Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter Distractions

Not much to report on the bike right now -- too much of a wuss to hit the gravel with Local Steve, so I've just been staying inside, occasionally hitting the indoor bike, getting fat, and reading. But, being obsessed, at least my books are bikey. As always, if you chase these links to Amazon and do commerce, my beak gets slightly moistened. You've been disclosed.

First up on the pile was Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes. 

Sadly, I came away from this one with the conclusion that pretty much anywhere in the U.S. is probably trying harder to improve bike life than Des Moines. On the upside, Mapes did put to paper something I've always believed should be true: That putting more bikers on the street makes the situation better for bikers. It's my "Critical Mass every day" argument in a real live book! Cars will only respect bikers when bikers become normal and expected. One nut with studded tires and a funny hat (guilty) can't do it alone.

Once I'd had my self-vindication from PR, I turned to the book everyone with a bike seems to be talking about: David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries.

I first picked this up at the not-local-mega-book-chain, browsed a couple pages, thought, "Hmph, not really for me," and put it down. But so many people I trusted seemed to love it that I checked it out from the actually-local-library. And you know what? Just like Mikey and his Life cereal, I liked it. I really liked it. Do not come to this book looking for a bike-centric "Here's-what-I-rode-and-where-I-rode-it" tale. It ain't that -- which probably explains my initial reaction. It's really a travel book, but the author (being David Byrne and all) gets to travel to a lot of cool places and chooses to do so with a folding bike. The bike influences how he sees the places he visits (which is probably way too obvious to anyone who's traveled on two wheels), but -- to quote another bike book, it's not about the bike. Be also warned... the author has a political slant that some might find distasteful. Me, I'm so far left I almost fall off the edge (and I dig Talking Heads music), so I'd love to put in some saddle time with Mr. Psycho Killer.

Just to prove that I'm not only reading that old-fashioned paper stuff, I've also thrown large chunks of time down the rabbit hole reading The Oatmeal. Oh sure, maybe I'm just biased toward sites that are "The" anything, being The Cycle and all, but this stuff is downright funny. Not bike related, sorry, but during a winter like this, I need a good laugh wherever I can get it. Note that there are some kid-/work-inappropriate words in there if you happen to be surfing in a PG-rated setting. Ever wonder how a Web design goes straight to hell? Or how to use an apostrophe? The Oatmeal knows. I even learned that I can survive for 54 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor.

On that non sequitur note, I need to go tend to a very rust-encrusted chain that's soaking in a Crock Pot full of wax. I fear the patient may not survive, but if he pulls through, I'll give a full report on my methods in case anyone else is suffering from WCS: Winter Chain Syndrome.


Andy R said...

"I even learned that I can survive for 54 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor."

Hey, me too!

Steve Fuller said...

Gravel ride leaving my house 8:30 AM this Saturday. Endurance pace. 100km. I'll loan you a bike if you need it. Fat tires are making the commute easier.

I too read the Bicycle Diaries. My politics are varied depending on the issue, but I'm definitely not right (center or left of center), so I really didn't take a lot of issue with those things. While I found some of the descriptions of what he did and who he saw interesting, there were some points where the only mention of the bike was that he took one to get to point X. It was OK, but not as good as I was hoping for.

If you haven't read The Rider by Tim Krabbe, it's a good read. I have a copy if you want to borrow it.