Why are people so stupid?
Yesterday I mentioned a New York Times article that, despite itself, proved we have a serious problem in this city with drivers running people over. While the person who wrote the article made some dumb points, the people reading it are apparently even dumber, because one of them left this comment:
I was hit by a bike five days after Martha was killed, just a few blocks away.
Her situation was tragic. I was lucky. The bike food delivery messenger was not wearing a glow in the dark vest, had no ID, no bell on the bike, no basket
in the back for the food and was peddling quickly the wrong way.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been hit and injured, unfortunately.
What to do about reckless bike riders and bike messengers?
March 11, 2013 at 12:07 a.m.
Yes, you are lucky. You're lucky the delivery person was on a bike and not in a car. When you get hit by a bike you live to leave whiny Internet comments. When you get hit by a car there's a blurb about you in the Post that ends with the phrase "no criminality suspected." There seems to be a unique brand of American idiocy which causes us to read articles about cars running people down by the hundreds and then respond by getting angry about bikes. It's like reading an article about gun violence and then leaving a comment about how you cut yourself while making dinner so what's being done about knives?
Speaking of bikes, I have one:
Actually, I have more than one. I have a shitload. I have so many bikes that I haven't even bothered to move all of them from Brooklyn yet. That's yet another reason I scoff at comments about my excessive stem length, since if I want to ride a bike that handles differently I just grab a different one. I pity the poor plebes who have to obsess over stem length because they have only one or two bicycles. Actually, that's not true, I don't pity them at all. The truth is I don't even think about them, except for when they pop into my head fleetingly, at which point I chuckle briefly and then forget about them again.
Just kidding about all of that.
By the way, you'll notice the bike above also has a long stem, but that's only because the frame's too small. And if you're wondering why the frame's too small, it's because my vast collection of bikes was sorely lacking a dedicated frame's-too-small-so-I'll-compensate-with-a-footlong-stem-and-eleventy-million-spacers bike. Plus, it's my travel bike, so being small helps it fit in the case good. Anyway, in truth, besides looking a little funny, the fact that the frame's too small doesn't really make any difference. That's the funny thing about bikes--most of this crap really doesn't matter very much. If the bike's put together well from okay stuff and the fit is in the ballpark you're all set. It's all just "foffing off" anyway, and if you want to do it with your pinky raised or while wearing a pretty hat go right ahead, but in the end it's all the same.
In any case, as the seasonal strip tease begins, here in New York we're finally getting those tantalizing nip-slips of spring, and so yesterday I set out on the above-pictured bicycle for an "epic" ride to a big-box home "improvement" store, because sometimes in life you have to do stuff like that.
Arguably, there's nothing more American than giving your money to a great big downtown independent business-killing ghost town-making retail store full of Chinese-made goods, and this comes into sharp relief when you do it by bicycle instead of by SUV or minivan like a real American. First, I picked up this trail in the park right by the home which I planned to "improve:"
This path used to be the tracks for a choo-choo train. I like riding on old choo-choo train tracks. I also own a young human child, so there's not a moment during which I'm not discussing the merits and drawbacks of different kinds of choo-choos or "curating" choo-choo train-themed entertainment on TV:
(Screw you, you bloated old windbag.)
The Parks Department actually wants to pave over these old choo-choo train tracks so more people can use them, but there are people who don't want them to. I don't want them to either, but the whole thing does become a real mess when it rains, so I can see both sides of it, which is rare for me, because usually I'm convinced someone is an idiot. Anyway, the whole thing is fraught with confusion and delay, so I figure I'll just enjoy it the way it is until it becomes something else, and if it does I'll enjoy that too.
