Monday, February 27, 2006

Mmmmmmmm, Munson!

24 hours of pattering rain, followed by a cool, sunny, breezy, 55 degree morning. That's perfect surf conditions at Munson Hills. Bushy and I grabbed our boards and charged down the beach into the surf, where we spent an hour (or less) catching swell after swell of packed down pine needle sets, peeling off the Earth like ripping paper.

Catching Munson under these conditions is to know the sweetest, smoothest, ride in town.

The weekend had a festive air due to my brother, "Junior" turning 30. His cake was decorated with a cap and gown, a holy bible, and two wedding rings with the slogan, "THE FUTURE IS NOW". Good fun, let me tell you, good fun.

I have to give a shout out to Mr. Tim Evans, who spotted us off the Live Oak Connector trail on Friday, with the Jamis upside down and in in distress. It was just turning dark and my rear derailer was shoved backwards through my wheel like a dislocated knee. Mr. Evans eagle-eyed us through the brush, turned back, hiked down the trail in his khakis and power tie, and offered to load up the damaged bike and haul me out of there. He had a bike rack and everything. Fortunately, Bushy and I were able to Frankenrig the thing into working for another 3 miles. Still, the cycling brotherhood is strong, and I thank Mr. Evans for being his brother's keeper.

I've got nothing else for you this morning, in fact, this is a good time for me to take requests, suggestions, criticism, or whatever towards the improvement of the BRC.

And we all know a direct request for a response is a guarantee of silence around here.



Friday, February 24, 2006

Family Values II

Marines are tough. That's how I knew my Uncle J wouldn't lie down there in the dirt forever, but eventually he would get up, sigh heavily, and continue our slog through the Sun-n-Lake Preserve off road trail system in Sebring, FL. It was supposed to be a nice family outing, and for the most part it was. After an hour we had stopped beneath a copse of pines and scrub oak, to seek some relief from the blazing Central Florida sun. Uncle J was slumped against a spindly Slash pine, arms flat at his sides like a discarded marionette. "Go on without me" he said slugglishly. "I'll be fine".

Now, I took offense at this. just because Cousin T and I spent our twenties studying esoteric nonsense in college, partying, and frolicking in the Montana Rockies, doesn't mean we leave a man behind.

Did we leave a man behind that time our AAA Driveaway car was a 2 seater and there were four of us in the Arizona desert? No.

Did we leave a man behind when we packed up in Portland and came back to Tally to crusade for Bosnians? No.

Did we leave a man behind that night at the Alachua Music Harvest after the James Brown show? Yes. And it was me, and I'm stilled pissed off. It was a long walk back to town.

But hey, accidents do happen.

One hour into this ride we had already crossed approximately 170 log jumps, slugged through muck ponds, and scratched our way over palmetto roots, often called gatorbacks by people who can't admit their trail is near unrideable. Sun-n-Lake Preserve- sounds nice right?

Don't kid yourself.

We discussed our options. Take the bailout to the road, or finish the loop we started. "I think heading straight for the road sounds great!" says Uncle J. "Yeah, we better get back soon or Mom will be mad at us." says Cousin T. "That's cool" I say. "I'm going to write this up either way, so it's all the same to me, but the record will show I was prepared to continue."

Uncle J's brow furrowed, as he imagined the lies I would tell, the unflattering caricature I would render. I might even be low enough to share the fact that he actually said, "I'm two years away from Sixty" as if he was ready for the shuffle board court.

He got up. We rode on. End of story.

Semper Fi!


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Triple Dipper

It is dark now, and our little mob crashes through the brush towards the limestone drop "Triple Dipper" to cheer our boy on when he rides through. It's Bushy out there this time, and we've missed him every other lap, what with the golfing, the refills, the wandering around, and this time we are determined to raise the roof when he rolls by.

The problem is, it's dark out there, really dark. At one point as we cross the racetrack, someone bellows "rider up!" and Hambone flings himself into the darkness in a panic to get out of the way. "I'm OK, I'm OK!" he is hollering- even as he continues crashing and tumbling down the bank. Riders are flashing by, headlights blazing, and hitting the drop with varying speed and confidence. Margo is on watch a couple dozen yards up as a spotter, but it's going to be hard to tell who's who out here.

