Sunday, January 18, 2009

That's My Boy, Blue

I have a thing about giving things names.

It’s kind of like my obsession with crazy hats. As the crazy winter hat gives my dull winter an exciting life, a name can infuse vigor and meaning into anything.

Look at my dog. His name is Boss. Not only is it his name, it’s a conversation starter. Every where I take my little Boss people ask “is he the boss?” You bet. Not only that but he is the Mayor McBarks, Sir Barks-a-Lot, Barks Magoo, Shlomo McNulty, Nibs, Crap Wiesel, Little Shit and sometimes just Boss Boss.

….Should I go on?

What if I had named him Bobo. Once I visited the vet and he mistakenly called Boss “Bobo”. I almost threw a biscuit at the guy. You call yourself doctor? Does this look like a Bobo to you? Does he look like a clown? Chihuahuas are small yet mighty (arctic) dogs that lived in the hills of Mexico making their nests in large sombreros (all lies). Really though, a dog like Boss needs a sturdy name lest someone mistake him for a 9 pound accessory dog (which he is not).

Not only am I gifted at naming dogs, but also non-living things. I used to collect stuffed monkeys. Brought upon by a spell of loneliness after my husband subjected himself to a two week trip to China. I bought a monkey to replace him. Bite your tongue, it was just for two weeks. I christened the monkey Mr. Pickles and over the years he grew to have an entire entourage. Sir Zippy Jumbles, Scribbles and Scraps (twins), Waffles and Peanut Butter.

Growing up we had a pet bird named Rosalie Birdie. That was after Quincy MD, also bird (and medical doctor of avian species), died. A dog named Cookie. An assortment of fish named after spices (Marjoram, BayLeaf). An imaginary friend named Lassie. A make believe restaurant that I not only owned but waitressed at called The Country Kitchen (I lived in Brooklyn – does anyone else see the irony in that?). A Pound Puppy named Cookie (no relation to real dog). A Cabbage Patch Kid named Danica (who later went on to become a famous race car driver). About 10 dozen Barbies AND her dream house (still have the fabulous 70s furniture from it too). An entire classroom of students that I taught in my grandma’s kitchen when I played school. I had a grandma called Momma and a mother that went by Mom (both real). And a great grandmother we called Ema (which means grandmother but we are not sure in which language). We called my brother Larry even though his name was Pete. And when I was little he was simply known as Pee-ba. Growing up my stepdad called me Liz O’Dimus (we are not Irish, the name O’Dimus originated from a speech Chicago mayor Harold Washington gave in which he said he did not want any more “hocus pocus dominocus”, O’Dimus was a variation of that which meant – I think – that you were behaving like a complete fool). My husband’s phone number comes up on my iPhone as Pooperstrudel (it really is his nickname born from love). And even Ragbrai includes an assortment of real people with code names: Red Bear, The Timmers, Shady Tom and who could forget…Trixie.

But this isn’t about dogs. Or stuffed monkeys. Or other nicknames. It’s about something more serious than that.

It’s about my bike.

I sit upon my bike several hours a week looking for a name. Something that sits so close to my booty deserves a proper name. A proper burial. Something like that.

People name their bike all sorts of things. Some people ride with their name painted on their bike (really, I just could never, have never, would never do that for how can you be a stealth threat with your name painted on the frame, huh?). My last bike was named The Machine. Because it was. Chris names his bikes things like Cupcake, Sunshine, Raindrop.

Could you imagine Chris riding a bike at 26 mph with Cupcake painted on the side?

And I know I’m not the only one that names my bike. I’ve realized some of my athletes name their bike too.

Fuzzy Puppy Cuddle
Charlie Brown

Thank goodness for Training Peaks.

A name. A name for my bike. JH fake pro from New York (he called himself a fake pro first) is trying to name his bike. He got a sleek new black bike from Cannondale. Of course he wants to name it something like dark death metal killing machine. But for a girl’s bike – that would never do.

People name other things with wheels. In high school my friend named their car appropriately, Car-Car. Another drove a Nova which we renamed the “No-go”. Bessie, Sparky, Cobra…I imagine these are all things you would name your car. Or even your monster truck.

But what about a bike? If it had a name, what would it be?

I look at my bike sitting idle in the basement. Forgive me bike but it has been 2 months since our last confession. Or our last ride on the road. Early this winter, I ignored you for about 4 weeks and left you in a deconstructed heap.

My apologies.

But now you are back and I ride you frequently. Plus I have known you for about 2 years. We should at least be on a first name basis by now.

The other day I rode you for 1:45, the longest ride since early November. It felt like eternity. How quickly our endurance fades. I cannot say I am looking forward to riding you longer in the weeks ahead. Even with Rock of Love to entertain me (if you don’t know who Bret Michaels is, shame on you), 1:45 is sort of a long way.

In addition to a new season of Rock of Love (TOUR BUS!) - to make rides more interesting this winter, I have also found a way to add more wires to the complicated web of wires and sensors close to the rear wheel. My new favorite toy: a Computrainer. I did a power test a few weeks ago and damn you bike you are hiding watts from me. There are about 15 missing and I would like them back. Rather than piss and moan about how out of shape I am (because really, I am, and I’m not going to sit here and feed you a line of “chipper chicken blah blah” about how it’s January and I’ve never been in better shape), I will just continue to ride you and hope for the best. Or at least some of those watts to find their way back to my legs.

About a month ago you started to sputter and hiccup in the rear wheel. I wasn’t sure if you would make it through another season. Chris took the rear wheel apart to find a 5 dollar bill in there from when I last flatted at mile 76 along the Queen K. I felt compelled to give Chris’ mom her 5 dollar bill back but then again – I think I just bought myself coffee for a few days. And for you, bike, a new tire quieted you down.

Together we have ridden nearly 10,000 miles in the past few years. I noticed the other day that the computer is getting dangerously close to 10,000. Do you remember where we rode all of those miles? West Coast, East Coast, two trips to Hawaii and….I know, mostly a lot of loops around Fermilab.

A bike like this deserves a name.

But what?

My bike is blue. One of my favorite colors is blue. Blue can be turbulent, moody, hopeful and calm. It is deep like the ocean and limitless like the sky. Blue is, come to think about it, kind of like me.

And so I christen you…Blue.

Blue, rest up this week because ahead of us we have a lot of riding to do. Like any new year, this year is limitless. A few times a week I will saddle up to become stronger, smarter and faster on you.

“You’re my boy, Blue!”

I asked Chris about a name for his bike. Doesn’t have one, he said. I told him to humor me. Give it a name. A few seconds later he said…


Huh? Like the animal? Vulpes vulpes (spend 7 years teaching science and you learn a few – and just a few – things like kingdom phylum class order family genus species to be remembered by the phrase Killer Penguins Can Often Find Good Sex and as if THAT wasn't enough you also learn latin names for animals). But why "fox"?

he said.

I think that was his polite way of telling me that it was ridiculous to give your bike a name.

But I don’t care. I see Blue and he looks….glorious.

Yeah, something like that. We’ll see how long that lasts because I have a feeling the long rides are getting longer and 1:45 on my bike in the basement will seem like nothing in due time.

But at least now when I curse at my bike for stealing watts, when I talk to myself on my bike out of boredom or when I sit on it for a few hours straight I will feel like I have someone I am talking to. Blue.

Blue, how come there’s no ice in my Accelerade?


D said...

At least when it's time, you will have an AMAZING video of the funeral for Blue.

Alicia Parr said...

I named all of my family's dogs except for my brother's, who he named Mandy (after Amanda Beard).

Oh, and King Philip Called Out Five Good Soldiers. And I'm not a teacher. I actually remember that from grade whatever, which is news to me.

Molly said...

LOL! My bike is named Fiona since she's red and fast. I don't have that programmed into Training Peaks though :)

And Ema is mother in Hebrew.

Keith said...


Meredith said...

I think I know of this Charlie Brown you speak of. :)

And yes, it does look like Charlie Brown.

Dave said...

Ken Poured Coffee On Fran's Good Skirt. (I have an excuse, I was a biology major)

And Charlie says thanks for the publicity. :)

Beth said...

I named my bike too! Seems only the considerate thing to do because, as you said, we spend so much time together... I also name cars (really dumb names, but names nonetheless) and my lab coats because...well, after not washing them for weeks on end, they seem to have a life of their own. :)

cat. said...

el poco grande
(loosely translated = little big one).

you've seen it, you know why.

Sarah said...

Well, my bike is Cupcake, but she goes at a blazing fast 17MPH.

Jennifer Harrison said...

Ok ..... I have Never even thought of naming my bikes!!!

MissAllycat said...

My bike is Dixie. Dixie Normus.

Tacky? Yes.

But that's how we roll.

Iron Maiden said...

I named my very first cat Horace Chuck Norris. In the vehicle department, I've had a Lucy (complete with a rubber lizard that hung from the rear view mirror named Sigmund), Gracie and now Jasper. So of course I had to name my sweeeeeeeet GURU bike something. We were on our way back from Austin and I knew that my new bike was waiting on me at home. I had closed my eyes to take a nap. I suddenly opened my eyes and exclaimed, "Trinity! That's what I'm naming my bike!". I mean it IS a TRI bike with a TRI spoke on the back. I agree that something you spend so much time with certainly deserves a name. So just sit back and close your eyes and maybe you'll have an epiphany.

GoBigGreen said...

I wonder if it is a Biker thing to name your bike.
All my biker friends name their bikes. I have 4 bikes and they all have names.
Shame on Jen H..I bet she names her swimsuits...! HA!

W said...

I freakin LOVE old school.. like one of my favorite movies of all time (not sure what that says about me but I don't particularly care) so I am so excited about your name! I think every bike should have a name..and I think you did great. Love the post as always. Congratuations, you have a bike, and his/her name is Blue.

brandon said...

Good stuff!
My roadie is Attack Mode. And the P2C is Blitzkrieg.

Roo said...

I still have my first road bike. I call her Ol' Blue.

Danni said...


Courtney Staton said...

Goldmember. "Smoke and a pancake."