Friday, July 29, 2011
Tomorrow is the memorial ride for Dave Baton. I have family in town, but I will be there, because he was a part of my "other" family.
Right now, there is so much loss in my life, sometimes, it feels like I'm drowning. Thankfully, I have many friends who reach out to help, to hold my head above water. That's what family does. Judging by the emails, I've seen, there will be a lot of friends out tomorrow, to remember Dave. That's what family does.
Though tomorrow is symbolic, Dave will live on far beyond tomorrow in the hearts and minds of those who knew him. They say no one is truly gone, until the last memory dies. I'm thankful for the memories.
I'm thankful for the thousand times Dave told me my saddle was too high, or too low.
I'm thankful for the thousand times he told me I'd be better off sitting and pedaling.
I'm thankful for the thousand times he told me it was time to stand and hammer.
I'm thankful for the thousand times he made me climb the hills of San Luis, in my big ring.
I'm thankful for the thousand times he said it was okay to hurt, because "they" would be hurting, too.
I'm thankful for the thousand times I heard Derry, tell Dave, "Just fix the bike, Dave! It's not rocket science.", showing me that Dave didn't know everything.
None of us do. None of us have all of the answers. But together, as a family, we can find enough.....enough answers to keep our heads above water.
Tomorrow, I'll be swimming in a sea of funny stories, and great memories, shared by friends. Tomorrow, I will immerse myself in what friends do. When friends share the burden, the heart is just that little bit lighter, that little bit more buoyant. With friends, there is no need to worry about drowning.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
I've long mocked my friends for their obsession with social networks. Now, I'm sure everyone is going to be quick to point out all of their positive attributes. I will concede that the thought of catching up with my best friend from 6th grade, who I have not seen or spoken to in 30yrs, sounds quite appealing. Stalking an ex-girlfriend, in hopes that she got fat and lives in a trailer park could be good fun, until I find out she's hotter than ever, married a professional athlete who doubles as a movie star and underwear model, and she owns a chain of successful fitness centers nationwide. Dohhh!!!!
Yesterday, Big Jim Slade sends me an email to check out a new ride route he drew on Mapmyride.com. I've never used mapmyride, having for whatever reason, only used ridewithgps.com. I had no ill will towards mapmyride, I just stumbled into the other first. So when I click the link, I'm quite surprised to find out that Big Jim Slade has allowed his "friends" to view the map, and apparently, I'm not among the chosen. Feeling shunned, I begin to jump through the hoops to become a registered member of mapmyride.com, and view BJS's map. Nope, not that easy. first I have to "find" BJS, and when I finally do, I am then prompted to request BJS's friendship. Wiseass website, you don't know me! You don't know my transmission! How dare this damn website have the audacity to challenge the relationship of Gemini?!
But I want to see the map.
I concede to this arrogant web domain's demands, and click the request friendship button. It opens a small window, with an area for a small message to the requestee. There's a suggested phrase already entered. "Hi, Big Jim Slade. I'd like to be your friend." Fard that! I typed my own quaint message to BJS, telling him exactly how much I loved him for wasting 20 minutes of time, just to qualify our love, so I could see a damn map, of a ride I damn sure won't do now, just on sheer principle!
"Your request has been submitted, and you're now awaiting Big Jim Slade's approval"
Big Jim Slade almost had a visitor in his office, demanding approval or else he was gonna get his windows tinted!
A couple of hours later, I get a cheerful email to let me know that Big Jim Slade has accepted my advances, and we have a date. I check out the route, and does look kind of fun. Maybe I will ride it, but I'm not going to tell mapmyrides.
All's well and done, until this morning. I open my email to find another cheerful header from mapmyrides. This was inside.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Lil Ball is prone to these moments of enthusiasm and motivation. Once in awhile the stars align, and he has a good idea, one worthy of the effort it takes to bring it to fruition. Thus time, it is the Dirty 30. Basically, this is a 30 minute dirt crit, or short track race. Keeping it grassroots, with no classes or division, it's just simple enough to attract folks to the show.
About a dozen contestants showed for this inaugural race. The crowd spanned the gamut, with riders as old school as myself, to the latest generation of juniors. Lil Ball showed everyone around the course, for a lap or two of warmup.Having had my body revolt against the heat the day before, I opted to handle the start, finish, and timing duties.
They were off with a bang, and young Graham Gillis proceeded to begin issuing the spankings he'd promised the field, in the parking lot earlier. Unfortunately for the younger Gillis, his body was soon to leave him hanging, much like mine did me the day before. His 1st lap pace was blistering, but soon enough, a group formed around the rabbit. A few laps later, the rabbit was gone again, only out the back this time.
Ricky Silk went to the front, and began dishing out the hard laps, in typical Silk fashion, making it look effortless. I know he hurts, but he never shows it. His poker face is formidable. As the laps ticked down, he lapped the entire field.
John A. threw down an excellent effort, riding an uncontested 2nd to Silk. John impressed me, keeping many of the middle laps right on time with Silk's pace, no easy feat!
