Saturday, August 7, 2010

Everything Old is New Again

My very good riding friend, Mike, has had more than his share of problems this year, some of which have kept him off of his bike for a while. Recently while riding with him, I remarked that he had "girl's" legs. Besides being a cyclist of the first order, he is a weight lifter and his body always has a well defined, manly shape. But after an illness, he had grown a little softer, (too much ice cream I'm guessing), and his legs showed the lack of bike time.

Today, when we rode together, he asked me if he still had "girl's" legs. I said that they looked toned and firm, but not quite like they used to be. I labeled them "Marlene Dietrich legs".

He said, "Who?"

I couldn't believe my ears. Although Mike is not yet 30, he surely has cable and AMC Classics. But even when I explained who she was, he still didn't recognize her name. I'm glad I never brought up my uncanny resemblance to Captain Kangaroo. He might have had the same reaction!

For many things, age and exposure make a difference. That's where tradition comes into it's own. If a tradition is kept, it links the modern world to a world which is long gone. Tradition is not the pointless keeping of rules or methods. It is a way to bring the past into our lives.

This is Maurice Martin. Many will say "who?". All you really need to know is that he was instrumental in the formation of our Randonneuring tradition. In 1888 he convinced the executive committee of the Union Velocipedique Francaise, the largest national association of bicycle clubs in France, to hold "brevets". They began with a metric century (100 kilometers). (Information from Ken Dobb of the Randonneurs Ontario Club

Throughout the following years, the sport progressed and became what it is today - a succession of increasingly longer rides of 200 kilometers, 300, 400, and 600 kilometers. The rules and methods have remained largely unchanged for over a hundred years.

So even if you don't know who Marlene Dietrich, Captain Kangaroo, Michael Jordan or Howdy Doody is, you can ride a brevet in much the same way that Maurice Martin did. Even if you can't hum the tune to "Wipeout" while playing the drum part with two number 2 pencils on your desk, you can still ride a brevet series, and be a part of the ongoing tradition which links us to Maurice Martin.

By keeping traditions, everything old is new again.

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