John Denver and Road Bikes. The Rodney Dangerfield’s of both Deserve Respect. And Here is Why

.By Rob Quinn

Millennials. This is the Captain speaking. Whom am I kidding?. None of those folks are reading this. Although since this is not available in print, and it’s FREE, maybe… A reverse conspiracy theory. This is getting good early. 

I digress. Once upon a time in the 70’s, there was a thing called comedy. It was really funny, I’m sorry you missed it. Smirk. Every night at 10:30 PM my parents, on their 4th vodka or red wine depending on who you were talking to, allowed us to stay up with 19 million other Americans and watch this dude named Johnny—originally from Iowa. Yes Iowa. Well, he’d have these funny guys on his talk show with the majority being old school yucksters who cut their teeth in the Catskills. Men like Shecky Green, Milton Berle, and Joey Bishop—they all had great schicht. 

The funniest, was a guy named Rodney Dangerfield, whose catch phrase for the era was “I can’t get no respect”. He told jokes like “I was so ugly that when I was born the doctor slapped my mother”. Now that’s funny.

It is with this explanation of the universe that I move forward in the highly arduous task of comparing John Denver to Road Bikes during the CV-19 crisis. Stick with me. It can all be packaged, I swear. 

But the Colorado Rocky Mountain High.

I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.

The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye.

Rocky Mountain High. (Colorado).

Those powerful words born in 1972 resonated with me. I had been “out west” skiing twice and I knew just what he was talking about. If the movie Jeremiah Johnson had not already sealed the deal, my misguided idol, Aspen’s Hunter S. Thompson did. Allowing a 12 year old boy to read unlimited amounts of Hunter S. can lead to dangerous explosions later in life. Sort of a delayed fuse. 

But, Rocky Mountain High captured me. I’m not sure, but I think there was a veiled allusion to marijuana use. John Friggin Denver. That’s a strong hand in 1972 my friend.

How John Denver became known for cheesy Hallmark Christmas specials is one of the great mysteries of modern times. I know people, who knew people that knew a thing or two about Aspen, Colorado in the 1970’s. Those still able to conjugate will testify. Kind of like during a Baptist ceremony when they say, “can I have a witness” Amen. After 59 years of Catholic services I have never ever heard that shouted out during mass. Maybe I’ll do it next time.  

The John Denver they knew was a two-fisted bad boy that could run with the good Doctor or part time resident Uncle Jack until the paper hit the front door in Woody Creek. He managed not one, but two DUI’s in Aspen in the 70’s, that’s really trying. He wrapped his Porsche around a telephone pole, and never met a waitress he did not love. Yet in the popular court of sentiment, he’s right there with Pat Boone (look it up). John Denver was a badass. Now we all know the truth. Can I have a witness? 

Now to the Road Bike; is it destined to follow a John Denver cassette tape into obscurity? Become a legend it wasn’t? Now, throw in a million new Front Range residents, stoned, texting cousin Vinny in Newark on a shoulder-less road system built after WWII and what could possibly go wrong? Even the riotous good times offered with disc brakes or the hard to pass up offers of “timed sections” in a fondo for $160 that includes a jersey I don’t need may not save it. Is the skinny tired iron horse on the way out?

A toast to the lowly road bike. But now, all the sudden, the old Masi don’t look so bad when the parking lot to Green Mountain is full by 8AM on a Friday and the trails are a shit show. Maybe the open roads are more inviting than ever? Maybe riding from home is the new thing? Oh ya, there’s that bike in the basement that hasn’t been used in a while. Will the tires hold air? 

In the spirit of the great thinkers, Plato, Socrates and Dangerfield, I reached out to another great intellect of abstract thinking. Corky Grimm from Green Mountain Sports. 23 years behind the counter has made Corky wise beyond his years, although that is not mathematically possible. You know the guy, has teeth like Michael Strahan. Nothing wrong with that. Ask Bobby Brown (the R&B singer, not the skier dude). I asked Cork straight up about my Road Bike theory.


He said yes. And, he said no. He ended with maybe. This is why you consult a specialist, people. All done under the auspices of Telemedicine. We live in spectacular times. The Doctor is in.

YES. He’s seeing more road bikes than ever in for service and the “Once over twice” (that’s a title of a song by a punk band called X” before you give me credit for this pithy saying) and my half-cocked IPA soaked theory had merit.

No. Not everybody is running out and buying a new Dogma when Aristotle tells us to examine your old one.  

Corky pauses. Dead air. Miles Davis once said, “Cool is what you don’t play”. Corky pauses the way medical experts do while being interviewed on TV. He expounds. “The heyday of the road bike was when Lance was on” (yes,I had a Trek Postal Service Madone. Guilty with an explanation. I bought it out of team manager Tom S’s trunk in the parking lot of Diego’s bar in Pacific Beach California). “His fall from grace was echoed in road bike sales”. Lance peed in the proverbial road bike sales punch bowl. My words not his, trying to keep Cork out of this mess. Probably too late. 

Corky continues his doctoral thesis: ”Today’s kids were influenced by big hit images of The Red Bull Rampage and other YouTube heroics. They started riding mountain bikes for the same reason we do. It’s a friggin blast”. 

MAYBE. The 5 year downward sales trend of road bikes might be able to be “flattened out”. I love pandemic jargon. But without a doubt, My hypothesis,(this is how social scientists from Wisconsin speak to one another during a consultation) is “spot on”. What ever happened to that phrase. “The answer”?  It was replaced by an equally lame “well played”. I hate it when corporate Johnnies pollute our vernacular with politically correct phrases that H.R. can’t fire you for. Wankers. 

Corky suggested that my theory was not half baked. Although he suspected I may be in a medically induced semi coma. Note to self. Always wear sunglasses during a Telemedicine appointment and don’t forget what you were saying while making a rambling point. The walls have ears comrade. I shot Alexia. But I swear it was in self-defense.

So hold off. Don’t toss the old Bellwether’s, the ones the make your ass look saggy. Don’t let your kid construct a mask from that 1998 Triple Bypass jersey; until some true science was applied to that hasty decision. CV-19 is one thing. The return of the bubonic plague is another.

I’d like to applaud the comeback kid of 2020. The Road Bike! And recognize John Denver post mortem. Both were responsible for signing my invitation to happiest place on earth.

Hint. Not found in Anaheim or Orlando. 

He climbed the cathedral mountains, he saw clouds below

He saw everything as far as you can see

And they say he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun

And he lost a friend but kept his memory.

Eerily prolific words for a man whose last hit would be Monterey Bay in 1997. If you don’t recall that song, you are not mistaken. 

John Denver. I wonder what you would sing today? 

Vaya con dios John Denver. 

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1 Comment

  1. Ann

    Love this! And skinny tires. Not a millennial 🙂 I always suspected JD was way more badass than his image.


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