Friday, August 29, 2008

Dodging the Shiv

One good way to protect yourself from unprovoked attacks on the trail is to tuck a substantially thick phone book into your chamois and jersey in order to absorb the blade's attempted insertion into the kidneys. A shank, or a shiv if you prefer can be made from a variety of handy implements available on any bike ride.

An empty pack of energy gel can be rolled tight enough to be filed down into a weapon designed to puncture.

Another malleable option is the pre-ride sandbag disclaimer:

"I rode a record lap yesterday so I really want to take it easy today."

This actually means, "When you least suspect it I am going to cram this ancient and stale sharpened granola bar into your pancreas at the bottom of the next hill."

When a new rider, or an old rider acting like he is new, is earning a rep' or "riding the yard" he makes a target of himself. Despite all efforts to avoid conflict and mitigate the frequency of assaults, in the end the rider must succumb to the savage nature of his surroundings and procure himself a shiv.

I prefer the Titus Racer X.

Yes We Can.


Thursday, August 28, 2008


A couple of rest days and I'm ready to load up and ride all the way to Indoslavia. I walk around with legs burning and siezed up like a dry engine all the time saying, "I feel pretty good I guess, I'm loose." When actually I am so stiff I move like C3PO, that robot from that movie.

Well today I actually do feel loose and rested. I'm one good meal away from running for mayor of Quickville.

The Eastside is inundated, so we won't be riding there for a while. The South side continues to suck water like a Japanese man eating noodles, but we have ridden out there ninety-nine of the last hundred rides. What's the report from the Northside system? Anybody? Don't make me call on you, it is always better to just volunteer.

The world is definitely changing. Mystery, who is now a completely open book since his elopement to Hawaii. He came over yesterday and took a shower. That's right. He took a shower. Nobody made him do it. Nobody asked him to do it. He just took it upon himself to clean up a bit before going off to his "therapeutic massage."

Next thing you know S'quatch is going to call ME for a ride.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Soggy Bottom

There was a moment yesterday when I pictured myself hanging out at some underwhelming strip mall out on Capital Circle for the rest of my days. If Joe were to move his operation to some such place, then many of us would work to make that strip mall home, but I don't want to go anywhere. It is too early to know what might happen, but life will be changing for the time being, and we all know change is bad-except in the White House.

I came off the couch last night around 7:30 with a serious case of the willies, or maybe it was the heebie jeebies? I don't know because I am not a doctor. Intending to take a day off the bike I stacked and sorted the mail that piled up over my vacation and made plans to stack and sort the subsequent piles again later. I placed all of my riding clothes (disgusting!) in the washing machine to soak in a Borax & white vinegar cocktail, and then I nervously ate a handful of tiny Heath bars.

The stress was catching up to me. What will happen to the shop? What will happen if Obama doesn't win? I know from experience that this line of thinking always leads up to images of myself eating cat food in the park as an old man so I grabbed my piss stinking shoes and gym locker funky helmet and burned rubber for the trail.

I have Mystery's 10,000 watt headlamp and I have barely used it, so I strapped that thing on and rolled out for lap 4 of Munson/Twilight in the last 3 days.

I hate that trail. I love that trail.

As soon as I clipped in and entered the forest I felt better. My legs felt like they were being pressed in a vise, but my mind felt as light and refreshing as a gin and tonic. I rode in the dark for most of a lap, but needed the light for the last 30 minutes or so.

Tunnel vision, charging into the darkness, my standard approach.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Joe's is Flooded

Click the title of this post for the USA Today coverage.


Rain or Shine

The glory of riding in Tropical Storm Fay was short-lived, with all memory of the experience expunged from my mind by yesterday's relentless abuse from some weekend warriors, some fair-weather cycling enthusiasts. For bicycle tourists, they sure did kick my ass. That's why I am glad I have this video of me mocking them the day before, when the trail was REALLY sweet, and under 10 inches of water.

Bushy is holding some video from the storm so expect my coverage of the weekend to drag on much like the storm itself did.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Splish Splash

Finally. I thought this storm would never get here.

For some of you this weekend will be a perfect opportunity to pass on riding your bike, and you would be correct. It is perfectly acceptable to call a "meteorological" when a named storm comes to town. You can lay up all snug in your Indianhead Acres compound and watch arthouse movies written and directed by indigenous peoples and chow down on some tofutti waxing wistful about all the miles you would have gotten if you weren't so worried about your drivetrain. Like conscientious objectors in times of war, you are well within your rights.

Bushy suggested a ride at St. Marks out on the dikes (stop that, this is a family blog!) where we can really get some perspective on this storm and see huge gators flopping and wallowing in barometric discomfort.

This is what passes for a good idea at this site.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shiver & Shudder

I'm always relieved and a bit elated right after a hard crash. This might sound strange, but there are lots of reasons.

The odds are that you will wreck your bike eventually if you are riding a lot, so after the crash I feel like I have made my quota. Sometimes you are due and you know you are due and like all debt, it is a relief to pay it off.

The chemical wash that swoops in on the heels of a good thumping is the best your body can muster up, and once the unicorns gallop off and the emergency broadcast system has been tested the numbing lobotomized residuals are pleasant and soothing. A good thumping is like taking your brain to the brain wash.

Aside from bumps and bruises, tweaks and contusions, getting up from a good bell-ringer is life-affirming. Walking away from it gives me that Cal Ripken feeling.

(Cal is a famous football player-known for being tackled the most times.)

So that is why I feel good about feeling so bad right now. Knee to the stem, bars to the sternum, miscellaneous points of interest from jaw to ankle. Bigworm is going to tell you it was nothing, but I promise you- it was something.

The idea of an injury taking me out right now is chilling.

Do you think Worm might have staged the accident?

Shoveling Coal

What's to say? Another lap at Munson, Bushy and I quiet as a couple of graverobbers and working just as hard. One dropped water bottle and a prize gopher tortoise stopped us briefly, otherwise it was robot city. The only sound I remember besides the crinkle of rain is the gnashing of sand in gears and calipers. I love this sound, as it means Autumn upgrades are right around the corner in time for all day robot riding weather. By November the Racer X and I will have sanded all the rough edges away and be stripped down to two essential ingredients: Fast/Scary.

For Halloween I am going as myself.


Monday, August 18, 2008

The Rest Day



Not all riders mix well. In a given ride the perspective of what is happening will change dramatically based on the surrounding influences and circumstances of the individual ride experience.

Only having my own inner monologue and palette as reference, I have to imagine all others have some similar self-conversation and barrage of images and emotions between their ears during a ride and that their behavior is a response to the particular shade of blue or red that they see.

For example, on an average fast-paced ride my thoughts may look like this-

A Japanese kamikaze is taking heavy fire as he swings the yaw over the horizon and points his gun sight on the deck of a carrier ship.

Scene changes to myself as an old man. Fragile, but riding my three-wheeler to go get the mail/ image changes/ I am eating cat food in the park-

King Kong rises up and spreads his powerful arms, breaking his shackles and roaring in pre-mayhem triumph,

I am standing over the stove, vigorously whisking a roux,

And then I am back. In the woods, on my bike, locked on Wrecking Ball's wheel, or far out ahead of Mystery and S'quatch. Many minutes have gone by. I remember nothing since passing the last bench, back across the powerlines ages ago.

I try to pay attention, and thus I slow down.

Now I am standing in the sun, soaking wet, dazzled and blind by the sparkling water of a spring. I hear the thump-snap of a watermelon being cracking open

I am an elected official. I am a superhero. My power is turning pedals.

Riders in front of me. Riders behind me. We are somehow together, yet not.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tallahassee invited to dance with Fay?

Look at this. We made the centerline of the cone of doom. Place your bets.

I just hope a hurricane will supply enough rain to tamp down those huge pillows of pine needles raked up on the trails in the forest. I know, I complain about everything.

No complaints about splashing around on the eastside this overcast morning with a soft, steady rain falling. Bushy and I saw hardly a soul out there.


Friday, August 15, 2008


There will be a lot to miss now that I am not a Clydesdale anymore.

-No more shoulder-checking frantic yuppies in the Atlanta airport.
-No more Tony Soprano/ Bernie Mac wardrobe
-No more lifting big weight at the gym

I guess maybe that is it.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Here from There

Broken glass tastes like honey and barbed wire feels like silk these days.

There are no woods like the home woods and there are no other woods like ours.

Forgive me this moment of optimism, this suspension of hostilities. My inner thug, protector and enforcer, seems to have taken some time off. Riding out at Munson two days in a row after fresh rain I just can't find anything to complain about. I can perceive no injustice to motivate myself.

