29 August 2010

Hello Helene!

Today I took my third and, so far, longest ride on my Miss Mercian.  

I took a route I've pedalled a number of times before on my other two Mercians and on at least a couple of other bicycles.  But this is the first time I did that ride, which is about 45 miles, on a women's/mixte frame.

From my apartment, I rode over the Queensborough/59th Street Bridge to Manhattan.  Then, I rode up the East Side to East Harlem, where I cut across to West Harlem and continued up to Washington Heights and the George Wahsington Bridge.  Then, I rode along the top of the Palisades from Fort Lee to just north of Jersey City, where I pedalled down to the waterfront.  The docks where a young Marlon Brando pouted and glowered are long gone; now tall condominium towers mute the gazes of children in the park at the base of those buildings.  

Still, there is something I rather like about the light there.  Perhaps it is its consistency:  Whether I am playing chicken with the rain or tag with the sun, everything there always seems tinged with shades of metal, in particular the kind of titanium gray that refracts into gunmetal blues that can turn almost anything from lilac to aqua.  I find it oddly comforting, even soothing.

From there, I rode some less picturesque parts of town to Bayonne, where I rode across the bridge that bears the town's name to Staten Island and the Ferry named after it.

I must say, I was surprised at both the comfort and responsiveness of the bike.  I expected both, though more of the former, as Miss Mercian's geometry is slightly less agressive than that of my other two Mercians.  However, the bike doesn't accelerate quite as quickly as either Arielle or Tosca.  Again, that was something I expected, and even wanted. 

Before today's ride, I switched the tires.  I had a pair of Paselas that, I think, were mis-labelled:  They are marked 700 X 32 C, but they seemed slightly narrower than the 700 X 28C Continental Grand Prix Four-Season tires on my other two Mercians.  The rims could not have accounted for the difference:  I have Mavic Open Pros on all three bikes.  Still, I like the response of the Paselas, so I might try them on either of the other two Mercians when the Contis wear out.

Today  I rode another Panaracer tire:  the RiBMo (I hate the acronym!)  700x35.  It weighs about one and a half times as much as the Paselas, which are about 20 grams heavier than the Contis.  I'm sure they added to the stability of the bike if they took away a bit of its responsiveness.  Since the Miss Mercian is not going to be my "speed machine", I don't mind that. Plus, I think they look more appropriate than the skinnier tires on MM.  So, I think I'm going to keep them on the bike, at least for now.

Speaking of looks:  Check out the way the top tube is joined to the seat tube.

This bike is going to be a lot of fun and will look very  stylish doing it.   And, with her fenders, porteur bars and other accessories, she has a bit of a French accent even if she's English. I've decided to name her Helene.   

28 August 2010

How I Ended Up Here

I wasn’t the best kid in the world.  But my parents know that, sooner or later, one way or another, I do whatever they say I should do.  It might take me 35 years, but better late than never, right?

So what does that have to do with today’s ride or anything else related to this blog?  Well, during my ride, I went someplace my father wanted me to go upon graduating high school. I didn’t go in quite the way he’d hoped, but I went nonetheless.

I’m talking about the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, on the North Shore of Long Island.  He didn’t want me to go there specifically; he wanted me to go to one of the Federal academies dedicated to training officers for the armed forces.  I actually did get Congressional nominations to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and the Military Academy at West Point.

Every member of Congress is allowed to appoint one person to each academy (the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is included) and to nominate other candidate.  Being nominated is like being placed on a waiting list:  If, for whatever reasons, the appointee can’t or chooses not to go, the member of Congress can appoint one of his or her nominees.  That did not happen to me.

As you can probably imagine, I have no regrets now.  I certainly wasn’t sorry then.  Then again, anyone who’s been reading this or my other blog knows that.

However, it was a lot of fun to go there today.  It’s actually a lovely place:  It’s, as one might expect, on the water and has a couple of ships and a bunch of boats.  And some of the buildings are exquisite.  Although they are of different styles, as different parts of the campus were built at different times (and a couple of buildings predate the founding of the Academy), they actually work well together.  Perhaps it has to do that they are all in shades of beige, tan, yellow and white.  They suggested, at least for me, sand, which makes sense for a maritime campus.

Unfortunately, as you might expect in the post-9/11 world, I couldn’t photograph them.  The guard at the entry gate was very friendly, as was everyone else I encountered.  But he said—almost apologetically—that, due to “security,” photography wasn’t allowed.

