Canto III

In which we ride by the beach.

The Third leg of the trip was the one that I was excited for. Just a few miles biking along the beach, and enjoying the sun. For a couple hundred meters, it actually wasn’t that bad. Any why would it be bad? There were two lanes going each way, and the cars had ample space to go around us. Plus traffic was light. Having just ridden on a highway, we were all a little frazzled, so the calmer road was a welcome break.

two lanes next to Revere Beach

But it was a chance moment, in an otherwise uninterrupted harassment bonanza. The honking began, and our fear responses were potentiated by our previous highway experience. Stocky men yelled at us from trucks. Obese women honked from vans. Southeast asian men came within inches of our handlebars. The back and forth between me and the drivers was standard. Get on the sidewalk; fuck you. Move over; fuck you. You look like fags; fuck you. Only afterwards did I realize that my comebacks were lacking in variation. Whenever someone would yell at us, I could only yell the same two words back. They came out like a growl – a combination of hard breathing and unadulterated rage.

And then two lanes became one.

Riding became much worse and we gave up riding on the road like decent, hardworking, respectable cyclists. I acquiesced and we got on the sidewalk like so many teenagers and BU students. It was embarrassing. So fuck you Revere. There is a reason that your beachfront property is affordable. The reason is that your city is populated by animals in people suits. I suppose most people are picturing pigs or something in a person suit, because everything imagines a mammal when they hear animal.  Many mammals are capable of emotions and empathy, so this may not be the best comparison, but then again some of them eat their young. So, it would be best to imagine cannibalistic hamsters in human suits. I guess there would have to be like 100 hamsters in each human suit, but that just means more hamster babies for them to eat.

By the time this sidewalk ended, we didn’t have any choice, but to jump back into the shittiness. After all, we couldn’t give up. We are going to the beach and we are going to have. A. GOOD. TIME.

The fourth leg was a new jersey style strip, where chain restaurants are next to shitty dive bars and run down local businesses. It was barely noon, and there were bar flies standing outside, smoking cigarettes; already a drink or two in. We were in Lynn and I was wondering if that famous lyric was true. Were these boozers once different people from a different city? Did they come out the same way that they came in? Or is that a moot question? No one ever moves out of Lynn, or into Lynn, for that matter. They had the premature wrinkles that you see on people with hard lives.

We made it around the rotary with minimal honking. People still sped past us, and they still drove like assholes, but it was manageable. This was like cycling in Sullivan square, so it wasn’t so bad. Familiar, even.

The fifth leg consisted of the isthmus, which connects Nahant to Lynn. Nahant is supposed to be the beginning of the wealthy north shore, and the end of the city of sin, so we were excited. Assuming that cycling opinions divide roughly by education and SES, we should be home free. The land bridge had two lanes, but no bike lane or sidewalk. Drivers could pass us with ease, if they wanted to.

I apologize if this was predictable, but the drivers didn’t want just pass us with ease.

The would drive up behind us and tell us to get on the sidewalk (there was none) or the bike lane (there was none). I should qualify this by saying that there were patches of side walk, and an occasional shoulder. None consistent enough to ride on.

One guy swerved toward us in an attempt to push us to the right. I memorized his license plate number. I didn’t know why, but I did. One guy yelled at us for a while, and explained that he was a biker (yeah right) and told us to “get to the side” wherever that was. Before I could explain he sped off, I managed to memorize  his 4 digits of his license plate number. If I saw his car, my plan was to let the air out of his tires.

One guys revved his engine and came up behind us, as if he was waiting for us to scatter like a school of fish. Then he abruptly changed lanes and passed us. Bastard.

I want to be clear, none of these were isolated incidents. We were completely law abiding in every way, and people just treated us like dirt. This post has gotten too long. I’ll have to detail the return trip in the fourth edition.

Canto dos

The first two legs (read: circles) were going to be bad, but we knew that. But we thought that there would be a bike path for the first leg. When we got to the “bike path”, we thought it looked strange, but by then it was too late:

Admiral Ackbar was right, of course. Google bike maps is a motherfucking trap. We, the three travelers, naively thought that this bike path would be worth it. It was not worth it. It was a sidewalk. See diagram below for illustration of the first and second legs.

After the sidewalk of the first leg ended…..we were trapped. There was nowhere to go but a 3 lane highway; so we went.

It sucked. Biking on a highway sucks. The view was actually quite beautiful, because we could see East Boston and old New England homes rising on a hilltop like a Montmartre with more trees. I feel like saying that there was nowhere to pull over, but the fact was there were some places where we could have. None of us wanted to stop to take photos because all of us were driven by the single thought: “make this end.”

