Friday, April 29, 2011

Tree Cat Rescue

Those of you who have been around for a while will remember the dramatic rescue of my fat manx cat Iggy over a year ago. For three days he swayed 70 feet above the yard on a scraggly limb of a water oak tree. It was February and the temperatures were below freezing each night. Unable to do anything to help, I mourned his death by the minutes. It was torturous.

And then...

Pa Ingalls, here revealed for the first time as J.B. Bates, rolled into my driveway all the way from Reddick, FL with a truckload of tree climbing gear. By pure coincidence he was on a scheduled visit to ride bikes and introduce us to recreational tree climbing, but now it was a live action mission.
Ropes were flaked, tag lines were set, harness was checked and away he went. Was Iggy as awe-struck as us spectators? Did he see a halo glowing around J.B.'s helmet, or did he think J.B. to be not an angel, but an angel of death come to carry him off to the great beyond? Either way he offered no resistance and gratefully slumped into the bag rigged at J.B.'s hip. Once on the ground he sprang from the bag and bolted for the house so fast he slammed into the closed door.

Cat officially rescued.

Now J.B. and another long-esteemed friend of the BRC, Danny "the Mayor" Lyons from have gone legit. They have hung out their cat rescue shingle and another family has already been reunited with their wayward cat. Click on the logo above to learn about their services and read about the heartwarming, inspired rescue of "Kitty" from the community of Mcintosh, FL and know for yourself what heroes look like.

Climb safe Tree Cat Rescuers and bring those kitties home!

Juancho & Iggy

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Rise

It was the summer of 1995 and someone was burning down black churches across the south. Me and a couple of buddies loaded up and drove deep into rural Alabama to find one of these churches and offer to help. We found the Rising Star Baptist Church in Greensboro, Alabama. There was nothing but a foundation and the charred husk of an old one room church. We walked to the nearest house and met an elderly woman who was a life-long member of the church. She invited us in and over a glass of tea we answered her questions until she overcame her bewildered state and understood that we were not with any group, we were just us. She was skeptical, of our intentions or our ability to do anything to help, I'm not sure. She sent us to the local catfish farm to ask around for the pastor, who wasn't there.

We found him later that day and promised him we would return to Tallahassee and find a way to raise some money to rebuild the church.

This began my career in non-profit community service.

With the help of the Tallahassee Rock Gym, folk artist Mary Proctor, Joe's Bike Shop, Quarter Moon Import Shop, local bands Felt and Sidney, 7 other churches, 2 synagogues, and a mosque we produced our first benefit show. I think we raised $1,500 which was matched by the congregation of the First Missionary Baptist Church on the corner of MLK and Tennessee Street. It wasn't enough to build a church, but it was something, and we had done it all on our own initiative.

I know a hell of a lot more than I did then, and I'm looking for another Rising Star.

You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust,
I rise.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


My vast network of spies and satellites tell me that Uncle Todd has breached the southeastern perimeter. He is embedded in a suburban safe house somewhere along the I-4 Corridor. This news has the Robot Army on mauve alert. I myself have gone into an inverted position to rest my legs until I engage Mr. Todd on Friday afternoon.

I have contracted a team of documented aliens to cart me around south Florida by hand this week so that every ounce of strength can be applied to representing TEAM BRC this weekend on a tour of Florida trails.

They need to get in here and cart me to the kitchen, I'm getting hungry.


Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Start

Up and at 'em! Rise and shine!

I'm squeezing in a quick ride at Munson with the Robot Army, and we're rolling out a new demo today. This model used to see heavy use on the trails and around town, but he decommissioned for the last 5 years to work on building a restaurant. I expect great things from this one.

After the ride it is time to get out of here. I haven't left my lair in quite a while and for that I am grateful, but it all ends today. I will be out of town more than in for the month of May. Between work and rock-n-roll I have a lot of responsibilities and none of them can be handled at 1111 X Street, Tallahassee, FL.

Tonight though, I will be relaxing with the folks on beautiful Anna Maria Island, maybe eating peanut butter out of the jar at the kitchen counter or lamenting the devaluation of the American currency and the wisdom of the Truman administration. Whatever I'm doing it will be good.

