Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ghost Of A Chance

Basic lives of avoidance. I think that is what most live. We avoid the troubling, the uncomfortable. It's easier to just muddle through somehow, than to tackle the obstacles. Why hit the log when there is a perfectly easy line around? Why bring up the things that bother you, when you can just watch t.v.? You could have another beer or talk two hours about the intricacies of your life. Most take the beer, me included.

It's hard to write a blog about bikes when you are not riding them. I could lament the loss, like an old love. I could chastise myself for not being more thankful when I was healthy. I have to say, after the last dance with the neurosurgeon, that every day in the woods, on the road, anything involving turning pedals, I was very aware I was recieving a gift. I have been to the dark side and back. I have learned that things get taken from you all the time, some little by little, some all at once. The wolves are always at the door, the clock is ticking, pick your cliche, and run with it.

I am not sad. I have my moments where the shadow sits next to me, but I am a veteran of this game now. I don't scare as easy, until I have a really, good, reason. So for now, I am the disenfranchised rider you fear being. I am living the uncomfortable reality you turn your eyes from, for fear it's contagious. Pity? Nope, I want you all to enjoy the ride, and remember its a privilage not a birth right. Yell my name on the climb tonight boys..... I miss ya.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Quick Update on the Neck

The good news:

My bone grafts (fusions) are still in great shape. I am not in as much pain as before due to the torturous rest. The Doc does not think my new symptoms are related to my first surgery. The Doc is confident I will be able to ride again. I didn't know you can have up to four fusions with about the same mobility I have now so ...F-it lets cut BIATCH!

The bad news:

Since I have numbness/pain in my fingers and thumb, it would seem that c5/c6 are bad as well as c7/t1. I am not a good candidate for disc replacement. We still need a MRI but the Doc suspects the discs above and below my fusion are deteriorating. I will need at least one, and possibly two fusions, above and below my last. I am on steroids and can't ride til after my MRI (if at all) which means if I need surgery it will be at least two weeks which will keep me out of the woods til deep into August. I will be able to get on the trainer (two weeks after) and get on the road (6-8 weeks after) and if all goes well back on the trails before fall.

I am not that bummed. I got the news I expected. If I need the surgery, I want to get on the schedule as soon as possible. I am sure once he says he has to cut I will have a reaction, but right now I just want to go in.

Thanks for positive thoughts.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

You Get What You Give

There's a lot bouncing around the Wrecking Balls manic skull pack today kiddies. Thoughts of transition are playing on the big screen. It's great to enjoy a good era, and it sucks to be at the bottom of the curve, but by far, transition is the worst. My positive attitude about seeing doctors again, lasted about two days, and the possibility of bad news, is leaning on my shoulders with all its weight. However improbable it may be, I always wonder what I will have to give up this time. I don't mind fighting my way back but damn, can I stay this time?

Back in May of 87, I had a cyst removed from my left wrist. As I was coming out of the ether, the doctor told me to prepare for not being able to play drums again. They had to cut tendons to remove the thing growing in my hand, and my ability to move my wrist was forever altered. I gave up skateboarding (a lifetime obsession) and took baby steps back to being the drummer I once was. It took three years and my hand hurts to this day. In 2005, I had ulnar entrapment surgery on my left elbow. It was really just a speed bump. Then two years ago I had the zipper installed in my neck. You all know that story. I am going to look like Edward Scissor Hands by the time they are done with me. *I put that in there so you all would have something funny to comment amongst yourselves*

I am an all or nothing guy. I always wonder what people are thinking when they say things like "can't you just do it for fun?" or "maybe you could just know not be as serious about it?" I know they are just trying to be positive but I am always to compelled to punch them. For me it is fun to do something as well as I can, and if I can't do that, I find the activity in question aggravating. It's why I don't jam with people. It's why I don't ride a long board, its why I don't sing karaoke. For me it is a reminder that I have lowered the bar yet again, due to circumstances beyond my control.

So I will playing the "worst case scenario" game for the next few days. I have a lot to be thankful for (you have to say that in situations like this, as to not piss off potential omnipotent beings pulling strings on your behalf)....but I have to say I am sailing through the stages of grief at light speed. Then I go back to the top of the list and start over. I have noticed beer helps. I know one way or the other, I will pull this marshmallow out of the fire, but I also know I may not like the taste.

Well universe, thanks for the curve ball.


W.B.Z.N. ....emphasis on the Z.N.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Well boys and girls, the ole neck is acting up again. I remember this feeling: post-it's with doctors appointments on the wall of my office. The big scary "unknown" area of you obsessions that were once occupied with words like: "fitness" and "roll time". I am not in panic mode yet, but I have already decided if the saw bones says he can fix it with surgery, I am going to do it.

This kind of thing never happens at a good time, because there is no "good" time. I suppose one must remain hopeful. Chin up right?

