It's year-end list time and I've decided to participate. Below I present you the very scientific findings of my own subjective selection of my favorite Gear Prudence columns in 2015 and the reasons why I think they are worthy of such an honor. I know this will not be without controversy. I know that many of the 9 of you who read Gear Prudence will have developed your own strong opinions and based the copious amount of already published Gear Prudence ranking lists out there, it's likely that you and I will have some disagreements. In an attempt to persuade you, I'll also offer justifications for choosing how I did. But before we get deeper into this exercise of self-congratulation, I'd like to also congratulate myself for having the generosity in spirit to muster the gratitude to thank all of you for your wonderful questions and for reading and sharing the column. The other difference between an advice columnist and the crazy guy mumbling to himself on the back of a bus is having a platform and that platform wouldn't be possible without the very many very good folks at the Washington City Paper. Long story short- everyone's great. You're all my heroes. Thank you for reading. Thank you for everything. Now let's get back to the self-promotion.
Gear Prudence: Why is there barbecue sauce on my drivetrain?
Justification: This was a tough one. I was going to select the question about filtering and 'shoaling' cars, but in the end, this 'saucy' conundrum won out. I hope they finally caught the guy. And hope you had enough Simple Green and/or pulled pork!
Gear Prudence: I'm really into antiquing. What kind of bike should I buy?
Justification: Another close one. This beat out this question about improving the behavior of other cyclists and for obvious reasons: dedicated antiquing bikes are a huge force in the market now (over $12 billion sold this year) and I would have been remiss had I left this one unanswered.
Gear Prudence: I biked to Chipotle, but now I don't know what to get. Can you help? I'm third in line. Ok, now I'm second. Oh shit, she's about to ask me what kinds of beans I want. Hurry!
Justification: Classic #waroncarnitas stuff with this one. But here's the thing that a lot of people don't know about bike advice columns: they come out once a week and it's really not the best way to seek input on fast casual dining choices in real time. If you're planning on asking a question like when you should consider a bike abandoned, that's a good use for a weekly bike advice column. Or if you're planning on going to Chipotle the next week. But if you're already in line? Come on man.
Gear Prudence: Why was I arrested for biking without pants?
Justification: I get a lot of questions about bicycling 'gear' and a lot of questions about the law, so it was nice to get one that took on both the issue of pants and the issue of getting arrested. I was pretty surprised on the comments on this one- way better than the comments on becoming a consistent bike commuter- but you guys are a passionate group of readers and with a surprising amount of knowledge on body paint, so I appreciate your weighing in.
Gear Prudence: Are you coming up for grandma's birthday party?
Justification: Thanks Mom! This might have just been a text that I got and not an 'official' Gear Prudence question, but I think the advice that I gave was solid (not until Grandma pays me back for covering her baccarat losses) and way better than the advice on training for a century ride.
Gear Prudence: Seriously, what the fuck is with this barbecue sauce all over my bike? It's just smeared all over it. The saddle. The top tube. The handlebars. Everywhere. This is so gross and weird. What sicko is doing this? And why?
Justification: I don't generally like to repeat questions, but I thought the readers would really benefit from tackling this pretty common concern. I guess they didn't catch the guy after all. Maybe this question about accepting that bike commuting isn't for you could also be applicable.
Gear Prudence: How do I get a unicycle lane installed in front of my house?
Justification: A process question. Process questions tend to be more technical than questions about bike raging boyfriends and a lot of everyday bicyclists are looking for some keen insight into how to get things done. and how to get the local government to take their needs into account. This unicyclist was no different. As for the likelihood of restricted a lane just to unicycles, I don't know, but if anything is going to do it, it's following my advice surreptitiously scratching out one of the wheels from the painted bicycle symbol in the bike lane.
Gear Prudence: 6 X 7 =?
Justification: This was the week that a 5th grader sent me his summer math homework. A bit of a layup (unlike this pair of questions about taking bikes abroad and making friends during group rides), but I was sort of busy that weekend and thought we could all benefit from a refresher of our seven times table. Common core, am I right? Also, why don't you just use a calculator? There's not always going to be a bike advice columnist around to bail you out!
Gear Prudence: My girlfriend keeps putting the stickers that she's peeled from bananas on my bike. Will this make me faster?
Justification: We've all been there and we've all heard the rumors: banana stickers just make bikes go faster. I'd like to once again thank the engineers at Lockheed Martin for helping with the wind tunnel tests. Way more useful than advice about taking the lane.
Gear Prudence: Where can I buy a helmet for my cockateel?
Justification: Nothing is quite so controversial in the bike world as helmet questions (not even questions about matching outfits) and this buzz around this question was pretty intense. Both sides of the cockateel helmet debate came out in force, but ultimately I think it was a pretty productive discussion on the pros and cons of birds wearing helmets while cycling. And I heard from the woman who runs the Etsy shop I recommended that business is booming.
Gear Prudence: Don't you think this joke is played out?
Justification: Nope. Neither was this question about overreacting after getting splashed.
Gear Prudence: A mall Santa stole my bike. Is this covered by insurance?
Justification: I was also a bit shocked to learn that most renter's insurance policies specify that any bike pilfered by a mall Santa is not covered. Something about Dodd Frank. I don't know- just one of those things, sort of like recovering from bike burnout. If you do end up following my advice and dressing up as mall elf in an elaborate undercover sting operations, please remember to email me the pics!
So, that it's it. That's the year in Gear Prudence. If you'd like to see your very real question answered and published, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once again, thanks again for all of the support and I'll see you in 2016.