Saturday, January 2

MY Motorists

Alfa Romeo Tubulare Zagato,
Monterey Historic Races, 1979

Campagnolo Toe Clips
More Italian Elegance
Mostly, I like reading bike blogs, but I find it disturbing when I sense an "us versus them" element running through posts. I don't think there is really such a thing as "bike culture," unless you count some of the bike clubs and that aspect. In truth, car and bike enthusiasm very often runs together, both of them fueled by the same enthusiasm for the beauty and functionality of the machines we build to help us get around, and from the joy of travel on the open road. I don't think it's any accident that most of the great bicycle manufacturing companies originate in the same countries that house great automobile enthusiasm. Italy is a case in point. France is another. On the other hand, countries that treat their bikes as the drudge transportation equivalents of washing machines (with apologies to Graham Aubree), design cars the same way. When Detroit was building the Roadmaster Stationwagon, Schwinn was building bikes using the same design philosophy. At both companies, small factions produced something more; the Corvette and Paramount, respectively.

MY Motorists don't chat on their cell phones while they sip their lattes. MY Motorists have an overwhelming and enduring enthusiasm for the PROCESS of motoring. When I drive my E-type Jaguar, I'm not concerned about how long it takes to get to the corner grocery store. I may go there by way of Oklahoma. When I ride, one treat is the opportunity to stop and chat with people driving special interest cars, who are clearly not just out to do the daily errands. Similarly, when I'm riding for recreation, I'm not concerned so much with exactly the route I'm taking, but I still like to take whatever route I'm taking FAST, and WELL. John Forester notes in EFFECTIVE CYCLING that engineers are overrepresented in cycling ranks. Well, they're overrepresented in car clubs as well. A surprising fraction of these like cars AND bikes. I count myself as such. Another car/bike enthusiast recently passed away. Albert Cohen, Alfa Romeo enthusiast, owner of AUTO DELTA, INC, and cycling enthusiast, passed away December 22. The obituary may be found here. I believe his death stems from a cycling crash that occurred in 1996.

Antonio Ascari

The spirit of MY motorists may be summarized by a short excerpt from Hull & Slater's Alfa book:
"Antonio Ascari died shortly afterwards in an ambulance on the way to hospital in Paris. He was thirty-seven.  ...when the news of Ascari's death reached the Alfa Romeo  pit, at a time when both {Alfa drivers, including the race leader}happened to be there, the order was given for their engines to be revved up and then silenced for the rest of the day.

"After the race ... drove down to the spot where Ascari had crashed, and laid their victors' garlands of flowers there."

Cohen was MY kind of motorist. Not like the drunk that hit him. Drunks and distracted/incompetent drivers (and bike riders) are not a car or a bike problem. These are people problems. Yes, more civility, and a demand for one's very best effort, would be very nice all around...


Rat Trap Press said...

I'd have to agree with comment about the over representation of engineers in the cycling ranks. You guys are everywhere.

Chandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chandra said...

50% of siblings are engineers! i think that's a good thing!!

very down to earth and passionate post, steve. bravo!!

it's time to hope that nature engineers production of more sensible and less self-centered people.

peace :)

twister said...

Here's something to pester the collector in you...

Keri said...

I noticed the over-representation of engineers in cycling long before I got invloved in advocacy. I'd meet them on every club ride. I used to do a Tuesday evening ride where I was the only cyclist who was not an engineer. (I was also the only woman)

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