Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Sharing Defeat

Remember how yesterday I wrote about the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland?  Well, I sure do, because my eyeballs still sting from the Brillo pads.  Now it looks like I should have blinded myself altogether*, because evidently the whole freeballin' and mammary-swaying debacle is coming to my own city this Friday, floppy dongs and all:

Here's the checklist, from which "pants" are conspicuously absent:

Great, I'll be sure to bring my suitcase of courage and my tube of anti-fungal cream.

*[Just kidding, this might as well be happening on Mars, because there's virtually no chance that the ride will come anywhere near where I live, which is precisely why I moved here.]

Of course, just because you're not wearing pants doesn't mean you shouldn't be safe, and while nothing spoils the clean lines of your birthday suit like a helment, that doesn't mean you can't fit your bike with some vibriSee luminescent bike whiskers:

I can't imagine anybody would choose these things over a blinky light for normal city riding, but I am sure they will be a huge hit at Burning Man.

As for the "biomimicry" approach, this is nothing new in the world of cycling.  Turning yourself into a giant sea anemone may seem clever at first, but cyclists have been engaging in biomimicry for years.  We use it to spot predators and to eat from tree canopies:

(Tall bike rider in search of rare Brooklyn eucalyptus.)

We use it to relax:

(Have you ever seen a recumbent rider eat an oyster off his own belly?  It's freaking adorable.)

And we even use it to conserve energy:

("Pull through, you finsuckers!")

As for using glowing whiskers to thwart danger, I'm not convinced, and I'll stick to my own form of biomimicry in which I bare my teeth and hiss at passing motorists.

Speaking of biomimicry, yesterday I had to go to Brooklyn for the day, and because it looked like maybe possibly it might rain a just little tiny bit I emulated the woosus domesticus by leaving the bike at home and taking the subway.

Anyway, I did what I had to do, and seven hours later my tattoo was finished and it was time to leave Brooklyn:

(That's young Alan Alda, I go in next week for aging Alan Alda.)

What's more, it wasn't raining, and there I was sitting on a bumper crop of fitness after a full weekend of mountain bicycle cycling with snappy legs and a stinging Hawkeye Pierce on my bicep.  So instead of simply getting on the subway and going home, I decided to borrow a Citi Bike and seek out reverse Cat 6 glory upon the Manhattan Bridge and then simply get on a subway and go home.

Selecting a suitable machine, I deftly adjusted the saddle to my preferred height.  However, the dock would not relinquish the bike, so I selected another machine, deftly adjusted that saddle to my preferred height, waited for the little light to turn green, and off I went.

I knew this was going to be a hard day of racing as soon as I mounted the bridge, because the riders were coming off the Brooklyn side at blistering speed:

Of course, I was going the other way, which meant I wasn't really racing against these people.  Instead, I was technically competing against the small handful of riders going into Manhattan in the evening, which in the world of Cat 6 racing is considered "sandbagging."

By the way, I've been noticing that bicycle helments have taken a great many steps backward in recent years.  First they were bulbous and poorly vented and difficult to adjust, then they got sleeker and cooler and more comfortable, and by the early 21st century you could put on a racing helment and forget your were even wearing the thing.  You'd think this would make people happy, but instead helments are reverting, and suddenly everyone wants to ride around in DayGlo hard hats:

Though I admit the safety orange helment would look pretty good with this cargo bike:

Had I been on my Big Dummy I would have considered him a rival.  However, today I was racing as a stagiaire in the Citi Bike category--which, judging from the large number of Citi Bikes I saw, is by far the fastest-growing subcategory in the sport of Cat 6 racing:

In fact, I may apply for a permanent Citi Bike upgrade (or downgrade, depending on how you look at it) on my Cat 6 license, and here's why:

See, look at the bikes in the above photo.  If you're racing in the Open Cat 6 category you're competing against riders on all different sorts of bicycles: fixies, folding bikes, hybrids, recumbents...  This means some riders are at an unfair advantage.  However, in the Citi Bike category, the equipment is totally standardized, and so it's a much more level playing field.  In this sense, it's sort of the keirin of Cat 6 racing, only without the rampant corruption.

