superbly packed

Apologies for the radio silence...the job hunt has been all-consuming but I'll be back soon!
Especially because I did this this past weekend...

Thanks to Tom at Superb for packing my track baby with so much care!

in limbo

To be honest, it was sort of hard to even look at my track bike the past few days.
It’s more than a little embarrassing to admit, but this time last year, I hardly knew what a derailleur looked like. I naively thought that only things with cogs and lockrings mattered. Sure, I had friends with road bikes, but those never seemed to get ridden. It was fixed or nothing.
Ironically, it was when I decided I wanted to put some decent miles on my legs that I suddenly found myself in an uncomfortable limbo. I was hanging out with roadies, but given their inability to go less than 30mph on “easy” rides, even if they were female, I’d never be able to keep up. Solo rides on a single speed were [and continue to be] my destiny. Sure that meant I got to go at my own pace, at whatever time I wanted, without worrying about being categorized as “deadweight,” but that’s not to say that I didn’t get more than a little discouraged or lonely last summer.


For the record, people did offer to ride with me. But I didn’t want to be a pity case; I never want to be a pity case. So I politely declined and went it alone, but tried to absorb as much from competitive cyclists as I could. And between the talk that didn’t involve bikes, but pieces of our lives, it almost seemed like it didn’t matter how much I couldn’t ride. They asked about my bikes and answered my never-ending train of questions; I asked about their girlfriends/wives/fiancees and was even seen in their presence with no eyeliner on. But then, in a response to an honest email I sent which was really only meant to inform about my own current cycling-related battles, came what felt like an electronic bitch slap:
“If you spent 15-25 hours a week training and racing and immersed in the side of cycling that I'm in I could see why you'd [think that]...”


To be fair, the email did tell me to just be myself, but it stung more than the last time I had to spray Bactine onto a knee that was clearly missing flesh. In hindsight, I should have just told the respondent that I never got the memo on how to be his friend, and left it at that. In reality, after a further snarky exchange, I managed to [electronically] spit back that if 15-25 hours of training was required to win his [or anyone else’s] respect, that I didn’t want it. And if he chose his friends based on their training programs, I honestly didn’t care if I didn’t make the cut.
I know, aren’t I immature?
To his defense, I still think he’s a nice guy. But it was a harsh reminder of my perpetual status in limbo [or lack thereof?]. There’s nothing I’d love to do more than ride on a banked ‘drome and try to get dizzy in the corners, but simple enthusiasm doesn’t really get you anything. And when the only sport I’ve competed in involves wrapping my legs around a one ton animal and trying to hang on, maybe he was right when he said that I’ll “have to work hard to dig [myself] out of that hole.”


That email scrolled through my head again a few days ago, as my attempt to crest a hill with gusto tapered off into out of the saddle climbing, face screwed up in an effort to complete the pedalstrokes. It was snowing, and as usual, I was ill-prepared for the weather. A man drew up beside me: a super commuter, the kind with more than one shade of neon on his back, lights on both his helmet and bike [front and back, mind you], and a bundle securely fastened to his rear rack. He told me he was headed to Natick, “from here, only about 11 miles,” and shamelessly drafting off of him, I went down that hill faster than I would have ever tried it alone in those conditions, and pedaled faster through snow than I probably should have.
It wasn't an ad hoc race, or a competition of any kind. He knew I was behind him, but made no effort to drop me or prove what I already knew: that despite his pretty dorky attire, he was a better cyclist. None of that mattered, because we were both precariously balanced on two wheels in weather that most people try to avoid walking in. Yeah, we weren't about to win any UCI points, but that was okay. We were having fun. And in the end, that's what it really should be about, anyway.

wild thing

Going to the dentist freaks me out. Like most people, I don't particularly enjoy getting the insides of my mouth poked and prodded with sharp, cold, metal instruments. I might not even mind that discomfort, actually, if it wasn't for the lies.
Why is that? Like every "don't worry, this won't hurt" is dentist code for "grab the sides of this chair because I'm about to blast air onto your raw nerve! Woo!". And then there's the "relax, I'm just going to take a look [and pull out this wisdom tooth once you allow me access to the back of your mouth!!! AAAHAHAHAHAH SUCKAAAAA!!!!]." One can only take so much of that, and once I give up, lying in that dentist's chair placidly, my dentist will always tap my shoulder, saying "don't tense your shoulders up so much, relax," and if it weren't for the 4 different metal objects in my mouth, I'd tell him that I'm not tensing up, I just have broad shoulders, but thanks for reminding me of my manly attributes.