Pretty soon, we are screaming Bushy's name for every rider. "BUSHY'S NAME!" we yell. "BUUUSSSHHY'S NAAAMMME!" and it really catches on with the crowd. The crowd has galvanized around this. We have solved the confusing dilemma of what to yell when riders pass. Occasionally we yell, "TINA!" though I couldn't, and still can't, tell you why.

By the time Bushy arrives we have a well-practiced crowd of 40 people screaming his name. Margo makes the positive ID and we announce to the crowd that this indeed is the authentic article coming around the corner. They go crazy. Girls are throwing their bras, guys are lighting torches, and everyone is screaming, "BUUUUUUSSSSHY's NAAAAAAME!" and it hits him like a bolt of lightning. It was like the volume blew him up the trail, or plugged into him like a Tesla coil. KaZAM! He was out of there.

We struggled and tripped through the smilac to the next waypoint.

And so it goes.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Play the High Fade

The race was under way by the time I made it to Reddick, and the Barnburner team was working like a Nascar pit crew. Massage table, lunch buffet, mechanic station, they didn't need me, or Larry (who was official timekeeper) or Hammy, or Martin the Scot. I don't know how the math works for you, but that added up to a foursome to us, so we headed back across the street to play a round of golf in the first ever Barred Owl Invitational.

There beneath the noonday sun, sangrias in hand, we passed around the old persimmon woods and enjoyed a primitive version of the great game. Martin the Scot went off the tee heroically, lofting the high fade over the 100' pines and dropping the ball 10 yards from the brown. "Wow" I said, "beautiful shot there, you look like you've played some golf before".

Squinting in to the distance, casually evaluating the shot he answers, "Well, we did invent the game." Damn smug Scots.

To be continued...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tomorrow is a good day to die

That's what I would be thinking if I had to saddle up for the 12 hours of Razorback tomorrow. To your left is a picture of riders relaxing at the finish line at the end of the race last year. As you can see, they are very tired.

I have been waylaid by a bug, and hope to make it down to the race tonight or early tomorrow, when I will faithfully provide an accurate and entirely journalistic account of the proceedings. Either that, or I will rip around on Pa Ingall's burly golf cart drinking beer and barking orders at race officials and riders alike. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

Ma & Pa Ingalls haven't slowed down a bit. Word on the trail is that Man-gri-la now has "Bard Owl Pines" or something like that, a rough and rugged homemade golf course big enough to need the lumber. I'm bringing enough cash to get a skins game going. Do they use cash in Reddick?

Another compelling reason to make the event, healthy or not, is the opportunity to graze the buffet catered by the The Mad Housewife of Olive You Eat Well Catering in Gainesville, FL (Google all that and you might learn something!) That woman can flat throw down in the kitchen, or anywhere else for that matter.

Whatever happens, we all need to be rooting for J.B, Joey, Pete, and Danny, and it goes without saying, those are not their real names.

You might also be interested to know that S'quatch is down with the flu bug, and I mean the real one. Reports of a 103 fever came in this morning, and as you know, that is extremely dangerous for omnivorous humanoids. For you S'quatch, I offer the silver lining, think of all the calories you burn while you're lying there sweating in misery. you will be back leaner and meaner than ever. If you pull through.

Have a great weekend everybody, and do something that you like to do. If anyone gives you a hard time, send them to El Juancho, and I'll settle their hash.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Closing Time at Joe's

Joe's Bike Shop is a tiny place. A brick and stucco cottage about the size of a two-car garage. Therefore, about half of the inventory and all of the repairs get trundled outside and into racks every morning. If it rains they get hauled back in (most of the time) and at the end of the day they get stacked, like Lincoln Logs back in the shop.

This is a nice time to be at Joe's. Sitting out front, drinking a coffee and ruminating on rides taken, not taken, or rides to come. The sun dips low and glaring off of Lake Ella, and the after work jogging set begin their laps.

Joe does the stacking, and anyone else still hanging around does the hauling.

Cruisers, Hybrids, Mountain Bikes, Three-Wheelers, BMX, and Freestyle, for once all bikes are equal, because they all have to come in for the night.


Monday, February 13, 2006

To Hell & Back 2006

Now, just because a thing can be done, that does not make it a good idea. I can hit my thumb with a hammer. I can rent the entire Keanu Reeves movie collection, and I can eat sand- but none of those things are a good idea.

