Huggacast 144: A Good Deed Mapped

Followed this cyclist in street view and saw he did a good deed helping another cyclist change a flat, as proper etiquette dictates. The act was captured by the Google Maps car.

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Paris-Roubaix Bicycles: Freaks on Parade Pt1

Tchmil is a total badass in this clip. 0:50 he’s just killing it

When it comes to fascinating professional riding machines, there is no day like the second Sunday of April. Paris-Roubaix. A race that is simultaneously one of the most famous bike races and the least representative of the sport. The very name of the race conjures images of shellshocked men irrationally compelled to ride over decaying roads at inadvisable speeds, their eyes just frightening windows of pain in a mask of filth. But the bikes…..if the skies of northern France weep for a week beforehand, it’s a mechanical parade of freaks.

1996 Bianch Paris Roubaix Side

1996 Bianchi titanium full-suspension, from cinelliguy’s flickr page

Over the last two decades, some of the coolest prototype bicycles have appeared at Paris-Roubaix. If before the 1990s pro teams had unique frames built for the race, the bikes probably didn’t stand out from those the riders used at the other spring races. Back then all the bikes had generally more tire clearance than today’s carbon bikes. Maybe the Roubaix bikes had more supple fork blades, but differences would have been subtle. Then in the early 90s the ever-tinkering Greg Lemond and his Team Z debuted the Rock Shox suspension road fork, and teammate Duclos-Lassalle soloed to a long-sought victory in the Roubaix velodrome. That was 1992. The next four years it was anything goes. Suspension stems, suspension seatposts, rear suspension, they tried everything…but usually not more than a week before the actual race. As you can imagine, the results were spectacularly mixed.

In 1993 with the new team sponsor Gan, Duclos-Lassalle again raced another conventional frame, fashioned from French Excell tubing and branded as a Lemond. Supposedly, he had the very same 25mm travel Rock Shox fork he had used the year before fitted to the newer frame. Instead of a solo win, a crash-battered Duclos followed on the heels of MG-Technogym’s Franco Ballerini. Ballerini was riding an Allsop Softride suspension stem, derived from the company’s popular mtb stem. The Softride stem was a sprung/hinged parallelogram with a lock-out, but because the stem had a taller stack than a traditional forged quill stem, frame sponsor Bianchi built the steel bike with a top tube that sloped down to reduce the length of the head tube. Fresher and possessing presumedly superior sprinting prowess, Ballerini looked good for the win, but the cagey Duclos came round the right and held the Italian off by less than the length of that Softride stem. As a side note, Duclos became the oldest winner of the race on record, as well as the last winner to use down tube shifters.

Also in the race was Canadian Steve Bauer riding for Motorola. Bauer had the most radical machine of the day, a custom Merckx with freakishly long and slack geometry, virtually a semi-recumbent. Although Bauer finished a respectable 21st, the design was judged to be a net disadvantage. What is also remarkable is that Bauer supposedly spent 6 months adjusting to the positioning of the bike, which sounds like 5months/3weeks more than typical. It is worth noting that the professionals are notorious for resisting changes to equipment or positioning once the season has started, and that Bauer was being employed by Motorola on a race-by-race basis. Perhaps attending less races, he simply had more time to concentrate on preparing for specific events like Paris-Roubaix.

The next year Bianchi famously debuted a full-suspension bike for GB-MG’s Johan Museeuw. With the Rock Shox fork up front, the bike used a rear swingarm design adapted from Bianchi USA’s mtb bikes. At this point in this cycling adaptation of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang you might have noticed the American mtb theme. The truth is that the early 1990s was a dark era following the mountainbike boom, and America was plagued by rampant abuse of CNC machines and purple anodized seatposts. Even an ocean wasn’t enough to protect the purity of the professional European peloton. Paris-Roubaix had become a one-day orgy of indiscriminate prototype testing. Rock Shox was passing out forks to teams like Blowpops at a rave, and Lotto team mechanics simply bolted one to Andrei Tchmil’s stock Merckx frame (bearing the name of Lotto’s official frame sponsor Caloi).

Duclos-Lassalle winning in 1992, phot from Le Tour website

Eddy v. Lance for Love

What starts as a debate over who's the better champion, Eddy or Lance turns into a love triangle in this Tom Schroeder’s animation.

The Revenge of the Comfort Bike

Ed. Note: Like a Hockey Player from Hades, Sal Ruibal flew out a culvert on a Cross course somewhere this morning to defend the Comfort Bike, t’aints, and that which is longer and thicker.


Photo: S. Raboin via Bicycle Times.

There comes a time in all men’s lives that they must face the truth that they are on the slippery downhill slope of life.

Women, being the saner sex, are more graceful in dealing with this news and have created billion-dollar industries to disguise and reshape their faces and bodies.

Men deal with it by buying more expensive toys.

For men who ride bicycles for fun and the thrill of spending more per ounce of bicycle than the other guy, there is another signpost on the road to the cemetery. This one is called velo-sexual dysfunction.

The condition is caused by the repeated process of squeezing testicles into tight-fitting shorts that position the genitals for maximum pummeling by saddles made of military-grade table-tennis paddles.

In recent years, bicycle manufacturers have increased the ball-barrage by using materials to create bikes that are light enough to place on a roof-rack with one hand while also directing the same foot-pounds of force created by a highway-grade pneumatic jack-hammer at the area scientists refer to as the t’aint.

This precise targeting was followed by a growing cult of “slamming” a bicycle’s handlebar stem into a horizontal position that created a sonic wave that passes through the rider’s body and down through the saddle, and eventually into the t’aint target area.

A Good Deed on the Bike Mapped

Followed this cyclist in street view and saw he did a good deed helping another cyclist change a flat, as proper etiquette dictates. The act was captured by the Google Maps car. I first noticed the cyclist when writing a post about cobblestoned streets in Seattle.

A screen recording of Street View

He was at the base of Blanchard and a few frames up and down the hill. Screenshot it. Then a reader commented that he followed the cyclist another block and saw him stop to help with a flat. That’s something us cyclists do, good karma, but unique that the Map Car was right there.

Drag the street view icon to the photo on the map and then follow the cyclist yourself.

Cool, huh? Some chance grooviness.

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