Not Too Late
Off the Wall, Oct 15, 2009

I happened to catch a glimpse of a photo that drew me to an article about an outfit in Ligonier that had invented a bicycle to be raffled off. The reason, I believe, it drew my attention was that two-wheelers now are assembled without fenders above the wheels.

Now to those of the younger generation, that may be the way to roll. But to many of us seniors, those guards were put there for a reason.

I remember back in the 60’s, I was returning from church on a bike one rainy morning. It so happened that it had no fenders. I recall the incident vividly, because something occurred that day that forever has remained in my mind. It has to do with “splatter-matter.” I don’t think I have to say much more than that. Here I was, coming home after spending an hour of worshipping God only to find a line of dirt neatly lining the back of my light-colored suit jacket from top to bottom. Somehow my wonderful spirit of remaining positive took a sudden sour, negative note. “Yuk!” I could have written more, but I think that will suffice for now.

Now, I believe I was riding a bike belonging to one of the guys who lived in the same house as I did when I went to college. Or it could have been one lent to me by a very nice man who did maintenance for the institution. As thankful as I was to be given this mode of transportation, I learned a very important lesson here – get my own bike that has fenders.

If you go so far as to think about it, there are definite reasons why these plates of pressed steel were bolted on to the framework of these vehicles. Oh, but no. Someone who thinks he is a tad smarter has to discard the usage of these protectors on the more modern vehicles by eliminating them all together? Go figure.

That gets me to wondering, with the tires a bit different on some of the vehicles I see youth riding, having more of a tread, wouldn’t they tend to pick up more dirt and have it projected on the backs of shirts or coats of these riders?

Maybe kids don’t care as much about getting dirty as I did when I was growing up. Could that be it?

Everyday, I see helmeted sportsmen go whizzing past my residence on bikes that have no fenders. The tires of these cycles are a bit different, smoother, for faster speed on the highways, I assume. Could it be, if these riders go fast enough the “splatter-matter” goes above their heads and they don’t have to concern themselves with “dirt-hurt?” Maybe these folks only ride on dry days so they won’t be attacked by a “flop drop” of sorts along the roadways. It’s the “trip-drip that will get them every time!

What I can’t understand, and maybe you, the reader can educate me on this observation, is why do fenders still exist on motorcycles, for example, but not on bicycles? Is it that the latter is moving really fast, and consequently would not pick up anything on the road surface which would be projected toward one’s person? Maybe its one way to keep the price down. Or third, and most probable, it’s the latest fad? Well, I am going to stand up for what I believe. I’m certainly not a “fad-lad!”

Since there is a movement of sorts to start a new trend to bicycle for exercise to keep our joints and circulation in tune, maybe with a little ingenuity we can turn things around a little bit.

OK, citizens of America. Heck, we are voicing our thoughts on everything else that is going on nationally. Let’s tell the industry leaders we want fenders back on our bicycles. It’s not too late to let our voices be heard. Tell them we are sick of “splatter matter” and want change now. Maybe we can start a “Genders for Fenders” movement. Who knows. If production managers really want our bucks, maybe we do have a fighting chance after all.

I’ve always said, there are two sides of a coin – one way or the other. If these manufacturers really consider our voices important, even at our age, then step up citizens of the US of A, tell these folks, we want fenders back on our bikes.

On the other hand, if we do or say nothing, then we’ll get what we may not want, and we have only ourselves to blame. Should we play the “blame game” or turn those pointed fingers around to ourselves. I think you are old enough to figure that out for yourself!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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