Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So how bout that punk bike?

Everyday thousands of spotted bananas are tossed in the garbage, left to decompose in a fetid hell filled with empty hummus tubs and dirty tissues.

A banana's life is not easy. Before they are even old enough to yellow, herds of the fruits are chopped from their home tree by a man named Felipe. Felipe's machete is sharp, but his aim is made unsure by a steady intake of coconut liqueur. Many hundreds of bananas are cut in two by the frenzied action of his swings.

If they survive the harvest, the fruits are thrown into a box and stacked, one on top of the other, for the arduous journey stateside. The boxes are rolled off the ships and onto trucks, where they endure hundreds more miles of travel without air conditioning or windows. When they finally reach a store, they are strewn about a table of fake wood. The faux tree bark and little green frills remind them of their tropical home, and silently they shed little sugary tears.

They sit on the table for weeks in the drafty super market basking in the artificial light. Person after person passes by, until finally a small woman towing her brood of little monsters stops at the display and examine the yellow foods. She decides to make a healthy choice for her family and rips three banana's from the rest of the herd. The fruits shriek in horror after being separated from their bunch mates, but without arms, they are powerless to resist.

The three are carted home in plastic bags before being offloaded to a special hanger behind the sink. They dangle for days, knowing that they will soon be eaten, and all the time they grow softer. Eventually they brown, but still the ripping finger nails and gnashing teeth never come. "I'm hungry!" cries one monster. "Eat a banana. It's good for you." responds the woman, but the beast fires back "NOO! I want the super sugar co co snackems!" The bananas continue to dangle.

Finally the fruits are covered in brown spots. The woman sighs in disgust and plucks them from their hanger. She opens the trash and summarily disposes of the over ripened plantains. To her, it is only a few dollars wasted. But the bananas are crushed. They could have been a new tree. They could have fueled a human for an hour. Or even two. They could have been bread.

The bananas came so far, but were never allowed to fulfill their caloric potential. I decided to ride the Punk Bike Enduro dressed as a banana to raise awareness for these poor under-appreciated fruits.

First, we derbied. 150ish people on bikes began riding in a circle and ramming into each other, and those who put a foot down were forced to exit the ring. I did my best to stay out of the fray, and before long, I was one of six riders left. The people on the outside moved in and tightened the circle, and we continued to go round and round. No one was making a move, so I decided to get aggressive and rammed my shoulder into the rider next to me. He was unfazed by my attack, so in a fit of rage I lunged onto his back wheel, thus removing myself and two other riders from the competition.

(the man in red is displeased that a freak in a banana suit is laying on his wheel)

The next stage was a steep road climb up to a forlorn farming field. I went hard on the climb, but my efforts were not enough to best a member of the plaid army, who happened to be riding a cross bike. We stood around at the top for a while before heading into the woods. When we were finally given the go signal, I sprinted off into the mud behind four other riders. Rob was charging ahead, but suddenly he slipped and the rest of us motored by. Chris Beech had speakers, so for a while I contented myself with riding behind him and listening to some soothing rap musac. When we popped back out into the field, I hiked up my banana suit and sprinted to the finish. I passed Chris and gained my first victory of the day.

We did a couple more stages in the mud, some of which I won, and others that I just scored points on. There were oodles of standing around, and the beer was flowing. A few hours passed, and we hit the up down. The up was a sprint (running) to the top of a steep leafy hill, and the down was a big mess of sliding bicyclists crashing into trees. I was one of the first to gain the top, but one of the last to descend:

(In case anyone cares, that tree really did hurt my face.)

Two of the stages were spent climbing a long steep gravel road. Despite Dave's attempt to sabotage me by grabbing my brake lever, I was able to win both times, once by sprinting Stick, and the second time by barely edging out Matt Ferrari (Ha! Take that Ferrari. You may be able to beat me by 2 hours in a 100 miler, but I'll be damned if I lose to you on a half mile gravel road.)

(Witness the disgruntled Stick in the background of this photo)

We did a couple more stages, but we stood around forever. We were out for 5 hours, but I think we only rode 10 miles. All the bs-ing was cool, but damn, I like to ride my bike, I would have liked to ride my bike more. Standing out in the cold (when sober) can get really tiring.

On the final downhill, I was battling for the lead when the two of us in front suddenly got lost. A stream of riders went by, including a heavily inebriated Santa Claus. Once we got back on course, we slid down a hill, hopped a little log, and collected the final punk points of the day. Other riders were still coming in, so near 30 minutes of heckling were enjoyed at the bottom of the hill (it was all fun until a guy on a comfort bike ran into a tree and mangled his knee.)

It felt super nice to get into the warm rugby lodge at the end of the day and load up on free food (And win the 'race'! Yay!) But there were no bananas.

Always remember kids, make bread, not compost.

1 comment:

tessikins said...

Make bread, not compost? What's so bad about compost?
This was your best entry yet. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I no longer feel ignorant towards the bananas' story. I now feel that I am ready to debate with those who see bananas as those monsters do. Thank you for educating me on the banana genocide.
You are the greatest banana to ever ride.