Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Happy Halloween y'all, this here is a picture of a famous Florida icon from my childhood. Dr. Paul Bearer hosted Creature Feature on Channel 44 WTOG down in Tampa. In the middle of a Saturday you could watch scary movies like The Tinlger, The Man With NO Eyes, or Jerry Maguire. I can't help but notice a startling resemblance to our very own Human Wrecking Ball, but maybe it's just the lighting in here.
Mo' miles, mo miles yesterday- I won't bore you with the details.
Well maybe just a few! I think we went fast and I sort of, pretty much kept up so that's good. The new bridge at the Live Oak Connector is rickety awesome so thanks Bigworm and crew for making such a delightfully sketchy addition to an already sketchy trail.
Halloween has come and gone for me, I celebrated last Friday. Some people are strongly opposed to casually ignoring the calendar for your social convenience. How do you feel about it? Me, I could go for some Thanksgiving today, right now and third Thursday of November be damned!
I went to a costume party and I was Flava Rove a blend of two of America's most influential pop icons of the day, both of them more than passing scary too.
Please deposit your precious Halloween memories in the comments box below.
Sasquatch? the crickets if you will-
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
It occurred to me yesterday that I still don't know if I made the cut for the San Felasco 50 (50 tears, 50 excuses, 50 ways to leave your lover, 50 more people coming around on the left?).
Most of my friends have gotten the sweetest love letter in the world telling them they are F-4 or Section 8 or whatever you are when you dodge the bullet of destiny and wander, blinking and dazed, back to your normal life rather than pay the ultimate price. Their check, symbol of their commitment, sits uncashed within that envelope. Some of them stroll around talking about what they could have done if only they were accepted. Damn man, I was going to ride it twice bro'!
No letter for Juancho. I spend enough time online that I could have gone over to the San Felasco website and looked it up by now, but I don't think I want to know. Until I hear my number called I'm just another hippie child lost in the summer of love.
Monday, October 29, 2007
The turpentine and barbed wire buffet was open all weekend as Juancho rode and rode. When he wasn't riding he was busy writing in the third person and contemplating the use of onomotopeia- like when he whooshed through the trees making motorcycle sounds like baaaaawwwww! and waaaaaaaaa!
It just goes to show that if you leave a critter to its own notions it will always do the thing that the critter was intentionally meant to do. Only when you send critters off to school do they get ideas about putting on pants and saying things like, " I think if we can concentrate our human assets around this issue we can better focus on the implications of a long-term policy migration towards myopia" and stuff like that.
Juancho showed Squatch some singletrack other than Munson Hills. I don't think he ever saw Tom Brown Park before. He saw it up close and personal-like on Saturday. Yesterday he (Juancho) was up before dawn like an invading army waiting for the call. Juancho received a "text message" the night before about a ride leaving from Joe's at 9:00 A:M, but since Juancho is not a Hannah Montana watching tweenie, he was unable to respond to people who type with their phones. If he had his way he would be calling this report in on a rotary phone the size of your grandma's credenza.
All the same, Bigworm and gang were spotted on the west loop of Lake Overstreet, but they must have taken a wrong turn or gotten away or something because Juancho never saw them again.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Special from Sasquatch...
A few posts ago a fight broke out here in the circus stands when Dr. Detroit and Dogboy squared off over “burliness” in cycling. (See comments section of the recent post entitled, “Fat Lad Doesn’t Care”). Predictable responses flared up like a small-town fireworks show.
Dr. D. kicked it off with a cranky Rodney King diatribe aimed at BRC culture (Can’t we all just ride our bikes, you macho losers?). HiTops promptly dove under the couch, peeing on himself a little with the self-deprecating, “projection” defense (We hate ourselves, bro!). Dogboy came hard with a chest-pounding, noble savage defense (I kick ass, but only after I’ve tended the babies!). Wrecking Ball, applauded by Jill, came off the top rope with a message of tolerance and diversity, nicely couched in sarcasm, and the rest of us alternately piled on and scattered like derisive jackals. It was big fun.
But here’s the thing: the beast lives. Call it the Id (if you’re fond of cigars), the Warrior, the Wildman, or the Witch, but the beast lives in you. If you don’t set a place for it at the table with the rest of you, you WILL be feeding it out back. And when the beast needs an efficient fork for gathering the weakness of the OTHER and stuffing its greedy face, a bicycle will do just fine. A bicycle will slip in between your ribs silky smooth and silent, and a talented assassin will never even mention the tastiness of your heart. He might be pedaling along talking to you about a party or his dog or his investment plan while he wipes his blade clean of your boiling blood.
