Thursday, June 30, 2016

This Just In: Citi Bike Guest Post! (And other stuff too.)

As a cyclist, blogger, and cycling blogger, I've got an extensive résumé:

--Artisan curator of locally-sourced verbiage;
--Published book author of published books authored by me;
--Underpants model;
--Profligate embellisher of my own accomplishments.

You can also add accomplished Citi Bike Cat 6 racer to the list.  Indeed, I'm such a fan of Citi Bike that I've officially contributed to their website:
The idea here was to undertake some trips by Citi Bike in order to highlight their eminent utility for New York City neighborhood-hopping.  As you'll read in the above post, for my first trip I cut a diagonal swath through downtown Manhattan, and I've got a second and third post covering the Great Hipster Silk Route through Brooklyn and Queens currently in the works.

Sometimes I wish I didn't live here so I could visit as a tourist, because it must be awesome--and now I doubly wish I could visit as a tourist and use my own incredible Citi Bike blog posts as guides.

So read it now, because for all intents and purposes it's basically today's post.

Speaking of Citi Bikes, residents of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn will NOT let them destroy the very fabric of their neighborhood:

Pro tip, you nitwits: if "traffic and parking is a nightmare" you're gonna need more bikes, and that includes Citi Bikes.  By the way, I used to live in that neighborhood in a past life and pretty much all the traffic is due to drivers cutting through Downtown Brooklyn to avoid the toll on the Battery Tunnel and the traffic on the BQE.  It was a shitshow long before Citi Bike and it will continue to be a shitshow as long as the East River bridges are free.  So if you want to improve the situation you should be pushing for toll reform and not whining about losing three or four parking spaces to Citi Bikes, you friggin' dimbulbs.

By the way, the developers are going to peg you with shiny new high-rises no matter what you do.  The Citi Bikes and bike lanes are just red herrings.  (Or blue and green herrings respectively.)  So go ahead and argue about them, because you're playing right into their hands.

Lastly, via Streetsblog, Professor Putz over at Columbia University wants a mandatory bicycle helmet law based on his own anecdotal evidence:


I had spent the afternoon at Chelsea Market and the High Line and was in great spirits as I opened the door to my apartment and heard my phone ring. I picked it up and heard a voice inquire, “Is this Pendray Winkleman’s father? I’m calling from the emergency room of Weill Cornell. We have your son. He was in a cycling accident.”

My heart stopped. I listened and then jumped into a cab not really knowing what to expect.

SPOILER ALERT: The kid's pretty banged up, but ultimately he's fine.  So is his wife, despite her reckless driving:

My wife arrived, having driven at the speed of light down from Harriman State Park. We spent the evening explaining whatever we could and encouraging him to speak with family members and a few friends. Some memories began to reappear, but others disappeared. Fortunately, he stayed overnight in the ICU for further observation. By morning, his memory was jelling quickly, and in the early afternoon he was released.

I mean sure, she arrived with three or four cyclists plastered to her hood, but it was an emergency.

Anyway, Professor Putz--who teaches Healthcare Marketing at Columbia, and as far as I can tell is neither a medical doctor nor a physicist--knows that it was a helmet that saved his son's life, even though nobody knows any of the details surrounding the crash:

Without his helmet, the story would have ended differently. While we may never know what led up to the accident because my son’s memories of the 18 hours surrounding the event are MIA, there’s no doubt that beyond the magic care by New-York Presbyterian and Mount Sinai, it was his helmet that saved his life.

OK, why is there "no doubt" if you don't know shit about what led up to the "accident?"  How do you even know it was an "accident?"  Maybe it was a hit-and-run.  Maybe you should be outraged that people like your son are left bleeding in the streets every day, and that the prosecution rate is abysmal.  You might also take issue with the fact that Albany won't let the city install more speed cameras, though you're probably not because then your wife Lady Leadfoot might have to drive more carefully.

