Friday, 25 July 2014

Hot Pink Bootie Shorts and The Final Neon Poem!

We're just about to leave for Windsor and the 2014 MS Bike Tour. The bike tour starts tomorrow morning, we're super excited, and everyone's on their way here!

One last fundraising challenge. I'm at $675 dollars raised as of 3:30pm Friday afternoon. Here's the deal:

If I raise $1,000 by 8am tomorrow morning, Saturday, July 26th, 2014, I will wear these hot-pink bootie shorts:

(Me, looking nervous.)

overtop of my bike shorts (let's keep this PG-13) with promises (threats?) of photo evidence to come. If you want to help the MS Society and/or make a man ride in ridiculous shorts, click here to sponsor me.

Update: Holy Smokes! I'm already at $800 as of 3:34pm. The threat of bootie-shorts must be some sort of fundraising secret weapon? Also, someone left the comment: "Pink undies gogogo!" Indeed.

And now, for the final poem of the Neon Poetry Project:

With apologies to Christmas ...

Twas the night before the bike tour

'Twas the night before the bike tour, when all through the Super 8
All the creatures were merry and expectation great;
Neon stockings were all laid out with care,
In hopes that St. Neon-olus soon would be there;
The cyclists were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of Wolfville danced in their heads;
And Beth in her 'kerchief, and I in my helmet,
Had just settled our brains, because sleep is our element,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature bike rack and eight tiny cycling-deer,
"Now, Troy! now, James! now Jill and Jill again!
On, Helen! on, Andy! on, Greg and Chrystiane!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Neon Riders away! bike away! cycle away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
They meet with an obstacle, Mount Gaspereau to the sky;
So up to Acadia the coursers they flew
With the bottle full of Gatorade, and St. Neon-olus too—
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the mountain we rose;
We sprang to our cycles, we heard the whistle,
And away we all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere we rode to the side—

“Happy Bike Tour to all, and to all, a good ride!”

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A Poem as Lovely as My Bike: Neon Poetry, the Penultimate Day!

Tomorrow we leave for Windsor, NS, and the MS Bike Tour, which means there's only one day left to sponsor me, and one poem left in the Neon Poetry series.

(A Kilmer on a bike.)

With apologies to Joyce Kilmer:


I think that I shall never like
A poem as lovely as my bike.

A bike whose hungry tires are prest
Against the asphalt’s flowing breast;

A bike that looks at God all day,
And lifts her handlebars to pray;

A bike that may in summer wear
Trailing streamers, just like hair;

Upon whose saddle snow has lain;
Whose chain will rust if left in rain.

Poems are made by fools and losers,
But only God can make a cruiser.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Brake With a Snipped Wire: Neon Poetry Day 10

With only three days left until the MS Bike Tour, I have raised $500. Thanks, generous donors! If you want to join them in supporting the MS Society with a donation, you can do so here. We ride on Saturday!

It’s also time to reveal our costumes for 2014. Mama Button put in hours of meticulous sewing, and the results are amazing. Behold, Josh Kent and Neon Man.

(It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a weirdo in neon! It's Neon Rider Man!)

As for picking out the bottom half of my superhero ensemble, let me just say this: Sometimes being super means that your significant other will lift a pair of hot-pink bootie shorts from a Wal-Mart rack, hold them up to your hips, and loudly exclaim, "Do you think these will fit you?"

And now for today’s poem, with apologies to Leonard Cohen.

Brake With a Snipped Wire

Like a brake with a snipped wire, 
like a skunk in a racoon choir 
I have tried in my way to ride free. 

Like a bike stolen by a crook, 
like a penny-farthing from some old fashioned book,
I have saved all my bib numbers for thee. 

If I, if I ride too close behind, 
I hope that you can just let me go by. 
If my, if my wheel has been untrue, 
Then I, I wish it never spoked to you. 

Like a brake pad, overworn, 
like a bike messenger gripping his bullhorns, 
When my lycra’s torn, everyone averts their eyes from me. 
But I swear by this song 
and by all that I have cycled wrong 
I will make it all up to thee. 

Oh like a brake with a snipped wire, 
like a skunk in a racoon choir
I have tried in my way to ride free.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Rime of the Ancient Bike Mechanic-er: Neon Poetry Day 9

Don’t get too excited, but I feel that today’s poem might just be the apex, the magnum opus, if you will, of the Neon Poetry Project. I'm quite proud of this one, and it might all be downhill from here.

