Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Meaning of Life Part IV: Middle Age

As if you needed it, here's yet more confirmation that we are a nation of car-fellating, ditch-filling, victim-blaming morons:



Yes, after a meth-addled motorist kills a bunch of innocent people who couldn't have done shit to avoid him, it's essential to remind cyclists to "practice bike safety:"


And here's how to do it:

--Put on your foam hat and blinky lights;
--Ride as far to the right as possible;
--Brace yourself for the inevitable impact.

USA, baby.

But don't worry, things are going to get better.  Sure, no politician in his or her right mind would ever do anything meaningful to make it more difficult for potentially murderous morons to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.  After all, this is America, and driving is an inalienable right--just like owning an assault weapon, or being a foaming-at-the-mouth religious lunatic.  Nevertheless, you can always count on the private sector to fix everything, and our Silicon Valley saviors are hard at work on the technology that will make our streets safe--or are they?

When the traffic on Timothy Connor’s quiet Maryland street suddenly jumped by several hundred cars an hour, he knew who was partly to blame: the disembodied female voice he could hear through the occasional open window saying, “Continue on Elm Avenue . . . .”

The marked detour around a months-long road repair was several blocks away. But plenty of drivers were finding a shortcut past Connor’s Takoma Park house, slaloming around dog walkers and curbside basketball hoops, thanks to Waze and other navigation apps.

“I could see them looking down at their phones,” said Connor, a water engineer at a federal agency. “We had traffic jams, people were honking. It was pretty harrowing.”

I suppose it's possible that in a utopian self-driving future things like Kalamazoo will no longer happen, but car dependence is car dependence, and idiots are idiots, so I'm not sure neighborhoods awash in Apple and Google cars seeking optimum traffic avoidance is the solution we need.  As long as cars are the default mode of transport in America the people selling them will continue to fuck you out of your right to the road--perhaps more gently (an insistent vibration in your "connected helmet" rather than a front bumper up your ass), but you can be certain they'll do whatever it takes to make sure the roads stay theirs, guaranteed.

This is not to say people won't continue to ride bicycles, because there is no other form of ground transportation that brings you closer to the sensation of flight.  Plus, few middle-aged men can resist the pull of late-onset Fred disease, as this article by Tom Vanderbilt articulates exquisitely:


Yes, as the author learns, there's no better palliative for ennui than swaddling yourself in Rapha and straddling a state-of-the-art plastic Fred sled:

And yet. Cycling seemed to arrive, at a critical juncture, to fill in any number of life’s satisfaction gaps. There was the raw fitness, as my waist revisited sizes it had last seen in the first Bush administration. There was a wider sense of quantifiable achievement – the faster times, the progression up the hierarchy of racing categories – than in my day job as a writer, where I push atoms around and am constantly haunted by imposter syndrome. The bike itself suited my need to do something tangible with my hands, at a time when changing a filter in one’s car requires a computer code. Cycling provided a way to meet new friends (of both sexes), something that middle-aged men in particular are often presumed to be beyond wanting. It even seemed to have a professional benefit. “Cycling is the new golf” goes the cliché, and on coffee-shop rides I was meeting a broader range of people – everyone from senior executives at big financial firms to airline pilots to male models – than in my life off the bike. I got more employment from Strava (the “social network for athletes”) than LinkedIn.

Wait a minute.

He got employment from using Strava?

Wow, I feel so stupid now!  I thought Strava was just about foffing off to KOMs and stuff.  You mean you can make money by using it too?  Why am I even blogging then?

Well fuck me.

Unfortunately, despite his lucrative Strava usage his cycling was placing a strain on his relationship:

Cycling was like a sudden third wheel. I would test my wife’s tolerance with my vacation suggestions (“I hear Mont Ventoux is lovely at that time of year”), or my rationale for needing an additional bike for gravel roads. I trashed bike-shop receipts like they were Ashley Madison bookmarks (I heard of someone who always bought black bikes, so his partner would be less likely to notice that his old one had been replaced). Time away from home on a training ride became exponentially more fraught with each passing hour. A friend told us that he had returned from an “epic ride” to find his wife had put her wedding band on the kitchen table.

