Hold the Mayo: Good Times, Bad Times

Like most cyclists who don Lycra and straddle "roading bikes" from time to time, I have a short route of which I avail myself when I have an open window for recreational bicycle cycling, but not open enough that I can undertake a so-called "epic." While flatter than Levi Leipheimer's personality my route still beats doing laps in the park, and while the NĂ¼-Williamsburgers have recently discovered it as a way to get to the beach, during the off-season the bicycle traffic remains light. So it was with just such a window that I perched myself atop my Ritte van Vlaanderen roadular-style bikecycle and pedaled off into obscurity.

This time, though, something was amiss, and as I reached the water I noticed a cyclist wearing a bib displaying the dreaded Transportation Alternatives logo. And then another. And another. Soon the streets were awash with Freds and that's when I realized it:

I had been trapped in the New York City Century Bike Tour, and they were going exactly where I was.

Letting out a mighty scream, I ran through my options. Change my route? Sure, but where? There was nowhere else to go but into the sea. Seek shelter in an Applebee's and wait it out? Possibly, but at the pace the Freds were riding that could take days, and by then I'd have died of cholesterol poisoning. Surrender and go home? Never!!! So I resolved to grit my loins, gird my teeth, and bear it.

Now, I may have overreacted a bit, but the truth is I have some baggage where the New York City Century Bike Tour is concerned. A good many years ago, I actually took part in it. My principal recollection is sitting through a big speech at the start about how the streets were open to traffic and as such we were to obey all lights and traffic signals. Not wanting to besmirch the good name of cyclists everywhere, I took this admonition to heart, but apparently nobody else did, because at the very first red light I encountered I stopped, the people behind me didn't, and my rear wheel was transformed into a 700c taco. If it wasn't for a helpful marshall who was handy with a spoke wrench, my Fred-tastic adventure might have ended right then and there.

Of course, the what makes the New York City Century Bike Tour the New York City Bike Tour is that it never actually leaves New York City, beyond which you can actually find some very lovely roads. This makes the New York City Century Bike Tour the Fred ride equivalent of riding your trainer inside your apartment on a beautiful day--though you do get to see a great deal of the city, even if some of it is arguably better seen from inside an elevated subway train.

Anyway, the worst part of getting trapped in the New York City Century Bike Tour was the return trip over the bridge, which meant that I had to go against the flow of Freds. I might have taken a different bridge, but there simply wasn't time, and so even though it was technically a two-way path I effectively became a "Fred Ride Salmon." If you're ever forced into becoming a Fred Ride Salmon, here are two things to remember:

1) When Freds see oncoming cyclists, their handlebars begin to shake uncontrollably and they start weaving;

2) In the Fred World, there is no compassion or mercy, and Fred will attack Fred as soon as there's any hint of elevation. This means that, if you're Fred Ride Salmoning on a bridge, your path will be blocked by aggressive oncoming Freds who are sprinting with their hands still on the bar tops.

Given these two immutable laws of Fred physics, I stopped for a bit, grabbed a handful of guardrail, and waited for a big clump of Freds to pass. I'm glad I did, too, because the action evoked an Alpine pass during the Tour de France. First came the breakaway:

Then came the chase:

Followed by the maillot jaune himself:

As well as the maillot jaune:

Miss the yellow jersey while watching the Tour de France and that's it; miss him while watching a Fred ride and you can be sure at least 20 more will be along shortly.

As I watched, I wished I had bits of newspaper to hand to the riders for the descent--or, failing that, perhaps even some musettes full of mayonnaise. Speaking of mayonnaise, you may have heard by now that somebody is opening an "artisanal mayo shop" in Brooklyn:

Yes, apparently there's a "condiment revolution" going on, and here's how the mayo purveyors themselves describe the endeavor:

Luxury mayonnaise, exciting exotic flavors designed by Chef Sam Mason, managed by designer Elizabeth Valleau.

Indeed, these are the times that try men's souls. As the "condiment revolution" continues to lay waste to tables everywhere, it remains to be seen whether fortune will favor the Hellmann's loyalists, or if the forces of artisanal douchery will ultimately prevail. Personally, I predict that "condiment culture" will soon reach its apotheosis with the opening of this store and then begin inevitable its downfall, finally "jumping the shark" with the release of the Hollywood feature film, "Premium Relish"

Meanwhile, not too far from the location of the [it even hurts me to type it] luxury mayonnaise shop, it seems that iPhone theft is on the rise:

While I abhor theft, it's also comforting to know that there's an overall balance that governs the universe, since I imagine douches of all stripes flocking to the area to acquire luxury mayo and being relieved of their iPhones in the process. Of course, the smart iPhone owner knows to protect his or her investment, which is why I know my new theft-proof iPhone skins are going to be a huge success. My design camouflages your iPhone as something nobody could possibly ever want to steal, and that's a paperback copy of Marcel Proust's "Swann's Way," volume one of his seven-volume novel, "Remembrance of Things Past:"

Note the exquisite artisanally-curated etching, designed to appeal to the luxury mayo set:

Simply retract the cover and use your iPhone as you normally would. It functions in portrait mode:

As well as landscape:

Rest assured your iPhone's functionality will not be limited in any way, and you can use it for all the things you normally would--including downloading and reading electronic books:

Just don't attempt to read the iPhone skin itself, as ocular contact with paper can damage your vision irrevocably. Just ask App*e, G**gle, and Amaz*n.

In any case, this iPhone theft uptick was brought to my attention by Stephen Arthur, who you may recognize as the cyclist who got hit in the head by a brick hurled from an overpass. He informs me he also spoke at the aforementioned council meeting:

Cyclist Steve Arthur was at the meeting to give a statement regarding an incident on August 12 at the Navy Street pedestrian overpass, which connects the Walt Whitman and Ingersoll housing developments. He was biking home from work around 6:30 p.m., when a brick was thrown from the overpass, hitting him in the face and puncturing his cheek.

Apparently, though, flying bricks is of less concern to our society than smartphone theft:

This might be another case of “kids being kids,” Inspector Tasso said, adding that he had not received many more complaints about the area.

In other words, "Bash our heads in, just don't take our iPhones!" Fortunately though, there is a solution to the brick-hurling in the works:

Councilwoman Letitia James stepped in to say that she has spoke with the New York City Department of Transportation and they have agreed to renovate the area in the next year, raising the height of the overpass and asking neighborhood children to paint a mural.

Now, I'm no physicist, but wouldn't raising the height of the overpass just make all those bricks fall even harder? As for the mural, I'm not sure what that's supposed to do either. I guess the idea is that it will be so lavish that it will draw potential assailants in with its beauty and make them forget what they were doing. "Hey, let's bash that guy's...wow, that brushwork is absolutely sublime!" [Teen assailant drops brick, begins tearing slightly, and...scene. Cue music.]

Or, as Diego Rivera famously said, "More murals, or Ima fucking kill you."

Anyway, given the state of affairs in New York, it's no wonder people post comments like this one on yesterday's post:

disgrutled said...

Snob, your blog has 99% convinced me to never visit NYC again. What twits.

September 21, 2011 11:28 AM

While New York City is nevertheless a wonderful place to visit, I can't say I blame him, and if you'd prefer not to bother you can just ponder this map instead which will show you what you're missing:

Strange days indeed.

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