And just in time too, because tomorrow's apparently International Winter Bike to Work Day:
Sadly I'm unable to participate--not because I don't want to ride, but because I have no intention of doing anything remotely resembling "work" tomorrow.
Working on Fridays is for suckers.
That's why I'll be participating in "International Fuck Off And Ride Day" instead, most likely by grabbing the chubby bike and heading into the woods.
Nevertheless, it looks like quite a few people have committed to International Freeze Your Genitals Off Day so far:
A special tip of the helmet to those brave souls in Florida, Texas, and southern California for showing the world that they're not afraid to commute by bike in temperatures that may require long sleeves.
Moving on, yesterday's post touched upon the condition known as "middle age," which prompted some commenters to ask how you know whether or not you're suffering from it. Here's one commenter's astute diagnosis:
Also, and this may be easy to say because I'm still under 40, but people seem to be in denial about the existence and definition of middle age. Here's a checklist: When you refer to yourself as a young person, do people either smirk or (worse) make their face go completely blank? Look up this week's Billboard 100 chart. Do you recognize 40% or less of the artists? (You don't have to like them, it's pop. But do you recognize them?) If you answer yes to more than 2 of these questions, you're very probably middle aged. It's no sin. The only shame is in fighting it.
February 10, 2016 at 4:05 PM
Naturally, I went through the checklist:
1) Does any event more than 20 years ago feel recent?
I'd say 20 years ago is the outer edge of what seems recent to me. For example, 1996 was the year the StarTac came out, and I remember it like it was yesterday:
(Analog: the vinyl of mobile communication.)
That was a badass phone. I think I even had a refurbished one at one point that crapped out almost immediately.
Then again it was hard to tell when a cellphone actually worked in those days since reception was spottier than the maillot à pois.
2) When you refer to yourself as a young person, do people either smirk or (worse) make their face go completely blank?
Well, I would never refer to myself as a young person, though sometimes other people still call me young--though presumably it's because they can't see me through their cataracts and are really old like this woman who smoked and drank her way to 100:
Speaking from her home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, yesterday, she said: ''I've been smoking since I was 30 and have had no problems at all.
''People try and tell you it's bad for you but my family wouldn't dare ask me to stop. If they did, I'd put them across my lap and give them a slapped bum.
I'm sure the tobacco companies would love us to believe that smoking is the key to everlasting life, but who really wants to live to 100? For one thing all your peers are long dead.
Actually, that sounds pretty good.
I'm going to pick up a pack of Marlboros this afternoon, assuming I can scrape together the $50 or whatever they cost now.
3) Look up this week's Billboard 100 chart. Do you recognize 40% or less of the artists? (You don't have to like them, it's pop. But do you recognize them?)
Well, I looked it up, and to me it seemed vaguely dystopian, like that list of pop groups in the record store scene in "A Clockwork Orange:"
By the way, those are all great band names, and I can't believe they haven't since been used in real life.
Or maybe they have.
I wouldn't know, because I'm middle-aged.
Then again, I also looked up the Hot 100 from the year I graduated high school and I didn't recognize a lot of those names either. Timmy T? Hi-Five??? Stevie B?!?
Neva hoid of 'em.
In other news, I was sorry to hear from a reader in Louisville, KY whose entire garage has been completely robbed of all its bicycles:
That's messed up.
So if you're the sort of person who habitually scours the used bicycle classifieds and you happen to see one or more of these bicycles for sale, please alert the owner. In fact, I'm more than willing to offer a reward for any information leading to the safe return of one of these bikes. Of course, I'm not sure what that reward would be, but the one thing I can tell you for sure is that it won't be money.
I'll gladly hook you up with some coffee and a hat though.
I'll also double the reward if the bike you find is the tandem.
Moving on across the Atlantic, the Cat 6es of London have scored a landmark legal victory:
Cabbies have lost a high court challenge that could have disrupted completion of London’s £47m flagship east-west cycle superhighway.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) asked a judge to declare that the continued construction of the segregated cycling route linking Westbourne Grove and Tower Hill via the Victoria Embankment without planning permission “constitutes a breach of planning control”.
But Mrs Justice Patterson rejected the application.
Not only that, but Transport for London is also proposing sort of a "Fred window" for trucks:
Transport for London is considering proposals that would require trucks to have large, glass panels along their side doors, the Evening Standard reported. The design gives truck drivers a “panoramic” view of the road, and also gives drivers greater responsibility in avoiding collisions with bikers and pedestrians.
Though of course the truckers don't like it:
Not surprisingly, the Freight Transport Association isn’t a fan of TfL’s new plan, saying it could cost an estimated £280 million (about $407 million U.S.) to outfit trucks with the panels, and that there could be cheaper ways to improve truck drivers’ visibility.
Silly Transport for London! Your big mistake was attempting to sell this as something that would benefit cyclists. Who the hell cares about them?!?
I'll tell you what though, pitch this as a "Wanking Window" that facilitates indecent exposure and this proposal will pass faster than a big rig overtaking a Prius.
Speaking of speed, the Specialized "fUCI" concept bike has made the pages of "Outside" magazine, which means you'll be reading about it at the dentist in four months:
The first thing you notice about the fUCI is its massive rear wheel. At 33.3 inches, the hoop dwarfs its companion up front, which violates the UCI mandate that all competition-eligible bikes sport equal-sized wheels. The rear wheel, however, acts as a massive flywheel, maximizing the bike’s efficiency when brought up to speed. Of course, winding that monster flywheel up to speed would be hellishly difficult—that is, it would be if it weren’t for the electric motor tucked discretely inside the fUCI’s frame, which gives the rider another UCI-banned boost of power.
A flywheel and a motor? The "f" in fUCI must be for "Femke."
We’re just scraping the surface here, but you get the idea. The fUCI is a mechanical middle finger thrust in the general direction of cycling’s rule book. But it also makes you ask: Why? Why did Egger spend six months creating the thing? What’s the point of it all?
“I’m a designer. My job is to push the limits and design stuff that blows people away. I can tell you, all the regulations the UCI forces us to live by, it stymies us. It’s hampering innovation in the bike industry.”
How is the UCI limiting bike innovation? You're free to design whatever you want as long as you don't enter it into a UCI race. So instead of designing an awesome bike you designed a half-assed motorcycle. Nice job.
“Why did we make fUCI? It’s a message for the UCI, sure,” says Egger. “But it’s also a challenge to us—Specialized—and the rest of the bike industry to shake things up. We’re located next to Silicon Valley, where all this tremendous change is happening, and here we are, still producing models that look like safety bikes from the turn of the last century. There is so much technology out there in terms of motors, spoked wheels, aerodynamics, and the bike industry considers disc brakes on road bikes to be a big deal? We’re just scraping the surface of what’s possible.”
“Your bike,” says Egger “doesn’t even have to look like a bike at all. It can be better.”
Sure. It could be a Yamaha, or a Hyundai. It could also be a Segway you can ride while wearing a jetpack. What the hell is your point?
This is like building a racing bicycle with gears that can coast and calling it the fJKA, or putting a saddle on a cheetah and calling it the fThe Jockey Club.
Lastly, remember the Missouri representative who wanted cyclists to ride with a 15 foot flag? Well, a reader tells me he now wants to allow golf cars and ATVs on the bike path:
Something tells me he'd be a fan of the fUCI.