Sunday, 31 July 2011

Tip 31: Ride with your dog

When the The Call of the Wild grabs hold of you like some Nietzschean will to power, and you feel the urge to move to Alaska and mine for gold, start to assemble a team of dogs.
You will need beasts powerful in body and strong of heart, and an alpha hound to lead the pack. Sorting out the alpha dog is a process the hounds will take care of.  
After a month, perhaps two, of sleep interrupted by the cruel sounds of natural selection, you will have found your super-dog, red in tooth and claw.   
Commence to tame that dog by an assertion of dominance - affix to it a collar and drag it along on a trip to the shops. 

Cycling with dog

BONUS TIP: Cries of "Mush! Mush!" will not endear you to local animal lovers. Save that for the barren north.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Tip 30: Change how you carry your lock

That U-lock holster that seemed so "deck" on that cycling website turned out to be a big pile of shit.  That frame mount broke. And the spinal bruising from carrying it in the crumpler is getting passe.
I have a brilliant idea - I'll just hang it off the handlebars!
BONUS TIP: If you haven't considered buying a gold bike chain lock and wearing it like Mr T, you haven't been riding long enough yet, fool.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tip 29: Stop in front of someone who's stopped in front of someone

Who are these douche-bags? Is that a dutch bike?  Look at that guy's fringe
I reckon I can take him when this light turns green.  
I'll just stop here in front of the pedestrian crossing so I can take off first. 
etc. etc. ad infinitum.
BONUS TIP: Fundamentalists may get away with this manoeuvre on the basis that the reverse line-up, or shoal formation, is condoned in Scripture. 
 But many who are first will be last, and the last first. - Matthew 19:27-30
Even if you have the fish sticker on your bike, you will need to possess pretty sharp acceleration to receive forgiveness for this act.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tip 28: Stop in front of someone

Who's this douche-bag? Is that a dutch bike?  With flat tires? 
I reckon I can take him when this light turns green.  
I'll just stop here in the pedestrian crossing so I can take off first. 
Now, let me check my facebook.  What? No new notifications?  Maybe I'd be more popular if I got a new bike? Would that make a difference? It's probably my haircut.
Maybe I'll post about getting rid of this fringe. Could I go for a an undercut? maybe a mohawk, or would that look silly with this moustache? 
Why is the douche-bag overtaking me?  
Oh ... green light ... 

BONUS TIP: Ignore the death-stare when you stop in front of him at the next intersection.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Tip 27: Ride a bike that's too big

The gorgeous woman struts across the restaurant, all eyes on her. She doesn't know she is trailing a long strand of toilet paper from under her little black dress.
It flutters behind, getting caught around other diners' chair-legs as she lives in the moment.
So it is with a rider on a too-large frame. 
You are simply delighted to be riding with the wind in your hair.
Sure, you feel the strain in your triceps as you reach for the brakes. And you are mightily aware that top tube will make you a eunuch if you slide forward off that saddle. 
You don't know you look like a 16 year old who got a birthday present to grow into, and you won't really care until that mortifying moment someone tells you.

BONUS TIP: After you get your bike fitted properly, spend several happy years snarkily pointing out ill-fitting bikes all over town.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

TIP 26: Worry about noises

Fzzzzzzzzzzzz. Hmmm.

Flt flt flt flt. What the?

Click click click Shit click click click Shit click click click Shit click click click Shit click click click Shit

Grrzzhhhhdnk. Sounds like I'm asking for extra overtime this week.

Clunk grrr pop.  Well, I have never heard *that* before. Gonna need to spend some time on Sheldon Brown tonight...

BONUS TIP: Earplugs?

