Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Cyclist’s House

unhurried repairs
measuring and mindfulness
deliberation

thoughtfulness requires
precise, cautious attention
and perseverance

without careful plans
could produce interference
with tomorrow’s ride

:-]

- The Bag ...been living with only a basement bath for 18 months now....

Friday, December 30, 2005

To the Teenaged Among Us

Happy Birthdays!





- Old Bag Wishes She were There

Neighborhood Cycle

the cloudy night sky
holds close the purples and deep blues of the city
translucent energy
finally well enough to go for a run
or for a walk dressed like I’m running
to rejoin the rhythm of the neighborhood
old houses alike and close
drapes left open to see the life inside exuberant
in the step aerobics
the visiting grandparents
the TV movie
the thick book
even in the redecorating ideas
(but I won’t be painting my living room deep red)
Florida Avenue down toward the elementary school
new warming house and hockey rink
where icy mist captures arcs of brightness beneath the tall rink lights
a broomball game
goalie is quick in the pick-up hockey match
her brown hair dances
evening train blares at the skaters who raise their sticks to wave
the rhythm of its cars
join the rhythm of the neighborhood

- it just doesn’t get any better for The Ol’ Bag

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Simplicity....


if only it were as simple as going to the bike store
Christmas would be easy
we would go for a ride and see the lights
and I would pick out something for your frivolity
or for your work
or for getting you to your frivolity or to your work
it would be useful
you’d love it
the basket
or bag
the tights
blinkie light
the handlebar streamers
or titanium-spindled clipless road pedals if you really wanted them
because Christmas would be easy
but instead it’s busy-ness
and mall-ratted
and people-filled
and road-hogging
and concert-going
and museum-looking (but that was fun out with the girls
we let down our hair
except I don’t have enough hair to let down
out in the midst of the busy-ness
there was connection)

when I long for connection and calm and quiet
and evenings filled with the contemplation of the wonder
of the falling snow
the way another came
falling into our lives
and into our wonder
a bicycle ride to remember the wonders and to connect
to the people who matter and wonder too
we’d ride and we’d laugh and we’d be quiet together
seeing what’s in our headlights and imagining what’s not
hearing our thoughts
tires crunching the snow
and our breathing
our living
the world would pass by and we would roll by with it
and we’d be in it
amazed
we wouldn’t miss anything
and we might even skip the bike store just this time
if only it were that easy....

- tob

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Novice Begins the Quest

Master, my blogging friends Ptelea and George have brought to me questions surrounding the Bike Shui and its mysteries....

... . . .

Questioning not in the non-believer's way, Master, but in a searching way!

.. . . .. . .

Master, Ptelea out in Colorado is hoping her son can bring the shui to her garage: Like all good 17-year-olds, he already thinks I am crazy, so what further harm could it do to tell him I want to perform feng shui on the garage?

And George has responded: Ya know, our garage is the only room in the house that is "mine" and *I* think it looks organized. My wife on the other hand thinks it looks junky. Maybe it's time to rearrange the bikes:-)

The whole exchange, Master, has caused me deep searching...is.....can......the shui is for all, is it not?

... . .

Is it possible for the Bike Shui to affect only the...one?

. ... . .. .

Master, my understanding of the Bike Shui is so limited. Are all affected and calmed by the shui? Does one not create Bike Shui for another? or is it possible for one’s shui to send another into the depths? It all causes so much confusion....

. .. . ... .

Master?


- TOB preparing to begin this quest alone

Monday, December 26, 2005

Lament of the 43-Degree Day

or
Damn, Now I Have no Excuse to NOT Paint the Kitchen

it’s supposed to be white
it’s supposed to be cold
we’re supposed to be calf-deep in snow
while we’re supposed to be hauling the thermos into the chalet
where we’re supposed to prepare
because we’re supposed to go screaming down hills
on cross-country skis we’re supposed to be wearing
on snow that’s supposed to be here
but left

- The Sad Old Bag

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Calm Finally Settles-In

Thanks to all of you who stop by and who have welcomed me into your blogging world...wishing each of you peace!

- The Old Bag

Friday, December 23, 2005

Decompression Day

Finally. Vacation is here. I survived the solstice and 25 fourth graders hanging from the rafters
beCAUSEIT'SChRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!
I'm off to spend the day with the girlfriends...museum, Dayton's 8th Floor display, lunch...all while temps are slated to hit 40.... After an hour or two of morning coffee and routine I'll be ready to face the day, but I'm just not sure I'll be able to hold it together while our precious white stuff turns to slush. I've not at all mentioned to anyone that this might finally be the year after four years of lousy snow for cross-country skiing -- didn't say the words, didn't write them either.

I guess thinking them is jinx enough....

- TOB might need something stronger in that coffee

Thursday, December 22, 2005

O's Diagnosis

No kitty cancer -- localized chronic inflammatory response. Yeah well, that sums it all up! I'll find out more next week.

- TOB

Perceptions

You’re so damned fat. I saw you across the room and was wondering who would dare wear that outfit -- should have figured it was you! You should go have your body fat checked at that booth over there.

The overweight endure a lifetime of personal insults due to their weight, but imagine an adult making such a blatant statement to another adult while in the presence of a group.

Now, change one word in the first sentence...instead of fat, use skinny.

Skinny. It’s socially acceptable to tell someone she’s skinny. Yet, the word brings-up my adolescent memories of knobby knees and elbows, of bony shoulders, of relentless teasings, of dresses that had to be taken-in due to lack of cleavage, of baggy t-shirts worn to cover up my non-shape. Add to it height that I didn’t want, and I stood up like a piece of spaghetti: the same dimension from every angle, with a curving spine that tried in vain to bring my shoulders closer to the ground. Growing up was an exercise in inadequacy.

The overweight are bombarded with society’s expectations; but advertising doesn’t only tell us to be thin.

