Tuesday, May 30, 2006

James and the Rule of Mediocrity

My P.E. coach in 6th grade had this astounding lecture,

"If our fathers and grandfathers settled for mediocrity there would be a swastika on the roof of that gym. Instead of this (hand over heart) you would be doing this (Nazi salute).

I remember him pointing at the wide steel roof that glared the end of the school year sun on us as we itched in the grass, and he scratched his balls.
Coach said a lot more than that, but all I remember is him cocked towards us like he was in the wind up of a pitch, which I suppose he was- and pointing, his index finger bent towards the sky, the spit –stained brim of his ball cap pulled tight down over his eyes.

A veteran of the Vietnam war, he would then inventory his distinctions from the mediocre, the average, the lazy.

"I’ve got a steel plate in my head right here".

The taut index finger would vibrate away from us and land on his right temple. "Four surgeries to repair this knee", the finger would pivot over to the left knee.

"Mediocre never would have got me home".

None of us doubted that Coach was tough, hell, he worked us like prisoners in a Red Army work camp. There was hardly a boy in that class who couldn’t run a sub six minute mile at 12 years old, or do 1200 jump ropes on command. Knowing that he had to let us get on to our next classes; pre-algebra, shop, band, whatever-was the only thing that kept many of us from jumping the fence and running for home, and he was winding up now.

"So who here wants to be mediocre?"

James, who maybe hadn’t been listening, or truly didn’t understand the question, or the more obvious yet unthinkable option- he understood the question quite clearly, cautiously raised his hand.

We look at him like the dead little boy he was. Coach Downs summoned him to the front and catching his shoulder in a vulcan pinch walked James to the fence line and said one word,


For all I know, James is still running for that infraction, that honest response that, OK, mediocre was fine with him if it came right down to it.

Did James know why he was running, or did he just not care?


Sunday, May 28, 2006


5 days in quarantine is not such a bad thing. You watch the world go by like a fish in a tank.

Losing a long weekend is an especially painful price to pay.

I'm sneaking out for a little solo test this morning.

I feel good, but I'm not ready to let anybody know that yet.

maybe I took a wrong turn and ended up in fast town?

On your marks-


Friday, May 26, 2006

Clydesdale Hall of Fame

Desmond Dekker- King of Ska-R.I.P.

Ska music pioneer, Desmond Dekker, is hereby nominated to the Clydesdale Hall of Fame for his giant contribution to the 10th Avenue wardrobe. If Mr. Dekker had not created the funky, pre-reggae, ska sound many of the 10th Ave boys would be absolutely shirtless, forced to display their gleaming white torsos to the world. Without Desmond Dekker there would be no Toasters, no Specials, no Slackers, no Sublime, and poor Rudy would never have known when, or where, to run.

Ska music remains the soundtrack of the intelligent drop-out, the anarchist, the individualists. It is what they play at counter-culture recess. Ska music is white boys with black Chuck Taylors doing the Peanuts dance on a packed and sweltering beer-slick dance floor. I raise a pint to all of the skaheads today, who have said goodbye to an icon.

Skankin' but not skanky-


Thursday, May 25, 2006

These are not Black Panthers, and never will be.

Just because S'quatch and I saw three Otter loping through the trees at Lake Overstreet does not in any way diminish my report of a Black Panther (or jaguarundi) 3 miles south along "Panther" creek. I will be the first to admit, otter (otters?) are cute, but what Hambone and I saw was sleek, fierce even, and not cute.

I just wanted to clear that up before anybody starts putting two and two together and coming up with six.

Big Worm is laboriously translating a request from some backwater "bloke" in England. His site reads like a parrallel universe to 10th Ave. He's at www.bigalsplace.co.uk/fatlad/ and he calls it "Fat Lad Rides Again". Congratulations Fat Lad, I'm not one to pass out kudos, or "chippies" either, whatever they are. At least "pints" translates well.

Tonight: Fish Slap- I'm excused due to Ebola virus. The rest of you? No excuses.

I will be hosting a gathering a bright minds tonight, and I'm really looking forward to it. If you RSVP'd I appreciate it and the event is on. The Pedal Viking Marauders Club is in session at 8:00 P:M.

Hilarity shall ensue.

-With love,


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nothing Like Family

This weekend, at the 54th Annual Florida Folk Festival, we are going to crank up the family band and have a good time. Last year, the clan came from all over to join the fun. San Diego, Avon Park, you know, all over.

