Friday, November 30, 2007

R.I.P. Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel

Back in 1995 when I was in my yonderin' days I drove from Bozeman to Butte Montana for the annual "Evel Knievel Day" festivities. As a young perspiring writer I intended to interview the man, write it up, and then report to work at Rolling Stone magazine sometime the following week.

The star of the weekend was the town of Butte, with the yawning metallic waters of the Anaconda Mine, one of the nation's most magnificent Superfund sites. I paid admission to the viewing tunnel and heard stories of men patrolling the toxic waters in Spring to dissuade waterfowl from mistaking the pit for a lake. The job seemed to focus on firing rounds from a shotgun to herd the birds on to better options.

I remember eating breakfast in a place that featured a full length diner counter paired with a full length bar. Keno and offtrack betting activity continued around the clock, as did the scotch and pancakes. I enjoyed a bit of everything the place had to offer, losing a few bucks on Keno because I was too young and self-conscious to ask anyone to tell me how to play Keno.

I noticed an imbalance in the population that leaned towards the hydrocephalitic and the strabismal which both fascinated me and filled with disquiet.

I discovered Evel at a city park, which was being named in his honor. He held the infamous black cane, and I wondered if he had enough bile left in him to swing it like he had back in the day.

The crowd was small and it was early, about 10:00 in the morning. I maneuvered into the crowd of autograph seekers and well-wishers and easily found myself shaking his gnarly hand. I asked him if I could ask him a few questions for an article I was writing about his hometown. His grip tightened on that cane and he spit. All the while looking away behind his Carreras he said, "If you don't need nothin' here, could you step aside?"

I bought a picture and he signed it, "Kiss my ass, Evel Knievel".

Actually that part is not true, he just signed it, "Evel Knievel" but the kiss my ass was implied.

Honored here today as a Great Enemy of Moderation, Evel Knievel may you rest in peace you ornery son of a bitch!


The Round Up

Well it is Friday, which for most of you means some sort of government sanctioned rest time is due you for the next two days. I don't know how it is where you live, but here in Tally it is balmy and the air is soft and gentle. A mild 65 more or less. Not so bad for riding bikes is it?

Not a bad idea, I just might do that.

Meanwhile, Sasquatch Kate Olsen continues melting his way towards an impossible 225 malnourished lbs. Yesterday he went to the doctor, alarmed about some bumpy protrusions along his chest.

Turns out they were just ribs.

Through a long and complicated bartering system I learned from the Mongols while fighting Mother Russia in the foothills of the Steppes, there may be a Titus Racer X frame coming my way soon. If that doesn't speed my up or make me look cooler, (or something, just anything please Lord!)then I'm going back to collecting beanie babies because anyone will tell you I was pretty good at that.

What else is going on out there? All BRC carnies, stop by the big top and report in.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Got some gear to get rid of? Advertise it here on Juanchobay, your latest source for online trading. I hear people get rich on the internet, and I think it is about time I make a go at superstardom and megawealth.

The first item up for bid is a 2005 Jamis Dakar Expert. This is a sweet, sweet bike. I'm just tired of it holding me back. I could do any number of things to court that alluring mistress Speed, but a trade-in is the easiest. S'quatch's dieting and purging sermon has done nothing but drive me under the covers with a wedge of Brie and an 8 pack of Rice Krispy treats.

So who wants it? We will start the bidding at $1,000.00.


Monday, November 26, 2007

"Do Whatever You Feel Like Doing" Thanksgiving is finally over, and it took more stamina than a frat boy at Mardi Gras to make it to this wonderful, work-filled Monday. Finally, a day with some expectations, a bottom line of some sort. I kicked the holiday off with a trip to Lloyd, FL to meet our online compatriots Ms. Moon and the Downtown Guy I was all set to tell you that story this morning, but I froze up. I'll work it out eventually, or maybe I'll just keep it to myself. Either way, it feels good to know you ain't too set in your ways to make new friends, or become a part of new families. I'll tell you all about it, but you have to give me some time to sort it out in my mind first. We had us some fun, I can tell you that much.

I hope you all had a good long break as well. For the record, we rode bikes a lot, in between spoonfuls of Ms. Paula Deen's famous conrbread stuffing recipe.

The saltines are the secret ingredient.

I'm a little concerned about the Wreckin' Ball, word has it he is sick, but to not see or hear from him for over a week? What's he got? Probably another dose of the clap, huh?