It tells us we need curves: a woman should be an hourglass.

Yet hourglass curves and thin just don’t naturally coincide. 11% body fat is probably a percentage a man would want, but in a woman 10-12% is considered essential fat -- just enough to keep organs healthy and functioning. In a woman, 10-12% body fat doesn’t provide enough extra for bodacious, padded curves. 12% was willed to me from my mom and I struggle to maintain that during cycling season. While I was racing, Dad worried that I was anorexic, even though I ate anything that dropped onto my plate.

My shape is totally at home in a group of cyclists though, and wearing lycra upon it requires little more thought than does deciding what to have for breakfast. I rode to work on the day of a work-sponsored health fair and thought nothing of stopping over for my flu shot on the commute home. In that group of teachers, however, I was an oddity and several let me know it: I wondered who’d dare wear that, you should go have your body fat checked, you’re so skinny! And I’d get the cocked-head, what-do-you-have-to-say-for-yourself? look.

I’d forgotten how to respond to “skinny” comments since I don’t hear them as I move about in my off-the-clock life. I tried to be gracious, sometimes factual, but based on the blank looks I got in return I was damned either way. What I wanted to say was: Thank God I’ve got some weight back these days, but thin is viewed by most as something to attain, not something to disdain.

They couldn't hear my brother in the back of my brain jeereing at me: Toothpick!

Screw ‘em.

Fortunately, Dad and Mom passed along his German stubbornness and her Irish fire.

:-]

- The Lithe Old Bag

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Master, Does the Shui Require...

Yes, grasshopper, to bring balance and harmony to the garage, bikes must all be level.

But what of sloping top tubes? Or full suspension? For the bicycles to be level, this must require multi-configured racks hung at differing levels in various places upon the wall!

And yes the racks are at different levels and configurations. Reflect not on the task but the journey.

The journey?

Up top: what once was. Hung from rafters close to the wall and slightly behind the row below.

Ah. So the Bike Shui honors our beginnings...

Next level down: Most recently replaced mountain bikes. Racks are level for old style level top tube.

...and gives rest to these hard workers...

Bottom level: Most recent purchase. New full suspension mountain bikes. Sloping top tubes. One main triangle is so small, with rear shock it couldn't accept a rack with two pieces of wood inside. Had to put one on top tube and cradle the second around the seat rails. All padded with closed cell foam so the bikes rest on cushy arms.

...and so reflects our journey from what was to what is in our cycling life! All is harmonious! But, what of this--

On the opposite wall is the dark side of Bike Shui.

There is a dark side to the Shui?

The oldest bike, first mountain bike, hung with a single hook through the rim. Oh, the indignity! At the end of garage: The big beast. The old Cannondale tandem. Hung from two hooks over work bench.

But Master! Does not the past deserve better for all it has taught us? Let us hasten from this room!

Inside is the Merlin Viewing Room (when pressed, laundry can be done here). Two road Merlins on wood racks with hand rubbed oil finish. Round cut-outs on rack arms are lined with closed cell foam to gently cradle the most revered bikes (and because Merlin runs their cables externally along the top tube).

Externally-run cables? How is one ever to decipher and apply this Bike Shui with so many top tube configurations? It is indeed complicated.

Not complicated. Challenging!!!

My aspiration is to one day rise to this challenge.


...again,TOB can't take credit for this -- italicized portion is part of an email sent by an honorable biking buddy!

- TOB's wishing you Shui

Monday, December 19, 2005

30 Seconds is Too Long

It’s out of the bag:

I didn't comment [on your blog] since the rule of thumb is if it takes more than 30 seconds to figure out...move on! I'm playing on the computer while my wife is still busy working and I'm supposed to be doing house chores!! Time is of the essence!

This came in an email from my friend who introduced me to Bike Shui. His bike philosophy tumbles forth effortlessly. His first stab at baiku (bike haiku) is below:

From Hero to Zero
Track stand. Loosened cleat.
Twenty fellow bikers watch
On ground. Coolness gone.

and Back Again
Biker with flat tire
Never fixed a flat before
Simply helped. Smile restored.

Not bad, eh?

- The Old Bag's recruiting!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Oscar Part 2: It Matters More than I Thought


I stared at the paperwork through tear-welled eyes...I had been fine until I needed to make decisions: blood tests, a catheter so medication could be administered more quickly in an emergency, “this test is required if he’s over seven, but he’s only 4 and-a-half so it’s your choice,” biopsy back in a week, emergency phone number.... If I were the parent of an actual child I’d have been a wreck.

Oscar was a kitty when he found my parents four years ago in October. He came home with me about 2 weeks later. All he’d had to do was show his face and big eyes through the weeds at the opening of a culvert. I’m such a sucker.

He became Oscar immediately: easy going snuggler, playful, somewhat blind. It took awhile to figure-out that last one. I thought it odd that he’d ignore kibble at his feet, yet would chase one skittering across the floor. I’d never seen a cat stumble over a pillow on the floor, but he did and then continued on his way as if it happened all the time it happens all the time. He rousted-out a nest of bunnies and chased one zig-zag across the backyard -- the Wild Kingdom right in my backyard! I was fascinated. Until he caught it here's the deal: if you make him drop it then YOU have to deal with the half-dead bunny. I think everything finally clicked the day he leapt toward the bed and totally missed it, landed four-footed back on the floor, cocked his head, then trotted off.

He’s got established pathways around furniture, his whiskers are about half the length of those on a typical cat because they get so much use, he rarely runs, he often taps a paw ahead of himself before taking a step forward through a clothing-strewn room, he won’t jump on anything taller than a sofa. The vet confirmed that his eyes have no defined blood vessels. He sees movement, but not much else.

