Before anything else, let it be known that after today I will not be posting until Thursday, September 4th, at which point I will resume regular updates.
Happy Labouring Day and all of that.
Also, it's extremely important that during that time you buy a hat!
It's only the greatest bike riding hat ever made, that's all. (And yes, we're talking about augmenting the hat offerings somehow, but whether that means different colors or adding an integrated fan remains to be seen.)
Meanwhile, the holiday may be nigh, but I put the "pro" in "non-productive," so in the meantime I'm pleased to present you with a thorough(ish) review of the State Bicycle Co. "Saturday Deluxe," which you may recall I took delivery of not too long ago:
So far, I've been pleased with this bicycle (both aesthetically and functionally), but the time had come for a serious test, that being a New York City commute spanning three (3) boroughs and including two (2) river crossings.
Moreover, the day of the test was also either the last or penultimate (I forget which) day of the NYPD's "Operation Safe Cycle" bicycle crackdown, so in addition to testing the State, I'd also be testing my own ability to avoid gratuitous ticketing.
To be honest, while I was looking forward to a long ride on the State (about 17 miles or so one way, which is a pretty decent schlep on a singlespeed with only a coaster brake), I wasn't feeling optimistic about my prospects as far as not getting a ticket. Firstly, I was heading to Brooklyn, home of the sorts of hapless transplants the NYPD loves to stop. Secondly, I was riding a very precious-looking bicycle, making me look like yet another hapless transplant. Thirdly, while I planned to go out of my way to obey the traffic laws, there's very little correlation between obeying traffic laws on a bicycle and not being stopped by the NYPD.
Also, I was secretly hoping to get pulled over, because I was using the Fly6 integrated tail light camera, so maybe I'd get the whole thing on video.
In any case, I stuffed some supplies into my hobo bindle (in this case a neon green IMBA World Summit schwag bag), secured it in the front rack with a cargo net, and I was on my way:
One feature particular to riding in big cities like New York and Chicago is elevated subway tracks:
If you ride directly under the tracks there's not much room for maneuvering due to the supports, and if you ride alongside them you're constantly subjected to hastily-flung car doors and delivery trucks pulling over right in front of you:
(That's a regular photo, not a Fly6 still.)
I circumvented that particular truck and pressed on:
Owing to the crackdown I'd resolved to follow all the traffic laws. However, it wasn't long before my resolve had broken. See this bridge?
Technically you're supposed to dismount and walk across it. Yeah, right. I'll dismount and walk across the bridge just as soon as they require drivers to get out of their cars and push those across, too.
Now I was off the mainland and on the island of Manhattan, where I was pleased to find that Seaman Ave. had been newly surfaced:
There is nothing more pleasant than rolling on smooth Seaman.
However, my pleasure was short-lived, because somewhere around the intersection of Seaman and Cumming:
(Never gets old. Never!!!)
The new pavement gave way to this:
Thus affording me a chance to test the State's vibration-damping characteristics:
The wide-ish tires kept me reasonably comfortable on the savaged surface of Seaman, though my hobo bindle was rattling around in the rack rather loudly, and it had me thinking it wouldn't be a bad idea to fit the rack's wooden surface with some sort of rubber cover, something I will never, ever get around to doing.
Like Mario Cipollini checking out of a hotel room, I left Seaman behind, at which point I had an opportunity to administer the "portaging test," because in order to get onto the Hudson River Greenway you have to ascend some steps:
When you factor in the full front rack the Saturday Deluxe isn't exactly light, though it's not so heavy you'd have too much trouble carrying it up to your apartment. In this case though I outsmarted gravity by rolling the bike up the side of the staircase. I also generally ride down these stairs when I'm traveling the other way, which is especially enjoyable when you're on a road bike and you pass people gingerly walking their full-suspension bikes.
