30 November 2020

Shut Down Without A Lockdown

 I am feeling somewhat encouraged:  Over the weekend, I managed to take two rides.  I don't know exactly how much I rode, but I guess that I pedaled about 70 kilometers on Saturday and that much, or perhaps a bit less, on Sunday.

Each trek took me through various parts of Brooklyn and Queens.  One thing is that, although I had to navigate traffic in some of the shopping areas, I found some solitude, in expected and unexpected places.

Lockdowns have been imposed in other states and countries.  There has been talk of one here, too:  Schools reverted to remote instruction last week, and if infection rates rise, "non-essential" businesses could close. (Good thing I got my hair done on Monday, even if I'm not going on a date or to any weddings, graduations or other large gatherings!)  If I hadn't known any better, I would have assumed the city had shut down when I saw this:


Thirteenth Avenue in Borough Park has long been a busy commercial strip.  My father grew up just off it; as a kid, I can recall trips to stores and bakeries--and pizza runs!--when we visited his parents.  In the decades since, the neighborhood has become one of the world's major Orthodox (Lubavitcher Hasidic) Jewish enclaves.  That, of course, is the reason why everything was closed--and I could ride on Thirteenth Avenue as if it were some country lane.

Well, most stores were closed because of shabat.  Gino's--yes, the destination of our pizza runs--managed to survive the changes in the neighborhood at least until a year or so ago.   Any time I was anywhere the neighborhood, I'd stop by for at least a slice or two--they were still as good as my childhood memories!--though, it seems, they stopped making arancini, one of the world's great comfort foods, some time ago.  

I know time marches on and all that, but I couldn't help but to feel what I saw from the Canarsie Pier on yesterday:

Well, I am healing, at least physically.  I suppose I'll "recover" from losing Gino's, too, even if it was one of the last old-school Brooklyn pizza joints.  

29 November 2020

What If You’d Worn It?

 If you are, oh, about my age, you didn't wear a helmet as a kid. Perhaps you still aren't wearing one.

If you wear a helmet now, you might wonder what might have happened had you not worn one:  Perhaps that wheelie or "flip" you did--or that tumble you took--might've ended differently.

But what if you had worn a helmet?

27 November 2020

A Bike Part Or A Deadly Weapon?

Which bicycle part could be mistaken for a weapon?

A long quill stem comes to my mind.  Still, it seems like a bit of a stretch of the imagination.  A crank arm, seat post or rear derailleur (if held the right way) also come to my mind.

I admit that many people have more vivid imaginations (and greater minds) than mine.  Still, it seems a bit of a stretch, to me,  to confuse any bicycle component with an implement of destruction.  Perhaps someone from the Los Angeles Police Department--or the Los Angeles Times--could have been more specific.

According to their reports,  a 31-year-old mentally ill man was "holding a bicycle part that resembled a handgun" when an officer fatally shot him in January.

Victor Valencia's family members, naturally, want answers.  They claim that he "posed no threat" and wonder "what gave the reason" for the officer "to shoot down my cousin like he was nothing," in the words of Sara Cervantes.

Indeed.  I'd like to know what Mr. Valencia was wielding that made him seem like such a threat?

A Black Bike On Friday?

If I were to buy a folding or collapsible bike, there are two I would consider:  Brompton and Bike Friday.

 BF is holding a special sale for today, Black Friday.  They boast that they offer "2 colors of black."

I have a question:  If one were to order a bike in either shade, would he/she/they have a black Bike Friday?  Or a Bike Black Friday?

Just askin'.

25 November 2020

An Oracle?

Yesterday, I "outed" all of those cyclists--which includes nearly all, myself included--who've stopped for Dunkin' Donuts or other sweets during a ride.

With that in mind, I'll expose another cyclists' vice. If you haven't eaten it during a ride, you've almost certainly indulged in it apres randonee.  And if you've worked in a bike shop, it's almost certainly been your lunch (or dinner or midnight snack). Why else would Park make its PZT-2?

So, while taking another late-day ride yesterday, I wasn't sure of whether to tremble with fear or to be thankful for good luck (or genes) when I saw this:

24 November 2020

America Runs On It. But Should We Ride It?

Come on, admit it:  You've stopped at Dunkin' Donuts during at least one of your rides!