Studies show that a pet is a calming presence (1, 2, 3), but Oscar also amazes and amuses, which is probably why I find myself more attached to him than I’ve been to others. That full realization hit as I sat at the vet’s signing paperwork for a lump removal. I imagined him suddenly gone, and I about lost it. If it turns out he’s got kitty cancer, I’ll have time to get myself ready. I just wasn’t ready on Friday.

- OB

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Oscar Part 1: The Things that Matter

As soon as I enter the house, Oscar needs food. We’re pretty much getting the pattern down to just needing food when I walk in the back door sometime in the afternoon vs. needing food when I walk in the back door on a weekend morning, or needing food when I get home after a night out. So, we’ve made progress in disassociating needing food and the back door. Ideally, he needs food when I get home after work in the afternoon, but time doesn't seem to matter. If the sun is high in the sky and I have anything to do with the back door, the topic is fair game. It really throws him off in the summer when I’m in and out of the back door regularly throughout the day, or during winter break when I'm inside for a good part of a day and therefore not using the back door. In both cases, he covers all the bases and needs food beginning around 1:30.

I read a story once about a kitty who was inadvertently left without food for a couple days while his owner was gone -- she thought she’d filled his bowl but hadn’t. When she returned home, the cat was quite hungry but before going to the newly-filled bowl he went to her first for a good noogie...signifying that his affection for her was greater than his physical needs. Sweet. Oscar is likewise sweet, but let's keep things straight here. This is a cat who, as a kitty, was tossed from a car and left to fend for himself...food takes on a certain significance: eat however much you can whenever it's available.

I found Oscar as a stray when he was about 7 months old, a product of the mean streets of Lake Poinsett, SD, and quite used to fending for himself...in the years since he’s rid the backyard of bunnies, mice, a wayward bird and a big-@ss bumblebee (all caught and digested except for the bee). Pretty amazing considering he’s functionally blind. He sees movement, but his constantly-dilated pupils betray him when there's a sofa pillow on the living room floor or a dining room chair out-of-place.

In spite of his tendency to be a full-fledged, sweet lap-cat, I figured my main role in his life was that of life-sized food dispenser, until this past summer when I had a family of three active children visiting for three days. In the midst of small hands grabbing for him, he would turn his bewildered-looking face my way when hearing my voice and slowly make his way to safety: me.

I matter.

- The aawww Bag

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Clothes We Wear

This is my busy week of the holiday season (have had something friend-related or work-related or pet-related going every night since last Fri...ag! joy to the world and all that stuff) so I'm going to send you somewhere else to do some reading today.

If you're at all like the majority of cyclists out there, you don't think twice about making a quick drop into a public place while still wearing your gear...after all, who cares as long as you don't care? Well, maybe you oughtta....

- TOB

Monday, December 12, 2005

Now THIS is a Girlie Cycling Poster

or
Slowin' Down for the Greyhound

Woman, bicycle, dog....
poster found here
- TOB

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Goldilocks Days in the Blogisphere

So, the Donut Guy says it's too cold...T over at Bicycles and Icicles and Jill, Up in Alaska, say it's too hot...it's winter here in the northern blogiverse and nothing is quite right with the world.

Cyclists have got to blog something in order to keep things interesting on these Goldilocks days. George is showing us donuts worth crossing the country for because, according to him, it’s 15 freakin’ degrees outside! Jill got the road machine out for a spin. T decided to try his hand at Baiku (haiku about bikes)...but to find it, you'll have to first make it past Dipsydoodle.

I decided to set out on my own search for something likewise that might grab the interest of the women out there hunkered down for the winter in their wool slippers and fleece. I figured it would be tough, but it proved more difficult than I'd planned.

A Google image search on hunk on a bicycle got me this and one other:


handsome man +bicycle got me this you think I lie??


man +bicycle returned a few more results, but this one was the fav:


Adding the word poster (man poster +bicycle) got me this...

...which is part of a great site called Century Posters. Hit either the Transportation or Sports link on the left side and then from the drop-down choose Vintage Bicycles. It’s not quite the male equivalent of Dipsy but ya know, a man in a garter belt just wouldn’t do it for me anyway but a long, lean, chiseled man with broad shoulders blowing away the competition on a banked track? Zowie.

- The Bag wonders is it warm in here?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

STILL the L’una?!


I wrote poems
to you

about
you

imagining
you

until I found out
I shouldn’t

so
then

I
quit

* heavy sigh *

and lived happily ever after the end wahoo!


- Old (after all, this is a BIKE BLOG, here) Bag

Friday, December 09, 2005

We've All Done It...

But, it's not to be found here. Hop over to Two Cities Two Wheels and you'll find (what else?) two Baiku verses...simple, to the point, experiences we've all had.

- TOB

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ahhh Grasshopper


I see you practice Baiku.

Yes, Master.

But what of Bike Shui?

Bike Shui?

The ancient practice of placement and arranging your bikes on a garage wall to reflect balance and harmony in your house. Bikes must be placed just so -- according to what was, what is and maybe a place for what could be.

For what could be? We must predict the future!

Revered bikes are put in a place of great honor i.e. the laundry room where it's warm and you can look at them more often.

The laundry is a place of high honor.

A frame may even be placed in the living room until built.

An ever greater distinction!

How is your Bike Shui?

I have much to learn, Master.


...TOB can't take credit for this -- italicized portion is an email sent by an honorable biking buddy!

- The Old Bag

Monday, December 05, 2005

Murphy's Law

The newest member of the Bag household: 7 months, big guy for his age, excited and timid at the same time. Plays constantly, slides on the wood floors, getting used to the sounds of his new home (still runs away when the fridge opens) and to the resident cat, Oscar. No name yet...Murphy? Rocky? Clarence? Big D? He's gotta have a name, how else will he know to come when I call?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

After the Reindeer Run

or
Five Miles is the Farthest I've EVER Run


So this is the farthest I've ever gone,
says I.

Good for you, says he.

I've always been best at short distances, says I.

What about cycling? says he.

Well, crits and pursuits at the track when I was racing, says I.

