30 July 2023

On Their Backs

When I first became a dedicated cyclist—during the 1970s—Schwinn still manufactured a style of frame they called “camelback.” With a curved top tube and, sometimes, twin parallel buttresses, it was found on the company’s balloon-tired bikes as well as some of its kids’ bikes (like the “Krate” series) and some smaller-framed adult models.  Here is a particularly nice example from the 1930s.

I have never owned one of those bikes—or ridden a camel. So I can’t tell you whether those bikes rode like camels—or whether I would want such a ride characteristic.

Apparently, some people do:

29 July 2023

Idyll By The Airport

 Ah, the joys of an early morning ride.

You can almost hear the overture from Sprach Zarathustra in the background 

or, perhaps one of those early Infiniti TV ads.

Believe it or not, I chanced upon this scene along the Malcolm X Promenade—about half a kilometer from LaGuardia Airport,

From there, I pedaled out to Fort Totten and back—40 kilometers on Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear.  I’d say it’s a respectable “beat the heat” early morning ride.

28 July 2023

Tony Bennett and Sinead O’Connor

 (Spoiler alert:  This post is not directly related to bicycles or bicycling.  Read at your own risk!;-)

The way things are going, I might be called upon to sing.  And trust me, you don’t want to hear that!

Two months ago, Tina Turner passed away. Last week, we lost Tony Bennett.   And, a couple of days ago, Sinead O’Connor was found dead in her London apartment.

They were as different from each other, in their singing styles and what they sang, not to mention their personal styles, as any three singers could be.  I believe, however, that what they had in common are the hallmarks of singers who I could listen to all day.

Tony Bennett with Lena Horne, 1972

They had beautiful voices, of course. (So does Mariah Carey, but I find her boring, boring.) More important though, is this: They sang from the heart because, well, they couldn’t sing any other way—and I suspect they wouldn’t have wanted to. (Tony Bennett said as much.)

And, for each of them, “the heart” was a place of pain as well as joy—and passion.  Tina Turner’s struggles during her childhood and during and after her marriage to Ike. So is Sinead’s history of abuse from her mother and subsequent mental-health issues.  And while he didn’t express it directly, it’s hard not to think that some of his energy as an artist came from the loss and pain he experienced early in his life.

Sinead O’Connor

And, as different as their stage personae, if you will, were, they channeled their sexuality in different ways. Tony Bennett has been described as a “crooner,” which I have always interpreted as someone who looks and carries himself like a Hollywood leading man but seduces with his voice. Tina Turner, on the other hand, was not shy about her sex appeal but showed how that it could empower her (or anyone) against the kind of exploitation she experienced.  And, finally, Sinead O’Connor knew how beautiful she was enough to keep the notoriously-rapacious music and entertainment industries from defining her by it.

I will miss them all. But at least we have recordings of them. Oh, and their songs sometimes play in my head while I’m cycling.  That, for me is proof enough that they have been important in my life!

26 July 2023

A Ghost In The Morning

After a perfect summer weekend, another heat wave has swept over this city.

 Now, those of you who live in places like western Texas or southern Arizona might chuckle when folks like me complain about the heat in New York. I’ll concede that we don’t know (at least not yet) what it’s like when your nighttime temperatures are like ours in the afternoon.  But our hot days come with humidity that turn our streets into saunas.

Anyway, knowing that we are heading for The Nineties (in Fahrenheit temperature and humidity), I went for a morning ride that took me back and forth between Queens and Brooklyn.  

 Street destruction (Why do they call it construction?) detoured me onto Hewes Street, one of the narrow, warrenlike thoroughfares in the part of this city that most closely resembles a pre-war stetl: the Hasidic part of Williamsburg, where it borders Bushwick.

One way you know a neighborhood is changing: You see “ghosts.” I can’t help but to imagine the lives that filled and voices that echo walls of bubbling, flaking bricks and shingles. But I also notice another kind of “ghost”:  a long-concealed sign or banner from a business that served as past residents whom current residents will never know.