Don't try to rob me. I have the robots prowling all over this place while I'm gone.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Closed for the Holiday

I'm forty-one years old today, but I feel 10 years younger than this time last year.

Now where did I put that skateboard?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Your Left

If you show up for the Munson Monday rides you are familiar with the jostle of falling into the group at the right pace. If you jump in too early you can quickly find yourself in cardiac distress. Fall into line too late and you may end up walking your bike behind the beginners who want nothing more than for you to pass them so they can get back to crunching gears and squeezing brakes. The cycling community to this point has offered only the dull “A Group” and “B Group” classifications. This represents the people who are going to drop you and the dropped. The pace a rider is able to maintain is only one of many considerations for labeling a ride. That is why I use the following classification system to find the ride and partners most suited to my mood and abilities.

•Nature Lover- No concept of speed as an element of mountain biking. Compatible with “toe baskets” and hiking boots.

•The Hangover- Same speed as the Nature Lover but with moaning and spitting.

•Demon Chaser-Might be a fast ride, might be a slow ride. It doesn’t matter as long as you are suffering as much as possible.

•Weekender- Fast enough to brag about, short enough to have energy to mow the lawn.

•Juiced- Weekender pace enhanced by OTC products such as 5 Hour Energy, Clif Blocks, & Gu packs.

•Spintastic- Fast enough to think, “Hey, I’m going pretty fast here.”

•Pranic- So fast you don’t move through the trail, the trail moves through you. Effortless and connected to all things.

Happy Trails,


Monday, April 18, 2011

Doubling Down

The Robot Army held practice today at Forest Meadows. We climbed some hills, ran some single track, practiced dismounting adversaries with our green laser eyes, the usual routine. Riding with these guys is turning out to be seriously good for my game. Steady tempo miles keep everything running smoothly. This time, after we were done, my legs felt so much better than when we started I decided to run the gauntlet from North to South despite the traffic and make it to the Munson Monday ride. If I was a real stud I would have ridden there, but logistics you know- I do have some other responsibilities beyond riding my bike (had to put the cat in his sailor outfit.)

I made it to Munson with a minute to spare, but I soon realized nobody was going anywhere in a hurry. I waited the appropriate 4 seconds and took off solo. After a few minutes of spinning in the middle ring I began to picture them all behind me- chasing me. They were slavering dogs and I was the nimble fox. They were the landlord on payday and I the delinquent tenant. I felt a tingle all over and shifted up. I rode in this self-inflicted pensive state, rolling my tired legs around like I was breaking rocks under the warden's hard gaze. I heard a chain slap echo through the trees and then I really started riding.

I passed three riders going the other way and held my line, breezing them like a subway blasting through the station. No more room on the express today.

I saw the colors of jerseys somewhere after the traditional trailhead, but I had just seen a rattlesnake, which detonated the firing pin of my last adrenal charge for the day. If I can just make it to the trees they will never see me again. I stood up and plowed through the only stretch of sand left on the trail and entered the trees sublimely out of control and completely calm.

I had just enough time to take off my helmet and act natural as they pulled up to the trailhead. I hope I never find out how much of a lead I had.


St. Marks Refuge

We didn't see anything quite like this guy yesterday, but we saw quite a few lesser beasts at the Refuge yesterday. A couple of sections of the ride go through some low-lying areas where the trail is soft and spongy and the grass grows tall right to the edge of the trail. I know I was calculating how fast I could drop Bob, or push him into the tall grass should I need to make such a hard decision. I assume he was doing the same. No hard feelings right Bob?

That was probably the last day to ride out there before the bugs move in and take over for the summer, maybe not though. Check it out and let me know how it goes next weekend.

This is going to be a busy week around here, I know that much. Lots to do, lots to be done.

I will turn 41 on Thursday, which is half of 82, and 82 is pretty old as compared to 60, which I was half of back in 2000.

The Robot Army put in some solid performances over the weekend and if I were those guys from BikeChain, or Higher Ground, or Bike Church or whoever- I would start getting worried. A couple more years and I am going to unleash these saddle droids on their unsuspecting asses and the Age of Juancho will be ushered in on the trails of the Big Bend. Just wait and see!

This is long enough right? Because I'm out of here.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Good Young Man

"Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee."


