Sawdust in the Wind


Just a tip for those of you looking to join me on the timber express, whichever bike you choose just make sure it’s hand-blown:

You may think it’s all the same, but I can assure you the difference in ride quality between hand-blown and auto-sucked is readily discernible to the wood aficianado officianado expert.  If you’re really looking for that soulful feel that only wood can give, there’s really no substitute for a frame that’s been lovingly exhaled upon by a builder whose breath carries the faint scent of single malt scotch and salami.  It works its way into the woodgrain and results in something I can only call magic.

Speaking of wood bikes, you’re of course familiar by now with the Renovo–or, as I call it, the Loophole Bike, since it allows me to skirt my onerous one-bike resolution:

Well, the Renovo is equipped with Di2 electronic shifting, about which I have mixed feelings.  On one foot, there’s no denying this stuff feels really nice.  On the other, I can’t help feeling a bit of range anxiety as, unlike your phone, there’s no battery life indicator.  (Yes, you can press the shifter and an indicator light will sort of tell you the battery life in Morse code, but it’s not the same as an actual picture of a battery.)  Plus, as a Di2 novice, I have yet to use up my first charge, and therefore I have no idea how many miles to expect out of it.  In a way it’s like riding a motorcycle without a fuel gauge, in that it takes you a few tanks to get a feel for how many miles you’ll get out of a fill-up.  And, in another way it’s like the miracle of Hanukkah in that I haven’t charged the bike since I received it yet the battery indicator still says it’s full.  (Though of course between blizzards and eliminating the source of that pesky creak I’ve only got a couple hundred miles on it.)

Then there’s the actual charging.  See, I live in an apartment building, yet unlike most New Yorkers I refuse to keep my bikes inside my actual apartment.  (With the exception of the Brompton which lives by the coat rack.)  Fortunately we have a bike room in the basement, where I am able to house my stable in conditions that, while somewhat squalid, still beat tripping over the damn things.  Alas, there is no power outlet in the bike room, meaning that in order to charge the bike I’d have to bring it upstairs.  This is a problem, because not only is it annoying, but also once the bike is exposed to the luxurious conditions in my home it may never want to back to its subterranean hole.

(Me lowering supplies to my bikes.  Unlike most Freds I do not coddle them.)

Anyway, when it comes time to juice up the hand-blown Fred Sled (more of a wooden toboggan, really) I may have a solution:

It’s a little portable powerbank thingy my kid got at Five Below.  I figure if I just plug the Shimano charger into the USB port I should be all set.  Of course, if there’s a reason I shouldn’t do this and the wooden bike will burst into flames, feel free to let me know.  Otherwise, not only am I going to use this to charge the Loophole Bike, but I’m also going to back to Five Below, buy a whole bunch more, and sell them to Freds at a 500% markup.

Moving on, I’ve not been paying much attention to the controversy over Chris Froome’s salbutamol test, but you can be sure that VeloNews have been, and I guess he’s been claiming it’s the result of kidney failure or something:

In case you missed it, French newspaper L’Equipe reported on Tuesday that Chris Froome and Sky are considering a legal defense that argues his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol was the result of kidney failure.

Yes, kidney failure.

In making such a claim, Froome and Sky are of course engaging in the time-honored cycling tradition of making baroque excuses:

It appears that the British team is prepared to take its anti-doping cases into the realm of what I refer to as the “head-slap zone.” That’s the realm in which the explanations are so unlikely and far-fetched that even casual cycling fans slap their heads in amazement. Yes, this is the realm of Tyler Hamilton’s chimeric vanishing twin, Lance Armstrong’s French conspiracy, Raimondas Rumsas’s “The steroids were for my mother-in-law,” Adrie van der Poel eating juiced pigeons, or Gilberto Simoni taking a cocaine cough drop from Peru. Simply reading those excuses in succession makes me want to slap my head.

There, I just slapped myself.

Ultimately, there are only two conclusions to draw from all of this:

1) If even half the claims Froome has made during his career are true then he is by far the sickest athlete on the planet.  Asthma?  Dodgy kidneys?  Blood-borne parasites?  At this point I’m just waiting for Sky to claim he’s clinically dead–which seems fairly plausible actually since the guy looks positively vampiric:

2) Anybody who still has the mental energy to expend on all of this stuff (specifically cycling fans and people who write for publications like VeloNews) should probably seek treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Or, you know, at least take up birdwatching or something.  Why these people want to basically shrink themselves down and live in these riders’ bodies is beyond me.

Speaking of doping, Lance Armstrong says it costs him $100 million to confess his doping to president-elect Oprah Winfrey:

USA Today quoted Armstrong as saying via email that the confession had cost him “in excess of 100 mil”. In the days after his confession, long-term sponsors such as Oakley, Trek and others suddenly dropped their huge endorsements and sponsorship, massively reducing his income.

But, you know, he did get a podcast out of it, so there you go.

As Jesus said, “Let the Fred who’s ever had $100 million to lose cast the first stone:”

Ah-meh and Holy Luau.