Any Portage In A Storm: You Can't Go Home Again

Last yesterday in the United America of States we had an election to elect the President.  I know I'm not supposed to put spoilers on this blog, but the Milt Romley guy lost and the Barclay O'Meara guy won.  Romley's color is red and O'Meara's color is blue, and here's how Canada's spent fuel rod looked after the election:

If you're from some miscellaneous country that isn't America you may be wondering why the blue guy won when there's so much red on the map.  Well, they don't teach us much about this stuff in school, but as far as I can tell it's sort of like the Tour de France.  You know how Mark Cavendish can win like ten stages but then some scrawny guy has one good day in the mountains and suddenly he's wearing the yellow jersey on the Champs-Élysées?  I think it's something like that.

Also, all the candidates are on performance-enhancing drugs, and according to the guy who was drunk in the deli yesterday at 3:30pm on a Tuesday they're "completely full of shit."

I went to a college.

Speaking of voting, before I voted I joined the ride out to Far Rockaway organized by Aaron Stewart-Ahn and Bicycle Habitat, and our ultimate destination was this red dot, which represents a church that is serving the community with food and supplies:

As it happens, this church is very close to where I grew up.  Just west of the red dot where the water is there is a neighborhood called Bayswater.  That is where I lived from toddlerhood up through what Erik Erikson calls the "competence" phase of psychosocial development:

Competence - Industry vs. Inferiority - School-age / 6-11. Child comparing self-worth to others (such as in a classroom environment). Child can recognize major disparities in personal abilities relative to other children. Erikson places some emphasis on the teacher, who should ensure that children do not feel inferior.

It was on the quiet streets of Bayswater that I became the meager cyclist I am today, and it was along the shore of Jamaica Bay that I learned to fire a BB gun with deadly accuracy (assuming you were a rusty soda can about ten feet away.)

About five blocks east of the red dot Queens ends and Nassau County begins, and you enter a neighborhood colloquially known as the "Five Towns," where I lived up through what Erik Ericson calls the "fidelity" phase of psychosocial development:

Fidelity - Identity vs. Role Confusion - Adolescent / 12 years till 20. Questioning of self. Who am I, how do I fit in? Where am I going in life? Erikson believes, that if the parents allow the child to explore, they will conclude their own identity. However, if the parents continually push him/her to conform to their views, the teen will face identity confusion.

Incidentally, if you're familiar with the movie "Goodfellas," you may recognize the Five Towns as the home of the "Jew broad" who is "prejudiced against Italians," and who ultimately winds up marrying Ray Liotta.  As someone familiar with the area I can say Lorraine Bracco played the role very well, my only critique being that her accent and wardrobe were a bit too subtle.  In males, the two extremes on the spectrum are iconoclastic people like Harvey Milk and Perry Farrell (both from the Five Towns) one one end, and the douchebags from "Entourage" (scripted by someone from the Five Towns) on the other.  (Though nowadays much of the Rockaway/Five Towns area is becoming overwhelmingly orthodox Jewish.)

Anyway, to some extent it is the places we live that determine who we become, and I credit Far Rockaway for giving me what little humility I have because kids used to chase me for my bicycle, and the Five Towns for giving me the ability to whine constantly about nothing.

I realize this is more about me than you'd ever want to know, but I mention it all to put yesterday's ride in context.  If I were completely unfamiliar with the area I'd have found the devastation in the Rockaways heartbreaking enough, and have felt inadequate for not doing more.  However, as we made our way along Beach Channel Drive I remembered all those childhood trips to Rockaways' Playland, and I saw piles of debris and people lined up for supplies near all the familiar landmarks, and this intimacy made it doubly heartbreaking.  Even worse, while I had been slightly self-conscious about carrying stuff by bike when I could have carried more in a car, as we made our way every so often someone would actually wave to us and say "Thank you."  Thank you?  For riding a bike?  Please, I'm a smug cargo bike owner, I live for this crap:

(Yes, they even stuck me with the floor pump.)

In fact, this is the amount of stuff I carry on my Big Dummy even on a normal day, except the boxes are usually full of Cheetos instead of blankets.