Continuing on, I came to a steep descent--which is a steep ascent when you're headed north, which may explain why this rider looks so nonplussed:
Note my inner thigh visible in the upper right-hand corner as I position my scranus over the rear wheel to maximize the efficacy of the coaster brake:
This being a bike review, I next stopped at a famous landmark for an impromptu bicycle photo shoot:
That's the George Washington Bridge and the so-called "Little Red Lighthouse," subject of the famous children's book of the same name:
Your child will love the part where the Governor of New Jersey creates a traffic jam on the Great Gray Bridge on purpose.
Here's me taking a picture of the bike:
You may also notice a wet spot slowly forming in my crotchal area, which is sweat dripping down my body and being absorbed by my pants.
Here's me remounting the State:
Noticed I walked the bicycle along the path because the State is not rated as a gravel bike by the World International Gravel Bike Association.
Continuing downtown, I left the George Washington Bridge behind:
And overtook two people on an e-bike:
(Regular photo again, not Fly6.)
I assumed the passenger was a child, but the Fly6 reveals a fully grown adult:
By this point I began to realize I was going to have a hard time convincing anybody that the dark patch in the front of my pants was not urine:
Pants-wetting, of course, is nature's way of revealing fear and vulnerability, which would help explain why I was soon subjected to shirtless Cat 6 attacks:
When you get to the general vicinity of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum the Hudson River Greenway begins to see a lot of pedestrian traffic, hence these bicycle-specific traffic signals nobody obeys:
I'm not sure why, during a highly-publicized crackdown during which the NYPD is stopping cyclists for everything and anything, riders don't at least go through the motions in order to avoid tickets:
Why make it easier for them, you know?
I was now schvitzing like an elderly man in a steamroom, and so I stopped at a bench to mop my brow and engage in some more bicycle photography:
The dark strip down the front of my shirt should tell you all you need to know:
Then I left the greenway and headed across town, where I watched a driver in an Audi SUV flip a u-turn right in front of the woman riding in the bike lane in front of me, forcing her to stop abruptly. He appeared to be parking, but then he lunged back into traffic again as I passed:
I do my best not to engage drivers but between the heat and the dickishness of the maneuver I couldn't help but give him a piece of my mind, and to my amazement at the next light he went out of his way to apologize. Here he is in mid-apology:
At first I was amazed, but after awhile it dawned on me that between my plaintive, nasal, whiny delivery and my wet crotch he probably thought I had pissed myself in fear and took pity on me:
Hey, whatever works.
Shortly thereafter I got caught in a traffic bottleneck due to construction. With the crackdown still in full effect there was no way I was going to ride on the sidewalk, and so I did a cyclocross dismount and walked the bike past the blockage instead:
Then I remounted:
And the bars immediately rotated downward because apparently I hadn't tightened the stem bolt enough:
So I now looked like this guy:
Only with a sweaty crotch.
I fixed the problem and continued on, encountering the usual assortment of bike lane obstructions:
I suspected this was an undercover sting and 50 officers would leap from the truck as soon as I went around it, but fortunately this was not the case:
Moments later, I was overtaken by a "fixiebro:"
Who crowded me in an aggressive manner as we rounded the corner:
I guess when you've got a pretty bike and a wet crotch even people who ride in gym shorts think they've got something on you.
Passing through SoHo, I encountered this photo shoot involving a dog:
(Again, regular photo, not Fly6.)
And then a short while later I passed this guy intently photographing something at a microbial level:
Leaving Manhattan behind, I crossed the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn:
Successfully negotiated the descent with my coaster brake:
Passed the shitty bike art:
And finally locked up the State, my wardrobe positively drenched with perspiration:
In the end, there's very little not to like about this bike, with the exception of the bell, which I still haven't figured out:
So if you're looking for a pretty and inexpensive townie and you don't need none of them fancy gears or handbrakes, this bicycle will fit the bill rather nicely.
And with that, I'm off to wring the last few drops of sweat from the summer. Thanks for reading, ride safe, and happy Labor Day.
See you again on September 4th.
--Wildcat Rock Machine