Throwing Down Your Arms: A Time and Place for Everything

While Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador have emerged as the two riders most likely stand atop the podium in Paris clad in the coveted jaundiced chemise, this year's Tour de France has proven to be a difficult one for the over-30 set. First, Christian Vande Velde had his customary first-week crash and subsequent abandon (or "crabandon;"); next, Lance Armstrong had the most crash-tastic Tour stage of his career; then, yesterday on the Col de la Madeleine, Cadel Evans lost his yellow jersey as well as his own chances for overall victory. However, what Evans did not reveal before the stage was that he was riding with a fractured elbow:

Indeed, sometimes things are not as they seem, and what appeared to be simply a bad day in fact turned out to be stoicism in the face of injury. All too often, it is only with hindsight that can we arrive at a full understanding of a situation, and it is for precisely this reason that I would probably wait before investing in prints of "key moments" from the 2010 Tour de France, as recommended by this "tweet" from Bikeradar:

Buying a Tour de France print before the Tour is even over is a highly speculative endeavor, and in some ways it is like taking on an adjustable-rate mortgage, since anything is liable to happen between now and the end of the race. Sure, the rider depicted in your print could wind up winning the Tour, thus increasing the value, but he could also fail a drug test, causing his stock to plummet. For example, what if you had purchased a print of Riccardo Ricco's 2008 Stage 6 victory just after it happened?

While I suppose its ironic value has since quadrupled, chances are that wasn't what you were intending to invest in at the time. (Just as you probably weren't looking to help underwrite Floyd Landis's eventual confession when you wrote that check to the Floyd Fairness Fund.) Then again, some images are arresting regardless of context, such as this image of Ricco at this year's Tour of Austria, which he ultimately won:

If you're looking to de-ironify your 2008 Ricco portrait, you may want to hang this next to it as an overly earnest and sanguineous symbol of redemption.

Speaking of things not being entirely as they seem, I recently noticed this post about New York City's Highbridge Park on news-themed comment-trolling website Gothamist:

The truth is, Highbridge Park is not entirely neglected, and a portion of it was cleaned up significantly when NYCMTB built the city's first legal mountain bike trails a few years ago:

The Highbridge Project from yoni arava on Vimeo.

Which Gothamist themselves posted about but don't seem to remember:

This isn't surprising though, since the positive effect bicycle trails can have on parks is "boring," while "urban cycling" inspires the comment section flame wars on which Gothamist thrives. The post announcing the Highbridge trails only got seven comments, but when they post about "Empire" the predictable "those crazy cyclists" arguments ensue:

Yes, the local media loves "urban cycling," and our popular culture in general continues to be transfixed by the absurd display of self-indulgence that is "hipsters at play" (for it is, undeniably, fascinating). Consider also the umpteenth article about "fixed gear culture" from the New York Times:

“Alley cats are really expensive, parties, beer, fliers,” Mr. Kim said, referring to a popular style of urban bicycle messenger racing. “This is just a straight-up throw down.”

While the "alley cat" may finally be "out" (thanks to the demise of the messenger), ushering in the age of the "straight-up throw down," it's worth noting that there are are already "straight-up throw downs" every week in New York City in the form of something called "bicycle races." Granted, the ones that take place on weekends are far too early for the typical "urban cyclist," but during the week there is also evening track racing at the Kissena Velodrome and evening road racing at Floyd Bennett field:

Indeed, you can partake in "straight-up throw downs" almost all week long in New York City without going anywhere near the "Midnight Keirin Club" (and in fairness I'm sure some participants in the "Midnight Keirin Club" do "throw down" at some of these races)--but then you wouldn't have ample opportunity to "flirt with the law:"

Like hot rod street racing, Midnight Keirin flirts with the law. The last race was broken up by the police. Volunteers kept an eye on the dangerous corners, looking out for traffic, squad cars and hapless walkers.

I'm not sure it's fair to call the walkers "hapless" in this case, since they're just doing what they're supposed to be doing, while the "fixerati" racing their Cinelli x MASH "collabo bikes" around Williamsburg to fund their cheap dates are arguably the "hapless" ones. In a way, racing your track bike around a public park in a crowded neighborhood when there's a velodrome a few miles away is like drinking from a Ball jar instead of a water bottle--which, of course, is the style in Portland:

In fact, drinking from jars is so popular now that it's apparently even the style for cycling in Portland, for a number of readers have forwarded me this made-in-Portland $57 leather "bicycle mason jar cage:"


Light and rigid mason jar cage for your bicycle, made out of leather, with a snug fit.

Bring your favorite drink in a pint size ball jar (wide mouth or narrow mouth) along for the ride.

A flat Coke has been called the racing cyclist's "secret weapon" - the quick jolt of sugar and caffeine is perfect to get you up the last few hills.

Rigid leather is hand-stitched together to be structurally sound. Cans stay snug in the can cage even after a rugged off road tour.

Designed for a custom request.

Three clamps connect the cage to the bicycle, two on the handlebar and one around the stem spacers.

Made with love in Portland, Oregon.

I guess something about having to unscrew a lid while cycling in order to take a sip of water makes your ride that much more "epic." Granted, it also holds cans, but I don't really understand what that has to do with "flat Coke," since a can of soda is going to be literally frothy with effervescence, whereas flat Coke has obviously been sitting around for awhile and thus affords you the time to transfer it to container of your choice. Really, unless you need to ride while carrying preserves, this seems like one of the most pretentious and unnecessary bicycle accessories I've seen to date--or at least it did until I clicked on the "bike polo mallet cue holders" from the same vendor:

Leather accessories are truly the "doucheclamation point" at the end of your lifestyle.

Of course, it is essential to stay hydrated while riding your bicycle. This is especially true in the summer, and this Craigslist post illustrates the danger of overheating:

Looking For Prosepct Park Prince - w4m - 27 (Prospect Park)
Date: 2010-07-13, 1:28PM EDT

Prospect Park July 6th. HEAT WAVE. Me: Wearing a red summer dress near the baseball fields watching a game. You were on your bike and you stopped to watch too. You caught me wiping the sweat off of my body. I was so delirious with heat that my hands wandered towards my crotch. Yes, girls sweat there too. We locked eyes right when my hand was up my skirt and I turned as red as my dress. Then, I have to admit I got wet but it wasn’t sweat. My God, you were BEAUTIFUL. Please, please write back. Wanna wipe me?

I guess she must have left her mason jar at home.

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