13 February 2009

Nice Rack

Surely you've seen them. Either individually on the freeway, or en masse at expensive organic food stores, fair trade coffee shops, and other such places which cater to the naturalist/outdoor lifestyle image.

They can usually be spotted motoring around in a Subaru, Audi, Volkswagen, or perhaps the gas guzzling SUV of their liking. Yet, while their individual markings, colors, and chariots of choice may vary- they will all invariably have on display the same rooftop plumage. A Thule or Yakima bike rack. That's right. The infamous bike rack people.

Now I must digress. I have nothing against cycling, either as a sport or for utilitarian purposes. I myself am an avid commuting cyclist. I ride to work, to the grocery store, to rent DVDs...everywhere. My fendered Gary Fisher Wingra has been ridden in nearly every climatic condition known to man. When the high dollar Lemonds are tucked safely in their garages. . .or locked tightly into their Yakima roof racks, the Wingra and I are out rolling in full force.

That being said, it does bring me untold amounts of pain to see the incredible number of high dollar mountain and road bikes permanently shackled to the roofs of cars like so many misplaced hood ornaments. After all, you surely wouldn't want everyone to think that your brand new sport 'ute is just for hauling the kids to school or making trips to the local Costco. No, never! Americans buy sport utility vehicles for the sport, not the utility. . .right?

We need something to haul our canoes, kayaks, and all terrain vehicles deep into the great wilderness and beyond. The fact that most SUVs are relegated to hauling 42 inch plasma televisions home from BestBuy is surely just an awful coincidence. Besides, we've got the bikes on roof racks to prove it! In fact, once we drop the plasma off in the suburbs, we're heading straight for our favorite mountain biking trail, right? Riiiiiight.

In so many ways, the situation speaks to the very heart of our culture, exposing the shallow moral fiber of the consumerist environment in which we live. As the saying goes: "Image Is Everything." People who cannot even summit a single flight of stairs without pausing to catch their breath, or who will circle a parking lot for hours- too lazy to simply park and hike a few extra feet- will think nothing of spending $1000 or more on a new mountain bike to proudly display perched atop their new Subaru secured to the latest and greatest Thule fork mount. I wonder if you can purchase little cartons of faux red clay to smear onto the frame and wheels to complete the adventurous look? REI are you listening?

To this day I still stare in amazement whenever I see a 300 pound man toting around a 17 pound road racing bicycle; usually, atop his brand new Audi wagon. If only someone at the bicycle shop would've had the guts to explain to him that they joy, and coincidentally, the weight loss, is in the ACTUAL RIDING- not in the spending of thousands of dollars on a high tech piece of machinery which you are unable to even pedal up your own driveway without suffering a cardiovascular meltdown. I can promise you, that's exactly what the sales people were thinking. But, I'm sure it was easier for them to remain silent, and simply point him in the direction of the newest Thule fork mounts.

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