Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bike Gloves


I love bike gloves.

They are just the best example of industrial design I can think of at the moment.

They cushion the parts of your hand that need cushioning, they give extra grip to the parts that you need to be grippy, and a good, worn in pair makes even the most amateur of cyclists look serious.

However, beware the super dirty bike glove handshake.


The best part of the bike glove - especially on cold damp days like today - is the built-in snot rag.

I kid you not.

Other than the baby clothes you wore as a toddler, how many other things do you get to wear that have a part designed for you to wipe your snotty nose on. (I'm not even sure my baby clothes had a place where I was supposed to wipe my nose - I think I just did it.)

Cyclists have lots of issues, and there are lots of goofy specialized items designed to deal with those issues. We've got padded butts, and compression shorts, long-tailed jerseys, sex-specific seats, and oh, the list goes on - snotty noses are just a small part of it.

But I'll give credit where credit is due. The 'wipe your nose here' part of my glove is sheer genius.

Please, just remember to wash yours before you shake my hand.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Perfect Beach Day

Now, this is how the boardwalk at Coney Island is supposed to look.


What a perfect day for a ride to the beach.

I wandered on down to Coney Island and basked in the sun for a few minutes before heading down through Brighton to the Belt Parkway Bike Path. The shoreline was alive with early summer fun; picnics, barbecues, and cyclists galore. I thought about heading to Canarsie, but then decided to hang a quick right and cross the Marine Parkway Bridge (AKA Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge) onto Rockaway Beach.


When you haven't ridden a route in a while, you forget the little details.
Such as... When you make the turn down Flatbush to go past Floyd Bennett Field and head to the bridge, don't stay on the right hand side, which is the side you come from and the side you are going to end up on. The bridge is more than a mile away and the tiny, rutted, glass covered path is a pointless obstacle when there is a perfectly lovely bike path on the other side of the road.
Oops, forgot about that.

Also, although I am as guilty as most, there is a reason that the sign asks cyclists to dismount and walk across the bridge.
The path is really narrow. Most of us ignore this and blithely bike across anyway - including me - but I don't try to pass riders in front of me while there is an oncoming cyclist.
Come On Mountain Bike Dude! There were only four people on the whole bridge and you had to pick the one moment in time when we were all at the same point on the span?

Anyway, a short sojourn to the ocean had me in a better frame of mind and I hung out for a while enjoying the quiet that only exists in the off season.
A month from now and Rockapulco will be in full swing.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

As seen in...Ocean Parkway


Don't park on Ocean Parkway.
This was the sixth car I saw with a bashed out window as I went down the length of the road.
For you it's a bummer because someone smashes up your vehicle and steals all your stuff. For me it's a bummer because someone smashes up your vehicle and leaves this all over the street. -


Shattered safety glass is hell on tires.

I know you don't really care about my tires so much - after all someone just stole all your stuff, but why not kill two birds with one stone?

Don't park on Ocean Parkway and we'll both be happy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It was a Dark and Stormy ... Beach Day?


Did the first ride of the season out to Coney Island.

I love this ride. There is something magical about being able to get on a bicycle in New York City, ride for a while, and end up at the Atlantic Ocean.

The sights and smells of a carnival mingle with the breeze blowing in off the sea. Hot Dogs, Beer, Suntan Oil... But there was none of that today. Today was quiet, misty and mysterious. A day where you look out to the ocean and imagine all the people and places on the other side of the fog.

