Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nose Print on the Window

Silver sleek lines,

Illuminating surface,

Secret union,

the beckoning
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!

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 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

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 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 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.



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’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 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)

no earbuds
no never

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

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

but not for us

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


- 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 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?

But isn't it
dark in the mornings?

What comes out of
all that time spent?

But what about
all the house projects?

It seems like
a lonely pursuit.

So tell me,
what drives you to ride?


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!

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: 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

Why I Don't Blog Regularly