Monday, July 13, 2009

Commuted Sentence

Yes, I did not post anything last week. I could blame the weather, the Tour, gingivitis, or General Ennui (head of the Latvian Air Force, which has no planes but does have a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator ... although the joystick has not worked since they upgraded to Windows 95 ... their battle cry is "Meh" ... the lack of exclamation point is, sadly, on purpose). But, to be honest, I just didn't have anything worth saying.

And then, I rode in to work Friday and was inspired. Part of it was things like this:

Now, I've already mentioned my feelings surrounding bike lanes (if you swap the first letters, you get "like banes," which is only marginally interesting). But at least a bike lane is an attempt at supporting the needs of cyclists. Most of the ones here in Nashville don't go anywhere, of course, but if you can find a route that puts you (however briefly) in a lane that you can call your own, you at least have a few seconds of "happy time." These are the fleeting moments when you can know, without fear that you are really just becoming delusionally paranoid, that the huge red truck passing you scant inches from your shoulder really is just doing that to mess with you.

So, when cars park in the bike lane, it really ticks me off. It's kind of like when your girlfriend's dog craps in your shoe -- Fifi is telling you that, much as you might like to think otherwise, you really have no freaking rights here.

Just after I took this picture and started rolling again, a cop car passed me. He drove right past the lane-violating Alabamian above, and of course did not issue a ticket. I should have been surprised but, then, this is Tennessee. I wish I could say that I expect cops to enforce the Three-Foot Law, but I'm frankly just happy when they themselves abide by it.

But, the good part of my Friday commute was that I actually saw two other bicycles commuting somewhere.

We're taking over, world!

Raining on My Parade

About 3 pm Friday, however, it started to rain.

This is why a lot of people do not commute by bike in the southeastern United States. The fact of the matter is that, during the summer, there is a good chance that we will have afternoon thunderstorms. You may as well plan for it.

So, for the public good, I am going to give you my Tips on Bike Commuting in the Rain. Because sharing my wealth of knowledge is part of the munificence that is RandoBoy.

Tip 1: It Ain't no Thang

Some people in your office may offer you pity when the skies open up at quitting time. For most of them, it's genuine; but for some, it is vindication of their assumed superiority of the "Automotive Life" (coming soon to Fox, starring Paris Hilton).

Do not show weakness (that's when the terrorists win). Instead, just shrug like rain is no big deal. My stock response is, "As an embryo, I was coated with a semi-permeable membrane that keeps most moisture out. We call it 'skin.'"

Yeah, it's a pretty smart-a$$ed response. Typical RandoBoy.

The same thing goes when you're on the road. At red lights, look up at the rain and smile. Catch some rain drops on your tongue. Wave like a happy idiot at the cars. And, most of all, if someone rolls down their window and offers you a ride, look at them as if they are crazy ... as if they just asked you if you wanted to get off of the best roller coaster in the world ever and go sit in the little pink carriage on the merry-go-round.

Tip 2: You Can't Out-Run It

Everyone knows that brakes don't work as well when wet, that roads are slippery (especially right after the rain starts or on painted lines), and that there's lots of stuff hiding under the water (where you can't see it) that will ruin your wheel or at least give you a flat. It doesn't even need to be mentioned here.

So I won't.

Tip 3: Be Street Legal

As a vehicle, in most states when you are on the road you need a properly visible front and rear light. A lot of cyclists remember to turn on the rear light, but forget about the front. Turn it on -- you may not need it to light up the road, but the car pulling out of the side street ahead of you needs it to keep from hitting you.

Besides, you want to be street-legal, right? If you don't obey all of the traffic laws, how can you become righteously indignant when the cars around you don't? And indignance without righteousness is like Turret's Syndrome without the facial tics -- it's amusing for a while, but soon turns into an Adam Sandler movie.

You may want to put on that bright yellow rain jacket or vest now. You've been carrying it in your bag all summer, anyhow, so I don't need to even mention this.

So I won't.

Tip 4: Keep Your Stuff Dry

Along with putting yourself under that rain jacket, think about the other things that you want to keep dry ... like your laptop computer, wallet, and signed hardback edition of "Cats Cradle." If nothing else, steal a couple of garbage bags from the office and put these things inside them, then slide this into your backpack.

Rainy afternoons are when I really love my Arkel pannier -- particularly with the rain cover on it. In almost any deluge, it keeps my stuff dry.

Tip 5: Reward Your Ride

When you get home, you will be wet and your legs will be covered in road spew. Go ahead and clean yourself up a bit, and then clean your bike. Wipe off the crud. You may want to pull your seat post and hang your bike upside down to let the water out of the top tube. Not all bikes need this, but if yours does you can save your bottom bracket this way -- and maybe your frame.

After you get all the grit off, displace the remaining water from derailleurs, brakes, shifters, and so forth using a spray penetrating lubricant. I don't like WD-40 for this, but prefer a Teflon-based lubricant like Finish Line, Boeshield T9, or Tri-Flow. After a few shots of this, lube your chain and you're good.

Now you can go inside, shower, put on your smoking jacket and silk pajama bottoms, kick back with a hot toddy, and watch this morning's Tour stage on TiVo. This will put you in the perfect state to ponder one of life's most pressing questions: Is there such a thing as un-natural male enhancement?


  1. SeriousLEE, this was all good stuff. I've been BC'ing for about six or seven years now, and RandoBoy can still teach an old dog a few tricks. (Sit, rollover, fetch ...)

  2. I pack some extra protection in my panniers for deluges (no, not the kind of protection bike guys keep IN their wallets), rather a few garbage bags to protect the client-issued laptop.

  3. mr. ree to you sir ... the inscrutable mr. lee's doppleganger, here