Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Cyclist’s House

unhurried repairs
measuring and mindfulness

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


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
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 shui is for all, is it not?

... . .

Is it possible for the Bike Shui to affect only

. ... . .. .

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....

. .. . ... .


- TOB preparing to begin this quest alone

Monday, December 26, 2005

Lament of the 43-Degree Day

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
I'm off to spend the day with the, 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.



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, and wearing lycra 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've 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.

- 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 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 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! 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....


Monday, December 12, 2005

Now THIS is a Girlie Cycling Poster

Slowin' Down for the Greyhound

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

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'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



until I found out
I shouldn’t



* 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.


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

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


I sit
to coalesce
but they
all sit
in their
own corners
to come
to the middle
of the floor
and dance

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