Monday, April 27, 2015

Sorry I'm late, the alarm on my Apple Watch didn't go off, then I realized it was just an apple.

Hello.

During the course of this week you can expect increasingly fervent reminders concerning my presence at Bike Expo New York:


(Why is he trying to lick his front tire?)

I'll be at the Walz booth at the following times:

--Friday May 1st, 12pm-2pm;
--Saturday May 2nd, 12pm-2pm.

The first 12 visitors on each day get a free limited edition collectible cap that will be worth thousands of dollars if I sign it and millions if I don't.

Also, I'll be "leading" a ride down to the Expo on Saturday.  Let's meet at Indian Road Café in Inwood at 10am.  I'll have 12 caps to give away there too.

And since I plan to ride in the morning before that anyway, if anyone wants to join me for a super-secret early morning ride just email me with the subject "I WANT TO GO ON THE SUPER-SECRET EARLY MORNING RIDE!!!" and we'll set up a meeting place.  (Email address is in the profile in the right margin.)  Plan on a civil, loping, stretchy-clothes-and-clicky-shoes ride of about two hours which will be decidedly non-epic apart from the fact we'll almost certainly ride on some dirt at some point.  We'll finish up at the Indian Road Café, and if you want to continue on to the Expo then great.

All of this is subject to change owing to weather, blogger whims, or acts of Lob.

Speaking of riding bicycles for purely recreational purposes, this past weekend I rode an all-terrain bicycle:


This was the first time in 2015 I've ridden such a bike without a solid layer of snow and ice between my tires and the earth:


See, I don't do shit when it comes to helping maintain the mountain bike trails, so I figure the least I can do is wait until they've thawed and drained before using them:


As for the dried mud on the downtube, that's from sometime last year.  In fact, this past January before the snow hit I had one wheel of this bike out the door for a ride when my latest child announced his imminent arrival and we had to pile into THE CAR THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK and head right to the hospital.  I barely had a chance to put on proper pants, let alone clean my bicycle before putting it into hibernation.

I mean, it's not like I would have cleaned the bike anyway, but at least it's an excuse.

Anyway, it was profoundly enjoyable to finally engage in non-snowy fair weather all-terrain cycling again (especially astride a custom artisanal bicycle), though the first mountain bike ride of the year is invariably like drunken coitus: you throw yourself into it way too eagerly, you're incredibly sloppy, and before you know it you wind up asleep in a bush.

Of course, recreation aside, bicycles can also be useful tools for transportation, especially when combined with public transit.  For example, last week I used a Big Dummy to bring one of my kids to school (I don't even know which kid, they're like bikes, I just grab one and go), then I ditched it on the sidewalk (the bike I mean) and hopped a train:


Then, while I was in the Manhattan/Brooklyn Bike Share Hyper-Gentrification Zone, I grabbed a Citi Bike, where a professional Cat 6 very nearly put the ol' wheel chop on me:


By the end of the day I'd been on two (2) bikes, two (2) commuter trains, and two (2) subway trains, and I'd fulfilled various responsibilities and obligations along the way.  See, that's what the smuggies call "multi-modal," and the ability to operate this way is one of the relatively few things that makes New York City livable.  Indeed, as I flitted about that day I thought about that New York Times cargo bike article, which had just "dropped," and which I wrote about on Friday.  In particular, I thought about the doofus who dismissed the subway as an "ordeal," and I wondered why there's this notion that you have to pledge allegiance to a single mode of transportation and then sever all your ties to everything else.  People would have you believe there's no middle ground between carrying a MetroCard and being one of those people who wears a cycling cap at all times, but he fact is that with a little forethought and a judicious mix of vehicles and fare cards you can fine-tune your commute here pretty well.

Though now that I've pointed this out the Times will run a supremely annoying article about "multi-modal millennials" under the headline "The Commute, Curated."

