Monday, May 9, 2016

Is Bike Month Over Yet Or What?

The life of a semi-professional bike blogger and author is one of unrelenting challenges and overwhelming responsibilities.  For example, early Saturday morning while the rest of you were still sleeping, I was riding a bicycle down to 33rd Street in Manhattan in order to catch a PATH train to Hoboken (that's Sinatra Jersey, not Springsteen Jersey) so I could hang out at an independent bookstore:


It was chilly and misty morning, and as I was somewhat behind schedule I opted to follow Broadway for its length rather than take the more pleasant but less direct greenways flanking the island.

Making my way through Upper Manhattan I watched an NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agent turn on his flashers, drive right through a red light, and then turn them off again.  He repeated this process at subsequent intersections, prompting me to wonder to what sort of parking-related emergency situation he was responding.  Was someone parked too close to a fire hydrant?  Were they blocking a street sweeper?  Certainly both these scenarios merit risking public safety and disregarding traffic signals in a motor vehicle.  I also wondered why he was bothering to run the lights at all, since I was more or less keeping pace with him on a bicycle and the light-running didn't seem to be netting him too much time.

After a few blocks, the traffic agent was forced to apply the hated brake pedal due to a double-parked car in his path.  I wasn't far behind him, and so I went around him, which is what I generally do when someone stops their car in my path.  (I prefer it to riding right into the trunk and going through the rear windshield.)  The indignity of being passed by a bicyclist clearly caused the traffic agent considerable chagrin, because a block later he passed me at an uncomfortable distance (despite the entire roadway being clear) and then glowered at me in his rear-view mirror:

Here he is turning onto the cross-street after overtaking me:


At first blush I was tempted to laugh at this deeply petty behavior.   After all, he's a fucking meter maid:


What's he going to do, ticket me for parking my Surly in a No Standing zone?  And even if he wanted to do that, where's he going to put the ticket?  Parking agents are basically powerless against any form of transportation that doesn't have windshield wipers.

But the more I thought about it the angrier I got.  You have to have serious psychological problems to make a threatening gesture like that, even if the threat is somewhat mitigated by the fact you're essentially a de-clawed police officer driving a Prius.  It's doubly disturbing when you consider how pervasive this sort of behavior is in New York City, from cops hitting cyclists and lying about it, to wannabe cops trying to intimidate them with their glorified golf carts.

That's why nearly two years later I'm still angry about this:


New York City earned the top spot in the ranking of 50 cities, beating out established cycling meccas like Portland, Ore. The rankings are based on an algorithm that takes into account factors including miles of bike lanes and civic spending. New York now has hundreds of miles of bike lanes, a robust membership in the Citibike bike-sharing program, as well as Velodrome in Kissena Park, Queens, all of which contributed to the decision to anoint New York.

Unfortunately there's one thing the algorithm didn't take into account, and that's Common Fucking Sense.

Anyway, presumably the meter man spent the rest of the morning driving through red lights and driving his stupid Prius too close to people because that's all he has in life, and I continued on to Midtown, where I boarded this strange subway train:


Hoboken is a mere ten minute train ride from the West Village, yet it feels like a completely different city...you know, because it is.  Not only do they have some kind of exotic bike share system:


But they also have actual bike parking next to their train stations:


Pretty much the only place they have bike parking near train stations in New York is the Bedford Avenue L train stop in Williamsburg, but that doesn't count as New York.

After marveling at all this exotica, I continued on to Little City Books:


A delightful shop that is celebrating its first birthday:


And that has impeccable taste in literature:

As well as window displays:


It may not surprise you to learn that massive numbers of cyclists do not turn out to ride with semi-professional bike bloggers on cold Saturday mornings in Hoboken.  Nevertheless, an intimate group of us did ride to Jersey City, where we gazed at its corporate street art:


And basked in its trikes and muscle cars:


And finally arrived at Liberty State Park:


Which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie apparently wants to privatize and turn into a giant SONIC ® Drive-In or something:


Even under a pall of foul weather the view from Liberty State Park was inspiring, and we even got to see the boats that would be competing in the America's Cup race later that day:


If I were more of a Boat Fred I'd no doubt have stuck around and watched whatever the sailing equivalent of a roll-out is and ringing whatever the nautical equivalent of a cowbell is (a buoy perhaps?), but instead we continued back to Little City Books where I delighted a select group of intellectuals with a hand-curated PowerPoint presentation:



Thanks to Little City and Von Hof Cycles for having me, and it's profoundly comforting to know you're always a MetroCard swipe away.