Nah, it's much easier to write off your son's misfortune as an "accident" (just like the police and the media do) and then ascribe mystical powers to a plastic hat.

And just like a true religious zealot he's practically foaming at the mouth with righteousness:

In the days since the accident, I’ve watched cyclists, even loudly urging some to wear a helmet, and have been distressed by the number of Citi Bike, messenger and business cyclists weaving in and out of traffic, ignoring bike lanes and all sans helmets.

If this Winkleman character ever, ever, EVER loudly urges me to wear a helmet I will unleash upon him a flood of withering invective of Biblical proportions.  In fact, as soon as I hit "publish" on this post I'm heading down to Columbia and riding helmetless laps up and down Broadway in the hope that he'll try it.

And now he wants a helmet law:

These are young people embarking on careers, parents heading home from work and hardworking people making deliveries — many without health insurance and the majority without helmets. They are all risking their lives.

In New York, bicycle helmets are required by law only for bicyclists younger than 14.

That’s not enough. New York must pass and enforce a helmet law — especially for Citi Bike riders who aren’t experienced in urban cycling and for businesses that use messengers. Health insurance companies should give a benefit (as they do for safe driving or not smoking) for riders who use a helmet.

Wow, what a sanctimonious schmuck..  Hey healthcare marketer: maybe instead of making these people wear foam yarmulkes we should be working for safer streets and better access to healthcare.  And at the very least the police should crack down on people who drive "at the speed of light," right?

Wrong:

And the Police Department must crack down on cyclists who are not using bike lanes or using them incorrectly (going the wrong way, for instance).

Dick.

You know, there's a difference between riding a bicycle in the city and, well, this:



Now that's Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo!" speed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Comprehensive Treatise on What the Brexit Means for the Future of Disc Brakes on Road Bikes

Further to yesterday's post, when it comes to an overarching obsession with helmets nobody beats Australia, where images of bareheaded cycling are tantamount to pornography:

At first glance, the Emirates advertisement on a suburban bus stop in Australia is both charming and unexceptional.

A woman is riding a bicycle over a brick-paved bridge in what must surely be the Netherlands, with the slogan: "Don't just visit, live it. Navigate new paths in Europe."

Unexceptional, sure, save for the fact the Dutch cyclist is wearing a helmet--which it turns out was added so as not to offend delicate Antipodean sensibilities:

Closer inspection indicated the helmet had been added to the original image with an editing tool, such as Photoshop. 


Not only that, but they appear to have also subtracted the red bag on the handlebars, presumably because it could cause this reckless daredevil to lose control of her bike and wind up at the bottom of a fetid canal.

Yes, apparently Australians are as touchy about depictions of helmetless cycling as Americans are about corrupting young minds by teaching evolution in schools:

Advertising Standards Bureau CEO Fiona Jolly told me that the self-regulation body receives complaints from the public, and if the item falls under the bureau's codes and initiatives, the board will consider the material and require the ad to be removed if the complaint is upheld.

Last year, the board tackled a 30-second video ad for Fernwood Fitness that featured a three-second clip of two women riding on a bike without helmets. People wrote to the bureau to say that state law in Australia requires helmets.

Wow, what is this relentless sense of dissatisfaction that plagues Australians?  You've got to have a massive New Zealand-sized hole in your heart to narc out a couple of women for riding bikes helmetless on TV for three (3) seconds.

And who could forget that black day back in 2008 when Australians were subjected to this horrific image?

In 2008, the Advertising Standards Board tackled the airline over an ad featuring a laughing woman getting a lift on the rear rack of a bicycle along a cobbled street, with a baguette in her hand, and the slogan: "The world is your playground."​​​




People who complained about the ad noted that while "the presence of the baguette" suggested it was shot in France, "to a younger audience this may not be obvious".

They said it sent a message that "reckless behaviour with a total disregard for safety" as ordained by Australian laws, is "something which the viewers of the advert should aspire to".