Oddly enough, although I was the only person riding a bicycle, I didn’t feel out of place.   The fact that I’m old enough to be the cadets’ grandmother also didn’t make me feel strange.  And, no, that other way in which I’m different from (at least to my knowledge!) any of them didn’t make me feel distant.

Perhaps it had to do with the fact that today was one of those wonderfully beautiful and clear days that can make even someone as old and cynical as me feel as if those barriers people erect between each other don’t exist.  It reminded me of what has always drawn me to cycling, and in particular rides like the one I took today:  I feel that on my bike, the whole world is available to me.  If you don’t feel that way before you embark on a long ride, you’ll feel that way sometime during the ride.  Otherwise, you’ll quit.

That, I believe, is the reason why today, three decades after I took my first trip, I cannot imagine having experienced France or any other part of Europe in any other way.  I didn’t see as many places as my peers who had Eurail passes, and, to tell you the truth, I didn’t want to.  Even then, I knew that I would do better to experience a few places intimately than to get as many stamps on my passport as I could.  (Back in those pre-EU days, one had to go through customs each time one crossed from one country to another.) 

Anyway…How did I get from Long Island to Languedoc without getting on a plane?  I don’t know.  To be completely honest, I don’t know how I got to some of the places I saw today.  I got on Arielle and decided I had no destination in particular.  I did, however, decide that as much as I love the ocean, I didn’t want to ride through or to any of the beach areas today.  I knew that people would be going to them in droves.

Had I gone to Kings Point or one of the other academies when I graduated high school, my entire curriculum and career would have been spelled out for me.  Now, I know I like and need some structure in my life.  But I also know that the things I’ve enjoyed most—including my favorite bike rides—just sort of happened when I set out without a specific itinerary.

That’s what happened thirty years ago—and today—on my bike.

27 August 2010

Cycling To Work In A "Hippie" Skirt

Yesterday the new semester started.  Had it been a movie, it would have been the beginning of best time in mine, or someone else’s life:  The rain of the previous three days had passed and the sky was even clearer and bluer than the bodies of water one sees on postcards.

Naturally, I rode my bike to work.  As I was not looking forward to going to my regular job, I needed something to pump up my Happy Hormones (or endorphins, or whatever you want to call them).  I also knew that wearing a favorite outfit—one in which I feel both confident and comfortable—would help.

But I needed a way to wear it—specifically, the skirt—while riding my bike.  Even though clearing the top bar on the LeTour wasn’t a problem, the skirt—which drapes nearly to my ankles when I stand up—could get caught in the chain or between the brake pad and rim.  I haven’t yet installed the dress guard “Velouria” gave me. 

So what’s a lady prof to do?  

Turns out, there’s a really simple solution.  All you need is an extra-large paper clamp.  All you have to do is to gather the skirt so that you can clip it, but not so tightly that you can’t move your legs freely.

It’s best to gather and clamp your skirt when you’re seated, in a position in which you typically ride, on the bike.  The first time I tried it, I had trouble mounting the seat because I’d effectively made a strait jacket around my thighs.  And of course you don’t want to wrap or clamp the skirt around your knees. 

I wonder whether anyone else has tried my skirt-clamping method. 

Now I’m thinking about how I used heavy rubber bands whenever I rode in trousers.  As with the skirt on the clamp, I found that I liked to pull on the rubber bands when I was seated on the bike, maninly because I didn’t want the trouser leg or the rubber band to rub and chafe the bottom of my calf or other sensitive areas.  Also, I found that if I wore the band too low, it would slide off the pants and onto my ankle.  (That’s what the reflective bands with Velcro, which were popular a while back, seemed to always do.)

After work, I took a ride to one of my favorite spots in Queens:  Fort Totten.  It’s at the western end of Long Island Sound and within sight of the Whitestone Bridge.  Just across the cove, it’s Gatsby country, where white sails skitter in the wind like white crests that cap the ripples on the water.

You may have noticed that I said “my regular job.”  That’s because in addition to it, I am teaching a course in another college:  the one I visited last week.  The chair offered me a class that started yesterday.  And it’s at the perfect time:  After my regular college job, I have enough time to pedal there.

And, because I had to take care of business at my new gig, I stayed a bit later than I anticipated.  But when I rode to Fort Totten, I didn’t mind, because from there, the majority of my ride home would skirt the bay.  The sun began to set as I neared the World’s Fair Marina.

