Friday, November 30, 2012
This is a damn shame. 6 rides in the month of November. Illness, work, travel, all conspired against me, this month.
No worries, though. Tomorrow starts a new month, and I intend to make up for lost time. The weather is off the charts. This is my favorite time of year to ride. Crisp in the mornings, but mellow by lunch. What fall color we get around here, is in swing, and I like the sound of leaves crunching under my tires, and the smell of fireplaces still burning. It may be Winter in other parts of the country, but it's still Fall, here.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I fix things.
I fell into wrenching on bikes, many years ago. Like many of my employment choices, it wasn't something I aspired to, it was simply something I felt I was qualified to do, and it made me happy. I do not believe that a job defines a person, but I do think that a person who is open to it, will find that their definition will lead them to places where they belong, where they fit.
I suppose my personality just works along the lines of a repairman. People just naturally reach out to me, when something isn't quite as they feel it should. So and so is mad at what's his name. What wheel makes sense for my new ride? My bike won't shift into any gear, ever. My dad is driving me crazy. It doesn't matter. I just seem to spend a lot of time helping folks fix things.
I'm good with that. It makes me happy. On occasion, it can be a drag. When I roll up to ride, and the first 3 guys who greet me, are not so much greetings. Why does my brake squeak? My front derailleur is backwards. Have you seen my handlebar anywhere? Sometimes, I'm just like you. I'm just ready to turn a pedal in anger or peace, but mostly just ready to ride off the days problems. I'll fix your issue. Just not this very second. Right now, I'm gonna fix me, then I'm all yours.
When life is at its most blustery, and the winds of aggravation buffet even the heartiest jacket, I find solace in my shop. The feel of the cold metal and the greasy grit make sense to me. I take the bad, and I make it better. There is a tangible, measurable improvement. My conscious brain knows that control is an illusion, but the rest of me finds peace and stability, in correcting the misplaced strands of a machine's web.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Saw this photo on a tattoo site I follow. It struck a chord. People who know me know that I do not look like your typical 42yo business professional. That's because I am not. I work in an industry that is rife with conservatism and I play along, as needed.
Occasionally someone feels the need to explain to me that I need to grow up. I need to match their sense of what I should be.
I don't deny my years, or live in some sort of desperate battle against the march of time. I see it coming, and feel its effects. There's no fighting the inevitable.
Remaining young is a goal of the mind, more so than the body. My blood still boils at the first chords of my favorite old punk songs, and I seek new bands that instill the same excitement. I can still laugh at the dumbest of jokes, or be engrossed by something as simple as the wind blowing waves across the water. My bikes still take me to that escape and liberation that I found when I was a kid cruising the neighborhoods.
I look at my tattoos and wonder what they will look like when I'm ancient. But, I do not regret. Each is a reminder of a time in my life, and I like remembering. With time, the mind has a funny way of laundering our memories, and keeping our favorites near the top of the stack. I think it's Nature's way of assisting our souls in remaining Forever Young.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
All this thunder and rain; It's the sound of me getting slower.
Everyday, the predictions swing wildly, and the accuracy is only mildly more reliable. 80% chance, and we've got dust bunnies and blue skies. 30% day ends in a monsoon.
It's the same ol' cliche. "A monkey could be a weather man." "My window is my best weather judge." "They should be paid on accuracy."
I don't want the job, as I think it's Mother Nature's sense of humor, treating meteorologists as her whipping boys. "Predict me, will you?! I doubt it. You're not worthy!"
I have a rain bike built, but it's far from my favorite ride. So I hedge my bets, leave it in favor of another, and come up snake eyes. Can I really continue to blame it on fate, when I make the same bad wager, over and over?
Time to wake up and smell the mud puddles. Time to break out my fenders and older, tired, kits. Find that old pair of shoes that still had just enough life left in them, to warrant a spot in the corner of the closet. Time they earned their keep, again.
Fool's Gold is looming, and I guess I better start earning my own keep.
Monday, July 16, 2012
This past week of mountain bikes has me questioning my worthiness. I finished some much needed repair on the Titus, so I thought that the return of 5" of squishy love would be a welcome change on the trails.
Unfortunately, that did not come to pass as I saw it in my head. The errant brake is now working well, and the suspension is definitely nice. However, Tallahassee's summer has finally arrived, and is as moist as ever. Three rides in the past week, and all three finished with my jersey pasted to me, as if I'd been hit with the full force of a fire hose. My fingers emerge from my gloves, looking as prune wrinkled as the Golden Girls.
