A Tale Of Two Commutes

Background Reading


ChainLinkers missed a perfect opportunity to show themselves as members of class of ordinary people who ride to jobs in urban areas each day. Instead they decided to go on one of their usual “witch hunts” by criticizing the comments of a person from Oak Park who clearly needed a helping hand in choosing his winter riding attire. I tried to juxtapose there attempts at belittling another human being with their asinine attempts at trying to defy common sense in riding over surfaces not even my dog would traverse. Clearly the Oak Park resident and some ChainLinkers are not beyond learning how to cope with freezing temperatures and freezing rain. And clearly  ChainLinkers are more likely to attempt bridge crossings in inclement weather than is safe for them.

Because I ride a recumbent bicycle I am sometimes tempted to try rough crossings. The logic I employ is that I have a shorter fall if I tumble. But frankly having done some tumbling on sandy paved surfaces in the midst of summer I no longer assume such falls are without consequence. You can always break a hip or snap a femur, even on a recumbent. A much better option would be a recumbent trike. The worst that might happen is that you roll the bike. But more likely is that you would lose traction and not be able to climb steeper bridges.

What would really make commuting at this time of year a breeze is probably one of these:

Velomobile and Wind Turbines

Velomobile and Wind Turbines

It is a recumbent trike with a very aerodynamic hardshell. Bikes like this cover the rider up to his chin. There are other brands which cover the rider completely and even have a read shock absorber:



This particular model has rear waterproof hardshell panniers. Very neat! And very, very expensive.

The Real World Commute Looks More Like This

© Dmitry Gudkov

© Dmitry Gudkov

It is often done on a standard two wheel bike by someone who is not a super athlete and whose ride into work is done at distances that are probably one average less than 10 miles in length. In fact ChainLinkers (ever the ones to measure penis sizes) have taken to adding their commuter distances behind their handles. I guess it helps them establish a pecking order (something else they dearly love to do).

Now the fellow from Oak Park who wrote about his perceptions of cold weather riding dangers would perhaps have been happy to read of the “lessons learned” by ChainLink commuters in their attempts to deal with winter. Instead they decided to do what they always do and that is offer ridicule:

Want to have fun on an Oak Park comment board?

Normally, I wouldn’t want to feed trolls, but this has some potential for amusement.  This is a small sample of his post:

Bicycling when it is colder than 20 degrees above zero is downright suicidal!  And I mean suicidal!  At those temps, not only does sweat-saturated clothes conduct the cold to your body, resulting in hypothermia, but the sweat can even freeze and turn into solid ice!  And then you may as well be wearing an iceberg as clothing.  Even snowsuits will not provide any protection, especially once saturated with sweat/frozen sweat.

I know there are other Oak Park residents here.  He even attached a handy picture…Crazy%20bicyclist.jpg

I have watched them ceaselessly employ this kind of “Lord of the Flies” approach to cycling disputes. They are extremely arrogant people and have many in their midst who know better but seem loathe to speak out in a timely manner. I guess testosterone is the winner inside this subculture or at least it seems that way.

What is important to understand is that when people have difficulty riding in cold weather it is exactly for the reasons stated by the Oak Park rider. They sweat and since the clothing they are wearing does little to wick away moisture they end up in soggy dangerously cold clothing and should they have a fall crossing one of those bridges that seem to draw ChainLinkers to them “like a moth to a flame” a bad situation could develop.

So why deliberately go after a fellow cyclist who obviously does not have the right formulae for winter riding success? Is not the ChainLink set up specifically to serve as a repository for information that is to be shared between those who have “been there and done that” and those who are newbies? There is only lip service paid sometimes to these ideals. What you are seeing when they think no one is looking is a more honest glimpse of their humanity than they would like to admit.

Trying To Recover A Bit Of Their Humanity?

Part of the problem with the ChainLink crowd is it insularity. It is often composed of folks who think of urban cycling as some sort of evidence of epic heroism in their lives. They love to share “war stories” about falling and having endured raw cold winters and blazing summer heat. I understand the urge to do this, it is only human nature.

But there are lots of folks who ride in winter along very busy streets (North Avenue comes to mind) who did not grow up in these United States and do not necessarily speak our language as fluently as they might like. They are not riding to work as some sort of protest against the use of foreign oil or to save the planet, they do so to survive.

They are probably riding in clothing that gets wet and soggy on the way in to work and never really dries out all day long. And in the evening they head back out on their bikes to more of the same. They may not have personal computers at home and so have no way of commanding respect from their peers on the ChainLink with tales of their bravery in riding all year long. These are in fact the true Urban Cyclists the rest of us are poseurs.

The bikes they ride are not likely to be tricked out with multi-colored tires and matching handlebar tape. These are likely to be bikes purchased from a big box store and might cost all of $100 if that much. And unlike the folks who scream look at me I am sacrificing my comfort and deserve your respect, these folks ride along busy streets, against the traffic.

The ride against the traffic because that is how they learned bicycling in their native countries. It was a methodology taught here when I was a kid. And we managed to transport that information across the globe only to have immigrants bring our teachings back to us. And folks like Randy Cohen despise these salmon-ing riders which encouraging the young white hipsters of the world to run red lights and stop signs with all the ethicality they can eat.

So when a ChainLinker decides to act as if they too are part of the underclass who struggle to work poorly dressed for the winter conditions they face, I can only laugh with derision:

Reply by Lisa Curcio 4.0 mi 1 hour ago
Ah, the real world–the world we live in!

Where was your egalitarianism when your peers took off to try and ridicule another cyclist? Please, please do not try and win “street credibility” via lip service. Instead take your fellow ChainLinkers to task the next time they go on a “seek and destroy” mission. I would find that far more credible and worthy of my respect.

In the meantime, “How dare you?