I knew something was up when there wasn't a parking place to be found. At a car dealership. In Des Moines, Iowa. On a Saturday morning. During a recession.
Turns out, my wife and I had stumbled into a Media Event. See, world-famous inventor Gary Fisher was in town to give a chat at the Iowa Bicycle Coalition's Bike Night, and his whirlwind tour of Des Moines included an inexplicable press junket at the local Subaru dealership.
Just to review -- for readers who may not be familiar with Fisher's ouvre -- he is the inventor of:
- The mountain bike
- Low-trail geometry
- The soul patch
- The wheel (and subsequently, the pneumatic tire)
Alas, there was no such excitement. Turns out, it was just Gary talking about his Greatest Hits album (yadda yadda yadda Pioneer of Mountain Biking blah blah blah) to an audience of one cub reporter from the local CBS affiliate, her camera guy, a handful of local fanboys, Gary's posse (the Fish-tourage) clad in Gary gear, and the somewhat confused staff and patrons of the dealership.
Gary was sporting one of those dapper British schoolboy suits that makes him look like he just fell off a penny farthing. Our sales guy explained (perhaps erroneously) that it was something he was paid to wear -- which may be the only way that we Midwesterners can get our minds around someone who voluntarily makes himself look like a tool (or, in keeping with the Britishness of the whole look, a git.) I'm sure he and the Fish-tourage had a direct flight into Des Moines, but in my mind, they had to drive in, enduring sideways "you ain't from around here, are ya?" glances in rural truck stops all across Iowa. The image only gets more delicious when I imagine him forcing the Fish-tourage to wear matching suits. Having cycled in knickers in Iowa, I can tell you that you want to choose your rest stops very carefully, lest you find yourself in a Deliverance re-enactment: "You look real purty in them short pants, boy!"
I almost used my wife's cell phone to grab a picture, but couldn't bring myself to look like one of the fanboys. Plus, how much self-importance can one man be expected to endure? He might have sprained his moustache. Plus, he probably needed to save his energy for the crushing crowd of dozens who would greet him at the local Trekasaurus Rex dealer later in the day. (Warning: That link goes to the Des Moines Register site, which may cause dizziness, numbness, muscle aches, and suicidal thoughts in those who are accustomed to actual journalism.)