Shit Happens

It was a busy weekend, including an excursion to the mall to do some “back” to “school” shopping:

[The latest Cuomo edict is that pants may only be worn at 75% capacity.]

However, I did manage to get out on the bike(s). On Saturday, I undertook a delightful mixed-terrain ride on the Jones LWB:

Made even more pleasant by the fact that I finally got around to wrapping the top half of the bars:

Which I was able to do because I re-wrapped the narrow handlebars on my son’s Islabikes Luath 24 and had like a foot of tape left over once I was done.

Then, on Sunday, I headed out on the Teledyne Titan:

I took the above photo on “River Road,” which is one of the most heavily-traveled Fred routes in the New York City area:

While I like to pretend I’m above petty considerations such as whether my bike is cool or not, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling overly smug about being probably the only person out there on a bike not made of crabon, let alone something as esoteric as the world’s first production titanium bicycle. I’m also tempted to say I had the longest stopping distance of any other rider thanks to those old drillium brakes, though I did see one guy on a bike with Delta brakes so maybe not.

That’s not to say I find the brakes inadequate. In fact, they’re more than satisfactory. (At least in dry weather; I have yet to try them in the rain, nor do I have any immediate plans to do so, since the bike is a museum piece and I would not subject it to such foul conditions.) I do think it’s worth noting however the extent to which brake levers inform our sense of stopping power. The ergonomics of modern levers make it so much easier to apply power to the brakes–and they make it possible to do so from a variety of positions, whereas to apply any real power to the ones on the Teledyne you really have to grab them from the drops. (This is because once upon a time people actually used their drops–which they’re kind of starting to do again, but only thanks to those absurdly flared gravel bars.) Then there are those great big cable loops coming out of the tops, which catch my thumb every time I wave to somebody. (Yes, I do occasionally wave to people, even though I’m generally agnostic on the subject of waving.) Actually, this could explain why roadies hate to wave–perhaps it’s vestigial behavior left over from the days of non-aero brake levers that’s now just part of our DNA.

Otherwise, I continue to marvel at just how delightfully smooth this bicycle is. I admit I still find the front-end flex when cranking out of the saddle mildly disconcerting, but other than that this is the sort of bike I could easily ride all day long–even with the hard plastic Unicanitor saddle, which in no way detracts from the riding experience. Also, despite the paucity of gears (it’s a five-speed freewheel), and the fact that the lowest one is a 42/28 (considerably higher than the low gear on any of my other road bikes), at no time on my undulating route did I find myself pining for more or lower ratios. I don’t know whether to attribute this to some sort of Jan Heine-type “planing” phenomenon, or to the leverage afforded by the extra-long (177.5!) cranks, or to the fact that modern bikes simply have like twice as many gears then they need. I suspect the answer is probably some combination of all three, though heavily weighted towards that last one. Whatever the case, I really enjoy riding the bike, and when the time comes to return it to Classic Cycle I will be sad to see it go.

Oh, and I even matched my jersey color palette to the Teledyne’s decals:

Rapha sent me that jersey a long time ago–so long ago that there were still people working at Rapha who would send someone like me a jersey. Heady days indeed. And if you’re wondering about the thing at the top of the photo that looks like an aging porcupine’s ass, what you’re seeing there is my chin. Distressing I knw.

Speaking of vintage, on the way home I stopped on the side of Route 9W to relieve myself and noticed this:

I couldn’t tell if it was an actual vintage bottle or just one of those ersatz vintage sodas they sell in Whole Foods, but I subsequently looked it up and found that not only is it vintage but it’s also worth big, big money!

Clearly I should have stuck it in my ersatz vintage jersey.

Oh well, my loss is your gain. If you’re looking for it, it’s on the west side of 9W, maybe a quarter mile south of the River Road turn. And yes, it’s peed on, but only slightly.

Moving on to local news, the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives wants to help replace a child’s stolen bicycle:

I don’t know, I guess he means well, but does the whole community really need to come together to replace this one kid’s bike for him? And yes, I realize that makes me sound like a giant asshole, but everyone already thinks I’m a giant asshole anyway so what have I got to lose? Hey, look, I totally feel for this kid, and for this kid’s parent, and I can totally relate to the feeling of rage that would compel him or her to post this flyer, even if the metaphors he or she employed are a little cringey. (Though when it comes to cringey metaphors I’m certainly not one to talk.) If you buy your child a special gift, then someone violates that special gift, you want nothing more than to smack the violator in the head.

At the same time…isn’t bike theft just a part of childhood? When I was a kid, bikes were stolen all the time, usually by other kids. I mean, I was as coddled as they come (you don’t wind up a semi-professional bike blogger if you’re not coddled, which alone is reason enough to hit your kid), but even I lived under the ever-present specter of someone snatching my bicycle, or even chasing after me in order to knock me off of it. And sure, being the coddled kid I was, I can remember my mother driving us around the neighborhood when our bikes get stolen and then her stealing them back herself while we cowered in the car. But I certainly couldn’t imagine the head of a large advocacy organization putting out a call to action on my behalf. The flyer doesn’t even say something like, “We are struggling financially and can’t afford to buy our child a new bicycle,” in which case I’d probably pitch in myself. Instead it says the kid lost his “wild dragon,” which…you know, tough shit. (I mean “tough shit” in the sincere, sympathetic, you-sure-could-use-a-beer sense, not the sarcastic serves-you-right sense.)

Of course, the difference now is Twitter, and the insatiable appetite on the part of the virtuous for another cause célèbre du jour–seasoned with a bit of Motor Vehicle Derangement Syndrome:

But we will share his parent’s outrage — and go one further: What if the reverberations of this crime go beyond mere disappointment at being robbed of his “wild dragon, his flying carpet, his shiny motorcycle” — and turn this child against cycling forever and turn him into, perish the thought, a driver?


So basically we need to buy this kid a new bike so that he never drives a car.

Makes a lot of sense.

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