01 September 2017

Bicycle Bingo In The Land Of The Potato Chip

I am going to make a confession.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you're used to such things.

Anyway, here goes:  I have played bingo.

Mind you, it's been at least 30 years since I last daubed an ink bottle to a bingo sheet:  If I recall correctly, I was with my mother and grandmother, and possibly one or two of their friends.  Grandma died in 1981, and I don't think I've set foot in a bingo hall since then.

But her death isn't the reason I stopped playing:  I simply thought, even with the good company I had, it was boring. I simply could not understand what sort of thrill people got in waiting for numbers to be called.

Then again, I was in my early 20's.  Perhaps I'd like it better now.  I probably am somewhere near, or not too much below, the median age of the average player. Also, I now realize that even though I was the sort of young person I was, my mother, grandmother and their friends enjoyed my company--and I liked theirs.  Perhaps that is the real reason why people go to smoke-filled halls (at least they were in those days) and eat bad food, all for the chance to hit a "jackpot" that might equal a day's pay:  the camaraderie.

Such thoughts cause me to ponder this question:  How many bingo players are cyclists--or vice-versa?

And this related question:  Is it actually possible to combine bingo and cycling?

It seems that some folks in Saratoga Springs, NY have answered the second question in the affirmative.

Saratoga Springs.  From SCiraulo Photography

The "Spa City", like other places noted for mineral springs, thrived when doctors told patients to "take the waters" as a cure for everything from arthritis to zinc deficiency.  This "prescription" became less common with developments in modern medicine that happened and, later, air travel and interstate highway systems made it possible for the sorts of people who vacationed in places like nearby Sharon Springs and Ballston Spa to head for more exotic locales further away.  

Although Saratoga Springs experienced a decline during the 1950's--when the city and state cracked down on illegal gambling--it never entirely lost its draw because of its race track (one of the few horse racing venues in the US that is still thriving) and its vibrant arts scene.  The Yaddo artists' retreat is there.  So is Skidmore College, long a fount of creativity, and the National Dance Museum, the only museum in the US (and one of the few in the world) devoted entirely to the art of dance.

So, perhaps, it's no surprise that "Spa City" came up with "Bike Bingo".  To participate, a cyclist buys a $2 card available at several locations throughout the city. The rules are simple:

• Bike to a location listed on the card and request a stamp.
• Get five in a row for “BINGO” and pedal to one of the prize locations to receive a prize.
• Get another “BINGO” to receive another prize.
• Fill the card to get more prizes.

The "game" will continue until 22 October.  Its organizers hope to reduce motor traffic downtown by encouraging people to explore it by bike.

If you pedal long enough, you'll work up an appetite.  You can sate it in one of the town's many restaurants and cafes--or with some potato chips:  legend has it that they were invented "Spa Town" .  Of course, you will wash them down with water from the Springs!


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  2. Quaint little town Saratoga Springs. My mom lived there for years until recently. When I would visit in the summer I never really saw many bicycles, which I thought was odd.

  3. Chris--I haven't been to Saratoga Springs in a while. It is lovely. But, like you, I don't recall seeing many cyclists. Perhaps things are different now.