Last year the festival added a beer tent and after the display that went on, what with my cousin B' conking out and rolling up in a strange man's blanket, followed by the subsequent abuse necessary to get him up and moving again, well- I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to just pass on that beer tent for the next 50 years or so. Speaking of things that won't be back, Emmylou Harris is probably done with us too after this same cousin finally came around in time to bellow "Who in the fuck is Amy Lou Harris?" just as she approached the mic for her first song in front of a crowd of thousands.

My Uncle Jay, he's a pilot, and plans on flying into the festival this year. By "fly into" let's hope he means- ah hell, that joke is just to easy to bother with don't you think?

Last year we rode the "Bridge to Bridge" trail along the Suwanee river and I did the whole thing blind on account of I got military strength DEET in my eyes and S'quatch just kept ignoring me or saying things like, "so your eyes are really burning then?" or "On a scale of 1-10 exactly how bad do they burn?" as though the screaming and clawing didn't make that clear enough.

At least when the family band finally took the stage they played to a packed house. To a stranger they must have seemed like a pretty big deal, not knowing we was all related.

Stick around long enough and they will figure out how you're related to us too. It's not that we don't like strangers, we just prefer family.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blogger Down!

I have posted a dapper Asian? guard at the door and retreated to the panic room due to travel-related illness. My lackadaisical immune system was caught napping by the Hantavirus, or maybe the Avian flu, since it's so en vogue these days.

Here is a schedule of coming events-

Big Worm Goes International

54th Annual Florida Folk Festival...bugs, heat, music, and sand in your drawers.
Go to the May '05 Archives to read how it went down last year. I would link it but I don't know how.

Updates on the progress towards building Tallahassee's first official Off Road Cycling Club
(to be named the Pedal Viking Marauders Club if I have anything to say about it).

A vicious diatribe against people who use the terms "think outside the box" and "I'm going to piggyback on that and say..." as well as people who confuse "definitely, defiantly, and definitively".

A self-loathing essay about middle class sport enthusiasts and how we are not special, or chosen, (unless you're jewish of course).

And if you are still around after all that, then I don't know what to say, but thanks.

(tennis ball neck)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Juancho's Smoked Fish Dip

By request I have been asked to offer a smoked fish dip recipe, and for those not in the know, Juancho can cook better than your moms. I can't help but notice that fish have been making a very regular appearance in the Big Ring Circus imagery. I'm Not sure what that means. This is Florida. Fish have been an important symbol to humankind for thousands of years. Christian, Pagan, and Secular Humanist alike can appreciate the notion of being fed from the sea.

Especially if you put some cream cheese in there too.

1 lb smoked fish, preferably mullet
1lb cream cheese, preferably not non-fat
1/2 cup of Dukes' mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 TBLSP Crystal hot sauce (or your favorite)
pinch of salt

capers, extra shallots, chopped parsley.

Whip above ingredients in food processor or by hand with a fork until cheese and fish have become one. No random chucks of either are acceptable. Paste, that's what you want.

Serve on plate, garnish liberally with capers, coarsely chopped shallots, and chopped parsley.

Oh, cold beer and ice tea.


Serve with Saltines

Back in the saddle

Thanks S'quatch for getting me out there yesterday, four days off the bike can be an eternity at times. So what have I missed? Is Munson now a parking lot? Did Scotty bring a fish to the race? Was Tallahassee relocated to the equator? It was still Spring when I left last Tuesday.

I'm at a loss here this morning. Folk Fest coming up. Airport stories. Review of Portland. Ride Report. Nothing is blowing my skirt up.

Any Requests?


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


This ought to shake you up a bit.

I missed the Blessing of the Bikes last month due to work travel but,...

Sunday morning down at the Trailhead at Forest Meadows I went into the clubhouse to get some cold water. A lovely, smiling dark-skinned angel was working behind the counter and we chatted. My brother and I, sweating in our superhero clothes and she, relaxed and beautiful in t-shirt and jeans. We talked about the weather, and the baritone horn, and as we were parting ways she said, "God Bless You". It caught me off guard, but she was so kind and sincere I answered back, "God bless you too". It felt right.

On the way home I ran over a laminated card lying in the middle of the highway, I doubled back to grab it. What was it? A commemorative card from the blessing of the bikes.

I know, like whoa! right?


Great Peacemakers of Our Time

The following is just one example of the visionary leadership we enjoy in Tallahassee. This appeared in response to a variety of disgruntled missives concerning the legality of cyclocross bikes competing against MTbikes in "The Slap".

