Out There: The Name Game (You Can Win Stuff–Really!)

A moment of silence, please, for our dear departed Bessie.

Written by: Susan Lacke

Though I survived the Great “Captain Crash” fiasco earlier this month, it brings me great sorrow to announce that Bessie didn’t. She’s totaled, gone forever.

I’m somber. Even though I had an ongoing love-hate relationship with my bike (okay, FINE, most Saturday mornings it leaned toward hate), I have to say: I’m really gonna miss her. She was my first real bike.

Like many cyclists and triathletes, I spent more on my real first bike than I did my first car. Like many cyclists and triathletes, I spent more time on my bike than I did with some of my closest friends and family members. Like many cyclists and triathletes, I bathed her and loved her and told her every day how pretty she was.

And, like many cyclists and triathletes, I gave my bike a name: Bessie.

There’s a strange phenomenon within the cycling and triathlon circles where each bike gets a unique moniker. Sometimes, the name is kept between bike and rider, but often, people refer to their bike by name in casual conversation, as if they were real people:

“I took The Silver Bullet out for a ride this morning.”
“Man, Pam is just acting up today. I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”
“Hemingway and I are unstoppable!”

The Name Game is quite interesting. There seem to be no rules, but when it comes to naming one’s bike, there’s a lot of common themes:

CELEBRITY: The upside to this is the endless enjoyment from saying “Honey, I’m going to go out and ride George Clooney for a couple hours. I’ll probably be hungry when I get back.” The downfall? Fame is fickle. If you named your bike Mel Gibson during the Braveheart days, things are going to be more than a little bit awkward at the group rides from now on.

DRAG QUEEN: Dollface, Divine, Rosie Cheeks, Marsha Mellow, or any other name which looks as if it would fit in well as an opening act for RuPaul. Carbon fiber never looked so FABULOUS, daaaahling.

COLOR: I’ve seen dozens of “Jolly Green Giants,” “Pink Panthers,” and “Black Beauties” at the races. They never use the color titles the bike manufacturers use. Then again, I suppose “Aqua Teal Giant” or “Pearl Luster Lady” probably doesn’t have the same ring (although, now that I think about it, “Pearl Luster” might be an excellent name for a drag queen…)

LITERARY REFERENCE: Chrissie Wellington is famous for riding Kipling, named for the author of her favorite poem. Other well-read bikes include Gatsby, Holden, Hemingway, and Sam I Am. Don’t call us stupid. We’re learned folk.

WEAPON: If you name your bike after a gun, bomb, weapon of mass destruction, or slingshot, obviously you think pretty highly of yourself and your ability to rack up kills on the course. Or, if you’re slow like me, you’re trying to be ironic.

OBSCURE REFERENCE: Because naming a bike is such a personal thing, sometimes the meaning of the name is only known to the rider. I know a triathlete who named his bike “Phalanges” – an odd name, until you discover he’s a pianist for a living.

SIMPLY SWEET: If you’re a sucker for tradition, you give your bike a short and sweet name, like Joe or Sally. People who go this route, in my opinion, tend to be the most devoted to their bikes. It’s sweet, really.

Though I’ve lost my dear Bessie, I’ll never forget her. I’m happy to share she is currently resting at “a very nice farm upstate.” I’ve ordered my new bike, and can’t wait for the adventures which lie ahead for the two of us. I haven’t yet named my new girl, but as I spend time with her, ride her, and possibly spoon her as we sleep in the bed (still trying to figure out how to explain that one to my boyfriend), I’m sure her name will come to me.

In the meantime, I’ll live vicariously through all of you and your awesome rides.

What did YOU name your bike? Whether you’re a cyclist, triathlete, or just someone who rides a bike for fun, Pearl iZUMi, RoadID, and Gu Energy Labs want to know! They’ve partnered up to share an amazing prize package for the most creative bike name. Comment below with the name of your ride, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win an amazing prize package of iZUMi’s ridiculously comfortable ELITE gel-vent gloves, a gift certificate for any RoadID product, and a Gu Energy Performance Sampler Pack with all the Gu-ey goodness you could ever wish for.

Winner will be selected on Wednesday, June 29, and announced in “Out There” on July 1!

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