Things Will Be Great When You’re Downtown

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I had some business in lower Manhattan today, which was a perfect excuse to ride my Midlife Crisis Fixie Mark II (or more prosaically, my Soma Rush):

 

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I hadn’t been this far downtown on a bicycle in awhile, and one of the first things I noticed was the proliferation of new bike lanes. But some things about riding in Manhattan never change, and one of them is that you see lots of interesting bikes locked up on the streets. For example, I parked my own bike next to this old Peugeot:

I certainly don’t mean to “dox” anybody, but I thought it was a nifty detail.

Anyway, I don’t know the first thing about old French bikes, so I have no idea how desirable this one would have been in its prime:

Nevertheless, you have to respect any bike that clearly gets ridden day in and day out, and that features many of its original components:

I should totally start a YouTube show wherein I fix up people’s bikes in little ways while they’re locked up on the street, and in the case of this Peugeot, I’d obviously re-wrap the bars:

I may have to pitch that to some of my sponsors, though there’s always the danger someone might catch me messing with their bike and beat me to death, which would be a bummer–though the ensuing video would get a bazillion views, so the risk could be worth it.

Another interesting and unusual bike I came across was this Terry, which featured not only comparatively fresh bar tape, but also nine-speed Dura Ace, which was probably the best-looking STI lever Shimano ever made:

Terrys were women’s-specific bikes notable for their differently-sized wheels, and this specimen is even titanium model–dubbed “titania” according to the decal on the downtube–which is something I’d never seen before:

Like the Peugeot, this bike too appears to be a workhorse, but unlike its French counterpart its owner appears to feed it fresh parts every now and again. In any case, shows like NAHBS are all well and good, but when it comes to checking out bikes I’ll take a stroll through Manhattan any day.

Something else that hasn’t changed about Manhattan is the feeling you get when you’re riding up and down the avenues along with motor vehicle traffic:

I’m very much in favor of bike lanes, since I believe they make riding a bicycle in the city far more palatable to “normies.” I also believe they are in fact safer, even if the notion that they sometimes lull said normies into a false sense of security isn’t totally unfounded. At the same time, when traffic is flowing smoothly (which of course it usually isn’t), there’s nothing better than “taking the lane,” as the smuggies say, and the above section of 6th Avenue– still mostly unmolested by the DOT–reminded me of what a pleasure it can be under the right circumstances.

Meanwhile, the sections both north and south of this stretch have been (or are in the process of being) bike-laned, and when I re-entered the bike-specific infrastructure matrix I couldn’t help feeling as though I’d been relegated to the gutter–especially when an inflatable pizza chef attempted to punch me in the head:

Between the clutter and the sheer variety of bicyclists with different agendas–from shirtless Citi Bikers to commercial cyclists towing trailers–it’s no wonder plenty of them eschew the bike lane:

For that matter they also eschew the traffic lights:

In a way, the bike lanes of Manhattan are like coasters, in that the fusspots make a point of using them, whereas plenty of others simply ignore them and raw-dog their drinks (or their bikes) wherever they damn well please.

In any case, eventually I left the island of Manhattan and returned to the mainland, where life is more prosaic:

I wonder if I could adapt those fenders to my Platypus…


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