Somedays, I love riding in NYC.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring is Here and it's Totally Craptastic


Beautiful, beautiful day.
Some of you may remember the issue with my new job - no bikes allowed in the building.
(See my post "Well That Sucks")
Well, I finally managed to get off my butt, collect about 40 pounds of locks, put air in the tires of my commuter bike, and get moving.
And I can honestly say, I've never seen a worse route in my life.
I now work in midtown, and there is really no way to get there that isn't fantabulously craptastic.
I mean, it's horrible.
Forget about the fear and agita of having to chain my bike up to the scaffolding outside the building. Forget about carrying four different locks that, I kid you not, weigh more than my steel frame road bike. No matter which side of Manhattan I come up, I've got to cross the worst, exhaust filled, speeding bus, potholed, crazy tourist filled streets I've ever seen - and I LIKE biking in NYC.
And the comments. My God.
Allow me to digress for more than a moment.
I love spring in NYC. Some of the most pleasurable weather is in spring and fall. The air is warm, but crisp and clear feeling. The light is beautiful, and everyone is happy. People start stripping off clothing left and right, which isn't always a good idea, but is, at times breathtaking. (There are a lot of very beautiful people here, and there is nothing like that first spring day when they start soaking up the sun and showing off the skin.)
For some reason, most bicyclists do not fall into this category of super-hotness. Could be how many fat asses there are out there. Could be that even if they aren't fat they jam those selfsame asses into unspeakable lycra outfits that you wouldn't make a beer cosy out of.
Ow! My eyes! I've gone blind!
Digression number two:
The other day, someone I haven't spoken with in many, many years found me via the internet. I was telling a friend about our little email exchange, and he said to me, 'Oh, he's just trying to date you.' - Like that's a bad thing. I don't think he meant it like that, but maybe he did. What, I can't go on a date? The guy was totally friendly, polite and nice.
Which brings me to my final craptacular point.
By what right do you - and you know who you are - get to say shit like that to me? Because I'm female and I'm on a bike? I am not wearing Lycra (and even if I was what business is it of yours) I am not shoving my body parts at you, I'm not even showing any skin between my bike gloves, my long sleeve shirt and my jeans.
To the nice guy in the van in Williamsburg who wished me a good day... 'Thank You' - was he trying to date me? I don't know. But he was polite and friendly and he made my day better.
To the (numerous) schmucks in Manhattan near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel... 'Fuck You' and I hope someone says that to your Mother, your Sister, or your Daughter - then come talk to me.
Sometimes I think the world just wants me to be a hater - and I don't want to be a hater.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back In the Saddle - With No Batteries


Today was the first beautiful day that I was free to ride - and it was glorious.
I pumped up my tires, lubed my chain, and set out across the Manhattan Bridge.
I left some basic tools down in Miami with my other bike, so I needed to replace those. Also, I was determined to solve one of the problems that dogged me all through last summer - my misfitting helmet.

I don't like things on me when I ride for fun. No backpacks, camelbacks, fanny packs, messenger bags, hydration belts, lycra, or compression shorts... I don't even wear a watch. What I do wear is a helmet, because honestly, if you ride anywhere in NYC you have to be a total moron not to wear a helmet. Personally, when I see a helmetless rider go by, I give them a Darwin Award for improving the odds that they remove themselves from the gene pool.

Given how I dress when I ride it's no surprise that when I bought a helmet last year, I bought one that was way too big. I thought it was great. No binding, no pinching. I perched it on my head, clipped the chinstrap, and off I went.
This was fine on the commuter bike, but when I got the Centurion it all changed. Leaning over drop handlebars for the first time, my helmet dipping over my eyes, I realized I had a problem - that I didn't fix for an entire year.

Hello new Trek 'Vapor' helmet, and thank you yet again to the nice guys at Metro Bikes on Hudson.

Did you know that a properly fitted bike helmet should stay on your head if you tip forward without the chinstrap closed? And I don't mean with your ponytail shoved through the back. You need to take some time fitting these, and the guys at Metro Bikes are wonderfully patient.

The fit between a Giro, a Bell, and a Trek are significantly different, so don't just get one that looks cool. It seems like a no-brainer, but most of us are riding around in helmets that won't do crap to stop our brains from splattering when we flip over that cab - because they don't fit.
Here's a link to a little checklist to make sure your helmet fits correctly.

Got my gear, hopped on my honey and headed out over the Williamsburg Bridge to go meet up with a friend. Whipped out my trusty camera to take a shot of the spectacular view - cloudless spring skies over Manhattan, and discovered...