Clearly I'm not the only rider who feels this way, because Team Citi Bike was out in force:

Sure, at first glance we may not appear to be "hardcore," but we've got matching team bikes, corporate sponsorship, and a fleet of mechanics who ride around the city in team vehicles performing all our maintenance for us.  Can your amateur racing team boast all of those things?

I didn't think so.

Speaking of being professional, remember when people on the Internet used to write "PRO" in all-caps so that the rest of us would know that they were idiots?  Well, in the Citi Bike category we don't say someone we admire is "PRO."  Instead, we say they're "CITI-PRO," and there are two types: one is the "put-on-special-clothes-just-to-ride-a-Citi-Bike CITI-PRO:"

And the other is the "corporate CITI-PRO:"

Bike share is all about commuting, and nothing says "commuter" more than a shirt and tie, which is why riding a Citi Bike in a shirt and tie is so totally CITI-PRO.  Here's another rider who has taken corporate CITI-PRO to Rapha-esque sartorial heights:

There are even also some riders who try so hard to be CITI-PRO that they put on a shirt and tie before riding a Citi Bike, even though they don't have jobs.  We call these riders FAKENDRONES.

But you don't have to be CITI-PRO to get out of the saddle and crush a climb on "your" Citi Bike:

All it takes is a credit card, a race face, and a suitcase full of courage:

The purple shirt is optional.

Anyway, as I got closer to the Manhattan side, I began to realize that the Citi Bike riders I'd already seen were merely going for the stage win, but there was a much more serious race going on behind among the four General Classification contenders:

By the way, the rider in the third position looked familiar, and as I got closer I realized he was indeed none other than Lance Armstrong, off the pace of the two leaders but putting a serious gap between his opponent and himself:

Hey, when you're banned for life by WADA you gotta take your races where you can get them--sort of like this fixie rider launching a devastating attack on a Team Citi Bike rider:

As for my own race, it was going all pear-shaped, for my Citi Bike refused to stay in the big gear (or, as we Team Citi Bike riders call it, "3"):

This meant that any time I attempted to deliver my massive power to the rear wheel of my Citi Bike with my dorky old man shoes, the bike would pop out of gear and immediately negate my efforts:

Though this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since I'm trying to peak for the big Cat 6 race this Friday evening and my coach doesn't want me making any hard efforts before then.

By the way, Cat 6-ing on a Citi Bike might be the ultimate confirmation of my status as a washed-up fuddy-duddy, but who says bicycles sponsored by banks aren't punk rock?

Okay, they might not be quite as punk rock as the Crass composting toilet share program, but then again what is?

("Do they owe us a toilet?  Of course they do, of course they do!")

Anyway, as I approached the Manhattan side the Brooklyn-bound race was really heating up, with Team Citi Bike riders giving the rest of the field a massive lead-out:

Here are no fewer than two Citi Bike riders driving a relentless pace:

Which is clearly putting even the Open Cat 6 riders in serious distress:

Yep, they dropped him like an iPhone drops an important call:

Though the riders behind him have no sympathy:

As for me, unable to get on top of by big gear on the downhill, I was first passed by Pannier Guy:

And then by Extremely Low-Slung Bag Guy:

Indeed, this was some of the most intense Cat6 racing action I've ever experienced, and the only rider on the bridge who wasn't Cat 6-ing was this guy:


Finally, I arrived in Manhattan:

Where riders continued to attack the bridge, both on Citi Bikes:

And on not-Citi Bikes:

I was also shoaled by the Amazing Technicolor Cyclist:

Who, with that psychedelic mining helment, looked like he was about to take a Jules Vernian journey to the bottom of Wavy Gravy's laundry hamper:

As for me, I rode for a little while longer to cool down, and then I took a more prosaic journey 20,000 millimeters under the street, boarded a subway, and went home.

Look for me at a Citi Bike station near you, practicing my undocking technique.


BoaB said...

Hello sprinters!

Spokey said...


Anonymous said...

Cat 6 Podium?

Spokey said...

dang 3rd too

Olle Nilsson said...

Who let the cats out?

Morning Machine Fred said...

Top 10!

