I am always biking past interesting characters like David and his dog Odin. Dave had welded up a sidecar so his dog (who extends his paw at the mention of the word cookie) wouldn’t feel lonely being dragged around in a trailer. He has carried everything from a cat to a 190-pound guy in it. This is what the entrepreneurial spirit is all about. If you can’t buy what you want, build your own and sell it.
And then just a few days ago I pulled in behind Bubba and Funky on their “tall bikes.” They were heading for the University District and I asked if they would mind if I shadowed them for a picture when they stopped (I was heading that direction anyway). They are called tall bikes because the seats sit five or six feet in the air. But what is really cool is that they have just one gear and no brakes. To stop or slow down you jam your foot between the rear wheel and the bike frame. People waved and cheered at them all the way to 8th avenue with me bringing up the rear.
Bubba and Funky are young bucks. And like young bucks all over the world and back through time, they are strutting their stuff. It takes courage and skill to ride one of these things and live to tell about it. They were also both heavily pierced and tattooed, reminiscent of pictures I’ve seen of warriors from Africa or the Amazon. The 5,000 year-old iceman mummy found in the alps back in 1991 had tattoos, so things really haven’t changed all that much.
Just yesterday I stopped next to a guy who was riding a “fixie.” A fixie is also a bike with one gear and no brakes. However, there is no freewheeling. The pedal crank and rear wheel always turn together. They are “fixed.” Other than that, a fixie looks like an ordinary bike and riding one is also a display of virility. However, when I asked this guy for a picture he blew me off with a look of incredulity. Apparently, some guys who ride fixies don’t associate with guys who pull Burley trailers. As is my habit, I had committed yet another social faux pas.
Hey, in my humble opinion, fixies are for pussies anyway. Real men ride talls.
Once again, I see a parallel here in the insect world with the stalk-eyed fly, where competition can lead to some interesting extremes:
Females show a strong preference for roosting and mating with males with longer eyestalks, and males compete with each other to “control” these aggregations by a ritualised contest that involves facing each other and comparing their relative eyespans …