Monday, November 26, 2007

This Sucks!

Most of our T-town crew won't know this guy, but it still sucks. I got an email from Paul the other night with a link regarding the death of Mike Janelle. Here's the link if you want to check it out. Apparently he and JAson Sager were friends, too. He's got a post on his blog, as well.

Mike was a long time bike racer in the Colorado area. I met him on RAAM, two years ago. He was part of the 4-man team Beaver Creek / Vail. Since Team Type 1 was heads and tails above the other corporate teams, our goal was to beat the rock star veterans who had dominated the year before, The Beavers. Our team had huge heart, and against anyone's predictions, took the fight to reigning champs. I'll never forget how much fun we had when we finally caught them in the flat midwest. In some town who's name I can never remember, our first pass was made. We threw out Phil and Big Joe to go 2up against their one man, thinking they could team time trial and just blow by to establish a gap. Rookie mistake! We were so excited about the catch, we didn't check the map book for the upcoming roads. We threw those two right as we were coming into a town with a ton of turns, stop signs, and traffic lights! There was no way they could work together to do any kind of damage. In the meantime, Janelle was in his leapfrog team van, bouncing off the walls. He saw us throw those two guys and all he wanted was to be on the road to teach us a lesson. When Janelle hit the road, he caught the boys quickly, rode up between them, said "hi", and then attacked them like it was the last corner of Florida crit race! We'd been racing for days, not hours, and he just threw down! That boy was motivated! It took us forever to catch them, again. We did finally catch and pass them through corn country, but when we hit the East coast mountains of OH and WV, they finished out their lesson plans, and we graduated 2nd overall, but a hell of lot wiser.

This year, we went back to RAAM and used the lessons that Mike and his boys had taught us, to take an overall victory! But across the first third of the country, at a lot of the rider transfers, we were parked next to the Beaver's transfer vehicle, so we got to hang out an talk. Mike was just as competitive as ever, but the whole team was friendly. They complemented us on our improvements and when we talked about the year before, Mike's face lit up like a Christmas tree. We all had a good time with the close racing last year. That just doesn't happen on RAAM, and it sure broke up the monotony.

Maybe with what's going on in my own house hold right now, I'm hypersensitive to this kind of thing. But my heart goes out to Mike's RAAM teammates, Zac Bingham, Nat Ross, and Jimi Mortensen. But most of all, I feel for Mike's wife. She's 6 months pregnant with their first kid! Damn, that's a tough blow to handle.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Old Home Day!

Well, here we are the day after Thanksgiving, and feeling like the proverbial stuffed goose! So I get the last minute OK from my better half to join the Whittington Family Reunion Ride. I called the Wrecking Ball to come out and join us, thinking he could help me dilute some of the Whitosterone that was sure to be boiling over.

Five Whittingtons representing two generations of lug nut turning, arm wrestling, Woodvillians. How can this ride not be entertaining? For those who don't know the Banty Rooster, you're missing a real treat. Mr Rooster is the father of long time core rider, Bikechain. Bikechain was a partner in the now defunct legend that was Revolutions Cyclery. I wrenched at Revolutions for 4 or 5 years, and the Banty Rooster was in the shop probably 80% of the time I was. I'm pretty sure he's never met a stranger, and he never fails to regale you with stories that somehow leave you questioning that twinkle in his eye. I'm not saying he'd pull your leg, but you better have your balance when he's around!

Bikechain's fellow partner in Revmart, and older brother, The Rx, was in attendance, too. Now, Rx never had the cycling disease quite as bad as the rest of us, but he was always game for any of our two wheeled foolishness including bike hockey or piloting the Tri-bandem in the Festival of Lights parade.

Rounding out the triumvirate of Banty Rooster's offspring today, was 007. 007 is some sort of odd mix of CIA, MMA, KGB, RCA, LCD.... I don't know what else. He was once accused of being anti-semite, which is damned funny considering his wife's jewish! Me personally, I think he's a member of the Israeli Moussad cycling team.

I have not had a chance to ride with Banty Rooster, Rx, or 007 in years. So with them, Bikechain, Wrecking Ball and 'Cuz( who also happens to be Banty Rooster's nephew) we were off! First up was the Live Oak Trail. I was a little concerned for Rx, as he rides the least of our crew today, and he's on 1993 KHS Pro FZ, complete with a rigid fork, and cantilever brakes. The pads on these brakes are at least 10 years old! I'm hoping they haven't hardened to rocks or don't crumble into dust at the first sign of a downhill!
My fears proved unfounded. Rx flat out charged! Despite a little wobble at the top, he committed full on to attacking our newest bridge over the waist high log on the backside. This was the first time he'd seen it, and God knows how long it's been since he rode last! Right after the log bridge, Rx charges the downhill to the creek...on that full rigid, cantilever brake equipped rig! Now not for nothing, but I've seen some guys who ride a lot more often than Rx, and on new school, full suss rigs, no less, ride that downhill with less aplomb than Rx did today. Big Kudos to his can-do attitude. It's hard to explain, but riding with guys like that makes me stoked! No complaining and knowing the odds are not necessarily in their favor, but they commit and succeed anyway. It'll make you take stock of your own attitude, that's for sure.