Reckless indeed.  In order for this image to meet Australian decency standards it would need to be edited thusly:

--The woman should be wearing a helmet;
--The helmet should be fitted with an avian defense system because that pigeon is clearly about to attack;
--The woman should be riding in an adult bicycle passenger seat that meets ACCC standards;
--She should be handling the baguette only while wearing work gloves and protective eyewear.

Incidentally, "The Presence of the Baguette" is how Mario Cipollini announces he is ready for coitus:


("Good news for you!  The baguette is present!")

Anyway, it's telling that the Australian idea of a dream vacation is to travel someplace where you can ride a bike without wearing a plastic hat:

If the evidence for the laws was so compelling, surely every nation would have them?

Instead, international cycling advocates see Australia as an example of what not to do. They argue that the law's main effect is to act as a barrier to cycling, with a resulting negative effect on population health. 

One of my joys is to visit countries where bike riders aren't faced with fines of up to $319 for choosing not to wear a helmet.

Though I'm sure his fellow Australians are disgusted and consider that the equivalent of sex tourism.

Therefore, in order not to run afoul of the censors, I pledge from this day forward that no Australian shall be depicted on this blog without a helmet:


I feel safer already.

Meanwhile, say farewell to the bicycle as you know it, because I've seen the future of cycling and it's this stupid thing:



It's called the "Cyclotron," which feels like copyright infringement:


But don't judge until you've read through all the features and seen just how stupid it is:

The Cyclotron - The Future of Cycling

- STOP! - Please take your time and read through all the features of this groundbreaking vehicle. The Cyclotron IS NOT just an ordinary bicycle!


For example, consider that it represents the next phase of bicycle evolution:

Wait a minute.  Are they saying the most noteworthy innovation between the advent of the safety bicycle and now is...the touring bike?

Nothing against touring bikes or anything, but come on.  That's like saying the most noteworthy movie since the first talkie and today is "City Slickers:"


I mean sure, it was a serviceable fish out of water comedy and all, and obviously it was successful enough to spawn the sequel "City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold," but it's not like sending some Jews out west was exactly breaking new cinematic ground.  (Case in point: pretty much the entire filmic works of Gene Wilder.)

And naturally the Cyclotron features all sorts of "smart" technology, like the obligatory app that tells everybody you're about to die:

As well as sending a press release and pre-written obituary to all local media outlets containing vital information such as whether or not you were wearing a helmet, as well as an artist's rendering of the incident:

But to truly understand the Cyclotron you've got to consider it in the context of the entire universe, of which it is naturally the center:

Never underestimate the importance of decals.

It's also got an uncluttered cockpit, free of any comfortable place to put your hands and designed to impart to you as little control over this idiotic machine as possible:

As well as two (2) wheels.  Oh, sorry, they're not wheels.  They're "Utility Slot Modules:"


"Utility Slot Module" is easily the most suggestive phrase I've heard since "the presence of the baguette," and indeed you'll experience a whole new world of convenience on your next shopping trip when you slip your baguette into your utility slot module:


I'm not sure why putting baskets inside your wheels where your groceries can get all splattered with digusting road scuzz is in any way preferable to carrying them on a rack or in panniers, but I suppose this bike is designed for a dystopian future in which the Earth has gone bone dry.

It even has an adult bicycle passenger seat that meets ACCC standards:

Seems pretty clear to me we've got a winner on our hands here.

Lastly, every so often "Bicycling" takes a break from insisting you need stuff like dropper posts and "keeps it real" by telling you that you should ride a fixie or a singlespeed:


I love when they do this, because it's always so delightfully stilted:

If you think of singlespeeds as merely the mountain bike of choice for disheveled mechanics, it’s time to think again. No matter who you are, singlespeeds are, first and foremost, fun. They strip away equipment excess and offer a simpler, more challenging experience.

Do people really think of singlespeeds that way?  I mean, I never saw Cooter riding a singlespeed:


Though I think some bike company just found its next irreverent model name.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Common Sense Sure Is Taking A Beating Recently.

