Well, wish no more, because I'm a guest on a podcast!
The only thing better than listening to me prattle on is listening to me prattle on about helmets.
Hey, they asked me.
In other news, the anti-cyclist screed is a time-honored journalistic tradition, and it harkens back to a simpler time when racists were still closeted and "fake news" was simply called "bullshit." Of course here in Canada's uvula such screeds appear less frequently now that the media is preoccupied with the imminent collapse of our "democracy," but a positively exquisite example of the genre recently appeared across the Atlantic in the Daily Mail. Now I should point out that it completely failed to incense me, which could be because: a) it's from another country and we Americans find Britishisms endearing, even the ones that are supposed to be insults; or b) because everything seems quaint now given the imminent collapse of our "democracy." Nevertheless, this does not diminish the piece's deft execution, so let's begin:
First of all, when excoriating cyclists, it's crucial to evoke both Lycra and smugness, and this particular article does not disappoint:
Forget road-clogging Chelsea Mums on the school run in their 4x4s. Never mind fist-shaking, foul-mouthed road ragers. Don’t fret about the old lady in a Skoda you inevitably get stuck behind.
There’s a force on the road far worse than all those —- and more likely to send your blood pressure soaring: the smug cyclist.
These Lycra-clad darters between cars, these self-styled saints in the saddle, are clogging up our roads with self-satisfaction.
Of course, what the authors of these screeds fail to realize is that Lycra and smugness are, for the most park, mutually exclusive. For example, smug cyclists who are members of food co-ops and who move residences by bike tend not to wear Lycra, whereas the plastic bike-wearing Fred set who do wear Lycra are often the sorts of people who drive their bikes to rides.
Nevertheless, it's crucial to marry these two concepts in the mind of the typical bike-hater, much in the same way our current administration constantly conflates immigrants and crime.
Another crucial tactic in gaining support for your bike-hating article is to concede some small point in advance to make yourself seem gracious and level-headed, and the writer employs this device too:
This is not to say that there are no cavalier or dangerous drivers on the road — of course there are.
But you can't leave this offering out on the table for too long, lest it begin to occur to people that drivers kill left and right whereas cyclists kill virtually never. So be sure to snatch it back quickly before your reader has time to think, and then go back to beating up on the cyclists:
It’s just that they don’t make such a song and dance about their chosen mode of transport.
It's true, drivers are very understated about their enthusiasm for cars. This is especially true of the British, which explains why they created the world's most popular car show:
Cyclists, on the other hand, are entitled egomaniacs:
The holier-than-thou attitude among many riders is exacerbated by officialdom’s flattery of cyclists, its stroking of their already swollen egos.
Ridiculous. Everybody knows if you attempt to stroke the ego of a British cyclist you'll get rug burn from all the tweed:
By the way, they're not even dressed up, that's just a typical day.
Yep, that's what all that flattery from officialdom will get you. And worst of all, they don't even appreciate it:
(Johnson took revenge with Brexit, so who's laughing now?)
Anyway, once you've established that cyclists are a bunch of spoiled children, it's crucial that you explain how encouraging people to ride bicycles results in a dystopian society that, to anybody with half a brain, actually sounds like a utopia:
We all know about the endless miles of cycles lanes that have been built across the country. But now, it seems, cyclists can get away with the kind of rule-breaking for which the rest of us would likely be cuffed and carted away.
Wait, endless cycling lanes (miles even, and not those stupid kilometer things), national health care, and you can get arrested for hitting someone with your car? I'll gladly trade places with any disgruntled British motorist. You'll love it here! Not only can you pretty much kill whoever you want (car or gun, choose your weapon), but we've got a fantastic president who's turning things around bigly.
Meanwhile, what kind of sick society treats riding a bike on the sidewalk less severely than robbery or assault?
One North London borough has just said it will no longer issue fixed £50 penalties to people who cycle on the pavement. Officers in Camden say they’ll no longer enforce this law ‘without good reason’. They’ll have a little chat with the cyclist instead.
Would they extend the same courtesy to other people who broke the law? To the bloke who nicked a hundred quid from the tills at Aldi or the woman in the grip of drink who punched a total stranger? ‘My dear, why did you feel the need to do this?’ No, of course not.
Yes, the writer would be a lot more happy here in America, where doing things "without good reason" is now national policy.
And finally, always be sure to point out how discouraging driving somehow results in more pollution:
In London, hundreds of millions of pounds are being pumped into getting more people on bikes. This has included turning ever more road space into cycling lanes.
As a result, the space for cars has shrunk dramatically, so they’re more likely to get stuck in traffic jams and to pump out fumes.
The irony is almost too much to handle: air quality in London has suffered as cyclists have become kings of the road, because demonised motorists now find themselves stationary for longer times in longer jams, their cars coughing out smog as cyclists speed by.
Fast-forward to the year 2030, when the headline on the front page of the Daily Mail reads: LAST REMAINING MOTORIST IN LONDON STARVES TO DEATH AFTER BEING TRAPPED IN HIS CAR FOR WEEKS BY A SEA OF CYCLISTS.
Lastly, while we're on the subject of literary forms, yesterday I mentioned Bicycling editor Bill Strickland's approach to bike reviews, which included such criteria as this:
Who needs this bike? Who imagines they do with enough ardor that it might as well be true need? Why did the bicycle and I do that through that corner, or go fast there, and how much was bike and how much was me and how much was that (silly to say but real so here it is) mystical mixing of the two of us?
Changing any element changes things but that means all things, the entire bike, the whole ride and, because you are as necessary to the ride as the bike is, changes you while you are with that bike.
Offhandedly I mentioned that I think I prefer the VeloNews approach, but after checking out their recent review of the $10,660 Cannondale Whatever I take that back:
That’s primarily because the SuperSix can adapt. A day in the mountains? No problem. Weekend crit? It’s got you covered. It’s all about the balance of stiffness and comfort that makes it a jack of all trades, not just in name, but in performance. Our stiffness testing reveals the SuperSix is solid in both the bottom bracket (0.8mm of deflection) and head tube (0.6mm of deflection), but not nearly as unyielding as an aero bike like the Trek Madone (0.41mm of deflection in both the head tube and bottom bracket). That little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel, a certain something that connects to the curves and is just malleable enough when you’re throwing your weight around on climbs.
Okay, so the differences in deflection between the Cannondale and the Trek are as follows:
A .39mm difference at the bottom bracket (that's the thickness of about four pieces of copy paper);
A .19mm difference at the headtube (that's the thickness of about two pieces of copy paper).
Are you fucking kidding me? This makes the Cannondale "not nearly as unyielding" as the Trek? At least the Strickland approach can confuse you into believing it, whereas when they start showing numbers you can actually quantify how meaningless as it. They're gonna give the whole scam away! Come on, you've got to figure there's more than a .39mm deflection difference in your foot from day to day due the thickness of your calluses, not to mention all the other crap between your foot and the frame. In fact, I bet if they threw two different Cannondale (or Trek, or whatever) samples on VeloNews Deflekt-O-Matic™they'd find a similar variation. But sure, that "little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel," and "is just malleable enough" to notice "when you're throwing your weight around on climbs."
In other words, if your bottom bracket isn't stick enough, put four pieces of copy paper in your shoe. That ought to cover it.