Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I just ended one of my Juancho trademark wanderings. This one began at Hanna Park in Jacksonville, FL which I found with little trouble.
The subsequent rudderless effort to find my hotel took me to: the back entry gate of a military base, a substantial sample of Duval County subsidized housing, north then south on I-95, a return to the gates of the military base to start over and some good solid assistance from Eli and Jerome who were holding it down at the CVS Pharmacy. No matter. I needed toothpaste anyway.
I assume I need these moments off the mental grid. I watch myself make turn after turn with no idea where I might be going as if I am watching a rerun of Law and Order. I know the plot, but I still find the characters compelling.
I brought this same level of intensity and focus to my ride at Hanna Park. The rain was steady- like it aimed to stick around a couple days- so I put on the iron mask and sloshed out into unknown terrain. Slick and rooty, the trails here are lush with prehistoric palm fronds which doused me with their blessings every two or three feet. Situated right on the Atlantic Ocean, the coastal breeze and the rain brought goosebumps to the skin- in July!
No complaints about that.
2 hours of slogging and I declared every nook and cranny ridden. The afterwork crowd was filling the parking lot when I returned. Lots of dudes sitting in their cars wondering if it was going to let up. As I stripped my sloppy gear off and flung it on my red rental Dodge Charger, riders broke the seal and exited into the rain, insistent ding dinging of keys still in ignitions signifying doubt.
A rinse in the ocean with a view of belching smokestacks and murky roller waves under a grey sunset- talk about atmosphere.
I wouldn't go out of my way, but I would never pass it up.
Monday, July 28, 2008
All rides will now be rated by the number of peanut butter sandwiches necessary to complete the trip. I packed one sandwich yesterday, but it was probably a three sandwich day.
Before I get into any details, let me clear something up here. Last week's post regarding Mystery, the Untameable Stallion,left an echoing, awkward silence in the room. Free of metaphor and innuendo I now give you the straight dope (you know, like Carlos Sastre probably uses): Mystery is getting married, in Hawaii, very soon. Yes, he is marrying up. He asked me to share the joyous news here so he doesn't have to talk to all of you people directly because he doesn't really like people so much.
The Tour de France is over and that means roadies everywhere are wandering around their kitchens this morning blinking and muttering. They click through the channels looking for a scrap of post-race coverage like a bum tossing your car in the night for loose change and cigarettes. I have a variety of doping scandal jokes to unload, but I am afraid we are at the "not funny anymore" stage so that even I, nemesis and gadfly to professional cycling hopes the winner is the winner and that is the end of the 2008 Tour.
Yesterday's ride was glorious. There were no big air fireworks really, which I attribute to the Gu-sucking, race pace atmosphere created by joining any two riders who don't pedal together on a regular basis. By the time the Johnson-measuring contest settled down the temperature was 110 and everyone was ready to bag it-except yours truly and longbow special guest Todd Simmler. After checking off the eastside trails: Fern, Tom Brown, and Cadillac we tacked north and picked off the Live Oak Connector and Overstreet. 5.5 scorching hours in the saddle.
Things sure have changed around here. I'm ready to ride right now this very minute.
Life has reached that full volume spilling over level of activity so I suffer from a bit of blog-paralysis. In my desire to capture everything, I can only manage to sketch and scribble the outline. Feel free to probe for details.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Have you ever been in posession of a secret so astounding, so incendiary that releasing it to the world threatened to change such fundamental assumptions as calling blue sky blue or altering forever the taste of chocolate?
I have one of those secrets.
Mystery, the Untameable Stallion, is going to need a new name.
I don't know what he was called before 1993, but I'm sure by then he already had a litany of nicknames that pre-date the familiar: Hardman, Powder, Goatboy, and Mystery the Untameable Stallion. What do you call a gunslinger who hangs up his guns for the plow?
I'm sure you all will help me figure that out in time.
At least some things won't change. MtUS and I put our thumbprints deep in the eastside soil last night. I don't know if it was the 90+ degree evening temperatures or a mutual exhilaration over the epiphany that by God things do not just stay the same forever, but we rode wrinkles out of those trails.
Perhaps some locals will chime in and help me paint a clearer picture of what the future holds for our ornery equine.