In the past, I mocked those who asked how we ride through the summer. It's Florida after all, so suck it up. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe that ship has already sailed, and I'm already old. Either way, I feel that my cx bike is looking at me with a knowing glance. My road bike softly promises to help create all the breeze I can muster, if only one or two small repairs are handled. Something tells me the rides will still be tough, but at least I won't spend every ride getting slapped by swamp mop banana leaves. When I stop for whatever reason, the number of mosquitoes that require a Hulk Smash, will be limited to triple digits.
I'll still be in the woods, just maybe not quite so often. I may be getting soft, but hopefully I'll be smiling.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Juancho touched on the subject of rebuilding yourself via cycling. Today, I get where he's coming from, but on a more immediate note, I'm thinking more along the lines of the short term reboot.
Life came out of the box swinging today, and it feels like the round may never end.
These are the days, I most want to ride. These are the days I want to sit on the front of the group, and go until I can't feel my fingers anymore. 'Til my arm's tingle and my vision gets spotty. Until the white hot fury burns away, and leaves me clean again.
Sometimes, reducing things to their basal elements, is the easiest way to gain perspective. Since there are no lions to wrestle, or dinosaurs to dodge, I'll just go ride my bike.
Monday, May 21, 2012
I didn't know Tripp all that well. He was a regular at Revolutions, at the birth of the BC crew. He was a quiet sort of guy, but not unapproachable. He left town for awhile, but eventually I started seeing him on our local trails, again. He would always say hi, and we'd stop and chat when the ebb and flow of our concurrent rides allowed.
While I don't know much of Tripp's life story, I always liked that bikes had remained a theme in his life. Having been in this for so long, I've seen a lot of faces pick up bikes, and then send them back to some dark corner of the garage. Last time I talked to Tripp, he was excited about another new bike. I don't recall exactly what it was, but does it really matter? He was still excited about another two wheeled toy.
I don't know that I ever met any of Tripp's family, but I do recall him talking of children. My heart goes out to them, now.
I heard unconfirmed reports that Tripp was on a trail when his time came. I can definitely think of worse places. May we all be so lucky, as to be in place that has brought long time happiness, when it's our turn.
With the Dave's ghost bike ride last week, and now this, my tree is a bit shaken. The song above is my favorite reminder to embrace today, for all it's worth.
God speed boys. God speed.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Tonight there is a Ride of Silence, to deliver a ghost bike to the site where my friend lost his life. The weather is grey and ominous, and life's stresses weigh heavily on my shoulders. No matter the weight, things could always be worse. I could be in young Jake's shoes, and have seen my father in ways that no son should ever see. I could be the mother driving that car, carrying the death of a father, forever on my heart.
I lost an old friend, but there are those who lost so much more. To them, my heart goes out.
The cacophonous, clamor of life can be earsplitting at times.
Tonight is for silence.
Friday, March 30, 2012
When I was a kid, I can remember seeing the spillways of the Lake Talquin dam, open to the Ochlockonee, below. The water roiled and bubbled, and made the most interesting patterns on the surface. My Grandfather warned of the dangers of those churning waters.
Take a man, or boy, down below and hold him there. Too much power in that kind of water, for a man to fight.
I would watch the local fisherman, as their boats lurched and strained against anchor lines. My Grandfather told me of how they had to use extra weights to keep the bait and lures below the surface. Having watched my favorite toys sink like lost stones, when inadvertently dropped, I marveled at a water that would return pure lead, to daylight.
I couldn't understand how this was a place for good fishing. What fish would choose this tumultuous environment for his home? I could understand spawning salmon, but these fish were certainly not going to find their way clear to Lake Talquin again.
My own life has taken on a feel of those turbulent waters. Life will do that sometimes. She'll get so rowdy, you're quite certain that you're at the end of your anchor line.
Maybe those fish didn't choose that spot. Maybe the lake or the river simply brought them there, and they were only looking for an eddy, so that they may take a breather.
I can get behind that. I've had my moments in the eddies, and I'll be seeking still more, until I drift clear of this crazy water. In the meantime, it was just good to find a reason to remember my Grandfather.
Monday, February 27, 2012
I am cold. I am wet. I am tired. I am happy!
Silk kept saying, "It may rain, but it should just be misty. Nothing heavy scheduled.".
My head needed the ride, badly, so I drank the Kool-Aid, and I drank it deep. Apparently I wasn't the only one, because StorminNorman, his son, B, and Big Jim Slade, all reported to the line.
We rolled out under cloudy gray skies, at a balmy 52*. I was still caught up in a storm inside my head. Family issues. As soon as we turned of the well worn trails of Munson Hills proper, my attitude saw sparkles of light at the end of the tunnel.
