The Breakfast Club: The Boot
Jessica and the boot, 2001
The Sunday Morning Breakfast Club awards the boot — a bronzed, size 11 Wellington — to a deserving person each year at the annual dinner in Gardnerville, Nevada. The picture on the left shows an emotional Jessica Arai, recipient of the boot in 2001. Her thoughts were probably the same as previous recipients: why me!
To receive the boot just screw-up in some very public and memorable manner. If there were no major screw-ups during the year the past is dredged for a breakfast club member who has not yet been recognized for a history of minor screw-ups. Quality takes priority over quantity, but quantity is not forgotten.
Not going on the Gardnerville ride will not get you out of a deserved award: you need not be present to win!
The recipient of the boot is responsible for its care during the year. They also help select the next recipient. Anyone can nominate members for the award, but the actual selection is made by prior winners.
What kind of screw-ups? The boot has been awarded in the past for things such as:
- leading a group of riders from New Idrea to Clear Creek on a very rough dirt road.
- getting lost on the way to breakfast.
- leading a ride to Death Valley through a desert storm.
- filling a gas tank with diesel fuel.
- riding to Death Valley on bald tires, then staying in the hotel the entire weekend so there’d be enough rubber to get back home.
- leading a winter ride over roads covered in gravel and ice.
- moving to Houston.
Why a boot? It started in June of 1991. Bern Hyman, one of a group returning from a ride down the Baja peninsula to Cabo San Lucas, left Loreto on his way to Bahia Concepcion (Conception Bay) for some swimming. For some reason Bern left first. Since he was planning on going swimming he tied his boots — size 11 Wellington — onto the back of his bike. Now Bern was an ex-marine and also an ex-boy scout troupe leader. He knew how to tie things to the back of his bike. Rope and knots were “good”, bungee cords “bad”.
Of course, one of his boots fell off the bike, landing upright in the center of the road. Several minutes later the rest of the group: Dave Gallegos, Bill Nelson, Rich Rosenberg with Sandy, and Darlene Rosenberg with Michael, rode by the boot. They wondered who’d go to the trouble to stand a single boot up in the middle of the road. None of them stopped to pick it up. Bern completed the trip that year with the one remaining boot strapped to the back of his bike. He also learned that bungees are not necessarily a bad thing.
A few pictures from that fateful trip have been scanned and can be seen on this page.
Fast forward a year plus to August 1992. At the annual dinner in Nevada Dave Gallegos and Bill Nelson announced they’d found Bern’s boot on their last trip to Baja: they then pulled out an old, rubber hip-boot, awarding it to Bern. The idea of an award for memorable screw-up was born. The rubber hip-boot had to go, though. Bern still had the mate to the lost boot, so had it bronzed. Some bronze baby shoes, Bern bronzed his boot.
It turned into an annual award. When Marc Hyman was awarded the boot in 2003 he decided that boot holders need to have a keepsake/reminder of their screw up and commissioned the creation of boot pins, awarded to boot holders to wear with pride. The boot pin is a miniature version of the boot sans the brass plaques naming the various recipients.
Those brass plaques were becoming a problem. After years of SMBC screw ups there was little room to add more of the brass plaques. Would we forget about past winners or stop acknowledging future winners? What to do?
The 19th holder of the boot, 2010 winner Dan Bockmier, took that as a challenge. His solution: a pedestal holding the plaques naming past winners with room for future growth, too. Nice work, Dan!
The boot has (so far) been awarded to