Eight Miles IS Epic

Over at BikeSnob (aka “the guy who enthralls cyclists by telling them that they suck”) there’s an entry up about the horrifically bad iBike Dash commercial that ran during the Tour. (And for the record I do want to state that the commercial is horrible—but that’s a fault of the production values and direction, not the riders.)

In true deconstructionist style Snob picks apart the commercial, harping mostly on the fact that the guy with the iBike Dash is riding a bike with flat handlebars, and says “… this is the expression a Fred with a flat bar bike makes when he sees he just cranked out eight freaking miles:” (Emphasis original.)

What the hell is wrong with riding eight miles? Why is a cyclist not in full team kit a “Fred” and what’s wrong with flat bars?

I spent eight years as the President of the Rockland Bicycling Club and during those terms I saw many, many riders yearning to get to eight miles in a day, and being justifiably happy when they did. Invariably the guys who would come to club rides with $5000 bikes and new kit were the same folks that would get bored of cycling after a season or two and go off on their own. The guys who worked their way up from scratch, the people who saw eight miles as a killer distance but managed to make it, those were the ones that stuck with cycling.

My very first bike ride as an adult was two miles long. I was in my 20’s, weighed 215 lbs and stood an average 5’7”. After a year of that I was doing full-day event rides and was down to 150 lbs. But I wouldn’t have gotten there without eight-mile rides.

I think most of my rides were done in a t-shirt, I didn’t have a ton of money back then. But somehow Performance clothing is bad, it’s much more “Fred” than riding a multi-colored world-champ jersey you didn’t win in an actually world championship. You can’t be a real cyclist without wearing bright-pink Giro colors or the emblazoned name of some team you don’t belong to, I guess.

And flat bars? Eff that, why should you be comfortable when you ride? Clearly drop bars are the only acceptable choice.

68% of Americans are overweight or obese. (Source) Take your average 150-pound male and have them ride around 9mph and they’ll burn about 550 calories on that ride. Four times a week and that’s 2000 calories, most of the way to a pound. There are more than 235,000,000 people in the U.S. (Source), which makes more than 140,000,000 overweight or obese citizens. If they all did an eight mile bike ride the collective calorie burn would be around 76,300,000,000 (assuming they’re all our average 150-pound male, for ease of calculation). Do you see what that number is? That’s seventy-six billion. That comes out to about 21,800,000 pounds.

What cycling needs, in order to be more widely accepted, is for people to stop judging handlebars or jersey selection. We need to not keep marginalizing part of the cycling community for being a “Fred” because they can’t keep up with us real riders (while ignoring that to professional cyclists we look just as “Fred” as the guy in Performance clothing does to Snob.) We need more people riding their bikes for eight miles. We need more people feeling good about themselves for exercising.

You want to ride your bike with me and wear clothes from Performance? Great, let’s go for a ride. Hell, you want to wear a TuTu and a tiara, let’s go. You want to ride on a bike with upside-down road handlebars and drop-tube shifters? Great, I’m all over it.

You want to criticize people for being happy, healthy cyclists? Well then go ride by yourself.



32 Comments

It’s only 7 miles to the office.  14 miles is a reasonably good day.  String a bunch of those together, and they add 2000+ miles a year of exercise that I wouldn’t get behind the wheel or on the bus.  By the way, between traffic, road hazards, weather, and toting office gear, those 7 mile segments can be tougher than 25 miles of a 50-75 mile local tour outing.  My drop-bar bike (‘Wilma’) happens to be a more comfortable commuter than the flat-bar I built up from a stray frame & fork, but the flat bar will fit a front basket to accommodate the 7-pound lap dog, so my wife and I can take a casual trail ride and have the whole family be happy. 

It’s all about the ride, be it 8 miles or 80, or just 0.8 to the bus stop on a bad weather day.

