Monday, August 31, 2009
Looking for a house really teaches you the value of a dollar. That is why I am very curious about the quarter million bucks that is about to be spread around improving and enhancing the Munson Hills/ Twilight trail area. So far the only change I have seen is that somebody dragged the bike rack (capacity 5) about 15 feet at the trailhead, placing it adjacent to the kiosk. A modest, well-chosen first move- I hope we have some cash left to add enough pressure to the water fountain to properly fill a bottle.
The Forest Service pulled our best man off the job and secured the help of some trail bigshots. I, personally, feel our best man was the answer- and he would have cared for that trail until we buried him there all for the cost of a few shovels.
Where would you put the $250,000? I would use some of it to add a tunnel under the powerlines that played Black Sabbath and had those glow-in-the-dark star stickers all over it.
S'quatch suggested about $248,000 would be for improved parking lots, the remaining $2,000 might buy signs which indicate something, anything to help us get out of the woods when we are sick of riding the twilight trail after two or three hours of confused looping.
So where would you put the loot?
As for the house hunt- it looks like I can afford a commercial size dumpster with a four shopping cart add-on (for guests.) Lot not included.
I help the little children, so I'm told my reward awaits in heaven.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I would like to declare publicly my intention to avoid the use of the following internetisms:
"meh"- used to describe a lack of enthusiasm, but not outright rejection of a person, thing, or idea. Good job "Meh" you are officially retired from the internet.
"well"- Needs no explanation, but just in case- Used primarily for dramatic pause to achieve that Wonder Years style of voice that demonstrates a maturation of thought. I guess.
I think it also is used to demonstrate that the writer has considered a more apt description than the one about to follow, but- well, there just isn't any other way to say it.
I just know that "well" you're all done now. We appreciate everything you gave us. We look forward to seeing you around in your normal role of describing: a hole where we can get water, an answer to an inquiry of our health, and limited other responsibilities.
S'quatch's new bike, the Punisher- thumbs up. 50 lbs of get out of his way, that is what that bike is.
Wrecking Ball- verbal acrobat. From ride to shop to taco stop. Big fun.
Shoulder- agonizing pain from stupid airplane.
Operation grown-up (buying a house)- bewildered, must mean progress.
Reading- Sacred Hunger Even sadder than the last book I read.
Tomahawk cruise missiles- thing delivered by the guy I drove from the trailhead to University Cycles yesterday. He looked like Magnus Backstedt so I had to help him out. I look at 18 wheelers differently now. They are not all delivering Pampers.
HiTops- fast in his clipless sandals.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Before I had ever crossed beyond either the Mason Dixon line or the Mississippi river John Harvey, a stranger to me then, gave me my first pair of rock climbing shoes and a carabiner.
I was going to Wyoming, a place I had to look up on the map despite my 3.334 GPA from Sebring High School. English degree in hand I was off to claim what was rightfully mine- a job cooking at a dude ranch 95 hours a week and a room in the kitchen to rest my head.
John was an old pro at the ranch circuit. He had been over the mountain and across the river many times. I remember being excited, bewildered, and most of all challenged as I held this strange gear in hand. This was to be a part of my story- the West, rock climbing, and baking muffins at 4:00 A:M every morning.
I thought John was a straight up stud back then.
Since then I have ridden 1,000 miles on trails he first envisioned, blazed, and cut with is own hands around Tallahassee. I rarely see him. A fleeting glimpse as he ducks down the aisles of Publix, an occasional sighting on one of his trails at the most. The man has a life going on, and me, I got this and that. My point is, I still think he is a stud- a stone cold, straight up man among men.
He isn't dead, although you might make that assumption as I predict he will be widely eulogized across the Internet since he is leaving Tallahassee.
The recession has finally impacted me. John is taking a job in D.C. I can only hope it is National Trail Czar. I doubt this is the end of the story between he and Tallahassee, but it is clearly a chapter in which conflict is introduced, and our hero must check his powder, saddle his horse, and ride to meet an uncertain day.
