Wednesday, September 21, 2016

All Its Glory: Commuting on the Electra Townie

Since school started I have commuted 20 miles each day on this, my wife's Electra Townie:
Except it sports an iBert childseat and rear rack with panniers.
I'm in a total state of angst about it. Out of my element.

If the bicycle is an example of man perfectly wedded to machine, I'm not on a bike anymore. Machine and man both have issues.

First, the bike: how could this thing be classified as the same thing I was on last week? You know, that carbon 17 pound magical conduit of minimal energy into speed? How can that be the same thing as this bloated barge?

How to dress for a 45-minute sumo match with a beach cruiser? This morning I wore half cycling attire and half of what I woke up wearing. Seriously, what should one wear on a bike that lacks a dress policy? And my knees are killing me, but how the hell would I ever face myself if I walked into a bike studio requesting a fit for my Electra Townie with it's patented Flat Footed technology®  Here's a little snippet from their website: "Electra bikes feature Flat Foot Technology to some degree, the Townie showcases it in all its glory. "

We're not talking about the Grand Canyon or God here. We're talking about a bike whose very claim to greatness ("all its glory")is its denial of aerodynamics.

Somehow this large breasted flat footed fat assed half-recumbent / half waterbed (the Electra Townie, women's version did I forget to mention?) has become the best-selling bike in America, real talk.

My commute takes me along Hains, and on the straight empty roads I have so often used for training I found myself deep in the tuck behind the child seat attempting to reduce CDA and nudge my speed up past 11 mph. I passed several pedestrians--folks not even to the level of fred-lore--directing toward my deeply buried head looks of disappointment. They clearly had plenty of time to notice many, if not all of my faux pas.

Probably my worst moment yet came when a teammate passed and waved and grinned. It was the same look one might give a predecessor's inconsiderately un-flushed turd in a public toilet. A disgrace and a testament to the total depravity doctrine of Calvin, sadly (i.e., "the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin as a result of their fallen nature and, apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God, refrain from evil, or accept the gift of salvation as it is offered.")

I could drop off my son, then come back home and ride my road bike to work. I could, except I am unable even to accept the gift of salvation as it is offered. Like I said, total depravity.

Yesterday I'd stuffed my bag so full of stuff that the bag was rubbing and braking the tire and it took me nearly three miles to notice. The difference between 3 and 4 mph, although a full 4/3 faster, is still just danged slow.

Admittedly, being on this bike composed of discarded Flint water pipes and a saddle boasting "shock absorbing rubber elastomers" (i.e., non-euphemistically, rubber, so literally rubbers) now allows me the time to look around and breathe deeply. For instance, instead of zooming past the sewage outlet at the start of the Crescent Trail (you know, the one that always brings back memories of the Korean floor of my college dorm's Great Kimchi Rot-Off of 1996).

View- and smell-enablement aside, the Townie's a smooth ride. That's because its tires fit into the exact size wheels I used when competing in the Great Michigan Hick-lympics of my youth for the roll downhill in tire event.


You ride on a cushion of air and rubbers when you ride the Townie. With DC's streets in their current shape, I can't complain about the ride. I used to avoid potholes and manhole covers and dead rats and deer: now I just roll over them.

After a week of this commute and wondering why America has made the Townie its favorite bike, it's clear to me why: the Townie is a bike for people who will enjoy not riding their bike. Unfortunately, I'll have to keep riding it because it's the only bike in our fleet that my wife knows it's safe. I'll never be able to go faster than 4mph, even deep in the tuck behind the iBert. And that means we--her son and I--are less likely to ramp into a dump truck at 30mph and die.

The Electra Townie has somehow captured America's taste and current mood, in all its glory. God save us.