No question mark this time. You may have noticed we haven’t been publishing much in… let’s call it “a while.”
CityBike is done, too done to bother with the vacuous “stick a fork in me” idiot-oms that pass for “writing” in an alarming number of so-called publications in this modern age of empty-headed echo-chamberism.
More accurately: I’m done. Keeping CityBike pseudo-functional has consumed an unsustainable amount of my life for many years, and yeah, I probably would have kept on keepin’ on out of sheer stubbornness and obstinate tenacity, but I got hit by a car.
I have a hypothesis: the work-life un-balance we endure, even embrace, is a function of tolerance. It builds up over time.
We don’t start out thinking it’s fucking fulfilling to work 50-60 hours (or more) every week. Still, we’re fed inspirational quotes designed to make the folly of this work-as-definition-of-human-value existence palatable. It gets dressed up in duplicitous jive about work-life balance, achievement, finding deeper meaning in our careers, and other often-disingenuous drivel, and starts to feel normal. I’d built up such a tolerance for unreasonable levels of commitment that doing CityBike, a full-time-plus job on top of my already full-time-plus real job, didn’t feel all that weird.
Sure, I never slept, and eventually only rode for events and photoshoots because writing about motorcycles and facilitating a team of contributors and getting a print magazine out the door every month is all-consuming.
But motorcycles are fun, right? Ain’t that right?
I’ve shared many of the Fish-n-Gish conversations here in Uneasy Rider, and here’s another one: Fish, in an instance of classically-Fish tough-love-straight-talk, recently described my work “ethic” née addiction to me like he was giving me bad news, like I don’t know that I work too much. As if I wasn’t aware that I’d long since kissed the good parts of motorcycling goodbye, in exchange for… something else. I can hear his thoughtful feedback echoing in my mind, neatly packaging concepts like uncompromising, dedicated and impressively stupid for easy consumption over pre-ride chow.
Anyway…. a bunch of surgeries—and one more coming!—followed by a something like six weeks in a rented hospital bed in my living room, then a wheelchair, then crutches, then a cane, then (and still) constant pain—and let’s not forget the random infection in my reconstructed foot that landed me another week in the luxurious accommodations of Oakland’s Kaiser hospital.
I had time to think.
Photo: Surj Gish
Instead of sharing super-thoughtful insights on Facebook like motorcyclists tend to do—”I figured it out! Wear all the gear, all the time, guys!”—I started coming to terms with the unsustainability of this whole thing, accepting a reality I’d been somewhat-successfully fending off for at least a couple of years. If I’d really done the math and accepted the answer, instead of just quitting print we would have shut down completely and gone riding.
But I didn’t want to give up.
Since the same remonstrative shitbirds that criticized my lack of running it by them when we decided to stop making a monthly print mag back in 2018 will surely have some studious and thoughtful insights on this, yes, I looked for alternative options. I spent several months on a hypothetically-potential path to keeping CityBike rolling in some form, but ultimately all my patience got me was a pile of frustration topped with abundant evidence that my initial assessment of that route’s low likelihood of success was correct. Painfully, obviously so.
So what now?
I was originally gonna put up a gone ridin’ sign accompanied by some vague twaddle about how we’re going on a long hiatus from which we may never return. But I think it’s time to call it. Motorcycle culture has changed, motorcycle media has changed, and neither for the better in my opinion. The CityBike approach has always been one of critical thinking and deep examination, and frankly, constantly fighting for the attention of the dumber-every-day, read-half-the-headline “readership” while pretending to be excited about more of the same from most of the industry sounds like way less fun that stringing together long days the road or exploring the mountains on on my dual-sport.
It’s not a “fit” for us, and I have about as much appetite for that shit as I do for the typical standing-around-in-costume bike night.
But we do have 30+ years of archives that need a home, a pallet of old mags in the basement here at World Headquarters. I have some ideas for that, and I also like the idea of getting all that online in its entirety. It’s a huge amount of work, though, scanning ancient pages and turning them into consumable content. So we’ll see.
Maybe we’ll sell the CityBike.com domain to one of those urban mobility companies that specialize in matching unfit-to-ride app users with two-wheeled machines that can be abandoned anywhere once the rider is done endangering pedestrians and themselves. Wouldn’t that be rich?
Thanks for reading, today and for the last few decades.