I, Stumpy Crankstamper - Jimmy Carter thinks I'm a sinner - CycleBlaze

February 17, 2007

I, Stumpy Crankstamper

Cornelia: "Da, I am Romanian"
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I have been changing my tyres, I have replaced the chain and the cassette, and I have bought a handlebar bag to get at my camera more quickly. To be honest, I'm itching to buy all the maps as well but reality insists I'd be better to get them as I go.

Something else I've done is make little visiting cards. They're not my invention; I got the idea from Joy Santee, whom I met in America, and she found it a lot easier to give other cyclists a card than write out her e-mail and blog addresses in a rainstorm.

I was just typing in my name when I realised something I'd never considered before: that one of the joys of cycle-touring is the anonymity. You pass silently through one community after another; you're part of the scenery rather than staring at it through a car window like so much more television; people see you approach and part but nobody knows who you are. You are the Unknown Traveller.

Which means you can be anybody you choose. Your identity is yours for the day, yours to pick. You may not get away with calling yourself the Duke of Edinburgh but one day you could be Slim Thighs, the pedalling cowboy with the mysterious smile. Next day may make you Stumpy Crankstamper, the fearless rover of mountain passes.

Woman could take this further. Why not name yourself after an attractive disease? Cholera... there's a good first name for the day. "Yes, yes", you'd say with a sad smile, "I know it's silly but my parents wanted to pay tribute to a friend who died of it." Nobody would know whether to believe you but you'll have lightened their day.

As you get braver, you could name yourself Syphilis. Quite a pretty name, really. It has the air of a heartbroken Victorian gentlewoman arranging flowers in an empty house. "Poor, poor Syphilis," people would say. "She loved and she lost and she will never be the same."

Anyway, I have made a short list of suitable names for every mood. I will call myself Jukebox or Spike, or I will give myself an enigmatic, gangster-like name and call myself Léo "Two Buckets" Woodland. When people ask why, I will sigh and say "It's a long story" and change the subject. Other days I may speak nothing but a little-known language from east of the Caucasians.

If you're beginning to think I am getting frustrated at how long there is to go before this ride, and that I have too little to do to fill the time... you may be right.

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