Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trail Blazer

If you ride the Fern trail, you owe him. If you ride Tom Brown, you owe him. If you ride Cadillac, you owe him. If you ride nearly any trail in town, you owe him.

I remember when I started riding to work nine years ago, I would see him on his red Cannondale. He was a quiet guy and I had just started riding. I had the zeal of the newly converted and I couldn't engage him about riding, until I mentioned that commuted on Fern everyday. His eyes lit up and he told me that he was one of the designer/builders of that trail. He had hoped people would commute in the woods to work. Just before the famous Winn Dixie section of Fern fell to the bulldozer, he and I squeezed in one last ride. We stepped over felled trees and rode around the machines. He pointed out springs, plants, and all we were losing. I felt as though I was watching a man eulogize a friend.

Over the years I would see him sporadically on trails and at Cycling advocacy meetings. He was the one voice that all the tribes of cyclists, and the people we were trying to reach, respected. He never beat his chest, he never sought recognition, he just helped, worked, and smiled his way through the trying process of moving the greater good forward.

Let us not forget, he is a great cyclist. His exploits are legend. I once asked if anyone had ridden the pipe on the old Fern trail and the only response I ever heard was "I saw Harvey ride it once." That's before the stories of him getting lost in underwater caves, sliding down glaciers, and rafting rivers with Mingo in Alaska.

He is leaving us to take a job in D.C.. We have all lost a great light for the cause of all things cycling in Tallahassee. Hopefully he will make it back our way, but if not, we owe him.

"I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see...."
Kicking Bird, (Dances With Wolves)

Thanks for everything John.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last Wave

I have been thinking about firsts lately. Most of them are clumsy half hearted attempts that never lead to anything.

My first stand up wave was on a Styrofoam kick board. It snapped later that day. My first stolen joy ride, on my older Bro's translucent Val Surf skateboard, ended in blood and a beating. My first stroll around a drum kit was a mishmash of Sears (and other worse things) with tin cymbals. My inaugural jaunt on my Kona Fire Mountain, laid my lunch out before me in the parking lot of Winn Dixie. Elizabeth O'Mara probably doesn't remember the patented half nose, half upper lip maneuver I pulled on her in forth grade, but I could close my eyes and paint that picture. There's no avoiding stubbing toes, in the off balance dances we perform, heading into the unknown. If they were on film you would turn away and suffer an involuntary wince reflex, and a tattoo on your long term montage, that no amount of editing, or slick soundtrack could make poetic. They were epiphanies and train wrecks in equal scale.

Each one of those horrific first ascents put a gaff into my side. Lifelong obsessions all. I know its corny but, a ride can change your life. A revolution can occur anywhere. I found that out, on a shoulder high right this weekend. It was like I awoke from a coma. So powerful was the episode that now my normal routine on the hamster wheel, is simply idiotic. People are having serious conversations all around me and all I hear are echoes of the phrase "Who Gives A Shit!" I ain't gonna abandon my post, but I have to say riding bikes, playing drums, and getting waves are the priority right now. My discontent has sprung from pretending these things weren't as important as they once were. All that changed with one wave. Now I am reevaluating everything.

The Kool-Aid has officially worn off. I am reading a new script. Get the bandages and motivational posters ready. LAY DOWN SOME GROUND FIRE.....I'M GOING IN!!!!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Dancing On The Jetty

There is a certain smell the east coast gets, when the Atlantic has been stirred up by swell. It is a mixture of salt water, sea weed and tar. The sand is mixed and coarse under your feet. There are more surfers than tourists. Even those not tuned in to the surf station, know that something is different. They look out at the waves and wonder what it would be like to be way out there.

We arrived at dropping tide, around noon. I figured after two days of macking surf, the locals would all be elsewhere trying to get their jobs back. There was still plenty of swell when we unloaded. Lil Wrecking Ball and my Bro Davey got out of the car looking at postcard Huguenot; blue water and sky with perfect chest to head high rights, licked by a slight off shores. I set up camp and gave L.W.B. his board, Davey went with him dragging his 9'6".