(I'll admit to having stopped for all sorts of "munchies" during rides, including maple donuts at Tim Horton's in Montreal, croissants and pain au chocolat at various French bakeries, kaimaki in Greece and various fruit treats in Laos and Cambodia.  And, yes, for Boston Cream or blueberry donuts, or chocolate-dipped French cruellers, at DD!)

The thing is, Dunkin' Donuts knows we exist.  They may know our preferences in comestibles, but not necessarily in machinery.

I came to that conclusion after seeing a photo of DD's new tandem bicycle.

Yes, you read that right.  Dunkin' Donuts is dropping its usual offering of donut-themed holiday gifts, probably because people almost always purchase them on impulse in Dunkin' shops, where there are fewer customers owing to social distancing mandates.  The new tandem bike is available only as an online purchase.

While some might like a frame adorned with the pink-and-orange logo (I have to admit, it is kinda cute!), one has to wonder about the bike itself.  To paraphrase Molly Hurford at Bicycling , American may run on Dunkin', but nobody should ride a Dunkin' bike.

To me, it looks like a "chopper" without the banana seat.  Furthermore, it's offered in only one size--with a road-style configuration both in the front and rear.  Most one-size-fits-all tandems are step-through at least in the rear, if not in the front as well.

Perhaps worst of all, the rear seat is behind the rear wheel, which makes a good saddle position all but impossible for most riders.  Also, the front ("captain's") cockpit is all but impossibly long for a bike its size, and the rear is so short that all but the tiniest riders would have to sit upright.

Dunkin' Donuts website does not give specifications regarding standover height, let alone geometry or componentry.  I'm guessing that while the folks at DD might want us to "run on Dunkin'" they might not expect anyone to actually ride on their bikes.  If anything, the bike is a collector's item for the most fanatical Dunkin' devotee.  As for me, I'll stick to the Boston Cream and  blueberry donuts, and the chocolate-dipped French cruellers.


23 November 2020

Pedal Power Loses Its Fleet

 Whatever you believe, or don't believe in, you probably agree that it's not OK to take other people's stuff without their permission.

Taking someone's bike is, therefore, a pretty low deed, as its owner almost always loves and/or depends on it.  For some, it might be the difference between having a relatively healthy childhood and becoming another statistic.

Susan Tuck and Mark Trumper understood as much.  That is what led them to start Pedal Power eight years ago in Minneapolis. Part of the mission in starting Pedal Power, according to Trumper, is to "bring the outdoors to children of color." As the organization's "About" page tells us, Tuck and Trumper were motivated by the "abrupt realization that a whole lotta kids never learn to ride a bike." I agree with their assessment:  "that's a problem--one that's worth tackling." 

As teachers, their motto could hardly be more fitting:  "Learn to bike.  Bike to learn." The thing is, to do either, you need a bike--and to know how to ride it.  So, with the help of small grants and donations, they assembled a fleet for the kids at Pillsbury Elementary School, where Trumper and Tuck teach-- and half of the kids are African-American and more than a quarter are Hispanic and 84 percent receive free or discounted lunches.  And realizing that some of them had never been on a bike, they taught kids how to ride.

Knowing what Trumper's and Tuck's efforts, and the bikes themselves, mean to the kids, it's was especially galling to lose, not just one bike, but all 30 in the fleet, along with pumps, reflective vests and cable locks.  

They were stored in an unmarked trailer on school grounds. Late last Thursday night, someone called the police to report someone trying to break in.  When Trumper drove by the following morning, the trailer and its contents were gone.  

Trumper summed up his, Tuck's and the kids' mood: "We're devastated."  They do, however, hope to ride again. To that end, Pedal Power is accepting donations.

21 November 2020

For $10,000 And A Bike

What would it take to get you to move to Arkansas?

With all due respect to natives of "The Natural State," I have to admit that question has never crossed my mind. I've heard that the state has lots of natural beauty, so I might want to take a bike trip there.  But I haven't ever thought of residing there.

Could I change my mind?  The folks at Northwest Arkansas Council seems to think so.  Or, at least they think they can entice city slickers like me.

To that end, as part of their Life Works Here Initiative, the Council is offering $10,000 and a free bicycle in the hopes of luring new residents to their part of the world. If you don't want the bike, you can take a membership to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art or some other cultural institution in the area.