Fellow mountain bike riders - it is rumored that i am being a bit ofputz with regard to my insistance that only mountain bikes be allowedto race at the mountain bike race i put on every thursday evening over in crack town.
okay okay - perhaps i am being a bit too harsh with ALL my rules and regulations....

that said, i concede the following:cross bike riders who wish to ride with mtb riders may do so, but only under the following conditions:
all aforementioned competitors must wear speedo swim trunks and carrya sand-filled back pack weighing precisely 2 stone.that is, unless, where it does state in article 5, subsection 31,paragraph 3 of the bylaws - that any xcross rider wishing to ride with the mtb bikes in the points race MAY compete on equal terms IF that person can recite at least one stanza of any love poem written by the russian author, who's daughter inspired another russian author to write perhaps one of the greatest romance novels ever written.name either of the authors in question and you can wear normalshorts. recite an entire poem by this author and i'll wash your car.

If that isn't fair than I can't help you. Thanks for the clarity boss.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ask Big Worm

Feel like the parking brake is on when you're riding? Not sure why cyclists are abandoning gears, brakes, and the right to coast? Didn't understand the ending of the Manchurian Candidate either? No worries, send queries to Juancho at john.phantom309@gmail.com and let Big Worm be your life coach.

Dear Big WormI just finished up a 5 hour epic through sugar sand and have worked up quite an appetite. What do you recommend I eat after such a ride? In addition I may ride later in the week, should I lump in an extra serving on my post ride meal in case I ride again?

Hungry Rider

Well Hungry Rider,

As a card carrying Clydesdale and a 1/4, if I know nothing else, I know how to eat!

But before the nutrition, what the HELL is wrong with you? I happen to know of a lot of perfectly good trails in your area that would not involve sugar(mmmm sugar) sand!

5 hours? After the first 30 minutes you should get the point and go ride FUN trails, with your friends.

Actually friends shouldn't let friends do 5 hours in sugar(mmmm sugar) sand!

All this talk about sugar leads back to your question. Sustenance! There are several ways to answer this. A true Clydesdale would head to the nearest bakery(or Mr Cupcake's house!) and cure the bad name that sugar sand is giving true sugar.

If a sweet tooth is not your gig, then maybe a cold oat soda would suit your needs. Healthy is not always that high on the list of requirements for a depleted Clydesdale.

The main thing to a Clydesdale, is that they are enjoyable calories. After all, who are we fooling? We aren't going to win the Tour, or The Leadville 100, any time soon. Hell, half of us ride just to get away with eating like our equine namesakes, anyway!

Now if you're more of the genetically gifted, gargantuan calf having, racer types, you'll probably
go the healthy way. Grill up some reduced fat, flavorless chicken. Flavor does have calories, right? Well, usually good flavors do, then some nice bland, I mean steamed, broccoli, and a side of water. Nice clean, efficient calories and hydration all in one quiet, recovery based sitting.

With every bite you'll plot the evil dropping of all the other racer types who dare to go on YOUR training ride. And just to make your point, You'll do it on a single speed! Yeah, a 29er single speed!

Your huge wheels will be powered by your massive calves as they roll over your enemies! Until such time as you meet up with a cupcake eating Clydesdale, who'll more than likely, teach your skinny ass the Law of Gross Tonnage.

Now after you recover from your lesson in applied physics, if you're real nice to that Clydesdale, he'll probably share a cold beer with you. He'll probably even show you good trails, that don't involve thrashing needlessly through sugar sand!

Why? 'Cause BIGWORM says!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fish Slap

The Thursday night Dirt races are being called "The Fish Slap" and after a bit of confusion it makes good sense to me. What could be more rude than a hearty slap across the mouth with a dead mullet? Racing your ignoble ass around a retention pond behind a Church's Fried Chicken has the same debilitating effect on your self-esteem. It hurts. It's smelly. It's insulting.

All in the name of good fun of course.

Bushyhead and Scotty B. have diligently ridden and mapped the Munson Hills area forest trails with a mobile GIS beacon doohickey and state of the art maps are soon to follow. This is a pretty big deal in a riding community that has long avoided any comparisons to being a "community".

Aucillasinks has continued his decades long labor of love on the Fern trail system and probably carries more historical knowledge of attempts at organization of the MTB community in Tallahassee than anyone else in town.

Flash is chomping at the bit to stage a coup and get organized. He doesn't really work so he has the time to coordinate efforts. He also takes nice pictures and everybody likes a nice picture.

