Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Hail Fellow Well Wet

Once again, a vast quantity of The Great Lobster's Dandruff has fallen down upon New York City like divine crustacean retribution for our evil ways. I have no doubt at this point that the snow will fall for 40 days and 40 nights until the city is cleansed, and I wonder if any of us will be spared. Presumably somewhere there is a righteous man or woman, and as I type this the Lobster is commanding him or her to build an ark-bike. It will have massive frame clearance and provisions for a Rohloff hub, and its tires will be hundreds of cubits in width and its rims thousands of cubits in diameter. Then, its fabricator will ride it to Austin, and it will win Best Divinely-Inspired Snow Bike at the NAHBS.

I, however, was without snow bike as I ventured into The Big City yesterday during the early hours of this latest weather event. Like a young Joe Buck, I set out brimming with naive ambition, but by that evening the storm would become my "Ratso" Rizzo and make a sorry and broken whore out of me. I should have known, too, since already the smallest and feeblest creatures had to be carried:

On the feebleness spectrum, I rank somewhere between a small dog and a grown man, so I should have known I was in for trouble. Still, I am a busy person, having recently welcomed my 17th child into the family (all my children, male or female, are named Ninja, and this one is no exception), and so I must take my opportunities for "epic" cycling adventures as they come. And while I may be naive, I was nonetheless prepared, and even had the foresight to bring along a pair of Rivendell "Splats:"

(That amorphous olive drab foot apron is a Rivendell Splat.)

According to Rivendell, Splats have a "function-to-fashion ratio of 99.9:1," and as you can see from the above photo they're definitely about as fashionable as, well, a piece of clothing designed by Grant Petersen. They did, however, do their job as promised and I was glad to have them--though I didn't complete the whole Rivendell look by pairing them with a gigantic poncho:

By the way, it doesn't actually appear to be raining in that photo, so judging from the tent he's pitching in that thing I can only assume he's using the poncho for its more lascivious secondary purpose and engaging in some "covert ops."

Speaking of covert ops, even though the streets were slushy and the weather was miserable, I knew that the Great Anti-Bicycle Crackdown of Death would continue unabated:

Sure, in New York City a little snow is enough to stop ambulances in their tracks, but neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays the NYPD from reminding all those smug cyclists that this ain't Portland, and that if they want to flout traffic laws they'd better earn that right by leasing a Lincoln Navigator. In any case, I wasn't about to tempt fate by breaking any laws, since with 17 Ninjas to feed a $275 ticket could easily break me. That's almost ten pairs of Splats, or not quite half an Outlier Storm King Parka! So with the bike lanes snowed in I simply took my place at the back of the line, sucked down that minivan exhaust, and took it:

Of course, swan-diving into Manhattan from the great diving board that is the Long Island land mass requires crossing The Big Skanky, and so the big question on any foul-weather commute is, "Will the bridges be passable?" Fortunately, the one I chose was, and it also bore the tracks that were indesputable evidence that other idiots had also crossed it by bicycle before me:

However, the bridge was not salted, which made the going a bit treacherous:

As far as I can tell, New York City is now taking a two-pronged approach to bicycle unfriendliness. The passive-aggressive part is stuff like not salting the bridges to ensure that they freeze up like snot in a recumbent rider's beard, and the aggressive-aggressive part is handing out tickets to cyclists who do things like failing to signal before reaching into their pants to adjust their "pants yabbies." Then again, most of the streets weren't salted by that point either, so it's also likely that, like most cyclists, I'm a raging solipsist.

There were not many cyclists in Manhattan, though various delivery people were plying their trade, including celebrity messenger Austin Horse, better known as that guy who raced a Mercedes:

(That's one "epic" backpack.)

I would have stopped him and asked him to autograph my Splats, but he went right through that light like a hipster through a trust fund, whereas I'm just one traffic ticket away from having to move back onto the tuber farm with my parents.