Even after surviving traumatic wisdom tooth extractions [it involved a hammer and chisel, and yes, I was conscious], I still cringe and whine before a dentist appointment. The association is too strong to have those harmless tooth cleaning sessions absolve the dental profession in my mind. And it's that same unforgiving ball of anxiety that greeted me as I threw my leg over the Dolan last night.


Because for once, it was out in the wild. More familiar [and lighter!] road drops having replaced the anvil that was my steel track drops, I had hoods to grab onto for dear life but I wasn't sure how that would actually translate. I remembered balancing precariously on those white-tired, pink-rimmed wheels and wobbling dangerously as I attempted to keep the track drops straight. I remembered almost biting it a block from my apartment. I remembered how it felt to tear open a few knees on asphalt. I remembered being on a bicycle and feeling slightly afraid.
So I cringed a bit, and felt a little uneasy sticking a foot into the toe clipped pedal. But with a deep breath, I pushed off and it felt easy. Maybe all that time on the rollers paid off. Maybe I just got better at cycling. Maybe riding the Dolan wasn't so terrifying as it was incredibly fun.


The Dolan's light aluminum frame slicing through the last rays of sunlight in the quickly darkening afternoon, I was almost tempted to ride it on the street more. Good thing my gearing borders on the impractically ridiculous if inclines are involved. Because otherwise, as stiff pain reminded me this morning, I may not have much knee left...

flopsy cranks

Handshakes. The first physical contact with a stranger you're supposed to like. A strange social greeting with which you can gauge the other person's social confidence.
Well, at least if the hand offered to you is limp, slightly damp and hardly makes an effort to grip your hand. There's almost nothing worse. It leaves me mentally recoiling, searching for the first opportunity to wipe my hand somewhere without anyone noticing. Unconsciously I usually end up pushing the hair out of my eyes, then almost getting dizzy with panic at the thought of limp handshake sweat near my face.
It's the worst. I think most people would agree.
So it was kind of surprising that that was the first thing I thought of when I finally switched back to the freewheel last week. I had only been riding on the fixed side for about two weeks, but when I hopped back onto my bike, my cranks were positively floppy.


And limp...! Lacking the resistance of a fixed cog, I was lurching around on the street, silently freaking out at the unfamiliar feel of a bike that seemed much looser. And consequently much harder to control.
It took about a block or two until my legs finally understood that pushing back on the pedals did nothing except result in small spurts of terror as the bike continued forward. I consciously had to force myself to coast and stop pedaling when descending. And I was back to dragging my bike up the hills, no momentum pushing my pedals up.
But heading home from work last night, I weaved through a few cars and squeezed though some tight spots, remembering a few weeks ago how I split lanes for the first time in NYC. And while I was fixed then, I realized I was using my brakes to crawl forward on my freewheel, something I know I couldn't have done [without crashing] a year ago.


Stopped at a light, I watched a guy on a yellow IF ratchet his pedals, his cleated feet never touching the ground. I still can't do a trackstand to save my life, so I opted just to watch, leaning on my handlebars, half sitting on my top tube. The light turned green and a small hill was up ahead.
I beat him on the way up. Then got my ass handed to me on the way down. It's the small things, I guess.

suit yourself

suit yourself 4

I've been eyeing the IRO frames for a while. It's an understatement to say that the black single-speed/fixed frame is ubiquitous but there's a reason for it, right?

It's sleek, simple, and looks good under pretty much anyone. It goes with every outfit. It looks professional without all the loud decals and clashing colors. It's classy without trying too hard.

I hope this hat does the same - it can be more professional but won't look out of place in an alleycat. Especially in an alleycat. Turn up that brim and rep your hometown.

suit yourself 1

suit yourself 2

suit yourself 3

$20 plus shipping & handling

[This hat will comfortably fit most heads that are 22 to 23 inches. It's fully lined and comes with a cloth sweatband as well as elastic in the back for a snug fit.]