Thursday, March 31, 2011


I think I dislocated a shakra or two last night. I missed my usual 5:30 Hatha Yoga class in favor of completing the installation of my new Shimano Saint shifter/ levers. I made it to the 7:00 P:M "Yin" class and hit the mat a frazzled mess. My brain was spinning through the rolodex of errands, appointments, calls to be made, conversations with my 6th grade teacher, wondering what happened to my old Schwinn Scrambler, and contemplating the causality of increased personal responsibility vis a vis the bombing of Libya.

I was not exactly in the "Be Here Now" state.

Yin yoga is a practice focused on holding certain positions until the stretch goes beyond the muscles and settles into the deep fascia connecting the muscles to the bones, resulting in a deep stretch, but also a flexing and revitalizing of the internal organs. I'm talking about stretching so deep you feel it in the liver.

By the end of the hour and a half I was calmed. I was wrung out like a dishrag and I OM'ed my way home on a cloud and went to bed early. Throughout the night, when I wasn't dreaming a calliope of old memory tapes and theoretical work conversations, I was "making water" lots and lots of water.

I'm hoping this is some sign of a great detox, a pissing away of all my troubles, but for now it just means I can put my hands flat on the floor with my knees locked and I'm tired.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Completely socked in, that's what we are. No need to get out there and make a mess of the trails and bikes. I've been waiting for this. I have a long list of needed upgrades and repairs I have been postponing for such a day. I just need to get this unwieldy morning under control and then shoehorn myself into a space down at Joe's Bike Shop and get some major drivetrain overhaul going on.

No such thing as a day off, just a chance to get stronger, smarter, faster.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Holding Out

I have been miserly with my words these last few weeks. Hiding behind the bike and some lazy jokes, but sometimes life is too real for blogging. I've never really been the self-disclosing type of blogger. I prefer to write about what is going on outside of me, with the occasional glimpse inside hidden subtly within a metaphor or turn of phrase so that it appears clear as day to those who read between the lines, but to the passing reader it is just more of the same.

Maybe you would prefer to read about kidney stones (not mine) and job stress (mine) but it doesn't appeal to me as a writer to kvetch away about personal trials to friends, strangers, and acquaintances on the internet. I prefer to save my kvetching for things beyond my control, like daylight savings time, standardized testing, and the paving of Munson.

The muse will stop by and visit me again, and until then you're just going to have to be satisfied with reading about the rise of Juancho on the trails and what I ate for breakfast (oatmeal with plain yogurt, walnuts, flax seed oil.)


Monday, March 28, 2011


After an intense hour of deep yogic stretching the Torso and I figured we would cap off the weekend with a little night ride in the forest, maybe just a lap of Munson you know. It must have been the reclining bound angle pose that made us both want to dig deeper and pound out 20 miles in the steamy, humid air. It was like breathing through a straw for 2 hours, but we grinded away, enjoying having the forest to ourselves. It still hasn't rained and the pressure in the air just keeps building. I have a feeling this will be one heck of a storm today when we finally reach that point where the air can hold not one more drop.

I feel like I'm riding pretty strong even when my legs feel tired or I'm under-fueled. I hope this means I'm due for a "chainless" ride soon.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Cotillion

It is with the grandest fanfare and elegance that I introduce to polite society our most recent graduate of ROBOT ARMY ACADEMY, Mr. C "Chuck" Carberera. Dancing his first solo performance on Munson and Twilight to the Thin Lizzy standard, The Boys are Back in Town.

This was not a bad performance I must say for the three time mountain bike rider. By that I mean this was literally his third time on a mountain bike. Prior to these three outings, Mr. Carberera can't recall the last specific moment he rode a bicycle- and yet the boy has good instincts.

The Circus Cotillion also welcomed Joey Bushyhead back to the trails. He pronounced the new trail modifications as "epic" and he seems to be coming back into strong form for the summer season.

Like the Azaleas, the ROBOT ARMY is blooming.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

MR3 Robot Update

I have a front row seat to agony and I'm ready to sell my ticket. One of our poor robots is still dealing with an obstruction in his operating system resulting in severe pain and pressure on some key components. This particular robot was built and designed for a tough environment and the whining chip was never installed. This means that by the time he communicated the error in his system he was already experiencing a level of robot pain well beyond anything I have experienced as a human, including my recently broken and dislocated wing, which hurt quite enough thank you very much.

He has been at the robot repair center, which is a place run by the kids in school who wanted to run everything but were good at nothing. I hope to have him back at headquarters this evening where he can run some familiar programs and begin the rebooting process.

