Former professional road racer Joe Parkin, who spent a decade competing in Europe back in the 1980s, will headline an event tomorrow night as part of the ongoing Oregon Manifest.
Parkin was one of the first U.S. racers to compete in Belgium and he’s written about his experiences in a memoir titled, A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer’s Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium.
Organizers of tomorrow night’s event, which is being billed as “Wafels en Wielrennen” (Waffles and Bike Racing in Flemish), say we can expect, “some mesmerizing stories, astonishing anecdotes, and Radical Flemish”. If Parkin’s Six Years in a Rain Cape blog is any indication, we won’t be disappointed.
For example, Parkin got an email from a reader about helmets. Here’s how the Q&A went down:
Joe, you raced and trained in the days before widespread helmet usage. I have cracked a couple of helmets and know half a dozen people who would be permanently injured if they had not been wearing helmets when they crashed. What was different then? Why aren’t there more messed up old bike racers?
Sean, this quite possibly might be the silliest question yet. The answer, obviously, is that we didn’t have to wear helmets and none of us are messed up because we were just so much cooler than the riders now. Plus, we all had rad hair and you just have to let that stuff fly. We were also, generally, super-stylish so we were careful never to tip over on our bikes or let the hair touch the ground because we needed to look good for the drive home.
[Read the full answer here.]
The Parkin event is presented by Castelli US, the Italian-born high-performance bike clothing maker with its US headquarters in Portland. If you arrive early, you can check out their display of old bike racing apparel and memorabilia, which includes what they claim to be “the world’s first pair of bib shorts”.
- Wafels en Wielrennen (Waffles and Bike Racing)
A Night With Joe Parkin by Castelli US
7PM to 10PM
Oregon Manifest Bike Union (539 NW 10th at Hoyt)