Eight Tacks for Trailside Tact
By Betty Sprocket
O, fair Albuquerque! While you were nestled all snug in your bed this winter, your Auntie Betty was out patrolling the trails on bikeback, coming home with perpetually chapped cheeks from the cold. Spring has since sprung, summer is nigh on high, and our city's Bosque and bikeways are teeming with life. It's a rich taxonomy: Cyclists can spy roadrunners and rattlesnakes and rollerblading trophy wives. Almost everyone is welcome in the benevolent eyes of Betty Sprocket, but there is one species that must be stamped out. A type of rider more pernicious than the salt cedar, more insidious than the Russian thistle. The most despicable cyclist of all: the bike punk.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "bike punk" as ... nah, just kidding. Bike punkery ain't something I can tell you about in words; you must sense it with your soul. Anyone could be a bike punk. The pallid old man dawdling along in a pit-stained Hanes V-neck and disposable megashades he got for free at the optometrist. The bespandexed musclebutt with the $5,000 adamantium bike. Any time you're out two-wheeling and you see another cyclist behaving in such a way that makes you roll your eyes and mutter "freakin' punk," an act of punkery has been committed. Because I have so much love in my heart for you, fellow biciclistas Burqueños, and I want us all to enjoy a punk-free summer, I have compiled this list of gentle hints and reminders. Obey!
1) Plan your route. I want to plotz every time I see some chucklehead blithely pedaling alongside traffic on a street with no bike lane. Albuquerque is crisscrossed with marked bike paths, shared roads with well-posted reduced speed limits, and bike-only trails. There are so many excellent government-sanctioned ways to get from Point A to Point B that you have absolutely no excuse for letting your skinny tires touch the heavily trafficked asphalt of Juan Tabo, Louisiana or Central at I-25. Bookmark the Albuquerque bike trail map at easytomiss.org/trail_map (or request a free paper copy at a bike shop), look at it before you roll out of your driveway and prevent your gorgeous ass from becoming a grease spot on the pavement.
2) Look behind you. The helmet-mounted rearview mirror is a risible piece of trash. If you've been off of training wheels for more than 10 minutes, you can balance well enough to throw an occasional glance over your shoulder. Just as you are aware of who is ahead of you on the trail, you should be aware of who is coming up behind you. (This technique is also useful when pretending to flee gangs of killers. Try it—I guarantee you'll ride faster.)
Crunked-out cycling will not automatically result in a DWI.
3) Bikes are vehicles and bike-only trails are roadways. Act accordingly. Would you wobble down the oncoming lane of Rio Grande in your car? Would you stop in the middle of Tramway to tug at your wedgie and slam a couple of Xtreem Energy Gel Packs? Would you and your galpals putter three abreast through the Big I? No? Then why are you doing it on the bike trail? I could squash you just as flat with my bike as I could with my Mazda. Don't test me!
4) I believe it was the inimitable Ms. Dorothy Parker who said, "Girls rarely make passes / At able-bodied boys who ride recumbent bikes." Seriously, those things are for dorks.
5) At night, use a light. It's the law: When riding after dark, your bike must be equipped with a white lamp on the front and a red reflector on the rear. The headlight is not to illuminate your path but to make you more noticeable to motorists. Not only that, but here in DWIbuquerque, maximum visibility is just prudent after bar o'clock rolls around.
6) Understand BWI laws. While we're on the subject of sweet, nectarous booze and late-night bike odysseys, a word on BWI: In Albuquerque, biking while intoxicated is only illegal if the rider violates traffic laws, according to Lt. Leslie Brown with the Albuquerque Police Department’s Traffic Division. If you're behaving egregiously, you could be stopped and cited for a moving violation, but crunked-out cycling will not automatically result in a DWI.
7) No amateur fixed-gear stunting in traffic! You're making the rest of us look bad! Dude. Yeah, you, with the tank top and the nickel slot, doing teetering track stands right in front of a car on Central and Carlisle like a demented two-wheeled Bambi: You look like a chode and you're increasing the basal level of "screw you, cyclist" sentiment among the motorists of Albuquerque. Take it down a notch, bro.
8) Shop locally. When you spend your shekels on gear from Target or Wal-Mart, you're paying for the privilege of pedaling around covered in those garish red-and-white BELL® logos. Doubleplusuncute. There are plenty of locally owned bike shacks around town. I like Cycle Cave (5716 Menaul NE, 884-6607) for new stuff and Fixed and Free (114 Tulane SE, 255-0586) for used parts and advice. Oh, and if you're a UNM student or staff member, take advantage of UNM's bike shop on the southwest corner of Johnson Field. Tune-ups are cheap and boy-gawking is free.
Betty Sprocket could crush your head between her powerful thighs. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
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