02 July, 2009

VO Closed Friday for Independence Day


We're closing Friday, July 3rd, for our Independence Day holiday.

Years ago I used to ride down to the Mall in Washington DC to watch the fireworks with a bunch of fellow cyclists each 4th of July. We used to lay in grass and, discreetly, drink beer while the fireworks exploded almost directly above us. Great fun! Now with terrorism hysteria and heightened security I'm not sure that's even possible.

These days we take a ride in the country and then just walk to the waterfront at the end of our street to watch the explosions over Annapolis. My 9-year old son and his friends love fireworks, as I used to. But lately I've found them a little too martial and jingoistic. On the other hand, my son's swim team is in the Annapolis town parade and there is a neighborhood kid's bike parade that's always a hoot.

In any case, I hope everyone has a great weekend. And a happy, if belated, Canada Day to all our customers from the north! (It was yesterday.)

Anyone doing any cool bike related stuff?

32 comments:

david_nj said...

Chris you're the greatest but let's face it, fireworks being a little martial and jingoistic on Independence Day -- well, that's kinda the point! Anyway I'm down with it. ;-)

mike said...

in the morning touring a gap or two in middle vermont with some friends. they are from flat ohio and are anxious to climb....

then in the evening riding the bakfiets with the little one down to the waterfront to enjoy the festivities. the wife will be on her new casseroll... and we'll picnic or buy carney food. i doubt will stay for fireworks - so we'll exit before the bike and ped traffic gets crazy.

Tom said...

Art that goes BOOM! what's wrong with that?

annette said...

Oh... I thought the fireworks were because Le Tour starts tomorrow.

John said...

Rebuilding and installing a Cyclone II long-cage on my mongrel Motobecane (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_hf6_g-DH_Ps/Si8YzwzeM1I/AAAAAAAAAK8/bObtTvhRJ8k/s1600-h/IMG_0065.JPG). This to better support the combo of a new 36-tooth inner ring and existing 52-tooth outer. Then hopefully a 20-30 mile shakedown -- rain permitting (ugh). Also other fleet maintenance, but no martial or jingoistic displays here.

jimmythefly said...

Riding to watch the fireworks over Lake Union (Seattle).

I absolutely love fireworks, and have fond memories of lighting them off as a kid, including my dad's cannon, home-made m-80s, railroad torpedos, bottlerockets into the water, etc. I especially liked the "tanks" that you could point at each other, and that would often set each other on fire.

Seattle takes a dimmer view on all this than the rural Nebraska where I grew up.

brionic said...

I love the fourth of July - grilling, riding, and watching fireworks with my boys, and keeping the hot chocolate flowing (Abuelita).

Sad to read that many towns are canceling their fireworks displays.

We'll be riding out to Amana and partaking of the fabulous Colony Inn pancakes, served family style in the old German tradition. Yum Yum!

Preston said...

Tomorrow (Friday) morning I plan to
drive (apologies) to Lake Miramar
which has a 4.92 mile road around,
and ride 100 miles at a moderate
pace of around 15 to 16 mph on my
1974 Jack Taylor Clubman. This will
be a training ride for a future 12
hour ride of, I hope, 180 miles. I
always wanted to do 200 miles in 12
hours, but at age 69, I think I
have waited too long and will be content with 180 miles and still feeling good at the finish.
Preston

Anonymous said...

oh, come on!! Usually you are at least close to the bullseye, but fireworks jingoistic? This country has many things to be proud of: the founding of our counrty from then oppressive britain being one of them.

2whls3spds said...

Not today but on Saturday, plan to ride my Twenty (with a few VO bits on it) to the local Jazz Festival and then hang out to see the fireworks...if it doesn't rain!

Aaron

Chris Kulczycki said...

David and Annon, My reason has nothing to do with independence itself. It's just that when nations glorify wars and patriotism, then wars become more acceptable. I simply think that it's better to celebrate the results, rather than the war itself.

Anonymous said...

'Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.'
George Bernard Shaw
As a Canadian, I also shrink from the quieter, but more passive-aggressive forms of Canadian patriotism I witnessed a couple of days ago. But enjoy the day off--ours happend to be on a Wednesday this year--whoopty-do.
M Burdge

Anonymous said...

another Canadian here and I have to agree that U.S. independence day celebrations look tad jingoistic to me, but then again, just about every public display of american patriotism looks jingoistic to me. as a matter of fact, I've always found the excess reliance on symbols that create a false sense of community (flags, eagles, local sports team mascots, gang golours, etc..) to be somewhat absurd.
one canada day I saw a street dweller crossing a busy street in traffic holding up her Canadian flags in defiance as if they would protect her from the oncoming vehicles.

but, it's nice to have a day off in the summer for barbeque and beer with friends and family

Allan

z-man said...

Glorifying war?
Oh my dear God, what has this country come to?
Maybe they could have had a sit down over some fair trade tea (non-taxed of course) and had a peaceful talk about their feelings on becoming independent. I'm sure the King would have been sensitive to their needs.

Anonymous said...

z-man (is that zed or zee?):
You realise you are referencing something that happened over 200 years ago, don't you, and that the US has had its own brushes with unjust imperialism since then?
Again, I speak as a Canadian, but in doing so I am aware of things like Canadian mining practices in Latin America, our shameful residential school system, not allowing Chinese people to vote until 1947 (and Natives until 1950!), &c.
MB

Anonymous said...

Go watch the fireworks. Be more concerned about the video games your kids are playing.

frankenbiker said...

My god,everyone should just drop the thesaurus and say--the fireworks are just glorifing war and being overly patriotic.Fireworks celebrate our Freedom and Independence,plus they are beautiful to look at,free and the kids enjoy it.I may not always agree with everything or everyone, who does?Just relax and remember for all of it's problems we still live in the greatest nation in the world.GOD BLESS AMERICA!!If I have offended anyone,F@#* YOU, it's the american way.

Steve said...

Chris said:
My 9-year old son and his friends love fireworks, as I used to. But lately I've found them a little too martial and jingoistic.

In my opinion, you were right then and you are wrong now. Back then, you, like your son today, appreciated them for what they are: pretty, ephemeral art in the sky. Pure fun. Where's the war in that?

IMHO, if war is there, it's something you brought, and certainly not something that was in the minds of the artists who devised the fireworks and orchestrated the show, and I'm certain it's not something that's in the minds of the audience enjoying them.

That's not to say what you feel is wrong ~ for you. I've seen a PTSD sufferer freak out at a very small fireworks display. First burst, and he was back in the Nam with incoming artillery. If it makes you uncomfortable, or you don't like what it makes you think of, don't go.

For that matter, I really enjoy fireworks displays, and I don't go. I tried it a couple of times back in the 80s, didn't care for the crowding and the huge delays getting home. But the show from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial certainly was grand!

David said...

My experience during the past few years has been that bicycling to the National Mall fireworks is still by far the best way to go. The streets are closed for emergency vehicle access, but as usual, no one seems to care about bicycles. Usually I consider this to be a bad thing, but in this case I've had six lanes of uninhabited Constitution Ave to myself. I particularly like riding around a bit when they start going off--watching the people watching the show--then parking myself directly below the pyrotechnics. This typically means that there's some ash or charred cardboard falling from the sky around me, but I think this is only appropriate. We can hardly expect to blow shit up without a little fallout, literally, right? I guess GWB though so, but there's a new kid in town...
Also, the bike makes it OH so much easier to get out of downtown - although it does make me feel a little superior to my fellow citizens.
Anyhow, I'm no longer in DC, but I'll miss this annual ritual.

patates frites said...

If y'all think militarism and war are not being glorified in these 4th of July celebrations, you only need to listen to the final piece played at most of them: Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture. What does this composer, a Russian, have to do with the U.S.? What does this overture, created to celebrate Napoleon's defeat during his invasion of Russia, have to do with U.S. independence? The answer, of course, is nothing. The only reason it is played is because it has cannons at the end! And in many places they have the local National Guard armory shoot some real ones for the grand finale. Let's face it, Americans love violence, war and imperialism, as long as they are in charge. Yes, it's jingoism and militarism, and I despise both.

Justine Nicholas Valinotti said...

The Fourth of July happens to be my birthday. So, wherever I am, I'll celebrate.

I agree with Chris's concern with the jingoism of fireworks displays and other Fourth of July celebrations. Although I am ashamed of some of the things this country has done, and embarrassed by some of its so-called leaders, I still think it has more hope and possibility than any other.