 Because many are working from home--and, for some, that home can be anywhere, they "are re-evaluating their priorities and their lifestyle," says Council president and CEO Nelson Peacock. "They are reconsidering where they are living and what they are prioritizing.

Here's another incentive:  the area has 162 miles of paved paths and 322 miles of mountain biking trails. You can choose whether you want a "street" or mountain bike for your premium.

If you're ready to say "goodbye, city life," you can fill out an application on the Initiative's website

20 November 2020

A Ride Of Remembrance

If you can stand it...

I'm going to subject you to some more images of a late-day ride in the city.

As I rode, I reflected on the significance of this day.  For one, it's Transgender Day of Remembrance.  For another, on this date 75 years ago, the Nuremberg Trials began.

You can understand why TDoR is personal for me.  The day was first observed in 1999, one year after transgender woman Rita Hester was murdered in her Allston, Massachusetts apartment.  Her death came just a few weeks after a more-publicized case:  the killing of Matthew Shepard

The Nuremberg Trials are also, in their own way, personal for me.  I am not Jewish (at least, I wasn't raised as one:  a DNA test said that I have a small amount of Jewish heritage), but the Holocuaust is probably the largest mass hate crime event, with the possible exception of the Third Passage, in world history.  

(That same DNA test said I'm 4 percent African.  No surprise there:  That the human race began on that continent is Anthropology 101.)

Anyway, today's ride, like so many others, was a time to reflect.  

19 November 2020

R.I.P. Eddie B.

He has been beatified as "Father of American Cycling."  He's also been villified as the one who brought "Old World methods," if you know what I mean, to this side of the pond.

Edward Borysewicz passed away on Monday from COVID-19.  Known as "Eddie B" to his proteges and detractors alike, he is best known for training and developing the first generation of American cyclists since World War I who challenged, and sometimes defeated, their European counterparts. 

Born in Poland, he was a finalist for the Peace Race (often called "The Tour de France of the East") before a misdiagnosis of tuberculosis led to a treatment he didn't need--which, in turn, led to liver damage that ended his career. "I went in feeling like a rooster and came out feeling like a pigeon," he recalled.  (It's been speculated that this "misdiagnosis" was retaliation for his father's outspoken anti-communism.)  He continued to race, if not at the same level, and later turned to coaching.

In 1976, he accompanied the Polish team to the Montreal Olympics where Mieczyslaw Nowicki, one of the riders he coached, won two medals.  From there, he took a vacation in the US, where by chance, he met Mike Fraysse.   

It just happened that Mike Fraysse was the team manager for the US cycling squad.  He also owned Park Cycle in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.  In addition to being one of the premier pro shops, and employing the likes of Francisco Cuevas and Pepi Limongi to build custom frames, Park Cycle served as a training facility for some budding talent.

He spoke no Polish. Eddie B spoke no English.  So, on a ride, they talked about training and other things in French.  It was there that both Fraysse and Eddie B saw an opportunity.

It just happened that the riders passing through Park Cycle included, or would come to include, Alexi Grewal, Andy Hampsten, Connie Carpenter, Davis Phinney, Beth and Eric Heiden, Betsy Davis and Rebecca Twigg.  None of them would go to Moscow for the 1980 Olympics, as then-President Jimmy Carter imposed a boycott.  However, when the Games came to L.A. in 1984--and the Soviet Bloc countries, in retaliation, boycotted--the stage was set for victories American cyclists hadn't experienced since at least their grandparents' youth.

Eddie Borysewicz with Greg LeMond, 2006.  (Photo by Mitchel Clinton)

The US team brought home glitter the Trumps would envy.  Alexi Grewal won gold in the men's road race. Connie Carpenter took the same in the women's road race, with Rebecca Twigg winning the silver medal. Steve Hegg won gold in the individual pursuit while Mark Gorski and Nelson Vails (a former NYC messenger) finished 1-2 in the men's sprint.  Hegg, David Grylls, Patrick McDonough, Leonard Nitz and Brent Emery would combine for a silver medal in the team pursuit.  Nitz would also take bronze in the individual pursuit, which Ron Kiefel, Roy Knickman, Davis Phinney and Andy Weaver also won for the team time trial.

