30 July 2021
Poem by Andrew JuilianoPhotos by Balint Hamvas of CyclePhotos
Dedicated, with great gratitude, to Andy Verrall and Mareck Engles, the legends who bravely, graciously, defended my white bar tape against the Belgian cyclocross mud, season after season.
The mechanic he cringed and groaned with ennui,As I rolled into view and his eyes they did see,
That bar tape so pure, and so white as a lily,I’d wound down the drops, spun with care, oh so pretty!
He gazed with great gruffness and let out a groan,As the depths of my folly he brusquely bemoaned.
“Of all the nice hues of that vast ROYGBIV,Why oh, why wind that one, which such woe to me gives!”
“That grip that you’ve picked for your grubbity mitts,So great is it now, but just wait. It’s the pits!
“See those clouds, all so grey, all so grumpy with rain?They’ll dribble. They’ll drabble, cause nothing but pain!
“It’ll turn these dry roads all sloppy and slick,I see it unfolding. It’s makin’ me sick!
“You’ll speed past those fields, where the cows spend their lives,And flick up the bits of their leftover pies,
“From the tread of your tubs, to the curve of your drops,Flings digested green grass that’s now bovine slop.
“Or prancing on pavé en route to Roubaix,You’ll pick up some gobs of that cobbled paté,
“Not that pasty meat paste that so tittles your tongue,But the stuff from the cracks ‘twit the stones that is flung,
“From the wheel of the lad, t’which you’re dutifully stuck,Come’s a splattering spray of that Arenberg muck.
“As you’re clobbered by cobbles and bounce over bumps,That chump who you’re drafting will kick up some clumps,
“That fly through the air like some shooting sod stars,A shower of plops on the tops of your bars.
And what, oh but what, when your chain it does drop,And you’re hunched in the ditch, midst the rubbish and slop
“Fiddle diddling links, smearing gunk to and fro,As you fish out that chain, put it on, off you go!
“The grit and the oil you now wear like rings,Of the dirtiest, grimiest, mechanic kings,
“And with only the thought of the bunch up the lane,Upon that poor bar tape you’ll smear it again.
“Homed in on the draft of those bespandex’d chumps,Hypoxic and cross eyed you’ll bounce o’er bumps.
And mouth gobs will fall as you chew on your stem,An unsavory drool coating bars with your phlegm.”
And with that he paused then attempted to reason,“I’ve got a solution, for all days, every season!
“I’ve rolls of black tape, that I’m happy to wind,That’ll solve all these problems, leave worries behind.
“I won’t even charge you one penny of cash.It’s slippity slop-proof and it oozes with class.
Then for but a moment, he thought he had won,With the practical web he’d tactfully spun.
But these seeds of slight reason, he thought he did sow,Failed to take root and I shook my head no.
“You’ll owe me 12 beers,” he screamed with great rahs,“If it wears but one snizzle, snozzed out of your schnoz!”
“Just a frumpity grump,” I think in my head,And I grin and turn to the start grid instead.
“You’ll drive me to drink like a bad alcoholicIf you spackle those bars like a damn Jackson Pollack!”
I roll to the race, with my grips wound anew,I shout, “Keep it pearly–that’s my word to you!”
But that tape, oh that tape, that so white once glistened,By day’s end was soiled. Woe is me! Should have listened!
T’was covered in crust, mucked with mud, grimed with grit,I knew what awaited–wrench’s wrath, the big fit.
Round the corner I rolled, his face filling bright red,“Here it comes,” I did quiver. His scorn I did dread.
He jumped and he grumped, gave a point and a shout,“See looky look here, it’s the scmutz from your snout!”
“And the muck from your mitts, and grease and the glop,You’ve defiled this tape with all manners of slop!”
He grabbed it and grumbled bemoaning my nose,Stamping and stomping toward soap and the hose.
And with just some scrubbies and scrumbled “F-Yous!”Then that pearly white bar tape, wound up good as new….