Following the old choo-choo tracks, you soon leave New York City, at which point the trail abruptly becomes this:
And then you wriggle your way through a little city called Yonkers until you get to this, which used to be an aqueduct that supplied New York City with whatever it is aqueducts carry, milk I think:
Between my lousy smartphone photography and the fact that is was overcast I'm sure this doesn't look like much, but believe me when I tell you it was glorious. Spring was in the air. Birds chirped, other animals made other sounds, and you could practically smell Mother Nature's vulvanus. Plus, as I get older I much prefer local history porn to bike porn, so I take nerdly delight in cycling on the ghosts of New York City's infrastructure in the form of old train tracks and old aqueducts and the occasional used prophylactic.
Speaking of bike porn, your-stem's-too-long guy said that long stems produce a "goofy tiller effect," which I have no idea what that means. Maybe it's a term for a left-handed boater. ("Dude, I totally sail goofy-tiller.") He also said they cause a whole bunch of other bad crap to happen. I don't know what he's talking about because I was totally able to ride the bike no-handed:
(Weasels ate my bar tape.)
Then again, I shouldn't give the bike too much credit, since what really makes this possible is my incredible bike-handling skills. Plus I took a picture at the same time! There simply aren't a lot of people in the world able to pull off a stunt like that.
Sadly, after awhile I had to leave the aqueduct and head inland or whatever you call it when you leave a river (I always lived near oceans and bays, rivers confuse me) towards the insidious car hive that houses the big-box home "improvement" store as well as various other retail establishments. Of course, no "epic" ride is complete without a climb, and as it happens this particular car hive is situated on a formidable mountain, atop which sits a tempting alpine food chalet:
So I climbed this suburban Alpe d'Huez, stomping my way through the 21 Sandwich Boards of Deliciousness:
Here's one of them:
Oh, sweet Lob on High, supine on your Roll of Righteousness. It's as if Michelangelo himself painted you...
On I climbed, passed sweet deals on sweeter prosecco:
Until I reached the parking lot, where, between the incline and the general disinclination among Americans to ride to the store, it should go without saying there was no bike parking:
I don't know if that climb constitutes a Strava segment, but if it does then I'm sure I totally smashed the course record. Maybe one day Stew Leonard's will invite me to make a celebrity appearance like Yolanda Vega:
"Yes, I do own the Strava KOM for this parking lot, and I'll gladly sign your breasts with this Sharpie."
Pending that auspicious day, I settled for giving them money in exchange for a sandwich:
(I didn't realize how wrong this picture looked until just now.)
I look forward to your-stem's-too-long guy telling me that my sandwich is also too long, and that a shorter one would handle better. Whatever. By the way, you'll note that I've officially given up both leg-shaving and vegetarianism, and while those may be baby steps towards embracing a more mainstream attitude, I can assure you that to my fellow shoppers I appeared no less freakish sitting cross-legged in the parking lot next to a bike and devouring a gigantic sandwich.
Then I went to the big-box home "improvement" store, where my backpack devoured a gigantic box:
After which I left the car hive and sought refuge upon the bike path:
Where I won the city line sprint against myself:
(The dirt means you're back in New York City.)
As for my home, it's been improved, but it was pretty good in the first place.
Speaking of epic rides:
Sustainable Cycles is Bicycling Across the Country this Summer!
Sustainable Cycles is off to an incredible start in 2013! We were awarded the year-long Lead Now Fellowship we are presenting at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference this June; and we are sending Spokeswomen on a trip from the Bay Area to New York City – 3,250 miles!
Holy shit! The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference is in New York City this year?!? That's like the NAHBS of menstrual conventions! I am so there!
Anyway, Sustainable Cycles is asking you to donate so they can put their spokeswoman through what sounds like abject hell:
Donate now to Rachel’s trip! She will be living on $5/day for food. Her total budget for the 3 month trip (including train tickets, bike repair, sleeping arrangements, everything) is $2,000. We are hoping to raise $2,000 for Rachel, and another $2,000 so that she can have an additional Spokeswoman along for the entire ride.
$5 a day for food?!? I eat twice that in a single parking lot sitting!
Still, it's an important cause, as evidenced by the Used Tampon Truck of Shame:
Menstruate on that, America.