Yes, that is a bicycle with a scooter attached to it like a shark with a pilot fish on it. I'm not sure if the bicycle is a fixed-gear or just a singlespeed because I was too afraid to approach lest the scooter leap onto me. The only conclusion I can draw from this (apart from the possibility that an untreated "hipster cyst" might eventually grow into a full-scale "scooter tumor") is that this rider is part of some kind of elite urban strike force. I'm not sure why such a strike force would exist nor what master they would serve. Most likely it's an extremely specialized unit of the NYPD equipped for maximum maneuverability in trendy neighborhoods. I would imagine that a strike force like this could operate quite efficiently, in that they could pursue the more gentrified criminals both in the streets as well as on crowded sidewalks. Should some new breed of arch hipster criminal attempt to evade the police by, say, disappearing into an American Apparel dressing room or slipping into the Apple Store and nonchalantly playing with the widgets on a MacBook Pro, this strike force would be able to swiftly pursue and apprehend him.
I'm guessing the new NYPD Gentrification Strike Force has different specialists as well. In additon to the fixed-gear/scooter combination seen above, BMX/skateboard and flatbar road bike/rollerblade would also be very effective depending upon the demographics of the particular neighborhood. There's probably even an amphibious triathlete unit that could pursue criminals attempting to flee by water. An amphibious triathlete officer probably drives an unmarked Saab SUV or similar vehicle with a Swim/Bike/Run (a.k.a. "Dork/Dork/Dork") decal on it and a Guru with aerobars on the roof rack. (Actually, a roof rack would be a dead giveaway, since no real triathlete could possibly operate one. Trunk rack is more like it.) Just imagine how simultaneously thrilling and dorky it would be to watch as the amphibious triathlete officer chases some Upper West Side gentrifugitive in a Mini Cooper S up the Henry Hudson Parkway. After shooting out the Mini's run-flats, the fugitive would then attempt to flee on foot, at which point the officer would hop on the Guru. Then, naturally, the fugitive would leap into the Hudson river and attempt to swim to Jersey--only to find the mankini-clad officer right behind him, his biceps glistening with slimy pollution. ("NYPD" would be scrawled on them with magic marker too, of course.) The TV drama series practically writes itself. And depending on how you feel about triathletes, your dinner may practically regurgitate itself as well.
But let's be honest--part of the bicycle's appeal is its swift mobility. What cyclist hasn't fantasized about living in some kind of Apocalyptic wasteland with only his bicycle and his wits to keep him alive? Who wouldn't want to live in some sort of real-life "Red Dawn" and carry out guerilla attacks on bicycles under Patrick Swayze's capable leadership? Well, probably very few people, and I suppose that's why cyclocross is still not that popular.
(Post-Apocalyptic "Red Dawn" Cyclocross Strike Force bikes ready for mobilization. Blue will be effective camoflage in a radioactive future.)
If you were actually in a "Red Dawn" scenario and you needed to assemble a bicycle strike force, you'd probably want a bunch of cyclocrossers. Unfortunately, though, we're not in a "Red Dawn" scenario (at least until the economy finishes collapsing and we all need to boil and eat our SIDIs to stay alive) so right now cyclocross is still just a relatively small group of masochists running around in fields while wearing skinsuits.
Sure, it’s becoming increasingly popular, but the fact is it’s still very much a grassroots sport. And "grassroots" is just another word for "illegitimate." Certainly, the cycling world (at least the part of the cycling world that tries to sell you stuff) would like to see cyclocross legitimized. And as a fan of commerce, I'm here to help. Because let's face it--there’s a lot that could be done to refine cyclocross and make it more attractive to new participants. Chief among them:
The biggest mistake organizers of cyclocross races make is in venue choice and course layout. Local parks can be pleasant to congregate in, but they also often contain elements like grass, mud and sand. These are discouraging to riders and serve only slow them down. Furthermore, too many organizers lack the resources and manpower to clear their courses of obstacles and debris. These obstacles are often severe enough to require participants to dismount their bicycles. And there’s absolutely no reason a rider should be forced to dismount his bicycle in a bike race.
Tips for course layout:
1) Stick To The Pavement
Roads and paved paths are optimum surfaces on which to ride quickly. Furthermore, this will better enable racers to ride together and draft off of one-another, a technique which can save a racer tremendous amounts of energy (as Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen will remind you every 30 seconds during the Tour de France). This will also encourage exciting group sprints instead of the staggered finishes we see all too often in today’s cyclocross races. Just think—on a well-designed cyclocross course a smart rider who spends the entire race in another rider’s slipstream could suddenly emerge victorious. It would be like watching Cadel Evans, except with a win at the end. Now that’s exciting!
2) Minimize Turns
Turns slow racers down, and the sharper the turn the slower the racers must go. Would you water your lawn with a kinked garden hose? Certainly not! So why impede your racers with a twisty course? Remember—these races are timed, and faster courses mean more laps! And more is always better.
3) Easy Is Better
The best way to boost participation in an activity is to make sure everybody who participates feels like they can win. That’s why road racing is so popular. There’s nothing more thrilling than riding in a huge pack of people, each of whom is convinced victory can be theirs as long as they avoid doing any actual work until the last 15 seconds of the race. On the other hand, a race in which the strongest people win consistently means the less strong people (and that’s everyone else) won’t want to participate. This is a real problem. Would you play the lottery if only the same four or five people won every week? Of course you wouldn’t. So why would you organize a race that way? Sure, you might have people who come out and race because it’s “fun,” but “fun” is frivolous and if you’ve followed the previous two tips your race is no longer fun. Indeed, it's essential to give people the impression they're just some expensive upgrades and a little wheelsucking away from victory. This is crucial to the growth of the industry and the sport.
Fortunately, there are growth signs. Like the fact that $318 cantilever brakes are now considered "surprisingly reasonable."
And the fact that cantilever brakes are once again hot, hot, hot! means that I'm one step closer to getting funding for my new publishing venture:
Heel Clearance Magazine
The magazine dedicated to minimizing contact between the heel of your foot and your bicycle’s frame and components.
"Cantilever Brakes: How Wide Is Too Wide?"
"Curved Stays: The Bend Is Your Friend"
"Crank Arm Heel Rub Scuffs: Minor Cosmetic Blemish, or Harbinger of Death?"
"Annals of Float: 500 More Reasons Why Speedplays Suck"
"Cankles and Q-Factor: One Rider’s Quest For a Friction-Free Pedal Stroke in a World of Ever-Narrowing Bottom Bracket Spindles"
Now that's exciting reading.