Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

22 January 2019

Blame The (Phantom) Bike Lanes!

Every one of us, I suspect, has had a moment when we realized that someone we looked up to was just plain wrong about something.  

Most of us, I guess, have such a moment in childhood.  That person who suddenly became, as it were, mortal might be a parent, older sibling, teacher, coach or other adult who nurtured us in some way.  Such a moment might have seemed like "the end of the world," at least for a moment, and left us feeling angry, hurt, abandoned or empty.  Fortunately, though, most of us move on from such an experience and learn the lesson that "nobody's perfect."

Good thing, too, because as we go through life, people we respect or admire have moments of stupidity, arrogance, greed, meanness or thoughtlessness.  We learn that our heroes--if we still create such figures in our lives--are, after all, human.

For many years, I've been a major fan of Whoopi Goldberg.  In fact, when I was still watching TV and had a schedule that allowed it, I watched The View mainly because she was one of the panelists.  She is a funny, irreverent woman who always seemed to resist pressures from society and the entertainment industry (where, perhaps, such pressures are the most intense) to conform to prevailing notions about attractiveness or femininity--which, of course, are Caucaso-centric. (Is that a word?)  Also, she has been an outspoken advocate for causes, like LGBT equality, that matter to me.

Of course, one can be outspoken about things one doesn't know much about. I've probably done it any number of times on this blog! If I have, I hope I haven't caused harm, or at least not much of it.  I'd like to think that I expounded on things I know little or nothing about only because I didn't know as much about them as I thought I knew--or because I was acting on information I didn't realize was inaccurate.

I hope that such is the case for Whoopi Goldberg.  I am willing to believe that it is because, well, I've always liked her.  Also, I think she probably doesn't ride a bike much in Manhattan, if she rides at all.

You see, anyone who regularly cycles in Manhattan knows where the bike lanes are.  Mainly, they're in midtown, and parallel major uptown-downtown and crosstown thoroughfares.

While Tenth Avenue runs the length of midtown, on its west side, it's not one of the streets with a bike lane.  She could be forgiven for not knowing that.  On the other hand, she blamed the non-existent bike lane for "ruining" the avenue and traffic flow in the city.  


  Oh, but it didn't end there.  She went as far as to say that the bike lanes are part of a conspiracy to bring Manhattan traffic to a standstill so that the Mayor can implement "congestion pricing"--which, of course, would take a bite out of her bank account as well as her "right" to drive--or, more precisely, be driven--in Manhattan.

What's really crazy about her rant is that it was a non sequitir. She was interviewing Mayor Bill de Blasio about something else entirely.  I guess she figured that since she had him in her crosshairs, she could unleash her pet peeve--however unfounded it is--on him.

Here's something I find really ironic:  She, among celebrities, has been one of the most outspoken critics of El Cheeto Grande.  Yet she behaved no differently than he has in any number of public appearances:  She told a lie or repeated misinformation (depending on what you believe) and doubled down on it.  Her tirade, like most of what we hear from T-rump, is devoid of facts and fueled by a sentiment of "If I feel it, it must be true."

Then again, she does have a few things in common with him:  They are, or have been, television stars.  They live in mansions and are driven in limousines or armored SUVs everywhere they go.  And they haven't ridden bicycles since they were kids. 

21 January 2019

A Real Freedom Ride(r)

I am not the first person to say this:  Donald Trump's promise to "Make America Great Again" doesn't hold up because, well, America was never great.  No nation ever has been.  A few have been powerful and influential.  But great, no.

A nation should not be confused with a culture or people.  Whether or not a culture is great is open to interpretation.  Every nation, however, has at least one interesting or even inspiring culture:  That is the reason why I have taken trips to France, Cambodia and other places.  

Even though nations aren't great, and even if cultures might or might not be great, within each of them there have been great human beings.  Of course, most of us might be seen as great by some people, but not others.  There are a few, though, who are undeniably great.

Today is a holiday to commemorate one of them. Although his actual birthday came last Tuesday, his "birthday" is celebrated on the third Monday of every January.  I am talking, of course, about Martin Luther King Jr.  Whether or not you agree with the ways in which he tried to achieve his goals, it cannot be denied that this country, and this world, are better for his having been part of them.

Here he is, on Fire Island, just off Long Island,  seven months before he was assassinated:

20 January 2019

Even Arnold Wasn't This Strong

If you were young, had cash to burn and wanted to believe you were tougher than you actually were, you drove a Hummer.

Styled after a military vehicle, the first Hummer rolled off the assembly line in 1992.  Fittingly, Arnold Schwarznegger bought it:  He was the one who lobbied American Motors Corporation, who'd been making Hummers (then known as Humvees) for the US Armed Forces, to offer them to civilians.  

The pseudo-tank was a cash cow for AMC and, later, for General Motors, who bought the brand in 1998.  It also helped to enrich the coffers of petroleum companies (and a few despots) because one gallon of gasoline would propel it for only ten miles.

Of course, those are the reasons why the brand tanked (pardon the pun) when the world's economy crashed and oil prices spiked.  A couple of years ago, while on a ride, I saw the first Hummer I'd seen in years.  Even in its bright yellow finish, it looked like a dinosaur to me.

Where are the Hummers now?  Are they in junkyards and other landfills with other motor vehicles?

Wherever they are, bicycles from that same period are still rolling along. 

This rider is even stronger than I ever was.  I mean, I've carried all sorts of things on my bike, but not a car(cass).