Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Ride! Take It Easy...

I awoke Sunday morning with intentions of doing a 40 mile loop on the rural roads of Gadsden County. A quick look at the weather slowed my roll, though. 35F and winds gusting in the 20's, did not sound like fun, no matter how much I think I like to get my Belgian on!

Luckily, Big Jim Slade came through with a mountain bike plan, so I went into scurry and panic mode, to make it to the prescribed meeting time and place. After Saturday's rains, Munson was sure to be in prime condition. As I was loading my bike, I saw flecks floating down into the bed of the truck. My first thoughts were of snow, but nah! This is Florida, so someone must be burning trash piles this morning. It sure is early to be burning, I pondered, but then again, at least the fire would feel warm. And I continued getting dressed and loading my gear. 20 minutes later, Ms. Worm gives me a call, to tell me it's snowing on her in traffic. She's so excited, it's becoming infectious.

It was spotty at best, and certainly was not accumulating, but the fact that we got snow this far south made for a unique occasion. As I sat through various red lights, I watched the small flakes drift and skitter across the hood and windshield, eventually melting where they came to rest.

We rode probably 2 and a half laps of Munson, as I begged off from the Twilight Loop. Forgive me, but to me, that loop is good for packing on miles, but it just gets boring. Munson still feels like a mountain bike trail, and the constant twists and turns keep me entertained. Twilight was a blast, when I had 35hp in my throttle hand, and 12+" of suspension travel to eat the whoops, but at bicycle speeds. it leaves something to be desired. I had fears of riding Twilight this windy, damp morning, and having nothing to occupy my attention, except "turn the pedals", and "Damn I'm cold".

The guys entertained my desires, and I tried to keep things from getting monotonous by mixing up the directions and randomly throwing in the short cut trails. The pace, for me, stayed medium to high, for most of the ride. I'd heard of the knock down drag out battle these two had at their last Munson ride, and quite honestly, I just didn't want to get dropped. They let me lead, so I tried to keep it at a pace that kept me from getting passed. Besides, the best way to defeat the cold days like this, is to refer back to Rule #5, ride hard, and the reap the warmth that comes with the effort. The wind was blowing so hard in some sections, you'd round a bend in the trail, and instantly be 2 gears to high.(Except for BJS, who only brought one gear, anyway.)

Unfortunately, the snow was scarce until the very end of the ride. As we rode the Paper Cup trail back to the parking lot, I was just noticing the flakes in the air, and the dampness as it landed on my face, when Big Jim asked if it was snowing again, or was it just my tires throwing sand in his face?

I know it's minuscule to the folks who ride at other latitudes, but for Florida guys, it was cool to be able to say we got a snow ride.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Juniors

Revolutions, and later Bikechain, has raised quite a few juniors over the past 15+ years. I suppose the first two were Carl and Armie(sp?). I was living in Daytona, for school, when the boys opened Revolutions. But we always got together to ride whenever I came home. That's how I met Carl. He and Armie were the original shop rats. I kept hearing Armie's name, but never met him until some years later. Carl however, I rode with on these visits. He was a freshman or sophomore in high school, and built like a fire hydrant. At 12, the boy had calves bigger around than other kids' thighs. He was fearless, and talented, and was usually the first to try whatever dumb idea was brought up. When we began racing as a crew, Carl would just destroy the junior fields. That's how it is with juniors, the kids who develop the fastest, typically ride the fastest. I can remember more trash talking coming from the Joe's Bike Shop team juniors, as they tried to figure out how to beat Carl.

Carl has grown up now, but like most of us, is still a big kid at heart. His talent has grown along with him, and if you ever do a campus ride with him, he'll scare the shit out of you, dropping huge ledges and skying over staircases. He's living in Orlando, turning wrenches for a big shop down there. Most of his racing involves skinny tires these days. I've even heard rumors that he's married now, but like any kid, he's damned hard to get hold of, once he left the T-town nest. If anyone talks to him, tell I said to call me up, or else!

Another of the juniors, that luckily got a little less direct influence from us, as I think his Dad had better sense than to turn him loose with us, is now commonly referred to as Little Ball. I'm pretty sure that Little Ball was racing around his Mom's womb as a zygote. That's him on the right. He rode the smallest frame that Kona made, and he weighed less than his pedals, until he was about 19. Thanks to mountain bikes, Little Ball has been to the Olympic Training Center several times, and rode in Mexico representing the US of A at the Pan American Games. Now a days, he's typically found trying give Big Jim Slade a heart attack.

