The dangle-sock

One of the favorite refrains of the delicate snowflakes on the PV Peninsula, each one of whom is unique and precious, and each one of whom has children who are even more unique even though that is an adjective which does not admit to degrees due to its obvious reference to singularity, is that “PV isn’t a good place for kids to ride bikes because the hills are too steep.”

Of course if your kids aren’t in the back of your car, how can you show off the Rage Rover as you wait in a 30-minute school off-loading queue that is twice as long as the actual walk would be?

If you’ve been around the poor side of the hill for very long, you’ve doubtless seen a rather unique individual. He is not very tall and appears to be in his late 60’s and is always dressed in dark long pants and a long-sleeve shirt regardless of the weather. He has a beard that is sort of trimmed and he wears a gigantic pair of black shoes, size 13 or I would guess even 15, which look even more enormous because his legs are not long and he is himself rather short.

He also rides a bike. It is an MTB with a triple and it has saddle bags on the back, quite nice ones, in fact. He always wears a blue helmet and travels up and down Silver Spur or some of the other ridiculously steep roads, or sometimes he putters around in the parking lot at the Von’s. Usually, though, he is going uphill. Slowly, but uphilly.

What is most distinctive about him though is his sock. Not the ones on his feet; I’ve never seen those. I’m referring to the very long white sock that dangles from his handlebars. There are not many people on bikes in PV with a handlebar dangle-sock. I don’t know if it serves a weather function, or if it is an ornament, or if it’s there as a spare if he gets a hole in his regular sock sort of like how other bikers carry a spare tube, or if it dangles for purely sentimental reasons. Yet the overall image you get of this fellow … Huge shoes. Beard. Saddlebags. Long-sleeve shirt and pants. Pedaling up Silver Spur in a 29-38. Handlebar dangle-sock. Clearly he’s insane.

Today I was coming back from Safety Cycle, where they had replaced my SRAM e-tap front derailleur due a euphemistic “warranty issue.” I had come up Basswood, which is steep, and was heading along the flat section to Shorewood, which is also steep. Ahead of me I spied a figure that could only be Mr. Dangle-sock. He was going slower than a clogged large intestine, and I speedily caught up to him.

“Hi, there,” I said expecting to be met with lunatic eyes and deranged speech.

“Hi,” he said brightly.

“I see you out here all the time. You ride a lot?”

He laughed. “Yes, but I don’t go too fast.”

“How much do you ride, actually?”

“About 12-13 hours a week. It helps keep the weight off. I don’t think you can technically lose weight from cycling, in order for that to happen you really have to regulate intake, but the riding allows me to eat a bit more and not gain, if you know what I mean.”

“Yes,” I said, “I do. You always seem to be riding up the steepest roads around here.”

He gave me a wry look. “Are there any others that will take me home? If there are, be so kind as to point them out.”

I nodded. “Right.”

“Well, I turn off here,” he said. “Have a nice day.”

He pedaled away. Then I saw a group of kids offloading from their Mom taxis at the high school. Of course PV is too steep for a kid to ride a bike, especially a 17 or 18-year-old. And damn it, I never even got to ask about the dangle sock.

END

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23 thoughts on “The dangle-sock”

  1. I’ll be the first to take a stab at the purpose of the dangle sock, It’s a conversation piece. I don’t know, what else could it be for? Great story Wank, these random encounters are just another reason We Ride!

  2. When I was a young teenager living in the San Fernando Valley my Dad made an announcement something like this: “We have six kids. You’re starting to grow up, and your Mom and I are not a taxi service. If you want to get somewhere, you’re going to have to get there on your own.”

    I went to school on my bike, even when there was frost on the grass in the morning. I went to my friends’ houses in my bike. I explored a good part of the Valley on my bike.

    The only new bike I had as a kid was a Schwinn Typhoon. It was a nearly indestructible two-wheeled tank made of good ‘ole American steel, and a lot of it. One of my proudest moments was when I was finally able to ride that thing to the top of super-steep Pomelo Drive without zigging and zagging back and forth. On my one-speed bike it was a supreme effort powered by young legs and a heavy dose of teenage testosterone.

    This very long comment is a testament to the many, many memories that I would not have had if my parents had just taken me to school in their car, like so many of our neighbors. Of course, they didn’t have a Rage Rover or other exotic import, so maybe that’s the difference.

    1. Yeah, and they actually practiced something called “parenting.” It’s an artisanal craft practiced on communes nowadays. Only.

  3. They (Parents) do that in PV as well? It is frustrating to watch that here, as that short-sighted behavior actually creates the very danger on the road that parents complain about. “Its too dangerous for kids on these roads”.

    The Town Council has no willingness to confront the issue either. They’d rather keep a not needed police force on the town tax bill to regulate the mess, rather than force parents to let their kids travel to school the old fashioned way.

  4. Ah yes, they many joys of getting around on steel bikes as a kid. We had a bonus, extra curricular class called ‘build a bike jump with found objects’.
    Grading scale was pass/fail or awesome (someone got a cast or stitches or both).

    1. And often the highest passing scores, i.e. cred among friends, were the result of the biggest fails!

  5. 57 (1960) years ago I delivered newspapers on those and all the other streets in upper Grand view tract on a green 3 speed Raleigh with a steel rack that would handle 80 plus papers. If I wanted to go to the beach it was bike or hitch hike. Different times for sure.

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