Thursday, July 30, 2009
Time to provision the GMC Safari and prepare to throw off the bowline, I'm going on vacation. By this time next week I hope to be adrift on the U.S. Highway system in search of life's treasures. A rendevous with the tree climbing cult down in Reddick, a bon voyage meeting with Mel (not his real name) who is moving to Singapore, then up to the mountains where I plan to set up on the Davidson River in Pisgah National Forest, just outside of Brevard. Soup will join me for a few days if all is well with his child, the oracle, Mae Elizabeth.
I expect other brigands and ne'er do wells to sneak into the harbor under cover of darkness when my cannoneers are sleeping off the rum. I'm not exactly sure who is serious and who is flapping gums. The rumors are endless on the high seas and the black market.
I know this. I have to get out of here. When I say "here" I am not sure if I mean my own mind or this town. So far this should have been called the summer of low expectations. In fact, if you do not live in Tallahassee and you would like to promote your town as a possible destination for recreation or relocation, please share a specific detail about what makes your port a happy one.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Remember Sasquatch? This blog was built across his broad shoulders. We would ride. I would get on the internet and lie about that ride and the next, and thus this blog developed plot, character, and theme.
In the beginning S'quatch was fearless. He rode all the trails, crying like Chewbacca on those that were "bumpy." His specialty was the crosstown explorer ride, where his ability to evade detection and ignore POSTED signs gave him solid advantage. Singletrack, doubletrack, sugar sand, and road- he left his King of the Symians prints all over.
Then, was it after an injury? A long winter? A too long sit at the holiday table? He became native to the forest. He became the Nessie of Munson Hills.
A bike was broken. The replacement came. It looked to be of the same quality as a decoder ring stuck to the bottom of the Crackerjack box. He loved that decoder ring! He declared it superior to all previous rides. He was happy. I was happy- if only in the forest.
Now. The decoder ring is broken, and yet to be replaced. He lays in his den, overcome by the swine flu, growing weaker by the day. I ride by, hoping to coax him out with a side of beef, or two McDonalds chicken wraps, but I only hear him softly mewling through the window.
Another replacement frame is coming. He will have to take what he gets. Suspension is unlikely, front or rear. He has no collateral with which to barter upgrades. His tandem road bike, useless curio that it was, can't be traded for a Fox Vanilla or even a kind smile, as he lost it to a hustler down in Memphis.
I fear the worst. I fear the myth is fading.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The universe was taking me apart- an existential picking of the bones underway. This blog is about bikes and who cares about the weird dreams you had last night or the 3:00 A:M "Why am I here and what am I doing?" conversations with the hooded shadows hanging from the closet door. You want real problems? Move to Mogadishu, or Gretna, FL.
So an unexpected visit from family was most welcome, a little change of energy, a little fresh blood, a little get outside of yourself.
The Great Magnet will drag you to heel, that's for sure. I now find myself 300 miles from my home sitting at my Mom's kitchen counter while she sleeps away the flu in my bed back in Tallahassee. We became separated by a 1979 Winnebago with 3 wheels and a tow-truck driver afraid of wheelchairs or Mexicans. Turns out we all needed a little back-up.
If you are confused by this narrative, join the club. Better yet, try living it.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Be glad I just deleted the mess I was about to post up here. I'm going to enjoy this cup of coffee and appreciate the miraculous soft breeze blowing through open windows this morning. Watch a little Tour de France, reflect on my awesome solo outing yesterday, the delicious lager that followed it, the great reading by Bucky McMahon.
Time to put the brakes on this crazy train for a minute.
Time to put the brakes on this crazy train for a minute.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
It is warm here in Alabama. Not heatwave hot, but steamy like the meatball pan at a Subway sandwich shop. I did not let that stop me from gutting out a fantastic loop at jewel of the South, Oak Mountain State Park.
I arranged a little play date with a colleague who made the unfortunate choice of telling me he rode mountain bikes. Not wanting to take any chances I opted for the more brutal counter-clockwise (I think?) option of climbing to the ridge up the jeep road and bombing down through Blood Rock as an early assessment. Ex-Navy Seal worked in his favor, residing in flat Pensacola did not.
He is a game fellow and we got the whole 17 mile loop in before reporting for work at 10:00 A:M. If we had taken much longer someone would have mopped us off the deck as we melted into the road. If it wasn't my favorite Joe's Bike Shop jersey I would throw it out. I'm avoiding the obvious- it will never smell right again.
I felt good, out there chopping that wood. Riding bikes is hard work.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I am off to Alabama this morning. Will somebody feed this blog while I am gone? Two scoops of malarkey in the morning, and don't forget to clean out the box.
