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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

24 Inches of Incognito

The thing about Halloween is that you get to dress up. That you can costume yourself in another identity is what makes Halloween so special for both kids...and people who aren't kids.

Every day I dress up as a pro mountain biker. That means team clothes, in team colors with team logos. Every day because I usually ride every day.

On days when I am not on my bike, I am likely still doing some kind of pro cycling thing. So that means I'm probabaly wearing the "right" base ball cap. Slung over my shoulder is the "correct" messenger bag. Even if I am delayed at the airport. Or, eating a dinner with an event organizer. Working out at the gym. Gotta "rep" for my sponsors.

That I am a pro cyclist is really an incredible treat. I am aware of how lucky I am. But the tricky part is that sometimes it would feel great just to pretend that I'm somebody else. Dress up like a lumberjack, or a police officer. As an astronaut. Even a mortgage broker would afford a nice change of pace.

Kids are aware of Halloween's ability to transform them into mini pirates, Spidermen, witches, Snow Whites and 24 inch fire fighters. As a kid I liked Halloween more than Christmas. Christmas was cool but it was just toys and stuff.


On Christmas morning I was still just a skinny girl playing with a new Barbie and Ken set. Or later, a pimply, buck toothed, girl playing a shiny new Foreigner album. Eventually on Christmas morning I was a skinny, pimply, and buck-toothed college graduate "playing" with the set of snow tires my father had thoughtfully mounted on my Chevy Malibu so my commute would be safe and sure.

Christmas was about stuff, but Halloween was always about being.

On Halloween a skinny little girl would be a Figure Skating Ice Princess. Or, a pimply, buck-toothed, girl would be a "Dreadlocked Rasta". Eventually a skinny, pimply and buck toothed college grad would be a...grad student...too old for dressing up on Halloween. Too grown up to be some one else.

So, this Halloween while I was handing out Clif Bar samples and Luna Bars to the kiddies I dressed up, too. I wasn't Marla Streb, pro downhiller anymore. I dressed up, I costumed myself, in a baggy long sleeve shirt. I hid my true identity behind a layer denim jeans. My sensible cycling shoes were discarded for a pair of bright orange Vans. Under a half shell plastic helmet my being was transformed into ...BMX Rider.

Riding wheelies down the driveway never felt more like a fantasy.


Rich said...

Cliff Bars for Halloween? That's just wrong! That's being just a little to loyal isn't it? Can you imagine what those poor kids were mumbling as they scurried away from your front door?

Halloween is about candy, stuff that's not good for you, even potato chips would have been okay, but cliff bars? Don't get me wrong you converted me to CB's for cycling and dirt biking, but not for halloween.

You didn't wake up to smashed pumpkins and eggs on your porch did you?


8:20 PM  
Anonymous said...

Marla, you can handout Clif bars to me any day. I have an extra Police uniform for next year if you want it.
Ride on!
Peace - James Taylor

4:21 AM  
Mike said...

true - but as a superficial kid, the free candy aspect pretty much outweighed the benefits of self-reinvention via costume...

this year i dressed as mario - the kids seemed to like it as i passed out candy... my students (college aged) got a kick out of it as well...if anything my costume had the opposite effect - i felt like a celebrity! all the positive attention from strangers!

9:30 AM  
gwadzilla said...

most of the kids did not know what a Cliff bar was as it dropped into their sack

most of the kids will take a bit and toss it aside

lets not kids ourselves

no one eats a cliff bar for taste

lucky for the kids who toss the cliff bars aside

Halloween is huge in my kid's world
it lasted well over a month
the highlights for me were the trips to the various Pumpkin Patches
as far as dressing up and role playing games for kids
the costumes are not out everyday
the costumes are not put away after Halloween

we have gone to the movies with the kids in costume
and we definitely invite the neighbors kids to put on their favorite super hero costumes before they come to play in the clubhouse in the backyard

8:40 PM  
spicyride said...

i just read velonews, Congats!

7:04 PM  
Calvin said...

What's on velonews? I can't find anything

8:15 PM  
James said...

I'll second the congatulations.

Here is the link, Calvin

10:10 AM  
Anonymous said...


Congratulations on your pregnancy! I am a mountain biker/racer and am due at the end of May with my first child.

At school, all of my colleagues wore sports jerseys for Halloween. I had a very tough time finding a cycling jersey that didn't show off my pregnant belly; I understand why you wore jeans and a t-shirt and Vans instead for Halloween.

I hope your able to return to racing after you have your baby. I know I'm already plotting a hopeful return next fall in time for Cross season.

Again, Congratulations!

7:13 AM  
alpharat said...

Great news Marla! Congrats!

Does this mean you were pregnant during Hell Ride?

10:27 AM  

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