On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who am I?

I learned a very, very valuable lesson yesterday:
Bike shorts exist for a reason.

Yes, I went for a bike ride yesterday. A real bike ride - not on a spin bike in a studio, and not because I was on my way somewhere. And yes, it was awesome. I finally know what it's like to pass people (even if those people were runners while I was on my bike).

Why on earth did I do that?

Well... I'm maybe, maybe contemplating a multi-sport event. A duathlon. I mean, I love guns and I've cross-country skied a bunch, so... (that joke never gets old, does it!)(what? it's old already? huh.) A 2m run, 12m bike, and 2m run? I can probably do that, right? I haven't registered yet, but what's tipping me over the edge is their "fat tire" division, which accommodates slowpokes like me on their commuter bikes.

A little pep email from Ms. Duffy (she was right - gaining speed on the downhills does make the uphills not as bad) and I headed to Central Park for a loop. I was kind of nervous about it; not only was I afraid I'd have to walk my bike up Harlem Hill (stop laughing! it didn't happen), but there's been some tension between the police and cyclists in the park lately. Cops have been issuing $270 tickets for cyclists who don't stop at red lights in the park - even during the park's car free hours and when there are no pedestrians around.

I didn't get a ticket.

But I did get some insight into one of the bigger problems in the park: tourists are assholes. They ride their rented bikes the wrong way in the running lane. They cross the street whenever they want in groups of 10-20. They think that making eye contact with me as I fly down a hill means I'll stop for them. And worst: they ignore the stoplights completely. Hey, cops, here's an idea! Ticket the tourists.

Their jerkiness made me into a right asshole. As I rode through green lights in the park, narrowly missing tourists, I started yelling, "You have a red light" at them. Most of them looked confused, having not even seen the lights. One guy yelled back, "I know - I ignore them!" Ein Stuhl in der Hölle for you, tourist.

Should I do the duathlon? I can't decide. If I do, however, I make you a promise that these are things you will not see on this blog:

  • No gratuitous pictures of me in spandex. Actually, no pictures of me in spandex, period.
  • For that matter, no panda shots. I don't care how cute your adorable skirt and cowboy boots look, if you are on a bike, safety is a priority. PUT THE CAMERA DOWN.
  • No gushing, loving posts talking about how amazing biking is (except this one). I have a hybrid commuter bike and it's okay, but it's not great. I will never be a great cyclist on it.


  1. I *heart* biking and miss my commute by bike to work (it used to be 10.5 miles each way, mostly on paved trails. It was wonderful!). Bike is now in storage in DC :(

    But I never used padded bike shorts, I just got a better bike seat. I found that the padded shorts did nothing to help with the chafing situation *there*

  2. Giddy does not even begin to explain how this post made me feel. Duathlon? WEEEEEE!

  3. YES! DO IT! You can run, you have a bike and 12m is a totally doable ride, even on your big old clunker. DO IT.

    Also? Tourists ARE assholes. They are one of the few things I do not miss about living in Chicago.

  4. Tourists are assholes. Especially the ones that come to NYC.
    And why is it called a panda shot? Is this explained in the urban dictionary and I'm just not cool enough?

  5. I have no idea why they're called panda shots! Evidently I'm not cool enough either.

  6. When I come to NCY, am I an asshole? (no comments about me being an asshole in general, please)

  7. Do you... stay in or near Times Square? wear a look of amazement that causes you to stop paying attention to your surroundings? travel in a group larger than 2-3 people? avoid taking the subway? Then yeah, chances are good you're an asshole tourist. It happens. Just please, stop for the red lights in the park!

  8. I think you should totally do it! My friend Erin has done two and loved them :)

    I forgot you and Tara were telling me about the tourist problem in Central Park. Are there signs posted on which way is the right way to go? I can't imagine not stopping for a light!

  9. Good points, Kim-
    I don't think there are any signs. BUT, the bike rental companies should warn them. And, having done it ONCE when I first got my bike, you don't have to ride more than half a mile (if that) to have the distinct "I'm doing something very wrong here" feeling.

    And as for the lights, I sort of get it. You're a pedestrian, being asked to stop at a red light, when bikers and runners are the oncoming traffic. It's sort of intuitive that you wouldn't think the light was mandatory. But people forget - those cyclists can get easily going 20mph. And even as a runner, it's just not that easy to stop on a dime or dodge a tourist easily!

  10. Ein Stuhl in der Hoelle... Hahahahahahaha! When I curse in German (and I did that a lot when I was teaching kids how to ski in Switzerland) I sound a heck of a lot less polite. ;)

    As for the duathlon: get a pair of cycling shorts first, then sign up for the duathlon. Cycling shorts are key. I've learned the hard way (yep, I'm talking butt blisters here...)...

  11. YESSSSSSSSSS!!! Do it. It is nice to switch things up a bit.

    Yeah, biking can bring on a whole new feeling of rage.

  12. Glad to oblige with the enabling pep talk... welcome to the dark side, bwa ha ha ha!

    You can get good bike shorts at the REI outlet site for $20- $35 bucks. I have some awesome Cannondale shorts that were $35. That, or get one of those big cushy saddles, but that might actually run you more than the shorts plus some chamois cream, so...

    And it took bike-rage for you to get that Central Park tourists are total dickwads? I thought running there would have made it clear... esp. during NYRR races when the mass of 10 people tries to cross in front of the 10 minute milers' section....

  13. I've been thinking about duathlon, as well. Which one are you thinking of doing? I would have to acquire a bike--mine is a folding bike and I think they might draw the line at that (and I might be a little too embarrassed).

  14. This is the one I'm thinking about:
    2 October in Central Park! Aside from the hills in the park (and the fact that the run is basically up Cat Hill, twice) it seems like it should be relatively easy and doable.

  15. Oh my GOD, yes, can we please ticket the tourists? I have come way too close to being involved in accidents caused by tourists just walking out into the street or riding their bikes in the wrong place at the wrong time and the wrong speed...it's ridiculous. There really should be some sort of class or certification you have to get in order to rent a bike and take it to Central Park. It's not only a question of them being annoying, it's DANGEROUS. It drives me crazy.