What’s with all these hipsters on track bikes?

July 13, 2009

What’s with all these dudes in brown flip flops?

I know this is old, but I swear it’s relevant. The Arlington-types in Remy’s rap are in all of our cities. They’ve all got brown flip flops. There are also hipsters in all of our cities. Just yelp “hipster” and “taco” and you’ll know where to find them. These hipsters also ride bikes. They also blog, most of the time about their bikes (see Trackosaurus Rex, the Bike Snob NYC, and my personal favorite, Hipster Nascar–you know, go fast, turn left). Even the most obnoxious of the hipsters are rocking super fresh classic rides. Take this Nashville hipster, below.

Notice the jorts.

Notice the jorts.

The lopsided jorts, mussed hair, gas station Wayfarers… this is a hipster alright, and he’s purchased a bicycle that could well have gone to this guy, or maybe this chick.

Back to the point though, where did these hipsters get the idea to ride bikes? Then where did they get the idea to ride track bikes (or “fixies,” making said track bike-riding hipsters “fixters”)? And when did they start racing on them? Again, see Hipster Nascar. Is it because of characters like the late, great, Sheldon Brown, who exalted the utter simplicity of fixed gear bicycles? Probably not.

In my heart of hearts, I imagine that the trend began in San Francisco, one of the hilliest and hipsteriest of the Land of the Free’s cities.

San Fran hipsters forgetting the importance of pale skin to hipster credibility

San Fran hipsters forgetting the importance of pale skin to hipster credibility

Just follow my logic for a moment. Track bikes are built and configured to ride on flat land. How many velodromes have hills on them? All of the velodromes in DC (0), that’s how many. Bicycles that are built for climbing have all kinds of gear ratios (mmm… that 34×27 gear ratio is like taking shots of room temperature water). That would make climbing SF’s hills a wholly impractical proposition on a fixie. Perfect. Just look at the hipsters below…

I am a hipster sleeper-in, ironically celebrating Pajama Wednesday.

I am a hipster sleeper-in, ironically celebrating Pajama Wednesday.


I am a hipster cowgirl, ironically herding my cattle.

I am a hipster cowgirl, ironically herding my cattle.

Hipster culture thrives on the irrational. And the expensive, but that’s a different story.

Maybe that’s why you people ride them.

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Bicycle Racing + the Twitterwebs

July 6, 2009

Breaking news: Ted King of the Cervelo TestTeam will be racing the Tour of Austria this July. He would like to race the Tour next July.

Now this is clearly not that big a story. Ted King is in his first year of a Pro Tour contract with one of the strongest teams in the world (see 2008 yellow jersey winner and 2008 green jersey runner up), and at 26, he’s just settling into the life of an international pro. What is a big story is how I found out about Ted’s plans. He sent me a direct message via the Twitterwebs.

Bicycling Magazine did a short piece on twitter in the pro peloton a few months back, so I’m aware I’m breaking no ground here. What I want to talk about though, is how perfect twitter and cycling are for each other. Bicycle racing is a community sport. Any two bicycle racists may know each other by name, face, reputation, or bike, see each other every weekend, and live literally hundreds of miles away from one another. When we race, we race in a group, and we even ride in teams in what is an ostensibly individual sport. Off the bike, bike people are still bike people. There are guides to understanding us that we wish our friends would read (see Roadie by Jamie Smith). Better yet, we should just hang out with other bike people. The trouble is, we aren’t that big a proportion of the population. Enter technology.

At my core, I hate technology. I secretly loved it that my parents waited until 2006 to buy a DVD player, all of my electronics are scratched, broken, or some combination of the two, and I recently deleted (with great pleasure) my account on the facebooks. Technology–specifically the innertubes, though, has presented a medium by which we can connect with other bike people without having to make a 2 hour drive to a muddy field in rural Maryland to hang out for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. Enter the next big thing in social networking on the innertubes–twitter.