In other important news, Todd "never going to own a cell phone" Simmler arrives today. That means the Sunday morning air show hosted by he and Huck Shins is on. If you want to join us for a special ride on Sunday send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will coordinate logistics.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
All good gunfighter stories end the same. The shooting artist, weary and misunderstood, has to draw down on some hapless tinhorn looking to make a name for himself. The kid must die, but the gunfighter finds no joy in ushering men to their graves. Always alone, in mind if not in vicinity, the gunman holsters his Navy Colt and turns to the horizon.
I had the best post going about S'quatch last night. I was going to call it "Pooh Bear" and then as meticulously as building a ship in a bottle I intended to describe to you the raspberry lemon cream slushy from Sonic and the immediate nap that followed when he came over to watch the Tour last night. It was to be the story of a man weeks off the bike in the grip of vacation lethargy and schedule-less torpor. Asides would have been pursued concerning showdowns with the Bryson City, NC law, then I would have set my feet and teed off on the tie-dye.
I wish I had stayed up and gotten that issue to print last night. The guy got his bike back this afternoon and showed up no questions asked for a last of daylight in the rain last tracks run at Munson tonight, and it was incredible out there.
Tinhorn don't know how lucky he is.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Report in clowns, freaks, barkers, and carnies.
I spent the equivalent of 10 kids' lunch money for an entire year to replace my front shock, which sounds like it might be a complaint. It isn't, I am actually bragging. I am about to cut loose the shackles of adult responsibilities and go to Joe's and make the upgrade of the year happen.
Tonight FOTL is hosting a full moon ride out at that godforsaken and endless trail of tears, the Twilight Zone. That ride jumps off about 8:00 O'Clock and beers are encouraged. There will be a campfire stop along the way and you have long ride vs. short ride options. This is a really fun bunch as you can tell by the group photo above. I'm thinking about getting involved-except that conflicts with my strict no getting involved policy.
Within tighter circles you can't turn around without bumping into someone who recently got engaged or had a new baby. Congratulations to all of you for affirming the life cycle, those of us remaining in the warrior class will keep an eye on the perimeter.
Let's all make the Wrecking Ball's worst fears come true. I want everyone to commit to double mileage while he is away on vacation licking the icing off of french crullers and watching The Price is Right.
The winner of the most exciting stage win in the Tour got busted for doping yesterday. I am so shocked. Here's to a grueling and entirely unremarkable honest race for the remainder of the stages.
Weekend plans? I have a sack of plums that says I'm going to ride damn near everything we have around here. Yesterday was a rest (golf) day so I feel ornery and chipper as this guy.
Other than that I will wrap up this sock-matching project I have been working on.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I want this post to be an evocation of the final minutes of dusk last night, coming home on the Fern trail. Some clever metaphor for lightning bugs, a little onomontopeia about the singing frogs and crickets, and then a little simple Frost-like prose about the final sips of water before riding back into the streets alone in the dark, heading home.
I left all the poetry out on the trail. I watched every adjective and conjunctive phrase drip onto my top tube and fall beneath my wheels. Someone is riding the Cadillac trail this morning and commenting, "It must have rained last night, the trail is damp."
I woke up an hour before sunrise from the deep sweet ache. I walked outside and drank a glass of water, then overcompensated and stayed in bed too long this morning.
I hear the voice of a friend in my head, one of his favorite sayings,
"You got to give up to have."
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Might as well turn it up and rip the knob off. This channel ain't changin'.
I made some sort of invisible cut tonight. I got to ride that secret trail everyone's been yammering about. Nice. Brutal and rough- but nice.
Big Jim Slade was sporting the finest collection of gnats nestled in pus I have seen in a long time on his knees and elbows. What can you do? People get on bicycles and race them on the roadways. This is a fact. I can do nothing to change it, but Lord have I tried.
Is anyone still watching the Tour? Like lots of things in life, I am afraid Professional Cycling might be more fun with the pharmaceuticals. Don't start your "Dopers Suck" rant over here, I can barely find time to deal with my own ranting as it is. Of course I am still watching, and yes I know how hard they are working, and that the appreciation for the sport requires a subtle understanding of pain and reaching beyond pain. I get it. The drama however, remains rather subdued.
