Monday, February 23, 2009

Dear God


Start A Fire

This is what happens when you don't agree with Worm's route! Slade just asked where we were going and well......the picture pretty much tells the story.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Chain

Searching for answers on solo rides somewhere between dog attacks, angry, stink eyed hikers, and heated ten second debates. Smelling the clay, the diesel, the dying trees and the teeth grind inside the head. The anger wants to be in the front of the brain. It resents being repressed. Riding faster makes it lay down and sleep.

Leisure time is another luxury given up in this new era of conservation and frugality. There is not as much of anything as there was before, and the necessities take precedence. Soccer. Band. Rain. Work. School. They chew away at the account. They are the new obstacles that are at once disturbing the rhythm, and being added into the memory banks. Soon they will be after thoughts and will blend into the ride, as though they have always been on the trail. The new default settings are being loaded. (Please stand by this could take a few minutes)

The transition to acceptance, is the painful part of the process.
Chains keep us together.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Enough To Be On Your Way

We all knew it was coming. It never softens the blow when the reality hits. The beloved climb at Tom Brown is gone. How many times did we all ride that hill? How many races did we win or lose on that climb? Every root every rut, every line you could nail in your sleep, is just a pile of organic waste waiting for the torch or a trip to a designated land fill.

We all knew it was coming, like an ailing relative waiting for the curtain. Prior knowledge never makes the funeral any easier. We made a deal and we received money to build new trail. We did the best we could do, because they would have built there with or without our approval. The wound is fresh and we will all become accustomed to the new picture. Just like we got used to the Atlanta Bread Company, Weems Plantation, Piney Z, and on and on, back to the foggy days before I noticed such things. Before my eyes were opened. Back to before I rode a bike. Back to before I realized all the cool trails hiding in the woods. Back before riding and living on those trails was such a huge part of my history.

I will turn away, and look at the tracks as I roll by the wide swath of clay, that once was the big climb to the tree, and the fast bomb to the bottom. I will think of it as I would an old friend.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shock The Monkey!

Go over to my "Vagrants and Peddlers of Bombast" list and click on the "Red Bug Challenge" home page link. It's going to be a great day for a great cause. Get Ya Some!


Friday, February 6, 2009

Waiting On a Friend

Tuesday, I missed one of the biggest night rides of the year, but Worm was kind enough to tell me how great it was....BASTARD! While I boiled like a stew in my poli-sci class, apparently fun was had by all. We'll see if the Big One writes a post about it. I would REALLY love to get more details.

Wednesday, I rolled out of my house at one o'clock to a cloudless sky. It was a perfect day, except for the thirty nine degree temp and the twenty mile an hour wind. Worm informed me that he and a few of his "cool friends" were doing some kind of lactic circle jerk (to calibrate their Garmin, global, microwave ovens) and that I wouldn't enjoy it. He suggested that I should: "go solo"..ahem..BBBBAAAASSSSSTTTAAARRRDDDD!!!!

I started out like a champion with every stitch of cold weather gear I could pull over my head and up my legs. Fern, out to the Alford and back, with no worries. The cold was starting to set in by the time I got back to Blairestone. I headed back into the wind, feeling like someone was holding my seat post, as I fought the nor'easter. Middle ring, fourth cog, all the way back to Woodgate.

Thursday, I got up early, and put my light on the charger, in anticipation of a night ride with my beloved crew. I was at work by seven, and noticed a peculiar smell in my office. After investigating all my audio gear piece by piece, I found that something was cooking inside my mixing console. I removed it and did the patching to bypass it. The clock was at Ten and I sat down to begin editing. After burning a disc, and handing it over to my boss to be duplicated, we discovered that the audio on the disc was corrupted. I went back into the computer, and deleted the last two hours of work, got a new stack of blank c.d.'s, reloaded my software and started again. While I was previewing a new disc, my C.D. player gave up the ghost. After a quick run to Best Buy, I put the new player (Sony DVD with 1080i up scan for $89.00!!!!!) into the rack. It worked great, but now I couldn't get audio from my computer! SWEET!!! Another hour of checking cables, reinstalling audio patches, and I was back to where I was at ten A.M. But not an obscenity was hurled in anger, because my battery was charged, and I was going to go on a night ride with the crew. Nothing can cure the soul of it's ills, like a ride with friends. Ahhhh, I could feel the stress drifting away as my phone rang. Big Worm didn't even have the common f*#+ing decency to say hello. The low guttural giggle coming out of my phone signaled doom. Everybody had great reasons not to ride tonight. SWEET!! Worm did regale me with tales of how awesome the previous nights ride was. Thanks Man, f*^# off and die like a dog.

While cussing at traffic on my way home, I got a call from one of my Cobra Kai friends, and a ride was set. We rolled out of his place around four thirty. The Barrister comes out of his house in baggies (sans leg warmers) and a long sleeve mesh Cobra Kai jersey. "Not to worry!" Says he! "There's a cotton t-shirt underneath and I will be fine."
I was wearing a cool max base layer, tights with shorts over top, arm warmers, a long sleeve jersey, shell vest, skull cap, two pairs of socks, and my cold weather wind stopper gloves. I was cold, and apparently quite amusing to my substitute riding chum.