Warning: Reading the following poem might cause dizziness, dry mouth, heart palpitations, and an overwhelming desire to make a donation toward Josh’s ride in the MS Bike Tour, which is coming up this weekend, July 26-27th.

Many thanks to all the fantastic donors who have put my total at nearly $500 so far!

Today’s poem is dedicated to all the men and women who work at bike shops and gladly suffer dorky customers who show up 12 times a week to drool over shiny bike frames and ask millions of pointless questions about tread wear the best brand of chamois butter.

With apologies to Coleridge, on to today's poem!

The Rime of the Ancient Bike Mechanic-er


How a bike shop mechanic, having been harassed by the eager fixie-tross, was driven by annoyance to commit a crime, and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancient Bike Mechanic-er came to love all bikes equally.

Part I

It is an Ancient Bike Mechanic-er,
And he stoppeth one of three.
'By thine hipster beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The bike shop’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of cycl’kin;
The guests are met, the growlers set:
May'st hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,
'There was a bike,’ quoth he.
'Hold off! unhand me, hipster-beard loon!'
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—
The bike-shop guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mechanic-er hath his will.

The bike-shop guest sat on a Park Tool stool:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mechanic-er.

'The shop was cheered, inventory cleared,
Merrily we did sell
Bikes off the rack, with a full till,
No longer in the red.

At length did cross a fixie-tross,
Through the fog he came;
As if he were there to spend a roll,
We hailed him in Trek’s name.

But he ate the lunch we had to eat,
And round the shop he flew.
Questions he spit with a thunder-fit;
“I prefer this wheel size, do you?”

Throughout the shop, before, behind;
The fixie-tross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
He came to the shop to holler hollo!

'God save thee, Bike Mechanic-er!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look'st thou so?'—With my cross-bow
I shot the fixie-tross.

Part II

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work me woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
Who made his back wheel skid.

Growlers, growlers, every where,
And all the beards did shrink;
Growlers, growlers, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the fixie-tross
About my neck was hung.

Part III

A hermit good lives in the wood
Which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with mechanic-ers
That come from a far countree.

He cycles at morn, at noon, at eve—
He hath an accurate floor pump:
And in sumptuous lycra he wholly hides
His shapely, old-oak rump.

‘A roadie, fred, a mountain man?’
The hermit crossed his brow.
'Say quick,' quoth he, 'I bid thee say—
What manner of cyclist art thou?'

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.

O sweeter than a poutine-feast,
'Tis sweeter far to me,
To pedal together on a trail
With a goodly company!

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou bikeshop-guest!
He rideth well, who loveth well
Both niner and 650b.

He cycleth best, who loveth best
All bikes both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth bikes,
He made and loveth all.

The Mechanic-er, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the bike-shop guest
Turned from the bike shop door.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Do Not Pedal Gently Into That Good Peloton: Neon Poetry Day 8

A neon poem for your Monday, offered without much preamble. With apologies to Dylan Thomas.

Remember, if you're going to sponsor my ride in the MS Bike Tour, this is the week do to it! On Saturday, we ride.

(Remember to stretch before engaging in physical exercise. Consult your doctor before growing a moustache.)

And now, today's poem.

Do Not Pedal Gently into That Good Peloton

Do not pedal gently into that good peloton,
Old thighs should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the neon.

Good cyclists, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail neon has danced on this dull day,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Neon Riders, near the finish, you see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,   
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

You who spend much cash on your bikes, with no pot left to pee on,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not slink to Las Vegas like Celine Dion.
Rage, rage against the dying of the neon.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

A Limerick: Neon Poetry Day 7

It’s doggerel day at the Neon Poetry Project, and the featured poem is a limerick.

(A man from Nantucket.)

This project is all about celebrating all forms of bicycle-themed poetry, low and high, but it's especially about earning your donation to the MS Society in preparation for the MS Bike Tour, which is only six days away! So far, I've raised $320. Consider going to my fundraising page soon if you want to help out.

(Androids don't understand limericks either.)

So here's today's poem. Enjoy!

The Cyclist From Minto

There once was a cyclist from Minto
whose calves were the size of Ford Pintos.
When he strikes a pose
in neon lederhose
all propriety's thrown out the window.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Neon Poetry Day 6: A Shakespearean Sonnet

Remember, the bike tour is next Saturday, July 26th, less than a week away! Please consider donating at my fundraising page.