Fat Lad will no shit be here in Tallahassee in 76 days or so. Y'all better be ridin'. We need to send him home with an inflated image of our collective abilities.
Not to mention Uncle Todd, who will be here in less than a month. We got company coming folks. Pass the EPO.
Prepare to be hauled-
I'm not saying it is going to be at any particular person's expense, or on any specific given day. I'm just saying that I am due for that breakout ride of the season. It probably will not happen in the course of a normal ride where, for instance, I bunny hop seven yards of brush and smilac to come around Mystery and race for the trail head at Cadillac. It could be that, but I think it is more likely that we will be miles and miles from home when confronted by some great emergency, like a small child trapped in a well, and everyone will say, "I'm just too tired to go get help. I couldn't possibly make it. The child will simply have to remain in that well until I have eaten a Gu."
I, however, can possibly make it and I will make it. I will save the little girl in the well!
The ride that follows will be legendary. I will receive the key to to the city of Miccosukee.
So that is one of my goals for the Summer, to save a well-trapped toddler with a heroic ride for help. What are you going to do this Summer? Lay around watching re-reruns of Ultraman?
As my mother used to say, "Turn that thing off and get outside!"
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Big Worm just left me a message that was so techie the only thing I am sure about is that Big Worm called. I think he said he could get me a replacement fork from this guy
made out of coconuts and bushes.
That is not really the issue at hand. The issue at hand dear reader is the steamy, steamy forest where Bushy, BW, and I rolled along this morning. Thirty before lunch, thems the miles kids, thems is the miles.
We all know though, that the amount of people still reading this blog could not give one moist crap about my bike and where I rode it, so I will tell you a story instead.
One time when I was travelling across the country with three friends whom you may or may not know we delivered cars the whole way for a shady operation called AAA Driveaway. We started in Redmond, WA and delivered a Volvo to West Palm Beach, FL.
It was a sweet ride, with heated seats. We were crossing the Rockies in Winter so a solid, well-heated Volvo was perfect for our needs. The problem was, the owner had packed all of her nice hats, Easter dresses, and parasols neatly in the back.
Where we wanted to put our mountain bikes. All four of our mountain bikes.
We gently placed the owner's nice things in a rooftop carrier, the cost of which ravaged our food and beer budget. Away we went.
Somewhere near Mitchell, South Dakota we stopped on the side of the interstate to check the load. The wind was blowing like we were in South Dakota and the temperature was about -8. We removed the top of the carrier to inspect our benefactress's delicates.
They were frozen solid in a wrinkled, contorted mess which formed the shape of the inside of the carrier. It was like a jello mold of crinoline.
Somewhere I have a picture of that, or somebody does. If it is you, then cough it up. Statute of limitations done run out on that a long time ago.
Later we took apart the dashboard to stop the odometer, but that is another story.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Throwing blind punches rarely wins the fight. Today I staggered like a drunken soldier across the fairways and trails of this town. In the heat, soaking wet with slime and sweat, I chunked shots over greens and into foreign rough. I changed three flats and finally had to wave the white flag with a terminal mechanical at Tom Brown Park. Headset-fork related for you techies.
Wrecking Ball was gracious and pleasant throughout, and he didn't seem so sick to me. Sick strong maybe. I owe him about seven tubes.
The problem is I don't really have a plan for rest days. The wagon rolls best when it keeps momentum, and stopping always invites trouble.
Lucky for me I found some supportive information on burnout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I think their program is a good fit for me. Link the linky for details.
I wish I could say I sorted out some life issues on my spin down to St. Marks and back last night, but I barely remember the trip at all. Just the thumping verse of Tupac Shakur explaining the difficulties of living the Thug's life.
Tell me about it brother. It's just me against the world.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The eastside trails were a sloppy mess yesterday, puddles stinking of old motor oil and rivulets of goo spilling along the sides. The off camber turns of the Cadillac were as hard to get ahold of as a greased pig at the rodeo. I seem to be falling off my bike a lot lately.
The falling didn't bother me so much because Bushy and I were busy giving a couple of young fellers an education. Yesterday we rode with the junior squad. 16 year-old Huck Jr. and a 17 year-old we call Steve even though his name is Zack.
