Not Quite Classic…But Close Enough

First of all, spare a moment for the poor rider who attempted to ride in jeans for a short distance and had to have surgery on his butthole:

This was in response to a recent Outside column:

So I guess it will only be a matter of time before I’m sued. I should probably add the following disclaimer:

*[Do not attempt to ride in jeans, underpants, or any other non-Lycra garment if you do not practice basic anal hygiene.]

It’s hard to believe many of us grew up doing all sorts of physical activities, including riding bikes, in non-athletic clothing, and I guess it’s a miracle so many of us survived with our buttholes intact.

Secondly, I came across this on the Twitter:

Because someone mentioned me in the ensuing thread:

One of my favorite stand-up comedy routines is Cedric the Entertainer’s set in the concert film “The Original Kings of Comedy.” There are several bits in there I think of almost daily, and one of them is a bit on how black people run from trouble whereas white people run to trouble. It’s a perfect send-up of pragmatic, common-sense behavior versus naive, idealistic behavior, and the reason I think of it so often is because cyclists are so often the “white” people (figuratively speaking) in the joke, and in fact Bike Twitter consists almost entirely of people riding right into situations that are obviously going to turn out poorly and then acting outraged when they invariably do.

In the joke, the white people run right into a melee or an assault or something, and in the video the cyclist (who I guess is someone famous in the UK but to me is just a guy who looks like he takes bicycle commuting very seriously) rides up to someone on a motor scooter who’s occupying the bike box:

And decided he’s not turning because he’s not using his signal:

However–surprise!–he is in fact turning:

Which causes the aggrieved bicyclist to exclaim as follows:

Ah, but he is. This is the “Why didn’t anybody tell me…?” part of the stand-up bit, and the scooterist responds predictably:

Fortunately, our brightly-begloved bicyclist lives to ride another day.

Should the scooterist have been in the bike box? No. Should he have signaled? Yes. Are his gloves brighter than a thousand suns? Undoubtedly. Is using a string of rhetorical questions an extraordinarily lazy way to make a point? You bet your abcess-ridden ass.

Nevertheless, if you’ve ridden a bike for more than six minutes you should be well aware of the following:

  • Use of signals by anybody, regardless of vehicle, is haphazard at best
  • People are often where they’re not “supposed” to be, also regardless of vehicle
  • Someone who’s already where they’re not “supposed” to be is that much less likely to do something else they’re supposed to do, such as signal

As I attempted to convey in my column about blocked bike lanes, it is important to recognize the distinction between what people are supposed to do and what they actually do; by anticipating the latter you can often stay a step ahead, whereas expecting the former and acting accordingly can result in a range of unfortunate outcomes, from irritation to death. There is no point in adopting the “walk right to the trouble” approach–unless of course you are looking to generate content and stoke outrage in the form of annotated videos. Certainly people are well within their rights to do so, though I’d argue the unfortunate side-effect is it breeds armies of people behave similarly in the name of righteousness, and ultimately just consigns us to an angry, foam-hatted, neon-gloved, blinky-lighted future.

I do enjoy the irony of making fun of the scooterist’s clothes, though:

Speaking of clothing, the 1980s is defined at least in part by posters of women wearing very little of it standing next to exotic automobiles:

In this spirit I present you with some 80s-style Normcore Bike Porn:

The flat tire on the car really pulls it all together.

The Vengeance Bike may have been the most coveted Fred Sled of 1987:

Ushering in an era of preternaturally disconcerting smoothness and commanding a price of $1,195 (that’s $274,550,000 in today’s money) for the frame and fork alone:

Meanwhile, a mere two years later, for $665 ( or about $1,000,000 today), you could buy the very latest in glued-together aluminum technology:

The Vengeance Bike is the antithesis of versatility–it’s for riding fast on the road, and that’s it. While this goes against my principles, that’s also what’s fun about it. As a balding middle-aged man, I don’t have access to a convertible sports coupe, so riding around on a white plastic blob with Delta brakes is the next-best thing.

But the humble Normcore Bike equals or exceeds it in most respects. Asthetically it’s aggressively uninteresting, but it rides beautifully and accepts 28s:

Also, the brakes are the exact opposite of the Deltas, in that they’re minimalist and work brilliantly:

That’s barely heavier than a modern Dura-Ace brake while stopping almost as well, being considerably more elegant, and offering the same tire clearance:

And as much as I endorse the “Dirtbag Road” approach, the gap between the two bikes in the going-fast-on-pavement department narrows even further with road pedals, which I do admit allow you to coax a little more excitement out of this particular bike:

My current theory is clipless pedals don’t add anything to your ride until you’re on a bike that requires you to lean forward at least 45 degrees, at which point they may start to become useful. This is because the more horizontal you get the more it helps to have your feet attached so they stay in position when you start to get frisky. The extreme example of course is the H-Zontal bike, which would probably be quite hard to ride with flat pedals for the simple reason that you can’t even see your feet without a mirror:

As for the pedals, they’re not-quite-period-correct Shimano ones that my neighbor was no longer using:

These keep the “vintage 105 showcase” theme going:

While also letting me use the same shoes as I do for the Look-equipped Vengeance Bike:

But unlike the Vengeance Bike the Normcore Bike is juuust versatile enough to coax you off-road now and again:

Though riding roots and rocks on 28s with tubes is like hiking in high heels…or hiking in road shoes, which is what happens when you’re forced to dismount.

Yes, for all-terrain exploits nothing beats a bike like the Platypus, which not only handles most surfaces with aplomb, but can also carry plenty of pyrotechnics:

There’s really nothing it can’t do.

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