In cyclist parlance, a winky is a reflector. This site will be my post-ride reflecting pool of thoughts. Please add yours so we shine off of each other.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Strokes 'n spokes

Biked to work four of five work days this week, including the two day of smothering heat, putting about 75 miles on Slim. Not tooting my horn, just justifying why my legs seem to feel like encased sausages covered in Bedhead hair goo. Thick is the word I'm looking for.

I refuse to complain about the weather -- I pretty much use up all my bitchin' tokens in January every year. I'm one of those "I'd rather be hot" people, or as building managers like to call us "I'd rather be responsible for starting a small electrical fire under my desk than wear more layers" people.

Yeah, yeah, it feels like a sauna, blah, blah, but no one ever lost a thumb to heat (frostbite be getting the digits). Plus, they have saunas at health clubs, right next to the tanning beds, so they must be good for you.

Another refreshing thing about heat index days is the humidipity. That's the pity drivers squeeze out to bikers, runners, walkers, dogs and whatever else happens to moving outdoors in a Freezone-free zone. This week, drivers yielded the right of way to me more often (twice), shared panting looks of commisseration at stopights and overall seemed less pissed at me for choosing not burn up the ozone by cycling.

Or, maybe the meanies and their meanie mobiles just took off for well-timed vacations to the beach.

My major heat-related emotion this week was nostalgia. Hot summer days make me want ride the pool bus to the Corydon Pool, flirt with boys from the one other county school and come home too wiped out to complain about how there is NOTHING to do.

Hazy, hot and hormonal is a good way to be when you're 14. I got a glimpse of it riding past a neighborhood pool every morning. I'd always see two wet-headed teenagers crossing the street at about 8 a.m., wearing towels and suits, enjoying the final minutes of the two hours of they day when they don't give a shit about what they're wearing or how their hair looks (Somehow, seeing their easy shuffle makes me instantly forget my own ability to worry about my hair and clothes ALL THE TIME ( track meets, babysitting, toilet-papering capers, the SAT test administrating site). They probably go home and blog about having to wake up at the crack of dawn, jump in the freezing water with skinny boys and walk across a busy road half-naked and shivering just to have an athletic extra curricular to put on their college application high school. Anyway they looked happy. And I looked hot and very aware that I was on my way to work, not back to my split-level house to straighten my hair for two hours, update my MySpace page and plot a trip to the beach with my best friends for under $200 and IM my friends all day on my iMac.

Although, those last two activities do sound awfully familiar.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A good time to have a car

Don't worry folks, Toonces the cat had the wheel. We were safe.

Other good times to have a car:
1. February
2. Saturdays at 3 for This American Life
3. When large plastic attempts to be organized must be purchased at Target.

For now, I'm refusing to buy one of those baby trailers for the bike, although I did see a very happy dog being pulled along by a very tired woman.
The one thing I've learned about purchasing both bike and Beagle paraphernalia: Do not knock them until you've ruled out complete need for them.
I want to mock the dog footies but i've seen my dog levitate almost to avoid getting his paws wet. If this happens in the winter, I'm sure there's a maker of Duggs (uggs for dogs? ) out there waiting to take my money and watch me eat my words.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

eyes wide open

Blame blogger's block for the lack of winking.

I knew I'd run right into it. [Just like I'm going do run into you, crazy chef/harem-pants man who insists on going the wrong way in bike lane every single day during rush hour. I am not moving next time. I will clothesline you, Mr. Sous Chef at Cheesecake Factory. I will "Jerry 'The King' Lawler style" clothesline you. I will.

Why the block? Well, I'm too obsessed with forcing themes -- like when I declare it's Kinkos Day at work because everyone (or four people) is wearing khakis and light blue button-down shirts). I'm too determined to give everything a sassy headline or subhead -- like when I take our dog Bailey out for a dump and think if I had a baileyblog, this would be titled, "Beagle Bailey reporting for doody."