Replacing a bike when you get a new one?

Amateur.

If you're doing it right even you don't know how many bikes you have--or where all of them are at any given moment.

Speaking of amateurs:

My kind of conversion story is scarcely rare. Julian Bleecker, a 49-year-old designer at Nokia who lives in Los Angeles, told me how, scarcely more than a year ago, he had entered a 24-hour race in Tucson on a whim. He first had to buy a bike. He describes himself as “not particularly athletic” and talks about the “spirit of fellowship” he felt with his friends on training rides, a feeling that was “so much more visceral” than being on a team at work. At the Tucson race, in the middle of the night, he felt a sensation of intense giddiness when, on a curve, he looked back “and saw that string of lights dotting out the hill. This city’s that’s popped up – we’re all out here.” People might say, he admitted, “you idiots, why are you out here in the desert, riding around in a circle? On the other hand, it was amazing.” Soon after, he quit his job and launched a startup called Omata, designing premium instruments for bikes.

So the Omata analog bike computer guy has only been riding for a year?



I thought he had a lifelong passion for cycling:


I guess he means lifelong starting...now.

Anyway, I think most of us can relate to the addictive nature of cycling and the allure of its accoutrements, but he kinda lost me with this one:

All the while, I had been struck by the age tilt of cycling. Sure, I had ridden with lithe teenagers and raced people half my age. But go anywhere serious cyclists congregate – Tucson’s Le Buzz Café, the Runcible Spoon in Nyack, NY, the Eroica ride in Italy – and it can look like a Viagra advertisement. A story I often heard was of someone coming to cycling from some other activity, such as running, that was proving too hard on ageing joints. Or else the kids were off to college and weekends suddenly yawned like a chasm.

"A Viagra advertisement," really?  I don't know, I've never been on a ride where anyone was sporting a six-hour boner in his shorts, but maybe I'm hanging with the wrong crowd.  Plus, I've never gone riding with Mario Cipollini.

But yes, what he really means is that roadies are old, which Rapha attributes to the high cost of Fredly apparel:

I put the question to Derrick Lewis, who heads US communications for Rapha, a talismanic London-based cycling-clothing company. He noted the high barriers to entry – a good road bike starts at $1,000 (and a full Rapha winter ensemble, he might have added, can set you back close to that). “It perhaps takes a little age to enjoy the sport,” he speculated. He’d have laughed if someone had told him ten years ago that he would be “going out for three hours on an empty road where the wind is blowing in my face, and sort of mindlessly pedal this bike, that’s rather uncomfortable on my ass, and my legs are burning, and that’s what I’m going to like about it.” A 22-year-old, he reckoned, would have a hard time seeing the excitement in that.

This makes sense, but I'd argue it's far from universal.  After all, I started going Full Road-tard in my early 20s, and I can assure though that I was quite broke.  Moreover, Rapha hadn't even been invented yet, if you can believe that, so I didn't even have fine vestements to aspire to--though in all fairness I did have the social life of a middle-aged suburbanite, so that might explain my willingness to ride my bike alone for hours at a time in a cheapo Sugoi jersey from Paragon.

Speaking of Rapha, I had no idea they'd launched a tourism division:

As I sit talking to Brad Sauber, director of Rapha Travel, in the sun-lit courtyard of San Francisco’s Inn at the Presidio, the word “pain” has come up so often that I feel like I’m at a sadomasochism conference. He is telling me about the company’s Cent Cols Challenge, a ten-day trip across 100 European hills. “That is meant to break you,” he says. “Out of 30 riders, fewer than ten complete it.” People willingly shell out thousands of dollars for this treatment. “They know that we suffer on a bike, that we like to ride hard. They’re going to get that.”

"Sadomasochism..." "break you..." "ride hard"...

I think I'm starting to see the boner connection.  Clearly it's a Rapha thing.

