A Confession and an Angry Letter

Ok, here’s my confession: I read women’s magazines — Cosmo, Glamour, Jane, Lucky, etc. What can I say? I’m a print junkie and a librarian…magazines are all over the place in both my home and my office!

So, the other day, I was flipping through the May 2008 issue of Marie Claire magazine, and I ran across something that got my blood boiling. On the last page there’s a column called “The Opinionated Guide to May”, and in that column is a photograph of a bicycle and the caption “Bike To Work Day, Friday May 16: Arrive at Work Day, Monday May 19“…implying that it is such a long, tedious effort to ride a bike to work that one shouldn’t even bother! At least, that’s the implication I’M reading into it!

So, angry as I was, I decided to fire off a letter to the editor. Here it is:

Dear Marie Claire Magazine,

I was upset to read a snide comment in “The Opinionated Guide to May” in the May 2008 issue of your magazine (last page…the comment about Bike to Work Day).

Comments like this are typical of the SUV-driving, latte-sipping conspicuous consumers your magazine caters to; this comment is neither witty nor humorous — rather, it is catty and utterly misguided. Research has shown that for trips around five miles or less, a bicycle is actually faster than driving…and there is no need to spend an additional ten minutes hunting around for a parking space! Bike to Work Day is the one time many slovenly fatasses get off their couches and out of their cars…and who knows? Maybe they’ll like the experience so much that they’ll rethink their transportation priorities!

In this day and age when “going green” is all the rage, your magazine should be supportive of the efforts of people who are doing their small part in making this world a less-congested, more environmentally responsible place. By riding bicycles, we bike commuters are saving money, getting exercise and reducing the amount of smog in cities. Also, spending time on a bicycle is way cheaper than paying a therapist…the woes and stresses of everyday life just melt away once the wheels start spinning.

I hope you will avoid comments like this in the future, but for now, on behalf of my two-wheeled brothers and sisters, please allow me to offer you a hearty “screw you” for thumbing your nose at bicyclists. You should be ashamed.

Jack Sweeney
“Ghost Rider”
Tampa, Florida

I threw some ugly jabs in there just for good measure…no one ever accused me of being tactful or diplomatic!

If comments like this disturb you as much as they do me, I urge you to take pen in hand and let people know how unhelpful these kinds of things are. If you want to send the editor of Marie Claire a comment, here’s her email address:

If I hear back from them, I’ll be sure and post the response.

Editor’s note: This is really not the best way to handle such a grievance…the thoughtful commenters below advocate calmness and rational discourse rather than attacks, and they’re right — in situations like this, it is better to step away for a moment, take a deep breath and respond to these slights in a more diplomatic manner. I’ll try to do the same!

Dang, I hate it when that happens

I hate it when I use my nether-regions to adjust my bicycle seat…just plain dislike the very essence of my saddle shifting out of it’s highly physically-resistant placement by nothing else except my bike-short-chamois and 180 pounds of Jeff.

I did it twice today.

So in what, to me at least, is a very natural progression of logical thought, I wondered to myself:

Have clipless pedals ever acted as a theft deterrent? Has someone ever tried to steal a bike and been so rushed to pedal away – whether because the bike owner was chasing the thief, or the thief was just plain scared – and had their feet slip off the clipless pedals, resulting in the agonizing pain of groin meets top-tube?

I am sure someone out there has a story, or knows someone who has a story…

Your mom must be so proud

We all fall victim to ranting in the passion of a moment, and this is just that. Call it a flaw of the internet for providing instant information and access to an audience.

I caved in and drove to work today – the first weak moment of the day (writing this being #2). I am not one to make excuses, but here are my excuses: I rode an extra 10 miles yesterday after work to get to a starbuck’s “jam session” with a friend, then continued on to church, then back home (at 8:30 pm). I had a long day yesterday, and it was cold this morning (for Phoenix at least). Moving forward…

As I am driving home this afternoon, I am cruising along in the middle of 3 lanes, approaching a stop light. A beat-up GMC Jimmy (missing one side-view mirror) speeds past me on the right, and the guy was obviously not paying attention to what was happening in front of him – 6 or so cars were stopped as the car at the intersection was waiting to make a right turn. The Jimmy on my right notices that the cars in front of him are not moving, slams on the brakes and cuts in front of me at the same time. All of this happens within inches of my precious hood. The guy proceeds to swerve around a bit as he settles into this lane, then resumes driving like a moron. Thankfully, no physical contact was made, aside from my hand on my horn.

As we approach the next light, I am still in the middle lane, and this guy has moved over to the far left lane. Cars come to a halt, and I notice that I will be pulling up right alongside the guy. I can see him edging forward as much as possible to prevent us from being right next to each other. No such luck for this fine gentleman. His windows are down, and a similarly aged female is in the passenger seat, seemingly oblivious to all that has taken place. This was my first real look at what this guy looked like. Late 20s-ish, smaller guy – I could take him if I needed to (although I like to think of myself as non-violent).

As I come to a stop, I simply stare to my left, and the guy is glancing out of the corner of his eyes, then sort of turns his head a bit more to me – all the while one hand is providing him some sort of false sense of security. Then it happens…

He flips me off.

He, flips ME, off.

I was caught so off guard by this gesture that I started laughing. The light turned green and the guy quickly accelerated out of view.

He flipped me off.

The guy has the nerve to cut me off because he doesn’t pay attention to the 3000 pound hunk of crappy American steal he controls, and then give me the universal sign of “go F- yourself.” I was stunned. I still am.

the classic

Thanks Moe for reminding me about the “classic” image.

I am disappointed, because this brief interaction with a stranger has left me wondering where all the civility has gone? The fingers can be pointed in many directions, but I won’t do that just yet. I hope that occurrences like these are rare – but I cannot say that for sure. I have yet to have a similar interaction while riding my bike, so maybe this is just one more reason to stay out of the car.

Fixed Gear Friday:Fake Fixies

While browsing through LA’s Online Bike Flea Market (CraigsList) I noticed an interesting trend: Faux Fixies. What is a fake fixie? They are late model bikes that have been converted to single speeds but try to look like fixed gear bikes:

I really dig the concept of giving old bicycles new life, but I have mixed feelings about the ‘faux fixie’ look, especially when these bikes are selling for over $250 bucks and some of them are being advertised as fixed gear bikes.

Don’t tase me bro!

A 39-year-old Illinois man was Tased after he ran from police trying to stop him because he was riding a bicycle with improper lighting equipment, the Enterprise Record reported.

Police said when a Glenn County sheriff’s deputy got the attention of Omar Herrada Rivera, he jumped from his bike and started to run away, the newspaper reported.

After the deputy chased him half a block and warned the cyclist several times he would use the Taser, the deputy did, according to the report.

But police said the man did not receive a shock, the newspaper reported.

Police told the Enterprise Records the deputy’s use of the Taser was justified because the suspect was running toward a home.

Rivera was charged with resisting arrest, riding a bicycle without proper lighting, riding under the influence of alcohol and use of false citizenship/government documents.

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