Saturday, December 31, 2011


I knew it would happen.  She is my bike after all.  Not that there's anything wrong with it.  And not that she has to choose.  I'm quite happy to enjoy her either way, said the winking bi-cyclist.

All it took was a new pair of tires and now she wants to be a cross dresser. My hybrid wants to be a cyclocross.  There, I said it.  It's not so bad.  It's actually kind of fun.  I rode it today.  700.  35.  Knobby tires.  Oh yeah, I rode her today.  And boy was it fun!

I was like a 10 year old on a brand new bike.  She's always been my favorite bike, but our relationship has been a bit stale the past year.  These new shoes with their beefy, fun, fun.  I really am that easy to please.  Grinning ear to ear in my mud colored glasses.

I'm no where near race ready, nor interested, really.  But if I got stronger I could throw the old road cassette back on this baby and have a real Xbike at the low low cost of $80!  Since I don't like a drop bar I'm 3/4 of the way there!

Imagine it.  Me and RF neck and neck racing for the finish.  She, on her new Cross, me on my 'Brid. Me...Rach...Me...Rach...who's it's gonna take last place this time...??

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What a Rip Off

The good news is she stopped.  And she didn't give me a thumbs up, but then I did nothing to deserve it this time.  I was sitting there at the red light minding my own business with my foot on the brake.  And then it hit me.

The other car that is.  And here's the thing you already know, insurance is a scam....and so are the people on the receiving end.  And here we are in the middle, the victims, sacrificing our time, our life, our money to support these two monsters controlling our crumpled lives.

I'm just going to say this...I don't care if anyone knows I'm driving a Honda...if they can't see that they are blind (which maybe, they shouldn't even be on the road then, I'm just saying).  I really don't care if they know it's an EX, I'd rather they not to be honest.  What I do want, is to advertise my interests...climbing, riding, a political affiliation, a favorite vacation spot....It's MY bumper, MY prime advertising space.

But after the accident who is going to replace those bumper stickers?  Not the insurance company I'll tell you that.  And WHY the hell not I ask you?  They will have been damaged as a result of the accident, for which I bear no fault, and should by all means be covered by the policy.  Really, what are we talking, 5-15 bucks tops?

You know what is covered?  Honda.  Civic. Ex.  $20. $20. $20. I. Kid. You. Not. That's not including the labor to reaffix them to the repaired trunk. We're talking $100 bucks to replace corporate advertising to MY space.  Shoot, I could use a Sharpie to replace that.  On second thought, shouldn't THEY be paying ME?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Me and My Shadow

Daddy Look!

It's a girl!  She's insane!  That's SUPER Man!

Yes, my new and improved Santa Helmet is....well, awesome.  It's a little on the top heavy side.  Not exactly aerodynamic.  I am a bit of a reverse bobble head, especially in wind.  Definitely give me all 3 feet.

There are smiles, giggles, honks, but most importantly traffic does STOP.  I mean you could buy lights and batteries and hope OR you could grab one of these babies and know.  They WILL see you!

And I have been called a bit of a Grinch this Christmas.  See, it's him not me!  But if you are going to spend a holiday alone, you might as well spend it with your shadow.  Always there (even at night in a city!), dependable, consistant, attentive...and if he's as fun as mine....!! 

So Santa if you are listening, I'd love a best friend to fall in love with.  To laugh, to cry, to listen, to talk, to compromise, to RIDE, to share the holiday and every day...but if that's too much to ask, maybe less wind on my commute?  You don't even need to stop by the house, I didn't make cookies and I'm out of beer.  GRINCH!

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's Black and White and Read All Over?

There is something to be said about good old fashioned in paper, newspaper.  Not to mention the handy little bag it comes in every morning, the challenging crossword, and various biased reports from around the globe masquerading as fair and balanced...but there is the newspaper itself.

You've heard the rumors.  Sterile....well, not exactly...but it does work great to clean windows, protect ice cream, insulate clothing, make paper hats.  WHAT ABOUT PAPER MACHE!?!?  Have you ever tried to make some indiscernible object out of an e-mag??  And what about that paste....what will our youth of tomorrow stick in their mouths and attempt to digest when we walk out of the room for two seconds?

