The Mild Years: It's a Fine Line Between Slowing Down and Falling Over

A wise man once said:

"I used to rock and roll all night and party every day. Then it was every other day... now I'm lucky to find half an hour a week in which to get funky."

I know how he feels, for I too have joined the half-an-hour-a-week-at-best-of-funk demographic.  For example, believe it or not, there was once a time when I owned a motorcycle.  Now I don't.  See, it's easy to have a motorcycle when your life is relatively uncomplicated, and it's also easy to have one if you're part of the "Wild Hogs" demographic, but when you lie someplace in the middle and you don't have a driveway you eventually come to terms with the fact that you simply don't have time to deal with stuff like this:

These are the sorts of scenes you awake to when you keep a motorcycle in New York, and I passed this one this past weekend.  I'm no crash reconstruction expert, but my best guess is that the motorcycle was parked between the two cars, and the one behind it got rammed in the night by a drunken clubgoer (or, if you prefer, rammed in the night like a drunken clubgoer), thus crushing the poor motorcycle:

I'm surprised New York City bicyclists and New York City motorcyclists don't share more of an affinity for each other, because they are subject to many of the same indignities, including returning to your bike only to find it maimed, destroyed, or missing altogether.  Also, pretty much every type of cyclist has a motorcycling counterpart, and the only real difference between, say, a fixed-gear rider and a guy on a cafe racer is that the latter actually uses brakes.

Something else I no longer do is wait on line for anything for any reason, especially if it's 100 degrees, and especially especially if that line is in Williamsburg, like this one I passed yesterday:

(Nothing good could be at the end of a line in Williamsburg.)

The line stretched for blocks and blocks in either direction, and I have no idea what it was for, though by the looks of the crowd I'm guessing Justin Bieber was at the end of it:

Incidentally, the reason I was riding through Williamsburg is that I was going to Queens, because sometimes in life you just have to go to Queens.  I've been making this particular inter-borough schlep for many years now, and the changes during that time have been profound.  In the negative column, most of it is now lined with overpriced condos and overpriced dining establishments, and even the hipsters have been almost entirely displaced by the legions of the nüveaux riches, which is arguably the worser of the two evils.  In the positive column, the route is now thoroughly bike-laned, and you can travel pretty much the entire Brooklyn/Queens "Big Skanky" waterfront by bicycle in a relatively leisurely and stress-free manner.  ("Back in the Day," if I needed to go to Queens, the trip was so unpleasant I used to bypass the Northern portion of Brooklyn altogether and simply ride through Manhattan.)

Yet another thing I'm not really able to do anymore (as much as I might want to) is travel extremely long distances just to engage in the act of recreational bicycle cycling, as I was reminded when I received an email about the next Single Speed World Championships:

The race will be in South Africa somewhere, but as far as I'm concerned it might as well be on the surface of Venus.  Also, in order to qualify, you have to "enjoy a party," and I haven't enjoyed a party since Hot Skates circa 1982.  (Those birthday parties were awesome.)  The sad fact is that, as a singlespeed mountain bike enthusiast, my career has officially reached the "Wild Hogs" phase, since I have a fancy-shmancy custom derailleur-free all-terrain bicycle that rarely gets to leave Long Island:

Incidentally, the only change I've made to this bicycle since taking delivery is putting a Brooks saddle on it, for after Eric "The Chamferer" Murray made me one I wound up with an extra.  It was mostly just an experiment, but as it turns out the Brooks has a certain old-timey boingy quality that complements irregular surface bicycle cycling in a way I didn't expect.  It also clashes delightfully with my much-maligned and much-comfy Ergon grips, and the knowledge that I'm offending numerous people's aesthetic sensibilities makes my rides even more enjoyable.

Speaking of criticism, as New York City braces itself for bike share the moronic protests continue, as in this article which was forwarded to me by a reader:

For example, did you know that New York City was never designed for "biking?"

Mike Ray, a manager at Ray Beauty Supply on Eighth Avenue, said he was concerned that the lanes are hurting business. They’ve cut on down on parking and hindered the ability of delivery trucks to access his storefront, he said.

“New York City was never designed for biking,” he said.

If you ever happen stop into Ray Beauty Supply for some hair rollers or a curling iron, I hope you'll do so by bicycle.  I also hope that you'll explain to Mike Ray that the first bike path in the United States is actually in Brooklyn, New York and was built in 1894.  Meanwhile, here's what a car looked like back then:

Nobody was designing shit for these things.  Actually, the New York City street grid plan was conceived in 1811, and here are just a few things they probably didn't take into account when they designed it:

--Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and bicycles
--Subway trains
--Sewer and water mains
--Ray's Beauty Supply

Logically then we should get rid of all of these things along with bike share, and if anything we should institute a historically accurate horse share system.  We should also put it to a vote--but women shouldn't be allowed to vote, since New York City wasn't designed for women's suffrage.

Another evergreen anti-bike share sentiment is the "people who ride bikes already have them" complaint:

James Yeh questioned whether the bike-sharing program’s intended audience is enough to sustain it.

“Most of the people I know already ride their bikes and have their own,” said the 29-year-old fiction writer and copy editor from Brooklyn. “It seems recreational. If you were really serious, you’d buy your own.”

Saying there shouldn't be bike share because "serious" riders already have their own bikes is like saying there shouldn't be car rental companies because "serious" drivers already have their own cars, or that there shouldn't be public libraries because "serious" readers already have their own private libraries.  I wonder if, as a fiction writer, James Yeh has ever visited a library.  I also wonder if he has a Netfix account or enjoys cable TV or even goes to the movies.  If so, he must only be recreationally interested in movies.  If he were a serious film buff, he'd have his own film library and screening room.

Yes, "serious" commuters should have "serious" bicycles--like this one, which a reader tells me is his friend's commuter:

It's a real shame Softride didn't win the New York City bike share bid.

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