The Gerela Ride


After Friday’s pretty OK, could have been better but I’ll take it, mountain bike ride, Mother Nature got her giant panties in a bunch and cast wind, rain, cold temps and snow (yes, snow in May) down upon the central Michigan area on Saturday and Sunday. It really was a kick in the longing for a real spring teeth. The weather didn’t get in the way of me riding, but a weekend packed with soccer matches, and MPSC commitments did, and I have to tell you, that cold and blustery weather made for some cold ass soccer watching.

The weather finally broke on Monday, but riding wasn’t in the cards as the day was spent catching up on work and house stuff after a busy weekend. Finally on Tuesday I snuck out for quick 25 loop in the sun and 60˚ temps. Temps that were more than welcomed after such a craptastic weekend.


As I rode down one dirt road I noticed a mail box up ahead with some “custom” lettering on it. Since I’m always on the lookout for some found signage, I slowed down to get a photo. After I got closer I realized that the mail box was actually a homemade homage to the Pittsburgh Steelers, complete with gold and white stripes on the door. This sort of thing would be common roughly every half mile back in western PA, but seven hours away, on a dirt road in the middle of Anal Destruction, Michigan it’s extremely odd.

Then the memory of my mother taking me to a local car dealer in the small town I grew up in to see then Steelers place kicker Roy Gerela popped in my head. I remember my seven year old (?) self standing in line in the dealer’s showroom with the smell of new car and tire rubber in air, along with hundreds of unwashed locals waiting to get the place kicker’s autograph; an autograph that is surely worth just slightly more than the that of the minimum wage earning, injured left tackle who played on the practice team squad. But none of that mattered. He played for the Steelers (or “Stillers” if you’re from the Pittsburgh area), and I was seven.


As I pedaled further down the road I also remembered that a year or so later my mother took me to one time discount retailer Fisher’s Big Wheel to meet Matt Bahr, (also a place kicker with the Steelers). It seems that I was slowing working my way towards the world’s largest collection of place kicker autographed photos… two.


Then my mind returned to that car dealer where I met Roy Gerela, and how years later my father purchased a real lemon of a car from them, and I clearly recall my dad calling the mechanic, who insisted there was absolutely nothing wrong with the brand new car that seemed to be in need of fixing every month, a “mustache wearing son of a bitch.” Then I of course I remembered how a few years down the road, after I got my driver’s license, I broke the seat on the driver’s side while head banging to Iron Maiden, and from that point forward we had to lodge a screwdriver into the seat’s tilt mechanism to keep in upright.

Good times…. good times.


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