I will give the Times one thing though, which is that they were dead right about how much rich people love cargo bikes.  This past weekend I was knocking around West Village and I saw all manner of smug-tastic washtubs on wheels:


Between the protected bike lane in the background and the human-powered stroller you'd be forgiven for thinking that New York City was indeed the most bike-friendly city in America--and hey, maybe it is, assuming you can afford to live in a neighborhood where they've got that kind of bike infrastructure.

Try riding that bad boy on Queens Boulevard and report back to me.

(And no, that's not a criticism of cargo bikes, that's a criticism of New York.)

Meanwhile, I was perusing Twitter when I noticed this tweet from Cadel "Excuse Supreme" Evans:
I realize I occupy the maturity level of a seventh grader, but "swapping off like keen juniors" sounds fairly lurid to me.  Maybe that's normal Australian English, but here in Canada's butt zit almost everything sounds dirty if you put the word "off" after it.  This is why "swapping off" sounds like something you'd do furtively in the bathroom--and why, by proxy, "Keen Juniors" sounds like an adult film.  (Plus, we all know a "Gran Fondo" is a kind of hot tub.)

On top of it all, note the number of "favorites" it had when it appeared on my smartphone:


Sorry, I take back what I said before.

I have the maturity level of a sixth grader.

In any case, Hincapie looks pretty happy in the accompanying photo, but there's one retired pro who was none too pleased:

It's not a party without the Cipo.

Friday, April 24, 2015

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Cargo bikes.

They're practical, they're efficient, and they're fun for the whole family.

Unfortunately, many of these families will make you wanna puke:

When Dave Hoverman, 38, a business strategy consultant in Berkeley, Calif., goes to Costco on the weekends, he ditches his Audi Q7 and instead loads his four children into a Cetma cargo bike with a trailer hitched to the rear.

“We do all sorts of errands on the bike,” Mr. Hoverman said. “We try not to get in the car all weekend.”

Right.

Firstly, if you're new to the world of smugness, "We try not to get in the car all weekend" means "We totally get in the car every weekend, we just know we're supposed to feel guilty about it when talking to reporters about our cargo bike."

20 bucks says he's got a "One Less Car" sticker on the bike to boot.

Secondly, I don't give a shit how you get to Costco, but if you're going to try not to use your car for whatever reason, why own one that costs FIFTY-FUCKING-THOUSAND DOLLARS?!?


It takes a special kind of arrogance to rationalize this sort of conspicuous consumption.  Do they think buying a car that costs more than a lot of people make in a year and then not using it is endearing somehow?  I suppose they also spend $500 on caviar and then try not to eat it, and have a $10,000 bed but do their best to sleep in the backyard.

Come on, spare us the guilt.  Most of us have no problem with your owning both a cargo bike and a car, and we'd respect you a hell of a lot more if you simply said, "Hey, the cargo bike's great, but so is the climate control and buttery leather interior of my Audi Q7."

Thirdly, leaving the car at home once in awhile is not ditching your car.  This is ditching your car:



Try that with your $50,000 German luxury car.  Then I'll be impressed.

This was also somewhat vexing:

Cargo bikes initially catered to the “hard-core D.I.Y. crowd — people who wanted to carry around really large objects like surfboards or big speakers or kayaks,” said Evan Lovett-Harris, the marketing director for Xtracycle, a company in Oakland, Calif., that introduced its first family-oriented cargo model, the EdgeRunner, in 2012. Cargo bikes, he said, now account for the largest proportion of the company’s sales.

“When we first started selling these bikes 15 years ago, we were the total freako weirdos,” said Ross Evans, the company’s founder. “Back then, a basket on your handlebars was considered fringe.”

Okay.  I love Xtracycle.  I have an Xtracycle.  (Well, a Big Dummy, but same thing.)  But at no point in bicycle history anywhere on the planet was this considered "fringe:"



Timeless?  Charming?  Precious?  Sure.  But not fringe.

This is fringe:


("Look at me, Mom and Dad.  LOOK AT ME!!!")

Surprisingly, it takes the article about self-important smuggies ten whole paragraphs before it starts talking about Brooklyn:

Cargo bikes are making inroads into New York, too. It is not unusual to see them parked outside Whole Foods in Gowanus, Brooklyn, or Union Market in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Yes, or really any place overpriced groceries are sold.

