January-February 2008 Newsletter
What is a "PaCkMaN"?
It has been nine years since I have been able
to ride with you, so I have not had a lot of
contact with members who have joined
recently. And some people just never saw me
at the time since I generally only came out for
It is a pretty simple etymology to Packman:
It was, from what I have heard, invented by
then-LBC member Don Williams (since
relocated), in or about 1994-5 as a reference
to the large red backpack I carried on most
club rides. It certainly distinguished me, along
with my mountain bike, on club centuries and
made me easy to spot.
The backpack weighed 20-25 pounds and held
a variety of spare parts which I had found
useful to have by experience, particularly
when riding alone as most of my riding was,
and usually enough supplies and groceries for
a century or more without stopping at any
stores. I sometimes gave out a bottle of sports
drink or candybars to others in dire condition
or produced refreshments in the middle of
nowhere to other's surprise.
On bike trips I took across the USA and into
Canada, the backpack also held dozens of
maps, rolls of film (It was in the days before
digital), clothes, music tapes and more spare
parts, as well as souvenirs collected along the
way. It was better than panniers for delicate
things because through the seat, my back and
the way it hung, the contents were more
cushioned. A month in panniers tended to
chew paper items up in particular.
That marker made the nickname known to
many people who saw me at club rides who
never knew me by name. I took it very much
to heart as a badge of honor to be so wellknown
by any name and so that people even
today can attach an experience, conversation
or sighting back then with my name.
Packman, with a 'k' as I spell it, had to do with
the video game Pac-man only in its
homophony as a pun.
The style I currently use of alternate capitals
and lower case is an affectation with a
symmetry I find pleasing and is not really
important. But if you split up the letters by
case, you get a somewhat subtle mnemonic of
a/k/a (also known as) PCMN, still
phonetically 'Packman' without any vowels, as
some ancient languages were constructed.
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