What’s in a name?

4 Oct

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

I call bullshit on Mr. Shakespeare. Names DO matter.

Cristin, Zoo, ‘Stin, Mouse, Crissy Sue, Sissy, Z, mama-Z, Ms. Zeisler, CZ, etc. Those names matter. The person who responds to the first name is not nearly the same as the one who answers to the third, or the fifth, or the last.

Shakespeare’s error is not limited to human names, either; He was wrong about the nature of inanimate objects’ names as well.

Take, for example, a bike.

Would you expect bikes called Rachel and Dexter to act the same? How about Bruce and Bob? Or Wilma? Or Avengelyne?

Three times in the last ~10 days, I’ve had unexpected conversations about my bikes and their names. Two of these conversations ended with exhortations that I should commemorate my bike christening stories on this blog.

Ever obliging, I do so now:

Rachel

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I owned plenty of bikes before Rachel. I even loved some of those nameless bikes — like the one I mentioned a few posts ago. But Rachel was different. Rachel was my first real relationship with a bike.

You see us here at the end of the Hotter’N Hell Hundred (HH100) — a 100-mile bike ride in North Texas on August 29, 2010 (yes, it’s a very aptly named bike ride). I got the bike in September of 2009 for the specific purpose of training for that hideously stupid ride. The furthest I’d ever ridden before that was maybe 15 miles and it had taken me the better part of 2 hours to do so. I needed to do 100 friggin miles in ~7 hours (or so I was told by the trio of idiots who were planning this masochistic adventure). That was daunting.

The HH100 training bike sat in the corner for more than 3 months while I engaged in magical thinking tasks designed to convert me into a cyclist.

Turns out: Magical thinking doesn’t work. Damn.

I would need to actually train for this thing. That meant I’d need to put in a LOT of pedaling time. I hired myself a Coach. He set forth a plan that, indeed, included lots and lots and LOTS of pedaling time. That bike and I were going to spend more time together over 7+ months than I would spend with pretty much any other human being. That bike and I would need to become really good friends, and who is the best friend ever?

Rachel.

Duh.

So, that’s how she got her name.

She was a really good friend and I mourned her deeply when she got killed by the crazy dog-lover doctor lady who hit us on PCH. My mourning period was closely associated with (but just barely less than) the amount of time my hand spent in a cast. When I bought my new bike (about a month after the accident, but before I was “cleared” to ride) I couldn’t tell whether it was a boy or a girl (generally, that can only be discerned by actually going for a ride), but I KNEW that it wanted to have an “X” in its name.

So I took the bike home and made a list of boy and girl names with “x” in them. I gave the list to Jay. He looked at the list. Looked at the bike. Looked back at the list, shrugged and said: “I don’t know, hun. I don’t think it’s any of those names. That bike looks like a Hector to me.”

HECTOR? Are you kidding me?! That bike is NOT going to be named Hector!  … But at least that solves the gender riddle. Apparently this bike is a boy.

Ok, then. What’s a boy’s name that sounds like Hector but has an “x” in it?

Dexter

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So, that’s how Dexter got his name. But what happened next is what proved Shakespeare to be so very wrong. This bike, by any other name, would NOT be the same.

After naming the bike, I decided to look up what “Dexter” meant. I didn’t have TV back then, so I had NO idea about the implications associated with the Showtime series (although those would come into play later, once I actually got TV/cable).

Dexter (latin): Of or pertaining to the right hand.

Jaw drops. Sweat beads. Heart palpates wildly.

Holy smokes! How perfect is that? I got this bike because my left hand (which is my dominant/writing hand) was broken. I was rendered (temporarily) right-handed when Rachel was killed.

I was made dextrous. He was Dexter. It was a perfect match.

Only later, after I got TV/cable and began watching the eponymous show (in early 2011), did I see how that name might be “less than ideal.”

<foreshadowing>

Dexter (the bike) tried to kill me in June 2011 when he sent my head crashing into a highway embankment. Actually, he tried to kill me a couple times. He spilled me on the tracks in SF (lucky for me, it was just after a trolley had rolled through) and he dumped me and made me crack my helmet in front of my Coach while we were working on standing drills — just a slight concussion (and major embarrassment) that time.

But I got my revenge on him in September 2012 when we got plowed into by a hit-and-run bus that killed Dexter and gave me a broken clavicle.

But before that, there was Bruce.

Bruce/BoB

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Bruce is shown here at the Washington, DC Sofitel — my home away from home for so many years. Once I confirmed my cycling addiction (by buying Dexter after my broken hand/dead Rachel incident), it was obvious that I needed to have an East Coast bike to help me maintain my cycling high while I traveled.

Therefore, after a successful rental session with this bike, I bought him. He’s not an exceptional bike in terms of performance, by any means (in fact, he’s kind of sluggish, slow to respond, and a bit on the heavy side), but he gets the job done and the price was too good to pass up.

I thought to myself: Who do I know that’s chubby, sluggish, slow to respond, but perfectly serviceable at a relatively low price point?

A former law firm partner of mine from the late 1990s, Bruce F., immediately came to mind. Perfect. I dub thee: Bruce!

But then things got complicated, because not long after I named this fat, slow bike “Bruce,” I became well acquainted with a Bruce who is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of those things: Ride2Recovery’s Ride Director. And things got even more complicated on the blog ‘cuz I’d have to include parentheticals:

Bruce (my piece of shit, fat, slow bike) or

Bruce (R2R’s awesome, fast, ride director).

Too much work.

In addition, when Bruce (my piece of shit, fat, slow bike) relocated to California following my retirement, I wasn’t sure what to do with him. I only rode him when my “real” bike was in the shop for extended service treatments. It didn’t seem fair to him. But then inspiration struck: If I could re-purpose him, I could also re-name him! … Two problems solved at once!

So he got some new parts (most notably a 30° stem) and transformed into a solid, standard “commuter” bike rather than being a sub-standard race-training bike. New use = new name!

So the bike formerly known as “Bruce (my piece of shit, fat, slow bike)” is now called BoB, which stands for “Bucket of Bolts.” I feel like this naming convention (capital B, small o, capital B) will un-complicate my blogging should I ever need to write about BoB (the bike) and Bob (a putative human).

Wilma

My beach cruiser’s been around for awhile. In fact, it pre-dates Rachel by several years. But like I said earlier, Rachel was my first real relationship bike, which is why she got a name. And then once I had Rachel AND Dexter sitting in the same room with the beach cruiser it didn’t seem fair to leave it nameless.

The beach cruiser was clearly a “girl” bike. And it required me to use foot+ground leverage in order to really get it started/stopped. It was like a “Flintstone” bike ….

Ergo: Wilma.

Easy.

Which brings us back to what happened after Dexter’s demise.

Avengelyne

There are those who would NEVER EVEN THINK about getting another bike after having so many catastrophic/near death accidents in such a short amount of time (3 hospital trips in as many years = seriously not cool, I get that). But, I am not “those.”

I am CZ (not Cristin, or Crissy Sue, or even Zoo, ‘Stin or Z…), and CZ –a name given to me by my Coach and used by everyone in our cycling circle– is a truly different breed. CZ not only gets back on the bike, she also respects the fact that cycling can be a shitstorm of mayhem and carnage. So, if CZ’s getting a new bike, that bike needs to reflect that level of fierce seriousness.

The first challenge was to find a bike that physically lived up to that demand. Coach scoured the dealer booths at InterBike and I scoured the interwebs. Eventually we came up with this:

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It was just a frame, but Hoo-boy, was it a beauty! And it was very clearly a female. A feme fatale, even — evoking all kinds of fantasy-realm imagery.

Coach is well steeped in the whole (still bizarre to me) world of multi-player online gaming, comic books, sci-fi, and other fantasy-related niches. Although I don’t really “get” that world, I can fully respect some of the things that it offers/represents. For example, I totally dig some of the badass female characters that inhabit/dominate its realms.

And so, while suffering a bout of insomnia, I came up with 3 comic book female names for Coach to choose among: Avengelyne, Callisto, and Katana. Personally, I favored Katana. Coach’s response was: You have too much time on your hands….  I like Avengelyne, but it’s a little long.

I suggested that we could her “Av,” for short. He said, “Done.” And I said: “I wonder if parents of actual people feel as happy about naming their children as I do about selecting an appropriate bike name? ‘Av’ — I love her already…”

As with Dexter, I later learned how totally apt her name actually was:

Avengelyne is “an angel who fights the forces of evil and often finds herself face-to-face with demons, monsters, and the like.” Perfect.

Avengelyne also was, ultimately, built up using components taken from my other bikes: Rachel’s bottle cages, Dexter’s cranks, Bruce’s saddle and pedals. She avenged the spirits of my murdered bikes and she (and I) live to fight another day.

And now it’s time to ride.

4 Responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Adam Harita October 9, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Very entertaining. “AV” is my favorite – in every way. I call my Shiv “Shiv” and my Secteur “Sector”. Why would a company name a bike after something convicts use to kill each other?

    • justadventures October 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

      I might need to meet your bikes and give them some proper names.

  2. Carissa Barker October 11, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    So are you telling me to stop calling you ‘Stin?

    –Bark, Rissy, Riss, Rissa Lynn, RC, etc.

    • justadventures October 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      No, not at all! I’m totally ‘Stin for / with you. That’s actually kind of the point. 😉

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