Category Archives: Bike Adventures

I love riding my bike because there’s never a dull moment when you see the world from two wheels.

The Great Turkey Chase

It was the perfect Monday morning.  Monday is college t-shirt day at my school, meaning I didn’t even have to play Closet Showdown with all my clothes that I currently don’t fit into.  I grabbed my jeans and tugged my red alma mater t-shirt over my head.  I didn’t even care about my hair because it was going under my bike helmet anyway.

It was such the perfect morning that just as Magnolia True and I were about to turn onto the street my school is on, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness came up on my playlist.  If there’s a better song to ride to in the morning, I haven’t found it.  I push the pedals a little harder and may or may not play air guitar on my handlebars during the guitar solo.  I’m less embarrassed about that than I should be, especially since my school is in a suburban neighborhood and I pass scads of parents and students in their cars every morning.

The street my school is on is all downhill on my commute to work.  I love this because it means I arrive to work mostly unsweaty and on my way home I stomp the pedals all the way up the hill.

So there I was cruising downhill to school singing along.

“I believe in a thing called love.  Just listen to the rhythm of my heart.  I believe we can make it, love.  We’ll be rockin’ ’til the sun goes do-“

That’s when I saw it.

A turkey.

A giant, wild turkey strutting in a driveway to my right.  He was at least as tall as my bike wheels and he was all alone, which as you may have guessed isn’t a sign of a well-balanced turkey.

I believe I’ve mentioned my fear of birds before.  So upon seeing this terrifying bird, I let a string of profanity fly.  I’ll let you Mad Lib this one and insert your own avalanche of profanity on my behalf here:

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After I said a few choice words, I prayed the turkey wouldn’t see me because a 6 foot tall woman in a bright red shirt blasting The Darkness on a bicycle can be stealthy, right?

Right?

Wrong.

As I passed by the turkey, he looked right at me, a sinister look from the depths of Hades.

“I don’t want any trouble,” I told him as came to be even with driveway that was apparently HIS TERRITORY.

I was riding as far away from the driveway as I could without veering into oncoming traffic, which, in hindsight, may have been preferable to what was about to happen.

The turkey made a beeline for me.

I uttered some more choice words and kicked my pedaling into high gear.

I could hear the turkeys devil claws scrabbling on the asphalt behind me.

I looked back only once.

The bird was gaining on me.

I pedaled harder, sweat dripping down my face, and went into a tuck-which looks absolutely ridiculous on a cruiser bike.

I prayed that the turkey wouldn’t take flight because my bike helmet might stand up to those horrid talons, but surely my red t-shirt wouldn’t.

Did you know that red is known to incite fury in birds?  I didn’t find out that useful nugget of information until much later that day.

I ripped down the hill and careened into my school parking lot where I didn’t stop pedaling, not even across the playground, until I reached the safety of my classroom door.  My heart was playing a crazy game of Frogger in my chest and my hair, which wasn’t great to begin with, was now a sweaty, sopping mess.

To my great relief, I’d lost the turkey somewhere on the hill.  Of equal relief was that I had not peed my pants while he was in pursuit.  Small victories.

I haven’t seen the turkey since that day, but I did receive this card a few weeks later from one of my little ones.

The feathers are from a turkey she hunted with her dad.  Coincidence?  I think not.

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Take that, turkey.  You’d better think twice before you mess with me.  I may be terrified of you, but I know a six-year-old little girl who isn’t.  Consider yourself warned.

Of Time and Training Wheels

My little brother, Pete, is one of my favorite people on the planet.  He can (and will) talk to anyone.  He laughs easily.  He’s a great dad. And he rides bikes.

Here we are riding Pete’s first century in honor of our grandmother.  This is the only time on the ride I was ahead of Pete.

Photo courtesy of chrisflentye.com
Photo courtesy of chrisflentye.com

Pete is five years my junior.  I remember reading bedtime stories to him.  I remember walking him to kindergarten.  I remember tickling and teasing him mercilessly, per Big Sister Code.  I also remember holding the back of his bike seat while he learned to ride a bike without training wheels.