We put a thumping on those whippersnappers.
I have to say it was great though: passing on knowledge, being a role model, making them suffer. Both of these guys have a lot of potential and I just pray we crushed their hopes and dreams a little bit so they don't go out and get hurt by the world too much too soon.
Stay gold Ponyboys
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
It is Tuesday, or as I like to call it when I am not travelling, fourth Saturday.
My legs have that pressed in the vise feeling, and despite 8 hours of sleep I feel a little sluggish. I am thinking that means I am dehydrated, like a piece of jerky. My hat is off to Mystery the Untame-able Stallion for pushing the limits yesterday. I want more of that; handfuls of barbed wire and gallons of turpentine.
I might be a little dehydrated, or I might be one of those bike bloggers who writes about riding and training and what color their bowel movement was or wasn't (green and yellow like everybody else's thank you for asking.)
So whatever, yeah- I ride. What of it? You want to go right now? I do.
Sasquatch is taking his pie-hole north to the mountains tomorrow and HiTops gets the 6th man award for offering to loan out his Jamis Dakar for S'quatch to ride at Tsali since the Fisher is sheared in two and not yet replaced. Obviously HiTops truly hates his mountain bike, and wishes it ill.
I suspected it all along.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Yes. I am aware that it is a road biking event- and yet still the most moving of human dramas, a myth alive in an age of postmodern disdain for the grand gesture.
I speak, obviously, of Le Tour de France.
I have no idea or opinion as to favorites, the changing teams, and the bottom-dealing shenanigans of all involved. I do think Don King needs to step down as Tour Director. Whatever. None of that matters.
Watching people ride bikes makes me want to ride bikes more than I already want to ride, and there ain't much going on but the ride around here.
So yes, on the eve of our nation's day my thoughts are elsewhere.
My thoughts are with Alexis de Tocqueville, who was french but thought always of America.
The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.
I feel exactly the same way about his nation's bicycle race.
Saturday at 8:30 A:M EST I will be watching, and pulling for one doomed for heartbreak sucker after another who sets his cap for victory.
Because this time one of those guys gets to win it all.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I was never one for high school football, too much marching around and hollering all the time. My buddy Dennis played though, and in the summer he would cry like a wallflower on prom night about the two a day workouts. The idea was to go out and work to the point of exhaustion, take a break, then do it again. You see, people call them two-a-days because you actually exercise twice in one day- just so we are clear on that.
I busted out a two a day today myself. I caught a little singletrack with the Wrecking Ball up on the north side then S'quatch called the 1986 Fuji Del Rey a piece of shit so I had to get up off the couch and call him out. Off we went to the South side. I enjoyed the variety.
I watched the Wrecking Ball change a flat for a while on the trail so I caught a break on that one, and S'quatch and I socialed our way to Natural Bridge and back. He did this thing where he would stand up on his bike and wiggle around. I think he called it sprinting, but I didn't take much notice. Still, I like to think all this shows commitment on my part. Tell the ladies, spread the word.
Talk about your two a days, that was some battle down at Natural Bridge. The West Florida Cadets and a crew of dedicated citizens jumped up from desk and field to respond to the Union threat. After a debilitating battle for both sides, the Union army succumbed to the grinding tenacity of the locals defending their own homes.
These trails are my home.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Other than wearing a sandwich board that says, "THIS IS A CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF MY ANGER" and parading around the Wal-mart parking lot, I do not have any plans for the 4th of July weekend.
I can only really conceptualize the 4th of July holiday in the most abstract frame, like imagining I have an extra thumb on my left hand. I have altered my working hours to include Sunday to Saturday 6:00 A:M to 5:59 A:M so if anything I feel a pang of disappointment that I will not be able to get much done over the weekend because everyone else will be taking time off like a bunch of Europeans.
I can't really imagine celebrating freedom until January 20, 2009 when we find out if we actually are free, or if we have been acclimating to a totalitarian state. I mean, I like potato salad as much as you, but it is no reason to celebrate by itself.
Actually, what I'm really thinking of is driving to Santos and riding until my legs fall off.