Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I passed a seeker on a road to nowhere today. It is the road to Panama City actually, which is somewhere for some. Me in a rental car, a comfortable Mazda 6, and a hotel room at the end of the drive. Another notch in my traveling stick. I passed him with a wide, slow berth, but too fast to read the sign. It didn't matter. I already knew the cash in my wallet was his, and my big bag of tamari almonds. Work horses and wild horses still nicker and neigh together given the chance.
It took me a couple of miles to get the decision all the way to my right foot, so I turned around and cruised easy until I saw him in the bike lane up ahead. I pulled well off the road and got out to hale him.
"What's up Hardcore!" I said as he pulled to the shoulder. "Hammer down!" He replied. I could have hugged him for that.
His dog jumped out of her covered wagon to sniff me.
I gave him a twenty and the bag of almonds and his eyes registered the cash, but it was the almonds he raised like a bag of gold. When you are still five miles from supper on a country road a $20 won't get you too far. He said he got divorced 11 months ago and he didn't know what to do with himself, so he just got on his bike. That was in Texas, and he was in the Florida Panhandle by way of Virginia Beach. "I've been doing this a minute" he said, when I asked if he wanted my half-bottle of water. "Got 5 jugs in the trailer."
I introduced myself, encouraged him to stop by here and say hi if he ever got the chance. He repeated "big ring circus" twice and said, "I can sure remember that!" We shook hands solid and good, then parted ways. A truck stop dinner 30 minutes away for him, and who knows where he would lay his head. He introduced himself as Commodore. I went with Juancho.
I had the thought that there is only one story to tell about riding bikes that is worth telling. That's the story of how we ride to lose ourselves, then find ourselves again. For an afternoon or a year, most of us are riding desperately from one thing in hope of finding another thing. It's all one story. All one ride. That's my story at least.
I have fallen apart and ridden myself back together again more times than I can count. The last time it happened this is what was waiting for me when I let myself put my kickstand down.
Friday, May 25, 2012
You know by now that when I go quiet around here it means one of two things. Either I am not riding or something big is in the offing. I can't tell you why though, because the Wrecking Ball will read this and I need to maintain a cloak of secrecy around my training regiment. I mean training regime. I mean training regimen. Maybe I am rolling 4 hour solo vision quests under the early summer sun. Maybe I am eating Cobb salads in hotel rooms and watching Celebrity Apprentice. I will never tell, but Clay Aiken got robbed.
This weekend is the Florida Folk Festival and it is going to be one of the most memorable yet. Back Porch Revival, the family band, will be performing as they have for many years. My cousin Matt will be featured on the fiddle for the first time, ushering in a new era. He is often referred to as the family "miracle baby" due to surviving some severe trauma at birth. Technically speaking, he is disabled, but not on the fiddle or anyway else I would say. The kid can rip on stage. He's 21 or so, which just means I am old as a big Cypress tree. That's him on the left with the bass, before his promotion.
The other reason is because I will be holding hands with this girl a lot.(She's the one on the right.)
The third reason is because we are staying at the Ramada Inn in Lake City instead of sleeping in the dirt being eaten alive by Chiggers, or in the back of the van with no blanket or pillow, just sweating. Both have been the case in years past.
Somehow, despite the heat, the lines, and the blisters, the Folk Festival comes together for a magical moment under the big pines and I feel lucky to be a Floridian, and just lucky to be myself in general.
You are lucky to be you too.
Monday, May 21, 2012
You can try to deny it, but the facts are the facts. You are off of your game. I am speaking to myself here. I have had a cold for so long now it is officially my buddy. I enjoyed a long, lingering decline, banking off of the bottom of the wave and cruising back up for months, but the gains of fall and winter are now squandered. There comes a point when you can't just ride yourself back to the top of your game. Some off-season conditioning is required. Here is what some random internet source says about the "off-season." I agree with most of it, but not #3 (totally ludicrous) and I am not an athlete, I am a bike rider, and a mountain biker specifically. Let's keep that clear.
"The off-season is characterized by providing rest, alternative activities and mental refreshment.
Often, this part of the year is easily seen as a time to have fun and not do your sport… the off season.
Frankly, what athletes do on their time off at the end of the year is never really associated with their performance in the next season. But, it should be as the transition phase has some key ingredients that get the body and mind refreshed:
1. Low training volume – reduced load on the body helps remove any niggling injuries and gives the athlete time to reflect on their underlying motivations to compete. Plan for a month-long transition, before commencing pre-season training.
