Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Confession of Compulsive Joy Ride

In light of recent anti-theft posts by Bike Snob NYC, I have a confession to make.

At the bike rack a few weeks ago, I noticed a late 1990s Cannondale CAAD3 left unlocked outside of work. Granted, it's Omaha and theft isn't very common. But still, for goodness sake lock your bike! Don't you know that you're asking for trouble?!

At first I was surprised by how cavalier the owner was about this bicycle, leaving it unlocked and such. I guessed that s/he forgot their lock and was playing the safety in numbers theory. But when I rolled up on the second day and found the bike was unsecured again, I became alarmed. On day three I laughed. Day four: irritated. Day five: angry. By day six I was incredulous. This was reckless!!

Admittedly, I can easily become attached to a bicycle: mine, yours, whoever's. This had certainly become the case for the CAAD3. And so it followed that I fretted about it getting stolen. I acknowledge having a problem with this attachment disorder, but I rationalized that there were worse forms of obsessive compulsions. To cope, I popped an imaginary happy pill and let the gripping anxiety break away like the peloton at the end of a furious club ride.

It wasn't but a few days before I found myself itching and scratching around that unlocked Cannondale again. I couldn't take it anymore. Something in my mind snapped as allowed myself to become deeply lustful of that butterscotch bomber.

Originally an aluminum road bike, it had since been reconsigned to commuter work with a mishmash of road, mountain and cyclocross parts. Its allure was in its unashamed nakedness and exotic blend of components that made it stand out among the big box store mountain bikes and roadies.

I couldn't stop myself from thinking about it. I just had to take a ride. Just one spin around the block, I reasoned, wasn't going to hurt anyone...

So the next morning, I boldly slipped that CAAD3 out like a thief in the early morning light. The flaws of the bicycle were immediately noticeable -- the rubbing brake pads against a front rim in desperate need of truing; a rear derailleur that sounded like it was thrashing wheat -- but I didn't mind. It was simply delightful to give into my desires.

The sparkling sunlight danced off of the smooth asphalt tarmac as I sped away from the stresses of work, deadlines and dreary project meetings. With each downward thrust and quick circling motion of the crank, I became more engaged in this covetous act. I rode past the first city block without a thought of stopping. I breezed through a handful of intersections while sweat beads began forming on my brow.

Just ahead in the distance, a blinking hand at the crosswalk became a foreboding omen. The freewheel spun as I paused to consider that the responsibilities of work and life. Work or play? The hesitation was momentary. Jumping into a full sprint, I hammered through the intersection with rocketing heart rate. And as I coasted through the yellow traffic light and gulped in the sweet air, I swear I could hear the satisfactory hum of it's 700x38C knobby tires.

A good 20 minutes later, a funky patina clung to me as I returned the bike to the rack. It was more than simply angry bacteria festering beneath my arms. What stunk was my guilty conscience. I reeked of it. And while wisdom told me that the urges were momentarily satisfied, it would only be a matter of hours before the craving for another tryst returned.

I had to find a way to prevent recidivism. Acting quickly, I scribbled an anonymous note to the owner, mentioning the stuff about getting the wheel trued and lubing the drive-train. Closing, I underscored the value of getting and using a lock. As I slid the note between the brake cable and top tube, I said a desperate prayer that it would be taken to heart.

So there it is. I publicly confess to you, my steel-cut readers, that I've become attached another's bicycle and am in need of penance.

Sadly, it's been two weeks and that bike still remains unlocked. While I've managed to restrain my urges, my lecherous eye finds that chocolate dream long before Old Yeller's wheel stops rolling up to the bike rack. My diseased mind is fixated on it. I yearn for another ride.

Help me help myself!


  1. Amazing post, Brady. You write with such an entertaining flair. You could, quite possibly, quit your day job.

    I've also seen the bike unlocked. I wondered if it might belong to one of the hanger-outers over across the way at the Mall.

    Oddly, I forgot my cable lock one day. I had the combination lock reserved for gym locker use, so I improvised. I used someone else's cable and the Master lock to secure my bike to the rack. I fretted about how someone might feel if they showed up later and saw that some crazy guy had severely limited the use of the cable left there for their own use.

    Like you, I scribbled a note on a card asking them to call me if this situation posed a problem. I even promised a cup of coffee, juice or soda if a compromise could be reached.

    It turned out that I hadn't actually left my lock at home. I was using a new pannier (well, craigslist new, anyway) and had slipped the lock into a forgotten pocket in the pannier. I went back out to lock my bike up and return the other fellow's cable to normal use. I don't think this particular commuter rode in that day, so the whole awkward situation would have been avoided anyway.

    So to the rest of you, be sure to lock up your bikes. Otherwise you might come back out to find gear teeth all worn down and cranks bent from Brady's relentless anonymous hammering fetish.

  2. "With each downward thrust and quick circling motion of the crank, I became more engaged in this covetous act ..."

