Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In Keeping With the Theme

Others in my circle have been writing about cycling lately, and I thought I'd throw them some linkage.

First, Michael has a run-in with a pizza delivery guy, and Stephie mocks him mercilessly for linking his ubertrendy Chrome bag.

Matt's going off-road, big time, that crazy bastard. He's just jealous that he can't join the lot of us riding the MS 150 fixed in June. Of course, he says he's going to run Arizona's counterpoint in November, but we'll see. Show off.

Brian writes evocatively of a long ride home, and also gives a way a bit about the upcoming Caffeinator alleycat, which is turning out to be a bit shorter, if run efficiently, than we at first anticipated.

Emily's got a problem with cyclist graffiti at the law school, and turns her post into a longer rumination culminating in this apt observation:

look, part of the problem is that cyclists and motorists are engaged in this weird competitive, combative struggle for who gets the road. it's the whole entitlement thing. people, people, PEOPLE!!! where in the FUCK did we as a culture go so astray that we're convinced that we get to act like assholes because we think we're entitled to certain things? it's really quite retarded. and it's totally unproductive and inefficient. you know the street signs that say "share the road"? um, duh! it's about SHARING the road. the street isn't for cars only. it's not for bikes only. this is my issue with the critical mass rides -- they end up pissing drivers off because the cyclists act like morons and basically cut off access to the streets to motorists. what does this accomplish? how are we working towards awareness of reasonable alternatives if all we're doing is alienating groups that really have no reason not to co-exist peacefully?

Elsewhere, however, she excoriates cyclists who "act like jackasses, cut off motorists, ride really irresponsibly, and behave as if they're entitled to this sort of activity." I'm sure she doesn't have me in my mind, but as my writing here attests, I have my moments. The way I see it, cycling's reward isn't just the salutary effect it has on the world and my body, but also the opportunity to take short cuts. I drive hard and sometimes I cycle hard. It's not entirely responsible, but then I've never claimed to be an entirely responsible person.

Finally, David explains why he's done with fixed gears, in an engaging counterpoint to the current trend toward single-speeds of various stripe, especially given his credibility as a former courier and serious competitive cyclist.

* * *

Yesterday, I was fiddling with my bike outside the doctor's office in Oakland before heading in, and a salty old black man came up to me and asked after the bike. Without asking my permission, he tested its weight while I watched to make sure he didn't scrape it against the meter post to which I'd u-locked it. He was relatively gentle, and he commented on how light Susan was. I smiled, and said, "No gears," gesturing at the rear hub.

"Why you got no gears?"

"Fewer moving parts. Lighter. Simpler."

"How you get up hills?"

"Work. Hard. But I get up them faster."

"Man I'm not seein' that."

"It's a thing. Not for everyone."

"Why don't you have two brakes?"

"Don't need them. Front brake's mostly a back-up anyway. Didn't have any hand brake for most of the winter." I tried to explain how direct drive works on a bike.

"Not me. I like old bikes. Got me a bunch of him. Schwinns. Good bikes. I like old Schwinns. I've got one with 28" tires. Stands about this tall." He held out his hand at the height of his sternum, comparable to mine.

"There's no way you can ride that."

"Sure do."

"How do you get on it?" My turn to be surprised.


"Oh well," I said. "I'd better head in."

He smiled and returned my farewell, then turned to walk down Forbes, looking over his shoulder once to look upon Susan once more, shaking his head slightly.


Blogger emily said...

wow. that little excerpt sure makes me look like a girl with a bad attitude and a mouth like a sailor! erm, i'm not this bad, am i?

7:40 PM  
Anonymous eli said...

damn, I'm really dropping the ball here, no posts, let alone bike-related posts, in a while.

8:32 AM  
Blogger stephie said...

In Michael's defense, his bag wasn't so ubertrendy when he got one... but I still say he's a big dork for linking to the chrome site.

7:16 AM  
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7:21 AM  

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