Ride. . .I mean. . .Road to the White House

“30 seconds til we come to you, Bill,” squawked the news director’s voice in the ear piece of the network anchor.

“Don’t take too much time with this guy,” said the director.  “Most people don’t take this group seriously to begin with.  They’re just another bunch of overgrown, lycra clad, kids on bikes if you ask me.  OK, 4 . . .3 . . . 2 . . .you’re on!”

“Good evening.  I’m Bill Carson.  Tonight, we’re continuing our in-depth look at Decision 2012 by visiting with political action groups around the country to get their thoughts on the upcoming election.  This evening we’re joined by Wayne Randall, spokesman for a new group hoping to influence the outcome of the 2012 race for President.  Hello, Wayne, and welcome to our community,” Carson said in opening the segment.

“Hello, Bill.  Thank you for inviting me,” replied Randall.

“Our pleasure,” said Carson.  “Tell us something about your organization.  For starters, what is the name of your group?”

“Certainly,” answered Randall.  “We’re a political action committee comprised almost entirely of cyclists.  We have a few runners and swimmers as well as a fair number of tri-athletes; however, for the most part, we’re cyclists.  We wanted to just call ourselves CPAC for Cycling Political Action Committee but it turns out that Glenn Beck fellow is involved with the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, so that was strike one.  Secondly, too many people got it confused with CPAP and we were just getting too many calls from wives trying to solve their husbands’ sleep apnea/snoring problems.  That’s a whole different ball game.”

“I understand,” interjected Carson as the director barked “Get on track!” through the tiny speaker in Carson’s ear.  “So what did you ultimately come up with?”

“DToM, with a little ‘o’,” replied Randall.  “Some thought it stood for ‘Defunct Tour of Missouri’ after the professional stage race torpedoed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his cronies in the Department of Tourism; however, it really stands for ‘Don’t Tread on Me’, the motto shown on the Gadsden Flag.  This flag was the first flag carried into battle by the Continental Marine Corps during the Revolutionary War.  The rattlesnake, native to the region encompassing the original thirteen colonies, was utilized by Benjamin Franklin as an emblem of the colonies dating back to 1751, symbolic of the virtues of vigilance, courage, strength, and magnanimity.  The flag was created by Colonel Christopher Gadsden in 1775 based on designs used by the first enlisted Marines.  The coiled rattlesnake has 13 rattles representing the colonies, and the motto ‘Don’t tread on me’ alludes to the American spirit of independence.  We even found a jersey from Voler incorporating the flag.”

“We wear this jersey to showcase our independent spirit, as well as to assert our right to share the road.  We thought about adding tire tread marks across the logo but decided that would kind of defeat the message.”

“That’s quite clever.  So, who does your group like for a potential Republican candidate?” asked Carson in an attempt to stay on topic.

“Well,” paused Randall.  “That’s a touchy subject and our core group remains undecided.  We really would like to see a candidate that might be willing to join us on a group ride.  Maybe someone who can form a coalition of cooperation within the peloton.  You know . . . willing to take a pull at the front and not try an unnecessary, energy wasting breakaway.  As far as the current declared candidates, we’re not certain Ron Paul’s 76-year-old legs can keep up and, we don’t think we want to see Newt Gingrich in cycling apparel . . . think stuffed sausage.”

“Thanks for that visual,” Carson interrupted sarcastically.

“Well, you get my point,” Randall replied.  He then continued,  “We’re afraid Rick Perry would forget the third part of the campaign route.  Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have the physiques to handle the attire but we’re going to watch for a bit to see if they have the endurance to complete a long race.”

“We’re actually thinking about drafting a candidate from the ranks of professional cyclists,” continued Randall.  “You would think the obvious choice would be Lance Armstrong.  However, as with Rick Perry, we don’t think the country is ready for another Texan in the White House.  Then, you have to factor in the baggage he brings with him.  Plus, there’s a rumor floating around that he would want to repaint the White House yellow.

“We thought about Christian Vande Velde.  He just makes the age cut-off as a bicentennial baby born in 1976 but is a little too accident prone.  Been there, done that with Gerald Ford.”