But now? says he.

Oh, I can be out all day at a decent clip, says I.

Hey, ya know that injury,
says he.

Yah, says I.

Well, the doctor told me I could run 10 miles by the time the snow flies, says he.

But ya did that by the end of August, says I.

I was a bit ahead of schedule, says he.

That’s just like you, says I.

So, I ran 16 miles the other day just to see, says he.

And? says I.

Felt good, says he.

I don’t want to ever run 16 miles, says I.

Ya just have to decide you want to do it, says he.

I don’t plan to ever want to, says I.

You could do it, says he.

I run for 30 minutes and call it good, says I.

Ya just have to go slower to go farther, says he.

!

...I'll have to think about that one, says I.


- The Old Bag's Thinkin'

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The High Life

From Matt over at Two Cities Two Wheels (who got it from Commute-a-Blog) -- a great video clip of not-so-shameless commercialism!




- Thirsty Old Bag

Friday, December 02, 2005

So

I sit
staring
willing
thoughts
to coalesce
coagulate
commingle
but they
all sit
in their
own corners
unwilling
to come
out
to the middle
of the floor
and dance

- OB
..so I'M going to bed....

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nose Print on the Window


Silver sleek lines,
hypnotizing.

Illuminating surface,
mesmerizing.

Secret union,
tantalizing...

...until
the beckoning
of
Master Card.


-TOB on the Bianchi L’una

*no* I'm not getting another bike!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I've Spent Eight Months on a Bicycle!

or
Where Were THOSE Muscles All This Time?

running through my youth
short distances ‘round the track
fleet-footed playing

memories are fresh
still find excitement within
oval enclosure

now running distance
plodding, tromping, trodding on
muscles tendons OW!

...if bike haiku is called Baiku... is this Raiku?

- The Bag needs some Ibuprofen

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cold Enough Fer Ya?

OK, my profile lies who wrote that thing?? I don’t really actually live in Minneapolis...technically. At least technically not anymore -- I guess not....since.....1886. Although, I do frequently receive mail addressed to me living at my current street address in Minneapolis....and there are times after entering my zip code online that the gremlin on the other end insists the zip and the city I’ve entered don’t naturally correspond SO WHERE SHOULD THIS PACKAGE BE SENT TO, ANYWAY?!? at which point I know better than to argue with this Gollum so I hit the submit button in the dim hopes that the wool slippers I’ve ordered from Sierra really will show up on my Minneapolis doorstep thereby saving me from a winter of misery in my old house with no insulation where the walls meet the floor isn't that what baseboards are for whaddayawant?

Besides, I still have the holdovers of living in Eden Prairie: anything east of Highway 169 is urban and urban = Minneapolis.

So, welcome to Suburbanites Anonymous.

Hi. I'm The Old Bag and I live in St. Louis Park, once a Minneapolis neighborhood called Elmwood, which is a friendly community of diverse racial and religious populations including walkers, bus-ers, and cyclers. Anything I could want is within 4-15 blocks from home: library, post office, service station, LBS, pizza, videos, oriental takeout, groceries, beer, Target, Big Lots, Ax-Man, bank.... For anything outside the radius I’ve got road shoulders and trails. I’m smack in-between the Cedar Lake Trail (AKA the bike highway) to the north which leads into downtown and through its pedestrian mall to the Mississippi River and its old flour-milling district; and the Midtown Greenway to the south which takes me into Uptown with its sidewalk cafes and urban lakes on over to the Grand Rounds and off to the parkways of St. Paul.

I'm still working on changing the way I think. When I first moved here, I continued to operate under the assumption that everything was at least 15 minutes away by car. Last-minute to the core of my being, I suddenly found myself arriving early...to everything! The first time I ordered pizza from the local Beek’s I hopped into the car and drove myself 5 short blocks (yes, as opposed to 5 long blocks...things are rectangular here) then sat for 10 minutes at the red and white checkered table while supper finished baking.

When I finally adjusted I found the gift of time. The gift of fresh air as I walked my errands. The gift of friendly people out in their yards.

The one thing I just couldn’t quite get my thoughts around was the walk to the grocery store. It’s at the outer edge of my radius...and walking back with BAGS?! of CANS and MILK CARTONS?!

So, I was at Cub Foods the other blustery day locking up my bicycle. A friendly soul hurrying in from the parking lot asked if I was cold -- he had that Minnesotan I-know look, and he even nodded as he asked since he knew what my answer would be. I got a kick out of his surprised change of face when I caught myself saying Actually no! Windblocker is a beautiful thing! We smiled and wished each other a good day as we headed inside.

- The Warm Old Bag

Friday, November 25, 2005

Gratuitous Pet Photos

or
Yes it's STILL Snowing Out, Why do You Ask (!)



Oscar in the warm September sunshine.

- The Putting-off-Shoveling Bag

The First to Know

Well, I'm no longer anony-blogging. To my niece and nephew (the HLBDM)...the most talented and wonderful kids I know -- can't wait to see you at Christmas!

...snagged these pics off my niece's xanga....

The kids and their old man, my bro.



Niece with TOB HOB...family resemblance??


- The Old Bag's just too far away sometimes!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dear Prudence

I really don’t take to purposefully naming my rides, but they’re destined. Names pop into my head and pretty soon something sticks. This fall in the midst of mountain biking season I’d roll into the garage and there would be the Bianchi...the ride I’m so excited to get back to each spring, the ride that sails me over the summer roads and takes me away from it all. In the fall, she leans against the garage wall...ever-ready. Seeing her one Sunday after a particularly great singletrack weekend, I realized I miss that Betty. It stuck. She’s steady, but she takes me places I won’t go alone. That’s what a Betty is: a best bud girlfriend with a fast side ready to challenge anything that comes along even if it’s off the beaten path and she’s in heels.