Ole Sasquatch is skinnying right up these days and it is just about insufferable. The man trims down to 230 lbs and now he's all Diva all the time. I'm telling you, I know why those supermodels are bitchy. It's because they're hungry. I can guarantee that this comment alone will be enough to spur him towards some haughty, finger-snapping, zig zaggin' tirade. I miss his Bernie Mac routine, and laying waste to the Bamboo House buffet.

Those were the days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What still sucks?

That's right, road biking!

Besides the glimmer of broken glass,
the bloodthirsty coming home from work traffic,
the redneck morons screaming LANCE, LANCE!

There's the smog, the right angles, and the monotony.

I'm glad I got that over with for the year.


Say it,
polaaahkooo. It is Bosnian for slow down. You have to say it like that though, puuulaaaahhhkoh, to get the proper effect. This 3 day work week before the holiday is feeling like a semi-permanent downshift. I could write an entirely different blog about myself, bikes, and slowing down, and I encourage your wittiest barbs toward that end (I will get you all eventually, running you down one by one on the long slow march to the grave!) but that is not my point here today.

I laid in bed staring at the pre-dawn ceiling for a good hour this morning, too excited about being able to stay in bed to get back to sleep. Nowhere to go, not much to do, just wake up eventually and send some pre-emptive e-mails to get the work world scrambling off on some subterfuge, some red herring to keep them at bay until Thursday- not that anyone else is trying too hard to get much done.

James Taylor is singing on T.V. this morning and even as his cliche music takes me back to a Wyoming campfire and a dark-haired, blue-eyed girl I can't help but look at his eyes and think to myself, "Now there's a difficult son of a bitch if I ever saw one". I'm certain all the shiny white people swaying before him see it differently and well they should.

With a stretch of downtime before me I think about writing a book, joining the Y, making room in the garage for rocking out, volunteering at Nims Middle School, meeting some nice new lady friends, going to Jimmy Carter's Sunday School class, framing some artwork, making some artwork, dropping in on my buddy's Jungian Dream Interpretation class, and of course riding my bikes.

When push comes to shove, I will probably be seeing a lot more of this ceiling.



Monday, November 19, 2007


Here's a rare shot of me relaxing in camp at Sand Rock "Paint your name here" Alabama. I think the light really favors my rugged good looks, don't you?

I'm dragging around with a cold, or Bird Flu, or Hantavirus or something, but you know, the show must go on. If you don't mind I think I will just ramble a few non sequiters by you and as they say, "phone this one in" today.


Welcome to our newest riding buddy
Splinter Cell who kicked off his mountain biking career with an 18 mile ride yesterday. Aside from some bloody shins he looked fine at the end. He declined to don the manotard and I was therefore very disappointed that he reported no undue trauma to his t'aint. Might we be wearing all that stuff for nothing? Could we get along just fine riding in a pair of high-waisted Lee jeans and a snap button western shirt? I just don't know. Splinter Cell is a Marine and will not be enjoying much of what you might call sympathy, or grace, along the trail.

The moment has passed to capture the joy and terror of downhilling at the Tanasi Trail system and its showpiece the Thunder Rock Express. Don't go within 100 miles of these trails without stopping. Bigger than Tsali, smoother than Pisgah, faster than Santos. How did I not know about this place? A true gem, and a BRC insta-classic. I will be back in the Spring.

S'quatch is struggling to find his motivation for San Felasco. Since most of us have been excluded from this elitist event, would someone please claim him? He doesn't eat much (lately) and he's a good road trip buddy, especially if you like close calls on the highway and dodging camp fees.

What? Too much bike talk? You're probably right, that's why I go over to Ms. Moon's page to get my fix of deep thought and eloquent elocution.

Meanwhile, ole Jill in Alaska, another "Blolg Fwhend" is lording it up as an NPR correspondent. She's going to ride 350 miles in the Ididarod Invitational that precedes the dog race. I say BIG DEAL! Why not do a story about a guy who acts like he's being carjacked whenever you make him get on his bike and who can cook and eat pancakes at a 1:1 ratio while standing at the stove. Oh, he's also grumpy and inclined towards schadenfreude. No? Not as interesting? Whatever, go over to if you want to see what a real blog looks like. Harumph!