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Tip 25: Ignore the tour

Anti-Schlep? Haven't heard of it.
Schleck? With a -ck, as in "don't give a fuck"?
Sorry. Not trying to be rude.
Sure sometimes I race people on the bike, but that doesn't mean I want to watch other people do it. I don't watch porno either.
No really, if I wanted to see a bunch of skinny dudes with labels on their chests I would just go to that club on Getrude street.
You haven't been? The DJ there is just amazing.
BONUS TIP: Seriously, three weeks of watching TV every night til 2? What is this, college?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Tip 24: Comment on BikeSnob

You've perused the back catalogue and you read religiously.
You know a collabo from a colourway and were recently delighted to learn how hipsters are just mulch.  You venerate the man and his helper monkey, Vito.
It's time to step up and comment. If you're Pacific-Occidental, like this blog, the only way to compete for a podium position is to be up and on the internet at some weird time.  Even then, without a sharp trigger finger, you could easily be squeezed off the top ten.
No. For you, a well considered comment in the top 50 is the goal. Rake through the pile of leaves in your brain, looking for a thought not yet withered and autumnal. Add snark, and set to!

Bonus Tip: The true goal is to make it into a post.  Try taking a video of a hipster beating on a cop whose car is blocking a bike lane.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Tip 23: Footsoldier in the helmet war

Like the British Empire at its glorious, tea-stained peak, the sun never sets on the helmet war.
In the trenches of a comment section somewhere, ranks of libertarians aim their vitriol guns at an endless column of muddy volunteers willing to die for head-protection.
Get in there. Doesn't matter what side.  Pick your weapon.
If you like the wind in your hair, assert that helmets are ineffective in the same serious crashes that are most likely to hurt heads.
If you like the nylon strap under your chin, you should load up the anecdote cannon  ("My dad cracked his helmet in February '85 and he says it saved his life.")
Aim to kill, and remember, war is hell.

BONUS TIP: No battle in the great helmet war can be said to have really begun until one group of cyclists wishes death on the other. Drop that bomb early.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tip 22: Hang your helmet on your handlebars

The first people to dangle stack-hats from their Oury-brand grips were a small group of History Professors.
They had read how Hernan Cortes, on arriving in Mexico, had his men burn the boats they  arrived in.  Removing the safety net meant his soldiers would brook no retreat. 
These wise professors saw a parallel in cycling.
Perhaps it could be made safer in a counter-intuitive way.  Your head, they reasoned, is the soliders and your helmet the boats, with their false promise of security.
(Of course, your handlebars are the flames and the road an angry phalanx of Aztec warriors).
Around the holly-oaked lanes of Oxford, untold dozens of injuries to some of the most valuable heads in academe were avoided through this time tested logic.

BONUS TIP:  One unpropitious spring day a history professor revealed the helmet strategy (and its historical antecedent) to some Business school faculty over scones at College. 
The Business School professors started spruiking the historical lesson in their flimsy best-sellers on the strategy of business and copied the helmet routine to boot.
The only time Oxbridge neurology wards got any work was when a business professor and a history professor both rounded a corner in the gloaming, and collided.
The boat burning strategy can't work if both sides do it.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Tip 21: Get overtaken by a faster cyclist

Getting overtaken is like milk - it comes in two forms. One cold and easy to digest, the other lumpy, sour and makes you choke.
Type 1 is over before it began. Before you know a blur in your peripheral vision resolves into a lycra clad ghost that disappears over the horizon. You barely have time to register a pair of tightly defined calves moving like hairless metronomes before they're gone.
Type 2 is slow. The sound of grinding gears approaches. There is breathing. You may speed up, to discourage a pass, you may slow down to expedite it.  It matters not.  After what seems like forever, the (slightly) faster cyclist takes their chance and moves ahead, torso twisting violently as they push their plastic pedals, sweat evident on their brow.  
They make slow progress on increasing the gap, leaving you to catalogue a million reasons you aren't going fast today.

BONUS TIP: Of course you can remind yourself it's not a race. But you'll gain about as much satisfaction as from tickling yourself.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Tip 20: Think about removing your pie plate

It serves no function, but does it really serve no function?
Is removing it bowing to some sort of fashion police edict?
Would they put it on if it really did *absolutely* nothing?
Is this the first step to socklessly rocking boat shoes, or casually throwing on a Dolce and Gabbanna tie to ride your track set-up in a variety of shades of lime? Hmm.