As we climbed a sandy incline, towards a powerline, I saw this 3' tall bird getting down to his feeding. My first thought was that it was a buzzard, but as it heard our approach, it sat up, and I saw the bright white head and neck. We see eagles on occasion, but usually they are high in the sky. He took flight as we came too close for his comfort. He hauled his dinner with him. I've seen hawks carrying snakes and mice, but to witness a full sized bald eagle, carrying an adult opossum, was definitely a first!
We ventured forth on old jeep and horse trail, and various dirt roads. Silk is plotting and planning a big ride on the Apalachicola National Forest, so today was about more scouting. An hour in, and the rains came. StorminNorman, just kept declaring, "I don't think the hard stuff is gonna come down for a while.". I was having so much fun on the trails, I just kept my foot in the gas. Work is warmth.
We finally hit the forest roads of Wakulla County, and went on scout mode. I'm still not sure if we ever saw the road that Silk was seeking, but the cold, rainy slog we were on, was taking all of my focus. BJS and I broke up the monotony of just turning the pedals, by sprinting for all of the yellow reflectors, on each bridge or culvert we crossed. Some things just don't change.
We reached a decision point, at the intersection of Stokley Road, and FS 313. Do we backtrack, or do we continue south, and look for anther way back. I was fine either way, until Silk implied that we may come up short, if we simply backtracked. Not wanting to be the first to blink, I just rolled out south. They'll follow.
Once on the supposed northbound route, the road had turned to a soft, wet sand mess, that made our previous slog, seem like a super highway. We found a road that promised to cut us back to a preferred road. We negotiated a couple of mud holes, but eventually were stymied by the mother of all mud bogs. No way around without getting more soaked than the rains had already offered. The temperature was not rising, so this didn't seem smart. You could see the spirits deflating, as we realized that we had a 45 minute backtrack ahead of us.
Big Jim Slade and I went to work, trading pulls in the north wind. Getting a break from the headwind outweighed having to eat the sandy, mud, wheelspray of the rider in front. Unfortunately, we realized that we'd left our companions, and decided to sit up, and share the workload as a full sized group.
After 3 hours, we finally reach a place to refill water bottles. Everyone kills the last of their food, dons whatever dry clothing they have available, and we begin the job of finding our way home. StorminNorman is chomping at the bit to ride every last bit of old singletrack, that he can remember. But B is tired, and running out of gas, so we're tempering his enthusiasm, with our own grumbling. The jokes are getting more and more dumb, as our bodies and minds get more numb, but everyone howls at their perceived hilarity. All except maybe B, who I'm sure is wishing he'd never agreed to ride with all of these "old guys".
I set up a system, to keep B on BJS's wheel, tucked in that energy saving draft. I watched with admiration, as he fought to stay right where I put him. He was tired, and struggling a bit, but the kid is tough, and never gave up.
It was StorminNorman's birthday, and he had brought a plate of his birthday donuts, to the ride. They were left in the truck, for after. We spent the last hour, talking of donuts, and any other food that sounded remotely delightful. Honestly, saltines would have been a Godsend at that point. The cold, and the wet, and the sand had taken its toll.
We had to be a sight, standing in that parking lot, 4 old dudes, and a 1 tough kid, shivering and soggy, with powdered sugar and donut crumbs, hanging from blue lips.
Like I said, I was cold. I was wet. I was tired. And, I was happy.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I just read Dirty Biker's most recent piece, over at Drunkcyclist.com. This guy just continues to amaze me, with his ability to pull the trigger on adventure after adventure.
I can remember listening to a conversation over dinner, between a couple of Tallahassee's more traveled cycling crew. One recounted another conversation with a coworker who stated that she "REALLY wished" that she could take on the adventures, that this traveler, had experienced. At this point in the conversation on which I was eavesdropping, both travelers called bullshit, and laughed about the whole thing. They both strongly felt that if people "REALLY wished" that they could do something, they would make it happen.
That conversation has stuck with me, ever since. I try so hard to apply it when it counts, and sometimes just to remind myself that I can. Basically, I'm a big chicken. I know that these adventures are always available, but comfort and the unknown are massive obstacles. I have nomadic friends, who never seem to be home. They seem perfectly at ease, floating along the winds, the seasons, and the continents. I'd feel like a kite without a string.
I like home. I like the feeling of security and peace, that roots bring about. But, I also long to see what else is out there. How do I reconcile these conflictual desires? I keep looking for the off switch for fear, or maybe trying to turn up the volume on courage. Maybe it's just natural to always wonder whether the grass really is greener on the other side.
