Metamorphosis: The More Things Change, The More They Shouldn't

Franz Kafka famously wrote, "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." Similarly, I have a persistent fear of awaking and finding myself transformed into a giant recumbent rider. Each morning, as I am roused from slumber by the soothing sounds of my Mambo Cactus Novelty Alarm Clock and fling my "Star Wars" comforter aside, I expect to find myself clad in a Primal jersey and half shorts, with a waist-length beard growing from my face and an orange flag mounted to the foot of the bed.

Fortunately, this has yet to happen, and I awoke once again this morning in my usual attire. Terror, however, would soon strike, for no sooner had I prepared my customary breakfast of hot tomato juice and pound cake than the Canadian who reads the news on TV reported that Central Park is rife with rabid raccoons:

As the preeminent training ground for aspiring marathoners, Category 4 roadies, and personal best-seeking triathletes, Central Park will likely become ground zero for a rabies outbreak that could potentially spread throughout the city, the tri-state area, and beyond. Even in disease-free circumstances there is significant tension among these groups, and if you add an infectious disease into the mix the results will be tragic. All it takes is for one jogger to be bitten on the ankle by a rabid raccoon when he or she stops to tighten the laces on his or her Nikes. Then, the jogger will begin foaming at the mouth and proceed to bite the next "Fred" on a Cervelo with nine centimeters of head-tube spacers who rides too close. He in turn will pass it on to a triathlete, and so on, until the city is overrun with crazed endurance athletes and becomes like "28 Days Later," only with dorks. I don't think I'm overreacting when I say our only hope at this point is to shut down and quarantine Central Park. In the meantime, if you see anybody "rocking" a teardrop helmet, Zipps, and a double-barreled ass cannon who looks like he's in the middle of brushing his teeth, stay even farther away than usual.

But New York City isn't the only place on the precipice of a doomsday scenario. A reader informs me that in Los Angeles a "hipster bike gang" is on the loose, and they're looting. Even worse, they don't have any "reprocusions:"

Attn. to the worthless F@#K who stole my wheels - $1 (Silver Lake)
Date: 2009-12-06, 5:20PM PST
Reply to: [deleted]

Alright you F@#king C@#T, or c@#ts since there were two of you. You think you can go and steal whatever you want with no reprocusions? well you are wrong. You and all your piece of shit hipster bike gang wannabe friends will bear the brunt of my frustration. You stole my red deep v rims from in front of Body bar spa on sunset. Well numb nuts we have cameras and I know what you look like and where you hang out. I'm not interested in going to the police, I'm not interested in retrieving my rims as I will have new ones soon. My only interest is removing your teeth with my bike lock and cutting your faces cheek to cheek. Your life isn't worth shit to me and I will cut through all your friends to get to you!!! I WILL FIND YOU!!!!! I WILL AND WHEN I DO YOU WILL WISH YOU NEVER HEARD OF A FIXED GEAR BIKE. AND YOU WILL WISH YOUR WORTHLESS MOTHERS TAUGHT YOU NOT TO STEAL. So since you will only have your teeth for the next week or so I suggest you eat everything you can because I'm coming for you and I'm taking your F@#KING TEETH WITH ME!!!!!!!!!!

I don't actually know what "reprocusions" are, but since the poster is talking about a "hipster bike gang" then "reprocusions" are probably brakes. From the looks of things, they're probably related to the "iPod Zombies," but in this case they feast on Deep V rims. Interestingly, the poster seems fixated on tooth removal, which indicates that either he is a dentist or he has no teeth of his own. Either way, if you're wondering what a "hipster bike gang" looks like then this should give you a pretty good idea:

New York City isn't safe from hipster bike gangs either, though at least here their actions are far more benign:

It should surprise nobody that the hipsters have repainted the bike lanes, for when it comes to hipsters you can count on two things: they love bikes; and they own art supplies. Also, the bike lane repaint took place at 3:30am, which is within what sociologists call the "hipster activity window." This is a brief period of time (about two hours) during which they're alert and actually capable of getting something done, and it occurs during the early morning hours since they're just leaving the bars and have exactly the right combination of chemicals in their system. At all other times of the day they're either asleep, or else they're awake but useless (or what the rest of us call "sober and working").