This is a work trip, but as I am ever hopeful, the bike is packed into the trunk of a white Chevy Malibu. If all goes well I will be at Oak mountain shortly after sunrise tomorrow to try to squeeze in the full loop.
Ten days ago that was an intimidating proposition. With the help of so many MVP's out there I have ridden myself back into "form" although the form looks like the same as ever- a cinder block wrapped in pancakes.
Forest time trialing with Dogboy, red hill ranging with Soup and the Wrecking Ball, Eastside singletracking with PC Tommy- I managed to work out the kinks with the help of all the familiar faces and trails. Thanks everyone, except you Dogboy, you almost killed me.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Until recently, news out of Reddick, FL had been sparse.
We all should have known better.
For those of you joining us late, you can pick up the backstory by searching the following terms in this blog, should you care, and I hope you do. Few of the stories told in this blog can be considered factual, but the events and characters related to the following terms are real-frighteningly so.
Ma/ Pa Ingalls
Pole Barn, polebarn, or po'barn.
PBT/ PBT Therapy
Modified short loop
misery/ St. Joe Bay
Liars/ Cape San Blas
Inkspot Project/Accomplice/liar accomplice
This is why there is nobody to blame but oneself for not seeing this coming. All news out of North Marion County is now tree-related. All bikes are dusty and their eyes gaze steadfastly upward to the crowns of Live Oak, Cypress, Eucalyptus, and for all we know Slash Pine. They wait politely for you to finish with your niceties so they can begin disseminating propoganda about their new prime directive- Tree Climbing.
This isn't slingshot in the backpocket, Mommy can't see me up here tree climbing. This is 60 meter static line, soft anchors, prussik knots and "tree saddles." At first blush it appears to be a sport, or what you might call an activity. The most cursory of internet searches yields the truth to be far more disturbing.
To reinforce this point I offer: Exhibit A.
So how is that I know the following new terms will soon be added to the Reddick/Alachua database?
Heights/ need to pee
Ma Ingalls/ticked off
Reddick Volunteer Fire Department
Please click the link to access the manifesto.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I can't think of a problem that can't be solved by going for a bike ride. Not one.
A good bike ride cures: anger, depression, boredom, nervousness, irritable bowel syndrome, existential dilemma, mid-life crisis, loneliness, agoraphobia, xenophobia, and procrastination.
Actually it does nothing for arachnophobia, as witnessed today watching the boys jump off their bikes clawing at helmet straps to evict large banana spiders. Nobody seems to mind all the ticks hitching a ride.
Overcast skies and an acquiesence to professional ineffiency brings a much needed improvement in the riding conditions. The more time in the saddle the less time to make bad decisions elsewhere. Instead of getting involved in that upside-down mortgage I went for a ride. When I finished I didn't even want a house. I wanted a tuna fish sandwich.
It is hard to get in trouble when you are living in the pain cave.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Not all who wander are lost, but most of them are.
That is what I was thinking as Squatch (remember him?) prompted one random turn after another out in the land of Munson. Gas lines, powerlines, random squirrel trail, he was into all of it. Everything looked like a good idea.
I give him full credit for his appetite for adventure late on a Thursday evening.
Me, I don't like to feel "unplotted" on the map. I operate from a position of expecting disasters large and small. I automatically calibrate plans b to g for a given circumstance. I enter crowded venues plotting bathroom locations, exit signs, and options for sheltering in place. Every ride I consider the possibility of having to walk it out with a stymied mechanical. Call it what you want, but it comes from past black eyes and kicks in the balls that caught me napping.
I got this way from needing contingency plans and developing scenarios in crisis. It is no coincidence that my work provides me a bird's eye view of a world where things have fallen apart. When I realize the situation is recognizably altered from the expected norm, I can finally relax.
"See" I think to myself, "I knew it was all going to go to shit. Good thing I read up on the edible organs of the Pine Beetle." I then cheerily go about the harvest of the beetles, content in knowing the other shoe did drop.
I don't think Squatch sees it like that. I'm sorry I didn't want to get my wander on last night brother, but to me that's just called getting lost.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
The Tour de France visits Barcelona today, where I spent 1/39th of my life. Seems pretty insignificant now, but certain years in our lives loom much larger than others. The four months I spent in Sackets Harbor, NY were like ten years in a Turkish prison. The past ten years I have lived in Tallahassee feel exactly like ten years. The year I spent in Barcelona I remember as the greatest long weekend of my days.
I didn't have a bike in Barcelona. I was a bigtime walker. From Barceloneta up through las Ramblas and all the way to Montjuic, where today's stage finishes. That would be a day well spent.
I regret not having had a bicycle in Spain, and I regret not having a Catalan novia too. I had my whining American girlfriend with her love of pastry and beer, and I had a pair of Vasque boots that I wore everywhere- until I made a Catalan friend named Jordi who sighed with hopeless embarassment every time I showed up looking like a missionary/ lumberjack to go out for the night. He pointed me in the right direction and I dropped some serious pesetas on some Barcelona finery. Dudes there dress sharp.