“We like George Hincapie for the number 2 spot on the ticket.  He’s certainly had his share of big stage wins but really works better leading out the train to set up big sprint finishes by another member of his team.  He also helped pull Lance to seven Tour de France titles and, most recently, helped Cadel Evans take the top podium spot on the Champs-Élysées.  We like Levi Leipheimer for the number 1 spot.  Levi has a little better GC pedigree and has proven himself dominant in the seven to nine-day stage races with multiple Tour of California titles, the Tour of Utah, Tour of the Gila, as well as in Europe where we think the respect he has garnered will help with foreign policy.  Plus, both Hincapie and Leipheimer look great in the stars and stripes as former U.S. national road race and time trial champions,” finished Randall.

“Well, that certainly sounds interesting but, how do you propose to get either on the primary ballots?  You’ve already missed the Iowa caucus and, most likely, all the deadlines for the state primaries coming up,” observed Carson.  “You’ve heard how Gingrich and Perry are being blocked from the Virginia primary.  How do you propose to get around those rules?”

“Frankly,” started Randall, “we’re not entirely certain either party meets our needs and a third-party or independent candidate is certainly an option for us.  Taking a page out of Harry Truman’s whistle-stop campaign against Thomas Dewey, we’re giving thought to a cycling version.  The RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa), BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia), BRAN (Nebraska), BAK (Kansas), and Bicycle Across America rides all give us and our candidate a chance to cover a lot of miles and deliver our message to a lot of people.”

“That’s pretty ambitious,” Carson responded.  “What would your platform consist of?”

“Glad you asked,” said Randall.  “Dependency on foreign oil is a big concern.  Reminiscent of notions bounced around during the 70’s oil embargo,  we’d like to see a complete ban on motor vehicle use on the weekends freeing up thousands of miles of roadway to cyclists.  Barring that, we would propose that lanes now used for cars be dedicated to bikes with a lane along the shoulder designated for car use.  It would look something like the photo I have here.” 

Carson sat there with an incredulous expression and was at a loss for words.

“Just kidding,” laughed Randall.  “If you think the debate over health care was ugly, try taking American’s cars from them!  Some think we’re already certifiable for riding as much as we do on our skinny tires and narrow saddles but we’re not that crazy!  Honestly, though, we would like to see some stimulus money go toward improving bike routes throughout our cities.  Ideally, we would like improved shoulders and dedicated bike lanes along the nation’s roadways.  After all, they are called ‘road bikes’ for a reason.  So many cities have added corporate parks in the suburbs to provide work locations close to where we live.  Wouldn’t it be great if these parks offered bike lockers and shower facilities to allow more of us to ride to work, reduce dependency on our vehicles, improve air quality with lower emissions, and generally improve our health and fitness?  What a great example to set for our children that have given up riding bikes for inside activities and virtual games.  Remember when the prospect of getting a new bike rivaled the anticipation of Christmas morning?  Those days are in the past but might be recaptured to some degree.  Bicycle dedicated highways may be a fictitious notion but, maybe, in the not so distant future, it will be the grown-ups who will be so anxious to go to the bike shop to pick up a new ride.”

“We’d also like to see a national referendum on educating the driving public about the rights of cyclists to use the road.  Did you know that the League of American Wheelmen, the original incarnation of the League of American Bicyclists, is credited with getting paved roads in this country before the reign of the automobile?  Of course, cyclists have a responsibility to respect the rules of the road but, honestly, I think we can all get along.  Other than that, we’re no different from any other group that is looking for a President that can lead the country and a Congress that works effectively to improve the life of every American without the inefficiency of partisan politics.  It may be a dream but is, nevertheless, a goal.”

“Those are certainly some interesting thoughts, Wayne.  Thank you for sharing your time with us this evening,” Carson said in response to the “Good lord!  Wrap it up!  We’re out of time!” heard through the ear piece.

“My pleasure, Bill,” responded Randall.

“If you’ll pardon the pun, that’s all we have for this news cycle ,” concluded Carson.  “Join us again tomorrow night when we hear from the Avocado Growers Guild and their vision for a greener America.  Good night.”

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