In 2020, Hindsight Is 20/20

Last week I mentioned that I thought Stillwell on Long Island would be the perfect setting in which to test the American M-16:

Well, this past weekend I made it out along with my elder son who was riding a far more technologically advanced bicycle featuring front suspension and disc brakes:

While I wouldn’t say I pushed the limits of the bicycle or myself (I may be a feeble rider, but I’m still faster than a 9 year-old), all indications were that this vintage bicycle would be ideally suited for doing so in these environs. Far more revelatory was what a great place Stillwell is for a budding mountain biker; and, relatedly, how how much budding mountain bikers enjoy the novelty of the CamelBak, of which he is partaking in the above photo.

It’s easy to be cynical in your old age, but it’s a backpack you drink out of and that’s pretty cool.

Speaking of old age, cynicism, hair loss, and so forth, yesterday I mentioned fixing a flat on the Hudson River Greenway, where nobody asked me if I was okay, including some of the no-account readers who commented on the post:

As it happens, the other day I came across a video of David Byrne from 10 (!) years ago, in which he rides on the very same greenway, albeit quite a few miles south of where I incurred my puncture:

Even though I was 10 years younger back then I was quite cynical regarding David Byrne at the time–too cynical, in fact, since he was just a successful musician going out of his way to advocate for riding bicycles. Oh, sure, he rode around in white pants, and he had an odd relationship with his bicycle helmet, but in many ways he was ahead of his time. Take, for instance, what he says as a be-vested Cat 6 attempts to overtake him:

“So if this route ever became really popular as a commute it would get kinda crowded at certain hours in the morning I guess.”

Spoiler alert: the Hudson River did become really popular as a commute, and it does get kinda crowded at certain areas of the morning. How do you like that? Given his prescience, I only wish someone had thought to ask him for some stock tips:

“I’m balls deep in Tesla.”–David Byrne

Now I realize it sounds like I’m still making fun of him, but that’s not the case. Rather, it’s honestly rather amazing that in 2009 we were still speculating about what the Hudson River Greenway might be like were it to become a popular bike commuting route. Now here we are in 2020, and it’s so popular–even in February–that diffusion of responsibility kicks in and NOBODY ASKS ME IF I NEED ANYTHING WHILE I’M CHANGING A FLAT.

I mean any experienced cyclist knows that when you see a rider in distress you’re supposed to ask if they need anything while maintaining sufficient speed so as not to hear their reply. If done right, you ask, “Hey, you need anything?,” and you’re well out of earshot by the time they’ve managed a “Well, actually…”

As for me, I always ask stranded riders if they need anything, with the following exceptions:

  • Their bike is technologically scary to me and I don’t think I could help them
  • Their bike and equipment suggests they are members of the 1% and could easily summon a helicopter
  • I’m running late and/or I can’t risk getting my hands dirty because I’m wearing white pants like David Byrne

Of course I say all this, yet in reality I’ve probably rationalized not offering assistance countless times–though a couple years back on the Harlem River Greenway I not only offered someone assistance but gave them my tube and installed it for them, and I can assure you I’m still patting myself on the back for that to this day. In fact, I’ve probably replayed the occasion in my mind whilst snubbing someone, secure in the knowledge that I’ve banked sufficient karma to do so.

Because I’m pretty sure that’s how karma works–it’s like a cosmic Target gift card, right?

Sure it is.

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