Certain Joe's Bike Shop affiliated riders are planning a 75 mile cross-swamp ride from the steps of the Old Capitol Building to Sumatra, FL a reclusive enclave on the other side of a swamp called Tate's Hell.

I have crossed Tate's Hell before, in a canoe, and it didn't go so well for us. The New River eventually diffused into a maze of stillwater tributaries none of which resembled the map.

There was dissension among us, the type of nervous backbiting associated with a group of people resenting the decisions they had made which brought them to be neck deep in black swamp water dragging canoes full of gear over cypress knees. I had a machete, and I hacked at everything, not to ease our way through the clinging vines, but in the futile hope that I would kill whatever reptile was more than likely poised for attack beneath the cover of prehistoric water lilies and decaying moss.

Hours of this slogging went by, and the possibility of climbing back in the boats to hunker in place for the night became a real likelihood. This motivated us toward more fevered slogging.

We found some elevated, if not entirely dry land and the party split. Three of the crew walked off in search of the vehicles and three of us remained with the boats, sharing the last of the pop tarts huddled beneath an overturned canoe in a drizzling rain.

Darkness came, and we waited- silent, resigned, and miserable.

Then the headlights pierced through the hopeless horizon and there was our team! Relieved, if not triumphant, we loaded the boats on a trailer and jumped in the truck. As we took off the boats came tumbling down off the racks, as none of us had bothered to secure them. Composure had left us with the first report of "Something just crawled over my foot" back in the swamp.

To ride across the swamp? 75 miles of roads like the one pictured above?

I would rather try to paddle it again.

This doesn't mean I'm not considering it, I just wish that I wasn't.

Dumb as a bag of hammers-


Technical Difficulties

Blogger is currently unable to post images so all I've got are dumb old words.

Visit and click on "To Hell and Back Ride" if you want to preview the topic the class will be discussing later today (hopefully).

It's called Tate's Hell for a reason.


Friday, February 10, 2006


Somone caught this picture of me out at the Redbug trail on my new FS Dakar Expert yesterday. After all the harumphing I have done concerning full suspension bikes and their lack of soul, it is pretty obvious to me now that was just so much sour grapes. The Redbug trail is historically known for pounding your kidneys until they are on the outside of your body and have to be reabsorbed later with a soothing pint of Guiness or two. Yesterday though, it was like riding a marshmallow sleigh down candyland lane. I could see the rooty washboard rolling beneath my tires, but it was more like an in-flight movie than a hindrance.

It's (thanks Lib) 26 degrees here this morning, and before the Minnesota girl chimes in I have run some calculations. Comparative to year-round climate and human acclimatizability, 26 degrees Fahrenheit to a Floridian is the same as 238.7055556 degrees Kelvin to a Minnesotan and everybody knows that 238.705556 degrees Kelvin is fucking cold baby!

2 years ago around this time, Mystery and I rode on the coldest day of the year. A long frozen slog into the Appalachicola National Forest. Our toes were so cold we stopped and built a fire. We rode off and left it blazing away too, which was awesome because it was so windy.

I was hoping to sign him up for an encore tomorrow, as it will likely be the coldest day of the year for us, but he is claiming injury, and substantial injury at that. It looks like we should have purchased the extended warranty on that guy. Hindsight, you know how that goes.

And now since this is turning into a 'round-up' post of sorts...HT, why will you not rise up and claim what is rightfully yours? The way you've been riding lately, I think you could grind S'quatch into dust. As for how you might ride against me, well, I have no opinion on the matter, but you definitely need to put the S'quatch down like Old Yeller.

Bushyhead Galore, formerly Taco, has finally joined the Circus. It only took him a year. He avoided this place due to his irrational fear that he would be(or was being) disrespected within these pages. Now that he's here, I hope to make all his fears come true.

The 12 Hours of Razorback is next weekend, and I am really looking forward to the expected carnage. When you boil it all down, that weekend one year ago gave birth to this site. I was running a black market pastry ring at the race under the banner of the Big Ring Bakery, and well, I'm no baker, but I do like to write so I made the necessary adjustments.

Race weekend means another couple of nights under the stars, in the shadow of Man-gri-la (the pole barn) and lots of belly laughs with the boys as well as the local Reddick/ Lowell vixens who stop by. You've got to love it. And if loving it it wrong, well, then I guess I'm all wrong.