It was good to see everyone out on the Tom Brown Park Promenade yesterday morning. Bigworm, surrounded by his Lost Boys, Tallyflasher and fast Floyd. Ken in his sleeveless denim vest- too hot, and of course- I was there- and that makes me happiest of all.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The Comet

The party was in full swing Sunday night up along the Ocoee River road. Bird was chopping wood wearing a blood-soaked sock from an earlier wood-chopping incident. Shawn from Auburn was strumming a new tune called "road head" and people kept trying to drain the last drop from the bottle of Booker's bourbon. Although we were miles from the sea, or even a decent grocery store, the Raw Oyster Bar was doing a brisk business about thirty feet south of the fire.

I wandered out to the road for a breather, and the air was cold, cold, cold. Staring towards the eastern sky I identified Pleides, the constellation most known for having an 80's video game named for it. Looking southward I noticed that kite-like constellation and at the left end of the kite stay was a large fuzzy star.

Now wait a minute, the tumblers started aligning and dropping, and I remembered something from the radio (public radio thank you very much) about a comet that inexplicably magnified itself a million times. They said it looked like a fuzzy star. The Comet Holmes.

You have to say it like Cheech Marin though, the Comet Holmes.

A small crew joined me in the road and we all got our comet watch on. A mix of laughter, stupor, and genuine awe- a bunch of good friends, celebrating the 17th annual Cheaha Trip beneath a bona fide astronomical miracle.

The Thunder Rock Express trail was waiting for us in the morning.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Florida folk ramblings

Juancho is still still off gallivanting in the greater southeastern wilderness of Tennessee with his cell phone off, so I'll keep things going with another post.

I spent the weekend at The Florida Folk Festival, which was rescheduled from Memorial Day weekend to Veteran's Day weekend this year because of wildfire smoke across the region in May. I grew up attending the festival -- we'd make the pilgrimage up from Manatee County every year -- so it feels like home to me. It's usually hot, sweaty, soulful fun, punctuated by dips in the Suwannee River. This year the weather was perfect. It was cool and bright, and in the evenings the campfires were absolutely necessary.

Every year I marvel at the number of families who are bringing their children up with folk traditions. I keep thinking with all the electronic distractions, the number of clogging, picking, fiddling, square-dancing, and country harmonizing twelve year olds are bound to trickle off to the young-uns of a few families who live off the grid near Live Oak, but every year there's another set of fresh-scrubbed children and their sturdy, square-shouldered parents on the Old Marble stage. I had so many moments of sublime listening pleasure at this year's festival I broke out in anticipatory goosebumps just passing through the gate into the park on Sunday morning.

And the riding was fun, too. White Springs boasts the Bridge to Bridge trail and trails at the Shoals, and they're well-ridden and tended. Picture bright sun reflected off palmetto scrub, gatorback bumps, Suwannee ridgeline with the occasional view of black water and white sand, startled birds of prey, and nobody around but you and your crew.

There's also The Suwannee Bicycle Association, which lives in a big brick storefront off one of the main streets close to the park. It's the ultimate clubhouse for local cyclists, complete with comfortable sofas, a lazy dog or two, a big screen T.V., and the cycling version of Hee Haw girls. These folks sponsor the IDIDARIDE, which is a 50 mile off-road tour where they cobble together a route from the local trails and throw a huge party afterwards. I stopped by the clubhouse to pay my respects, and they said the IDIDARIDE had 200 registrants the first three days. These mountain bike "tours" are damn popular. Makes me think we should put something together around here. What would we call it? Where would it go?


Thursday, November 08, 2007


I would see them everywhere. I would mock them silently from my car.

"Spandex geeks!"

It was like a racial slur no one would ever hear. I would see them riding along and wonder where they were going? On the road one minute, and disappearing into the Park Avenue woods the next. They sucked; I was stuck in traffic. I hated them.

Who did they think they were? They can just cross the road and jet into the woods like we aren't here.

My career as a drummer ended; it was a pretty good run. No MTV but I traveled around the world. Another entry on my "almost" resume.

Alright, I would get a bike but I would never wear that stupid stuff they wore. I would never be one of them. I got the Kona I could afford. I rode three miles and vomited. I repeated the process for several days. I was out of shape. Apparently drinking beer and playing "Cure" covers was not a good fitness plan.

Slowly things came around. I could ride a while without wanting to die. Then one of them would pass me.

"Why do they have to go so fast?"

They were such assholes. They cared not about the woods and birds and the nature all around them. They were sinners in the temple.

