Reigning world road race champion Philippe Gilbert may be the biggest name lining up for the upcoming Amgen Tour of California. But at least for the stage 1 start in Escondido, the BMC rider will have some competition for the proverbial Big Man on Campus crown.
Who, you ask? Meet the 25-foot Joor Muffler Man, who this weekend will be dressed up in his cycling best, including a custom cap and vest. This giant-sized two-wheeled apparel was crafted by California-based Walz Caps, which was commissioned by the City of Escondido to get the Muffler Man into the pedaling spirit for the eight-stage WorldTour race that kicks off Sunday in Southern California.
Turns out costume changes are nothing new for the Muffler Man with pencil-thin mustache and piercing blue eyes. Since originally being purchased at a trade show in the 1960s, he’s shown off an extensive wardrobe that’s included a Santa outfit and a pumpkin head. Mr. Muffler has also bee the victim of the occasional assault. He’s been shot by arrows, blasted with paint balls, and pranksters once attached a mud-filled sheet around his waist to look like a giant dirty diaper. Let’s just hope nobody sticks a needle in his arm this weekend.