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