Cheesy Rider wore a severed squirrel tail tied like a talisman to his extra large belt. But that wasn’t how he got his name.
As a kid Cheesy rode around town on an undersized Stingray, his dirty socks up to his knees and his hair a disheveled brown nest. He had a sister named Beep Beep who announced herself with the onomatopoeia, her hands clapped together like a swimming fish when making her way through crowds. He had a son, too, whom he was no longer allowed to see; but no matter the attention his family drew, Cheesy remained oblivious, or apathetic, and judged no one in return.
He grew to be a stocky man with a scrappy beard and thick glasses that he cleaned with his fingers like windshield wipers when it rained. Whatever the weather, he rode, never drove, and never left the small Iowa town in which he grew up.
In the summers of his youth he hung out underwater at the deep end of the pool wearing goggles, ready for the girls whose swimsuits went up after jumping off the high dive. When that was banned he tailed the local garbage trucks so often that they hired him on for knowing the route. He was fired after less than a week.
If Cheesy talked to anyone, he talked about bikes, and he wasn’t unfriendly to encounter. But if he took to you, he’d approach you and never shut up.
One Halloween, a young couple hosted a costume party at an acreage in the country and looked out the window to see Cheesy riding up the dirt road, a trail of dust announcing his arrival. They debated turning out the lights, denying an open invitation. But as the biker drew close they saw that it was a friend in costume—his getup spot-on, right down to the 16oz. bottle of soda in the back pocket of his cargo shorts—and they greeted him with a hearty laugh and a beer.
Cheesy Rider was a town legend but his claim to fame was not the enviable sort. For months, more than a decade ago, farmers found him in their barns in the mornings. He played the warm shelter card, but the farmers couldn’t shake the funny feeling that there was a motivation deeper than sleep. Later on, after a 3 a.m. patrol in a barn on the outskirts of town, Cheesy was found pulling up his pants amidst a herd of sheep. He was arrested on the spot for bestiality, and the sheep were heard bleating their relief.
Then a few years ago, a new mystery befuddled the farmers. They discovered that their horses’ tails were missing, cut off at jaunty, haphazard angles. For months no one could figure out who was dismembering the horses or by what service the tails were put to use. But sure enough, when the cops found Cheesy, it was hardly a surprise. He was arrested again and this time put in jail. Eventually he was released for good behavior and moved to a group home where he’s to live out the remainder of his life.
Though the town’s citizens may no longer see Cheesy riding the streets or assaulting the beasts, there are few who will forget him—telling his stories and whispering his name for generations to come.
July 30th, 2015 at 6:59 am
Are you kidding???? A legend??? Hardly, just an embarrassment for this small town in Iowa.
July 30th, 2015 at 5:11 pm
Hahaha! My style for these hometown pieces is quirky and sensationalistic, but it’s fun to have such a strong reader response. I’m all about the characters.
September 12th, 2015 at 8:31 pm
Hey Amanda – noticed your hometown stories and really love them… would you consider writing a column for the paper or letting us share some of your essays? – Dana Larsen. Pilot-Tribune, email@example.com
January 5th, 2016 at 8:12 am
January 7th, 2016 at 3:49 am
Long Live Cheesy. This was an awesome article.
November 4th, 2016 at 9:45 am
Seriously..great find! I grew up in Storm Lake, and Cheesy was and is the stuff of legend..and not in a good way most of the time!
November 4th, 2016 at 11:27 am
:-) Out of curiosity, what led you to this post?
November 18th, 2016 at 5:25 pm
Lol,,,, this made me laugh,,,, a friend said hey whats cheesys last name and i said i dunno i wonder if hes on the internet my friend said you should google him….google will know who cheesy rider is ,,, we laughed and laughed harder when we landed on this site,,,, LMFAO great post…
-Grew up in this town
November 20th, 2016 at 7:36 pm
Haha :) Thanks!
November 21st, 2016 at 9:41 am
Amanda..a FB friend sent a birthday greeting to a friend of theirs with a picture of Cheesy riding his bike, and for craps and giggles I googled “cheesy rider storm lake iowa” or something like that and it brought this blog up in the search!
February 9th, 2017 at 3:18 pm
My younger claims to have given Paul the nickname Cheesy Rider. Now he’s a legend too.