Oh, I should mention this:  I rode 11 miles to my regular job, another six and a half to my part-time gig and about eighteen home in my clamped skirt, all after getting up at five a.m.—after going to bed at two a.m.  Although I felt good when I got home, I didn’t want to cook or otherwise prepare my supper.  So I stopped at the the King of Felafel and Shawarma for one of their wonderful chicken and rice plates.  Not long after bringing it back to my place and eating it, I fell asleep.

25 August 2010

Rainy Days, Cyclists and Cats

The sky is darkening; the fine light rain seems to be suspended between streets slickened with streetlight reflections of drizzle.  Earlier today, harder rain plunked against the awning by my window and seemed to drive all reflections in streams down pavement that’s even darker than the sky is becoming now.

For three days, we’ve had weather that’s been one variation or another of the two kinds I’ve just described.  But that’s not the reason I haven’t ridden.  

The other day, I still felt I had the mild case of the flu, or whatever it was, that found me over the weekend.  I felt congested and lethargic:  not the conditions under which most people choose to ride.  Yesterday, I still wasn’t feeling so well, but I had an appointment and only the vaguest notion of where it was, much less of how to get there.  So I took mass transit.  The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) here in New York has Trip Planner, a variation of the Google map on its website.  You can type in the addresses of your starting point and destination—or the names of landmarks—and Trip Planner will show you which buses and/or trains to take and estimate your travel time.  Cyclists need some version of that:  When you use Google or similar systems, they usually show only the routes over main highways.  I once tried to use the bike map feature, but it was worse than useless:  It gives directions like “Proceed down Maple Street.  Turn left.” 

Anyway…Today I was preparing myself, logistically and mentally, for tomorrow, which is the first day of the new semester.  Charlie and Max were content to spend time in my lap or simply curled up next to me.  And I was content, too. 

Is it my imagination, or is there some affinity between cyclists and cats?  It seems that most of the cyclists I’ve known have had cats, or wanted to have them.  On one hand, it doesn’t make sense:  After all, it’s pretty difficult to take your favorite feline with you when you’re riding.  I know that a kitten or a small cat can curl up inside a basket on the front of the bike, and that, with a bit of ingenuity, a kitty carrier can be attached to a bike rack.  But cats don’t seem to take very well to such arrangements. 

Sometimes in parks or other places where there’s little or no traffic, I see cyclists “walking” their dogs.  Those dogs are on leashes and trot a few paces behind the bikes. Of course, the cyclists are ride slowly; sometimes they pedal just enough to keep themselves balanced and moving forward.  Even so, I don’t think it’s possible to take a cat out for a “walk” while riding.  At least, I’ve never seen it.

So why do so many cyclists like cats?  OK, I guess this is where I get to promulgate with another of my crackpot theories.  (Actually, most theories are pretty crackpot.  That’s one thing I’ve learned from being around people who’ve gotten tenure, or made careers in other ways, from them.)  My guess, I mean theory, is that even as cycling has become more popular, it still takes a certain amount of independence to be a cyclist, especially a committed one. 

Even though cycling has become a more socially acceptable activity in the US—at least in certain segments of the community—it’s still not something one does to gain approval from the society at large.  Some people don’t even get approval from those who are closest to them when they start riding, first for recreation, then for transportation, let alone when they decide to take off for weeks, months or even years on a bike trip. 

Also, when we want—or need, for that is what it is for some of us—to ride, friends, lovers, spouses and other family members may feel as if they’re being ignored or snubbed.  Likewise, some people see cats as aloof or simply unaffectionate because they don’t snap to, the way dogs will, when humans summon them.  When a cat slinks off into a corner or sashays to the windowsill rather than to the lap of the person with whom she or he lives, said cat is not shunning or ignoring said human.  Rather, the cat is fulfilling a need, whether or not people can understand it.

Plus, I think that cats simply enjoy their own company.  It’s almost trite to say that you have to enjoy your own company before you can enjoy anyone else’s company because, well, it’s true yet people try to live as if it weren’t.  If you’re going to spend lots of time on the road by yourself, you’d better enjoy your own company.  But even if you ride with others, you need to be able to be Thoreau’s “majority of one” because, even when done in large groups, cycling is still an individual activity in ways that other sports and activities aren’t.

