Monday, June 26, 2006
"I can't shake this sense of foreboding man, I'm all nervous for some reason".
I chalked his apprehensions up to a lack of mountain time, and too many swirly figure eight road bike miles in front of the house. "Come on, you know the golden rule-hesitation is devastation-just keep pedaling", I tell him.
At the top of the pass we enjoy the view, tin roof chicken shacks shining down in the valley, lush green creases folding into the hills below us. I bomb the downhill, my mind empty, nothing but the twitch of brake fingers and the swaying of hips over saddle, all the way down.
Sasquatch took it a bit more easy.
On the trail we ran into a couple guys who mentioned that it looked like a road biker had a bad accident on Highhway 52. Paramedics were on the scene, but they saw the mangled bike.
In search of swimming holes we stopped by the Cartecay Bike Shop in East Ellijay to get some local guidance. I tell Mike, the owner, about the rider being hit on 52. He says, "I wonder if it was the Doc and them".
On our way back to camp, we stop at the country store near the scene of the accident, (earlier when we drove through, there were cops everywhere). A woman in the store verifies that the man is dead, her husband was one of his riding companions. She has little else to say. The small menagerie of farmers, country dandies, and out of town cyclists go silent. He was a 51 year old Doctor from Dalton, GA. - "The Doc" apparently.
S'quatch's sense of foreboding is validated.
We spend the rest of the afternoon in pockets of cold creek water, way up the mountain, where it is hard to succomb to a bad vibe.
That night as we are sitting in camp, thunder begins to roll heavy and low above us. Then lightning begins to crack, like really, really close. The wind, which has been blowing ever stronger for 20 minutes, goes calm, then begins sucking in the other direction-the final warning before the bottom falls out of the sky. We spend the next 10 hours isolated in our own tent worlds.
The next day- Dauset Trails near Jackson , GA. S'quatch goes down hard on the trail, ringing his bell even though he is wearing his helmet. "There you go, your sense of foreboding has been validated for sure now, you can shake it off and get on with things". He dusts himself off and we roll again, through the swoopiest trail ever, pure bliss.
Then back to the blistering heat of I-75 and the road for home.
About 5 miles north of our exit to State road 33 I am horrifed as I watch in the rearview mirror. S'quatch's truck is skipping sideways like the wheels have siezed. He is in the middle lane and a purple Peterbilt Rig looks like it is about to swallow him up. S'quatch's little red truck makes a dive for the side of the road and as he is locking his brakes, I am pulling off, locking mine. An RV is giving him an angry honk, and cars are peeling by him like he is a rock in the river.
A couple hundred yards apart, I'm out of my truck and running. He is out of the car, unhurt, but freaked out. Jesus Christ, what is it with this trip?
His left rear tire separated and split, sending the truck jumping like a mule with a burr under its saddle. He swears he didn't steer to the emergency lane, he just ended up there by good S'quatchian luck.
We get off the interstate, change the tire, and appreciate the sun slowly melting over fields of soy and cotton until we get home.
I feel like we never talk anymore-
Monday, June 19, 2006
I hope you all had a good weekend, if you did anything cool, then please tell us all about it- even you road bikers. The Tour de France is right around the corner so I will be observing a cease-fire until after Magnus Backstedt enters the Champs Elysees in the yellow jersey.
I'm leaving town tomorrow to do a little work, followed by a a couple days at Bear Creek in Ellijay, GA. Plug "Bear Creek" into the search this blog window if you want to read about our last trip up that way. The BRC editorial review board is currently accepting submissions and suggestions to fill the Tuesday to Friday void. I might post 5 entries tonight, but then you have to promise to pace yourselves and only read one a day.
All right, it's Monday, this economy isn't going to collapse on its own, we must all do our part.
Friday, June 16, 2006
I got beat by a man towing his 3 year-old child on a pull behind "third wheeler" last night at the "Fish Slap", the weekly mountain bike shoot out. We lined up side by side and I let them pull in front, thinking I could sit back and draft until the final moment when I unleashed the fury on them. The little boy had his head on a swivel, marking my position, prepared for an attack. Swinging like a crab trap on an Alaskan fishing vessel, first he was over here, then he was over there. They were blocking me out, the bullies.
I thought about how crushed the little boy would be when I put the hammer down and dropped his daddy and him like lima beans under the Sunday dinner table. Well, they asked for it. I began my kick.
