For years, they collected dust on the top of my magazine bookshelf, along with three other little cycling miniatures and a much larger cycling kokopelli.
Before that, they were triplets, a trio of railroad miniatures my dad sent after custom painting them in Tour de France leaders' cycling jersey colors. He'd ordered a population of unpainted figures for his model railroad layout and didn't care for the cyclists included in the 500-count package. He thought he might get a good laugh out of me when he sent his "rejects".
I don't think he ever expected the two survivors to reach viral status...
The yellow-jerseyed cyclist matched a real-life jersey in our closet, so I enlisted the services of The Lizard for a staged photo I wanted to enter in a monthly contest. The Lizard has since named the second and third cyclists Dieter and Wolfgang, so in turn, I guess I should name the yellow guy Jens. Ya, dat name fetes perfektly!
Here's what I wrote about the photo contest way back then:
While pedaling up Squaw Pass two days before the DGrin challenge was to end, I came up with the idea for this "Feathered or Scaled" shot.
The following morning we set out on our bikes with camera and prop for a nearby dam so I could have an uncluttered sky background for the shot. Less than 30 minutes later, we were chased home by lightning, which pretty much lasted the rest of the day.
We tried again the following morning. The Lizard posed, and I pulled the little cyclist out of my pack, only to discover he had been dismembered! I had only two hours to get to church, so I didn't have time to go back for another cyclist and a new matching jersey, if we even had one. I used the cellophane tape I'd planned to use to attach "Jens" to my finger to perform surgery right there on the dam. Of course, the unexpected delay cost me the morning's pink and orange sky. I did manage to get Jens somewhat back together and taped onto my finger. I got in position and took a number of shots, and we headed home so I could get to church on time.
After church, I downloaded and checked out the shots and wasn't happy with the results. I thought The Lizard should be better lit via auxiliary flash. Plus, my on-camera flash reflected on the tape. The Lizard volunteered to pose again. He found a green jersey, and off we pedalled once again to make another masterpiece, and by golly, another storm moved in! We tried to work fast. In my haste, I didn't think to put a scrunchie in my hair, and my unruly locks kept blowing into the frame. I also didn't like the cluttered greenway background we were forced to use, but we couldn't do any better because lightning was flashing. Plus, my auxiliary flash kept getting knocked down by the wind. I didn't want it to break. Eventually, we gave up.
I heavily photoshopped the tape out of the best exposure from the morning shoot and submitted it just hours before the contest deadline. After all that, I didn't make the contest finals. Nevertheless, the experience made for a good story.
Dieter and Wolfgang, joined by Bender, had their initial 15 minutes of fame as I prepared for my second (unsuccessful) climb of Pikes Peak.
Back up on the shelf Dieter and Wolfgang (and Bender, of course) went, and there they stayed until The Lizard needed some experienced riding partners.
After learning the mini cyclists have an affinity for snow and water, The Lizard invited Dieter and Wolfgang along for a little mud and dirt. And rock.
They've been joining him regularly ever since. The Lizard fashioned traveling quarters for them from an empty Altoids tin.
He carts them along in the same pocket with his camera and phone. Because, you know, they are so tiny, The Lizard's 30-plus-mile jaunts are like three trips around the world for them.
They've had some real adventures together! The Lizard features little snippets about Dieter and Wolfgang's antics on his blog. I suspect the boys are going to pirate Ride the Rockies in June, since they didn't get drawn. They didn't learn of the annual tour lottery until it was over.
I suspect they'll be legal and official members of Team Snowcatcher next year. Maybe they'll even get their own Facebook page...