Amazed by the Ordinary: Feats of Meh

(Good for you.)

When you're a solipsist, you never get to ask, "Who farted?"

Think about it.

These are precisely the sorts of insights one ponders while in the throes of illness as I was yesterday, and I'd like to thank you all for bearing with me during what was in all respects a truly disgusting time. However, now that I'm more better, I find myself pondering less profound matters. Instead of asking myself The Big Questions, my attention has reverted back to the prosaic, and now I find myself wondering stuff like: What is the big deal about LeBron James riding a bike to work?

This story has been all over the news, and it's a perfect example of what's wrong with America. Where else would the sports media marvel over the fact that a professional athlete in peak physical condition was able to survive a bicycle ride of just over half an hour?

The ride took 40 minutes and he safely arrived at the arena with plenty of time to spare.

I'm not sure if they're amazed he was able to do something a typical Dutch grandmother does on a daily basis, or that he didn't get run over by a car, or both, but in any case it's a sad reminder of just how developmentally challenged our relationship with cycling is here in Canada's steer head belt buckle. I'm also not sure why James opted for the "Cat 6 scuba diver" look (especially given the fact that he's in Miami, where it seems like his usual basketball uniform would have been a cooler and more comfortable choice of attire) but I'm sure he had his reasons. In any case, I certainly don't mean to criticize James himself for his mode of transport; rather, I just wish I lived in a country where this wasn't considered in any way remarkable. (I also wonder if ESPN would have found it funny if James was hit by a car and sent flying into a barbed wire fence.) Even the "smugness media" is excited about it, even though James appears to be one of those infuriatingly un-smug "vehicular cyclists" who wears a helmet and doesn't ride in tweed.

At the same time, though, I shouldn't be surprised people find this amazing, for we are a spoiled people. In Miami it's considered newsworthy when a professional athlete is able to ride a bike for 40 minutes, and in Portland, Oregano it's considered a human rights violation when someone's "Disco Trike" gets confiscated:

Here's video of the shocking incident:

And here's the description that accompanies the video:

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Police showed up in force to put down a peaceful protest march in solidarity with Egyptian revolutionaries on the anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising Jan. 25. This video shows police surrounding and impounding the CrankMyChain Disco Trike, a human powered multimedia vehicle used by the PDX Bike Swarm to entertain, bolster and help pacify protesters. Owner/operator Dan Kaufman was handcuffed, cited for "unlawful operation of sound producing equipment," and released. The trike, its sound system and miscellaneous other equipment, remains in police custody until a court date of Feb. 13.

In other words, the people of Portland, oppressed by a magnificent cycling infrastructure, an openly gay mayor, and ready access to exquisite artisanal goods of all kinds, staged a protest "in solidarity with Egyptian revolutionaries on the anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising," a people with whom they have absolutely nothing in common. Then, when the police showed up, they chanted "Get those animals off those horses," which anyplace else would guarantee you at least a spirited pepper spraying, if not an entire hoof up the derriere. This being Portland though, the police instead merely opted to take their biggest toy away, which seems about as oppressive as the time my off-brand Walkman got confiscated in high school. And of course anyone who's every been around children knows what comes next--the inevitable temper tantrum:

If the Disco Trike is not released by Friday, February 3rd, in full working condition, the PDX Bike Swarm will be forced to swarm the mayors office to ask more directly for its release. Anybody that wants to join the swarm is more than welcome, as we know the Bike Swarm are not the only ones that really appreciate the Disco Trike’s presence. Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if it does, stay tuned for details... We are giving the mayor a choice: either release the Disco Trike by Friday, or we will swarm to its defense!

So did the Disco Trike's curator get his Disco Trike back? Of course he did:

UPDATE, 1:37pm: Dan Kaufman has been notified by Mayor Adams that the trike will be released today. Stay tuned.

This is the inspiring stuff of which national holidays are made. Expect a solidarity march in Afghanistan to commemorate this great victory for human rights--in strict accordance with Islamic law of course. Perhaps they'll even trot out the beloved Three-Legged Ghazal Mule, which is the Afghani equivalent of the Disco Trike.

Meanwhile, in product-related news, a reader informs me that the inventors of the helment-hat will now sell you a pendulous under-the-saddle testicle:

Apparently you affix your helment-hat to this testicle and then engulf it in the weatherproof scrotal sack that is conveniently contained in said testicle:

Truly, the best designs are inspired by nature.

Lastly, Esteemed Commenter Daddo-One tells me that "Wired" have published an article about Ritte, which contains information on how to pronounce "Ritte," among other factoids:

As it happens, riding my own Ritte was the last thing I did as a healthy person this past Sunday before falling victim to the stomach flu shortly thereafter, and I kept to flat and windy terrain in order to honor the bicycle's faux Belgian heritage. Then, I stopped on the boardwalk, where I leaned the bike on a railing instead of on an indigent person and in so doing may have voided my warranty:

I remain extremely fond of this bicycle, though now that I think about it, an under-the-saddle testicle would really complement that long stem.

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