All of this is to say that it was a pretty emotional day of which I was honored to be a part, which is why I was profoundly irritated to read this:

I saw this just as I was leaving for the ride yesterday morning.  It's pretty rankling to be called a "dick" for supposedly dismissing the ride you're at that very moment preparing to embark upon, and I'm surprised that someone who's ever read my blog would actually think I was mocking the idea of Sandy relief--though I guess I shouldn't be, since we also live in a world where people do things like huff gas fumes and buy Budnitz bicycles, so clearly there are a lot of slow-witted people out there.  Granted, I do tend to express myself sardonically, but this is because I know the three or four people who read this blog are pretty sharp and don't need someone to coddle them and hold their hands while they read.  Clearly though David Schloss does require handholding while he reads, and unfortunately the only person holding it is this equally humorless Byron guy, and I guess together they're two babes in the woods.

I'd leave it at that, except that then I headed to Bicycle Habitat to load up, and they had the gate halfway open for the volunteers in that way that lets customers know they're not really open:

Well, despite myself, I couldn't help going back to that stupid Bike Hugger post and reading the comments on my phone.  Needless to say, human beings haven't evolved to the point where we're smart enough to stop walking while using our phones (or at least this one hasn't), and as I was reading I opened the door, walked out without ducking, and hit the gate squarely on my sizable proboscis:

The photo of the reflection above shows you roughly where my nose was in relation to the gate, and I hit it right on the bony part, which is now even lumpier.  So as far as I'm concerned, not only did Bike Hugger accuse me of mocking hurricane volunteers and victims in the very neighborhood I grew up in, but they also punched me in the nose.  Sure, I could have withheld this bit of information so as not to give them the satisfaction, but because I have something called a sense of humor it's much more important to me to let people know that I walked straight into an iron gate while reading about myself on my smartphone.  I'd even invite Bike Hugger to laugh at my pain and humiliation, but they're probably too busy either promoting products or being offended by charity ride plugs.

Speaking of charity ride plugs, Affinity Cycles in Brooklyn is also leading volunteer rides to Rockaway, and here's an email I received yesterday:

"We are going to be accepting donations all week long and going back out again on Saturday and Sunday. Clothing is not really something needed at this point. Batteries, cleaning supplies and food are the big ticket items. Meet at Affinity Cycles at 9, roll out at 9:30. The more folks we have for the ride and distribution efforts the bigger impact we can make. There is still so much to be done."

Leaving from 616 Grand Street, Brooklyn to Rockaway Beach Surf Club at 302 Beach 87th St.

I'm such a dick.  In any case, there was a tremendous turnout for the ride, especially considering it was a weekday, and thanks in particular to Aaron Stewart-Ahn for organizing the ride yesterday, and if you're itching to use your fancy portaging equipment for a good cause it's heartening to see so many great opportunities out there.

Moving on, Alexandre Vinokourov's purchase of the 2010 Liège–Bastogne–Liège win is now back in the cycling news owing to new evidence:

For some reason it's fashionable for cycling fans and pundits to be outraged and disgusted by this whole doping shitstorm, yet to dismiss purchasing a win with a cynical wave of the hand as charmingly "old school."  I'm not sure why this is, and if you're going to be cynical about something it seems as though it should be the other way around.  If you're watching a doping rider, what you're ostensibly watching is one rider who has an unfair physical advantage over his rivals.  (Though in practice what you're most likely watching is a bunch of riders who are mostly on the same drugs.)  Sure, it's wrong, but from a spectator's point of view at least there are still the elements of tactics, and luck, and preparation, and relative strength all factoring into the outcome.

However, if you're watching two riders and one of them simply pays the other to let him win, you're not watching a physical contest at all.  What you're really watching is a rolling financial transaction.  That seems like more of a betrayal, at least as far as the fans are concerned.  I mean, if you find watching money change hands exciting then you might as well skip bike racing and stand around in the lobby of a bank.

Of course, none of this is to defend cheating in any form.  It's merely to say that professional cycling is a complete sham not worthy of corporate sponsorship or individual attention.

Lastly, the creator of the Donky bike has asked me to let you know about the Donky bike, so I'm letting you know about the Donky bike:

It looks fairly handy, but whatever you do don't use it to help anybody!
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