Sunday, November 30, 2008

Omega Man

I headed down the bike lane early on Thanksgiving. No cars on the road, and no tracks on the trail. It was just what I wanted: a moment alone in the chapel.

I spent my first holiday without parents in 2004 when I had lost my Mom. That year I renovated my garage. I installed cabinets and painted the walls. I put up hooks for bikes and made trips to the dump. I squeezed in a ride before going to eat with the in laws. I wanted to be exhausted so I didn't have the energy to think about what I had lost, and what I was about lose. On the steps of my Mother in laws house, I fired my management partners in New York and called my producer friend John to get out of our production deal. We had been released by Elektra and I was circling the wagons in a last ditch effort to save the band. I knew the barbarians were at the gate, and I didn't have a clue what to do next.

The next year after watching a movie about Jackson Pollack and I went out into the garage and started painting. I built frames and cut some drop cloth and went into an abstract frenzy. I painted almost every day until Christmas. The product was infantile, but the process was pure joy.

This year I was determined to keep the manic demon at bay, and take all the energy out to my favorite trail to let the roots and dirt smooth out my kinks. I came to a favorite spot where necessity and lack of air used to make me pause when I first started riding. I decided to take a picture and I sent out a secret prayer to my parents. I decided to be thankful instead of cursing how cruel fate can be. It was the best Thanksgiving of recent memory.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Run, Run, Run

Saturday Night:
When your brothers call you from a bar, and ask you to come hang out with them, it's kind of like when the Chain Gang says it's going to be a "slow recovery ride". You are in for the beat down. I don't really drink anymore. I have a beer now and then but, I hung up my pistolas long ago. The short story is: I drank too much.

Sunday Morning:
My phone is ringing and Big Worm is on the other end trying to motivate me to go enter the cross race. I am really hung over but, for some reason about twenty minutes later, I am throwing a bike in my wife's car. I was still in the clear because my wife had my car, and my wallet. I would be off the hook with the boys because I looked ready to go but, darn it, I didn't have the entry fee. I wasn't two words into my prepared excuse speech before Derwood put a twenty in my face. Derwood, and Marko, took me out for a warm up lap, and then I was on the line with the rest of entry fee donors.

The start was like most beginner races: fast and stupid. After the first run up, I had to let the four guys in front of me go and like a crew ride, I figured I was about to spend a nice day on my bike alone. Not much happened on the first two laps (if you don't count all the coughing, gagging, and general distress), but on the third lap I caught the guy in third on a run up, and passed him. There was a Higher Ground guy behind me (how many people are on their team?) that kept yo-yoing on and off my wheel. I'd get away from him and then I would hear him breathing behind me or shifting and I'd have to go harder again.

It's the third and final lap and I go all out knowing soon the pain will be over. I roll up to the start finish line to see Neil holding up the number one sign. Wow! I had no idea I was first! Then, in slow motion, I see his satanic lips mouth the words: "One....more....lap...."

Oh dear God. Cool, I was hoping I could vomit on myself and run up some more dirt hills! The Higher Ground guy keeps trying to get in my jersey pocket, but about three quarters of the way through the lap he is gone. We got on the track and I could see he was coming fast but, I just kept an eye on him, and stayed far enough in front to get third.

I know that recapping a novice race, is like a slow motion replay of a golf putt, but it's my blog and I'll gloat if I want to.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

So Real

I found some old lyrics I had written in a lifetime long, long, ago and .....well you know. I was a love sick pup most of my younger days and spent considerable time writing about the love interests in my life. I also kept journals and wrote a lot of short stories. I almost never wrote when I was happy. This (I assume) is why my quill dried out in the last couple of decades. There have been no creative writing classes, no bands to bring songs to, and in the current trend of stability (in the relationship department) no lovelorn heart to mend. There was nobody to read the stories, and without melody most lyrics fail to stand on their own, so...why write...right?

I have been in some pretty bad bands in my day, some good ones too. Even in the bad bands, we managed to write a good song or two. I don't think anything is quite as rewarding as having an idea about a phrase or a melody and then hearing it played well. As you get used to songs and the shine wears off a little you figure out which ones hold water and which are hollow. The really good songs change as they age, while retaining the essence of the original idea. It is funny how I can look back and remember how I felt about those songs and those subjects, some three decades on. I am always surprised about how vivid those faces and times are when I hear the old tapes, or flip those spiral notebooks.