“Ghost” signs like the one I saw today on Hewes Street have led me down a rabbit hole or two. What kinds of “beauty preparations” did Nutrine make or sell? Who used them, and what image of “beauty” were they trying to achieve.

That image, I imagine, might have burned as brightly and hazily as a heat-wave afternoon in the imaginations of those in whom it was inculcated it—and those who inculcated it.

25 July 2023


 Have you ever heard your bike calling out to you?

Well, I can’t say I have—at least, not literally.  But when I pedaled La-Vande, my King of Mercia, to Greenwich, Connecticut on Saturday, she seemed to be leading me there—the way Marlee does when she rubs against my ankles and steers me toward the sofa.

Well, Saturday was a nearly perfect day for a ride of any kind, of any length on any bike.  But I think La-Vande had ulterior motives.

She wanted to pose against a backdrop she knew would flatter her.

Sunday was almost as nice a day for a ride. So to Point Lookout I went, this time with Vera, my Mercian mixte. She didn’t seem to be “leading “ me there, but I believe she enjoyed the breeze off the sea, and the sun.

Oh, and when I got home, Marlee “led” me to the couch, and curled in my lap.

23 July 2023

Animal Snacks

Before embarking on a ride, I went to the store for a snack or two to bring with me.

This is not the reason why I don't eat meat during a ride

though I suppose it could be.

What if it could recognize its own reflection? 

21 July 2023

A Ride From Astoria To Denmark, Via Atlanta

I have a confession:  I rode a bike-share bike the other night.

No, I wasn't in some faraway place without one of my bikes.  I was in my home city--New York, where I live with almost as many bikes (and Marlee) as I lived with family members when I was growing up.

So what was I doing on a CitiBike?

Well, I went to some place where I wasn't sure I could park any of my bikes safely.  A phone call confirmed that there is no on-premises bike parking. And, while there are on-street bike racks-- in addition to sign posts, railings and such--I didn't want to lock up my bike for the three hours or more I expected to be at my destination.

This image will give you an idea of what the neighborhood is like:

All right, the whole neighborhood isn't like that.  It's actually one of the more affluent areas of the city.  The crime rate is lower than in most other neighborhoods but, as in similar neighborhoods, a fair amount of that crime consists of bike theft.

That semi-submerged house is, as you may have surmised, a prop on a stage--specifically, in the Delacorte Theatre, the home of Shakespeare In The Park.

There I saw a very interesting production of Hamlet.  All of the major soliloquies (speeches), and most of the original language, was intact. But it was set in suburban Atlanta, and some liberties were taken with the chronology.  

Whenever I've assigned the play, I've told students that there are really two Hamlets in the play. The one who delivers "To be or not to be" and those other immortal lines is really Hamlet Jr. or Hamlet II, and he is brooding the death of his father--Hamlet Sr, if you will.  In this production, he becomes the patriarch of a mixed-race family. The play opens with his funeral, which includes soul and gospel songs and dance. 

For me, the cast (Ato Blankson-Wood is one of my favorite Hamlets!) helped me to see something that has been in the play all along but what is seldom emphasized:  what we now call "intergenerational trauma."  It also conveys the effect of murder and other kinds of violence on families and communities.  And some of the "tweaks" to the original dialogue--such as "Denmark's a prison" becoming "this country is a prison" (so powerfully delivered by Blankson-Wood)--makes the play almost scarily relevant.

Those who insist traditional, period-correct productions may not like this one.  And I'll admit that some attempts to transpose a contemporary Black/mixed-race American milieu with medieval Denmark don't always work.  But this production "hit" far more often than it "missed" for me, and I recommend it. Oh, and if you need an excuse to ride a Citibike even if you have a few bikes of your own, here it is.

It's All Your Fault (If You Voted A Certain Way)

A proprietor loses his businesses.  He points his finger. "It's all your fault!" he bellows.