My kick appeared to be just a bit slower than my original pace so I sat back down to contemplate my options. I could ease the bars left and swing out through the Church's Fried Chicken Drive Thru and go home, or I could keep chugging for the finish line. I chugged, head held high- 14 seconds behind. Multi-generational beatings, that's what I'm taking now.
They are a smaller framed people. If there had been one more, I could have juggled them like bean bags.
Next week I'm challenging them to wrestle.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I'm thinking this alligator can be my new bigringcircus mascot.
This is a multimedia presentation.
Stare at the picture and get a good look at the gator.
Imagine you are standing really close to it, or perhaps you are wounded and lying nearby.
Now click the link and hear the fearsome bellow of a dangerous reptile.
For those of you who do not live here, imagine how brave we are in Florida. These things are everywhere. I had to skirt around two or three of them at the grocery store this morning. They were blocking the aisle with the Edy's popsicles.
It took forever!
Remember- Look, look, keep looking, then click.
Totally multi-media high-tech stuff here, like Cirque De Soleil, but not french, or an actual circus, but damn close all the same.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The correct answer is, whatever they need to hear to get on the bike and start pedaling.
Three of us made it out to the forest last night. Scotty and Bill on their forest surfing 29'ers (hula hoops) and myself on an actual mountain bike, built as God intended. Out and out we went, a little post hurricane mist falling so fine it felt like snow on my face. Thanks to the 3 inches of rain yesterday, the sandy trail only clutched half-heartedly at my tires, but still enough to feel a tug at every pedal stroke.
Through miles and miles of the forest I hadn't seen before we rode, while families sat down to dinner and kids brushed their teeth to go to bed.
Sweat soggy gloves, a blood-scraped arm, fusty fumes redolent of a landfill rise out of my jersey. The gritty churning of sand in drivetrains sounds like beetles eating the trees at night, patiently grinding away.
We are far beyond the "10 mile loop now". I see why Bill calls it the Twilight Zone. This could go on forever, and it seems to be doing so now. This trail, this pace, this forest, has become timeless.
It's pretty much dark now, and we're still riding. The sounds of distant traffic make me realize how quiet it has been for the last 2 1/2 hours. I know we are about a mile from the parking lot when Bill turns east to take the long way around. 1,2,3 tire to tire we ride. I can't see anything by now anyway, with the splatter on my glasses and the fog.
I just pedal, like it's the only thing I have to do.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Now, ever vigilant to the spoiling odor of roadie culture, I think it is time to address this.
There may be some practical need to establish a hierarchy at certain events, but the inherent bikism in using an A vs. B categorization must be stopped! A "B" implies either a disadvantaged genetic package for cycling, a lack of effort and skill, or worse- a lack of dedication and commitment to the sport. Yes Sir, Yes M'am, the "B's" must rise up. I am fairly certain that this nomenclature did not worm its way in by someone self-identifying as a "B" rider. No, this label comes from those who consider themselves "A's".
Perhaps the "A's" do not understand that there is no glory in being the best of the not as good. The glory is in hunting giants with the hope of seeing their smug visage in the rear view one day. If it never comes to pass? No matter- the glory is in the chase, not the trophy. Riding a bike through the woods is about so much more than speed and pace. From now on I will rank riders as "1's" or "2's" based on their ability to: repair their own machine in the woods, tell a good story, bring tasty snacks that they share liberally, clean obstacles rather than dismount, choose the most graceful line, identify flora and fauna, and sacrifice personal interest for the good of the riding group.
Of course I won't actually do that, but I hope you see my point.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to "B" somewhere.
Monday, June 12, 2006
The Fern Trail was sporting some brand new, man made accoutrements this weekend. A ladder bridge/ ramp and a short launch ramp through a previously messy, sandy section. Is this the work of BRC friend, Aucilla Sinks?
Tropical Storm Alberto looks like it will deliver a good dousing. Tallahassee is in the projected path of the first named storm of 2006. On base with the first swing, an excellent start to the season. The forest zamboni is on its way. See you at Munson Wednesday.
Fixed Gear Phil was in the woods yesterday crossing genres. He gets the big stick award for taking two nasty bails, leaving blood on the trail, and most importantly riding 20+ miles in cotton shorts. I know lycra's not very hip attire, maybe in South Beach, but sometimes you have to go with what works. All the same, Phil proved that never coasting makes you strong like bull.
Sasquatch and Hitops rode some singletrack that wasn't Munson. Bravo, bravo!
Juancho 2.0 had a good run yesterday and is now back in the lab.
