Monday, August 1, 2011

It's the Clothes That Makes the Man

The Gump-Headed Cyclist

Maybe it was the Heat but July was a confusing Month at Whispering Pines Trailer Court. Of course, I am pretty much confused most of the time anyway, but this year the Month of July left me feeling like Forrest Gump without the Box of Chocolates.

Blame It On Uncle Sam
We started with a huge and crazy Independence Day party and things just took off from there. I met Uncle Bill and we drank about a hundred beers to celebrate the occasion and he became so impressed with my Wisdom and Integrity that he finally decided to break the Family Vow and market his Grandma's insanely delicious Barbecue Sauce. That meant I spent a whole lot of computer time last month learning about Bottles and Labels and Sauce Marketing and how to get the sauce in the bottle and how to get the labels on and if you think any of this is simple you've never tried to grasp the arcane world of the Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Patent office or just how to get the damn printer to align properly to print labels for fifty bottles.

But I did it and it is behind me now and soon enough we will have several cases of Uncle Bill's Legendary Backcountry Gator Sauce store-ready, stamped, sealed and ready for shipping. I live in Harley Country and plan to do my best to expand the waistline of some Hog-Riders around here. My on-line Buddies will be getting samples but not yet. Trust my Wisdom and Integrity when I tell you this stuff is worth waiting for.

Speaking of Sauce, another development that took place was the arrival of Miss Jo the New Trailer Park Manager. She is almost the same age as me but acts sixteen and looks it too. The only problem is that she has something wrong with her brain that makes her want to work all the time. And I don't mean just kinda-sorta work; I mean she hustles around Whispering Pines like a dervish on speed with wheel barrows and ladders and wagon loads of stuff and lawn mowers and weed-eaters and she does it all so fast that I sometimes think there might be more than one of her. As Head (Only) Big Man In Charge of Fix-It I am a little overwhelmed and I tried to keep up with her for most of July but then I had to put my foot down and sternly explain that I am not only a Genius of Trailer Repair but that I also am a Sensitive Artist of the Blogular Kind and that above all, I have a Reputation to Protect as a World-Famous Bad Cyclist and Bicycle Butcher of Renown.

When she got done laughing she reminded me that I still had  to replace the floor in Unit 18 and that if I would quit drinking so much beer during the day to “soothe my sensitive spirit” I would get a lot more work done and still have time to ride “that skinny-tired bike” and “why don't you write your Booger or whatever it is at night?”

So you can see what I am up against.

Oh Yeah, Bicycles
In the midst of all this I did manage to get in some fairly good rides. Just not the All Day Rambles I am so fond of, although I also got in a couple of those. Yesterday, (Sunday) I did a nice little 24 mile loop that I ride, and I actually felt some pain at the end. Most odd and indicative of my low mileage stats for July.

This twenty-four mile loop was about half gravel up until last year, when the County came in and put down nice smooth asphalt. At about the same time the State came along and repaved the other half of the ride, which is U.S. One. They put in a nice wide Bike-Friendly shoulder at the same time.

If Three's A Crowd, What's A Hundred?
What this means is this little loop I consider my own ain't my own anymore. Back when it was loose gravel and pitted highway with no shoulder I would have it all to myself. Not anymore. On yesterday's ride I saw over One Hundred Cyclists.

I realize I have a reputation for hyperbole, but this is a real number. One Hundred Cyclists. I didn't exactly count them, but there were five group rides of ten to fifteen riders each. So OK, maybe I am exaggerating. But after all that time having this road as my exclusive domain, even two other cyclists is a lot.

Sartorial Splendor
Now, I know that my Readers ride their bicycles wearing Helmets and Jerseys and Bike Shorts. Well, I don't actually know this, but I suspect it.  Me, my kit is a bandana and a paint splattered T-shirt with the sleeves cut off and some baggy old Dickies shorts. I ride with my flip-flops thrust into my toeclips and find it all quite serviceable.  But when I ran into all those cycling groups yesterday, their Peacockery left me feeling somewhat shabby.

Somebody Catch the Dog Catcher
This was on my mind because a local Animal Control Officer had gone missing for a couple days.  She was last seen riding off on her mountain bike.  An area resident had seen the missing lady riding in her neighborhood.  She said:  "I wouldn't have noticed her except she was on a bicycle but she wasn't wearing sporty clothing."

So...WTF?  Is "sporty clothing"  overtaking regular clothes in the cycling world?  Of course not.  I live in an area where lots of people ride bikes.  Only the Roadies wear cycling specific clothes.  That witness was a nut,  that's all.  
(As a crazy footnote to this story,  the K-9 Unit sent in to search for the missing woman Lost the Dog.  So for a day or so,  the Dog Catcher was lost and the Dog sent in to Catch Her was lost too.  To cap it all off,  after the dog and the lady were Found and Safe,  the Sheriff's Office made reverse 911 calls to the entire neighborhood at 3 AM and woke everybody up.  Hey,  it's Daytona.)

You Shoulda Known Me When I Was Cool
 I ride around looking like a Homeless Guy on a Stolen Bicycle. I do it on purpose, meaning I don't know what else to wear and these are the same clothes I wear every day whether I am gutting a trailer, fishing, going to the Winn-Dixie or Riding My Bike. I am pleased about this, because these clothes are very comfortable and let's face it, I'm not exactly out to make any good first impressions these days. I am haunted by the fact that any minute now the President will come on the air and make a Special Announcement that “They were Just Kidding and the Economy is Fine and we're going to start the Building Bubble back up” and then I will have to go back to being Clean-cut and Respectable and get a hair cut and put those stupid Dockers back on and my stupid Polo shirts with the Company Name on them and then once again there will be Banks and Accountants and Employees and Contracts and Board Rooms haunting my days and Dreams of Cycling haunting my nights.