After the umbrella was hoisted, the sheet was anchored, and the coolers were parked in the shade, I grabbed my yellowed 7'2" and waded out. I caught a nice little right, and it was lined up so perfect, I just stood and trimmed for a few yards. I caught three more and L.W.B. made it outside to sit with the big boys. Davey paddled for a big one and went over the falls rodeo style. L.W.B. and I caught one together and he fell because he was laughing so hard. I pushed him into another and he fell on the take off, and got dragged for fifteen yards before coming up, hands first, laughing. We all caught a few more, and cruised in to recharge.

We sat and ate sandwiches, and L.W.B. asked why I was so happy. I told him the beach was the only place I felt totally comfortable. He turned back out to the waves and pointed and talked a hundred miles and hour. He skim boarded, rode his Boogie board and stayed in the water until I had loaded the car and started it.

It could not have been a better day, except I missed having number one son and Mama there. He was stung by a Man-o-war on his last trip and it will take a bag of video games to get him back in the water. Mama doesn't see the logic in five hours of drive time for three hours of beach. Go figure. You can't have perfection, it angers the Gods.

I am a surfer. I had forgotten that.

W.B.Z.N. *Pics from:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Boards are loaded. My sons want to know if it will be small enough for them to paddle out. I was wondering the same thing. Pray for my neck, arms, and shoulders. HOOIY! Goin right!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Middletown Dreams

The most beloved car I ever owned was a 1971 bay window V.W. bus. Converted into a band/surf ride by my brother Chris, it was the ultimate car for a kid that surfed and played drums. I could fit my kit, part of the light show, and a 2x6 mattress to snooze on. I used to make runs to Melbourne to get Spectrum and M.T.B. surfboards, for the surf shop I worked for. I once put forty five neon airbrushed thrusters in that thing. Shag carpet, a Pioneer head unit, amp in the glove box, 110 watt 6x9's in the back, and 30 mpg. Gas was just over a buck a gallon and I was twenty. What more could a guy need? I would get on the road for a board run, and pretend that I was heading out solo and never coming back. I was being strangled by my home town. I just wanted to go somewhere, anywhere with a music scene, and people that didn't know my life story.

The band I was in was reaching it's zenith and even though we were big fish in the bowl, I wanted more. We had just recorded a few songs at a studio in Stuart and I finally felt like I was getting somewhere as a song writer. One song called "Small Town Boy" outlined my dreams of escape. The guitar player (ever the paranoid prick) confronted me about the lyrical content and my plans for the future. Shrugging him off, I replied that there was going to be surf the next day, and beyond that I was planless.

My best friend was at school in Gainesville and I was a community college drop out. One epic three week swell and the return of my older brother ended my collegiate career. I surfed my way to a few F's and lost my music scholarship. My brother shipped out of town to Tallahassee and F.S.U.. I was friendless, brotherless and I hated my band. One night in a fit of melancholy, I threw some stuff in a bag, loaded my drums, drove to the turnpike with forty bucks and a gut full of discontent. I got all the way to the on ramp, but I couldn't pull the trigger. Rush's newest tape was spinning in the deck, but even they could not motivate me out of the nest. I lost it, as my bus idled in an uneven murmur. It was the private kind of emotional upwelling best performed without witnesses. Frantic and unfettered, both pathetic and metamorphic, all in one regurgitation. I hobbled home in defeat and got to work late the next morning. I was uncharacteristically quiet and my boss picked up on my vibe, leaving the shop for me to handle alone. It was a grey January day, with blown out waves and cold north winds. Three customers came in and the phone rang twice. The previous nights exercise was a failure in my eyes but I planted the seed that day that lead to my final curtain call in July of 87'. The dress rehearsals, the walks to the edge of the diving boards, staring at the clouds, are all fuel for the things that mold our lives.

Here's to big talk, big dreams, and leaving the comfort zone. Jump. I dare you.


The Pretender

You have to come to grips with the fact that the cost of doing business on this planet, leaves a destructive wake. Every pursuit noble or otherwise leaves (for lack of a better Eco cliche) a foot print. I am very saddened by my inability to recycle the wood from my half pipe. It was another in a long line of great ideas that ended up (literally) in a pile by the curb. I hate the fact that it will likely cost more to truck this to the landfill in Jackson county, than it did to purchase it in the first place. All dreams big and small have a price tag hanging.

