Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tigers, coyotes, minks, wolves, and raccoons have all chewed off a limb to escape a trap. I know that feeling.
My decade of pajama-based livelihood has come to an end. Even that description is a euphemism as I have never worn pajamas in my adult life. Let's just call it what it was- 10 years of boxer shorts and conference calls, occasionally less. I am comfortable facilitating a meeting of Docker-clad office pogues dressed in a ratty towel and a head covered in shaving cream. I divorced my intellect from my appearance when I joined the cyber-commuting universe. Many days I would go from a towel directly to a chamois and cleats without ever wearing pants. After the ride I would return to the same said towel before dropping that for a sleeping bag and going to bed.
Not anymore. It has only been two days and I am at the end of my public wardrobe. I look at myself before leaving for the new office, and I see before me Juancho the deacon, or Juancho waiting for his court-appointed attorney.
I need to hear from the pantsed and khakied veterans. How do keep track of your one true self underneath the JCPenny's cover model look? I would take a jumpsuit, a smock over business casual. Do you wear a pink tie like Holden Caufield? A black guayabera like Al Sharpton?
I can't even talk about what this does to the ride schedule. Growing up is tough.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I have turned some short drives into some epic road trips over the years. 10 hours from Atlanta to Tallahassee, 5 hours from Tallahassee to Ocala, I know how to make a road trip last. Saturday we spent 8 hours getting home from Sebring, FL. Normally that is a 5.5 -6 hour drive depending on traffic, but Saturday the traffic required Depends, more than depending. I can't believe I made the rookie move of getting involved in the amateur roadways like the FL Turnpike and I-75, but I was drowsy on gluten-based ceremonial foods and we just got carried along until we were sitting still, two among the millions migrating northward on a holiday weekend.
At the first opportunity we broke off on State Road 44, one of the few east-west state highways I haven't explored. I knew U.S. Highway 19, where every mile feels like home, was somewhere over there. I was willing to drive through anything to get there.
The Withlacoochee River shone like a string of tinsel along the highway and Henderson Lake opened out wide across the horizon as we entered the old Florida town of Inverness. 30 minutes after abandoning the interstate we were smacking our lips over stone crab claws at Stumpknockers. Unsweet tea and Rivalry day murmuring in the background soothed our frazzled nerves, and a couple of Po Boys settled us down so much I was contemplating a room and a nap.
We popped out on U.S.19 on Follow That Dream highway and swung it north for home.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The whole family is gathered around watching America's Next Top Model, a tradition in my family that dates back to the early just a couple minutes ago. I don't know about you people, but I count on these long-established customs to bring me back in touch with what really matters. Beyond the glow of the elf-like Allison with the very close together eyes (like a Shar-pei, they are bred that way to appear more like a human baby and therefore be more appealing to the human eye) we all warm ourselves by the more intimate coals of the internet. An Ipad for that one, a PC for those two (plebes!) and a smartphone to guide the tweaking of the dressing recipe. We could all hold hands or line out a chain of dominoes down the hall and past the generations of family hanging on the wall. Look at that mullet! And those wide lapels! Sideburns and gingham, or no gingham at all, for better or worse there we all are.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Joey Bushyhead took a break from his Jeremiah Johnson routine to go for a bike ride. With a deer and a hog in the freezer he laid down his laser-sighted carbon-fiber compound bow and picked up the Specialized 29'er Single Speed. Gear is gear right?
We got to the trailhead just before dark with plans of spinning a quick lap of Munson to evaluate his general fitness and enjoy a little saddle time. I didn't need to remind him that the last person who went for an innocent lap of Munson with me had his scrotum "un-gloved" on a sharp handlebar end. We both hoped for a better outcome than that.
In my rush to beat the fading daylight I had left my shoes behind. With J Bushy suited up and ready after a 6 month hiatus, I had no choice. Flip flops and clipless pedals it was to be. For good measure, I left my light in the van, all charged up and ready to go. Surely there was enough light for a 22 minute lap of Munson?
It wasn't so bad actually, although curling my toes around the tiny SPD pedals made my feet cramp a bit, I managed to build up some speed and handle my business. By the time we turned at the old trailhead and pointed it towards the parking lot it was full-on dark. I let J Bush take the lead and pace us to the trailhead, my bare feet lacing through the wire grass in the grey shadows.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Do you see that tent in the post below this one? Do not buy that tent. That tent is screen on all sides and it has a specially designed vent that funnels cold air directly into the crack of your ass. I feel very lucky to still have my someone special in my life. Much like the celebrated 2008 trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond I avoided a horrible bike ride by shopping for comfort. In order to survive the 26 degree temperatures we drove into town in search of insulation. While we explored the halls of Wal-Mart the rest of the gang went for a bike ride, sort of.