This past weekend we set out on the smugness fleet for a totally leisurely and utterly unambitious ride around the neighborhood: a little shopping, some lunch, a stop at the playground...  You know, pretty much the opposite of this:


I mean good for them and all, but as far as I'm concerned no fucking way.

Anyway, at one point we were strapping our 1.5 year-old human child into his little kiddie seat when an elderly woman approached us, and in an accent I couldn't readily identify said:

"Please, you be very careful with my baby."

I gave her a tight-lipped smile and then proceeded to ignore her, but what I really wanted to say to her was the following:

1) It's not your fucking baby.  It's our baby.  We paid for him.  So unless you want to start contributing to his college fund you can drop that "my baby" shit right now;

2) Do we look like we're not being careful?  This is the very finest in Dutch bike technology, and he's even wearing a helmet--which, to be honest, I only bother putting on him so concern trolls like you don't bother me.  But it doesn't even seem to be working for that, so I might as well chuck the damn thing in the trash can on the corner.  On second thought, why don't you do it for me?  [Hands woman helmet, pedals off indignantly];

3) We're traveling about one (1) mile, at maybe 9mph tops, in a quiet residential neighborhood.  The risk factor here is maybe slightly higher than pushing him around on the sidewalk in a stroller.  Meanwhile, car crashes kill thousands of child passengers every year, yet I don't see you walking around the neighborhood exhorting parents to be safe with "your baby" as they strap their kids into their SUVs.

[By the way, some people complained my posts last week were too upbeat.  Please.  When you consider this is the dialogue that runs through my head when I encounter well-meaning old ladies, you'd be out of your fucking mind to question my misanthrope bona-fides.]

Anyway, I forgot about all of this because as a cyclist in a car-centric society I'm used to people having a completely skewed perception of risk, but then I remembered it again when I read this:


Getting children to mow the lawn is a common way to teach them responsibility. But a new study found that more than 9,000 youngsters are injured in the U.S. every year while mowing the lawn.

The researchers compared pediatric-mowing injuries during a recent 10-year period with the previous 15 years. The number of children who get hurt annually hasn’t changed in more than two decades, they found.

Yes, apparently while we're busy fretting about kids and bike helmets it's a fucking landscaping bloodbath out there:

Cuts, burns, fractures, amputations and projectile injuries caused by flying objects thrown up by the mower were the most common injuries. Most injuries affected hands and fingers, followed by toes, feet, face and eyes. Many injuries were disfiguring and would become even more so as children continued to grow, the study said.

Yeesh.

So why is it that we see bicycle helmet PSAs like this:


But the only child lawnmowing PSA I can think of is Lawnmower Deth's seminal 1990 album "Ooh Crikey It's... Lawnmower Deth?"


Which, I might add, is worth it for the song "Satan's Trampoline" alone:

Big and fat and bouncy,
Rectangle on the floor,
You bounce and bouncer,
'Till you can't take anymore,
You'll bounce for ever, you try and look so mean,
You'll wish you'd never been on Satan's Trampoline.

And yes, the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that kids wear safety goggles while mowing, but they devote a hell of a lot more ink to tricking your child into wearing a plastic bicycle hat at all times:


If you own a dog then most of these tips should be familiar to you, because teaching kids to be safe is less about making them think and more about eliciting a Pavlovian response:

Reward your kids for wearing helmets
Praise them; give them special treats or privileges when they wear their helmets without having to be told to.

Also, it's important that they know helmet use is an all-or-nothing proposition, and if they don't wear one they're going to be stranded or abandoned:

Don't let children ride their bikes unless they wear their helmets
Be consistent. If you allow your children to ride occasionally without their helmets, they won't believe that helmet use really is important. Tell your children they have to find another way to get where they are going if they don't want to use their helmets.

Holy shit.

And don't limit the scaremongering to your own child.  Make sure you frighten and confuse the shit out of all the neighborhood kids as well:

Encourage your children's friends to wear helmets
Peer pressure can be used in a positive way if several familis in the neighborhood start making helmet use a regular habit at the same time.

