One benefit (or drawback, depending on how you look at it) to traveling by bicycle in New York City is that it gives you an opportunity to see the latest in cycling fashions. Naturally, these fashions vary from group to group: roadies are infatuated with white; commuters continue to opt for windbreakers, khaki pants, and reflective everything; and the fixters now seem to be dressing like old-timey newsboys:
The only explanation I could come up with for this mode of dress was that the rider was on his way to a "tweed ride," but none were scheduled in New York City on the day I took this photograph (at least as far as I know). While the London Tweed Run had already happened, perhaps he was in training for its itchy, moth-eaten cousin, the San Francisco Tweed Ride, which had yet to take place. Incidentally, organizers of "tweed rides" claim that they encourage more people to ride bikes by proving "that cycling is not just a sweaty sport, but a social and/or cultural activity" and advocating "elegance not exertion." This is ridiculous. If someone is too self-conscious to wear lycra they're certainly not going to be any more comfortable with looking like they're on the way home from a Grover Cleveland rally. Really, it's just substituting one freakish wardrobe for another. As a case in point, consider "tweed ride" participant Gary Fisher, who looks like he just tunneled his way out of some kind of psychedelic Gulag:
He's less an ambassador for cycling than he is an ambassador from the planet Psilocybin Freakout.
Speaking of crimes against humanity, a number of readers (including esteemed commenter Leroy) have informed me of a high-profile bike theft. (And no, I'm not talking about Lance Armstrong's time trial bike. That "theft" was clearly part of a viral marketing campaign by the Great Trek Bicycle Making Company. You can expect Peter Falk in full Colombo garb to deliver it to Armstrong on the start ramp at the Solvang TT. Also, it's interesting to note that news outlets are now basing entire articles on Twitter discussions, thus inching ever closer to total uselessness.) No, I'm talking about the University of South Florida professor who was caught on video stealing a bicycle for a "nearly homeless" friend:
In a heartfelt plea, the professor had this to say:
Earlier this week I gave a man who does odd jobs for me permission to use a bicycle that was parked at the center. I acted out of compassion for this nearly homeless man; but I failed to consider that the bicycle belonged to someone on our Alzheimer’s team. The bicycle was reported stolen. It has, however, since then been returned to its owner. USF police are investigating as is standard procedure. It was a terrible lapse in judgment on my part; I have no excuse. I can only say that my intention was never to bring harm, alarm, or disruption to anyone.
Frankly, it's easy to see why Professor Rao was compelled to steal the bicycle. Near-homelessness is a problem which has reached epidemic proportions in this country, and I'm sure he could no longer sit idly and watch yet another American fall victim to it. Incidentally, "nearly homeless" means that you have a home but you just don't like it very much. This is different from "fully homeless," which is what Chad Gerlach was. As such, it's completely understandable that Rao would decide that helping a "nearly homeless" person warranted leaving a graduate student "completely bikeless." Also, camera surveillance on Professor Rao and the "nearly homeless" man continued even after they left the loading dock, and what ensued was shocking to say the least:
Still, as sordid as this all looks, it's important not to rush to judgement until you've seen the big picture. Sometimes actions that seem wrong actually make sense when you consider them in the grand scheme of things. Conversely, sometimes things look all right from up close, but it's not until you back away from them and take in the wider view that you realize they're actually horribly wrong. Take this bike from the Seattle Craigslist, forwarded by a reader:
The crank looks decent enough (even if the purple chainring bolts are a bit over-the-top);
The Phil Wood rear hub and White Industries freewheel are also both highly-regarded components;
And while they might be a bit "upmarket" for a GT, how bad could the whole thing look?
I'm ordinarily not that bothered that much by clashing colors, but there's something about the way anodized colors can clash that's especially offensive. It's the visual equivalent of chewing on tinfoil. Obviously though the seller doesn't feel the same way. In fact, he's so taken with the color scheme that he's left the bars bare so we can savor the cockpit in all its purple-and-blue glory:
This is complemented by the singleator, which looks like it's actually feeding the chain to the hub:
For me, it evokes a squirrel eating:
If you're considering this bike, please note that the seller is not including the cranks or the freewheel, as he is saving them for his new build. Personally, I won't be offering, since overall I find the bike too whimsical and I'm really in the market for something more "serious:"
New Build Giant Bowery Fixie - $2000 (NYC)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-02-16, 9:31PM EST
Total New Build Giant Bowery.. Easton C70 Fork,, Durace Track Crank and chain Thompson Seat post ,,Thompson Stem ,Velocity Rims ,,PHIL WOOD hubs New Specilised tires and Toupe specilised seat ,pro design handle bars with both front and rear brakes this is a awsome bike only for the serious size med
718 208 [deleted]
Serious indeed--it's a grave individual who can hand over $2,000 for a Giant Bowery and maintain a straight face. It's as serious as near-homelessness.