Cold TurkeyCorrespondence Friends Monthly highlights Travel & Adventure Cycling Urban Cycling
Down here in Canada's air mattress we have a holiday called "Thanksgiving." Basically, it commemorates how the religious fanatics who are our idealogical forebears were starving and generally failing at life, and so the Native Americans helped us by sharing their harvest. In return, we gave them smallpox:
Over the years, the holiday has evolved, and now Thanksgiving is a curious mix of guilt and gluttony that marks the beginning of the Judeo-Christian full-contact holiday shopping season:
Also, people watch American-style football, which is tame by comparison:
If you're not depressed yet, you really should be.
It's not all consumerism and genocide though, and the best thing about Thanksgiving if you're a New Yorker is that the city clears out as all the other schmucks go back to wherever it is they came from in order to celebrate with their families. However, in the days leading up to the holiday the streets still thrum with a purposeful energy as everybody strives to get everything done before Thursday. I was a part of this thrumming, because I had to go to Brooklyn right before the holiday to conduct some business, and while I might ordinarily have used the subway station right by my home:
I opted instead to treat myself to the comparatively lavish commuter-rail-and-Brompton combo:
I even dressed for the occasion, and to look at me standing there on the platform you'd be forgiven for thinking I was a person with a real job and not some lazy, slovenly, semi-professional bike blogger who finally managed to drag himself off the couch and out of the house for a change:
Not the brown shoes, inside of which are feet sheathed in socks that actually match. I was even wearing a John Boultbee Criterion Cycling Jacket for chrissakes!
(Price: €1000.00 and your soul.)
Fashion tip: to emphasize the exquisite hand-stitched pockets of your John Boultbee Criterion Cycling Jacket, stuff them with $100 bills, of which you surely have plenty to spare.
Riding the train, I was afraid someone might out me as a blogger, and so I faked a business call by holding my phone to my face and reciting the entire "Greed is Good" speech from the movie "Wall Street." By the time we arrived at Grand Central I'd received 14 business cards and three firm six-figure job offers. I then set about unfurling the Brompton, during which I was joined by a large cockroach:
Here's a closer look:
He seemed friendly, and so I slipped him into the discreet key pocket on the left sleeve of my John Boultbee Criterion Cycling Jacket. (I've since named him Gregor, and apart from his costly Frappuccino® habit he's been an ideal companion.)
Stepping out onto 42nd Street I confronted this jarring reminder that fixies are still a thing that exists:
As for the significance of the front wheel, I was at a loss, and since then all I've been able to find is this:
The Live Love Loft blog is a lot less about Schroeder, and a lot more prescriptive—full of tips on how to wear a cardigan, how to exfoliate and self-tan your legs, and how macarons are the "new" trendy dessert. We're not sure how much of a new trend macarons are, but we love them, and we love the look of the new site. Welcome to blogworld, Loft!
Oh please. If you want to know how to wear a cardigan just do an image search for Kurt Cobain, and if you want to both exfoliate and self-tan your legs in one go just rub them down with some Proofide.
(Proofide: just rub it on whatever.)
Once I'd shrugged off my indignity I pointed the Brompton downtown and headed into the bike lane, where I followed a pious Citi Biker at a polite distance:
I often find that those who adhere to scripture have little use for worldly laws, and this particular rider's disregard for the red light indicated he was no exception:
Then again, he may simply have been emboldened by the reassuring presence of the Hatzolah ambulance and the knowledge that if a driver hit him they'd scoop him right up.
Next I took to the Manhattan Bridge, one of New York City's premier Cat 6 proving grounds. I was bound for Brooklyn, but everyone else was headed into Manhattan where the real money gets made:
Between the sporty helme(n)ted guy on the cyclocross bike and the insouciantly scarved guy on the Citi Bike lies the entire spectrum of the modern gentrified New York City bicycle rush hour:
As for me, riding a Brompton and wearing a dandy jacket, I was off the visible spectrum altogether and deep into infrared territory.
By the way, speaking of sartorial, safety, and lifestyle choices, did you know smoking and wearing a helmet cancel each other out?
It's true. Why quit cigarettes when you can just carry around a totemistic plastic hat instead?
Though maybe she's just using it as an ash tray.
Anyway, once I'd completed my business in Brooklyn (hand modeling if you must know, they use my gnarly claws for the "before" pictures in anti-nailbiting PSAs), I returned to Grand Central. I had some time to kill before my train, and so with the Brompton curled up at my feet like a dog:
I consumed the first in a series of alcoholic beverages that would continue all the way through Thanksgiving:
As a result, the holiday passed in a blur, like a turkey leg in a blender. Indeed, the next thing I knew it was Friday morning, Thanksgiving was over, and Twitter was full of people tweeting the hashtag #blacktopfriday:
Blacktop Friday is our chance to encourage people to ride bikes and enjoy the outdoors on their days off. And since it’s the day after Thanksgiving, a bike ride might not be a bad idea: Research shows that the average person consumes over 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. That’s seven hours of cycling for a 150-pound person, so Blacktop Friday comes at just the right time.
Yes, all over America fitness freaks of every stripe were abandoning their families in order to ride, run, or otherwise burn off their turduckens. Ostensibly this may be a healthy impulse, but on a certain level it's just as selfish as stabbing a stranger in the face with your car key over the last discounted Roku at Best Buy. So instead of abandoning my family to ride with a bunch of other Freds, I enlisted one of my children to partake in so-called #blacktopfriday with me, so that I might teach him how to one day sacrifice his own family at the altar of cycling:
(No helmet, but I don't let him smoke.)
To that end we headed into the park while the morning shadows were still long:
Then we made our way over to the trail and "dropped in:"
In the old days the trail through the park was a railroad line that looked like this:
But the tracks have long been abandoned, and now it looks like this:
And before long there was dirt under our tires:
I was doing my best to negotiate the terrain on the diminutive Brompton:
But with the city line in sight the little ingrate put his head down and dropped the hammer on me:
Thus robbing me of both the sprint victory and the remainder of my dignity:
Upon leaving the park we were officially no longer in New York City:
Instead, we were in a strange land where the bike path was both paved and littered with turkey carcasses:
While a ravaged turkey may be an uncanny metaphor for my cycling ability, there are coyotes around these parts, so the most likely explanation is that they dragged this out of someone's trash.
Anyway, on we rode, until we found a pleasant spot to loiter a bit before turning around:
Then, when we were close to home, we stopped again on the old railroad bridge and loitered some more:
The riders above comprise the tail end of what must have been this ride:
The #blackfriday ride meets at @GWMarket Friday @ 9am, heading up to the Bronx, Sprain Ridge, & Old Croton Aqueduct trail! Shop opens at 2p
— nycvelo (@nycvelo) November 27, 2015
We let them continue, but only after shaking them down for their espresso money.
They were on our turf after all.