BONUS TIP: Take it off, sure, of course. But leave those wheel reflectors on just in case.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Tip 19: Slip off your pedal and hit your shin

If cycling is a spreadsheet of good and bad, then lurching down as you slip off your pedal and feel the sharp part of it tear the thin cover of flesh and nerves on your shinbone is a big entry in the bad column that will cause the total to just look like #####. 

 BONUS TIP: Adjust column width.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tip 18: Watch the Tour

Watching someone else pee is inconsiderate.
Watching other people copulate is considered immoral and watching motorsport is evidence of cerebral insufficiency.
Watching cycling is, however, quite refined, like eating a gel made by dissolving a pearl in the blood of Johnny Hoogerland. Talk about it and people will nod knowingly.

BONUS TIP: Staying up late and snuggling into the couch will yield few improvements to your pedalling technique, but that chocolate spread is gonna get finished, no matter what you tell yourself.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tip 17: Get Gloves

Scene: You, hands in pockets, waiting at lights on a Very Frosty morning.

Fully Kitted Middle-Aged Man who rolls up behind you: Cold hands eh?
You: Hm?
FKMAM: I see you have cold hands!
Y: Oh. Yeah. It is a bit cold!
FKMAM: I don't know how you do it without gloves!
Y: I've been meaning to get some. Mumble.
FKMAM: I ride so much, I've got three pairs, thin, medium and these ones.  I look out the window each morning and decide which ones to wear.
Y: Really?
FKMAM: It's also good if you fall off cause otherwise you'll take all the skin off your palms.
Y: Oh yes.
FKMAM: You should get some.
Y: Sure.
FKMAM: Promise me you really will.  It sounds like you're just saying you will.
Y: *watching desperately for light to change*  OK, OK!

BONUS TIP:  You are going try to burn off FKMAM when the light goes green. Do not fall. Your pride can't take it.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tip 16: Commando at work

Commuting logistics are hard. It involve a perplexing garment management challenge that would send super-computers convulsing into a blue screen of death.
The humble cycling brain must relinquish the quest for perfection and be satisfied with a better than average chance of arriving at work and finding a clean ironed shirt in the locker.
Forgive the addled pedaller, also trying to remember phone, wallet, keys, pass, a spare tube and lunch.  If the sweaty pair of cotton Bonds you wore on the ride in are the only undies you have, then be decisive.
Making a presentation at the morning meeting without jocks is as close a thrill as many will get to an illicit workplace affair.

Bonus tip: Check your fly.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Tip 15: Coast

A crazy idea has infiltrated cycling. The idea the most "zen" thing you can do on a bicycle is allow a mechanical contraption to force your legs to go round.
No, fixie crews. No.
You want to know what part of cycling is most like the z-word (derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state".)
There's a bit of magic in being still while going fast.
Humans have always envied birds their swooping freedom. When you coast, you own that freedom.

BONUS TIP: You may have to concede coasting delivers very little meditation or freedom on the uphills.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Tip 14: Hit a taxi, then take a detour

Ride down a hill and through an intersection, fast. Weave out to dodge the car in the bike lane. Weave back in to dodge the traffic, which is slowing.
Get on your brakes, as a taxi slows more than expected.  Get off the brakes because your wheels are about to lock up.
Moment of panic.
Hit the back of the taxi.
No damage. Peer in and see no sign passenger or driver is even aware of what you've done. Continue up the bike lane.  Consider looking over your shoulder. Instead take the next left and next right, to lose them.

BONUS TIP: Take three to four days of shame, guilt and trying not to think about it before you can tell this story to anyone.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Tip 13: Smack bad cars

Like you are a repressed English public schoolmaster and they are your delinquent pupils.