Last Monday, Pete’s five-year-old son learned to ride his bike without training wheels.  Pete and his wife, Lisa, sent me videos and pictures all morning long of my nephew’s progress.  I was one proud auntie watching my teensy nephew pedal his brains out.

I watched those videos at least ten times that day.  Each time I was a sniffling, blubbering, crying mess.  I’m proud of my nephew and his first two-wheeled adventure, but the tears sprang up from the fierce pride I have in my brother for being the kind of dad who plays with his sons, the kind of dad who spends his days off teaching them to ride bikes.

In the last video Pete gave his son a push start, let him go and then jogged beside him as his son pedaled down the road.  There’s a moment when my nephew looks up at my brother to make sure he’s still there.  My brother tells him, “Keep goin’!  Keep goin’!”

Time is a brief and beautiful blossom and as I watched my brother and my nephew, I knew down deep in the chambers of my heart that my little brother will never be completely ready to let his son go.

In that moment I also knew that as my nephew grows into a man and faces the joys and hardships of life, he’ll always have his dad beside him encouraging him to keep going.

What a wonderful place this world would be if we all had someone to help us take our training wheels off, to hold us steady and then to propel us forward, covered in words of encouragement.

What a wonderful place the world would be if we all decided to be that person.

A Name For My New Bike

“Let’s all do it,” said Mr. Watts. “Close your eyes and silently recite your name.”
The sound of my name took me to a place deep inside my head. I already knew that words could take you into a new world, but I didn’t know that on the strength of one word spoken for my ears only I would find myself in a room that no one else knew about.

“Another thing,” Mr. Watts said. “No one in the history of your short lives has used the same voice as you with which to say your name. This is yours. Your special gift that no one can ever take from you.”
― Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip

I’m tickled to announce that my new bike and I have chosen her name.  Thanks for all of your funny and lovely suggestions.  I’ve had a blast trying them on my bike.  Here are all the suggestions including some last-minute additions from yesterday and today.