Imagine you spent countless hours on a product, worked really hard, and sold enough to have the cash flow to make a commercial—just enough to not have the best production values, but you got one done. Then you ran it during the Tour. High fives around the office right? Cool! Then after the weekend, a review comes out and destroys your product. 1st what would motivate someone to write that post and 2nd, imagine the iBike office today.

Cliques and snobs suck in any activity.  I started out riding thinking that 3 miles around the local park was a challenge - it was. Now I’m 40 lbs. lighter, road bike 25 miles every weekday before work and try to get in 50 miles a day on the weekends when possible. Have done a metric, and will do a century next month. I was fortunate to have cyclists around me that mentored and inspired me, not looked down at me. Just bike, and feel great about yourself!

I don’t really see a problem with making fun of anybody who takes himself too seriously. You’re gonna look silly if you:

* show up at a club ride with baggy shorts, running shoes, and a helmet visor
* mix it up on your custom Seven with a four-figure Assos/Rapha ensemble and get dropped
* ride slopestyle in a lycra skinsuit
* etc.

An eight mile “epic” rider is probably not the kind of person who should take up measurebation. Riding is supposed to be about enjoying yourself, not poring over speed, cadence, heart rate, and power data. They’re nice to have, but the clock function is still my computer’s most important feature; I’ve got responsibilities, after all. You don’t need an app, much less a fancy, expensive iPhone gadget, for that.

Wow! Lighten up!! While I agree with a lot of what you said - your aim at BikeSnob is way off.

Engaging BikeSnob with a logical argument is akin to taking on The Onion’s piece ‘Congress Spotted Leaving Gay Nightclub’...

‘cept that the Onion is funny, sarcastic, satire. Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World into your cynically, misguided and self-centered view is not.

Say what? How isn’t BikeSnobNYC satire? There isn’t a single bike or cycling lifestyle that he hasn’t lampooned, including his own.

That’s not satire, that’s lampooning, Different things.

The Office is satire. Don Rickels is lampooning.

Correct. This headline we found funny, “Woman Develops Meth Addiction during Tour de France” from the Prairie Dog Blog.  Ripping apart the hard work of iBike is not funny.  I’ve reviewed the iBike at length from the 1st-gen to the Dash shown in the ad. For them to get a bike-related product into the Apple Store is an enormous achievement regardless of the production qualities of ad, the cyclists shown in it, and their method of power measurement.  iBike is 3 people with a 4th doing some PR. Call them and you talk to the person filling your order.

You guys are missing the point in a big way, and have been since the Great Venge Review of 2011 was lampooned. Drooling over a $10,000+ bicycle is, at its core, utterly ridiculous. Sure, it’s a cool bike, it’s fun to ride, but when you step back, and consider that it’s a two-wheeled machine that you yourself have to provide the engine for, it is ridiculous. Any assertion that it’s not is even more ridiculous.

The iBike commercial is the same thing, on a lower-entry level. Is an 8-mile ride ridiculous? Of course not. Two years ago, when I was nearly 100 pounds heavier than I am now, an 8-mile ride was difficult. But, measuring your speed, power, heart rate, etc. on an 8-mile ride is laughable. You don’t have enough data to make a compelling argument for anything, even if you were taking it seriously.

The Snob is not belittling iBike, the work they’ve done, or anything but the execution of the ad. That’s what he does; finds the minutiae and exposes the lack of attention to detail by the ad agency, production company, or whomever was in charge of making that ride something believable. Photoshop a 0 in after the 8, and the joke isn’t nearly s funny.

It’s the little things. You know, the ever-so-slightly noticeable vertical flex in a $12,000 carbon fiber frame.

We’re not missing any points. David is making his own here. Following your logic, so then it’s ok to systematically destroy the work of the ad agency or people that ride 8 miles with flat bars? The audience for the ad and the customer is the Apple store is not you or me.

Regarding the Venge, if you read the review, you’d see where I ground it back in the reality of what the bike is, v. what it’s selling and warn recreational cyclists and fondo riders that it’s not for them.

