How many acquaintances, friends or family members have you known a quarter of a centuries worth of time? Of those who have passed that epoch, how many have given you only smiles, guffaws and memorable one-liners to use on another day?
I would guess not even a short stack's worth.
There is never any drama with Team Trauma.
That is my friendship with Joe and Pat Scanlan.(AKA Team Trauma). Older brother Pat went missing for today's meet up at Wynkoops Brewery in Denver. Something about a part time job in retirement. I tried not to be upset about his digression. Joe and I toasted to him just the same.
Many years ago I wrote an article for the Denver Post's Ride the Rockies edition about these two characters. I'll include it in this Blog. In a very backhand sort of way, they are truly inspirational.
The bonus photo of Smoky Bear has nothing to do with Team Trauma. I just happen to like the brown bruin with his forest fire fighting message.
“Travels with Trauma”
I met Joe and Pat Scanlan and their sidekick Eric on the inaugural “Ride Around
Wyoming” (RAW) in 1989. Even on this smallish ride of 75 cyclists, these siblings plus one stood out. Over cold beers the night prior to the ride’s start, I might have questioned them on their training regimen. Joe, a Rodney Dangerfield-look-alike and the younger brother, confided in me, “We rode a few laps around Washington Park. That should do it.” Mind you, Joe was inhaling a Marlboro in-between guzzles of brew. Pat the straight man intoned, “Yeah! How hard can this be?” These rookies would soon find out.
The next morning, we headed south from Ranchester to Buffalo. From what I can recall we had a typical Wyoming gale pushing us along. It was a simple 52-mile tune up. Not so for the “Gang of Three.” Eric developed acute knee pain and caught the last Greyhound back to Denver; he thus went forever missing from any and all future bike tours. As usual Joe laughed it off, “I guess he wasn’t tough enough like us. HAW! HAW! HAW!” He might have chuckled a bit too soon.
On Day Two, we arose with the formidable 9666-foot elevation Powder Pass looming ahead. The brothers were in a rush and skipped breakfast, or figured that they would pick something up along the way. (They might have been naïve about the lack of 7-Elevens in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.) The climb went on and on and on. Hungry Pat succumbed to the Bonk. Brother Joe described the scene as such, “Pat got off his bike and started twitching on the ground. He was scaring me!” They somehow managed to ingest some edibles and like Lewis and Clark; they “proceeded on.”
That evening in Ten Sleep they were christened with a new name. No longer would they be known as Joe and Pat Scanlan, from then on they were Team Trauma. A Team complete with their very own ambulance sag vehicle.
The rest of the tour they managed to stay vertical on and off the bikes. They did however continue to provide barroom entertainment for all at the end of the day’s ride- like the incident where they poured 10W-30 motor oil on their creaking, rusty chains. Or the time a mini-tornado ran rampant through camp and destroyed their $39.99 K-Mart Blue-light special dome-tent. Throughout it all, they managed to stay upbeat, laugh, shrug it off and bike each and every mile.
It was on the RAW that the Trauma Brothers became an inspiration to me.
Since then, they have been on many Ride the Rockies. Joe even returned after suffering a horrific crash while attempting to drink water and descend at the same time. He had been out training for RTR’s on Lee Hill. His constant bike companion Pat, said that Joe’s eyes rolled back into his head after the fall. “I thought I lost him!” Now, you will see them stop on the side of the road to sip water. They refuse to multi-task anymore.
They don’t do every Ride the Rockies, instead choosing to be highly selective with their tour applications. Joe has a stringent rule against riding east to west. “The winds always kill ya when you’re heading west in the Rockies,” he states. I wonder if weatherman Larry Green can verify this Team Trauma meteorological study.
Down through the years, we have garnered gems of Trauma-isms from these characters. A Trauma-ism is like a Yogi-ism only different. Some of my favorites:
• “All hat, no cattle,” referring to a rider who looks the look, but doesn’t ride the ride.
• ‘The van of shame,” the sag wagon.
• “We have the technology.” Joe’s way of saying we can call each other with cell phones.
• “I took one for the Team. I left my game on the floor!” - A reference to maybe playing a tad too hard at the infamous Victoria bar in Salida.
• “Please! No orange slices in my wheat beer. They impede the progress of the beer going down my throat.” – No explanation needed.
How can anyone fail to be inspired by a few guys who ride in headwinds, climb the passes, and survive the long mileage days of Ride the Rockies and finish the day with a laugh, a grin and a joke?
So when you see them by the side of the road taking a water break, toss them a friendly “YO!” They would like that.