Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Don't B.S. the Bigdawgs!!!

The price of a great and sunny ride home yesterday was frost this morning. No more warming blanket made of clouds so we got a little chilly.

The upside to it all was that I could see the stars shining bright in the dark sky. Yes, it was still dark. I got up at 5 which was actually 4, and believe me, it felt like it. Leaving the warm house was done with a little reluctance, I'm ashamed to admit today. It wasn't long before I was fully awake, though. I dare you to ride a bike on a 33 degree morning and stay sleepy! Now I can wax poetic about how I watched the sun come up from the saddle of my bike which was being given free reign. Ok, enough cowboy talk. Sorry, I was raised on a horse and I get nostalgic once in a while.

Actually, it looked so cool this morning. ( no pun intended ) When I left home it was under clear skies. As the sun came up and I got farther down the road, the wisps of fog started to appear. The fog hung in tendrils and bunches. What was so neat was that as the sun came up it didn't look like direct sunlight. It was more like that hidden track lighting. You know the kind? You can't see the lights, just the glow from the lamps. As I rode I experienced a sort of detached sense of realism. The hard reality of the roads and fields were veiled by the fog. I knew exactly where I was riding yet at the same time it felt like another world. A world somehow more mysterious and intriguing. An adventure begging to be discovered just beyond that next curtain of fog.

Weirdly enough, just as I got close to the office the fog closed in entirely and heavily. I could see it coming up to me like I was climbing to Transylvania. Fitting for arriving at work, I guess.

Today was a special day and the weather cooperated exactly as I would have wished. I don't know if I should thank the Weather Gods or be more determined to look over my shoulder. Are they being kind or trying to lull me into a false sense of security? I don't know and that's what makes it so fun!

The reason I was getting to the office an hour earlier than usual was to get some pressing things done. Then it was off to the Fairgrounds for a vendor show where I went in search of new ideas. Once I was done there, the rest of the day was mine. Guess what my plan was? Ah, I'm getting too predictable, aren't I? Katie gets off work at 2 and by 2:30 the plan was for both of us to be on the road. The winsome lass snuggled up against the back of her Hi-Viz jacketed Knight!

So by now you're probably wondering about the picture of the sticker at the top of this post. It's a sticker that we bought from Rider Wearhouse. By "we" I mean my wild Irish friend Patrick and I. Long story but it's been a joke between us for years. Trailering a bike that's not crashed or blown up somehow is totally obscene to us. Bear with me and I'll get to the pertinent point here. I'll come back and tell you about someone I saw at the vendor show and how it relates.

First, you have to understand who I hang with and why the "Bigdawg" reference.

One of my colleagues and friends is Jeff Earls. This crazy guy finished 2nd or 3rd in the Ironbutt Rally last year. ( sorry, Jeff, can't remember ) And it isn't his first run, either. Jeff is definitely a "Bigdawg" among long distance riders. If you could name two guys who would be sure to get into trouble if you sent them out of town, it would be Patrick and I. We're known for taking off on the bikes at any excuse and riding until we drop or succumb to spousal fear.

Here's a recent example. Last November we had our annual instructor banquet. Patrick was staying at the hotel where the banquet was being held. I live about 30 miles South. Neither of us happened to have anything alcoholic. It's around 11 PM and Katie and I are taking our leave. I had to be back at 8 in the morning for a task force meeting. Since most of the instructors were around it was logical to have our meeting the next morning. I told Patrick I'd see him in the morning. Katie made a smart comment that, knowing me, I'd come up by way of the Coast. One thing led to another and next thing I knew I was meeting Patrick at 3 AM. We rode from Salem to Lincoln City on the Coast, down the Coast to Newport, back inland to Corvallis, and back to Salem for the meeting. A distance of about 180 miles. That's how we are.

Patrick calls me "Bigdawg Dan". I know, we think we're big-time hardcore riders. Our bikes aren't garage queen showpieces by any means.

Back to the vendor show. You probably thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? One of the vendors was bringing us a drafting table. My Welsh boss is cheap and wanted to save delivery charges. So I had a company pickup to haul the table back in. This convention / show is going on for a few days. The back lot is full of motorhomes and trailers. As I was going between buildings looking for the coffee stand, I noticed a fancy motorhome and trailer. Both rigs had striking and matching paint jobs. The back ramp of the trailer was down and a guy was sitting on a bike backing it down the ramp. I guess the sun's emergence today drew a lot of bikes out. I was nearly blinded by the bling installed on this bike. I won't name the brand but it's one that's hugely popular with a certain crowd, if you know what I mean.