(Thumbs up for Shakespeare!)

Maybe today’s poem will get you in the donating mood. Today’s apology, for what it’s worth, is offered to William Shakespeare.

Sonnet 18

Shall I ride with thee on summer's day? 
Thou art lovely, and the weather’s temperate:
Rough winds do slow our darling bikes, I say,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And burns the necks of our complexions dimm’d; 
And every hill from its summit sometime declines,
By chance, or the road’s changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal neon shall not fade!
Thou shall not skip a gear, nor injure thyself and say “ow'st”
Nor shall flat tires cause us to sit depressed in shade,
When along eternal roads to time thou ride’st; 
So long as we can breathe or eyes can neon see,

So long live neon! We ride for the MS Socie’ty.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Neon Poetry Day 5: Tire Tracks

Today’s poetic apologies are offered to a poet called Anonymous, or Mary Stevenson, depending on whose lawyers you ask.

Speaking of lawyers, they probably have some extra money with which to sponsor my ride with the Neon Riders, so hopefully they’ll do that instead of suing me for this parody.

Just one week and a day until the MS Bike Tour. Go Neon Riders!

Here’s today’s poem.

Tire Tracks

One night I dreamed I was cycling along the beach with the my cycling partner. Many scenes from our rides flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed tire tracks on the road. Sometimes there were two sets of tire tracks, other times there was one only.

This bothered me, because I noticed that during the low periods of my rides, when I was suffering from cramps, saddle soreness, or defeat, I could see only one set of tire tracks, so I said to my cycling partner,

“You promised me, friend,
that if I followed you, you would never stop suddenly, always use appropriate hand signals, and take your turns pulling at the front. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my rides there has only been one set of tire tracks on the road.

Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

My cycling partner replied,
“The years when you have seen only one set of tire tracks, my child,

is when you got dropped.”

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Neon Poetry Day 4: Neon Draft-odils

Remember that behind every super hero sits a super seamstress. Neon Rider costume production is in full swing around here, and our house is full of colourful fabric. Today, we were even visited by the amazing super dog!

(Super dog’s powers include the ability to sleep for hours on end, superior cat-detecting vision, and obtaining belly rubs.)

Thanks to yesterday’s wonderful sponsor, I’m up to $260 raised for the MS Society. You can sponsor me too if you click this link and go to my fundraising page.

Today’s poem comes with apologies to William Wordsworth in particular and the English language in general. Enjoy!

I Cycled Lonely as a Cloud

That pedals high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, a peloton of draft-odils;
Neon by the lake, neon ‘neath the trees,
Slipstreaming along in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
A dozen riders saw I at a glance,
Cranking as if this were their Tour de France.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A cyclist could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the neon show had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in Netflix mood,                              
Neon Riders flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And pedals with the draft-odils.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Neon Poetry Day 3: The Dead Wheel Bearing

What a difference a day makes. It’s day 3 of the Neon Poetry Project, and I’ve already raised $200 for the MS Society! Thank you so much! If you want to join the cavalcade of my illustrious sponsors, you too can sponsor me here.

In exchange for a donation from an intrepid blueberry farmer, I unthoughtfully agreed to wear a blueberry for a helmet. On sober second reflection, I’m not sure this meets the highway code, but I will say that if you’re ever in Pennfield, NB, in blueberry season you need to do yourself the favour of stopping at McKay’s Wild Blueberries for a blueberry pie and a giant box of berries.

(Unlike this ultra-safe watermelon helmet, blueberry helmets are not CSA approved.)

But there’s even more good news! Mama Button has arrived in Mahone Bay to work on the neon costumes for this year’s tour. We’re neon super heroes in 2014, and our super costumes are coming together very nicely with her help. If we’re going to look ridiculous (and we are), Mama Button ensures that we look ridiculous yet well tailored.

(Q: Who’s your favourite sewing-themed crime-fighting duo? A: Battingman and Bobbin.)

Onward, to today’s bicycle themed poem!

With apologies to William Carlos Williams.

The Dead Wheel Bearing

So much depends

the dead wheel

not glazed in grease
that squawks
like white chickens.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Neon Poetry Day 2: The Roadies With Less Travel

The MS Bike Tour consists of road cycling, and it’s awesome. There are hills and valleys, there’s beautiful scenery, and there are glorious rest stops with bowls of fruit. But for most of the year I’m a mountain biker, shlumphing over rocks and roots, getting flat tires, and running into trees. Therefore, you’ll excuse me if today’s poem is about mountain cycling.

