Monday, September 28, 2009

Bandanna Wrapped Handlebars

Greetings Readers

Well, perhaps the time is now bring up the bandannas. Specifically, the bandannas that are wrapped around my handlebars of all my bikes… well except the Motobecane and the Mountain bike.

This practice of mine started over 10 years ago and I have invested, I estimate, over $ 500.00 in bandannas on all my bikes. I replace bandannas when I feel they no longer can be used to wrap the handlebars. Or if I am using yellow or white bandannas I replace them more often since dirt and grease show up noticeably more than a dark colored bandanna.

The only two colors I do not use are the red and blue bandannas. I hope it is obvious to you Readers, but if not, then the reason why is because of the Bloods and the Crips – those are the two “gang” colors that the Bloods and Crips use. Granted, I am not riding in Gang territory, but every now and then I tend to ride in areas of Denver and surrounding suburbs that are gang territories of the Bloods and the Crips.

There are no specific set guidelines that I used for which color bandanna that I am going to use. Most often I would like the bandannas to match the color(s) of the bike frame. Other times I will color code the bandannas to the color scheme of my bike tires. In rare instances I will pick a color that is totally opposite of the color(s) on the bike for a visual impact on anyone who gazes upon my bike.

Just whatever I happen to feel like buying/getting I will get.

Getting back to the story. When I first starting biking I knew nothing what I know now. With that said, when I bought my first official bike jersey… first official expensive bike jersey, I was ecstatic. Spending over $ 80.00 on a bike jersey, which at that time in my life was absurd. I did not ride a bike like how I do now, so back then I was buying an expensive bike jersey that would hardly get worn for more than a few hours a week.

That being said, I wanted to take care of that bike jersey. Hand wash, no wringing, no dryer, etc…

Fast forward (or Flash backwards – depending on your point of view) – one day I got a flat tire and I had to repair the tire with a patch as opposed to installing a new bike tube since I did not have a spare tube in my saddlebag. As any seasoned bike rider that has changed a bike tire - it is a dirty job. Not only a dirty job, but also a greasy job – a dirty, greasy job. I did the deed and soon I had the bike tire installed back onto the frame ready to roll.

Later that evening as I was getting ready to launder my expensive bike jersey I saw that I somehow gotten some bike grease on my bike jersey. Around the back pockets and sleeve of the bike jersey. I could not believe what I saw, but I knew immediately how it happened after a quick assessment of the damage of what I done.

I did know how the damage to my expensive bike jersey happened since I had no more Kleenex that particular eventful day. I usually always carry some Kleenex for my allergies (hay fever, etc) or if my nose is running from the cold air. However, at that moment I was clean out of Kleenex. I probably did not think of anything else to wipe my fingers on. Perhaps I thought I would be careful not to touch anything else except my handlebars.

Needless to say, from that moment on I promised myself that would be careful and watchful not to further damage my expensive bike jersey. The bike chain grease on the jersey was okay, but oh so noticeable every time I look at my damaged expensive bike jersey. I cursed and cursed, but what has been done cannot be undone.

Well, perhaps months later I was riding and from time to time I had to bring a bag or a light jacket with me on my ride. Or perhaps it was a day that I had left the humble abode with long sweat pants and knew that later it was going to be warm enough to take off.

Even now when I am not going to and from work or to and from the store I will not wear a backpack or a shoulder back. I just do not like the feel of the pack on my back. I would say it is the weight, but I think it is the way that the weight in the pack presses against my back. I sweat; perspire, between the backpack and my back.

Note: This is the reason why I have never, ever worn my camel pack that I received as a gift many, many years ago.

With that one reason that is why I don’t wear a backpack and would not, unless going to work or the store – otherwise I had to improvise. Meaning, I had to think of an alternative.

Back in the day and to this day I do wear an oversized fanny pack. I guess like a back packer’s fanny pack. I learned from the many, many oversized fanny packs I could not just try to jam everything I wanted to in that oversized fanny pack. Ripped seams and zippers that no longer zipped up correctly started costing me money to replace each of those oversized fanny packs. And those back packer’s fanny packs were, and perhaps to this day, are expensive.

Then, the imaginary light bulb went on over my head. A bandanna. I tightly rolled my duffel bag I had and then I used a bandanna to secure that to the handlebar. To my amazement – it worked very well. Soon, I was tightly rolling up my pants, my jackets and securing them to my handlebars neatly.

And from time to time when I got a flat tire or my bike chain fell off the wheel cassette or crank I could use my hands knowing that I could use that bandanna I had or I could just untie whatever the bandanna was holding and then use that bandanna to put the chain on the crank and wheel cassette without worrying about getting grease on my fingers and/or hands.

I do not recollect on how long after I decided that I would wrap my handlebars in bandannas. Yes, bandannas. I knew that I was going to have to buy two bandannas in order to make the handlebars to look how I imagined I wanted the handlebar wrapped in bandannas to look. Sure enough when I started to wrap my two bandannas I knew that I was going to need two more for a total of four bandannas for the handlebars.

Back in junior high or perhaps on summer vacation during junior high I was taught how to wear a bandanna on your wrist – gang style, back in my day. These days, I do not think that wearing bandannas around your wrist is even gangster anymore. Though, I have no fucking clue.

Oh yes Readers, there is (well was) the correct way to wear and wrap and bandanna to show everyone you are “gangsta.” Not that you care Readers, I also know how to correctly wrap a bandanna around my ankle. Again, not sure if that is gangster in this day of age, but never the less I still know how to this day.

Now Readers, since I just told you I know how to correctly wrap a bandanna old school gangsta style, I decided to apply the same principle to wrapping my handlebars.

Wow. My wrapping became a piece of work to admire. To adore. And to be jealous of. I had to modify my wrapping technique a bit, but the results were more than perfect.

Readers, what I am saying is that anyone, should they choose to do so, can wrap a bandanna around their handlebars, but it takes someone such as myself to make the wrapping look exquisite and a piece of artistic art.

In addition to the artistic wrappings - the bandannas also provided another additional benefit. That was to keep those handlebar hole pluggers in place at both ends of the handlebars. I learned early in my biking career that those handlebar stoppers got easily lost – whether they wiggle out by themselves, or got dislodged by hard bump or was pried out unintentionally from a ledge or an edge and forever lost.

I get comments from time to time on my bandanna wrapped handlebars. I, of course, say thank you very much.

I will have to say that I do get the people who question why. Or why not use handlebar tape? Aren’t you worried about weight? And so on.

Again, I do it because of the initial reason I just blogged about. Yet, here is the sad thing to admit. Even if I do get my hands dirty and have to use the bandanna to clean my hands up, I will buy / replace the dirty bandanna so I will have a clean bandanna on the handlebars.

Everybody has handlebar tape, but as I know – I am the only bike rider in Colorado that wraps his handlebars in bandannas.

Until the next time

Daryl Charley
The Fallen Athlete

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