Remember how yesterday I wrote about the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland? Well, I sure do, because my eyeballs still sting from the Brillo pads. Now it looks like I should have blinded myself altogether*, because evidently the whole freeballin' and mammary-swaying debacle is coming to my own city this Friday, floppy dongs and all:
Here's the checklist, from which "pants" are conspicuously absent:
Great, I'll be sure to bring my suitcase of courage and my tube of anti-fungal cream.
*[Just kidding, this might as well be happening on Mars, because there's virtually no chance that the ride will come anywhere near where I live, which is precisely why I moved here.]
Of course, just because you're not wearing pants doesn't mean you shouldn't be safe, and while nothing spoils the clean lines of your birthday suit like a helment, that doesn't mean you can't fit your bike with some vibriSee luminescent bike whiskers:
I can't imagine anybody would choose these things over a blinky light for normal city riding, but I am sure they will be a huge hit at Burning Man.
As for the "biomimicry" approach, this is nothing new in the world of cycling. Turning yourself into a giant sea anemone may seem clever at first, but cyclists have been engaging in biomimicry for years. We use it to spot predators and to eat from tree canopies:
(Tall bike rider in search of rare Brooklyn eucalyptus.)
We use it to relax:
(Have you ever seen a recumbent rider eat an oyster off his own belly? It's freaking adorable.)
And we even use it to conserve energy:
("Pull through, you finsuckers!")
Speaking of biomimicry, yesterday I had to go to Brooklyn for the day, and because it looked like maybe possibly it might rain a just little tiny bit I emulated the woosus domesticus by leaving the bike at home and taking the subway.
Anyway, I did what I had to do, and seven hours later my tattoo was finished and it was time to leave Brooklyn:
(That's young Alan Alda, I go in next week for aging Alan Alda.)
What's more, it wasn't raining, and there I was sitting on a bumper crop of fitness after a full weekend of mountain bicycle cycling with snappy legs and a stinging Hawkeye Pierce on my bicep. So instead of simply getting on the subway and going home, I decided to borrow a Citi Bike and seek out reverse Cat 6 glory upon the Manhattan Bridge and then simply get on a subway and go home.
Selecting a suitable machine, I deftly adjusted the saddle to my preferred height. However, the dock would not relinquish the bike, so I selected another machine, deftly adjusted that saddle to my preferred height, waited for the little light to turn green, and off I went.
I knew this was going to be a hard day of racing as soon as I mounted the bridge, because the riders were coming off the Brooklyn side at blistering speed:
Of course, I was going the other way, which meant I wasn't really racing against these people. Instead, I was technically competing against the small handful of riders going into Manhattan in the evening, which in the world of Cat 6 racing is considered "sandbagging."
By the way, I've been noticing that bicycle helments have taken a great many steps backward in recent years. First they were bulbous and poorly vented and difficult to adjust, then they got sleeker and cooler and more comfortable, and by the early 21st century you could put on a racing helment and forget your were even wearing the thing. You'd think this would make people happy, but instead helments are reverting, and suddenly everyone wants to ride around in DayGlo hard hats:
Though I admit the safety orange helment would look pretty good with this cargo bike:
Had I been on my Big Dummy I would have considered him a rival. However, today I was racing as a stagiaire in the Citi Bike category--which, judging from the large number of Citi Bikes I saw, is by far the fastest-growing subcategory in the sport of Cat 6 racing:
See, look at the bikes in the above photo. If you're racing in the Open Cat 6 category you're competing against riders on all different sorts of bicycles: fixies, folding bikes, hybrids, recumbents... This means some riders are at an unfair advantage. However, in the Citi Bike category, the equipment is totally standardized, and so it's a much more level playing field. In this sense, it's sort of the keirin of Cat 6 racing, only without the rampant corruption.
Clearly I'm not the only rider who feels this way, because Team Citi Bike was out in force:
Sure, at first glance we may not appear to be "hardcore," but we've got matching team bikes, corporate sponsorship, and a fleet of mechanics who ride around the city in team vehicles performing all our maintenance for us. Can your amateur racing team boast all of those things?
I didn't think so.
Speaking of being professional, remember when people on the Internet used to write "PRO" in all-caps so that the rest of us would know that they were idiots? Well, in the Citi Bike category we don't say someone we admire is "PRO." Instead, we say they're "CITI-PRO," and there are two types: one is the "put-on-special-clothes-just-to-ride-a-Citi-Bike CITI-PRO:"
And the other is the "corporate CITI-PRO:"
Bike share is all about commuting, and nothing says "commuter" more than a shirt and tie, which is why riding a Citi Bike in a shirt and tie is so totally CITI-PRO. Here's another rider who has taken corporate CITI-PRO to Rapha-esque sartorial heights:
There are even also some riders who try so hard to be CITI-PRO that they put on a shirt and tie before riding a Citi Bike, even though they don't have jobs. We call these riders FAKENDRONES.
But you don't have to be CITI-PRO to get out of the saddle and crush a climb on "your" Citi Bike:
All it takes is a credit card, a race face, and a suitcase full of courage:
The purple shirt is optional.
Anyway, as I got closer to the Manhattan side, I began to realize that the Citi Bike riders I'd already seen were merely going for the stage win, but there was a much more serious race going on behind among the four General Classification contenders:
By the way, the rider in the third position looked familiar, and as I got closer I realized he was indeed none other than Lance Armstrong, off the pace of the two leaders but putting a serious gap between his opponent and himself:
Hey, when you're banned for life by WADA you gotta take your races where you can get them--sort of like this fixie rider launching a devastating attack on a Team Citi Bike rider:
As for my own race, it was going all pear-shaped, for my Citi Bike refused to stay in the big gear (or, as we Team Citi Bike riders call it, "3"):
This meant that any time I attempted to deliver my massive power to the rear wheel of my Citi Bike with my dorky old man shoes, the bike would pop out of gear and immediately negate my efforts:
Though this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since I'm trying to peak for the big Cat 6 race this Friday evening and my coach doesn't want me making any hard efforts before then.
By the way, Cat 6-ing on a Citi Bike might be the ultimate confirmation of my status as a washed-up fuddy-duddy, but who says bicycles sponsored by banks aren't punk rock?
Okay, they might not be quite as punk rock as the Crass composting toilet share program, but then again what is?
("Do they owe us a toilet? Of course they do, of course they do!")
Anyway, as I approached the Manhattan side the Brooklyn-bound race was really heating up, with Team Citi Bike riders giving the rest of the field a massive lead-out:
Here are no fewer than two Citi Bike riders driving a relentless pace:
Which is clearly putting even the Open Cat 6 riders in serious distress:
Yep, they dropped him like an iPhone drops an important call:
Though the riders behind him have no sympathy:
As for me, unable to get on top of by big gear on the downhill, I was first passed by Pannier Guy:
And then by Extremely Low-Slung Bag Guy:
Indeed, this was some of the most intense Cat6 racing action I've ever experienced, and the only rider on the bridge who wasn't Cat 6-ing was this guy:
Finally, I arrived in Manhattan:
Where riders continued to attack the bridge, both on Citi Bikes:
And on not-Citi Bikes:
I was also shoaled by the Amazing Technicolor Cyclist:
Who, with that psychedelic mining helment, looked like he was about to take a Jules Vernian journey to the bottom of Wavy Gravy's laundry hamper:
As for me, I rode for a little while longer to cool down, and then I took a more prosaic journey 20,000 millimeters under the street, boarded a subway, and went home.
Look for me at a Citi Bike station near you, practicing my undocking technique.