Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

22 August 2014

When Your Rack Is Not "U"

When I first started cycling "long" distances (i.e., 40 km) four decades ago, you locked your bike with some combination of a lock with a chain or cable.

And you crossed your fingers.

Locks could be picked or broken; chains and cables cut or snapped.  Thieves figured out that the loops at the end of most cables could be twisted off almost as easily as a cap off a bottle of Coke.

Then, much as Drs. Montagnier and Gallo did work that got each of them credited, by different groups of people, with the same discovery, a bicycle mechanic and an MIT engineering student each created a different--and, each of them claims, the first-- version of something nearly every urban cyclist uses today.

I'm talking about the U-shaped lock.  One legend has it that the original Kryptonite lock--which looked, more than anything else, like a medieval torture device--was conceived in the brain of a young bike mechanic as a young female customer complained of having her bike stolen.  The other says the MIT student conceived of the Citadel lock as his senior thesis project. 

The ubiquitous U-shaped lock influenced another aspect of urban cycling:  parking racks.  For a time, it seemed that all newly-installed bike parking racks looked like Citadel or Kryptonite locks missing their crossbars.  Or, if you like, they looked like Breuer-inspired tombstones rising from concrete sidewalks. 

But now it seems that those bike racks are taking on new shapes:

At Grand Hope Park, Los Angeles

Should you lock your bike or hitch your horse to them?  

If they installed this rack just a little bit further to the left, there'd be no need for a lock:

That was a University of California-San Diego student's project.  Hmm...I wonder what sort of career this portends.

On the other hand, some designer took the slogan, "Make Love, Not War" to heart:

If love is your thing, maybe you want to ride on a covered bridge--or, perhaps, an un-covered one:

Or, perhaps, it could be Breuer's take on a certain Norwegian's painting.

When it comes to turning utilitarian objects into art, leave it to an Australian to come up with something new and interesting:

But, if you prefer that your bicycle storage racks unambiguously announce their function, here's one for you:

21 August 2014

The Spirit Of Hasidic Cycling In Brooklyn

Citibike, the bike-sharing program in New York (my hometown), began nearly fifteen months ago.

During the first days of the program, leaders of the Hasidic Jewish community in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, petitioned against it.  They weren't against bikes, they said; they just didn't like the idea of "scantily clad" cyclists rolling through their neighborhood.

A couple of years ago, Hasidic leaders in Borough Park, another Brooklyn enclave, protested the construction of bike lanes on exactly the same grounds. 

I haven't heard about the Borough Park rebbes lately.  I've ridden through the neighborhood a few times and found no Citibike ports.  For that matter, I didn't see very many adult cyclists.

On the other hand, a few days after the South Williamsburg leaders made their complaint, Hasidim for Bikes clamored for the blue bikes.  Not surprisingly, Williamsburg--sometimes called "Brooklyn's Portland" or "Hipsterville"--was one of the first Brooklyn neighborhoods to get Citibikes.

Not long afterward, I started to see bearded, black-clad men in top hats pedaling up and down Kent Avenue, Berry Street, Havemeyer Street and other neighborhood throughfares--even on the worst days of a record-breaking heat wave we endured last summer.

Note that I mentioned the men.  I hadn't seen Hasidic women pedaling or coasting on the blue bikes--until today.

It wasn't exceptionally hot, but it was warm and humid enough for me, in my shorts and tank top, to break a bit of a sweat when I sprinted, however briefly, because, well, I could.  I tried to imagine how it must have felt for those women, clad in long sleeves and skirts, sweaters and thick opaque hosiery of the kind I might wear with boots in the winter. 

I didn't take any pictures--Years ago, I discovered that Hasidim really don't like to be photographed, especially by outsiders--so I've included this image because it probably comes closest to showing what it must have been like for the women I saw today:




20 August 2014

My Tribute To Robin Williams On The "Huffington Post"

Last week, I noted the death of Robin Williams.  In addition to possessing an amazing, unique talent and all sorts of other wonderful qualities, he had a great passion for cycling--as a participant as well as a spectator.

In case you're interested, here's a link to a piece I wrote about him for the Huffington Post.

I hope he and his Pegoretti are on an absolutely amazing ride somewhere.