I've never cleaned or washed my filthy bike.
That shiny sparkle most folks seem to like
Is not a sight that's likely to be seen
On my poor crud-encrusted road machine.

A superficial glance might make you think
Its color scheme is 'CAMO', but you'd blink
And maybe gasp in moderate surprise
Or shock as you begin to realize
Some brighter color – maybe yellow? – peeks
From underneath the grime and greasy streaks.

My bike's enveloped in a coat of dust,
With remnants of adhesive, tar and rust
Protruding from a mucky, flaking crust.
The sight won't foster jealousy or lust;
In fact, some folks seem bothered or nonplussed,
While others, much more prissy, feel disgust.

Adobe clumps – or maybe it's concrete –
Adhere to frame tubes, handlebars and seat,
With no real pattern, simply here and there,
Embedding pebbles, leaves and even hair.
Removal might cause paint beneath to peel;
They could have roots that reach into the steel.

My grips and other cushy rubber bits
(I'd planned to change as soon as time permits)
Are patched with ragged strips of plastic tape,
Abraded, peeling, torn and out of shape.
The plastic on my cable housings, too,
Is ripped, with naked wire strands showing through.

The fabric of the seat's a plastic mesh
That's clogged with drizzled foodstuffs – nothing fresh,
But some that still might be identified,
Some dessicated, others petrified.
I've eaten as I've ridden and while stopped,
And much of what I tried to eat I dropped.

A smear of mustard underneath a glob
Of something brown (Thai chili?)... It's a job
To try to name each dribble, blob and stain,
And even though I've ridden in the rain,
It hasn't washed off any of this crud;
Instead it's only covered it with mud.

Small flaky nodes of scum adorn my chain –
As black as SIN from Satan's dark domain.
They leap off, tainting any clothes in reach,
To leave a sooty stain that enzymes, bleach
Or even products hyped by Billy Mays,
Cannot remove; that blotchy blackness stays...

Long weeks and months of washing, year by year,
Have no effect on how those stains appear,
And even though the fabric all around
Wears out in ragged tatters, I have found
Each icky, inky, stain-infested spot
Survives, although my socks and shirts do not.

My wheels are truly ugly; muck-streaked hubs
Show metal only where some object rubs –
A nylon tie-wrap used to hold the rack
(A stand-in for a screw till I got back,
Which still has not been purchased and replaced;
The tie-wrap's working fine and suits my taste.)

The spokes no longer sparkle, gleam and shine.
They told me they were stainless; that's a line!
Mine have a lot of stains, both grease and dirt,
Plus spots of rusty film, perhaps inert,
But I'm not taking bets – I broke a few.
At least the ones I've changed look almost new...

I'm told my rims are alloy, anodized,
An aero shape that's very highly prized,
But that advantage MY rims once enjoyed
I'm pretty sure by now has been destroyed
By baked-on mud and clotted clumps of clay.
Their color now is much more brown than gray.

My tires, however, ARE a grayish hue;
The rubber's oxidized, and cracking too,
And as I look them over now I see
Some oddly angled wrinkling that must be
A sign they've needed just a tad more air,
As well as streaks of cord... should that be bare?

My drivetrain's been neglected for so long
I can't remember when some things went wrong.
The indexed shifting's not adjusted right,
And shifts up to the largest chain ring might
Result in chain derailment; that's okay...
I only try that once or twice a day.

My brakes both squeal and don't work all that well.
I think my pads are greasy, plus I fell
And bent that flimsy rotor on the rear.
I backed the cable off so far I fear
That though the lever's squeezed against the grip,
My forward speed just barely takes a dip.

My front brake makes strange scratchy little squeaks
Each time it rolls around. Its lever creaks;
I think its cable housing's rusted through
And frankly I'm not sure what I would do
If I should ever find an urgent need
To drastic'ly reduce my forward speed.

I mostly try to simply roll around
Ignoring any strange new thunking sound;
Most go away within a week or three
But if they don't, it doesn't bother me.
I just keep doing what I have to do,
Ignoring new and all the old sounds, too.

My friends and riding partners all insist
I ought to scrape off all that tar and schist;
A few kind souls have offered to assist
While others tried to give my arm a twist.
But I've been firm; their urgings were dismissed.
It pleases me somehow when they get pissed.

I'm not the fastest rider in my group;
I'm not the guy who knows the latest poop
On cycle racing geegaws, styles and stars.
I'm not unique – no cool tattoos or scars.
The only claim to fame that I assert
Is I'm 'That Guy Whose Bike Is Caked With Dirt'.


My guilty conscience beat me yesterday;
I pulled into a carwash on the way
From where I'd met my group to take a ride.
Their ragging on my bike had hurt my pride,
Although I kept pretending it had not;
I scrubbed my grubby bike the way I ought.

High pressure soapy water, steaming hot
Dislodged and blasted off each clinging clot
Of clay, and all those foodstains on the seat.
It cleaned my chain (a quite impressive feat)
And took off grease and dirt stains front to rear,
But other problems started to appear.

While going home I took the time to pop
Into a weekend sale at my bike shop;
I spent a lot of money on new parts.
At home in my garage, by fits and starts,
I dove in to replace or to upgrade
And make repairs much, much too long delayed.

I changed my brake pads, all the cables, too.
I straightened both my rotors good as new.
I tweaked my spokes till both my wheels were true,
Then mounted two new tires (long overdue!)
I put my wheels back on and followed through
By changing out that tie wrap for a screw.

I changed my cogset; all its teeth were hooked.
With all that dirty grease I'd never looked,
But now I saw and knew it had to go,
To help prolong the life of my new chain,
Whose standard grease I'd treated with disdain,
Recoating it with high-tech superlube,
Installed with pricy low-drag teflon tube.

I didn't change my chainrings; those I kept,
Deciding for the price I could accept
The tiny bit of wear the middle gear
Exhibited, more minor than severe.
The other two looked fine when I perused
Them after clean-up; they were rarely used.

New grips and brand new bungee for the seat,
Both helped to make my new-born mount look sweet.
Then wax and ArmorAll from stem to stern,
While making sure that everything would turn
And spin or move as freely as it should.
Soon I began to beam - It's lookin' GOO-OO-OOD!

With wax the powder coating looked okay,
As yellow as it was on that first day
I'd brought this new bike home, so long ago.
I'd never have believed it would get so...
But that was then; today's not yesterday.
My bike's all spiffy now; what can I say?

My bike feels better now and it's a joy
To ride my faster, silent running toy.
The time and money I've invested make
It safer too, especially when I brake.
I'm happier, less worried when I ride,
And feel... some sense of... well... [I'm BLUSHING!] ... pride.

Next week when I go riding with my group,
I'm sure I'll knock some people for a loop,
But having lost my claim to infamy
I'll quickly lose my notoriety...
'That Guy Whose Bike Is Caked With Dirt' is gone;
I'm boring now, a no-one... PLEASE DON'T YAWN!

POW Index

Last updated 8.3.2009