Monday, September 26, 2011
We use it sweeten bitter things, like going to work in a hotel for 5 days.
We use it to fill empty places-- dreams unfulfilled until they are crusting over and syrupy sweet.
I prefer a life of glutamates, rich, buttery, and real. The flavor of fulfilled,
and pushing back from the table.
When all you taste is metal, there is nothing to be done
put some sugar on the bit and try to have some fun.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tommy and I rode the gritty, half-wet forest yesterday in the middle of a muggy day. I suffered for the full two hours whether I was in the front, briefly, or in the back, mostly. He just rode away whenever he wanted. I can't explain it. Not enough food? A high dew point? I have no words. I took myself to a Fire Flow yoga class to have a word with myself tonight and the answer was clear. Front of pack, back of pack it does not matter. The pain is the trophy.
Still, I'm going to bring it for realz next time.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
He does not want to do it. He is 7 years old, but as big as a 10 year-old. It is hard to reconcile foot-dragging with his sturdy build. He looks like he will take your bike and ride away with it, not a scared boy who does not know how to ride a bike. We met once before. He is sardonic and bright-minded. He is a talented video gamer who likes jumping on his trampoline. His mom recruited me to help get him rolling. This is an honor. I know about challenging kids and I know about bikes.
I am the man for this job.
I ask him to push his bike and follow me over to a field in the park. He gives me an ugly look and shoves his new bike to the dirt. "I hate my bike! I hate my life!"
Maybe I am not the man for this job.
Sitting on the bike he refuses to grasp the handlebars, placing his hands lightly upon them. He is making me hold him up, turn the handlebars, and provide the motivation. He allows me to push him in circles, unwilling to grab those bars and take control. Sometimes he grabs the brake and makes me stumble to avoid racking myself on his back wheel. This is funny. He smiles.
His mom is encouraging and cajoling as he tries to quit. I take a needed five. I suck at this. I have ceased caring if he ever rides this bike. In fact, I hope he doesn't. A bike is a miracle gift from the universe and not everyone deserves such joy. Riding a bike is a privilege. I am thinking of poor children to whom I can give his bike.
We are defeated, he and I. Two miserable people in a field under the sun.
"Get off the bike" I say. He gets off and I ask him to put his hands against mine, which he does. I push and tell him to push me back, to try to push me across the field, to try to push me down like he pushed his bike over. He pushes and I resist, digging my feet into the dirt. He is strong. Seven years old, and powerful as a pit bull. He is a football coach's dream, and his mother's last nerve. I tell him if he can't push he will never ride this bike. Riding bikes requires force, the thing that moves us all forward in life. We push on pedals. We push on handlebars. We hold on for dear life and we go hard at it. The pushing keeps us upright and moving where we want to go.
My feet slide in the dirt. His bottom lip is out and his face is screwed down with effort. Pushing me out of his life is the offer of the day. We push determined.
"Excellent," I tell him. That is how you must be to ride this bike today.
He is back on it, with mom taking over as the stooge who will rack herself when he hits the brakes. They make a few passes and he is turning the pedals. I see that his feet are big and he is struggling to find the sweet spot where his foot goes on the pedal. He is seven years-old, afraid and embarrassed with an almost stranger watching him fail. Now sidelined, I cheer. It makes me feel better. I want him to be among the blessed, the two-wheeled gods.
"Maybe you just want to do it by yourself" mom says. "Just try it without either of us holding on to you."
He sets his pedals at 3 and 9 like we taught him. He looks down and squares up his big, floppy sneaker. The ball of his foot is square on the pedal. His mom gives him a push off and he is pedaling hard, crouching down over the handlebars and wobbling away. He goes 100 feet and then comes to a stop, putting his foot down.
It is a miracle to see this child break free from the earth and float across the grass. I scramble to my cruiser and ride to him. "Let's go for a bike ride!" Now it is like any other ride. We are pedaling side by side around the field and under a big Live Oak, now back to the volleyball court and mom. I am talking and he is not listening, focused only on the next 20 feet at a time. A car honks in support. He acts nonplussed at the attention.