I don't have the answers, only more questions. Otherwise, this post would have been titled, Answers on Living. In the meantime, I suppose I'll continue trying to expand my boundaries, but slowly enough that I avoid stretch marks.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
A conglomeration of crews merged on the lot at Munson, tonight. We harassed Mingo for his tardiness, but eventually, everyone rolled out, in good spirits. This season, that should be Winter, but is more like some kind of oh so lingering Fall, or fearfully early Spring, has most all of us in shorts and short sleeves. We'll pay for it this summer, when our state bird, the mosquito, hatches by the millions and takes his pound of flesh. But for now, it certainly makes for pleasant cycling weather.
I was openly mocked, for making truck and motorcycle noises, as the clay ribbon, and the day's troubles, rolled away beneath my wheels. For those who know me best, when the little kid bubbles to the surface, they know that I'm having fun. I've no urge to quell that little kid. He reminds me what to look for in life.
It's all about moments, and tonight was full of them. Laughing as Mingo smashed his pedals into anything over two inches tall, and laughing more as he sprawled like a gangly deer, over the most meager of logs. Feeling my bike shoot out of a berm that was hit just right. So much so that it reminded more of my surfing days, than mountain bikes. Smiling even more, as I blew the next one, like a first year rookie. Hearing Tiny Might squeal like a wood gnome, every time she panicked in the sand. Seeing the fog settle in, just inches above my head, making it feel like my head was about to get lost in the clouds.
Tonight was a good night, and I'm thankful that that script was filled.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Okay, maybe not "desparately', and maybe not even "Susan", but I am looking for crews that could use another electron in their electron cloud.
My crew has scattered to the 4 winds, like so much flotsam. Big Jim Slade is busy training, and his training plan has him off on Tuesday. Human Wrecking Ball went and wrecked himself! Lil' Ball is doing as he should, and getting hisself an edumication. The rest of the core has long since reached critical mass, and fizzled out of the cycling atmosphere.
There are a bunch of new recruits out there, that are fun to ride with, but their attendance on weeknight rides is a little more sporadic.
So, who out there is still running around in the dark, on weeknights? I typically ride on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but I can be flexible. Don't tell me that I should join faceyspace! That place is the timesuck devil, and if you feel that the FaceBorg is the only way to communicate, you're probably just going to aggravate me anyway.
I heard today, that Munson Monday may still be rolling. That sounds promising. I see that the ever stoked, Tommy G is still running his Tuesday night crits. That may be a viable option. What else? I know somebody around here has to be helping keep the cycling night light industry afloat.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
A lot has happened since my Rwanda trip, but writing about it all felt so insignificant, compared to that post. The reality is, if you stop writing when you don't think there is something as "big" as the last post, you wind up living out your life as that high school quarterback.......who peaked in high school.
So now, you get minutiae. Not entirely, but maybe a little.
Another Felasco has come and gone. After last year, I wasn't doing it again. Last year sucked, for a lot of reasons. But when I found out that only a couple dozen people had done the event every year, me included, I signed on, again. We were still missing some key players, this year. Some out due to life reasons, others due to poor planning. This year saw Un-Big Tony make the 15hr drive to join us. U-BT is an old school crew member, who was often mistaken as my brother. His trials skills are renowned, but now that he is no longer Big Tony, and has been spending quite a bit of time in the saddle, he has a motor to back up all of those skills. It was bitter sweet realizing that he was a changed rider. I was stoked to see him riding so well, but at the same time it stung a bit to realize that I was getting dropped. So be it, that's just how Felasco goes.
I didn't feel so strong during my ride. I got popped off of the group, after lunch, and it took me a while to get back on. When I did, I made the decision to forgo the 62 mile option, and stick with "just" 50. I did, at least, decide to keep my foot in the gas to the best of my ability, for the full 50. I was bummed at cutting it short, but when I looked at my Garmin, 2 days later, I realized that I rode one of my fastest Felasco's, yet. With all of the added singletrack, and the heavy traffic, that's saying something. I'll take it.
Life has been super complicated, the past 2 weeks, and I feel like I constantly have my nose to one grindstone, or another. I had intended to stay at work late, and try to put a dent in the heap. But after some cajoling from this new school, Tiny Might, I decided to join the HG ride. The ride didn't fit my desires, so I slipped off into the dark, alone. I settled into my pace, and continued further into the woods. As I found my rhythm, and the flow came together, I pondered how lucky this night had become. That afternoon, between work and the promise of rain, I had no ride plans, and only more work to look forward to. Instead, the rains dispersed, the work was pushed aside for another day, and I found so much peace in those woods. I typically ride with a big group, but that solo ride was just what the doctor ordered. It was an unexpected gift, but again, I'll take it.
I have a new page I'm playing with, that is perfect for quick posts of images and ideas, both mine, and borrowed. Check it out if you get a chance.