Monday, November 8, 2010

Snot Falls & Prancing Balls: Not Necessarily In That Order

First off, I wish to extend my congratulations to the winners of the weekend past's tenuously-bicycle-related event, Fall Ballin' 2010: No Big Deal.  Pushing irony to the point of tedium, No Big Deal's victory is, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal, but it's the 15 minutes of Internet fame that count.

While I generally dislike anything that compels hipsters on fixies to congregate, I have to admire Fall Ballin' 2010 for attracting national and international teams to the event.  Apparently, dedicated bicycle polo players are quite rare.  Fortunately, hipsters are peer whipped into appearing to be passionately dedicated to esoteric interests, such as bicycle polo, to give their vain existence a thin veneer of authenticity and mystery, thereby assuring events such as Fall Ballin' 2010 with a reasonable pool of talent.

I also grudgingly appreciate Fall Ballin' 2010 because its the type of contribution to Toronto to makes this place such a great place to live, even if it means that numerous post-&-rings are occupied for the weekend by half-assed fixed-gear track bike curations that clutch to the vaguest thread of irony in a desperate quest for novelty:

Ironic spoke card: the pie plate.

Speaking of using performance bicycles for uses other than originally intended, Toronto also played host to the Canadian Cyclo-cross Nationals this past weekend.  For some reason, I've always had difficulty taking cyclo-cross seriously, mainly because it takes the dilettantism of road cycling and the bawdy roughness of mountain biking and creates moments like this:

That's not portaging; that's prancing.
Image courtesy of Steve Russel of The Toronto Star

And also like this:

Talk about 'snacking on the bike'...
Image courtesy of Steve Russel of The Toronto Star

If I wanted to gawk at pimply, dazed women with snot running down their faces, I'd go to the cheap night at The Brass Rail.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Boobs: Equivocation for Fun & Profit

Since Wednesday's incident with a cyclist-who's-too-afraid-of-cycling-on-the-road-and-therefore-has-to-take-it-out-on-me-as-I-walk-down-the-sidewalk, I regret to inform you all that my forearm's been too sore to leverage the STIs of my bicycle and consequently, I have been commuting hence to my place of subservience by public transit ...and I'm absolutely loving it.

Toronto cyclists are a curiously vain lot, and their vanity is so powerful that it compels them to issue questionably sincere apologies and lamentations in public, as though not riding a bicycle for one day is some how treasonous:

Behold, the Twitter equivalent of walking around a supermarket with your helmet on.

I, on the other handle, am loving my commute via TTC: the warmth, the dryness, the relative silence, the gentle rocking sensations.  It's like being nestled against a mother's bosom, even if that mother's bosom is red, lightly soiled, and tattooed with advertisements detailing how I may supplement the heft of my manhood.  And also, like bosoms, the TTC is a great tool for getting to know complete strangers.

I've always been confused by those "Still Alone In Your Car" signs popular amongst Toronto cycling advocates, especially since they're intended to mount on a bicycle, the penultimate single-occupant-vehicle.  (Tandems and such serve as exceptions that prove the rule: their most noteworthy feature is the accommodation of more than one rider.)  I find cycling to be a very lonesome experience, and group-riding is out of the question for me.  Being a misshapen clod, I throw an asymmetrical draft capable of causing a Zipp Super 9 to collapse in on itself.  My voracious love of cabbage doesn't help either.  Riding the TTC, however, has provided me with much valued human contact, and I'm thankful for it.  Indeed, I was actually becoming overwhelmed with it, and have resorted to asking those coming too close for spare change in order to clear the immediate area around me on the subway car so that I may find some peace.

Spending my time thusly alone nestled in the arms of the TTC and rooting for that pacifying nipple known a forward-facing seat, I have been able to find both the time and the (relative) quietude to reflect on recent events of minor importance.  For example, I was recently informed that the lofty and most high BikeSnobNYC (cheese be upon him) recently deigned to recognize the existence of Toronto in his blog by offering his condolences over the recent election of Rob Ford.  I was pleased to receive his condolences secure in the knowledge that if BikeSnobNYC (cheese be upon him) thinks it sucks, surely it must be so.  Having an otherwise obscure blogger validate your opinion somewhere on the Internet is pure ambrosia to smug, entrenched pundits like myself.  However, I was a little disappointed with the effort he put into broaching such a, *ahem*, weighty subject.

BikeSnobNYC's (cheese be upon him) sole variation on the Rob Ford theme was to refer to his girth as 'corpulence' rather than by the more minimalist term, 'fat'.  Certainly, New York City is the cultural vanguard of North America and there it may be de rigeur to refer to Rob Ford as a 'corpulent buffoon', but 'round these parts we just call him "fat fuck":

Moreover, like a typical American, BikeSnobNYC (cheese be upon him) revealed an utter lack of familiarity with any culture beyond US borders in his attempt to fake familiarity with Canadian society by name-dropping "Tim Horton's" with incautious optimism, ignorant of the knowledge that "Tim Hortons" on the lips on an American is to the ears of Canadians what the word "Lance" on the lips of a fat, impatient motorist is to the ears of a cyclist.

Mind you, it could've been worse.  He could have regaled us with obscure references to other erstwhile Canadian culture exports, such as butter substitute, Nippleback, five pin bowling, jolly jumpers, Yachtzee, the Canadarm, Dan Akroyd, and instant potato flakes.

I sincerely hope that BikeSnobNYC (cheese be upon him) will continue to make more forays into Canadian culture, mainly because American cycling themes seem to be drying up and he's been forced to data mine the teen trends like boutique axes and minimalist lists to satiate the whipholders that constitue his readership.

I'm sure he'd do a much better job of scrutinizing Canadian cycling than I ever could.  Until he does so, however, I'll keep doing my best to fill the void.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Incident Report: Mea Culpa

For those who don't know (and probably don't care): yes, I got hit today.  Yes, The Clog, the "I ride a bicycle like a sensible person" blogger who looks down his nose at lesser-skilled cyclists, got hit today.  It was a truly humbling and was wholly caused by a gross error in judgment on my part and I regret all the turmoil that I caused.  For my repugnant selfishness and careless concern for the safety of others, I humbly apologize to Torontonians and to Toronto cyclists for my failings.

It was entirely my fault for walking down the sidewalk of Queen St W, keeping to the right and minding my own business, when some asshat cyclist came jaunting down the middle of the sidewalk and tried to squeeze between another pedestrian and myself, striking me in the attempt.  My left forearm took the brunt of the impact and is still very tender.

However, I realize that it was entirely my fault.  How dare I walk down a sidewalk?  We darn meat pylons just dart out from no where sometimes, and I apologize to this poor and frightened soul for giving him only a fraction of a minute to notice that I was walking in straight line in a predictable trajectory.

It was also entirely my fault for failing to give this timorous cyclist an exact 0.9144 meters of clearance as he rode down the sidewalk.  As any well-meaning Toronto cycling activist will point out, in The Netherlands cyclists have right of way even over pedestrians, so clearly it should be so here as well.

