Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blame it on the Rain 

Bill Cunningham taking pics on the streets on NYC on his Schwinn

I've been out and about a lot this week and one of the things I did was catch Bill Cunningham New York. It's a great little documentary about The New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham and his column On the Street that he's done for the last forty odd years. As a subject he's great. Sort of classic American gentleman, somewhere between George Plimpton, Jimmy Stewart or Fred Astaire. One of the great things about Cunningham is that he rides all over New York on a simple 3-speed upright Schwinn. At one point in the film he says it's his 29th — 28 others have been stolen (apparently Toronto is North America's bike theft capital but it looks pretty easy to steal a bike in New York).

It also brought to mind my own biking as of late. This week especially. I've been biking everywhere. Basically, the TTC is slow and unreliable and biking is fast and cheap. Despite having pimped up my Bianchi touring bike with leather handlebar covers and the fact I still love tearing around town on it, it's just not a great commuter bike. I'm considering getting a real commuter (as I define it) — the latest entry in the field is the Canadian brand Miele Bikes.

The Miele Corsica.

I still have to go take a look at the competition which has been made a little more difficult since there's finally a local provider of the Public bikes. Worse still is the rain. It's been crazy wet in Toronto in the last 6 weeks. Steady down pours mean you get wet all the time. There's hardly any point taking a street car. You'd get just as wet walking to the stop. I've been carrying an emergency poncho with me but I just can't bring myself to wear it in public. I'm considering buying... ugh, rain gear. I'm tired of arriving at work or home or anywhere and being soaked. I think this is really the last step to cyclist dorkdom. Donning Alpine or rain forest rated rain gear. Bill Cunningham gave up years ago and just wears a cheap $5 poncho that he mends with duct tape. Well, Bill, I might just agree with you. After all, he's our mother's age (yes, he's 82 and he still rides every day). It's the poncho or Rainlegs. On the dork scale they are probably equal. Like the old saying goes, if you want to drive, you have to kill; if you want to ride, you're going to get wet.

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