So I finally broke my New York City bike share cherry--and I mean that literally, since the tires are inflated to about a million PSI (or [whothefuckevenknows] bar) and it was not exactly "vertically compliant" on the cobblestones of DUMBO, so I think I exploded my vaginal corona.
I felt like a can of house paint on a mixing machine.
Of course, even though I'd used the same bike share system in other cities, I still studied up before using it here by reading--what else?--the newbie's bible, "Bicycling" magazine:
How gross are the public saddles—should I bring sanitizer?
Treat them like a yoga mat or exercise bike at the gym. “A quick wipedown with antimicrobial wipes is never a bad idea,” says cyclist and sports science professor Steven M. Zinder, PhD, of UNC-Chapel Hill. But, he adds, there’s no reason to freak out. Washing your hands and your bike clothes will likely suffice.
Actually, no New Yorker asks this question. That's because we ride the subway, where there's a 99% chance the previous occupant of your seat was a homeless person who just shat himself. (This is why giving your seat to pregnant women or the elderly is not quite as genteel as it may seem.) Sure, it's pretty easy for some bike share hater to booby-trap the saddle with a turd, but given the relatively small surface area compared to a subway seat I gotta say I like those odds.
Still, that's not going to stop me from launching a Kickstarter for bike-specific "ass gaskets" and marketing them to the corner delis.
Here's another good question:
Will I be publicly mocked for riding this blue beast around town?
While the Citi Bike doesn’t take style cues from Bianchi or Cervélo, the only unsolicited feedback we received while riding the Citi Bike was packed with the sort of enthusiasm you’d expect from the prospect of free ice cream.
Respectfully I disagree. You will look like a complete idiot riding around in your street clothes at a leisurely pace--unlike the graceful exemplars of velocipedal style who ride Bianchis:
I actually rolled up next to this person while riding the Citi Bike yesterday, and any lingering sense of shame I might have been experiencing for riding 50lbs of corporate branding was instantly banished to the same far-off realm in which his shirt resides.
But, you know, at least he's wearing a helment.
Anyway, for those of you still doubting the efficacy of this program, I'd like to reiterate how incredibly convenient it is--FOR ME. Without giving too much of my private life away, once a week I must travel from Lob's Country where I live now to DUMBO in Brooklyn, and if you absolutely have to know the reason for this journey let's just say I have a standing appointment for a Brazilian scranus waxing there.
Aren't you sorry you asked?
(And if you want the name of the absolute best Brazilian scranus waxer this side of the Mississipi click here, I won't judge.)
According to a popular Internet mapping application, this trip is something like 17 miles (or 346 bar) each way, and there are three primary ways to undertake it:
--By subway train
--By driving THE CAR THAT I OWN
Well, we can cross driving THE CAR THAT I OWN right off the list, since barring the sort of extenuating circumstances that might require me to do so (like, I don't know, David Byrne left the lights of his Hyundai on and he needs a jump) it's silly to drive to Brooklyn during the week because it's a major pain in the ass.
As for the bike, I'll often opt for that. However, in New York City riding a bike is way faster than the subway--to a point. After a certain distance, the subway (assuming it's running properly, which is a big ass) is probably going to win. What that distance actually is differs from rider to rider, but generally for me, riding at a fairly leisurely commuting pace and loosely following traffic laws, it's somewhere around 10 miles:
Wait, I think I messed that up. I think the red should be the biek and the green should be the subway.
Aw, fuck it.
In any case, the long ride to DUMBO is nice. I can take greenways, if I feel like it I can putz around Central Park laughing at Freds for a bit, and so forth. But if I'm in a rush, or I'm going to be coming home really late, or it's disgusting out (I'm well past the age at which I feel it's necessary to ride 17 miles in shitty weather) I'll just take the subway.
But the problem with the subway train is that shitty DUMBO only has the shitty F train, which for me involves one of those shitty transfers where you have to walk a million miles underground. Moreover, you have to make the transfer via the L train platform, and if you're unfamiliar with New York the L train has officially become the "hipster express" and watching an L train barf its quasi-lumberjacks and nouveaux yuppies onto the platform makes me want to barf as well.
The other option is taking a train that doesn't involve the long and nauseating switch, but that leaves me with a lengthy walk once I got to Brooklyn. And don't even talk to me about the bus. Plus, no matter what train I take, I don't have a bike with me once I get there--unless I schlep the folding bike. That solves the transfer problem and the walking problem. But now I don't even have to do that, because check out this shit:
Walk outside, yank a bike out of the dock, ride it to where I have to go in about eight minutes, dock it again, and forget about it.
See, that's what I'm talking about--ME, and this additional layer of almost gratuitous convenience that saves ME a very tiny handful of effort and time.
This is why the antagonism towards the program is so absurd, since every spoiled pain in the ass in this town who likes to complain about his or her commute (which is pretty much everybody) should be celebrating this thing!
Best of all, the bikes come with a clever little "easter egg:"
If you place your bare scranus on the cockpit-mounted rule slab, a hologram of Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan "Frenching" is suddenly projected from the basket.
Don't ask me how I figured that out.
What the Citi Bikes don't seem to have though are bells, which are technically required by law, so I guess the plan is to make the program massively successful and then kill it in one fell swoop with the single biggest bicycle ticketing blitz in the history of humankind.
As for my commute, it all went to shit anyway in the end due to a train derailment, so I suppose I just should have ridden my bike anyway.
Lastly, I was quoted in the eleventy millionth bike share article to date, though they edited out all my mentions of my "scranus:"
Meanwhile, in componentry news, Stevil Kinevil of All Black The Hail Market has informed me that a team of Israeli scientists have now made it possible to give yourself a facial as you ride:
The device is as elegantly-designed and lightweight as it is hilarious:
(When cycling through occupied territories, replace water with tear gas and orient sprayer away from face.)
Though, like everything else in the bike industry, this has been done before. Anybody remember Shimano's short-lived "Clown Drive" XTR upgrade?
So what's the matter? You don't want to donate money to hilarious crowd-sourcing campaigns? Well, how about depressing ones? This guy wants $5,000 to ride from Seattle to New Jersey and talk to people about how lonely he is:
This has got to be one of the saddest things I've ever seen. Basically, he's starting in Seattle, which is a rain-soaked city full of heroin addicts, and finishing in New Jersey. New Jersey. He's going to go all the way across the country and he's not even going to finish in New York City? That's like breaking into the Guggenheim and stealing a free map of the museum.
But don't worry, your money is safe with him, since he'll keep writing even if he's mauled by a bear:
Beyond funding, a big risk of my project is getting hurt on the bike trip. I have many many years experience with bicycling and have recently signed up to take a wilderness first-aid course in preparation. Unless I am horrifically maimed, I still anticipate being able to write.
This guy does not need $5,000. This guy needs a hug.