Forking in the Road: Midlife Crisisway

Last Friday I mentioned "(R)Evolutions per Minute," a forthcoming documentary on cargo bikes, as well as the accompanying video. I did so because, as a bit of a budding cargo bike enthusiast myself, I find the project legitimately interesting. Also, I'm fascinated by the many forms smugness can take. For example, consider this comment one viewer left on the video:

Just don't have children. It's the nicest thing anyone can ever do for the environment.

TheLonelyImmortal 2 days ago

As cloyingly smug as people with children can be, it cannot compete with the smugness of the resolutely childless. Parental smugness hinges on the belief that your children are special, which is obviously completely sickening to everybody around you. However, non-parental smugness is based on an even more self-righteous principal, which is that the millions of years of human reproduction that culminated in your birth were somehow acceptable, but now that you exist the entire system should be shut down going forward. They're like those people who have no problem shoving their way onto a crowded subway car yet refuse to let anybody else on.

Though arguably there's no greater smugness than that exhibited by the typical American dog owner:

Or by the cat owner who also happens to be moving by bike:

Are the signs really necessary here? I suppose so, since once you attain a certain "smugness quotient" you need the world to know that you're only voluntarily inconveniencing yourself and that you're not actually poor or homeless, which has considerably less cachet in most gentrified neighborhoods. You want everybody to know you still live in a brownstone and not a refrigerator box--though I'm sure it's only a matter of time before someone in Portland starts selling "live-in bakfiets."

Speaking of the cargo bike video, one blog commenter pointed out that the filmmaker is using clipless pedals with her "bake feets:"

This is a tremendous smugness style faux pas, since everybody knows that the only appropriate footwear for cargo cycling is the sandal:

If you're new to cycling you may not realize this, but the rest of us know that the complexity of your footwear should vary inversely with the weight of your bicycle. That's why when you ride a 17lb road bike you wear a ratcheting shoe made from space-aged materials that integrates with your pedals, but when you're carrying 60lbs of wheat germ, a used papasan chair, and a nonplussed Golden Retriever you wear a pair of filthy worn-out flip-flops. You can tell a "real" roadie from his shaved legs and tan lines, and you can tell a "real" cargo biker from his armor-like callouses and blackened toenails. Armadillo-like feet are the tanned-and-shaved legs of the cargo bike world. This also explains the "(R)Evolutions per Minute" pedicure scene:

You don't want to let your callouses get too big, or else they keep hitting the chainstays while you ride.

Of course, not all the video commentary was negative, and one viewer had this to say:

The bride sitting pretty with the groom pedaling them off into the distance beats the traditional carry her over the threshold! If only there were more brides and grooms like that.

c33r0k33 3 days ago

I disagree. It seems to me they could combine their love of cargo bikes with the whole traditional threshold thing by consummating their marriage in the back of a pedi-Sukkah:
As it says in the Torah, "If that pedi-Sukkah's a-davening, don't come a-knockening."

Of course, there are those who argue that the whole cargo bike thing is merely an affectation being embraced by middle-aged people with lofty ideals and disposable income. Indeed, sometimes it can seem as though there's a proverbial fork in the proverbial road of life that one eventually encounters. One fork leads to cargo bikes, and the other to expensive road bikes, as in this article which was forwarded to me by a reader:

In particular, it appears that aging techo-douches are increasingly turning to Fred-dom:

Men who once thrilled to Kraftwerk and Italian piano house get a thing for cycling gear because it reminds them of their original Balearic jaunts and harks back to Weller during his Cappuccino Kid days.


Not only that, but they're actually comparing Rapha to the Sex Pistols:

Cycling convert Gary Kemp, Spandau Ballet's guitarist, remembers the first time he clocked the carefully art-directed photography of the Rapha website four and half years ago. 'It was like the time I saw the Sex Pistols at The Screen on the Green and swore I'd never wear flares again. Here was a new tribe and I knew that I had to be part of it. Within minutes I was buying clothes from this supercool English company, and I didn't even have the bike!'

By the way, just in case you haven't yet reached that fork in the road that is middle age, this is Spandau Ballet. Perhaps now, going forward, Rapha's famous "epic" suffer-fest videos will have a slightly different atmosphere. Rapha should also phase out the "Gentlemen's Rides" and replace them with "Douche Rides" like these:

Gary and I are, as we were in our nightclub days, quietly hardcore. Mid-ride coffee breaks are full of compliments on each other's weight loss and new kit. We will swap stories of 100-mile jaunts to the Chilterns, the 21km climb up France's Col de Mont Ventoux, the grit of L'Etape du Tour (an amateur stage of the Tour de France), the perils of the strada bianchi on the annual L'Eroica in Italy's Chianti region. Anywhere there are big hills, expensive hotels and nice restaurants, basically. We go, as we once did to Soho bars, as a group - a gang of over-pampered rock'n'rouleurs.


And who's the patron saint of douchey Freds? Why, David Millar, of course:

In modern-day pro cycling, the cane/train hero is David Millar, captain of the Great Britain team that masterminded Mark Cavendish's victory at this year's World Championships in Copenhagen. Millar is a three-times yellow-jersey winner at the Tour de France, who came second in the recent Tour of Beijing, just days after his wife gave birth to his first son. He also has something of a reputation for good times. His autobiography Racing Through the Dark is a roller-coaster ride of punishing races, doping scandals and hog-whimperingly big nights out. He name-drops not just Lance Armstrong but also DJ Erick Morillo, describes the zigzagging 20 per cent climb of Alpe d'Huez on one page and thrills to the delights of Paris's Les Bains Douches nightclub the next. He's that rare breed of sophisticated, worldly and articulate gentleman sportsman who wants to win in life as well as on the road.

He even parties at a club with "douche" in the name.

Naturally, if you're contemplating becoming a techno-douche-turned-Fred, you'll need a suitable bike, and another reader has forwarded me a handy guide to the "Best Custom Road Bikes:"

It contains all manner of NAHBS artisanal handmade bike porn, such as Felt:

And Cannondale:

And of course the ultimate in custom handmade exotica, Trek:

Though when it comes to buying a custom road bike, you'd be hard-pressed to beat this:

Apparently, "the bike's classic Brooks leather saddle will age nicely." The rider, however, will not.

And if the fork in the road you find yourself encountering is more of a "spork," you may be tempted by a recumbent bike. In fact, yet another reader has informed me that the first recumbent trade show has just ended:

Its origins are folksy and humble:

OMONA, CA (BRAIN)—Year after year at Interbike, show attendees from the recumbent industry would get together for a dinner to discuss the state of the market in their corner of the cycling world. Often, the talk would turn to creating their own trade show, said Chuck Coyne, publisher and editor of Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine.

I'm guessing the discussions went something like this:

"Hey, we should have our own recumbent show. What do you think?"

"Totally! I'm down. What about you?"


Nevertheless, the show became a reality, and by all accounts it was a smashing success:

Some 36 exhibitors displaying recumbent bikes, trikes, tandems, hand cycles, components and accessories—as well as representatives from advocacy groups—were set up in a 12,000-square-foot hall, with a demo area outside for test riding the latest in laid-bike cycles.

I'm assuming the "laid-bike" thing is a typo, because I'm not sure how "laid" you'd get on one of these:

(Spotted by a reader in Virginia.)

Then again, judging from the sexy "colorway" of that fairing, I could be totally mistaken. "If that 'bent's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'."

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