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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Alley Cat

So when I met Corinna I didn't even know what an alleycat race was. I hadn't figured out how to use my bike to get to an from work or to and from campsites. I hadn't even ever used my bike to run an errand.

She got right on fixing that. In the hero's journey described by Joseph Campbell, there was my call to action and my refusal, then I met Corinna and she was my mentor. Which I guess means I married Yoda. Dreams really can come true if you let them.

Anyway, the other day she got embroiled in a Facebook fight with a certain local character who runs an alleycat. I won't get into the details here (or probably anywhere, I just want to forget about it), but people on all sides were being jerks. People on all sides were missing very legitimate points made by the other side, invoking things that should not be invoked and generally doing the Facebook equivalent of when chimps throw their shit at zoo visitors.

I can see both sides. On one side, you had someone who organizes an alleycat for zero pay, and no matter what prizes he awards to what riders, people will hassle him about cronyism, sexism, nepotism, and some other made up isms. And they shouldn't because this shit is done for fun, and if you don't like the way some guy runs an alleycat that's just for fun, you can damn well start your own alleycat. Run it your way and let other people bitch at you for not doing it just so.

On the other side, after Corinna came to with her bike on top of her in an alley two and a half years ago, she hasn't been able to do these things. In Star Wars Yoda gets to die of old age still perfectly able to light saber a Sith into mincemeat. Corinna hasn't even been able to work a full week since her crash. She's prone to epic migraines that sometimes come several a day. Her stamina went from 170 miles in a snow storm with a fully loaded touring bike to two to three miles no matter how light the bike is loaded. Sometimes eight or ten miles.

She's been doing vision therapy, which the jury is still out on. She has reason to believe it will help with a lot of her symptoms, but that she has to get worse before she gets better. Right now, we're getting the worse part for sure, with no guarantee of the better. But there's no quit in her, she's an Olympic athlete and you don't get to that dance if you're wanting resolve.

And last winter, before the vision therapy quest started, when she wasn't quite as debilitated as she is these days, she tried to return to alleycat racing. Participated in an event she'd actually won before. The pics you're seeing here are spoke cards and trophies from various events, both alleycats and events like Critical Mass she was a part of for years. She thought of herself as a part of this community, these urban cyclists who use bikes for transportation and get together for fun events like Rim Job where people race bikes with no rubber on the wheels and Street Cred, held over weekends in January when you can usually bank on weather that will keep the average cyclist at home.

And when she fought tooth and nail to just show up to one of these things, not one person asked her where she'd been. Nobody asked her how she was. And she didn't win, big surprise since just getting there kicked her ass, but then a woman who did show up and compete, who did win, got a pair of socks while the male counterpart got a messenger bag. And yes, there were 30 guys and six women, and it's not about the prizes. Plus yes, it was a free event, but as a bystander even I (who is rarely confused with a feminist), cringed a little. There was a definite vibe that the girls who tagged along were just being humored. And I didn't say anything because I wasn't sure how to bring it up to the organizer.

Said organizer is a good guy. I know of genuinely good things he has done, charitable, selfless, admirable things. And he runs a fun, free event. And he was dragged into a Facebook fight by my wife, and in the end had the good sense and class at least to delete the whole thread which in my view made everyone involved look like asses.

At this time I think Corinna is persona non grata at an event she isn't well enough to participate in anyway, and as her husband I'm probably persona non grata there, too, which is even less relevant since I was never competitive in these event anyway. And it's been promised that the event will be even more sexist thanks to anyone daring to call it out, so that should be super fun, and I'm sorry we'll miss it.

Hopefully these pictures (poorly focused some of them, one thing Corinna suffers thanks to her injury is she's light sensitive, so speed lights are not an option when I'm shooting in the same room with her) illustrate what she's lost. One of her alleycat trophies, she remembered F.C. won first in the men's division but she didn't just win best female but had way more points than he did, and F.C. quipped that he was glad they had gender specific prizes so the fastest man would get a trophy, too.

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