Our southside trails are in danger from development and talks of relocating the stupid fairgrounds, so maybe this is a good time for these Al Quaeda-like cells to come together.

I think it is time to convene a meeting of the high council over here at 10th Ave.

Do we have to become an "ORBA"(Off Road Bicycle Association)? Couldn't we call it something else, like the Pedal Viking Marauders Club? The Peter Pan Society? The Well Established Anti-Establishment Velociteers? The Dirty Dirt Gang? Just let me know when I should stop here...
The 2.1 Association? The Seven Hills Samurai? The Baseball Furies? Singletrackcorp?

Maybe B'BORBA (Big Bend Off Road Bicycle Association)?

Maybe I should ask Big Worm?

Jeez, I just want to ride my bike man-


Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I cannot tell if this is a rut or the good life. Everything seems OK. Nobody is throwing any rocks at me. The bills are paid, more or less. My bike is still relatively new. The A.C. works. No, I guess it is not a rut, it is a routine. Same thing, damn near every day. There is really no need to complain. I'm eating well. Reading good books. Cracking different versions of the same jokes with the same friends I've had for about 15 years. I still laugh most of the time.

Still, at the edge of my mind's eye I see something shifting, restless.
I tried to make a bedroom the living room, and the living room a combination dance floor, repair shop, but the couch got stuck in the hall. I almost took an axe to it to get it out of there.

I could start working all night and sleeping all day. I could wear my pants backwards, eat breakfast for dinner, dinner for breakfast, and lunch on the roof. That might help.

The problem is that the routine was the goal. To get out of the melee and lead a somewhat more predictable life is nice, as anyone who has been blindsided one too many times can tell you.

You know, some groceries in the fridge. Sheets on the bed. Middle class stuff.

This summer may be the time to write a book, or at least an essay or two. I could break out the acrylics and paint more janitors on llamas. Get a tattoo. Carve a moustache. Learn an actual finished song or two on guitar. Start a hot sauce company. Start wearing underwear. Anything to shake things up.

I want something BIG to happen. Famous last words.

Wapner, four-thirty!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Ask Big Worm

Dear Big Worm,Why do I end every ride, whether mountain or road, long or short, fast or slow, with chain grease on my calf? How does this happen? Is it a sign of virility?

Ahhhh, the infamous Cat. 5 tattoo. This has nothing to do with Juancho's mysterious black cat, sited by the few and far between. The Cat 5 tattoo was so named before there was a Category 5 in road racing. At the time, the "beginner" level of racing was Category 4. So this Cat. 5 thing was supposed to imply that if you couldn't keep the chainrings and chain away from your leg, you were somehow less skilled than a little kid with a tricycle and tassels.

As for how you end up with this mark after every ride, that's a good question. How are you at keeping the rubber side down? I've found that my bike is much more efficient with the tires in a vertical position. Whenever attempting to ride your bike in a flat spin, or the prone position, I find that staying clear of a dirty chain is all but impossible. If you're not sure if you are riding in a vertical manner, look for these tell tale signs: A definite sinking of the stomach, the impression that gravity is pulling from the wrong direction, a mild burning sensation in the extremities of one side of the body, all of this usually followed by a nasty lack of skin in the immediate vicinity of the burning sensation.

If the axis of your bike is not the problem, stop using your chain to scratch that poison ivy. You also might try not using a paintbrush to lube your chain. If none of these are the problem, may I suggest some knee length, black "fred " socks. Those definitely won't have the same stigma as a little grime on the calf, when you roll up to your next group ride.

BTW, make sure I get a phone call if you go the "sock" route. I can't wait for that ride!

Why? 'Cause BIGWORM says!

There you have it folks, quality answers to quality questions about cycling and life. E-mail your questions to john.phantom309@gmail.com.


Thursday, May 04, 2006


Oh boy, Life is good isn't it? I'm rolling out of bed at the crack of noon, sorry for the delay.

Let's just do a little housekeeping shall we?

Trail development continues on the "new" Fern Trail. If you would like to ride and evaluate the new line, send me an e-mail at john.phantom309@gmail.com and I will vet you for worthiness and send you in the right direction.

Trail development at Munson has entered an exciting new phase. After 20? years, Munson is getting some new lines as well. The Motorcross gang has largely abandoned this area and some of their old trails have regenerated and mellowed into decent singletrack. Some of our local heroes have been diligently riding, and marking, the lines. Although the terrain is not extreme, by sheer size, this is Tallahassee's best case scenario for developing a Santos-like (www.omba.org) trail system. Thanks to Scotty, Bill, Keith, etc. for getting on the stick. With new housing development in the area we have to write the script or get written out of it. Stay tuned to learn how to get involved. Volunteering is painless, just a little eco-terrorism among friends right? Just kidding folks, just a little joke. Are jokes still allowed in this country? We will engage in responsible consensus-building activities of course.