-Now get to work, I want an 8 hour day out of you people-


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Heft on Wheels

The world stopped spinning for a day so I could read Mike Magnuson's tell-all story of redemption cover to cover. The man gets it right. Outwardly the book is about how Mike went from obscene to lean with nothing more than his road bike* and a fanatical love of being on it.

A lot happens along the way, and this is no feel good self-help book, or maybe it is?

Certain moments in the book gave me shivers.

A good man dies and is honored in a rolling memorial.

Our hero gets hit by a truck.

A self-proclaimed hardcore party guy gives up the booze, the smokes, and the late-night blather that goes with it. Make no mistake about it, Mike Magnuson was running for his life. Much has been said in reviews, and by Mike himself, that his methods are not to be followed by anyone, and he took enormous risks by getting on a bike at 255 lbs. I'm here to tell you that is a bunch of bull. What about the risk if not getting on the bike? For this guy, it couldn't have happened any other way.

The health thing, the redemption thing, that's all great and good for Mike. Why you might enjoy this book though, is because it is a candid, blood and guts, love story about cycling. If bicycles could talk, his would probably take out a restraining order against him. It is when Mike talks about the pain, the grinding, the clicking and ka-chunking, and the rising up from the saddle to surge into battle that this book moves me.

While climbing Mt. Mitchell, NC in a cold, foggy rain, Mike passes another rider and says, "Man, this is torture". The other rider (who is getting passed here!) responds, "Savor it, this is as good as it gets". I know exactly what he means.

*Mike lives in Carbondale, Illinois and there are mountain bike trails there. I guess nobody's perfect.


S'quatch is behind this reading effort. He is working his way through every published fiction and non-fiction account of cycling available on the planet. The last one he passed my way was so bad I'm still washing my hands to get the stink off. I would tell you the title but the author seems to monitor the internet and argue with his detractors, conduct most unbecoming in a writer. As good ones come along, you can count on me to give you the low-down and a brief review.

If you have enjoyed a book in this genre, please let us know. We will run it up the old flag pole and see what happens.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Death Before Dishonor

The Dragon is dead. We pursued the seatpost extraction to the other side and beyond, resulting in a fatal wound to the seat tube. At least I can now grieve.

It was a hell of a bike, and we covered a lot of ground together. The BigRingCircus was born under the shadow of that bike, and its legacy is duly recorded in these annals.

Tsali, NC
Pisgah, NC
Dauset, GA
Ocoee Heritage, GA
Oak Mountain, AL
Santos, FL
Razorback, FL
San Felasco, FL
White Springs, FL

And of course, all the local hits.

Pour some out for the Jamis Dragon tonight, it had a hell of a career.

Now available in full suspension!


Monday, February 06, 2006

My Mail-Order Bride

The trouble with a mail-order bride is you don't have the opportunity to see if you are compatible together. You can check the stats and specs, judge if she's pretty from the picture in the catalogue, but it is still a gamble. If both of you are genuine in your desire to be together, than you can stick it out and fumble through the awkward conversations as you struggle to find a common language.

This is what the and I went through over the weekend. An awkward honeymoon.

Nothing will ever be the same. the main issue seems to be the height of the cockpit, or handlebars. I put her in heels, then I put her in boots, and now I've got her barefoot, and of course, that's how I like her best.

Don't y'all worry, I'm in this relationship for the long haul.


Thanks again to Dr. D for an insightful perspective on a big old gangly Midwest city. I encourage you to continue the conversation as long as you like in the comments section below. Urban renewal, civic pride, and the shifting economic trends that affect them are interesting topics and people will think we're a real smart bunch over here at the BRC. I may even pass out some honorary degrees.


And here's a big shout-out to Apebike, who may be lurking out there. He's 245 lbs of Tallahassee bike legendry, and a Joe's Bike Shop alumni. If he plays his cards right he just might get nominated to the Clydesdale Hall of Fame.

And that's a wrap!


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Detroit: City of Hope

Regular reader, Dr. Detroit, submitted the following thought-provoking essay of his new city on the eve of Superbowl XL. Enjoy!

When I was asked to provide some "man on the street" perspective about Detroit to the BRC community my first thought was to explore themes of fear, hate and anger.

There are still visible reminders of the riots that happened almost 30 years ago and many Detroit residents still hold grudges. As a newcomer it is difficult to penetrate all this history and bad blood.

