Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Naked Truth: What's Everybody Got Against Pants All of a Sudden?

In today's fast-paced world of instant gratification, it's all too easy to make hasty decisions. There's already an RU86 "morning after" smart phone app, and I imagine it won't be long before we're electing our Presidents in the same way we "like" or "dislike" things on The Facing Book. This is why it's more important than ever to bring back the art of good old-fashioned artisanal decision "curation" like we used to use "Back in the Day:"

(Dachshund of Time, aka the Wiener Dog of Human History)

See, "Back in the Day" you didn't just push a button to make a decision. Instead, you withdrew from society for a prolonged period of meditation and reflection. For example, let's say you had to decide on which spurious cure to take for your consumption, or which brand of pennyfarthing bicycle to purchase. Well, you took a leave of absence from your vocation, you left your family in the care of a neighbor or relative, you put on your decision-making hair shirt, and you retreated into your local Deciding Cave for anywhere from a few weeks to a decade. Then you'd reemerge. Of course, by the time you came back that bloodletting or high-wheeler was probably obsolete, but that's precisely why the old-timey method of decision-making was so effective. Just think of all the leechings and faceplants people were spared because they took the time to think things through.

Well, yesterday I announced the finalists in the "There Will Be Action Wipes" contest, and in so doing I presented you with a decision as important as any you're likely to face in your lifetime. Therefore, to turn around and ask you to pick a winner a mere 24 hours later would be to do a disservice to you, the contestants, and indeed our entire society. Instead, I am granting you an additional day to reflect, and to aid in this I am presenting you with a visual aid:

As I mentioned when I launched the contest two years ago or whenever it was, what we're doing is creating a simplified international symbol for cycling akin to the little men's room guy. So, what I've done is created five mock-ups, one for each finalist, which depict the symbol as you'd be likely to encounter it out in the real world. Here they are:






I'm sure you'll agree that this puts an entirely new spin on each the finalists. In particular, #4 has phallic implications even on its own, so when placed on a minimalist porta-potty it could easily lead a traveler to believe the structure is actually some sort of public "glory hole." You should take this into account when choosing your favorite, though whether it counts as a positive or a negative depends entirely on how you feel about glory holes.

Context, as they say, is everything.

Speaking of the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork, a reader informs me that, astoundingly, "Bicycling" magazine (who have now compiled all of my Giro d'Italia blog posts in one handy link, Lob help you) is continuing to use him in their promotional materials:

I don't know if their use of this image means "Bicycling" are totally in touch or completely out of touch, but either way it's indisputable at this point that the TTTSWRFFTPTD is nothing less than a cycling icon.

Also, I got to use him for one of my Giro blogs.

Anyway, until we have a new international symbol to guide us, in many cities across America and elsewhere cycling remains a daunting process of blindly inserting ourselves into the metaphorical glory hole of fate and hoping that the world isn't in a biting mood. Yesterday I did just that as I left my little bucolic backwater and bicycle cycled into The Big City. On the way there, I passed this "vintage" BMW with two tickets and a party flyer on it:

Even though I know he drives a Jaguar, my first thought was that the car belonged to that idiot John Cassidy from The New Yorker. Not only does he have a confirmed fondness for old cars and street parking, but he's also just the sort of person who'd get so hung over after some douchey dinner that he'd forget to move his car for two successive street cleanings. I guess we'll know for sure when he publishes a screed about the evils of alternate side parking and how it interferes with his drinking regimen.

I also saw a woman portaging two (2) actual human children in a "bake feets:"

I'm still a novice at this point when it comes to child-portaging, so I'm not sure if there's an equivalent of "Cat 6" racing among the sorts of smug people who engage in it. If so, I'm assuming it doesn't work like regular Cat 6 racing and that it's not as simple as just beating other child-portagers to the tops of climbs. Instead, I imagine there's got to be some sort of a handicapping system that would take into account variables such as:

--The age of the child;
--The number of children being portaged;
--The rider's "Smugness Quotient;"
--The child's embarrassment factor.

That last one seems especially important. A baby or toddler on a bicycle generally looks either happy or asleep, whereas some of these kids I see being portaged in "bake feets" lately are almost in puberty and wear looks of profound and intense embarrassment. You have to figure it's pretty rough to show up at school in mommy's "bake feets" when some of your friends are already arriving on their own "fixies." In any case, I imagine a child portager on a $3,000 "bake feets" carrying two children with a combined age of 26, both of whom are hiding behind their "Harry Potter" novels in shame, has won any child-portaging race before it's even begun.

Anyway, I wasn't portaging a child at the time, so needless to say I totally dominated the woman on the "bake feets." However, no sooner had I begun my descent than I was confronted with a mob of bike rental tourists:

I don't recall seeing this many rental bike tourists on the Manhattan Bridge in years past, but in any case now that the weather is fair they are present in alarming numbers. Inevitably at least one of these riders does something exceedingly stupid and almost crashes me, and this time it was the guy who turned to watch a passing subway train like he was on safari and it was some sort of exotic animal. As he admired the seductive beauty of the D train, he turned right into the guardrail and lost control of his bicycle, though to his credit he was able to correct himself before actually falling off it. Still, if he's so taken with subway trains and bridge views than maybe he should just ride the actual train. I'm sure it's a lot cheaper than renting one of those crappy bikes.

Thanking the Lob above for allowing me to ford the "Big Skanky" without striking a hapless bicycle tourist, I arrived in Manhattan, only to be passed by the rider in the red helmet, who implored me to attend the World Naked Bike Ride on June 11th:

This, to me, is the worst thing about the "bike culture"--their assumption that, just because I'm using a bicycle, I'd also be interested in doing something as ridiculous as riding it naked. If I were using a weed whacker, would some other amateur landscaper tell me I should try edging my lawn without my pants? If I had been buying an avocado in the supermarket, would that woman in front of me have tried to get me to jump naked into a giant bowl of guacamole? Unlikely. Then why tell me I should ride my bike naked? Plus, even if I were actually into riding my bike naked, is it even possible I wouldn't already know about the World Naked Bike Ride? Isn't that like telling someone who's wearing a football jersey, "Hey, you should really check out the Superbowl!" Most distressing, who's so excited about the World Naked Bike Ride that they're riding around telling complete strangers about it?

Well, that guy apparently.

Anyway, at the next light he did that thing fixed-gear riders do where they start weaving like half a block before they get to the intersection and take up two whole lanes of traffic in order to perform the simple act of slowing down. I then found myself contemplating whether it would be too un-PC to start calling such people "skid-tards." Maybe so, but watching these riders bring their bikes to a halt is like watching an old dog who circles a section of floor 47 times before finally lying down.

Then I passed by some sidewalk art:

Naked cycling tip: when taking a break, avoid sitting pantsless on unfinished wooden furniture. Also, be sure to use a pie plate so your, uh, "derailleur" doesn't get stuck in your spokes:

This photo comes via Chris from Electra Bikes who spotted these aftermarket pie plates in a bike shop in Germany, and I'm sure it will please naked cyclists everywhere to know that they're available in both small and large sizes.