2. Some exercise – having done so much training for the rest of the year it becomes part of the athlete’s lifestyle to be active, so I’d include some moderate exercise which is not what you’d normally do. Depending on the sport, examples could be rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, pool running or surfing. As fitness is easier to maintain than develop, a little exercise during the break may be enough to maintain most of the fitness built over the last year and make for an easier start to the new season. Aim for 3-4 sessions a week of 30-60 min at an effort level of 5 to 7 out of 10.
3. Virtually no participation in the main sport – this is a chance for overstressed joints and muscles to rebuild and the mind to have break from thinking about technique, strategy and constant training. For the athlete that has had to manage an injury during the season, the transition phase is a great time to address muscle imbalances and weaknesses. This pre habilitation (as distinct from rehabilitation) can strengthen the muscles and joints for better training during the season."
So let's go swimming, paddling, maybe play some ping pong. I will sort out this new bike dilemma, rejuvenate, and re-invent my cycling avatar for 2013. I'm waving a white flag for the summer, or maybe I just need a nap.
Friday, May 18, 2012
What do you get when you combine a full-time pants-wearing job, a glam-rock video shoot, and a social calendar to rival Kim Kardashian (Kimye?) That's right, the answer is illness. The band hadn't applied the first dab of eyeliner before I had a sore throat and shoulders full of broken glass. I staggered through the week, finally surrendering on Wednesday and sleeping for 10 hours. Some of you might remember when I slept 10 hours nightly, and took a nap from 3:00-4:15 every afternoon. Those days are over. I have a life now, more like a life and a half. My skill-set doesn't always match up unfortunately. I failed to get the word out about a birthday party a couple of weeks ago, and inadvertently dissed a few friends. That hurts. Relationships really matter to me, and I pride myself on handling them carefully. What can I say? I'm not used to people caring so much. As a unit of 1 you have the privilege and burden of choosing to include yourself or not, but being part of a team of 2 elevates you into a whole new strata of social interplay. I'm going to pay better attention and not go with the "wing it" method that served me so well as an antagonistic misanthrope.
I am going to have an opportunity to get it right soon, as my teammate and I will be getting married soon. By soon, I mean within the next 50 or so days according to our license from the state of Florida that sits beneath our rings-- one gold, one titanium. There will be a party, or a series of parties, and the memo will go out far and wide.
Aside from securing the love of my life beside me forever, the next biggest priority I have is to torture some of you with my continued hemming and hawing about a new bike. I have received some priceless emails and texts begging me to just buy something, anything and shut up about it. To them I say, hmmmmmmm, maybe I should get a road bike instead? But then what kind of road bike? I will have to do some research.
Anyway, one thing at a time, that's what keeps me out of trouble.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Living in a Day-Quil haze today after spreading my tiny wings and flying away last night with the Glitter Chariot. To be honest I didn't do much. I bought some orange paint for Chuck's thighs. I fed the Key Grip's dog. I bought three cases of beer. Still, it was exhausting. Melissa spent 14 hours on set. We slept like statues. Here is an interesting statistic I just made up:
5% of the population does not produce art due to a lack of interest or talent.
The other 95% do not product art because it is too much hard work. This includes writing, painting, quilting, music, and macrame.
Still, I am building up chi, or prana, or chutzpa if you prefer, to write something of merit- if only a few words. You can't force it, you can only sit on your word eggs and wait.
Meanwhile, this bicycle seeking adventure continues. In my heart I have narrowed it down the this humble Santa Cruz Aluminum Highball, which is a fine ride for the money.
The problem is that rumors and whispers of other options keep drifting to my attention. The latest is an unlikely lead on an Ellsworth Evolve, which if you don't know what that is, then you must not be here for the bikes.
If anyone out there is slower to make a decision and commit to a purchase than I am, let me know. I feel pretty alone out here in wishy washy land. I like to finesse my way into a purchase like easing into a scalding hot bath.
Monday, May 14, 2012
This one is for the locals, but anyone else out there who wants to get involved or throw their support our way is welcome to chime in. You may have heard me mention The Glitter Chariot before. They are a loose conglomerate of artists who come together whenever possible to combine music, sculpture, and performance to tell stories of melancholy heartbreak and bitter regret. They can also rock your face off. They just finished recording two astonishing original songs at a local studio, and tomorrow they are shooting an accompanying video. They are in need of extras to come to the pub and do pub things. If you are available and willing to be on camera, come on out.
