Friday, May 27, 2005

No. 36, Vol. 4.

Getting Costumed Up
Since the dawn of two-wheeled man, cyclists have taken a beating in more ways than most subcultures. A few years after bicycling caught on in the 1890s, the automobile comes along. No big deal, really. But unbeknownst to most people is the fact that the League of American Wheelmen lobbied for the government to pave roads for smoother bicycling, only to see Henry Ford lobby the government for highways and byways, eventually "creating a nation of flaccid TV watchers, lulled into complacency by car commercials," according to author Michael Burton.

It's no wonder most Americans have no interest in riding a bicycle for bicycling's sake. Folks see Lance Armstrong in a Nike or Subaru commercial and instantly assume one must get costumed up to ride a bike. The silliness continues with a photo I found of Gary Fisher and Olympic MTB medalist Paola Pezzo standing in full kit with inner city kids from Oakland during a Trips For Kids ride, who seem quite happy wearing everyday clothing to ride the trails. TFK is a wonderful organization, and this video proves it. Check out the huge smiles and regular clothing on the kids. Recently retired Italian sprinter Mario Cippolini is exempt from scorn, though, because Italians demand this eclectic dress. Who else would choose to get dressed like a big wad of bubblegum in a pink skin-suit marked with a pattern of silver, iridescent veins as a swan song in the 2005 Giro d'Italia? Only Mario.

Putting "costuming" into perspective, would you or your spouse need to wear a chef's hat, apron and kitchen-specific Birkenstocks to make dinner every evening? How about wearing a head and neck restraint every time you got behind the wheel of your minivan, like those mandated during NASCAR races since the death of Dale Sr.? Seems silly, doesn't it?

Solution? Own at least one bike that you can hop on with street shoes or sandals, a billowing cotton shirt and cargo shorts or jeans. Make sure it sports fenders and a basket, to make it truly useful. Or for kicks, go for a 15-mile ride in regular street clothes on your zippiest-looking road or mountain bike, just once this month. I dare you. No, I double-dog dare you. For more on this topic, read "How To Ride A Bike Forever."

Happy birthday this week to Sam (12th on the 25th), and Margie (61 on the 26th), two of the coolest biker chicks I know.

Gary Boulanger, editor
The Bike Evangelist
305 S. Main St. - BARN
Springboro, Ohio USA


Blogger Jonathan Maus said...

Great post Gary. I totally agree. I read something recently about a lady in Amsterdam who said "if we want motorists to respect us, we should stop wearing neon and lycra." Wearing regular clothes on bikes more often will not only get more people on bikes, it will also help in building working relationships with those that don't see the light (because they're blinded by our bright jerseys).

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