My bicycle confession

  1. I’D LIKE TO formally apologize to people I’ve scared inadvertently on the bike path. I saw you for quite a while before you saw me, and adjusted my line to swing wide around you, but I could tell it startled you.
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  3. I’D ALSO LIKE to apologize to the two I scared intentionally. One was on the bike path in Venice, California about fifteen years ago. You were walking next to your girlfriend and I thought you were aggressively taking up the entire lane, plus part of the opposing lane, so I blew past you close enough to lightly clip the edge of your arm with mine. I take full responsibility.


    The other was on the West Side Greenway in New York City, about four years ago. You meandered straight across the path from the street without even glancing to look at oncoming traffic. I zipped by close enough that you probably felt some wind, and I heard you shriek behind me. My thought was to keep you from doing that again, because the greenway is chockablock with people on bikes who aren’t skilled or alert enough to save you from your lunkishness, and I don’t want you hurt.


    I concede that I was also annoyed with you.

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  5. I CONFESS THAT Monday evenings have become my favorite time of the week, because first I walk from SoHo to Chinatown for banh mi and Vietnamese coffee, which I think is just iced Cafe du Monde with condensed milk, and then I walk back to SoHo for a bike repair class. Walking through the dark and neon of Chinatown has always made me feel like I’m in Blade Runner, even back before I had children and stopped remembering what it’s like to be out in a big city at night. This is as close to giddiness as I get.
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  7. I ADMIT WITHOUT the basic human decency of guilt that I have spent money on bike tools and a repair stand, including both sizes of Park Tool torque wrench, two tubs of Phil Wood Hand Cleaner, and a honking 32-oz jug of ProLink chain lube. It grieves me that I feel no regret for this, and if paroled, will do it again. Further, I admit to a glow of satisfaction upon taking a bike off the stand in better shape than when I put it up there, and to liking the image of myself with a spoke wrench and a beer.
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  9. IT IS TRUE that I only noticed the wide-open quick-releases on both brakes once I was descending Henshaw St. at considerable speed, and I aver that I may not have effected as decisive a Flintstone stop if my children hadn’t been watching from the bottom. I additionally stipulate that I have stood on a bank of the St. Lawrence River in the sub-freezing dark, straddling the frame of a hybrid bicycle, eating the best apple of my life, and that the bridges upon which you hop little islands back into Montréal, to catch your train home, are sometimes locked when you didn’t expect it.
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  11. I CONFESS THAT I do not know why even though my boys have identical bikes, one keeps dropping its chain.
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  13. I VERY MUCH regret that my actions have caused smudges on the walls in the bike area; that I have betrayed the goodwill of rugs that trusted me; that I will, at some point, kick a snapping dog; and that I hope it’s a solid kick.
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  15. I SWEAR THAT I have never felt as exhilarated as on two downhills, both mountain descents, both firsts. Exhilaration one: on a practice brevet before my first 200K, a single downhill spanning a longer distance than could fit into the boxy little dresser drawer of Manhattan. Exhilaration two: 49MPH on what I’d find out, a year or two later, is the same road the boys and I now take to our second-favorite campsite in the summer.
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  17. I SHAMEFULLY CONFIRM an excited “Boys! C’mere! C’mere!” when I saw a Calfee leaning against the wall at Darling Coffee, but plead nolo contendre to the charge that I have received a cheap frame and build kit for my first home bike assembly. I furthermore refuse to respond to any and all questions regarding dining room and repair stand, relative sizes of.
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  19. I ADMIT TO thinking poorly of:
    • Pathetic slugs slower than me
    • Arrogant showoffs faster than me
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  21. BUT ALSO TO thinking well of:
    • Kids faking out traffic and practicing BMX tricks under the GW overpass
    • Carcinomic septuagenarian, shirtless on ten-speed
    • Pasty pudgy guy, hybrid, motorcycle helmet
    • Wiry older woman who knew good hills in Edgewater
    • Ethiopian lady on mountain bike in Van Cortlandt Park
    • Local kids with tall bikes
    • Danny McAskill
    • These women
    • Guy who tossed me an inner tube when, for some reason, I didn’t have one, halfway back from Bear Mountain
    • Slender guy with a mullet I followed uptown when I couldn’t see the road because of my messed-up glasses and a bad storm, but could see his blinky
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  23. I CONFESS THAT I saw the diagonal expansion joint coming before my kid got to it on his 20″, and didn’t yell anything because I thought startling him would be worse than letting his natural reflexes handle it. I was wrong. That was one bad 15MPH wipeout and neck-twisting crash into metal railing. For this, Daddy is truly sorry.


    Daddy also thinks not wearing a helmet in urban environments is generally not the brightest choice, having seen where aforementioned child’s head went, and admits both to knowing who that statement will annoy and to thinking their logic is mostly confirmation bias; and moreover regrets both his lack of interest in fighting about it in the comments and the likelihood that he will anyway.

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  25. I ADMIT TO resolving the dilemma of where to look when an attractive woman zooms by on a nice bike by staring, as though riveted, at absolutely no particular component of the bike whatsoever, with great interest, until the crisis has passed.
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  27. I CONFIRM THAT I once hung by one arm from the base of a metal post near the very top of the hill above the Little Red Lighthouse, with my bike downhill from my prone body, gripped by my other fist, because I tried to ride up when the path was iced over, and I am honor-bound to tell two additional truths: I saw the neck of the guy in the little kiosk at the bottom swivel 180° as he stared after me on my way up the first rise, and I will probably try again.
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  29. I HAVE CLIMBED and descended mountains, hit potholes, and lost traction on the metal lips of driveways in downpours. I have pretended to knowledge I did not have, offered advice that turned out to be wrong, and given just the perfect fact at the perfect time. I have ridden the beaches of two coasts and glided alongside pelicans.
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  31. I HEREBY CONFIRM that the consequences of my actions have brought enhanced harmony to my family; increased productivity and tolerance of bureaucracy to my employers; and exhilaration, reduced heart rate, and damn shapely calves to myself; and I cannot, in good conscience, swear that, given the chance, I would not repeat any and all of them until my final moments on Earth, except for the one with my kid wiping out.
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  33. AND THAT I love the smell of Proofide, and finally taking off night gear at dawn on a rural road between misty pastures, and that I will always cherish towing my two-year-olds to preschool, riding with my six-year-olds to PS 178, and cheering crazily for my seven-year-olds when they finished 16-mile rides or climbed like champions. FURTHER, DEPONENT SAYETH NOT.







Filed under Bicycling, BikeNYC, Bikes, Favorite, Senseless Acts

8 responses to “My bicycle confession

  1. Marcella

    You make me wish I could ride a bike, but if I’m on foot, I will make sure to stay clear of the bike path. As for number 4 on your list, I believe when you have a hobby or an endeavor that consumes you, money is no object. Everyone knows even the amateur home chef needs the best knifes.

  2. RandoRay

    I admit to admiring your candour.

  3. NIgel

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. As did my wife when I read it to her.

  4. I have somehow overlooked all these comments. Thank you!

  5. I apologize to the people in the car whose door I reached forward on my Bob Jackson and slammed shut to avoid colliding with on Centre St just N of Broome in the early ’90s . I also promise to never find myself between two buses mid-day on Midtown 5th Ave .

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