Reverse Potholes

The New York City Department of Transportation has been trying to be funny with their social media lately:

I guess this refers to the latest viral video I can’t bring myself to watch.


Nevertheless, I’m not sure the DOT is in a position to make flippant jokes about the condition of the infrastructure of which they’re in charge. Carnage aside, not only are its streets riddled with potholes, but somehow the DOT even manages to pull off reverse potholes–which are to testes as regular potholes are to scooped-out bagels, as one street artist has illustrated:

You’re more than welcome to meme that giant bike lane schlong, DOT. By the way, as you can tell from all the skid marks, apparently there are still people riding brakeless fixies in new York City. Either that or it’s “deliveristas” locking up their brakes before they hit pedestrians in the crosswalk, you never know.

Anyway, after suffering the sins and phalluses of the city’s outrageous bike lane I pointed my velocipede (well, Classic Cycle’s velocipede) in the opposite direction over the weekend and struck out for more bucolic surroundings:

As you can see, I’ve returned the original pedals to the bicycle, complete with toe clips and straps. You may recall, awhile back I obtained some lace-up shoes:

And some slotted cleats that work with a modern sole:

[Photo: Yellow Jersey]

My first time out on them everything worked great, or at least as great as a system that requires you to lash your feet to your pedals can possibly work. But the next time I tried them I found that by simply walking on the cleats a bit I’d mangled them enough so that I could no longer engage the pedal:

I then equipped the Cervino with clipless pedals as sort of a gift to myself, but this past weekend I figured I’d return the bike to its original state, and so I produced a file:

And set to work brushing the little blue monster’s teeth:

I’m pleased to report that this solved the engagement problem:

Though I may have to do a little more filing because it still requires some determined wiggling to get my foot out again:

In fact it’s kind of like getting a stuck knife out of an avocado pit:

If you’ve ever found yourself at a busy intersection and unable to disengage your foot from your pedal, you know it’s sort of a Bond-ian predicament:

The key is not to panic and flail vainly against your restraints, and if you work patiently and methodically, you’ll liberate yourself before the laser beam zorches your “pants yabbies.”

Other than that, the shoes are comfy and everything’s nice and secure, even when out of the saddle and cranking that 42×21 “low” gear up a steep hill (which I’m not doing in this photo):

Also, I’ll just point out again I’m not endorsing clips and straps here, I’m merely engaging in vintage bike cosplay. Unlike, say, friction shifters, which offer a high degree of mechanical simplicity as well as enhanced compatibility, toe clips and straps (when used properly with cleats and the whole deal) are mostly just inconvenient:

I suppose however one could argue there’s still merit to them in that they do offer more versatility than clipless road pedals. Let’s say for example you drove 100 miles to do a big ride with your modern road bike and realized when you got there that you forgot your cycling shoes. Basically, your ride would be ruined. If, however, you had a vintage bike with clips and straps, and you were wearing sneakers or a similarly casual closed-toe shoe, you could stil do the ride and it wouldn’t really be that big a deal. Yes, you wouldn’t get proper foot retention, and the pedal plate would kinda dig into your foot a little, but it would still be like a hundred times better than using a modern road race pedal as a flat pedal.

Of course the real answer is to just use flat pedals in the first place, which are the ultimate in versatility, but I’m speaking entirely in the context of racing-style bicycles here, where affixing your foot to your pedal is part of the whole silly ritual, so suspend your disbelief.

Speaking of the Cervino and playing with vintage cycling equipment, you know you’ve reached the point of no return when you find electronic shifting utterly boring, and yet you get really excited about a shipment of Campagnolo nylon friction shifter washers:

Levers, straps, cables…it’s like captaining a schooner.

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