As the cars flew past us, some of them honked, some of them cut in too close, and some of them yelled at us. The second leg didn’t end soon enough, but we were only half way through.

A bike ride into the maw of hell

Canto I.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

That’s right, I’m going to be quoting [paraphrasing] Dante in this blog post and there is nothing you can do about it. I’ve been mulling over this bike ride for a week, and that’s where I’m at. I have no idea how to phrase what happened in this trip. The road was fucking brutal, and thinking about it makes me want to say classist things about the bleak hellscape north of the mystic and south of Gloucester.

Ah me! How hard a thing it is to say.

What was this [road] savage, rough and stern?

Which in the very thought renews the fear.

I don’t use the term hellscape lightly. Some people call New Jersey a hellscape, but that’s more of a har-har hellscape of capitalism and chain restaurants. New Jersey fills you with ennui and a desire to leave. The road to Nahant fills you with a loathing for humanity, a fear of the lower class, a distrust for the police, and the desire to take your own life so that you never have to remember that terrible place.

I traveled with two women, whose names are redacted and not given.

It starts, much like the divine comedy: with some confusion about exactly how we are supposed to get to hell. The main difference here is that we three weren’t looking for yucks circumnavigating Satan’s semi-conscious chewing of the great betrayers (read the book, you illiterates). We just wanted to go to the beach.

And google biking directions was the shittiest Virgil out there. I’ll follow this up with more posts.

The New Invisible Bike

Yeah, the lolcat was funny while it lasted, but this is the kind of invisible bike that I would want to ride. Jimmy Kuehnle is an artist (in San Antonio) who is best known for his inflatable suit performances, and who somehow built this bike. Kudos, good sir.

Motorists and Pedestrians

Dear Boston Biker,

I saw this today and thought of us. It’s from the Oatmeal’s website, and it is concerning “slight differences”. One such difference is between cars cutting each other off, and pedestrians doing the same. Click on the photos for a larger view.


The kind of bike porn where one of the dudes has herpes. Bike Herpes.

Spotted this beauty the other day. I have NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING. Is is it a fungus?

Maybe it looks like dirt or something (that;s what she said) from this angle, so I’m going to show this from another view.

I think the grossest angle is the one that shows the depth of these lesions. It kind of looks like burnt mozzarella, or the cheese on top of nachos. Did the tire partially melt?

That’s right, they stick out a few millimeters. Bike Herpes. It is contagious?

If you know the owner of this bike, or you know anyone who has touched this bike, then now is the time to call them and let them know.

Delta Strikes Down Cyclist Who Uses Powers for Good

As a cyclist who uses my powers mostly for self-interest, I’m always happy to hear about those who use their abilities for good.

Like the guy from Tri and Give a Dam (BTW: amazing name). This guy races all around the country to raise money for clean water in Kenya. Good guy, right? I just use my bike to humiliate Northeastern students, and get to work on time.

Anyway, Delta airlines fucked up his bike. See video:

If you want to know more, you can check out this article in the Consumerist. Personally, I’m never going to fly Delta. They charged him $200 to fly with his bike, and a) won’t reimburse him for his bike and b) won’t even refund him the $200.

I have always wanted to bring a bike on the plane with me, so I can bike around my destination, but I’ve never done it. Basically because I know that airlines don’t care about bikes, and shit like this will eventually happen. Plus it’s fucking expensive. Has anyone brought a bike on a plane?

The kind of Bike Porn where the actors are too dumb for you to enjoy it

I stumbled across this beauty, which seems to have been manufactured by the GMC company. Hey, I’m all for car companies investing in Bikes – it’s the smart thing to do. Unfortunately, it looks like GMC put as much thought into their “Denali” bike as they did into their cars.

If you’re wondering about the name, the Denali is a mountain in Alaska, which makes sense because this is a road bike. Oh, and Denali is also a line of cars from GMC. So why not compliment a 40k car with a $170 road bike? Yeah. Good marketing.

More visible weld porn

I didn’t lift it, but I’ll make a bet that this bike weighs a good 30 lbs. Just check out the thickness of the dropouts! I’m not sure if it is visible from this photo, but they are just so THICK. Like disgustingly thick.

I don’t know why they did this. Maybe General Motors just doesn’t know that a bike is supposed to be light. Maybe they just didn’t have the know-how or budget to manufacture some decent dropouts. Maybe they were  lazy?