Let me tell you how all of this works in practice, because I see it every time I go to the playground: A bunch of kids are tearing around on foot, climbing and jumping and generally having a blast, and then they all decide to jump on their shitty plastic scooters--but as they do their parents leap from the benches and shout "PUT ON YOUR HELMETS!"  This totally kills the vibe, and the kids put on their ill-fitting helmets with the straps hanging down to their knees, then they push themselves around on their scooters in a desultory fashion for a few minutes before abandoning them again.

The end result of all this is that they perceive any human-powered conveyance with wheels as a pain in the ass and associate it with their parents' shrill, panicked cries instead of with fun.  In fact, many of them don't even graduate from scooters to bikes...because why would they?  Then when they grow up they decide, "Fuck it, I'm leasing a Hyundai."

But sure, helmet use is important, because head injuries can occur AT ANY TIME:

Remember: Head injuries can occur on sidewalks, on driveways, on bike paths, and in parks as well as on streets. You cannot predict when a fall from a bike will occur. It's important to wear a helmet on every ride.

All of this goes for running too, which is why I can't wait until they start making kids wear helmets in gym class.

You know what I'd like to see instead of "How To Get Your Child To Wear A Bicycle Helmet" from the American Academy of Pediatrics?  How about "How To Get Your Child To Ride A Bike?"  Yeah, no chance--but they're happy to tell you all about death by tricycle:


Tricycle accidents were the most common cause of toy-related deaths in children in 2012, yet there is little research available to the public regarding tricycle-related injuries in the pediatric population.

Granted, tricycles are fucking stupid, but come on.

And while motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death for American children, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything discouraging you from putting your kid in one, though you will find advice for how to get your obese child in a car seat:

Obesity epidemic...  Car dependence...  Hmmm, wonder if there's a connection there?

Indeed, the number of child vehicular heatstroke deaths alone is roughly equal to the number of child bicycle deaths:


So basically we're a nation of helmet hysterics who are too stupid not to bake our children like potatoes.

Of course, none of this is to diminish the threat cycling children face from drivers, but let's not forget that here in New York City it's perfectly fine for the drivers to run them over while they're walking as well.  In fact, a Queens judge has now ruled that the Right Of Way law is "unconstitutional:"


A Queens judge has ruled that a key portion of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan is unconstitutional, a ruling that threatens to upend the mayor's pedestrian safety program. NY1's Grace Rauh reports.

To refresh your memory, all this law does is make it a criminal misdemeanor for a driver to injure or kill a pedestrian in the crosswalk with the right of way--and police barely enforce it anyway.

At this point I think it's fair to say New York City's institutional sanctioning of killing people with cars qualifies as a human rights violation, and I'm now looking into how to bring the issue before the Human Rights Council:

On 18 June 2007, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 5/1 entitled “Institution-Building of the United Nations Human Rights Council” by which a new complaint procedure was established to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms occurring in any part of the world and under any circumstances.

The complaint procedure addresses communications submitted by individuals, groups, or non-governmental organizations that claim to be victims of human rights violations or that have direct, reliable knowledge of such violations.

Like the former 1503 procedure, it is confidential, with a view to enhance cooperation with the State concerned. The new complaint procedure has been improved, where necessary, to ensure that the procedure be impartial, objective, efficient, victims-oriented and conducted in a timely manner.

Hey, I know we've got it incredibly good here by global standards, but that doesn't mean our lives should be worth less than your right to drive your Hyundai with your head up your ass.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Titles Schmitles, Let's Just Do This!

Well, it's almost that time of year again:

Which means it's time for The Official Bike Snob NYC Tour de France Preview!


Just kidding!


I mean seriously, I can't even.

You've seen three or four of these things and you've seen them all, and any journalist who manages to cover this French slog year in and year out deserves either an award or a few rounds of electroshock therapy.

