Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Misshapen Lumps

Further to yesterday's post, in which I mentioned this guy:

A commenter would like you reassure you that he's merely an "outlier:"

Tame Dog Hawk Machine said...

Dear everyone, the Tattoo n Tzitzit guy does not represent Zoobomb as a whole at all. Actually he's kind of an outlier.
If you're in Portland, come see what we're all about!

JULY 22, 2014 AT 8:10 PM

In other words, he wants to reassure you that, should you choose to try Zoobomb, you're unlikely to encounter any Jews.  Whew!  Also, you can be sure that if any Asians show up they'll immediately be outed as undercover police officers:

(Boy, that was awkward, wasn't it?)

And remember, Keep Portland Weird!

*[But not like, you know, ethnic weird.]

Moving on, in its ongoing attempt to become Portland East, Brooklyn continues to neuter itself, and the latest symptom of this is genteel motorcyclists leaving passive-aggressive Post-it notes for other motorcyclists:

Seriously, that's not enough room?

I see nothing to complain about.  Get back to us when you pick your bike up off the street for the fourth time after some incompetent parallel parker knocks it over with their SUV.  When I owned a motorcycle people used to sit on it to eat lunch--until I joined the Satan's Helpers, that is.  After that, nobody messed with me.

Another symptom of Brooklyn's transmogrification are these ugly and misshapen bicycle sculptures, which I passed recently as I trawled the Manhattan Bridge on a Citi Bike looking for hot Cat 6 action:

I'm not sure what they're going for here, but my best guess is it's supposed to represent what you'll look like after a run-in with one of Brooklyn's many homicidal drivers:

Though if they were looking to create a really shitty version of Storm King then I'll say they nailed it:


In any case, my shivers of disgust gave way to trembling anticipation as I mounted the approach to the Manhattan Bridge, and I knew the Cat 6-ing was going to be good because people in Evel Knievel helments were detangling their headphones:

I had chosen a goodly steed at yon Citi Bike stable too, because the transmission held onto gears 1, 2, and 3 without popping out again:

When it comes to Citi Bike gearing, one outta three ain't bad, two of three is pretty darn good, and unfettered access to all three is almost unheard of.

(By the way, if you're wondering what's on my wrist, it's hair.  And if you're wondering what's buried in the hair on my wrist, it's some kind of "smart watch."  See, I once missed a text while riding my bike, and now I'm legally required to wear that electronic monitoring bracelet until I die.)

Some people mistakenly think Cat 6 racing is all about sheer power, but the fact is that bike-handling is crucial, especially when you have to circumvent "foot salmon:"

If you're unfamiliar with the Manhattan Bridge, the north side is entirely for bikes, and the south side is entirely for pedestrians, but the pedestrians don't want to have to walk all the way across Canal Street (for which I can't entirely blame them), so they're just like, "fuck it."

This means the Cat 6 racer's bike-handling skills have to be sharp.  Really sharp.  Like Peter-Sagan-on-Adderall sharp.  Fortunately, I happen to possess just such a skill set.  That's why when there's a cyclist in front of me, another coming towards me, and a pedestrian in the far left, I'm able to slip right through the crack:

Get it?  Crack.

The only thing sharper than my bike-handling is my wit.

A full 45 seconds later I was still laughing at my own joke--until I was attacked by a Fred or Fred-Like Object with a jersey that said "beard" on it:

It was on!  I attempted to screw on my "race face," but unfortunately I had left it in my other pants.  And no sooner had this registered with me than I heard the words every Cat 6 racer dreads--"On your left!"--at which point I was overtaken by a neon specter from the past:

He then proceeded to open a gap on me faster than an ice-cold can of Coors Light on a hot day:

Despondently, I looked out over the Big Skanky, which I understand a certain commenter went swimming in this past weekend:

I then thought about how we had a huge amount of rain last week, and how when that happens the local waterways fill up with untreated sewage, and then I threw up in my mouth.

