Banana Belt #1 – March 1, 2009

I learned how to ride with no hands when I was a wee lad. I thought it made me look cool. The same way my trapper keeper and Boba Fett underoos T-shirt made me look cool. I knew that underoos were made for bedtime and handlebars were made for holding. But rules be damned, I looked awesome! I remember one time I was trying to impress a girl who lived down my street named Regina, and I ate shit right in front of her house. It was raining, and I’d I’d somehow racked my 7 year old boyhood on the stem of my bmx bike. I remember standing in the middle of the street, soaking wet, and staring down my pants to see if anything was broken in an obvious and/or shocking way. I looked up and saw Regina watching me through her window. I gave up my courtship of her soon after. Girls don’t like boys who fall off their bikes and stare at their junk. It was a real low point of my childhood, and I became skeptical of no-handed riding.

Even after I’d acquired my first “real” road bike, I kept one hand firmly on the bar at all times. For years I’d assumed that I just lacked balance, but I later learned that “indexed steering” was not the latest in a long line of misguided technologies (like biopace chainrings and neon yellow paint-splatter wheel discs), but that my headset was actually totally shot, making showboating difficult. And what’s the point of riding a bike if not to throw your hands off the bar, arrogantly pointing at yourself screaming “I am the greatest human being to ever do anything!”

I’m a grown up now, able to all the things that grown ups do. Like ride with no hands. And eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I feel like it. But what I can’t do is celebrate a cycling win with my hands in the air. (FYI: I also physically can’t win, if details matter.)

Why?

Because OBRA recently unofficially banned no handed riding during races, branding it “too French” for Oregon. It’s not the just the winners, either. If you’re in the back of the pack practicing your big finish you’ll still get a little French flag on your results, which everyone knows is scarlet letter of the refined cyclist world. I mean, shit, while the French were wasting all those years with art and sex, the worlds classier countries (USA! USA!) were developing boner pills, electric body hair trimmers, and complicated credit default swap derivatives (essentially leaving the French in the dark -- hairy, impotent, and financially equipped to retire).

But I say, what could be more American than showing little regard for those around you? It’s the cycling equivalent of the free market! While I’m pointing at myself screaming “ME! ME! ME!”, I’ve got Adam Smith’s invisible hand steering the bike. What could go wrong?!

That’s why these socialist rules are not going to stop me from working on my complicated financial instruments or my signature move. Which is this: