No Future: If Wishes Were Cockpits, Fredericks Would Ride

Are you among the 47% of Americans who simply lie around all day while not paying any income tax?    If so, maybe it's because you're retired.  Well, you'll be pleased to know that there are actually five cities here in Canada's flabby underbelly where you can live out the rest of your miserable life entirely on your Social Security checks:

(The whole article is here, but don't click it since some stupid video will start playing.)

Here are those cities:

Eau Claire, Wis.
Omaha, Neb.
Gainseville, Fla.
San Antonio, TX
Pittsburgh, PA

This is the most depressing article I've read in quite some time.  For example, consider the fact that one of the chief selling points for Pittsburgh is apparently free lawn bowling:

"There’s also Frick Park where you can enjoy free bowling on the lawn and it has one of the world’s best orchestras."

Sure, the orchestra sounds nice, but keep in mind that you won't be able to afford it on your fixed income.  (Also, I can't make it through the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth without having to urinate as it is, and that's not going to get any better as I get older.)  In any case, I wonder if instead of retiring to one of the above cities I can just have myself cryogenically frozen like Walt Disney and Bruce Lee, since that sounds like a vastly more attractive scenario than shuffling around Gainesville or scrounging for free lawn bowling games down in Pennsyltucky.

(This has gotta be better than Omaha.)

Of course, I realize that by the time I'm old enough to collect Social Security the government will have already squandered it all on bike lanes and wars, which is why I've set up an IRA account and am using it to purchase Chris King headsets.  (I have tremendous confidence in the CKHCI, especially since Chris King is having clandestine meetings at the White House.)  Then, when it's time to retire (which is hard to do when you don't work in the first place), I'll cash out and move to one of the great cities of the world, like London, or Paris, or Chicago (just kidding, Chicago's a dump), where I will "curate" a majestic cockpit and ride the streets to the soundtrack of jeering children for the remainder of my days.

Speaking of cockpits, the entries I've received to date for the Second Biennial Cock-Off contest can only be described in superlatives ("batshit craziest" is one that comes to mind), and here's just one example:

Like most cockpits rendered in the Baroque style, this one warrants a bit of explication from the photographer:

Looks like perhaps a hamster cage, a light saber, a motorcycle headlight and 8 cupholders. Also of note is the 4 foot spear sticking straight up the back. It's a built in blow torch. The tank goes into that metal tin mounted on the downtube and he's got a gas line running along the frame to the back. 

Certainly the incendiary device alone is enough to put this cockpit on the short list (not to be confused with the "short bus"):

Though it's a shame the contest rules require that we disregard the aft-most portion of the bike, because that is one heck of a "sissy bar:"

Obviously the owner of this bicycle is a spear fisherman and he uses the blowtorch to fry up his catch.

Or, if your taste in cockpits runs more towards the performance-oriented, you may appreciate this one:

The entrant supplied me with no information whatsoever, so I can only speculate that the lightbar-mounted shifter is positioned in order to approximate modern Campagnolo ergonomics.  I also can't be certain whether the foremost protuberance is in fact a microphone, but I suspect that it is.  Wacky cockpit owners are notoriously paranoid, and so they tend to record what their riding buddies have to say about them when they're not around.  (Just kidding, none of these people could possibly have "riding buddies.")

Oh, sorry, where are my manners?  Cocktail, anyone?

Here's the rundown on this nightcap at the end of a date with delusion:

From left to right it features:
- a bag of straws
- an isolated container for crushed ice
- a dispenser to dispense fruity sirups
- a container for plastic cups (where all the mixing takes place)
- a plastic spoon so I don't have to get my fingers too dirty
- a bar mixer, containing other fruity sirups
- a box (usually) containing some decorations like sliced lemons (but in 
  this picture a whole, unsliced lemon due to lazyness while taking the 

I use the whole setup to prepare non-alcoholic cocktails while riding 
the bike (and alcoholic cocktails afterwards...)

This one makes me tipsy with happiness, and when it comes to cockpits, fruity syrup dispensers are worth even more points than incendiary devices.

Lastly (for now), there's this one, but I'm not sure if it qualifies for the contest:

I think that might technically be a helment and not a cockpit--though it does seem to be attached to the handlebars, which would make it a fairing, and so the case could be made that it is indeed a legitimate contender.  I'm open to reader input on this one, since it occupies something of a grey area.  Please express your opinion in the comments section below, or if you prefer simply write your congressman.

In other competitive cycling news, a reader tells me there's actually a Gran Fondo National Championship, complete with amateurish graphic:

Once dismissed as gigantic Fred rides, cyclists began to take Gran Fondos seriously once middle-aged amateurs started doping for them.  Now, you can "compete" to become the actual Gran Fondo National Champion in (appropriately) Frederick, MD:

The Gran Fondo National Championship in historic Frederick, Maryland is your opportunity to earn the title of fastest rider in the incredible Gran Fondo arena. We offer some of the longest timed sections and most challenging terrain of any Gran Fondo. The rider with the fastest combined time through each designated section will have truly earned their National Championship jersey.

It's the one national champion's jersey that is only available in a "club cut."  

Think you have what it takes to be the King of Freds?  Not so fast!  Read the rules first:

Some of these rules don't make any sense.  Consider this one:

4. You must have a device to carry water with you while riding

Uh, why?  

Also, they really don't want any recumbents, to the extent that the hated contraptions are banned twice:

6. Rider may use any standard bicycle that has two wheels and is not a recumbent.  This includes Road bikes, TT bikes, and mountain bikes.

7. No recumbent bicycles allowed

Why are they so scared of recumbents?  I mean, sure, I'm scared of recumbents too, but this is a made-up competition anyway so it's not like it really matters.  I suppose they probably worry that if they don't ban recumbents then bearded men in repose will descend upon the event en masse and frighten everybody else away.

Most draconian of all though is this rule:

8. All bicycles must have working breaks

Adherence to this rule is not even possible, since either the bike works or it breaks.  It can't do both.  They might as well insist that all bicycles must have squarely round wheels, too--though as an incredibly poor mechanic I've built a few that fit that description.  Maybe I need a spoke tension app for my portable smarting telephone:

I have no idea how well it works, but the guy who made it emailed me about it and it seemed kind of nifty:

Though I may wait for the 2.0 version, which hopefully includes a DFU (Diminutive Frenchman Unit) feature:

And which reminds me of the velvet painting that hangs in my bedroom, rendered by the great Brooklyn artist known only as "Jimmy:"

It has been the source of many night-terrors.

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