It was also in a spirit of immature churlishness that I failed to help him up after wards.  Furthermore, I also committed the presumably illegal act of leaving the scene of an 'incident' without reporting it, for which I'm sure I will be shortly hunted down by the local police, arrested, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law (no snickering please, we're trying to be serious here.  Really, we are.).  We both knew, he and I, of the complete and utter futility of calling the police in such instances.  Sure, they'll eventually show up, complete tedious paperwork, 'speak' to both parties, and then do nothing of any consequence.  So we let it be.  I had an injured forearm; he, a injured ego.  Together, we had a large audience of vaguely curious onlookers who turned away in apathy when it became wholly apparent that I wasn't going to take further issue with the cyclist.

I also apologize obsequiously to Toronto's cyclists for causing cycling in Toronto to appear dangerous.  I fear many children were traumatized and will no longer pedal their little hearts out along Toronto's sidewalks, thereby slowing the cull of the aged and leaving the lion's share of the work to couriers (who are already over worked) and pimply teenagers too poor to drive a car.

Perhaps the Urban Repair Squad will save the future of sidewalk cycling in Toronto by installing more of their innovative pharrows on more pedestrian byways throughout the core to promote continued ridership.

A pharrow guides cyclists into groups of pedestrians on the pedestrian path in The Grange.

Toronto, I'm sorry.  I'm truly repentant for the setbacks to progress for cycling in Toronto that I may have caused.

I truly am very sorry.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Heavy Sigh: Stupid Holes & Other Essays

I hope you all had a more pleasant Hallowe'en weekend than I did.  I spent the weekend recovering from Friday's toilet-induced head injury.  The ER staff were kind enough to co-wrap my injuries with advanced carbon-based fibre technology, and even complimented the manner in which my bulbous head acted as an effective mold to optimize the coverage of the wrapping.  Unfortunately, when I stepped out from the ER onto the street, children shrieked, grabbed their parents by the hand, and fled, crying "Have you no shame?!  Think of the adults!!" as they ran.

I gave thought to lurking in the shadows till dark and then fleeing home, but decided against this strategy ...mainly because the darkness makes me pee my pants.  It's scary.  So, I quietly shuffled home, hid in my hovel, and passed the weekend by carefully licking the dirt off my bike (I eschew poisonous, corporate bike cleaners in favour of more earth-friendly methods).

With the weekend over and my head wound healed, I kitted up this morning for the daily commute to my place of drudgery and set out.  Shortly after setting out, I felt uneasy and disconcerted about the coming ride and I soon found the cause of my anxiety: I'd set out a little later than usual and was riding into the white-capped crest of the wave of morning cycling commuters and I feared to witness the formation of another Stupid Hole, a blackhole-like sucking vortex generated by the convergence of multiple strands of stupidity, drawing them in closer to the point of collision, unless a rare moment of good sense deflects their trajectories.

My unease was justified shortly thereafter.  I'd heardtell of epic shoals but I'd ne'er heretofore seen one.  As I waited at a stop light like a dullard, a budget athlete swooped around from my left, mounted the sidewalk, and began orbiting a nucleus of compressed stupidity as he waited for the light to change.

Not once, nor twice, but thrice did he circle around on the sidewalk.
I watched this performance in gobsmacked awe, but regained mental clarity when my subconscious fault-finder bade me to survey what sort of sophisticated foot retention system drove this persecuted man to circle endlessly at intersections rather than succumb to the horrors of putting a foot down: plastic platform pedals and generic sneakers.  I sighed so heavily that Simon Cowell was moved to compassion by my expression of suffering.

When the light turned, the budget athlete took off at a mad cadence, furiously leveraging his downtube friction shifters to coax another meager few gear inches from his battered Suntour drive train.  I calmly followed behind and suckled his wheel out of mild curiosity, and watched with much mirth as he glared back at me with annoyance for drafting.  Pulling up to another red light, I stopped, unclipped and put a foot down on the curb, and settled down to watch the delicate ballet anew.

Self-conscious from my chuckling, he eventually stopped and put a foot down...

Unfortunately, the fool and I were soon parted, and I passed a few blocks playing a pleasant game of leap-frog with a gravel-laden dump truck, until an impatient imbecile on two wheels began salmoning toward me rather than wait for a gap in traffic like a normal person.  Hearing the dump truck coming up behind me, sensing the lack of space available to me, and glancing a head at the jackass still riding right at me, I paused and thought, "Thank you, Urban Repair Squad, for enabling this person to ride a bicycle.  Your innovative contra-flow infrastructure is truly increasing safety for all."

I watched with much amusement (and mild concern) as this wretched imbecile, rather than pulling over and stopping to allow me to go by, actually moved out into the path of the dump truck to go around me as though they were drawn to it by the suction of some swirling Stupid Hole underneath its wheels.  Hearing the sudden application of air brakes and watching the slow swerve of the dump truck over my shoulder, I reflected with dismay that Toronto cyclists had just lost another small skirmish in the overall push for progress with their jackass behaviour.

The phrase 'Epic Fail' ain't over till it's over ...and after this morning, it ain't over.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Multi-tasking: It's Harder Than You Think

As is both my wont and daily ritual, I was multitasking on the toilet by simultaneously handling my business (minds out of the gutter, please) while handling other business (I repeat: minds out of the gutter, please).  While preparing a truly Homeric tweet teasing out the disparate threads connecting critical methodologies of neo-imperial belly flopping to the hermeneutical challenges of contemporary semiotics in the context of Kenyan oligarchic rule, all within a paradigmatic framework of post-anarchofeminist epistemology, I paused to power squeeze and lost consciousness.'s vector drawing depicts the lurid details for your amusement.
The resulting concussion has left me unable to tweet or post until Monday.  I apologize for yet again disappointing your fledgling optimism in this blog, thank you for reading today, and wish you the best of Trick-or-Treating this weekend.


The Clog

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Employment: Nice Work If You Can Get It

After watching Ford's rosy face dawn on Toronto yesterday morning, I was immensely pleased to learn that I will in fact have a job for the next four years.  Pundits and political cartoonists clinked more crystal on Monday night than the entire Ford victory party (That's not saying much though, as Ford's party was hardly a classy affair).

That's not sweat he's bathed in; that's glory.
I was initially amused by Toronto's reaction to Ford's victory.  Countless Torontonians, like typical white people, began making vague threats about moving elsewhere, and so on.  This is just posturing, however, because privilaged white people don't have the cobblestones to follow through on fashionable threats like that.

As I read more and more expressions of anger, frustration, and grief, however, I was truly moved to compassion.  Though I may be a misshapen clod with a crippling fear of paper clips, I am not heartless.  I tried cheering up Toronto by pointing out the fact that Rob Ford's so-called reign of terror will follow the usual template of political activity:

  • Will keep less than half of his promises
  • Blame the previous administration for screwing things up so badly that they can't be fixed in four years and will consequently need another term
  • Begin to putter with complacency
  • ...and then culminate in a flurry of last minute changes to create the illusion he's been productive. 
This did not appear to assuage any of the grief that Torontonians still seem to be feeling.  To that end, I offer this observation: Toronto didn't become a pulsing, throbbing, and surging hive of activity, change, and progression because of politicians.  It became a destination because of the individual people who inhabit, embrace, and change it with their contributions.

Politicians are parasitic to the process.

Leave sitting around on the Internet like an idiot to professionals like me and go do something awesome!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Got Sense?: Unbridled Entitlement & Fixies

When the mind ruminates on subject matter of great import, it's best to take lengthy walks to aid reflection and clear the mind.  Practitioners of the peripatetic tradition such as Aristotle and Immanuel Kant achieved great progress this way.  Consequently, when my mind was overborne with the heady and perplexing quandary of whether or not I did in fact have milk, I set out on foot to purge my mind of distractions.

While plodding out my front door, I abandoned my usual stroll along the Pathway to Enlightenment because I sought not enlightenment but quietude.  One would think that out-of-doors in Toronto's core would be a poor place to seek solitude, but being a rank and malodorous clod, I part crowds of people like a sidewalk Moses:

AJ Jacob's models the Old Testament line in BikeSnobNYC's 'hood.
Strolling thusly, I was alone to chew my mental cud for some time till I stopped for a red-light at an intersection.  [Here, I regretfully must pause and make a brief description of what I'm talking about for Toronto's cyclists, since the vast majority of them don't seem to understand what they are:

A red light.

A red light is a traffic control device meant to interrupt traffic flow to allow for crossing and merging traffic to enter the traffic flow.  By stopping, users of the road allow for a safe and predictable crossing and merging of other traffic.]

Standing silently on the street corner pondering various methodologies of dairy product ownership, my subconscious fault-finder began frantically clanging resounding alarms about a metaphysical disturbance in the fabric of my immediate surroundings and that I should, as a person of good sense and will toward self-preservation, take a step back.

I glanced over at west-bound cyclist enter the intersection and instead of turning north or south continued on, at the Urban Repair Squad's insistence, against obviously on-coming traffic.  However as this cyclist did so a cyclist heading north along the sidewalk rode through the red light into the intersection into the path of the west-bound cyclist.  Not to be outdone, a south-bound cyclist also skipped the red-light without looking for cross-traffic and also rode into the path of the west-bound (and now salmoning) cyclist.

The confluence of idiocy: you can't make this stuff up.

The stunning confluence of idiocy was enough to create a black hole-like vortex into which the universe suddenly and precipitously teetered for a brief moment before some well-timed swerving and an exchange of wrath-laden glares and other bits of nerd rage righted the universe back to normalcy.

Shaken and stirred to new heights of pessimism, I pondered various aspects of the indelicate ballet I had just witnessed: Does stupidity have mass?  If so, would it explain why some people seem to be Stupidity personified?  Did the sudden confluence of stupid mass create a sucking black hole that caused all three cyclists to gravitate towards each other uncontrollably?  Could you roll stupidity in to a ball and push it down a hill?  Is that how Rob Ford's campaign gained momentum?

Certainly, no real harm had been done because no accident occurred.  And certainly, Toronto cyclists had embarrassed themselves awfully, but no one was really surprised to see cyclists ride down sidewalks, run red lights, and salmon down one-way streets.  Ruefully, this is all regrettably common in Toronto.  Truly, the only real consequence of the incident was an entrenchment of negative stereotypes of Toronto cyclists.

Having realized the incident was insignificant, I wondered whether something was wrong with my subconscious fault-finder?  Hearing the irksome sound of a hipster skidding, my attention regrouped with fresh annoyance and immediately grasped his lack of adequate foot-rention for riding brakeless effectively, thereby reassuring me that my subconscious fault-finder was in fact working perfectly.  Moreover, it also reminded me that there's only one more sleep till Tom Mosher's Hell Track 3, an attempt to create sustainable entertainment for Toronto's hipsters by doing the same thing over and over again, but differently.

[Yet more laps around the school at Bickford Park?  What is that?  Gym class for hipsters?!]

Fortunately, it appears that it will rain tomorrow evening.

The weatherway courtesy of The Weather Network.
This is fortunate because rain terrifies sissy cyclists and will keep them from spoiling Mosher's event with their sissyness, which will help apply a convenient veneer of dedication to those who are willing to endure the savage beating of raindrops on their skin for the sake of glory.  However, having been force-fed my fill of stupidity for the week, I won't be attending.

I have more important things to think about.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hehlmeht Woehrse: Dutch Logic Assassins

Fearing more threats against my life by the Dutch, I have become hyper sensitive to my environment.  A swatch of orange fabric makes me cower in fear, the smell of potatoes induces nervous sweating, and the clomping of wooden-soled shoes on the pavement shatters my concentration like a gunshot.  To protect myself, I have prepared flash cards for study purposes and placed them in various and sundry places about my hovel and place of work so that I may spot the enemy on site and flee:

Being keen and crafty, the Dutch can strike at any time, so I believe that my paranoia is warranted.  Indeed, I recently found proof of what I consider to be a subtle Dutch plot against my life in an article penned by serial proselytizer, David Hembrow, hosted by Momentum Magazine.

Hembrow, by means keen and crafty, data mines injury and fatality statistics to argue that survival rates of Dutch cyclists are not improved by wearing a helmet.  To further stigmatize helmet wearing, Hembrow data mines the rich statistical data documenting British children dying in--wait for it... waaait for it... --car crashes to demonstrate that Dutch cyclists are safer than British children being driven about by concerned parents.  (The accident/fatality rate per kilometers traveled by car for a country's population is a statistic Hembrow doesn't review ...likely because it would obviously undermine his case.)  Hembrow does, however, identify that the low risk of head injury for Dutch cyclists is primarily due to their progressive, and therefore safe, infrastructure.

The insinuation of the article, however, is clear: the Dutch don't wear helmets, so neither must you.  While I appreciate anyone's effort to appease my fears, I'm also risk aversive (amongst a host of other allergies both various and sundry) and wearing a helmet, like wearing a condom, is one of those things known in the common discourse as a 'Good Idea', even if it barely fits or never even gets used during your time spent riding (minds out of the gutter, please).

In Hembrow's universe, helmets aren't for heads and condoms aren't for peepees.
The unasked question arising from the article intrudes nonetheless: So what?

The Dutch don't need helmets because their coddled by infrastructure that will not be implemented in my ward within my lifetime, so Hembrow's pronunciations are at best trivial, and at worst, a life-threatening abuse of logic.  For the time being, I am pleased to declare that the Dutch will not coerce me, by means either statistical or crafty, to expose myself to even the slightest iota of fatal risk, and thereby fulfill their plot against my life.

It was a good try, however.  It was a considerable improvement over the time they sent this guy after me:

Missed me!!

Till we meet again, Hollanders!!  Thpbpbpbpbpbpb!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Serenity: Dispensing Sanctimony (pun intended?)

Being an unsightly clod, who suffers from nervous gas and a debilitating need to constantly know my wattage output for any given task, I've grown accustomed to ridicule and rejection.  However, I was recently informed that my presence on Toronto's cycling forums is a bit of a downer.  Apparently, I'm too cynical and negative.

Thankfully, however, scientific analysis has proven that my blog is actually enfused with positivity:

" is probably written by a male somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time."
This appraisal is correct.  I am happy, often even serene, but I have achieved this sense of happiness through great struggle and rejection.  Being a misshapen fool with a compulsive need to lick used deodorant sticks during my youth, I was subject to constant ridicule and rejection.  However, I achieved a transcendence beyond my betters the day I watched a hipster on a de rigeur brakeless fixie pedal very slowly down Queen St, execute a de rigeur little skid, track-stand uncertainly, then weave into traffic and nearly get struck by a car, then mount the opposite sidewalk and collide with a pedestrian.  Watching the hispter's foray into the hardship known as Reality, a flowering of self-esteem blossomed within my bosom.

"I may be a misshapen fool," I thought, "but you ride a bicycle like an idiot."

Thinking that you're better than someone else is a heartening discovery, and there's no shame in it.  We all do it.  Sometimes it's even actually true, but it comes with a great deal of responsibility.  Like any sensible person with the usual urge to remain alive, I affix appropriate and visible lights to my bicycle, and use them.  Users of Urban Repair Squad's pharrow infrastructure do this:

Compact disc reflector seen on the Pathway to Enlightenment.
This type of nonsense is just not acceptable, but it's pretty much the standard sort of garbage one encounters when cycling in Toronto.  I'd like to be positive about progressive infrastructure and attitudes being fostered in Toronto, but when cars seem more capable of using Toronto's new bike boxes correctly than Toronto's cyclists, I cannot.

Toronto's cycling community needs encouragement.  Certainly, it does.  However, it also needs a bit more perspective than its smug, self-righteous, snobby cheerleaders are willing or capable of providing.

Unfortunately, I'm not the one to provide it ...but since no one else has as of yet volunteered to do it, I intend to do my best until they arrive.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dancing On the Pedals: Tenuously-Bicycle-Related Epherma

I was recently informed by a reader that they considered my Twitter coverage of Rocco Rossi's withdrawl of his mayoral bid to be in poor taste:

Tough shit.

Moving on, I was also recently accosted on the Pathway to Enlightenment by a cadre of Toronto cycling advocates leading a vague mob of ne'er-do-wells, slackjaws, and hoohas on bicycles about Toronto's core, pausing to gesticulate uncertainly at various intervals.  I initially feared I was witnessing a how-to course demonstrating the use of the Urban Repair Squad's advanced AI (Ass Infrastructure) planning, but then recalled that tonight's tenuously-bicycle-related event was actually just Bike Pirate's Bike To The Future.  I gawked momentarily, but fearing human contact I fled before anyone noticed my bicycle and invited me to join.

In truth, I have profound and debilitating issues associated with dancing.  In my youth, the teacher would play music and encourage us flail our limbs in syncopation.  However, she was a callous brute who misrepresented our pathetic attempts to improve her own performance review results with the board.  She once wrote on my report card, "Moves well to music," even though I was, in fact, having a seizure.

I also fled because they were playing 80s music, and I fear Michael Bolton like Rob Ford fears his mother's cabbage recipes.

Cabbage stank got nothin' on this.
Having returned to the safety and solitude of my hovel, I turned away from the cold teat of the outside world and embraced the lukewarmth of the Internet.  Thereupon, I was immediately confronted with news that I had lost the BIXI video contest, mainly because I hadn't submitted one.  I longed to, but my visceral fear of movie production technology, like my phobia of dancing, was too disabling (it gives me nervous gas).

Like Rob Ford, I believe in the traditional marriage of still pictures to old-timey piano rags, but I yearned to flirt with more homogeneous mediums like motion pictures just to have a chance to visit Hoopie again to pick up the prize.  I used to lurk in his store and pet the handle bars till one day he chased me out with a broom. I loved it in there, and I was very saddened to be banished.

Alas, I was unable to muster a submission.  The gas would not pass.

How I long to feel the warmth radiating from Hoopie's warm bulbous head again.

I miss you, Hoopie!  [Sad face.]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dining With the Enemy: URS, Meat Paste, and the Dutch

Gathering together with family is often a momentous and healing experience, and joining in the giving of collective thanks creates moments of revelation and empathy.  Unless you're in my family, where your Mother forgets which holiday we're celebrating and festoons the house in preparation for Passover.

Though the remembering of the Spirit of the Lord culling the first born is always a fun-filled family event, I tried to gently and tactfully reorient the festivities toward the correct holiday.  I'd nearly succeeded when someone asked (as someone is wont to do every year in a desperate attempt to think outside a non-existent box), "Why don't we try something other than turkey this year?"

I was initially pleased to be spared an Homeric dual of with my arch-aminonemesis, but when my Mother decided to take cues from the Dutch in preparing the alternative mode of celebration and prepared hutspot and pea soup served in clogs, I took one look at what had been placed before me and fainted face-first into my dish.


I'm beginning to fear the Dutch want me dead.  Their recipe for hutspot creates a goo with the perfect consistency to drown a man at a depth of 25.4mm.

The National Post captures the Dutch chanting, "Death to The Clog!"
For the time being, however, I am pleased to announce that I have survived all plots by the Dutch against my life ...and also against my palette.  To save the Thanksgiving feast, I fought fire with fire and, borrowing from both the Dutch technique of deep frying meat paste to create vaguely edible objects and Felt's advanced mold optimization strategies, I fashioned the hutspot into a turkey, deep-fried it to create the illusion of skin, and then baked it over a roaring clog-fueled fire.

The end result was an olfactory and gustatory obscenity ...but it was still better than hutspot.

Bidding goodbye to my family and returning to the other olfactory and gustatory obscenity, Toronto, I was affronted by headlines about Rob Ford dressing in drag to launch a tirade against cyclists eating the babies of poor harmless Scarborough drivers.  In search of more positive news, I turned to Herb Van Den Drool's blog and was enthralled to learn that the Urban Repair Squad has installed yet more infrastructure to guide and enable the cycling aspirants of Toronto for whom paying-attention-to-what-you're-doing is just too tedious.

Incapable of following basic traffic requirements?
That's OK.  Just go where you think is best.
Billed as another Toronto first, this unique piece of alternative infrastructure joins the pharrow as the second piece of Urban Repair Squad's program to provide alternatives geared to all riding skill levels ('incompetent boob' is a skill level in the Urban Repair Squad's manual) by alleviating Toronto cyclists of the responsibility to ride in any predictable direction.  Instead, the Urban Repair Squad encourages us, if we're incapable of riding sensibly, to go where ever we darn well feel like.

I'm pleased to see that the Urban Repair Squad is attending to the needs of all Toronto cyclists, and not just those of us with some sense and a will to remain alive.  The next time I'm riding downtown, I can look at the boob salmoning toward me in the bike lane and think "Thanks, Urban Repair Squad, for enabling this person to ride a bike."

When two imbecile cyclists collide head-on on this street, I hope I can be there to witness the coming together of misplaced entitlement and progressive infrastructure first hand.  If they're going fast enough, perhaps the world will be a better place afterwards.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Of Corn & Carbon: Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Firstly, I am ambivalent to announce that Tom Mosher has decided to host yet another Hell Track event.  Watching the videos of previous Hell Tracks, one would think that Hell Track 3 will be riveting and unforgettable.  However, for those uncertain whether to imbibe this instance of 'bicycle culture', allow me to summarize the event in advance for your convenience.

The event is patterned upon the Official Toronto Hipster Cycling Event template:

Pre-party:  Authentic real-live messengers will congregate, drink beer, and make fun of each other while begging off racing on the grounds that they can't get injured because they have to work.  Their authentic real-live hipster attendants will circumscribe the nucleus of messengers in a desperate attempt to fit in and rub shoulders.  Tom Mosher will spend the entire time talking to his friends and ignoring the attendants.  Trick riders will attempt ad infinitum to execute various manoevres without success.  Holding your breath here in anticipation of seeing something awesome means certain death. 

Race:  The racing will be so lame that some imbecile who doesn't have to work the next day will attempt unnecessarily theatrical maneouvres under the auspices of 'epic-ry'.  This will make the race seem epic by association.  Do not be fooled.

Post-race: Prizes are assigned.  Given the poor organizational skills and levels of inebriation, this portion of the event is tediously drawn out.

The whole event will be like taking a poop after eating corn: You'll stand there and think "Is that it ...or is there more?"

Speaking of stool passage, I am equally ambivalent to announce that the dieting fad of colonics has reached bicycle frame design.  Felt's frame designers have data-mined the age-old technique of wrapping toilet-paper around a cardboard tube to develop their InsideOut Internally Optimized Molding technology, which enables them to shave off precious ounces of manufacturing dross that "is stuck to the frame walls like spackle or paste."  As Felt engineer Ty Buckenberger puts it:
“The bottom bracket and other junctions are all nice and clean with no excess material inside.”
Snickering aside, Felt seems to have truly pushed the boundaries in their work.  With their InsideOut method, Felt can now eschew the lug-&-tube technology of last century's carbon frames (no, that's not a typo) in favour of molds that shape the carbon sheets and minimizes excess material build-up internally.  The assembly culminates thusly:
"Finally, the frame sections are joined using a special co-molding technique. The individual sections are bonded together and then co-wrapped."

An internally optimized toilet paper roll demonstrates Felt's wrapping technique.

In other words, lug-&-tube redux.  Such advancement!  However, Felt assures us that process is worthwhile because it delivers a frame that--wait for it...--offers unparalleled ride quality and weight savings, but at great cost.  As an amateur performance cycling enthusiast on a budget (read, 'that wheel sucking ass with a Sora gruppo'), I'm not able to make such significant investment, so when I want to improve my own ride quality and shave off precious grams, I prefer to employ my patented system of taking a pre-race poop.  The weight savings are astounding!

With that 'out of my system', I am also ambivalent to announce that I will not be blogging on Monday due to prior engagements with a turkey.  I do not mean that I have a dinner date with Rob Ford (though that probably would be a very effective weight-loss strategy).  Rather, I will be preoccupied attempting the unnecessarily theatrical maneouvre of ingesting fowlry for processing in a prostate prostrate position.

Unfortunately I must, by medical necessity, lay down prior to gorging on turkey, unlike others, who prefer to repose after the fact.  Being a misshapen oaf prone to nervous gas and suffering an irrational fear of pacifiers, I was once attacked with a turkey baster and exposed to a near fatal dose of tryptophan.  Ever since, even the mildest amount of trytpo-laced turkey can induce narcoleptic fits of deep slumber.  Four Thanksgivings ago, I plopped face-down in mash potatoes and nearly drowned.

It is my own personal epic sport and I like to tempt fate and push the extreme.  Last year, I conquered a leg.  This year, I hope to tackle the breast.  Next year's summit: dark meat!

If I live, I will resume posting on Wednesday.  Until then, thanks for reading and have a 'fully crunk' weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Good Ideas: Do Not Share Them

In every life, each and every one must face the time of passing.  For some, it is sudden, even tragically accidental.  For others, it is slow in coming.  Some face it with great fear; others with great acceptance.  The latter often have achieved a sense of closure and accomplishment.  They understand that it is time.

I refer of course to passing stool.  That is, taking a poop.

Some, at the time of passing, need to pass the time.  I, however, eat a lot of fibre, and so do not need to take a tome to the toilet.  Instead, I imbibe micro text apropos to the time being passed.  Typically this entails re-reading the directions on a condom I received years ago, but for which I have sadly never found a use.  Other times I simply read my Twitter feed.  Twitter, like all feed, is a continual source of nourishment; sometimes it even comes with a surprise buried in its cereal-like goodness.  However, yesterday, I was just plain shocked to read Toronto Cyclist Union's publicist Yvonne Bambrick's endorsement of a rant passed by soured EYE WEEKLY editor, Edward Keenan:

Knowing that Bambrick, like most riders of Dutch bikes, is too concerned about her good looks to dare ruin them with a helmet, I was unsurprised by her opposal to any encouragement to wear one.  I was, however, rather taken aback to read that others should henceforth "shut the fuck up."

Certainly, an old-school hip hop reference would have been more effective:

I guess I was naive to think that someone who brays incessantly--and without provocation--that she's a trained professional publicist would know better than to lash out so viscerally, especially at someone encouraging others to employ what is known in the common tongue as a 'Good Idea'.  Imagine the Toronto Cyclist Union lashing out at someone for suggesting that fenders are a good idea because they protect the rider from road spray? 

The absurdity is palpable: this same woman insists that sensible cycling necessitates a host of accessorial appliqués, such as a chain case, skirt guard, and fenders.  Each component is meant to protect the rider from threats vague and trivial.  But wear a helmet?  Ne'er!!

Perplexed by such gross inconsistency (and the subsequent discord of priorities...), I posed a question to Toronto's twits that I felt justified an answer:

However, being a socially-ostracized clod with complex odour issues and an uncontrollable nervous reflex to bark at shoelaces, I was shunned by my betters.  I am undeterred, however, and though our leaders may provide a poor example, I would like to issue, in their place, the following Public Service Announcement:

Coming soon as a frame sticker near you.  If you want one, details will follow in the coming weeks.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tail Winds: Charting New Courses in the GTA

Well  I guess not.  A bum squeeze would be a nice though.
Or at least a discreet glance at it.  That's why you're wearing sun glasses, isn't it?

Coiled on my floor in the fetal position and sobbing uncontrollably for four days and nights, I transcended unimaginable levels of consciousness and apprehended the manifold subtleties of Cycledom.  Ascending higher and higher, I achieved unity with Cycledom itself in a dharmic coalescence of Being, joining, then sublimating, then rejoining again in throbbing blissful ecstasy.

Then my phone rang with a recorded message soliciting my support for Rob Ford's mayoral campaign, recaptured below in an artist's rendering:

Braying Ass asks: "Can we count on your support on election day?"
Torn so savagely from Enlightenment, I lost all memory of my ascendant voyage.  In a desperate attempt to regain some sense of what I'd seen, I set out in my bicycle in search of touchstones that would resonate some lost fragment of illumination.  Though I saw manifold instances of abhorrent imbecility, I found no great illumination, until I accidentally happened upon the Kindly Sage with the Clean Shaven Legs.

I doff my dorky cycling cap to you, Kindly Sage with the Clean Shaven Legs, in full kit riding some sort of aerodynamic spaceship shod with Zipp wheels that I passed on the Queens Quay.  I took no pride in passing you because I knew I was only faster because I was the fresher and not delirious with exhaustion from a morning's worth of sprinting.  When waiting for the light, you shoaled not, but stayed behind.  When the light turned green, you politely waited for me to move left around the oblivious janitor sweeping garbage in the bike lane.  And lastly, when my cleat missed the clip down stroke and my foot slipped off the pedal, nearly face-planting me into my bars, you looked on with magnanimity like a young man pretending he can't smell his date's fart, even though the paint has begun to peel from the wall, all in the hope that he'll get laid later on.  Like the young man's date, you let it pass in silence.

You, sir, are a peerless gentleman.  You cycle with serenity, teach by example, and magnify my own errors without uttering a word of condemnation.

The Kindly Sage say, "A tail wind propels only the inferior man; the superior man notices it not."

Speaking of genteel farts, I'm a little surprised to see that Martino Reis hasn't already documented the Urban Repair Squad's latest bike infrastructure protest piece in The Grange:

Phallus sharrow: Pharrow?
(Note judicious appliqué of Celeste; clearly an infrastructure snob.)

Unlike their last piece, this installation requires no hermeneutical key.  It's clearly the next installment of U.R.S.'s attempt to install infrastructure appropriate to all levels of experience, including no experience at all.  The pharrow system is specifically targeted to Torontonians incapable of personal responsibility and awareness of their surroundings.  Rather than paying attention, blasé Toronto cyclists need only to follow U.R.S.'s  directional pharrow, which indicates the suggested route of travel if one wants to ride like a complete cock: haphazardly down the centre of the lane, as fast as possible, taking no responsibility for one's actions nor giving any respect to others on the route, and ideally, whenever possible, straight at any flock of pedestrians and small children also using the path.

Frankly, I'm surprised that the U.R.S. has left so many other areas thoroughly under-serviced by such equal-access infrastructure.  I'm currently recruiting a battery of kindly hobos to assist with the installation of my own protest campaign for equal access:

At the moment, I'm targeting the main cock blocks: pretty much all of the downtown core and every kilometre of recreational path in the GTA.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Double Profundity: All the Way Across the Sky!!

Having spent all of yesterday and today laying prostrate on the floor of my hovel curled in the fetal position, sobbing, and stuttering madly in stupefaction at the profundity of my recent discovery, I am incapable of penning an entry today.

Concerns about my welfare are appreciated.  Token offerings of cupcakes can be pressed into puck form and shuffled under my front door.  Chocolate is best.

I apologize for disappointing your fledgling optimism in this blog and beg your future patronage when I return with regular updates on Monday.


The Clog

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin: Epherma & Other Epiphanies

As a connoisseur of vintage Hallowe'en dross and other ephemera, I keep a keen watch on pumpkin crop predictions.  However, unlike previous years where I just wait for The Weather Network to run some human interest story to fill in the gaps between the rote repetition of plausible but improbable predictions about the weather, this year I planned an Homeric bicycle tour of local artisan pumpkin nurturers ('organic farming' is so over, the more holistic 'food nurturing' is topping teen trend charts at the moment) to survey their colour, heft, and general orbness personally.

Pumpkin surveying is thankless work.
In preparation for my fantastic voyage, I donned a pair of vintage Rayban Wayfarers, enwrapped myself in a plaid hoodie to brace myself against the frigid elements, and saddled 200lbs of touring supplies on my moderately immoral and sniffly brakeless touring bike (I stop by the sheer power of my will), and then walked it down the sidewalk like a pretentious twat

Walking my moderately immoral and sniffly brakeless touring bike of doom down the sidewalk to the outskirts of town, I realized that I would be missing tomorrow's much vaunted Art Spin finale.  Since traveling trivial distances by bicycle to view trivial visual stimulus is also an important part of my life, I decided to catch The Weather Network's round the clock coverage of this season's pumpkin nurturing on the TV later and turned back to prepare for the Art Spin ride instead.

Wondering about the proposed route for the Art Spin ride, I sat down beneath a tree and pulled out my Toronto Cycling Map to review what route planning the City of Toronto thought fit to send cyclists out upon.  However after staring at the map for sometime in a desperate search for some sensible and meaningful route, my mind gradually began to wander and my eyesight began to blur.  Gradually my sight focused and my mind noticed, not the bike lanes and proposed routes, but the enormous blank spaces between them.

I saw meaningless stubs and yawning chasms and began to feel strangely trapped.  Gripped by this alien sense of entrapment, I wondered when new urban planning would liberate Toronto with more facilitating infrastructure till a kindly hobo interrupted my train of thought and offered me a cupcake and a swig of his bourbon.  We chewed the moist cupcake in thoughtful silence when he suddenly extended a hand and introduced himself: "Estragon."  At that moment, I was suddenly seized by a realization so shocking I nearly added extra cushioning to my riding shorts.

I glanced up at the barren tree leaning over me.  Sitting under a barren tree?  With a hobo named Estragon?  Waiting for something that will never come in my life time?  And then I saw it...

I fell into a dizzy stupour and swooned into the kindly hobo's arms.  Coming to my senses, I stuttered madly like St Michael of Monday, so overflowing was I with prophetic revelation.  The hallmarks were all there: the apparent randomness of our journey; the search for meaning and guidance; the ultimate realization of the aimlessness of it all; the frustration and despair at the emptiness and the sense of insignificance; the attempt to impose a path to meaning and instill a sense of personal significance from within if not from without.

A gap in a bike lane that dead ends a few blocks away anyway?

Yes, I suddenly understood: Toronto's infrastructure isn't real infrastructure at all; it's actually an enormous Absurdist art installation.

Seen in Etobicoke: 'Use other sidewalk'?  What other sidewalk?!
Toronto cyclists aren't participants in an alternate modal scheme; they're the audience of the greatest wool-pulling in human history.  They pick their way across a patchwork of ridiculous routes, encountering disparate and random bits of 'infrastructure' that appear to offer meaningful guidance but ultimately lead no where.  Some search for guidance, but find none and begin to despair.  In the face of such despair, some impose their own routing of their journey and set forth regardless, while others wait for the Godot of Progressive Infrastructure under the wilting tree of city hall.

This realization got me wondering: who needs Art Spin when there's an entire exhibit waiting outside your door?

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Bicycle: Just Ride the Damn Thing

As part of the instituted regime of proselytization, cycling advocates often market cycling to the uninitiated by highlighting the benefits of cycling over driving, like improved physical fitness, the opportunity to flaunt your enviable sense of inappropriate attire for the physical task at hand, and the chance to relish hidden cafés nestled in vibrant communities while other patrons politely nestle themselves away from your olfactorally assertive person.  (I'm sure there's some dope somewhere trying to market the pungent reek of a sweaty cyclist as a trendy 'green' fragrance.)  Some even market the personal transformation that follows one's conversion of modal choice as practically a religious experience, which is plausible given this post I recently saw at

One can literally watch the author's prose deteriorate into incoherent babbling as he ascends from jubilation to ecstasy until, stuttering madly, his mortal soul is conveyed by angels unto the rapturous heights of beatification.  

Unfortunately, I've never been so lucky.  I just ride my bicycle.

For me, riding is rarely so satisfying, much less so orgasmic.  I rarely notice the rich, vibrant neighborhoods I ride through nor do I chance upon some hip new boutique selling artisanal oven mitts while I'm cycling.  All I notice is crappy pavement, crappy art on the pavement, actual crap on the pavement, nuisance traffic, nuisance orange pylons, and so on.  For me, commuting is a blur of honkbumphonkpylonbumpbumpzoomhonks.

In other words, it's like being humped by a Dutch clown.

As a oafish and misshapen clod with a poor sense of smell and socialization issues, being humped by a Dutch clown is sometimes the only human touch I receive during the month.  To make matters worse, my personal time with the Dutch clown is often invaded by swingers hoping to join in and make it an orgy and the whole thing just gets very messy: the roadies are always too fast; the randonneurs are too slow and have those unsightly, saggy bags; the art bike crowd wants to play with their toys; the fixie pixies don't know when to stop; the recumbent riders are only interested in one position; the sartorial cruisers insist on the pull-out method, rather than using a rubber, to maximize their quality of life; the messengers are only in it for the money ...and then there's the so-called utility cyclists, always the repressive Calvinists, who try to quash the fun by pushing their agenda of bicycle chastity by covering up the bits with naughty names 'bottom bracket', 'nut', and 'push rod', and by browbeating others into wholesome and sensible cycling, which as near as I can tell entails becoming an uptight tit with a reflective orange vest and a helmet mirror.

I find it all very intimidating and confusing, and so try to ignore it.  Again, I just ride my bicycle.

Finding one's self in cycling is difficult to do because there's so many prepared molds ready to shape your doughy mass.  Watching new cyclists crank their first timorous few gear-inches is fascinating because one can watch a grown adult re-endure all the uncertainty, image anxiety, and eagre but naïve exploration of their teenage years as they strive desperately to fit in.  I too went through bicycle puberty, but being an misshapen clod my misshapen peg didn't fit into any hole.  So I just ride my bicycle.

As some guy once said, "Go, and do thou likewise."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ambiguity & Acronyms: Imposing Narratives (Pun Intended?)

In these heady days of media saturation, garnering attention for your cause or institution requires persistence, keen cultural insight, and focused acumen.  However, if you don't have any of those, you can just make an old school hip hop reference and hope for the best:

The COC 'maintains authenticity' by referencing the mix tapes of yesteryear.
Unfortunately, not all institutions are able to sustain relevance through a judicious appliqué of such pregnant cultural references.  Some are forced to remind the world of their existence through more oblique methods, such hosting an extraordinarily 'crunk' pig roast, holding a 'nude-in' in protest of pretty much everything, or, in the case of the Urban Repair Squad (a.k.a. U.R.S.), by picking at a scab.

The U.R.S. recently attempted to address the gap between bike lanes on Harbord St by painting an image so ambiguous that it needed a supplemental heremeneutical key to decode its message:

At a glance the ambiguous stencil could imply an area with a high risk of wheel theft or refer to parking space for art bikes.  From the angle shown it also looks a like a descending invasion of Space Invaders aliens (that'd really trip somebody out as they cycled up to it):

Never mind the alien, here's an ambiguous bicycle stencil!

However, U.R.S. has employed its position of power to impose a narrative of coherence on the installation and proletarians of Art such as my clodish self must submit to their prescribed interpretation that the symbol is to represent confusion over the gapping bike lanes.*

Derp?: Proletarian of Art

I'm a little uncertain why there's so much fuss about connecting bike lanes when cyclists travel so much unmarked pavement without incident throughout the rest of the city.  The same advocates who encourage cyclists to ride defensively and use sound judgment, 'taking the lane' when there's insufficient space for a vehicle to pass and so on, are attempting to characterize this stretch of pavement as a veritable Gauntlet of Doom that will swallow you alive if you go wheeling into its jaws.  The inconsistency confuses me more than the stenciled item splayed out on the pavement in front of me.

I also question why U.R.S. couldn't be a little more productive and just go ahead installing the sharrows that would offer a bit more guidance than their ambiguous stencil series (A.S.S.?).  Such a gesture would put Rob Ford in a bind because they'd be cutting costs by installing infrastructure themselves while using a medium that Ford would consider vandalism.  It would be so rich in irony that flocks of hipsters would migrate down Harbord St from Sam James Coffee Bar to gather in their vicinity and smoke poutingly while complaining that "the old pavement was better."

Tooth Paste for Dinner
However, I'm glad to see that U.R.S., like typical white people, having raised awareness are now sitting back and leaving the real work of urban renewal up to the City of Toronto because, frankly, the city is in dire need of practice.  The city's fledgling foray into installing sharrows on College St was a farce (sure, they're visible when there isn't a car parked over them), but their Lansdowne Ave attempt showed some promise.  I'm sure they'll improve.

Here's hoping that in the interim U.R.S. will refrain from installing more bike lane infrastructure for getting from here to there (B.L.I.G.H.T.?) on the assumption that Toronto's cyclists are too stupid to travel a few blocks without being coddled by a few white lines.  They've made it this far, and I have some faith in them.

In the interim, I'd rather U.R.S. focus their acumen at those riding along the sidewalk even though a bike lane has been provided for their convenience.  Now that's a farce.

* A note from THE CLOG: If your mind didn't wander at the word 'gapping', then be blest; you are truly pure of heart.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy By-law Day: Enriching Life Through Enforcement

Firstly, I must wish everyone a happy Car Free Day, a special memorial day in which the privileged nations of the West consecrate the Ascension of The Ecological Movement to improbable heights (the birth of our Saviour, The Ecological Movement, is consecrated on Earth Day).  I spent the day in meditation, general feasting, and the imbibing of festive booze.  In other words, I spent the day as usual I do.  However, like most socially progressive middle-class white people in Toronto, I felt a slight pang of guilt that I should 'do the right thing', and so decided to make some sort brief acknowledgment of the occasion.  As today is also the Moon Festival and I like to be efficient, I decided to also make some gesture to the Chinese community in appreciation for their good food, cheap crap, and beautiful women.

I cast around for a suitable ethnic and vaguely ecological sacrament and decided, after much leafing through trendy lifestyle magazines, to celebrate with a tea ceremony: the boiling of the water, the savouring of the tea's bouquet, the admiration of the its colour, all consummated by the general slobbering and slurping of the cup's contents while I jingled the change in my pocket and watched squirrels lock in a gladiatorial embrace over the remnants of the neighbour's bird feed. 

Watching squirrels lock in fatal struggle over sustenance eventually got me wondering how the Toronto BikeThink Workshop had gotten on yesterday.  Though I was unable to attend, I was able to pay-off a few saddle-sniffing low lives  for the scoop: Team Oranje finally won a play off ('Dit is het jaar'!) with their revolutionary concept of copying other cities.  Sure, it was only a hastily put-together rough outline based on a brief observation of the infrastructure, but hey, it's the fact that they're Dutch that counts, right?  I'm sure its goal to improve cyclists' safety will impress the city council mightily.

Unfortunately, I doubt it will.  The proposals may have sent cycling advocates into raptures of infrastructural orgasm, but it just plain reeks to the roughened nostrils of the hard-nosed suburbanites who are catapulting Rob Ford's mighty impression into the mayor's chair.  After listening to their comments, one gets the impression that they sincerely believe that every vote for Rob Ford takes one cyclist off the road.  I wouldn't rush to dismiss them either because, by a shrewd appliqué of policy, it very well could.

Rob Ford sincerely wants cyclists and pedestrians to be safe.  His answers to TCAT's 2006 survey reflect that.  Ford also wants to save money.  Ford also wants to clear the road for cars.  How can he do all three?  Pass a Toronto by-law making helmets mandatory for cyclists.  The precipitous drop in cycling has been lamented in other nations that have adopted such policy.  It's a inexpensive by-law with the convenient consequence of appearing sincerely concerned for the safety of 'those people'.  And Torontonians, ever vigilant of their vanity, will be unknowingly coerced, just to avoid helmet hair.

Unfortunately, Rob Ford may be an ass, but he's not a dumb ass, and I'm afraid that Toronto's cycling advocates are severely underestimating his administration's capacity for dirty politics.

That said, there are some genuinely positive things for Toronto cyclists from Ford's campaign.  For the time being, Ford's team has become hyper-vigilant to avoid costly losses in voter support, which means we don't have to worry about their motor homes parking in bike lanes for at least another six weeks.

A fitting conveyance for people who treat their cars like a living room on wheels.
And now, back to the squirrels...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Full of Win: Goodbye Vélo

While fantastically voyaging down Front St on Saturday evening, I glanced longingly at the displays of pizza at a local artisanal pie maker when, in a rather brutish appropriation of my attention, my subconscious fault-finder bade me turn and behold this:

My mind raced furiously to identify what my subconscious fault-finder was trying to tell me.  Was it the questionable clearance of the STI brake lever?  The unnecessarily precipitous ergo position of the bullhorns that has been solved to everyone else's satisfaction with a judicious appliqué of time-trial bars?  The comically low spoke count for what is very likely a commuter bike?  (Oh sure, you could race on that old Cannondale CAAD frame.  Sure, you could...)  No, it was the fact that the owner had disappeared inside to order a pizza and had not locked the bloody thing up or even appointed someone to watch over it.

Sometimes my heart is softened to compassion and I am compelled to try to interpret this scenario charitably.  Perhaps this bike actually belonged to famed Canadian racer Ryder Hesjedal, who'd been let out to carb-load after being recently confiscated by his handlers at Pearson Airport and put on display at Hello Vélo before being shortly returned to storage till his scheduled contractual obligation at the Queens Park Grand Prix the next day.  Perhaps squads of Hello Vélo enforcers lurked in every Volkswagen and Audi on Front St and there was no threat to Hesjedal's Cannondale what so ever.

More likely, the owner's just an incautiously optimistic dumbass.

I prefer the latter interpretation for two reasons.  Firstly, Hello Vélo's enforcers are incapable of protecting a Cannondale; it's too inexpensive to induce the average Hello Vélo grunt to pay attention to it.  And secondly, Cannondales seem to have an inglorious history of being left unattended by their equally inglorious owners here in Toronto.  I previously saw this stunning specimen of bike theft languishing in the ham-fisted grip of an oafish fool who was clearly 'just browsing' at Urbane Cyclist, and then later saw it shackled on Dundas St outside the AGO, where I documented its suffering:

Yes, those are Ultegra STIs shorn of their shift cables on upturned drop bars:

Speaking of misappropriation and disappointment, I'm pleased to announce that the University Ave prix lane was removed in time for Monday morning's influx of Ford supporters.  Despite its short flowering, the prix lane was an excellent venue (though I'm sure those pushing for Copenhagen style infrastructure are still fuming over the firm rejection of their petition to install cobblestones on the course).  The course proved sufficiently challenging to cleave the field into two pelatons during the Pro-Am race, effectively creating two races to help satiate the short-attention-spanned of the crowd.  (For reasons I've never been able to uncover, the women's races need no such distraction.  I simply do not get it.)

Like other fans in attendance, I was extremely pleased to see talent such as Ryder Hesjedal and Michael Barry perform well.  However, I was extremely displeased to see fans and other Canadian cycling bloggers fail to pause their triumphal procession for Hesjedal and give due credit where credit is due: Jeffery Schiller kicked ass.

That said, however, I must admit that, despite the fierce competition of the Pro-Am race, I found the event's most thrilling moment of rivalry flourished during the post-race bitching from the amateur men's riders, who competed with vigour to see who could out-rationalize their failure or out-piss-and-moan each other about equipment malfunction or poor strategizing.

I'm not a loser, I just win at the wrong things. | Get Fuzzy

The clear winner was a perpetrator of a momentary fracas in which he complained vociferously to a friend of another's encroaching too closely to his side, while the offending rider followed shortly behind hollering "Yo, I'm right here.  You wanna start something?  I'm right here."  There's something about lean, white dilettantes in spandex that lends an elegance to their nerd rage.

To quote an excerpt from Toronto's latest bike plan to be dismissed on the grounds of impracticality: "Settle down, boys, settle down."