“It’s such a great transaction because here’s this family that’s ditching the car and transforming itself, and you get to be a part of that,” he said. “I love when the kids come in and jump all over the bikes.” (When parents show up without children, he lets them test-ride bikes with sandbags.)

Here we go, ditching the car again.  I don't doubt there are people out there who buy cargo bikes and then realize they don't need to buy a car, but I'll bet you the article of clothing of your choice that you can't find me five families in Brooklyn who had a car, then got a cargo bike, and then ditched (and by "ditched" I mean GOT RID OF) the car.  Sure, they'll talk your ear off about how they "never drive" the Outback anymore, but I promise you they're all keeping that goddamn car, because they can afford it.

I do like the sandbag thing though.  That's actually not a bad idea.  In fact, if only more parents spent a few years schlepping sandbags around as preparation before having kids the world would be a much better place.

But perhaps the most insufferable thing about cargo bike owners is the disdain they acquire for public transportation:

Manuel Toscano, 42, a design consultant who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, commutes to his son’s preschool in Chinatown and his job in TriBeCa on a Bullitt bicycle. “Every time we tried to take the kid into the subway, it was an ordeal,” he said. “People don’t move or let you sit when you have a kid.”

“We finally decided we’d had enough,” he said. “The only sustainable way to have kids here is not to get in the subway.”

What?  Are you insane?!?  Sure, I realize that people in Williamsburg have a martyrdom complex about the L train, but come on.  I love my Big Dummy, but as a New York City parent I can assure you that if I had to decide between owning a cargo bike and having access to the subway system then I'd ghost ride the ol' "smugness flotilla" right into the river.  The subway is a goddamn lifesaver if you're a parent!  Hundreds of miles of routes, access to the far reaches of one of the greatest cities in the word, a flat fare of $2.75 (with free bus transfer)...and your preschool age kid rides free!!!  Sure, every now and then you might have to share a car with someone who's soiled himself, but as far as family transportation goes you can't beat that anywhere.

This is an established pattern in New York City though: enroll your young child in a school in a completely different neighborhood (or in their case a different borough) because the local options aren't "good' enough for you and then complain about how annoying it is to take him there.

Aw, fuck it.  I'm leasing a Hyundai.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right you've really accomplished something, and if you're wrong you'll see when it is in fact appropriate to wear a bicycle helme(n)t.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and be sure to ditch your car this weekend for exactly the length of time it takes you to ride a bicycle.


--Wildcat Rock Machine






(UCI president Brian Cookson)

1) The CIRC report sure has ushered in a new age of integrity in professional cycling.

--True
--Come on, don't be stupid






2) It's crazy to think that pro cyclists might be using hidden motors because they'd never do something so ridiculous.

--True
--Come on, don't be stupid.







(By virtually no metric* is this true.)

3) What are we carrying in our jerseys?

--Money and credit cards
--Flatulence-inducing energy gels
--Guns
--All of the above

*[Conveniently we don't use the metric system, so we remain blissfully unaware of our increasing inferiority.]







4) A mural memorializing victims of traffic violence in New York City was hit by a:

--Vandal
--Cyclist
--Banksy
--Giant truck







5) Philadelphia's new bike share system is called:

--"Indego"
--"Indigo"
--"Indiegogo"
--"Gimme 'Da Fuckin' Bike, Asshole"





(The Automotive Industrial Complex subliminally creating another motorist.)

6) Mandatory helme(n)t laws would be another great tool for:

--Promoting safety
--Encouraging cycling
--Fostering goodwill between cyclists and motorists
--Oppressing people in poor black neighborhoods





7) The inventor of that idiotic bicycle periscope is planning to:

--Revise it so that it faces rearward
--Buy a new bike with more upright handlebars
--Start a charity ride for victims of Shermer's Neck
--Say "fuck it" and take advantage of Hyundai's fantastic Memorial Day lease specials




***Special "Cycling (Propaganda) American Style!"--Themed Bonus Video***



Don't try the "drop test" with a crabon bicycle, it could fail and void your warranty.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You Can't Spell "Invention" Without "Vent"

Back in 2007 when I started this blog, I wrote it anonymously and avoided contact with people at all costs.

