Da Camptown ladies sing dis song – Doo Dah Doo Dah
So we joined in to roll along – Doo Dah Doo Dah
Thru Pasadena, 'bout a mile – Doo Dah Doo Dah
But first we had to wait a while – Doo Dah Doo Dah
It got so hot that we all felt – Doo Dah Doo Dah
That our plastic hats might melt – Oh Doo Doo Dah Day

Then finally we took the street – Doo Dah Doo Dah
And pedaled to a throbbing beat – Doo Dah Doo Dah
The band in front of us was good – Doo Dah Doo Dah
As we zipped thru the neighborhood – Doo Dah Doo Dah
I think we rode about ten miles – Doo Dah Doo Dah
With big broad grins, not subtle smiles – Oh Doo Doo Dah Day

Recumbents doing figure eights – Doo Dah Doo Dah
While dodging their erratic mates – Doo Dah Doo Dah
If you like rowdy wild events – Doo Dah Doo Dah
Parades are lots of fun on 'bents – Doo Dah Doo Dah
But three wheels, when all's said and done – Doo Dah Doo Dah
Might be preferred to two or one – Oh Doo Doo Dah Day

Tortillas flying thru the air – Doo Dah Doo Dah
Outrageous costumes everywhere – Doo Dah Doo Dah
The HERD enjoyed its fun premiere – Doo Dah Doo Dah
And we'll be back again next year – Doo Dah Doo Dah
The crowd was great; a perfect day – Doo Dah Doo Dah
A cheer for Doo Dah – HIP HOORAY!Oh Doo Doo Dah Day

Right after our local recumbent cycling group had tons of fun riding in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ventura earlier this year, a lot of cyclists in our gang began talking about entering the Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena in November. Well, hey, casually planning to do anything eight months in the future is real easy... but as the day gets closer, it begins to be a bit more daunting to actually start getting it all together. Making the time for it, coming up with the cute ideas for a group theme and costumes, doing the prep work, driving into urban LA too early in the morning – suddenly it all becomes much more immediate, and reality begins to displace that sense we all have for frivolous future fun.

But a bunch of us hung in there, and despite all the other demands of our collective lives, we did the Doo Dah! We entered as the HERD (Humanoid Envoys from the Recumbent Dimension), a pseudo-diplomatic group demonstrating the joys and practical benefits of our preference in cycling equipment. The 'guys' – that distinction being purely one of individual choice rather than simply an accident of birth – wore tuxedo t-shirts and cheap black felted plastic hats. We had matching safety poles, yellow with happy face toppers, carrying small flags and diplomatic placards.


Some of us also had plaques with cutesy-pool recumbent plugs, like:


The owners of Pasadena Cyclery, Alan and Tom, graciously allowed us the use of their back parking lot as a pre-staging area, and we managed to finish the last details of costuming and signage in plenty of time to beat our 10AM target for arrival at the parade start. I signed us in while John worked out our place in the rollout sequence.

Then we waited... and waited... and waited. Two valuable lessons we learned at this year's Doo Dah are:

  • Everyone doesn't need to be there ready to ride promptly at 10 AM.
  • We need to think of those hours before the entries at the rear of the line get underway as part of the event rather than merely waiting. It's a great time to cruise through and check out all the other crazies.

There are some entries with political or other oppressively serious agendas, but most of them are – like us – just out to have a little fun! Christy was playing evangelistic pamphleteer for the team from the Kinetic Sculpture Race, whose entry included one of their preposterous monster-mobiles with eight-foot wheels. I'm not sure our group ever achieved unanimous agreement about whether the Hare Krishnas just ahead of us, dragging a 12-foot tall, wooden-wheeled orange temple with ropes, were the real deal or not. One person, roughly six-foot-four-inches without his spike heels and bouffant blonde hairdo was definitely not!

The weather in November in Pasadena is not anything like that in Michigan. As we waited for our turn to take the street, the temperature crept up into the mid-eighties. Out in the middle of the street in that bright glaring sunlight, it seemed a lot hotter. Most of us finally figured out that we could tuck into the shade of nearby buildings; some of the trikeys even found an empty alley to practice tight turns and figure eights.

Then – at last – the moment arrived. The Walking Wounded hobbled off, some on crutches, some pushing IV stands and tossing transfusion bags filled with a red liquid back and forth. Then came a flatbed truck with a great band, who did the old Ventures surf tunes better than they do themselves lately. Then they turned us loose, right in front of a group of belly dancers – one of whom was a very impressive dancer, but several of whom were more 'belly' than 'dancer'.

We zoomed off in a carefully pre-planned and executed series of coordinated maneuvers meticulously designed to look like four or more of us were going to wind up in a tangle of twisted cycles at any moment. At least we hope the spectators thought we knew what we were doing out there; it may have simply looked like the total chaos that it pretty much actually was. The truck ahead of us was driving even slower than the Walking Wounded, leaving a huge empty space ahead of it, so it wasn't long before we were strung out over roughly a fourth of the mile-long parade route, with the band playing 'Telstar' as our centerpiece.

The crowd – maybe especially the little kids – seemed to get a real kick out of our performance. When one of the Walking Wounded women was hamming it up a bit too much, lagging way behind the rest of her group, I rolled up behind her (on a tadpole), unclicked my right foot and pretended to place it right on her... well, you know. The crowd screamed and cheered, and a cloud of (ostensibly verboten) tortillas flew in our direction.

Ah, but crowds can be so fickle... Paul's Greenspeed suddenly decided to mangle a link of its chain, so I pulled over to the curb with him, whipped out my trusty Hummer (the tool, not the garantuan Urban Assault Vehicle) and got him back in the parade in plenty of time to catch the rest of our team. As he rode away and I was repacking my trunk bag, the spectators clapped and cheered; they roared and whooped and laughed as I graciously doffed my fedora and bowed. But then when I told them there was going to be a quiz...

By then, Colorado Boulevard was completely littered with tortillas and confetti. Contrary to anything you may see or hear, I would certainly never to stoop to take advantage of the tadpole's riding position to scoop up a few disc-shaped corncakes and toss them like frisbees at other parade entrants. I do have it upon good authority however that the crisp, lightly toasted ones work much better than the limp, uncooked ones. Most of our tadpole riders had lower arms coated with a mysterious red sticky goo, possibly from the Walking Wounded's well-worn bags.

Now I, of course, am virtually always a very prudent, conservatively cautious cyclist, but in one brief moment as I was whizzing across the street, right at the critical transition point of a 'brisk' figure eight, I was amazed to find myself on a colision course with Diane, her upper torso banking at high lateral acceleration. Her inside front wheel lifted as she swerved, and like almost everyone else in our group at least twenty times, we managed a near-miss. Wow! Her second day on a tadpole, and she's getting air...

Then, way too soon, way too short even though we had ridden every linear foot of the mile-long parade route at least ten times, it was over. We turned right off Colorado, regrouped and rode back to the bike shop. Most of us popped into Wolfe Burger, who does a great gyro, and headed for home. But we really will be back... Doo Dah is DA BOMB!

POW Index

Last updated Nov 21 2005