Wednesday, January 30, 2008

league of ordinary gentlemen

The 1960s British duo Flanders and Swann (who, for my money were at least as funny as Tom Lehrer and quite possibly more so) had a song in which they posited a League of British Bedstead Men, responsible for scattering used mattresses around the countryside.

I'm here to talk about the League of Pomona Bicycle Men, about which I was recently informed by a neighbor (not the block captain) who had an interesting conversation with someone who works at the county jail.

You've seen the Bicycle Men -- they pedal past our houses, going places, looking down on their luck. According to our informant, they are generally parolees and often undocumented immigrants. They ride bikes because if they're in cars, they get pulled over and arrested again.

And down-on-their-luck is certainly what they are. They're just trying to get by, looking for opportunities to get a little something in life, legally or otherwise.

Our informant gave solid advice: If any of the bicycle men offer to do work for you, Just Say No. As he said, "You don't want those guys in your life." This, of course, runs counter to my middle-class liberal give-a-guy-a-break mentality, but I've learned the hard way not to let sticky people of various kinds get close enough to stick -- or close enough to pull anything away.)

When our neighbor started telling us to beware of men on bicycles, I was all, like, "Oh YEAH! They're full of erithropoietin and artificial testosterone and lord knows what shit, and you don't wanna get messed up in that." Now that I know the full story of the League of Pomona Bicycle Men, I still stand by my advice to keep Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, and especially Ivan Basso out of your life.


Mark said...

I have seen quite a few used mattresses in our alley.
Maybe the League of British Bedsted Men have moved to Pomona.
I do also feel bad for the bicycle guys but some thing in me has always told myself to steer clear of contact with them.

me said...

So you're saying our alley has become the LBBM lodge? Cool!

In defense of undocumented immigrants, the guys I see on bikes around town definitely fall into the ex-convict category. The oversized backpacks are a dead give away. For many felons, not driving a car is a condition of their parole. The upside is that it makes Pomona uniquely suited to be a greener, more bike-friendly city.

G of P said...

We obviously got your advice too late, though we linked it into our collection of Landis news for today.


John Clifford said...

Just got back from a trip to the UPS store and saw a guy on a bike in Lincoln Park. Having read this blog item, I looked at him with new suspicion. Middle aged, several days of beard growth, unkempt. He was near Columbia and Gibbs when I saw him.

meg said...

For the record, although I'm confident that there is widespread doping in cycling, I think the anti-doping rabies that has seized the sport is utter codswallop. Of *course* if you make the course of the Tour (and the Giro, and the...) that punishing, guys will do what they gotta do to get through it. Blaming the cyclists (and, occasionally, their directeurs sportifs) is ass-backwards.

John Clifford said...

Immediate poster's remorse. I certainly wouldn't want to cast aspersions on all bike riders in our neighborhood. Evelyn Falkins and Cliff Cole are often seen cycling around the area (they wear helmets) as does Richard Wiegle, who rides back and forth between home and the Masonic Temple.

Please cut our bike-riding neighbors some slack but be wary of cycling strangers.

meg said...

Heh -- I thought your first post was a gentle ribbing.

In any case, yes, of course some serious distinctions must be made between the League of Pomona Bicycle Men and the League of American Wheelmen, an organization to which I myself once belonged, despite not being a man. (They changed their name about 15 seconds after I joined -- correlation or causation? You be the judge.)

For that matter, I have every intention of steering clear of sad sack parolees regardless of their form of transportation. Although it will be hard to say no if they taxi up in a Spitfire. But Ferrari Enzos are right out.

K said...

Heck, please cut our middle-aged, bearded, unkempt neighbors some slack, or at least say hello when you see us walking around... :-)

John Clifford said...

Hey, I'm also bearded and at times unkempt my own self. And I even sometimes walk.


Ed said...

Bad mouthing Floyd, what has the world come to. I thought Greg Lemond was a little too conspiracy driven, but now that I've looking at the 4000 meter pursuit times, he might have been right all along.

And to win the Tour multiple times in row (Indurain-5, Armstrong-7) is a little hard to believe. I always thought Indurain was doping, given his sudden blossoming from the domestique ranks in his late 20s, but it took me a few years to believe Armstrong was doing it. How do you win the Tour clean multiple times when your colleagues are doping but finishing after you? If you ignore Rasmussen, 2007 may have been the cleanest tour in years. A climber who can suddenly time-trial, give me a break.

Watch out for the middle-aged guy in the Coates jersey riding around, clearly he's down on his luck.