On the other hand, the seasoned rider knows how to account for these meteorological vicissitudes, and he does so by Being In Touch With His Environment. Nature offers us all the clues we need as to the conditions of the day ahead if only we learn how to look and listen. Some experienced riders listen for clues in the morning birdsong. Others dig their fingers deep into the soil and smell the earth itself. As for me, I gauge the conditions by the guy who smokes on his fire escape:
With the punctuality of a Swiss timepiece, this silverback gorilla clambers out of his window every hour to suck down a cancer stick. But he's not just a hirsute human cuckoo clock; he's also a thermometer, barometer, and living weather "app" all in one. This is because his choice of attire (or lack thereof) allows me to divine the weather conditions. For example, if he's merely wearing underpants (as in the picture above), I know it's a shorts-and-short-sleeves day. However, if he's resplendent in his velour sweatsuit, I know I need to layer up with leg warmers and arm warmers and maybe even a vest and gloves. Furthermore, the volume of his smoke plume reveals to me the relative humidity, and it also acts as a windsock by informing me of the wind direction. If I really want to be accurate I'll occasionally cross-reference the guy who smokes on his fire escape with his wife who shakes out their bedding while wearing a bra, but for all but the most "epic" rides one or the other is generally sufficient.
You know who's also an experienced cyclist? David Byrne. This is because he doesn't own a car--or does he?
By now you may have seen Byrne's new and inscrutable music video, in which he emerges from and then does weird stuff near a gasoline-powered motor vehicle:
I was unable to watch the video straight through as I have not attained the Bard College degree it is necessary to have in order to do so, but I did skip around a bit, and what I did see was very thought-provoking:
In fact, the above sequence called to mind Pee-Wee Herman dancing on the bar for the Satan's Helpers, and it led me to wonder whether the two artists share some sort of "Dorian Gray" relationship in which Pee-Wee stays perennially prepubescent while Byrne grays and withers:
Then I looked closer at Pee-Wee Herman and realized he looks like he just got back from the embalmers, whereas Byrne looks more or less like a normal human (albeit one who has not experienced the joys and miseries of car ownership), and so I scrapped that theory. Nevertheless, I'm hoping that my essay "The Bicycle, Spasmodically Dancing Man-Children, and The Future of Urban Transport" will land me a cushy research gig at a well-endowed university. (And by "well-endowed" I do not mean the Mario Cipollini University for Natural Male Enhancement.)
Of course, if you prefer lighter reading, there's always Tyler Hamilton's new book, as reviewed by "USA Today:"
The review begins with what used to be called a "burn" back in the day:
You can say this about Tyler Hamilton's new book: Even the author knows people would rather read about Lance Armstrong.
Though the causticity of the "burn" is diluted somewhat by the fact that it's coming from "USA Today," which is basically just a paper diner placemat with a few more pages and a weather section. Still, I doubt I'll be reading it since this whole doping thing has become impossibly tedious, and if a bunch of aging jocks are going to play out their personal dramas in a public forum I'd at least like them to take the time to put a few rubber bands in their beards:
If you're looking for escapism then I suppose following sports is a decent choice, but if you insist on having integrity with your escapism then your only real choice is art. Athletes and artists both have talent, and they both like to enhance that talent with drugs. The crucial difference though is that nobody calls Jimi Hendrix a doper because he was on drugs when he recorded "Are You Experienced." This is why we're appalled by someone slapping a testosterone patch on his balls to win the Tour de France, yet we're delighted by someone tripping his balls off on LSD to make some freaky sounds--sooner or later an athlete is bound to betray your trust, whereas the only way an artist is likely to do that is if they sober up. It's also why you should never, ever get a tattoo like this one, which was pointed out by a commenter yesterday:
Though it does manage to combine the foolhardiness of a girlfriend/boyfriend name tattoo, the indignity of a corporate logo tattoo, and the treacly sentimentality of a poetry tattoo in one unfortunate package.
Yes, art is always the wiser choice, because you can let your guard down when you enjoy art, whereas watching sports without a healthy dose of cynicism is like leaving your bike outside without a lock. And speaking of stolen bikes, here's an article that has been making the rounds lately, and that, like most articles about stolen bikes, contains almost no information that isn't already completely obvious:
(Bike thief or hipster cyclocrosser?)
Sure, you already knew that bikes get stolen all the time and nothing happens, but did you also have a chart to prove it?
Also, the article contains some gross misinformation:
The way the caper works is this: Söze's crew make some swoopy designs on a computer between group rides, some other company in a faraway country builds the swoopy designs out of plastic, and then Söze sells you the plastic lump as a "module" for thousands of dollars. Fortunately though, there is one man who can save us:
He's wearing lots of rubber bands, only they're not on his beard.