After Live Oak, Banty Rooster decided to part ways, uttering something about being 67 years old and "What was he gonna do in 10 years when he was 77?". Whatever, I hope I'm still able to go ride with a bunch of guys 20-30 years younger than me when I'm 67!

The rest of us headed for Lake Overstreet and Redbug. Things stayed fairly chill except for a couple of times when 'Cuz decides to throw 007 a beatin' in the singletrack. You just can't have that many Whittingtons on a ride and no gauntlets be thrown down! Rx chugs along steadily, and still no complaints. I thought for sure Rootbug would've done him in on that rigid bike, but no chance. You know it occurs to me that if Rx were to go to Felasco, Spanish Mackeral would likely lose his MOTY title. In fact, given the fact that Mackeral has more excuses than rides under his belt, these past few weeks, he may already be a former MOTY!

This ride was definitely like a big reunion ride. It was super cool to get to ride with the "other" Whittingtons. As Wrecking Ball and I were loading up after the ride, Banty Rooster shows up with plates of home cooked cakes and pies. Talk about bringing back memories of my days at Revmart! I'm not sure if this is what Fat Lad means by ending his rides with beer and cakes, but I'll take it anyday!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Today was a good day!

Yesterday was a cool day. 'Cuz and I made a last minute trip to Cairo. GA not Egypt, and Kayro, not Kyro. We met up at Downhilla's new crib, for a road ride through the South Georgia backcountry. Seeing Downhilla's new spread, practically a mansion from what he's lived in the past few summers, the outstanding weather, and new scenery, were definitely worth the drive.

Today. Today started out kind of rough. After the Saturday ride experience, I was hoping not to be let down by the Sunday Big Show. Sunday is the ride where everyone comes out of the woodwork. Most of these guys I only see on Sunday. Little Ball is in town. Spanish Mackerel is actually showing for rides, in preparation for Felasco. Ahhh, but the best laid plans of mice and men........Right out of the gate, I get a text from Mackerel about waking up humping a deerstand while swilling back cartons of "rut juice". I'm not sure what that means, but I assume he's a no show. Then the president of the Bicycle Flea Market for Men calls and begs off, claiming offspring issues. As in, his litter, not the band. I'm already getting aggravated. On the way to Jose's Hacienda of Bicicletas, Former Bike Shop owner calls and tells me he's out. I didn't even know he was coming! Something about a headache. Anyway, the shop, it's just Derwood and I, so I start calling around to see how deep the sickness runs. 'Cuz is running late, but he's en route with Ice Berg in tow. Micro claims a whole stack of BS, and is out. RC God doesn't answer his phone, but shows up 10 minutes later. Little Ball turns complete sissy and hides in bed, much like the Bigfish at Hook, Line and Stinker. So my crew of 10 turns out to 5. 50% attrition rate and not even one pedal stroke into the ride, yet!

We may be diminished, but the mix is good, and the weather is perfect. We roll out east and out at the dike, we pick up a loner, Ragin'. Ragin' tags on for awhile before dipping to find his own beat. We pick up another new guy whom nobody knew. He just kind of sits on the back and enjoys our foolishness. Shortly after that we pick up Huck Finn. I haven't seen Huck in awhile, and it's good to get to ride together and catch up a little. I'm not sure if it was the fall air, or Huck being in the mix now, but we decide to go looking for one of our old school routes. We wandered all over the Fallschase area looking for the way across the dry lake bed, Once across, after way too much soft sand pedaling, everybody hoped like all hell, that we would find a way back out of the lake bed, and up on to the Cadillac Trail. Luck smiled on us for certain. With Huck leading, all the time uttering disclaimers about not being sure of the direction, we rode perfectly into an old goat trail, through the brush, back up to Cadillac. It's like it was cut just for us! How we stumbled on that trail so perfectly, I'll never know.