Or maybe it's because I feel the need to report a trend. Like when I noted yesterday to a friend that the Tour de France seems to attract stars with decidely un-jocky names. Jan, Lance, Floyd, George. Of course I stopped that brilliant line of thinking before getting to any names that would prove me wrong (Greg, Yuroslav) and before letting her point out that other sports do as well: Peyton, Fran, Dwayne, Kimmie, Plaxico, Christian.

And then there's my Time-Life Mystery Book sensibility of finding kismet in barely-there, gossamer strings of connective tissue between the day's events.

Remember those Time-Life Mystery Book commercials? Cue dramatic voice: A woman in Pennslyvania asks for her French salad dressing on the side, at the same time her daughter in California feels a sharp pain in her side as she's putting on a pair of Sassoon jeans. Is it just a coincidence?

Here's a glimpse into a Winky-Life Mystery chapter: On Monday, my friend Beth, who's from Wisconsin and went to school in Madison, called just to say hi. Later that day, another friend at work told me he went to SummerFest in Madison, Wisc., over the weekend and saw Ted Nugent in concert. At that very moment, I was checking my Yahoo account and opening an e-mail from The Brady Campaign, with updates on anti-gun legislation. And you know who loves his guns, don't you? The Nuge.
Hmmm, see the concentric cirles!??!!!

So you can see why I have trouble going topic-sentence free. Or maybe not. Maybe you wonder if I EVER have a topic sentence. But even when it's buried under allusions to hair-band lyrics, high-school reveries, "Facts of Life" plot lines and endless run-on, full-of-hyphenatations lists, the topic sentence is usually there for me.

I can only thank my mom. If having my grammar corrected at my own damn graduation party wasn't bad enough, my English-teaching mother gave me this essay obsession.

True story: Driving down to Florida for spring break, 1996. I kept wailing from the back seat "I have to pee soooooooooooo bad. Can we stop at this exit?" about every 500 feet in Georgia. Every time, my mom and aunt (also a teacher) would chime in with "lee" and keep on driving past the Stuckey's signs and See Ruby Falls billboards. They wanted me to say I have to "pee soooooooooooo badly." Finally after the fifth passed exit and fifth duet of "lee." This 12-year-old losing bladder control and all sense of self-censorshop at the same rate says: "I don't know who in the hell this Lee guy is, but I am sure he does not have to piss like I do."
We stopped at the next exit.
I spend the rest of the trip showing off my command of the simili "I have to piss like a racehorse on Derby Day."

But isn't the point of blogging not having just one point? That's at least why I started doing it. I wanted a place to get down on my random thoughts cycling through my brain -- without worrying if they somehow connected in a way that would make a nice essay.

But that pesky title line up there tempts me each time. All 2 1/2 inches of white space up there, demanding a few words of tidy summation.

Sometimes days don't have descriptors you can put in bubble-lettered sorority font under a photo of that day's events. You know?! Friday was "So hot I want an SUV with four window-unit ACs instead of a bike" Friday. Today was, "Let's go to Costco five minutes before it closes and be more dissappointed by that fact than by the fact we were going to Costo on a Saturday night" Saturday.

How's this for tidy summations?
The End.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Break the chain

Despite what the network of Steely Blue Chambray Shirt Cooper and Harpie Nancy Grace would have us believe, sometimes there is just no news to report.
Sure I've seen some funny stuff while riding, but you've probably seen your own funny stuff too. So why should my spotting of frozen sausage on top of a moving '86 Accord trump whatever you saw on the way into work? (I did tell the sausage owners that their groceries were riding rooftop. They were most grateful.)

And really, some not so funny stuff has been happening that can't be shoved to the side of the road anymore. So I'm dealing with that --breaking out of some cycles, trying to stop some wheels from spinning, getting out of the rut that can get so comfy. Goodness, cycling offers lots of metaphors to ride.

I did see two real bunnies during my ride yesterday. They looked as nervous as this gutterbunny does when riding at rush hour sandwiched between SUVs and Metro buses.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

On the (side of the) road again

I rode on the road and have no rode/road rage. It was quite a quiet ride into work. Damp and slatey gray but not muggy.
Outside felt like my old kneepads from volleyball after I'd wash them. They never ever completely dried, given that there was half a cantaloupe-sized wad of padding inside a thick elastic band, soaked in salty sweat. So I'd cover them in baby powder to avoid the damp smell and friction. Then I'd go sit on the bench. Then go in long enough to serve and not long enough to dry out the kneepads.