In this case, though, he wasn't pointing to an executive, employee, family member or incompetent (or crooked) lawyer, accountant or bookkeeper.  Rather, he aimed his accusation at 25 million or so people.

What did they have to do with the demise of his enterprise?  (That rhyme was unintentional. Really!)  They all voted for what, according to the proprietor, was the slit to the throat of his company.

Hint:  They voted seven years ago, in the UK.

I am referring, of course to "Brexit:"  the decision to take the country out of the European Union (formerly called the "Common Market).  That meant the re-imposition of tariffs that membership eliminated on goods from most continental European countries.  Perhaps more to the point, it meant reels and reels of "red tape" that tied up shipments in ports and terminals or made it all but impossible to pass through.  It even made Brooks saddles unavailable England, where they have been made for more than a century and a half:  For about two decades, an Italian company has owned Brooks, so the company's saddles are shipped from a distribution center Italy, an EU country.

And many bike brands sold in the UK are based in European countries, even if the bikes or parts are made in Asia or other parts of the world.  One of those bike brands is Austrian KTM, distributed by Huddersfield-based FLi Distributors for the past eleven years.  They have just ceased trading. In announcing their demise, owner Colin Williams said, "If you voted for Brexit, realise (British spelling) this is 90 percent because of your decision back in 2016."

FLi is not the only bicycle-related company to close its doors since Brexit-related regulations took effect at the beginning of 2021--just as the worst of COVID-19 related shutdowns were choking supply chains.  I would bet that the owners and employees of those companies and Williams--along with many others in the bike business, cyclists and other citizens--are not the only ones regretting the Brexit vote.

20 July 2023

More Choppers!

 Even with all of my cycling experiences, there is one that I don’t share with some other members of my generation.  I never had one of those bikes that was styled so that kids could pretend they were riding motorcycles.  You know the kind I mean:  the ones with “banana” seats, “ape-hanger” handlebars and “stick” shifters strategically located (on the top tube) to, it seemed, reduce our generation’s fertility rate.

Such bikes included the spectrum Schwinn’s Sting-Ray bicycles (the original S-R and the Lemon Peeler, Pea Picker, the Orange and Apple Krates and the long-rumored Grape Krate) and their imitators from other American bike manufacturers.

That genre also included the Raleigh Chopper. Like the Sting-Ray, they have a loyal following among those who rode them in their childhood and, apparently, some who use them as compact or travel bikes—sort of like a Raleigh Twenty that doesn’t fold.

Last month, Raleigh released a near-as-possible reproduction run that sold out in days.  Now another run—based on the MK2 model—is set to be released next Tuesday, the 25th.  After that, Raleigh says, there will be no more.

Some of the parts used on the 1970s Choppers (and Sting-Rays) are long out of production and the companies that made them have gone out of business (or simply the bike business) or been absorbed into other companies.  Among those companies is Sturmey-Archer, which went into receivership in 2000 and was purchased by the Taiwanese company SunRace.  S-A made the three-speed hub found on the Chopper MK II (and those classic English three-speed bikes)—and the “stick” shifter. Raleigh had to work with S-A (SunRace kept the brand alive) to replicate a hub that looks like the original—and the “sterilization” shifter!

19 July 2023

Riding To My Own Guitar Solo (Or Overtime)

 On Monday morning and early afternoon, I took Dee-Lilah, my Mercian Vincitore Special, for a spin out to Point Lookout and back: 120 kilometers (about 75!mikes). Yesterday morning I took Tosca, my Mercian fixed gear, for a shorter ride—about 40 kilometers (25 miles) to Fort Totten and back.

What did these rides have in common, besides the fact that I enjoyed them?  Well, both bikes are purple, though in different shades.  Also, I timed both rides to, as best I could, finish before the most intense heat—and worst air quality (those Canadian wildfires, again!) of the day.

Both rides also have something in common with every other ride I’ve taken in my life:  I rode without headphones, eat buds or any other audio device.  Sometimes I feel I’m the only person who still rides that way.