  1. Sydney Bristow.  This one came from my husband who knows I loved the show Alias and that Jennifer Garner, who played super spy Sydney Bristow on Alias, also played the movie character Electra.  Electra is the brand of my new bike.  The Hubs is one clever guy.  The reason I didn’t choose this one is because had I named her Sydney Bristow, I would have felt pressure to always be saving the world whilst wearing awesome spy costumes.  Writing this, I realize I may have made a grievous mistake in NOT choosing that name.
  2. Trudy. It just didn’t fit.
  3. Sheila.  Another one that wasn’t right.
  4. Pearl. This one was a favorite with many of you and also one of my favorites since the color of my bike is White Pearl.  What you may not know is that my car is named The Black Pearl, which has nothing to do with pirate ships and everything to do with the fact that her paint color is Black Pearl.  I call my car The Pearl for short, so if I’d named my new bike Pearl, it would have been WAY too confusing for this bear of little brain.
  5. Rita. I once had a curmugeonly teacher named Rita.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t like kids, not even her own.  So that name never stood a chance.
  6. Alice. This one reminded me of Alice from The Brady Bunch.  I spent many happy afternoons watching Alice and her hijinks with Brady kids.  However, I get called Alice ALL THE TIME because ‘Alicia’ is confounding to scads of people, so no dice for Alice.
  7. Cloud 9.  If my bike had 9 gears instead of 8, this might have been her name.  It is a perfect bicycle name, but it just wasn’t right for my bike.  I hope some cyclist out there snatches this name up and gives it a good bicycle to claim.
  8. Baby.  My sister suggested this one because of that line from Dirty Dancing.  You know the one.  “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”  Well, The Hubs insists that he puts Baby in a corner.  In fact, my Dirty Dancing DVD doesn’t live with the other DVDs.  It lives on the floor in a corner of the living room because every time I try to put it away, The Hubs puts it back in the corner, further proof that we are just masquerading as adults.  While I love this little game The Hubs and I play, last year I had a student who sang the chorus of Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ over and over and over and over and over and over EVERY SINGLE DAY.  It was the worst earworm ever and I couldn’t risk getting that song stuck in my head each time my bike and I had a conversation.
  9. Chatty Cathy.  I liked the irony of this one being that my new bike has been quite tight-lipped and on the shy side.  In the end Chatty Cathy wasn’t the right fit.
  10. Bianca.  My first ten speed was a Bianchi named Bianca.  So that name was already taken by a bike I loved.
  11. Samantha.  This one came from my hilarious and obviously humble friend, Samantha.  Samantha is a smart, sassy redhead.  Samantha is the ideal name for a cherry red bike.
  12. Bi-psyike-oh.  I refer back to being routinely beaten in Words With Friends.  I need a bike name I can spell within the first ten tries.  Is it bi?  Or by?  Psy?  Or psych?  Oh?  Or oe?  And shoot, where do those hyphens go again?  This name foretold an overworked delete key and a spelling induced tantrum.
  13. Sally.  As in “Ride, Sally, ride.” according to my friend, Becky.  Sally is another good bike name, but when I tried it out on my bike, she didn’t answer to it.
  14. Magnolia or Maggie for short.  My bike whispered this name in my friend Julie’s ear while Julie was reading.  Julie says, “Magnolias are beautiful as white as a blossom and yet strong and sturdy as a tree.”  Trees have special meanings for Julie and I so this suggestion made me tear up.  I loved every bit of this name from the get go.  I loved the meaning.  I loved the nickname.  I loved that my shy bike whispered it to my friend.  I was set to name her Magnolia until another friend suggested Truly.
  15. Truly.  This suggestion and ridiculously cheerful video came from my dear friend, Jenna.  Truly is a fantastic bike name!  I loved it not only for the sugary Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song, but for the double meaning.  What my non-cycling friends might not know is that bike wheels have to be “trued”, meaning made to ride straight and without wavering.  How’s that for a reminder on how to live life?  The other reason I fell in love with this name is because my own name means “filled with the truth.”

So there I was stuck between Magnolia and Truly.

I tried out both names on my bike and wouldn’t you know it, she told me liked them each just as much as I did.  Though we’d narrowed it down to two, we had our work cut out for us.

On our ride to school this morning, I tried out Magnolia Truly.  Then Truly Magnolia.  Then Maggie Truly.  Then Truly Maggie.  None of them were quite right.  Not quite yet.

As we cruised down the hill with the chill of morning, flushing our cheeks I said, “You’re a great bike, Magnolia True.”

That was it.

A beautiful name for my beautiful bike.

Magnolia True.

I smile every time I say it.

Thanks for all of your suggestions.  I hope you’ll get a chance to meet Magnolia True in person someday soon.  When you do, she says you can call her Maggie True for short.

Magnolia Stellata by Jens Luedicke.  Image courtesy of fotopedia.com.
Magnolia Stellata by Jens Luedicke. Image courtesy of fotopedia.com.

Name My New Bike: Part 2

Suggestions are rolling in for the quest to name my new bike.  I tried again this morning to get her to tell me her name, but the ride to school was so icy cold that my teeth were chattering, and in an act of solidarity she rattled her basket all the way down the hill and onto campus.  Between the racket of my chattering teeth and her rattling basket, conversation was nil.

Flowers for my new bike.I’m trying to woo my new bike and what better way to woo than to give her flowers?  Yesterday I added flowers to her basket.  Yes, the polka dots on the flowers match the polka dots on my bike purse and panniers.  The flowers also match the cup holder I’m making, but more on that another day because the cup holder has turned into quite the project and at this current moment in time, it makes me want to say bad words.

Lots of them.

Is it just me or is my bike starting to look like an adorable dog/bike?  On a side note, I  have a neighbor who is an occasional cyclist, meaning when we’re both getting the mail at the same time, we talk bikes and trails and then we part ways.  I’m less embarrassed than I should be that he’s caught me twice in the last week snapping glamor shots of my new bike in the front yard.

After a lovely weekend together riding to the craft shop for flowers, to the bike shop for a part for the $%*#&$!%# cup holder and to tea with a friend, my bike is remaining quite tight-lipped about her name.

You’ve offered some fantastic suggestions thus far.  Since name suggestions are coming forth in the comments section, on Facebook, via text and even in person.  I have a pair of favorites, but just when I thought I knew her name another great suggestion came and then I was back to square one.

The suggestions are:

1. Sidney Bristow.  This one came from my husband who knows I loved the show Alias and that Jennifer Garner who played Sidney Bristow also played the movie character Electra.  Clever guy.

2. Trudy. This one came from my friend, Nick, who loves all things cycling.  Frankly, I don’t get it.

3. Sheila.  Another one from Nick.  Still baffled.

4. Pearl. This one came from my friend, Jen, and this name seems to have struck a chord with a few of you.  Makes sense being that her official color is pearl white.

5. Rita. Another suggestion from Jen.

6. Alice. Jen again.

7. Magnolia or Maggie for short.  According to my friend, Julie, my bike whispered this name in Julie’s ear while Julie was reading.  Julie says, “Magnolias are beautiful as the white blossom and yet strong and sturdy as the tree.”  Trees have special meanings for Julie and I so this suggestion made me tear up just a teensy bit.

8. Cloud 9.  Another great suggestion from another great Julie.

9. Truly.  This suggestion came from my dear friend, Jenna.  She posted a link to this video which made me smile all day long.  It’s physically impossible not to be in a better mood after hearing this song.

There they are, folks.  I’m giving my new bike until Friday to reveal her name.  So weigh in with any final thoughts and suggestions before then.  If she hasn’t introduced herself by Friday, I’ll choose a name from your suggestions and I’ll just start calling my bike that name.  People do that with dogs, right?  I told you she’s starting to become like a dog/bike.  😉

Name My New Bike

My husband used his year-end bonus to buy me a commuter bike.  No, ladies, he doesn’t have a brother.  It was incredibly sweet of him, especially since I tend to receive bonuses in peanut butter handed hugs and blocky lettered love notes.  Although the other day one of my little ones did try to pay me a shiny penny “for being a good teacher”.

Here’s my beautiful, new, pearl white bike.  You’re allowed to drool.

Electra Amsterdam Royal 8i
Electra Amsterdam Royal 8i

Isn’t she gorgeous?  Like all the ladies I like to hang around, she’s beautiful and she’s got brains.

Eight gears mean I’m able to easily get back up the hill from my school to my house.

The skirt guard means I can wear dresses and skirts to work and not get them tangled in my spokes, not that I’ve ever done that or anything.  Ahem.

The chain guard makes it impossible for me to chainstamp myself on my way to work.  This is important because when I ride The Rocket, I manage to get a greasy, black chainstamp on my leg nearly every ride.  Sometimes I even manage to get one on the opposite leg.  I’ve got skills.

The rack and strap on the back mean that I can attach panniers and haul a TON of stuff, important stuff like ice cream.

Lights on the front and back mean drivers see me.  And get this, they smile at me.  Farmers and cowboys can be friends.  Sorry, I was watching Oklahoma! the other day.  This bike is some sort of magical ambassador between motorists and cyclists.  Strangers smile and wave at me from their cars.  Passerby make comments like “Beautiful bike.” and “Sweet ride.”

I bought my new bike a handlebar basket and decked her out in matching Basil panniers and a bike purse with an adorable Babushka print.  No way was I putting plain old bags on this classy gal.  The Hubs even moved her from the garage to the bedroom on her first night at our house.

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I’ve tried to make her feel welcome by riding her to and from school every day.  The other day we raced a squirrel almost a full block.  We totally won.  Okay, it was by default because the squirrel ran up a tree before the end of the block, but a win is a win.  On our rides to school in the morning I play music.  On the downhill part, I stick my legs out and let out a shrill “Wheeeeeeee!!!”

