31 October 2019

In Costume

I haven't posted in a while.  Halloween might seem like an odd day to return after an absence, especially when that hiatus is a result of my mother's passing.  If she is anywhere, she knows I mean no disrespect:  If anything, she probably would be happy that I'm blogging again.  And that I've been doing some other writing--and cycling.

It seems, however, appropriate, to write a post about this:

It seems that everyone and everything in that photo is in costume.  Grant Petersen sometimes refers to lycra racing kit as a "costume."  And millennials with "ironic" beards and shaved heads are, by definition, in costume.

I couldn't help but to think, though, that the bike is in costume, too.  I mean, aside from the fact that it has two wheels, pedals and handlebars--and no motor--it doesn't bear much resemblance to other bicycles I've seen.  Perhaps it's really a tuning fork in the guise of a velocipede.

British Cycling collaborated with Lotus and Hope Engineering--British makers of sports cars and high-end bicycle componentry, respectively--to build the bike.  BC's track racing team plans to ride it in the 2020 Olympics--unless it is banned. 

Don't get me wrong:  I am not against developing such bikes.  Racers want every advantage they can get, and the hopes of a nation ride (pun intended) on its national team.  I just hope that new bikes made for everyday riders aren't made to look like that--or, more important, require the proprietary technology that is of little or no use to anyone who isn't trying to set a record or win a medal.

At the same time, if the bike is banned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) or just about any other governing body--as Matthew Beedham expects it to be--I think it would be a hypocritical and simply dishonest move.  When the UCI or whoever decides not to allow bikes that are too technically advanced, or simply lightweight, for their tastes--or when they decide to regulate just about anything else, their rationale is always something along the lines of "We want the man, not the machine, to win."

I could respect such a stance if the UCI, the USA Cycling or any other governing body were serious, or at least consistent,  in enforcing policies about performance-enhancing drugs.  But, if Lance Armstrong used drugs (and intimidated his teammates into silence about it), I find it hard to believe that the UCI, USA Cycling or any other governing body didn't know.  Given that the Tour de France's--and competitive cycling in general's--reputation was in tatters after doping scandals involving the Festina team as well as other riders, the UCI and other organizations had every incentive to look the other way when Lance--especially with his "feel good" story--won.

Perhaps the folks at UCI, USA Cycling and similar organizations are wearing costumes:  those of "concerned guardians" of their sport.

By the way:  The bearded guy in the first photo is holding an image of a bike the UCI banned twice.  First, the Lotus 108 was barred under a 1987 ban on carbon-fiber monocoque frames.  Then the prohibition was overturned, but after a number of riders raced successfully on the 108, the UCI  used its "Lugano Charter" to outlaw Lotus' racing machine once again.

02 October 2019

Starting The New Year And Saving The World

I'm not Jewish.  Well, all right, according to my DNA test, I am 8 percent.  Somehow I had always suspected I had Semitic blood because I have always, in some weird way, identified with Jewish people, if not their religion. (I don't identify with any religion, though I was raised Catholic.)  But yesterday I was, in a way, Jewish. Or I could have been.

Rosh Hashannah, a.k.a. "Jewish New Year," began Sunday evening and ended last night. As a result, I had two days off from school for a religion I don't observe. (Hmm...How do Muslims feel on Christmas or Easter?)  On Monday, I did a couple of things and didn't do a few more things I could've/should've done.  Yesterday, though, I decided to channel 8 percent of my heritage and observe a new year.

No, I didn't go to schul any more than I went to school.  Instead, I decided that one way to honor my mother--and preserve whatever exists of my sanity--was to make a new beginning with a new year.

Now, since you're reading a bike blog,  you probably have guessed that my new year began with a bike ride.   It's one I've taken a number of times this year:  over the RFK Memorial Bridge to Randall's Island, and from there through the Bronx and Westchester County to Greenwich, Connecticut.  Not surprisingly, I saw a number of people--mainly in groups I assumed to be families--on their way to or from schul, or perhaps to someone's house.  

The weather was more like early summer than early fall:  the temperature rose to about 27C (82F) along with the humidity.  Still, the ride was quite pleasant:  The sun shone enough to cheer me up but was veiled by enough clouds to not drain me.  

After riding home, I made myself a meatless concoction of vegetables:  fresh spinach, scallions, sweet peppers, corn and mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil and garlic and garnished with some cheddar cheese and red pepper flakes. It was tasty, if I do say so myself. I chased it with a small Macoun apple, Anjou pear, some blueberries and a chocolate-glazed French crueller.

Then I checked my e-mail and came across this:

With all of the things going on in the world, it was nice to begin the new year with some good news.  The cyclists are in Spain, but in rescuing that deer, they did a service to the world, as far as I am concerned.  Whoever saves a life saves the world.  Even if you haven't read the Talmud, you probably have heard that line, perhaps in Schindler's List.