In addition to being vigilant with regard to police and red lights, I am of course also eternally on the lookout for carcakes, and I'm pleased to report I spotted the elusive "mullet" formation, also known as the "Canadian neck curtain:"

I'm not sure under what circumstances you'd clear off your car yet take pains to make sure the rear windshield remained covered, but the vehicle does have an Illinois license plate so perhaps someone from the Land of Lincoln could explain it to me. Perhaps it's for privacy, so that a passenger in the back seat can do what you might otherwise do beneath a voluminous poncho.

Speaking of snow formations, my bottom bracket collected so much slush that, for just a fleeting moment, I could pretend that it was actually "beefy:"

It's days like this when I realize that I really should be riding a "proper" city bike, like one of those $5,000 Rapha/Beloved "collabos:"

Because when it comes to bicycle commuting, it's not the months of snow; it's what's rusting away beneath it that really counts.

I wonder if Rivendell makes giant Splats to cover up your $5,000 commuter bike. I'm not sure, but I was essentially doing the same thing with my feet, since underneath mine I was wearing a pair of $900 jeweled satin SPD-compatible Manolo Blahniks:

I should mention I was also wearing those Outlier pants that my erstwhile ironic intern, Spencer, reviewed along with that Walmart Mongoose Cachet. Sadly, Spencer has disappeared and I'm assuming he either went to college or else fell victim to the Cachet's faulty front brake, but wherever he is I hope he's warm and dry on his bike that costs less than his pants.

Up until now, the going had been relatively easy, but it was on my return trip that the storm would unleash its fury upon me in the form of those little bullets from the sky called "hail:"

Look at the size of that one:

Really, who's to say that's not actually a tiny meteor?


Here's the sound the tiny meteors made as they struck my precious little New York City-mandated bicycle bell:

Okay, they didn't really do that, but here's what they did feel like as they stung my face:

Fortunately, though, the hail was short-lived, but overnight the snow continued to fall, and as of today the city is snowed in and we're all going to be forced to eat each other in order to survive.

Speaking of survival and riding in winter, I recently found myself watching this informative video:

Winter Biking Primer from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

It's chock full of handy cold weather tips, as well as footage of serial killer Charles Manson wearing mittens and seriously hating life:


Though it's set in Chicago, New York City cyclists would be well advised to don attire like this:

Just carry a jackhammer along with you, and if the police try to stop you just pretend you're doing roadwork.

I was also, quite frankly, horrified by this person:


"I sold my car two years ago," she explained, though judging from her disguise I guess she hasn't gotten over the shame.

"I feel great," she added. "I couldn't believe how much I was sweating in 20 degree weather"--though if you dress that heavily you'll be sweating on the surface of Neptune:


Meanwhile, in Boston, a reader informs me you can buy a genuine fixed-gear bandana for only $50:

Bandana for seatpost from fixed gear - $50 (Mass Ave. Berklee, Symphon)
Date: 2011-01-26, 2:30PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

I recently sold my 2008 Fuji Track bike though the buyer refused to take my seatpost bandana. I told him that it will give him street cred but he refused, telling me I might need it to wipe my bohemian tears. What he didn't know is that I actually have several other dirty bandanas so I really don't need this one. His loss is your gain!

This bandana is from a real fixed gear track bike - ridden by an authentic hipster with rad side-swept bangs. It is an essential piece of riding gear for those who are looking to impress the skinniest girl on the block. Keep your seatpost warm all winter with this filthy rag! All offers considered.

My seatpost was pretty cold yesterday, now that I think about it.

112 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fuck my minimalist podium!

Chazuski said...

Podium?

dcdouglas said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

A most excellent post today, Snob. I had a great time sitting down and reading it.

Anonymous said...

ugh

Anonymous said...

poodium

Chazuski said...

Silver is better than gold, anyway.

Doug said...

I store my blood in wine bottles. It is Burgundy in color, and goes in the fridge just like a fine Bordeaux. Perfect refreshment for a TDF rest day. And no test exists to bust me. Na. And I still don't podium. Damn.

Anonymous said...

eh.

Surly Bastard said...

10?

Surly Bastard said...

Slush.

Anonymous said...

these guys have been ragging on 57 things guy for a while too, pretty vicious at times (see current post) but v funny... http://committed365.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

75° in SoCal right now

Anonymous said...

hello

Anonymous said...

santana bandana

PawnShop said...

