Some time ago I wrote an essay titled “A Bicycle Is Not A Nose Ring“. It was a not too subtle dig at the almost religious quality that urban cyclists have when defending their sometimes indefensible positions on things like automobiles, helmets, and bike lanes. I even changed the PermaLink on that blog entry to say “not-a-religion”. But I decided to return the PermaLink (i.e. URL) to read “not-a-nose-ring” and in this essay to try and explain why the urban cyclist community is more like the Tea Party/Evangelical wing of the GOP than it is like the Democrats. It is ironic this point since most urban cyclists are hipsters or hipster wannabes more accustomed to wearing stocking caps in midsummer that baseball caps. And their favorite body art is most assuredly some sort of tattoo and possibly a body piercing (e.g. nose ring).
But while they look radically different from your average button-downed shirt Libertarian/Tea Party advocate their thinking is sorta the same with one exception. They have little understanding of what makes an effective argument in terms of the economic benefits of bicycling. Most of their rants are all about the evils of automobiles and the “death on wheels” mantra is over-worked where the internal combustion engine is concerned. They are of course against wars and especially those waged to gain access to petroleum commodities but that is about as close as they come to ever really tying what they do to anything having to do with Capitalism. In fact most of these folks are nascent Socialists of a sort. That is the wing of economic spectrum from which they come.
But even with that sort of thinking governing their behavior and slanting their activities the best that they can saw is that “greed is bad” and “freedom of the individual is good”. These are people who can take the simple act of riding in an automobile with the radio turned up while cruising through the ‘hood and turn that into some sort of devil worship activity that explains the alienation between people. Wrong on so many levels is barely rates a response.
To prove the point you could ask the why Critical Mass seems to bring such an orgasm for them. They have a dickens of a time trying to describe what the meaning of the ride is supposed to be. And by definition it is as nebulous as an unformed star and a million times dimmer as an idea. But they cling to it more out of habit than anything else.
In fact it is on this point that Tea Party folks and urban cyclists are joined at the hip. Once they have been told by their betters that “unfettered, deregulation of the banking industry is pure goodness” and that “having the rich pay their fair share is akin to Socialism” they mouth these phrases with that glazed eye look that only Moonies could better.
For the urban cyclist phrases like “physically separated bikes lines will cause scofflaw cyclists to clean up their act” and “automobiles are the spawn of satan” are the only things they know to say when trying to formulate an opinion while interacting on the Chicago ChainLink Forum.
But the Critical Mass Ride is really not the sure sign that these are fanatics. The clincher is the World Naked Bike Ride. And how do I know this? Because this is the ride through which they are:
Celebrating freedom from oil, and the beauty of people.
The last time I heard anything so absurd was when listening to the tapes of Jonestown leader Jim Jones explaining why everyone should drink Kool-Aid rather than be repatriated back to the United States. In fact it is only at the juncture of human experience and religious expression that people drop their natural skepticism about being told what to think and embrace it with a fervor like unto madness.
So me riding naked celebrates my “freedom from oil”. Yeah, right! I just wanna meet the clever male who dreamt this up and sold it to some frisky females while maintaing a straight face. I should imagine he was winking at intervals to the guys in the audience who smugly grinned and looked downward so as not to give away their complicity in this sham.
And then of course the straight guys in the audience who really didn’t want to ride around naked with their guts hanging out and their genitalia showing lack of size, decided to form the, wait for it, wait for it… Naked Ride Security. I’m not making this stuff up.
These are the same guys who in high school kept applying for the towel boy job for the girl’s volleyball and basketball teams. Their excuse always was that they were merely testing the equal opportunity options available to them. Uh huh! Security my arse.
Normally black folk have a pretty good Bullshit Detector going when a white man moves his lips. But in the case of Jonestown they succumbed to the notion that by being able to buy a spot in the new Utopia, “they were being treated as equals”. But any fool would have stopped and asked why does God need my life savings and social security checks each month. He can’t spend it Himself, so why even ask for it? That is the beauty of a religion. It is akin to selling a higher priced beauty product with the tag line “You’re worth it!” and out come the wallets. It’s a beautiful thing. Capitalism always preys on the vulnerable. Men always prey on women to convince them that giving them “free sex” and “disrobing for free” are things that “liberate you”. You are helping to establish yourselves as equals by doing for us what much smarter women have done for eons, make us pay for the privilege. I guess college degrees are not what they used to be.
Now all you have to do to make yourself a persona non grata in the urban cyclist world is to point any of this out and dare them to defend their practices. Urban cyclists are a good deal like Evangelicals in this regard. They have a quasi-Bible that they all “read” from (namely conversations over beers and squabbles on the ChainLink Forum) and then they spew forth the drivel that they have been taught to say. When you ask them to try and rethink their positions they accuse you of attempting to foist a straightjacket of conformity upon them. Theirs is a world in which doing something really stupid or pointless is a act of liberation. That is essentially the kind of thinking that Evangelical preachers count upon when trying to get you to contribute yet more money to their lavish lifestyles while helping them maintain the upkeep on their private jets.
Gone are the days when they tell you about self-sacrifice. Now they preach the Prosperity Gospel and tell you that giving them a bit of Seed Faith money (say a cool $2,000) should do the trick in getting God to hand you that job you’ve wanted or provide healing for a chronic ailment brought on by a lifetime of Southern Cooking (i.e. fried everything). This religious strain is likely to have a rampant homophobic bent that culminates in the election of a national chairman to represent them only to discover that he has been visiting male prostitutes and taking amphetamines. And so as not to miss a chance to slight Catholics too, you have only to think about the irony of preaching the notion of the Sanctity of Life to women while molesting their offspring. Like I said you really gotta love the stuff males can do when they set their tiny little minds to it.
Executive Directors of Cycling Advocacy groups can say with a straight face that when we have all the bicycle infrastructure we need in place everyone who rides will stop behaving badly in city traffic. My guess is that the guys who make these claims have graduated from the Naked Ride Security detail at some point and are now moving up to a better paying job as a snake oil salesman to the urban hipsters who desperately want to believe that riding naked around the city is really helping to bring sweetness and light to the world.
I’m tired. This is like shooting fish in a barrel. On second thought everyone who is curvaceous female should in fact put her stamp of authority on her own body by offering free sex to each and every male she sees and continue to ride around naked at noon into the bargain. I’m just a Puritan who really can’t bring himself to lighten up. Of course on second thought when these guys and gals finally grow up and start raising a family I would love to be a fly on the wall when their daughters come home and spring on them the nude pictures of herself that she has plastered all over Facebook and watch the expressions on their faces. Karma is a bitch!