Speaking of beating your head against the wall, I've been blogging about bikes for nine (9) years now, which means I get to do glamorous stuff like conduct Facebook Live interviews on Manhattan rooftops:


That was merely a preface to a more "formal" interview we did in front of a green screen, which presumably you'll be able to watch (or, more likely, avoid) in the not-too-distant future:

I generally tend to spare you my own likeness on this blog, but I fell this particular still warrants further attention because it's particularly unflattering:


I have no idea what I was talking about at that moment, but it looks like I was doing any one of the following:

--Mending a hole in a pair of underwear with a needle and thread
--Eating a giant invisible corn on the cob
--Pulling the cover off the Afikoman
--Playing matador with a rat and a dinner napkin

Anyway, it should be interesting to see what they project onto that green screen behind me, and when it's ready I'll let you know:


Meanwhile, I've been coming to terms with being back home by engaging in recreational bicycle riding, and with my legs positively bursting with West Coast fitness it was good to get back onto my artisanal singlespeed all-terrain bicycle the other day:


Interestingly, at no point during my highly enjoyable ride did I think to myself, "Boy, this would be even better if my saddle went up and down."  I'm sure the Mountain Freds will say it's because I don't shred radly enough or something, but this recent "Bicycling" story entitled "12 Ways to Use a Dropper Post" does nothing to allay my skepticism regarding this increasingly popular technology:


(Warning: I clicked on this and I got an auto-play ad featuring a narrator with an Australian accent.)

I was disappointed that "Cracking Walnuts" and "Prostate Stimulation" were not included in the list, but other purported uses include improved climbing:

Climbing: It might seem counterintuitive to lower your seat to climb, but try it in rough terrain. Often you're standing anyway, and you'll find you can absorb bumps better with the seat lowered, which can help improve traction. 

Riding over fallen logs:

Fallen Logs: A lowered seat won't jolt you forward when your back wheel comes up and over the log, minimizing your chance of an endo. 

And, oddly, flat-footing your bicycle:

Stopping: Simply lower your seat and you can sit with both feet comfortably on the ground! 

Therefore, after reading the complete list, I can only conclude that these Mountain Freds have been setting their saddles too high in the first place for whatever the hell it is they're doing out there.

I mean sure, get a dropper post if you want, I'm sure they're fun and all, but if you want to save some money you could also just lower your saddle a tad (which will have a negligible effect on your "performance" or "power transfer") and then work on sucking less at riding.

Speaking of being too high, you've no doubt heard by now that Floyd Landis is launching a weed store:


Founded by former professional cyclist Floyd Landis, his new company enters the recreational cannabis industry specializing in pesticide free cannabis oil sourced from high altitude growers using an industry leading, pharmacy grade CO 2 extraction process. Uniquely formulated vape and edible products are crafted for an enhanced consumer experience and are carefully prepared by licensed pharmacists to maximize the many health benefits of recreational cannabis.

An affinity for THC certainly explains the whole "Grey Manrod" thing, but apparently he also found that cannabis was good for his hip pain:

“The therapeutic uses for cannabis can’t be ignored. For years I relied on opioid pain relievers to treat my hip pain. With cannabis, I find that I can manage my pain and have a better quality of life. We need to give people a safer alternative.”

And you've got to wonder if he was sampling his own goods when he composed this, which could go down as the best cycling-related tweet of the year:
I don't see anybody outdoing that one anytime soon.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone in the "businesses for burnouts" department, Landis's legal adversary Lance Armstrong has started a podcast:
I didn't have an hour to listen to the full bro-down, but I did skip around a bit, and they talked about bees.

