Dorky Sock Dude didn’t know his socks were dorky. What he did know as he raced along the bike path was that he loved the neon yellow jersey with bright purple sleeves that went flashing by in the opposite direction.
“That,” said Dorky Sock Dude to himself, “is the raddest thing I have ever seen. Where can I get one?”
DSD had been cycling for about a year and he was pretty proud of himself. He had a brand new Cannondale. It was bright silver. He had some super rad shifter stuff, Shimano 105 it was called. He had an ultra rad helmet with a little plastic visor that jutted out from it, very pro. And to make it all hang together he had gone out shopping for the best pair of socks he could find, until he found them.
The green and red slashing thunderbolts with orange flames had a black and purple background with some yellow asteroids raining down from the top of the cuff. They made him happy every time he pulled them on. They were tall, they were comfy, they were rad, and they were very, very pro.
Welcome to the friendly cycling community
DSD found out that this rad and uber-hip neon yellow, purple sleeved jersey was worn by a certain South Bay cycling club. It was the biggest club. It was the oldest club. It was the legit-est club. DSD didn’t know or care about any of that, though. He just wanted the jersey, and he wanted to be teammates with the dudes and chicks who wore that cool jersey.
Why? Because biking was fun, because he’d been doing it for a year now and thought he was getting pretty fit, and because anybody who had a jersey that rad must be a pretty cool anybody.
DSD sent in his membership application and before long he got his jersey. He was one happy dude. He laid it out on the bed next to his shorts and socks and gloves and shoes and helmet, with his bike off to the side, and admired the ensemble. Dorky Sock Dude had done sports in college, and he missed being on a team. He felt lucky to have discovered cycling, and even luckier to have learned that there were teams where people could get together to ride and have a good time, and, luckiest of all, that anybody could join.
The next morning he got up, ate breakfast, and put on his biking duds. He looked at himself in the mirror. He didn’t shave his legs like lots of the other bikers he saw, but that’s because he didn’t really understand why shaved legs had anything to do with riding a bike.
DSD had learned that there was a club ride that morning, meeting at 6:30 AM at the Pier. He left his house extra early so he wouldn’t be late. It was a great feeling, and exciting, too. He’d get to meet all of his new teammates and they would show him some cool biking stuff and workout tips and answer some questions that had been bouncing around in his head about cycling and training and fitness and stuff. Mostly stuff.
Nice to see you. Not.
When DSD rolled up to the Pier, there were five or six of his teammates draped nonchalantly on their top tubes, chatting with each other. Dorky Sock Dude was so happy he didn’t know what to do. They looked like they were talking in earnest, so he figured he’d just circle around and then introduce himself. He was wearing the team jersey, and there was no one else in sight, so any minute now they’d nod to him and he’d get to meet his mates.
Nobody said a word to him or even made eye contact. “Wow,” thought DSD “they must be talking about some serious cycling stuff.”
Then, without a word, they clicked in and rolled out. DSD hopped on behind the group, hoping someone would say something, but not knowing how to introduce himself he just sat awkwardly on the back. They were now rolling at a good clip, and occasionally one of the other riders would glance back to see if he was still there.
An unspoken signal was passed, and the riders dropped into single file. Dorky Sock Dude was at the end, and the pace became brutally hard. He knew it was brutally hard because the other guys were breathing loudly, and their bikes seemed to wobble. “This is cool!” thought DSD to himself. “I guess we’re doing intervals now! This is kind of like what we did on the track team in college!”
DSD moved up in the paceline, and when it was his turn he thought, “I better do my turn so they don’t think I’m slacking!” Within seconds the following riders swarmed around him, saying nothing, panting hard, beating furiously at the pedals.
“Wow!” thought DSD. “This is hard! This is great!” He hopped on the end of the train, which only had three of the original six riders left. With each surge DSD came through, got swarmed, sat on, then came through again. Soon there was no one left but DSD and one other guy, lathered in sweat and gagging on his own tongue.
Dorky Sock Dude took one final pull. “I’m pretty darn whipped, but I’ll do this last one if I can.” When he pulled over there was no one behind him. A very small group of five riders was far back in the distance, working together as hard as they could even while DSD continued to pull away. “Shoot!” he said to himself. “I lost my buddies! NOT COOL!”
Your buddies will be happy you waited
The group caught up to Dorky Sock Dude, but no one said a word. Thinking he’d tired, they began the paceline anew. Within minutes DSD was off by himself. “Crap!” he said to himself, doubly angry because he didn’t like to curse, even silently, “I lost my buddies! NOT COOL!”
By the third act in this often-seen play, the teammates gave up. Dorky Sock Dude had legs of steel, and was easily the match, and then some, of their combined efforts. The head rider came up to him. “That Shimano 105 stuff is total crap,” he said.
DSD didn’t know what to say. The next rider pedaled by. “And those socks are dork city. Get some new socks, dude.”
It washed over him. These weren’t his buddies. They’d been trying to ride away from him, but they couldn’t. So now the best they could do was to make fun of his socks and his bike.
To the extent that any of this ever happened, and I can assure that all of the true parts really did, it all took place in the late 1990’s. And if you’ve ridden at all in the South Bay, you’ve met Dorky Sock Dude, otherwise known as Greg Leibert. He’s the one who greets every newcomer with a smile, who encourages every rider regardless of ability, who stops to help you change your flat, who paces you back up to the group, and who, if you race against, almost always finishes in front of you. He’s the guy that everyone else wants to be like, even while he’s tearing you a new asshole.
He’s also the guy who wears tall white socks with the horizontal blue stripes. And the only thing people ask about his footwear nowadays is “Hey, Greg, where can I get a rad pair of socks like that?”