I'm a loner, Dotty. A rebel. I don't buy into that "Voluminati" nonsense. I photograph my bikes in the little ring from the non-drive side--and poorly! I go out of my way to wear mismatched shorts and jerseys. And I only wash my bikes when they reach the point at which I am unable to tell them apart. (There is no greater let-down than to hose down a bike in anticipation of a ride, only to discover it's the Specialized.)
This is not to say I don't have my own sense of propriety, because I most certainly do, and there are certain "rules" to which I do adhere. For example, in New York City, everybody knows that it is extremely gauche to be seen on a road bike on a summer weekend after 12:00pm. There are only two exceptions to this rule, and they are:
--You are returning from a bicycle race;
--You are returning from a pre-arranged and highly contrived "epic."
Otherwise, to be Fredding about with all the other Freds at the unseemly hour of 12:30pm, 1:00pm, or [gasp] 1:30pm is, well, unseemly. It's like wearing shorts and flip-flops to the theater. Part of the reason for this is that you want to be home before it gets too hot, but there's also a much more pressing concern. See, the discerning cyclist knows that the Team Sky kits and the aerobars start appearing at about 10:00 or 11:00am, and by noon the parks, bridges and greenways are thick with them, which is why you want to start your ride as early as possible, and by mid-day you want to be off the road, cleaned up, and transitioning to some other more urbane pursuit, lest any onlookers associate you with the rest of the Lycra-clad rabble, and lest any of these detestable Freds and tridorks start waylaying you by asking you for tools.
Sure, on a weekday it's acceptable to sneak in an afternoon ride, and in the winter it's fine to go out later owing to the late sunrise and crisp early morning temperatures (not to mention the fact that 95% of detestable Freds and tridorks hang up their wheels once the mercury plunges below 60 degrees American), but on these summer weekends you want to be off the bike before the mimosas go to Fred's head during brunch and he decides to head up to Central Park afterwards for hot laps on his Cervélo at the ungodly hour of two freaking thirty in the afternoon.
Having said all that, yesterday I broke my own rule, because it was raining in the morning and I decided to go "full woosie" and wait until it stopped. Moreover, family was headed to Brooklyn that afternoon, so I figured I'd Fred about on the roads north of the city for awhile and then head down through town to meet them, which would take me through a number of Fred hot zones, not to mention pretty much every pocket of brunch-addled douchebaggery in Manhattan.
Certainly one of the most concentrated spots in trouble spots is Central Park. Should you ever find yourself on a bicycle in Central Park on a summer afternoon, be advised the park road will be full of pedestrians, tourists on rental bikes, children taking their first triumphant pedal strokes after the training wheels have been removed by a building superintendent for a $50 tip, runners, pedicabs, and even horses, assuming DeBlasio hasn't sent them all to the glue factory yet. Therefore, you need to take a deep breath. You need to be patient. You need to ride slowly and considerately. You need to treat it as an opportunity to "spin down" after your Fredly exploits on the other side of the bridge.
Nevertheless, there are always some overzealous Freds (yes, I realize this is redundant as Freds are by definition overzealous) tearing around the park as fast as their little legs will carry them and yelling "on your left" at small children--or, in the case of the rider below, squeezing between me and some rent-a-bike tourist and nearly chopping my front wheel in the process:
Who knows what invisible hand guides these Freds, though I imagine it's emblazoned with the word "Strava," and that it is also lubricated and ready for wanking.
[Even worse, there's always some fat bike blogger riding around with no hands while taking crappy pictures of people with his smartphone.]
Then, further downtown, I encountered this:
Notice how the ice cream truck sidles right up to the bike lane, transforming it from cyclist thoroughfare to pre-diabetic waiting area:
This is really good thinking on the driver's part, because when your child hears that delightful jingle and goes running for the ice cream truck, you want him or her darting right into bicycle traffic.
I thought about saying something to the driver, but it was Sunday afternoon, I was trying to enjoy myself, and I didn't particularly relish the idea of getting into an argument with an ice cream vendor, for it seemed the very antithesis of a pleasant summer day. In fact, I was already breaking another of my own rules by taking pictures of the whole thing, because I loosely adhere to a no-photo policy on my recreational weekend rides. (Fumbling with electronics takes me out of my Fredly reverie.)
I do think I might start carrying vinyl letters with me though, and next time this happens here's what I'm doing:
He won't realize why nobody will get near his truck until he goes to wash it.
Meanwhile, as I was cowering inside waiting for the rain to stop, hordes of intrepid triathletes were diving into a river of shit:
They call it the Hudson Mustache, the thick band of silty debris that clings to a swimmer’s upper lip after a nearly mile-long paddle down the Hudson River in the New York City Triathlon. The race is one of the few times a New Yorker will voluntarily plunge into the sometimes unsanitary waterway. So on Sunday morning at dawn, under a light veil of rain, 4,000 wet-suited athletes gamely leapt off the dock at 99th Street to swim, bob or, in some cases, back-float downstream, carried by the river’s swift current.
"Hudson Mustache?" Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's already got a name, and it's "Dirty Sanchez."
By the way, did you know this?
Casey Neistat, a filmmaker and triathlete...
Cue needle-dragging-across-record sound.
I had no idea he was a tridork. Guess that's why he's so good at crashing.
Anyway, when I woke up early yesterday to ride and discovered it was raining, I was pretty annoyed, but I did feel a little better knowing that when I flushed to toilet I was delivering sewage directly to a triathlon:
Experts said the weekend’s rain could have been enough to stress the city’s sewage treatment system, much of which was built long ago, so that a stream of untreated and partly treated sewage, mixed with street water, flowed directly into the river.
So what is the difference between doing the New York City Triathlon and doing a regular triathlon and letting someone shit on face afterwards afterwards? As it turns out, very little:
“Last year, when I got out I had a chunk of sludge stuck on my cheek; it took a bottle of water to get it off,” she said, standing in the corral Sunday morning awaiting her next foray into the river. “It’s strange to do a swim where you’re wearing goggles and you still can’t see your hand in front of you.”
It's like GG Allin came back as a sporting event.
Lastly, here's the winner of that Oregon Manifest "Ultimate Urban Utility Bike" contest:
It's the Seattle bike, and basically the handlebars are the lock:
And instead of fenders it uses brushes:
If you'll excuse me, I'm now off to fasten a toothbrush to my chainstays.