Before these victories, no American had won an Olympic medal in cycling since in 1912.  Two years later, another Eddie B-coached rider achieved something that was thought impossible for an American rider.  I am talking, of course, about Greg LeMond's first Tour de France win.

Rumors--some later substantiated--of doping and other risky practices have long beclouded the Tour and other major races.  LeMond, throughout his career, denounced these practices because of the risks they posed, and denied having "juiced" himself.  Although Lance Armstrong and others have attacked him, there has been no credible evidence of LeMond doping or otherwise cheating.

On the other hand, controversy would later descend upon the Olympic medalists when it emerged that some of them had received blood transfusions.  While not illegal at the time, the US Cycling Federation banned it in January 1985.  The transfusions were organized by Ed Burke, the Federation's athletic director, and Borysewicz claimed that they took place without his knowledge or approval.  Nonetheless, he and Burke were fined.

Eddie B would continue to coach elite cyclists to victory, including Lance Armstrong.  But he always proudest of LeMond, whom he called "a diamond."  He also took pride in discovering riders like Twigg.  

His biggest contributions to American cycling, however, may have been in changing the ways Americans approached cycling.  First of all, he used his academic training to create more scientific methods of training and nutrition for his riders.  Second, and perhaps more important, he helped to re-orient the mentality of American riders, and of the American public, toward cycling.  

He didn't want John Howard, arguably the top male American cyclist of the 1970s, on his team because he had a "Texan" mentality: He was, Eddie believed, focused on his individual success.  Americans of his generation, according to Borysewicz, did not share the European concept of cycling for and with a team.  For all of their individual successes, he trained his cyclists to ride as a team, even if they were in individual pursuits like the sprint.

All of that, I believe, ended American cycling's inferiority complex.  After the victories I mentioned, other American cyclists--and the American public--believed they could ride with the best in the world.  That, perhaps, is Eddie Borysewicz's greatest legacy.

18 November 2020

Riding The High Life

Are you just spinning your wheels on your rollers?

Does riding on your trainer feel tepid?

Do you feel like you're really going nowhere on your stationary bike?

Or are you falling behind on your Peloton?

Lately, I've heard that sales of dressy clothing--suits, dresses and the like--are increasing.  The theory behind that is that people who've been stuck at home are tired of slouching around in sweat clothes and pajamas.  Perhaps there is a corollary in the world of cycling:  People are tired of pedaling in place while looking at screens--in their sweat clothes.

Well, the folks at Hendrick's Gin are looking at you. They've found, in the words of HG national brand ambassador Vance Hendricks, "the bells and whistles you see on your home workout equipment" are "entirely unnecessary."  

Hendrick's, therefore, is introducing something in line with its customers' tastes--or, at least, an image the company is trying to project.  "We at Hendrick's prefer milder forms of exertion," explains Henderson, "coupled with intellectual stimulation, complemented by a delicious cocktail."

To sate the thirsts, if you will, of their cultivated clientele, they created Hendrick's High Wheel.  

If I hadn't seen this photo, I wouldn't have believed the description:  An iron-framed stationary bike, styled after a high-wheeler ("penny farthing") of the 1880s, equipped with a golden fender carved with roses and cucumbers and flanked by golden curlicues, perched atop a patch of artificial grass strewn with rose petals.  

The real and fake vegetation and the bike's decor allude to the gin's rose and cucumber flavor.  So it makes sense that one mounts this contraption on four cucumber-shaped steps. Also logical, given the bike's intended ridership, is that the direct-drive front wheel (like the rear of a modern fixed-gear bike) has no resistance, which allows riders to break "the ever-so-slightest of sweats." (Note to the folks at Hendrick's:  A lady doesn't sweat; she glistens!  That's what I was told when preparing for my debutante ball.) Oh, and the the pedaling output powers a headlight, which will make your rides safe if there's a power outage in the royal suite.

If you simply must have a Hendrick's High Wheel, act now:  Only three will be made and sold.  

If one can afford something, one doesn't have to ask what it costs.  Since I am one of the hoi polloi, I shall do what the intended clientele would consider to be unspeakably gauche:  I will reveal its price.  For $2493.11, you get an HHW complete with a book stand (no screen here!), a horn to alert your butler to bring you canapes and cocktails, and a handlebar-mounted water bottle holder.  Perhaps it's rude of me to ask whether a bottle of Hendrick's is included.

