15 October 2017

A Curious Vehicle

You know you're getting old when you mention a name that was on everybody's lips when you were young--which doesn't seem all that long ago--and a young person has no idea of  who you're talking about.

That happens from time to time when I teach:  I might utter the name of a song, band, TV show, movie or anything that was part of the culture or news when I was young and my students look at me as if I'd started to speak Basque.  

Something similar could happen if I say "John Howard" to a cyclist who's, say, a couple of decades younger than I am.  Actually, the young 'unz might think he was part of the British Invasion or some white-bread politician. 

But if you're my age, or not much younger, you remember that he was part of that generation of cyclists that put the USA on the bicycle world's map. His star rose as American racing--and cycling--rose from its "Dark Ages" during the 1970s.  

It's hard not to wonder what he would have been like had he been born, say, a decade or two later than he was.  Greg LeMond was no doubt a talented rider, but coming along nearly a generation after Howard gave him the advantage of having faced better-trained competition than Howard had at home before he went to race in Europe.  But Howard did well in a greater variety of events, including the early Ironman triathlons.  Moreover, Howard held a land speed record that stood for a full decade--a geological age in the world of sports records.

He also was something of a philosopher:


  1. John Howard? Australia's second longest serving PM. A very conservative politician whose legacy is a tightening of our gun laws that has prevented mass shootings and reduced our murder and suicide rates. A cricket tragic, not a cyclist!

  2. Accordion--Funny, I started to think about "your" John Howard just after I published this post. An interesting character, he was.

    Why don't we have conservatives like him here in the US?