When he invites me on you'll know he's really desperate--though they don't make them more desperate than Boston Globe columnist and chinless shitbag Jeff Jacoby:


Who you may recall penned the deeply idiotic "Urban roads aren't meant for bicycles" last year, and who responded to a recent cyclist death by firing up his Twitter and voiding his bowels yet again:


Yes, so profoundly fuck-witted is this guy that he thinks the key to safer streets is allowing only cars and then removing all external stimuli for the people who are clearly too stupid to operate them, himself included:


Though I suppose in a way it's progress that people in the media are finally admitting most of us are not capable of operating a motor vehicle--unlike the NYPD, for example:

The driver of an SUV struck and killed a former White House-appointed watchdog while he was crossing the street yesterday, police said. Gerald Walpin, 84, was crossing 79th Street at Lexington Avenue at about 11:00 a.m. when a 52-year-old driver made a left turn at the intersection and struck him, according to the investigation. Emergency responders found Walpin lying in the intersection with head trauma, and he was transported to New York Presbyterian hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Lexington Avenue is a one-way street, so if the driver was making a left onto 79th and hit someone in the crosswalk then that's an obvious violation of the new Right Of Way Law, which allows officers to arrest motorists at the scene.  And certainly given the importance of the victim that's exactly what happened, right?

Yeah, right:

The driver who struck Walpin remained at the scene, and there haven't been any arrests, police said. The investigation is ongoing.

"Vision Zero" my ass.

And via Streetsblog, here's how the NYPD treats hit-and-run when the victim manages to get the license plate:


I was thrown down, rolled five to 10 feet across the street into the gutter, and had the wind knocked out of me.

When I looked up, the driver had momentarily stopped. By some miracle, even though it was dark out, I was able to see and remember the license plate “NYLUXURY” because the SUV had illuminated vanity plates.


Although the driver stopped long enough for me to memorize his plates, he decided to take off and leave the scene of the accident despite knowing he had struck a pedestrian.

So what happened?

The NYPD was able to trace the license plate to a Chevy Suburban operated by “New York’s Finest Luxury Car & Limousine Service,” based out of Yonkers, NY, and were even able to obtain a VIN number for the car.

My hope was that the NYPD detective who was assigned to my case would obtain the records from the car service showing who was driving at the time so that somebody could be held responsible. Depending on the circumstance, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident can be a felony.

The detective made a single phone call, during which the owner of the car service claimed his “system was down,” and he couldn’t provide the name of the driver at the time of the accident.


I was told by the detective that there was nothing more he could do. He encouraged me to file a civil suit.

Hmmm, a car service called "New York Finest," with these displayed on its website?  Wonder what happened there:


Alas, we may never know.


Friday, June 24, 2016

BSNYC Road Jernel Part III: Last Stop Rivendell


As the week draws to a close, so too does my epic recounting of my recent mini-tour of the West Coast.  When last we gathered I was still in Seattle, and from there I flew to San Francisco and made my way to a hotel in Contra Costa county, where Grant Petersen picked me up in his Ferrari:


Grant is of course the person behind Rivendell Bicycle Works, as well as the author of "Just Ride:"


"Eat Bacon, Don't Jog:"


And he also ghostwrote Mötley Crüe lead vocalist Vince Neil's autobiography, "Tattoos and Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock's Most Notorious Frontmen:"


I find it amusing that Vince only claims to be one of rock's most notorious frontmen, not the most notorious.  Seems to me if it's your autobiography you might as well go all the way.  I followed the same logic when I called my book "The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual," not "One of the Many Useful Bicycle Owner's Manuals Currently Available on the Market ."  But what do I know?

Anyway, Grant is a luminary and a sage in the cycling world, and as a longtime admirer of his I'm both honored and humbled that he not only carries all of my books in his shop (check out the kind things he said about my latest one!) but that he also agreed to host me for a signing.  I mean sure, you may know me as the globetrotting bon vivant and world's greatest living bike blogger, but I'm really just a recovering Fred who's been making Internet wisecracks for nine years.  So for a personage of Grant's status to acknowledge me like this is quite a thrill.

