BOOM FOR WHEELER DEALERS
For one reason and another, U.S. bicycle manufacturers expect to sell almost six million bikes this year, which is a million more than they sold in 1964. According to Jim Hayes, director of information for the Bicycle Institute of America, much of the credit belongs to that immoderate, evangelistic cyclist, Dr. Paul Dudley White, the heart specialist, who is considered a very big wheel by the institute. "Bless his almost transparently thin old body," says Hayes.
Dr. White aside, the boom is largely due to the "high-riser." This is that farout object with the high handlebars (called ape hangers or Texas longhorns), the long seat (known as a banana or polo seat) and the tiny wheels, which apparently every other kid in the U.S. is zipping around on nowadays.
The high-riser was dreamed up two or three years ago in southern California, and represents the first widely accepted radical change in bicycle design since 1893, when the "safety" bike was invented. In the first six months of this year, 500,000 high-risers were sold.
Because it is geared down, has a short wheelbase and small wheels, the high-riser accelerates quickly, is easy to pedal and is very maneuverable. The high-riser also appeals to kids because it is (or was) different and vaguely resembles a motorcycle. And, like a motorcycle, it can be decked out with a lot of accessories, called gook.
Hayes was asked whether the more obvious boom in light motorcycles was at all deflating the less apparent bicycle boom.
"You should have a lousy lunch," he said coldly, "and maybe get food poisoning, even."
Long, long ago, the tale goes, Canadian Indians noticed that there is a natural enmity between ducks and foxes, because foxes are known to rob nests. The fox used this antipathy to his advantage. A pair of foxes would team up, one hiding, the other prancing and frolicking along the shore of a lake. Seeing the playful fox, a flight of ducks would approach and land on the water, quacking and hissing in a most insulting manner. Some of the more excited ducks would waddle ashore, there to be seized by the fox's lurking partner.
So the Indians, still according to the legend, bred a dog that resembled a fox in size, color and bushy tail and used him to lure ducks within arrow range. When the Acadian settlers came to Nova Scotia they picked up the trick from the Indians. The breed survives today and is known as the Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever.