Saturday, March 21, 2009

A bike by any other name

Vinnie kindly gave Sheldon and I a ride back from the garden in College Park in the late afternoon. A bit stiff from the afternoon's mulch pitchforking activities and wheelbarrow maneuvering, I flopped down in a chair, scarfed a banana muffin, and called over to Revolution Cycles in Georgetown to check on the status of the bike I had finally decided on: a 50" Surly Long Haul Trucker. (Color: Truckaccino. Love it!)

I'd done a lot of reading and asking people during my quest for the right bike for me. Being new to biking, it was a bit overwhelming. At least once I decided on a touring bike this cut down the options somewhat. Being of limited financial means also narrowed the field considerably. I visited a bunch of shops in the area and test rode what I could. The problem, it seemed, was that no shops happened to have a bike in my correct size, so everything was guesswork. (Also, keep in mind that I have only been biking for a month, so every new bike felt weird.) The Trek 520 was pretty good; I'd tried a few Jamis bikes. But when one salesperson described the Long Haul Trucker as virtually indestructible, something that "you could throw off a building and it wouldn't break," my mind was made up: that was my bike. And in spite of the photo of Dubya consulting on bike matters that sat framed near the front door (complete with secret service agent leaning against a pole in the background), Revolution Cycles would be where I bought it. Friendly, knowledgeable, and patient, Steve, the shop's manager, had talked me through the fitting process and warranty last weekend and I handed over my federal tax refund.

Luckily, Steve was working today when I went to pick up my new partner -- name TBD. We checked the seat height, the brakes. Later, when we started chatting more about my trip, he tried to talk me out of my determination not to bring a camping stove in order to have space in my packs for dancing shoes. (I'm still not convinced: I would choose salsa dancing over oatmeal any day.) Most importantly, Steve pointed out that the name I was kicking around for my newly acquired bicycle, Sheldon Junior, was a bit lacking in creativity. My friends Tori, Rudy, and Steve, who met me soon afterward as we strolled through Georgetown, confirmed this. On my ride home, when I wasn't dodging cars veering into bike lanes, I pondered this. Hazel? Shirley? (Come on, the Shirley the Long Haul Trucker has kind of a ring to it.) Man, now I know what my pregnant friends go through choosing names. At least I only have to deal with a tire pump rather than a breast pump at this point. The name... hmmm.... this is important.

Let's say whomever writes in with the coolest name gets the first postcard I write on my trip. I set out the end of April. Let the names begin!

Meanwhile, I am going to work on fostering a supportive relationship between Sheldon and [for now we'll call her] Shirley. This is critical, as the newcomer does not have a kickstand. I like to think this lack of kickstand is because she is more highly evolved, kind of like people who are born without wisdom teeth (at least that's what my friend Woody, who never had wisdom teeth, used to say. Then again, he was born with three spleens, so who the heck knows. But I digress...). Shirley and Sheldon seem to be getting along alright so far, though I sense both are vying for the alpha cycle position. Shirley certainly is a classy bike, and all shiny and new. She has a bit of a trucker mouth, though....


  1. I'm kind of liking names that sound like trudge (trudging through mud and cow patties)....Madge, Smudge. Maybe Bertha? But I do like plain old Shirley. Or what about an old CB radio type name? "Breaker, breaker 1-9...this is..." crap - I can't think of my old handle. The first career I ever claimed was in middle school and it was A LONGHAUL TRUCKER like my friend's dad. We ended up going to Clown College instead - really. We did a few birthday parties and then retired by age 15.

  2. You could honor your hero Michael Pollan and name your bike "Polly" which has the the unintended coincidence of also honoring Polyface Farm, which set this project into motion. When Ibti rides into town... Along came Polly...

    Or, to honor your goal of the ideal garden, you could call her Eden.

    She's also the color of a butternut squash, so you could name her Butternut (only because I think it would be bad luck to name a bike Squash)

  3. Not bad, not bad. Mom weighed in earlier today with Clarabelle. On a bike ride around some of the monuments this afternoon, my friend Steve was fixated on Chester, while another contingent of the cycling group seemed more in favor of Ulysses. Hmmm. Lots of good ideas out there. Keep 'em coming. I'm leaning toward Eleanor (after Ms. Roosevelt) at the moment....

  4. the surly is a strong bike that's ready and willing to put in the work. i was going to suggest a new name but i think i'll stick to Roslin. a strong woman that stepped in when duty called. think of president laura roslin or rosie the riveter. i would give you another example but that one might be better for the "race the muscle" site you were telling me about.

  5. nebuchadnezzar!

    his life traced the path of awareness, awakening, and change, a very appropriate name for a bike whose owner is dedicated to just that, bringing about a sort of awakening.

    .. okay, so that's more about the matrix and the awakening of mankind, but it has so much potential for nicknaming! nebu, chad, nezzi, zarzar, bucky, and so on.

  6. I like simpler names for something like a bike. Shirley is good, maybe Bob. Some of these names are a lot to live up to.

  7. Yeah. Eleanor is definitely in the lead these days, but I'm going to wait a few more days and see what else folks come up with.


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