But, no bench-sitting today. Ride, ride, ride. Pass cars. Ride, give myself a new hairdo, complete with wispies like a hippy Lisa Rhina, minus the lips.
And very little resistance -- both literal and figurative -- along the way in. Wind was light out of the ... whatever direction I was not riding toward. And only one biker riding the wrong way in the bike lane. Got to see a few people rocking out in the cars one one lady trying not to spill her adult milkshake from Starbucks, talk on the phone and turn a corner. It doesn't take much to amuse me. Sorry if it takes more for you.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Some things should not be a secret

For the love of all things both choreographed and spastic, please go to here.
If you want me to rationalize this as having anything to do with cycling, well there's plenty of spandex and awareness of one's physical space (just like the peleton). And it is revolutionary.

If you want to know why I love it, well, I watched a lot of "Fame" growing up and longed for the day when a random group of people would just break into a soul-liberating, seemingly spontaneous, yet remarkably choreographed dance number. And now we can.

Dream creep

Last night, my dream featured my current boss showing up and crashing/shutting down a wine-cooler-fueled Pabst fest I was throwing at my mom's house in high school.

Dreams are a hoot. Writing about them on blogs is probably the cross-stitch equivalent of artistic expression, but hey, that dream was blog inspired. See post from July 4. I should know how to link, but cripes, just scroll down.

An ugly sky, thick, wet air and forecasts of storms kept me elliptical-machine bound, going nowhere fast, reading GQ and dancing around like a video backup dancer to break up the cardio. My bike stayed parked this a.m. I'm a wuss.

It hasn't rained yet. Argh.
I haven't ridden the bike since I started this blog. Maybe I should start a blog about being a smart-ass and eating too many Twizzlers.
I could call it the Twist. Or digest this:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I wonder if Laura Ingalls Wilder ever felt this way. I'm having a little sharer's remorse. Like shopper's remorse, minus the receipt.

I woke up this morning and in those few seconds when my brain is downloading from the server or coming back down from whatever version of "I quit the varsity cheer squad" dream I was having, I had that fuzzy thought, you know the one: "Did I do something stupid last night?"

Luckily this question was not answered by my sitting up and banging my head on a bunk bed not belonging to myself or by Mom asking me whose Mustang GT was stuck in our front yard. Parties out in the country often end with a sports car stuck in the host's yard. The driver having given chase to the nearest corn field (or winter wheat, depending on the season) when someone bellowed,"The cops are here!"

Anyhoo, a little off course. That's how I ride.

Note: I did not say "how I roll." For some reason the co-opting of this gangsta talk by striped-shirt, shloopy moussed-hair white boys has hit me rather hard. I was fine with "What up dawg?". And "Back in the day" seems to do its job without stepping on toes.

But white guys seldom roll. They shuffle, they sprint, the giddy up, they hustle, they walk this way and they even electrically slide sometimes, but they don't roll. Even Justin Timberlake can't completely un-Caucasian his treads -- he moves, he dips and looks like the bastard child of Lance Armstrong's mom (or Debi Gibson) and Michael Jackson when he dances, but every so often I can just almost see him counting out the steps -- five and six, seven and and flip that fedora.

So I woke wondering why anyone would want to read all this. I write for a living. All my jobs have had an element of turning in a paper and waiting for the comments to come back. Why give myself homework? Why try to make new observations when everyone else does it in a more drole and succint fashion?

I dunno really. But sometimes I do have days when I wanna run in the house, fling my lunch pail and breathlessly shout, "Ma, Pa, come quick, you'll never believe what I saw in the holler on the way home from school."
So C'mon Half Pint, let's go and knock all the Nellies off their fancy pants bikes and steal Willie's candy while we're at it. Or at least find some mischief to report from in town.

P.S. Today wasn't one of those days, hence the internal monologue. Tomorrow -- back to the gutter.