It's not ALL good that we've thrown newspapers to the wayside.  Take last night for example.  I went out for a delightful dinner, stunning conversation, bouts of joy and laughter....unbeknownst to me outside it was pouring.  And I'm not saying it's a bad night when a date ends wet,'s better with protection, right?  And it wasn't that kind of date, if you know what I mean.

So I got wet.  Pants, shoes, bag...surprisingly NOT my hair, go figure.  But when you ride every day- wet anything is not good, especially in winter.  Enter the newspaper.  Perfect for stuffing wet shoes...alas, not a page of paper in the joint! 

In a pinch, I tried stuffing my mouse in there, but as you can imagine it didn't help.  Thank god for hairdryers.  And the seat....well, let's just say, it's good to have a spare.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Midday Fallies

And you thought riding through the city was dangerous and challenging...Have you ever tried circumnavigating a strip mall parking lot three days before Christmas?  It's worth the prime parking spot however!

And yet, it was the trail that put me on my ass.  Like a sheet of ice on a super slick tire....leaves, mud, you name's why they call it FALL.  Not once.  Not twice. But THREE times I almost fell.

And there I was checking out some Xtires at the REI.  Nothing against REI, but it's not the place I expected to be looking at Xtires, alas online shopping is often challenging. And there just happened to be a sweet set locked to the same bike rack.  So I measured, and checked it twice...I wanted naughty AND nice.  Something with some teeth, but still manageable...You know a little winter grip...come to think of it that fender may have to go.

The thing about brick and mortars are you get it NOW, which is apparently exactly when I needed said tires.  If third time's a charm, fourth time's some harm.  Yes, indeedydoo I put her down on the fourth tricky pass.  I put her down hard.  My own little version of the ditty, Hit the Deck Falls.

At the time I thought all was well, I mean there arose some clatter, but nothing amiss.  I worked, the bike worked....up, up, and away...but time would bring visions of black and blue plums on my head.  Okay, that was holiday licensing.  It was really my thigh. And my ribs. And my shoulder....Bah Humbugger!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Man, times are tight.  I can remember the days when Santa came to your house.  Sleigh, reindeer, the works.  Now apparently he has the mail carriers leave 'we missed you' slips at the door.

Really?  At. The. Door?  I finally have a working chimney and no red felted fat man is squeezing through it?  But I had it cleaned!  I'm making cookies.  There is beer.  There is always beer.

Come to think of it I don't remember ANY chimneys in the old trailer park.  How exactly did I expect Santa to get those toys under the tree every year?  Then we moved to a house with a chimney but no fire place.  WHAT, Santa is STUCK in the interior of the house?  Start chipping at the drywall! Well, who would put a fake chimney on top of a house anyway??

I was a little worried about picking up an undisclosed package at the post office.  And this, the busiest day of the year.  It was certainly not high on my WANT TO DO LIST.  But the least he could do was give me some idea of dimensions...I do ride a bike after all. 

I realize you have a big sleigh...or perhaps a UPS truck I'm thinking....but all I have is a handlebar.  "Bigger than a breadbox." "Heavier than a bowling ball."  You don't have to ruin the surprise, but can a girl get a hint?!  The slip of paper didn't play the Lexus ditty so at least I knew it wasn't a car.  Do you know anyone who has ever gotten one of those big red bowed cars??

There was a sigh of relief when the postmaster brought this.  There could have been an early Christmas at the Woodmoor Post Office.  But really Santa?  It's not like you have to worry about high gas prices!!  Bring back home delivery!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Say Llama Calcetines

Yikes!  There is a Snuffleupagus in my bike shoes! And here I thought I didn't have room for a second pair of socks!  I stand corrected...and WARM.

They are actually Alpacas.  And FYI these creatures are a bit like Gremlins...or more accurately Mogwai with a slight twist.  You can get these babies wet...just don't put them in the dryer.  I'm talking clothing products here, but I wouldn't recommend putting an acutal Alpaca in a dryer either.  It would have to be a commercial dryer and I still wouldn't recommend it.