Soon I crested the span and hit the downhill, where I spotted the clear winner of the day's best-dressed award:

I mean, come on, let's have some credit where credit is due.  His kerchief matches his socks for chrissake!

(They're green because he's leading the points competition.)

Furthermore, it was pretty hot out , and even though he was riding in a blazer and on a climb he was as dry as a one-liner.  Meanwhile, I was wearing a t-shirt and going downhill, yet I was sweating like a Zoobomber in a minyan.

Yes, Team Citi Bike acquitted itself well yesterday:

Look at that speed!!!

It must have been a double-points day or something, because the pace was relentless:

Then, I caught my twin adversaries, Beard Fred and Beer Fred, at the bottom of the bridge, but like the pro Cat 6 racer that I am I kept my distance so they wouldn't know I was racing them:

By the way, did you know they're making helments in the Citi Bike colorway now?

I don't know if that's on purpose or not, but it sure seems like it.

Really, the only low point for Team Citi Bike yesterday was this guy, who totally botched the remount and got dropped by CETMA Rack Guy and Shirtless Guy:

Shirtless Guy will not be winning any sartorial awards for yesterday's stage, this I can assure you.

Meanwhile, this guy was not only wearing a shirt, but he was also wearing every single fixed-gear fashion accessory ever invented, right down to the fanny pack and the star tattoo:

There are two things you can always count on in this town--a fixie rider having a star tattoo, and an SUV parked in the bike lane in front of the bike shop:

Here's an inadvertent "selfie" of Your Humble Blogger:

Yes, I ride around New York City taking pictures with my smartphone like an idiot, and if you're wondering how a Citi Bike brakes coming off the Manhattan Bridge when you're only using one hand, the answer is, "Not very well at all."

Still, I do it anyway, and the only thing I enjoy more than taking pictures of cracks while Cat 6ing is taking pictures of other people taking pictures:

I like to think somewhere somebody also took a picture of me taking a picture of that person, so please let me know if one pops up on Instagram.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Firstly, the New York Times ran a nice little story about the Tour's Lanterne Rouge:

I haven't been watching the TV coverage, so I have no idea if Phil Liggett has used any cringeworthy terms to describe his ethnicity yet.

Secondly, Alexander Vinokourov doesn't want to talk about the past:

“2007 is in the past and I don’t want to return to that topic,” Vinokourov said flatly, before pointing to Astana’s membership of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) as a sign of its good faith.

"Instead, I'd like to bypass 2007 altogether and go straight back to 1978, which is the last time my outfit was fashionable," Vino added:

(Vino played Whitey the Pimp in the 1976 cult blaxploitation film "Dolemite II: The Human Tornado.")

In other news, Woody Allen designed a bike, and he's already raised well over $300,000:

("May I interject one statement at this juncture? And I don't mean to be didactic or facetious in any way.")

According to Woody, this perfectly ordinary bike embodies a "new concept in cycling."  Check it out:

Okay.  The bike looks fine.  But how is this in any way a "new concept in cycling?"  I mean sure, it is made of an exotic material called "aluminum," which has never been used for bikes before.  This "makes the frame lightweight:"

Which is essential when fleeing to the safety of your Brooklyn brownstone after you scuff somebody's Jordans:

By the way, I don't know about you, but after a hard ride I always chug a carton of orange juice:

Another way this bike is completely different (at least according to the director of classics such as "Manhattan" and "Annie Hall") is that it has a comfy seat, upright handlebars, and three speeds--a combination which no bicycle company in the history of bicycle companies has ever attempted:

And, in a bold example of innovation that could only come from a clarinetist of Mr. Allen's stature, the bike is equipped with a coaster brake only:

See, some companies selling comfortable upright bikes with three speeds give you both a coaster brake and a handbrake for the front wheel.  However, the Priority does away with the extra stopping power, which you'll appreciate when you're coming off one of the East River bridges and immediately merging with heavy automobile traffic.

