Naming the New (to me) Bicycle

Recently my friend A. introduced me to her dog, Nell. 

“Same name as my vagina,” I said, citing an old social media meme that instructed the reader to “name your vagina after the last movie you saw.” At the time, the last movie I had seen was Nell:

My friend S. said the last movie she saw was “The Hustle” and we all laughed.

As of that conversation, the last movie I had seen was Shazam, on the plane home from France. Shazam would make an excellent vagina name, but I’m already attached to Nell. Like Nell, my vagina is almost impossible to understand unless you get to know her really, really well, and is probably better off without any more dicks in her life. Also, Jodie Foster is super hot.

But I do need to name my new (to me) bicycle, a used Lightning P-38 Voyager, and for this, Shazam is perfect. Shazam’s superhero costume is red with a lightning bolt; my new bike is red with the Lightning Cycle Dynamics logo:

Shazam transforms back and forth from a smallish mediocre kid to a big impressive stud; likewise my bike transforms from a compact collection of parts in a hard-shell case, into a strong impressive road recumbent.

Momo supervises the opening of the 26″ x 26″ x 12″ case. The rest of Shazam is still under the foam pad.
Assembly in progress. Lola tried to help by biting the ends of the cables.
Almost done! The only available reference was these videos, and the Voyager’s design has changed some since then. Fortunately, it was easy to find youtube videos of rear-derailleur-mounting, and other parts, such as the disc brakes, fit together like a puzzle. Bike mechanic-ing does not come naturally to me, but I’ve dealt with enough recumbents now to at least know that if I’m slow and patient, I can usually manage.
Success! I later installed the rear rack, which came with no diagrams or instructions and felt like it took almost as long as the whole bike. Then I rode her around the park. Shazam is the first short-wheelbase recumbent that has felt “natural” to me. As soon as I install a decent handlebar mirror, we’ll go on a longer ride. And if that works out, we may travel together overseas, which is the whole reason I bought her.

Another WOMAN Ride

Notice the W (8 miles) connects to the O (10 miles!! because of displaced retracing) at the top, rather than the bottom. This spared me 2 miles of gravel retracing on County Road 100 E, although I wouldn’t have minded them since I was on Connie, my big thick-tired steel Tour Easy, rather than Silver, my small skinny-tired aluminum Gold Rush.

As I wrote on Strava yesterday:

This is actually a really nice route, so I did it again (with a slight variation from before: see ). This time I brought a gravel-appropriate bike. Note that Prospect, on the last leg of the “N”, is under major construction; I carefully rode along the dirt next to the partially-paved road-in-progress, but it is hazardous.

With the ride to the start and home from the finish, it’s a little more than 100 km.

Scenery and gravel on County Road 100 E, the right leg of the W.
Typical Champaign County view.
My magnificent, gravel-appropriate steed.
Road construction on Prospect, the right leg of the N. Up ahead was a lot of active heavy machinery, and a justifiably concerned worker warning me to “be careful” as I slowly pedaled along the dirt.

Related: Strava vs. Women


Strava vs. Women

I have been using an app called Strava to record my bike rides for the last four years.

Recently, Strava started promoting men in women’s sports. Specifically, a male cyclist named Rachel (nee Rhys) McKinnon, who has been setting “women’s” cycling records, because mediocre males still have physical advantages over elite females.

I have been urged to quit Strava and leave a one-star review. I may end up doing that, but I really don’t want to. Changing familiar apps is a pain in the butt; I have friends on Strava I will miss following; and I like having continuous records in one place. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with the app itself (other than harvesting and selling data in an exploitative asymmetric system, but unfortunately all fitness tracking apps do that). The problem is that the company itself is pushing anti-woman policies. I don’t want to support their woman-hating propaganda, but the price of quitting is high, for me and other women who use the platform.

So today I did this protest ride. I “wrote” the word WOMAN with my bike, and titled the result, “Woman Means Adult Human Female.” The word required about 44 miles, plus 16 miles to get to the start point, and about 5 miles to get home, making the whole ride 65 miles — just over a Metric Century.

I designed the route on a competing app called Ride With GPS, which I also used to record the ride simultaneously with Strava today.  If I have to quit Strava, at least I’m familiarizing myself with an alternative.

My hope is that other Strava users will do similar protest rides, spelling the word WOMAN and titling it “Woman Means Adult Human Female.” Anyone can do it; Ride With GPS is free and its route planning tools are easy to use. It would be heartening to see people do this, and use the very same misogynistic Strava to connect with each other (I’ve already connected to 2 cool women bicyclists on it today, because of this ride!).

If you’re in Central Illinois, I’d be thrilled if you rode the same route! But beware it has 7 miles of gravel. I chose these roads because they were the only ones near me that could fit the full word, including a residential area to make the zig-zag diagonal of the “N.” Detouring around gravel wasn’t an option today, because I had to stick to the plan to “write” correctly. But if I can survive 7 miles of nasty gravel on skinny road tires, anyone can.

I also made this mini-route in Urbana that is so short (4 miles) you could even walk it. It goes through lovely, leafy West Urbana neighborhoods, and some very nice University of Illinois campus. Note that Nevada Street is quaint brick, and Lincoln Avenue is busy.

If you do your own WOMAN ride (or walk, or run, or swim, whatever) comment or tag or email me and I’ll add it to this blog.

UPDATE 9-18-2019: Another cyclist has already done a WOMAN ride!

Big ups to Rae Faba of Ohio!


UPDATE 10-13-2019: I did another 100km WOMAN ride, a variation of the same route:


Can anyone identify this unusual bike?

It’s a folding crank-forward, with one hinge in the middle and one on the steering column. It’s branded Specialized and stickered Belize Bikes Canada (I’ve checked their web site, they no longer sell anything remotely like this). It looks sort of like a prototype of the Tartaruga, but it probably isn’t. I just bought it from a guy from Chicago, whose only information about its provenance was he got it from a neighbor. It’s old, but how old? The serial number on the steering tube is JP05048017.

The backrest is useless – my back doesn’t come close to reaching it while my butt is on the somewhat slippery seat – but it is a remarkably comfortable ride. Maybe it’s that great big shock absorber, or maybe it’s the  squishy tires, which specify “inflate to 35 pounds”. It’s slow, even at its top gear, which is 6.

I’ve searched various combinations of the following terms: specialized, crank forward, semi recumbent, folding bike. I have yet to find a picture of this bike anywhere.

What is it?

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