I should explain for the uninitiated that “travel” is the amount of squishiness you have in your bicycle’s suspension forks. Mountain bikers always need to know how much travel you have. It really matters to them. If you say you don’t know, they'll be very, very sad.

A traditional mountain biker greeting is, “Whad’ya got there? About four inches of travel?”  To a mountain biker, your bike is like the game where you have to guess how many jelly beans are in the jar: “What gear ratio is that? 36 x16? I thought so. What’s your bar width? 740mm? I could tell.” And so on. If they guess all your specs correctly, you have to give them your bike.

For today’s poem, I should apologize to Robert Frost. Although, if mountain biking had been invented when he was poemizing, I’m sure he would have catching air on the drops and writing poems with titles like “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Show my Neighbour my Sick Edits.” He would have preferred baggy shorts to spandex, for sure.

Remember, I need your help to raise money for the MS Bike tour by next week, July 26th and 27th. As of today, I’ve raised $0. I’ve got miles to go before I sleep, so please consider donating here. Thanks!

On with today’s poem:

The Roadies With Less Travel

From roadies I diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry they did not have enough travel
Or one squishy fork between them, long I stood
And looked down the singletrack far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

I took the flowy trail, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was rocky and wanted wear,
Though as for that the riders there
Had shredded on them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no leafblower had blown black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how life gets in the way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
On some group ride ages hence:
From roadies I diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the singletrack less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Neon Poetry Project

Hello and welcome to the 2014 edition of MS be Shaven.

If you’ve visited this blog in the past, you might notice that all the previous posts are missing. Don’t worry! The archives are still available*, but the 2014 edition of MS be Shaven is coming to you on a clean slate, a tabula rasa, a blank screen.

First, the basics for 2014.

The Neon Riders were founded in Fredericton in 2011, but the group has since dispersed to various parts of the country. Neon Riders now live in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and points between. Those who are able make the pilgrimage to Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley each summer, collect pledges, and ride in support of the MS Society. We also have a ludicrous amount of fun.

Our team captain, my girlfriend Beth Button, has MS, and she’s been involved with the MS Society since just after she was diagnosed in 2006. She gets excellent care and support, and friends and family have been wonderfully encouraging over the years both through the MS Walk and the MS Bike Tour. We see this event as a celebration of the lives and abilities of people with MS and of the dedication of those who support them.

If you’re interested in what the MS Society has been up to lately, you should check out their Action on MS campaign. They’ve put together some compelling statistics and are using them to make the case for better workplace and home support for people with MS and their caregivers. In addition to this much-needed advocacy, they fund ongoing research toward a cure. Beth and I keep a close eye on what this charity is up to, and we can both say with confidence that they’ve been doing excellent work.

Now, for the moment you didn't know you were waiting for. The Neon Poetry Project!

I’m now taking pledges for the upcoming bike tour on July 26th and 27th, and I’d be pleased as punch if I could raise $500. I hope you would be too. My promise to you is that if you donate at my pledge page you will have the opportunity to read a poem a day, mostly on the topic of bicycle cycling, mostly containing terrible puns, from now until the day of the tour. To be honest, even if you don't donate, you'll still have the opportunity to read the poems**.

Listen, Internet, you just gave a guy over $70,000 to make himself some potato salad. I’m giving you free poetry for a worthy cause.

So, here goes. The MS Bike Tour Neon Poetry Project, Day 1! With apologies to Homer.***

Invocation of the Neon Muses

Sing to me of the Neon Riders, muse,
of the twists and turns of the potholed road,
of disco Elvis keeping them on course,
of plundering the hallowed rest stops
for granola bars and cheese and precious gatorade.
Many pains they suffered, saddle sore on the open road,
pedalling hard to bring their comrades home.
A the finish, the hungry riders devoured 
the tasty hamburgers (or vegetarian alternatives) of the Sungod
and the Sungod gave them sunburns on the day of their return.
Launch out on this story, muse, daughter of Zeus,
start from Windsor—sing for our time too.

*To request a hard copy of the blog archives, please attach your request to the downtube of a Trek Superfly 29er and mail it to me with adequate postage. Make sure you indicate the font size you would like.

**There's no point in trying to fight the tide of rampant poetry sharing. The poetry market collapsed shortly after everyone started sharing poetry on Napster.

*** The Homer of Oh!-dysseus not Doh!-ysseus.