Thursday, May 31, 2012

True Tales of Bridge City Bicycling

Two wheels good

Borrowing some verbiage from the Bike Snob:
…Cyclists are often stereotyped as a bunch of simpering lefty hipster transplant wussbag David Byrne disciples. This is patently unfair, for in reality it's only true of something like two-thirds of our cycling population.

The Bike Snob was referring to the environs of New York, but such would also apply to Portland. But for the one third that is excluded from the simpering lefty hipster transplant wussbag grouping, we are an earnest lot of forthright people, doing “stuff” on bikes that is neither transcendent nor particularly interesting.

The Set Up
Yesterday I was earnestly biking downtown doing errands, going to the hardware store and bakery. I stopped at a light and became aware that several other bicyclists were behind me.

The light changed and with a polite single ding of a bell about six riders glided past me in a pace line. They were older men on road bikes, dressed for a training ride, wearing the appropriate clothing and sitting on drop-bar thin-tire bikes.

Short silver hair poked out of their helmets and they were clean shaven, their Lycra jerseys loud and bright – these guys could hang on the links or the GOP convention.

I felt myself inflating with smugness, knowing that a blog post would surely form out of this miasma of normalcy. Some older guys taking some exercise on bicycles, while passing another guy shopping on his bike, this was the utopian vision of bicycleness – where a broad spectrum of “stuff” happens on bikes and all is well.

The Punch Line
Charging up behind us came a young woman on a bike, passing us like we were road kill. She wore skinny blue jeans, a sporty green shirt, and bright red low-heeled pumps, with a tight pony tail sticking out from a helmet. A turquoise yoga mat protruded from an Ortlieb pannier as she laid it down like Thor Hushovd hitting the hundred meter mark.

We were all humbled by her speed and the fact that this was not even her exercise of choice, the bike merely a conveyance to the yoga class. The young woman putting us fogies in our places – whoo hoo!  Can cycling in Portland get any better?

The Kicker
Despite the physical excellence of this example of P-town bikery, the woman’s chain chaffed on her front derailleur and cried out for lubrication with the most piteous squeaking, bringing to mind gender stereotypes of yesteryear.

I can only hope that increased public awareness about the benefits of cycling continue, along with tips about proper bicycle maintenance. Remember, proper tire pressure and chain lubrication are nine tenths the battle.

Given the state of cycling in Portland, somehow I suspect the woman was a performance artist and the whole scene will appear at a TED talk or poetry slam. Today we live, tomorrow we are ironic, l’chaim!  

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