“People want to do something that’s outside of their comfort zone,” Lieberson told me at dinner. “And we’re trying to provide the support to do that.” He was full of tales of suffering, like the trip when they rode into a blizzard on the Col de la Bonnette, the legendary pass in the French Alps that is home to one of Europe’s highest paved roads. “It was beautiful, but crazy,” he says. “People were hypothermic.” One client, a US Navy captain (“he’s a tough guy”), was on the ground, unable to go on, shouting semi-coherently “just leave the fucking bike!” Lieberson flagged down a surprised woman in a car, who shepherded the stunned sailor to a café down the mountain. “He got back on the bike that afternoon and finished the ride.”

Yes, who doesn't dream of a cycling vacation wherein you set out on a monster ride intentionally underprepared and then just bend over as your bicycle basically hate-fucks you into submission?  All for the low, low price of $3,300:

Tom Vanderbilt was the guest of Rapha Travel. The San Francisco to Santa Barbara Randonnée costs $3,330 for five days, including meals and accommodation.

I enjoyed the article, and Tom Vanderbilt clearly has perspective on the Fred disease, but I'm not sure "guest" means what he thinks it means.

Lastly, from the company that brought you the inflatable helmet, it's the bike bell that emails the Mayor of London:


Each time cyclists press one, an email is sent to the mayor of London to make him aware of the extent of the perils cyclists face. In a statement, Hövding said that the emails to the mayor are designed to "encourage him to keep his promise to ‘make London a byword for cycling.'"

I'll wait until they make one that kicks de Blasio in the nuts.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

first?

Anonymous said...

woo, go me!

Mike O. said...

podium?

N/A said...

I've never fellated a car, and you can't prove a thing. I wasn't even there that day!

Ted K. said...

Note. 24. (Paragraph 139) A qualification: It is in the interest of the system to permit a certain prescribed degree of freedom in some areas. For example, economic freedom (with suitable limitations and restraints) has proved effective in promoting economic growth. But only planned, circumscribed, limited freedom is in the interest of the system. The individual must always be kept on a leash, even if the leash is sometimes long (see paragraphs 94, 97).

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Scranus.

cdinvb said...

Didn't make the break.

Anonymous said...

Je suis dans le premier dix.

N/A said...

Oh, how I desire long hours in the saddle. My Rapha "kit" gently caressing my shaft until I'm pumping for the sprint finish. OMG, RAPHA HERE'S MY MONEY, JUST TAKE IT.

>17 Bikes But Have Not Paid More Than $200 for Any One of Them said...

"If you're doing it right even you don't know how many bikes you have--or where all of them are at any given moment."

Done and Done

Dorothy Rabinowitz said...


"Sadomasochism..." "break you..." "ride hard"...

all that and a little more...before breakfast...

Vernal Magina said...

That guy is kinda right about the Runcible Spoon looking like a Viagra commercial...

But hey, at least he spelled Bleecker right.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Turd Teenth! Scranus!

Runcible Spoon is Fred Central, including me when I stop there. Never a Viagara ad, although I suspect some Freds do spend more than 4 hours at a table and don't seek immediate medical attention.

PS a lot of the cool kids go to Gypsy Donut in Nyack now.

Anonymous said...

Kalamazoo story sucks. I hope the meth-head never sees the light of day again. As for the Rapha story: pretentious, over-written navel gazing.

McFly said...

Everyone knows life has no meaning and its a big ball of dirt and we are all going to die. But biking is fun and fun is important. So are titties.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Lt. Obvi,

Cool people do not ride to Nyack.

--Wildcat Etc.

dnk said...

Nice one today Snob.

bad boy of the north said...

Aw,nuts!where do they go,then?

dem_bieks said...

Yes, this is hall of fame material.

Oh, but the liars who lie in one of those stories mentioned.

49-year-old designer at Nokia
You mean the Nokia owned by Microsoft that has been on an employee firing spree since the acquisition? Oh, yeah, he "quit" like "You can't fire me because I quit!" quit.

my day job as a writer
Another aspiring screenwriter? Wait, don't tell me, he wants to write for cycling pubs.... Or, he's such a broke-ass writer he needs a second job. Or, "writing" never paid the bills and his parents still support him.