I think I’ll always ride that way.  For one thing, I don’t want to impede my ability to hear traffic or other ambient sounds—including bird sings and ocean tides. But I also believe  don’t need devices to hear music, if only inside my own mind.

Back in the day, the term “ear worm” didn’t exist. (At least, I hadn’t heard it.) I would,!however, find myself riding to a tune playing through my head—usually, somethings I’d heard not long before.

I first noticed myself riding to a tune I was carrying with me during a ride when I was, probably, fifteen years old.  I’d been pedaling a long, flat stretch of New Jersey Route 36 from Sandy Hook to Long Branch. The ocean stretched thousands of miles to my left—it years would pass before I saw the other side. The sky stretched even further above and beyond me.  And, even though I knew the road ended—or, more precisely changed direction—in Long Branch and I was gliding toward it on a combination of youthful energy and the wind at my back, I saw myself pedaling forward, forced, even further than that road could take, or my own vision could guide, me.

That ride’s ear worn before there were ear worms?  The long guitar riff of Black Sabbath’s “Rat Salad.”  It’s trippy yet hard-driving and expansive: the way I was pedaling on that long-ago ride.

And what did I hear as I pedaled, with a light breeze at my back, along the long,f flat—and surprisingly deserted—Rockaway Boardwalk? You guessed it: Rat Salad. As Kurt Vonnegut would have said, I was woozy with deja vu.

Oh, and during yesterday’s ride, my “ear worm” was an overture from Debussy’s “La Mer”: one of the first pieces of classical music I came to truly love—and an “ear worm” on another long-ago ride.

Given what I’ve described, you might think I was a strange kid. I wouldn’t try to disabuse you of such a notion.  Of course, you may think I’m an even stranger adult—one in mid-life—because I’ve never ridden, and intend never to ride, with headphones, ear buds or any other audio device.

16 July 2023

Cheery Cherries--In Tandem?

You've heard the expression, "like two peas in a pod."

Well, I dug into a bag of cherries.  (Summer isn't right without them!)  I pulled out two, attached to the same stem.  And I wondered, "Is this possible?" 

15 July 2023

Netting New Tires

 Formosa Tafetta.

Does it sound like the fabric in a gown a Chinese ambassador's wife (or daughter or girlfriend) wore to a formal dance in Taipei in, say, 1920 or thereabouts?

Well, you might find it in your next set of bicycle tires.

It's already in Patagonia's "Net Plus" line of clothing and accessories.

So what, exactly, is this wonder fabric?

Well, Formosa Tafetta is actually the name of the company that makes it--or, more precisely, harvests it from the sea.

No, there isn't some species of octopus or coral that spins silky threads into nets.  But the company's trademark fabric--Seawastex--is made from fishing nets recovered around Taiwan's waters.  Some were battered and abandoned; others were apparently lost.

Turns out, even in the tattered nets, up to 95 percent of the material is recyclable.  And, since all of them are recovered, and all of the work of converting them is done, in and around Taiwan, Seawastex has a 49 percent smaller carbon footprint than virgin-manufactured nylon.

At 2023 Taipei Cycle, the company showcased its new collaboration with well-known tire-maker Maxxis.  Sewastex will be used to make the casings under the rubber that meets the road (or trail).  Nearly all bicycle tires today have nylon casings.  A few high-performance tubular (sew-up) tires are still made with silk casings, which were once the gold-standard for durability and smoothness. (An old training partner of mine once proclaimed, "Riding silk sew-ups is better than sex!")  Fewer still are made with cotton.

Now, if I were riding those Seawastex Maxxis tires in the peloton, I could really say I was "catching" other riders and "netting" a prize!  

14 July 2023

From The Fourth to Le Quatorze

 Whenever I wasn't in the US for "The Fourth"--American Independence Day--I was in France, for "The Fourth" and "Le Quatorze":  the Fourteenth, a.k.a. Bastille Day.  

