Getting There Is Half The Problem

Further to my last post, on Monday morning I took the Pink Meh-strosity out for a proper ride:

The bike felt quick and lively, though I’m sorry to report that I’ve already broken my resolution and spent some money on it. Specifically, the braking surface on that rear wheel is worn to a degree that makes me uncomfortable, and I’ve got the matching rear wheel to that front, which is in decent shape apart from the fact that the freehub is seized. So I’ve now got a replacement freehub on order, and assuming the transplant is successful, the bike will sport matching wheels.

I’m also sorry to report I incurred two (2) flat tires, one on the front early in the ride, and one on the rear at the end of my ride. I attribute the flats to: A) wet roads full of debris; B) the aforementioned resolution not to spend money on the bike and my subsequent use of old tires. I was so close to home I didn’t even bother fixing the rear, especially since I’ll soon need to switch the rear wheel anyway. As for the front, I did stop to fix that…

…and while I did a man appeared, walking what at first I took to be a very small dog:

However, as he got closer I realized it wasn’t a dog at all:

It was a ferret:

Now I should point out that I love every creature on this Earth. Nevertheless, there are some that I don’t want anywhere near me, and these disgusting little weasels are near the top of that list. It’s hard to adequately convey the sense of visceral disgust I felt when I caught what appeared to be a teacup poodle or something similarly adorable in my peripheral vision, and then turned, only to find it was a hairy living drain snake. Indeed, my heart leapt into my mouth in precisely the same manner it would have had the man been unzipped and letting his “pants ferret” flap about unfettered. I averted my eyes immediately and cursed myself for not carrying a frame pump, for not only could I have inflated the tire more quickly and limited my exposure to the creature, but I also could have used the pump in self defense should the little muskrat attempt to scamper up the inside of my pant leg. (This may be an unlikely scenario, but when I look at these things every nerve in my body tells me that’s what it wants to do.)

Alas, all I had was my mini-pump, which requires several hundred strokes to adequately inflate a road tire, though thankfully I was able to top it off at a public workstation later in the ride:

Other than that, the shifters are as smooth as a ferret in olive oil, especially in conjunction with a Hyperglide cassette:

And while I probably wouldn’t want to ride these bars for more than a couple hours at a time owing to the lack of hand positions, they suit the bike’s nature and enhance its playful demeanor:

Meanwhile, school was closed on Monday and Tuesday for the Jewish New Year, and after we watched the matzoh ball drop in Times Square the kids and I rode to the Bronx Zoo:

My older son is 12, and my younger son is seven. When my older son was seven, riding to the zoo together with him on his own bike really wasn’t a viable proposition, because even though it’s only four miles away, there weren’t enough bike paths suitable for a child and the amount of sidewalk riding it required was irritating and inconvenient. So I’d take him on my bike, or, more often, we’d just say “fuck it” and drive.

But now those sections that would have required sidewalk riding have been duly bike-laned:

[Photo from last year.]

The bike lanes are far from perfect. For example, you wouldn’t want to improve life for bicyclists and bus passengers, so instead they put the bus stops right in the bike lane so the passengers can experience what it’s like to be human bowling pins:

[Also from last year.]

Furthermore, you have to have an advanced degree in civil engineering to negotiate New York City’s bike lane network. The baffling signs, the ambiguous street markings, the thrillingly unpredictable way in which the bike lane will suddenly move across to the other side of the street, or route you onto the sidewalk, or vanish altogether… Oftentimes riding in a bike lane here feels like being a bloodhound on the trail of a fugitive prisoner. Sure, the hardcore transportation nerds are intimately familiar with all the tricks the DOT pulls from its “traffic-calming toolkit” and know how to read this stuff, but it’s far from intuitive, especially for kids, so as a parent you wind up doing a lot of marshalling and pointing. No doubt this is mostly a function of the contortionist manner in which the DOT designs streets to incorporate bikes while taking away as little space as possible for cars, irritating drivers and bicyclists alike in the process.

Nevertheless, for all the annoyances, these Green Strips of Compromise have made something possible–indeed more than possible, if still not exactly convenient–that really wasn’t just a few years ago:

At this rate, in 20 or 30 years, riding a bicycle to the zoo with the kids might even be an appealing proposition for a normal person who isn’t a semi-professional bike blogger.

…though I wouldn’t put an money on it.

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