Playing It Cool

In last Friday’s post I included a news story in which a Fred collided with a bear. Well, that very same day I had an equally harrowing encounter when I was very nearly attacked by a goose:

You can be certain that when I saw the geese I gave them plenty of room. For one thing, geese are widely known as the “bears of the sky,” which is a fake fact that I just made up. Also, I know that geese are extremely protective of their goslings, and that in addition to taking down commercial airliners they love to attack cyclists:

Indeed, I’ve had my fair share of close calls with them myself:

Alas, while I gave them a wide berth, it was not wide enough for their liking, and the feathered beast began hissing at me like a cast iron radiator with a bad valve:

I imagine meeting your fate at the hands beaks of a flock of geese would be very much like lying strapped to a table as a bunch of diners eat you alive with chopsticks:

Anyway, I survived by the skin of my chamois–and speaking of my wardrobe, now that I think about it, maybe they weren’t being protective of their young. Maybe they were angry because I was wearing gravel clothing on a road bike:

These items are from Pearl Izumi’s Contours Gravel Collection:

At this point I realize you may have questions. For one thing, what makes this “gravel clothing?” Well, it’s inspired by the “natural contours of the Earth:”

I’m not sure what that means, but the shorts have pockets on the side, so there is that.

Another question you may have is, “Why are you, a complete schlub who doesn’t even own a proper ‘gravel bike’ and mostly just ridicules the concept, wearing a whole suit of clothing from Pearl Izumi’s Contours Gravel Collection?” Well, they asked me if I wanted to try it and I said, “Sure!” Hey, I still wear stretchy clothes when I feel like it, I can always use some more, and I figured I’d see what the new stuff is like since all my stuff is from before gravel was even invented. After one (1) ride, here are my impressions:

  • They look like what would happen if someone hired Vincent Van Gogh to paint army fatigues (I’m not saying that’s good or bad, colors and patterns and stuff like that are totally subjective)
  • I did not use the short pockets but it didn’t bother me that they were there and maybe one day they could come in handy, who knows?
  • They kept me cool and comfortable, though they felt a bit snug for size L, which is probably just me in denial that my girth has increased
  • Warning: while they may look like what would happen if someone hired Vincent Van Gogh to paint army fatigues (see above), this pattern will not make you invisible to an angry goose
  • Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it’s the pattern that’s making the goose angry, because this guy’s shirt looks like what would happen if someone hired Paul Gauguin to paint army fatigues:

Clearly geese hate Post-Impressionist painters.

So there you go, I’ll continue to keep you posted, though I will do my best to spare you more photos of me in tight clothing.

But while I may not have had occasion to use the side pockets on my shorts, later that day I did get to use the basket on my Platypus:

Just try stuffing those babies in your gravel shorts:

This put me in a Platypus frame of mind, and so the next day I took it for a ride that involved no stretchy clothes or ice-portaging whatsoever:

As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, I’m very fond of where I live, since I have easy access to both the city and the sumptuous riding that lies beyond it. Well, over the weekend I was pleased to see lots of other riders passing through these parts too. Not only did Esteemed Commenter Leroy wander up this way (at least according to Strava, I didn’t actually see him), but I also ran into what turned out to be this camping trip organized by 718 Cyclery:

I was returning home on my Platypus and they were heading north, their bikes laden with panniers and camping gear. At first I was concerned that some calamity had befallen Brooklyn and its entire Gen Z population was fleeing by bicycle, but then my concerns became more immediate when a couple of riders crossed wheels and took a nasty little tumble. Fortunately everyone was fine–just a skinned knee by the looks of it–and while there was really nothing for me to do I did at least help them extricate their tangled bikes. I then asked them where they were going, to which one of the riders replied, “Ward Pound Ridge Reservation,” which was funny because I was headed there later that day myself (by car, not bike) as my elder son’s friend was having a birthday party there. Sure enough, several hours later, as I perambulated in an attempt to digest all the hearty grilled meats I’d been served by my hosts, the 718 Cyclery expedition rolled in:

I was glad to see they’d made it in good spirits, and I also thought it must be nice to be a young person with no responsibilities who can fuck off bike camping for the weekend, though it then occurred to me that when I was a young person with no responsibilities I never fucked off and went bike camping. It’s tempting to group people into those who have responsibilities and those who don’t, but it’s probably more accurate to group them into people who can go to the bathroom outside with a bunch of strangers and those who can’t. I’m staunchly in the latter category, which more than anything has determined the entire course of my adult life. But I’m happy for the young people and their easy relationship with one another and their bowels, and it looks like 718 Cyclery have a good thing going with those trips. If I were a different person in a different life I’d totally get on that.

Then on Sunday I encountered a group of Bromptonauts who were gathering for an outing a mere Brompton’s throw from my home:

Naturally I inquired as to their destination, and in the course of general Brompton chit-chat the gentleman I was talking to directed my attention to his bike:

This was the second time in a week I’d engaged in conversation with a stranger on a titanium Brompton. In fact, just a few days earlier, another Bromptonian with a similar bike stopped to talk to me about my Rivendell. Rivendells and Bromptons are very different bikes, but they’re extremely similar in that giant nerds form cults around them, and it’s a good thing someone didn’t happen by on a Moulton because we probably would have imploded on the spot and formed a Black Hole of Dorkitude right there on the sidewalk:

But yes, despite being a semi-professional bike blogger I was completely unaware of the titanium Brompton, and now here I was admiring the second one I’d seen in a week. While it may seem extravagant, I’d put forth that these sorts of materials made more sense on a Brompton than on perhaps any other type bicycle, for the simple reason that you carry them a lot. Shaving a couple pounds of your road bike makes no real difference in actual practice, but if you carry a Brompton into and out of a train station on a daily basis then a light bike actually means something. That’s not me saying I need to have a titanium and crabon Brompton, but it is me saying that, unlike a lot of exotic stuff out there, I do get it.

And no, I’m not getting a Moulton, don’t even start.

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