I ordered a pair of Lycra shorts from Campmore, you know, just to prove how stupid they were. Then a couple jerseys from Nashbar. The truth set me free. I had the kool aid and it was good! No more riding sores. I wasn't as hot. They still rode away from me at an alarming pace.

By chance I rode with some guys I saw once in a while out on the trail. One of them was from the bike shop. I found my way in like a reporter into a Montana militia. I became one of them but the transition took a long time.

One day I went by a guy with denim shorts, a cotton tee shirt and a confused look on his face. He barely made it off the trail before I went by him. His bike was cheap and too small for him.

"Thanks Man!" I said to the dork in the Levis shorts.

I am lucky that cycling found me. I am lucky I have a crew. I rode in the woods in the dark tonight. I hope I am never one of "them" again.

Guest Blog by W.B.

Monday, November 05, 2007

About that ride yesterday morning- what can I say- getting out of town is a lot of work.

I will be blogging from the cradle of country music, bypassing Ruby Falls, and looking towards the great outdoors by Friday. You can pick up one of those hurricance tracking maps they print on the grocery bags at Publix and follow my progress. Doesn't that sound fun!

With the Spaghetti 100 over, and the official closing of Razorback I'm sure people have things to say about the weekend riding, but they probably won't say them here so good luck finding that.

Me? Why yes, I had a nice weekend thank you. W.B. and I rolled out at 3:00 on Friday and put the crush on all of the North side trails. We even rolled the skinny little bridge and the big lop-sided bridge. The orange trail (sshh!) and Redbug. It was big fun. That W.B., he's a real tough guy out there.

After that I stayed up all night singing and playing hits of the 80's on the back deck with a couple of local rock legends. Ever heard of the Elcan Boys? No? How about Betty's Beauty School? No?

Oh well, trust me, it was epic all the same.

See you around the way,


Friday, November 02, 2007

The Round Up

Good morning everybody,

Some of you will be trickling out of town today and tomorrow to give the Razorback MTB trail the big kiss, I mean send off. Have a great time and throw something on the fire for me, like a Cobra kai jersey or something.

Others in the local area may be psyching up for the Spaghetti 100 tomorrow. You might even be psyching up for the Spaghetti 68.4 otherwise known as the "Metric Century". Calling that a century holds about as much water as, My band is huge in Luxembourg","of course my breasts are real", and "I will seriously consider the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission". All the same, whether you are riding the entire 100 miles through the rolling Plantation lands or just slightly more than half the distance, have fun out there. Me? Why no, I didn't register for the event as a matter of fact.

Speaking of not registering for an event, I am out of San Felasco. I didn't make the cut. I believe Jim Ebling begins the process with about 385 riders already picked of the 400, and I have not had the chance to buy the man a beer soooo, Jim- if you're out there, we should meet. I'm a great guy. Ask any one of my hand-picked references.

This leaves me free and clear to bulk up through the holiday season and really lay into the mashed potatoes.

It is FAMU homecoming this weekend, so take that into consideration as you plan your routes around town. I ain't hatin', I'm just saying, you could ride right under some of the Impalas that will be rolling into town and they might not be able to see you from up there on them 20's. Go Rattlers!

I don't know about you, but I rode five of the last seven days, and all of them good rides. Big respect to those of you who got, and kept, me moving. Of course we will get some more this weekend I hope.

What else? Anything I'm missing? Report in from the field...


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dropping in

It sure has been nice to be back in the Bridge of the BRC. Drinking coffee of mine own making. I use 8 O'Clock Bean regular in the red bag, grind it myself, and then pour hot water from the tea kettle through the same plastic Melita cone I have used for years on camping trips. I drin it black, and usually float an ice cube in it to facilitate the slurping process.

For the next three days I can indulge myself with this routine, and then it is back in the car and away to Nashville, TN. I have a few guest submissions in the dugout and welcome whatever you have a mind to share. Please keep in mind that style often trumps substance so don't pull a muscle or anything trying to get all deep. Of course, I think we all appreciate deep too.

After a week of David Blaining it (living in a hotel for four days and never coming out) I will roll towards Chatanooga for the 17th annual Cheaha but it ain't Cheaha Camping Trip. This years finds us converging on the Ocoee River Valley for a week of riding singletrack, caving, staring at trees, and shmelting bottles in the fire. As usual, $100 goes to the shmelter who can create a functional ashtray with no cracks in it. Can't be done I say!

So, more time away from home, the continued postponement of developing a conventional life, but the road calls- and I'm late for supper.