Oh, if you're buying this, you'll want to let your interior designer know that HHW takes up a floor space of 38.5 by 76 inches of floor space.  After all, one shouldn't clutter one's ballroom, should one?

17 November 2020

Recovery , In June And Now

Because I felt so good after my Saturday ride, I thought I could go a little further on Sunday.  So I pedaled down to DUMBO and looped along the waterfront under the Manhattan Bridge.  In all, I cycled for about an hour and a half--about half an hour longer than I rode on Saturday.

To give you some perspective, my Saturday ride was about as long as my commute was, round trip.  So, while Sunday's ride was longer, it still barely seemed like a "baby" ride, at least in comparison to what I'm accustomed to doing.

Yesterday, I mentioned all of this to my orthopedic doctor. I also told him that immediately after my Sunday ride, I felt good but late that night I started to feel pain where my muscle strained.  "You have to listen to your body," he said--specifically, that part of my body.  "It's still healing," he reminded me.  So are my gashes, though more rapidly. "They're looking good."

There's an irony in all of this:  The injuries from my June accident were more serious, but my recovery from this mishap might be slower.  Because I'd crashed face-first and there was slight bleeding by my brain, there was the potential--which, thankfully, wasn't realized--of some real damage.  But after going about three weeks without headaches (and never having experienced dizziness), I was ready to ride and built myself back to something like my earlier condition in a few weeks.  On the other hand, my recovery seemed more certain this time, but my injuries are in my leg, so it affects the pace of my cycling more than my earlier injuries.

My doctor counsels patience.  I trust him but, damn, I want to go back to riding as many miles as I did before the accident!

16 November 2020

Late In The Day, Late In The Season

I'm still limited to short rides.  But my time in the saddle has given me no end of visual delight:

Saturday I rode to Roosevelt Island again and, from there, down the waterfront. November sunsets are so vivid--and bike rides so fulfilling--because of the darkness, the cold, that is ready to descend, just as trees are their most colorful at the moment before the wind strips them bare to the long, dark nights ahead.


Yesterday I took another, slightly longer ride.  I didn't take any photos, but I'll have something to say about it tomorrow.

15 November 2020

Tuber Alles?

 Most of us know at least one couch potato. Some of us were CPs before we took up cycling. 

Is it possible to be a Bike Potato?

14 November 2020

Thief Stopped, Too Late

 During my dim, dark past, I did a few good deeds.  One of them, some three decades later, fills me with pride and glee:  I stopped a would-be bike thief.  

After watching a film--My Left Foot--I left the old Paris Theatre, just across 58th Street from the Plaza Hotel.  A burly guy hunched over a Motobecane locked to a sign post.  Normally, I wouldn't have given someone like him any more notice, but my glance lasted just long enough to see him twist that bike.  

He was trying to pop the lock.  I'd heard that it was an M.O. of bike thieves, but that was the first time I'd seen it in action.  My rage rose; I could have shouted but I crept behind him--and tapped him on the shoulder.

Then, I was still a guy named Nick.  I rode, literally, everywhere and every time possible--including, of course, to the Paris Theatre.  In those days, I was also lifting weights, so I was solidly muscled throughout my body.  And I wore a full beard.

Now, the guy was built like me though, perhaps, he wasn't doing as much to keep in shape as I was.  But he must have believed that whatever he saw in my face, or the way I stood--or, perhaps, the rage that radiated from me--was a more powerful force. Or, maybe, it was just scarier.

He took off faster on his feet than most people could have on any set of wheels.  Good thing for him that just past the Plaza is Central Park!

The pride I felt was in knowing I saved some fellow cyclist, whom I've most likely never met, from losing his or her means of transportation, fitness or simply pleasure.  The glee came later, when I recalled the expression on the perp's face after I tapped him and he turned around.

But, given that I confronted that guy in a New York of record-high crime rates (think of Fort Apache, The Bronx or Hill Street Blues), things could have ended differently.  I could have met the fate of Brent Cannady.  

On the night of 5 August 2019, he and his friend left his  apartment in Bakersfield, California.   There, 29-year-old Marvinesha Johnson wheeled a bike-- one belonging to Cannady's friend.  

They grabbed it and headed back to the apartment. Ms. Johnson followed, threatened to kill 37-year-old Cannady and pulled a gun from her bag.