It’s the roundness of those damn wheels. They roll. They roll when you’ve got a hundred miles left in you and they roll just the same when you’re silently praying to make it the last block home.
Four riders, each cruising along together at 21 miles per hour, can be in four, completely separate states of being anywhere between lifting off to heaven to dangling over hell, and all four sets of wheels roll just the same. Those wheels roll smooth, straight and true, even when your heart, legs, and lungs are playing a cacophonous symphony of suffering only you can hear.
Remember when you used to light firecrackers and the fuse would burn all the way down inside one of them, but then for some reason it wouldn’t blow? It just lay there in the street, bristling with intention. You’d have no idea if it was safe or if it was a slow smoldering cannon stringing out the blow until the moment you reached out to pick it up. Cycling pain and its delivery systems are kind of like that.
You don’t know what you’ve got compared to what the other guy’s got until he either explodes up the trail away from you or implodes to a crawl behind you. Maybe he stays right with you but you don’t know what that means either. You’re sure he’s got to blow soon but he doesn’t, maybe because he’s just barely strong enough to stay ahead, or maybe because he’s humoring you, or maybe he’s thanking God you both have to stop to consult a map, or maybe right in the middle of wondering about him and how close he is to the crushing point, you blow, or you catch a second wind and you’re invincible again and its not even about him any more because he’s functionally dead in your shiny wake. Meanwhile, to the fox squirrels watching from the trees, it all looks like a pack of shiny beasts running through the woods at 16 mph, unified like migrating Elk.
But the beast knows. However it goes down, the beast eats. The bike is a sword. The bike is a war hammer. The bike is a rusty, underestimated gun.
If my bike had not been locked in my truck for the last two, OK- three weeks, it would certainly have garnered a notice like this one I spotted in our capital city. That is all over now, because I rode that sumbitch last night.
Out to the Live Oak Connector, our own little Razorback, for a sound thumping. I could still see the fellas when I got out of the woods so I called it a success and turned back for home, no need to accentuate the negative by going too far then begging for mercy.
Someone has been out to the LOC trail and done some serious work. Much needed re-routes, new bridges, and some major brush clearing. Whoever you are, feel free to remain anonymous, but e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me where to set up the tab, you have got some cold ones coming your way my friend, so please step up and claim them.
I expected the absolute worst yesterday, but it wasn't that bad. In a tight, technical, rooted-out trail I can mask my lack of training with rusty skills. Out on the open trail, I expect it would be dust-ville for me. Somehow I am hanging on to a little fitness.
Stress is exercise after all right?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
This news is met with great relief, sadness, or utter disregard depending on where you stand.
The Razorback Mountain Bike Park in Reddick, Fl is done, no more. The lease will not be renewed on the land in favor of some mineral mining operation. Cat litter maybe.
All I can say is I got my licks in, this cyber-journal has it all on record. Razorback is a trail that sharply divided the mountain bikers from the people with mountain bikes. Aggressive and steep lines charge through a slag heap of semi-toxic mine tailings. Ribbons of tape directing you into flinching corners and over blind drops.
No more spine climb, hero hills, granny's revenge or Kiko Point. No more late night runs from the pole barn. Pa Ingalls will have to travel more than 100 yards for a ride now. So many things will change.
Squatch will have successfully waited it out, never truly tackling a centerpiece of Florida riding. "Razor-what was it called?", He will say in the months and years to come as he saddles up for another series of serene figure eights on the road bike.
I hear Dave and the goneriding crew are planning a last hoorah November 2nd weekend, so there is still a little time to say goodbye.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
We all chase the new adventure in an effort to escape the "stuck at home", "same old', same old" doldrums. That's part of why I got sucked into mountain bikes.
You see so much that you would never see otherwise. Bicycles have changed my life course completely. I'm totally and unregretfully immersed in this culture. The people I run with, and the places I go, all somehow eventually tie in to my cycling habits. Even my career, if you could call me a career kind of guy, spent 10 years on the bike shop track. Every vacation with my wife means a quick search to determine where I can ride while we're away. Should I bring my road bike or fat tires? Maybe both!
I'm constantly planning the next road trip. But right now, the trip I'm on, much like the trip our gracious host here at the BRC just endured, has me solely dreaming of being home. I can't wait to return to the warm welcome of my familiar crew, the comfort of my own home, and the twists and turns of trails so memorized that they allow complete clearing of the mind, much like what 'Squatch just explained.
I've logged so many hours on these trails that I could probably ride half of them with my eyes closed. Some would consider this boring, routine, or even a rut, but right now, I look forward to every mindless pedal stroke. Every familiar turn, drop, hop, and duck, leads me a little further from where I am right now.
Every revolution takes me along the trail that will leave behind loss and pain. Every turn of the crank brings me closer to home.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Thanks everyone for keeping things lively and fun at the circus during my impromptu hiatus. Now I am back to return this forum to its proper tone of righteous indignation and sad regret. I have one bike story, which I am saving for later in the week, but a little foreshadowing can't hurt so I will hint that it involves your discussion of weakness, and how it can bring you to the very brink of life. More on that later.
I ended my tour of the Lower Midwest- Appalachian Plateu- Mid-Atlantic region in Washington D.C. where the president of the United States lives. It is a town of great bluster and import, full of terribly busy people wearing wonderfully tailored things.
Within my first evening I witnessed nine Anderson Coopers, three Nelson Mandelas, a small herd of George Stephanopolises ( I thought they looked soooooo 1998) and a smattering of Cindy Sheehan look-a-likes malingering outside of Kramer's Books on Dupont Circle. Conspicuously untidy, I hitched up my britches and licked my thumb to try and rub the scuffs off my blue low-top Chuck Taylors. If you live in a place where wearing two pairs of boxers can pass as shorts, or where neck hair is tolerated, be thankful or shamed whichever suits your mood.
I scheduled an open Saturday to explore the sights and enjoy a free day after a long string of days full of such things as grief, expectation, discomfort, and terror. What I wanted was a moment. Something to bring this strange chapter to a close.
I thought I would most likely find it at the Holocaust Museum. So Saturday found me doing two things I rarely do on a weekend, getting up early and standing in line. It took an hour and a half to get a ticket, and another 30 minutes before my scheduled entrance to the permanent exhibit, but I waited, convinced this would encompass all of the profound emotions which had so recently been visited upon me.
About twenty of us were packed into an elevator so tightly that I truly believe it was part of the experience, reminiscent of the cattle cars which carried so many to the end. The doors opened to mass confusion and milling crowds. I weaved through trying to find the exhibits and then I realized this was the exhibit. Behind the gum-smacking kids playing tag, and the fervent arguments about where and when to eat lunch were the detritus of the worst evil ever visited on humankind. Pushing, jostling crowds of tourists loudly catalogued what they saw. Not a fan of theme parks, I bolted for the exit.
Miles later I found the Vietnam Veteran's memorial, and what I was looking for. Small crowds of vets clustered and paying homage to their lost buddies. Unkempt and out of shape old warriors pulling themselves tight and ramrod straight saluting the wall. Tears seemed to run down everyone's cheeks, so I let a few run from mine.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I noticed something on a ride this weekend that got me going on the whole “cycling steals my life” thing I sometimes get into. It was a beautiful afternoon ride with a close friend. It had been a week since I’d been on the bike so I had fresh legs and a whole craw full of troubles. Warming up and catching up on each other’s news, we were riding along trading rants, passing the righteous indignation back and forth like a fur-ball hacky-sack. It felt good to judge the wicked.
Then we shot through Woodville and out Natural Bridge Road, and the black asphalt was so smoothy smooth and black-tar new that we fell in line, hit the drops, and started pedaling to make mama proud. And of course my mama was gonna be prouder than his mama if I had anything to say about it. You know how it goes.
Several zentastic miles later, shortly after we shot past the actual Natural Bridge Spring Group and out into the pine forest beyond, we came out of the trance and started riding side-by-side again, at which point I thought we’d turn back to our tasty dish of hate. The only problem was, I swear to God I couldn’t remember a single thing we were bitching about.
Seriously, I went to the word bank and all that was available that a human might understand was how Piney everything smelled and a random thought that I think had to do with chocolate, or at least really rich dirt. I was Pacified, with loads of sweet miles ahead.
Back home later, after 50 miles or so and an extremely proud mama, I still couldn’t remember the problem. Any problem.