I guess the 2nd generation of Revolutions juniors came in the form of a 4 pack.  Joel, Jacob, Jarond and Phil were all friends who somehow got sucked into mountain bikes together. Joel was the most talented at the time, and regularly did well in the junior races. He seemed to be the leader of the little group, and more often than not, it seemed like it was the 3 J's versus Phil. The boys would come by after school, and when they got too rowdy in the shop, Red Dragon usually gave them a choice between menial labor tasks, or getting out. Phil would watch the J boys as they bitched and moaned there way out the door and headed off, as he picked up a broom or rag, and did Dragon's bidding. The boy was tenacious, and wanted to be in that shop. The J boys all found their way into various sorts of trouble, and have long since given up bikes. But Phil, well he's a whole story all his own, and there is a book now being published to tell his tale. On the brief side, he kept racing with us until he discovered the darkside, road bikes. He showed even more promise in FL criteriums, where fearlessness will take you a long way. I can't tell you how many times I've seen him put his 20" handlebar through 15" gaps, all in the middle of full gallop, no holds barred, 30+ mph road sprints. He did a 12 hour solo mtb race, back when folks just didn't do that around here, just to prove he could. To top it all off, Phil is Type 1 diabetic. He nearly died at 6 months of age, when he was diagnosed. He never let it stop him, and after meeting a fellow diabetic cyclist in college, they started Team Type 1. TT1 has blown up, and for 2011, the team is now fielding a pro squad on the European race circuit.

Generation 3 was brought around by Little Ball. You guys know him, too, as our own lovable but grumpy, Ice Berg. I remember when Ice Berg first came around. Double D told me, "Great! I guess we're raising yet another junior to kick our asses!". Ice Berg has definitely lived up to his billing, and as long as he doesn't crash or break something, is still a threat at most any race, be it road, mountain, cross, of mx. This boy's story is still developing, so stay tuned.

The most recent batch of juniors looks to consist of Lil' Wrecking Ball, Mingo Jr, and Rupe, Stormin' Norman's offspring. This is the first generation of juniors, in which the Dad's are crew members. Luckily, these boy's Dad's are present and accounted for on most rides, so they don't get the full B/C dose, that some of the others got.

Now, to clear up a myth. Many of you have asked about a junior who has been seen riding with us on occasion, lately, and typically joins us in Felasco. Contrary to popular belief, this guy is crew, and not a junior.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I straight stole the image above, from Dave Hall's site. Thievery, I know, but we have enough old school locals lurking around here, that they should definitely recognize one or two players from the game above.

Lately, we've been seeing an influx of new folks in the crew. As life goes on, the core group is still around, but busier than they used to be, and their appearances on the rides are fewer and further between. They are not gone, in the way that Romeo, Vee, or even Big Tony have moved on. They are still in town, just caught up with ball games, diapers, teething, or in the case of Spanish Mackerel, butterfly watching.The new guys who have either just discovered riding at an obsessive level, or guys who have had that all along, but only just discovered the ego and image destroying, dysfunctional family, that is the BC crew, keep our group rides numbers up.

One of the new guys recently suggested that those of  us who have been around around since the beginning should share the history of the crew. This is a great idea, but I have 20 years of crew stories. You guys are gonna have to get these in installments. Hopefully my brothers in arms, at Bikechain and Dirtysouth, will jump in from time to time, with their own stories. If I have to tell them all, they're getting bent to my liking!

Tonight, I tripped over the picture up above, and the memories came flooding back. The purple Joe's Bike Shop jersey worn by Kingsnake, our Revolutions Cyclery jerseys, worn by Double D, and the old Scwinn kit of Zack then Murfree, now Finn.I was there that day, and have a plaque hanging on the wall to prove it, though not from that elite class above.

One of the guys I surfed and skated with, Tom Hellman, unknowingly changed the course of my life one afternoon. I went to pick him up to go skate some ditch, or some other spot we'd heard about, and sitting in the corner of his living room was this crazy looking bike. It looked like a bmx bike on steroids. I couldn't help but be drawn to those huge knobby tires. "What the hell is this?" I asked. "It's a mountain bike.", he replies. "My brother is living in Japan, and he's been riding one all over the mountains. He said I should give it a try, so I bought one at Sears." That was it. Innocuous as it sounds, the damage was done. It wasn't 2 weeks before Ms Worm, my then girlfriend, and I had been to Sears and picked out 2 ultra cheap, but crazy expensive to us, mountain bikes. Grade F department store Huffys, but more than enough to set the hook so deep, that 2 broken collar bones in my first 6 months, were not enough to shake me of my new found, 2 wheeled habit.

