Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where have all the good times gone?

Recently the organizers of the Philadelphia Tweed Ride posted to Facebook that they are unable to plan this years ride and are looking of volunteers to take over. The Philadelphia Tweed ride brings out a collection of the dressiest cyclists in Philadelphia dressed in vintage looking clothing and bicycles. How often can you find a social ride where at the rest stop activities include playing croquet and badminton. As one of the few rides in Philadelphia that does not make a political statement, raise funds, sell anything, or involves a cycling club. I can only hope that the Philadelphia Tweed Ride does not fade away.

In the summer of 2011 the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia held two Bike-In movies on the rooftop of Whole Foods. They showed bicycle film classics “Breaking Away” and “Quicksilver”, each time drawing over 100 people who came and went by bicycle. But this year, nothing. This year they could have done a retrospective, comparing and contrasting “The Bicycle Thief” and Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure”. Instead the BCGP dropped the ball on yet another innovative idea that could have been used to build a community amongst Philadelphia based cyclists, as opposed to focusing on wealthy donors in the suburbs.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yabba Dabba Do

A. 1) n. A man who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing, but still can't ride. "What a fred -- too much Lycra and titanium and not enough skill." Female version is a “Wilma”.

I got into bicycling not for recreation, rather for transportation. By the time I entered middle school and through high school my bike liberated me, Instead of depending on a school bus, my bicycle allowed me to come and go when I was ready. To this day I still use a bicycle to run errands, travel around Philadelphia and commute. I rode in what ever was available; shorts, sneakers, white socks, and yes cotton t-shirts. This was the pre-spandex era, before clipless pedals, power taps (what ever those are) and I had the first commercially produced helmet for the consumer; a Bell Biker.

It wasn't until I moved to the Philadelphia did I discover bicycling clubs and century rides. It was also when I started encountering “serious” bicyclists. Clad head to toe in spandex with logos on it so they can pretend to be professional racers, high end bicycles with carbon or titanium frames, the trendiest components, and sucking on the latest performance enhancing gel. But there is the elite 1% within this group that gives the rest of us a bad name. And they are known as Fred's.

The problem is the their sense of ownership of the Schuylkill River Trail and how anyone who is in their path is an interloper. You see them all time riding two abreast in sections that don't allow for it and creating mini-pelotons that engage in high speed passing with no warning. Worse yet is the verbal abuse. I've heard from cyclists, joggers, and Rollerbladers about being told to get off the trail, called assholes and menaces or passes so close you could touch them as they went by.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are not training for the Tour de France, you won't receive a yellow jersey when you finish, and if you think you are then go out and do “A” rides with the hammerheads from one of the cycling clubs. Otherwise your not impressing anyone. The Schuylkill River Trail is multi-user path, not your personal race course.