The Stumpjumper became Stella. Dunno why. Stella is a cowgirl with a hoarse voice, a whiskey on the table and a cigar in her hand. I like her. She's the girl cousin raised out on the farm, up with the rooster mucking out the stalls in the morning, unafraid of exploring the old cars abandoned in the back woods. She cleans up well and knows how to put on her red boots and have damned a good time...and she talks about it the next day.

The Giordana track bike, soon to turn road-fixie? No name yet. Something Italian...male with long curly locks and an accent I could never hope to understand. He's the one I could stay in with and look at all night. This beautiful frame is a work of art. When we do finally hit the road it'll be for supper under the street lamps at the local sidewalk cafe.


The old Moab mountain bike is destined to turn single-speed. Unnamed. But, I know he's a low-key, older backwoods man. Solid. Dependable. This one shows his years and his scars, but isn't one to fall apart. Heading out with him means tramping through the wooded fields in flannel and denim with a pair of sturdy brown leather work boots.


The steel LeMond is on its second life as a tourist with a triple...willing and able to go anywhere anytime. Who knows? Maybe a name with connotations of racer - turned - normal - joe...maybe LeMond? Plans for this one include couplers on the frame which means traveling will be even easier than it is now. While his colors don't always match, there's one thing I'm sure of: this joe will never be caught with black socks and sandals paired to bermuda shorts...a camera draped across the handlebars, maybe.


The 1961 magenta Schwinn Starlet with the streamers and built-in horn...curved and padded in all the right places: Marilyn is a little obvious here.

Regardless, the grocery-getter was christened today. After some finishing touches yesterday (wire racks, longer stem, cheap computer) I headed out on errands this morning. Besides hitting the bank, I picked up things at Home Depot, Target, Cub Foods, the LBS, Snyder Drug and the Liquor Store. All the while, John and Paul sang through my head: Dear Prudence won’t you come out to play, greet the brand new day-hey-hey-heeyy. Prudence Prodigy. I think the name will stick. It’s got a good beat, it’s easy to dance to. Prudence is the one who made it through the years of peace-and-love in spite of the daisies and crocheted vests -- she's finally clear-headed about her priorities, but man-oh-man she still thinks about what she used to do for fun.



- TOB and the sunny sky-hy-hy-hies

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mute Swan Song









one final ride
out on the trails
one more wahoo!
temperatures warmed
lucked out again
quitting tomorrow
our swan song they called it

...what’s a swan sound like anyway?

snow fell last week
20 degrees
caught us unready
just not prepared
those clothes too hot
these are too cold
don’t know what’s just right yet

...and why all the significance?

then melted away
cleared roads again
avoided winter
by skin of our teeth
width of a sidewall
by length of a spoke
the flinch of our resolve

...is it melodical? definable? is it like opera?

what of the life
we spin for ourselves
ride to the job
pedal the errands
give up those things
for sake of the cold
look out of a windshield

...there’s gotta be a description somewhere....

winter’s own sun
ventures on out
midst of the cold
breaking through clouds
warming the roads
sunset comes soon
fresh crisp air to breathe-in

...not only do "mute" swans not sing as they die, but they produce snorts, shrill noises, grunts, and hisses throughout life.

so

...hmmmmm....

swan doesn’t sing, then
there is no end to
rides down the trail on
beautiful days which
continue in white
throughout this season
of determination

…but I’ll bet they don’t need toe warmers!

:-]

- TOB, learnin' to stay warm

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Going through Withdrawal!

The commute was the thing that kept me sane -- there’s something about hitting the road and not having to think about where or how long. The duration and the destination are a given. All I have to do is ponder life. I arrive at either end with a calm, clear head. But ice and snow hit last Tues. and I’ve been driving to work since.

I'm considering my options for building-up a winter commuter. I’ve got an old hybrid that I’m using close to home as a grocery-getter, but it’s got such a short reach that (even with a longer stem) using it for a 24-mile round trip commute would border on painful. I’m thinking about looking into a Surly Cross-Check frame and outfitting it with old components I've got strewn about: 8-speed Ultegra front combined with some 8-speed XT on the rear.

This would then leave the old mtb available to convert to a singlespeed.

And, since the Crosscheck has near-horizontal rear dropouts, I could cannibalize my old track bike should the fixed-gear bug ever bite...which then would finally get the Giordanna out of the garage and up on the wall inside the house...lugs and embossed main tubes...it’s art.

Hmm. Might have to start digging into this idea.

- Old Bag's got a Project

Friday, November 18, 2005

Receipts so Far

Anyone else ever have a month that starts off like this???

Mobile Station $28

Cub Foods $57
Cub Foods $33
Cub Foods $64

LBS $125
LBS $35
LBS $130
LBS $99
LBS $14

Chin's Takeout $6

- hmmm

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Benediction

...an invocation of divine blessing....

I’m rarely without $20 and a credit card in my pocket when I ride. Food. My concern is food: weekend rides have a way of growing along with the day and the weather, and I hate to have a beautiful pedal cut short because I have no engine left.

But this was a quick weekday afternoon summer spin, checking out my old ride to see if it would be comfortable for an upcoming tour using my mountain bike shoes and pedals. I wouldn’t be far from home since it was a quick spin after lunch -- grabbed three ones from my purse and stuffed them into my pocket in case a coffee shop called to me. I hopped the Greenway through uptown to Park Ave. and headed north to the River Road through the old flour-milling district. It was a beautiful afternoon. I skirted downtown on 3rd and headed toward the bike highway just as rush hour was beginning.

I don’t quite know what it was about this man on the corner. He clutched his sign, stood on the cement while the horde sat in its car at the stoplight and then passed him rushing to somewhere on a beautiful afternoon. Tall, proud to be a part of all of us, humble; he watched, not with accusations nor pleading nor indignation, but with humility and concern. This man watched us all with quiet intensity.

