Tuesday, April 13, 2010


This project will explore a new passion of mine, new in the last year or so, cycling.

What's a cog?
A cog is another name for a sprocket which is a toothed wheel or gear that is part of a chain drive. Originally, "cog" referred to just a single tooth on a "cog wheel." Then "cog wheel" was shortened by popular usage to "cog."

I like to rhyme. Most writers do if they write with their ear, because readers and speakers love to rhyme. This dates as far back as the invention of the wheel when the cooks yelled out, when you finish with that you can have your dinner." But of course it sounded better with, "finish the wheel if you want your meal."

I tell my students to look for rhyme, repetition, and alliteration in their reading and writing. Simple concepts and easy to practice. It's kind of like cycling. You begin where you begin, maybe staying upright on the thing and one by one you learn a new trick, a new technique. I liken writing to cycling. Everyone thinks that Faulkner and Fabian Cancellara were carved out of stone as phenoms, but that's not true. They practiced and practiced and practiced some more. They listened to every thing and every one that would share secrets. And then they became master thieves and stole all the tricks from their mentors and worked them into their own tricks and trades. Sure, I'll concede that for the truly remarkable there is talent woven in which the rest of us could only dream of, but a craft well mastered is mostly about habit forming, practice, and the occasional calculated risk.

Is this about writing or cycling? Well, if you know me, and you probably don't, I'll make analogies of anything. Running and Writing, Cycling and Writing, Prayer and Yoga, Running and Faith.

Back to the Bike

I began with a fixed-gear bike called a Cannondale Capo. Thanks to my friends at REI I made this purchase in the Spring of 2009. My bike is black and white, simple and sleek. The rear wheel can be flip-flopped so it also doubles as a single speed with a free wheel. When it is set up fixey the crank arms stay in motion when pressure is applied. It might be easier to explain what the bike won't do, which is coast. The cog pictured above (or soon to be) is the original rear cog that came with the bike. It has 18 teeth or protruding points that grab hold of the chain as it rattles by again and again and again. Eighteen is also the day of my birthday in June so when I removed this cog, cleaned off the grease, the idea of this blog began to blossom. I just switched my fixey set up form this 18t cog to a 16t cog so that I could spin a little slower on the downhills around town as I commute to and fro. It also makes me work a little harder on the uphills which is good for overall fitness and a big race I have coming up in June.

This blog will include posts on cycling, spiritual escapades, my travels up and down the American Tobacco Trail hoping to meet the face of Jesus as pastor of the Tobacco Trail Church. On the lighter side, it will contain reviews of products related to biking, running,and maybe even church. I might review endurance nutrition supplements or global politics. I'll try to keep cycling somehow related, but no promises. Comment harshly if necessary when I diverge, but such less traveled divergences worked for Robert Frost so no promises that I will stay the course.

I also want to trace what I am learning as a budding cyclist. There is so much beta out there, so many experts, most generous, others more guarded. Their stories and advice may be helpful along the way. I am getting interested in various cycling disciplines: fixey, road, cyclocross, criterium and maybe more. I feel like there are insights along the way worth noting because I feel like once someone has become a master tradesman and habits become innate it is more difficult to re-trace the learning and growing process. I hope to map out some of my findings along the way. I hope you will join for the journey.
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