlespeed 'cross bikes with belt drives do start attacking Earth, I would almost certainly lodge a class-action lawsuit against Gates for false advertising, and I'd probably also sue both my own publisher and Specialized bicycles for good measure, submitting a bloody sticker from my book as evidence. For his part, with everybody distracted, Hawking would probably take advantage of the situation by "running" a Gates belt drive on his wheelchair and totally crushing the field at the 2010 SSCXWC.

Of course, it's also entirely possible that cycling aliens could attack Earth on another type of bicycle besides a belt-drive 'cross bike. For example, they could show up on "bikes that close the gap between long-travel, all-mountain mashers and hill-climb savvy mile-munchers:"

If this happens, we could all be in trouble, because the only bicycle that could possibly stand up to a "hill-climb savvy mile-muncher" would be a "crotchally-savvy carpet-muncher," and to my knowledge no mainstream company is selling those yet. (Though I hear that in Portland carpet-munching bikes are already even more popular than artisanal porteur bikes.)

Or, the aliens could take the form of "sartorially inclined" dandies riding "vintage" road bikes with so-called "bum bars," as forwarded to me by a reader:

Getting your wardrobe right means absolutely nothing when your bicycle is so wrong.

Speaking of maladjusted cockpits, not too long ago I offhandedly mentioned the Cockpit of the Year Award (otherwise known as the "Cockie"), and while no such formal competition technically exists I admit that I have been playing around with a prototype "Cockie" statuette:

(Needs bar ends)

I've also been alerted to a number of stunning cockpits recently, such as this US Open-themed one, forwarded by a reader:

(It's the cockpit that launched a thousand "fuzzy balls" jokes.)

Of course, the bar end is to the cockpit "curator" what oil paint is to the painter of portraits or sugar is to the confectioner--it is the very medium that makes their art possible. And so transcendent is this one that it doesn't even need a saddle:

Perhaps he's in the process of "retrofitting" a tennis racket.

Here's another interpretation of the "homemade grips" theme, sent by another reader:

I just hope those aren't condoms.

But creative cockpits aren't just about about vertical bar ends and judicious application of prophylactics--some also involve actual fabrication, such as this one forwarded by yet another reader and presumably well-suited to extraterrestrial hands:

The pursuit of the perfect cockpit is limited only by sanity.

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