This is a bike blog, I’m only a bike blogger and barely qualified to do that. Here and there I’ve brought up the whole virus thing, but for the most part I’ve been sticking to my furrow. However, in a way you are visiting my home, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your host sharing his thoughts and feelings every now and again, which I’ve already done here and there. Hey, sometimes you’ve got to pour out a drink and start talking.
For awhile I’ve been feeling pretty beat up. I lost my column (and more) at a time when I felt like it was going very well, which is like coming off your bike on a sweeping descent. My kids can’t go to school. The bug hit New York particularly hard, but also I’m not afraid to tell you that as far as the lockdown goes I think we drowned the child to kill the head lice, and that in order to justify the treatment we’re still holding the poor bastard under. I know I’ve still got it very, very good, and that your kids can’t go to school either, and that you may be out of work, and that you or yours may have been laid low–or worse–by the COVID cock-wallop. I also know you may strongly disagree with everything I’ve just written, but I’m grateful to have the sorts of readers who prefer independent thought to dogma (well, mostly, anyway), even if that thought stands in opposition to their own. I maintain it is possible to believe both that the illness is serious and that the lockdown is a mistake, just as it’s possible to both drive a car and believe we need more bike lanes, or to generally dislike metal as a genre and yet really enjoy “Master Of Puppets.” Unless you’re a cult member or a vegan, life doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.
But while I’m still smarting from all that metaphorical road rash, I do feel much, much better now, and right at this moment what I feel most of all is hope. Spring is here, the numbers are trending down, and you can feel that the fever has broken. Cuomo will create innumerable task forces and agencies and trigger mechanisms and stockpiles and models to prove why the other models that turned out to be wrong would have been right if it hadn’t have been for him, and he’ll keep jerking the leash for awhile as we try to smell the flowers–and yes, people will continue to get sick, as they have ever since we slithered out of the primordial bisque and grew hair and legs–but the inevitability of seasonal rebirth and the promise it holds is bigger than all of that. Am I drunk on pollen? Possibly. Is the sunshine I’m so gleefully welcoming in fact killing me? Definitely. But it’s also killing the fear, and if the skin cancer don’t get me then the drivers will.
I fully acknowledge it may be foolish to take such solace from nature, especially since I have such a feeble understanding of it. Nevertheless, I’m a product of this earth, and it seems equally foolish to divorce myself from it. By the way, I’d also file gravity under nature:
I came across this video yesterday while looking for videos about gravity for my son. Like most dimwitted people I never really understood gravity, and this blew my flimsy mind like a worn tire sidewall. Then, last night, there was a brilliant yellow crescent moon hanging right out the window. I pointed my son’s telescope at it and could see all the craters, and the portion that was in shadow, and it seemed so tantalizingly close I wanted to keep staring at it, except it’s kind of annoying to stare into a telescope for more than like five seconds at a time. As the sort of dimwitted person who never really bothered to think about gravity I also rarely think about the Moon as anything more than this big lightbulb in the sky that looks cool occasionally, but for those handful of seconds last night it was the most beautiful object I’d ever seen. I went to bed with a profound sense that, in a cosmic context, all this fussing about whether people are keeping exactly six feet of distance between each other while walking in a park is patently absurd.
Or maybe we’ll all be dead by August. Hey, I never said I knew what I was talking about. In the meantime, don’t worry, I won’t get in your face, but I also won’t be walking or riding around in fear. So if you see me feel free to say, “Hi!”
Then, this morning, I got on my bike and pedaled off into a beautiful morning:
This is a beguiling picture until you consider that, seconds after taking it, I stepped behind that tree and took a great big leak that smelled like coffee.
In addition to being one of the many pee spots I keep in my back pocket, his stretch of the Harlem River is also home to some secret Manhattan gravel, so don’t tell anybody:
It’s maybe 50 yards long, but if you keep your eyes down you can pretend you’re riding Eroica California for about 30 seconds.
Finally, moving on from overwrought cosmic metaphors to pointless minutiae, let’s talk about my bell:
I apologize for the above photo; I tried to photograph the bell while I was waiting at a stoplight, but the only thing that would up in focus is my disgustingly hairy mole-ridden arm.
So right, the bell:
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve come to embrace the bell recently, and as I’ve also mentioned I recently took delivery of a new Spurcycle compact bell:
So how do the two compare? Well, the Spurcycle is obviously a much nicer-looking bell, whereas the one on my Rivendell, which I took off a bike that has been ridden by both my sons over the years, is much larger and scuffed up from their many crashes:
The Spurcycle is also much more pleasant-sounding, emitting a crystal-clear *Ding* that just rings out into infinity. (In my case this is especially true, because at a certain point it reaches the exact pitch of my tinnitus, so it effectively never stops ringing for me.) Meanwhile, the bell on the Rivendell makes more of a BONG-BONG sound, since the lever or the clapper or whatever you call it rings the bell twice–once when you pull it, and again when you release it. I do think this may make for a more effective (if less mellifluous) bell, since on my ride with the Spurcycle the suburbanites on the Old Croton Aqueduct didn’t seem to heed me. Then again, it was a beautiful Saturday morning following a cold and rainy week, and they may just have been ignoring me more pointedly than usual.
Can you blame them?