12 miles in about 5 hours involving a lot of walking and pushing bikes, that is the report from the first ride. The day was nearing darkness when the Dogboy rode into camp alone. Riders were scattered all down the mountain he said, and a ride would probably be appreciated. Ma Ingalls and I loaded up in the truck and bumped along down the mountain road with a box of canned beers for the bonked. The first rider we came along was Tommy, and he happily got in the truck. The second rider was my friend Big Dave, riding a 1988 Trek Antelope 820, aka the lead sled. He wears running shoes and his bike has one toe clip on the left side. He wears a buck knife on his belt. He pedaled along just below walking speed, but he refused assistance. "Maybe on your way back," he said. The next trail refugees were Pa Ingalls and Mystery-- the Un-tameable Stallion. They walked side by side with their heads down, arms locked out pushing handlebars. They were a sad pair indeed. They loaded up in the truck, Mystery reclined across Tommy's lap as he could not bend his legs without cramping. Another mile down the hill we found Panama City Thomas, gamely pedaling. I took his bike and he crawled into the bed of the truck.
On and on we drove down the hill, almost to the highway. Our very own Magnum, left for dead by the others, was cranking along in silent agony. He went into the truck without a fight. He later admitted that he heard us coming and got on the bike to make a good show of it. I suspect he was truly turning the pedals though, broken but not unbeaten.
When we got back to camp, Big Dave was at the fire enjoying some suds and preparing to go find some wood to chainsaw. We're going to put him in the Clydesdale Hall of Fame for that performance.
The Cheaha trip produces stories big and small, and this is just one of them.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
It is that time. The annual camping trip is about to happen. Due to a lack of initiative and a general satisfaction with the 2010 outcome we are repeating our location in the Helen, Ga area. This is almost unprecedented. Only Pigeon Mt. has ever repeated, and it dominated like the 1990's Los Angeles Lakers for a while.
This time last year I went on the trip unsure if I could maintain my physical and mental health for an entire weekend away from my safe house. I was in a whirlwind romance with yoga and clean living, but still prone to debilitating attacks of late night demons and harpies. Vicodin, stay away from it. Embrace the pain instead.
This year, my romance with yoga is more of a weathered affair, comfortable with more smolder than magic. I have a new love to share this year, because what is a Cheaha trip without a major life change to announce? Nothing if you are me. This time I will be with my squeeze, my special lady-friend. 3 days with 20 some random strangers in the woods, many of them drunk, should really seal the deal for us. I am a romantic man. She tells me this all of the time.
I am not going to mention the bike at all. To talk about my mutant strength and endless wind is to invite disaster. It is better to be humble in all things, and believe me, right now? I am a humbled and grateful man.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Nary a ride occurs lately without a crash happening. My theory is that everyone is pushing right now, taking advantage of summer fitness efforts to uncork some epic rides in the crisp fall air. Legs and lungs that moved you at 10 mph in August move you 15 mph in November. We are all out there 5 miles ahead of ourselves.
Last week I took a new rider out and he too was pushing himself, trying something for the first time, putting himself out there. He took a fall so nasty, with consequences so horrific, that I didn't even mention it here. He is fine now, recovering with 10 stitches, and drafting his story for publication right here at the BRC. He is a resilient guy, and good in a crisis, and I suspect he is a good enough writer to get the job done.
The last four days included 4 rides that I would hold up as the best I have ever had. Oaken legs and abundant sunshine, big wheels and little wheels, single track and not, I laid down some quality miles. I am five miles ahead of myself, but catching up fast.
A week ago I moved in with the limb I have always missed and today I resigned my job of 9 years to take a new chance.
When you are on the roll of a lifetime you don't tap the brakes.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Tommy and I were well into a mini-epic by the time we got on the Cadillac trail. We found some trail we hadn't ridden before off of Buck Lake Rd. and before that we saw 3 fawns and a doe bounding over a fence and prancing in the grass. I made the mistake of underestimating the local trails and took the Caddy lightly. Tommy was in the big ring and making a bigger and bigger patch of daylight appear between us so I kicked it up into the big ring myself--just as we turned into a gnarly root corner. I augured my front tire down into a crease and snapped over the bars like a mouse-trap closing. I slammed into the dirt, squeezing all of the air out of myself, and I watched the stars rise in the branches of the pines. I jumped up to walk it off repeating to myself more than to Tommy, "I'm okay. I think I'm fine. I'm all good." Then I decided to sit down because the ground was moving so much.
That was a peaceful moment. The dial-tone ringing that visits me still receded behind the harmonic gonging that comes from pressing your ear so deeply to Mother Earth's breast. Colors were brighter and the air tasted sugarcane sweet. A few deep breaths, a review of priorities (stop crashing ranked pretty high) and I walked a few minutes to make sure things were good. Other than a sure to be a whopper of a bruise on my right thigh I think this was more of a homework assignment than a full lesson.