As we sail the seas of cycling, it can sometimes feel as though we're all adrift on a vast ocean of ambiguity. However, rest assured there are certain islands of absolute certainty waiting to dash the crabon hull of our little ship (the "SS Fred") into so many laterally stiff yet vertically compliant toothpicks. For one thing, if you die while cycling, the reporter covering the story will take great pains to mention whether or not you were wearing a helment--even if you have a heart attack while riding and then get run over by a steamroller. For another, if you get within three (3) feet of Mario Cipollini, regardless of your gender, you will get pregnant. (Fun Cipollini Fact: After impregnating all 38 people in an Old Navy store at the Mall of America, Cipo is now legally required to wear this jersey in the state of Minnesota.) And yet another inevitability is that, if you admit that you use tire levers, somebody will feel compelled to point out that you're some kind of a "woosie."
Sure enough, it didn't take long for someone to do just that to me yesterday, only he misspelled "woosie" as "rookie:"
Tire levers are like bottle openers - only rookies require them
SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 AT 2:21 PM
I don't understand people's aversion to using tire levers. It gives me the same "douche chills" I get when I read those dumb Velominati rules. (In fact, not using tire levers probably is a Velominati rule, but I refuse to check because I won't risk the "douche chills.") After all, using tools is what separates us from the animals--apart from the ones who use tools, of course:
(Pffft! Rookie monkey needs a stick to eat termites.)
Furthermore, at this stage of my life (I'm on the wrong side of the middle-age divide), I have nothing to prove. This is why, unless the tire simply falls off the rim after deflation like the meat off an over-boiled drumstick, I whip out my tire lever like a chef at Benihana and deftly slice the tire from the wheel in one swift motion. It's called "elegance," goddamn it!
Sure, you shouldn't use a tire lever to put the tire back on again, but that's only because you're liable to damage the tube that way. Other than that, there's no reason not to use them, except for misguided vanity, and cyclists are the only humans on earth who are delusional enough to think anybody else is impressed by strong their thumbs are. It's only a matter of time before some bike dork tries to remake the movie "Over The Top," but for thumbs. It would be called "Over The Rim," and it would involve thumb wrestling matches in twee Portland cycling cafes.
Then again, it's not surprising cyclists take pride in their thumb strength, since these are the same people who boast about their tan lines:
Good for you. This melanogenesis pattern conveys only two things to the world at large:
1) You have no life;
2) You have slightly-stronger-than-average thumbs.
So, to paraphrase a certain groundskeeper, you've got that going for you. Which is nice.
Speaking of stuff I've got going for me which is nice, almost two years ago now I moved onto the mainland. I admit I was frightened at first, mostly because there were no longer any bridges separating me from the great unwashed rabble that inhabits the contiguous United States. However, my fears turned out to be unfounded, because it turns out it's not the bridges that keeps them away; rather, it's our strict gun laws.
Even better, my quality of cycling life improved dramatically, not least because I could now ride to mountain bike trails. In fact, since moving from Brooklyn I can count the times I've driven to a mountain bike ride on one hand--and I don't even need to use my scrawny, diminutive thumb!
However, yesterday afternoon I had to go somewhere in THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I PAY THEM BACK (the CAR THAT I OWN was sadly repossessed by rust), and I realized I'd be near the mountain bike trails, and because I no longer have anything to prove I said "Fuck it" and threw my bike up on the roof so I could sneak in a ride while I was out. Furthermore, since I was going to be riding on a weekday, I also strapped on the Fly6 tail light camera so I could claim I was working.
Guess what that means?
Yeah, that's right you smuggies, I'm driving on a bike blog. Whaddaya gonna do about it?
Beat me up with your muscular thumbs?
I'm so scared.
Anyway, driving someplace to ride a bike has its pros and cons:
Radio, air conditioned comfort, the soothing sense of societal acceptance that only comes from operating a great big wasteful debt machine, yadda yadda yadda.
By the time you get all your crap together and load up the bike and all the rest of it you might as well have just ridden there.
Anyway, between the soothing strains of Howard Stern and the reassuring motion of my David Byrne dashboard bobblehead the miles passed quickly, and before I knew it I was at the park:
Obviously these are just still images, but you want to get a sense of what the actual Fly6 video footage looks like, it's pretty much exactly like the intro to "The Naked Gun" except with a knobby tire instead of a siren:
Though I did have the decency to turn the bike the other way while I got changed in the parking lot:
Otherwise you would have seen something that looked like this:
("I may not have sharp tan lines, but I assure you my thumbs are both powerful and opposable.")
Now, lest you think that driving to a ride makes me a "woosie," I can assure you it comes with its own set of hardships, and when I bent over the front end of the bicycle in order to secure the quick release I was confronted by this menacing yellow jacket:
Naturally I called 911, and once the Nine-Man Beekeeper Fumigation Squad arrived and exterminated the insect I finally finished getting the bike together:
And then I scampered into the forest like a Lycra-clad chipmunk:
I happen to enjoy riding rigid mountain bicycles, but part of the fun is that when you switch to a suspension fork it feels positively decadent:
In fact, between the car ride and the suspension fork I was really pampering myself, so I resolved to go all the way and get a mani-pedi and facial immediately after the ride.
Because I deserve it.
Speaking of decadence, I realize this looks really bad, but I can assure you I was merely stopping to investigate a drivetrain noise and that I was not attempting to have "relations" with my bicycle:
Oh, I should also mention that, because it was a Monday afternoon and I was driving, I was reasonably certain I wouldn't encounter any other cyclists. Therefore, I figured it was safe to wear this jersey:
Driving to a ride and then putting on a Mellow Johnny's jersey is worth exactly 20 million billion Dork Points. In fact, when you dork out this hard, you start receiving Bicycling in the mail without even subscribing. Really, the only way I could have outdone myself is by wearing a Gran Fondo New York jersey and using a trunk rack.
Moments later, I swung a leg back over the bike and was off again:
See this? This is called "speed!"
Actually, it's probably just called the Fly6's inability to focus on leaves once you exceed three (3) miles per hour, but I'm going to call it "speed" anyway.
Hey, it may not be Collarady, but the riding around these parts is still pretty good. We've got rocks:
And fallen trees laying across rocks:
And roots and rocks:
And even rocks and roots:
There are few things more enjoyable than sneaking in a mountain bike ride during a week, and the whole time I was thanking the Almighty Lob that I don't work in the bicycle industry, or else I'd be in Las Vegas for Interbike.
Here I am getting my scranus way back over the rear wheel as I hump a giant boulder:
It was as this very moment I heard a series of long, loud electronic "beeps" followed by a bunch of shorter "beeps," which scared the living crap out of me. My first thought was that some electronic device was telling me I was having a heart attack, and I immediately began scanning the woods for the steamroller that would finish me off. ("The rider was wearing a helment," the newspaper article would say. "He was also wearing a Mellow Johnny's jersey, and was identified by his faint tan lines and spindly thumbs.")
As it turned out though, the sound was merely the Fly6 warning me that the battery was now dead, so it is here the story ends:
Sure, I could keep going anyway, but we all know that if the ride's not on camera then it didn't happen.