This past Sunday the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (the kids call it “ESPN”) aired Part I of a documentary about a professional bike racer who was active in the late 20th and early 21st century, and I wrote about it for Bicycling:
If you’ve been wondering whether or not to watch it perhaps my write-up will help you decide. I happen to think it’s very good, but I also recognize that there are people who swore off consuming any form of content about this particular bike racer years ago and are much happier for it. Hey, I deleted the Twitter app from my phone a few weeks back and I’m sleeping better, my complexion’s cleared up, and I’m getting like 40% more battery life out of my aging smartphone. (Alas, I haven’t sworn off Twitter altogether; I still use it from my computer, so basically I’m like one of those alcoholics who only drinks on weekends.) Still, I was into it, and if you’re not one of those *rmstrong teetotalers I’ll venture that you will be too.
Anyway, hope you got some riding in this past weekend, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow with some lukewarm tales of my own “adventures.”
*Unrelated anecdote follows below photo of nonplussed deer
[Begin Unrelated Anecdote]
So this morning I hopped on my Rivendell and headed down to Central Park.
It was a bit muggy when I set out, but by the time I got to Central Park the sun had burned off much of the haze. Human traffic in the park was relatively light, and of course the horse-drawn carriages and pedicabs are now gone due to the pandemic. While I lament the circumstances that have led to these conditions, I nonetheless savored the sunshine and the tranquility as I rode.
By the time I came to the section of the park road known as “Horseshit Alley” (due to the manure from the aforementioned carriage horses) my heart was singing, as it usually does during a bike ride. The roadway narrows here, and I moved out of the designated bike lane to accommodate the runners who invariably venture into it here. I should point out the bike lane is mostly vestigial here, a relic of a time when cars were still allowed in the park, so I hardly feel proprietary about it as far as runners and pedestrians using it, especially on a morning like this one when the park is nowhere near crowded.
As I was about halfway through Horseshit Alley a rider began ringing their bell behind me, apparently announcing their intention to pass. Taking stock of my position, I saw that the bike lane immediately to the left of me was now clear, as was the portion of the road immediately to my right. With no idea whether the rider intended to pass me on my left or on my right, I didn’t want to pull off in either direction less I choose the wrong one and we collide. So I held my line, which seemed like the most prudent and considerate course of action, thus leaving both sides of the roadway readily available to the passing rider.
I waited for the pass, but the ringing continued and grew more urgent. “What the hell does this person want?,” I wondered. So I gestured that they were welcome to pass in either direction. Finally the rider announced, “On your right!,” thus ending the suspense. I moved over, and I figured that was that.
Nope. As the rider passed, she gave me a disgusted look. While I don’t remember her exact words, she then told me off, accusing me of somehow forcing her to ride on the choppy pavement on the right-hand side of Horseshit Alley.
I was, quite frankly, stunned. It was a beautiful day, on a stretch of road I’ve ridden hundreds (or more likely thousands) of times before, in much more chaotic conditions–including races–without incident. Now here was this rider who had targeted me in her sights like a bogey and fired a Scud missile of derision at me.
She continued riding, and without really trying all that hard I kept pace with her. While I’ve lost any appetite for public shaming I may have once had, I’m going to share a photo herewith, because not only does it reveal absolutely nothing of the rider’s identity, but it also illustrates just how uncrowded the park was this morning:
Still reeling from the castigation, I observed that it was a beautiful day for a bike ride, and that there was plenty of room in the park for all of us. I also introduced myself by name. By way of reply, she told me to fuck off, and added that she was going to call the cops. I’m not sure what crime I had committed by telling the person who’d just told me off that it was a beautiful day for a bike ride, but these are interesting times, and maybe if Leroy’s feeling up to it he can offer some insight.
Anyway, in the past I’ve declared with tongue in cheek that bikes with aerobars should be banned from Central Park. Maybe now it’s time to extend the ban to drop bars.