In smiles I saw fangs and in wine I tasted poison. The monk, cured of desires, craves the monastery and a bowl of curd upon rising. The gift of a day is more valuable than the promise of an evening. Let the devil get his hopes up. It is his time to waste. I am no apostate.


Thursday, April 14, 2011


Back in October I was on a diet. I am still eating the same way, but it is no longer a diet. Now it is my nature. All rice is brown. Vegetables come from up the road, not across the ocean. Meat is something to savor and encounter sparingly. Breakfast is oats and yogurt, not biscuits and gravy. Sugar is wicked and flour is glue.

I am a hothouse flower with claws and teeth. A single source fuel cell designed to power a 27lb aluminum rocket. A 40 year-old man who had a taste of decrepitude, a preview of the unraveling of the sickly dysfunctional organism. A death on failure's terms. The humiliation of "can't do."

"Am I on a diet?" They ask. "HELL NO!" I tell them, "I'm on a mission."

-48 lbs lighter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I am admittedly a skeptic and at times a cynic, and this has inhibited my opportunities to participate in many group activities. I never joined a fraternity, or a high school sports team, and yet my life is comprised of membership in various sub-cultures and closed circle groups. The Bonanza Fan Club and Hoss's Riders within that, the Defenders of Funk (my breakdance crew in high school and my first seven years of college), the Transerv Red Army (the bicycle messenger company I worked for in PDX) and now I have yoga, and my small riding crew of 3 full-time members and 124 part-timers. There is a kool-aid stain on my upper lip, I don't claim to be special.

Aside from these ad-hoc comglomerates though, nothing serious. I'm even suspicious of AAA. I don't know why this aversion to exclusivity. When the Sneetches start up with the belly painting I run the other way as fast as I can. Am I missing out on something? Have any of you felt the warm embrace of a fraternal organization, a professional association, or an exclusive congregation?

The Munson Monday group ride has me wondering these things.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Survey Results

Would you like to see more of the following at the BRC?

More about BJS

naked pictures of Juancho

I'd read anything on the BRC. The writing is what drew me in and what keeps me.


More invective and useful info, in that order.

Weekly tributes to your mother

Tales of epic bike rides

yard sales

Topless Fridays! Random shirtless pics of the BRC hunks.

Recipes and off the beaten path restaurant reviews but not of places that serve Spirulina Shakes.


Why do you visit the BigRingCircus? Please choose all that apply.

More about BJS

For the writing, natch, but I do care about the topic.

To feel bursts of pride to keep me trudging along through my days.

To be reminded that some people actually use the internet for creative purposes

First blog I ever visited. Consistent and clever content. It’s part of my daily work ritual which means that over the years I have been paid hundreds of dollars to read this dribble

I just miss you and the boys so... Nomad (Molly)

Would you be interested in BRC-branded merchandise?

BJS "how grout thou art" jersey

stickers- for my bike frame

Bumper sticker!

T-shirt must be in a color that suits me -- like ivory or khaki.

beer coozies

BRC socks

banana hammock

BRC toilet paper with blog excerpts on each square

bong sticker

BRC Water Bottle

Thanks for all of your input. Our marketing department is working to implement many of these wonderful ideas. Until then you can expect more of the same dribble you have come to expect here at the BRC. In fact, I will be back later today to tell you some fine stories from the weekend.


Friday, April 08, 2011

A Forest Ride

The fear took hold of me about an hour before the ride. I knew it had me from the tunnel vision. I kept looking for a missing glove in the same three spots. Over and over- not in the dryer, not in my pack, and not under the bed. These were the only conceivable spots I could think of so after the bed it was back to the dryer, then on to my pack, and so on. I found it velcroed to my helmet straps.

Stevie and I showed up early to the ride start and when I pulled my bike from the van I heard and felt a soft "pop!" in my Iliopsoas region, the very region I had stretched into oblivion the previous night at yoga.

"I'm ok!" I assured myself and Stevie as I sunk into the dirt at the bumper of the van. "I just need to stretch right here for a second." Stevie looked on suspiciously noting the dirt and ants now sticking to my flop-sweat covered arms. I performed a 17 step maneuver to regain my feet and crawled into the saddle. It didn't seem to hurt anymore when I rode so I soldiered forth.