What do you say to the man who has done everything?
Ride safe. We will keep the lamps trimmed and burning.
There is more to this melancholy, this rawness of regret and gratitude.
One year ago this past Tuesday Joe's Bike Shop was underwater. I happened to be there on Tuesday, having stopped by on the way past the shop during a hectic day of work and errands. One thing led to another and I end up changing a flat on the biggest, dirtiest piece of crap ever owned by the grumpiest, cheapest, orneriest old man in town. I was loving it. He was hilarious. The angry mumbler.
Pete was repairing two bikes at once, selling a third to a woman with a hundred questions, and building up Singapore Mel's old Cannondale which was bequeathed to Madison Sherry. The shop was hot, loud, and irritating as a Burger King booth full of moody teenagers. Lost in the action I had quitted myself of my guayabera and changed into a Joe's t-shirt.
By 5:00 O'Clock the rush had died down. Joe was back on the scene, having picked up his kids from school or gotten a sandwich or perused the old records at Vinyl Fever- who knows where Joe goes?
That shop is Tallhassee to me. I would be lost without it. So would many of you.
We are losing John for a while. We have our shop back.
Curses and Blessings, who can ever tell the difference.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I took to the woods like a shot last night- running against the stream of commerce and progress overtaking this town as a new school year lurches from chaos to routine. Nothing new going on around here for me, not yet. This was just another Monday afternoon at Munson, or so I want to remember it as such.
The trail was soft. Pine needles sloughed off in great bunches and each sandy corner was a free-floating tack through light chop. Poor conditions though? I wouldn't call it that. The woods were too perfect- too quiet- too benign and predictably friendly. Knowing that the fall insanity chases for me too, and in fact could overtake me today, this afternoon, or next Monday- I leaned into the pedals with all I had. Fast loop or slow loop I couldn't say, but it was an everything I had loop.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The unintended consequence of seeking permanent housing is an immediate and abrupt recognition that the space I now occupy feels all wrong. I have mentally placed myself in the liminal in-between, which is a place I remember vaguely. I can dig up the old postcards from my days in transition, but I can't remember the flavor of the food or the smells of the streets where I ate it.
It was with this disquiet that I awoke today, fuzzy from a late-night sing-along with a couple of cast members of The Glitter Chariot.
These are friends who tolerate only the briefest mention of riding bikes. What do rock stars care for riding bicycles? Not much- that is what they care for riding bicycles. Still, when my grabbers drag dirt on those days when the great questions threaten to fling me across the universe; these rock stars hold my rope.
This is why I write also of another rope-holder, one who left me a voice message on my cellular telephone two days ago. Rather than calling him back immediately, I enjoyed playing the message and laughing out loud in the car. This morning though, I called him back.
I'm going big I tell him, I am trying to buy a house. I'm going bigger than ever he says, at Black Rock Falls. Note: This is not him in the video. He makes this guy look like a klutz.
I think about the moment of commitment when he leaves the lip and flies over the logging road to the slope far below. I think about signing papers that can't be unsigned. I am in the parking lot of Munson and we continue talking. I see riders pull in, gear up, and roll out one after another, after another. I don't care. I am smiling and happy, more grounded than I have been for a couple of weeks.
I know at some point this conversation will end and I will be riding, alone and serene in the forest, so I linger- exploring every tangent and angle.
Lovelife? Whatever. Rides? Epic. Future? Mexico.
We hung up. I got out. I was relieved to find my kickers reached all the way to the ground. Perhaps it will all be OK. He told me to write more often. Good advice.
Sorry Jack, Sorry Lance, the job's been filled.
Friday, August 21, 2009
As a point of order here at the BigRingCircus it is time to update new inductees into the prestigious order of the Clydesdale Hall of Fame. Although in the cycling community this distinction refers to size (riders over 200 lbs) here at the BRC the honor is often bestowed upon those who accomplish BIG THINGS.