BONUS TIP:  There will not be detention for profanity.  Cut loose.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Tip 12: Mount your bell and lights on the bottom of your handlebars

Global overpopulation is the inevitable endgame of this species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.  A species so wise it invented redundancy.  Real estate grows scarcer, and it seems ever less likely the innovation-bots at a thousand Googles could save us from the impending Malthusian crush. 
You can help.  There's real estate out there just waiting to be claimed.  Take your bell, your light and your trip computer, and flip 'em.
Magic.  All that space you never knew you had, right there on the most crowded part of your bike.  Sprawl all over that newly exposed bar tape like a new suburb consuming subdivided farmland. Luxuriate a liitle.
You can even try out new hand positions.  Narrow accentuates the cleavage, while the off-symmetrical tweaks those neck muscles ruined playing too much angry birds. 

BONUS TIP: Plant your hands extra wide and feel the rushing air dry your armpits before you arrive in the office.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tip 11: Leave your bike

There's something totally charming about leaving your bike in a public place, say, outside work, and seeing it there each time you go past.
It's there when you go out for coffee, marking that patch of pavement as yours.  It's there when you head to your afternoon meeting. 
It's there when you walk in from the train station the next day and it's there for the rest of the week until this "awful weather" passes. You're like a tomcat who has marked the territory, and you can hold your tail high.
You don't need to worry about bike theft as much as you think.  They call it passive surveillance - the way a bike parked in a busy street won't be molested, for the most surprisingly long time, except by spiders.

BONUS TIP:  That story about the guy who had a nest of white tails in his seat, and they crawled into his bib shorts on a long descent and he got flesh-eating necrosis of the balls? True story. Happened to my cousin's friend. He's OK now but says always use mortein on your saddle before a ride.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tip 10: Ride in a pack

The group ride is back. Bunch up like a pair of target undies and get out there.
You're like a fish in a school, like a duck in a flying V. 
 Unless you're some sort of book-reading libertarian or bearded librarian, the presence of your fellow humans will fill you with something. Something we've almost forgotten in this world of morning meetings, double monitors and Swiss-made swivel chairs  - emotion. 
The primordial soup that makes up your brain will release a feeling like a caveman pursuing a buffalo alongside his grimy, hairy cousins, and you may let loose a roar.

BONUS TIP: Once you've built up a bit of speed, endless LOLs can be obtained by gently rubbing your front tire on your peleton-mate's rear tire.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Tip 9: Put stuff in your spokes

Fuck decoration.  The rumour putting the "pst" back into hipster is that spokes are the new panniers.  Credit cards, cash, Hello Magazine,  french textbooks, an iPad, CDs, and sachets of Tang have all been spotted. Form follows function.

Bonus tip: Packed lunch.  A pita bread sandwich with Kraft Singles might fit in there.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Tip 8: Fall off on wet metal

You have drips in your eyes and a big stripe up your back.  A slippery feeling between your toes as your croc loafers prove less waterproof than the animal they're made of.  It's dim, and there's a mirage effect as headlights gleam up from the road.
You're on the brakes the whole time.  You are super careful, slow and steady, alert to cars stopping distances, studiously avoiding puddles of unknowable fathom. 
Until you get within a street of home and you lean into a corner.
Oh! That manhole cover must be new.
When the asphalt rushes up to caress your cheekbone it feels like a rusty razor found way down the back of the bathroom cabinet. Your trousers tear like tissue paper as you slide. It ends when you are lying still, feeling like you are taking a cold gritty bath with your bike.
BONUS TIP: If you are spread-eagled on a tram track, ignore the holes in your Lee denim and put a finger to the track.  If the steel is thrumming, you are about to be turned into strawberry jam.  Move!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Tip 7: Ride a Folding Bike

In your cupboard: undies, ironed and folded. 
In your top pocket: a clean handkerchief, folded exactly.
A pair of those folding glasses balancing on your nose. 
Beneath you: a Brompton or Dahon, its tiny wheels spinning as you head from the origami school where you work to your weekly poker game, where you won't play a hand all night...

BONUS TIP: From here, the only way to multiply your "adorkability" is to make this your party trick.