Now, eight years later, I've abandoned both anonymity and pride, and here I am on my knees begging you to come see me at the Walz booth at the Bike Expo New York:


By the way, why are so many cycling event titles reversed?  I find it pretentious.  "Bike Expo New York?"  Why not just "New York Bike Expo?"  "Gran Fondo New York?"  Why not just "New York Gran Fondo?"

And so forth.

At least they don't call it the "Bike Tour Five Boro."  

Anyway, I mention the Bike Expo because I have more details for you about my presence there, and here they are:

--I will be at the Walz booth on Friday, May 1st and Saturday, May 2nd, from 12-2pm, where I will sign your personal effects and accept your lavish gifts;

--The first 12 visitors to the booth on both days get a free--FREE!--special limited edition BSNYC hat;

--On Saturday anyone who wants can join me for a ride in the morning.  For the ambitious among you, we'll meet early-ish (figure like 8am) and go for a two-hour stretchy-clothes ride.  For the more sensible among you, we'll meet somewhere in Manhattan (figure like 10am) and then make our way down to the Expo together.  Oh, and the first 12 people to the ride get a free Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" Speed hat, though I can't possibly imagine there are more than 12 people in New York who would want to ride a bike with me, since I've lived here pretty much all my life and I don't even have 12 friends;

--Once the freebies are gone, you'll get half off any Walz cap with the purchase of a BSNYC cap, and they can also do hat/book combos (meaning a hat and a book I wrote, not a book you can also wear on your head);

--There may or may not be a limited quantity of Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" Speed jerseys available, but if they're all gone and you still want one you can order it at the booth and Walz will ship it to you for free.

Whew!

I don't know who's more desperate, me or Walz, but it sure works out well for you, especially if you like free hats.

Best of all, then you can wear that hat at the BSNYC Gran Fondon't on May 17th.

This is shaping up to be the best Bike Month EVER!

[end relentless self-promotion]

Meanwhile, by now you've probably heard about the Tampa police using bicycle laws as a pretext for targeting poor, black neighborhoods:


A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that Tampa police are targeting poor, black neighborhoods with obscure subsections of a Florida statute that outlaws things most people have tried on a bike, like riding with no light or carrying a friend on the handlebars.

Officers use these minor violations as an excuse to stop, question and search almost anyone on wheels. The department doesn't just condone these stops, it encourages them, pushing officers who patrol high-crime neighborhoods to do as many as possible.

Distressing, but hardly surprising.  Last year a study revealed a similar pattern here in New York City.

This is yet another reason to oppose mandatory bicycle helme(n)t laws.

So what sorts of highly dangerous violations are Tampa police enforcing, anyway?

There was the 56-year-old man who rode his bike through a stop sign while pulling a lawnmower. Police handcuffed him while verifying he had, indeed, borrowed the mower from a friend.

There was the 54-year-old man whose bike was confiscated because he couldn't produce a receipt to prove it was his.

One woman was walking her bike home after cooking for an elderly neighbor. She said she was balancing a plate of fish and grits in one hand when an officer flagged her down and issued her a $51 ticket for not having a light. With late fees, it has since ballooned to $90. She doesn't have the money to pay.

So living their lives, basically.  Meanwhile, a typical Portlander will do all three of those things in a single afternoon.  Granted, instead of fish and grits it's usually a sustainably raised charcuterie plate, and the lawnmower portager runs an artisanal bicycle-powered landscaping business he funded through Kickstarter, but I'll guarantee you not a single one of them can produce a receipt for their Speedvagens on demand--and I'll put a frame pump through the spokes of the first putz who says that woman should have been using a CETMA rack:



So apart from not being black, what can you do to avoid getting a bike ticket in Tampa?  Here are some tips from the article:


This one's my favorite:

Riding too slowly

If there is no bike lane, keep up with the speed of cars, or ride close to the right-hand curb. Bike law doesn't specify how close.

Holy crap! Keep up with the speed of cars?  So if there's no bike lane I need to ride at like 30-40mph?

What the hell kind of fucked up city is Tampa anyway?!?

One full of extremely fit racists, apparently.

Speaking of Portland, BikePortland recently covered both on-the-bike air conditioning and that stupid bike periscope, and they did so with typical earnestness:


Though I don't know if you can call something that sits on your handlebars and ejaculates in your face an "air conditioner:



Because if so then that makes Mario Cipollini a Commando 8.

Note the description of the video:


Clearly they're very confident in their product, though I'm not sure why they made me sit through over a minute of drone footage before the guy finally started spritzing himself:


Nice Euskaltel jersey, by the way:


Those guys made Astana seem straight-edge.

In any case, the gold standard of on-the-bike cooling systems remains the KoldRush micturating helme(n)t, which I examined a little over a year ago in great detail--but let's take a quick look at it again, because it's just that good:



Remember Super Dave Osborne and his insouciant helme(n)t strap slack?


The most ironic aspect of mandatory helme(n)t laws is that if you were to wear yours like this you wouldn't get pulled over, yet the risk of strangling yourself when your strap snags a truck's side view mirror vastly outweighs any safety benefits the helme(n)t might provide if it somehow stays on your head during a fall.

As for on-the-bike cooling systems, why not just use the water from your own water bottle instead?  I mean yeah, it's sort of a decadent use of water on a hot day--like the lip balm scene in "The Three Amigos"--but what's the difference really?  If these guys have such a problem with overheating I don't think these gadgets are going to cut it, and it's only a matter of time before they wind up on the side of the road sucking the last bit of moisture from their handlebar jizzers or urinating helme(n)ts as the case may be.

Then there's the periscope, and we've already taken a thorough look at that invention:


Though I was amused to note that the inventor himself left a comment on the BikePortland post:

Mike Lane April 22, 2015 at 9:17 am

Hey guys it’s the Pedi-Scope guy. Thanks for the feedback (albeit brutal, ha ha) and thanks Jonathan for posting. I’m going to take your feedback and go another direction (literally). I’m going to design a rear facing Pedi-Scope and will launch it sometime in late May (that’s the beauty of getting a posting on a real-deal bike blog, you get real-deal feedback from real-deal bikers). If you are interested please be sure to look for it on Kickstarter then. Thanks again!

Hey, I posted about your crackpot idea first!  What the hell am I, chopped liver?!?

"Real-deal bike blog" indeed.

I hope he's kidding about the "rear facing Pedi-Scope" thing though, because I'm pretty sure that's just an incredibly stupid way of saying "rear-view mirror," and he's about to enter a crowded marketplace:


("Rear facing periscope on the wall, who's the dumbest inventor of them all?")

They even make ones that go on your helme(n)t--though I'm not sure if they're compatible with the KoldRush.

Perhaps Mr. Lane should invent a helme(n)t mirror with a windshield wiper.

Penultimately, here's another invention that's going to make both the bike and the car obsolete my incorporating the least practical aspects of both into one vehicle:



It's got a windshield:


And doors:


And even a state-of-the-art dick-breaking system:


Yet beneath the sleek, modern exterior lies what is essentially just a crappy exercise bike:


It looks like Batman's velomobile swallowed a Citi Bike.

Seriously, they couldn't have made the cockpit just a bit more comfortable?

Hopefully there's a system to restore sensation to your genitals, because if you attempt to stand and relieve the pressure you'll hit your head on the ceiling.

And what is it about Americans that we can't envision a form of practical cycling that occupies the vast middle ground between "charity rider" and "fully-faired freak?"


Though I admit it's a very handy vehicle for the many, many people who live in quaint, seaside bungalows with bike lanes in front of them:


I'd love for the inventors to attempt riding this thing over any bridge bike path in New York City and report back.

