Friday, February 10, 2012


This year’s official .83 spoke card, deftly executed by the Drainman Ian and selected unanimously by Derrick in a “vote” that would have done your average Central American Banana Republic President-for-Life proud, features Boy Scout-style merit badges depicting activities associated with shenanigans familiar to anyone who’s been out on a Thursday night ride, including red-light running, beer-drinking, tent-camping, first-aid, swimming, photography, and more.

And while there were no aquatic activities and—to the best of my knowledge—nobody put down a bedroll on the abandoned road at which we conflagrated, most of the other badges could have been earned last night on what turned out to be a model for the old-fashioned theme-less nighttime outdoor two-wheeled adventure for which this group of cycling miscreants has long been passing out cards—or just passing out, as the case may be.

Back when I was a wee lad in the decade known (to someone, I’m sure) as the “Naughty Oughtties” the rule for getting issued a spoke card was three rides and a race, and I’ll never forget how my trembling hands clutched at the precious laminated square with the arcane message “FTBC” after midnight at Greenlake some two or three months into my tenure as a bike gang newbie.

How special I felt! How I’d arrived, I thought, only to discover, in subsequent years, that what I thought was a destination was but a starting point for untold hours in the saddle, around the fire, on the bar stool, and occasionally flat on my back looking up at the stars or raindrops such as the case may be.

But it never gets old—even as I do—as here, into yet another (seventh?) spoke card there’s still new fires to ride to and even though I can’t count the number of instances I’ve witnessed Derrick’s trick of firecrackers in the coals, this was the first time I ever saw Joeball go all Chuck Norris on him for it.


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