Today's the day in France, and for Francophiles all over the world.

I count myself as one. But even if you're not, try to remember that American independence is intertwined with the toppling of the ancien regime in France.  In both countries, revolutions were spawned by homegrown philosophers who questioned ideas of hereditary monarchy and nobility (even as, ahem, they owned slaves).

It's kind of ironic, really, that so many people in both countries celebrate their national holidays with picnics or barbecues in normally-tranquil parks and backyards--as fireworks explode, sometimes in the distance, sometimes not so far away.

And some of us, it's about the bike:

From Falling Off Bicycles

13 July 2023

When The Lights Went Out

From A Leslie Wong Blog

During my lifetime, all of New York City was plunged into darkness three times.  I was in the Big Apple for two of them, and there was no looting or any other kind of violence. Today, I am going to write about the third.

On this date in 1977, right around sundown, lightning struck a line that relayed electrical power to New York City. At least, that is the official explanation for why, on a sweltering night and day that followed, lights went out, trains stopped and fans and air conditioners didn't work.  As cellphones were all but non-existent and very few people had computers, about the only way to know what had caused the disruption was through battery-operated radios.

The heat is a partial explanation of why so many parts of the city plunged into lawlessness and general chaos for 25 hours in 1977.  Indeed, the blackout of 1965 occurred on a mild, clear Fall night and while the 2003 blackout came on an August night it wasn't, or at didn't seem, as stiflingly hot as that July night in 1977.

But the summer of 1977 was part of a particularly difficult time for the city.  Less than two years earlier, the city came hours away from bankruptcy; on the night of the blackout, many people were still without work or other ways of supporting themselves or their families.  Also, crime was increasing rapidly in the years before the pandemic:  The Son of Sam, who had been terrorizing the area for about a year, seemed emblematic. Some would see the crime rate as a cause of the general sense that nothing--not the schools, not any of the other city services--was working; others would see it as an effect.  Whatever the case, a sense of desperation and anger filled much of the city, especially in its Brown and Black neighborhoods, where much of the violence occurred.

I haven't been able to find any accounts of whether people navigated the streets by bicycle in the absence of street lights.  I can feel pretty confident in saying, however, that bike shops were looted, along with other businesses:  Really, just about anything of value was taken.

(Some have said that the 1977 Blackout spurred the growth of hip-hop, in part because some would-be DJs, ahem, acquired their equipment that night!)

So why wasn't I in New York?  Well, I was with my parents in New Jersey that summer--the last I would spend with them--and baby-sat that night for one of my mother's friends.  We didn't lose our "juice," but I saw accounts of the stores broken into (sometimes by attaching a rope or chain between the store's front gate and a car) and fires set on TV.  At first, I thought it was a trailer for some movie or another:  Science fiction was big that year. (If I recall correctly, Star Wars came out around that time.)  Now, if I had been in New York, would the 1977 Blackout have been as peaceful as the ones in 1965 and 2003? 

11 July 2023

Don't Use This Bike Lane!

Lately, I've had to ask neighbors and friends not to wave or call me when I'm riding down the Crescent Street bike lane, which takes me directly to my door.  I've explained that for almost any ride I take--whether it's to run errands on Steinway Street or to Connecticut or Point Lookout--the Crescent Street lane is the most dangerous stretch.  It's less than three meters wide--for bicycles, e-bikes, mini-motorcycles, motorized scooters and pedestrians, sometimes accompanied by their dogs, who wander into it while looking at their phones.  

The thing is, unless I'm crossing Crescent Street from  31st Road, the lane is the only way I can get to my apartment.  There is simply no room between the traffic lane and parked cars on the west side of the street or the parked cars and traffic to the east side, where I live.  Before the lane was constructed, I could maneuver my way through traffic, which can be heavy as the street is one of the main conduits between the RFK/Triborough and 59th Street/Queensborough Bridges. Then again, I am a very experienced cyclist and didn't have to contend with the scooters, e bikes and other motorized forms of transportation.

In addition, and a couple of blocks up from me is Mount Sinai-Queens Hospital and the ambulances and other vehicles that embark and return.  Furthermore, there has been residential construction along Crescent, so trucks are all but continuously pulling in our out of, or parking in, the lane. Oh, and even when there's traffic, some drivers still seem to think Crescent Street is the local version of Daytona or Indy--whether they're young men who just want to drive fast and make noise or commuters or other drivers who want to beat the traffic jams on the 59th Street Bridge or the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

So, I would tell anybody who doesn't need to use the lane--as I do--to stay away.  It was poorly conceived and constructed and, to be fair, when it opened--early in the COVID-19 pandemic--nobody could've anticipated the explosion of e-bikes, scooters and other motorized conveyances.

Mind you, the Crescent Street lane doesn't share some of the defects I've seen in other bike lanes in this city and country.  It is clearly marked and relatively easy to access from the RFK/Triborough Bridge.  The transition from the end of the lane to the 59th Street/Queensborough Bridge, or the local streets around Queensborough Plaza, could be better, but is still better than others I've ridden.

In light of everything I've said, I must say that I can't blame Bike Cleveland for advising local cyclists not to use the new Lorain Avenue bike lane.  According to BC. the lane, near the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, "is short-lived, and quickly  disappears and drops riders into the sharrow (shared)lane that has existed there for years." The bridge BC notes, is "well known as a haven for speeding motorists on the move to make the highway connection at the other end."

I've never been to Cleveland, but that sounds very familiar to me.

10 July 2023

Who Benefits From e-Bike Rebates?

 As an undergraduate, I passed an economics course by telling the professor that, if I failed, I would have to re-take the course--and he might have me in the class!

The "threat" worked, sort of.  He told me I could barge in on him or call him whenever he was in his office (We didn't have e-mail in those days!) and he'd help me in whatever way he could.  I wonder whether he genuinely felt pity for me, was swayed by my  promise that if i passed that course and semester (I was also failing another class: Calculus), I would major in "something that didn't require math" or simply didn't want to see me in his class the following semester.

Anyway, I did pass that class--but not Calculus.  I returned to school the following semester--on probation.  But, as I promised, I changed my major--from Biochemistry and Economics (strange combination, I know) to English Literature and History.

I mention all of that so that you can take what I'm about to say with whatever amount of salt suits your taste.  Here goes:  The more expensive an item is, or perceived to be, the less likely they are to spend it on local merchants.

Denver's e-bike rebate program, which has become a model for similar schemes in other cities, seems to offer evidence of what I have just said. 

While more than 30 retailers in the Mile High City are eligible to accept the rebates, Seattle online retailer Rad Power bikes has been, by far, the most popular vendor in the program. That, in spite of the recalls, lawsuits and other safety concerns associated with the company.

To be clear, Rad Power offers e-bikes at lower prices than most brick-and-mortar retailers.  So, the rebats--typically 300 to 500 dollars--cover a larger portion of a bike from Rad Power than from a local shop.

Although I'm not ready to start riding e-bikes, I understand how they benefit some people and are certainly better for urban and global livability than automobiles. On the other hand, if e-bikes are being promoted in the name of "sustainability," I think planners need to think about what they mean by that term.  While e-bikes don't contribute nearly as much to ambient air pollution, we need to consider the costs to the environment of having our purchases delivered on single-trip runs by vehicles that pollute as much as passenger cars or trucks and spend more time idling--not to mention the distances from which e-bikes (and other items) are delivered.  

08 July 2023

A New Policy on Abandoned Bicycles

 They lose their seats and wheels. They rust, corrode and rot. Sometimes parking cars back into, and bend, them. 

I have seen many of them locked to signposts, trees and railings that line sidewalks of this city. Less frequently, I have seen them tethered to public bike parking racks and the ones on campuses and workplaces.