Back on known trail, the general consensus is its time to head for the barn. We've been out for nearly 3 hours by now. As we pass through TB Park, we run across, Juancho, of Bigringcircus fame, Cupcake, and Bushy on their way out. Bunch of late sleepers! Still it's good to see them out and riding. About that time, Former Bike Shop Owner comes cruising up. Busted! On the way back, I notice that the new guy at the back is still with us, and I still don't know his name. So introductions were exchanged, and we may have a new crew member, as well. Only time will tell. Back at the shop, 3hrs 15minutes from the start, this ride has gone from aggravating to outstanding! We definitely missed some people, but we got to see old friends, and make at least one new one. We rode trails we have ignored for years, some of which I thought had fallen to development! Did I say the weather was perfect?!


Yeah, this day may have started out a little shonky. But today... Today was a good day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Beautiful Disaster

Well, last night's ride lived up to our crew's usual drama standards! Unfortunately, I had a little help from a distraught wife unit. The ride is set to roll from Joe's Bike Shop and Ice Berg is standing patiently outside by my truck. Being 15, he still needs rides to the rides. About 20 minutes from clockout time, I find out that Marco Polo can't make the ride, so I'm gonna need to drive Ice Berg back home afterwards. He's a good kid, so that's not too bad, but it definitely adds another 45 minutes to my trip home! Then my better half calls, frantic that she's just been in a hit and run where she chases the guy down until he stops! In the middle of her call, she blurts "The cops are here. I've gotta go!" and hangs up! So now I'm stuck wondering if everything is alright. She did manage to convey that she's not hurt, but I don't know if her car is jacked, if she needs help, nothing. Just before I melt down, she calls back, tells me everything is cool, and that I should still ride. "Don't stress." she says! Yeah right! Have you met me??

So we arrive at Joe's and the FNG, who is borrowing a light from me, needs help mounting it, but doesn't want to take the initiative on his own. In the meantime Ice Berg is circling like any good teenager, asking a thousand questions about how to mount his helmet light properly. Through all of this, I'm trying to get my own gear together. When we finally roll out, the group keeps getting split up crossing clogged T-town traffic arteries. Somehow, I'm on the wrong side every time. Things just won't look up for me!

On the Fern Trail we meet some other riders heading for the Higher Ground ride. As one group passes, The Human Wrecking Ball starts telling me, in his best trail whisper, that one of these guys is the guy who had the audacity to challenge him at Tom Brown a month ago! The nerve of the guy! So I answer, in my best trail whisper, but HWB doesn't hear me and keeps crabbing about how I'm ignoring him. So as my blood pressure continues to elevate, I decide it's time to bump the pace up to where nobody wants to talk anymore. No talking hopefully means nobody pushes any more of my buttons, right? No such luck! We arrive at Tom Brown Park and I'm trying to collect my crew to head for the parking lot to look for late arrivals. But this is like trying to herd cats! As 3 of the guys shoot by on a downhill, I realize that the last guy is not the FNG! WTF? The last guy is HWB's nemesis, who hopefully didn't hear our trail whispers. Where did Newbie go? I look down the hill and see FNG walking into Paulie's headlight, and his borrowed light no longer appears to work. Apparently the light had extinguished on the Fern, he'd missed a turn and took a trip over the bars, in the dark. Afterwards he'd been riding by braille to catch up! Paulie, being the generous soul he is, loans FNG one of his two light systems and we're back under way. But now the Nemesis is complaining about how we're stopping too much, and wanting to know if we're gonna ride or what?? Who the hell is this guy? Why is he in the middle of OUR ride griping about OUR plans??!!

New tactic time. I'm sitting in the back now. I figure if I let HWB and Nemesis try to kill each other, Paulie will go fast to watch, and all I have to do is sit back and watch FNG take bad lines. When your day is going poorly, laugh at someone else's pain, that's my motto! So my night starts to turn around. A short while later, HWB freaks out and splits for home, Nemesis dipped to find more talented riders who will clearly challenge him more than we do, and our merry band is down to four.

And then something cool starts to happen. We regroup and start chatting. I nudge towards the trail a couple of times, but noone takes the bait. We just sat out in the quiet, dark by the lake, and talked about all manner of humorous old stories. Everything that was leading to my early coronary checkout melted away. Eventually we started home, with nothing but the usual games of grabass and smartass comments that are the trademarks of all of our better rides. Everyone was cold as the temperature dropped 15 degrees while we were out there, but deep down, the warmth of knowing I was where I belong was back. Despite all the stress of my day and making this ride happen, in the end, it was still better than sitting home stressing all the challenges that have been heaped on my household the past few weeks. This ride was doomed from the word go. It should have been a disaster! And in some ways it was, but I'm sure that on some dark night ride in the future, the story of this ride will be told again, but maybe as a more beautiful disaster.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A new, new, new beginning!

Welcome to chapter 3, or 4.5, or whatever latest version of Apebike were on, but hopefully this will be the final site. Now you can get all of your Apebike loveliness in one convinient location. Please make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show!