Monday, May 10, 2010

Origins Of This Species

I guess I’ve logged a mile or two on a bicycle over the years and maybe in the process have learned a thing or two, too. Maybe. At least I know who the jackasses are – like the jackass whose wheel I took on the L.A. River Bike Path on Saturday, and he tried to attack me downhill on a small bridge and just about T-boned a woman with a baby carriage at the base of the bridge – and I know who the cool people are: anybody who will take a moment out of their busy cycling lives to say hello to another cyclist; anybody who will adjust their riding style to accommodate another cyclist and share in the fellowship of our sport – and sometimes, when the world spins in the proper way, I think I know where I fit in to all this. My official USA Cycling team is Heckawee, and I’m proud to say I’m one of the founding members of this team, which these days has something like five registered racers and probably another five riders sympathetic to the cause. The jersey pictured above is one of two original Heckawee jerseys – obviously, somebody (me) took magic marker and wrote Heckawee on the back of a perfectly fine Pearl Izumi jersey – and the reason the magic marker was needed was because some of us were traveling from Carbondale to St. Louis every weekend to race cyclocross, and we wanted to be Heckawee and race for Heckawee and the only way to effect this was to make our own jerseys on the spot and wear them proudly on the racecourse.

Even though every member of the Heckawee holds an advanced university degree, this doesn’t mean we can spell worth a shit. The origin of Heckawee owes to F Troop, the classic TV show, where the Indian tribe was known as the Heckawi, because they were once lost and when they wondered Where the Heck Are We, they got their name. Which was our idea, too, except we didn’t spell the word the same way. We used to head out on long, long rides on Sundays in the summer, with the idea being we would explore the vast network of empty roads in southern Illinois and we wouldn’t care if we got lost or if we essentially had no idea where we were going. To the jackass cyclist, and maybe to most cyclists - particularly the type with the Joel Friel training programs complete with downloaded power-meter data and various effort-level zones that have as much to do with joy on a bicycle as Chicken McNuggets have to do with fine dining – yes, indeed, to the by-the-numbers jackass the idea of a ride with no purpose, a ride where the idea is to get lost, is stupid at best. But you know what happens to people when they get older? They get in ruts. They will only eat their spaghetti cooked in a certain way. They only like to watch their TV shows while sitting in a certain chair. They will only ride bicycles on a certain route on Tuesday evenings because by God that’s the route they always take on Tuesday. Et cetera. And Heckawee’s master plan, as it were, was to ride in a way that took the ruts out of life’s road, I guess. We didn’t give a shit where we were. We just wanted to ask the question: Where the heck are we?

Here’s something amusing about cyclists, by the way. I saw this video floating around on Facebook last week – probably it’s a few years old but it seemed like number of other folks were seeing it for the first time. I certainly hadn't seen it before. It’s really fucking funny, too. No doubt. I watched it a few times and laughed my ass off. When the guy gets away? Awesome! Then I started reading what cyclists were posting about the video on Facebook. Like this: “This video is obviously a fake. Nobody could ride a bicycle that fast.” Or: “This clip proves that many cyclists have no respect for the law.” Heckawee says, “No shit, Sherlock.”

Anyway, the Giro is on TV. Heckawee thinks that nobody can ride a bicycle that fast.

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