Slate carries the story of a guy who tried and failed to use his bike for useful purposes. Why he failed becomes painfully obvious if you can read between the lines.
He owns four bikes, which he rarely uses “for actual transportation.” Like our president, he rides for fitness and recreation only. He is single, childless, owns a dog of course, and has no aging parents to care for (the exact opposite of my lifestyle). He also telecommutes and lives near a 17-mile bike trail that passes close to most places he would want to go (stores, bars, and restaurants). You would think it would be nearly effortless for him to use his bike for just about every local errand. Not so!His first trip out to get a copy of the New York Times (“just a couple of miles down the rail-trail”) turned into a fiasco. What happened? I’ll let him tell it:
Mistake No. 1: By the time I reached the Sunoco, I was profoundly chafed, and worse, my Banana Republic jeans now sported a black, greasy streak at about midcalf, from rubbing against the chain. It was chilly, and I was a tad hung over from a party the night before. By the time I got home, I had a raging tension headache, thanks to my hunched-over riding position.
That’s right. He was profoundly chafed from riding a bike a few miles down a bike trail while wearing jeans. As if that is not enough, he also somehow managed to get grease on these jeans from his bicycle chain — “about midcalf.”
Oddly enough, I don’t think I have ever ridden a bike in anything but jeans and I never get grease on them. Also, if riding hunched-over gives him raging tension headaches, why hadn’t he changed the position of his handlebars by now?
He then describes his bike and equipment to us:
It had a skinny little seat that all but required me to wear padded cycling pants when I rode. The handlebars were set forward and low, so a stretchy top was also a must — with a long tail, to avoid showing the cyclist’s equivalent of plumber’s crack. And it had special “clipless” pedals, which required me to wear special stiff-soled shoes with metal cleats on the bottom.
Let me put it this way: I am not laughing “with” him at this point.
He used to swab himself down with Old Spice Red Zone (anybody know what that is?) after commuting to work on a bike. Sadly, we learn that biking to work once cost him his job because his boss hated bike messengers. Somehow, I doubt that was the reason he was fired … But that’s just me.
He owns a whole dresser full of cycling clothes, which he thought made him look cool until one day (while tip-toeing about in a store wearing clipless bike shoes and skintight spandex) he had a revelation … and saw himself though my eyes, a guy who rides a bike in ordinary clothes which include everything from sandals to steel-toed work boots.
Well, he eventually figured out that he could hide his skintight spandex shorts, replete with sewn-in butt padding, by wearing baggy shorts over them. Which leads me to ask why he did not just invest in a comfortable bike seat.
When he gets around to putting a bike rack on, he calls it “an act of utter bike-geek sacrilege.” Excuse me? I have a two-person kid trailer hooked to mine half the time.
He finally throws in the towel after attempting to carry a 15-pound bag of dog food home on his shiny new bike rack — hilarity ensues, yadda, yadda … enough said.
By the way, my electric hybrid bike is wearing through its second pair of break pads already, and I have a cool visored motorcycle helmet to go with it for cold rainy night rides.