Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Better Fred than Dead

Ok what the hell is a Fred and what is Chip talking about. The above image makes sense to my five loyal readers but to this generation probably not. I was going to add a Right Said Fred image but that probably would scare more of you off than Fred and Barney. So a "Fred" if you are unfamiliar is a derogatory word elitist (read: Roadies) used to describe the general cycling public. It was usually a thinly veiled fat joke. Fred was certainly better than wanker I suppose which could have caught on but thankfully didn't. We all stopped being "Freds" when Lance came along. Sorry not sorry. Y'all may get triggered by Lance and I am not defending him and his cohorts but he made cycling cool. At least in 'Murica. Cipo is not cool. He is up there with Right Said Fred. Some kind of euro freak show. America likes Nascar. And Kid Rock. You do the math. But anyway. Around the time Lance got vilified and blamed for a entire culture of doping cycling become uncool. Like really uncool. I was there when lots of super smart people tried to make cycling like surfing culture. Nope. Never gonna happen. Cycling is about the proletariat it will never be cool. 

So yeah from the photo above you can see I am 100% Fred. I mean seriously. Total ridiculous fanboy. I am co-DS of a faux Belgian anti-team. I almost got in a fist fight with an actual PROfessional cyclist over a Lion of Flanders flag and my Belgie Nationals kit. I blame that Vet on that though. He started it. And almost had me "finish" it. Although pretty sure I would have lost that fight. But who knows. Just cause you are pretty don't mean you can fight. Right? Anyhow. I am happy about being a Fred. I have always been an outsider. A dork. You name it. Nerd. Geek. Those used to be insults. Now they are badges of honor. Its great the kids can take their freak flag and fly it high. We got in legit fights over that shit. You want to fuck with my leather pants? Bring it. I hope you are actually ready for a fight. But nerds and Freds have taken over. Which is "good" I guess. I love that my kids don't want to go to "liberal" arts schools. They want science and biology. The future is bright. I came from a generation of slackers.

Ok so where is this going? I get it. You want a magic bullet to protect you. My good friend Mr Surly Wrench once said "Death comes ripping" And it does. It feels like it does more so for us on a bike and exposed to all these distracted drivers. I almost died today. Literally. A few weeks back I got lectured by a nice gentleman *cough STALKER *cough about how no one could see me in my HUP kit. He was of course wearing hi viz and had a blinky light. It was fucking noon. And sunny. Old Chip would have punched this mansplaining freak in the throat. Sure I may have pulled out a few tricks to ensure mister Hi Viz Safety Officer got that I am not his bitch and he was not going to pass me on the inside of some high speed turn. But I have mellowed with age. Kind of. I did want to punch him in the face. I also wanted to educate him. So we had a chit chat. I think he was confused that I was able to keep up with him on my CX bike on the road while he was riding a 10k Titanium Dentist Bike. I had my say and peeled off. But it has been stewing. I am not mad but as Mikey would say DEATH COMES RIPPING. You think if you stick to some "rules" you will mitigate your risk. No. Sorry bro. Only one thing mitigates that. Skill. Luck. And awareness. If some douche is texting and drives off the road they will drive through you and your high viz kit.

If someone is drunk they will just run over you. Plenty of drunk and high drivers plow into State Police cars on the side of the road with their lights on. Some say they are attracted to the lights. For the record. I wear high viz orange during hunting season. I ride ALL year round. Not just the Century season. I have a high viz Gore jacket and blinky lights. Again. It won't do jack shit to save your ass with a driver who is fucking updating their status or texting their girlfriend. You want to mitigate risk? Move to VT. Ride off road exclusively. But I like roads. I refuse to concede them to this cult of distracted drivers. I talk to so many people who would love to ride bikes. But they are scared. I don't blame them. They should be. I am terrified every time I ride with my wife. No disrespect to my friends who I love but I could not handle my wife being hurt on the bike. I just couldn't. Sorry if this is sort of a bummer. I want you all to be safe. If putting a strobe light on your bars and wearing a high viz kit makes you feel safe great. If rolling with a blinky light makes you feel safe great. If packing a Glock is for you godspeed. I don't wish any ill will to drivers. I know most are just uneducated. But we have to do more. We HAVE to figure this out. 


  1. Better to be seen than viewed....

  2. more dudes in their hi viz show up with busted bikes than those in stealth black... FWIW... viz does not = situational awareness.

    what keeps you alive?


    Own that shit

  3. Hi Chip. Thanks for posting this. You're entirely right, that "if some douche is texting and drives off the road they will drive through you and your high viz kit." And we do need to do more. But I'm a little bummed that you left it on what almost feels like a hopeless note. Yes we need to do more. And there are so many people who ARE doing more but they need help. Working for the last two years at MassBike has really given me a serious education about transportation in this country and in particular, this state, and how screwed up, time-consuming, costly, and exhausting the process is. I'm in the middle of my second legislative session with MassBike trying to get laws changed and it is a lot of work. We also spent the summer putting together driver education videos about how to drive around cyclists, and even got the registry of motor vehicles to make changes to the driver handbook. That's HUGE. But we need to do more. And organizations like MassBike (and many others across the country at the federal level and down to the grassroots local bicycle advisory committees).

    So how do we figure this out? You start by being involved. I'd love to see more of the race community and enthusiast/club riders get involved. And it doesn't have to be a heavy lift. Join the email list for your local bicycle committee and see what issues they're talking about. Show up at a meeting. Become a member or support an organization like MassBike. Donate time as a volunteer. The work is happening but these groups ALWAYS need help and there is always more work to do.

    I'll get off my soap box now but if you are looking for ways you can help make some changes and get involved, I'm happy to talk more.
    -Lauren LeClaire

  4. I've almost stopped doing rural rides except to get to off-road trails. In Cambridge, Boston, Brookline & Newton, there are bike infrastructure. But more importantly, motorist speeds are lower and drivers have to pay more attention. As a cyclist, the playing field is still tilted, but it's a lot closer to level than in the suburbs.

    An easy way to get involved: if you're here, you probably know the roads as only a cyclist can. Tell MassDOT what you love and what drives you crazy on their State Bike plan wiki: http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/planning/Main/StatewidePlans/BicyclePlan.aspx

    Revamping the Statewide Bike plan only happens once a decade. You have until September to be heard.