Monday, 24 August 2009

About Face: Cycling and Changing Direction

If you've able to recollect things from as far back as last Tuesday (or if you're able to click on links), you may recall that I mentioned a moving short film presented by Vanity Fair and Banana Republic set against the backdrop of the "Midnight Ridazz" ride in Los Angeles. Well, a reader informs me that "membazz" of the Midnight Ridazz community were offended by the filmmaker's depiction of their ride (though I'm not sure whether it's due to the fact that the riders were portrayed as exclusionary or because they were portrayed as owners of old crappy 10 speeds)--so much so that somebody put together this new, dubbed version of the film:

If you found yourself struggling to understand the subtext and symbolism contained in the original film, I'm sure you'll find that this one removes much of the ambiguity, though admittedly it does so at the expense of subtlety.

Speaking of things lacking in subtlety, there are few forms of "body modification" less subtle than facial tattooing, as you can see here on the stripey visage of professional cyclist David Clinger:

Arguably, it's unfair to judge people based on appearance alone. Just because someone has a tattooed face, or skewered genitals, or even "weird style diktats," does not necessarily mean that he is wild, irresponsible, or self-destructive. The truth is that these things are a matter of personal choice, and they can actually be deeply meaningful forms of self-expression undertaken only after long and meaningful periods of reflection and introspection. That said, this is not the case with David Clinger, who according to this Cyclingnews article acquired his facial tattoo while coked up out of his mind:

Clinger says his drug problem "started innocently with a few drinks after a race and it was no harm done. But I wanted more, I wanted cocaine..." From there, it was apparently only a few kilometers to the sordid feed zone of addiction, which ultimately drove him to fly the lime green flag which among professional cyclists is the universal sign for "Help me!" That flag, of course, is the Rock Racing jersey:

Incidentally, if you don't think alcohol can put you on the path of self-destruction, just consider this recent Craigslist posting:

Three Cute Tall Girls on Marin Blvd (Wednesday) - m4w - 22 (Jersey City)
Date: 2009-08-20, 11:12PM EDT
Reply To This Post

I was driving back home from Shoprite when I spotted three tall, skinny, girls dressed to the nines, with great hair. I put away my groceries then hopped on my bike back there to see if maybe I could spot you all and ask you out. But alas, I never did see you again (the chances were slim). While biking around I ran into a friend outside Zeppelin Hall, and went in for a couple drinks. And then we went to my house and drank champagne and ate cheese and crackers and jammed out to some French records, and I made hummus! And then we went to someone else's house, where we drank more. And then I showed up to my office 2 1/2 hours late this morning.

So that night turned out completely different than I had planned. But I would still like to know if you three would like to join me for drinks some time (not nearly as many as I had last night please).

It all starts with a "couple drinks." Then, once your inhibitions have been lowered, you move on to the harder stuff: cheese and champagne. This in turn serves as your entrée into the dark and twisted world of French records, and before you know it you've hit rock bottom and you're making hummus. At first, you try to hide your filthy habit, and you make lame excuses for all the packets of pita bread in your house: "Oh, I was just making some pita bread pizzas." But after awhile it becomes impossible to hide the tahini stains on your clothing or the fact that you're constantly sneaking off to nibble whole chick peas. Eventually, you might even start freebasing the stuff, and in the end you wind up outside of a Path Mark offering customers glimpses of your "weird style diktats" in exchange for a 7 oz. container of Sabra and some pita chips.

Fortunately, though, David Clinger seems resolved to turn his life around, and hopefully cycling will help him do so. The truth is that, when you go astray, the bicycle can both literally and figuratively serve as the means to bring you back home. Take this booklet, which recently came into my possession as if by providence:

Sure, this is just a simple "DIY" publication containing some basic mechanical advice, but if you read the introduction you'll see that getting in touch with your bicycle can also put you in touch with yourself:

Yes, once you emerge from the heady fog of addiction, wipe the hummus from your chin and brush the pita crumbs from your shirt, delving into the workings of your own bicycle can prove to be both relaxing and enlightening. In fact, after many years, you might even find that you've transcended bicycles altogether and are ready to tackle the mysteries the cosmos. Take Gary Klein, for example, who according to Gary Fisher has moved on from bikes to telescopes:

I was fascinated to learn that fat tube aluminum frame pioneer Gary Klein was now in the "scope biz," and my first thought was that he shrewdly decided to re-purpose the many thick and brightly painted frame tubes he doubtless has lying around:

Some of Klein's dual suspension frame designs would also lend themselves well to telescope conversion. Consider the Klein Mantra:

Simply strip the components and you're ready to spend hours gazing at celestial bodies:

Just be aware that, depending on your gender and what it is you're looking at, you're liable to experience other types of "telescoping" as well.

Plus, I'm sure Klein realizes that, while bicycles are complicated, telescopes are really simple. Just take a look at this baffling diagram from that quaint "DIY" booklet:

Now compare that to the telescope:

Klein can probably crank out hundreds of these things in the time it once took him to paint a single Attitude--though of course that depends to some extent on what kinds of telescopes he plans to make. For example, perhaps he'll make little telescopes you can carry on your bike like frame pumps. I could certainly use one of those to do some boat-spotting on the Big Skanky:

Or else, maybe they'll be larger and more powerful telescopes suited to watching people get naked in their homes. If so, you may want to drag yours up onto the High Line and watch the guests at the Standard:

Actually, I'm pretty sure the man in the above photo is Tom Boonen, who's probably just had a massage:

I'm not sure what he's clenching in his buttocks, but it looks sort of like a giant, spiky chick pea.

It's even possible that Gary Klein has decided that designing bikes for The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company is a dead end, and that he's instead chosen to pursue greatness by searching for extraterrestrial life. If he were to succeed at this and humankind's first glimpse of aliens was through a Klein telescope, then Gary Klein's name would be written in the history books alongside Galileo and Copernicus:

This is arguably far more auspicious company than Colnago and Serotta, and despite all their Tour de France victories I'm sure Trek would be rather nonplussed not to have been a part of it.


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