Finally, of course, there is a good logistical reason for cyclists’ affinity with felines:  They can be left alone when we spend all day on our bikes, and if we go on multi-day rides, all they need is for someone to give them food and water—and, if we’re gone more than a couple of days, clean or change their litter boxes.  Dogs and other pets—not to mention some humans—need more.

At least cats understand that we’re coming back.   And the funny thing about independent people is that they usually come back.

23 August 2010

How I Want It To Be, Just About

Well, the Miss Mercian is just about done.  Oh, it's been rideable for more than a week now.  But I finally got the rack I wanted for it.  

I know that there are all kinds of fancy-pants racks out there.  Some are quite good; nearly all of them are overpriced.  I'm not talking, now, about the constructeur racks, vintage or current, made by hand by a few small builders.  Rather, I'm thinking about some that try to be more, and end up being less, than they are.

One high-end rack in particular that I saw fits that description.  But Hal said that it's really no stronger or otherwise better than the rack I bought.  Plus, it was ugly, at least to my eye.

So what did I get?  The "old reliable":  a Blackburn Expedition rack.  I know it's good because I've owned a couple of them before. In fact, I used them for all of my multi-day (or -week) tours.  And I very stupidly left them on bikes that I sold.  Hal has used the same model to cross the USA by bike--three times.  In fact, he used the same rack all three times!

So why was getting another one such a big deal?  These days, it's made only in black.  That probably would've looked OK on the bike, but I thought silver would be prettier.  I thought I was going to get one on eBay.  I submitted what I was sure would be a winning bid.  That was a few hours before the end of the auction.  But, in those last few hours, someone submitted a winning bid--fifty cents higher than the one I submitted!  

I guess if I'd waited a bit longer, another would've turned up on eBay.  But I didn't want to to lose in the same way.  So, I broke down and bought  from one of the few retailers that still had silver racks in stock.  I ordered one from Probikekit which, like the other retailers that had it in stock, is located in the U.K.  Surprisingly, the rack, even with shipping, cost me slightly less than it would have cost to buy it here.  Thank the still-favorable exchange rate and the fact that the quoted price included VAT, which you don't have to pay if you're not in the UK or EU.  

For good measure, I bought two.  At that price, why not?  I could always use it on Arielle if I need to carry more than a Carradice saddlebag on it.  Or I could use it on some future build.  At least I've got another good rack in silver that didn't cost more than the first five or six bikes I owned.

21 August 2010

Trails And A Track, Then and Now

For the last couple of days, I think I've had some version of a summer cold.  I have felt congested and tired, and a bit weak.  So I didn't cycle today.  However, yesterday I rode to a couple of places I hadn't been to in a while.  Neither is very far from me, but I just haven't had occasion to go to them.

One was a place where I used to ride off-road with a few guys I used to know.  It's at the far end of Queens, near Nassau County.  I rode on the dirt paths in the woods of Alley Pond Park, which even in the most suburban part of New York City, seems bucolic.  I didn't try any of the jumps we used to do:  I haven't done them in a long time and, frankly, a lot of what I did in that park--and off-road generally--I did to show off.  Yesterday, even though I felt myself riding slowly, a man about my age who was riding one of those bikes that you'd think was a bargain if you found it for about ten dollars in the Salvation Army store looked at me and yelled, "Whoa, lady, slow down!"

Hmm....Maybe I am a fast woman after all.

I had gone to the park after the real purpose of my ride, which involved meeting with the chair of the English Department at a community college not far from the park.    I actually had met her once, years ago, in the only other time I had ever been on that campus.  I don't know whether she remembered me:  Back then, I was still one of those guys riding on the trails in Alley Pond Park, among other places.  I didn't mention that to her.

I started to think that it might be good to work there, and with her.  It'd be a fairly lengthy commute, but if I were to pedal it regularly, I'd really get into good shape. Even in the unlikely event that she remembers that brief, long-ago meeting with me (which wasn't bad), I'm not sure it would matter.  I don't think anyone else in that college knows who I am.  That, as you might have guessed, is one of the reasons why I thought I might like to work there. 

Save for Sheldon, who now works at Bicycle Habitat, I have not seen any of those guys with whom I used to ride the trails since we rode those trails.  They are like some other people from my past:  I would be curious to see them again, to see what they look like and what they're doing now.  I'm not so sure, though, that they'd want to be friends with me, or that I would with them.  They weren't bad guys, but our whole relationship was that of guys doing those rides together.  They may not be the same sorts of guys I knew then and, well, I'm not a guy.  And they may not be riding anymore, or they may be riding differently. 