SORBA- Get your individual memberships at www.sorba.org and contact me by
e-mail at email@example.com regarding the development of a Tallahassee chapter.
This means you Tallahassee off road riders. Its like this:
Membership = right to whine about trail development and advocacy. No Membership= right to whine, but not to expect much of anything from it.
And now, storytime.
My friend Carlos told me this story about his notoriously eccentric father Enrique. Enrique is responsible for getting Santana into Woodstock, among other things. He is a renowned Latin musician and infamous scofflaw.
Enrique's brother in New York needed a gun for home protection, so Enrique packed a .38 he had lying around into a box and mailed it off to New York.
The FBI dropped by Enrique's house shortly after, but luckily he was not home and his daughter did not let the agents come inside. She warned Enrique that the Feds were looking to talk to him about mailing guns, which is apparently not legal. Enrique, thinking fast, finds a box similar to the one he used to ship the gun, and drops a transistor radio inside. He then waits for the FBI to return.
The feds return. He invites them in. They confront him about mailing a gun. He completely denies doing so. "But sir" they say, " we have the gun in our possession, with your return address, and I'm sure your fingerprints are on the gun itself". "WHAT!" shouts Enrique, "A gun? I never mailed any guns. I sent my brother a radio."
The feds go on to explain that they do not intend to file charges, but they need to confirm that he shipped the gun so they can close the file and write their report of the situation. Enrique continues to stonewall them. "A gun? No, my gun is right here, I'll show it to you." He produces the box with the transistor radio. He pulls out the radio, "What the hell? This is the box where I keep my gun, oh no, I must have mailed the gun by mistake!"
The Feds, I'm sure, look at each other in disbelief. Enrique vehemently sticks to his story that he must have confused the box with the radio and the box with the gun. The FBI agents, dismayed and frustrated, eventually leave, empty-handed.
I wish I could read that report.
Friday, June 09, 2006
On other fronts- Contrary to yesterday's post I am not a road biker, here is some evidence.
I have manners and greet people appropriately on rides.
Hairy legs (and chest too ladies).
Cant see my ribs when my jersey is unzipped.
Never broken a clavicle
Don't use Cytomax, Endurox, Creatine, Goo, or any other $40.00 powders.
Don't like Coldplay or Oasis
Don't natter on about "share the road" crap.
Like to steer my bicycle.
Don't own a road bike (and that's the clincher really).
Don't wear cologne or jewlelry.
Don't "Loofa" in the shower.
The Fish Slap was good fun as usual last night. I came in last in the TT, which was awesome of course. Then I got a mechanical thank the Lord, before the 10 lap crit got underway. A 40-something dude on a 20+ year old Bianchi kicked everyone's ass, which was also awesome to watch. Ha-ha, I might have been last, but Larry put the stomp on you too suckers.
We are going to go plow around in the sand at Munson this afternoon, it should be great fun.
Bushyhead has built up his 4th bike of the year I think, I've lost track now.
This is boring I know, try living it!
Check back later after I get my game face on.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
"You can catch a lightning bug and put it in a jar, but you can't catch a summer evening and put it in a jar". That's what I was thinking as the Fern trail lit up with green flashes on the way home. The ride was a little longer and faster than I anticipated and I felt great.
15 riders left Joe's at 6:00 O'clock and now there were 4 of us headed back the the shop. As singles and pairs-- folks peeled off and headed home, shooting along on their own local routes, foreign to me.
This was the best ride I'd had in months, and I was keeping it to myself for the moment. The bars felt light in my hands, shit-- I myself felt light in my hands.
I was expecting to meet Big Worm and a couple other guys, but when I got to the shop the place was swarming with jerseys red, yellow, purple, blue, green and bikes in as many different colors. Joe and Pete were lounging in the deck chairs, tired after a long day of holding down the fort. Seeing this group off was the last item on the agenda. The air had a pre-race buzz to it on account of the overlapping crowds and the inevitable itch to sort out who's in charge. Few people draw enough water in this town to muster three or four different bike gangs for a group ride. Big Worm has that kind of pull. He's the Tony Soprano of our scene.
We rode for three hours, carving up the Fernbrownillac area and dipping over the tracks to the Pedrick greenway trails. Here in Tallahassee you can call that a full dose. Now it was getting dark. The fireflies were blinking and my legs were really doing me proud after the big miles Sunday.