That stack of papers I HAD to grade this weekend: whatever. The pile of paint cans blocking the garage door: they’re suddenly all part of the plan. My wife’s increasingly alarmed reports concerning our “flea problem”? I propose the one who cares the most take care of it, and keep me posted.
You see where I’m going? Pacified.
Then there’s the Sasquatch young-uns. A good daddy gathers the child-beasts and heads out to the swimming hole with what’s left of a nice afternoon. "Who wants to go to Wakulla Springs?", I ask ¾ heartedly. Hey, I’m willing, but one kid’s battling the Final Boss and the other just started a school project, and I haven’t given them any notice because how was I supposed to know how long I’d ride? It’s a beautiful day out there!
"Besides, come on, ya'll. Do we really have to go anywhere when it feels so good just laying around in this lovely time and space in our own rosy skin? Can’t you hear that sweet, low, hum of life and feel that warmth spilling from your spent heart? Who wants a smoothie?"
It’s a problem that, at least for me, “needless worry” anxiety and “get things done” anxiety and “personal values” anxiety all fall to the same elixir of cycling bliss. “No worries” covers a lot of ground on the back side of a soul ride.
Guest Blog by Sasquatch
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
26 or 29
Who cares how many times your wheels go round on the same hills and loops we pedal? I don't; It's all just riding.
Full Bounce or Fully Rigid
Who cares if you bounce from rock to rock in righteous rolling or glide down the trails sprung forward on the latest tech? I don't; It's all just riding.
Geared or SingleSpeed
Who cares if you mash the cranks with vigour or spin up the ascents climbing to the big end of the cassette? I don't; It's all just riding.
Full Jeycore Race Whippet or Downhill Demon
Who cares if you don lycra to hammer the miles or body armour to hammer the hills? I dont; It's all just riding.
Weekend Warrior or Die Hard Pedaller
Who cares if you get your rides in where you can, fitting the joy in around real life or whether you have to get the miles in, all else be damned? I don't; It's all just riding.
Supermarket Special or Carbon Race Ride
Who cares if your steed was a few hundred dolars from Walmart or the latest,lighest,fastest that money can buy? I don't; It's all just riding.
Sand or Mud
Who cares if we're grinding through loose and dry or grinding through loose and wet? I don't; It's all just riding.
tires or tyres?
Clearly, it's tyres.
Guest Blog by Fat Lad (our brother across the pond)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
He’s 58 years old and stands 5-6 at best on tiptoes. By his own description he looks like Charles Manson, but he’s more Old Testament prophet eccentric than homicidal hippie crazy. His take on politics and religion will send you scurrying back to the safety of the weather, or asking him to whip up another plate of pancakes and soy sausages as a diversion. Better yet, get him to tell you about his adventures at Paris-Brest-Paris or Boston-Montreal-Boston, or one of his 27(!) assaults on Mount Mitchell.
Here’s to Michael Davis, who runs a corner of road biker heaven called the Bicycle Inn of Bakersville, North Carolina. Show up one afternoon for a three-night stay. He’ll take you on the “Frankie and Charlie” tour of Bakersville, which ends in a screaming descent down the main street of town. Spend the evening on the porch trading war stories with the other guests. After breakfast the next day, let Michael shepherd you around to the Tennessee side of Roan Mountain for a 5-mile climb that starts after he’s already (respectfully) kicked your ass for 45, and mercifully crests with only 8 miles of rollers and downhills back to the Inn. He’ll also snap your picture a mile from the top and make it look like the whole climb was like Sunday afternoon on the St. Mark’s Trail. Day 3 is a tour of the Toe and Cane Rivers, concluding with a fast and scenic run through the farm fields of Jack’s River Road. As Sasquatch learned on our visit in August, Michael will even true your cantankerous rear wheel between rides.
I’d nominate Michael for the Clydesdale Hall of Fame, but substitute blogmaster Sasquatch, at 6-3 and 240 and a snob about the category, says he’s too small. (Come back, Juancho! Sas’ is drunk with power.) So call this a Hitops Profile, like the Dewars ads that used to run in the mags. All that’s missing is Michael’s favorite Scotch: a protein powder shake spiked with ambrotose, which he calls the “best shit in the world.” Oh, and by the way, The Bicycle Inn does NOT take Visa.