Straight up, we’re uncompromising in our belief in what we do and review with enthusiasm. That includes the occasional breathy, over-the-top post. That’s who we are. Ridiculous? I guess, but hope you have a ride like I did someday. Doubt you’d find a review like that anywhere else, especially in magazines and we’re certainly not subscribing to someone’s version of how bikes should get reviewed.

I know the folks at iBike have been kind to the Huggas, but this isn’t the defense they need.

For a guy that had been averaging 1100+ miles per ride until that point, an eight mile jaunt on a hybrid at 18.7MPH falls something short of epic, unless it really was “Free Ride.” In other words, every bit of the onscreen data is absurd. Somebody was going to make light of it.

And again, I’m all for metrics and their commoditization, but there is such a thing as a target market, and then missing it.

@champs

That’s a good point and I think what’s going on is there’s a whole audience for bikes and gadgets that aren’t even enthusiasts, as we think of them. I’ve talked to case makers that believe SmartPhones will replace Velocomputers in the next five years and that’s what I think the commercial was targeting. Through Amazon we’re selling all the Biologic iPhone mounts we can stock and they’ve got their own App too. The Wahoo guys are selling and so are the iBike. So I think you can conclude that not all those cases being sold are going to racers, tourists, or enthusiasts, just regular people who get a bike and think it’s cool to have their phone on it.

Also, I’ve been critical of the iBike and the power measurement is “faith-based.” I added the iBike tag to David’s post so you can see our previous coverage.

I would have to say that you are definitely missing the point. The point, of course being that the blog post was, in fact, a joke. That there is nothing wrong about having a laugh about something on television created to convince people to buy something they have never heard of, something that has only existed for a few months, and probably will only exist for a matter of years, in order to do what brown-skinned people all over the world do day in day out, without iphones, jerseys, fancy bikes or helmets, in order to survive. I understand as business people and entrepreneurs your sensitivity to the folks that made this product, but you definitely have no comprehension of folks like myself and those that bring their bikes into my bike shop, and what bicycling means to people with a more average level of disposable income. People who watch the tour because their lives don’t offer the luxury to buy computers for their bicycles, much less ride them to burn off calories we can’t afford. And the logic that it is not funny to ridicule ( or as you say, rip apart and destroy ) a product of someone’s hard work is pretty laughable as well. This product will never be worth the cost for me, but to blame its failure on some jackass on the internet who performs as an imbecile ( for free ) for the amusement of anonymous internet time-wasters such as myself, well, that shows how disconnected you are from the majority of the people in the world who ride bicycles. And frankly, after the time it took to write this comment, I am not sure I need to spend much more time being told I should buy more things I don’t need to do the things I’ve know how to do since before I could read. Unsuscribing, sorry.

Hey Justoleum Crawford,

Sorry to see you go and don’t think you’d ever been here before and you’ll miss my awesome response and no I don’t get people like you that show up, leave a comment, and ceremoniously unsubscribe. We didn’t miss any point. We’re making our points. Were you get that we’re elitist, I’ve got no idea.

Also, that post wasn’t a joke. If it was, we sure didn’t get it.

Seriously, I read both blogs and have done for ages. Byron, David, with respect, you’re missing the humour and I don’t think your points against BSNYC are as relevant as you think they are. Honestly, the Vnge review needed a bit of fun poking at it, but hey. Shrug it off and keep doing what you do, you’re good at it.

@chrisisnotevil

Thanks for the comment. Getting Snobbed was not unexpected and there was no reaction from us or me here regarding it. I knew, an over-the-top breathy post was a risk, but as I said on his site, “I’ll tell you exactly the same thing when I got off the bike” and wow a ride like that deserved something different than, “horizontally compliant and vertically stiff. “After the breathing hard part of the review, I got into how harsh of a ride it was and criticism. We don’t exactly follow anybody’s rules here.

