By Sal Ruibal
Illustration by Ryan LaBar
I usually like to keep my politics separate from my fun, but since this was National Bike Summit week in D.C. and one of the goals – before the "Snowquester" blew in – was to influence our elected politicians to do more for cycling by getting some U.S. Senators and Congresspeople to get on bikes and support cycling as one of the greatest things to emerge from humankind.
But then I saw the news that North Korea, a tiny hermit kingdom with a bat-shit-crazy-boy-leader who controls thermonuclear weapons aimed at the U.S., says it's going to use them soon because, well, it can.
You may have seen Lil' Kim Jong-un on TV lately cavorting around with tattooed-love-boy Dennis Rodman (another bat-shit drug-addicted-dude) and some of the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO special.
Yup, Globetrotters hanging with a guy who looks like a tiny villain from a Mike Myers movie, only this guy really has nukes. Most scary, Garth.
But what really rankles my cankles is that earlier this year, this mini-monster banned North Korean women from riding bikes, overriding a freedom even his now-deceased twisted gargoyle of a father allowed.
It's not like they're going to ride across the Demilitarized Zone to freedom in South Korea. I was a corporal in the U.S. Army in the 1970s and my unit ran night patrols along the DMZ, which is about the furthest thing from being demilitarized. Six U.S. soldiers were killed in the DMZ the year I was there and many more Koreans attempting to escape were gunned down by their own soldiers. U.S. and South Korean troops still patrol there.
North Korea is stuck in the 1920s, with very little public transportation and mostly rutted dirt roads. In that patriarchal society, women do much of the grunt work, much of it on heavy cargo bikes. Mass starvation is a political tool to keep a shiny boot-heel on everyone's neck. Believe me, very few women, with the exception of well-connected political concubines, are riding for recreation or racing.
China is North Korea's puppet master. Nothing happens in Pyongyong that wasn't already approved in Beijing. Most of the bikes sold in the U.S. are made in China, so the same folks who are making hundreds of thousands of tin-can crappy bikes and sculpting expensive carbon frames in Tianjin instead of Texas or Tennessee are using our money to support a regime in North Korea that starves its own people, aims nuclear weapons at our cities and treats women like load-bearing oxen.
Pressure on China is slowly starting to work, because even the Chinese fear that their nutty Pinocchio could bring on a nuclear war that would quickly engulf its major cities. But more pressure is needed.
It is hard to sit comfortably in Washington, D.C. and ask Congress for more bike lanes for bicycles built by our sworn enemies who have nuclear missiles and massive cyber-warfare aimed at Capitol Hill and the Pentagon.
Instead of showing idiot basketball players pretending to be ambassadors to a rogue nation that used them like cheap Wal-Mart garden tools, HBO should be showing North Korean women struggling to grow crops and travel by foot from hovel to harvest. This is no game and the bike is being used as a weapon to keep women in line: Boys and men can ride merrily down the street, such as it is.
HBO should have sent some strong American and European women cyclists to North Korea to show that pudgy little potentate that he can't push women around. I would nominate Rebecca Rusch, Marla Streb, Anne-Caroline Chausson, Connie Carpenter-Phinney and, of course, our own dread-locked weapon of mass destruction, Missy "The Missile" Giove."
"As a humanitarian, it is hard to imagine the oppressive and abusive minds of these individuals," Giove says. "I'm always happy to stand up and try to protect liberties! I would trade places in a minute and give up my privileges to any other person in the world who needed it.
"The reality is that I am O.K. with being hated and despised for what I believe in. Everyone wants to be 'loved,' of course, but I would much rather make a difference any way I can."
I can see Missy giving that twerp a noogie that he'd feel all the way to the bottom of his platform shoes: "Eat my piranha, Lil' Kim!"
Bombs away, ladies!