Turning the pedals is both means and end.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Goodbye California

Wow. Life feels different this morning. What a week. I might be speechless.

I have to reunite with the Titus before I can put any words together.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Surf is Not Up

Around 400 surfers crowded the break last night, converging on the occasional swell like it was the last beer at the party. Old guys, young guys, girls with powerful haunches, and me. I paddled the "Becker Board", large enough for a family of Polynesian immigrants to comfortably commute the Pacific Ocean.

A tiny crest appears on the horizon and the water begins to churn with confident triceps and shoulders all chugging towards the same imaginary fixed position. There is not eye contact, no verbal communication, only getting there first or getting the fuck out of the way.

"Excuse me miss, were you planning to ride this wave to the shore this afternoon? If not, would you mind terribly if I attempt to do so?"

This approach got me nowhere.

I eventually settled on a strategy of picking up scraps, which is the strategy which has served weaker dogs well for thousands of years. A big wave would carry the talented twenty or thirty away, snapping and snarling at each other- then I would gleefully paddle for the next wave, or the one after that.

Snickering beta dogs have their fun too!


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Old 101

Thanks to sponsors I have use of the Giant TRC-1 while I am out here in California and though it is indisputedly a road bike I am not one to turn my nose up at sponsorship. After giving the bike a basic shave and a haircut it is ready to roll.

I toured 65 miles along the Old Highway 101 route up the coast. The villages along the way are tame to the outside observer. Art galleries, surf shops, and Smoothie cafes pepper the roadway from La Jolla to Del Mar. Blaring sunshine and cool winds help portray an image of worry-free monotonous glamour, but the names I pass echo the great journeys of Dean Moriarty and Henry Miller. Encinitas, Solana, Leucadia. This stretch of coast is iconic to America. For all the horror and the glory of Manifest Destiny, this is the end of the line.

This is the encore performance to the great American Dream.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Break Time

Not break time for me suckers, I meant for you.

Back to your summer schedule of pudding and bon bons, marathon re-runs of Bonanza and dreaming of football season. I watched and learned as you went on vacation one by one and got taken down by sloth and lethargy in the fold of the family bosom.

All right, I fear the self same fate and regret leaving the Titus home alone where it is undoubtedly throwing unsupervised parties with other unattended cycles. My brother is probably the one buying them all the Purple Extreme they want.

I am an earth sign and thereby bound to dirt forever, but this week salvation lies offshore.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Wolf

Beyond the fence dogs hear the wolf howling-
rarely sleeping, always hungry, he is prowling.

Curled up beneath the porch the dogs aren't sleeping-
closer, closer, closer the wolf is creeping.

Dogs nibble kibble while the wolf is sucking bones-
Out in the woods the wolf is hunting all alone.


Friday, August 01, 2008

The Hot-house Flower

Our friend Todd is gone. The last thing he did before pulling out of the driveway was wash the bike he borrowed for the week- because that guy is a class act.

Unfortunately, class is not enough to exclude him from being the target of unfair ridicule here at the BRC. You think you are living high on the hog down here until you have a visitor from the West Coast, and then you realize what a bunch of country rubes we really are. He put on a brave face and drank the tap water without too much trouble, but I watched him blanch at the Miller High Life Tall Boy cans in the trash.

I assured him it was an oversight and placed them in the recycling bin- or as I like to think of it- the bin that takes cans and bottles to the secret dump where the recyclables go.

All organic fruits and vegetables aside, a better friend could not have dropped in on me right now. The moment I got the e-mail that announced his visit three months ago I went on high alert. I booked passage on the wagon. I knew he would not be rolling into town talking "Remember When" about bike rides and eating cheeseburgers. He would be expecting miles and lots of them. Indulge me a rare moment of candidness. I am awfully proud of myself for not letting him down.

Yesterday we rallied for a perfect Tallahassee experience. S'quatch delivered directions to the sinkholes which I often fail to locate, and while the work phone rang and rang at home, we floated in frosty comfort beneath a humid blanket of sunny green oaks and pines.

Later that evening it was front row seats and backstage passes to the air show on campus, but I have to wait for Bushy's pictures before I get into that.

We will keep the lamps trimmed and burning Todd, and it was great to have you home.