Friday, March 15, 2013

The Big Shark Work Horse

This is a photo of the Big Shark van instrument panel that I took at a stoplight while driving it tonight.  You can't see the mileage (the flash flooded it out) but it's got 208,000 miles on it, and there is a nifty little "ABS" warning light there on the left.  I'm pretty sure that brightly lit orange "ABS" light is not brightly lit just to let me know that the anti-lock braking system is doing fine.

Over many years, I have driven the van occasionally.  Tonight, the beautiful Mrs K needed to have the van taken to a co-worker who will then drive it to the Tour of St.Louis time trial in the morning.  I flat out refused to let her drive the van, knowing that the unsuspecting Mrs K wouldn't be...prepared...for the treat that is the Big Shark van.

As the van lurched and wheezed it's way up Skinker, I marveled at the sheer decay that has beset this van.  The seats have foam and fabric still attached, but in such a way that they look to be molting.  The steering wheel in it's complete malaise, has no real association with the front tires.  The cacophony of noise that accompanies EVERY SINGLE MOVEMENT of the van is deafening at times.  Benny Hill  (and perhaps even the Three Stooges) could have an entire skit built around the noises alone.  And the brakes?  The right pedal has had the dubious distinction of being called "brake pedal" for a decade, yet now it is the single mechanical connection that works perfectly, ABS be damned.  Yes!!

Through all of this, it is necessary to know that if you attended bike races in the St. Louis area over the last 10 years, this vehicle delivered the hardware to put on those races.  Stuffed (literally) in the back of this thing are banners, cones, tents, tarps, zip-ties, tables, chairs, pens, consent forms, race bells, race numbers, bull horns, police tape, snow fencing...I can't even name it all.  If you attend a St. Louis area race, ride or event that is remotely associated with biking, the overwhelming chances are that this vehicle had something to do with the set-up.

Those who drive it always have a comedic story afterward.  But each one of those 208,000 miles has a story, too...stories from all of the racers and riders that have benefited from this old work horse and the job that it does.

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