Fourteen years ago (DEAR GOD!) I took some classes when my first son was born. One of them was a writing class. It was great to know that someone would hear your story, even if you suffered a thousand deaths during the critique. Writing fell to the wayside, as diapers had to be changed, I had two jobs and two sons, a year apart. For the next three years, I never lifted my head from the grindstone, trying to keep the bill collectors at bay. Later, I did a lot of recording for local artists and managed a band. Then, like a summer squall, it all just settled. I was left without any crusades to fight so I threw down my sword, and went home.

This blog has rekindled some of the old feelings. I feel like a writer again and now I think of ways I can smash my days into the blog and tie them to bicycle. A couple of the crew guys (at our Thursday lunch) asked what was up, and why I hadn't posted anything. It made me realize this little blog is worth writing.

I'll wait over there for the "a thousand deaths" part now.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bark At The Moon!

Nietzsche once said: "If you stare into the abyss long enough it will stare back at you."
I can tell you now that I have tried it, I saw nothing staring back, but I do have sore hands, a sore knee (with a small cut) and I can't stop laughing. Conventional wisdom would dictate that if you are wearing a four hundred dollar light on your head, and you are also riding in the dark, it might be wise to turn on said light. Well conventional wisdom has never been an element of any ride I have been on with the crew.

It was almost a full Beaver Moon last night (thanks Rev) and someone made a joke, regarding the validity of the manhood, of the poor unfortunate BASTARD! that turned his light on first. This led to a full a lap of Over Street and Red Bug in the inky depths of darkness. What's that? Not enough of a challenge you say? Oh, let's also ride without brakes! Because I wasn't hitting enough unseen obstacles before! We averaged about three miles an hour, and screams of horror were belted out about every two seconds. All I know is my arms feel like I lifted a 67 V.W. Bug.

The highlight of the evening was when Frog Legs yelled out, in absolute terror: "STUFF!" because he was out front, warning us of danger, and had no idea what he was rolling over. My eyes are still dilated.

Ideas for future rides;

1. Live Oak on flat tires.

2. Munson on road bikes.

3. City ride on stiff single speeds.

4. Tom Brown with out saddles.

5. Bike Church with out weed......well okay that last one ain't gonna happen.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Both Sides Now

Both sides of the happy/sad coin have their good points. I usually have great artistic energy when I am in a blue period. I always sang better, played better, and wrote better. I lived in a universe that had vibrant colors. I liken it to how junkies must miss the needle. You know its bad for you and you can't live that way, but man you miss the prick. Eventually, you have to leave the circus, and it's best to escape without wearing much clown paint. In this respect, I was lucky and managed to eek out a life. Half based on sheer luck, the other half on loved ones, reeling me in from the edge.

Life is great. I am loving the world in ways I never thought possible. I notice every leaf in every different phase of the fall. I am enjoying being the guy I am this minute, more than I ever have. Still, I miss my days as a smart mouthed rogue without a pot to piss in, or a window to throw it out of. I could never go back, but like a reformed criminal, I case banks, I will never rob.

I just came off of one of the best weeks ever. The rides have been off the charts. I had great times with family and friends in equally rewarding amounts. All this back and forth is just a result of wanting to be an artist and really being a soccer Dad. I don't know if there is room in the shell for both nuts.


Thursday, November 6, 2008


Yeah so, it turns out that night riding alone out at Tom Brown and Caddy is about is about as hard core as getting coffee from Star Bucks. Apparently everyone does it. Same old story I think I am cool, turns out I am a clone.

Slade, Ty and I picked up a single speed Bob on our travels last night. It looked like Disney's "Parade of Lights" out there. We rode the same (more or less) route Slade and I rode Tuesday but about a half hour faster. You couldn't go two feet without tripping over someone riding with a light on his head. The highlight of the night was Ty's ferocious attack on Alford Arm hill. Don't let that guy fool ya ...he's got a motor. BASTARD!

I will miss the Bike Chain Thursday lunch again, due to the overwhelming amount of BASTARDS! that threw my hat in the ring, for the Fat Of The Land steering committee. I would never be part of a club that would have me as a member, but I admire a good gag so, I agreed to meet with the guys that actually know what they are doing.