The six of us rolled out at a pace at or near my redline effort. I won't speak for Stevie, but I couldn't help but notice I was not a known "local legend" like at least 4 of the group. Maybe I am, but not for the same reasons. In fact, it would be for the opposite reasons (Can you believe that guy keeps riding bikes?)

20 minutes in I watch in terror as this fellow I will call Larry, who is the senior-most gentleman on the ride, launches over a swale and ejects from the saddle at about 20 mph. Tumbling and rolling, all arms, legs, and swivel-necked he flies through the air. He comes to his feet, collects his bike, and takes off again claiming he is fine. He leaves his water bottle on the side of the road, shrugging it off as superfluous.

An hour later, deep in unknown territory (for Stevie and I) we make a sweeping left turn in a sandy corner. Our speed must be somewhere around 37 mph. Stevie launches from a cornice of limestone as his front wheel is washing out in the sugar sand lip and he violently augers his head into the dirt, folding his handlebar into his ribs and leaving a bas-relief impression in the sand. Being last in the line I have the best perspective for these crashes.

Stevie sits quietly, unable to respond to me. He catches his breath, rises slowly and remounts. What choice does he have I ask? There will be no medevacs today. We ride on. Finally we come to a stopping point and conduct a physical inventory.

We are a goddamned mess.

Stevie's wrist is plump like a sausage and it looks like he has an orange hiding beneath the skin under his armpit where the handlebar assaulted him. We begin negotiating an exit plan. We are some distance into the woods now. Who can say how far? Every foot has been a desperate fight to remain in contact with the group for me. Nate, who has been doling out the abusive pace, volunteers to lead us back through the woods, which he does with excellent dead reckoning skills. He stops to take a picture of a pile of abandoned tires dumped in the forest and Stevie and I don't slow down or even look back. We can't get out of these woods fast enough.

Riding with one hand the whole time, the sausage arm points upward as if he is waving hello (which is not something he is known for.) We exit the forest and hump it up the highway to the van.

There is no moral to this story, because the story itself is immoral. It is simply a sad and cautionary tale of free time poorly used.

Use your free time wisely and complete the BRC consumer survey here if you have not done so, and help make stopping at the BRC a wise decision in the future.

BRC Consumer Survey

Ride well my friends.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

User Feedback Day

Please click the title of this post to complete the Big Ring Circus Consumer Feedback survey. We will use your input to assure your continued blog satisfaction and to help your wildest dreams come true.

Thank you for your loyal patronage,


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Just for fun

I'm going with "S'quatch sold his bike to a girl on Craig's List."

Sunday, April 03, 2011


This fantastic picture is the work of John Lytle Wilson, recently of Tallahassee, now hailing from Birmingham, AL. Click the title of this post to see more monkeys and robots.

Today was a true red letter day. The full battery of robots made it to the trail for the first time in three years. One of them brought along his kidney stone, but the other two had it worse- they converted their rides to single speeds. Still, it was a big milestone for the Robot Army. Endless rounds of testing in R&D, followed by a labyrinth of quality assurance reviews, Forms SF 424's, and liability waivers have delayed the project substantially.

In a live fire training scenario we encountered a squad of Cobra Kai riders. The RA is not yet ready for full bicycle combat so they initiated cloaking devices and blended in with the scrub oak and slash pine. Such smart robots!

Come fall they will be hunting Cobra Kai and collecting jersey pockets like ears on the battlefield. Cobra Kai's weakness is their confidence and superior weaponry, but these robots are proud, and they will find a way!


Friday, April 01, 2011

Slope Intercept

Sooner or later you figure out the line. On the trail, through crosstown traffic, and at various periods of life you have to know the line or you are likely to collide with heartbreak and pain.

I was on my line last night out throwing sticks for the Dogboy to fetch. I'm not certain where all we rode, but I think we went to Live Oak and back in about an hour and a half. We rode fast and hard (for the most part) and climbed an evil sequence of hills that began back off of Weems rd. and continued for 30 minutes out to Pedrick Rd. by way of goat trails, 4X4 paths, and some Viet Cong type tunnels through thick brush. The Dogboy kept pointing out that we were still climbing, waiting for the usual lip from me about all aspects of riding other than going fast in a relatively painless state.

I'm off that line now. I finally figured out what X equals, and it ain't zero.