Meanwhile, at the Tour of the Gila, this happened:


Yikes.

Looks like someone moved the decimal place on his Q-factor about a hundred places to the left.

Adam Bryfogle (Landis/Trek Team) knew there was something wrong with his bike when he couldn't shift into the big ring - a big disadvantage in a criterium where a strong tailwind was blowing through the start/finish straight. Spinning along at about 130rpm on the front stretch, then bumping along the back section of the rectangular course, the bottom bracket worked its way free, finally exploding into pieces onto the pavement with two laps to go.

This is probably a good time to remind you to make sure you snug up those pinch bolts after installing your bottom bracket motor:


Lastly, when it comes to luxury housing in New York City, bike amenities are the new bidet:


Bike rooms in buildings coming to market now are being tricked out with compression air pumps, of the sort found in bike shops and gas stations, and work stands to which one can clamp a bike while oiling a chain or fixing a flat. Tools are often on hand, and sometimes there’s a hose for washing bikes down after a muddy ride.

I'd say that having an air compressor is great for riders who need to mount their tubeless tires, but I suspect the number of people living in such buildings who would actually attempt to do so themselves is virtually nil.

Still, if you're contemplating paying over $1 million for a one-bedroom apartment, a free fixie with a backwards seatpost may very well be the deciding factor:


At the new luxury condo Nine52 on West 52nd Street, the first 25 buyers will receive a complimentary single-speed Joulvert bicycle.

Sorry, I take it back.  New York City really is the best bike city in America.


58 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh no.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Podio! Scranus!

wishiwasmerckx said...

Podium!

hoghopper said...

Close

N/A said...

Devon likes a man in skinny jeans.

ken e. said...

present-waying!

JLRB said...

ooh ooh ooh - I know this one - the answer is Or What

Bryan said...

More so than the meter maid in a prius...what's up with that car that's straight up parked in a protected bike lane?? You would think the meter man should stop and ticket that ass hat.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Lob smiled upon you again, holding back the rain for your jaunt to Hoboken. I was thinking of riding down, was afraid of the rain and didn't want to drive down and look for parking.

Obviously those Trek bottom brackets are getting so stiff they are going to need to add a de-coupler down there too, or there will be more and more bottom brackets exploding! Just think of the exponential increase in lateral stiffness and vertical compliance that will be achieved!

When will the details of the Grand Fondon't be announced? Will you let those of us at the start know the location of the end point, so that the grupetto that forms at the rear can find the right watering hole after being dropped?

That old broad on the tv ad said...

WHERE'S THE BEEFy bottom bracket?

grog said...

So when are you going to write another book?

leroy said...

Well, there goes the neighborhood.

Riding in this morning, I saw a cop ticketing a bike on First and 38th, right around corner from large delivery truck blocking the two way bike lane with zero chance of getting a ticket.

We call NYC "Fun City," the same way that memoirist called the family business "Fun Home."

LeCashier said...

Looks like someone was taking notes for the next Friday Fun Quiz.

Roille Figners said...

I dated a girl from Jersey City and I think we made out on that very bench, or one of 'em. Thanks for jogging that memory.

Meanwhile Portland died right around the time buildings started including bike-friendly amenities, so start thinking about your exit strategy.

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

i too dealt with police douceocity this weekend in lexington ma:
i was riding in the lane behind one of lexington's finest to avoid getting doored and hitting the pedestrians there who tend to jump out in the road on a busy saturday. the officer saw me in his rearview and decided to stop. and. sit. there. blocking. the. lane. I semi-trackstanded waiting for him to get going. he didn't, forming a large gap between him and the war ahead of him. I swooped around to his right and made the light we were approaching. so did he. now that i was in front of him, I. slowed. down. to. let. him. know. he. was. a. douche. bag. When i stopped in front of my coffee shop, I wished him a great day through is open passenger window.

Old timer said...

Huh? What?

