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Riddell: Zoomer Boomer, Striping and BOK

John Ridell writes a business column and a fun, Zoomer-Boomer outdoor column for the Sky-Hi News.

John Ridell writes a business column and a fun, Zoomer-Boomer outdoor column for the Sky-Hi News.

When the snow finally melts and the cyclists finally emerge, an interesting phenomenon suddenly presents itself. That this phenomenon presents itself primarily through a distinctive group of male Zoomer Boomers only adds to the uniqueness. I am, of course, referring to early season cranial tiger striping supplemented by BOK (bruises on knees).

“Tiger striping” is simply the emergence of distinctive stripes along the scalp of generally older males who participate in safe cycling. The key here is “safe cycling” as the stripes on the bald tomes follow the pattern of air vents in their cycling helmets. It seems that after a relatively long winter, there is suddenly more uncovered territory on a number of folliclely-challenged heads that are confronted with the ever present and ever dangerous UV rays. Long climbs, for which this area is well suited, allow a focus and concentration of solar radiation that definitively outlines the air vents in most cycling helmets. The result is patterned sunburn. It should be noted that some helmets do not have traditional longitudinal air vents, these having been replaced with oval or circular cut outs. Not to be confused with “tiger stripes,” these are referred to as “leopard spots.” It is no coincidence that both the big cats and a number of senior cyclists seem to take afternoon naps with a degree of seriousness that borders on fanaticism.

The cure for this cosmetic war paint is the under-appreciated “doo rag.” While sunscreen will also probably do the trick, cascading waves of pf 30+ into already visually challenged eyes can make for a very sudden loss of forward momentum. Sudden stops, especially sudden blind stops, are seldom good. The “rag” however projects a certain devil-may-care attitude with, perhaps, a fond recollection of youthful indifference to danger even when the rider is only on the bike path. At a certain point, this benefit may actually exceed the benefits of the actual pedaling.

The BOK (bruises on knees) symptom is often more difficult to notice but is significantly more obvious in action. Once the rust of mud season starts to be washed off, every cyclist starts to get that “pedaling in circles” urge. The dead give-away is a pattern of leg twitching in which each leg alternates with the other with the associated foot and ankle moving in a discernible rhythm. Uncontrolled knees will suddenly bump the underside of tables, drinks will be spilled, and there will follow a look of total innocence. This look is often followed by a discernible wince, the first step on the path to discolored knees. While some have resorted to wearing knee pads, these only serve to soften the actual contact point and somewhat muffle the sound. The solution tends to be sitting under taller tables, sitting in shorter chairs, or simply informing friends that you are temporarily the victim of St. Vitus’s dance. Good friends will never hold this against you, providing of course, that you continue to spring for any and all spilled drinks. Unlike striping, at a certain point this benefits your friends to no end. You may, in fact, find yourself having a temporary increase in imbibing associates who bump the table themselves but blame you.

Much like the arrival of hummingbirds signal a definitive time of the year, so too do these subtle yet real signs portend the arrival of cycling season. And just like the bumper sticker says, “Friends may come, and friends may go, but wheels roll on forever!”