With the Pistadex in New York City at a relatively robust 430 (not counting this frame-only offering), it is easy to grow complacent. Lest we forget, however, that just last month Kanye West purchased a Cinelli Vigorelli. So it is vital to remember that the Fixed-Gear Apocalypse looms like a celestial trackstander, its handlebars growing ever twitchier as one of its slip-on Vans prepares to come down from on high and smite us all. And if mere words are not sufficient to strike fear into your hearts, perhaps this photo, sent to me by an alert reader, will force you to sit up and take notice:
Yes, that is indeed two-time Dauphine Libere winner Lance Armstrong enjoying a beverage from a styrofoam cup along with three tall bike enthusiasts. (And yes, that tall bike does indeed have a pie plate on it.)
If you're unfamiliar with tall bikes, they are essentially two really crappy frames welded together to create one extremely crappy bike, and they satisfy the age-old human compulsion to sit up high and look ridiculous. Tall bike enthusiasts are generally the sorts of people who developed a distain for authority relatively late in life, and so they engage in adolescent hijinx into adulthood instead of stopping after middle school like the rest of us. They also refuse to get jobs and they tell their parents to "shut up" well into their 30s. As such, they are fiercely protective of their image and integrity, and tall bikes are one of the few types of bikes not to have been "legitimized" by the bicycle industry in that no company offers a pre-built tall bike. (This probably has less to do with the fact that the bikes are stupid than it does with the fact that The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company just hasn't come up with a cheap enough way to ship the giant boxes yet.) In any case, for better or for worse they are a symbol of underground, alternative bike culture.
Or at least they were until Lance Armstrong, secreting an Olson twin in each pant leg, showed up on the scene. According to the tall bike owner's blog, "WE WERE AT SOME ART SHOW IN AUSTIN AND RAN INTO LANCE ARMSTRONG. WE ASKED HIM IF WOULD TAKE A PICTURE WITH US AND WHEN HE SAW THE TALL BIKE HE WANTED TO RIDE IT!! HAHAA FUKKKIN CRAZZYY!!!" Crazzyy indeed. Surely there is no more mainstream symbol of cycling than Lance Armstrong, and surely his chocolate winding up in the peanut butter of the tall bike scene, however fleetingly, is a giant, throbbing Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of doom. It's not just crazzyy--it's apocalyptic.
Here's Lance about to mount the bike:
Now, I wasn't there, but if I had been I might have tried to tackle Armstrong at this point. Perhaps by preventing him from actually riding the bike I might have been able to stop the prophecy from coming to pass. But alas, I wasn't, and he did:
Note the reflective heels of his Nikes glowing like demon eyes as he propels the hideous contraption forward and the rest of us towards our fate.
Incidentally, the Pistadex in Austin is currently at 400. While this is hardly apocalyptic in itself, thanks to Armstrong's tall bike-riding antics Austin will now not only be famous for being the home of Richard Linklater and Matthew McConaughey's naked bongo freakout--it will also be famous for its role in the Apocalypse.
Meanwhile, there were small signs in New York this morning too. On the Brooklyn Bridge, I saw a cyclocross bike with bullhorns. Then, in front of the Apple store in SoHo, where bike company marketing execs are rumored to scout out the bike rack for inspiration, the usual array of tendy bikes was absent, with just a couple of forlorn 10 speeds in their stead:
And further across town, a brace of fixed-gear freestyles huddled together, as if in anticipation of their own doom: