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.