Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tour Submontane

Before Tour de France commences along coasts and pursues alps, couldn’t resist a quick look through Bike Snob’s latest book, The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishing, May, 2016, 240 pp.). Unlike earlier offerings, author Eben Weiss has honed and toned his humor for an insightful exposé of condoned aspects of contemporary bikedom with practical ink for urban boredom. Not one to dodge a dare, he dives right into controversy and expects your conditioned outrage. He does, however, provide concise answers to the nagging questions of fear and inconvenience that deter two thirds of nation who don’t ride, though he’d make a better stand up comedian with whom you’d want to someday share a beer and steer toward sincere.

Ultimate it’s not, instead an abridged compendium of hundreds of books covering identical subjects in greater depth. Resembles an Edwin Abbot x-y spin in flatland that crests no peaks and possesses no z in spaceland. Can hardly find any point with which to get nose out of joint. Bold and captivating chapters concern the future and your rights as a bicyclist. “The automobile did its best to figuratively and literally kill the bicycle. It failed.” B&C has been reporting details of B-icycling C-ulture for decades over thousands of pages and still honking uphill. Worrisome on immediate horizon are self-driving cars, which might impose onus for road safety back onto bicyclists. Worry, however, wastes imagination. Those who assess motoring’s costs seldom mention mining tons of among planet's rarest metals, palladium and platinum, for catalytic converters. Filthy Big Oil rightly bears brunt of global disgust, but surely aren’t the only bad actors enabling automotive lust.

Disagree about swapping front tire onto back out of sheer impracticality. Two remounts? Tiresome. Besides, always replace used tubes with new; tire levers abrade whatever they touch. Front tires can take on sidewall cuts and splits from unseen potholes and stones, from which your quick reflexes protect rear, so wear can be different but no less traumatic. You could carefully inspect, lay aside, and once you have a pair, mount onto your wheelset spare, nice to have on hand when at doormat ready for combat and inconveniently find a flat.

Almost any advice you glean therein will be tainted with bicycling’s ambivalent dilemma: Why be vulnerable or endure suffering when so many transportation temptations surround? Because it’s a common misconception that cars, SUVs and trucks are easier and safer. Earning price of ticket takes far longer than just biking wherever you want to go. Owning a private passenger vehicle is more expensive than taking a buss or taxi. Waiting for rides and walking it necessitates waste time. Speed compounds risk. Bicycling’s average pace of 13 mph makes ideal progress as it mitigates danger. Bikes take you from dawn to destination, harbor to home, portal to portal. Its two undeniable downsides are how fragile you become on a long run and unpleasant landscapes through which you must pass without access to bridges, highways or rail corridors. Sticks you in the thick of it. Cycling otherwise resembles most forms of mobility, practically a land kayak or terrain plane unless you think you're nobility. Everyone, either directly or indirectly, benefits from bike use: children gaining confidence on safe routes to schools, motorists bypassing additional traffic snarl, parents who stay fit for their families, poor who can’t afford private vehicles, rescue squads clear to respond, and those thereby saved.

Technical ingenuity has economic, environmental, political and social consequences. Automotive and transportive account for 50% of private businesses, belch pollutants and toxins, cause cancer and cardiovascular disease, consume nonrenewable resources, despoil land and sea, and doom humanity to dystopia. You can recycle most of a bicycle's materials, either rebuild to renew or recover for raw. Its only effects are positive: cleaner air, fewer potholes, improved health, less congestion, more interaction, unless you consider as threats clearer thinking, collaborative equality, and critical analysis. A paradigm shift is inevitable. During transition, people who can will choose bikes, while suckers who can’t or won’t will pay skyrocketing prices, since obsolete technologies must maintain profits to provide alternatives and stay on top while consumers migrate elsewhere. Already happening, battery, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel vehicles are made available only at unnecessarily prohibitive cost, thereby forcing traditional purchases and leaving options open.

Alienation and isolation are what pioneers find when they successfully break new ground. Demand for innovation remains much less than conventional mediocrity. This explains why so many authors pander to ignorance and repeat popular opinions, seldom probe lofty visions or seek unique stances. Interaction occurs below; mountaineers stand alone. Every review elevates authors selected and sentences those overlooked to obscurity. How-to's act as gateways to personal awareness; no one size suits all, especially when a bicyclist measures self. Enough. Back to the century old contest between brilliant breakaways and knotted belligerents.

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