And, in the course of my ride, I stopped somewhere else where I used to ride with some other people I haven't seen in years:  the Kissena Velodrome.  Yesterday, only one cyclist, a young and shy Latino, was pedalling on the banked oval.  

Ironically, Robert Moses built the Velodrome.   He was not known as a friend of cycling, or of anyone who isn't behind the wheel rather than astride two, or on his or her own feet.  (His motto could have been auto uber alles.) Two of his best-known projects, the Verrazano Narrows and Whitestone Bridges, don't have paths for pedestrians or cyclists.  And the Major Deegan Expressway, which he also built, has made it all but impossible to pedal across the Bronx from the George Washington Bridge, not to mention that it destroyed a few neighborhoods and was instrumental in the decline of the Bronx.

I used to ride on the 'Drome, as we called it, on a Bianchi track bike.  I'm talking about the real thing, not the prototypical hipster fixie you see everywhere.  The one I rode was an older Italian-made Bianchi, with a lugged frame made from Columbus SL steel tubing.  How real a track bike was it?  The geometry was right, the dropouts were those nice thick rear-facing horizontal ends you see on track bikes and--yes, here's the clincher--neither the front fork nor the rear stay bridge were drilled for brakes.  I could have drilled that front fork for a brake, but in those days, that seemed sacrilegious.  Besides, I didn't ride it on the streets:  If I wasn't on the Velodrome, I rode it on an enclosed loop that was closed to traffic, such as the ones in Central and Prospect Parks.  

Women's National Championship at Kissena, 1964

I thought, for a moment, about riding a lap or two.  Would that have made me the first woman to ride it in a dress?  The idea was tempting, especially since the track was in much better condition than it was back in the day.  Back then, one of us joked that we were going to design the first dual-suspension track bike specifically to deal with the Kissena surface, which at times resembled the Ho Chi Minh trail after a monsoon.

One of these days, I'll go there with Tosca.  Its geometry is not quite as aggressive, I think, as that of my old Bianchi, and it does have some amenities to make it more rideable on the road.  But it's actually a better-quality bike and, being a Mercian, has a bit more character.  I've been told that these days, I do, too.

19 August 2010

Where There Are No Riders But Me

Sometimes I ride through the Neighborhoods Where Women Don’t Ride Bicycles.  Other times, my bikes take me through those places where no one over the age of sixteen or so mounts a saddle.  But today, my ride included a neighborhood where, it seems, nobody rides a bicycle.

I usually pass through or near the neighborhood on my way to work.  And, some years ago, when I was writing for a local newspaper, I used to go to the neighborhood’s local police precinct, community and school boards, and to various other offices and events in the community.  And, every time, if I pedaled there, I was the only one on a bicycle.

What’s interesting is that it’s neither a poor ghetto nor one of those tony areas where kids get chauffeured to soccer practice and dance lessons.  Rather, it’s a thoroughly working-to-middle class neighborhood where nearly all residents live with their families.  Unlike Astoria, where I now live, there aren’t very many young single people or childless couples.

Although the cast, if you will, has changed, it’s still the same sort of neighborhood it was forty years ago.  I know that because in those days, relatives of mine lived there.  Then, most of the people in the neighborhood were Italian-Americans, like my relatives, or Irish- or German-Americans, and nearly everyone was Catholic.  Most of the men were blue-collar union workers or self-employed, and most of the women stayed home to raise kids.

The only difference is that now, most of the people in the neighborhood are Sikhs or Indo-Caribbeans.  On a summer day, sights like this are not uncommon:

But I’ve never, ever seen any Sikh or Indo-Caribbean on a bicycle, at least not in this area.  Before they emigrated, many of the people rode bicycles for transportation or work.  I guess that, for them, cycling still has that connotation.  Where they come from, people ride bikes because they had little or no choice.  It’s certainly not seen as a sport or recreational activity, and not something the educated do.  I read somewhere that, in contrast, the majority of bicycle commuters in New York are college-educated.

If my hypothesis is correct, then the Indians and Indo-Caribbeans of Richmond Hill , where the men in turbans congregated, and neighboring Ozone Park are acting like past and present  immigrants from countries where people’s bikes were beasts of burden and utilitarian in other ways.