I may as well get this out of the way now....BASTARD!!

We rolled out and I was still muttering under my breath about my f-ing crew, f-ing school, f-ing job, and...f-ing WORM! but all was healed, as we hit the Fern. We settled into a pace and out on Caddy my bar certified pal springs a leak. No prob, I got a tube and a pump (you know, in case me, or one of my riding buddies, gets a flat) and we started to change the wilted rubber. I watched as my cohort did his best imitation of a chimp, sexually molesting a greased beach ball, until we surmised he was rolling on a tubeless rim and the tires he bought had the molecular stiffness of a space shuttle tile. No prob, I have tire irons (you know, in case you have to change a tire on the trail) we pried and prodded and changed the tire. Bloody knuckled and hopeful, we soldiered on.

The sun was setting, like molasses in the sky, as we crossed the levy. A quick loop of Alford and back to Fern we cruised under the bridge and someone shut off the lights. I got out my white cane and we used "The Force" to get back to Democrat Hill, all the while thinking of my charged five hundred dollar light, back home on the counter. Did I mention that I charged it so I could go on a night ride with my beloved crew? Sorry... I digress: My co-rider couldn't feel his feet or legs by now, and was pretty sure one of his fingers had fallen off, somewhere by Tom Brown. I wondered to myself why he wasn't laughing, because the humor certainly wasn't lost on me. His plan to "start out cold" and "finish freezing your kiwi's off" was working exactly as he had hoped. I would have been laughing, except for the ice blocks (that were once feet) and the fingers (that were frozen to the brake levers) preventing my self righteous snicker.

Two hours, forty five minutes, of ride time (minus the flat). I got home to a warm dinner and started composing an add for new friends on Craig's list:
"Riders needed, tire changing skills required, must not be dicks, no Garmin's allowed. Log skills optional. BASTARDS!!! need not apply.

Bikes are great.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

11 O'Clock Tick Tock

Neil Peart describes it (in his books) as a disease called: "the internal jukebox". I have always joked that my rides are good, or bad based on what song is stuck on repeat in my casaba. Today it was a bitter sweet U2 song. It's a song I love, and a song that carries a profound sadness for me.

My last year in Ft. Pierce, I used to surf with a couple guys I met from Jacksonville. They invited me to one of the most insane party's I had ever attended. A bunch of surfer/swimmers had a shindig which (among other debauchery) involved a bulldozer, a destroyed construction fence and me skateboarding/falling down a flight of stairs, without spilling a drop of beer. When the semester ended they left and I lost touch with them.

My first day at T.C.C. in 1987, I was rushing to a class, when I heard someone call my name. Mark Stephans was walking toward me with his hands out at his sides in a "what the hell" gesture. We exchanged info, and over the next few weeks started my first Tallahassee band: "The Reign".

Mark wasn't a great guitar player, he wasn't even a good guitar player, but I became attached to him. He had a great quirky sense of humor and he could disarm my intense behavior with a grin and one liner. It is very out of character for me to keep sub par players around, but I couldn't bring myself to fire Mark. All musicians good or bad usually do one thing really well, and for Mark that was a song by U2. He loved that song, and even though his ability was limited, he would always nail it. He suffered from severe stage fright and as we played over the next year, he became a hard core drinker. I confronted him about it, I told bartenders not to serve him, all to no avail. The band had a meeting and demanded that I let him go. I too, had reached the end of my rope, and over lunch I gave him the bad news. He teared up and so did I, but I couldn't cover for him anymore and I was angry. I was angry that he wouldn't, or couldn't stop, and I was angry that one of my favorite people, was denying me his company.

He moved back to Jacksonville to recover. One night at a gig, he reappeared. He said he was sober, and asked if he could come back. I couldn't take a chance on him and I didn't want to get rid of the guy that helped us when Mark left. He walked out and I never saw him again. It was a terrible moment, I will never forget.

A couple of years later at the Cab Stand his ex girlfriend told us he had died. He locked himself in a hotel room and drank till it was over. He had a lot of unresolved pain and his drinking had ravaged his body. He truly was a gentle soul that wasn't tough enough for this world. He was twenty eight years old.

The first line of the song is; "It's cold outside" which was what I was thinking as I rolled down Woodgate, suffering in the wind. It started the song, and movies of him in my mind, as I struggled to eek out two hours of ride time.

We played the song for Mark that night and fumbled through the rest of the set, before having a few beers, and telling stories about him. I always felt like I had a hand in his demise. I tried to save him, but I didn't have the tools. I still laugh from time to time, when I think of things he said, and whenever that song comes up, it always reminds me of him.

"Call out your out.... you better call out!"

I miss you Bro, I'm sorry.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tight Rope

Worm called Sunday and suggested we do a flat pedal ride. Turned out to be a very cool day. We both rode a ton of stuff we hadn't pulled before. I finally got the big Fern log. I felt like I won the lotto. I am really sore from bailing so many times but you couldn't pry the grin off my grill with a cats paw.