That's the kind of sloppy snow that makes you wish it was a few degrees colder. Oh well, Peterson gotta sell some splats.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Comment deleted said...

No, I'll do the "fork in my eyes" before watching that one again. Thanks, Snobby.

ant1 said...

snobby - "...fell victim to the Chachet's faulty front brake"

Anonymous said...

bring me the head of everett pogue

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

I'd hit it.

Julie Hochstadter said...

So.... I am the person that horrified you in Chicago. I found out about your comment via The Chainlink, our Online Chicago Cycling Community. - http://www.thechainlink.org/forum/topics/julie-horrifies-the-bike-snob

I'm not afraid to show my face, in fact I do here :)) http://livewellhd.com/video?id=7206997

The editing team didn't include any of my comments sans balachlava!

Ride on, time for a Chicago vs NYC Race of some sort. Any ideas???

Julie Hochstadter

CAMPIONE CYCLES CALGARY said...

Solipsism!!!!! Whoooooooo!

Astroluc said...

and the skinny girls sing...

"baaaaaaannnn-dannnnn-aaaahhhhhh"

Anonymous said...

This winter reminds of last my bike messenger one of '94. It was so bad, I had to use steel-studded mountain bike tires. That bike frame slush cake eats up the bottom bracket and hubs.

Battle said...

Quote of the {new} year:

"It's very hard to stay warm with wet moisture on your body."

Thank you, Captain Redundancy.

Anonymous said...

Whats with Grant selling nasty mushy conditions gear? they test this crap in 68F weather on the slopes of "Mt Diablo".

Chris said...

I just happen to have a stack of brand new bandannas I can use to wrap my entire frame!!!

I may even use some to make wheel-disks of sorts.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Is that a real poncho or is that a sears poncho?

g-roc said...

Hey Julie, I totally get the full goggles and bandanna in 20 degree weather, but doesn't your exposed neck get frostbite? Just curious.

JamiMaria said...

If Julie horrifies, I can only imagine how terrified you'd be when seeing my winter get ups.

Anonymous said...

Yo Julie!!! Which one in the video are you?

D. Hawerchuk said...

All You Haters Suck My Seatpost

hillbilly said...

booya!

Grump said...

If you would have included Chicago in your book tour, you might have noticed that Illinois drivers hate to clean off their windows. In the summer, windows are streaked with cow manure (and that's in Chicago), and in the winter, people go for the "armored car" look.(one pass of the scraper, 4 inches wide and 2 feet long)

Anonymous said...

What kind of tires do you like in the snow, snob? Those helmet-shots seemed more or less steady. Some of those tire tracks leading up the ramp, not so much.

Steven Falkowski said...

Disembodied hands for your baby.
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70P74P20110126

Andy Slack said...

Not able to don 15 layers of clothing in fast-motion like the personoid in the Vimeo video, I "wussed out" of biking to work yesterday.

You're a better man than I am, Snobby Din.

Anonymous said...

Steve Tilford's blog is better.

samh said...

She had that Camarillo brillo...

crosspalms said...

We Illinoisians are awed by the power of rear window defrosters and will use them at any opportunity. Hence the carcake. Melt, dammit!

Hey Julie, I have goggles just like yours, and in this weather I'm glad.

grog said...

bandana for a bad banana
poncho Julie

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:43pm,

I don't have a favorite snow tire but on slushy winter days 28-32mm with a little tread seems to work OK for me. Yesterday I was using 25mm Continental Ultra-Tastic Gator-Riffic Whatevers which were definitely too slippery, but I was too lazy to do anything about it. I have not yet reached smugness apotheosis so don't have any studded tires, but the winter we're having may just put me there.

--BSNYC/RTMS

Beefy McManstick said...

Oh this winter is soooo horrible! Wait, no, it's not. I live in CA.

OBA said...

That sleet/hail/freezing rain crap was blowing UP at me for a while last night -- just mean.

ED said...

