Highlighting Inadequacy: Casting the First U-Lock

(U-lock beatdowns: cut it out!)

As many people are aware by now (judging by the number of emails I've received about it), the "Intenet" has obtained dramatic footage of a New York City cyclist administering a beating to a pedestrian with a U-lock:

This video has already appeared on a number of other blogs and websites, but I'm going to go on record and say something controversial that they probably haven't, which is this: you really shouldn't hit people with a U-lock. Yes, I just "went there" and there's no taking it back. I know it's an unpopular sentiment, but I really do feel that beating somebody about the face and head with a heavy metal object is a really inconsiderate thing to do.

Of course, the video doesn't tell the whole story, so we don't know what exactly it was that prompted the altercation in the first place. However, I think it's pretty safe to say that whatever it was did not warrant assault with U-lock, inasmuch as the victim did not brandish a deadly weapon and threaten the cyclist's life. And even if he had brandished a deadly weapon and threatened the cyclist's life, the cyclist still shouldn't have hit him with a U-lock. He should have pedaled his ass out of there. The only situation that could possibly excuse the cyclist's behavior would be that he and the pedestrian are arch-nemeses with a deadly rivalry spanning a period of many years, and that the pedestrian has been responsible for the deaths of people close to the cyclist, so like Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill," the cyclist has been seeking revenge ever since.

The truth is though that this scenario is extremely unlikely, and what we can see leads me to believe the following took place: firstly, the cyclist was riding along on his fixed-gear wearing his metaphorical Heinrich Himmler's glasses and highlighting the inadequacies of others (which, as we saw yesterday, is a natural consequence of fixed-gear riding). Then, the cyclist came upon an intersection and a pedestrian. Perhaps one or both of them was crossing the intersection illegally, or perhaps not--it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that an altercation broke out. Maybe the pedestrian even called the cyclist a "twatcrust." In any case, the pedestrian's inherent inadequacy was thrown into sharp relief, and the cyclist became so enraged by this inadequacy that he withdrew his U-lock and attacked.

It's also worth noting that the video's description implies that the cyclist is a "bike messenger." However, I tend to doubt this is the case, since bike messengers tend to be too busy delivering packages to assault pedestrians with little provocation. (They're also too busy to stop when they plow into them at intersections.) Judging from the cyclist's clothing and general appearance, I'd wager that he's simply a "Nü-Fred." The Nü-Fred is distinguished by his entry-level "My First Fixie" with risers and brand-new Chrome bag, and is rapidly supplanting the "Classic Fred" (distinguished by his entry-level road bike, Primal jersey, and helmet with visor) in terms of ubiquity. Since the Nü-Fred's cycling experience prior to purchasing a fixed-gear generally consists of the three times he rode a bike over to his friend's house in middle school, the Nü-Fred is often on edge. Furthermore, this edginess can be compounded by the considerable stresses felt by young and privileged people new to the big city.

Put yourself in this particular Nü-Fred's MKS toe clips for a moment if you will. His life is undoubtedly full of all manner of hardships. Perhaps he shares an apartment in Williamsburg with his friend from Wesleyan, and his friend is now sleeping with his ex-girlfriend from sophomore year, which he's forced to listen to every night due to the flimsy walls hastily erected by his landlord in order to charge two Wesleyan graduates $1,200 apiece to live in a one-bedroom apartment. Perhaps also the MacBook Pro he got for graduation just crashed that moring, and he lost his entire iTunes library. Then, when he went into the kitchen for some breakfast, his ex-girlfriend was already sitting at the kitchen table in just a t-shirt looking all hot and eating the last of the Froot Loops. So, he decides to clear his head with a ride, but his fixie is creaking and he can't figure out why since the instructions from Bikesdirect don't say anything about greasing the seatpost. Then, some pedestrian gives him a hard time for not paying attention to where he's going, and there's your beating.

Still, as difficult as this person's life almost assuredly is, beating someone up with a U-lock is nothing less than criminal, so if you're this rider's roommate, his roommate's girlfriend, or the guy in the bike shop who swapped out the stock cog on his Mercier Kilo TT for him, I urge you to turn him in. In the meantime, I'll be on the lookout for him myself, though if I see him I obviously won't attempt to apprehend him because, well, I don't want to get hit with a U-lock. I will however attempt to take his picture from a safe distance.

Speaking of excuses, Cadel Evans (otherwise known as "the John Coltrane of excuses") continues to amaze cycling fans with his mesmerizing excusescapes:

(image by erik k)

Yes, a reader has informed me that Evans has further abstracted his excuses in the same way that Coltrane further abstracted his sound between "A Love Supreme" and "Ascension:"

Arguably, making excuses for one's poor performance is unprofessional, though couching one's excuse in professionalism by refusing to give any details is art. Even more compelling is the excuse-within-an-excuse, when Evans implies in a different interview that the problem he refuses to divulge for professional reasons is that his team sucks:

Frankly, I'm not buying it. Firstly, if Evans's team keeps failing him year after year then why doesn't he change teams? Secondly, Alberto Contador is winning the Tour de France at the moment even though his team didn't even want him to win. Yes, cycling is a team sport, but at a certain point every rider is responsible for "curating" his own destiny.

Speaking of "curating," a reader has alerted me to a bicycle for sale in St. Paul that is nothing less than a curatorial masterpiece:

Cyberpunk Schwinn - Tricentenial Edition - $275 (St Paul)
Date: 2009-07-21, 5:01PM CDT
Reply to: [deleted]

This bike comes to us all the way from 2076, a Schwinn Varsity born in 1976 and reborn in a dystopic future. Say what you will about post-industrial collapse, android masters, and Harrison Ford, but this bike has to be seen to be believed. Take the brake lever mounted as a ships throttle - this unique piece sends this bike from high gear to low gear (sorry no hyperdrive enabled). Take a look for yourself at this visitor from future. Whether you're a hacker, a commuter, or a renegade on the run, this bike is for you. Here's why:


--Two-speed drivetrain with stem-mounted lever shifter!

--700c Hybrid Wheelset w/ Treaded Tires-- These, plus the single-speed drivetrain and the 70's components, make this bike a kind of urban tank. This is a relatively new wheelset (late '90s) with tires that are at home on the road-- not too knobby, like mountain bike tires-- but can also handle dirt and grass well, too.

--Basket perfect for carrying government issue uniforms, motherboards, or your collection of Phillip K. Dick novels.

-- Hand-painted frame built by a legion of uncompensated child replicants, with identification stencils from the North American Trade and Defense Conglomerate Vehicle Issuing Office.

Measurements: Frame: 20″, Length: 21″, Standover: 30″

Asking $275 or best offer.

bigger pictures and more bikes here: http://belfrycustombikes.wordpress.com/

This could very well be the world's geekiest theme bike. The centerpiece of the groupo is undoubtedly the "stem mounted lever shifter" which controls the two-speed drivetrain. The only thing that would make this bike better would be a second lever that repels girls, but the fact is that it's probably not necessary since the bike itself is sufficiently dorky to ensure the rider's eternal virginity.

This isn't the only bicycle from Belfry Custom Bikes, either. A visit to their site reveals a number of other intriguing curations as well. Take the "Bat-Bike" for example:

While their claim that this bike offers the rider a"zen-like body-soul connection" might be a bit of a stretch, I suppose that if you can find cycling bliss on a machine like this then you probably are an enlightened soul who has truly transcended the physical plane:

Of course, "zen" allusions are usually reserved for fixed-gears, and here's Belfry Customs's take:

This fixed-gear doesn't just highlight the inadequacy of others; this fixed-gear is inadequacy. Even Cadel Evans couldn't excuse it.
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