Back in 2019, Bicycling magazine asked me to write something about State’s “Core Line” of super-cheap fixies, and they sent me one so I’d know what I was talking about:
Even though I felt like this on it:
I ended up using it as my city runabout, and made various changes to it along the way, including a brief stint as a basket bike:
This in turn got us going to Kissena Velodrome, where my son joined the phenomenal Star Track Cycling program, and I eventually track-ified the Soma so I could jump into the Kissena Twilight races while I was out there:
As for the State, by this time it had been reduced to a frame, fork, and crank and relegated to my storage unit.
My son quickly outgrew the bike Paul had sent, and in the fall he moved on to the bikes in the Star Track loaner fleet. Recently however it occurred to me that, at the rate he was sprouting, he could probably just about fit on the State. So I rescued it from the storage unit, hit the parts bin, and would you look at that, he’s got a new bike:
Obviously the saddle’s pretty low, but he can straddle it without dashing my hopes of one day becoming a grandfather, and it fits him about as well as the loaner bikes he’s been using–plus he’s got plenty of room to grow into it:
He’s become fond enough of track bikes that he wants to ride one on the street as well as the velodrome, so being not only a father but someone who spent years ridiculing people who ride track bikes without brakes around the city, I insisted he use one. He resisted at first, but then I explained that we can take it off for the track in like two seconds, and once he understood it would not be some permanent fixture on his bike he agreed:
That’s a right-side inline lever flipped upside down for use on the left side, and if you look closely you can see I had to create a little ferrule nubbin to support the head of the brake cable as it wouldn’t sit flush in the body of the lever.
Anyway, it’s a little big (for now) and a little banged up, but it should serve him well:
Best of all, now that he’s getting to the point where he can ride my bikes, and my younger son is getting to the point where he can ride his older brother’s old bikes, between my own bikes and my vast spare parts reserves I may never need to buy either one of them a bike ever again! So as long as I can talk them both out of college I’m pretty much off the hook, financially speaking.
By the way, the jeans are a new offering from Vulpine called “Opus:”
While I’ve been wearing them for a couple months now, this was my first time subjecting them to serious saddle time, and so far they’ve been great on the bike and off. Like it or not, I’ll no doubt be subjecting you to a deep dive on cycling jeans in the not-too-distant future, but for now I’ll just say that as of now I haven’t found a single thing to dislike about these.
The ostensible reason for my ride was that I had to head downtown for a dentist appointment, but while I was down there I figured I might as well check out the new Brooklyn Bridge bike lane. So after they finished scraping my teeth and lecturing me about my oral hygiene I hopped back on the ‘Pus and continued further downtown. Some say the city has lost much of its character in recent years, and there’s plenty to debate as far as that goes, but I think we can all agree that this “No Ho” policy has gone too far:
I love everything about the Platypus, though it does have one shortcoming when it comes to urban riding, that being you can’t squeeze through traffic with that sumptuously wide cockpit:
Twitter is full of smug bikey types complaining about cars in their path impeding their forward progress. Fortunately, I’ve learned something they have not, which is that if you really don’t want to deal you can just get off your bike and walk a few feet:
By employing this tactic at a red light I was instantly able to move to the front of the line, and as soon as it turned green I had the whole street to myself:
I’m a genius.
Before long I was at the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge, and I gotta say, the city really rolled out the green carpet on this one:
The Brooklyn Bridge bike lane is a big deal because over the past couple decades foot traffic has become so heavy on this world-famous landmark that bicycling across it had grown virtually impossible–assholes like this notwithstanding:
This led to calls for the city to take a lane of car traffic away and make a dedicated bike lane out of it, which incredibly they finally did this past summer. Now you can sail right on by all those tourists and souvenir vendors:
Sure, the view from the roadbed is somewhat diminished, but this lane is for riding and not gawking:
As I rode, I felt elated that the city had finally taken this significant step, and yet at the same time I felt resentful that most of the Harlem river crossings still suck, and that the city continues to lavish so much attention on Manhattan and Brooklyn. These mixed emotions persisted as I turned onto the Great Hipster Silk Route, which has received yet another significant upgrade:
This portion of the Silk Route passes the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is now full of startups and studios, and in general the whole stretch feels like it should be called “Brooklyncisco:”
There’s even a little respite where you’re invited to contemplate:
I accepted the invitation, and took a little time to contemplate my Platypus:
I then remounted and continued into Williamsburg:
And over its eponymous bridge:
Not too long ago, once you got to Manhattan, the bridge just spat you onto Delancey Street. Now, it feeds into a veritabe bicycle highway:
From there I made may way over to the west side and headed up the Hudson River Greenway, where I spotted what appeared to be a naked paddleboarder:
Though on closer inspection I think he was just wearing a flesh-colored bathing suit:
Finally, 40-ish miles, three boroughs, and a teeth cleaning later, I was back in the Bronx and starving, so I picked up some lunch from a Halal food truck before heading home:
My dream is to one day open one of my own. It will be called “How The Halal Ya?”
Look for it in a bike lane near you.