Longtime Tallahassee stalwarts, Tom Gillis and Zach Finn teamed up in the their efforts, which lead to a lot of debate for those of us on the sidelines. Tom has a healthy sprint from his road experience, and Zach is a super talented mountain bike racer. Zach was apparently concerned with the senior Gillis' sprint, too, and proceeded to unload him in the closing laps, to avoid the situation entirely, and wrap up 3rd.
StorminNorman passed Jeff M in the early laps, and in the confusion, I thought he had nearly lapped Jeff. I called StorminNorman as 5th and Jeff as 6th, only to be corrected after the fact. Turns out, Jeff rallied, and passed Norman back. As various folks got lapped, dropped out, reentered, etc, I lost track. That's what's cool about these small local events, everyone looks out for one another, Mr Norman corrected my mistake, and I owed Jeff an apology.
Our last finisher, and the guy I was most proud of, was StorminNorman's son, Blake. He stomped big gears at the urging of myself and Wrecking Ball, early in the race. But the efforts caught up with him. I even joked at one point, about blowing him up, and unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. I think that in the excitement, WB and I were simply a little too encouraging. Blake held tough, grabbed the wheels we instructed him to grab, and held each one as long as he could. He never gave up, and never once complained. Even at the finish, he still found the juice to rise from the saddle, and hammer it home. It's gonna be fun watching this one rise through the ranks.
All in all, it was a cool event. Folks were stoked, and I had a blast watching and cheering. A crew of us finished it off with a stack of tacos at Los Amigos, where once again, Blake got grilled about his birdish eating habits. If he's not careful, he's gonna grow up to look like Silk! Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I'm tired. Deep down, tired. I looked back at my Garmin log, in a monthly format, and see that I've been averaging only 3 days a week, for about 3 months, now. 4-5 days a week was the old normal. With me enjoying the deeper strength I felt from long rides, when we were getting ready for the Dirty Spaghetti, I've been trying to get at least one longer ride in every weekend, so while I've lost a day per week, my hours have barely dropped. The saddle time is still there.
This weekend was a 3 day holiday weekend, and I was atop one of my bikes every day. Saturday, Big Jim Slade, StorminNorman, his son, and myself, made the day trip to San Felasco. It's an easy drive. We hit the highway around 7:30, after feeding BJS's Bruegger's fetish. After 3hrs of singletrack, I was done. The Titus was on blocks, so the Niner pulled the duty. After all that eroded, choppy, Conquistador, I was hating my bike choice. Suck it up. You brought it, so deal with it. Conquistador has lots of up and down, but almost no flow. Bang, bang, slap, crack, duh, Unnhh, down the hill. Poorly laid out u-turn, and pedal, yank, lunge, stall, your way back up the roots. I was soon far behind my less gravitationally challenged companions. I didn't want to bitch, because after all, it's not their fault that they are faster than me uphill. But I was having a hard time keeping a positive mental outlook. Eventually, at a regroup, I slid to off the front, during everyone's nature break, and told Jim I'd see them when they caught me. Low and behold, we hit a rhythmic, flowing, FLAT section of trail. I settled into my groove, not wanting to hold folks up as I had so far, and before long, it was just BJS and I. While it's not very kind to revel in the struggle of others, it did help my bruised ego to see that I still have a skill or two that keeps the new guys honest. I was getting tired, but noted that after 2 hours, I wasn't as dead as I should have been, and actually felt okay. Not fresh as a daisy mind you, but strong enough to be aware that the longer rides were doing their job.
After 3 hours of singletrack, I was glad we were done. The FL heat was turning up the volume, and I was ready for some respite. Conestoga Wagon is straight up, country style, caloric love! I wolfed down a 1lb burger and fries, with no problem! Feeling good about the trip, I was ready to get home and hold down that couch, and watch the Tour stage.
Sunday found me getting caught up in life, and I was on the fast track to skipping out on any riding. Luckily Silk, and Marcus were in the wings, ready to foil that plan. It felt good to be on the road bike. No harsh banging, and a self created breeze. It felt like I was riding on a cushy marshmallow, after the what felt like chainsaw wrestling the day before. 2 more hours down.
Monday the 4th and folks wanted to ride in the woods again. Late Sunday found me in the shop, replacing a bottom bracket on the Titus. I had no desire to ride that hardtail, just yet. We had a big crew, show up at Zone 5, for an 8:30 roll out. We hit Secret Singletrack, Overstreet, and eventually churned out one of Ricky Silk's torture loops. It felt like we had only ridden for a little over an hour, but when I felt the legs growing empty, I looked down to see we were gonna have another 2.5hr day, by the time we reached the trucks. StorminNorman suggested a quick walk to Tropical Smoothie, and I honestly can't decide if I enjoyed the food, or their A/C, more.
Now Tuesday has rolled around, and it's typically a ride night for the crew. Everyone is out of sync, as their bodies think it's still Monday. I'm not sure if the weather will hold, and I know my motivation is thin, but I'm trying. I just keep telling myself, the weather may be worse tomorrow. Get it while you can.