After my quantum-paced ride with Leon on Monday, I went back out on Tuesday to ride with the Wrecking Ball gang. I limped and gimped, shuffled and galoomphed my way way around the track following on an asthmatic Wrecking Ball's wheel. We set no records, proved no points, established no pecking order. We just rode our bikes and talked about life. I'm thinking that might be important to remember.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Heater

Lots and lots of reasons to not get out on the bike yesterday. Grown-up important reasons, but we did it anyway, Leon and I. No pretense or gamesmanship on this ride, just flat out from the PL to the PL. It was hot, but not even close to how hot it is going to be. Whose legs are these and how long do I get to keep them?


Monday, March 21, 2011

Broken Robot

One of the robot army fell sick over the weekend, like really scary sick. Sometimes a loose bolt gets caught up in their pipes and gums up the flow of oil. Some people think robots don't have feelings, but they are wrong. Robots most definitely feel pain. Like C3PO said, "We seem to be made to suffer. It is our lot in life." We went to the emergency robot repair shop Friday night where they verified the obstruction and powered him down to sleep mode. Today we go see the robot innards specialist and train the lasers on the obstructing mass.

This is a durable model. I expect him to be back on the front lines soon.


Friday, March 18, 2011

The Whitney Comes to Baltimore

Yesterday was sweet payback for all of the modified short loops Pa Ingalls took me on at Razorback- the modification being that the loop was made longer and more difficult. Riding around in a motor boat all winter then showing up with your single speed wasn't the winning strategy this time. I'll just enjoy the moment, since I am sure to pay for my insolence at some point.

They keep showing up doubters and leaving as believers.

DTG brought to my attention that John Waters visits FSU tonight for a lecture. Although his body of work is long and counter-culture aficionados most likely prefer his edgier work, Pecker is by far my favorite of his films. Starring in the movie is Ed Furlong before he went all trainwreck, and manic sexy Cristina Ricci. It's a fantastic story about the pretentious world of art snobbery, which is one of my hobbies.

So, I think DTG is right that if one can swing the John Waters lecture and still make it to the Slackers show then it would be almost like living in some fancy other place than Tallahassee, yet tomorrow morning it would still be the podunk town I have come to love.

And that is the long explanation for why I am heading to the forest to ride while it is still dark outside.

The Robot Army needs constant tuning.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rude & Reckless

Lots going on at the circus today. Pa Ingalls his own self is on his way to town for a little barn-raising party. By that I mean there will actually be a little barn when it is all over. Before that though we will do some barn-burning on the trails and then tomorrow night when we all get our walkers out on the dance floor for the greatest working band in America, The Slackers. If you want a little taste then click the "Rude and Reckless" title above for a sample.

If this blog was a late night talk show, they would be my house band.
If this blog were a movie, they would write the soundtrack.
If this blog were a stage they would play on it.

Too bad it's just a blog so I have to put pants on and go to the show tomorrow night at the Engine Room. While we are on the subject of the Engine Room, somebody explain this to me. Advance tickets are $10 with a $2.75 surcharge. Tickets at the door are $13.00. Is it worth 25 cents to go through the hassle of pointing and clicking?

We also have the Forest Ride with Bill this afternoon at 4:30 and I would dearly love to get Pa out on that run for a little taste of how it is done in the 8-5-0.

Before any of that can happen though, I better git to pounding salt at the mine.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Big Sellout

I get it honest. This jones to ride the best. My pop is a musician and he appreciates a fine instrument. Somehow, even as a high school shop teacher with 2 kids, he always managed to wheel and deal his way into a Martin guitar, or a custom fiddle. When it comes to your passion reason and modesty are not the whetstone you want for developing your talent. You do what it takes to get the best tools in hand.

That is why I make no excuses for throwing my literary integrity out the window and shilling for fine products like RED BULL. It gives you wings yo! Years ago I saw a picture of a Retrotec bike frame in a magazine and I tore out the page and stuck it in my pocket. I sent it through the washing machine days later of course, but the point is- I love these bikes. The union of classic design and performance makes my mouth go dry and my pants fit uncomfortably. I already own the greatest modern mountain bike available, the Titus Racer X for which I am most humbly thankful, but that does nothing to temper my lust for the Retrotec. I saw the above image recently and felt the yearning deep down inside.

I thought about it while enjoying a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal and I decided to encourage the Great Magnet a little bit by slutting out this blog. So, we will see. I'm not holding my breath or anything, but as a friend once told me, "pennies in a pile make a dollar after a while."

