Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hitting the Road: Unhooking the BRA

Today is Tuesday, June 15th, which means two things: 1) I am nursing a throbbingly severe post-Flag Day hangover; and 2) I am about to embark on my BRA tour. This tour will pry me out of my comfort zone like a recalcitrant conch from its shell and foist me onto the world at large like a conch who just published a book. Please note that, while I intend to continue regular blogular updates of this blog, the grueling touring schedule mercilessly imposed on me by my ruthless publisher, Chronicle, (coupled with other factors such as time zone changes, Internet connectivity or lack thereof at the various campgrounds where I will be lodging, and of course travel-induced constipation) may mean that these posts are brief and/or appear at irregular times. Nevertheless, at the very least I shall endeavor to at least file brief daily dispatches from the road until I return home next week. In the meantime, my first stop will be Mellow Johnny's in Austin tomorrow, and I hope to see you at the 10:30am ride--or, if you actually have a job, at the signing/pageant/soirée later that evening. (This being Texas, I will be wearing my SPD-compatible cowboy boots with spurs of crabon fribé.)

Of course, going on a BRA tour means I've got to look my best, so I treated myself to a "day of beauty" yesterday consisting of a manicure, pedicure, facial, haircut, facial haircut, and of course a thorough "sideburn" waxing. (Further to the comments on yesterday's post, other words for "sideburns" include "thighbrows," "koala bear's ears," and "pacoon.") As I made my way about town, I noticed an officer of the law who was actually reading the newspaper while driving:

The picture is poor because: 1) I am a poor photographer; and 2) I didn't want to get too close lest the newspaper-perusing policeman feel compelled to Patrick Pogan me. However, I can tell you that the newspaper was the New York Post, and thanks to the miracle of "computers" I was able to enhance and annotate the image:

Never mind that he should be on the lookout for crime (or at the very least on the lookout for things not to run over with his car). On top of that, he can't even be bothered to use a cellphone to distract himself like everyone else; instead, he's using a newspaper--in 2010. I shouldn't judge him too harshly, though, since he did manage to stop before entering the intersection completely:

The NYPD: Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect, and Assiduously Staying Abreast of Current Events While Out on Patrol. Hopefully he didn't hit anybody, because that would almost certainly make the Post--though I suppose that would provide his fellow officers with more entertaining reading.

The Fire Department, on the other hand, are considerably more diligent. In fact, a reader informs me that fire marshals recently arrested the proprietor of that "speakeasy" from the final episode of "Pedaling." The New York Times (which, due to its broadsheet format, is less conducive to perusing while driving) has the details:

Alas, it would appear that the designer Flaming Moe is no mo'.

Shortly after spotting the police officer with a nose for news, an indifference to crime, and a disdain for attentive driving, I encountered this Colnago, its fang-like bars poised to inject any would-be thieves with deadly venom:

There's something almost elegant about the manner in which the owner, with one simple twist of the handlebars, has completely obviated what is otherwise a high-performance bicycle. In this sense, the bars are sort of the apple in that famous Magritte painting:

"Ceci n'est pas une bicyclette."

It's easy to judge the bicycle's owner, and to assume that he does not understand what a race bike is supposed to be. However, I actually spotted him a little later on, and it turns out this is actually the optimal set-up for riding on the sidewalk:

Once again, I realize this is a poor photograph. However, keep in mind that: 1) I am a poor photographer; and 2) he was all the way across the street. Still, the photo does manage to convey the irony that he is riding a road racing bicycle on the sidewalk despite the absence of heavy (or really any) motor vehicular traffic. Anyway, my second attempt to capture him in action yielded a shot that is almost as poor:

This detail reveals the manner in which he places his hands upon the brake levers for maximum uprightness and minimal control:

Anyway, still reeling from this encounter, I entered a popular "yuppie"-themed grocery store in order to secure provisions for my wife and infant son, who my ruthless publisher Chronicle are forcing me to leave behind:

(BSNYC parenting tip: newborns love refried beans.)

"However will I transport these whimsically-labeled foodstuffs to my domicile?," I thought to myself worriedly as the cart continued to swell. ("However will I pay for all this crap?," I also thought to myself, though this second concern turned out to be moot, since I was able to secret it all in the billowy legs of my genie pants and remove it from the store at no cost to me.) Fortunately, I was "palping" my borrowed Surly Big Dummy, and was able to easily "portage" my gentrified grocieries with room to spare:

Rest assured that, in keeping with strict "bike culture" mandates regarding carrying crap by bicycle, I had a film crew following me and a two-hour feature about my shopping excursion is currently in production. I plan to screen it at the Bicycle Film Festival in 2012. The picture will be in standard format, but the smugness will be in high definition. ("Filmed in Smug-O-Vision™: So Self-Righteous You Can Smell It.")

On the way home, I passed this guy:

Though he would appear to have been felled by alcohol (too much Flag Day celebrating), it's also possible that he was overwhelmed by fumes from the nearby Gowanus Canal. Still, as I regarded his considerable stability, I marveled at the fact that the Big Dummy I was riding was also remarkably stable, despite being laden with refried beans and frozen prepared entrées. Speaking of bicycles and handling, I recently read this rave review on Cyclingnews of the new Gary Fisher dual-suspension 29er:

Among other things, it features "a rear triangle that faithfully follows the front:"

I was surprised to see this touted as a feature, since pretty much all traditional diamond-frame bicycles place the rear triangle behind the front one. Really, unless you're riding something like this, wandering rear triangles shouldn't be much of a concern:

Then again, the rear triangle of my Folgers Bike wandered quite a bit some months back during a routine test ride. Specifically, it wandered up in the air and then into a tree:

The green arrows represent my intended path, and the red ones show my rock-induced detour:

Here is a rider's-eye view of the rock:

Notice it bears a stencil which reads "Pericolo di Morte:"

It turns out it was a warning, and that it did not mean "Property of Mort" as I had assumed prior to my crash. (At first, I thought perhaps Mort had shot me for riding on his rock.) In any case, while the Great Trek Bicycle Making Company might claim that my rear triangle would have faithfully followed the front if I had been riding a Gary Fisher Superfly 100, the simple fact is that I suck.

And with this, I set out to surmount the giant rock that is my BRA tour--hopefully with better results.