Monday, July 03, 2006


"Wheels in my mind keep on turning, don't know where I'll be tomorrow ..."
- Journey.

Thank you Steve Perry for belting out these stadium-friendly ballad lyrics and giving me a double entendre to start my own lil journey here, as I start sharing my post-ride thoughts or, until anyone else actually reads this, at least writing down said post-ride thoughts. (using "said" as an adverb makes me feel very Bridget Jones -- not the sound I was going for, but obviously I'm not too concerned with first impressions, given the tip-top Journey reference.

Oh well. I'm a gutter bunny, a bike commuter, according to a Wikidictionary of cycling terms. I expected the gutter part, as I'd heard the bikeshopboys refer to us non-competitive, mudless types as such. Although, if it weren't such an obvious extension of metaphor, I'd argue that fighting traffic and sucking exhaust can feel like a battle. The bunny part is cute, sure, but what about the boy-bike commuters? Should we call them road rabbits or just assume that men in pink and yellow Jelly Belly jerseys don't really give a hoot about being called a bunny?

Questions like that tend to pop up when I'm riding. They usually start with a long list of college friends I'm going to Google and email. Then I move onto "ideas for columns to write.
I, of course, always make time for the mental Emergency Broadcast System alerts of "Big truck, little bike, big truck, little me," "Close your damn barn door on the minivan!" and
"Holyfrigginfuck, I just 'bout died so that yoga instructor could pull over and double park at Starbucks."

Anyhoo, one of the headlines on my helmut news crawl would have to be something along the lines of "Man lets woman biker pass him on road bike, retains status as man, doesn't die."
I'm no Fasty McFasty, but I can sustain a good clip, especially up hills. Almost every day after work, I find myself in a race for which I'm certain I did not register. If I did, someone owes me a t-shirt.
My "opponents" are usually males (it just happens, I love boys, I married one, so this is strictly an observation) who go all crank-out crazy trying to pass me. There I am, just counting "Support Our Troops" ribbon stickers or thinking about a headline, and, boom, we're in the final stage of Tour de Arlington. A Tasmanian flurry of pedaling signals the arrival of my competitor, usually in the form of skinny glo-stick man (Rainbow Brite-hued, moisture-wicking wear and) or frat boy Chad (5K run or Go Early t-shirt, baggy cargo shorts and a look on his face like, "I will be home and eating Hot Pockets and watching SportsCenter before lil sporty spice here gets out of her clips." )

Or perhaps I'm just projecting. No one likes to be passed. Even in a car, admit it. We're like, "Woah buddy, I have a gas pedal too, sorry I was laughing so hard at some nerdy NPR thing that I forgot to keep constant pressure applied." So if having your engine shamed is frustrating and embarrassing, imagine if that driver stuck his ass in your face as he passed.

I often catch up with Mr. Glo-Stick at the next light and it's, well, awkward. The dude tries to act like i didn't just watch him go balls out to stop at a light 5 seconds before me. And I try to act like I don't care, that I'm above all this petty competition and that I'll just go home and stew about it online. Healthy stuff.

I do understand that things are more fun when they're part of a game. And that lots of you are just plain fast. And that all of us want a lil glory. We've spent our whole day in a cubicle or in a fishbowl office meant to inspire team spirit but effective in never allow private scratching. We brew our own coffee in Easy-Bake Oven-sized single servings. We wear our face on a nylon necklace just to get into the building. We get through meetings by peppering our answers with promises of leveraging brand identity, hoping they'll get us to the end of the sentence faster.
So, of course, it's good to get out there and sweat and compete and WIN!!!
But as for me, I've usually spent the whole day trying to make everybody happy and be clever and really now, my brain is off. And my legs are just engines with a decidely un-Nascar head attached. They're not going to go start chugging just to win this stage of the W O & D trail.

Speaking of heads attached, if you want to tell me that mine is a touch wobbly, please do. Or if we have some reflections from the road (that's a tip o' the helmut to name of the blog, Winky, meaning reflector.)
Till next time, stay engaged.

Next time or sometime soon: Bikers who ride the wrong way and cute old dudes I want to set up with my mom.