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Naomi  The Biking Life

 by: Naomi Bloom  4/1/2005

Celebrate the First

Hooray! Hooray! The First of May!
Indoor Cycling Stops Today!

Hold on a minute! It's April, not May! Guess I'm the April Fool! Seems like everything is happening two to four weeks early this year. Can you blame me for rushing the season?

Maybe we're all fools around this time of year. The weather gets so much better (for a day or two). We can actually get out the real bike (not the one in that blankety-blank trainer).

Out we go. Up Hicks, or Old La Honda, or Mt. Diablo or Coleman Valley. Or worse. Just when we thought it was safe to come out in the sunshine, we bonk. Or trash our knees. Or worse.

And then, just as we recover, the rain comes back. In spades.

Seems like April is a fine time to have a good laugh at ourselves. A great place to start would be with the late Ken Kifer, who said: "It's best for cyclists to laugh and joke at the bizarre nature of our crazy, unsane human world as we bicycle along and to face the ridiculous with a smile and a sense of humor."

Ken's bicycle humor site, lovingly maintained by his friend Riin Gill, can help keep things in perspective. "Considering what a crazy, illogical, mixed-up world we live in," Ken wrote, "it's a good trait to have a well-developed sense of humor. For instance, if you're riding your bicycle peacefully along and someone yells, 'Get on the %$#@! sidewalk,' it's much better to laugh it off than to:

  1. worry about it,
  2. attack his car with your air pump,
  3. wait for him to get out of the car and then run him down on the sidewalk,
  4. hijack an airplane to Cuba or Holland (where everyone supposedly rides bicycles, but where you'll actually get the same crude remark, this time in Spanish or Dutch),
  5. go on a hunger strike in which you refuse to eat until every automobile is on the sidewalk,
  6. make a secret agreement with extraterrestrials to body-swap famous cyclists for powerful political leaders, or
  7. sell your soul to the devil for a few years of cycling peace, which will result in your spending eternity cycling in a fake, underworld New York City with real NYC taxi drivers (devils can't even come close)."

You know you're a real bicyclist when. . .

Ken was what we call a "real bicyclist." You know the kind -- the "bike geeks" described in club newsletter and blog lists worldwide:
  • You would recognize that threaded washer from a Presta valve stem anywhere.
  • You know what a Presta valve is.
  • Your surgeon tells you that you need a heart valve replacement and you ask for Presta rather than Schrader.
  • The first thing you ask when you regain consciousness is "How's my bike?"
  • You take a perverse pride in your nearly black knees, mid-bicep tan lines, and funny little circles on the back of your hands.
  • Your bike(s) is(are) worth more than your car.
  • You put your bike in your car and the value of the total package increases by a factor of 4 (or better).
  • You take your bike along when you shop for a car - just to make sure the bike will fit inside.
  • You use the Yakima or Thule fit catalog instead of Consumer Reports to pick your next new car.
  • You see a fit, tanned, Lycra-clad young woman ride by, and the first thing you check out is her bike.
  • You and your significant other have and wear identical riding clothes.
  • You see nothing wrong with discussing the connection between hydration and urine color at the dinner table.
  • You regard inter-gender discussion of the genital effects from your latest saddle as normal. (If you're "unaffected," you may be interested in ordering a real man saddle from Sheldon Brown.)
  • You can tell your significant other with a straight face that it's too hot to mow the lawn, then take off on a century ride.
  • You're too tired for hanky-panky on a Friday night but pump out a five-hour century on Saturday.
  • You've stopped even trying to explain to your spouse why you need two bikes; you just go buy another one and figure it will all work out in the divorce settlement.

While we're on the subject, any bikie fools considering matrimony should probably consult "Prenuptials for Cyclists" before mounting that tandem.

Scott's sandbaggers

My neighbor "over the hill," Scott Martin, contributes occasional humor to the RBR newsletter. "Cyclists are the biggest sandbaggers around," he claims. "They'll say anything to soften you up for the kill." For example (with translations):
  • I'm out of shape.
    Translation: I ride 400 miles a week and haven't missed a day since the Ford administration. My body fat percentage is lower than your mortgage rate.
  • I'm not into competition.
    I will attack until you collapse in the gutter, babbling and whimpering as if you've been watching Celebrity Poker.
    I will win the town-line sprint if I have to hook you into an oncoming Peterbilt.
    I will crest this hill first if I have to grab your seatpost, spray energy drink in your eyes and ask you how to program my DVD player.
  • I'm on my beater bike.
    I had this baby custom-made in Tuscany using titanium blessed by the Pope. I took it to a wind tunnel and it disappeared. It weighs less than a popcorn fart and costs more than a divorce.
  • It's not that hilly.
    This climb lasts longer than a presidential campaign.
    Be careful on the steep sections or you'll fall over -- backward.
    You have a 39x23 low gear? Here's the name of my knee surgeon.
  • This energy bar tastes like real food.
    This energy bar tastes like real dog food.
  • It's not that windy.
    Yes, that was a mobile home cartwheeling by.
  • This is a no-drop ride.
    I'll need an article of your clothing for the search-and-rescue dogs.
  • I was just riding along when it broke.
    I rode down a flight of stairs on my 398-gram race wheels.
    I drove into the garage with my bike on the roof.
    I decided to save weight by filing the rails on my saddle.

My favorite bicycle joke

Stop me if you've heard this one. It's made the rounds in Mexican and Chinese border versions. But this is the first one I heard:

An Arab on a bike, carrying two sacks on the rack, was stopped by a guard while crossing the Israeli desert border. "What's in the bags?" asked the soldier on guard.

"Sand," the cyclist replied. "We'll see," the disbelieving Israeli replied. The soldier emptied the bags and found they contained nothing but sand, so he sent the Arab cyclist on his way across the border. A week later, the same man was crossing again with two more bags. Again they contained nothing but sand. This continued every week for six months, and not once did the Israeli find contraband.

Weeks later, on furlough in Jerusalem, the Israeli spotted the same Arab on the street. "All right," he said to the guy. "I'm off duty and I won't turn you in if you tell me the truth. We know you've been smuggling something across the border. What was it?"

"What else?" the Arab replied. "Bicycles!"

OK, now that you're in absolute stitches, I'll leave you with the sentiments of an former editor of mine, Ted Costantino:
"Cyclists are open-minded. Cyclists are egalitarian. Cyclists share a fellowship of the wheel that can overcome all political, social, racial and economic barriers. Except for recumbents."

And maybe the occasional BikeCal.com columnist?

Naomi can be reached at naomibloom@earthlink.net



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