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.
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?
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.