"I feel great," she added. "I couldn't believe how much I was sweating in 20 degree weather"--though if you dress that heavily you'll be sweating on the surface of Neptune:

Fan-fucking-tastic snob.

Marcel Da Chump said...

I worked the winter from hell of '94 and at 40 bucks a pop those steel-studded knobbies were worth every penny and
they were second-hand. Probably more expensive brand new. They make a crackling sound over dry pavement. Sold
them to another messenger after I started dispatching.
Good luck the rest of the winter, Snob. You're a trooper.

Terre Haute Karl said...

I can handle the rain/snow/sleet crap. But, last night when there was thunder & lightning in the middle of a snow storm, well, that was a little freaky. I didn't even think that was possible.

Indy Falconheads said...

Best New Name for a Band:

Raging Solipsists

close second:

Canadian Neck Curtains.

Thanks for the chuckles Snobby.

streepo said...

It was pretty vulcan cold riding this morning.

Anonymous said...

@ Grump 1:40
"armored car"
P.O.T.D.

Anonymous said...

@ Julie Hochstadter:
why does that Steven Brooks guy have pubes glued to his head?

Marcel Da Chump said...

...was in a snowstorm and heard thunder. Maybe it was whiteout, but that's all I could see. It was disorienting; couldn't tell uptown from downtown. Took place on Church st near Canal, winter of '94.

mikeweb said...

Tennessee Top Hat.

bikesgonewild said...

...sf bay area...another sunny day (i think it's 2 weeks now) & i'm outside doing stretches on my deck in shorts & a t-shirt...

...think i'll amble in, have a cup o' tea & check out the weather & the attitude in bsnyc/rtms territory...

...oh, gosh...that doesn't look like fun at all !!!...

Quincy Quincette said...

I've had giant rain ponchos for over a decade.

My first one was bought from a street vendor in China for about $5, and that lasted a decade. The only reason I had to get a new one was because I moved house and it ran away, probably back to China where they see more rain so it actually gets to go out and about occasionally.

And my 2nd one is also from China, because it's tradition now :-)

mikeweb said...

Great foul weather reporting Snob!

OK, a couple of things:

The splats page says that they're made in 'Connecticutt'. Is that the same as my home state of Connecticut, except with extra boring-ness?

And to anon 12:57,

Suck it.

mikeweb said...

STLB

mikeweb said...

Canadian passport.

Bill said...

Dear Snob:

As an Illinois reader (light snow in Chicago today, riding anyway), I'm afraid I think the mullet carcake is a mis-diagnosis: it's a relocated pan of brownies. I've seen this happen many times, especially on Damen and Western Avenues: the driver doesn't clear the roof, leaving the pan of brownies carcake. Then the heat of the car creates a slick of water between the carcake and the roof--when the driver gets some speed up, especially into a headwind, the carcake then slides over the back window, creating the mullet. They cannot get enough speed to send the carcake onto the windshield of the car behind, but just onto their own rear window.

bikesgonewild said...

..."...they're definitely about as fashionable as, well, a piece of clothing designed by Grant Petersen."...

...yep...ol' grant is quite intelligent, down to earth & practical as all get-out but he'll certainly never be accused of being a hipster fashionista...

...but i still can't get over what he espouses regarding riding position though...way to upright pour moi...

Marcel Da Chump said...

Good picture of the celeb bike msgnr. He's on Lafayette approaching Prince. The avenues and big streets are well-plowed; I hear, but the narrow cross streets are ice cake.

mikeweb said...

Camaro crash helmet.

mikeweb said...

Achey breaky, big mistakey.

B. Russell said...

I am surprised to learn that there are other solipsists around. Maybe we can get together and form a club.

Anonymous said...

"Snot in a recumbent rider's beard"?
So is it the amount of snot that differs for recumbents? Or does it not freeze? I mean, if snot is the question, a thorough answer is in order!

yogisurf said...

CarCakes! Big news out west was the CubeCake car in NYC.

I sweated all the way to work this morning too. 50 degrees, 3 layers, thick gloves, 14 miles, one Cat 6 race.

thegock said...

COLD RIDE

GWFASLPP* said...