But that's how I got these socks.  My grandparents felted them.  That means they now stand up on their own and good luck passing your toes through the ankle.  But on the flip side now they are smaller and fit in my shoes...I just have to take my feet off first.  Okay, so my toes don't get cold on the way home Perfect.  Truly a win, win, win.

I've got another pair I sleep in.  OH. MY. GOD. That's all I'm gonna say.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Coming Clean

The truth is I'm stuck.  I've been stuck for a chocolate box of years now.  Gump was right, You Never Know Whatchur Gonna Git.

It's just like that.  I've been picking out sweet treats for the better part of a decade only to bite into them bitterly disappointed and then toss them back into the box.  I've got a case of gnawed off desserts and a hunger for something more.

I guess the key is not to be fooled by the chocolate covered outside.  It's what's on the inside that matters. It all looks so good on the exterior but the surprise know what I'm saying.  We've all confidently chewed into that little square delight only to find strawberry coconut nougat when we really wanted caramel. 

Take fruit cake.  Who really likes these things?  It's the season of giving, however. Giftee Beware. You take all your rotten cores and disguise them with  fluffy white cake hoping no one will notice.  The problem with tiny chocolates is A) they are irresistible and B) you can't slice them open to find what you have before committing.

Fair enough.  Since it's always about the bike....I'll keep my single speed thank you very much.  I have one gear, it always works, I know what I'm going to have to put in, and I know what I'm going to get out.  You can keep your 21 speed where certain combinations don't work, a sliver of crumpled leaf can throw a chain, and the constant upkeep is overly demanding.  That relationship is too high maintenance  for me.

Simple is as simple does.   I don't want gears I don't really need.  You might have to work harder but there's no need carrying around excessive baggage for a one or two time use.  I'm ready to get unstuck; it's time to pull that stick out of my spokes and really get moving!  Besides, spoke cards work much better than wood...even with a bamboo frame.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dude, Where's My...Seriously

Unfortunately I like sketchy photographs...graffiti, boarded up buildings, broken windows.  It's not the ideal place to wander around.  With an expensive camera around your neck.  Alone.

But given my recent lack of fear I wandered down the back alleys of Baltimore searching for subjects.  It occurred to me at some point this wasn't the time or place to be artistic.
When you are in these situations alone...eyeball in a viewfinder, focused on a meter and light and Fstops and such it's hard to be aware of your surroundings.  Shutter speed and focus ought to be left to the camera.  Point, shoot, or get shot.

But here's where it takes a turn for the worse.  I lost my car.  I'm not saying it was stolen.  I'm saying I lost it.  I rode down too many alleys, in too many circles; I was like a toddler who just spun himself silly.  I had no idea where I parked it. 

I remembered intersection A and intersection B and they were within two blocks of each other.  I circled this same area upwards of 10 times.  Several Civics. None with bike racks.  More importantly, none that were mine.  Must. leave. bread. crumbs....or...dumb ass, use your camera to take a picture before you go wandering off like a child.

There was a good possibility I parked it on a main road and it was almost 3pm.  Yes, I was actually hoping my car would be towed.  Then I'd be able to find it!  My friend wanted to help, but I had nothing to offer.  Yeah, I parked it next to a....a curb.  Underneath a....a tree.  Beside a.....a parking sign.  Anything like that you've seen in the city?

Finally I stopped trying to remember and decided to think.  I worked my way backwards from Intersections A and B.  See I thought I had driven through Intersection A and ridden through B.  Putting C (the car) between these two points.  It seems I had been on bike through both Intersections A AND B...indeed NOW I remember.  C is precisely....YES, there's my car!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Should Have Got a Pink Flamingo

Here's a little update on my car. So you know it wouldn't start the other day.  Turns out it was the distributor.  Also turns out this is a $700 fix.  Ouch.  Well, I broke even, go figure.  My back pay comes in...right around this figure.  And I turn around and hand it over to the mechanic.

