Yesterday afternoon I checked the weather, and holy fucking shit if it wasn't 40-something Degrees American!
I decided immediately to go for a ride, though I needed more of a pretext since I had actual important stuff to do (clean the toilet). So, since I'm still a semi-professional bike blogger, I decided to finally test the Fly6 camera they sent me:
In short, the Fly6 is a camera you mount on your seatpost in case someone decides to run you over from behind with a steamroller and you need evidence so the police can ignore it. (Assuming the Fly6 can survive being run over by a steamroller, which is still a big fat question mark.) I first mentioned the Fly6 almost two weeks ago, and since then the inventors have funded their Kickstarter almost twice over, during which time I was too lazy to set the thing up. Now, they probably don't even care what I think since they're on a private plane to the Caribbean, but I needed an excuse to ride, and so set it up I did.
Now, as you may know, there's a British Imperial Fucktonne of snow still on the ground around these parts, currently melting in that 48-degree heat. This means I don't go anywhere on a bike without fenders--real, full-coverage, struts-bolted-into-eyelets fenders. None of those strap-on roadie fenders, because strap-ons are for mild weather (and, occasionally "pegging.") Also, you need some fattish tires, because the streets look as though they've been carpet-bombed. How fat? Well, I use what once upon a time was called a "touring tire," even though the bike industry would have me astride a gravel-specific bicycle with gravel-specific tires, since they don't want you figuring out that what they're selling as a "gravel bike" is basically just a cyclocross bike with touring tires.
Fortunately, I have a bike set up specifically for winter riding, but unfortunately it has this old-fashioned thing called a "level top tube," (in addition to an extra-long, uncircumcised seat tube), which means there's precious little real estate in the seat-postular region, the upshot of which is that the Fly6 would not fit:
(Would not fit.)
This is to say nothing of the fact that, even if it did fit, I wouldn't be able to carry a saddle bag, and I'm sorry, but at my age you better believe I have no compunctions about riding around with a big, pendulous saddle bag.
(Another quirk of the Fly6 is that, somewhere in the literature I've now lost, I believe it says the camera don't work too great in the night time, which seems like an odd shortcoming for a light with a camera in it meant to protect you from reckless drivers. However, I should stress again that I've lost the literature and don't remember exactly what it says, and that I plan to try it at night and report back to you. Either way, this seems like it was designed mostly with people who ride sloping top tube bikes during the day, a.k.a. "Freds.")
Anyway, theoretically I could have engineered a "kludge," but my riding window was rapidly closing, and so I figured I'd just strap the thing onto the seat tube itself and hope for the best:
(That saddlebag is the "Grandpa in the Steamroom" model.)
Given its location behind the brake cable hanger and deep in the crotch of those "beefy" aluminum seat stays, I figured I had roughly a 20% chance of this thing yielding anything resembling usable footage:
(Do I care the cable hanger is a completely different blue from the frame? Not a goddamn micro-whit I don't.)
As it turned out, despite the sub-optimal positioning, you can actually see quite a bit. For example, here I am "rolling out" for what I call my "lunch ride," and you can see very clearly that I live in a rugged, urban neighborhood:
I love all the grit, it really feeds my soul. I only hope the hipsters don't come around here and gentrify it.*
*[If you have any comments about the slightly wonky cable hanger position, or about cantilever brake setup in general, please register them here. Or, better yet, here.]
Anyway, the Fly6 is not a tool meant to help you check the alignment of your cable hanger. Rather, it is a tool to capture on "film" that thrilling moment when a motorist runs over you from behind. Here I am at a red light (stopped, I might add, because it's a highway service road), and as you can see, had the Cadillac behind me run me over or even decided to throw diamond jewelry at me, I'd have had clear footage of the license plate:
However, the driver of the Cadillac didn't encroach on me or do anything untoward. Moreover, after watching the footage I looked up the license plate and didn't find so much as a parking ticket, and so I went ahead and blurred the license plate in the above picture by way of saying "Thank you for being a good citizen and neighbor."
Having survived a brush with the upper-middle class, I warmed up with a climb:
Note the condition of the road surface. This is not because of the weather. It's like this all the time:
I have heard it said that the community intentionally keeps the roads in a state of disrepair, since it discourages fast driving, interlopers, and, presumably, cyclists. I don't know if that's true, but either way I think it's fantastic, because riding over bumps is fun, and nothing ruins a ride for me like seeing other cyclists.
