Rarely does an opportunity present itself that matches all the interests of one man in a simple yet efficient format such as this. Yes, the Bradenton Bearded Bike Brigade (or BBBB) will soon be a two-wheeled force to be reckoned with. It's co-creator and t-shirt designer Erin Mattick was the one who initially posted it on Facebook for my viewing pleasure. When I first was introduced to her by my friend (and her boyfriend), she was immediately dubbed “adorable.” Had I known then that she would be such a great innovator and lady-genius, I would have taken more time and giver her a better moniker. Her boyfriend and future rock legend Jake Freeman is the other co-creator. He also shares DNA with the woman who accidentally introduced me to the love of my life (Thank you Becca Freeman). This family sure knows how to bring a smile to my face with only a single degree of seperation.
I couldn't help but to envision the future of the BBBB, and what magical merriment it will bring to its members. The onlookers will also be treated to a site for which they never dreamed. I imagined a single-file line of 15-20 bearded cyclists and their lady-friends cruising from bar to bar in downtown Bradenton and beyond. What would the onlookers think? How will these rides pan out? I can't wait to find out, but for now I can only imagine what will ensue.
I can feel the wind flowing through my multi-colored face hair as I think about it. I can smell the fresh air and taste the beer on my breath as we pedal from one bar to another. I can hear the suds forming in my squeeze bottle that will most certainly be filled with a Belgian blonde or a classic American ale. My bearded brethren will surround me as we coast down the street with smiles on our faces hidden by a garden of glorious facial hair. Our wives and girlfriends will flank us as they proudly pedal in tow. The onlookers will see us from afar, and assume that as we come into focus, we'll be the same group of neoprene clad cyclists they always see riding down the streets. Those assumptions will be shattered as we pass by them wearing our black t-shirts and khaki cargo shorts. I'm sure we will be the topic of many a dinner conversation in those households.
The matriarch will say to her husband, “Dear, I saw the oddest thing this afternoon.”
Her husband will inquire, “What was it, honey?”
She'll reply, “It was a group of bearded men and their ladies on bicycles riding down main street. I wasn't sure why, but they sure seemed to be having fun. I remember when you used to have a beard. You were so sexy and you had a certain manly air about you back then. I miss those days. Maybe you should grow it out again.”
Maybe he will grow the beard back, or maybe they will just have the best conversation they've had in years. Either way, they will always remember that the BBBB was the group that brought about such a revelation in their lives. Maybe they'll even share their “Eureka” moment on Facebook and it will spark future chapters of the BBBB to form. We can only hope. But for now, I'm going to continue to not shave my face and start getting ready for the inaugural Bradenton Bearded Bike Brigade ride.
If you're interested in joining us or just supporting the brigade, visit our Facebook page @