Spokey said...


maybe it was good up in hoes-broken, but lincroft was cold and drizzly on saturday. but we rode got our farmlands shirt, water bottle, and rode a shorty route.

got there late as the first thing i did was use the wrong key in the hitch rack and pulled the lock tumbler out (remember that in case you lose the tumbler change key). took so long at fixing that that as i had turned the car off but left the keys in the ignition, i killed the battery. so more time with the charger on the battery. and those were the highlights. several other disasters saturday morning made riding in the cold drizzle the better part of the day.

Victor Hugo said...

Inspector Joulvert from A Tale of Hoboken and NYC?

Stockholm Calling said...

"Middle Grade". Well maybe someday High School, then College and then Nobel Prize Grade.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

XX!!

N/A said...

"Chapter Books" is sorta' stupid. I don't know when that designation came to be, but the first time one of my kids mentioned a "chapter book" I asked her what that meant. "You know, a book with different parts in it," she says. "So... a book?" I ask.
I wonder if that was around the same time 140 characters became the utmost limit of most people's reading capabilities.

Matt said...

Wow, you guys in the big city are so lucky, you even get compression air. Is that like compression socks?

Frickus Rungus said...

I looked at the other authors/books featured at little city books. One is a picture book about a fussy/picky super hero. The other is a book about finding a job.
Seems like they have a lot to offer a semi-professional bike blogger with 18 kids!

Joe Said, Honey I Want You Back on the West Coast said...

Why is Devon hiding her blond hair under a purple hoodie?

Frickus Rungus said...

Matt,
I'm pretty sure that compression stockings are also called jobst stockings and we're invented by jobst brandt...

Reading Census Figures in Hoboken said...

"Little City" population 52,000, while not NYC size, not exactly little either.

Anonymous said...

50,000+ and not many people show up to ride bikes with a world re-noun-ed author. See that's what happens when you cross the Hudson and venture out into the unexplored wilds (rumor has it the president wants to buy the area from the French, or start a war with the Brits, to acquire it). One of the three people who showed up to ride was Devon, pretty cool, having a groupie.

JLRB said...

If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times: Scranus

P. Bateman said...

Middle grade - they put you there because that is the reading difficulty...or more of a an assessment of the books usefulness and comedic ranking?

damn, harsh critics at the ol' local book store.

P. Bateman said...

i also ran that first image through AL-goRithm - a proprietary sartorial computer model...it just said: "Skinny Jeans"

bieks said...

Well, exploded in the installation/repair manual, graphical sense maybe. In my lexicon, it just came apart.
Maybe someone accused him of motoring and he's showing off his bottom bracket and saying "See? No bevel gear! If I had a motor in my seat tube, there'd be a bevel gear! Satisfied now?!". But simultaneously thinking "Please, please, please don't inspect the magnets in my rim"

Google's finally figuring out I'm a robot - these tests keep challenging my AI to higher degrees. Uncanny.

Spokey said...

Anonymous at 2:03 PM

that's what he gets for doing on the day of the central jersey bike club 32nd farmlands event. i mean really. Snobbie is one thing. but free trail mix, water bottles, granola bars, bananas, oranges, etc. is another. even snobbie can't compete with food goo.

Spokey said...

bieks

does it force you to do that?

i don't bother checking the I'm not a robot box and it works fine. i assume because i'm logged in to goggle already so it knows i'm an iroomba.

bad boy of the north said...

Hey,mr.snob!don't they know you invented the term,bicycle room,since you have curated eighteen plus bike cycles?

Dooth said...

COST
REVS

crosspalms said...

Years ago, I managed to unscrew a pedal while riding, and that was way more excitement than I'd care to repeat. Can't imagine looking down and seeing the whole drive side hanging off my shoe.

Regular guy said...

A Joulvert bike, huh? FREE?!? Why that's a savings of $450! Sweet!

Tale of Two New Yorks said...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.....

NYC has the most protected lanes, and largest Bike share; which given the fact Chicago was #2 mostly for the same reasons, is why they were #1. Plus carrying your bike on mass transit to a very wide ride area is pretty cool. And NYC and environs are awesomely diversely beautiful and unbeatably impressive in an urban kind of way. But the NYC NIMBY-ism, and callousness, and NYPD, and Trump-like people are like in last place.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping the bike bidet would be the kind that helps prevent that nasty swass stain on one's Rapha speed diaper.