The first real bike I bought was a Specialized Rockhopper Comp, purchased from the first serious bike rider/racer I had somewhat befriended, Dave Baton. Dave introduced me to Jason Snow, and later to Nathan King. Kingsnake was still a 16 year old junior back then. He drove this old van, and rode a red Dakar with the shifters and brake levers all drilled out, 70's style. First flat I got was on a campus ride with those 3 guys, and my buddy Tom. I tried to bunnyhop a curb, not at all understanding the physics of it, and promptly dinged a rim and pinched the tube. I was so new that having a spare tube had never even occurred to me. Kingsnake throws me his tube and pedals off to fly off some huge loading dock, while I fiddle with the foreign valve stem, that clearly had had all of the rubber stripped from the outside. Yep, first presta valve stem, too. Completely embarrassed, but too stubborn to give up, I just kept trying to figure it out. Nathan finally comes back, looks at me like I'm an idiot, takes the whole thing away from, fixes it for me, and then promptly drops the hammer so that I get spit out the back. Tough love from a kid still in high school! But when it came to bikes, he was far and away my senior. Bikes will do that. Age goes out the window in the respect hierarchy, and I liked that. Master Baton, Kingsnake, and Snowman taught me a lot, and not all of it in the nicest terms, but I absorbed all I could. Those were the guys I looked up to in this new world I'd discovered, and hell. I was the same age or older than most of 'em.

By the time that pic was snapped, I'd been riding and racing for about 6-7 years. I had been working in a bike shop, for 3-4. Kingsnake still awed me with his natural ability, and still does today, when I get to see him ride, but it's not the same as it was that first year. By then, I was in it deep. Everything revolved around bikes. That bike shop I was working in, was Revolutions Cyclery. Double D is wearing the old jersey in the center of that pic. Revolutions was where the crew started. That melting pot of 20 something year old guys sent us down a path that continues to this day. I have been to more weddings from that crowd than I can count. I was best man in 2. I have adopted nieces and nephews; the offspring of crew members. I have many, many friends that came of that shop, and somehow the numbers just keep growing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dirty Ron

Not sure that that image is relevant, but it came up in a Google image search for "Dirty Ron". Exceptionally dirty, I might add. I find myself a little concerned for folks who consistently eat Mickey D's.

The ride's namesake does not have long red hair, nor does he eat human body parts. If he had hair, he'd  look a little more like this...

Or, if he had hair, a tan, and pharmaceutically enhanced  muscles, he'e look like this...

But in reality, he looks more like this...

Anyway, he missed the Dirty Spaghetti, something about an expired green card. So, in order to make it up to him, we have come up with our own, unsupported version of the Dirty Spaghetti, affectionately dubbed, the Dirty Ron, and it's scheduled for 12/11/2010.

I've been working out the route, with Silk's assistance. And what I mean by that is, I work up the route. Then Silk tells me how I did it all wrong, and reroutes the whole thing. At least I got to pick the starting and ending location.We're rolling from downtown Monticello that morning, at about 9am. We could roll earlier, and that may be changed, but stay tuned around here to find out. I figure 9am gives the sun a chance to thaw the sleeping dogs before we roll by. Boston, GA falls at about the halfway point, where food will be consumed, if you brought it with you. As I said, this is unsupported. If you forgot to bring your Grey Poupon, or just forgot your sandwich entirely, Silk knows how to guide us to a sweet restaurant, or at least a roadside boiled peanut vendor.

After lunch, we will continue our route through scenic Dixie, GA, and then head south, to return to Monticello. The roads are a mix of pavement, chip seal, and clay, but mostly clay. You can ride your road bike if you wish, but if any of these roads get sandy, you're in for a fair amount of walking. Most of us will run cx bikes, but there will be a few mountain bikes, too. Just mount up a fairly unknobby tire, if you have one. If not, don't feel bad. I'm sure Mingo will be there on something akin to this.

The ride begins in downtown Monticello, so I can get my Tupelo's Bakery and Cafe fix. I dig their homemade breakfast goods, and the lady that owns the place has always been so nice, that I decided I'd drag a few more customers her way. After the ride, we shall take a short drive north to the Mingo family farm. Mingo claims that showers for cleaning, and a fridge for beer cooling are available on site. At some point a fire will be started, and meat seared for consumption. Cold oat sodas will be drunk. Lies will be told, and feelings will be hurt, but only by those closest to you.