An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bike to the Future

During the NVGP, I had many opportunities to speak with Kristin Armstrong -- the odds-on favorite for gold in the Olympics time trial, and with a fair shot at medaling in the road race too. She was pretty tapped after the Grand Prix for two reasons: First, she stomped the field in just about every stage of the race; and second, she did it without a team. It was a remarkable display of pure athletic excellence. At least in the domestic pro peloton, there are no other riders that can touch her. (She occasionally surrenders on a flat criterium sprint or a road race with no major climbs. I suspect this has less to do with sprinting prowess and more to do with self-preservation. It is definitely not an olive branch of consolation; she's a cannibal on the bike. I've taken to calling her "The Eddie Merckx with two X's.") Anyway, I asked Armstrong if she was worried about air quality in Beijing, and she laughed and said she'd been doing a lot of motorpacing behind an old car with no muffler or catalytic converter. "Seriously, though," she said. "Everyone's in the same boat, so I'm trying not to worry about it too much." If air quality is a handicap or a concern, it's going to impact everyone the same. It's not something she feels like she needs to worry about.

Today, I noticed yet another "concept" bike for the Chinese, offered up as a helpful idea to assist the Chinese with their little, y'know, air pollution problem.




And all I really have to add to the conversation is this: Why do these concept bikes all look so totally plastic and gay and Star Wars? And not actually something that will ever get built? And if it did get built, no one would actually ride? Without becoming the target of much righteous and deserved derision?

It's a noble cause. But does "the bike of the future" have to look so freaking gay?

Really, the point is this: It's all just window dressing by industrial designers with too much time and software on their hands. It reminds me a little bit of the one and only science fair I entered as a kid. My idea was to create a city of the future. I made little balsa wood houses, and glued fake grass on a sheet of plywood. And then I turned my mom's big plastic punch bowl upside down over my little city. Voila! The city of the future would be covered by a plastic dome! Cool, huh? I was shocked and chagrined to not even get a third-place ribbon. Just a crappy yellow ribbon for "participating," while Jim Petit won the blue ribbon for his stupid wind-power generator that actually lit up a 10 watt lightbulb.

Also this note to the GE team that created "the bike of the future": Look up "Cannondale Lefty recall" at the Consumer Product Safety Commission to get the full view on just how awesome assymetric bike forks really are.

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