At 10:42 a.m., Lance Armstrongsent out the following Twitter message to his 2.6 million tweeps: “Hey Vermont – let’s ride!! 4pm in Waterbury. Corner of Main St & Warren Ct at what looks like a park to me (on Google Earth). #twitterride!”
To bike dorks, here’s what the message actually sounded like: “Hey buddy. Just blowin thru town 4 a few hours. Dying 2 see u. Wanna come 4 a ride?”
As a result of that reading of Lance’s tweet, just about every Spandex-clad cycling nerd in northern and central Vermont showed up at 4 p.m. on the dot to ride with Lance. You know, an intimate little spin.
On a normal Saturday in November, I’d be sitting on the couch, twiddling my thumbs and cursing myself for ever moving to this god forsaken land of Canada Minor. But this past Saturday, I got up off my fat duff and did something productive — I rode in the second annual Great Turkey Chase.
The Great Turkey Chase is the brainchild of my friend Elgee (we’ll use pseudonyms to protect the innocent) and a bitchin’ way to get exercise while simultaneously doing something good for the community and scaring the living bejesus out of yourself. Here’s the gist of it:
The event is an alley cat race, or an informal urban bike race that pits cool fixie kids against other cool fixie kids in a battle of radness and bikemanship. Think Brooklyn bike messengers riding bikes with handlebars narrower than my waist. These are not folks who wear Spandex clown kits or tip-tap bike shoes. They wear skinny jeans, Vans and neon sunglasses. Most don’t even wear helmets. And if they do, they’re limited edish and rad.
Alley cat races normally involve a series of checkpoints and large quantities of utility beer like PBR, Genny Cream Ale or Stroh’s. Instead, this race involved collecting Thanksgiving food items for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. Altruism mixed with bicycling and tomfoolery. What could be better?
This race was based on a series of 10 checkpoints, each one a corner store, a supermarket or a gas station. At each location, racers were required to buy a foodstuff — gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc. We had to hit the checkpoints in order, but we could pick the route.
Recently, I’ve been asking myself the question in this post’s title. Why do people hate safety? What is so offensive about trying to be safe and not die a bloody, mangled mess? Perhaps I should explain what I’m talking about.
For the past couple months, the GF and I have been volunteering for the Safe Streets Collaborative, a partnership between Local Motion and the Burlington Police Department, as well as other community members and organizations. The point of the collaborative is just like it sounds — to make streets safer for everyone using them. Sounds pretty inoffensive to me. Again, I ask who doesn’t like safety.
Apparently, this guy didn’t like safety, and look what became of him.
Our volunteering has taken the form of “intersection intervention,” or as I call it Bike Light Recon. Basically, that means that we and other bike nerds stand on busy corners at night and flag down cyclists who do not have lights on their bikes. In Burlington, it is required that people have a flashing white light on the front of their bike and at least a reflector in the back. Most people don’t know this is a city statute, thus the point of the Bike Light Recon. It’s all about Ed-U-Cation.
Also the point of Bike Light Recon — making the streets safer for cars, pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchairs, old people, people who are infirm, dogs, squirrels, etc. But apparently that is offensive to people. I’ll explain.
Let’s bypass the whole “I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while” spiel. You and I both know I have more important things to do than write blog posts, like pick my toenail lint while waxing philosophical about geopolitics. And I know you have more important things to do than read what I write, like trim your grandmother’s beard. So I’m going to dispense with all that nonsense about not having posted anything in a while. Instead, I’m going to get right into the story.
I was recently in Philadelphia visiting Pigpen before heading to Pittsburgh to see my family humans. While in Philly, we lodged with Pigpen’s friends in a tony little hamlet on the Mainline called Merion Station. The couple and their house were perfect. They had chard growing in their front yard and a pergola covered in some climbing vine. The lady of the house- we’ll call her Tiny- gave us a tour of their abode when we arrived. There’s nothing I like more than being reminded of the fact that despite my advanced age, I’m only just playing at being a grown-up. See, real grown-ups have houses and mortgages and guest bedrooms and offices and juicers and refrigerators full of food and drink. I have none of these. I have a mangy dog and cheap drywall and stairs that lead to nowhere. But I’ve got my health.
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