Sure, I'll pull you out after you get stuck, but I get to take your picture first:

Lastly, here's a bike with a revolutionary "new" downtube:



Which was last seen on the Colnago BiTitan:


Here's the description:

Lattice space frame down tube

The lattice space frame down tube is an integral part of the frame's structure, reducing lateral bottom bracket pedalling flex, yet keeping some compliance for comfort. The space lattice frame on all our bicycles is engineered to put rigidity where it is needed and compliance where needed to ensure speed and comfortable ride. The space lattice acts in a similar way to an oversized down tube, however having two tubes further apart spreads the stress load as far out as possible on the 92mm-wide bottom bracket, while keeping some vertical compliance. Very aggressive riding styles, like singlespeeding, result in down tube flex and loss of power through the bottom bracket. OLSEN BICYCLES designed the space lattice to optimise lateral rigidity, so pedalling energy is translated very efficiently into forward motion.

As a bonus, it lets mud fly all over the place:


I suppose bespoke canvas downtube mudguard will be next.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Indignity of Being a Fred: Closure

Well here's something you already knew:

People don't know how to use quick-release skewers:


The company said that the issue is not a manufacturing defect on the QR but due to improper use or adjustment. Riders who leave the QR in the open position can potentially have the lever caught in the front disc brake while riding.

Therefore, Trek is recalling like a million bikes in North America alone.  To put this in perspective, when motor vehicle operators kill themselves or others through user error we call that an "accident"--and when they kill themselves or others due to a manufacturing defect the company simply changes its name from "G.M." to "New G.M." and avoids responsibility:


A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday blocked most lawsuits against General Motors over a defective ignition switch that is tied to at least 84 deaths, sparing the automaker billions in claims and handing it a momentous victory as it tries to move past its gravest safety crisis.

Judge Robert E. Gerber of the United State Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan ruled that the liability shield included in the 2009 agreement that lifted G.M. from bankruptcy should be allowed to remain in place, even though the company has acknowledged that many employees knew about the defective switch at the time but failed to alert owners of the cars that they might have a potential claim against the company.

Meanwhile, some politician somewhere will manage to squeeze a mandatory bicycle helme(n)t law out of this quick release thing, I guarantee it.

Also, here's an update on Bike Expo New York:


I'll be at the Walz booth on Friday, May 1st and Saturday May 2nd, from 12-2pm, where I will hear your concerns, heal your minor ailments with a laying on of hands, and autograph any memorabilia you place before me provided it is reasonably sanitary.  There will be free hats for the first arrivals, as well as some special discounts, because people love discounts.  Also, on Saturday morning, we'll meet up for a ride and there will be some free hats there too.  As for what that ride will entail, maybe some of us can meet uptown early and go over the bridge or something, and then others of us can meet a little later somewhere convenient in Manhattan and then ride to the Expo together, making hand signals, obeying traffic signals, and generally being model cyclists every inch of the way.

I'll cement all these plans with Tubasti in the next couple of days, and I'm open to feedback as far as a Saturday ride goes, which you can leave downstairs there in the comments.

Speaking of riding over the bridge, the one I am referring to is the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River and connects New York City with, unfortunately, New Jersey.  Together the George Washington Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge form America's Bookends of Fred-dom, as they are the by far most heavily Fred-ridden water crossings in these United States:


(Freds Across America)

As a New York City Fred I've made innumerable trips across the GWB over the years, flogging myself on all the customary climbs and feeding at all the usual cafés.  However, in recent years I've largely avoided it for two reason:

1) Since moving north it's much easier for me to stay on my side of the river;
2) The GWB and environs are teeming--nay, festering--with Freds and Tridorks.

It's true.  Either the sheer volume of Lycra-clad weenies has increased exponentially in recent years, or else I've just gotten less patient in my old age--or, most likely, both.  Regardless, I just can't take it anymore.  For example, the GWB and points north is one of the few regions in America where you will encounter up to 20 Tridorks at a time riding "together" (they can't get too close to each other or else they crash) outside of a "race" setting, and it's even more horrifying than it sounds--especially if you get stuck behind them at the hairpin turn on the bridge bike path where each one has to unclip and tippy-toe his or her way through one inept bike-handler at a time.  It's easily as bad as being stuck in Christie-induced car traffic.

