After a few liters of beer at Tour de Fat yesterday afternoon, I caught up with Reverend Ballyhoo, aka the Deacon of Freakin’, aka Oscar the Gashole, aka the Big Cheese In Charge Of The Whole Damn Festival (BCICOTWDF), aka Chris. He was wearing, a la Tom Wolfe, a white suit with a white top-hat and a black tie (made from an inner tube), and he carried in his right hand a silver cane that, unbeknownst to most, housed a slender bike pump. He was a prepared preacher.
Earlier, he’d spoken the good bike gospel as eloquently as its been spoken in these parts, invoking velo-related deities while forseeing the carpolcalypse and eulogizing the death of our institutionalized car culture. At the microphone in front of a huge crowd, he’d introduced the Louisiana-style funeral procession of a child-sized black plastic Cadillac Escalade, which was carried on a platform on the shoulders of six men and women in formal, buttoned-up red uniforms, led by a solemn marching band, and trailed by a crowd of mourners in black veils. There was much sobbing. And then much cheering. It was, as the New Belgium folks like to say, spoketacular.
Yesterday’s festival in San Francisco was this year’s second coming of Tour de Fat, which kicked off in Chicago on June 21st. Yet to come are Truckee (July 26), Seattle (August 2), Portland (August 16), Boise (August 23), Ft. Collins (September 6), Denver (September 13), Durango (September 20), Tempe (October 11), and Austin (October 18). I hope I make it to another.
I’m a huge fan of Tour de Fat, obviously, because it’s a big bike party with costumes and girls and beer and music, because the Reverend Ballyhoo speaks the truth, because the Sprockettes (of Portland) and Paperbird and Mucca Pazza (of Chicago) put on great shows, because they’re selling my recycled-tire ZPG belts at the festivals, and because the Ten Commandments of Tour de Fat make so much sense to me. The first is my favorite:
“Put no means of transport before thy bike: Come by bike because not only are bikes fun, but they help stave off some of our most wicked ills: Traffic, obesity, and pollution. Tour de Fat has a solution: ride this day, every day, and definitely when Tour de Fat heads your way.”
Also noteworthy are #2 (“Thou shall honor all other bikes”), #4 (“Come as a participant …when everybody’s weird, no one is”), #7 (“Sacrifice all goats because they are evil”), and of course, #10 (“Thou shalt not steal thy neighbors’ bike”).
Noteworthier still, they remind me of a famous saying by a brilliant but relatively unknown 21st-century bicycle scholar:
“Blessed is the man or woman that endureth on two wheels the wind and rain and grime and grit and hills and cold and heat and those great, cumbersome, weighty vehicles that infest this land.”
(-Pope Jonny the Fifth, MMVIII)
Anyway, I caught up with the Reverend, and took a walk with him. I can tell he’s a fan of the way we have fun in San Francisco. Before leaving, we swapped merch; I gave him a bumongous ZPG patch, and he hooked me up with a slick Fat Tire bike jersey, which I plan to wear with much pride.
In honor of such a good time, I composed a little bike prayer:
I beseech You, Lord of the Velorution,
Give us this day our daily burrito and restore our leg muscles, such that our godly bicycle riding can continue gracefully and safely under Thy protection, Amen.
May You not allow our rears not grow numb nor sore nor weary, nor allow our joints to become weak nor misaligned nor inflamed, nor allow our muscles to become hot nor achy nor spent nor any other condition but strong and limber;
May You provide clean, fresh air to pass through our mouths and throats and lungs, such that they not burn nor parch nor become otherwise weary;
May You protect our bicycles from squeaky brakes, broken chains, loose headsets, misaligned gears, and other pestilent mechanical troubles;
May You keep our wheels true and round, and our tires inflated;
May You keep the pavement, in its durable glory, smooth and dry and free of sand and leaves and pebbles and broken glass and puddles and potholes and other such vexations of the modern world, and keep our lanes sufficiently wide and well marked;
May You protect our bikes from thieves and villains; and forgive us our red-light running, stop-sign ignoring, and all other traffic infractions, minor and major;
May You remind us of those who have fallen, and encourage us to assist fellow riders in need;
May You not let us stray from steel nor let us be tempted by fancy shamncy carbon-fiber gizmos nor let us purchase bicycles from giant, soul-less chain stores;
May You forgive those drivers who know not yet the beauty of the bike and punish those drivers who swerve, honk, ignore, threaten, or otherwise beguile us;
May You give us grace and speed and agility; and illuminate our paths for us;
May You lend us tailwinds on our passages; and provide for us vast, sweeping, stunning terrain to traverse such that only a god like You could create;
May You provide smooth, delicious ale to soothe us once we have arrived at our destinations;
May You heed all of our humble requests, and take these evil sacrificial goats as evidence of our bodily devotion to the bicycle;