And of course it's got a belt drive:

(That's a lotta chainring bolt spacers.)

"One of the most unique features of our bike is the belt drive.  Harley Davidson started using belts in their motorcycles in the '80s and has never looked back."

Harley Davidson should not be held up as a paradigm for anything except their uncanny ability to speak directly to the sad leather-clad yearnings of middle-aged lawyers whose idea of an "upgrade" is amplifying the sound of flatulence as they ride.

But Woody really crossed the line with this one:

Theft Deterrent - We know you’ll fall in love with Priority, and we want to do anything we can to keep our bikes with their proud owners. By using bolts instead of quick releases, Priority makes it more difficult for thieves to disassemble parts. You'll still have to lock up your bike, but bolts are a precaution Priority has taken to make theft more difficult.

Oh come on now.  What bike like this does feature quick releases?

Actually, I can think of one, and it's the Priority:

(Pretty sure that's a quick release.)

That's an ethical mobius strip akin to the plot of 1989's "Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Lastly, a reader tells me the Wall Street Journal has published an article about "Zoobomb," complete with short film:

In which you'll see that participants begin their ride with a cry of "!!!"

I have a strict rule whereby I don't take part in any event in which people shout the name of the event in unison.  This is because I have an inherent fear of "groupthink," and know there's a very fine line between "Portlandia" and "Dystopia."

Here's the Zoobomb "monument:"

When I first saw this pile of crap in person during a visit to Portland some years ago, I thought it was an aesthetically objectionable Tower of Tetanus.  However, as a parent, I now understand the Portland city government's rationale here.  See, I know I shouldn't let my kid leave his toys in the living room, but the fact is that I'm kinda lazy and I don't want to deal with the whining, so I do anyway.  And that's exactly what's going on here.

Also, check this out:

Tattoos and tzitzit?  Only in Portland:

He's either the World's Hippest Orthodox Jew, or he saw those things on a visit to Brooklyn and thought they looked cool.

Lastly, carrying your helment on your head with the straps unfastened is the lowest form of helment portaging:

(Charity ride chic.)

Though they may just be trying to emulate the ever-so-trendy payos look.

Monday, July 21, 2014

One down, a gazillion to go.

First of all, give yourselves a great big "high five."

This past Friday, as I was crawling through the bowels of YouTube for Friday Fun Quiz wrong answer videos, I came across an anti-veloist rant that had recently been posted by one Laura Weintraub:

In it, she travels the streets in an automobile expressing her disdain for cyclists and her desire to run them over.  It was pretty much exactly like the Keith Maddox thing--if, instead of being a living caricature of an Alabamian, Maddox were a stereotypical Southern California bottle blonde being chauffeured about town by a willing "himbo."

Anyway, I tweeted about the video, and other people did too.  Then somebody pointed out that, in addition to being a demonstrable idiot and possible sociopath, Laura Weintraub was also a reserve police officer, and it wasn't long before the cycling "Twitterati" figured out that the department she "served" was that of the city of Santa Paula.  Armed with this information, I sent them an email bringing their attention to the video, and presumably numerous other velocipedists contacted them too.

In the meantime, Laura Weintraub deleted her YouTube video as well as the "tweet" linking to it.  (As I recall, the tweet said something like, "I can't be the only person who feels this way, can I?")  However, the video lives on, because the Internet never forgets.

By Saturday, Keith Maddox's SoCal alter-ego had been "placed on leave:"

"Meet Laura Weintraub, horrible person, incompetent videographer, and utter moron," said a Twitter poster with the handle bikesnobNYC who linked to the video.

Uh, "a Twitter poster with the handle..."?  Wow, the Los Angeles Times is really out of it!  The appropriate attribution for someone of my stature is "the internationally-acclaimed cycling blogger and author."  Southern California is truly a cultural wasteland.

