If one California company realizes its vision, your next riding partner could be a drone. Yes, that kind of drone http://t.co/fjHNzF3CBEMy next riding partner could be a drone? Wow! You mean Levi Leipheimer is coming over to ride with me?
— Bicycling Magazine (@BicyclingMag) February 25, 2014
(Levi Leipheimer: totally a drone.)
Excitedly (if you can call anything related to Levi Leipheimer "exciting"), I clicked on the link, but the article was actually about flying mechanical Fred drones that will soon be able to ride with you:
The design would incorporate two drones, one to fly in front of the bicycle and the second to fly in rear, to improve the visibility of the cyclist. The system would be equipped with a camera—“the original idea was to record accidents, but you could make a whole movie of your ride,” Eubanks says.
According to Eubanks, the design is three to five years away from being a viable product.
I say if they come up with a pair of drones that can help a triathlete mount a bicycle then they've got themselves a winner.
Speaking of riding while under surveillance, you may recall that last Friday I finally tested the Fly6 integrated tail light camera. Well, this morning as I was getting ready to ride my kid over to the Apple product child labor factory I decided to try it out again.
This time, I had no mounting issues whatsoever, since my Big Dummy offers plenty of real estate for lights and other gewgaws, and I was able to easily strap the Fly6 right onto the bridge of Dark Helment's nose.
Thus affording the device a panoramic view:
You can't tell because it's only a screenshot, but I am bombing the fuck out of that hill at my kid's request.
Unfortunately, what comes down must go up:
It may not look like much of a hill, but a Big Dummy complete with human child weighs more than a Volkswagen Beetle, and it's just when I'm going anaerobic that the aforementioned child decides to assail me with questions such as "What is the earth made of?" while kicking me in the calves.
Alas, there's not much in the way of motor vehicular mayhem in my part of town, though you should never underestimate the danger posed by elderly drivers:
(There are no elderly drivers in this photo, but they're lurking, believe me.)
Obvious threats such as yellow cabs are one thing, but the insidious "slow burn" of a driver born during the Taft administration emerging from a CVS parking lot is infinitely more terrifying. They don't turn, they don't stop for signals. Instead, they just creep inexorably forward like a Panzer tank across the Sudetenland, flattening anything in their path
Depending on my mood, sometimes I actually prefer the mayhem of midtown Manhattan to quiet residential neighborhoods, in the same way you might prefer dying in a hail of bullets to being slowly crushed by the trash compactor in "Star Wars."
Anyway, we successfully negotiated the blue-haired minefield, and then I dropped the kid off at the Apple factory so he and his fellow laborers can assemble the new iPhone. Next, I headed for the train station, and on the way an apartment shuttle pulled the old gun-it-as-the-light's-changing thing:
This underscored the shortcoming of only having a rear camera, but if I were to get one for the front too then I'd have to hire a grip and deal with the teamsters, not to mention the 36-hour editing sessions after every ride.
Arriving at the train station, I parked the Big Dummy someplace where it could enjoy a pleasing view in my absence:
Here's "Your's Truley," walking around the bike to get the up-locking supplies from the bike's cargo bags:
Note I'm wearing my Brooks "Inspector Gadget" jacket. Say what you will about the price (I suggest "Are you fucking kidding me?") and some of the goofy features (the blue straps so you can hang it off your back are particularly superfluous), but I have to say that I wear this thing all the time, on and off the bike, and it's phenomenal.
Also, the soothing tan color helps mollify the blue-hairs.
Next, I locked up the bike, and as the chain enters the camera's field of vision you can see that I'm not messing around:
And then I turned off the Fly6, revealing, as always, that I have at least one "bat in the cave," not to mention a nose hair thatch to rival that of any blue-haired driver:
Hey, at this time of year there's always going to be lots of mucus happening, no matter how often I wipe my nose on the sleeve of my Inspector Gadget jacket.
Finally, I pocketed the Fly6, took a parting shot of the Big Dummy, and headed down to the platform:
As I rode the train, I read the following:
The new bike-share system has endured a brutal first winter, and it shows.
So far in February, Citi Bikers have taken only about 7,500 trips a day. That’s down from nearly 10,000 a day in January, which was a pretty nasty time to be outside, too.
I don't know, that does't sound so low to me. Frankly, given the winter we've been having, I'm surprised anybody is riding the goddamn things at all. So, upon disembarking in Manhattan, I decided to subject the Fly6 to further testing by taking a gratuitous Citi Bike ride.
Sadly, as you can see, there were only two bikes at the nearest station:
One has the reversed saddle that is the universal symbol for "bike's busted," and the other was simply out of order.
I was about to give up on the whole Citi Bike thing, but at that very moment fate smiled upon me when a woman returned one of the coveted azure corporate clunkers:
In mere seconds I mounted the Fly6:
Switched it on:
Swung a leg over the bike:
And took off.
The first thing I noticed was that the bike was pretty wonky, and I could feel the pedal spindles wiggling underneath my feet. The seatpost clamp was also a bit loose, so if you watch the Fly6 video the camera's sort of wagging like it's on the tail of a mildly pleased dog. I'm sure I was wreaking havoc with by biomechanics, and had I been using a Shark saddle no doubt it would have been sending sharp warning pains directly into my anus.
Still, the bike worked, and that's all that mattered. Plus, as I entered the bike lane, I had the added assurance of the camera:
Just try it, you fuckers.
In fact, between my Inspector Gadget camera and the Fly6, I was positively brimming with confidence and weaving through traffic as though it was standing still:
Mostly because it was, in fact, standing still.
By the way, if you've lived in New York City for more than three days you've almost been killed at least seventeen times by a vehicle from "C.C. Rentals:"
Incredibly this one in particular didn't encroach on me, but as far as I can tell, patrons of C.C. Rentals are under strict instructions to attack cyclists.
Then, this guy tried to erect a hasty barrier in the bike lane, but I was too fast for him:
After which I took a daring inside line in order to pass a Doritos truck:
You should never take the inside line when passing a Doritos truck or indeed any truck, but I'm a semi-professional bike blogger equipped with both a Fly6 and an incredibly expensive Inspector Gadget jacket, so I can pull it off.
I can also cut off taxi cabs:
Deal with it.
At the next intersection, I found myself in front of a twin-pronged threat that will be immediately familiar to any New York City cyclist, that being the Access-a-Ride car and the fucked-up van:
Complete with license plate affixed to bumper with dental floss:
(Almost as threatening as a Pennsylvania license plate, which is the most threatening of all delivery van license plates.)
Both of these vehicles will not hesitate to run you over the moment the light turns green, which is why you should always give yourself a head start whenever possible:
But not too much of a head start, because they'll get you for running a red light if you're too obvious about it:
It's all part of "Vision Zero" or something.
Finally, I arrived at the Citi Bike station:
Where I docked the bike with much determination:
Switched off the Fly6:
(Dr. Wildkatz-Rockmanstein, proctologist.)
And left the wonky Citi Bike with its siblings:
By the way, check out the paparazzo on Rollerblades looking to snag a celebrity:
Good thing I was wearing my Groucho glasses, because he totally missed me.