Monday, November 28, 2005

Shovelin' Coal

After starting the Holiday week with the flu and traffic school, I rallied in time for Thanksgiving. I passed the day with friends as we played croquet, ate ham, fried yet another turkey, and eventually sat around a backyard fire burning acres of pine straw. If you live anywhere near Lee Avenue, we officially have no idea where all the smoke came from.

By Saturday, I was half-way through a four day weekend and had yet to throw leg over saddle and giddy-up. The 30+ mile ride of the previous Saturday left me vulnerable to the flu-bug, which grabbed me by the throat and choke-slammed me to the mat.

Apathy and lethargy reigned, and not a single rider would join me Saturday. Never one afraid to put the work in, I picked up my shovel and headed north, shoveling coal in the furnace as hard as I could. The Live Oak Connector quite literally knocked the snot out of me, as the remnants of the flu sprayed and spewed over jersey, gloves, top tube, oak tree, hill and dale.

Stoically, I churned through the woods, up the powerline trail and into the Lake Overstreet trails. Not a soul did I see.

Yesterday, more coal shovelin'. Another 20 + miles into a headwind south to Munson, where S'quatch waged a manic war against himself, joyously sprinting away, then stopping to conduct nature lessons with grimy redneck children, or holding forth on the unique talents of Robert Downey Jr. Above it all, I bent to my labors and swung that shovel.

San Felasco ain't got me licked yet.

Tomorrow I will be on the proving ground itself. Mystery, the untameable stallion, and I will be going to Ocala to collect Mel (Not his real name). He is coming direct from the mean streets of NYC to get shellacked on the podunk trails of central Florida. Must be nice. We're going to drag him around San Felasco on a little recconoiter mission, then bring him back home for a few days of Southern Culture Reassignment Therapy. Come on over and help.

Bring your shovel.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Virtual Reality

When someone surprises you with a free cruise to express their appreciation for the good work that you do, it ought to feel good right, like a reward?

I am struggling with this. Cruises violate my principles on so many levels. First, there is the "getting on a vessel I don't know how to operate" issue. Every time I fly, before I board, I remind myself, "You chose to do this dumbass, and you don't know how to fly, so just accept whatever happens or don't get on." Then I get on the plane. Every time,I do this.

Then, there is the "Only can eat food that other people cook" issue. Botulism runs through those cruise ships, like Botulism runs through, well, anyone with Botulism. I call it Least Common Denominator cooking- even if they don't poison you, it can't be too spicy for some, too salty for others, so what I expect is sticky sauces made with 2% milk, King Crab legs because they look expensive (As a Florida boy, I know that Stone Crab claws are the best) and sheet pan after sheet pan of bland tira misu, key lime pie, and German chocolate cake. Of course, there will also be Prime Rib, nothing says "You're on vacation" than a minority in a white hat carving prime rib under a heat lamp.

Other concerns are:

Pirates- I'm certain you can't board the vessel armed so I will have to improvise if faced with sea thugs.
Lack of a free market system- Everything will be quite costly due to being a captive audience. $5 beers, $3 Advil, $4 toothbrush, etc...
Sinking- I will undoubtedly spend the entire first night sleepless in order to study the layout of the boat and the best possible routes of egress should the vessel list or capsize. I went to my first ever college football game two weeks ago and spent most of the time scanning the area for trouble and formulating a plan for sheltering-in-place in case of a stampede or riot (In case you ever need to: lie on the floor of your row, vital organs turned inward for protection, cover the back of your neck and wait for the panic to subside, then escape in an orderly manner atop the bodies of the less prepared).
Seasickness: My only experience at sea is grouper fishing 30 miles out in a 14 foot boat. To me, ocean-going boats mean puking on your hands while reeling cinder blocks up from the bottom of the ocean.

Other than that, I'm totally psyched about the trip. I embark January 16, two days after San Felasco. It should be quite an abrupt transition.

Capt. Juancho

Friday, November 18, 2005

T stands for Training

-and not Turkey, which is best when it is fried like this one.

Although the Tour de San Felasco is less than two months away, I haven't really considered taking the necessary steps to prepare for a cold, off-road, 50 mile ride. While S'quatch trains by carving lazy figure 8's in front of his house on his new road bike, I have chosen to ignore the upcoming event and go about my normal business of enjoying the cornucopia of pleasures life has to offer at this time of year- like fried turkey.

So yes, it was an abrupt shock to hear that the Gainesville boys were coming our way tomorrow morning for a little group ride.