Someday I guess our crew will ride together again, but I am not holding my breath. We are split into fast and slow factions and the fast guys have their race faces on. I guess I'll see y'all at Felasco.

That's the news kids I would have put in more effort, but comments are down and times is hard!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Available Light

More than anything riding solo in the woods, in the dark, separates the hard core, from people who ride bikes. For me it all started last year when the impending San Felasco Eco Tour forced desire to overcome fear. Like most things I get into, I tipped toed in. I continued extending my comfort zone until it was the norm. Last night was my first solo of the season. I headed out to the levy on Caddy and it felt like playing an old tune by memory. A few verses, a couple of choruses and the relief of the bridge. You count the bars and settle into the rhythm, falling back on chops you thought you had forgotten.

Tonight Big Jim Slade and I headed out as a duo. The trail seems tamer with a partner and we went much farther than we would have alone. We talked story all the way out and all the way back. We saw green eyes of spiders, and the amber eyes of gators. We ran into a small battalion of the Higher Ground crew, and then headed back into Tom Brown for the encore.

As Jim loaded up, a band echoed in a distant warehouse. I felt the itch of a recovering addict, and wondered aloud if they had any songs. The old habits die hard. I rode over to get a better listen and like a bad joke, the music was gone. I laughed at the irony, and once again was riding solo, back home in the dark. All great gigs end the same: with a late ride home alone.

Lead kindly light
Lead thou me on.....


Monday, November 3, 2008

Hello It's Me

If there is anything to the Karma principle, I have gotten off easy. I was quite a tool in my former lives, and amassed a resume of atrocities my catholic confessions couldn't wash from my memory, or my soul. I can imagine what people that still know me, are saying aloud to their computers. I may still be tool*ish*, but believe when I say, I have traveled far. I have been blessed beyond anything I had imagined and as I have stated many times (in this Google approved layout) I find myself wanting more. This usually leads to all kinds of retrospective analyzation and a cruel form of Monday morning quarterbacking. It is by far my most practiced dark room activity.

I fell victim to one of the oldest adages; "Nice guys finish last". Like a chump I believed it and never hooked up a filter to my cerebral cortex. I cannot tell you how many times I have missed the boat only to wave to the nice guy, on the deck of said boat, drinking a cocktail. I suppose some of it could be genetic. Some of it could be environmental. The Napoleon Complex is an oldie but goody, but none of these excuses ever get me to sleep sooner.

If I have any redeeming traits, I have learned them on a bicycle. The bike has changed my world and introduced me to more like minded people than I have ever met. I believe the lessons I learn in the saddle have had more influence on my daily thinking than any activity I have pursued. It is the common thread that decides how I plan my days, who I associate with, how I vote, and who I hope to be. It dictates when I go to sleep, how I eat, and when I do laundry. It reaches further into my life everyday and like any true passion, one can never get enough.

I have much to learn as a person, and a cyclist. I have a big open space where my dreams used to be. I want to fill them with something that is fulfilling and successful. I know a change is going to come. Until then... I need to go ride.

*photo by Trail Gnome*

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wake Up!

Perception is a funny thing and mine is almost never accurate. Over time I have learned not to trust anything, until I have seen some more footage. After a few bad calls, anyone can loose their swing. Every so often I connect and get a hold of one but, I haven't had a good streak for a while.

There are some guys I have been seeing around town for a few years. I never thought of them as fast, but they would ride logs that I couldn't, and they always did the big drop out at the end of Cadillac. The clues were everywhere, I missed them all.

I did pretty good in my last race and was still in the mind set that I had become pretty fast. I met a fellow Dad (at Leon soccer practice) that rides in the aforementioned crew. I invited him on a ride and he showed up with a chain and a switch blade. I never saw it coming. A lesser man would have died, but I squeaked by. Even though he got second in his class at Tom Brown, and told me about his recent trip to Moab, I floored it, flew past the road signs, and missed the exit. Now, I have a steak on my eye.

I need to work on fundamentals, you know, get back to the basics. Life is about recovery, I'll give myself a reasonable amount of time and get back to work.



"This is your wake up call sir."

"Oh.... thanks."

"My pleasure Sir, have a nice day."