I also can’t help but to wonder whether the bikes they rode turned them off of cycling.  In the last bike shop that employed me, we saw a few Indian three-speeds, and I fixed a few of them.  I take that back:  Those bikes don’t get or stay fixed.   They may be the worst bikes I ever encountered.

18 August 2010

Ex Cathedra: From The Saddle

As much as it pains me to say this, I think that switching from all-leather to “donut” saddles has worked for me.

My gynecologist said as much.  The last time I saw her, some of the tissue near my labia was torn and developed an infection.  This time, I didn’t have such a problem.  Rather, the stinging I felt was a yeast infection.  In addition to a one-dose medication, she prescribed less sugar and more yogurt for me. 

So, in that sense, the Terry Falcon X saddles I installed on Arielle and Tosca have succeeded for me.  I’m also starting to like their shape, which flares more gradually from front to rear than the Brooks saddles or the other nylon-based saddles, like the Fizik Pave (Here's a review of it.)  and Selle Italia Flite, I’ve ridden.  However, I’m still getting re-accustomed to the feel of thin (though dense) padding between a fairly inflexible base and a thin, stretchy leather cover.  I must say, though, that on the longest ride I’ve taken so far on either of those saddles, I didn’t feel sore.

I have installed a Terry Butterfly saddle on the Miss Mercian I’ve been building, which is almost complete.  (I’m waiting for the rack and I think I’m going to put wider tires on it.)  The Butterfly is wider, has a larger cutout in the middle and seems to be a bit more padded.  Therefore, I think it might be better for the Miss Mercian, which I will be riding in a more upright position than I ride my other two Mercians.  Having taken only two very short rides on the new bike, I’m not ready to comment on the Butterfly.

At some point in the future, I’ll say more about both saddles.  By then, I may have decided whether they’re keepers.  

(By the way, the bags you see under both saddles are Bike Burritos.  I highly recommend them.)

17 August 2010

Killer Cyclists Invade Manhattan

They must be really desperate for ratings.

I'm talking about the local CBS news at 11:00 pm.  Last night and tonight, the program featured
 that made it seem as if cyclists are the greatest menace to this city since the 9/11 attackers.  

They shot footage of the scariest-looking messengers, the least attractive delivery men (Yes, all of the "rogue" cyclists were male.) and the most hysterical pedestrians they could find, and made it seem as if cyclists are all missles of hostility wrapped in lycra.  You would think that every cyclist has run a red light and hit somebody's grandmother, and that life in this city is about to come to a standstill because residents and people who work here are too afraid of crossing the street to get anything done.

Some years back, WNBC ran something similar.  The difference is that back then, there were neither dedicated bike lanes nor as many people cycling for transport as there now are.  So, if anything, I think that the WNBC segment was less hysterical, at least as I'm remembering it.  To see the current WCBS "report," one might think that bike lanes will take over all of the city's parking spaces.

Now, I'll admit that I've run a red light or two in my time.  But, tell me, what pedestrian--at least in New York--hasn't crossed against a red signal?  And do you mean to tell me that motorists don't run red lights?

Also, I would venture to guess that many more cyclists have been injured by motorists, or even pedestrians, than cause injury to non-cyclists.  That almost never gets reported, mainly because cyclists tend not to report accidents, even if they are injured in them, because so many of us feel that 
the police and other city authorities don't take cycling accidents--at least ones not caused by the cyclist--seriously.

That happened to me once when a pedestrian charged into the middle of a street and knocked me and my bike onto the pavement.  Luckily for me, at the previous intersection, the light had turned red, so there was no traffic behind me.  To this day, I shudder to think of what might have happened had cars or trucks streamed through that intersection.

When I told some policemen who were on foot patrol, they were for some reason convinced that the pedestrian, whom I had never before met, bore some sort of grudge against that I caused, and therefore I shouldn't have been surprised at what happened.  

It's funny that the so-called journalists never seem to find people like me, or the cyclist whom a cop pushed off his bike for no apparent reason, or the cyclist who was almost run down by Foxy Brown a couple of years ago.  If those reporters were to track us down, they'd find that, while we don't have the wealth or power of the Policemen's Benevolent Association or any number of other groups in this city, we are, for the most part, well-educated and very aware of our surroundings.  But that would be too complex for a TV evening news program, I guess.