It hurts to lift my chin. They don't call me the Zipper Neck for nothing.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Coming Home #1

When my father moved the family to Florida in 1969, it was the same as moving to a foreign country. Strange animals, climate, southern culture, and a place where my brother Chris had a shot at a healthy life, free of harsh winters. In one fell swoop we were disenfranchised from all we knew and geographically isolated from our Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. We made a yearly pilgrimage to Pennsylvania for reunions every summer but as the distance was tripled, the family grew up and moved on, the reunions ended and I spent my last summer in Ligonier in 1979.

Davey and I stole out of town a day early when I was able get a reprieve from my job on Wednesday. We both knew we wouldn't sleep and decided to head north. We made it all the way to Macon before we stopped for food and caffeine. We met this guy.

He has been adrift on the road for more than thirty years, and says hes happy. The pictures cost me three dollars, a pretty good deal.

We made it to Ligonier about eleven o'clock on Thursday and so began the blur that was the next four days. I think we drank some beers and at some point we fell asleep at my cousin Lydia's. Thursday we went to visit cousin Rich in Pittsburgh. I finally got to eat at Primanti Bros. They serve a famous sandwich I have been hearing about on the the Travel Channel for years.

The sandwich completely lived up to the hype, and so began the rapid weight gain. Rich and his wife Susan, treated us like kings. The next day we were off to Ligonier after grabbing Chris from the airport. He had not been back since 1978, and was one of the main reasons for the trip. It was great to see the memories, and child like expression, come flooding back to him as we drove, through the town. He is an old curmudgeon and watching that facade fall away was worth the drive. Ligonier is a time capsule with magic healing powers. Davey and I were glad to see a new convert, and smiled at each other as Chris' enthusiasm, adjectives and finger pointing continued.

Friday, John and I went on our first of many bike rides. One thing I want to clear up. I have been saying that the Pa. boys are not as fit as they could be. They only ride a few miles as they run into, over and off of big rocks, logs and small children. John lent me his old Titus Locomoto, a nice heavy, six inch travel, all mountain bike. I never got out of the granny ring and struggled up anything that resembled an incline. John however turned and impossibly hard gear the whole time, and I swear I never heard his derailleur move. He would stay seated, grind out the climbs, all the while leaving his little cousin panting and complaining.

One of the killer climbs.

Here's John taking a crazy line, over a eighteen inch log, and then onto a slick, slanted, moss covered rock. It's way tougher than the picture tells.

John took great care of me on the rides and at one point took me to an overlook that he mentally dedicates to his Dad every time he rides up there. On the day we were there, he dedicated it to my Dad and we sat for a few minutes taking in the silence. How can you ever tell the people you care about what they mean to you? All I can say is, thanks Brother.

More on the trip later.......


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Over The Hills and Far Away

Tonight it's all about the hills and the pain Baby.

Lets face it I'm a goner...but I am going into it with optimistic denial! Logic has never done me any favors in the past, so why should I trust it now?

See Ya out there Garmaniacs!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I know I owe you a post about my trip Pennsylvania. I know the last post left you questioning my sanity and my sexuality. I know lack of sleep and extended sessions on Facebook have put my tenure as a bloggist in dire jeopardy. Personal disharmony, and my relationship with God, must be put aside so I can comment on my latest, and perhaps most noble pursuit: "The Monday Night TMBA Beginners/Kids Ride" or as I like to call it: "An Exorcise in Humility".

Foster Brooks and I have been hosting this ride for a few weeks now and I have to say I am proud to be included. Since #1 Son is riding, this is the perfect ride to build skills and ride with others on his level. For Lil W.B., it is a good venue to exercise his patience muscle.

Last nights group was a really good size, with a nice mix of adults and kids. Berg and Balzach were there to sign autographs and make everyone that didn't have rich parents wonder what it was like to have a full carbon, sub twenty two pound, race rig. We rode the new section of Red Bug trail, expertly planned out by Cliffbar and Silk (nice work boys). We rode the double track at Over Street, and finished up with the single track. The ride went off without a hitch, save me leading a little too slow and bunching everyone up on the climbs.

Here's where the story begins, at the end of the ride. A few of us adults were standing around when one of the riders turns to me and sheepishly says:

"It was nice to have a celebrity lead the ride!"

I turn to said sheepish adult and reply,

"Really who do you mean?"

"You, I read your blog all the time!"

Well I don't have to tell you dear readers, I was on my way to one of the proudest moments of my life and was finally learning the meaning of giving over receiving. The power of charity, was coursing through my Ghandiesc veins when one of the other adults chirped in.

"Oh you write that Blog? I love it! Whats the name of of it?"

"The Wrecking Ball Blog!" says I with my (pirates dream) chest stuck out.

"Oh I thought you were Jauncho! Now he is a WONDERFUL writer!"

If anyone needs me I will be in therapy.

w.b.z.n. (a.k.a. The Piss Boy)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Love My Way

When was the last time you thought about a kiss? I think most of us have reached a point in our lives where a kiss is just a kiss. It is a common gesture that has lost it's poetry. To connect with someone else on a level so intimate and true, making the hands shake, the hearts race, and every aspect of the act amplified to a deafening level. A kiss at it's purest, is a delicate dance, like jazz. Improvised alchemy between players interpreting another soloist in such a deep way that they begin to accompany each other. Reading ques from grace notes, body posture, facial expression and reaction to rhythm. The ultimate combination of interpreting landscape, and receiving new stimuli in perfect symbiosis.