The twitterwebs are still relatively small compared to other social networking tools like the facebooks, the myspaces, even the blogging outposts, but they are both simple and powerful (see the Twitter Revolution or “twitterution”). Twitter is also fantastic for our purposes–sharing quick notes about races, training rides, or just spotting a unicyclist at our favorite training grounds.

The twitterwebs present to us, the weekend warriors and fans of the sport, a chance to get inside the heads of the athletes who make a vocation out of our collective avocation. Lance Armstrong is notorious for tweet tweet tweeting away, even on training rides up in Aspen. Conveniently enough for us, Lance has compiled a list of riders in the Tour who get down with the twitterwebs. Check out:

Astana riders
@lancearmstrong
@levileipheimer

Columbia riders
@ghincapie
@mickrogers
@markrenshaw1 (featuring guest tweets by Mark Cavendish)
@bradwiggins

Garmin riders
@dzabriskie… probably the funniest guy in the peloton
@christianvdv
@thedpate

Skil Shimano riders
@koendekort
@fumybeppu

Silence-Lotto riders
@wegelius
@cadelofficial, the Boyd’s Bear

And others
@bdlancaster of Cervelo TestTeam
@laurenstendam of Rabobank
@stevendejongh of QuickStep
@andy_schleck of SaxoBank and my choice for a 3rd place finish in the Tour

And one more rider who you’ll no doubt be seeing in future Tours, @iamtedking. While you’re at it, give me a follow, @bikesnobdc.


Strange Things in DC

June 30, 2009

I just finished up a hill workout in Rock Creek Park, and I noticed a pair of strange phenomena in our fair capital.

First, everyone is singing a Michael Jackson song, and they’re all different. First a woman walking up a hill in Rock Creek was getting down with the get down to Smooth Criminal.

Then on the way back into town, I spotted a couple serenading one another to Billie Jean. I can’t help but think that’s an inappropriate tune for a twilight promenade.

The strangest MJ sighting by far had to be the guy in the Bike Rack DC kit. I could swear the guy was doing the Thriller dance.

So that’s the fun and games. Now for the scary shit. On the way back into town from RCP, I was alerted by a Secret Services Uniformed Division officer (on a sweet ass bouncyfork hybrid) that the cobbled road on the north face of the White House was closed. I complied and hopped from the gutter of the road up to the curb, because that’s what you do when someone with a gun and a badge politely asks you to get onto a sidewalk.

Penn Ave NW, north side of la Maison Blanc

Penn Ave NW, north side of la Maison Blanc

Maybe police all over the city are just getting ready for the (literal) shitshow that will overtake DC this weekend for the 4th.

Not stinky (yet)

Not stinky (yet)

Not thinking much of it, I made my way back towards my humble Hill abode, and was stopped on First and East Capitol (my favorite street in the whole entire city), this time by US Capitol Police. I made my way up to Constitution and rolled eastward from there.

The Capitol Police... I'm a big fan.

The Capitol Police... I'm a big fan.

It goes without saying that we live in a city where a lot of “black helicopter shit–” as my apt political junkie correspondent calls it–goes down without us hearing a damn thing about it. I can’t shake the feeling that these two road closures have something in common with the increasingly frequent partial evacuations of the Capitol and/or its Visitor Center in the last few weeks. Again, thanks to my political junkie correspondent for that nugget.

I have all the faith in the world in the USCP and Secret Service, and I truly believe that they’ve got whatever shit is going on on lockdown. Metro police and transit police though, I’m less confident in. So take heed, friends, and let’s all try not to get blown up before summer’s end.


Hains Point Unicycle!

June 24, 2009

Big up to the dude with the killer unicycle at Hains Point yesterday. I’m pretty sure he was pulling about 300 watts on it. If I see him out there again, expect a picture.

This is a dramatic recreation of our HP unicyclist.

This is a dramatic recreation of our HP unicyclist.


Holy shit I’m on Lance Armstrong’s wheel

June 23, 2009

Say what you want about the guy: doper, creep, whatever. He’s still won 7 Tours de France. The two continental pros and/or Cat 1/2 riders on Lance and Levi Leipheimer’s wheels must be freaking out.