Snob had targeted us before for his special style of humor and did so all week sending waves of anonymous hate. Also, David’s post isn’t about the Venge review. I responded about that topic above when it came up in comments.

I understand your opinion. I think he’s trolling on the hard work of others and in an industry of beer-drinking bros, he’s in the corner destroying what people create and has been doing it for years now. There’s a point where that act isn’t funny anymore and becomes malicious, abusive. He crossed that line and we called it out.  Remember when we posted on the fixie with Top Tube brake? That was funny. Foffing? Seriously? Not.

So back to the iBike review, I know it’s shocking but some people want to measure their ride to the coffee shop and back.

“But somehow Performance clothing is bad, it’s much more “Fred” than riding a multi-colored world-champ jersey you didn’t win in an actually world championship. You can’t be a real cyclist without wearing bright-pink Giro colors or the emblazoned name of some team you don’t belong to, I guess.”

Yeah, you guys are indeed missing the point of bsnyc. Remember, he started his blog making fun of advertisements, albeit ones from craigslist. Out of all his posts making fun of bike industry marketing, Freds, hipsters, himself, roadies, pro and amateur cyclists, commuters, utilitarian cycling, etc., etc., why single out this one?

I have to say, reading this post is like watching a Friar’s Club Roast with someone who complains that everyone is being mean to the honoree. In picking your battles, you have chosen poorly.

@Sean

We made our points and believe many agree with us and know people in the industry do. I’m not aware of his deeds until a readers tells me and to quote The Dude, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

And look we can take a joke and have. Also stand in the kitchen and take the heat. This week with us and others has been too much.

Good article, good response.  While BikeSnob’s comments may be “humorous”, 2 things remain true:

1. There is a large subset of the population who will take them seriously, or who will internalize the message seriously.

2. BikeSnob’s career is built off commentary - there is little original in his posts other than humor.  Granted, humor has an important place in society, though when humor tears people down instead of building them up, then it’s failed its implied social contract.

As a born-again “Fred” (I used to wear lycra, now I avoid it as much as possible because I like to be comfortable when I ride), I appreciate the notion that the “8 mile ride” is important.  I started riding a bike again in 2004 as an adult. At the time, I was 35 years old.  I started out riding 4.5 miles one-way 2 or 3 times a week.  I didn’t get “serious” about bike commuting until 2006.  By that time, my commute had increased to 8 miles one-way due to a move.  That year, I determined I was going to ride a century, and in less than 6 months, I’d worked my way up to it.  I was 260 lbs when I started, and at that weight, base metabolism for a guy is 2,800 calories per day, plus another 400 calories per hour of bike riding at a “comfortable” pace.  An 8-mile ride under those conditions was 320 calories.  In a few weeks, I was doing 20 mile rides, burning 800 calories when riding, and 3,600 calories for the day altogether.  As you might expect, I started dropping weight quickly after that.

I took a desk job a couple years ago which put much of the weight back on, but I’m busy taking it off again by riding across the United States.  Generally without a helmet, and in 65 days of riding I’ve covered a leisurely 1,900 miles and only worn my lycra twice.  I ride with a cast-iron skillet in one of my panniers, and a full-sized laptop.  Yeah, I’m a Fred - I ride a steel bike with no helmet, “normal” street clothes and 85 pounds of gear.  And I still weigh about 230 pounds.  But 1,900 miles and 88,000’ of elevation gain tells me that being a Fred can be pretty bad-ass.  And on some days with an uphill ride and a headwind, I *still* might only ride 8 miles.  It’s not the distance that’s important, nor the clothes, nor any of the other things we argue over.  What’s important is that you get out AND RIDE.

http://castironcyclist.com

Thanks Matt. Very well said. We spoke out for the reasons you describe. Also having been on the receiving end of what Snob does, I can tell you it’s not funny and what he sends your way is the worst of blogging and the Internet. Maybe he’s ran out of good material, don’t know.