I sort of dismissed it and continued my hunt for coffee. I am such a coffee hound! As luck would have it, I saw the man and the bike under different circumstances later. Just after lunch I had returned the truck and took off on the bike. All the while shouting "I'm free! I'm free!" Having made the decision to head through town and hit the old highway, off I went. Passing the Shell station which is about the only game around downtown, I decided on impulse to top off the bike. Just after I pull up to the pump, guess who joins me? The man and his bling covered cruiser. He has no idea that I know who he is. The fairgrounds are not too far away and somebody's directed him to the nearest gas station. I'm totally relieved when he shuts down the bike with the "Look at me, I'm so needy" pipes. I want to say something about the pipes but fate presents me with a chance to do worse to him.

This thing's got a license plate from someplace a couple of states over. The guy pulls in to the gas island facing the same way as I am. As he shuts off the bike I happen to look at the odometer. I'm sorry, it's a fault, I know. I just have this theory about how many miles most of these bikes actually see. So far my research has shown the average to be about 3500 miles a year. This bike has just over 13,000 miles. Here's the part that's funny and a total pisser at the same time.

This guy starts in asking me about my bike. It's obviously covered in road grime. My 'Stich is showing years of wear. My boots, well, you've seen them in an earlier post. In the four years I've had this ST it's got almost 68,000 miles on the clock. It's not the only bike in the family, either. The bike and I both look like we spend a lot of time on the road.

What amazes me is that this guy is even talking to me. Most riders of this brand seem to look down on scruffy actual riders like me. What's even more amazing is that he seems to want to be known as a long distance rider so bad he can taste it. As he's telling me about the bike I find out it's one year older than mine. That puts him at a little under the average at 2600 miles. Yes, he bought it new and has put about every accessory he can think of on it. To listen to him, he's ridden everywhere, all the time, and so on. He even claims to have ridden the bike from the state the plate's from to here. I'm looking at the shiny studded leather boots with almost no shifter mark on the left one. I look at the leather jacket with no permanent creases where you would expect them on a well-worn jacket. I look at the bike seat. If it's got that many miles on it, I want one that wears that well. Finally, I've had enough.

"You know, it's an amazing thing that defies odds" I say to him.

"What do you mean?" I hear in return.

"Well, you've obviously put a lot of effort into personalizing that bike to make it truly unique and yours. I find it amazing that two people can buy the same bike, put all the bling on it, and they both end up looking exactly the same."

Now he's really looking puzzled. It's time for the killer barb.

"I was over at the fairgrounds this morning and I saw another bike just EXACTLY like yours coming off a trailer."

His face turned pink and his mouth shut faster than a Venus Flytrap snapping over a juicy bug. I took my bank card back from the attendant and put my gear on while he filled his tank. As I pulled out I gave him a cheery beep of the horn and a wave. Left him standing with his desperate need for attention still unfulfilled.

Thus the sticker. I choose not to trailer or truck a bike to an event. I also have absolutely no problem with someone who does. I understand that it can be tiring, uncomfortable, or impractical to ride a bike somewhere. Especially if you want to take the family but still have the bike to ride when you get there. I do have a problem with pretenders. Those who ride to an event, park out of town, and then ride in like they came all the way. All I'm saying is, make your decision and then be honest about it. And for Pete's sake, don't insult me by trying to bullsh*t a "Bigdawg". The only way to get there is actually riding the bike for a lot of miles. Like me, like Patrick, like Jeff, and hundreds of others like us. Don't disrespect us by trying to claim what isn't yours!!

I did get a great idea as I rode to meet Katie. I'm going to find a ride that will be predominantly attended by riders of these cruisers. I'm going to make arrangements for a truck and trailer to meet me there. For a cause this worthy I will make an exception and trailer my bike. I have determined to ride to the event. Once there, I will put the bike on a trailer and pull it on the ride behind a truck. At the end of the ride I will take the bike off the trailer and ride it home. It will be my ultimate protest against pretenders.

The ride my sweetie and I took was awesome. The extra hour of daylight is truly appreciated. I ended up with something on the front of my bike and visor I haven't experienced for a few months. Bug guts everywhere. The sun beamed all day and the temperature got up to about 65 degrees (F). The bugs came out to celebrate. Actually, so did a lot of riders. I'm seeing a few more on my commute everyday. Isn't life fun on a bike?

Miles and smiles,


Gary said...

Great post, Dan. As usual, I know exactly what you mean.

But that whole trailer-ride thing? Man, it just sounds like an awful lot to go through, just to make a point. Are those people really worth it?

Wouldn't your time be better used taking Katie out for a nice long ride? Just a thought...

Ride well,

irondad said...

You're absolutely right. The trailer thing is a little "over the top". It's funny to think about, though, isn't it?

Hackney said...

I like the information you got on your blog! thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

"... succumb to spousal fear..."

Is that having one of the wives on the phone saying she's worried about your safety and when will you be home,

or is that wondering what she's going to do to you when you get home?

~ Krysta