Of course he can ride. Nothing to it.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Have I told you about the time I met Evel Knievel? There's not much to tell really. I went through considerable expense and hardship to attend Evel Knievel Day in his hometown of Butte, MT. I had hopes of getting the interview that would make my career as a freelance travel writer. Mr. Knievel didn't seem to care for me. He had my college boy number immediately and treated me accordingly. It was a brusque exchange.
I did bring back an autographed picture, but I can't remember now if it was authentic? I maybe forged it on the dashboard of my Nissan Sentra in the parking lot of the Anaconda pit mine while thinking, "Jump this asshole!" That's a strong possibility.
I am going on a Ride today, which has Snake River Canyon potential. This will be my 4th time doing this route with these dudes and 50% of those were painful beyond anything I had ever known on a bike, and the other two were outright debacles for me or Mystery. One time I was so worked up about this ride I threw my back out unloading my bike from from the van. Instead of calling "a medical" I rode anyway, listing to one side for 30 miles in 2 hours across unpredictable terrain. That was the best time I have had of the 4 outings.
I feel good today though. I can't wait. I will be happy just turning the pedals.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
"You have added 20 years to your longevity." The doctor told me yesterday. 20 years? Did he mean the next 20, or the 20 from 60 to 80? The twenty after that? It shocked me. to think that I was cheating myself out of 20 years of good things. 20 years is a lot of lunches with Joe and Pete at the shop, or laps around Munson just to name a few things I would miss.
There's no need to ponder the big things such as love, family, and self-actualization. Think of all the little good things you accumulate in 20 years. That's 480 books I have yet to read. Thousands of lbs of kim-chi uneaten. It shocked me. He went over my numbers like he was checking my report card and I beamed in the light of his attaboys. "Pulse rate down from 98 to 68! From pre-hypertension to perfect blood pressure! You lost 40 lbs!"
It shocked him. "There is no drug available that can do what you have done for yourself. It doesn't exist."
There is also no drug that can make you feel the satisfaction of saving your own life. I told him the whole story, starting with the visit to his Nurse Practitioner who told me, "You're going to be a regular around here for a long time" as he offered me prescriptions for Xanax and Ambien.I walked out and didn't go back until now, one year later. That guy is gone, and I'm not his regular. To his credit, he frightened and offended me. Both are excellent motivators.
On Sunday I rode Dogboy's Redline 29'er 1x9 (that's a bike for you civilians.) I hit the trail late at Munson Monday and rode as fast as I could, and with so much joy as I chicken-hawked my way through the peloton until finally breaking through to some empty trail. I caught the main group for the 2nd lap where I accelerated and coasted among riders who used to pass me so fast they couldn't even hear what I called them. I must acknowledge before it is gone, that I am riding the dream right now.
If you are struggling with your health, or with finding the motivation to change some habits, just ask and I will loan you a magic skateboard. One good slam can turn it all around.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
When I am the fastest man I will lead rides with benevolence and dignity. I will choose trails that accentuate the skills and disciplines earned by hard work. I will provide opportunities for communion and long turns just above conversational pace.
I am not yet the fastest man.
The fastest man yesterday rode as if he hated the woods, and wished to be out of them as soon as possible. He sought to kill us by attrition. For 2 hours the beating continued as we rode up all downhills and sought the washed-out and vine-entangled remnants of trail on the north side of Tallahassee. I rode strong and fast and angry. I was nimble, dab-free, and fearless on all terrain, but I was not the fastest man.
Riders tumbled and bled as they submitted to the pace of the fastest man. I cursed him and assayed him for weakness. Even the fastest men must sleep. We all fear something. I do not fear him though, the fastest man, I could see his wheel just ahead in the forest, a man on a bike like anybody else.
