Newsletter - 2004 Archive

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by Tom Hocking

Last month I shaved off the beard that I'd sported for most of my adult life. I'd been noticing the salt and pepper that I liked to think of as "the Sean Connery look" was becoming way more salt than pepper, so I decided to see how much chin remained hidden under that hoary foliage. Maybe I'll grow it back some day if it becomes all snowy white….

Now that my daily routine involves shaving, I've been looking at my face in the mirror a lot more, and I've begun to notice something startling. The thinning hair on the top of my head is developing what appears to be two parallel furrows exactly where my Giro helmet's padding strips sit. I knew I'd ridden a lot of randonneuring miles over the past several years, but this was weird. At first I thought it must be just an extreme case of the dreaded Helmet Hair, but there was no mistaking the remarkable pattern. My hair remains distinctly thicker where the air vents run in long straight front-to-back lines between the rows of barren skin in a demented sort of reverse Mohawk hairstyle.

I panicked. Just when we not-quite-over-the-hill males have learned to quit worrying about "biking induced erectile dysfunction" and love our old saddles again, we may have a new worry: RANDO PATTERN BALDNESS!
Ye gods, what was I supposed to do about this? Let my hair grow longer and go for one of those ridiculous comb-overs?
Shave my head? I wouldn't want to be mistaken for some old guy trying for the young, hip look, and besides, it's really about all I can manage just to shave the lower half of my head. No, forget about the boot camp look.
I could start wearing a hat whenever I was not on the bike. I've got this great, faded old Campagnolo velo cap, but wearing it to family dinners would be viewed as inappropriate by most, eccentric by some, and cool by just a few.
Or I could choose to never be seen without my helmet. This would both hide my deformity and further strengthen my image in the community as a truly serious cyclist. The drawback here is that I'd also need to wear lycra shorts and jerseys exclusive to all else (again, not appreciated at family functions). Wearing of the helmet without the accompanying outfit would just get me sympathetic looks from the rest of society who might assume I was afflicted with some sort of falling down syndrome.

I wonder if any of you other readers have noticed similar patterns on your heads. Study your visage in the mirror. No, don't look away-scrutinise your hairline. Then look at the design of the vents in the helmet you've been wearing for all those brevets and compare it to the design left on your head after a ride. Notice any similarities? Depending on the model of helmet, you could have the beginnings of the same reverse Mohawk that I've got, or perhaps some variation on the mysterious crop circles found in farmers' fields by space alien hunters. Owners of more than one helmet might find they've got a pretty good start on a maze or a medieval labyrinth. That could be fun for the whole family. "Wah, there's nothing good on T.V. tonight." "Hey, I know-let's follow dad's labyrinth with our fingers!" "Yeah, cool!"

I wonder if it's just us guys that are finding these bizarre patterns on our scalps. How about you women? Come on, fess up!
Jeez, think of the research articles in medical journals that this discovery could spawn. "The Incidence of RPB amongst a Population of Ultra-marathon Cyclists". Maybe I could sue the manufacturer for the hideous appearance caused by their helmets. Come to think of it, if we could find enough RPB victims we could have a class action suit. As the movement gains momentum, nation-wide support groups would be formed for "Cyclists Living with RPB". Disease rides could be promoted. "Hey Fred, are you going on the RPB ride on the weekend?" "Sure. It's for a good cause, you know."

Holy smokes, what if I'm the only one? But no, I fear I am not alone. If you've noticed something that could be the early stages of RPB, contact me via the editor. If you have not yet succumbed, you could be next. Be ever vigilant. Keep watching for a pattern to emerge.

I've decided what I'm going to do. I'll be appearing in public showing off my new "RPB look"to the world. I'm determined to, as Crosby, Stills, and Nash advised, "let my freak flag fly", and walk proudly with my hair as a mark of my total commitment to the sport of randonneuring. Kind of like those roadies with their shaved legs.
So come on, all you randos, join with me! Out of the closets and off with your helmets!
Shout it out together! "WE'RE R-P-B RANDONNEURS AND WE'RE PROUD!"

July 13, 2004

But the story doesn't end here... Go to Raymond J. Parker's Further Study Into RPB.