It is, however, safe-ish to venture over the bridge on weekdays, when employment culls the Fredly herds to manageable size.  Yesterday the weather was beautiful, and it occurred to me that I hadn't been over the bridge for many months, and so I resolved to take in some of the tried-and-true Fred routes--only to find that the goddamn south path was closed:


Every Fred and Frederica in New York City knows how profoundly irritating this is, because it means you have to use the north path, which entails climbing and descending a shitload of slippery metal stairs:


Fortunately I'm using mountain bike pedals on my new bike, but I've clomped up and down these stairs in road shoes more times than I care to count.

If you're using your bike properly you'll encounter at least one (1) metaphor for your life on each ride, and here was mine.  Looking south from the span you take in New York City's mighty skyline:


And looking north you survey the relatively bucolic Hudson Valley:


This succinctly describes my current situation: my life is inexorably intertwined with the city, yet I increasingly feel the pull of the "country," and in the meantime I'm caught in between in sort of a no-man's land and schlepping a goddamn bicycle up and down flights of stairs.

Anyway, here's another cyclist who is able to slip away for a ride in the afternoon:


In New York City there are generally two (2) types of people who can do this:

1) Older well-to-do types on spiffy bicycles;
2) Lazy freeloaders who contribute very little to society (your racers, your coaches, your bike bloggers) and avoid office settings at all costs so they can spend inordinate amounts of time riding bicycles.

I'm going to go ahead and assume he's a part of the first group, while I'm obviously a card-carrying member of the second.

Hey, look, more steps!


These stairs are really fun when you're wearing road shoes.  Fortunately I wasn't, but you can also see right through the grate to the roadway below, and I suffer from mild vertigo so it sucked anyway:


(Despite all my rage I am still just a Fred in a cage.)

Though I did pause to contemplate the beauty of Fort Lee through the chain-link fence:


(Whenever I visit Fort Lee I always hear Danny Rose saying, "Lou, the directions were good, it was a Gulf station...")

Finally, after making my way through the rat cage, I was finished with the stairs.

Just kidding!


Goddamn fucking stairs.

Once I'd finally reached the mainland I commemorated my new bicycle's first visit to New Jersey with a photograph:


And then we headed straight to Palisades Interstate Park, known to area cyclists as "River Road" and famous for its tempting cache of padlocked traffic cones:


If you live in New York City, River Road is by far your best "bang for the buck" in terms of short-ish road rides, since it's right over the bridge and it's basically just a picturesque and lightly-trafficked park road that climbs up and down the Palisades.

Unfortunately, it was closed:


However, I wasn't too concerned.  River Road is often "closed," but I usually just slip in anyway.  Plus, the sign said it was closed though February 2015, and it was now April, so I figured if anybody stopped me I could claim I thought it was open by now:


This would be fairly disingenuous of me though, since everybody in New York and New Jersey knows that in Port Authority parlance February 2015 means February 2035.

Still, there were signs that Freds had been here before me, such as this plaintive sign:


As well as this cluster of Fred prints:


And a telltale spent energy packet which confirmed that Freds had grazed here recently:


(Seriously, why the fuck can't Freds hold onto their food wrappers?!?)

Like a tracker, I sniffed the packet, licked the remaining contents to determine its age, and looked piercingly off into the distance as a breeze blew through the vents in my helme(n)t.

I concluded it was safe to proceed.

Here's why River Road is something of an oasis for New York City-area cyclists:


So you can imagine my surprise when just a short while I found they were actually doing work:


In all my years of riding River Road while it was closed I'd never encountered work.  Rockslides?  Sure.  Sheets of ice?  Absolutely.  Felled trees?  You betcha.

But honest-to-goodness work?

This was unprecedented.

