Life Is A Downgrade

Early yesterday morning, the cold feeling like an insult to bones still warm with the heat they absorbed during vacation, I pointed my bike in a downtown direction and set out for my radio show.

Then, a few miles in, I got a text informing me that the phones were down at the station. And inasmuch as I host a call-in program, that meant my show was cancelled.

It seemed silly to turn around at that point and so I pressed on down the Hudson River Greenway–where, around 125th Street, I encountered this massive motor-vehicular pile-up:

It’s difficult to see what’s going on because of the rising sun, the age of my smartphone, my distance from the crash, and, most importantly, my utter ineptitude when it comes to photography. However, there was at least one overturned vehicle, as well as a number of others that appeared to have been involved, including a schoolbus:

After I finished rubbernecking I started riding again, marveling at the stalled traffic, which probably extended all the way to the Battery:

As I marveled, one gentleman in a pickup truck sang “Bicycle, bicycle!” at me, invoking that Queen song I can’t stand, and I couldn’t tell whether he was mocking me or simply going mad with boredom. If the former, it seemed like a rather silly thing to do, inasmuch I was riding along free and unfettered and he was stuck there scratching his “pants yabbies” like a schmuck. If the latter, I can’t say I blame him.

Shortly after, it was my turn to feel like a putz as a delivery person on an ebike and another rider on an e-assisted Citi Bike passed me as though I was standing still:

It’s really hard to trudge through that incessant headwind on the Greenway and not think about getting an ebike–though as soon as I get off the Greenway I completely forget about wanting an ebike.

I have, however, recently found myself coveting a small-displacement motorcycle:

It turns out everything you’ve heard about the so-called “midlife crisis” is totally true, go figure.

Anyway, yesterday I also shared my latest Outside column:

And subsequently a Twitter person informed me that USA Cycling has revised its category system and there’s no longer a Cat 5! Instead, it’s called “Novice.” Furthermore, whereas you used to have to do 10 races to upgrade from Cat 5 to Cat 4, now you can “Upgrade at will:”

Even more shocking to me is that you can now upgrade from Cat 4 to Cat 3 based on “20 pack finishes!”

Now, I should disclose that I am a Cat 3. Many years ago, when I still took bike racing seriously, I made a concerted effort to upgrade to Cat 3. This involved finishing high enough in races to score points, and while I don’t remember how many points I had to get or how high up in the results I had to finish, I do recall that I managed a second place finish in a Prospect Park race once, which seems incredible to me now and is a feat I never ever came close to repeating. In fact, upon upgrading to Cat 3, I immediately found myself clinging to the back of the pack, and that’s where I’ve remained ever since.

In any case, now that all a Cat 4 has to do to upgrade is finish with the pack 20 times, I now feel like those miserable pricks who don’t think we should cancel student loan debt because well I had to pay off my loans so goddamn it these millennials should have to do it too.

Ultimately however I do think it makes sense for USA Cycling to update their upgrade process, and really the only serious problem I have with all of this is that if they’re going to change Cat 5 to “Novice” they should change names of all the other categories too. I’d suggest something along the lines of the following:

Category 5 = Novice

Category 4 = Novice SL

Category 3 = Pack Fill

Category 2 = Person Inordinately Proud Of Their Bike Shop Discount

Category 1 = Person Who Doesn’t Get Invited To Parties

Seriously, Cat 1s are like fundamentalist Christians only without the sense of fun and whimsy.

Aw, fuck it, I’m downgrading to Novice.

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