Put the children in the cellar Ma, a twister's a comin'!

Instead of sleeping in and dreaming about cake, I am going to have to get up early, in the cold, and crush the insurgency. Not to mention I will have to feed those boys, who can really pack it away. All of this has to happen early, because the turkeys will be going into their nice boiling oil bath around 3:00 tomorrow out at the Herpetologist's compound, which is very far from everywhere. So it's like this...If my teeth I'll be pickin', then some ass will need kickin', or something like that.

Mystery, the untameable stallion, will be there, and maybe Taco. S'quatch has taken to scheduling "meetings" or something on the weekend to avoid the trails. I know, it is sad.

We will get an early start and ride much further and faster than we usually do in an effort to intimidate the foreigners and bolster our egos with a false, yet fragile, reality. If you would like to participate, send a missive to headquarters by carrier pigeon.

No other transmissions will be accepted.



Monday, November 14, 2005

"Cheaha Trip -2005" Bear Creek

When the herpetologist pulled out the old lead sled, I gave it the CSI once over.

Trek Antelope 820, 1988 probably. The black one. The only shock it contains is the one associated with seeing the herpetologist still riding it. Some of you may remember, the herpetologist rides the lead sled once a year- at the camping trip. To my constant frustration and dismay, his bike continues to work, and it's rider as well, despite years of benign neglect. In his K-Mart tennis shoes, with his bowie knife on his belt and a brass, gopher tortoise belt buckle, the herpetologist straps his Michael Douglas hair into a children's helmet and proceeds to kick ass up the mountain. Now, I'm not saying he rode away from anyone, but nobody rode away from him either. On the downhills, he leads the charge. He wears no gloves. He prefers wool and cotton outergarments, although I suspect one of the gamiest chamois in the forest lurks inside his cargo shorts. A bookrack with a large bag of ancient tools strapped to it, rattles like a chain link fence. He likes to sit on the bookrack when he needs to "get low". The herpetologist prefers bar-ends, of course they are two different kinds, cocked at two different angles. The herpetologist did not produce a single reptile on the trip, which was disappointing.

There was great interest in the diversity of trees, which lacks the thrill of a good snake. One Black-bellied Salamander was discovered in the creek, but as you undoubtedly know, salamanders are amphibians, not reptiles, and therefore more like a fish than a bird. Reptiles are the ones more like birds, or something like that.

On to better things...

We saw indisputable evidence of Sasquatches, (Or is it Sasquatchae?) in the region. Pulling up in a grassy meadow on top of the mountain, I put my foot down and discovered I had almost stepped in the biggest, darkest, roundest turd I had ever seen. Seriously, it was like a long tube of gingersnap cookie dough (but darker). I recoiled in amazement. No human colon could hold such a whopper, and yet it was definitely a humanoid turd.

The herpetologist said it was a bear, but bears are not reptiles so he is outgunned here. As a long-time, self-declared cryptozoologist, I am going to have to pull rank.

That turd is all the proof I need.

My fingernails are so nasty,


Monday, November 07, 2005


Rusty fingers applied to dusty keys,

fumble for poetry instead of jargonese.

Put down spreadsheets and learn again to dream.

A switch from traffic:
and a sense of what's been lost-
to murmuring pines beneath a cloak of soft green moss.

The year was 1989 and I was THERE around the fire!
Pickups full of coolers and bicycle tires.

Don't get pulled over in Georgia.
See you there tomorrow night.
Do you remember that girl in 94 who's sweater was so tight?

Single Malt-- McCallans, Oban, or Lagavulin? Something to warm the tongue and wrap some lies in truth and spin them.

Never the same Indians, but always the same tribe,
we roam the south in early fall in search of magic times.

Cheaha, then Pigeon, off to Pisgah, back to Pigeon,
it doesn't really matter when the truck comes you just get in-

But I don't have any money. Got to work. My girl won't let me.

Got you covered. Quit your job. Bring her along if she's not whiny.

Oh my God it's snowing! Holy shit it's fucking hot! I can't believe that it's still raining, and I can't believe it's not.

Hambone's van blew up, and Aza's stranded in a bug,
He's somewhere north of Macon so I'm sure he will show up.

Shmelt it! Spark it! Burn it up!

The fire's not a toy, but you know-
boys will be boys.

Pick up every single bottle cap, grit butt, and flat tire
scatter every single rock and douse the glowing ashes of the fire.

Don't disrespect the hunters, leave your antler hat at home,
We might be back here next year or we may




Ellijay, GA


I'll hold a tent space for you, Juancho