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Thursday, December 14, 2006

the book of cool

Climbing up the hills during the lunch hour ... when, down the other direction comes one of those local phenoms ... you know the type ~ 18 years old with a six-shooter full of talent ... the kind of young buck the songwriters wail ballads over. Fast-draw, quick tongued, hat cocked to the side so's you can see the jaunty glint in the eye.

The young buck comes drifting down the climb, relaxed hands draped over his hoods, slowly turning over a massively over-geared drivetrain, saddling ... just plain saddling down the road. Giving that flick of the eyes in recognition that can only be translated as, "s'up, dude."

And I return his look - smiling, waving, and (mostly) approving ... for there is only so long in one's life to roll around in such luxuries, such grassy youthful fields, and i don't like to be the one to kybosh that short lived revelry (others are all too willing to roll up that newsed paper and swat).

But there was one thing ... one thing that tapped my ire. This bull in a chinashop strong boy, this over-muscled, over-confident little captain of the future had ... no helmet on.


- - -

Nearing the top of my climb, where the lunch hour clock rings its most impatient alarms, there was another visitation. A statesman of the sport - a solid, stoic, smiling gallant thundering out of the mountain mists, hurling himself down the hill with smooth, steady pedalstrokes ... revisiting those familiar sensations of speed, grace, freedom.

He has seen much and borne the weights of life. He knows how to treasure, he knows what may be lost.

Helmet on.

- - -

And I, an hour of away from the office, away to my real self ~ turn my own body down the mountain. Returning, flying, blissfully aware of this day's isolation, never to be repeated ~ only to be added to.

A car attempts to pass, with me spinning free at one-hundred twenty, in the stiffest 53.

gawking young boy
through window,
half-smiling, half-wondering
if he should be afraid,
for the speeding, diving man in black on a bicycle,
grinning, mad-mischievious,

with a wink back at him.


Anonymous said...

There's a reason we send 18 y/o's off to war -- it's because they are INVINCIBLE.

Velo Bella said...

Even with helmet, Howie risks his life out there more than others. But never once ever makes a stink about it.

lovely post

just jack said...

Wow, ov, talk about the cycle of life for our ilk. you captured its essence with that lick. well done my friend

velogirl said...

glad you winked at the kid. that probably confused him more than anything else.

Anonymous said...

this is why he wasn't wearing his helmet.

jAndy donka-donk said...


I must be bored, I looked at every link....

I am not one to talk, I still do this on tuesday morning TT rides with big bike lanes. But I found myself wearing one a lot more since I cracked three last season....

I miss the beanie winters and cap summers though. But I was lucky I had it on all three times last season, and want to keep that streak alive....

Anonymous said...

I always wear my helmet, but sometimes without shorts.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

sdawg ~ and gawd bless 'em for it.


VB ~ word.
and thanks, my dear.


justjack ~ right on, brudda.


vGurl ~ and made him wonder if that's something he might want to try?

with a helmet ON.


Vdawg ~ show off.


junkdonk ~ glad you did, hope you do.

but, it's a decision we all make. As Vdawg so vividly shows up ... it's the cool-factor that perpetuates the lidless.

if we make it cool to don the lids, it'll grow less a habit. can we make clean racing cool, too?


nomay ~ ew...

Miss Mary said...

i'm for clean racing and helmet wearing...

too cool for words, really

Brent Chapman said...

I used to ride without a helmet on both my motorcycle and my bicycle. Then I got a helmet for my motor bike and was hit by a car. That helmet took a groove down the back from my head rubbing a curb while sliding at 25mph. Putting it lightly I would of ground my skull in about an inch without it. It became a no brainer after that.

Selling a helmet to young kids is always tough. At least today unlike 10 years ago helmets don't look like Melon heads.
It really seems to start with Parents who get their kids to wear them when they first ride.

Anonymous said...

good post.

ov, i sure hope you write for a living. both you and vb have a beautiful knack for writing.

bike life poetry.

Anonymous said...

"It became a no brainer after that."

Huh-huh. Tres Ironical.

Anonymous said...

Them crazy snowboarders made helmets cool on the mountains. Giro's doing a fine business on that channel. Pumped a few iPod wires in the lids and the kids dialed it in immediately.

(Even pops here got me one)

I'm thinking lids can be made to be cool... me hopes so.

My 6 yr old digs her 'cool' pink helmet and doesn't drop one leg over that bike without the chin strap in place. Buying pink helmets all day long...

Anonymous said...

Wanna smell my seat?

velogirl said...

nome is warped.

my pet peeve is families who ride together, all the kids in their helmets, and parents without. I've asked dads what their orphan children will do when they're brain dead. folks don't like questions like that.

PAB said...


Anonymous said...


X Bunny said...

i'll be remembering this one for you

marian said...

Helmets are sexy.

Anonymous said...

That kid has a I Pod for a helmet, and he could care less if your old ass has anything to say about him, infact he told me you can kiss his ass.

He dont care if you think he is stupid to not wear a helmet, he is stupid and he loves being stupid.

If he only knew that some day, some way, some how, something called a helmet could save his stupid little muscle filled fat ass life.

But noooooooooooooooo, he is too cool for that sort of wisdom.

he is cool boy in spandex, and he dont give a hoot about Vnaderhout!

Anonymous said...

hell yeah

Anonymous said...

Logan has amazing skills. As a fiend of mine said "he is like plastic". Sure would be nice to see him fulfil his cycling potential if that's what he wants.