At school I even took her out during P.E. to run with the kids.  She and I rode up behind the kids while they were running and then I’d ding the bell.  The kids would shriek and dissolve into peals of giggles.  Then they would run next to us, their little legs churning to keep up.

I rode my new bike to dinner the other night and to breakfast the following morning.  I think she’s starting to like it here.

I take good care of her.  I lock her up everywhere we go.  I pumped her tires until the pressure was just right.  I parked her in the garage so she can make friends with The Rocket and my hubby’s bike, Suck It Trebek.

But my new bike is a shy gal.  She still hasn’t told me her name.

The Rocket told me her name straight away, had it written right on her frame in fact.  Frank the Tank told me his name the first time I picked him up.  But my beautiful new bike is remaining quite tight-lipped when it comes to introductions.

So, dear reader, perhaps you can help me figure out her name.  I’m convinced that once we’re on a first name basis we’ll enjoy our daily adventures that much more.  So put on your thinking cap and meet me in the comments section with your brilliant suggestions.

Dear Lance Armstrong,

Dear Lance Armstrong,

You’ve been quoted recently saying you’ve had a bit of a rough week.  I’ll say.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to add to it.  Am I glad all the doping in the cycling world is coming to light?  Yes, yes I am.  I love the sport of cycling and I look forward to the day when I can love it for its purity.

I’ve read a lot of articles on you this week, Lance, and a singular thought keeps rising to the surface: Thank God I’m not famous.  I’m profoundly grateful I don’t live a life where my mistakes are broadcast to the world, where the publicity of those mistakes negates any good I’ve done.

Whether you doped or not, whether you lied about it or not, whether or not you deserve your Tour de France wins or not-frankly I’m not interested in being the judge on any of those fronts.  Judgement doesn’t birth healing.  Truth does.  I can’t attest to what the truth is in any of those situations, but this is a truth I know: LiveStrong has helped many of my loved ones who have battled the beast of cancer.  For that I’ll always be grateful.

It appears that you’ve hit bottom, although you said yourself last week that you’ve had worse days.  So perhaps this isn’t rock bottom, but I think it may be close.

I like what Anne LaMott has to say about grace and mercy.  “Mercy is that we don’t get what we deserve. Grace is that we get what we so don’t deserve.”  I wish you measures of mercy and grace this week because if I were in your shoes, mercy and grace are the things that would make me take a step in the right direction.

You’ve got a great opportunity to decide what’s next in your life and, frankly, I hope you’re looking up because watching you climb has always been exhilarating.

Kind regards,

Alicia

Dear Every Cyclist

Dear Every Cyclist,

You delight me, absolutely delight me.  I’d kiss you all on the mouth give you all a nice hearty pat on the back if I could.

Yesterday That Laura and I went for a flat spin along the beautiful Keswick Reservoir.  It was to be a short ride, a ride just for the pure joy of riding.  It was a thing of beauty.  The sky was blue, mirrored by the water.  We set off in shorts and short-sleeved jerseys.

image courtesy of happehtheory.com

About five miles from the end of the ride, Laura rode over a freakishly pointy rock that bit into her rear tire.  The tire fizzled out and we pulled to the side to change the tube, meaning That Laura replaced the tube while I held stuff for her and said “Good job!”.  I am excellent at holding stuff.

Here’s the part where you come into the story, Every Cyclist.  Every single one of you who pedaled by asked if we had everything we needed.

We did.

Many of you also asked if we needed help.

We didn’t.

But darn it all, Every Cyclist, if you didn’t make my heart grow two sizes that day.  You are the best of humanity, I’m sure of it.  Offering to help is a foundational tenet of the Sacred Cyclist’s Code.  Every Cyclist, it’s with a big smile that I say you did our sport proud yesterday.

I look forward to returning the favor.