Whoo hoo!!

Spokey said...

that's the best you'll see from me.

Bamaphred said...

Too fast for me

wishiwasmerckx said...

Top ten on a late post.

P. Bateman said...

top 12? damnn fast fuckers.

Flyover BC said...

sittin on the shitter and missed it.

Kenny said...

Eric Cantor voted against funding bikeshare and bike lanes in Washington DC.

I live in his district and voted for the opponent to help kick him out!


ken e. said...

eye pain!

Anonymous said...

pack finish!

P. Bateman said...

ha. wavy gravy's laundering baskat. that was good.

snob, are you wearing google glasses? how else are you capturing all this incredible footage?

speaking of footage, whats up with those shoes. sort of like...old man shoes dont you think?

dancesonpedals said...

very visual post

Spokey said...

I assume WCRM is still using the fly 6. He's convincing me to get one too except I use a trunk bag so mostly I'll record black cordura.

If it is the fly6 he's gently fibbing to us about the direction of the cat6 race.

Olle Nilsson said...

Wait, I have to renew my Cat 6 license? Son of a ... I guess my commute didn't count this morning. Too bad I'm not on Strava, cause I totally crushed my commute time this morning.

I think whiskers guy is onto something. Replace the emotions function with the ability to spraybomb any car (or salmon) that touches your whiskers and I'm in.

BikeSnobNYC said...

P. Bateman,

I have one of these fancy new cellular phones with the camera inside.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Spokey said...



but I suspect you're just looking out for yerself. We can't even get rid of Lenny the Lance up here.

BikeSnobNYC said...


The Fly 6 needs a new whatever-it's-called card and I've been too lazy to get one.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

grog said...

Good race Wildcat!
Expecting to see Recumbabe at the nekid ride event.

Anonymous said...

Are Citi Bikes NJS compliant? I would love to bet on Citi Bike Keirins.

Greenbelt said...

Thank you Kenny

P. Bateman said...

congrats on the feature rich phone. thats impressive riding then to snap all those and manage to the keep the bike in a straight line.

people dont give you what the f'ing f are you doing looks? figure they would realize you are snapping shots.

i recently tried to snap a shot of someone at the airport that i found to be amusing in appearance. well, the flash went off. it was not smooth or incognito to say the least.

nice post today. we'll let you slide on the tardiness.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Fine Cat 6 coverage Wildcat. Thanks. Love the many looks of true grit and determination on the faces of the competitors.

Blog Drafter said...


agentdetroit said...

of course they fucking do!

Anonymous said...

Shoaled the hell outta people in Boise this morning... They took out the bike lanes!

Anonymous said...

So I wuz riding my bike to work this morning and saw who I swear was Jerry Garcia on a recumbent trike.

Swear to Lob.

BamaPhred said...

If the inhaler was being shot up his nose I would REALLY wonder.
I love these mini travelogues. I can't walk and take a picture, much less ride-n-shoot.


Of COURSE Wavy Gravy shows up on a Weednesday!

Anonymous said...

Looks as though the citi bike program is really popular. Does it make any money?

Regular guy said...

Was that a picture of the porta-potties available at the naked bike rides?

A trash bucket with a toilet seat, screwed to a pallet, brilliant. Is there a Kickstarter for that?

At least you won't get doored as you ride past them.

Anonymous said...

Wavy Gravy. Nice one, Snob.
Thanks Kenny. What did Snob send you? You're in big trouble Mister.

Anonymous said...

Awesome one today !!
I hope Ms. Babble doesn't read it, I am sure it hurts her to laugh out loud and LOL and stuff.

Now there must be a Citi King of the Bridge Strava thingy happnin soon. Or a combo Citi-Alley Cat Full Kontact criterium.

To think, the CitiBike you rent today might still be uncleaned from the Bare Nekkid ride from yesterday. Talk about sloppy seconds.
Just remember Citi Saddles don't come in Honey Brown like Brooks!

It better rain because I took the train!


Yes, I want to navigate away from this page.

149 bot

James said...

The CitiBike class is the Little500 Roadmaster of cat 6 racing.

BTW, amazing photo of the Lance-alike.