She fired four shots.  All of them hit Cannady.  He died the next day.

Marvinesha Johnson

The other day, she was found guilty of second-degree murder and resisting a peace officer. At her sentencing hearing, scheduled for 10 December, she faces 40 years to life in prison.

Fortunately for me and the owner of a Motobecane, my confrontation of a would-be thief ended with someone keeping his or her bike and a perp with his tail between his legs, if only for a moment.  I can only wish that things could have ended as well for Brent Cannady and his friend.


13 November 2020

A Few Weeks After A Summer Ride

Lambent sun rays flickered through leaves and skittered on rippled water.  I pedaled languidly along the canal path after wandering nearby streets, stopping near a steel footbridge to munch the cheese, bread and tomato, and drink the bottle of water, I picked up along the way.  Flirtation ensued:  I won't say whether they or I instigated it!

Afterward, I wheeled the bike to a cafe and enjoyed a cappuccino--and more flirtation.

You may have guessed, by now, that I was in Paris.  (Did the flirting give it away?) I achieved, without trying, a perfect--or at least postcard image--day in the City of Light. It was all but impossible to think about death, let alone any carnage leading to it.

A few weeks later, however, darkness descended.  On this date (a Friday the 13th, no less!) in 2015, the deadliest and most infamous terrorist attacks struck the city.  Just a couple of tables away from where I enjoyed my cappuccino--at Le Carillon--other patrons, possibly sipping on cappuccinos or cafe espessos--were shot dead.

Even though I've suffered two accidents and injuries just weeks apart, I am still fortunate.  After all, I'd been cycling for about half a century--including that perfect summer day by the Canal Saint Martin-- before my misfortune struck. If only those patrons at Le Carillon could have continued their journeys!

12 November 2020

When Not To Ride With A Parent

The COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many holiday observances and celebrations.  Although it wasn't postponed, Take Your Children To Work Day wasn't marked in the usual ways, as many people couldn't (or simply didn't) go to their regular workplaces.  Then again, a lot of kids got to see their parents' work, even if those tasks were performed through a laptop on a kitchen table rather than a console on a desk.

Some parents, however, should not bring their kids with them to work because, honestly, there are some kinds of work no kid should ever witness. An example is what Jason R. Anderson did.

The "workplace"?  A Kohl's department store in Batavia, New York:  about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester.  The "job"?  No, he wasn't stocking shelves or helping customers.  Instead, he helped himself to some of the store's merchandise.

His method of transportation? A bicycle, which he parked outside, where his 6-year-old daughter waited with her own bicycle.

She followed him as a he fled.  So, in addition to larceny and possession of burglary tools, Anderson has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

It wasn't Anderson's first arrest.  One assumes that his daughter won't consider following his line of work--and hopes that she won't see the bicycle as a means of committing nefarious activities.

11 November 2020

To Truly Honor Them

We call today Veterans' Day.  When I was growing up, many people still referred to it as Armistice Day.  In other countries, it's called Remembrance Day.  

That last name would be attached to this day if I were President.  Too often, at least here in the US, anything associated with veterans is, too often, used to glorify war and military power rather than to honor the sacrifices of those who served.  

As Danny Sjursen has written, "The best way America can honor its veterans and fallen soldiers is to create fewer of them."  He would know:  Tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan left the West Point alumnus with PTSD severe enough that the Army retired him early, with the rank of Major.

I mention that because I reckon that PTSD is even more common among veterans than any of us realize. While nobody knows how to "cure" it, there are ways to cope.  One of them is, of course, bicycling.  A number of organizations offer free bikes, whether of the conventional types or modified machines, to veterans. They also sponsor rides and other cycling-related events as part of their recreational and therapeutic programs for veterans.

There is, however, an organization in Chamblee, Georgia, devoted exclusively to mountain biking for veterans.  Appropriately enough, it's called MTB Vets.


Vets need more such organizations and programs and, to paraphrase Major Sjursen, less platitudinous praise or trite thanks.      

10 November 2020

Two Hours of Light Rides

Yesterday I made a confession to my doctor.

Well, all right, he's not my primary care physician or gynecologist (yes, I have one of those), so my revelation wasn't as life-changing as you might expect.  I was, you see, a little bit naughty.