When my American girlfriend and I parted ways, I went to war-destroyed Bosnia to escape her- she told me she was screwing some guy in Prague in the months before I got there. I nodded in total understanding, of course you were dear.
Te echo de menos Barcelona. Viva Catalunya Siempre!
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
I watched this guy stand and fire a roman candle into the woods next to the bathrooms at the Munson trailhead. The rain just quit as I pulled into the parking lot so I wasn't specifically concerned about a fire, but more the general disresepect for Dr. Munson's lounge. It boomed from his hand three times and then he flung it into the woods.
"Hey! What in the hell is wrong with you?" This-my tactful lead-in.
Stammer, sputter, unintelligible mutterings, and then he charged towards me.
I quickly got off the bike and prepared to be shot at, stabbed, or confronted with a bad odor. As he closed in the focus improved through his coke bottle thick lenses. Emboldened by my lycra wrapper, he might have assumed he was backing down a James Taylor fan, or a man who buys free range eggs.
I think I was a bigger wad of gum than he was ready to chew. The only scary part is how much I wanted it.
I asked him to please pick up the debris and think about the rest of us who care about the forest.
After it was over I realized that's what a guy who buys free range eggs would say.
Oh well, better that than jail.
now in italics!
Jill Homer, a blogworld sister from Juneau, AK, finished the Tour Divide mtb race from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, NM last night. Something like 2800 miles of mostly solo pedaling. Can you imagine walking out the door to go for a ride and being gone for 24 days? I mean, I have had some rides where the Wrecking Ball tormented me so the ride felt like it was three weeks long, but it was actually about 2 or 3 hours.
You can check out more about the race, and find Jill's "call in" updates here. The pain and isolation is at times so apparent it is hard to listen to, but she never quit- and so today us bloggers are proud to raise one of our own on our shoulders.
Congratulations Jill Homer, you did a hell of a thing.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Coming back on the Cadillac trail this morning I had to take things kind of slow due to the film of slime that accumulates all over my cockpit, which is a ridiculous word to describe the handlebars of a bicycle, but that's how we do it I suppose.
Still, all slime aside I am glad to be back to a riding routine that allows me to ignore and postpone so many other pressing issues in life. The great heat wave of 2009 exposed the fragility of a lifestyle based on unfulfilled expectations, revenge fantasies, and a diet of candy corn ,hummus, and tuna pasta- or maybe it was just hot.
The Tour de France is on. I am pulling for the Schleck brothers to spoil LA's shot at a comeback. Why must I be a hater? I guess I can never forgive him for that ride with George w. Bush at the ranch. We are all to be judged by the company we keep.
Last night at St. Marks, as some friends rocked Oye Como Va from a flatbed trailer and fireworks shot off over the river- I couldn't help myself, I smiled and felt vaguely patriotic, like maybe things are going to work out okay for us all in the next couple years. If they don't, I'll just keep what I have got and keep working with that.
On and off the bike.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
I guess it started with the ribs and slaw at Huckleberry's BBQ, and the dive in Fanning Springs while spitwad sized raindrops plopped all over the surface of the water. On top was about 8 feet of tannic Suwanee River water. This warm water laid on the cold topaz spring water below like a 151 floater.
A couple of nights sleeping in Mom's spare bed, where I always sleep the unworried and collapsing sleep you only get when you have no doubts you are where you are supposed to be at the moment.
I watched the Gulf showing out in all kinds of aggressive ways before the sun came up at Bean Point, the northernmost tip of the island and a dramatic view of Tampa Bay and the wide open sea. I saw four thunderstorms scattered in a skirmish line across the morning and knew I would be driving in them and all the storms yet to cross that rise where the earth slants away towards Mexico.
A hellish soaking whiteout drive up the Interstate yesterday, and a good night's sleep in my own bed, equally restful as the spare one at Mom's but different. No lilting dreams of caring people smiling, but back to dreams of dismantling apparatae of unspecified purpose and putting it in boxes, but nobody cares about our weird dreams.
A visit to the doctor, wherever death lurks he has not announced himself, nor left clues of any kind. In the face of such evidence how can you not ride, and ride joyfully? 103 degrees says the van, at 5:00 P:M? We will ride for the shade and enjoy the easing of the temperature as the day slips away.
The legs feel too good for caution. I smile and try to turn the screws a little bit, but old CC is not impressed, and when we see him riding the other way, and he joins us, and he thumps us through a mulchy bracken of ticks and vines clinging, neither is Dogyboy impressed.
And yet here we are, riding the day down in summer, and death will have to be patient.