Hands up if you're still wearing the same underpants from Friday:
Oh, come on, I can't be the only one.
Firstly, I'd just like to remind you by Internet-shouting that THIS SATURDAY MAY 18TH I'LL BE IN BOSTON. Here are the details:
How exciting is that graphic, by the way? (Answer: hugely fucking exciting.)
I hope you'll come, because after this event I'm planning to go into deep, deep seclusion and I'd like to see some smiling human faces before I do:
(Me after this weekend.)
Sometimes you've just gotta "get Kubrickian."
Secondly, Philly! (That's what the locals call "Philadelphia.") Yeah, I was there last Thursday, and here's what happened:
Wait, sorry, wrong picture. That's a picture of the Giro "New Road" stealth-Fred shorts they sent me. Evidently they thought that, in addition to being pathetically slow, I also weigh a million pounds. So obviously I haven't been riding in them, but I have been wearing them when I lounge around the house:
By the way, not only is the the Giro paddle game all I need (besides the chair and the remote control and the ashtray and the lamp and the matches), but the crabon fiber paddle is both laterally stiff and vertically compliant.
So, right, Philly. Well, on Thursday morning I unfurled my folding bike, rode about 40 feet from my back door to the subway, furled it up again, and shuffled on through the turnstile with my pants around my ankles. As much as I love the folding bike, there's one problem with it, which is that people on the subway ask you questions. (Typical folding bike questions include: "How much does it weigh?," "Does it ride like a normal bike?," and "So you're a huge dork, huh? How's that working out for you?") This time around I received the first and second questions, and while nobody explicitly asked me the third it's always implied.
Eventually, I reached Penn Station, boarded an Amtrak train, stowed my clown bike on the luggage rack without incident, and an hour and a half later emerged here:
Like London, Philadelphia has combination bus-and-bike lanes:
(Self-contradicting street markings make my brain all hurty.)
As I rode, it occurred to me that one benefit of this configuration is that, while drivers may feel perfectly comfortable idling in regular bike lanes, they certainly wouldn't sit there obstructing a bus lane.
There's only one problem, though, which is that it turns out they totally will:
Soon, I found myself at my hotel, which was clearly in Philadelphia's thriving "douchebag district:"
As you can see from the fixie window treatments, Philadelphia's douchebag district is modeled on New York City's douchebag district(s) exactly five years ago. (The way it works is that the douchebag businesses in New York throw their decorations out and then the ones in Philadelphia pick them out of the trash.) Actually, the whole city is like being in a time warp. Remember bikes like these? They're still riding them in Philadelphia!
And yes, that's a genuine "Cionlli" saddle:
"Cionlli" is a vaguely Italian-sounding subsidiary of the Cionlli Industrial Co., Ltd. saddle manufacturing concern.
Yes, everywhere in Philadelphia the winds of nostalgia were blowing:
Everybody knows white tires went out with top tube pads (which of course I also saw in Philadelphia).
After doing a little shopping I made my way over to Rittenhouse Square, where riders were assembling:
As usual, I had requested that we be accompanied by both a triple tandem:
As well as a pennyfarthing:
And I was pleased to see that both were represented. I was less pleased to see that there's a fuckload of stuff you're not allowed to do in Rittenhouse Square, much of which it wouldn't even occur to me to try in the first place:
(Why would I want to attach something to the trees or shrubs?)
Though you're still more than welcome to drag around your small, ratlike dog:
Once I'd finished attaching prophylactics to the trees and shrubs in Rittenhouse Square, we were off:
Though our attempt at a rolling game of "bike frolf" was short-lived:
If there's one thing I've learned over the years from these group city rides, it's that you always assign one rider to "curb patrol:"
This rider's job is to kick any potential jaywalkers in the groin.
Meanwhile, the drivers hold up their end by doing their best to "door" you:
The other thing I've learned is to set a series of goals, and my first goal was to make it out of the douchebag district alive--and clearly I was still in the douchebag district since there were still men dining al fresco with poodles:
He looks nonplussed in the way only a man dining with a poodle can.
Bravely, we pressed on:
And I pondered the message on this bag:
I've married and reproduced, I generally do what I'm told, and in the two (2) hours I'd been in Philadelphia up to that point I'd already shopped at a Gap, a Starbucks, and an Apple store.
Maybe I really didn't deserve to make it out of the douchebag district alive.
Still, we rode:
As the pennyfarthing rider blocked traffic for us with his gigantic wheel:
I plan to learn how to draw so I can create a comic book called "Anachronism Man," about a superhero who stops motor vehicle traffic with the power of anachronism.
By the way, put yourself in the driver's buttery soft leather loafers for a moment. There you are, heading towards Philadelphia's douchebag district in your luxury German automobile for a night out, when all of a sudden a guy on a pennyfarthing orders you to stop so that a triple tandem can pass:
Actually, it's possible the people in the Mercedes weren't heading into the douchebag district. They may just have been looking for the erogenous zone:
If they keep circling and circling I'm sure they'll find it eventually.
As for us, we kept going, since the ride was family-friendly:
And eventually we arrived at the seaport:
So basically, Philadelphia has a cheesy historical seaport, a suspension bridge, and an uninspiring view of New Jersey.
Wow, it really is a half-assed version of New York City.
Still, no American city can boast as many "firsts" as Philadelphia. For example, it's home to our country's first breath mint factory:
(Uh, there's no "V" in "United.")
Which was later entirely rebuilt due to the above typo:
(They got it right this time, trust me.)
They're also the home of the Destination Maternity corporation:
Which is right across from the Seamen's Church:
Because when you hang around semen you're pretty much destined for maternity.
It's even the home of the first Hershey's candy store:
Coincidentally, 13 of my 17 children are named "Snavely."
As well as the first police equipment shop-turned-bike shop:
Or almost-turned-bike-shop, since it will open in June:
Most significantly though, Philadelphia is home to the first set of "Rocky" steps:
And here they are:
Basically, what happens here is that tour buses pull up and then idiots pour of them and run up and down the "Rocky" steps, despite the fact that there are actual works of art inside:
This is like being given a beautiful custom bicycle and spinning the pedal round and round with your index finger and giggling rather than riding it.
In any case, it was here at the Rocky steps that we added to Philadelphia's impressive list of "firsts:"
This is, to my knowledge, the first double-flat on a triple-tandem repaired by a guy who rides a pennyfarthing.
But not all of Philadelphia's movie landmarks are inspirational. In fact, some are almost as depressing as Cleveland's, and this derelict hotel is the one in which Bruce Willis and Madeline Stowe hide out in "Twelve Monkeys:"
It's also where my publisher put me up, and if you don't mind the occasional stabbing it's really not that bad.
Finally, we reached the bowling alley, complete with its artisanal meathook bike rack:
And the two people left fidgeted nervously with my book:
By the way, the pennyfarthing rider got to bring his bike inside:
The advantage of the pennyfarthing, I've learned, is that people gawk at it so intently that they forget they hate bikes.
(Thanks very much to Bilenky for hosting.)