New feature coming to the BRC: "BIG WORM SAYS" will feature advice on cycling (both kinds, off-road and lame) BIG WORM is an excellent mechanic and you can expect actual professional advice in that area. He is also a large man who crushes spindly little guys on a regular basis, and we like that, so you can expect good advice on racing technique and strategy.
Big Worm also appears to be happily married to a charming and fine lady, so he can also advise you in your relationship struggles. Whatever your concern, BIG WORM will have an answer.

So, send us some questions already, before this feature flops like the "Clydesdale Hall of Fame".

Now that Bike month is over I would like to thank Justin P, Patrick, Patrick's mom, Dan Cav & the All Saint's Cafe gang, Scotty, everyone else who hosted or sponsored an event for showing some initiative and making things happen. Every event I was able to attend was a blast.

Good, good fun. There some great pics posted under the Tallycat link at www.joesbikeshop.net check 'em out and see how good the livin' is down here.

6:30 P:M tonight behind Church's Fried Chicken on Lake Bradford Rd.- Dirt-crit and TT.

Whoa, lots of bikey-bikey talk today, as it should be.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Leaving the 20lb Camelback, getting enough rest, taking a weekend off the bike, who knows why I was so fast yesterday? It just happens like that sometimes. Mystery and I charged everything on the Live Oak Connector, peeled the dirt up at Overstreet, then spun it around and charged back home. It was probably just a fluke.

The highway beckons, see you Thursday. Play nice.

-armed and dangerous-


Monday, May 01, 2006

Chuckin' the Rock with the Boys on the Block.

Saturday morning I found myself on the basketball court behind the house, gasping for air and driving for lay-ups. It was a struggle, but we fielded a group of four and squared off for a little dos a dos. Playing to eleven by ones, make it-take it, no three-pointers, proved more difficult than it sounds. By the time we made it to 5-5, we lost a man to forfeit. He lay in the dirt glowering at us through his shades, all played out after 25 minutes. Unfortunately his partner had no choice but to ditch it as well, leaving my boy Josh and I to face off one on one. I tell you this for narrative background- Josh is a Jewish Choir Director, and one mean baller. He's quick, tenacious, and unafraid to drive the basket. So there we were, a Jewish Choir Director and an international jewel thief/spy throwing up brick after brick like we were building a church (or temple).

I've been hearing a lot of talk about the benefits of sprinting, or quick anaerobic efforts as opposed to the all day endurance workouts. I can continue to ride far and slow, but if I am going to hold my own at a full Summer of Thursday night Time Trials and Dirt-Criteriums, I need to get some heavy explosives under the hood. I figure basketball is the answer.

It damn near killed us, but in the end I won it with an under the basket/no-look/underhand hook, a shot I picked up from my best bud growing up. (Thanks D!)

Josh was cheated, but basketball is a sport known for treachery and gimmicks and he should have expected something was suspicious when a squatty, 5' 8" man positioned himself under the basket instead of hurling the ball from the perimeter like a cave man attacking a wooly mammoth with rocks.

All that is to say that the rest of Saturday was spent in a trauma-induced befuddlement. Decision-making was near impossible. We spent a good 2 hours discussing what to do about dinner, decided to go out "Yes, definitely we will go out!" This commenced a new round robin of determining where, what, and would there be graduating people and families standing in front of us? We went for BBQ. Graduates and celebrants wouldn't want anything that messy right?

We're pretty much rocket scientists, because Gertie's was empty (www.flbbq.org/joints.htm)

-and delicious.

Over collards, ribs, cole slaw, mac n cheese, and sweet tea we conceived a brilliant plan.

We would watch movies in the back yard. Through our exhaustive resources we were able to collect projector, DVD player, speakers, an unused shower curtain, one copy of "The Big Lebowski" and fixins for White Russians "Careful man there's a beverage here!"

I shouldn't have to tell you how this type of creative thinking and motivation flies in the face of standard, off the rack, 10th Avenue motivation. There was just something about the warm and languid breeze, the sense of summer on the horizon, the relief that twenty or thirty thousand people were leaving town for four months.

Things are looking up, and we haven't even gotten the new pool yet.

I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in...