Friday, November 20, 2009

Kind of Like Kevlar

What if Peter Parker had never gone on the field trip where he was bitten by the radioactive spider? What if Bruce Banner had pulled a hamstring the night before testing his gamma ray bomb, so that he couldn't run out and get caught in the blast while saving Rick Jones? What if Steve Rogers had not been 4-F at the start of World War II, so that he didn't become the test subject for the super-soldier serum that turned him into Captain America?

And what if Assos had never started selling their gear online? In that case, RandoBoy might not have ever been.

To make a long story short ... well, that's not my nature. Anybody will tell you that, if anything, I tend to make a short story long. Usually much longer than it really deserves. Long enough to bore most people to tears. Like this paragraph.

So, I'll just tell the damned story the way I was going to anyhow. It takes the space that it takes ... that space being the space of your typical blog entry.

In 2006, Assos still sold clothing only through retailers. Gran Fondo (e.g., the Greatest Bike Shop in the Universe) in Nashville carried it, and I would regularly peruse it longingly on the racks there. It was so beautiful, and I knew it would keep me all snugly warm. But it was also expensive (and still is), so it was kind of like the Pinarello Dogma that they built up for Frankie Andrieu, which they had in the shop this week. Like a Dogma, Assos gear was something that I could lust after and would love to buy -- but, as Wayne and Garth would say, "I'm not worthy."

Then along came the radioactive spider ...

When Assos started selling their gear through some online merchants, Gran Fondo decided to stop carrying it. Lynn and Vida Greer -- two of the owners of the shop, and good friends of mine -- then did something very nice: They put aside one of the sets of Assos outerwear in my size, and sold it to me at a ridiculously low price.

When I got it, Lynn warned me, "Don't wear it when it's over 40 degrees." This is kind of like "Don't feed the Gremlins after midnight," in that it is not obvious, but very sound advice. Since I always follow Lynn's advice, the new outfit hung in the RandoCloset -- well, back then, it was just my bedroom closet -- for over a month. Then, it got cold enough one morning that I could wear it for a little 50-mile spin.

I'll never forget the first time I stepped into these bibs. They were snug in all the right places, squeezing my legs just enough to make the blood flow, but not enough to stop it. They kind of ... energized me. I recall hearing this humming sound, kind of like a Ghostbuster firing up an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back. I'm pretty sure it's solar power, though, because they have all these tiny mirrors sown in (as you can kind of tell from the picture). At night, when a car's lights hit them, they flash and strobe and do everything to tell the car that I am there short of hijacking the OnStar system and directing the driver to give me at least three feet when passing.

And then I put on the jacket. Snuggly soft. Lots of pockets on the back, and they're easy to get into even with thick gloves on. Good soft elastic on the cuffs that keep the warm air in, but don't keep the blood from going to your hands. A different elastic on the waist with some kind of stickiness that keeps the jacket right where it should be. Comfortable collar with a snap. More little mirrors to make sure that drivers get the message broadcast by the bibs. Snuggly.

When RandoGirl (who back then wasn't even the RandoWife, but just "my wife") saw me, she said, "Wow. You look like one of the X-Men."

I immediately ran to check myself out in the mirror. Not because I doubted her, of course, but I really wanted to see if I looked like one of the X-Men. And I did look like one of the X-Men ... at least more like one of the X-Men than any of these folks. Even though this outfit was black and blue with mirrors in it, instead of mostly yellow with black and blue, and didn't have a big belt buckle with an "X" on it, I looked pretty superhero-esque.

By the way, a tip to all of the women out there: If you want to make your husband happy, you can do a lot worse than telling him, "Wow. You look like one of the X-Men." This is true even if you aren't married to a nerd (like me).

Anyway, after admiring myself in the mirror for an hour or two (it would have been longer, but remember Lynn's advice about not wearing this gear when the temperature is above 40?), I went for my ride. Maybe it was because I was dressed like a superhero, but I felt like I also rode like a superhero ... or at least how a superhero would ride a bicycle if he/she couldn't fly. I was energized. I was sleek. Best of all, I was snuggly warm. I would have even been snuggly wuggly warm, but I can't imagine any of the X-Men saying "snuggly wuggly." Wolverine would kill you before you could get past "snuggly wug-"

When I got back, my wife said these immortal words:

"How was the ride, RandoBoy?"

I'm pretty sure there was a thunderclap then. Maybe it was a gamma bomb exploding nearby.

Anyway, I bring this up because I got to put on the Assos gear this morning for the first time since last winter. It was 36 degrees when I left the house, and it hit 40 about the time I got to work. I was snuggly-wuggly warm.

Today was the first day that I've biked to work since my accident last week. It felt super.


  1. You can't imagine the pride and joy we felt as your story revealed that our attempts to put awesome sale cycling gear on the backs of worthy cyclists who will actually ride in it had a small role in the creation of RandoBoy. This should actually give us the strength and sense of purpose to get us through another year over at Gran Fondo. We are relieved that we sold you this Assos kit instead of the unsold Zoot trikini - we aren't sure what that outfit might have created.

  2. The glorious sight of me in a Zoot trikini would have blinded mere mortals. (In other words, you'd put your eyes out, kid.)