Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wagon Queen Family Truckster

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Remember the Wagon queen Family Truckster? Of course you do.  Chevy Chase drove it in National Lampoon's Vacation.

Also, Christie Brinkley was in that film.  She drove a Ferrari with license plates that spelled "LOVE ME."

Christie Brinkley is also an avid cyclist.

Here, Ms. Brinkley demonstrates safe bicycle attire - by wearing full-finger gloves, she is adding comfort for her palms, and also providing a measure of protection to her fingers in the event of a crash. Still, I question her choice of a "French cut" cycling suit and a black leather saddle on what appears to be a hot, sunny day. 

Where was I?  Oh yeah, Family Truckster.

What makes the WQFT memorable is that Clark Griswold didn't really want it in the first place.  But he needed a car to take his family cross-county from Chicago to "Wally World" in California.  And the Wagon Queen is what the car dealer talked Clark into when the car he really wanted was unavailable.  In the end Clark settled for the Truckster, because he just wanted to bond with his family on the road trip and he needed a car.  As we all know, the trip didn't work out the way he hoped.  Clark's struggle to create happy family memories comically unraveled.  Everyone laughed, except me.  See, I relate to Clark.

This is my family truckster:

It weighs approximately 3.8 metric tons.  And, with a kid on the back who is pedaling halfheartedly,and full bags, the weight increases to an even 4 tons.  Needless to say, it's not exactly a Ferrari.

The little Griswolds
Still, I have put thousands of miles on this bike.  Every year for the last six years or so, I have taken the family truckster down from the ceiling in the garage, at great personal risk of hernia.  (You ever lift 3.8 metric tons over your head?)  And I prepare the beast for a family bike tour.
You picture my happy family cycling idyllically.  A sunny day, an empty road, and smiling children.

You'd be wrong.  My kids grew up on bikes.  So, it's no different than the road trips we all suffered through as kids, riding in the back of the Family Truckster.  My daughter sits on the back of the tandem and screams "stop it!" at my son, who is riding behind and pestering her for his own amusement.  Every 15 minutes or so, someone asks "how much further is it?"  And, somebody forgot to pee before we left the house.  Somebody always forgets to pee before we leave the house. 

But it's cool, since I got them the Pee Pee Bottle.  Even had them customized.

It's nice because they fit right in the bottle cages on the tandem.  Just don't get them confused with your water bottle.  Unless you're into that.  Then whatever.  Plus, it's totally washable, so it's way more eco-friendly than that Gatorade bottle you're currently using for urine collection.

Where were we again?  Oh yes, the family truckster.  The bike tours we go on are usually a week long.  But we have to train for them for a couple months.  Everyone has to be strong enough to comfortably ride 50+ miles per day.  And if there's anything that kids love, it's repetitive athletic training!

Then, once we finally are ready for the tour, we overload our car.

Clark Griswold would be proud.

 And we head for a crowded park, fairground, or schoolyard, we get to sleep in small tents together.

My oldest son flips and flops in his bed like a terrier running in his sleep.  And my middle kid smells like feet.  I'm no peach either.  My son says I snore and have "old man smell."   

Then, we venture throughout the tour locale, wearing helmets at all times, so that nobody confuses us with regular people.  Kind of like how tourists can be identified by the cameras swinging from their necks.  That way, the locals know we're bike dorks and can treat us accordingly. 

"Are you on the bike tour?"  No ma'am, we are just concerned with bridge safety.
So, why do it at all?  Well, because I like riding bikes.  It isn't stretchy-pants go-fast riding, or crash-through-the-woods-and-hit-a-tree riding.  This is something different.  And while you have to be fit, it's not really an athletic endeavor.  No, it is something else. 

It's probably because I'm not very good at doing kid stuff.  And I don't have much that I can do with the kids.  So, this is the way I spend time with them - like Clark Griswold, I force them to accompany me on my kind of adventure. 

 My kids put up with it.  It doesn't even matter if Wally World is closed when we get there, because on bike tours, the journey is the destination.  And riding on vacation is better than driving, despite what you may have heard.

Oh good, because I was getting really tired of car buying for a while there.
Although I'd really like to have a Wagon Queen Family Truckster. 

Your beer pairing:
Seventh Son Humulus Nimbus:

This incredible "Super Pale Ale" was only available on tap.  But Seventh Son recently started canning it!

American Strong Ale and Humulus Nimbus cans
And because they love me, they put it in tall boys!  I love you guys too!

If you haven't checked out Seventh Son, go do it!  Do it bravely, son!

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