"Deck The Halls With Blah Blah Blah Blah, Yadda Yadda Yadda Ya-Ya-Ya..."Correspondence Bicycles Monthly highlights Urban Cycling Stories
When last we met, my son and I were enjoying a post-Thanksgiving ride just north of the city:
Well, about a week and a half later, a wild car chase ended with police fatally shooting the driver mere yards from this spot:
Now you're all caught up.
Anyway, we're hopscotching right on through the holidays here on Old Man Brooks's Blog Of Cycling Curiosities, and next up on the agenda is Christmas, an obscure Judeo-Christian gift-giving holiday that's sort of like Hanukkah only with more seasonally appropriate aesthetics:
We live in an age of e-commerce and rapid order fulfillment, yet I still make a point of doing at least a token amount of my holiday shopping by bicycle, because there's nothing quite like riding into the city on a crisp December day and stuffing freshly-purchased gifts into a backpack to put you into the Christmas spirit.
Indeed, clad in my John Boultbee Criterion Jacket I was like a foppish Santa Claus, and here was my sleigh:
Midtown Manhattan is arguably the bike-theft capital of the planet, which is why any New York City cyclist worth his or her pretentious cycling jacket has a dedicated "lock-up" bike. This is mine. Astute readers will note certain features meant to thwart thieves. For example, the color scheme is a form of camouflage that allows predators to mistake it for a Citi Bike:
Also, you can't go leaving a Brooks Cambium unsecured, and so I've installed a custom theft-prevention system:
It's made of the finest materials (an old chain and an old inner tube), it requires a special key to open, and I plan on mass-marketing the system to the cycling world in 2016:
Keep an eye out for my Kickstarter campaign. (Fundraising goal: $500,000.)
Thusly equipped and attired, I took to the bike path and pointed my bike downtown:
Where I encountered my first obstacle in the form of the Harlem River bridges:
And I'm pleased to report that despite the "reduced vertical clearance" I once again managed to pass under them without decapitating myself:
(Reduced from what, infinity?)
It's been unseasonably warm here in New York City so far (global warming we're all gonna die yadda yadda yadda), yet the usual signs of Christmas abounded so it was easy to slip into the holiday spirit. These signs include sidewalk Christmas tree lots:
UPS commandeering the bike lane for gift delivery:
And of course rampant selfie stick usage:
See my shadow in the lower left corner? I like to think I wound up in the background of their selfie, taking my own selfie:
It's like an ouroboros of self-absorbed behavior.
Exiting Central Park, I was now in Midtown, and I rounded the corner at the Plaza Hotel:
Where moneyed travelers from around the world come for a chance to door New York City cyclists:
Either that, or he's attempting to escape the cab from the traffic side because he's too cheap to tip the bellhop for opening the door for him:
Here's some inspiring office building art:
The candy cane desperately clinging to the edge of the building with its unscalable curved glass facade represents the complete absence of upward mobility in 21st century America, and the manner in which we're all hanging on for dear life:
Turning onto Fifth Avenue, I was now on one of the most exclusive retail strips in the world, and my Criterion Jacket felt about as exclusive as a Members Only. It's also one of the most alliterative retail strips anywhere. There was Bergdorf Goodman:
(All that money on decorations yet they can't correct the typo on the sign?!?)
And Henri Bendel:
And of course Bilbo Baggins's Bauble Boutique:
And let's not forget De Beers, where I purchased Item #1 on my shopping list, that being a $50,000 blood diamond:
Item #2 is a $20,000 coat of 100% anally electrocuted fox fur.
As you get further downtown on 5th Avenue, the alliteration drops off precipitously, and so does the status of the retailers--until you reach the very dregs of commerce and the sorts of shops no self-respecting person would ever deign visit:
Human rights violations and animal cruelty is one thing, but that's just criminal.
But Fifth Avenue isn't just a shopping mall for oligarchs and white collar criminals. It's also the home of some of New York's most tourist-ridden holiday landmarks, such as St. Patrick's Cathedral:
And of course Rockefeller Center, where they put up that big tree every year:
Indeed, there's so much to dazzle and delight the rubes that even Santa himself goes virtually unnoticed:
(Santa's suit is trimmed with 100% anally electrocuted fox fur.)
Given all this you might think there's nothing "gritty" or "authentic" about Fifth Avenue, but you'd be wrong. See, it's not just shopping and selfie sticks. It's also Manhattan's quintessential cycling drag strip:
We take it seriously, too:
That's some intimidating equipment:
All he needs are those Oakley shades.
A lot of factors come together to make Fifth Avenue the thrill ride that it is. It's wide. It's straight. It's one way. The traffic lights are timed for cars, which means you've got to hustle if you want to catch the greens. It's also a roiling sea of taxi cabs, yellow and green like the discharge of someone with a urinary infection:
See, what happens is passengers point and blurt out, "I wanna go there, stop there!," and the drivers just pull over without warning. That's what happened right here:
Fortunately I was able to take evasive action, though I did scratch the letters "F-U" into the window glass with my blood diamond.
Yes, it takes street smarts to survive in this down. That's why I always make sure to lock my bike next to another one with a more stealable Brooks:
Granted, I also took the more vulnerable curbside spot where your bike is liable to get mangled by a speeding bus, but everything's a trade-off:
Of course, sometimes another Brooks isn't available, in which case you take your chances:
Whereas other times there's a Brooks that's so tricked out it makes your unadorned one practically invisible:
Anyway, after helping myself to the contents of his flask I headed homeward, my backpack and my liver both brimming with holiday cheer:
See you next year!