I just want to make a few comments here to clarify some things:

1) I’ve never received anything from iBike. They’ve never been “good to me.” I haven’t used their cases or their software. I use, on my bike, a Garmin which I purchased from my LBS. Occasionally though I use MapMyRide+ when I’m doing a short ride to the store or back and still want to track my yearly miles.

Champs said they’ve been good to us, but I wrote my piece completely without communication from bike, ever.

2) I think BikeSnob is funny. I’m not missing the point of his blog. I’ve read him since before Lance made him funny with some Tweets and I’ve enjoyed his writing on many occasions. I’ve been impressed with his work in Bicycling as well as I think its better targeted and thought out than much on the blog these days.

3) I don’t have a problem with satire, sarcasm or sardonic writing. I’m probably the most sarcastic person around.

I think the commercial, which was full of bad production values (though nothing worse than Versus itself did in the early years of the Tour when it was OLN) and odd penis-comparison metaphor. I wouldn’t have had a problem with Snob attacking the commercial.

What he attacked though is the type of rider who might *want* to log an 8 mile ride. The new visitor to the Tour who goes “wow, that looks great, i’m going to go get me a bike.” He’s attacking Freds. Freds are some of the most hard-core cyclists around.

I used to lead a long ride with lots of hill climbs. We called it an A level ride for distance and elevation in a day, B for speed. We all, on our bikes, were regularly schooled by a guy from Australia who showed up on his beaten up mountain bike (complete with knobbies) and rode off the front constantly. T-Shirt, sneakers. Cargo shorts. Zoom.

4) I’m totally fine with both the Venge review (which again I didn’t have anything to do with) and the subsequent lambasting of it on Snob.

5) Specifically to answer Sean’s question, which was “Remember, he started his blog making fun of advertisements, albeit ones from craigslist. Out of all his posts making fun of bike industry marketing, Freds, hipsters, himself, roadies, pro and amateur cyclists, commuters, utilitarian cycling, etc., etc., why single out this one?”

This is the sentence that grabbed me in this one “3) No ride is too slow, too short, or too pathetic to share and immortalize in digital form.”

That’s the kind of line that makes me think “oh fuck you.” Because *I* was the guy doing rides that were “too slow, too short” and “too pathetic.” And those rides changed me from being a pre-diabetes heart-attack-waiting-to-happen to a lifelong cyclist with healthy eating habits, low blood pressure and low cholesterol.

Why? Because I used to go on short rides and then tell my friends and family and they all encouraged me, and congratulated me. If there had been a Facebook then I sure as hell would have logged the rides, and I’d probably have gotten other rides to join me as well.

So when I read this post, what I get is attacked, personally. Why don’t I write articles when he makes fun of small houses or technopillows? Because I don’t have a basis from which to reply. I’m not personally invested.

Now, do I want Snob to stop writing? Not at all. I think that there’s a place for an introspective look at the world and our industry. But I think that that should not take the form of an attack against a type of rider that makes up the *majority* of cyclists in this world.

6) Having the bike computer display 8 miles in the commercial is actually very smart. If they’d had him look at a ride computer that showed that he did 25 miles, most of the customers would got “I could never do 25 miles, that must not be fore me.”

The guy is obviously not done with his ride, either. Unless he lives at that market, he’s still got more to go. (For all we know he’s going “wow I managed to get out and ride this morning before my son woke up! Right on!”)

So by putting a distance that many riders in their demographic could exceed, people think “oh yeah, that’s for me. I can do 8 miles.”

Smart.

Thanks for the post and comment—it’s hard to tell what snob is doing these days. Is it snarky, serious, humor or trolling. Based on what his commenters say, it’s the later and I don’t know if he’s ever been challenged.

Bikesnob has one trick (the mocking hammer) that has served him so well and thus everything begins to look like a nail. Thinking back on the posts of his that I’ve most enjoyed, it’s when he has in fact mocked those who condescend to those different from themselves, who don’t measure up to some standard. You’re not minimal enough, not artisan enough, not hip enough, etc.