WHAT THIS PLANET NEEDS IS A GOOD $20.00 HOT KARL.


*Guy Whose Face Always Smells Like PooPoo

bikesgonewild said...

...b.russel 3:14pm...

...why would 'i' wanna join a club of other solipsists when 'i' can do a much better job on my own as 'solipsistsnob' ???...

...don't even bother replying 'cuz i already know the answer...

Marcel Da Chump said...

The person asking 50 bucks for a dirty, hipster-authenticated, seat post bandana must be a graduate of the Everett Bogue School of Marketing.

Anonymous said...

"ding ding ding da ding ding" that link made me chuckle....brilliant good sir, brilliant.

Salty and Sore said...

Speaking of winter riding, I tried a new one today (no snow here, just chilly this morning.)...

Motorcycle jacket liner, as the lining layer, rather than extra bikey-type layers. It was awesome, and slipped in between everything like a...

Julie-
Welcome to the team! If you care about what other people think about what you look like while you're riding, you're not really riding. Just get out and ride.

Enjoy!

mikeweb said...

For a couple of 25 degree mornings recently, just my balclava was enough, no skull cap needed. Though admittedly my hair adds a fair amount of insulation.

Anonymous said...

Errrh, 'scume me...

Those are not real ponchos. They are just yellow-glo 1 man tents with a hole for the head to stick out.

Rambo, or Yesusss can show you what a real poncho looks like.

Og LoneWolf said...

Great post!!

AYHSOMRPB!!
- All You Haters Suck On My Relocated Pan of Brownies!!

FTW

tgs said...

I don't understand how that is supposed to be a winter cycling video. There's no snow or ice!

That video might as well have been entitled Summer Cycling in Canada.

Meatrack said...

http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lfji1q4Tjg1qzmowao1_500.jpg

Grouchy Canuckistanian said...

buncha "woosies"

Anonymous said...

That winter cycling video is a joke! You really don't need that much clothing if it is as warm as it seems to be in the video!

We have currently well over 25 inches of snow in Finland and have had very challenging riding conditions for almost two months, even by our standards... Despite all of this, you seldom see any "snow bikes" (studded tyres are common) let alone a rider wearing ski goggles :)

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 5:47..."...jokaiselle oma, kyllä ???"...

...whatever gets people out riding & feeling comfortable...

...vain sanoa...

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm impressed at how impressionable you are, Snob. Just a little snow and thinking about big tires? I thought you had seen it all... Jeeezz.

I say, stick with the slicks, it improves bike handling quite a lot. Next summer and cyclocross season, you'll see the rewards!

I second Finland dude, in Canada 700X28 tires Specialized Infinity Armadillo, good enough for all weather, all year round.
Last week, in Montreal we had -15F to -25F weather. Clothes: thermal underwear, jeans. Cottons socks, waterproof boots. Club monaco shirt, Arcteryx Sidewinder jacket. Beanie, Helmet. No ski goggles (it's definitely for woosies).
So? How fuckin' cyclechic is that?

Not much snow here so far this year.

Thanks for the writing snob, you make my day, everyday.

Anonymous said...

i kinda feel like an asshole saying this if it happens to be true that argentinian bees can travel upwards of even say 15mph... but that guy getting stung by bees video was beyond hilarious.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 7:09pm,

Thank you for reading!

The only way I'll see rewards next cyclocross season will be if they let me race on a Kawasaki.

--RTMS

Anonymous said...

Marcel -

The Everett Bogue School of Marketing - don't give him any more ideas...

He's the hipster L Ron Hubbard.

Marcel Da Chump said...

Anon 8:17,
Jeez, what was I thinkin'. Then again, if he reads this blog- he's got hope.

Timo said...

¡Pineapple Bob!

my2hands said...

Halo Twin Rails Tires...I've ridden them all over STL in snow, through Forest Park, in rain, and the best part is they're relatively cheap.

Anonymous said...

Today on the NYS Thruway a rig dropped a trailer lenght long car cake on my hood as I prepared to exit at Eden, NY. Glad to say I lived and no damage.

