From Melbourne, Australia comes this fascinating example. Interestingly, this rider eschews period-correctness and has even incorporated modern accessories such as a u-lock and a spoke card (or, given the size of the wheel, a spoke treatise). Also, this photo proves once again that the p-far is a "chick magnet," as there is a blonde woman with bare legs and high heels in close proximity. It's obvious that this photo was taken just after she spotted the p-far and just before she followed the owner into the building, where she probably smiled coyly at him and encouraged him to send a telegram or perhaps even (gasp!) call upon her in person for tea.
We've already seen colored deep-Vs and adhesive letters in the fixed-gear scene, and it would appear that the p-far scene may be following suit. Unfortunately, though, this rider has failed to take advantage of all the space with which his huge front wheel provides him. Instead of simply spacing out the letters, he could have really seized upon the opportunity to employ some flowery Victorian-era prose. If he's reading, I recommend revising this message before making a sepia-toned daguerreotype and submitting it to pennyfarthinggallery.
But while some trend-seekers have abandoned the fixie for the p-far, others have left it for the road bike, and they're taking their fixed-gear habits with them. A reader has pointed out to me a new trend of road bikes equipped with bullhorns, and I must say that this is in line with what I've been seeing on the streets of New York City:
I've definitely been observing more and more people using bullhorns on their road bikes, and frankly I find it disturbing. Bullhorns became popular on fixed-gear bikes because they allow a hand position similar to that of riding with your hands on your brake hoods. However, once you've got a road bike with actual brake hoods there's no reason to use bullhorns. (Unless you're building up a time trial bike or something, in which case you're about to get sucked into the rabbit hole of compulsively anal behavior and there's no hope for you.) The drop bar with STI levers affords you all the hand positions of the bullhorn, keeps all your controls at your fingertips, and gives you the added bonus of drops when you need them. Then again, urban fixed-gear riders are highly averse to drop bars, and when they do use them it's simply an aesthetic choice. Even those who choose to maintain the stylistic integrity of their "classic" track bikes by using drop bars still often ride with their hands on the tops even when they're out of the saddle. It would follow then that they'd carry their bullhorns over to their road bikes. In fact, with more and more riders coming to other types of cycling via fixed-gears, it may be only a matter of time before the drop bar becomes extinct and bike companies start selling road bikes stock with bullhorns, top-mount brake levers, and bar-end shifters (in addition to the flat-bar road bikes they're already selling of course).
But what if you're not ready to abandon your fixed-gear for the p-far or the bullhorn-equipped road bike? Well, fortunately there's still a place for you. In Japan. The proprietor of a "Keirin bar" in Tokyo has just informed me that I can stop in for a Nama Beer if I'm ever in Nakameguro. According to the description on their website, I can also order a Ginger Mint Mojito if I prefer, and I can drink it beneath a "kaleidoscope of Japanese Keirin Track frames:"
It's good to know that the Ginger Mint Mojito is a "drink for any occasion," because if I do ever go to Nakameguro you can be sure to find me sucking them down in rapid succession at Kinfolk as I play with my tiny fixed-gear models beneath a kaleidoscope of Keirin frames. You can also be sure that by last call I'll be passed out in my underpants on the sofa in the background, surrounded by tiny fixed-gear models and smelling strongly of ginger like some tragic parody of Bill Murray in "Lost In Translation."
Speaking of tiny bicycle models, if you're looking for something to add to your own collection look no further than Philadelphia Craislist, where a reader informs me you can purchase a "G.I. Joe Like Soldier On Bicycle With Gear" for the incredibly low price of $20:
G.I. JOE LIKE SOLDIER ON BICYCLE WITH GEAR- GUN, HELMET, GOOGLES & BAG - $20 (DELAWARE COUNTY)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-11-18, 4:16PM EST
THIS IS NOT A G.I. JOE BUT IT IS VERY SIMILAR TO ONE. HE COMES COMPLETE WITH A HELMET, MESSENGER BAG, MACHINE GUN AND GOOGLES. HE IS DRESSED IN A COMPLETE CAMOUFLAGE UNIFORM. HIS BOOTS FIT IN THE TOE STRAPS AND THE BACK WHEEL SPINS WHEN THE PEDALS ARE TURNED BY A RUBBERBAND DRIVEN CHAIN. THE FRONT WHEEL ALSO SPINS. THERE IS A KICKSTAND THAT HOLDS HIM UP AND A WATER BOTTLE CAGE BUT NO WATER BOTTLE. THIS SOLDIER IS READY TO FIGHT! THANKS!
Between those track bike models and this I may never have to leave the house again--though my play may now become a bit more bellicose. My only reservation is that the quasi-G.I. Joe's bike doesn't come with a water bottle, since I'm not sure where I'd be able to find one. (There may be one in my Barbie's Workout Center, but I'd hate to open the shrink-wrap and break up the set.) Then again, the soldier does Google, so he may be able to find one for himself. Intrigued, I set about trying to determine whether the seller was male or female by running the ad through the Genderanalyzer, which yielded the following result:I guess I may never know.
One thing I do know, though, is that telecommunications companies are looking out for cyclists. (Well, not specifically cyclists, but I suppose we benefit by default.) If you're a cyclist, by now you're probably accustomed to avoiding drivers who are far more engrossed in their cellphones than they are in where they're going. Personally, I'm more afraid of a driver holding a cellphone than one holding a Ginger Mint Mojito. For this reason, I was simulaneously heartened and irritated to see this tiny icon in the corner of a Sprint cellphone advertisement in a respected and highly pretentious magazine:
Wanting to learn more, I placed the highly pretentious magazine in the recycling bin where it belonged and consulted the same popular search engine the quasi-G.I. Joe uses, where I learned this:
A cellphone company telling teens not to drive distracted is kind of like Philip Morris telling parents to talk to their kids about smoking, though I do appreciate the effort. I also find it entertaining that the program speaks to teens "in their own language, using real-world examples," and I'd love to see the part of the instructional video where they show the kid pulling over safely and coming to a stop before answering that long-awaited callback from his weed dealer. Hopefully the "Focus on Driving" program speaks more loudly to teens than my own PSA, which while poignant admittedly falls into the generational gap:
And cellphones aren't only deadly in the hands of drivers. We cyclists are equally vulnerable to the cellphone's siren call (or text). Just a few days ago I witnessed a woman ride through a red light at a major intersection while on her cellphone. She then ran into the broadside of a yellow cab (which amazingly had been doing nothing illegal or dangerous), at which point she took the phone off her ear and shouted obscenities at the driver before returning it to the side of her head and continuing on her loquacious way.
But as a New Yorker I suppose I should consider myself lucky, for while I may have to dodge cellphone-wielding drivers and cyclists on my commute a reader correctly points out that I have yet to have a run-in with a bear:
I was glad to see that both rider and bear seem to be OK, and that neither was using a cellphone at the time of the collision (though fortunately the bear had the wherewithal to call for an ambulance). I was also pleased to see that the rider was on a cyclocross bike and that penny-farthing craze has not yet reached Missoula, which means that while we may see more and more of them in the coming months it should be a good while before the trend moves into its ironic phase.