On a balmy August Monday, as I sweep ever so dangerously between a sea of cabbies on 8th ave in Midtown, I reach a red light. And within seconds I’m surrounded by 5 other frontal balding middle aged men looking “Heisenberg” tough on those blue Citibikes. We all look at each other with a sense of accomplishment, uber coolness, until we smoothly shift attention to the lowly pedestrians crossing the street. Say my name pedestrians!
Ok, I need to stop watching Breaking Bad. It affects my sex life and now my writing style. But I did join the Citibike program 6 weeks ago with an annual membership. Today, I got notice that the credit card they have on file will soon expire and I spent no time rushing to correct the issue. Which means I cant be without it even for a day. Citibike is the best thing that happened in NYC since the invention of General Tso’s Chicken.
I somehow convinced myself that one reason to join was to lose some weight. I was only about 5-10 pounds overweight, but I figured that if I join, riding the bikes will give me that much needed exercise I lack in my daily routine. Well, I gained 5 pounds since I started. Not 5 pounds of muscle. 5 pounds of glorious white fat. And the reason is fairly simple. The bike takes me to more food and I eat more. Last night I took the bike to Di Palo, a store in Little Italy, and now my fridge is stocked will all sorts of Italian imported Salumi and truffled Pecorino cheese. Last week I met a friend at the Chelsea Market where we shared all kinds of goodies together. I’m discovering all sorts of new 9th ave possibilities that were not very easily reached pre Citibike, and I go there alone since non of my coworkers have memberships. The bikes are a game changer. But with the weight thing and eating more solo, something will have to give. As of now I vote for anti social and weight gain.
Ok, I’m half kidding about the anti social stuff. The truth is I’m actually meeting quite a few people while using the bikes, whether meeting someone at a bar for lunch (no worries Mrs Z its just casual sex. Not true love) or a tourist struggling with the process of getting a bike which is very common for first timers. The other day I helped a German couple take out their bikes and besides the fact that at that moment my breath was sporting a garlicky, peppery mess courtesy of Szchechuan Gourmet where things got mildly uncomfortable, it was pleasant meeting and talking to them. A few days ago I met a Russian
stunner student who was having a hard time with one particular station so I walked her to the nearest station. Although I had to go back to work she really needed some help.
And now to the big confession you’ve been waiting for. I, Ziggy, am not wearing a helmet! Why aren’t you wearing a helmet Ziggy? Good question Timothy. Here’s why…
1) I don’t like wearing helmets
2) Its not like the bikes can go very fast. There are 3 speeds… slow, slower, and Angela Lansbury. You can pedal as fast as you can (and look like a dork as a result) and still stop within 2 seconds.
3) Not that many are wearing helmets. 50% of all bikers out there wearing helmets and less than 25% Citibikers wear them. The ones that do look like dorks, especially the ones on the Angela Lansbury speed. The other NYC phenomenon, walkers who text and cross the street while doing so need helmets more.
4) In order for me to wear a helmet I would pretty much need to carry one at all times. Take my helmet on the bus, to work, take it to lunch, and take it back home.
5) The most important reason. The cool factor. You cant look cool on those bikes no matter how hard you try. On my first ride I got yelled by an old lady “Arent you too old to ride on the sidewalk? idiot!”. That was my grandma. Sometimes you have no choice but ride on the sidewalk a little bit to avoid traffic. I already touched on the speed issue and how dorky you look when you pedal like superman in order to go 3 miles per hour. And then there’s that old 1 hand move trick. You see a beautiful girl and suddenly you are cruising ever so smoothly with only one hand. Doesn’t quite work on the Citibike, I tried. Today I saw someone ride a regular bike with no hands, while texting. Now he looked cool even with the helmet.
But don’t try that at home kids. Citibikes like I said is the best thing that ever happened to NYC. Riding on the west side by the Hudson especially is such a delight. The inner Ziggy comes out of hibernation, free to explore, and eat more while doing so