Putting It All In One Basket

What a glorious morning!

I’d just like to point out that last March I got my first Rivendell, and days later they said you couldn’t leave your homes:

Then last week I got another Rivendell, and days later they said you can stop wearing masks:

As a solipsist I know that the universe revolves around me and that my actions alone determine reality, so it’s safe to say that in acquiring the Platypus I have brought everything full circle:

You’re welcome.

Speaking of the Platypus, last Friday I installed my rack and basket:

Unlike the rack on my Homer, which took a fair amount of up-mocking and stay-trimming, this particular configuration required relatively little time and effort to install:

Of course, the primary reason I installed a basket was because I believe first and foremost in safety, so I wanted to equip the Platypus with a frontal crumple zone in the event of any deer collisions:

However, as it turns out the basket is also handy for other stuff too, which I found out when my wife and I treated ourselves to a little lunch outing this past Friday while our seventeen (17) children were at school:

The day warmed up quickly as we headed out, so I tossed in my jacket and my man-purse with nary a thought:

Our destination was Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, which many New Yorkers know as “Little Italy” (or “Little It’ly” if you’re above a certain age). While the trip from our home to Arthur Avenue is only a few miles, it only became bike-friendly relatively recently with the advent of the Southern Boulevard bike lane, which runs alongside the New York Botanical Garden:

Not only is riding in the bike lane pleasant in itself, but you also get to take an additional degree of satisfaction in proving certain business owners wrong by using it to ride a bicycle to Arthur Avenue in order to spend money:

One interesting feature of the Southern Boulevard bike lane is this unusual bus stop treatment, the merits and/or demerits of which Infrastructure Freds could no doubt debate until the end of time:

Presumably the DOT orders this stuff from whatever the traffic furniture equivalent of the Ikea catalogue is. By the way, you may also note a row of cars alongside the bike lane. Those are not parked cars; rather, they’re all sitting there idling, as traffic to get into the Botanical Gardens was backed up for about a mile on this delightful Friday. I’d like to think that maybe one or two people sitting in their cars looked over at the bike lane basking in the sun on a beautiful spring day and thought to themselves, “Hmmm, maybe next time we should ride here.” However, it’s probably much more likely that they thought, “We’d already be in the parking lot if it weren’t for that stupid bike lane!” (Even though it’s not really the bike lane’s fault, as the city didn’t remove a lane of traffic in order to install it, but whatever.)

As for us, we glided happily by the traffic and soon arrived at Arthur Avenue:

Where we opened our wallets just as widely as any who may have arrived there by SUV:

There’s also a paucity of bike racks on Arthur Avenue, but when you’ve got a big, heavy bike with a kickstand–be it a Rivendell or a Harley-Davidson–the sidewalk is your oyster, so no problem there:

Anyway, New York City isn’t always the easiest place in the world to ride a bike, but if you don’t come home from an outing like that feeling like you’re incredibly lucky to live where you do then you should jumpstart yourself with a defibrillator.

I know what you’re thinking: “I am deeply envious of your casual approach to the act of bicycle riding!” Well, rest assured it took me many years of dues-paying to become the Basket Bike Beardo I am today: the BMX racing, the road racing, the mountain bike racing, the cyclocross racing… Sure, you could always ride casually from the start, but then you wouldn’t really appreciate it, would you? Of course you wouldn’t.

All of this is to say that on Saturday my elder son made a crucial step in his own cycling journey by riding in his first mountain bike race:

If you’ve ever stared down a subway tunnel awaiting the arrival of the A train you know how anxious I felt standing by the finish line waiting for my son to round the bend, and how I rejoiced when he finally arrived. I’m pretty sure he was the youngest kid in the entire race, too–and he finished despite dropping his chain, which was entirely the fault of his incompetent mechanic, that being a certain ham-fisted idiot known as Jörs Trüli. Naturally I was swelling with pride, though I did jettison what little dignity I had by partaking in the race myself:

That’s a Vulpine Merino City Jersey, but I suspect what you’re really admiring is my helmet, which is a genuine “Spaldeen,” as a Little It’ly denizen might call it:

This was my first outing in it, and I can confirm that it is in fact ideal for both “racing” and “ATB:”

I can also confirm that the couple in the “Touring” photo are mass murderers who eat people’s spleens:

The CPSC says you should replace your foam safety hat every five to 10 years, which means this one is at least 22 years overdue:

Though it is made in Canada of genuine Molson-grade beer cooler Styrofoam, so I feel perfectly comfortable ignoring those guidelines:

I was hoping my vintage helmet would lend me an air of ironic singlespeed irreverence, but I suspect people just figured I was some out-of-shape dad who had dug it out of his garage in Baldwin earlier that morning. Certainly I could never hope to be as fashionable as the sorts of people who model Rapha Performance Trailwear:

There was a time when I might have found Rapha’s decision to enter the mountain bike market irritating, but now that I’m a Basket Bike Beardo and total Platypussy I just look at it and think, “Wow, they sure do make cycling look exhausting.”

Even so, despite my lack of both Rapha Performance Trailwear and modern helmet technology, I managed to finish first in my division!

Granted, I was the only rider in my division (singlespeeding is deeply unfashionable these days), but a win’s a win:

[Photo: Elliott Weiss]

These days I’ll take what I can get.

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