I told the orthopedist about this:

The other day was one of those utterly glorious fall days that seems to exist in postcards and catalogues that peddle someone's idea of New England country life. (You know, flannel shirts, apple-picking and the like!)  Even though I only had to wait one more day (actually, less) for my appointment, I went for a ride.

I pedaled only for an hour, along one of the easiest routes I could take:  down the new Crescent Street bike lane to 36th Avenue and the bridge to Roosevelt Island, which I looped twice.  I ended the hour with a ramble along a few side streets back to my apartment.

It was only an hour, but it was enough to lift my spirits. Maybe it had something to do with the softly smoldering late-day sunlight where the East River (misnamed, by the way) splits into Long Island Sound and the Harlem River (also misnamed) and separates Queens (where I live) and Manhattan from the North American mainland.

I did not feel separated from anything.  Maybe that's why I felt comfortable in "confessing" it.  The orthopedic doctor said it was fine; I am recovering well but I should "proceed slowly." Which I will, of course.

In fact, that's what I did today:  another late-day, one-hour ride, this time along streets that wind along the shoreline between my neighborhood and LaGuardia Airport.

The Hell Gate Bridge is always a nice frame for the sunset at Astoria Park--especially with fallen leaves in the autumn light.  But who knew a side street--26th, to be exact--in Astoria could seem like a gate of heaven?

Of course I want to go on the longer rides. But if one-hour rides can fill me with such light and color, I guess I can be a little bit patient.

09 November 2020


I've held off on saying anything about the election results because, you know, I didn't want to be accused of "stealing" it by calling it "prematurely."  Or someone might think I stuffed my panniers with ballots from dead people and brought them to the Queens County election office.

Seriously, though:  I think you know the way I feel.  Just about anybody has to be better than El Cheeto Grande for, well, almost anything you can think of--including bicycling.

Speaking of which:  According to People for Bikes (an organization I heartily endorse), this year Americans voted more than $1 billion for projects, including lanes and trails,  that support cycling.

From People for Bikes

Although I have complained about the faulty conception, design and construction of many bike lanes (including some I ride regularly), I am glad when a lane or other piece of bike infrastructure is created, or an education program is launched.  Even when these things are done poorly, I try to keep hope that they're steps to "getting it right."  Too many planners don't yet understand cycling; I figure it will take time for them to learn--or to be replaced by people who have experienced our realities.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed about that--and the Senate: If it's split evenly between the Democrats and Republicans, Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaker.

08 November 2020

Double Trouble?

I've ridden tandems only twice in my life.  Each time, I rode with a different partner.  So I never had to think about the logistical challenges tandem-cycling couples face:

From HipPostcard

07 November 2020

A Cyclists' Bridge To A City's History

Providence, Rhode Island billed itself the "jewelry making capital of the world."  For nearly two centuries before the 1980s, that claim was justifiable: In 1978, when the industry peaked, 33,574 people worked in 1,374 Rhode Island companies that were classified as making "jewelry, silverware and miscellaneous notions," according to the state's Department of Labor and Training.

Not coincidentally, during that time Providence was an important shipping port:  second only to Boston in New England.  Of course, not all maritime cargo was related to rings and amulets, but a significant portion certainly was.  So, the decline of the industry and the port were, to some degree, tied together.  But another reason why fewer ships entered and left Providence's harbor in 1990 than in 1890 was Interstate 195.  The I-195 span replaced the Washington Bridge, a bascule (movable) span. In addition to blocking ships from the inner harbor, I-195, like other Interstates, hastened the decline of traditional ports like Providence, Boston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles that did no have easy access to the highway.

I mention all of these aspects of Providence's history because, in addition to being a jewelry-making center, Providence, like other industrial cities, had a thriving bicycle industry during the 1890s.  As in other American cities, bike-making declined (or ceased to exist) after World War I and few adults pedaled.  

But now, as in other places, cycling in Providence has undergone a renaissance, fueled largely by young people who have moved to the city.  As in nearby Boston and New York, those new cyclists complained about the lack of safe streets and driver awareness.  This has led to the construction of bike lanes and other efforts, misguided at times, to make the city more "bike friendly."

