by Ed Billings
When you're spending an entire summer on the road with seven teenage boys, you start to build a culture of your own. You also hang on to little things to maintain your own identity when living this close in a group. Here's a sampling of some good luck charms that define this traveling band of brothers.
Stickers. The crew loves stickers, they decorate their panniers and bikes with them. Beyond design, they rank stickers for durability. The best: Hands down it's Willie's Distillery. Not only do they look cool, they can take the heat, wind, and a midnight sprinkler blast in a city park. Good Job Willie!
Meet Carlos the Snake. With Carlos at the helm, the ride has been pretty smooth for Sam. Picked up roadside in Yellowstone by one of the crew and bequeathed to Sam, Carlos adds a certain silent flare to his ride. Fitting.
Fred was Max's first Cactus. Fred had a rough go in the mountains, so Son of Fred was procured at the Walmart in Cañon City. He appears to be doing much better.
I keep both these items tucked in my handlebar bag. The guys wonder why I won't strap "Hay-Zeus" to my bars, but I don't want to lead with the big artillery. If it really hits the fan, I want to be able to reach for the Big Guy and have him take the wheel.
The whistle is on loan from a friend of mine who just completed a trek in Ireland. It was given to her on the road to bring her luck. So far it's doing the same for me.