Give me good books, good conversations, and my Trek Y-Foil, and I shall want for nothing else. –George Plimpton
The quote was part of a post in which I mixed actual cycling-related quotes from notable persons with other quotes which were (I thought) obviously fake. For example, here's a real quote:
Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia. --H.G. Wells
And here's a fake one:
I’m the paté on the Universal cracker. I’m the grout holding your shower tiles on. I’m out of the saddle, sprinting up that hill and eating glazed donut bracelets off the right arm of Jesus. –Charles Manson
Well, it turns out that the only thing separating fiction from fact is belief seasoned with a dash of ignorance, because the editor of Plimpton's own magazine recently published this:
My predecessor George Plimpton was known for cycling around New York on his Trek Y-foil before it was either cool or safe (before, some would say, it was sane).
There is much that delights me about this. Firstly, it was never, ever cool to ride a Trek Y-Foil. Indeed, a Y-Foil is arguably the dorkiest bike it's possible to ride without resorting to an actual recumbent. Secondly, here is a Y-Foil, which The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company first hocked onto the cycling world like a crabon fribé loogie back in 1998:
(Beam frame, triple chainrings, and Rolfs: you can practically feel the leg hair.)
At which time Plimpton was 71 years old:
(I have no idea how old Plimpton actually was here, but I figure he must have been at least 71, so just picture him on a Y-Foil in a Primal jersey.)
As a participatory sports journalist Plimpton was certainly not averse to a physical challenge, and he did indeed ride a bicycle around Manhattan. Nevertheless, it's nearly unthinkable that a man so dignified would have chosen a Y-Foil as his ride--though it's certainly tempting to imagine him doing so, which is why I made the joke in the first place. I like to think of him doing easy laps in Central Park in the company of Salman Rusdie on a Softride as they discuss the state of American letters:
("The Softriding Verses is another personal best for Rushdie."--The New York Times Book Review)
Anyway, when my friend (I do actually have a friend) forwarded me the Paris Review post, my first thought was, "So by some extraordinary coincidence did George Plimpton actually ride a Y-Foil?" Then I wondered, "Maybe I didn't make up the quote after all and I just think I did because it seems like something I'd come up with." Finally though, it became clear that somehow the current editor of The Paris Review must have come across my bullshit quote and accepted it as fact. Furthermore, now that it's actually been published on their website, everyone else will accept it as fact as well, and thanks to a certain popular search engine poor George Plimpton will be forever associated with one of the ugliest and Fredliest bicycles ever made.
It really makes you think about the complex relationship between reality and absurdity. Take religion for example. Sometime back in the Iron Age some wiseass probably made a joke about milk and meat, and now thousands of years later Jews need to have two dishwashers.
Of course, the real point of the Paris Review post was to introduce an incredibly pretentious bicycle giveaway contest, and here are the rules:
To win the HUB Beater, tell us what you see in this picture:
--in three hundred words or fewer
--in the style of (choose one!) Elizabeth Bishop, Ray Bradbury, Joan Didion, Ernest Hemingway, or P. G. Wodehouse
I wouldn't mind winning a bicycle, but I prefer not to employ the style of any of those authors. Given my contribution to the magazine as far as my expertise on George Plimpton and his choice of bicycle, I wonder if they'd make an exception in my case and accept Martin Amis instead:
"And then there is the Red Devil, which is nothing, and comes at night. His red phallus is turgid and purposeful, a rush hour tube train throbbing towards her London Fields. He rides a Y-Foil. Wife. Oil. Now that's good spondee."
Please send the bicycle right to my $2.5 million Brooklyn brownstone, along with my National Book Award.
Meanwhile, further to yesterday's post, one reader was displeased with my analysis of the "Rêve Tour:"
Ever notice how the TdF doesn't allow women? It's possible, just possible, that you're missing the point. Nice job on the big "FUCK YOU" to female cyclists, though. That must have felt good.
July 17, 2012 2:22 PM
I resent the accusation that I meant to insult female cyclists. (Though I readily acknowledge I meant to ridicule all amateur cyclists regardless of gender.) I'm also pretty sure the point of the ride isn't that the Tour de France doesn't allow women, since it also doesn't allow amateurs, which is what all the Rêve Tour participants are. I do, however, admit that I found the actual point of the ride elusive, though after a good deal of searching I finally managed to figure out what it was:
We hope you'll support Kate, Kym, Heidi, Maria, Kristen and Jennifer in this epic adventure and help them raise $60,000 for Bikes Belong. Thanks to generous support from our industry partners, all of your contributions will go directly to Bikes Belong, helping make bicycling safer in the U.S.
So there you go. I can get behind that. (Though not to the point of actually giving any money.) Presumably Tom can too, and I'm sure he'll be digging deep to make that green bar go up, up, up!
And Tom wasn't the only rider who thought I missed the point:
I think the snob is missing the point of epic rides. The confidence and pride one can get from achieving something very few people have is ispiring and makes the rest of the shit life dishes out much easier. Too bad people throw the word 'epic' around too much.
July 18, 2012 8:29 AM
If your bicycle rides make the rest of your life seem easy then either your life is too easy or you're riding a bicycle without a seat. Anyway, I'm relatively sure the point of "epic" rides is to get free crap and then boast about it publicly while thinly disguising it as an act of charity. If it wasn't then people would just use their own equipment and resources, but I suppose a ride really doesn't qualify as "epic" if you're not using lots of brand-new high-end equipment and being followed by a professional photographer.
Speaking of the Tour de France, I don't think I'm spoiling anything by mentioning that Fr-a-with-an-umlaut-nk Schleck has failed a drug test and been ejected from the Tour by his team:
Poisoned!?! Egads! This can only be the work of Monsieur Punaise, who must have slipped him a bidon spiked with bad spondee. Incidentally, the drug in question is a diuretic, so clearly his evil scheme was to make Schleck pee-pee himself to death. As for whether it's actually even possible to pee-pee yourself to death I don't know, but I'd imagine it would either cause extreme hydration, or else your hotel room would fill up with urine during the night and you'd end up drowning in your sleep. This would never happen to Andy Schleck because he always sleeps in water wings, but as the big brother Fr-a-with-an-umlaut-nk stopped doing that months ago and left his own water wings at home along with this blanket and his Lego Bikini Bottom Undersea Party Building Blocks Set.
Finally, if you're a woman with a bird cage tattoo, there's some guy looking for you:
Bird Cage Ankle Tattoo, Blonde Girl outside Chase Bank - m4w - 24 (Bushwick)
Date: 2012-07-17, 12:40PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]
You were sitting outside the bank waiting for the bus, sipping on an ice coffee. I asked you to watch my bike while my friend and I went in to use the ATM. When we came out we talked for 10 mins about bike accidents and scars. I think your name was Sylvia? I'm bad with names. You hopped on that bus before I had a chance to give you my number or get yours. If you see this maybe I could give you a bike lesson some time, bu if you don't hopefully I'll see you around the neighborhood...
Just keep in mind that you probably don't want to take bike riding lessons from someone who's covered in accident scars.