My next inclination was to turn my thoughts to themes of loneliness and despair.

For you see, Detroit is a city on the decline.

In 1950 Detroit had over two million residents but today there are less than 900,000. To those left behind you can imagine them proclaiming "where did everyone go?". The term "urban farming" has been bandied about as a way to make use of the vast tracts of unused land. This latest exodus can’t even be described as "white flight" because the white people left years ago. No, today it is the middle class blacks fleeing oppressive taxes and urban blight in hopes of finding something better in Taylor, Livonia, or Troy.

Despair seems to be hopelessly associated with Detroit because of the auto industry. Outsiders fail to grasp the interconnectedness of southeast Michigan with cars. With each new headline proclaiming another parts supplier bankruptcy or Big Three layoff you can almost hear the collective groan emitted from the city. These people are little prepared to face the economy of the 21st century. Most have only a high school education.

The strangeness lies in the fact that this has been enough here for generations. Everyone here has a "cottage" "up north". We have more boat registrations than Florida. Life is good for the current crop of auto worker but they don’t connect their bloated pay with the decline of the auto industry. But life moves on, with or without Michigan. I don’t think we have hit the bottom yet.

But now, finally, I will settle on the true theme of this missive. That theme is HOPE. Why hope? Because the Super Bowl is in town and a fresh feeling is in the air. My office is right downtown, One Woodward Avenue. I have witnessed the transformation taking place firsthand. New sidewalks. New facades. People are starting to trickle back. Loft housing is popping up everywhere. . A vibrant theatre district and gleaming new sports stadiums. The casinos are all building new hotels. Funky restaurants are opening; the roads are slowly being fixed. The riverfront is slated for redevelopment. Everywhere you look are signs of hope.

If you could describe Detroit with two words it would be pride and insecurity. Even with all the issues I have touched on (and I barely scratched the surface) Detroiters remain fiercely proud. Now, with the world watching, the unspoken question is "Will they like me"? Early signs are good. My hometown of Jacksonville was ravaged in the press last year when the Super Bowl came to town but I haven’t seen anything close to this with regards to Detroit.

So, dear BRC readers, don’t feel sorry for Detroit. The city is turning a corner. The pieces are in place to reverse recent history. The Super Bowl is in town and Detroit is a great place to throw a party. Hope is in the air.

Go Lions!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Armed & Dangerous

Here's a photo of me on my new bike- out for a soul ride.

I am now squared away on a 2005 Dakar XC Expert, and I think I'm going to like it.

As always, I am indebted (quite literally) to Joe of Joe's Bike Shop
for understanding that I can't not have a quality ride. This is my fifth Jamis since 1988, and my 3rd bike from Joe, although he had a hand in the other 2 deals one way or another. Now he has moved another notch up the "people I would have to take a bullet for" list.

Now that the PSA's are over, let me address this road bike thing.

It is not about the workout for 'Tops and S'quatch. Those guys prefer to ride the road because it keeps them in cell tower or payphone range so they can call on their wives to pick them up when they: cramp up, get lost, have a devastating mechanical like a flat tire, or it starts raining.

I was riding "10 speeds" back when the housing looped up above the bars and you had to move your hand to shift. I get it, trust me. I used to chase Dogboy up and down Tram road. The Silver Lake Triathlon. Innovation Park Crits. Me going back to road bikes would be about as ridiculous as Lebron James going back to high school basketball.

I have evolved man.

Juancho erectus

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I don't even know where I am

I'm somewhere in GA, off I-20, but it just occured to me I couldn't tell you what town this is. The Atlanta sprawl crawls out like kudzu, and it will eventually blanket the South if left unchecked. I'm coming home today, but I have a lot to do first- things like put pants on, admire Soledad O'Brien for another 24 minutes, find the other sock, and pull the plastic La Quinta blanket over my head one more time for a snooze.

I'm hoping for a Super-banging expose on Detroit and other Yankee stuff from Dr. D. If I get something I will post it immediately. I love having company at the Circus.

Quote of the year from one of my so-called friends...

Juancho- "I think I'll have a new bike soon if all goes as planned".

Jerk-off- "Good, maybe you'll get back into riding".

This is how I'm treated while the Dragon clings to life in ICU.

Life working on the road is hard I tell you, Soledad's calling.