Regular guy said...

P. Bateman, I believe he was wearing Goo Goo Goggles

P. Bateman said...

@regular guy


WIZ !! JAY said...

I like to think of Citi bike (or NICE RIDE in my area) Cat 6 as IROP (International Race of Purity) because I did not see one of those Cat 6ers with an inhaler.

1904 Cadardi said...

Anonymous @ 12:21

Everyone on a recumbant trike looks like Jerry Garcia. It's part of the purchase agreement.

Freddy Murcks said...

Wow, Pharmstrong has been reduced to Cat6ing of a Citi Bike. How far the mighty fall. However, at least he still has enough dignity to wear pants.


Spokey said...


great observation. My brother & I went to look at trikes. He bought one and yes does look like Garcia. I decided not to buy one. Never realized it was because I can't grow a beard.

Anonymous said...

Kenny, your district still has plenty to answer for.

Like the robot says, 3099 Gonz are often wrong.

Nekkid Luncheon said...

I'm sure the NYPD will be as kind and supportive as the Portland pigs of nekkid riders.

But what if the nekkids follow the robot's advice and dooduals concurrently???

Anonymous said...

One of our esteemed NYC commentors needs to attend/ride/report on the Williamsburg Naked Ride. Please purchase a Fly6 or GoPro so hilarity ensues next week.

crosspalms said...

Thanks for turning your district into an Ericless wreck. I will start up the grill and bring buns and mustard if you will bring the Brat.

Anonymous said...

Try (s)city bike. More like. I think you mean. FTFY. FYI.

JB said...

Quiet about Garcia. Too soon. Too soon, dudes.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying your Anthropological Studies on Bridges and am hoping you'll be bringing us your findings from other ASBs sometime soon.

I do have one observation to make; very few cyclists riding on their own bikes seems to be carrying water bottles. Judging by the apparel they're wearing they're experiencing quite balmy weather.

Death by dehydration is no laughing matter and I'm wondering what possible explanation there can be for such foolhardy behaviour?

McFly said...

Tilfords girl looks kind of skanky.

Trudi is gonne be pissed when she gets back in town.


samh said...

What the hell is "VIZONZERO"?

BikeSnobNYC said...


My explanation is that, even on a hot day, a rider traveling from an office in Manhattan to a home in gentrified Brooklyn is unlikely to die of dehydration during the 20-35 minute ride. Also, in an emergency, there are places to obtain water roughly every two feet.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Bring me the head of Kenny the Ingrate said...

Kenny would have to be the Snobbysphere's most appalling character.

Last time he raised the ire of the Snobbysphere this majestic forum came very close to descending into a Kenny Kristallnacht.

I shudder to think what will happen now...

alpaca lips said...

"a Jules Vernian journey to the bottom of Wavy Gravy's laundry hamper"


Anonymous said...

Good one, Crosspalms.

Olle Nilsson said...

Anon 3:46, were any of them eating pretzels? I'm sure the pretzel eating commuters would know well enough to bring water.

JB said...

1st pic of Snob riding across a bridge on a CitiBike holding his phone in the air taking pics every crank revolution gets a fat* check from me.

*$5 AUS

P.S. I would feel very self-conscious doing this. However, I haven't been to NYC in the blogging era; maybe everyone is just taking photos at all times.

Spokey said...


you are a cad.

When peaches lived in Carroll Gardens and worked on Broadway a couple blocks from the WTC, her ride was over 3.5 miles. To suggest that she should have taken an epic commute of that nature without a water bottle is just a blatant disregard for our youth.

Easy for you with 17 children. You can afford to lose several and not even notice.

I'm just glad she has gotten away from your evil influence and now peddles her way through Portlandia without risk to her very existence. It's almost a year now and I can see the flush in her cheeks and the surge in her spirits.

Every day I thank the blessed LOB that my parents saw fit to cross the river and bring me to America where the air still exudes the sweet smell of the refineries.

robot says that posters, they bmleav every day. He is considering a defamation suit.

crosspalms said...

I saw a guy leaning out the passenger side window of an SUV this morning holding his phone up to take pictures (fog rolling in off Chicago lakefront obscuring tops of buildings, very picturesque). He must have had his feet in the glove compartment he was so far out the window.

leroy said...