Guest Blog by HiTops
Friday, October 12, 2007
Sasquatch here, playing Ed McMahon in Juancho's absence. Juancho asked me to organize a few guest spots while he's away. Rumor has it Big Worm has a thing or two to say, and I may have a post in me if I can find the time. Aucilla Sinks always has a shiny two cents, HiTops is steady at the wheel, and Fat Lad could throw a nugget or two at us from across the pond. If these folks, or any of the other fine circus crowd wants to cue up for a post in Juancho's absence, shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com and we'll have a sit-down. I'm already a little drunk with power.
Today's guest blogger is our own Wrecking Ball, who's got a thing or two to say about fighting the good fight. Tuning in to W.B.Z.N.:
Climbs are good. You hate them when they are happening, but the ride back down wouldn’t be as sweet without the pain. Some master force is after our climbs. We will all be weaker for the loss.
Many years ago, a random guy on a bike had informed me, that the Winn Dixie hill on the Fern Trail was going to fall to progress. I had been riding a scant ten months and it took me most of that to master that hill. It took six months for me to ride the 2x6 crossing the creek. I cursed that hill every time I rode it. Still nothing could have prepared me for when John Harvey and I had the last ride before the bulldozers. The next day it was gone.
People have their eye on the Oak Tree climb out at Tom Brown. Sure it’s a good cause and the city needs a disaster command center, but I say it’s all part of the plot to weaken us as a group. No will to climb, no will to fight. They will jerk the leash and we will have no wolf left. The poodles we become will yield to the master.
Today I was riding the Greenway or as we call it “up hill both ways”. That God cursed climb has given me more beat downs than I can count. They were cutting in the new road for the development I have been hearing about for a couple years. Is another climb in danger?
I have been accused of building houses on the grassy knoll, but consider what I am saying. Without the climb we are nothing and the act of bombing down is meaningless.
W.B.Z.N. (sitting in)
Monday, October 08, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Uh-Oh, play time is over.
I bet it has been nice and peaceful in the kingdom while I was away hasn' it? Fig juice running down your arms while you listen to tales of wars gone by sung by some traveling bard? Riding in harmony, one with the other, out and back and out again?
Well forget about all of that. I have found my leathery wings and that means that you will be hearing me bellering, wheezing, crying like a baby with a sore tooth, and cursing like Eddie Murphy somewhere on the trail behind you, or Gods be merciful, in front of you.
That's right. I'm trotting out this tired old schtick one more time, like Meadowlark Lemon dribbling in a circle on his cracking arthritic knees. People will wince in sympathetic embarassment, but they also will whisper
I know...it's sad, but he's a legend!
Now where the hell is that San Felasco application-
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Have you ever dreamed you were sleeping while you were sleeping? If so, why can't you remember the dreams you had while you were sleeping in the dream? Your dream's dreams per se?
I'm on the fence this morning. I still haven't ridden my bike so writing about that is out. Hmmmm, on the table we got the following.
Reasons to ride or not ride the San Felasco 50.
Why Dungeons and Dragons is a great metaphor for real life.
The conspicuous absence of magic.
What I should have for breakfast.
The utter predictability of comfortable people and their justifications for remaining so.
What to call my new garage band I'm fit'in to start up.
Hear that snapping sound? That's the streak breaking.
Hope you are well,
Monday, October 01, 2007
I could not bring myself to leave the house all weekend, or what bit of weekend I caught. The weather is perfect, and I knew about the 9:00 A:M Sunday Joe's ride. I was awake at 6:15 A:M and could easily have made it, but the jones for a clean and peaceful nest was too great. I wanted a chicken in the pot, fresh sheets on the bed. When I return from a trip of any length, I feel a bit like the madman, the ranting lunatic. By leaving I see Tallahassee, my life, and your lives as well through the magnifying glass of nostalgic optimism. I magnify all of our traits. For instance, in my class last week I was proselytizing about Publix, where shopping is a pleasure. It doesn't matter that they insist on wrapping their vegetables in little Styrofoam boats, they are the best grocery store in the history of the world! I will lead people to believe that lake Ella is actually a lake. I will claim the canopy roads run everywhere, and happy children wave from the branches of Live Oaks as you ride your bike to work. I tell people that my friends are fascinating people who enjoy discussing art and literature, Geo-politics and the impact of hip hop on white American culture. They build things with their hands and they play rock and roll music.
Then I come home and behave as though it were all true all the time.