Wreckage comes in many forms, but in my experience the most explosive results come from the ones that start out with good intentions (now there's a great slogan for a greeting card, kitty poster, or bumper sticker). My wife asked if I was riding and suggested she tag along. I thought this would be a great opportunity, to give riding as a couple, another try. I had previously traumatized her and the elder son years before and just assumed that bridge had been burned. We cruised down the Greenway and I was mindful not to go what I considered, to be to far. At the base of the hill we drank water and chatted. She looked nervously at the climb and I assured her we would be fine. Some disharmony occurred when I was talking her through shifting to the little ring and I reached out to push the shifter, you know, to help, totally forgetting she was a novice rider. I pushed her bars set her off balance and down she went. To her credit, she wasn't mad and never showed any animosity toward her assailant. Despite all the havoc of getting her vertical, tearing the chain back into place and her tender pivot points, she really does ride well. If she ever developed the inclination (perhaps with her next, well adjusted husband) she could be a great rider.

We made it back to the car, with a little struggle, up the hills. I tried to give her a push and nearly crashed her a second time, you know, trying to help. All was fine, and I bought her a slushy (which always works with the boys after a tough ride) and got her home. No matter what happens in the future, and I hate to break the day down to the lowest common denominator, she looks great wrapped in Lycra. I will try to focus on that, when I am pining away in the home for old, divorced, cyclists.

I had a banner week. I rode five days. I feel like a cyclist again. A cyclist that has to do physical therapy exercises eight times a day, but a cyclist none the less. Even and unfortunate run in with a truck load of drunks, a call to the police, and the inevitable anger fallout such encounters produce, could not dampen my first real week back in the saddle.

To cap the whole week off, Zak and I rode picture perfect, A+ conditions at Munson. We talked about his trip out west, his future in college, his engineering aspirations, and I basked in the light of his optimism. Any sport that can allow a twenty year old and a forty six year old to hang out, has to be good for the soul......but that doesn't mean there won't be a pile of wreckage once in a while.


Friday, August 7, 2009


This dude......

Put this stuff, on this bike..........

And made this Wrecking Ball happy!
Thanks Worm, thanks crew. Man, I never (no bullshit) thought I would ride a road bike again. The fact that the bike makes juniors nervous and veterans double take, is a total bonus. I've never had so much room on a sprint! Embrace the weirdness that comes your way.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Home At Last

When I quit playing music professionally in 2001, cycling filled the void. It was my methadone. It cured the itch and took the edge off the jones. Sure I sat in on a sound check or two, but really those were just little spins round the block. It was nothing like the miles I used to put in when I was a four hour a night, five nights a week, fifty weeks a year, journeyman.

The similarities between being a drummer and a cyclist are numerous. You actually have to work out, and get in shape, to be good. All four limbs work equally and its is really hard work (if you do it right). Having stamina is just as important as being musical in the rock world.

As you well know, I have been deprived of my once obsessive cycling schedule. It is a great little coinkydink that I got a few gigs during this dark era. You know doors opening when others are closing, and all that Hallmark hullabaloo. I stunk up the first gig because I wasn't ready and I didn't have time to practice. It was the equivalent of watching the gap increase and your mates disappear over the horizon. There is nothing worse than seeing a bands disappointment when you miss a fill or fumble through a tune because you don't know the correct groove. My lack of riding opened a ton of space on my calender and I went to the woodshed. I shook off the cobwebs and got back to basics. I put in the hours, I learned the tunes, and the payoff was a great gig the likes of which I hadn't had in years. Man it felt good, and in the interim something wonderful happened. My stress went down, and my neck improved. I have been able to do some honest rides as of late.

I hope this all comes off as thankful and not boisterous. I am as perplexed as anyone by my necks diva like behavior, and I was surprised I was able to regain a little swagger behind the kit. I am hoping to serve both mistresses with equal vigor, but I know I am floating on a bubble. For now I am on my third day in a row of riding and I can watch T.V. while playing a "Purdie Shuffle". Maybe I am the headless dancing chicken, maybe I am Fred Astaire, we'll all have to stay and see how this episode ends.