I hopped off the bike and crossed in front of the traffic that was stopped at the light. On the way to the other side I grabbed at what was in my jersey pocket and held it toward him, suddenly aware of how paltry it was. I looked at my out-held hand. There I was with my “old” bicycle, with a home in a safe neighborhood, a dependable car, a job.

I had $3.

My feet slowed and I couldn’t look at him, unsure of what to say. Words couldn’t come. What I offered him amounted to nothing.

He received me with grace and warmth, with a genuine smile and warm words of thanks. He blessed me; he God-blessed me and thanked me, and he wished me to have a wonderful day.

I was unworthy of his grace.

May he do whatever he wants with it! The poor will be judged on the use they have made of their alms, and you will be judged on the very alms that you could have given but haven't.
-- St. John Vianney (more thoughts...)

- humbled old bag

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oscar at the Backdoor: 6 PM

eat eeaaat eeeaaaat eat EAT eeeaaaaatt eateateat eateateat eaaat eat? eat?? EAT! eeeeeeeaaaattt eat? eeaaat.........?

- TOB, yeah yeah

Oscar at the Backdoor: 6 AM

out oouuut ooouuuut out OUT ooouuuuutt outoutout outoutout ouuut out? out?? OUT! Ooooooouuuuttt out? oouuut.........?

- TOB, alright already

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bicycles and iPods

(Thanks for the inspiration: Gwadzilla's post from 11/3; and to Eayste over at the Universe for the reminder of just what it's like to cycle in SD)

man
no earbuds
notime
noway
nohow
no never
ever

not even
on the rural
roads of South Dakota
where the wind
is relentless
the prairie
is relentless
the need for
stimulation
is relentless

one
one
one
is the number
of times
it takes
for lack of awareness
to have
irreversible
consequences

but not for us

for those
who love us
depend upon us
entwine their lives
with us

one

- TOB (say no)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Evening Vespers Interrupted

My bicycle commute home starts shortly after 4:00 and provides me with 50 minutes of transitions: the daytime blue slides into orange and pink, clouds become bottom-heavy and the ground temps start to chill as soon as sunset hits the treetops. It’s both spiritual and sensual, and it helps me complete my inner transition at the end of my day...those 50 minutes bring me to terms with the fact that the fretful really isn’t worth fretting. It’s something neither a car ride home nor an after-work bicycle ride from the house can do for me.

Yesterday, I watched the sunlight slip away as I pounded on the work computer until 6:15. I was prepared for a long day, figured I’d be there into the evening. Facts are facts. Gotta do what needs to be done. From the wrong side of the window I watched the late-day colors transition and bounce from cloud to cloud -- they were carrying on our routine without me. My restlessness grew...maybe it was jealousy. It had been a beautiful day, rare this time of year in Minnesota, and I was disappointed to miss the near-60-degree air in my lungs on the ride home. I told myself that my evening routine would be intact. It would just be darker and cooler.

But 6:30 is an edgy time of night, especially on a Friday. Whoever is on the road wants be home or be somewhere else...he’s leaving work later than he’d intended...she’s on her way to start the celebration of two days off...someone somewhere is dipping into the routine reserved for them and they need to get there to reclaim it. The 6:30 roads have a sharpness to them as people, myself included, take the most direct route to get there.

Hitting the trail for my last 3 miles didn’t bring the calm I was sure it would. At night the highway 7 underpass is suspect...its far nooks and dark crannies harbor spooks. I swiveled my headlight from left to right in a quick scan BOO!

Oscar was relieved to greet me when I arrived -- our routine had finally begun. I threw on my fuzzy winter tights with a fleece, cracked open a Negra and started supper.

- finally, The Old Bag again

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

On the Food Chain, Plaid Rules

On Monday a guy in khakis and a plaid shirt with dress shoes on a 35 lb. 3-speed Raleigh with what could pass for a grocery cart hanging from his handlebars dusted my @ss on the way home...yeah, he was only going 6 miles and my one-way is 12 -- that's it.

Stopped by the LBS tonight on the way home and was given a hard time about using my racing bike for commuting...my cool factor has definitely warmed. A new 'cross ride has been in the back of my head for months. Now, it may be a necessity.

Or, maybe I'll just get out my Schwinn Starlet and give up the lycra.

According to a post in the MTBR Women's Forum, I'm all over the cycling food chain...from Trackie (4th) and Cat. 3 (7th) to Tourist--Non-loaded, organized group in mountains (18th) to Commuter on Racing Bike (27th). I wonder if there's a time-qualifier -- I might have to forgo my 4th and 7th places since I haven't raced in three years. Hopefully, the Unspoken Rules section will show I qualify for moves!

Fingers crossed!

- TOB wondering what message plaid really sends

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

But Why?


How come you
ride down the roads?
...stroller,toys,neighbors,driveway,carstopsoncrosswalk

But isn't it
dark in the mornings?
...solitude,peace,sunrise,waving,manoutforstroll

What comes out of
all that time spent?
...heartbeat,strength,lungs,muscles,strongpairoflegs

But what about
all the house projects?
...patience,slow,waiting,delay,housecanbeputoff

It seems like
a lonely pursuit.
...people,club,community,riders,trashtalkabounds

So tell me,
what drives you to ride?
...freedom,dancing,release,wings,unfetteredflight

- TOB

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Fascination of a Convert

It all started with:
ROAD: songs in my head
MTB: no songs in my head, not a note, not even the hanging silence of a concert piece after it ends

Then I realized:
ROAD: quads
MTB: hamstrings

ROAD: hips and legs
MTB: hips and shoulders and legs and back and a light touch

And as I thought about it more:
ROAD: civilized social conversation
MTB: I AM SO GOOD!! What happened to YOU, man?! You suck!

Descents:
ROAD: WHHEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
MTB: waah-ha-haaa-hhhaaaa-HOOO!

