It was the first day of autumn, which is the absolute best time of year to ride a bicycle in New York, but I'm still trying to shake this goddamn cold so I chose instead to ride the subway and share my illness with my fellow passengers. As I emerged from the subway station in Brooklyn, the first thing I noticed was a procession of velocipedists who appeared to be tourists taking in a bicycle tour. They were riding in single-file and dutifully stopping at the red light just ahead, which I thought was particularly noteworthy given the current state of bike/media relations in the wake of all this Central Park mishigas. So I stopped to take a picture, because I'm a bike blogger and that's what bike bloggers do.
The tour guide, however, was nonplussed:
"Why are you taking pictures?," he demanded. The tourists, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy the irony of being photographed by a local, and I enjoyed that they were enjoying it:
"Say 'cheese!,'" I called out, figuring I could get some good shots of them waving to me as they passed, which is pretty much exactly what started happening--but as they proceeded their fearless leader rode towards me:
"Why are you taking pictures?," he again wanted to know.
I wasn't sure how to reply. My first instinct was to say, "Because I'm the greatest and most famous bicycle blogger in the world," but while that's undeniably true I didn't want to come off as arrogant. My next thought was to say, "Because I'm a photographer," but that's just a lie. So I finally answered, "Because I'm taking pictures," which is not only 100% true but also totally Zen.
Meanwhile, the tourists were delighted to be interacting with a genuine New York City celebrity:
Mind you, I'm not talking about myself. Alec Baldwin was knocking over a baby stroller while riding a Citi Bike on the sidewalk behind me.
As for the fearless leader, he rode away in a huff, taking his ducklings with him:
I suppose he was merely being protective of his brood, but he needn't have been, for I think bicycle tourism is a lovely idea and they were certainly more hale than their non-cycling counterparts I encountered shortly thereafter:
("Well golly, it's a bridge with a train on it!")
It's also possible the bike tour guide is on a heightened state of alert given the aforementioned anti-cyclist climate, and he may very well have thought I was going to plaster his picture on the front page of the Post with the headline "Tour de SPLAT! Two-Wheeled Tourists Seek Victims."
If so, I can't blame him. It's bad here. Really bad. The atmosphere here is toxic, even more so than it usually is. (It's usually hot urine. Now it's hot urine and bike vitriol.) Every media outlet in town has charged their dumbest writer to churn out some kind of anti-cycling story. Some tweedy fusspot at the New Yorker even weighed in yesterday, and I'd have canceled my subscription immediately only then John Cassidy might have to sell his Jaguar:
("Who, may I ask, has farted?"--John Cassidy)
Furthermore, reporters continue to contact me. For example, writers from two separate mainstream publications have each sent me an email along the lines of "We're doing a story on the Central Park crash. I've never heard of this 'Strava' thing. Can you tell me everything about it before my very tight deadline?" Yeesh. If you're wondering why cycling coverage in the media is so hopelessly distorted, it's because the people reporting on it don't have even a rudimentary understanding of it. Does a political correspondent covering a story ask a source, "I've never heard of this 'legislature' thing. Can you tell me all about how a bill becomes a law?" Well, sure, I'm sure at Fox News they do, but generally speaking I'm guessing this isn't the case.
So where I'm left is this uncomfortable position of wanting to excoriate the type of riding that leads to hitting pedestrians and wanting to excoriate the media for its double-standard at the same time--and that's before I even start thinking about the crash itself, and how depressing it is, and how everybody is now using it to promote some kind of agenda, myself included.
So what's my agenda? Ending these constant attempts to reinvent the bicycle saddle! Here's the latest, dubbed the "Reprieve:"
"So why is this boner-saving saddle different from any other boner-saving saddle?," asks the youngest Fred at the seder table. Well, let's watch and see:
As with pretty much every Kickstarter campaign, this one begins with a question nobody's asking:
"You know when you sit on that typical saddle for the first time, that feeling you get?"
Why, of course I do! Who doesn't remember their first time? It caressed my scranus. My "Strava segment" straightened out immediately. I knew it was love.
If you're experiencing more painful symptoms, try installing your saddle onto your seatpost before mounting the bicycle.
Next, the inventor explains how he made this thing as some guy pedals slowly and disconcertingly in the background:
Maybe if he'd stand up or even ride outside once in awhile he'd feel better:
Note to Fred: slaving away on indoor trainers is not only mind-numbly boring, but it's a great way to take the air out of your windsock:
After revealing the saddle, the inventor explains its innovative features, and the first is a 3/4" drop in the center:
As we all know, these saddles usually just compensate for poor bike set-up, so yeah, this one is the perfect solution for riders whose seatposts are exactly 3/4" too high.
The second innovative feature is the "integrated air bladder" that is "medical grade RF welded," whatever that means:
Are you a middle-aged man? Are you having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that you're too old to be rattling around on 23mm tires inflated to 110psi? Well, instead of getting higher-volume tires and using less air pressure, why not cling to the illusion of youth and get an inflatable saddle instead? After all, who doesn't want to have to pump up their seat in the morning?
Also, the concept was a runaway hit in the world of overpriced sneakers:
This is why today it's nearly impossible to find a pair of athletic shoes without a pump.
But the most important feature of this saddle is that its shape allows your sit bones to move, it has a nose for turning, and it's lightweight:
Just like every other racing saddle currently on the market.
Other than that, I really think they're on to something.
Lastly, if you're looking for a solution to head-on bicycle collisions, the answer is obvious, and it's the "sideways" bike: