Dale Earnhardt Jr. Takes Up Bicycling, Gets Flipped Off
"Ain't no way in hell I'm going to let anybody see me ride through the infield wearing spandex."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is a lot of things: soft-spoken, thoughtful, a brilliant super speedway racer, and still the primary driver of revenues in the economically troubled NASCAR world. But the North Carolinian and who collects wrecked stock cars and scatters them through the woods at his estate wasn't the bicycling type.
And then left-coaster Jimmie Johnson started a trend among NASCAR's drivers of getting kitted up in spandex and road biking between practices. Chatting on this week's edition of "The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio, Junebug confessed that he was drawn in by Johnson's enthusiasm.
"If you were in Daytona in the bus lot, every morning, my neighbor Matt Kenseth would wake up at 7 o'clock. He would meet outside his bus with Jamie McMurray," Junior said. "They would make a lot of noise and wake up Amy (Dale's wife) and that would wake me up. They were getting ready to go on their bike ride every morning. This happened quite a bit."
Earnhardt, whose father earned the title of Intimidator by being monstrously cut-throat on racetracks, was intrigued.
"I noticed that a lot of guys in the garage are going in big groups, riding around town. So I'm thinking, you know what, I am going to give it a try. Jimmie gave me a bike about a year ago. It's sitting in my garage. Tires went flat, dry rotted. Had to get new tubes, tires. Finally, loaded the bike onto the plane to Atlanta."
Last weekend, Junior took a backwards route to a meeting point to start his 16.7-mile maiden ride with Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Alan Gustafson.
"I told Jimmie I said look, I'm going to meet you outside the track. Ain't no way in hell I'm going to let anybody see me ride through the infield wearing this bike gear, spandex stuff."
Earnhardt was unprepared for the bad habits of America's drivers. "They are like six inches from the shoulder," Earnhardt said. "I can't ride that close to the shoulder. I'm all over the place and I'm wobbling all over the damn road and this guy goes by and flips me off. I guess I kind of ticked him off. Anyways, I was surprised at how rude drivers are on the road."