The bicycle:
ROAD: Windex, Windex, Windex
MTB: dirt clumps, grass, a couple sticks, leaves under the brake pads, weeds wrapped around the cassette preventing that one gear I need...for the second ride in a row.

The look:
ROAD: if ya can’t be good, gotta look good
MTB: look?

ROAD: well-stitched, put-together lycra
MTB: holes? where? oh.

ROAD: socks match the jersey
MTB: black one: hole...red one: ripped -- it’s a pair!

The flow:
ROAD: awareness
MTB: focus

ROAD: balance
MTB: maneuver

ROAD: read the line and know
MTB: wha --

ROAD: guidance
MTB: gremlins

The intangibles:
ROAD: trust
MTB: zone

ROAD: grace
MTB: finesse

And after a colossal ride:
ROAD: beer with a turkey deli sandwich and apple pie alamode
MTB: beer and a burger with a cigar chaser

In the end:
ROAD: I live for it
MTB: can’t live without it

- not so Old Bag

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Oscar Needs a New Buddy

or
Why I Don't Blog Regularly


- TOB

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Two Ponies

or
Betty (road bike) and Stella (mountain bike)


Betty
sleek, weightless
flowing, spinning, flying
thoroughbred, racetrack, bronco, rodeo
bouncing, pulling, balancing
unbridled, explosive
Stella


- diamante by The Bag

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bananas and Apples...

...were my first purchase while riding my reborn beater bike to the grocery store (along with picking-up a bunch of stuff from the LBS on the way since the beater needs her own tubes, seat bag, frame pump, tools....). Back in 1993 she helped begin my second life as a cyclist. We rode down the Oregon coastline and through the Canadian Rockies before I realized.

There are better-suited bicycles for riding distances on the roads.

Since my old beater also had clearance for skinny knobbies, she was the first to take me along the river bottom trails, before the river bottoms were a place. We headed east off of Bloomington Ferry Bridge Road through the trees and skirted a cornfield before popping back into the woods that border the Minnesota River. There were a couple other off-road excursions before I realized.

There are better-suited bicycles for riding singletrack.

I got those two better-suited bicycles... and another better-suited for racing and another better-suited for the track and another better-suited for childhood memories. The ’93 Giant Prodigy spent ten years hanging upside down from the garage rafters; her only job to preserve what was once. She went to Oregon and Calgary. She was the only.

Until there were others.

This past September she came down for a dusting and degreasing, and for a replacement saddle. Last week she got her own tool bag, a frame pump is on its way from a store across town, and panniers are in the mail. It took three years after moving into my new old house before I realized.

This is the perfectly-suited bicycle for my new old-neighborhood life.

How ‘bout them apples (and bananas)?

- The Old Bag

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wisconsin, not Oz

She’s a bitch. In a screeching swipe of her scrawny arms the temperature drops and the clouds roll. An upcurl of her dribbly, pock-marked nose drains legs and attitudes. Brakes squack. She shows up unpredictably and unwanted. Hated. Last weekend in the coulees of Wisconsin there she was, in a spectacular tunnel of orange, creeping behind the trees.

Tip this road up just a bit’ll make the burn a little more intense. What...she expects her legs to have snap when she’s been pilfering away these short fall days back at WORK?! We’ll see how long those skinny old sticks of hers can take it without a granny ring....

She lured me, lulled me with a couple rollers and a screaming downhill on a low-traffic road. I bit. I let my guard down, let loose, tucked and flew. She knows descents are my weakness. Such a sucker. At the bottom around the sweeping curve the upgrind began -- a twisting, nasty climb with short inclines that leveled just before each turn and afterward rose up like a wall. Over and over, on the most scenic section of road that day.

A month ago I’d have danced past her, hollered back about the stunning show of colors and the nice little bump in the road, wondered aloud if we’d eventually hit real hills. This time I gritted my teeth in acceptance of my obvious inadequacies. She beat me.

Hag.

- Tired Old Bag

Friday, October 21, 2005

Fehcking A!

Where the hell are my legs?!? Criiiminy. Ride the roads all spring and summer, hit the massive hills of Maine for a week, my legs are hydraulic pistons! PISTONS, I tell you. Until today, a little mountain bike spin at an urban trail system near home, and all I had was damned Creamette noodles!!

-The PO'd OB

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yeehaw!

or
...so THIS is Mountain Biking

Baiku ...that's bicycle haiku (like this guy only different)



wheeled barrel pony
gleaming, spotless, too shiny
restless for dirt paths

autumn day arrives
crisp, bright, exhilarating
anticipation

hesitant first moves
apprehension morphs to skill
fixed concentration

streaming through clearing
busting into woods hauling
through tight singletrack

races down cleared trail
dances over jumps, bumps, rocks
pushes corners wide

celebration of
speed, focus, intensity
‘round the next barrel

cables pinged and twanged
finished! heading home to rest
sweetly exhausted

- TOB

Friday, October 14, 2005

Breathe Grateful

A true Minnesotan, she said, "Could be worse.” She’s happy to be alive and is glad to be able to join us for the weekend, even if she’s not on the bike. These days she's marathoning…at least that's what her body thinks each day by 2:00.

Her lung capacity is down to 30% due to scarring from Scleroderma…at its most basic, sclero=hard and derma=skin. It's a chronic connective tissue disease that falls under the same category of autoimmune diseases as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Due to the scarring on her lungs, oxygen just doesn't get transferred from her lungs to her red blood cells.

I was amazed by her cheerful weekend attitude. She laughs heartily and has dancing eyes. She misses riding terribly, but with her husband's support is able to do other things to still enjoy life. She works at the Courage Center helping others find ways to live with their abilities.