But the raison-du-blogeuire is truly the owner’s choice of a lock. Please, children look away. Adult males: try and make sure the screen is outside of punching range. I think adult females can probably handle this, but I’m sure there is some precaution they should take.

First, let’s just take a moment to examine this giant turd in its entirety. Then, turn your attention to the tiny cables. That’s right: it’s locked with not one, but two easily clipped locks. The kind that are meant for helmets, or to lock small pieces of paper to one another. ZOOM:

I think the scissors on my keychain can cut through this

And there you have it. The type of bike porn where the actors are too dumb for you to enjoy it. This might be the most retarded bicycle ever created. I am, of course, included the Fixed Speed in this superlative. I wonder how long this bike will last, or if the owner uses it for anything besides putzing around town. Does he race triathlons on this? Is this one of those guys who pulls up infront of you at a light, only to bike at half your speed?


Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

I had some stuff to take care of in the city (boston proper) yesterday, and I had a little downtime beforehand. So, I decided to explore the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy park.

For the uninitiated. the RFK park is the sweet, green fruit of the big dig.  The space for the park was a result of when the city buried the central artery, so the park more or less runs on top of route 93. I’d say that it’s an improvement over the shit-show of a state highway running through the biggest city in New England.  And it only took 30 years and what, like 25 billion dollars?

Anyway. If you have a chance – the park is beautiful and practical. You can walk (or bike) from the North end, all the way to Chinatown. How cool is that?

Of course, there are some shitty portions. In the North end, it is a paradise of fountains and dogs catching frisbees, but the park gradually gets smaller as you approach the waterfront and South Station. I crossed the street around South station, hoping to find more park, but it was just a sidewalk with some green patches on the side. I’d say that Chinatown got cheated in this deal.

The other drawback for my cyclist fellows is that a lot of the paths are gravel, and might mess up your paintjob/ give you a flat tire. So, for some parts, I ended up biking on the sidewalk like a teenager, or shirtless guy with vertical bar extenders.

My final complaint is that it wasn’t even evident to me that this park existed. In google maps, all I can see is route 93. In Bike-view, I can kind of see the RFK park, but it is dwarfed by all the high traffic roads around it.

Anyway, I’d like to see this park expanded, but I somehow doubt that this will ever happen. Oh well. Here is a photo of a bike with a flower in it a la Chic Cyclist.

Cyclostat vs. The Prius

Last night I had an encounter with one of those rude drivers that we all love to hate. The gf and I were biking South on Mass ave, two abreast, in light traffic. We weren’t taking up more than half a lane. If you measured from the parked cars to my left elbow, we took up maybe 4 feet: about the size of a bike lane. So the cars are just passing us on the left without difficulty and at low density. Most people can imagine what happens next – the beep. Not the beep beep of a friendly hello, but an all caps e-mail of GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY. Perplexed, I watched as a Prius passed us at 40ish mph without difficulty. There was no traffic in the left lane. No bottle neck. The Prius was beeping just because…she had to switch lanes? I don’t know.

Then, like page out of my revenge fantasy diary, the light turns red and she’s trapped. I turn to my gf for permission to engage: permission granted. The hunt was on and I knocked on the Prius’ passenger side window.

“Pardon me. I was wondering why you honked at us.”

Her eyes widen and she defensively explains some bullshit that’s muffled through the windows. Whatever; she’s just complaining that we were riding two abreast. I can smell her fear.

“I can’t hear you. Can you roll the window down.” Not that I care what she has to say. Did I just want to take her barrier away?

She becomes more agitated, and makes lane semaphores, in further explanation that I was taking up a whole lane.

“We’re legally allowed to take up a lane. We didn’t do anything wrong.” My gf backs me up by saying “That’s the truth”

She tries to explain something that I can’t hear, so I hit her with the crazy eyes, accompanied with the manic smile. The light turns green and I stay right at her window. Smiling.

She erratically accelerates and take a swooping right down the wrong side of a street. Had there been traffic in the street that she turned down, she would have been in a head-on collision.

Did I just win?

I’m not sure why I did this, or what I hoped to accomplish. My original goal was not to freak this woman out, but rather to hold her accountable and rip off her mask of automotive anonymity. I wasn’t intending on giving her the manic smile, or the crazy eyes, but hey that’s what happened. I’m a weird guy. I didn’t want to be aggressive – I intentionally used overly polite language. In the end, I think that it was the loss of anonymity was truly terrifying to her; it was the equivalent unmasking some internet troll.

If anyone else is hit with a similar situation, I think that we can learn from this. We don’t need to give a middle finger, or call them assholes. I think that all we need to a polite tap on the window and an inquiry into their actions.

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