Now it is time to get in my GMC Safari and get to work.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Decoy

After 6 years I think I have learned something.

Whenever I write about a ride the night before, and especially when I proclaim that I will "recite some verse to them tomorrow" my ride mates seem to show up a little more motivated than they might otherwise. There might be some stretching, some sneaking of early GU packs and maybe even some blood doping going on in the back of a pickup truck.

I think those guys might be reading this blog and holding me accountable for the words I choose. They do not consider literary largesse, or the crushing pressure to deliver a good story to the reader. No, they think I am actually taking smack about them personally and specifically. Ha! Ha ha! Nothing could be less true.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I need these guys to show up for rides hungover and sluggish, eager to talk about baby's sore tooth and the jackass at work. I do not need them focused on bikes or performance or who is faster than who. I don't believe in any of that stuff, I'm just making a little mirth while the sun still shines on us all. So here is an example of the new pre-ride BRC post ethos.

Tomorrow I will ride with most powerful rider Mystery and elegant steerer of bicycle Leon. I also expect the Dogboy with whom I will ride in humblest gratitude and appreciation. I have not slept nor eaten in preparation for this ride for to be the slowest and most aching of all of the riders. I hope to continue to receive the blessings of companionship from these strongest of mighty men.

(Lull 'em into a state of complacency- then right between the eyes with the cast iron skillet! WHACK!)


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Clean is critical

Yesterday in the forest, whenever my main man Mystery would try some foolishness in the corners I would latch onto his wheel and start screaming, "IT'S THE NEVEGALS MAN, THE NE-VE-GAAAAAAALLLLLS!" This was probably annoying to him. The Nevegals are my tire of choice, recommended by two out of two bike shops in Bellview, FL. I attributed my increased cornering ability to this particular upgrade from the under-performing Small Block 8's. What grip the Nevegals have, what supple power.

Mystery will enjoy knowing that it took Ricky Silk about 15 seconds to make the following observation today, "Hey Juancho, your front tire is on backwards."

Anyway, just think how great tomorrow's ride will be now that the situation has been corrected. THE NEVEGAAAAAALS!

Let's see. I just finished cleaning the Titus stem to stern. It is beginning to show some wear and tear. I can tell we are now in the sweet zone where everything works, it fits like a pair of skinny jeans, and I can't imagine life without this bike. This is a sure sign that it is probably in its last year before the unraveling begins.

Now is not the time to think of such a thing though, says the grasshopper to the ant, side-stepping around that rubber tree plant.

Instead I took the brushes to the drivetrain, the lube to the chain, and with my own personal chamois I rubbed down the frame.

I may be speaking verse now, but I will be reciting it to the boys tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Boom Boom

This is what's on the satellite this morning. Time to pull in the horns and regroup. I have been waiting for a rain day to mandate some down time. Do some repairs to both body and bike, wash the man-o-tards, and Febreeze the van this should probably be my first priority?

I enjoyed an abbreviated visit to the north-side trails yesterday with Leon. We rode my old friend the Live Oak Connector and it was tough as ever and awesome. I don't remember the climbs ever feeling this good though, seriously. Maybe they have eroded a little? We made it halfway into Lake Overstreet when Leon got a call that sent us in the other direction. He twisted my innards out once again on the 7 mile time trial across town to his house.

These are pretty good days right here.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Despite the strong and appreciated showing over the weekend, our usual crew is down by five riders from last year. I have no interest in enumerating their reasons or badgering them in their hopeless situations. I am focused on practical and achievable goals. My therapists would be proud. Like the mid-term elections of 2010, (and 1994) some things are beyond my control, and according to some people riding bikes in a fantasy world with your adult male friends is not the biggest priority in life.

I can't be bothered with that. I've gone rogue. Freelance. Hired gun. Mercenary.

That, and of course my labor of love, the never-ending project, the rise of my Robot Army. Towards this pursuit, I have found recent success. I have two fresh recruits, wall-eyed in their fervor, programmed for pain, and they are responding well to modifications by the design team.

My greenest recruit does not even have a bike, but that is a small detail. I am rebuilding the 2005 Dakar for this purpose and like my crew, the Dakar is mostly scraps. I am looking for the following items should anyone have them lying about.

Shimano hydraulic brakeset
brake levers
front wheel
derailleurs front and rear

I realize this is barely a cycling blog anymore, having turned the corner toward epic story of man vs. world, but if there are a few riders still out there help me out. Be a part of something great. Support the Robot Army.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Dance Monkey Dance!

