What's in a Name - Melo Vélo Meanderings - CycleBlaze

July 18, 2018

What's in a Name

I've been back in Iowa for a few days and have completed the journal entries of my ride in France. I willoffer some reflections on the journey in a later entry, but first some thoughts about naming your bike.

Each of my three bikes has a name. This wasn't always so - for 25 years my 1990 Trek 520 was always "the 520".  In 2012, I bought a Trek Madone, a high-end build that had been a demo bike on RAGBRAI for the previous two years. Though it was more bike than I needed, I loved the ride and was especially enamored of the blacked-out finish with a barely discernible Trek logo. A stealth bike - I named her Stella. She is a spirited ride, a racehorse, and those early miles together cemented my love of cycling.  

Stella on the High Trestle Trail
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Keith AdamsStella needs to meet Mad Max, my Madone.
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For the next few years, the 520 spent most of the time in the garage, a nameless but loyal steed. It wasn't until 2015 when she accompanied me to Europe during my sabbatical at the Institut Pasteur that the 520 revealed her real strengths. During those six months, I did my first self-contained tours since 1972 - short 4 and 5 day trips on the Mosel and Danube rivers. It was on the the latter, riding from Passau to Vienna with my friend and colleague Lyric, that the 520 acquired her moniker -Dixxie, derived from the fact that 520 is DXX in Roman numerals. The tour was christened the Dixxie Chixx tour, and it whetted my appetite for more, and more extended, touring.  

Dixxie basking in the sun during an Iowa fall ride
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Dixxie showing off my newly purchased panniers
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Which brings us to Vivien George.  Vivien is a French name, meaning alive. It seemed an obvious choice. And that was it, until one night when I dreamt that her name was George. George was my father's middle name, a name that, for me, evokes old-fashioned strength and character - solid and unpretentious. Combining the two names best captured the essence of the bike - sturdiness and excitement. And it meant that in some way, my father was always with me, protecting me and encouraging my best. 

When I retired last summer, my post-retirement plans included touring in Europe, and perhaps beyond. For me, one advantage of cycling in Europe is the ease of train travel with your bike. However, this can often require carrying your bike and panniers up and down stairs to get to the correct platform and/or hoisting your bike onto hooks in the bike-designated train car. In these situations, the advantages of steel bikes diminish -prompting me to seek a lighter bike for my future touring plans. I settled on titanium for it's light weight, strength and smoothness of the ride - specifically the Moots Routt 45.  As a fan of low-profile finishes on bikes, I chose the etch finish, just MOOTS on the down tube, barely visible. When informed that this finish included the option of having your name etched on the top tube, I paused, wondering if/what to choose. Not wanting to have my real name on the bike, I decided on SCARP.  Carp was my father's nickname, and scarp@ was my professional email address - and it would be another reminder that the spirit of my father was always there. 

Brand new Vivien George awaiting my first bike fit
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When conveying my choice, my LBS owner asked what SCARP stood for, what the letters meant. The question surprised me, and the answer took a great deal of thought as I pondered the attributes that might best serve a touring cyclist, either on or off the bicycle. I came up with two lists:

On the bike SCARP: Strength, Courage, Awareness, Resilience, Persistence 

Off the bike SCARP: Sensitivity, Curiosity, Attentiveness, Respect, Patience

I invite everyone to comment and/or offer their own SCARP or non-SCARP attributes that you find important on your travels.

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Keith AdamsStability
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