In any case, in a world beset by rabid raccoons and hipster bike gangs, it's only natural that some of us should seek to transcend the misery of the material plane and attain peace and happiness. To this end, we would be well advised to consult His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is widely regarded as the Grant Petersen of enlightenment. In fact, a reader informs me that irascible professional cyclist Cadel Evans is doing just that:

RadioShack may have hired Allen Lim, but to me the big news is that Cadel Evans is working with the Dalai Lama. In a sense, Evans's greatest adversary is himself, so if the World Champion can curtail his famous outbursts and train his mind to find inner peace then Tour de France victory could very well follow. I'll certainly miss snippy, cranky Evans, but it should be equally interesting to watch blissed-out, spiritual Evans in 2010. I just hope he is sincere and patient. Otherwise, just as he exploded after receiving the wrong wheel at the Vuelta last year, he could start throwing post-race tantrums because his guru gave him the wrong mantra.

Speaking of complaining, another reader informs me that cyclists are now complaining that they can't ride their bikes through fast food drive-thrus:

The call for equal treatment of cyclists at drive-thrus began in (brace yourself for a surprise) Portland, when Sarah Gilbert and her three children were refused service at Burgerville after rolling up on her Electra Townie. While their hearts were full of smugness, their bellies were empty, yet when they attempted to fill them with delicious and sustainable burgers they were spurned. So, this Rosa Parks of convenience took up the cudgel of self-satisfaction (a "cudgel" is a traditional Jewish dish, similar to a "kugel," and can be wielded as a weapon when stale). Now, all Burgerville drive-thrus are accessible by bicycle, but Transportation Alternatives thinks other establishments in other places should adopt this policy as well:

"It makes no sense," says Wiley Norvell, the communications director for Transportation Alternatives, a New York-based bicycle, pedestrian and mass transit advocacy group. "If it's not dangerous in a bike lane with cars going 35 miles an hour, how can it be dangerous in a parking lot with people traveling less than 10 miles an hour? There are fewer safety issues than on an average street."

This comment underscores a fundamental problem with alternative transportation advocates, which is that they usually don't drive. If they did, even occasionally, they'd know that there are fewer places more fraught with motor vehicular danger than the clustercoitus that is a parking lot. I'd rather ride a bicycle on almost any street in the metropolitan area than in a parking lot, where drivers circle for spots and admonish their children and root around in their shopping bags and run into each-other with alarming frequency. If you've been anywhere near the parking lot of the Fairway supermarket in Red Hook, Brooklyn--on foot, in a car, or on a bike--you know that Van Brunt Street almost seems calm by comparison. Sure, those trucks are pretty scary, but once you've ever experienced the horror of a Park Slope brownstone owner bearing down on you with a shopping cart full of organic groceries and a spoiled toddler who already has an iPhone it's not something you'll ever want to relive. Still, TA feels we should be able to queue up with the SUVs and join their drivers in the great Feast of Crap:

Transportation Alternatives thinks that policy should be changed.

"We're not all health nuts," Norvell says. "Everyone wants a Big Mac now and again."

I'm not even remotely a health nut, but I don't want a Big Mac ever, and the last thing we need is for McDonald's to start recognizing cyclists as consumers. Once that happens, it's only a matter of time before they start marketing "Hipster Happy Meals." The "Hipster Happy Meal" will come with a veggie burger and you'd get a free cog inside. ("Ooh! I got a purple one!") Eventually, they'll also start doing movie tie-ins, so when the next big fixed-gear movie "drops" you'll be able guzzle gallons of soda out of a matching collectible cup.

Actually, one of my favorite things about cycling is that it's so non-conducive to things like going to fast food drive-thrus. A sedentary person in an Expedition might have to constantly fight the desire to visit the McDonald's drive-thru, but when you're riding a bike it doesn't even cross your mind in the first place. Really, by not allowing bikes McDonald's and Burger King and the rest of them are doing us a favor. Anyway, what's next? Getting upset when they won't bleed your Avid hydros at Pep Boys?

I'm not so sure that as cyclists we should automatically copy everything that happens in Portland. If we do, next we'll all be practicing "dandycross:"

McDonald's won't let me ride my bike through the drive-thru, but maybe they'll let me "portage" it. Still, some barriers weren't meant to be crossed.

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