I am pleased to announce I survived Bike Expo New York. For a normal person this would be no big deal. However, I am a solitary creature, so attending a bike expo for two (2) whole days is nothing short of a social maelstrom.
It all started on Friday, when I contemplated a seductively blue sky and considered how I would get down to the Expo. See, the show was way down on the end of Manhattan's wingtip, whereas I live all the way up in Manhattan's fedora. That's a distance of roughly 20 miles.
Inasmuch as I'm a semi-professional bike blogger it seemed exceedingly lame to take the subway to the show, yet as a full-time lazy person who was saving up all his energy to CRUSH IT!!! on the sub-epic ride the next morning I simply didn't feel like riding the whole way. Fortunately, I am currently testing out a Brompton
, so I figured I'd do the whole genteel multi-modal thing and ride to the Metro North.
Lest you think this makes me some kind of a "woosie
," keep in mind that riding to the nearest Metro North station to my home involves summiting the highest natural point in the Bronx and indeed the second-highest peak in all of New York City, a town famous for its mountains:
(Ascending the Cima Coppi. Can you believe there's no snow up here?)
Let's also remember I was riding a bike with only two (2) speeds
. Fortunately, as the 183rd-fastest singlespeeder IN THE WORLD according to my SSWC '08
keychain, I crested the ridge without too much difficulty and then hit the screaming descent to the river:
(Note porta-potty for those about to soil themselves in fear.)
Please note I refrained from taking any photos past this point, because while the Brompton is a joy to ride it is still a folding bike, which means the front end is more susceptible to rider input than a "normal" bike--which in turn means if you're riding down a hill one-handed at 20+ mph and you hit a bump you'll leave a big red streak with your face all the way down to the bottom.
However, the Brompton will go down just fine as long as you keep both hands on the bars and look out for giant holes (oh my god that sounded filthy), and because I did both I arrived at the station unscathed:
Even though I wasn't wearing a helme(n)t, for the simple reason that wearing a helment on a folding bike is pathetic.
You're goddamn right it's about looks.
Sartorially speaking, wearing a helment while riding a folding bike is like wearing safety goggles to light a menorah.
As I waited for the train I gazed upriver and basked in the idyll of a beautiful spring day:
In fact it was so idyllic that these picturesque waterfowl paddled by:
Not all swans mate for life, but it is true that they're the only Anatidae
who enter into prenuptial agreements.
From there I rode the Metro North to Grand Central, and from Grand Central I headed down to the Expo. I had time to spare, and so I wasn't even remotely stressed when I got stuck behind a Citi Bike redistribution flotilla:
looks like hard work.
Upon my arrival at the Expo I folded the Brompton (I've gotten the fold completely down, though I'm not quite at competition level
) and walked right past the bike valet parking, but--IRONY!--they wouldn't let me in with it:
Yep, that's right, they wouldn't let me take a folding bike into a bike show.
So I simply lied and explained that I was an exhibitor and the bike was part of my display, and in we went.
Apparently to own a Brompton you've got to be a good liar, which is why you should never trust a Bromptoneer--to wit
(Roberto Heras: doper and Brompton enthusiast.)
Anyway, I knew I was in the right place because where else in Manhattan are you going to find Freds on Stilts?
Since I was early, I took a little time to browse the Expo. My first stop was the photo booth, where I undercut the professionals by taking my own souvenir photos and offering to text them to people for half price:
See that? It's like they're right there
Next, I checked out this Taiwanese folding bike display:
As I did so, the Brompton harrumphed indignantly, like a gentleman in a bowler hat who's just been served a sandwich with a mouse tail sticking out of it.
There was also a poorly-attended flat repair class:
A pair of preternaturally oscillating aero bars:
People rubbing other people with sticks:
And apparatus for portaging children on bicycles:
I own two children and
I own a singlespeed On-One bicycle, but never in a million years would I consider combining those two things, because there's no way I'd get that over a hill without falling over.
Then I walked by the packet pickup area for the Five Boro Bike Tour:
If you're unfamiliar with the Five Boro Bike Tour, it's the reason your non-cycling coworker thinks a bicycle race is 30,000 people wearing pinnies and riding slowly on hybrids.
Since it was still early on Friday the Expo was not yet crowded, so not only was it an ideal time to pick up your Bike Tour packet, but it was also a perfect opportunity to have the beer garden to yourself:
I could have easily parked myself there for a few hours, but instead I presented myself at the Walz
booth, where I was touched to find they had made a sign for me and everything:
Gamely, I assumed the position:
Over the next two days I was honored to receive various visitors at my table. For example, a representative of Chia Squeeze
stopped by and presented me with some samples of their wares:
I have no idea if chia is one of those water-intensive crops that is helping drain California dry even though nobody even really wants to eat it. However, I did ask her if it was chia like the pet
. I then observed, "I bet everyone makes that reference, right?" She assured me they did not, and that's when I realized that people who know what a Chia Pet is are old.
I was also pleased to meet Yvonne Bambrick, author of the Urban Cycling Survival Guide
If you're keen on both riding bikes in cities and surviving then you'd be stupid not to check it out.
I even got to meet Leroy's dog
's owner, who gave me this moving card:
I appreciated the gesture, and the card will go well with the turd he left in the back seat.
Some other old friends stopped by as well, but by that point I think I may have been suffering from exhibition hall-induced delirium:
And so I unfurled the Brompton and headed back towards Grand Central, a journey which took me past the Manhattan-side landing of the Williamsburg Bridge bike path, where the Channel 11 News Team was hanging around and trolling for cyclists:
Specifically, they wanted to know if anyone was planning to ride the Five Boro Bike Tour. Had they gotten an affirmative response from anyone I assume they would have proceeded to stick a microphone in the cyclist's face and ask stupid questions:
("Will you stop at red lights? Do you wear a helment?")
I really blew it there, that's for sure.
Then it was the usual assortment of bike lane obstructions, like this douchebag from Jersey who was hunting and pecking at his smartphone:
As well as the NYPD, who go nuclear when it comes to bike lane blockage:
I assume they were hanging out there because of protest activity in nearby Union Square, and I didn't dare get any closer to take a picture because you never know when the police are feeling "arresty."
I'm sorry to say some of my fellow cyclists also behaved in a vexing manner, and I was very nearly sideswiped on at least two occasions by this overzealous "bro:"
Notice the schmutz on my jacket:
In case you're wondering what it is, there's a 50/50 chance it's either seasonal allergy mucus or baby puke.
Finally, I made it to Grand Central, where I cowered with the rest of the "foldies:"
As you can see, we're an iconoclastic breed, but those of us who ride Bromptons do tend to keep shod:
And yes, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. My shoes certainly do match the bike.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Expo, and if you want to know what happened on Saturday's rides stay tuned for "Bike Expo II: The Search for Fred."