Obviously, today is Halloween, and personally I don't care. Firstly, I'm a free thinker and I don't need a special occasion to ride around in my moisture-wicking chicken suit. Secondly, to me Halloween just means there will be an uptick in stupid behavior, and that uptick should be especially noticeable this year since Halloween has fallen on a Friday. So in addition to the usual slew of Halloween-themed alleycats there should be some kind of Critical Mass ride rolling around. Anyway, I've already gotten holiday-themed riding out of my system, since I participated in a Sukkot-themed alleycat just a couple of weeks ago. I won't bore you with the ride report, but I will tell you it was called "Sukkah On This" and it was awesome.
I will say though that at least when it comes to Halloween people have the decency to ramp up the absurdity during the course of the week so you've got time to get used to it. Thanks to the dual miracles of readers and email, I have already seen cyclocross barriers of fire in Milwaukee:
And giant red recumbent man-eating sperm in Grand Rapids:
Speaking of scary upticks, the New York Post reports that the number of cyclists entering Manhattan is up 35%:
It's always good to see the New York Post reporting on cycling. After all, it is a newspaper of record--though admittedly that record is Warrant's 2006 "comeback" album "Born Again." The New York Times also points out that in particular the number of cyclists crossing the Williamsburg Bridge has quadrupled from 2000 to 2008. This particular statistic is an excellent example of how important semantics are when it comes to interpreting data. While at first glance you'd take this to mean that more people are cycling, it's also possible that the same number of people are cycling but that they've only been able to successfully cross the bridge since the city finished renovating the bike path in 2002. Before that, crossing the Williamsburg Bridge was like crossing a rope bridge in the Himalayas. So it wouldn't suprise me if just as many people set out on their bikes to cross it before 2000, only to either give up and choose another bridge or plummet into the East River below.
No matter how you interpret the data, though, it's clear a lot of people are commuting by bicycle. And while we've still got a ways to go the city has certainly improved the cycling infrastructure (as anyone who has crossed the old Williamsburg Rope Bridge must admit). Given that, I feel that it is now time cyclists turn their attention to improving their own bikes. And the one place even the novice cyclist can start is with his or her chain. I have noticed that a disturbing number of people these days are riding around on bicycles with brown chains that sound like pillowcases full of mice. I realize that my dream of a pie plate-free world may be far-fetched, but I think a world in which every chain knows a lubricant's viscous kiss is realistic. Removing a pie plate takes a bit of know-how, but if you can brush your own teeth you can lubricate your own chain. If your chain is rusty or squeaky, just put something unctuous on it. That's it. If you're the kind of cyclist who rides around with a squeaky drivetrain, chances are you also ride a pretty crappy bike, so don't worry about fancy boutique lubes. Seriously, just use anything. 3-In-One oil, motor oil, grease, K-Y Jelly, chicken fat--whatever you've got in your tool box, refrigerator, or bedside drawer is fine. Even your own mucus can work in a pinch. (Though you might want to use rubber gloves.)
But while commuting by bicycle may be on the rise, the Chris King Headset Composite Index is declining precipitously. (I don't know what "precipitously" means, but it's a word that always seems to come after "decline." Maybe it has to do with precipitation, and the fact that things get slippery when it rains.) When we last checked in on the CKHCI, it was at 89.79. Now, a scant four days later, it's at 77.59:
Not only that, but the trading volume is lower as well. When I calculate the CKHCI I use headset auctions that are closing in the next 12 hours. Earlier this week, that meant I looked at six auctions. Today, though, there were only three closing during that window. (And one of them was in the freakish 1 1/4 size, which doubtless contributed to the drop.) If you're not horrified yet, then maybe this poorly-rendered graph will scare some sense into you:
That's right, the CKHCI is going down like Cadel Evans on a smooth, flat stretch of road.
To be completely honest, the only reason I'm not stockpiling bottled water (remember, people always stockpile water in emergencies for some reason) is because the New York City PistaDex is practically throbbing right now at 583.33. You can even get free upgrades if you're good-looking:
So if you're drop-Deda gorgeous, be sure to drop him a line.