One such effort seems practical.  Whatever else it may be, it's certainly picturesque.  I'm talking about the newly-opened Providence River Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge.  The span allows cyclists to pedal between the city's Fox Point neighborhood and the waterfront parks on the edge of the Jewelry/Innovation District.  The span is at least as lovely as some of the brooches and necklaces made in the city:  The bridge's curved edges are clad in wood, evoking the designs of ships that plied the harbor.  Better yet, its surface is lined with a wildflower garden and benches that allow passerby to pause and take in the cityscape.

Oh, and the bridge is built on granite piers that supported an I-195 viaduct before the highway was rerouted during the 1990s.

Photo by Steve Kroodsma/Kroo Photgraphy

So, the new Providence River Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge spans, not only a body of water, but a city's history--and serves the needs and wants of present-day urban dwellers.  It sounds like a "gem" to me.

06 November 2020

Georgia On My Samajwadi Mind


Right now, I have Georgia on my mind for a good reason:  It might deliver the presidency to Joe Biden.  Poll workers in the Peach State are still counting ballots, but some time in the wee hours of this morning, the lead shifted to Joe.

I still think about him riding rings around a Fox reporter a few weeks ago.  Trump, on the other hand, keeps at least a few tire rotations from bicycles.  Even if people hadn't seen Biden on Bike or Trump treading on cyclists, they might more readily associate bicycles and cyclists with Democrats than with Republicans.  That makes sense if you look only at the two major parties.  Me, I'd associate bikes with the Green or Working Families party first, but if I had to choose between the donkey or the elephant, I would remember that it's easier to ride--or just get things done--on the former rather than the latter.

(But, really, you shouldn't interpret what I've just said as an endorsement of any candidate, I swear--with my fingers crossed behind my back!)

Whichever American political party you associate with two wheels, two pedals and a set of handlebars, none can compare India's Samajwadi Party:  Its symbol is a bicycle.

05 November 2020

Riveted To The Race

 What's the worst thing about not being able to ride my bike on a beautiful fall day?

Well, if it were any given beautiful fall day, I'd have a long list of choices:  the glow of the early November sun on fallen leaves, the crisp air, the energy of this city.  But because I'm sidelined during the Presidential election, the choice is simple.  It's simply excruciating to be surrounded by talk about vote counts and who wants them to continue--or end.

It's been about 40 hours since all of the polls closed.  Trump wins South Carolina--no surprise, really--but I, and millions of other people--wait with bated breath when Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are mentioned.  Biden won the first two, but count in the Keystone State could go on for days, according to pundits.

From the Wall Street Journal

Electoral campaigns are called "races" and elections are described with analogies to sports.  Such language and imagery are apt, but there is a major difference:  I may want a particular rider to win the Tour or Giro or the local crit, or one team or another to win a game, but if someone else emerges victorious, I may be disappointed but my life will go on.  In contrast, one candidate or another winning an election can make a real difference in my life, and the lives of many other people!

I just hope my guy, and team, win!

03 November 2020

A Free Ride Ahead of Vanilla ISIS

 Today is Election Day here in the US.

In case you're wondering:  Yes, I voted--a month ago.  On the first of October--the same day I got my flu shot--I rode my bike to the Queens County Board of Elections and delivered my absentee ballot.  I didn't want to take any chances with mail delays or any of the potential hazards (COVID-19, voter intimidation) of waiting in line at the poll site.

Speaking of riding to vote:  Roam NRV, the bike share company of New River Valley, Virginia (home of, among other things, Virginia Tech University), is offering free rides today.  According to Roam NRV operations manager Cat Woodson, the Roam NRV the goal of the offer, dubbed "Rolls to the Polls, is to "minimize friction points" in getting to the voting place.  "Maybe instead of taking two bus trips, it takes one bus trip and a bike ride or maybe it is a little bit of a walk and a bike trip," she explains.  The bike ride, for many, would cut down on the amount of time--and, perhaps more important, hassles--associated with getting to the polling spot.

I wholly endorse Roam NRV's action.  I don't, however, openly endorse candidates (Yeah, right!).  So please don't try to infer my polling  choices from this video:  

01 November 2020

Because He Would Not Stop

Today is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Emily Dickinson, was a great a poet, but I doubt she had any contact with Latinx culture. Most likely, she never rode a bicycle, either. So, when she penned

           Because I could not stop for Death-- 

          He kindly stopped for me

I don't think she had this in mind:

Enjoy the day!