Ever Upward: The Importance of Being "Epic"

Last week or month or year or whenever it was, I got in big, big trouble with the Canadians because I joked that Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hegemony was from the United States.  Obviously I wasn't too worried about incurring bodily harm because Canadians are gentle and passive people who are coddled by their progressive society and their free health care, but it still took me by surprise.  (By the way, if you're Canadian, I should explain that a "surprise" is when something unexpected happens, since I understand nothing unexpected ever happens in Canada.)  Anyway, I was still feeling bad about the whole thing--that is, until Starbucks Ireland outdid me by Tweeting about how Ireland is British:

I'm going to have to go ahead and assume that this Tweet came from Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle, because a Venti-sized mistake like this feels uniquely American.  I mean, anybody who's seen "Braveheart" knows that Ireland has been independent since Daniel Day-Lewis led Irish forces to victory at the Battle of Stonehenge during the War of 1812.  At least that's the way I learned it in social studies class, although at my school our textbooks and learning materials were all provided to us by the General Mills food company:

(Excerpt from the chapter in "The World According to General Mills" that covers the Great Famine.)

See, in America, tax breaks for giant corporations really do encourage philanthropy and benefit everybody in the long run.  Also, nothing helps kids learn how to identify a country on a map better than invading that country, which is why we do it so often.  Incidentally, did you know that there's such a thing as Canadian Lucky Charms?

The difference between this and what we get in the United States is that the Canadian version contains 75% less controversy.

Speaking of government and Twitter, that putz who wants to force us all wear helmets continues to exist--and to Tweet, for as Randy Descartes once said, "I Tweet, therefore I am (a putz)."  Here's one of his recent missives:

I was glad to see that the driver hit him without apologizing, because now he knows how it feels to be a New York City cyclist.  Fortunately, Greenfield was unharmed in the incident, because of course he was wearing his city-mandated driving helmet.  Anyway, between that and the friend who can eat a pie himself, David G. Greenfield's world is nothing short of meshuggeneh, and he really should quit politics and head out to LA where he can pitch a sitcom based on his life.  He's sure to become the next Jerry Seinfeld.

By the way, in case you were wondering where cyclists rank in New York City, we come in just under debris, according to this caption which was just forwarded to me by a reader:

Wolfe's Pond Beach on Staten Island. The lowest rated New York City beach for the third report in a row is seen here, littered with debris and cyclists. Flickr/emilydickinsonridesabmx

The photo above was taken during SICX, and while cyclocross may be taking the rest of the country by storm, in New York it's just more crap that washes up on the beach along with driftwood, styrofoam cups, and ancient tampon applicators.  (Also, just to underscore the point, the above is from the website of the local PBS station, so even the smuggies hate us.)

This could be why so many New York City cyclists attempt to escape, and another reader has forwarded me this article about some guy from New York who tried to ride his singlespeed up Mt. Everest:

Apparently, this is the sort of moronic project you undertake after you've already done the whole "artisanally homeless" thing:

According to Irmak, his homelessness was by choice—"a four-month street retreat"—during which period he slept in a large cardboard box under the Queensborough Bridge and in Long Island City. Sometime in 2009, he started fixing discarded bikes he found around the city and selling them on Craigslist.

Now, I'm no outdoorsman, but I'm pretty sure you should work your way up to something like climbing Mt. Everest.  I'm also pretty sure you're not ready to be climbing Mt. Everest if you can't even remember your jacket:

Before coming here, Irmak had never worn crampons. During his first acclimatizing rotation up to Camp I, he forgot his jacket and had to return to Base Camp. 

Also, as I understand it, crampons are the hiking equivalent of clipless pedals.

Anyway, unsurprisingly the local authorities told him that he couldn't make his stupid climb, which led him to believe he was the victim of a fraud:

Irmak is convinced he's the target of government fraud. I told him it seemed more like garden variety incompetence. 

I really, really hope that when the writer says "garden variety incompetence" that he's referring to Irmak.

Anyway, you may think you've "portaged" a bicycle, but this guy is officially the Sir Edmund Hillary of "epic" nonplussed bike portaging:

Aydin Irmak carried his bicycle all the way to Base Camp, and meant to carry it all the way to the summit. But bicycling is illegal on Everest.

Still, I'm not impressed, as I'm no stranger to being trapped in the wild with my bicycle.  This one time, I got on a peak Long Island Railroad train in Southampton with my bike and they kicked me off at Hampton Bays.  And that's the uncool Hamptons, a forbidding landscape without an acceptable brunch spot for miles.  I had to take the Jitney all the way back to the city!

In any case, after all that mishigas, the expedition resulted in medals and accolades--not for Aydin Irmak, but for the guy who had to rescue him, since Irmak ultimately had to be schlepped off of Everest by an Israeli:

No word about the status of the singlespeed, so I'm going to assume that Irmak was forced to eat it to stay alive.

Lastly, in the more mundane world of bicycle retail, a Twitterer alerted me to a savage screed about the state of the industry, written by a "consultant" who knows the secret of turning the cycling industry from a six billion dollar a year concern into like a bazillion dollar a year concern:

But she's not going to tell you unless you pay her:

There are so many untapped markets out there for the bike industry. I’m not going to list them because, frankly, as a consultant that’s what I get paid to do. If you’re interested in hearing my strategies, hire me to create one for you. It’s so frustrating, though, because when I point out a lucrative market for cycling companies that NO ONE is marketing to, it’s a golden opportunity: fresh meat, free money, no competition – but the bike industry says “no, no, that might set us APART!” And the LAST thing anyone in the bike industry wants to do is to set oneself apart from the norm. Sigh. Backwards.

She's like the Don Draper of bicycle retail, and I only hope her big idea isn't "more belt drives."  I was also surprised that it took dozens of comments before a reader finally blamed the sorry state of the cycling industry on an anti-recumbent conspiracy:

I have now been the proud owner of a recumbent for the last year. Not that a recumbent is a panacea - they have their own challenges. No, the question is, why do so few people even evaluate recumbents as solutions to the pain of the diamond frame configuration? (We call them "wedgies" for obvious reasons.)

The answer to that and many other of the questions above is the poisonous influence of bicycle racing. Over a hundred years ago, racing banned recumbents and since no one ever saw their "heroes" riding recumbents, those people who did were considered outré.

I continue to experience this poisonous influence, because whenever I get advice from a racer, it turns out to be wrong for real, useful, everyday bicycling. Roadies are the worst - mountain bikers are more in touch with the real world and much less arrogant.

I just completed my first Metric Century on my Bacchetta Giro 20. I still had to solve seat problems, even on the recumbent, because Bacchetta suffers from the same racing poison as most other bicycle companies.

This will not be solved until the bicycle racer wimps get over their fear of other configurations. Yes, those p*ssies are afraid of us. Get over it and the industry may be able to grow. Stay stuck in the hundred-year rut and you will stay stuck fighting for the same size pie every year.

Right.  Come back to us when you schlep one up Everest.

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