Past inductees include Dan Block, BigWorm, Fat Lad, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Billie Joe Armstrong, and many other luminaries. I welcome nominees from the general public, so let this be an invitation to do so. Without further ado, the 2009 inductees are:
Jill Homer, blog sister from back in the day, set a record riding the length of the Continental Divide. Sometimes she was sad. Sometimes she was ok. She never quit though. I wouldn't have made it past the first Motel 6 or hamburgerdog at the 7-11. You can read about her trip and generally feel bad about your lazy ass at www.arcticglass.blogspot.com
Barney Frank. Speaks for itself. Barney Frank is a natural Clydesdale and he will kick your ass.
The Hardman, Mystery, Soup- Call him what you will. He grew a pair- and used them tomake a baby. Mae Elizabeth will have to earn her own way into the hall of fame, but this one's for her Daddy whom we call Stevie.
Reading his story, as recorded by David Eggers, messed me up bad. A truly terrible thing could not have happened to a less deserving person. Read it. Make sure your kids read it. This is what goes on in the good old USA, Apple pies and zip ties.
I'm sure there are more, but it is time for the Realtor to explain to me again why I have to live in the ghetto/ rural methbelt. Please share your own nominations, while enjoying a tribute to a true King among Clydesdales and lifetime member of the BRC Clydesale Hall of Fame, in tribute of the recent anniversary of his passing.
Cliche or insulting comments concerning Elvis Presely will be deleted. Crack wise if you feel you must, but by God it better be original.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
After riding the 40 lb cruiser to work and back yesterday my legs are so pumped this morning I can't get my Wranglers up over my quads. Pride alone drove me up and over the hills on MLK Jr. and Macomb. No way I was going to get off and push like a common I got a DUI so my license is revoked and I have to ride this bike to the day labor pick up spot. In fact, when I pass those dudes I stomp out a paralyzing acceleration so they will not be tempted to jump on my wheel. No free rides!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thank God vacation is over. Mirth and pleasure are wasted on the likes of me.
A smoothie in the blender before the break of dawn. Hundreds of e-mails to sift through. Plane tickets to purchase. Lesson plans to be written. Evil to be fought.
There is work to be done amigos, work. Bike work, life work.
Slogging at the Greenway with Felix the virus hanging onto my seatpost, dragging heel trenches behind me in the mud, that's hard work. My legs feel like my legs again though, crushed and aching. I fell asleep too tired to care about real estate, fun, the health care plan, or the gentrification of Sasquatch.
Turn the suffer up and rip the knob off.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Talk about still time, I have been pretty still for some time, but there are still a few seconds on the shot clock to get this August slump turned around. I hate to point fingers here, but I prefer not to take responsibility for my own actions until it is absolutely necessary.
Things weren't looking good even before Singapore Mel (his real name) arrived for a visit. Bird aka "Benjamin Button" crashed back into Tallahassee just days before, resulting in some acute changes to the social mores of my small community. Prior to these gentlemen coming to town I had not seen 2:00 A:M in over a year. Last night I finally drifted off around 4:15 A:M (finished that book- Zeitoun- I wish it was required reading for the entire 8th grade in the United States.)
Buying (or not) buying a house proves to be a withering and sustained test of endurance, like a Guantanamo stress position. Apparently the process is about completing a series of tedious assignments followed by vague notions of approval or tsk-tsk'ing from strangers.
And yet, there is time still on the clock. Prior to these happy or obligatory distractions the riding was strong, persisting through the steamy summer, bitching like a celebutante, but riding quite a bit and feeling good.
During this twenty second time out let us review the fundamentals.
Put the bike at the center of everything.
Early to bed, early to rise.
Think about the sweet new wheels Huckleberry Shins will be building for me soon.
Smoothies and Quinoa
Nothing good happens after midnight (says Libbyllama)
San Felasco is only 5 months away.
Squatch doesn't even own a mountain bike anymore (not sue why this is fundamental, but it seems important. Use it or lose it?)
