For the longest time, seeing a person riding a bicycle in the depths of winter meant one thing to me: Chronic drunk driver. That is, someone who has offended so many times their license has been suspended and sacramentally burned, whose insurance agent blocks their calls and whose face is deeply lined with the toll of ten million drinks, not to mention the lash of the winter wind as they pedal to the package store in 15-degree weather.
(In Indiana, these guys were also allowed to ride mopeds. I once passed one hauling a case of Old Style strapped on the back. Actually, I saw this a lot of times.)
But lately, bike culture has taken its rejection of the motor to new lengths. I now see people winter riding in expensive outerwear that only slightly blurs the contours of their impressive leg muscles. These people are not alcoholics, just tough-ass cyclists.
It snowed overnight when we were in Chicago, a heavy, wet one, but we still saw many cyclists out there plowing through it. Full-face masks are pretty standard, and one guy had added skier’s goggles.
I see them in Detroit, too, but not so many. One of the bars I visit regularly keeps a large rack outside, and it’s been stowed for the winter. (Either that, or stolen for scrap. You never know.)
There’s a guy at the Eastern Market who sells sprouts year-round. A few weeks back he showed up with a Dutch grocery bike crossed with a limo — solid metal body with a long front section where he can store his toddler, all encased in sturdy clear plastic. A trailer hitch on back is for the produce trailer. Saturday he didn’t have it.
“Where’s the limo?” I asked.
“My wife needed it for a doctor’s appointment,” he said. “She has the boy with her.”
I wondered if she might be feeling too poorly to pedal to the doctor in 25-degree weather. Oh, she’s not sick, he said. Only pregnant. Due in three weeks. I didn’t ask about how they were planning to get to the hospital, as I suspect it’s not part of their plan.
They’re the couple with the baby in this story. One-fifth of an acre in the most bombed-out part of east-side Detroit.
I think I’ve said before my misery index is 40 degrees, and my cycling hiatus is November 1, give or take, through the ides of March. I did a 60-minute spinning class today, in an effort to start feeling it again. This might be a new-bike year.
So, today’s bloggage? The Florida sinkhole story is the latest testimony to the essential weirdness of the Sunshine State. It’s good to know that whatever happens in Detroit, Florida always has a countermove.
After Dad Shot Mom, a story in the WashPost Sunday magazine, and the headline says it all.
And since I don’t have any more links to throw at you, some photos, from Rob Kantner, one of my Facebook friends, who lives north of here. The first is jet engines purchased in South America by one of his clients, slated for recycling:
Next, what was found living in one of them, after its arrival in Michigan:
A northern caiman lizard, most likely. But do you realize what this means? This is the snake in the carpet urban legend! Redeemed!
Have a good week, all. Hope it’s lizard-free.