We’re a rag-tag group of people vigilantly pursuing self-sustaining educational & employment opportunities with and for students and their families living in rural communities in developing countries. We believe in asking hard questions like, “What do you need and how can we help?” We believe that communities know their needs better than we do and that it’s our job to listen. We’re big on being kind for the sake of kindness and we believe that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference. We believe in keeping vigil over one another and watching for opportunities to help, no matter how far off the beaten path those opportunities take us. We’re vigilant in our belief that God has given each person unique gifts and that one of the highest forms of worship is using those gifts to serve others. We believe God has a purpose for each life and Vigilante Kindness is our purpose. Join us as we live out wild adventures in service of God and others. Join us in committing acts of Vigilante Kindness.
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 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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many of you also asked if we needed help.
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.
Surely you’ve seen the Lists of Don’ts for Women Riders by now, right? I first saw it over at Lists of Note, a fascinating blog that somehow sucks great amounts of time from my afternoons as I read varied and amusing lists from history. This list had me cackling out loud. It’s from a gathering of the Unique Cycling Club of Chicago in June, 1885. At this particular gathering two female riders had the audacity to wear short skirts over their bloomers. The nerve, right? I imagine I would have been good friends with these brazen women. So here is the original list along with my own updates.
DON’TS FOR WOMEN RIDERS
1. Don’t be a fright. Wait, what? When dogs are chasing me or I’m being inched off the road by a semi, I’m allowed to be scared. In my book, I’m also allowed to scream choice words and spread the fright around, like say to the dogs or the trucker falling asleep at the wheel as he careens into the shoulder. Let’s face it, there are few things more frightening than a woman who is scared to the point of fury. So go ahead, ladies, be afraid. Be so afraid that you let fly and induce some fear in others.
2. Don’t faint on the road. Agreed. Eat and drink properly as needed. And while we’re on the topic of health related issues. Ladies, when you farmer blow, look to see that nobody is behind you. Same goes for puking. And if the person in front of you chooses not to display the same level of courtesy, employ aforementioned choice words.
3. Don’t wear a man’s cap. Duh. Wear a helmet. Protect that beautiful brain. And since you’re already wearing a helmet, go ahead and make it a stylish one. Let the men wear the ugly black ones.
4. Don’t wear tight garters. Nix the garters altogether. Keep the bedroom in the bedroom, ladies. Besides the rubbery ring at the bottom of your bike shorts will give you that nice, tight garter feel because, really, who doesn’t like a tight ring suffocating your thighs and highlighting your cellulite?
5. Don’t forget your toolbag. Even if you’re horribly slow at changing tires and gladly accept all offers of help, like a certain somebody I know, ahem, you should still carry all the necessary tools. In case you’re prone to forget, here’s an easy way to remember: Carry tools so you aren’t one.
6. Don’t attempt a “century.” Like hell. I’ve both attempted and completed centuries. Even the ones I’ve failed miserably at, I’ve learned from. So go ahead and attempt all the centuries you want. And then sign up for some doubles. You’ll finish most of them and you’ll learn a lot about yourself from the ones you don’t.
7. Don’t coast. It is dangerous. After climbing, grunting, sweating and panting your way to the top of a climb, you go ahead and coast down the backside. Enjoy the wind in your face as you catch your breath. And when you’ve had enough coasting, crouch down, pedal and try to best your top speed cause there’s always plenty more uphill to come.
8. Don’t boast of your long rides. This is really a moot point because even your short rides will sound long to non-cyclists. However, when you happen upon another cyclist and they ask how far you’re riding, go ahead and tell them. The number will speak for itself.
9. Don’t criticize people’s “legs”. I’m not sure why legs is in quotes here, but believe me when I tell you that the sights on rides are lovely, and I’m not talking landscapes. Just watch another woman crank up the hill ahead of you. Her outstanding quads and calves will motivate you to rip some new muscles of your own. And then there are the men. I’m fortunate to be married to a cyclist and his legs are a thing to behold. I take every opportunity to ogle his legs, both on and off the bike.
10. Don’t wear loud hued leggings. If I could find loud hued leggings, I would totally wear them. However, black does a mighty fine job of disguising the bike grease, snot, dirt, and sweat that I wipe on my tights every ride.
11. Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.” If you’re on your bike enough, you won’t have to “cultivate” one. Even with religious applications of sunscreen you’ll have the tell-tale sunglasses tan. Be proud of your bicycle face. Chances are it has fewer chins than your off-season non-bicycle face.
12. Don’t refuse assistance up a hill. I’ve received a push uphill 3 times. Once I asked for a friend to give me a push because I absolutely WAS NOT GOING TO MAKE IT. He pushed my back to the crest of the hill. Another time a friend gave me a friendly little back push and I asked him to stop because something about the push and pedaling was making me motion sick and I super dislike puking on my bike. The third push came from a guy dressed as a devil. He gave my butt a big two-handed push. That was just weird. So whenever possible, beat that hill on your own because you never know when the devil may be lurking behind you.
13. Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit. Amen. Nobody likes to see that slice of back skin between your shorts and your jersey. And under no circumstances are you allowed to show crack. Even if you are in spin class, Guy Who Sat Near Me Last Week.
14. Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry. That’s just good common sense. Don’t ride after dark unless you’re lit up like a Christmas tree.
15. Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour. If you want to wear jewelry, don’t let me stop you, but if you’re the guy wearing a fat gold chain and your jersey halfway unzipped, I’m going to mock you. Mercilessly.
16. Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers. I’m not a racer, but when the stakes are high, like say for Creamsicle bars, then I’m all over it. And if you want to be a “scorcher”, I say light it up, friend. Burn those tires and your competition into oblivion.
17. Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome. Take it from Nancy, boots were made for walking. Get some cycling shoes and enjoy the feeling of a powerful upstroke. Shoot, your cycling shoes can even have laces. I prefer Velcro, but that’s because when I get up for a really early morning ride, I’m brain-dead and easily confused by complicated tasks like tying my shoes.
18. Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you. They’re not. They’re all looking at the Yellow Brick Road known to roadies as the white line. Or better yet, they’re looking at the beautiful mountains and lakes you’re passing, not to mention the scads of weird animals you have no doubt encountered. And on the occasion that they are looking at you, they’re marveling at your chiseled calves. Drink it in.
19. Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume. I’m pretty sure Jesus would be cool with you showing up in your cycling kit, but for the sake of those sitting around you, go home and shower first. It is totally acceptable to wear your salty bike clothes into the ice cream parlor for a post ride treat or into a restaurant for a celebratory burrito. And it goes without saying that your cycling kit is absolutely appropriate attire for the multitude of convenience stores along your route.
20. Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers. Was I not clear on the helmet thing before? Wear.A. Helmet. If you can find a helmet that looks like a garden party hat, by all means strap that puppy on and go for a spin. As for bloomers, bike shorts with women specific padding are divine and in my book an absolute must. Unless you’re a nudist cyclist. In that case, we will never, ever ride together and I wish you lots of luck with your chafing issues.
21. Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars. Or regular cars. On a related note, it’s perfectly acceptable to slam your fist into the hood of the car that is about to t-bone you. It’s also fine to slap the passenger side windows of the car that’s just about to run you into a ditch.
22. Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private. Is that supposed to be a nice way of telling me to be quiet? By all means chew gum, because cycling breath is potent enough to kill medium-sized animals.
23. Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing. Silk is NOT the thing. Gloves with a cloth thumb for wiping your snot rocketing nose are the thing.
24. Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?” If that’s the best thing you can think of to say on a ride, then by all means, keep thinking.
25. Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys. People who use bicycle slang usually don’t know what they’re talking about. Leave bicycle slang to the idiots. Talk like you normally do, unless you want to talk about your bloomers. Then just enjoy a nice, quiet ride.
26. Don’t go out after dark without a male escort. I refer you to rule #13. And ladies, let’s be smart, don’t let yourself be caught with a creepy “male escort” alone at night. Phone a friend to take you and your trusty bicycle home.
27. Don’t ride without a needle, thread and thimble. Skip the needle, thread and thimble. Wrap up a little coil of duct tape and shove it in your seat bag. Bam, you’ve got an emergency tube patch, frame weld and band-aid all in one. Trust me, one reach into a seat bag with a needle in it and you’ll be awfully glad your more savvy friend brought duct tape.
28. Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match”. Listen up, just because you’re clad in Spandex doesn’t mean you can’t look good. Just ask the guys at Twin Six.
29. Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back. If you’ve got golden tresses, wear them however you want. If other cyclists don’t like looking at your hair, they can speed up and ride ahead of you. And if they can’t catch you, Goldilocks, ride on with your bad self.
30. Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you. Aw, I’ve got the sad Snoopy “No Dogs Allowed” song running through my mind. There are times and places for you and your dog to ride together. Group rides are neither. Leave the pooch at home and instead enjoy the company of your human best friends.
31. Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers. I don’t even know what that means. I think it’s some sort of innuendo. I feel dirty. Moving on.
32. Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know. Enough with the bloomer talk already! Think of something else, anything else, to talk about. I’ll give you a topic: Fixed gear bikes and the studs who ride them. Talk amongst yourselves.
33. Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well. Total crap. How are you supposed to learn to ride well unless you ride in public? Nervous about riding in traffic? Then ride with a more experienced cyclist IN TRAFFIC. Nervous about clipping in and out of your pedals? Then get on your bike and PRACTICE CLIPPING IN AND OUT. You will forget and fall over once, but chances are you’ll only bruise your ego.
34. Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor. By all means, have fun on your bike. Just remember that sometimes having fun means pushing yourself to the limit to see what you’re really made of.
35. Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman. Or because you’re a man. Or because NKOTB has come up on your playlist and you have to turn them up, er, I mean turn them off and you’re fiddling with your iPod. Or because you temporarily forgot how to read the word “STOP”. Pay attention.
36. Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels”. I’ll tell you how it feels. It feels gross. Even if they’re clean. Just the thought of putting my parts in someone else’s bike shorts makes my stomach turn inside out. Blechhhh!
37. Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run. And if she runs, then how are you going to take her picture to show your friends the awesome cow you saw? See rule #1 for appropriate screaming situations.
38. Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because you ride a wheel. Translation: Don’t be a hipster on a bike.
39. Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground. Is this a fancy way of saying if the person in front of you crashes, try not to crash on top of them? Good advice. Easier said than done, but sound advice nonetheless.
40. Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily. Sure, take an easy spin now and then, but don’t be afraid to tackle that hill. Ride until your heart threatens to leap out of your chest. Ride until your lungs fill with fire and your quads want to snap. Leave the easy route for another day. You’re stronger than you think you are. Give that hard ride hell. And if you don’t beat it the first time, go back for more tomorrow.
41. Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty. I don’t give a rip about other people’s records, but I sure care about my own. I love beating my fastest time or climbing a hill in a bigger gear than usual. I love cresting the top of a hill that I once had to walk up. Be up on your own records. And then smash them to bits. When someone calls you sporty or refers to you as an athlete, grin and say thanks. Then put on your “bloomers” and short skirt and go for a ride. 😉