23 April 2011

Route A1A and The Nomclemature of Two Wheels

It wasn't exactly jet lag.  But when I got to my parents' house last night, I was exhausted.  And as much as I appreciate you, dear reader, I wanted to spend whatever waking moments I had with my parents.  After all, they're getting on in years.  Then again, we all are, I guess.

Anyway...Today was very much a summer's day:  the temperature reached 90F (32F).  And the sun lit a nearly turquoise sky and a sea that was only slightly more opaque.  The temperature was a few degrees warmer than normal for this time of year in this part of Florida, but some brisk winds tossed flags about, particularly along the ocean.

Along the way, I stopped at Flagler Beach, where an outdoor market filled with people who shopped the produce stands and whose kids had just hunted for Easter eggs in a nearby park.  In the market, a woman who makes jewelery from beads and shells was selling her wares at discounts because it's going to be her last day at the marketplace until the fall.  Naturally, I bought a few items and got into a conversation with the woman, who says she's going to spend her summer in Wyoming, where she is going to manage the Native American jewelery section of a National Park's gift shop.  She can't sell her work there, she says, because it would be a conflict of interest.  However, being there will give her the opportunity to collect some Native beads and other items, as well as some ideas, she might use. And she'll be able to hike and camp in the mountains.

After shopping, I ate a banana, a pear and a Lindt dark chocolate bunny and washed them down with a bottle of spring water while sitting on a bench facing the ocean.  Another woman on a bike walked by; we exchanged pleasantries about what a beautiful day it was.  Her cell phone rang and her family said that they'd finished doing whatever they were doing, so she was going to meet them. 

She motioned to a bar across the street.  "I'm going to the bikers' bar," she explained.  "The one for the real bikers."  Of course--given that we were on Route A1A, about halfway between Daytona Beach and Saint Augustine, she was referring to the ones whose motorcycles, mainly Harleys, were parked outside that bar.

From "Motorcycle and Bicycle Illustrated, July 12, 1917

I didn't have the chance to ask her what made them "real" bikers, as opposed to us.  Now, if she'd said that they were "bikers" and we are "cyclists," that would have made some sense to me because I've never referred to myself as a "biker" and most other people I know who ride bicycles reguarly refer to themselves as "cyclists."  

Not so many years ago, "cyclists" were referred to as "wheelmen" and the first club to which I belonged was affiliated with what was then known as the League of American Wheelmen.  That organization dated from the days of penny-farthing or high-wheeler bicycles and, I guess, hand't yet heard about feminism.  Then again, if they had, what would they have called themselves?  "Wheel men and women?"  "Wheel people?"

Can you tell that I got more sun today than I've gotten in the past four or five months?


  1. Wheel people. There's something to that if you just say it and don't look at the spelling...

  2. Aw, hang in there. I agree about "bikers" and "cyclists" being two different vehicular tribes, because I'm in both; I've just never heard bicyclists called "bikers" without massive confusion. But i totally get it about the edge that cuts: "real" bikers, really? Le sigh.
    Hang in there!

  3. Steve: That's exactly what I was thinking. We wheelie are wheel people!

    Unseelie: I don't care much about what we're called. The "real" bikers comment did sting a bit, though, because it came from a cyclist.