We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us is riding coast to coast across the US. If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.
I once received a sweepstakes notice from Oscar Mayer that told me, “You may already be a weiner”. Likewise, you may already be half-fast and not yet know it. On large group rides, there tend to be people of varying abilities and interests. If you tend to hang out near the front of the group, you may be half-fast. If the training group of racers passes you and you latch onto the back for a while, you’re probably half-fast. If you think about latching on but think better of it, or base your decision on how far you have left to ride, you’re probably half-fast. If you used to try to latch on but now realize you are too old and out of shape, you may be half-fast.
If you sometimes ride fast and sometimes ride slow and daydream (or watch the scenery), you may be half-fast. If you have one bike that you use for everything, you may be half-fast. If you have multiple bikes for multiple purposes, you also may be half-fast.
If you ride a bike that was designed for people who ride a lot faster than you do (and get paid for it), you’re probably half-fast (unless you wear the team kit of the team that rides the same bike you do, in which case you’re something else all together). If you get paid to ride (and to wear lots of advertising), you’re probably not half-fast. If, on the other hand, your bike is old enough to buy you a beer, you may also be half-fast. If you rehydrate and replace lost carbohydrates post-ride like the guy on the left, you’re probably half-fast. Join the club.
Once upon a time, there was a rag-tag group of friends who went on bike rides together in various small groups. They got old (as people are wont to do) and joined up with a larger but equally rag-tag group, the Wednesday Night Bike Rides. (If you go there, be sure you click the link or type .org, as wnbr.com will link you to the World Naked Bike Ride, a totally different group. If you go there, I am not responsible for you.)
According to legend, WNBR started as a weekly Sierra Club ride. The Sierra Club used the ride as an organizing tool and required the ride leader to collect contact information from all riders every week. (I can vouch for that, as I rode with the Sierra Club in San Francisco.) These folks just wanted to ride, so they separated from the larger club, printed up maps and cue sheets (later they got their own website, and posted weekly ride maps and cue sheets) and were off.
Fast forward to sometime around 2010, and we got together for one of the weekly rides. The sky looked threatening. Some folks changed into riding gear, others didn’t bother and popped open their post-ride beer without riding. The attached picture represents the moment the Half-fast Cycling Club was born. I might call the guys below the parents of the Half-fast Cycling Club. Someone (People Magazine) once called Paul Krassner (the link goes to his website – I figured, “why not the source?” – rather than his Wikipedia page) “the father of the underground press”. He demanded a paternity test. Likewise, these guys might disavow their parenthood of the Half-fast Club.
P.S. A short time after this photo, a nasty thunderstorm blew in, soaking those who rode. We just waited out the storm in a local brewpub.
This is going to become a blog that will chronicle my trip from Seattle to Boston by bike in the summer of 2018. Think of anything posted here before June 17 (departure day) as an appetizer. Some of it will be for bike geeks, some to explain stuff to non-geeks, some of it will be so family and friends know I am still alive (once on the road), some of it will, I hope, be of interest to anyone who stumbles across it.
The genesis for this trip came in high school. My parents’ plan for me was to go to Harvard or Yale on a full scholarship and then become a doctor. I didn’t really want to go to college (nor were Harvard and Yale offering me four free years) and instead wanted to see the USA on a BMW motorcycle. In those days, BMW was a touring bike and came in any color as long as it was black – or so I thought until I came across a 1959 white R-50 out near Cottage Grove. I decided I was going to buy that bike and laid plans for borrowing (I should probably use Donald Trump-style quotation marks, as my parents wouldn’t know I was borrowing it) my parents’ car when they were away for a weekend so I could drive out there for a test ride. Test ride day was stormy and I never did more than look at that bike, but touring the US by bike stayed in the back of my mind. Below is a reasonable facsimile of that bike.I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale and didn’t become a doctor. I did injure my ankle quite badly when I was 20 and needed a doctor. While recuperating from surgery I watched my roommate go ice skating almost every day. I couldn’t wait to get out and do that. By the time I was back on two feet, skating season was over. I began shopping for a new bicycle, something else I could do with two feet. In spring I bought that bike and motorcycles faded into the background.
The next posts will talk about how the half-formed dream of a US tour became this actual US tour in about 50 years. Posts will be weekly at first. Once on the road I hope to post daily, though that will depend on internet access and battery life.
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