CommieCanuck said...

Check out this awesome cycling -related photoshopping. look out, Brett! It's unreal what they can do with some skills.

crosspalms said...

Commie,
I can see why he's holding the water bottle in his right hand -- no bottle cage in sight, and no pocket-enhanced bike-specific jersey (he's basically lucky to be alive) -- but he must have a powerful left hand to use that unorthodox underhand grip. I look forward to video of him riding that way...

Matt said...

I love that shot of the poor trek rider w/ his cranks and rings stuck to his shoes! He's gonna have a fun time standing up when he does stop. Kind'a reminds me of that Jason Statham movie (The Transporter I think?) when he was about to kick a bunch of bad guys asses, and for some reason his feet just weren't enough, so he stepped into the toe-clip equipped pedals of an old bike standing there, and 'snapped' them off of the cranks (cuz everybody knows how easy it is to break off a pedal) and then wearing the toe-clip pedals proceeded to whale on those bad dudes. Didn't seem very far fetched AT ALL...I wonder why more good guys don't do that? Nothing makes you re-think your ways than getting kicked in the face/head/chest with a pedal!

Anonymous said...

Previous post. Capcha said identify all motorcycles. Since when is a Vespa considered to be a motorcycle? Major fail in the Dept of Capcha. Hell's Angeles would have no street creed at all if they all rode Vespa's.

Anonymous said...

CC at 433: The Talking Stick Resort. So after a hard night of drinking and losing money one ends up in the desert talking to a stick, more likely while face planted into a dead cactus.

wishiwasmerckx said...

When you are getting kicked in the face/head/chest with a pedal, it is time to pause and take stock of your life choices.

Definitely Not Joe said...

CC@433 Do you know if Devon works at, or out of, the Talking Stick Resort. If yes, do you know in what capacity?

McFly said...

http://www.wbbjtv.com/2016/05/08/thp-investigate-fatal-weakley-co-crash/

I guess they wrote this article to clarify the absence of a healmeant.

BamaPhred said...

For whatever reason the iPhone won't post to bike snob without being logged into google.
iPad works fine, to everyone's dismay, I'm sure.
That bottom bracket incident is certainly embarrassing for someone.

Cranky said...

I think that rider was saying to himaelf, "At last, no more annoying bottom bracket creak.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

BamaPhred, I am the least tech savvy old fart out there, and thought the iPhone would only allow Google accounts to post comments to this fine blog. Then I accidentally discovered while using the iPhone and reading the comments, by tapping the "Google Account" words on the touch screen, the little gray box on the bottom of the screen would appear. and all of the "Choose and identity" options appear in said grey box. Then you just scroll to the option you want and tap the word "Done" right above the grey box. It was a revelation for me, let me tell you!

dancesonpedals said...

Another way to post using a smarting phone is to tap on the, "view web version" option.

bad boy of the north said...

I thought vision zero was just a nyc thing.it's not.i guess i'm late to the party on that one.

Technophobe said...

Well. fellow snobsters, let me try "View web version"
Superscranuscalifragilisticexpealidosious, or something like that

BamaPhred said...

For whatever reason. I have to use the view web version option. The selection box option won't open the captcha and sends my comment to binary hell, I suppose. Thanks for the suggestions. Logging into Google would be the simplest, but nooooo, I don't want to do that.

Freddy Murcks said...

It's not so much that they are installing bike amenities in upsclae buildings. That's great. Who doesn't love convenient bike storage. But look at the shitfucks who are installing the bike amenities. Did they all come from a hipster/douchebag temp agency for light construction jobs? The economy in NYC is pretty Specialized(tm); I wouldn't be surprised if such a niche agency actually exists.

And as for the backwards seatpost, you have to be able to distinguish your fixie from all the other identical fixies somehow. Backwards seatpost, backwards fork, incorrectly installed skewers, etc.

Spokey said...


no

the backass seatie post is that way to prove artisanal curation. another popular alternative is to insert the seatie post correctly and put the seatie itself on backwards

for meself, i prefer to pedal to the beet of a different crankyshaft. i mount the post at 90 degrees ('merican) and ride side saddle.

Chazu said...

New York $$$$$$$$$$$ity!

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