Robot’s Useless Reviews – The Gravdana

For any writer, the chance to coin a phrase is something special. In 10 years when every bike shop has a special section devoted to gravdanas, someone will do a Wikipedia article on them, and I will get all the credit for naming this quixotic garment (unless someone else already did it, in which case, this moment of artificial glory will pass with more of a chuckle than the sort of gob-smacked awe reserved for Shakespeare or T.S. Eliot).

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This post and loads of others sponsored by Shimano

For those unable to infer, a gravdana is a bandana tied in jaunty kerchief style and worn by aficionados of the gravel cycling arts. Its origin is, in my mind, murky, perhaps a leftover of that particular pandemic period when we still thought it important to wear a face covering while riding a bicycle outdoors, but I distinctly recall a few of my more sartorially brash friends affecting the gravdana before the world fell apart and gravel bikes got dropper posts.

My good friend and yours, Mr. Stevil Kinevil, was an early adopter of the gravdana, and if you would like one, he does sell them. My friend Bob also makes and sells them. His is a cool Russ Pope design, if you like cool Russ Pope designs. I do.

The practical use of the gravdana is multifold. In summertime, these kerchiefs will keep bugs and sun off the back of your neck. In drier climes, they will keep the dust out of your mouth and nostrils. In cooler temps, they’ll keep the wind out. In all weather, having a gravdana on hand means you can finally make the decision to knock over a liquor store and head for Mexico. Or Canada for that matter, depending on your starting point.

A gravdana could be handy for staunching the blood from a head wound or tying a tourniquet if matters get particularly grave, like maybe you got shot for trespassing. I love trespassing.

And of course, as a jaunty item, the gravdana facilitates jaunts. Similar to a rip or a shred combined with a ramble or cruise, a jaunt is a fine thing to do, realizing as it does the exact balance between trying too hard and falling over for lack of any momentum at all. Jauntiness is fashionable lateness. It is the birth of the cool. It is that je ne sais quois the French are always going on and on about, when they’re not busy exclaiming “Ooh la la!” or miming or not winning the Tour of their own country.

I suppose the potential for my literary legacy to bear real fruit here depends a lot on whether the gravdana persists beyond the back-end (the good lord willing and the creek don’t rise) of this pandemic. If, in three years time, we have all gone back to showing off our necks like a bunch of giraffes on Molly, then all this has been for naught. Mssrs. Shakespeare and Eliot will remain alone there in the firmament of phrase coiners and many of us will have drawers overflowing with what are by then just bandanas or even snot rags, waiting for the next pandemic or a sudden attack of jauntiness.


Join the conversation
  1. eborling says

    I don’t gravel, and as such don’t use gravdanas. That fact has nothing at all to do with how funny this review is. So many coined phrases, pure comedy gold. That Robot sure has a way with words. I especially enjoyed the sentence about the French. Chapeau, or whatever it is they say around their Galouises while adjusting the ride height of their Citroens.

  2. gregmarchand says

    A jaunt is indeed a fine thing to do, and I want no part in one that doesn’t lead to a head wound that requires staunching.

    As such, I’d like to formally consider the use of a gravdana next time I’m on my way to the liquor store. Thank you for your wisdom and perspective.

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