Where: The Warehouse on Gaines St.
When: 5:00ish until you have had enough.
Email me at email@example.com for details if you need need more information.
It will be a Tuesday to remember.
We perfected the weekend. We dialed it in right down to washing the last dish and changing the sheets. Everyone is sober and prepared for the week ahead. It's kind of a letdown to get to this point. If only life could be bike rides, karaoke, and flea markets all the time. Things are never that easy. If I could load up on that Glitter Chariot and ride to that eternal after party I would, but some of us are left here on Earth to work hard and suffer.
I enjoyed one of those crystallizing crashes of clarity while flying down the Cadillac trail. A yellow-jacket punched into my exposed midriff and before I could choose otherwise my right hand was clasping its buzzing fury as my left hand gently pushed the bars past plane and I ejected thinking, "this is how it happens, just like this." I mean injury of course, and pain, and a suspension of the good times in exchange for character-building opportunities.
The hornet escaped, or was crushed in the dust like me. I laid very still and conducted the physical inventory. Mystery was two beats ahead of me and unaware, just racing to the water fountain like a hundred other rides. All body parts passed visual inspection, with a few minor bloody scrapes. Hand, hand, knee, knee, foot, foot and I was standing. I felt euphoric, giddy, and most of all lucky. Sometimes you crash and nothing bad happens.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Buying a bike used to mean you purchased one item and the necessary accessories to enjoy and care for it. Dad took me to the Schwinn shop and I picked out a red Scrambler with yellow mag wheels. Pick out a lock to go with it and the deal was done. One of my favorite bikes ever, the Fuji Palisade, my mom picked out for me. I don't remember asking to swap out any components or asking for specs on the gruppo. Bicycle used to equal ride. Not anymore. There is no element or detail too small, and the implications are that if you choose poorly, you will be forever regretful and dropped by your friends. That's a lot of pressure to choose the right valve caps and inner tubes (or should I go tubeless?)
I am settling towards a decision, and if I go with this option, I can even choose the paint color, finish, logo, and size of the decals. If that won't make me fast enough, then I suppose nothing will.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Today we implement austerity measures, to deal with our European crisis of gluttony. The only thing I rode this weekend was the party train to tired town. The birthday season is officially closed, but we certainly did it right. I feel like the lesser-known half of a celebrity couple, like Justin Theroux.
Many thanks to The Cake Shop, the Fermentation Lounge, Bell's Brewery, the Glitter Chariot crew, and lots of friends old and new for coming out on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
One last time, Happy Birthday Melissa!
Thursday, May 03, 2012
No longer spring and not yet summer,
Garden sowed, not yet plundered.
A woven ring in humble splendor
waits to rest upon a finger.
Wheels somewhere rest unridden,
Juancho waits and watches.
No longer spring and not yet summer,
All of us for something wonder.
Will it, won't it, has it ever
thought or fallen, carried over
been forgotten, lost, remembered?
Next shoulder season comes September.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Last weekend was graduation for the six or seven universities we have here in town. That used to mean that the town was about to get quiet. Quiet, and extremely warm. I don't think that is true anymore. Legislative session seems to go on forever, and the diploma conveyer belt never shuts down. Tallahassee has become an 11 month town (We all run from August.) 10 years have passed since I received my last sheepskin (gross!) but I think graduation ceremonies are a ritual that reflect a natural process. I don't need a student loan debt to tell me when class is over and it is time to move on to the next semester. I have earned many unaccredited degrees since my last large mailer envelope arrived with former governor Jeb Bush's signature on it. Let me enumerate some of them for you, then you can tell us about your own scholastic achievements.
BA- Gravitational Enforcement earned while sprawled on the hot asphalt with arm pointing backwards.
PhD- Risk Management awarded for taking a chance on love and being rewarded beyond all expectations of success.
Crow Digestion (certification) for becoming a yoga practitioner after years of enlightenment avoidance.
MS- Assimilation- I own five pair of pants ranging in color from "bone" to "wheat." I wear these pants to earn money.
You don't have to pay anybody in cash, but there is always a price for education. We might not be on the academic calendar schedule, but life hands out degrees to all of us. It is usually pretty clear when it is time to flip your tassel.