Dang it, I'm digressing again. Maybe a beer will help me focus...

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
So,  these groups were riding in the opposite direction from  me, in more ways than one. I had a chance to scan each rider briefly, taking notice of How They Were Doing It. Some guys were not wearing shirts, or jerseys. Most were. They all wore bike shorts and helmets. Footwear I am not too sure about, but I don't think any of them were wearing flip flops.

A Rare Bird
Which leads up to my question: where are the other Trailer Park Cyclists? Am I the only one? I see other homeless-looking guys out riding bikes, but they are riding those homeless-guy bikes. In fact, they are Homeless Guys. I know most of them. I see Comfort Bike Cyclists out there, but they are generally Neater and given to Helmet-Wearing.

Rough Rider
I have a carefully (for me) maintained 1981 Schwinn Super Le Tour that I would put under my pillow at night if I had a bigger pillow. She sports a new Mavic/Tiagra rear wheel and all the usual new cables and lube work. When not under my butt, she hangs in my work stand for cleaning and worship. I did a ratty-ass handlebar tape job which I rather like and when I mounted my bottle cage with stainless steel hose clamps I made no effort to disguise the fact that there were old pieces of inner tube between the clamps and the frame.

All (both) of you know that I love a meticulously groomed bicycle as much as anyone. I drop by the OTSG four or five times a day. My hero/guru Mike Varley turns out bicycles at his Marin Shop that could either be ridden around the world or straight to a museum. My buddy Ryan did a fantastic job with his Miyata 912 last year. I don't know about Wayward's bike but he drives a train for a living so he already has a kind of superman status in my world-view.

Light the Fuse
So what the hell is wrong with me? For some reason I insist on maintaining a Quasi-Post-Apocalyptic Look that tickles the hell out of me. But I worry about my Upcoming World Barbecue Tour. If I drop into a town where I have cycling friends and we decide to go for a ride, will they insist that I wear a helmet? I don't even own a helmet. I know that when I get up to Rivendell GP won't make an issue of it, but he is the only one. I understand helmets for racing, NASCAR drivers and Indy drivers wear helmets. But not when they are driving the family car.

Everybody Else Is Doing It
I understand helmets for group rides, because I understand peer pressure. Having been a Lifetime Loner, peer pressure has never been a big factor with me, but it is bothering me now. I am not trying to drive up Comments and Readership by dropping the “H” Bomb, (although more comments and readers would be good). But anytime you see a flame war concerning helmets on the internet there will be comments by the pro-helmet crowd that are so vehement that it gives me pause. Why would someone be so concerned about my well being that they would want to Punch Me In the Face To Protect My Head?

Hey Fatty! Remember Me?
The Fat Cyclist was supposed to send me a Team Fatty jersey after I made my
 Spectacular Debut on his Blog. But that I was going to frame  and hang  on the wall.

Is Anybody Out There?
I don't know. It's Lonely At the Bottom. But I am seriously curious if I am the only Roadie in existence who does not wear kit.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Hobo Convention


  1. TPC first off thanks for the nice props on the Miyata. Secondly ride in what feels comfortable -in the end that is all that counts. A few years ago, before the "great awakening" I thought that I just *had* to have a carbon bike and coordinated kit to be a roadie....and a HRM and low spoke wheels and, and, and... Then I found Steel and the Riv site (and lots of other great ones -TPC for instance)and now if I wear a jersey its wool and my bike is almost old enough to run for President. I will disclose that I am a helmet wearer but I have also realized its a personal decision, I do it based on a past experience (crashing) and because it feels right to me, doesn't mean I expect everyone to do it. I must be getting old because what I want out of my bikes is for them to be reliable and comfortable, for the clothes to be comfortable and not chafe! and for the ride to be grin inducing fun -everything else, for me, is just fluff.

    Ride on my flip flop wearing Velo Brotha

    PS I wear the Keen commuter sandal (yes even in Seattle winters-with wool socks) so I guess that is like the bike snob version of flip flops LOL.

  2. Enjoy reading your blog, though I'm mostly a mtbr and road riding pretty much drives me nuts.

    Helmets are just about mandatory in my crowd - we hit way too many trees & rocks to not wear one. I got my latest one at the thrift store for $1.50 - it'a bmx helmet and not a fancy mtb helmet but it really fits my big round head so I'm keeping it.

    I've been hurt too many times to skimp on safety gear - and broken legs are way better than broken skulls. The only riding where I don't use a helmet is on rail trails - which have to be about the safest riding there is. It's the cars that I worry about when road riding - they don't even notice you 75% of the time. But it is a free country (so far) so do as you wish.

    Wearing flip flops on the other hand is just wrong.

    Steve Z

  3. I live near Cornell University and everyone seems to all about safety and 100 dollar jerseys. I had a lady stop her car and yell at at me cause I was a bad influence on her kids. At least she didn't crowd me off the road like the lady curling her eyelashes.

  4. Hey Doug: Ithaca! Did that yelling lady have a Bad-ass Pearson 30 in a Slip in Bristol Condition waiting to Crawl or Blast South with the First Cool Breeze? We both know who the real bad influence was. Keep being you. If you find yourself heading South for The Winter I can put you on some truly sweet anchorage here in my hideout. Let me know.

  5. Tim :thanks for the offer, no I can't go this year but we went last year. Check out my other blog called a Trip South..We had a ball.
    I try not to let the fools bother me.

  6. Bike snobbery is alive and well in cyclist circles. I think people can't help it. If they've got the money to spend, they often keep spending it in an effort to make themselves faster. But if they don't have the power in their quads, heart, and lungs, all the peacockery in the world will only help just so much. Keep your chin up and keep riding!

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