I will be out of town on Friday and will not attend the New York Naked Bike Ride.

It would be incorrect for me to say I will miss it.

My dog notes that the ride will certainly not miss me.

(Robot Captcha: areLou Fontenelle. Sounds like Lou's mom doesn't know which end is up.)

leroy said...

Dear Mr. Anon 3:46 --

My dog informs me that he frequently passes water whenever I draft him on our commute.

Wait a minute. I just got that.

Oh is he in trouble.

Spokey said...


stop pulling a kenny here. Did your dog win the bet? Did you pay up?

robot says leroy played chialir. the truth is out there.

Anonymous said...

Steve Tilford, God Rest His Soul, never will come up with a line like this: " a Jules Vernian journey to the bottom of Wavy Gravy's laundry hamper"

Blog Drafter said...

Funny you should mention Lance…it turns out that even professional musicians dope.

Anonymous said...

Mikeweb, Dooth, Anons, et al: one of you has GOT to check it out.

On another note, Canadians should be very proud of their greatest cultural achievement, Trailer Park Boys. It's the best. Thank you, Northern Brothers and Sisters.

Anonymous said...

fixed rooneyn

(That's the robot talking)

TITTI-PRO said...

redheads got the best brillo

Anonymous said...

Props to Leroy and the Dog for giving me another great one-liner. My profession has worn out the phrase streaming media, pretty much streaming anything, and I was sick of it. Now I can say, with wry non-plussed-ness, about what phase of the project I would like to stream some media one, or just whenever it seems to fit. "Don't stream media down my back and tell me it's raining."

Nacnud said...

Bike whiskers would be better if they had tasers on the end of them.

Captcha said...

Would you all stop trying to the robot phrase into humor. It is boring

Anonymous said...

Fucking Citiots, I hate them all.

I like to discreetly apply a little black shoe polish to tha citisaddles, at night, and gleefully imagine the torture they'll all endure once they arrive at the office the next morning.

dancesonpedals said...

thank you for fighting the good fight your honor, please groove on some zappa, "let's make the water turn black",aka kenny's little creatures on display

Master Seitan said...

Biomimicry- Because nothing has withstood the danger of the automobile like the animal kingdom. Thump.

Anonymous said...

!Hail commuters!

Great eye to document the emerging CitiBike scene. Just as fixie bike riders are a different sort from roadies and cafe racer "city bike" riders, CitiBike riders are their own tribe with their own folkways, dress and riding customs. Looking forward to seeing more reports.

semi serious cyclist said...

Very impressive commentary on the race today! Training on the citibike team has its benefits, always great to have a team mechanic doing the wrenching for race day.

Since the bikes weigh 40 pounds, jumping team citibike cat 6 crit to the weekend 15 pound whip leads straight to the podium.

Clipless adaptors for a citibike would really up the wattage.

jdlvtrn said...

Wavy Gravy!!! I worked at the Electric Circus when Hog Farm was visiting. Those were the days.

1904 Cadardi said...

Semi serious,

Clipless adapters up the what?

I know we're all making fun but that seems a bit presumptuous.

Olle Nilsson said...

Anon 7:18 - switch to brown, it's funnier.

Captcha: their lasucts - move along, nothing funny going on here.

Grump said...

Snobby....It was a huge mistake connecting Citi Bikes and Cat 6 racing together.
One of these nights, you'll find all of the Citi Bikes rented, and used in a bandit race. Fifty guys, spinning like mad, in a Citi Bike Criterium.
It'll be a lot like the Little Indy 500.

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

While on my Fred based out and back in suburbia this evening, I passed a comfort bike decked out in gear I never thought I'd see on a bike meant to be ridden bolt upright....there it was, pointing nearly straight up, an aero bar on a comfort cruiser.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't gonna say anything until I noticed

captcha707 izzakunt

BamaPhred said...

I saw a link to a go pro 3 way Thought it would make interesting POV porn but it turns out it was a tripod. I don't qualify as a "tripod", if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

babble on said...