I am talking about abandoned bikes.  Most such bikes aren’t high-end and don’t seem to have been particularly well-cared-for before they were forgotten. You can almost tell they were purchased for not much money or were “inherited” or “rescued.”

 Once in a while, though, I’ll see a relatively high-quality bike still in pretty good condition that’s been left by its lonesome for a few weeks. I imagine that its owner had to move on short notice or had some other kind of emergency.

Whatever the circumstances, the City’s Department of Transportation is trying to cut down on the number of bikes abandoned along the city’s thoroughfares.  To that end, it is establishing a time limit for parking in public bike racks.

According to the new policy, an abandoned bike is “a usable bike that is locked in a public bike rack for more than seven consecutive days.”  Anyone can report such a bike and request removal in order to free up more space.

Once a bike is reported, the DOT will tag it.  If the bike is not removed after seven days, it can be confiscated by the DOT, NYPD or a designated representative and turned over to the nearest NYPD precinct for 30 days. If the bike isn’t claimed, it will be sent to the Property Clerk, which has a convoluted process for requesting return of property.

I have to wonder, though, how effective this policy will be.  For one thing, as I’ve mentioned, abandoned bikes are more likely to be found on lamp and sign posts and railings than on public bike rack—at least in my observation. Also, as Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner points out in her Time Out article, one can “technically “ cut off the tag and keep the bike in place.

07 July 2023

More Blue Heat And A Big Lunch

 Another “beat the heat” ride.  I must admit that I did something the nutritionists tell you not to do:  I skipped breakfast.  I rationalized it to myself because I wasn’t hungry and wanted to get on my bike early.  I did, however, have a quick cup of coffee before taking off.

My ride took me into Brooklyn, through the quiet side streets of Greenpoint, some brownstone blocks of the Pratt Institute neighborhood and Park Slope—and a neighborhood just south of Prospect where the Victorian houses have wide porches and the streets have names that are even more English than anything the English could ever come up with.

From there, I rode down past Brooklyn College into a neighborhood with bigger, but more modern (1930s-1950s) houses that were once home to the children of Jewish and Italian immigrants who’d “made it” but are now occupied by Orthodox Jewish families who, no doubt, are prosperous even if their wealth has to be spread across large families.

From there, I pedaled to Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island where I saw the same blue heat I saw yesterday from Fort Totten Park.

Yesterday I recalled the long-ago science lesson about blue stars being hotter than red or yellow ones.  Today I though about the oceans—including the Atlantic that churns under the Coney Island Pier getting hotter.  Perhaps I will reveal my ignorance of science when I tell you, dear reader, that I wondered whether the ocean will turn bluer as it heats up.

Then more riding along the water—the Verrazano Narrows, under the eponymous bridge —and up to my apartment.

In spite of not having eaten, I didn’t “bonk.” I did, however, start to feel peckish after I crossed the Pulaski Bridge back into Queens. Even if my hunger was psychologically induced, I felt I’d “earned” the big lunch of asparagus, peppers, radishes and mushrooms in a vinaigrette dressing with baby Swiss (Emmental) cheese and corn (maize) tostadas.

06 July 2023

Blue Heat

 Yesterday and today, I took morning rides ahead of the most intense heat and humidity we’ve had so far.

At Fort Totten Park, I thought about something I learned a long time ago in a science class:  Blue stars are hotter than red, orange or yellow ones. As I have never been outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, I had a hard time imagining that.  Gazing out to the Long Island Sound, it was a little bit easier:  I could practically feel steam rising from the water.

Oh, I was wearing a blue top. The after-ride shower felt really good!

04 July 2023

Fabulous Fourth

Happy American Independence Day!

Of course, if you're in the USA, you simply say, "Happy Fourth!"

With that in mind, I am sharing what has to be one of the best annoncements of a 4th of July ride I've ever seen.

The ride was actually scheduled for the First, which was Saturday.  There were really two rides:  a "long" loop of 68 miles (a bit more than a "metric century") and a "short" one of 35 miles.  Both  took riders through the environs of Tryon, North Carolina.