    Just to be clear. You are still talking about a bicycle, right?

    I changed my mind. Please Murphini, DO NOT tell us about Brady's dark side.

    Excellent story Brady. You you stop with the big words, though? What's 'recidivism'?

  3. a simple solution to everybody's problem: get a new lock for the bike, lock it up and give the key to one of Leahy Mall's finest.

    You'll never ride that bike again, the owner will learn his or her lesson, and someone across the street will get another 'treasure' to cart around.

    Win. Win. Win.

  4. Scott: Thanks for the compliment. But you see, I'd have to have that other thief in the night Fredcube teach me how to steal potatoes if I gave up the big $buck$ that Uncle Pete puts in my pockets every month. Regarding locks: I've had similar issues in the past but wasn't as crafty as you. I begged the fitness center to let me put Old Yeller in the lost 'n found for the day. Since then, I keep a secondary Kevlar cable lock in my commuter bag at all times in the event that I forget the key to the u-lock I leave at the rack. By the way, when are you gonna start blogging? If I had a name like yours, I'd grab the url "redd-shift dot blogspot dot com" and share your thoughts about moving away from status quo while commuting to work and living the Bohemian lifestyle in Omaha, Nebraska.

    Hi Fred. I mean, it was H.I. that taught me about recidivism. So you above all people will be pleased to know that I learned that word while watching the Coen Brother's Raising Arizona back in the salad days. Truly, one of the best movies ever committed to film, right? Right.

    Bryan: I've had similar thoughts, like buying a cheap lock & key from Wally-world and leaving the key in the chamber. But I'm pretty certain that the next day the bike would be unsecured on that rack again. Then, I'd snap. I would get so PISSED that I'd ghost-ride it under a bus on Douglas Street and have to make yet another public confession. Yeah. Your solution's probably better.

  5. Ok. Just checking. It's the only place I've ever heard the word. Another movie by the same people is the only place I've heard the word "micturated". As in Ol' yeller looks like it's been micturated upon.

  6. What about Douglas Adams? Thy Micturations are to thee... Shame on you Freddled Gruntbuggly!

    By the way, I took Bryan's advice and micturated down the seat tube after I rode the piss out of it. Actually, Munson's handiwork brought Ol' Yeller back to it's current state.

    So where's Munson anyway? From pecking the first word of "The Confession of Compulsive Joy Ride" on my typewriter, I've anticipated reading his comment about "feeling dirty" after reading this blog.

    Everything that rises must converge!

  7. Wrong again, Brady. I don't read aloud, so I've never heard the word other than in the Big Lebowski.

  8. ... and - it's a different word anyways.

  9. Brady needs to learn the last verse of the Jimmy Buffet Song Peanut Butter Conspiracy on how to keep nimble fingers.


    The best thing about Brady's post was I thought the note he'd leave on the bike would be something like:

    "I yearn for you tragically. A. T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army"
    Washington Irving.
    Irving Washington
    Have you seen Washington, Irving?

  10. Another fun thing to do with the Cannondale would be to buy a lock and give the key to the fitness center desk. The bike would then be a loaner, available upon request to cyclists who left their bikes at home, but then want to get a ride in over lunch.

    I have blogged a little about cycling here:

    Check back later for some picture of the newly poured Turner Boulevard greenway trail.

    I imagine I would run out of things to say pretty quick, so I don't know that I need a dedicated blog for it. The "redd-shift" is a great idea... nice play on words.

    You asked in another post about the origin of my name. I am not sure where the name Redd comes from.

    It might be a noun describing a nest of fish eggs, or an Old English verb meaning to get something in order.

    I've always assumed is was English, or perhaps Scottish or Irish. I've definitely got a fair skinned, freckly, wild red hair thing going on in my family. I always imagined that some "Willy the janitor" like character showed up at Ellis Island fresh off the boat from Scotland. When he tried to convey his vitals to the immigration officers there, they couldn't understand a word he said. So the wrote down "Red," due to the color of the beard and hair, but added an extra "D" for flair.

    Have a great weekend.



  11. Scott: I like what I see about MAT.
    That's good stuff.

    I tagged MAT bus #9610 on August 5th as the first bus I've seen with a bike rack. I've ridden this rig twice. It's one of the Florida conversion jobbers - tan and blue with tiger print interior. Very nice!

    Judging from you blogging at, you're as nuts as I am - perhaps even more - about good old MAT. We'll have to compare notes sometime

  12. Truth be told, I haven't been a regular rider of MAT for years. I've ridden a few times over the past couple of years on extremely cold/snowy days when I didn't even want to attempt to start up my truck. Or, if I needed to drop a vehicle off at the shop and then ride the bus to the shop to pick it up after work.

    You threw me a bone with the "redd-shift" idea, and I decided to move with it. Check it out at Thanks for the idea.

    BTW: I saw my first MAT bike rack on 8/7 but I wasn't quite sure if that's indeed what I saw. I started seeing several of them over this weekend.