Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

25 August 2016

Wearing Your Message On Your Sleeve (Or On Your Chest And Back, Anyway)

I stopped wearing bike-specific clothing (except for gloves and helmets) years ago.  I just might start again, at least in response to folks like Peter King and Heath Evans.

Actually, I would have a whole wardrobe of cycling tops.   For rides in which the possibility of encountering homicidal drivers is relatively low, I might wear this:

For times when there's a greater chance of a brush with a drunk or simply inconsiderate motorist--I could slip into this:

On days (or nights) when there might be more careless drivers--and there is a chance that one might be somewhat homicidal--I could sport this:

Finally, when it seems every other person behind a steering wheel has regressed to the emotional age of twelve, this just might set the right tone:

These jerseys are on Active.com.

24 August 2016

They're So Funny I Forgot To Laugh

If you have ever taught a remedial class, you know that none of the students in them are happy.  I can't blame them, for a number of reasons.  What used to bother me, though, was that they sometimes directed their hostility--usually in passive-aggressive ways, but sometimes more covertly--toward me, even though, as I would point out, I was doing everything I could to keep them from repeating the class.

One day, in one of those classes, a student remarked that he'd seen me riding my bicycle on the way to class.  "How do you do it?" he wondered.

"I get on my bike and pedal," I said, somewhat impudently.

Another student, in the rear of the class, chimed in, "I'm going to run you over."

I stepped out of the room and summoned a campus security officer.  (This was before cell phones were widespread.)  I told the officer what happened.  "He had no business saying that to you," he declared.  Then he came to escort the student out of the room.

"I didn't mean it!  I was only kidding!," the student squealed.  The officer took him away, and I never saw or heard from him again.

Nearly two decades have passed since that incident.  Apparently, some things haven't changed:  Some guys (Sorry: It is usually dudes who engage in such behavior!) still think it's a joke to talk about putting cyclists' lives in danger--or, worse, actually doing it.  Some even think it's funny, or simply their "right" to kill cyclists for taking up "their" roadway.

Even when I was more of a fan than I am now, I used to watch many sports events--especially NFL games--with the sound turned off.  Most sports have their share of television announcers and commentators who were star performers in their day but have never grown up.  It always seemed to me that American football commentators in particular had the need to pepper their chatter with the kind of "humor" that only frat boys of all ages find funny.

Just within the past two days, two such commentators openly expressed their contempt for cyclists.  One actually engaged in behavior that could have maimed or killed a rider--or a jogger or a mother or father pushing a stroller--while the other, who wears his "Christianity" on his sleeve, said that he wants to kill cyclists.

First, to the one who was reckless:  

NFL writer Peter King sent this tweet of his car speeding through a bike lane.  "I told driver Jenny Vrentas to get to Qualcomm as fast as she could," captioned the photo. 

That he thought he was being funny makes sense, I guess, when you realize that he writes for Sports Illustrated, a rag that, as Bike Snob NYC points out, keeps itself in business by publishing a soft-core porn issue every year.  I admit that a long time ago, I actually used to read SI (Someone gave me a gift subscription.  I swear!).  Then again, I also used to read Mad Magazine.  Point is, my tastes grew up (or, at least, I like to believe so)--and, to be fair, I made a major life-change.  Sometimes I think SI's readership never graduated from their junior high-school locker rooms.  So of course they would think endangering cyclists (After all, if you don't have a motor, you're not a man) is just good fun.

Speaking of locker rooms:  Heath Evans played in the NFL for ten seasons.  It's fair to assume that he took a pretty fair number of hits.  So, perhaps, we could chalk up occasional incoherence or silliness on his part to a concussion or some other injury his own helmet couldn't prevent---and, perhaps, another player's helmet caused.  But even the most brain-damaged of former players doesn't casually talk about killing people.  

Apparently, Evans is in another category.  

If there is anything amusing about that tweet, it's that he used the word "Respectfully" before declaring his wish to hit cyclists with his car.  Maybe he is brain-damaged.  Or maybe he was one of those "student-athletes" who went to college on a football scholarship and took classes in tackling and trash-talking for his major, whatever it was.

(I think now of the coach who said of one of his players:  "He doesn't know the meaning of the word 'fear'.  In fact, I just saw his grades, and he doesn't know the meaning of a lot of words.")

Now, if he couldn't see the incongruity of his word choice, it's understandable that he could profess to be a Christian, or adherent of any other faith that instructs its followers to do unto others as they would do unto themselves, or to love their enemies.  Lots of other people have the same gap in their cognition:  Countless kings and generals have led their minions into war "in the name of God."

(Interesting that the NFL has so many players who are adamant about their faith.  Why is it that the most violent sports have the most doggedly religious players?)

Anyway, both King and Heath have gotten a lot of backlash on the Twittersphere.  But neither seems in danger of losing his job, or anything else that matters to him.  As long as guys like them can get away with, essentially, pinning targets to cyclists' backs, building all the bike lanes in the world isn't going to make us any safer.

N.B.:  Thanks to Alan Snel of Bicycle Stories and the inimitable Bike Snob NYC for their reporting on King and Heath.

23 August 2016

Impressionist Camouflage?

When you get to a certain age, you become more honest with yourself because, really, you have no other choice.  I think that it was the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset who said that at age 45, a person can no longer live in fictions.

One thing I've finally admitted to myself is that when I talk about what I "should" or "am supposed to" do, I'm actually just forestalling, even if only for a second, doing what I actually want to do.

And so it is that on days like today, I can tell you there were things I "should have" done--which, of course, I didn't do.  At least I managed, pretty early, to admit to myself that I wasn't going to do them.

It just took one look out my window--which was wide open (save for the screen, of course).  The morning was delightfully cool in a way it hasn't been in a long time.  Breezes were light and skies blue, full of sunshine.  

Well, it wasn't just any old mild, sunny day--with low humidity, to boot.  The qualities of that day seemed all the more vivid because it followed a long heat wave.  Something else made it truly unusual, though.

You see, the morning felt like early autumn and the early afternoon felt like one of those late-summer days we experience a week or so after Labor Day.  That made for delightful cycling weather.  The relatively cool air, however, was accompanied by the sort of refulgent summer light one sees in Impressionist paintings of picnics or other outings in the country.  Even the concrete canyons and brick-lined boulevards seemed to be bathed in the deep greens of the rippling leaves and the deep yellow sunlight.

I took a ride to--where else--Connecticut--where even the War Memorial in Greenwich seemed to camouflage itself in that light.

And the bike I rode--Arielle, my Mercian Audax. (Sorry about the poor quality of my cell-phone photos!)