I am going for a ride:  I haven't decided to where, or how long or on which bike.   With that in mind, I'll let you on another part of my journey--if you can keep a secret. (So why am I mentioning it on a blog that's had a couple million views? you ask.  Fair enough.)  You see, today, I'm celebrating something else:  my birthday.  It's not a round-number birthday, but it's significant in another way.  I'll let you guess at what it is.  All I'll say is that I am still in the middle of my life, i.e., in midlife, as long as I don't know when it will end.

03 July 2023

Will This Bicycle Ever Gain Traction?

When (mostly) young people with self-taught computer skills have too much time on their hands, they...hack, steal identities and scam people.

When engineers (again, mostly young)have too much time on their hands, they create technically sophisticated and completely impractical things.  At least they're doing it for fun, at least sometimes.

A case in point is a bicycle without wheels.

Now, this bicycle could, at least in theory, move across certain kinds of terrain and roadways. 

Here, however, the term "move" is somewhat elastic.  Yes, they can traverse said real estate but, as one commenter said, "Finally, some one made a mode of transportation that's as fast as walking with ten times the effort."

Just what the world was waiting for, right? 

02 July 2023

Midlife Or Middle Age?

 This blog is called "Midlife Cycling."

The reason for that is that as long as I don't know when I'm going to die, I'm in the middle of my life.

That, of course, isn't necessarily the same thing as being in middle age.

At least I know this:  There's no way to escape being in midlife.  As for middle age--well, perhaps one could outride it--if, of course, one could ride as fast as one did in one's youth!

01 July 2023

A Bike Lane In Back Bay?

 The first time I went to Boston, I stayed in the Back Bay neighborhood. It was probably the best introduction I could've had to the city, as it's home to some of its loveliest and most historically significant buildings and spaces.  It reminded me of some parts of Manhattan's Upper West Side and Brooklyn's Park Slope, two neighborhoods in which I lived before they became colonies for the uber-rich.  But, of course, Back Bay's character was and, I suspect, is distinct from those New York neighborhoods.

Being accustomed to cycling in New York and having recently cycled in Paris, I didn't have any trepidation about riding in Boston.  When I rented a bike, however, an employee in the shop admonished me, "Don't ride on Boylston Street."

Boylston Street.  Photo by John Tlumacki, for the Boston Globe.

Of course, I rode there anyway--and understood his warning. With two traffic lanes in each direction and lined with popular stores, restaurants and cafes, the constant streams of traffic often had to snake around double-parked vehicles and trucks darting in and out with deliveries and for pickups.  I imagine there are even more of those today, what with Uber, Door Dash and the like.  

Now Mayor Michelle Wu's office has announced a plan to install a protected bike lane along a stretch of Boylston between Massachusetts Avenue and Arlington Street.  Predictably, business owners complain that a bike lane would take away parking spaces and further snarl traffic and therefore hurt business.  

While a poorly-planned bike lane can indeed exacerbate traffic conditions, as it has on Crescent Street (where I live), there is no evidence that stores, restaurants and the like lose business because of bike lanes.  If anything, I think that reducing traffic--a stated goal of bike lanes--would actually benefit business owners in a neighborhood like Back Bay that are popular with tourists and have a lot of foot traffic.

That is, if a bike lane is well-planned and constructed--and if regulations about who can use the lane are clearly defined and enforced.  As I have mentioned  in other posts, a narrow bike lane becomes a nightmare for everyone when it's used by riders of electric bikes that have only clutches and no pedal assist (which makes them, in essence, motorcycles) or scooters.  And it's hazardous for everyone involved when signals and merges aren't timed and created so that, for example, cyclists can cross an intersection ahead, rather than in the path, of turning cars, trucks and buses.

I hope for the sake of Boston's cyclists (and me, if and when I visit again) that any bike lane is what too many other bike lanes I've seen aren't:  safe and practical