Grow up, people.

bad boy of the north said...

Nyack is a bit of ride for me...by beeksickle.made it to bear mtn.and back,the other afternoon,though.visited runcible by way of pickup that the bank still owns.quiet afternoon.just a couple of fredly types hanging there.i guess i'm not cool.perhaps,i never was.

Anonymous said...

Ring a bell when in peril? Like an angel getting its wings?

(Robot test: select all construction vehicles.)

JLRB said...

Went for a ride with my bride last year - she looked over at my bike, and said "Where did that one come from?" It had been mixed with the filthy herd in the garage for a year.

McFly - Indeed.

JLRB said...

And - don't be so jealous of Tom getting work through Strava - he didn't say what kind of work ...

shark_guy said...

Those guys getting left by their partners made a critical mistake early in that relationship... they didn't convert their spouses.

Anonymous said...

I guess I have the social life of a middle-aged suburbanite, is that so bad?

leroy said...

Middle Aged Freds? Piffle.

On yesterday morning's commute, I played leap frog up the East Side with another rider loaded down for touring.

After a while we rode side by side, chatting.

Turns out, he was 73 and commuting to Mamaroneck, catching Metro North at 125th Street.

He won.

crosspalms said...

Sorry I'm late, I was hanging out with CEOs and male models. Wait, no, I was having coffee at my desk. Never mind.

BamaPhred said...

Well fuck me.

Amen

And done

21st Century Cave Art said...

Please don't make me feel middle-aged. Please don't make me feel middle-aged.
Please don't make me feel middle-aged.

21st Century Cave Art said...

Please don't make me feel middle-aged. Please don't make me feel middle-aged.
Please don't make me feel middle-aged.

Frickus Rungus said...

If you experience an epic ride lasting more than 4 hours, contact your spouse immediately.

balls™ said...

What shark_guy said.

Also, it sounds like much of the "suffering" described in that article could be reduced by finding the right saddle. Do they know you can change those out? Make your legs suffer, pamper your scranus (or you'll NEED that viagra).

babble on said...

Heh... N/A- right? I did not have sexual fellations with that car. And pumping for the sprint finish? That's the spirit. :)

And hey! if any of you lovely peeples knows of one of those lovely six hour boner rides happening out this way, please do share share sugar bear. THAT's the kindov event I'm down with, fer sure.

Vision Zero indeed. What, zero responsibility assigned to motorists? Zero new cyclists? Zero vision. Zero foresight. Zero change to the status quo... SNAFU. Sigh. Epic boner post... thanks for the happy ending. :)

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Well I meant to put "Quotes" or "Air-Quotes" around "cool" in my earlier post. I have been known to ride through Nyack, am neither cool or "cool."

McFly said...

Silicon Valley doesn't sound so bad.

dancesonpedals said...

That Cent Col guy wants us to, 'Ride Hard', so maybe there is a Viagra ad in there.

I only use Strava to log routes. Riding solo in the burbs, I was unaware of its social media aspects until a groupish ride last year, and I was notified of "Fly bys" ie fellow riders on the Fondont. This year I rode in central park & got a number of comments back. (I'm a grouch..I don't reply)

Back when Babble used to blog, she would link to her Strava account. (She often rides 60 k before brushing her teeth). Alerted by her blog post, I could look at the ride that came down a hill and ended in an ambulance. The outpouring of concern from her fellow Vancouver strava junkies was touching.

Francois said...

So the guys are old when they discover that cycling is fun, and just assume that you can't enjoy it if you're young? I suppose it's better than to face the fact that they wasted so much time doing donuts in their Mustangs when they were 20…

About the future of society and self-driving car, have you read this article from treehugger? http://www.treehugger.com/cars/self-driving-cars-might-be-coming-congestion-disaster.html
It's pretty scary, yet so plausible…

Mr Non Sequitor said...

When titties get tough, the tough get titties!

Spokey said...


i guess i am/was a deviate pervert. i was riding a 10 speed in the 70s when i still had my '67 mustang posi rear convertible. but i preferred donuts in my '74 260Z.