His whole online persona can be seen as a self-referential mock with his self-identifying as a snob & so on. Bikesnob is the snob who exists to mock the snobs.

But it seems like he’s gone awry, to my taste at least, when he becomes the snob he’s pretending to be. He isn’t mocking the snobs, he’s mocking those who do more than comment, they create. Criticism is easy, creation is hard.

For example, I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into this critique of Bikesnob’s work. He’s done some good stuff and I’m sure he’ll continue to come up with some very well-placed jabs. He’s got power behind his punches but I think he could use a bit more control when it comes to aiming those punches.

“He’s got power behind his punches but I think he could use a bit more control when it comes to aiming those punches.”

Words to live by across the internet world…

Well said Kent and I believe many in and related to the bike industry agree with you. His act is teetering on dark side and after much thought and consideration we decided to say something. Maybe he’s believing his own hype. Don’t know, but he created a new word for masturbating just for me and sent the 4chan-skank undercurrent of the web our way. For what? Talking about one of the best rides I’ve ever had. You’ve got to wonder at that point what’s going on and to what end. I hope everyone can enjoy the bike like I do and we do here. That’s what we blog. Having met people that crawl around the underbellies of factories in Taiwan, sweating in the thick humidity, to make sure a bike arrives on shore as it was designed, destroying what they do is very hurtful.

I can’t resist commenting on one aspect of this.  From a marketing standpoint, the idea that showing someone (aka “Fred”) logging an 8 mile epic ride is smart, is well, the opposite of smart. 

Talk to lots of people involved in marketing, and this is particularly the case for products for ... ‘the active lifestyle’, and you’ll find that a huge appeal of many products is their aspirational value.  For example, people do not say ‘holy crap, that’s a bike like Lance rode, that’s too much for me…’.  No, they say ‘wow, i could ride a bike just like Lance, and it will only cost me $5000’.  By the same token, people who might want to buy an SUV, don’t watch a commercial and say ‘wow, i’d never like to drive off road’, they say ‘I’m just the kind of active devil may care kinda guy that would love to run over nature’, even if it never happens. 

Showing iBike’s product, ridden by ... a less than elite looking cyclist, associates with the product with a downmarket image that requires the consumer to say ‘wow, that guy is just like me, a little dumpy, not very fit, and only riding 8 miles.’ 

That’s just piss poor marketing.

@Glockenspieler your comments are welcome and that’s a good observation. The bike industry is based on Sports Marketing and selling the fantasy of fitness. It’s in their DNA and why marketing to an urban consumer has been and is such a struggle. I’ve covered that at length in other posts. David’s points were about Snob’s mean girl take on the cyclists and those that think 8 miles is epic. I don’t know what iBike’s plan was, but other apps and case makers carpet bombed the TDF coverage with Levi so maybe they thought, we’re the app/case for everyone else. Also, as I wrote above, it’s a tremendous achievement for them to have product in the Apple Store.  Also all the other power apps marketed are for those they want to drop their fellow weekend warriors on the climb. Not measure their big ride to the Cafe or commute.

FWIW, I’m often Fred (logging miles to Strava while wearing baggies, visored helmet, and with a crappy bike) and I laughed at BSNYC’s mockery, but I can easily see how people close the product can get a little upset.

That San Gregorio General Store in the ad is well known to Bay Area cyclists, incidentally.  Look at the Google Streetview and you’ll see some Fredly bikes there.

@richard,

We laughed too, until this recent series of posts and decided to say something and challenge it. We’ve concluded others think the same thing.

BikeSnob is being snobby.  Bike Hugger is being huggable. Yin and Yang.  Keeps the world in balance. Just like a bike. Let’s go ride.

+1 Sal, as always and I’ve got plenty of test rides coming up. You know what to expect, unabashed enthusiam.

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