Things got a bit ugly about 2 hours into the ride when Tommy's legs woke up from their 6 month slumber and he started laying down a beating out at the Pedrick Greenway. I figured those dudes didn't have a two hour ride in them so I squandered strength all over Tom Brown Park, peppering them with shots to kidney, then earhole. Instead they caught me flat-footed with the mid-ride extension. We picked up a stranger, or maybe a planted agent, out on the levee. Mr. Yellow Jersey with the fresh legs- he didn't help matters as he sandbagged along behind us, looming.

After a handful of pumpkin seeds though, my brain came back online and turned point over to the calves, giving the quadriceps a break. By the Miccosukee trailhead I was ready to ride all day. I danced my pained, hunching dance until one by one they fell away for home and I took the long way back to my own.

best ride in ages!


Friday, March 04, 2011

Called Up

I'm not saying it was Bike Church, but I was the only acolyte on the ride who hasn't been on the last 200 Bike Church rides, so at the least it was Bike Wednesday Night Prayer Group Supper. Those guys were kind, taking moments to explain the scripture as we paged our way through the forest and back. Battling nerves cost me a third of the peanut butter, avocado, and asiago sandwich I counted on to see me through the event. In spite of myself though, I began to relax and enjoy myself. Upon entering the forest the weirdest thing happened. Bill turned towards me and the whites of his eyes had turned a full deeply cervine brown. I then realized all three of these guys had experienced this same transformation. I caught a glimpse of Larry far up the trail and as he bounded over a log I saw a flash of white.

When we exited the forest they all appeared normal, but when I looked back I saw in the sand my single tread and three sets of hoof prints. Bill offered no explanation, casually spitting the husks of acorns as we paused a moment before returning to the woods and home.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wrecking Ball

What a sandbagger. The biggest sandbagger in the history of sandbagging. The biggest sandbagger in the history of both sand and bags. The earliest Neanderthal man who accidentally kicked some sand into the first ever bag made from the stomach of a woolly rhino was a descendant of our friend, the Human Wrecking Ball. When Katrina flooded the Ninth Ward they should have called him because he could have bagged enough sand to dam the Mississippi river. Tell me I'm lying, I dare you.

Other than that little piece of information I enjoyed a brisk ride with the Bikechain Posse and some other cast-about stragglers like myself. Those Bikechain jerk-offs, they are really good guys if you get to know them.

Big Jim Slade was there shining his buckle. Big Worm crawled out of his sick bay to be there. Mingo and Mingo Jr even joined us on our once beloved Munson. Now you have to buy a day pass and get a ticket punched before riding the monorail to the trailhead and enjoying the MUNSON EXPERIENCE JAMBOREE tm. Sure it's fast, but that doesn't make it right.

Anyway, there ain't no flavor left in that bone so I need to stop worrying on it. The point of the story is that The Wrecking Ball is back. Finally and thankfully, he is back.


Profiles in Courage # 1 Big Jim Slade

I know this looks like Chuck Norris, but this is actually our good friend and Bikechain posse regular, Big Jim Slade. BJS is a retired professional country & western (both kinds of music!)dancer who has appeared on the hit television show Club Dance on the CMT network. I am going to let this story tell itself, with only the lightest editorial touch.

We have all been in positions in our lives where we were adrift, searching for purpose and meaning, and Big Jim is not unlike the rest of us. During one of these particularly virulent existential episodes in the mid-nineties a friend reached out a hand and pulled Jim up into the saddle, and the rest goes a little something like this...

A coworker, at the time, was into country western dancing. She begged me daily to go to classes with her. I would chuckle and say something like dancing is not my cup of tea. But she was very persistent. I say OK, if I go once will you leave me alone and not ask anymore. She says OK.
Soooooo, I show up at Roosters Colorado Club on a Wednesday night with my coworker. A group of boot stomping, wrangler wearing, cowboy hat sporting redneck wannabees are hanging around the dance floor. In the middle was the hottest looking woman I’ve seen in a long time. Yep, meet the instructor. I think to myself this is an activity I might be able to get behind.

Within a year I’m a boot stomping, wrangler wearing, cowboy hat sporting two stepping, west coast swinging, waltzer who also knows a little boot scootn boogie and watermelon crawl. Within two years I have done exhibitions at the Fair Grounds, taught line dancing at local health clubs and dance studios and yes, made an appearance on the old CMT television show Club Dance in Knoxville, TN.
So how did this end up?

Well I married the instructor then hung up the boots for a pair of Sidi MTB shoes.

How about that?

Thanks Big Jim for getting us started here.