Laura Weintraub also issued an apology:

I would like to apologize to all those who have been offended by what was intended to be a satirical video on cyclists. It was never meant to be hurtful or harmful in anyway, I am a human being, I made a mistake, I have learned from this and ask for your forgiveness. The responses have shown me overwhelmingly just how hurtful my comments were to some and that is not at all what I intended. As soon as I knew, I removed the video immediately. 

Translation: "I'm a soul-less person with a feeble intellect who is desperate for fame and would sell my mother to be on a reality show.  I really do hate cyclists, but because my video didn't get the response I wanted I'm taking it down.  I may have strong opinions and beliefs, but none of them are stronger than my borderline psychotic desire for favorable attention.  I will move on to baiting other groups of people who are less social media-savvy."

And now she's resigned:

Santa Paula Police Department

The purpose of this post is to advise the community that I have accepted the resignation of Volunteer Reserve Officer Laura Weintraub. Her resignation is effective today. I believe that Ms. Weintraub did the right thing for everyone involved and wish her nothing but the best for her and her family.

Chief Steven McLean

I've seen some griping on the Tweeter that she should have been charged, but public embarrassment and subsequent resignation precipitated entirely by a bunch of pissed-off cyclists feels pretty good to me.

So go ahead and smack your screen in a great big virtual collective high five for a job well done.*

*[Please note that BSNYC Industries, LLC shall not be responsible for damage to your computer, tablet, or smartphone device.]  

Indeed, the good news with regard to Ms. Weintraub was merely the cream cheese on the bagel of what was, for me, a lovely weekend of bicycle cycle riding.  On Saturday I rode a bike with the curved-type handlebars like they use in the Tour de France, and on Sunday I rode a rugged all-terrain bicycle with knobbly tires and dick breaks--all without crossing bridges, utilizing automobiles, or dealing with any other inconvenience:

One day I'll write a glowing testimonial to my little corner of New York City and how it affords easy access to some of the best bicycle cycling in the tri-state area, though probably not until it's time for me to put my mansion on the market and move to the countryside, where I will open a do-it-yourself "farm to table" restaurant called "U-Bludgeon."  (We give you a pig, a hammer, a grill, and a bottle of our delicious artisanal barbecue sauce, and you do the rest.)

In the meantime, hopefully the Freds of New York stick with Brooklyn and their hour-long slogs to the George Washington Bridge as they're beset by herds of tridorks with aerobars heading inexorably towards Nyack like migrating elks:

If you can't draw a direct line between the rival gangs of 19th century New York and the various cycling clubs and fondos of modern-day New York City then an astute student of history you are not.

Speaking of New York City and old-timey chicanery, here's a New York Times profile of a man who practices the dying art of pocket-pickery:

If you're unfamiliar with picking pockets, it's basically an artisanal form of embezzling whereby you actually appropriate paper money by hand:

And as it happens, the subject of the profile plans to stop picking pockets and become a bike messenger:

He is a slight man but has long, insistent fingers, and eyes set wide apart. Pickpockets call each other “shotplayers.” Asked to reflect on his career, Mr. Rose said, “Shotplayer — I don’t even want to hear that word anymore.”

After his release, he vowed, he will reform. “I’m done with this life,” he said. “I’m going to buy a bike and become a messenger. That’s what I’m going to do. I want a job.”

In other words, he's basically leaving one obsolete and moribund profession for another.  Historically speaking, this is a lateral career move, and at that rate he might as well just become a cooper:

Though I'm sure there are three or four thriving coopersmiths on Bedford Avenue already.

I imagine wooden barrel-like "bidons" would go over rather well in the trendier precincts of the city, though there's still nothing more "cycle chic" than climbing a hill while "scarfing" a baguette:

You riding a bike and eating a baguette sandwich- love you girl! - m4w - 39 (Midtown)
age : 39

I saw you go by on 47 and 2 by the park- you were heading up the incline and scarfing the baguette... I shouted out "yeah girl"

If you ever want to ride bikes with a good looking bike boy who is fun- let me know.

Sounds like a good way to choke on some breadcrumbs.