BSNYC Field Trip: Philly Bike Expo

(Gmail: A disturbing and unwelcome window into the self.)

As you know because you either live in the Northeast, watch news about the Northeast, or know a person who lives in the Northeast who won't shut up about it, we here in the Northeast received something of a freak snowstorm this past Saturday. It just so happens that this past Saturday was also the day I was scheduled to visit the Philadelphia Bike Expo and bore the attendees right out of their "shants." Naturally then, as the forecast grew increasingly dire, I worried that travel to and from the City of Brotherly Love might be difficult.

Sure enough, it was cold and rainy on Saturday morning, and snow was clearly on the way. But was I daunted? I was not. "The people of Philadelphia must be bored!," I announced to Toucan Sam, who was staring at me skeptically from a box of Froot Loops. Finishing my morning repast, I packed my bag, applied embrocation and chamois cream liberally, slipped into my finest Rapha, gave my bike a final going-over...

...and drove to Philly.

Sure, traveling by means of a four-wheeled internal combustion recumbent is not "epic," nor is it "smug," but I was wearing Rapha pants, and I was also using a David Byrne Air Freshener™:

(The David Byrne Air Freshener™: Smells like Smugness.)

Just because he doesn't own a car doesn't mean he doesn't want yours to smell nice. Especially since he probably needs a ride.

Sure, I would have liked to have utilized some sort of bike/train "collabo" to get down there, but I also didn't want to spend the night in Philadelphia should rail travel go awry due to the weather. It's not that I don't enjoy visiting that fair city--in fact I admire it very much. It's just that I'm something of a homebody (or, if you prefer, a "woosie") and every night I spend in a bed other than my own I lose a little piece of my soul.

Of course, the other non-"epic" option is always "If it rains take the bus," but buses in and out of New York tend to flip like pancakes. Also, I have a fear of motorcoaches that dates back to my "teen tour," during which I was trapped on a bus for two whole months with a bunch of children who had had incredibly lavish Bar Mitzvahs. (You don't know the meaning of perdition until you've seen a teenager rapping while wearing a leather Louis Vuitton cap and gold chai medallion.)

And then there was all the free giveaway crap I had to portage schlep, and as I motored along the Turnpike being pummeled by what amounted to a sampling platter of every type of popular frozen precipitation, the trunk of my 1967 Corvette Stingray (converted to run on vegetable oil) full of blinky lights and designer "taint cream," I imagined that, should the state police have to extricate me from the vehicle with the Jaws of Life, in my last moribund act I would produce a "hipster cyst," switch it on, and utter the words, "May this weigh heavily on your souls."

Fortunately, none of this happened, and I made it to and from the Expo smoothly and without any sort of problem whatsoever. I attribute this to the David Byrne Air Freshener™, which doubtless served as a talisman.

Anyway, when I got to the expo, I savored the irony of the fact that, even though I had been invited down there to talk to everybody, I didn't actually have any friends to hang around with since nobody likes me, and so I bided (bidded? bade? bode?) my time by lurking in the rafters like the Phantom of the Opera:

From there I surveyed the proceedings, including the "epicness" that was the Rapha booth:

Speaking of Rapha, they were one of the three concerns generous enough to provide stuff for me to give away, the others being Knog and the Just Coffee Cooperative. I'd like to give them all my sincere thanks. I'd also like to thank Bilenky for inviting me. Most of all, I'd like to thank the people who actually showed up to listen to me for actually showing up and listening to me, and here's picture of them that I found on the Internet:

(They're only smiling because I haven't started yet.)

Thanks very much to all concerned.

Then, after my talk, I stopped by the Brooks booth:

Where I had a disconcerting conversation with one of the freaky hallucinations from the 1990 psychological thriller "Jacob's Ladder" starring Tim Robbins:

This sort of thing happens to me more than you'd think, since it turns out the councelors on my "teen tour" were putting some sort of experimental drug in our frozen yogurt.

By the way, if you want to style yourself as a dashingly cosmopolitan urban cyclist, you can do no better than getting some Rapha jeans, a Brooks jacket, and then riding around on a "smugness flotilla" that's powered by a leafblower:

It's the only look that shouts "class" loud enough to be heard over the flatulent din of a 50cc engine.

In any case, even though my visit to Philadelphia was brief I enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact, it was exactly like racing cyclocross, inasmuch as I drove a car 200 miles round-trip just to make a complete fool of myself for 45 minutes.

Speaking of Brooks, back in January they sent me a sample of their wares:

And I'm pleased to announce it's been sitting atop my Big Dummy since then, where it's been both serviceable and comfortable:

It's also become all tanned, smooth, and shiny, like Mario Cipollini after a two-week vacation in the islands of Greece. (Every morning, he pours three liters of olive oil on himself and then lies in a hammock for 14 hours.) Oddly, this didn't happen gradually. Instead, it seemed to happen all of a sudden after I rode home from the beach one day in soggy salt water pants. I can't explain the reason for this since I'm not a scientist, nor am I versed in the subtleties of having a dead animal's hide bolted to your seatpost, but it looks good and it feels good and so, like most consumers of animal by-products, I'll just switch off my brain, absolve myself from any responsibility, and enjoy it.

In other saddle-related news, I also saw this Fizik display at the expo:

And I'm not sure I've ever seen anything that begged so plaintively for a Richard Gere reference:

(Richard Gere says: "It's gerbil time!")

I'm happy to oblige.

As it happens, I find Fizik saddles comfortable and have for quite a number of years, which is why I have one on my Ritte von Finkelstein:

(I very much enjoy riding my Ritte von Finkelstein roadening bike.)

However, I've been increasingly uncomfortable with their evolving marketing technique, which now involves categorizing people (or, more specifically, their crotches) as "snakes," "chameleons," and "bulls." Evidently, which one you are depends on how your pelvis moves while you ride or something like that, and then you're supposed to choose a saddle accordingly:

This is both creepy and ridiculous, and categorizing people as "snakes," "chameleons," or "bulls" based on the way they wriggle and writhe while they straddle something sounds like the way Mario Cipollini probably categorizes his various sex partners. Can't they just call the saddles "soft," "medium," and "hard?" I guess that sounds sort of dirty, but it's positively chaste in comparison. Still, it's great that Fizik have managed to bring the irritating Starbucks sizing concept to bicycle saddles. Hopefully one day I'll be able to go into a bike shop to buy a cyclocross tire, and when they ask me what size I can say "sawtooth eel."

Lastly, for decades, people have argued about the point at which a pop-cultural trend is officially dead. Some say it's when it's used in advertising campaigns for mass-market products. Others insist it's when the trend is available for purchase in "big-box" stores such as Walmart. I suspect, though, that the true sign a trend is dead is when white people start rapping about it non-ironically, as in this video that was forwarded to me by a reader:

In it, this guy makes contorted hand gestures and says things that rhyme:

And my favorite part is when he says, "Fuck that fixie hipster shit we ride fixed gears" and then gives us the finger:

I realize that, as the father of 17 children who owns a luxury cargo bike and who drives to Philadelphia, I've officially reached the point in my life at which I'm hopelessly pampered and "out of it." Nevertheless, I can't possibly be alone in hearing a line like "Fuck that fixie hipster shit we ride fixed gears" and then wondering, "What could possibly be the difference?" It's like saying, "Fuck that hippie shit we listen to Phish." Evidently though, according to the video, the difference between "fixie hipster shit" and non-"fixie hipster shit" is doing this:

Though somehow now I'm even more confused.

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