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

Yay Babble posting!

Last night after Straving my commutation, some guy requested to "follow" me / Twitter-like on Strava, which I didn't think was possible unless I got the premium pay thing. I hope he's not a Nigerian guy looking to empty my tiny bank account.

Back when I was totally undeserving, and still am, I had a grey Eddy Merckx in 1985. Black Modolo pro brakes and other cool goodies. I went on a ride with some guys to New Hope. One of the guys asked to ride it a few miles and afterward said, "hey, I have a motorcycle at home that I really don't use, would you like to trade?" So there I was, the fastest kid in High School with a Kawasaki KZ1000. So my outrageous youth was spent on 2 powered wheels, much like today's mech dopers.

Fast forward to like 2000 / 2001. I went to Roy's in Sheepshead Bay looking to get a "nice" or "decent" bike again. I was like "GETdaFUCKouttaHeeya! you shift this thing from the brake handles!?!" The rest is SIS history.

vsk

Used to my Sella Italia said...

If the saddle is still uncomfortable, then something is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Life begins at the start of your ride.

Anonymous said...

Ten years ago, wasn't Derrick Lewis was running a small, not-very-serious cycling team in Minnesota?
http://www.usacycling.org/clubs/index.php?club=10679

You know, before someone invented "Cat 6" as a thing.

Anonymous said...

Not too put too big a damper (or is that diaper) on the penis jokes, but I am a middle aged Serotta riding lover of cycling. I rode with our usual 6:30am group this morning and I could not stop thinking about the 5 cyclist who were killed this week. We avoid busy traffic times, use blinky lights, wear bright jackets and try to be as alert and as courteous as we can (especially with pick up trucks). I have been on the road for over 40 years and have been very fortunate, but I am starting to get nervous and I am reluctant to encourage my kids to take up road riding. I always make fun of the off road "Fred"s who post pics of their bloody/broken body parts and broken bike parts, but I may dust off the old beast.

leroy said...

Dear Mr. 21st Century Cave Art 12:02 PM -

My dog asked me to point out that repeating yourself is a symptom of old age.

I told him he's old enough to know it's not polite to point.

Mark S. Lafite said...

Thanks, snob! I'll no longer be able to ride my bike without hearing it threaten to hate-fuck me into submission. Perhaps some reggae tunes would mellow its vibe?
"Play Bob Marley or..."

leroy said...

Dear Mr. 21st Century Cave Art 12:02 PM -

My dog asked me to point out that repeating yourself is a symptom of old age.

I told him he's old enough to know it's not polite to point.

NHcycler said...

Dear Leroy,

Uh, never mind, I forgot what I was going to type...

N/A said...

Anony @ 2:43

Many of my Fredly friends have been mentioning lately that they are looking to take their show off the road. Riders are getting nervous, and it doesn't seem like anything is going to change. Mow down a cyclist? Accident, no criminality suspected.
I've nearly been crushed to death out there, myself. Most of us that have ridden on the roads for a while have some horrid tales to tell.

At least trees can't hook you or tell you to get in a ditch.

Mario C said...

Mario no need Viagara for de six hours boners.

1904 Cadardi said...

Dear Mr. Bicycle Dynamics Snob,

Recently I rewrapped my handlebars with a slightly thicker brand of bar tape than what was preciously installed. This appears to have changed the ride dynamics of my bicycle where the wheels interface with the terrain. Can you recommend a product to buy that will restore the handlebar feel to what is was? I'm afraid that if I just shut up and ride, as has been suggested by exactly no cycling related publications, I might be leaving one of more aspects of cycling unquestioned and thus not maximize my search for epic experiences.


Sincerely,
1904

CommieCanuck said...

When titties get tough, the tough get titties!

Titties got tough

N/A said...