When I get the estimate, which changes by the way, I call my dad and say, really?  Really, should a distributor cost that much?  To which he responds, "do you want your car back?"  Fair enough.  I was in a pickleroo.  It was after all DITD (dead in the driveway).

Stepping back a few days can I just tell you when I walked into the garage there was a dude standing in there.  Just hanging out.  I couldn't tell if he worked there or if he was waiting on his car or what.  Mind you I just called to say my car was OTW.  Now, outside my car is being dewinched off the back of a tow truck that has monopolized the entire gas station.  And this guy looks at me and says, do you need something?

So fast forward to now.  Car's all fixed.  New tires, new spark plugs, new muffler, and now newish distributor (yeah, I think that price was for a used part!)  Obviously I've made a commitment to this car this year.  And why not?  It's a Civic.  Even the tow dude said, yeah, that's a great car; lasts forever!

Define forever.

Today I finally found a replacement battery for my clicker.  It's only been about a month.  Everywhere I went that particular battery was sold out.  One kid at the Lowes tried to sell me another number.  "I know the number doesn't match but that's cuz there's two of them in the package."  Really?  That's okay Baby I'll wait, stay in school, study hard, learn a trade.

You won't believe this.  It's not the battery.  Ah....that would explain why both clickers died at the exact same time.  I believe it might be the receiver in the car.  Perfect.  So now the car runs great, but the locks don't work, the volume button on the radio is jacked, the windows might go back up if you put them down, and I'm afraid to put anything of value in the CD player.  Oh, and biker beware if you mount your steed on top of my vehicle; it melts forks for fun.

Have I mentioned I don't even use my car?  So yeah, I just spent $740 on an ugly piece of rusted lawn art.  I would have been better off to leave it sit, save $700 bucks, and buy $40 worth of lights to decorate the damn thing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Merry Crossing

What flies through the air, is puffy and round, and red all over?  Mustn't be Santa.  But it might be a distracted holiday shopper flying through town in a red mini cooper.  WATCH OUT!

Have you ever been driving down the street and seen a pedestrian on the side of the road standing in or around a clearly marked crosswalk?  And you know the law is to stop, but you hesitate, thinking, if you wave this person on and the other speeding traffic doesn't stop....well, indirectly you may be responsible for killing some poor schmo?

Yeah, my day was like that. There I was at the newly designed intersection, you know the one, over on Little Falls.  Zig-zag trail, paint, signs, make the passage safer. And there I was obeying the law like all the drivers want...waiting my turn, in the crosswalk, stopping in the center...

You know this intersection right?  The trail is five inches from the red light.  And yet cars manage to careen around that 90 degree turn and accelerate into 45 mph neglecting the speed signs, trail signs, pedestrian and bike signs, and striped crosswalk.  Clearly it's the bikes causing the problems.

Like when I stopped in the center face to face with a black SUV.  Who stopped.  And waved me on.  Into the intersection.  Onto my death.  See, I didn't trust the teeny red car I saw duck behind the SUV so I hesitated at this front passenger bumper...

I had a front row view to what death looks like right before it  hits.  And all I could do was stare at both bumpers.  I wanted to see the driver's face.  I wanted to turn around to see the horror in the SUV's face.  But all I saw was my front wheel and two steel bumpers.  I missed the whole thing. 

I guess I had to.  Since I was already paused in my track stand waiting for it to happen there wasn't much to do except, well, actually turn my wheel to avoid the collision.  Yep, it was that close. She hit the crosswalk at a good clip, caught sight of me, panicked, and slammed on the brakes.  There was a momentary loss of control as her car skidded even closer and then the hands that flew up as a sort of, "I know that was my fault I'm so so sorry"

It was a bit like my dream.  The one where I die.  Since I've had that dream I've had two of these unbelievable close calls.  The first the pedestrians on the sidewalk screeched in horror and I'm sure this one brought on adrenaline rushes across the street.  Neither one did a thing to me.  No, that was close, no heavy breath, no missed heart beats.  Just, ho hum, here we go again...

Paint that's Red
Almost dead
Crosswalk White
Fight or Flight
Wasn't Santa, Wasn't Santa