I contemplated turning around, then I contemplated asking if they minded if I rode through, and then I disregarded both those ideas and just rolled on by without warning.

Either they didn't see me, or they didn't give a shit.

Finally, after two (2) closures, I had attained the open road:


As it happens, the above spot is pretty much directly across the river from my home, which is right about there:


Stop by anytime.

And here's a gratuitous photo of my new bike in front of a waterfall:


The bike felt even better than it did last Saturday, though that's probably because I've finally got a few road miles in my legs.  Whatever the reason, I remain delighted with it and haven't felt the need or inclination to tweak a thing, and in fact the only change I've made is installing a chain stay protector since I noticed there wasn't one--though keep in mind when I say "installing a chain stay protector" I mean "sticking some electrical tape on there."

At some point I'll probably try the bike with some Panaracer Pasela PTs, since they're currently my favorite tires and (on paper anyway) should be lighter and more "supple" than what's on there now (Panaracer RibMos if you're wondering), but as it is the bike is wanting for nothing and I'd mostly be doing it out of Fredly curiosity.

By the way, the scenic overlook with the waterfall also affords you a sweeping view of downtown Yonkers:


If you squint you can see the smokestack for the old Otis elevator factory, though you'll almost certainly have fallen asleep before then.

Here's another gratuitous shot of the bike looking optimistically ahead:


And indeed I did proceed ahead, all the way to Piermont, the quaint Rockland County town where residents are tortured by the sound of cyclists having conversations.

As I mentioned, I do think about moving out of the city, but I know that if I did I too would find insane things to get annoyed about, so I'm probably much better off where I don't notice the little things because I'm too distracted by the big things.

In Piermont I rolled up to the local watering hole and fixed the bike to the ol' hitchin' post:


And by the time I returned it had been surrounded by crabon:


I feel compelled to point out that those crabon wheels probably cost the same as the Milwaukee, yet the Milwaukee is about a thousand times classier.

And I'm not even going to comment on the melted cheese saddle.

On the way back I detoured onto the only bit of gravel New York City Freds ever ride on (apart from their annual pilgrimage to Battenkill of course):


This is because any more than that would require the purchase of a special gravel-specific bicycle.

In all, the riding around here is very pleasant, though as you return to the GWB automotive floodplain the entire area is subsumed by motor vehicles.  This is why when you get close to the bridge you leave the main road and take a calmer side street, but to my chagrin that side street was closed for roadwork:


I was disinclined to return to Route 9W, which at this point in its run is highly inhospitable to cyclists, so I figured I'd just slip past the construction by using the sidewalk.  Of course in the city I don't ride on the sidewalk, but the dynamic changes considerably when you're in some auto-centric suburban hellhole, there are absolutely no pedestrians around, and indeed nobody has walked on the sidewalk since 1987.

The police, however, were having none of it, and an officer who looked to be just a few months out of the frat house stopped me.

"You're just going to ride by?  Don't you see me pointing at you?"

In fact I hadn't seen him pointing at me due to the glare on his windshield.  My first impulse was to try to defend myself, but it occurred to me that this officer of the law was probably something like 20 years younger than me, and suddenly it seemed ridiculous to bother.  So instead, I dismounted, leaned jauntily on my Brooks Cambium, and looked him right in the eye.

"Did you think you were just going to ride through here?," he continued.

"To be honest that's exactly what I was planning to do," I replied.

It wasn't quite the Jedi mind trick as he he insisted I take the detour anyway, but he faltered enough in the wake of my indifference that I rode away pleased and he returned to his car irritated.

Speaking of cars, here's an amusing sign:


It's meant for the legions of people who park their cars here in order to ride, but I like to think that New Jersey is pioneering the use of bike-specific parking meters.

Finally, I was almost home--save for like eleventy million stairs:


And it wasn't until around Seaman and Cumming that I realized I could have avoided both the confrontation with the police officer and the shitty part of 9W by simply walking the bike past the roadwork.

This is why bicycles are like drugs: you'll do almost anything to stay on them.