Sasquatch keeps telling me my summer motto is "No boundaries" because I went on a road ride with him and I'm riding with lots of different people. Not such a bad motto really. Juancho-bike slut- that's me.
I would like to bring to your attention the actions of a few local boys.
Patrick, Justin, and Jason are some of those damned fixed gear punks who never seem to stop planning and dreaming big. They are headed out on a cross- country odyssey. At least they are taking bikes with gears and brakes. The BigRingCircus wishes them a safe journey and many big adventures of great suffering and triumph along the way.
BIGWORM will be out for two weeks working as a mechanic and logistics man for Phil Southerland, a type 1 diabetic, and 7 other type 1 guys. They are entering the RAAM (Race Across America) as a relay team. 25 crew members will work around the clock to support them. If you are interested in following their progress, you can link through the above page or go directly to the blog at http://web.mac.com/teamtype1
The BRC wishes them good luck and strong tailwinds as they kick ass making a statement for diabetics everywhere.
Under a new leaf-
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
If indeed Sunday morning's ride was bike church then it is safe to say I spent the morning in Sunday School. The gang that showed up for the ride was a definitive "who's who" of mountain bike fast in Tallahassee. I was determined to hang on as long as possible.
Under my new training regimen, rule number one is to put on the humility hat and wear it. No excuses, no avoiding pain. I can continue to be the happy go lucky rider I have been, or I can admit that I want speed and am willing to sacrifice to get some of it. The real sacrificing began Sunday morning.
Bill O does not like trails. If another bike has crossed a piece of ground before him, he is not interested in that course of travel. Bill O is a Magellan, who sees lines and trails where none exist. He led us into the forest.
Before we even got out of town, Sasquatch took a nasty over the bars fall and had to turn back. Mystery was along , and I considered him a shaky ally at best, as I figured he would keep up with the pace, leaving me alone in the forest very soon. No matter, the humilty hat and the sound of my crying would keep me company.
Sand is the true teacher. If you want to feel the effects of a few extra pounds, or a weak cardiovascular system, you consult Coach Sand. This ride was all about the sand. It wasn't long before we were stretched out, each to his own misery or joy, trudging uphill through a sandy, briar-choked chigger metropolis and my head felt like it was going to pop.
This group, they make haste. I believe we crossed through some pretty meadows and whatnot, but there was little time for resting. Occasionally I would catch up, which would cue the gang to ride off again, having satisfied their duty and responsibility to me. Truly, they were too kind.
3 hours later we rode out of the forest onto Springhill Road, not close to home, but at least I knew where we were. It was the logical route back to town. A good fifteen miles from home still, it was going to be a huge effort just to get back under my own power. Three of us headed back, while the rest rode into the forest again, headed for Crawfordville highway, another hour of bushwhacking, granny ringing effort before they too would have to log another 10 + miles back to town.
I'm calling it a solid 30 miles, largely in the forest, while the rest of them probably logged 50. Those are big numbers for the beginning of summer, when the rides often get shorter due to the heat. Consider me enlightened.
And to the deacons of bike church- Thanks for a great ride, and for letting me wash your feet.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Not sure if saggy pants are still cool? Curious about a '29er but don't know all the issues? Want to ask out the girl at the Pizza Place but don't have the smooth moves to step to her?
Rest easy, you can always Ask Big Worm.
Just send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Big Worm,
I often get criticism from my fellow pootle crew riders about the cleanliness of my bike. Although mechanically sound it has a fine veneer of mud and is what I would call Trail decorated. Big Worm, sometimes, their words hurt.What should I do your holy-invertebrate-ness?
I had to think about your question for awhile. Not as long as it took me to get this response out, but awhile. There is more than one school of thought on this subject. I've had racer boys who felt that the bike was simply a tool for crushing the souls of the weak. This group's bikes would be ridden through all types of weather and filth in an effort to stay stronger than the aforementioned weak, so as not to get their own souls crushed!
Their bikes would come into the shop creaking and groaning with every pedal stroke. It seemed as if as long as the bike shifted properly, the rider was happy. Aesthetics be damned! Most were only marginally interested in whether the brakes worked properly, or not. After all, brakes only slow you down! Most of these cats were substantially faster than me, so maybe there was some merit to their arguments.