From my hotel we made our way over to Rivendell, and if you've never visited before (which I hadn't) I highly recommend it.  These are prototype tandems they're working on:


And this is the ironically signed Custom Fi-
t Centre:


Speaking of fit, everybody was shocked and appalled to learn I didn't know my Pubic Bone Height, which at Rivendell is the only measurement that matters:

And once we ascertained it (don't ask) Grant presented me with Rivendell after Rivendell for my test-riding delectation:


He also insisted I try this, one of the first Campagnolo derailleurs from the 1930s:


The way it works is this: first, you open the upper quick release lever, which frees the axle in the dropouts (or I guess track ends if you want to get technical).  Next, you use the lower lever to manually lift the chain onto another cog--while pedaling backwards of course.  Then, once you've got the chain where you want it, you have to weight the saddle in order to tension the chain, then finally you close that upper quick release lever again.

Not only is it even harder than it sounds, but it's also a brilliant sales technique on Rivendell's part, because after trying to shift this freaking thing a bar-end friction shifter seems positively telepathic.

By the way, in addition to using an antique shifter for the first time, I also took my first tandem ride with a member of the Rivendell crew:


And of course visited Rivendell's downtown shop, "Bike Book and Hatchet:"


Fortunately we got there before it closed:


But unfortunately now this guy would know exactly where to find me:


Anyway, the captain and I parked the tandem against some firewood:


And stepped inside:


True to its name, the shop contained bikes:


And books:


And hatchets:


As well as pine tarring supplies (this had to be explained to me because I am a total city slicker and not even remotely a Hatchet Fred):


Cloth tape:


Clothing:


Luggage:


And this bike frame, which seems like something out of a Paul Bunyan story, if only ol' Paul had been a retrogrouch instead of a lumberjack:


Not for nothing, but it seems to me that if Rivendell were to open one of these in Brooklyn the whole damn staff would be able to buy Ferraris.

But there was precious time to dawdle, for the signing was afoot, and so we hopped back on the tandem (I was "captain" this time) and returned to the shop:


And from there we zig-zagged to the Marriott:


And down to the conference room:


Where Grant was screening the 1956 French short film "The Red Balloon:"


It wasn't until later that I realized just as an antique derailleur makes a friction shifter seem modern, an old movie about a French kid with a balloon makes a tired blogger seem entertaining.

I'll be damned if that Petersen isn't a marketing genius.

Meanwhile, as the crowd continued to trickle in and wonder why the winner of the 1956 Academy Award for best original screenplay was playing, I got myself a beer:


And checked out a rival conference upstairs, which appeared to be even more of a bald-faced money grab than mine was:


Once the film was over, I then proceeded to elicit polite laughter from a crowd who by that point probably would have preferred to watch the ill-advised sequel, "The Red Balloon II: Rouge Vengeance:"


("The boy is now a man, and he's about to pop.")

After the signing, a group assembled for the totally optional NO HOST ride that was in no way organized by Rivendell:


So I suppose they didn't technically lend me this bike:


And off we scampered into the foothills of Mount Diablo:


You'd be hard-pressed to find a more idyllic setting for a ride:


I mean come on:


It's just not fair.

I was also greatly enjoying my loaner bike, CSPC-mandated accoutrements and all:


If it were mine obviously I'd lose the reflectors and maybe lower the stem a half a foot or so (I'd totally keep the kickstand though), but even as it was the bike was sublime.  By the time we got to this hilltop, I was ready to give myself over completely to the Cult of Riv:


Indeed, looking back, maybe this steep drop was some sort of trust exercise:


It was a nasty one too, and one of our party even took a bit of a tumble:


But I'm pleased to report he totally Pee-Wee'd it and leapt back onto his feet with aplomb.

From there we snaked our way down some switchbacks:


And here's that quill stem-wrangling I promised you:


Sorry if it's not all you hoped.

The ride, however--as well as the entire day--was all I'd hoped for and more, and I was happier than I had a right to be as we rode back to town amid the setting sun:


If by this time next year I've gotten rid of all my bikes for a Sam Hillborne and a pair of sandals then you'll know why.