02 March 2011

Nailing Down The Perception

Sometimes I wonder whether my life would have been free of irony had I not undergone the changes I've experienced.  But then I realize that if you've lived any kind of a life at all, a certain amount of irony comes simply with aging.

However, today I felt that I experienced a particular aspect of karma, or whatever you want to call it, that would not have been possible in any life but mine.  Or so it seemed.

To wit:  Today, before riding into work, I rode (admittedly, only two and a half blocks) to Hannah and Her Sisters. That's where I get my nails done.  

If you can't stand to look at the hands of a middle aged woman, then skip over the following photo.  In fact, you might want to skip over the rest of this post.

So I got to ride to work in freshly-painted nails. And Hannah herself recorded the occasion:

The irony in this is that I stopped reading Bicycling! magazine thirty years ago because a model on the cover of one issue had much longer and more heavily lacquered nails and a ring with a much larger stone than I had ever seen on any cyclist.  I decided that nobody could possibly ride with such nails or a ring.  And I couched my indignation--over the fact that the model on that cover wasn't me--in some pseudo-feminist rant about how the magazine was reinforcing gender stereotypes.

The fact is that I was ready to stop reading Bicycling! because most of its content was, by that time, "old hat" for me.  Plus, I saw that it was turning into more of a lifestyle magazine than a publication about cycling.  Most likely, it had already reached that point and I had just noticed.

I looked for the cover of that issue of Bicycling!, to no avail.  Now I wonder whether anyone was as appalled as I pretended to be over a woman cycling with long painted nails.


  1. Ah, but a life without irony wouldn't be interesting!

    And ironically enough, I'd love to see more of the Bicycling magazines from 30 years ago. When I was slumming around in Tucson a few years back, I hung out in the University of Arizona library a bit. They had bound collections of Bicycling from that era. I was amazed how the Bicycling magazine of 1979 talked a lot about advocacy and touring and lots of things I am interested in today.

    Nowadays Bicycling seems to have the same cover every issue, a guy (always a guy) in full spandex kit on a fancy roadbike, the shot weirdly lit. Most articles are about "performance". Occasionally there's an interesting article (and Bike Snob is enjoyable, although brief), but so much of it is crap.

    Thankfully we have other magazines these days, like Momentum and Bicycle Times.

  2. You've BECOME Bicycling Magazine! That is beyond ironic...

  3. Steve: Is that better or worse than becoming my mother?

    adventure!: You make a very interesting observation. Perhaps the greater emphasis on advocacy had to do with the times: There was generally more advocacy and activism then, I think.

    And when the shift-- in culture and Bicycling! magazine-- came about, there weren't other cycling publications (not in the US, anyway), much less the Internet.

  4. I've noticed that I find ads where women are depicted engaging in athletic activities in full makeup, painted nails and jewelry, as jarring - it calls attention to their grooming and away from the activity. The psychologist consultant in me says "this is a bad ad; it distracts from the point of the ad." But anyway, that has little to do with your experience!

    On a separate note, I am impressed that you can ride that mixte in such a long dress - I would surely get tangled!

  5. I have to admit, I read Bicycling Magazine. I actually purchased a subscription from my son for a school fundraiser event. I've received a few issues thus far. Once in a while I read something interesting. I'm still a road newbie and own a modern road bike (sorry Justine - I know how you feel about modern bikes). I agree that the covers are nothing spectacular. One of the best magazines that I've read and received for a few years was DIRT RAG, a mountain bike mag. The covers are always different and often created by true artist. And the magazine is also intentionally politically incorrect - and they mean to be.