Fall will come, and fall makes everyone faster, even me.)
In Barack I trust
Put the bike at the center of everything.
Time to take a shot.
Monday, August 17, 2009
With talk of Tropical storms swirling through the area I picked up a copy of Dave Egger's newest book, Zeitoun. This is the story of a Syrian-American family man and his experiences during and after Hurricance Katrina. Staying behind to look after his multiple rental properties, his home,and the many job sites where his renovation company had been working- he finds himself in the surreal world of flooded New Orleans. With his family safely away, Zeitoun paddles around the neighborhood for days, feeding the dogs left behind, rescuing the elderly from upstairs windows, and camping on his roof, content, in awe of a world so changed. He believed he was meant to stay behind, that he was being used by God to serve his neighbors.
Then some dudes from Blackwater ziptied his hands and feet, threw him in a boat, and accused him of being Al-Quadea.
That's when I decided to get out of bed and start my day.
Quite a vacation I have going here. If you don't know how to party, talk to me.
Friday, August 14, 2009
...is eating my marshmallow at a campfire beneath a tarp in the rain.
We pulled the plug on the Carolina trip due to weather and illness. I'm walking around with the swine flu lite or the walking p'monia. So much for vacation. If you don't know how to do it, do you deserve the privilege?
Instead of resting by that river in the woods I made some casual inquiries into purchasing a home, only to realize there is nothing casual about it. Let's see, what is the perfect metaphor?
If you are going to knock over one Harley-Davidson you might as well knock over them all.
Casual house buying is like...casual skydiving?
Mentioning you might want to buy a house is like mentioning you might have a bomb at the airport?
I guess it would be good, although those of you who say renting is throwing money away annoy the shit out of me. You purchased some shelter right? It's not like you bought a ticket to those Michael Jackson concerts in London. Getting stuck in an upside-down mortgage? Now that is throwing your money away.
Anyway, as you can see, it has now taken over my awesome bike blog.
At least the house has a "mudroom" with 3 pre-set hooks for my fleet.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Despite my big talk, the marquee event on this vacation is sleep. Hours and hours of endless dreaming. This vacation is sponsored by Goodie P:M sleepytime headache powders. I assume I am saving up on sleep in preparation for the sleepless hell I am about to encounter grunting lost in the mountains, cursing the day I ever took that job living in the kitchen in Moose, WY working for Soup, Mystery, Cupcake, Hardman, or the most damning name of all-Steve Newman!
Meanwhile, after kicking and clawing his way out of the swine flu Sasquatch has discovered a new lease on life through the www.livestrong.com total life management system. This website offends me and everything for which I stand. Lance's lifestyle army wants to know everything you eat, everything you do, and it offers preloaded non-custom critique of those choices. Had a bagel? Should have had spelt bread! Ran a mile? Should have run two! I hereby dub that site the "should" factory. He thinks it is free, but I feel strongly there is a price to be paid along the way. It is likely more dangerous than Facebook.
Then again, maybe it is an excellent tool, made available from a place of altruism deep inside Lance Armstrong's cold reptilian heart.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
I think this picture speaks for itself. It seems like every other day there is a reason to abandon the wagon. A birthday, a friend in town, the price of gas dropped two cents, whatever. I think this August I will squander all of the fitness I earned through miserable June and July with my smoothies and solo grinds. I'm an extroverted guy, all of that focus and isolation is bad for me. With all of the negative attention on "manifestos" out there I decided it was time to put mine down for a while and rejoin the world. Remind me of this when I am sucking wind at San Felasco please.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Stifling heat and humditiy out there in the forest yesterday, but at least the trail was soft and sandy. Every inch of the 20 some miles of singletrack felt like I was towing a fat kid on a skateboard. I guess that was my inner child? No matter, Soup and I got it done and had plenty of time to discuss next week's outing to North Carolina. He is thinking 10 hour beatdowns. I'm thinking 3 hour ride arounds.
I don't want any suffering that isn't absolutely necessary.