I, personally, don't fit in with this group. I always tried to keep my rides clean, within reason of course. I mean a mountain bike or 'cross bike, used properly, will get filthy. I used to claim I kept my rigs clean because I was mechanic. And if my bikes looked like hell, how was a customer going to trust me to take good care of their pride and joy? The other day I realized that wasn't so true. I found myself ditching one of my usual road rides because of inclimate weather. I just couldn't bring myself to trash that beautiful road bike, riding in rain. It wasn't so much the thought of the maintenance that I'd have to do afterwards, as much as it was that it just didn't feel like the right thing to do. You see, my bikes have taken me to many places and through many experiences that I never would have found in any other way. So dragging my road bike through all that water and grime would have felt like an insult. Now, had it been one of my mountain bikes or maybe the 'cross bike, I probably would have been out slopping through the mud with the best of them. See, each bike has it's own personality. Some prefer to be sleek, fast, and pristine, like my road bike. Others are more at home cruising quiet back roads in search of another unknown dirt road to yet another adventure. And some simply prefer to be challenged by anything mother nature can throw at them, in terms of weather and/or trail style.
Now that I've spent enough time sound like some kind of sappy bike sissy, let's get back to the point! To answer your question Fat Lad, you have to ask yourself two questions.
1) Is your bike a tool or a partner?
2) Is your bike happy with it's trail decorations? (If your bike get's you out and back again
reliably, and isn't constantly leaving you in a lurch, cool! Keep doing what you're doing. I know I've seen more than one butch bruiser of a ride that preferred to show it's trail scars, while performing flawlessly.)
In the mean time, keep your front and rear mechs properly adjusted, put the front brake lever back on the proper side of the bar, and pootle to your heart's content!
Why? 'Cause BIGWORM says!
Fat Lad can be found taunting the whole pootle crew at www.bigalspace.co.uk/fatlad/
Friday, June 02, 2006
School is out for Summer, and it is Friday, which means a big fat Saturday morning lies ahead of us. Who's riding where and with who when?
If you aren't riding your bike, what are you going to do?
Wherever you live, I would like to know what you consider to be the essential version of a "Saturday Stroll" in your neighborhood, town, city, pueblo, or village.
For me it is coffee at Lake Ella, then a nice volunteer stint cleaning and selling bikes down at Joe's. The music is up, Pete is busy wrenching, and an unsuspecting public wanders into our little bike paradise to receive enthusiastic, if unorthodox service.
In the course of a day I will likely ride a 3 wheel foldable, a couple of cruisers, a fixed gear, a 29'er, a BMX bike, a variety of mountain bikes, but probably not any road bikes. I will ride them to chase dogs, get lunch, visit with pretty ladies, and mainly just to experience the way each one of them rolls.
Lonely folks who don't necessarily ride bikes will stop by to get un-lonelied by Joe and us, his reluctant disciples. Three or four generations of Joe's mechanics will stop by, most will pick up a wrench at some point and get involved in a good diagnosis, whether it is some migrant worker's Roadmaster, or a techno-weenie and his tri-bike. Skills will be flexed.
Tonight I will roll around Railroad Square www.railroadsquare.com , enjoying the unpretentious First Friday Gallery Hop scene.
Peek in the doors of Krank it Up www.railroadsquare.com/tenant/KrankItUp.html , to see what sort of bicycle chaos they have going on, drop into ArtAffects www.artaffectsgallery.com to see Leigh Anne, and wander the BFA warehouse where the youngsters with intense visions and grand dreams are hacking, painting, and brooding there way towards legitimacy.
I will wind up down at Tocamos, www.tocamos.com getting down to the Afro-cuban rhythms under the tiki torches.
It's summer man, nobody cares about your VO2 max, or your lactic threshold. I want to know what makes life sweet where you live.
Now cue the crickets...
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Clean living, that's the way to go. All it took is ten days of bacterial misery to remind me. Clean living, that's right. The Back Porch Bar and Brothel is closed. The absence of pain and suffering is brand new like a shiny penny today. There is a certain tedium to be endured, I won't deny, but the thought of seeing (your name here) in the rear view stokes the coals of resolve.
After all, it's summer, and that means bikini season, and I want to look good in mine.
We're breaking new ground here at the circus. My feats of abstinence will astound and amaze, like my buddy David Blaine told me, " This sure beats workin' for a living".
The Fish Slap will be coming to a close soon as the surface temperature at the retention pond behind the Church's Fried Chicken is approaching the level of a deep-fried thigh ( I prefer the dark meat) straight from the grease. Expect some sort of final challenge, with prizes and a party afterwards. For the duration of the summer the race will be held indoors at the Diffenbaugh building on FSU campus, 4th floor, so get some slicks.