When I am the fastest man they will drown on my dust and fill their guts with chagrin and remorse. If they don't cut the oak down early it grows too strong for their axe.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Turns out that if you you take too much of a few vitamins your ears can ring. I suspended my doping procedures and my ears are returning to normal. That's a little scary. It fits right in with my tendency to pile on. When my body was a landfill I could dump anything in there and I would only feel mildly different on the yum to yuck scale. Now, if the oatmeal isn't organic it is enough to throw me into a tizzy. I know just how Gwyneth Paltrow feels.
I deployed a new robot on the trail last night. This one is a total winner. Rather than building them out of scrap parts and dashed hopes, this one came to me functional right out of the box. He bought a Giant hard-tail from the rental fleet at Great Bicycle Shop and we hit Munson for the last rays of daylight. He's ready. All he has to do is remove the kickstand.
I would love to spend some time here and try to write my way out of stupefying boredom, but I have to go make that paper y'all.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
I used to think my friend Tommy quit using the internet around 2001. As soon as the web went 2.0 he gave it up. His email address is email@example.com. Don't bother, he doesn't check it.
Or does he?
We rode together last night and he was turning the cranks at what I have to call "grudge speed." If I didn't know better I would suspect he knew he had been compared to a baby seal, lying helpless on the ice. I am going to have to be more careful or start assuming every hollow threat I make on the internet has been taken to heart.
In order to keep it together and not get dropped I had to call not one, but two mechanicals (the old tire pressure gambit) and one nature appreciation (isn't it beautiful out here Tommy!) He just stared at me, only one foot unclipped from the pedals.
We ran at speeds more common to a road bike, and we traded body blows in the trees and on the hills. I'm going to call it a draw, and if he is reading this I hope he can leave it at that. If he has someone interpreting the internet for him, tell him I take it all back.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
My ears ring. I don't know if they always rang, or if I just noticed it at some point and now I notice it all the time, but they ring, or whistle. It is not related to high blood pressure, I'm averaging 118 over 67 thank you for asking. Anyway, they ring, but I am learning to live with it for the time being.
I don't notice it when I'm riding, so that means I didn't notice it much this weekend. The Wrecking Ball and I set out on a duet Friday evening that took us out the eastside trails then all the way down to Railroad Square for First Friday. We ate Krishna food and rode laps through the milling crowds. The mohawk is back big-time. The fluffy, 80's style mohawk. It is back for boys and girls alike, and seems to have no relation to a punk-rock ethos. I even saw a Sunday-school mullet at the bagel shop. This country only has about 4 decades worth of trends then they start over at the beginning with suspenders and highwaters.
Saturday was for open warfare and unapologetic bloodletting between the Torso, Mystery, and myself. I was so wound up to ride I kept rubbing my bald head looking for hairs to pull out. I was excited and I felt amazing. I tried to club them down like baby seals, but they hung on-taking blow after blow, then dishing it back out.
Then the rains came, and we settled in with FSU football, pull-ups, and yoga. This is a college town, and the University places a high value on the lessons learned in organized sports. They compete in a league against other schools, and football is one of the games they play. This much I know for certain.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Winn Dixie ain't Publix. Anyone can tell you that. It is a second-tier grocery store hanging on to a dwindling market. That's probably why the Wrecking Ball and I felt so comfortable lounging in their plastic chairs. Permanent "B" group riders, the also-rans, the Mister Congenialities of competition. Everybody else seems to have peaked in August, and I took the month off the bike. Wrecking Ball is discouraged, I have been otherwise engaged. We both feel like we are perpetually healing and never well.
We talked about nutrition, and sleep, and brilliant green chlorophyll dumps. We talked about hating people because they are beautiful, or maybe just for acting like they are beautiful. We talked about being hopeless and drinking the mistakes- sitting at the end of a bar. We have both seen worse times than this.
Things are looking up for me lately, really up- so up I have a crick in my neck. I don't have much to complain about, and neither does the Wrecking Ball, but we would never let that stop us.