Whether the shitty road surface conspiracy is true or not, one thing's for certain: if the potholes don't get you, then the street toughs will:
Then, assuming you make it out of there alive, you cross the New York City limits and drop down onto the Yonkers waterfront, where you get to contend with potholes and steel plates and commercial traffic:
Here was the first instance where I hoped the camera would come through for me, because I kept passing and being passed by a driving instructor who was having an animated cellphone conversation while driving--which is illegal, even in Yonkers. Sure, he wasn't bothering me or anything, but I just wanted footage of the driving instructor talking on his cellphone, because I am a blogger who loves ironic juxtaposition like driving instructors talking on cellphones while driving:
Sadly, you can't tell he's on the phone. So, had I fallen prey to his Corolla, I guess I'd have enough evidence to track him down, though not enough to prove he was actually using his cellphone. (Sure, they could subpoena his cellphone records, but that will happen in New York State just as soon as Hell hosts the Winter Olympics.)
Still, even with the shitty placement, I wound up with clear footage of the traffic behind me, and had I been sideswiped I'd have had evidence of the offense:
Of course, I was not sideswiped, nor was I a victim of anything resembling motor-vehicular heedlessness or antagonism, and I can assure you I'm quite pleased I did not have to "test" the Fly6 under such circumstances.
One thing I will say though is that, if you're going to go all "Big Brother" while riding, it seems a shame not to have anything up front. For example, as I left Yonkers, I passed a runner who was so delighted to see another freak doing physical exercise in the snow that he waved joyously at me:
I've never had a runner wave to me while I was on a bike. The only thing they do is scowl at me because I "snuck up on them from behind." (In other words, they were running with headphones and got startled.) Therefore I'd have liked to have footage of a runner actually waving, but instead all I have is his back receding into the distance.
The apex of my "lunch ride" is what I call the "big climb." Well, it's not very big since it takes about four minutes to do, but it is very steep, and here I am cresting it:
The steepness thing is not subjective, either. I know it's steep because I've taken other people on it, and as we climbed it they corroborated this by saying "Yeah, sure, this is pretty steep, whatever" and then proceeded to ride effortlessly away from me.
After summiting the "big climb," I stopped to see whether the camera was still working (read: I barfed) at which point it captured the image of some asshole taking a picture of my bike:
And here's the very picture that very asshole took:
If that's not a trippy feedback loop of bike wankery I don't know what is.
By the way, you don't need a disembodied hand to hold your bike up when there's Four Fucking Feet of Snow everywhere:
(I just threw it there and it stuck.)
Coming off the mountain, I rolled through the village of Hastings-on-Hudson, the place to which the New York Times famously said all the Brooklyn "hipsters" were decamping:
As usual, they were right. Check out these hipsters:
They very easily could have moved up from Williamsburg, but when they did it looked like this:
After passing through Hastings I went up another hill:
And then back down into Yonkers. Did you know that New York City taxis get a second life as Yonkers taxis?
My theory is that after New York City taxi kills 10 people it gets sent up north to live out the rest of its life, which makes Yonkers like that island in "Papillon."
Next, I "portaged" my bike through a roadwork site:
I don't know what they're doing, but they've been at it for weeks, and it involves lots of backhoes and hoses:
My best guess is that they're administering the city a much-needed re-Yonkering.
While I didn't want anybody to run me over, my secret hope was that I would catch somebody on video mocking me from behind, ideally by giving me "the finger." I figured my best bet was the policeman directing traffic, since he gave me kind of a look when he let me though:
Sadly, he did not give me the finger, though he does look kind of nonplussed:
In retrospect, it's probably because he's been standing in the middle of a construction site all day, and my suspicion that I might have entered into his consciousness in any way only goes to show how vain and self-important I am.
Next I won the city line sprint against myself, and once again proved my Flandrianesque mettle on the forbidding streets of my gritty neighborhood:
Then some asshole turned off the Fly6:
By the way, if you want the full Strava route of my "lunch ride," you can find it here.
I love you platonically,
--Wildcat Rock Machine