Repetition is the enemy of art. It takes the miraculous and reduces it to mundane. The flowing dance down to a traffic, choked commute. It points the eyes downward, and removes the majesty from our life. Most of us walk through the world never seeing the glorious details of lives we could lead. We could be surrounded by adventure, with the electric feeling of that magical, intertwined, first real kiss.

The key to rebirth is to experience new things in alien environments. When I first started riding, the one dominating theme that gripped my daydreams was that all those trails were sitting right there, just out of sight, along the road I drove everyday. While I was cursing my fellow Cretans in rolling cans, someone was a hundred yards away railing a turn, full pedal on Fern. Once this secret became part of my life, I was never the same. It dressed my daily routine in stockings, garters, stilettos and a wig. It elevated my perception of what I thought I knew, into an exotic beast I didn't recognize. It made it impossible to ever see the familiar in the same way again.

My riding and my routine has fallen to robotic levels of normalcy. The same rides, the same length, the same lines. I wear the crew kit, I do the loop and come home feeling like I have done my duty. I fight the fellow commuters on my once beloved trail, slamming on brakes for errant interlopers, oblivious to any thing outside the borders of their narrow circle of perception. I mourn the loss of the dance. I dream of shaking hands reaching for forbidden triangles of white skin, hidden from the sun and eyes of all, but the most trusted and loved.

A few months ago The Big Wormster and I rode some of the local obstacles with flat pedals. I wore baggies and my skate helmet. I lowered my seat. I wore a t-shirt. I was for that brief time a new person. I rode things I had never ridden before. I was baptized in the cool liquid of the unfamiliar. I could not get the images out of my mind and found myself looking out the window with wonder again. I wanted that feeling back.

If you took that painting and stretched it out to cathedral sized proportions, that would give you a peep hole view of what I experienced riding a big travel bike, in the mountains of Ligonier. Wearing bizarre accoutrement's like knee and shin guards, elbow and forearm pads, riding a heavy behemoth that bobbed with every effort, over rocky, muddy, rain soaked terrain. It was as if someone had removed my skin and poured lime juice all over me. It reminded me that I could have done it all along. I had the ability to be reinvented. All I needed was the gear, the inclination, and a willing accomplice.

So ya..... I know that this is the equivalent of adopting a fake Latin accent and pretending to be Raul the pool boy. But hey, if a little cocoa butter and massage get you and a woman pretending to be a rich heiress to the holy land a little sooner, be it. I could have saved us all a lot of trouble, by just saying I want a big travel bike, so I can wheelie drop some of the new stuff the local free riders have built but, wheres the fun in that?

More on the trip later.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wasted On The Way

Rain and melancholy live in the same building I recon. I have not turned a pedal since my epic trip to the land of my cousins. The rain here at home has been relentless and sporadic. I have been swimming in images, without the beloved ride to tame the manic fiend that lives in the dark reaches of my melon. I haven't been able to tap into the better parts of my sunny side to do the trip or this blog justice.

Still, the water flows, in volumes too large for my for my culvert to handle. So too do the memories, feelings, and seconds, woven together like a tapestry. I am happy to be on a few new quests and to have a handle on my rudder, but I have also drifted away from the comfort of my riding friends. I hope they know I want to be back in the fold, and that it's not easy to be out in the cold.

The data will not stop for anything, and comes like rapids, from every angle. The trip, the riding, being at ease among family. This blog window is infinite, but there is not enough room and I don't have the nomenclature. Like most big tasks, they will have to be broken down into smaller, more manageable stacks. Hopefully, I will be able to convey something that will relay my gratitude to the people that open their homes, schedules, and arms to accommodate the psychos from the south. I finally got to see my brother in a place he could be himself. Recharged for life by the relatives he hasn't seen since 1978. It's too much, I am only able to shake my head, nothing more.

A new wave of water is flowing as I write this. For now I will have to watch it all float by and hope I have the telemetry to find my way back to the magic moments. Pictures are being sorted and hopefully the words will come. I am a prisoner of the deluge and only when the rain stops will I be able to grasp the meaning of the spectacle.

What else is scrambling my eggs? I fell into a rabbit hole called Facebook last week and my past poured out of the sky into my laptop. I fled my hometown on a summer night in 1987, thinking all my problems were geographical. I ran from my comfort zone in the hopes of becoming something other than a local skater, surfer and drummer in the band that didn't make it. I carved out a life for myself in this great southern town, but I never made amends with my history. Now like a strange dream all those faces, feelings, and sins are in my friends file. I am trying to balance the books, forgive those who trespassed against me, and be forgiven my trespasses. It's a big stack and as always it's more in my mind than anyone else's.

Please bear with me, while I try to find a radio station in the wilderness. For now its static, mariachi's and "The Ole Gospel Hour" playing all at once.

Let the water come and carry us away.