- The Old Bag

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ashes

For over a week I put-off heading to the vet's to pick up Barney's ashes. I figured I'd be walking out sobbing over a cat-sized, cat-weighted box in my hands. Wasn't ready for that. I'd almost wished I hadn't opted for his ashes back -- maybe it would have been easier if he was just gone. But dammit, I paid a ton for it and the cheapskate that I am I wasn't going to let good money sit on the back shelf in some office. I needed a ride after work anyway so I threw on the backpack and headed to the vet's on the way out. If I was a wreck I'd just pick him/it/them up and head home.

That's IT? She handed me a small white box about 3" wide, 3" deep and an inch and a half tall. Big enough to fit a superball, but lighter in weight. Huh. I hadn't expected a curiosity.

So, we went for a ride, Barney and I. He finally got to see the urban greenway and lakes near home from the back of my shoulders.

- TOB

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Endorphins until Tuesday

We dribbled in to Lake Owen Resort throughout the day last Friday. It’s a great place for a crowd -- log rooms that can fit four, a couple apartments, rooms with kitchenettes - rustic…all rustic. The doors open onto a boardwalk which leads in one direction to Lake Owen (an awesome sight in the early morning) and in the other direction to a common building with a screened-in porch, a hot tub and a gathering room with fireplace, pool table, dining tables, couches, fridge, and fish mounted on the walls. We watered and beered that evening, then sang to the fish in preparation for a 50-mile weekend.

We rode Rock Lake and headed over to Patsy Lake trails, both off the Namakagon Town Hall Trail Head. Sunday we hit the Ojibwe Trail outside Telemark Resort. The Cable, Wisconsin, area is known for epic cross-country skiing in the winter, but I had no idea the mountain biking was this good. Our timing was perfect: fall colors were at their peak. Temps were in the high 50s. It was exhilarating. Sensory overload.

The leaves on the ground hid the trail, but if you looked closely enough, you could see the depression where others had ridden and could find your way. And the rocks? I hate rocks! But, rocks covered by leaves are a piece of cake. Can’t see ‘em, don’t know they’re there. I rocked. Damn, I was good.

Except on big rocks. Damn I sucked.

We rode through stands of mature red maples and screaming yellow oaks, transitioned into pines with brown needles as groundcover, then into a crowd of young saplings -- white trunks 2” in diameter. The trails were serpentine and technical. I almost get what a testosterone rush is.

And in the midst of the beauty was the trash talk, the occasional breakdown, and 5 guys doing the “statue” pee 20 feet off in the woods every damned time we stopped (what’s up with men and their bladders?). That doesn’t happen in a road cycling crowd.

The road is different. There’s a flow and a oneness, a common purpose, a quiet determination, a smooth balance. Riding the trails is like being on a barrel pony. There’s focus and jaw-clenching and control on the edge of control while every part of bike and rider grabs onto the next challenge.

…an awesome weekend.

- The Waaa-HOOOO Bag

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

81% is More than a Chance

Rain rain chance of rain thunderstorms a large area of showers and thunderstorms motorists should curb their speed with ponding of water on area roadways.

- Old Bag's Gotta Get Out

Monday, October 03, 2005

So She Says to Me....

Oh you're the one! You're the one who's fast. I've heard about you. I want to learn from you. Teach me how to be fast. Help me be fast.

I joke. I CAN help you be fast.

We're all clipping along and she, like the majority of others, swirls around in the chaos of bicycles going down the road. Obviously she's a strong rider. She's just not a smart rider yet. Truthfully, I'd be toast if I were hanging out in the wind like she is. Now and again she shows up beside me.

So you're in the small chainring are you always in the small chainring this time of year after a season of getting into shape how come you're in the small chainring insteadofthebigchainring?

She's observing the observable. She's looking but not seeing. She's grabbing on to something familiar. The subtlety escapes.

First rule. Learn to draft and do it well. Find a good draft and stick. It saves your legs for those times you need it.

Yeah well, I hear you raced what types how long what cat howlonghave youbeenout???

I answered. She swirled off to somewhere else.

At the rest stop I caught her and gave her the old bank account analogy ending with save it for when you need it.

Oh, I always draft.

No, you don't.

She looked at me.

Oh, I just have a bigger fun quotient than you do I'm not going to get allserious over it I love talkingtopeople it's notworthitifIdon't.

You asked, I'm telling. Use what you've got when you need it, and don't use it when you don't need to. Shoot the shit with people, but do it while you're drafting someone. You asked, and I'm just tellin' you.

You're right. I asked.

She told me about her cycling background and how she chooses drafts -- there are few people she'll ride behind. Smart. She stays away from the woman in the yellow. Double smart. She can see some things.

She put her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.

And, I like to make men feel this big every now and again while on the bike.

My eyes narrowed. We're on common ground here.

She turned to my friend Dave.

I like her she's not afraid to put me inmyplace wegotta rideagainsoon!


- The Oldfastbag

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Not a Fred

...our moves mirrored each other's, increasing in intensity and slowing now and again, but always steady. He knew his lines and how to find the sweet spot, and we cut through the chaos easily. It was effortless.

A girl appreciates a guy who can give her a great draft.

It's the thing I miss most about road racing and training: riding with someone (anyone!) who knows how to be part of a whole, have a common purpose, be better together than we are alone.

I haven't quite adjusted to the haphazard way of recreational cyclists. I have learned to have no expectations, however, and have discovered that instead of sticking to a wheel for the sake of sticking, it's best to maintain my line and pace regardless of what's going on around -- the fred ahead will create a gap because he'll decide to jump out front for no discernable reason, and always there will be another fred to unknowingly slide right in. Fred doesn't get that he's doing a helluvalot of work and is saving MY legs for the hills meaning he gets toasted by a girl. Neither does fred understand connection and common purpose. It's chaos. Riders surging and slowing. Bicycles zagging side to side.

Some sort of zen brought the two of us together...yah, that or plain observation. He was fluid, sure, aware. I tucked into the pocket behind him and knew his moves. And I stuck.

What a ride...oh baby.

- TOB needs a cigarette