My previous article about Christmas gift-giving ideas had barely gone to press before the emails started pouring in. Within only a few days, my mailbox had reached maximum capacity. It seems that everyone wanted to know more information about the handlebar ashtray. I’m sure the manufacturers of the handlebar ashtray had no idea that the demand for their product would far outweigh their production capabilities. It’s always heartwarming to see an American success story such as this.
But, as with many new inventions, all is not so perfect in the world of the bicycle handlebar ashtray. One such imperfection is highlighted in the following letter that I received from avid cyclist and long-time More On Cycling follower, A.K. from Fort Worth, Texas.
My wife and I ride a tandem – so naturally, when we read your article about the handlebar ashtray we immediately ordered two of them. We were quite proud as we were the first in our cycling club to show up at a Saturday ride with them installed on our bike. However, I feel that I must tell you about one minor flaw that we discovered with this product – it is not really all that great for the Stoker on a tandem. Well, let me rephrase that just a tad: It is not really all that great for the Captain on a tandem when the Stoker has one of these handlebar ashtrays installed on the rear set of handlebars. Since the stem of the Stoker’s handlebars is located primarily below the Captain’s saddle, it is a little bit of an awkward maneuver for the Stoker to get the cigarette butt directly into the ashtray. So far, my wife has ruined four pair of my cycling shorts by, shall we say, jabbing her butt into my butt! This is really a fantastic new product but we believe that the manufacturers may need to give a little more thought to all of those tandem Stokers out there – not to mention the safety of the tandem Captains.
A.K. from Fort Worth, Texas (Oh yeah, sorry. You already mentioned that I was from Ft Worth, didn’t you?)
Within moments of reading your letter, I felt obligated to contact the manufacturers of the handlebar ashtray and relay your painful experience. They immediately promised that they would put their team of engineers on the task of solving this (their words, not mine) “tremendous oversight” for all the tandem riders in the world. Within a week, we here at More On Cycling received the following communication from them:
Dear More On Cycling,
Thank you and your loyal followers for bringing this “tremendous oversight” for all the tandem riders in the world to our attention. For the last seven days, our team of engineers has worked around the clock to develop a solution to this “tremendous oversight.” We are now pleased to announce our new product that will be on the market within the next couple of weeks – the revolutionary:
Tandem Bicycle Stoker Spittoon!
Naturally we had to “think outside the box” to arrive at this solution and we’re hoping that it won’t impose too much of an inconvenience to all of those tandem riders out there. As you see, our solution will require only a slight modification to the nicotine habits of the tandem Stoker in that they will need to switch to one of the smokeless alternatives offered by the tobacco industry. Thank you once again for all of your support and for always helping us to bring our new products to the cycling masses.
(Name of manufacturer withheld pending possible lawsuits)
Well there you have it loyal readers - technology marches on. This is a shining example of how one good idea spawns another good idea that will more than likely spawn another good idea. Hmmm – only time will tell!
Be sure to keep those cards and letters coming in and, as always – be sure to keep finding time to…
Enjoy the Ride!
(Bertha Ashtabula and More On Cycling would like to remind everyone that all kinds of tobacco products are not good for you – unless just maybe you happen to be the owner of a tobacco plantation.)