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Nov. 11, 2005

When in February I noted my interest in fixed-gear bikes, I said I was unlikely to get one of my own because I would be a pretender, buying into a niche for the sake of being bad-ass and sexy.

But then I learned about how many roadies use fixies in the winter to improve form and maintain high cadence, and I was keen for a winter ride that would be more fun and faster than the beater mountain bike I've used in winters past.

With those practicalities in mind -- plus, I confess, aspirations for the bad-ass and the sexy; I need all the help I can get, and at 30 I'm beyond caring whether anyone thinks I'm a poser -- I headed to the local fixed specialist.

The shop's owner is a hero when it comes to promoting cycling and servicing fixies and track bikes, and he's generous with his time, knowledge and discounts. But a salesman he's not. In one respect this is refreshing, the indifference I sensed when I announced my intent to buy. Then there were delays in finding the frame I was interested in and getting it built up. In Judaism there is a tradition that when someone seeks to convert, a rabbi refuses them three times to test their commitment. Perhaps that's what was going on. Only on my fourth trip to the shop did I finally sense blessings to own this bike, and that it was OK to convert.

Her name is Marcella. She's a Surly Steamroller, but I'm not a components slut so I can't say much about the rest of her, other than, yes, Mom, there's a brake.

Riding fixed is like learning to ride all over again. I haven't fallen over yet, but I often forget that there is no freewheel and thus no coasting, and when I dismount my legs are bowed and wobbly. Once it becomes second-nature, the fun starts. That's the $900 wager, at any rate.

My bikes are named after whoever enabled their purchase. Charity was a gift. The Colonel was financed by selling my employer's stock. Marcella is named after my friend Marcel, who got me the moonlighting gig that paid for her.

This is different from my computers, for which my naming convention is to choose a virtuous woman from whatever book I'm reading ahead of the purchase. Going back to my college laptop, then, the computers I've known: Phoebe ("Catcher in the Rye"), The Rachel ("Moby Dick"), Madame Psychosis ("Infinite Jest"), Eliza ("Quicksilver") and Petra Cotes ("One Hundred Years of Solitude").

It's true: I may not objectify females, but I feminize my objects.

Photo taken: Nov. 11, 2005