To some extent, I share Chris's Francophilia. But I think he realizes, as I do, that it's an American privilege. I lived in France for 2-1/2 years and treasure the experience (especially for some of the cycling I did). However, when I was there, I befriended native-born French people who were of African and Middle Eastern as well as European French ancestry. Their attitude about the country is very different, as they (especially the Arabs and Africans) do not share our privilege.

Now I'll share one of the great ironies of my life: I was discharged (honorably) from the Army Reserves on le quatorze juillet. I won't tell you what year!

hey dude said...

Chris, I see your point to annon's [mine] comments. Your point is well taken

Tom said...

Ever since a childhood friend (Vietnamese girl adopted by an irish catholic family) cowered under the kitchen table that 4th of july too many years ago, I have a different perspective of fireworks. She did not have the choice of 'not going'. The firecrackers and M80's brought her right back to her home country, with bomb blasts, M16 fire, shouting, yelling, the smell of stale beer on soldiers breaths, etc.

For many Americans, fireworks and the tacky displays of red/white/blue are statements of love it or leave it imperialism.

We do live in a unique country, but better than every other arbitrary political border? I can't really agree with that perspective. There are some obvious places that are worse: North Korea (but N. Koreans truly believe they are in the best country- jingoistic brainwashing maybe?); Nigeria; Afganistan; etc. But to say France, Ireland, Japan or Canada has a lower level of experience than us because it's *not* America smacks of cultural imperialism.

reverend dick said...

Lighten up. It's just fireworks.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, every year my family would go to the Butchart Gardens for their weekly fireworks display. It was always set to light classical music or Gilbert & Sullivan numbers, and while in time I went more for the girl watching before the fireworks, it was entertaining. Fireworks in the sky ARE pretty (although my London Blitz-experienced grandmother always found the loud boomers hard), but when the line blurs between pretty and violence, the pretty violent is legitimated. Hope eveyone's long weekend went well, though, and they were able to eat outside with friends and family.
M Burdge

Gary said...

Any idea when you might have the Taiwanese front racks?
I'm waiting!
Thanks!

American Boy said...

Hmm, I am 45 years old I never think of war when on the fourth. My thoughts are filled with images of sunshine, watermelon, a chargoal grill ( not a yuppie gas grill) , juicy meats, and BEER. And the as the sun sets, and the darkness rises I can hear fireworks off in the distance.

The Fourth is about BEER, and Kids !!!!

America is cool

Chicken George said...

So the forth is about the glorification of war and imperialism ? man, you guys must live in extreme right wing neighborhoods.

I thought it was all about having a good time and acting like a derelict for a while with illegal fireworks and grain alcohol soaked watermelon.

As Tom says : Art that GOES BOOM. good one.

Fireworks is a time for the children to watch as the skies light up and their Dad's act like kids.

bikelady said...

I just finished a wonderful bike tour in Picton Ontario. Prince Edward County is a dream for bikes. The roads are in great shape, there are lots of wonderful wineries and nicely appointed bed and breakfasts. If you ever want a nice two or three day bike tour with great beaches...consider Picton Ontario

Anonymous said...

Rode Petrified Forest NPS on the 3rd (35 miles) and out and back along the south rim of Grand Canyon (70 miles) on the 4th. Two amazing rides if you find yourself and your bike in northern AZ. Be sure to check out Sunset Crater/ Wupatki if you have the time. Sadly there were no fireworks at GC!
Cheers!
cm

Anonymous said...

Thanks for thinking of us north of the border. We've got pretty good fireworks too, at least in the capital.

I've posted anonymously a number of times, and there have been occasions when I didn't agree with something, but I greatly appreciate that there are a few entrepreneur types like yourself who keep alive in the marketplace the more traditional, more sensible kind of cycling and bicycles that buck the racing fantasy fashion. If the same trend were carried over into car ownership, everyone would be driving around in a Formula 1 or LeMans type racing car lookalikes, and they would drive to work in nemex racing suits.

I'm not the right temperament for business, but I'm glad there are people like you who are.

GuysFlies said...

I'm restoring a 70's vintage Jo Routens racing bike. Was supposedly designed as a hill climb racer. Has a 2nd generation Campy Super Record group. Any info on the builder would be appreciated.
GuysFlies@aol.com