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“Always plan for assholes” – A cycling parable from Dingo the Clown

Posted by on January 24th, 2020 at 2:43 pm

Dingo’s son Bruce growing up on a tall bike.
(Photo: Dingo the Clown)

Years ago there was a special place on Northeast Alberta known as the Clown House. It was a place where a merry band of bicycle-inspired entertainers would perform all types of wonderful feats during Last Thursday — from tall bike jousts to mud wrestling and mini-bike races. In the middle of the shenanigans was always Dingo the Clown

Dingo at the 2014 Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Clown House Era ended in 2007, but Dingo has continued his clowning ways. He’s now a professional with his partner Olive and the dynamic, tall bike-riding duo stay busy entertaining kids and adults at parties and events citywide.

Riding a tall bike dressed as a clown for so many years has given Dingo a unique perspective on life, as illustrated by this story he shared on Facebook recently:

Last week we were riding tall bikes with our 14-year-old son. He got to see something unusual. He grew up on my tall bike but only recently started bike riding long distance with us on his own tall bike. For the most part he had to get used to folks cheering at us a lot. Well on this evening my bike light fell off the handlebars. I blame the butterfingers who installed it (myself). Our kid pulled over to pick it up for me but had to wait for a passing car. To his horror the car deliberately swerved a tire to the center of the road and atomized my light. Then it sped off leaving my light shattered into a million pieces.

He was freaked out. “Dad that car went out of it’s way to kill your light. What are you gonna do?”

I was smiling the whole time. “I’m gonna do what I always do.” and I pulled out an identical light with a sturdier strap, attached it without dismounting and clicked it on “Always plan for assholes son.” He just rode for a while silently smiling.

Thanks for letting me share this Dingo!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Fuckin A

Jason
Guest
Jason

Not a single fuck was given that day.

Gary Sansom
Guest

Good article..Dingo has caused me to smile sooo many times over the years!

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

Gotta love that little chunkamonk on the long tail. So cute.

mh
Subscriber

I love it. A far better response than my barely contained fury, and a very complete life lesson.

One
Guest

Dingo makes the world a better place

pdx2wheeler
Subscriber

The person who atomized that bike light needed a father like Dingo! We’re not all so lucky.

Joe
Guest
Joe

lotta wild ppl stuck in the cage doing silly BS glad everyone was safe, oh same happened to me with my ulock haha

Becky Jo (Columnist)
Member

YES!!! I lived on Alberta in early aughts and they were such a treat! Best story <3

Me
Guest

Dingo is a clown of many talents. I follow him on social media and he is very politically conscious? Aware? Informed? Not sure if the word I’m looking for, but I’m sure I would agree with his political endorsements.

Charles Ross
Guest
Charles Ross

I love cycling. I’ve ridden all over PDX, up the Gorge several times, out to the coast a dozen times on all the routes (except the Lincoln City run; I don’t have a death wish), down the West Coast, Thailand for a month. I love cycling, but I have to say that that this guy is riding a bike that is unsafe; The bike’s design is unstable resulting in really poor maneuverability. The cyclist is unprepared for the quick moves that cycling sometimes necessitates.
I wonder if the child is too young to be sitting on the bicycle as shown in the photo. The helmet looks to be too heavy for his head. The strength of a young child’s neck is simply not proportional to the weight of its head; add the weight of the helmet and you might find that the child is hanging onto this bike with little protection in the case of a fall. It looks like the child is wearing the helmet because it’s the minimum the law requires rather than concern for safety.
The adult rider is not wearing a helmet. I’ve gone off a bike a couple of times in my 50 years of cycling; once over the front of the handlebars; that wasn’t fun. When you hit the ground, your head snaps very quickly. It all happens far too quickly, with too much force for one to stiffen the neck to keep the head from bouncing on the concrete. Even if your head never touches the pavement it’s possible to concuss simply from your shoulder impacting the ground.
It is important to “plan for assholes” when you ride. Part of that is making sure you’re not one of them when you’re out there on your bike.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Classic BP, well done.

David Hampsten
Guest

I still remember riding on the back of my mom’s 1965 Alex Moulton dual suspension, probably in 1971 or so, on a hard metal child’s seat (painted black as I recall) with a single railing in the back. No helmet of course, which no doubt caused me permanent brain damage and PTSD. I never fell off, thankfully, but I did get hooked on bicycling and quickly got inspired to ride on my own. I’ve been a hard-core addict ever since.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Um, what? You seem to not understand the correlation between stability and maneuverability.
Things with high stability tend to have lower maneuverability and vice versa. While I’ve never ridden one, I’ve watched some videos (there’s a Ted Talk with a guy who rides one) and read up on them a bit, and they’re actually quite stable. The higher center of gravity make them easier to balance. Plus being higher up, a tall-bike rider is not only more visible to other traffic but also has better visibility over other traffic. And though a rider’s velocity would likely be higher by the time they impact the ground, they’d also likely have more time to react before they hit the ground, reducing the chance of hitting their head. And while I too would be a little concerned seeing a two year old riding like that (mostly because of how my kids were like at that age, but everyone’s different), calling someone an asshole who isn’t doing anything illegal or even inherently dangerous seems like you need to do some serious self-reflection.

Glenn II
Guest
Glenn II

Nice. A rough approximation of that is how I always imagined myself reacting to Roofing Nail Asshole too. Never ended up dealing with it.

Insurance policies ought to have an “asshole clause.”

17)c) Assholes. Plan will pay 80% of costs incurred as a direct or indirect result of the action or inaction of assholes (see glossary pp. 12-14).

chris
Guest
chris

Maybe the driver swerved to the center of the road because he saw the boy stop on the side of the road? You know, like the law says you’re supposed to do when passing someone pulled over on the side of the road (especially a kid). Maybe, just maybe, the driver was more concerned with not killing a child and did not even know the light was there? This could have been a much more tragic post…

Barry J Cochran
Guest
Barry J Cochran

“Always Plan For Assholes”: Can we put Dingo’s quotation/advice on an edifice, or at least a mural, somewhere?

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Is it possible the motorist swerved to avoid hitting his child and took the light out as an acceptable loss?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Superb irony in this story. The actual clown is not the true clown…

Definitely the response I would love to (but likely wouldn’t) have in this same situation. Let the a-hole be the only a-hole.

Excellent.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Charles Ross
I love cycling. I’ve ridden all over PDX, up the Gorge several times, out to the coast a dozen times on all the routes (except the Lincoln City run; I don’t have a death wish), down the West Coast, Thailand for a month. I love cycling, but I have to say that that this guy is riding a bike that is unsafe; The bike’s design is unstable resulting in really poor maneuverability. The cyclist is unprepared for the quick moves that cycling sometimes necessitates. I wonder if the child is too young to be sitting on the bicycle as shown in the photo. The helmet looks to be too heavy for his head. The strength of a young child’s neck is simply not proportional to the weight of its head; add the weight of the helmet and you might find that the child is hanging onto this bike with little protection in the case of a fall. It looks like the child is wearing the helmet because it’s the minimum the law requires rather than concern for safety. The adult rider is not wearing a helmet. I’ve gone off a bike a couple of times in my 50 years of cycling; once over the front of the handlebars; that wasn’t fun. When you hit the ground, your head snaps very quickly. It all happens far too quickly, with too much force for one to stiffen the neck to keep the head from bouncing on the concrete. Even if your head never touches the pavement it’s possible to concuss simply from your shoulder impacting the ground. It is important to “plan for assholes” when you ride. Part of that is making sure you’re not one of them when you’re out there on your bike.Recommended 4

You sound like a lot of fun, Charlie.

jered l bogli
Guest
jered l bogli

Thailand for a month… If this bike situation got ya all rankled I can’t imagine what Thailand must have done to you. A whole family on one motorscooter; a toddler standing in the middle surfing the bike while mom sits side saddle on the back and has another kid on her lap and is holding groceries in both hands while dad negotiates traffic at speed…