Salty and Sore said...

@RTMS 8:10-

I <3 you.

You are my Strawberry Shortcake action figure..

...of the moment.

MyWorld said...

What's a cubit?

John said...

Arrrggghhhh ! Fork in a blender... you got me Snobby.

I clicked on the link interested to hear what hail sounded like on a $200 carbon bar and a $3 bike bell...oh the horror!

May you always have plenty of butter for your lobstery prayers

bikesgonewild said...

...well, there goes portland...

...'salty & sore', who lives in seattle just professed her love for bsnyc/rtms & i imagine mommysnob will put the kibosh on any move in that direction...

..."well, eban, seattle & portland are less than 200 miles apart & i'm not letting you get within 500 miles of that woman"...

wishiwasmerckx said...

MyWorld, a cubit is a biblical unit of measure representing the length of the forearm, 16.85 inches.

I am sorry to be so blunt about it, but you are hereby removed from the ark-building team, as you are obviously a Philistine or a Hashemite.

JDL said...

Reason #1 not to move to Portland.


http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/01/pants-and-bike-lights-dont-leave-home-without-them.php

Anonymous said...

best post title ever

Anonymous said...

Snow! Bottom bracket! Horror! Boston! Panties!

Rose said...

You are a fantastic writer.
Enough said.
I won't even try to paint with words how fluid, engaging and humorous your writing style is..

I'll let you continue doing so. :)
-Aun Aqui

Duncan said...

I think this guy http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20110128/LOVELAND01/101290329
is a covert agent in the great anti-bicycle crackdown of death.

hillbilly said...

100

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine my daily critical mass without lane sharing

bespoke packaging said...

I like to see winter cycling in this blog. I think that Its unique experience. It is very true that The New York city a little snow is enough to stop ambulances in their tracks. I know very good things from this post.

domotion2011 said...

winter cycling "cheating death at eight miles and hour"

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

The Gran Fondo NY website sucks. The picture keeps refreshing and moving the page and I keep losing my place.

davecycle said...

Just another example of the indignity leveled at commuting bicyclists in my local area. As a bicycle commuter and recreational cyclist I find this level of ignorance from a leader appalling. In San Diego we don't have snow, or barely even rain, but we do contend with widespread ignorance and contempt for bicyclists. Yesterday, I received this in a message from the San Diego Bicycle Coalition:

*Inform Congressman Hunter about Bicycles as a Form of Transportation*

Duncan Hunter.
Know anyone in Congressman Hunter's district? Want to make a useful phone call today? Call a friend, call two friends, and have them call Congressman Hunter's district office: 619.448.5201


Here's what he has to say about bikes in a recent interview...

SB: Are you interested in looking for ways of getting people out of their cars and into other modes of transportation?

DH: Sure - where it's feasible. In San Diego, it's not feasible. San Diego's one of those places where a lot of people live who work in the more expensive places in Southern California and they can't afford to live there. They have to drive in - and in my district, everybody works everywhere. So no, it's not one of my priorities at all to get people out of their cars. I like my car.

SB: I was just in an EPW Committee hearing and there was some talk about the fact that some small amount of money in the reauthorization historically gets used for things like bike trails. Some people think that's waste; some people think biking is a mode of transportation. What do you think?

DH: I don't think biking should fall under the federal purview of what the Transportation Committee is there for. If a state wants to do it, or local municipality, they can do whatever they want to. But no, because then you have us mandating bike paths, which you don't want either.

SB: But you're OK with mandating highways?

DH: Absolutely, yeah. Because that's in the constitution. I don't see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane.

SB: How is it different?

DH: I think it's more of a recreational thing. That's my opinion.

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/01/27/ca-rep-hunter-roads-constitutionally-mandated-transit-must-pay-for-itself/

Read the whole interview for yourself, then get on the phone and call!!!
619.448.5201. Bikes are transportation, just the same as driving or flying.

Jennifer said...

All You Haters Suck My Balaclava

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Fixie Bikes said...

I don't understand why biking in snowy NYC is a thing. So ridiculously dangerous.

Anonymous said...

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