Ouch! Too funny! :D

Dunno what kind of drugs yer on, snobberdoodums, but they're working. You're on fire these days!

And wow! I am well impressed with your ability to multitask. If I had tried that little cat six photo journal, for sure I'd have ended up in the Hudson.

JLRB said...

Citibike needs to go front suspension, put some knobbies on, and set those break levers at 4:00

overly squeamish said...

The cycledelic wonder is a real piece of work. Headphones, shooting glasses, scranus juice. I can hear that chain screaming from being crossed like that all the way from Los Angeles. What a treasure for your city and the cycling community. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Robot says 13415.

How is that not funny?

dancesonpedals said...

yo babs--hard to end up in the Hudson while crossing the east river though it could be done

onelegmatt said...

When is TWIN-SIX going to sue you for the use of the term "Cat 6"?

McFly said...

I spotted a BEANS & LEAVES behind Cap'n Milkcrate. WTF is a BEANS & LEAVES?

That sounds like something you do in someones cubicle after lunch.
Fart jokes are timeless and always on point.

Anonymous said...

I have a dream: first rider to lap Kissena on a citybike.

Spokey said...


Given babs fredly abilities should be easy to do. Just build up a head of steam and coast down canal till you either splash in to the hudson or hit that big worm cave that seems to go under the river.

I guess the question is how well do those citibikes coast?

Robot says about 413 have coasted in to the hudson from the madhappening bridge since citibike got started.

babble on said...

Right? And never mind the Fredliness... when has the world ever seen another girl so adept at chaos and mishap?

If anybody can find a way, it's me.

black bar tape said...

Orange handle bar tape guy looks like Ned Overend from maybe a few


crosspalms said...

Sorry, robot, try again. But you're getting warm

crosspalms said...


Ooh, completely wrong direction. Cold, cold, cold.

crosspalms said...

cannibal ivedoca.

Gave up trying to guess my address, eh?

crosspalms said...

ntriam portray.

pig latin for wake up, WIWM, it's almost your turn...

except I misread it, and now it's

slospidn this

crosspalms said...

Panting, Bilbo turned to Froude Elgapp and said "I'm done pulling -- get up here!"

Anonymous said...

Leading out WIWM.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Oops, my leadout man took 100th comment!

Not really surprised, though. I once had DB over for a party. He arrived and ate all the shrimp cocktail before the other guests even arrived.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, WIWM. Crosspalms was in my blind spot.

dancesonpedals said...

A citibike wouldn't be the silliest thing on kissena...i went to look at the old velodrome while visitng my inlaws one afternoon...there were middle-aged men racing their radio-controlled cars around the track..and fathers teaching their kids to ride bikes, safely off the road...when I brought a fixie there, on an early morning, the riders were nice & didn't snarl when explaining how I was fucking up (how I entered the track, my line, etc)

Olle Nilsson said...

Beans and Leaves? I'd guess dumbest name ever for a coffee and tea merchant. Definitely a fun thing to do on the cube farm.

Olle Nilsson said...

matt, haha, that would be awesome.

TWIN-SIX: "Snob, we know we stole the term Cat 6 from you but we've copyrighted it now, so pay up, mkay?"

Yeah Cleveland! said...

Yep they're at it again.

Anonymous said...

the wavy gravy reference was hilarious. you're really dialing in your inner hippie with all this left coast-ness. You should visit, under normal circumstances, takes 7 years for all that culture -of which you reference- to make its way back east. Who knows what you'd find in the trenches to write about, as a semi-professional bike bloggah.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 12:17pm,

This may be hard for you to believe, but I have actually visited California.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

babble on said...

Yeah. We got to hear all about Mt Tampon just last year!

Anonymous said...

Most entertaining bicycle race in years and I didn't have to listen to Phil Liggett. The highlights for me were the fixxie attack and the GC contenders. Who won? Everyone.

Anonymous said...

to --Wildcat Rock Machine,
I'm totally not surprised that you've visited California. haha.
btw, thanks for inspiring a recent resurgence of trail riding where my vagina has been deftly positioned off the back of the saddle. Much like yours.

Daniel Palmer said...

This is a very nice blog!