On the other side of that coin:

The small city that I live in is experiencing a bigtime revitalization. There's been quite a bit of Hollywood money flowing through in recent years, and some artsy-fartsy school has planted itself right square in the downtown area. With this brings young hipsters. I see more people riding bikes (non-DUI related biek-riding) for transport and so-forth than I ever have. The problem is that they're all riding on the sidewalks, because it's terrifying to ride on the roads. I suspect that it will eventually come to a head, and some sort of bike friendliness will have to happen on the roads, I hope.
They have lengthened a local MUP and really keep it clean and safe. The city is trying to stay attractive to the youngins' and their disposable incomes.

Dooth said...

Television newscasts are funded by car commercials. There's your source of the victim blaming. Tv news people are corporate shills. We all know that, right?

Anonymous said...

Tom Vanderbilt wrote the excellent book "Traffic".

http://www.amazon.com/Traffic-Drive-What-Says-About/dp/0307277194

Anonymous said...

the $3300 Rapha ride sounds terrible. Now that we finally have some good weather here in nyc everyone and their brother is out on a bike. I had to yell at a faux-messenger yesterday on my commute home for wheelsucking me through really busy traffic (you're way too fucking close asshole) and was cat-sixed by some tool on a clown bike on my way to work this morning. People are really, really oblivious. If you are riding slow or generally like a tool and someone passes you it doesn't mean you have been challenged to a race. I'm going to come out and say it, cyclists can be some of the biggest fucking dicks around and I'm an avid cyclist. Fucking relax and get your head out of your ass.

Anonymous said...

http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2016/06/arraignment.htm

Charged with 2nd degree murder.

Pop Tard said...

I don't ride hard.

I just drop to the granny ring and spin spin spin for the hours to finish the climb.

Sometimes a persistent steady rhythm is what's needed to foff one (or one's partner) off. ALL HARD ALL THE TIME is for people I don't give a whit about.

Unless they are cleaning out my pit toilet.

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

I love it!......How to stay safe......'Brace yourself for the inevitable impact.." That's the best suggestion you've got?

Car fellators. I hope they burn their lips on the tailpipe.

Captain Oblivious said...

uh, don't brace yourself for impact. a better survival technique is to go as limp as a rag. roll with the impact. stuff like that.

Francois said...

Mario Cipollini never goes limp before the impact!

Frickus Rungus said...

N/A,

Are you kidding?!?
At least trees can't hook you or tell you to get in a ditch.
Trees are everywhere in the forest and they are always reaching out and clawing at your handlebars.
And didn't you now that ditches are deadly?

sTONEdEADLAND said...

True on that, Frickus. It was really fun in the '90s when we all palped the bar ends - hook one of those antlers and you went down hard!

Self-Fellating Super Fred said...

I have been know to stop, mid ride, for a bit of the old off foffing. It really clears the head when you get rid of that baby batter.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this news item on Velonews....
....
"M Live reports that Charles Pickett Jr., who allegedly killed five cyclists and injured four others Tuesday, will face five second-degree murder charges for causing the deadly crash while driving a truck.

The five Michigan cyclists killed in the crash were: Debra Ann Bradley, 53, of Augusta; Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42, of Augusta; Fred Anton “Tony” Nelson, 73, of Kalamazoo; Lorenz John “Larry” Paulik, 74, of Kalamazoo; and Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56, of Augusta.

Pickett Jr. is also charged with four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment to the four riders injured in the crash. He could be imprisoned for life if convicted of murder. The reckless driving charges carry a maximum five-year prison sentence."

So hoo-bloody-ray for that.

And a reminder to always qualify your statements with the word 'allegedly' when discussing this case. Even assholes in pickup trucks have the right to the presumption of innocence.

JLRB said...

BBBB SAFE

Anonymous said...

"...Rapha, a talismanic London-based cycling-clothing company."

Talismanic?

Really?

Spokey said...


i knew talis man and rapha, you ain't him.

'fraid i may miss the quiz today as i'm heading for portlandia. so would someone plz fill in my quiz sheet for me. except for leroy's mutt that is. i want the right answers.

thanks in advance

dancesonpedals said...

I'm going on kickstarter to fund production of a talis that can be worn while biking/cycling/putzing around.

Anonymous said...

wildcat this was a great post..loaded with wit and insight. worth every penny and then some. kudos.

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