Friday, July 29, 2011


I have a lot on my mind this fine morning. There is a lot on the scale that needs to be reckoned with. I am trying to make my way through the world and not let the cynical prick that lives in my head, come out and talk. He is a Bastard and only remembers the things that hurt me. Sometimes he serves me well, but it is best if he stays locked down.

I don't want to hate people. People that speed to stop signs. People that eat yogurt and steer with their knees. People that kill cyclists that I know. It is hard to see the other side. It is the most human thing to do, but God help me, it is so very hard.

I don't want to be afraid on my bike. It is my church, my therapist, my one place where the internal dialogue goes quiet. The worst days on the bike are better for my soul than the good days I do not ride. It is always good to go ride, but now I ride with a ghost. Every time a car passes I feel the chill of his death. I think of sons living with no father. Every time I ease onto a road with no bike lanes, I have fear I have never had before. I have never been a victim of discrimination, this is all new. Twelve years I have been riding, but I feel the hate now. Even when they don't yell, crowd, beep their horns or give me the stink eye, I feel it. I know they are not bad people. They are just angry about their own ghosts. They are letting their cynical bastard drive.

It is no coincidence that I am commuting this week. Because I am alive and can ride a bike, I feel as though I should. I should ride as much as I can. I should ride on the road with my fears, with my hate, with those that hate me. I am going to ride because that is the only thing I can do that feels productive. It's my road too. I paid my share, and then some.

Tomorrow, lets ride.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I will admit I romanticized my memory of commuting. To be fair my old ride was three miles and my current commute is five. I distinctly remember it being an easy ride, and it was almost entirely on trail.

Now I must be in actual traffic. The same traffic that I can barely stand in my car with the A/C and my Jeff Buckley Pandora station, at just the right volume. The Tazo Awake brewed to perfection in an aluminium cup resting snugly in my holder. I scream at the top of my lungs for people to stay in their lane, to go, to stop, as they approach stop signs, at salt flat speed. Ya! That's how I feel in my F*+^%$# car!

Oh! I forgot what it's like to be out of the saddle, grunting up a climb, when you are barely awake. To have that heavy pack smoldering on your back. The joy of sucking exhaust from the tip of a Suburban, driven by woman on the phone, waiting to turn right, parked in the bike lane. The sphincter tightening sprint down Park Ave. Most of all, I forgot the judgemental stares of the smokers outside the basement entrance to my office (really a converted storage closet...but hey it's a corner and has three windows!).

The worst part is the laundry. I usually wear jeans a few times before I wash them and twice on dress shirts. I hate doing laundry. I edit audio on a computer in an office that's kept at whale hunting temps all day. Pit stains are not a problem. After the 25 minute jaunt to work by bike, you sweat for about a half hour after you change, and all the clothes require cleaning, EVERYDAY! I use twice as many bike clothes, since I am still doing the same after work rides. That means I hit the end of my clothes in two days. You have to get everything together the night before because being late on a bike means being REALLY late. Nothing makes the smokers happier to see you in the clown suit, than the additional bonus of getting to glance at their watch, raise their eye brows and ask if you are off that day.

I do enjoy it. It's nice to have ten miles in at the beginning of group rides. At this point the benefit is not apparent, but I feel different. I love looking at houses. I love that dawn patrol feeling. Yes, I love riding in traffic. I can't explain it. It's a rush. Something is wrong with if you didn't know.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Secret Of Life

When I bought my first bike (twelve years ago this week) I tried to commute everyday. I used Fern Trail as my route. On dark mornings I held a Dewalt flashlight and later Velcro'd it to the bars. I wore surf baggies, hiking boots and cotton T's. I will never forget how hard core I felt, pumping out 30 miles a week.

What a life saving habit cycling has turned out to be. Since those halcyon days, I have bought eleven bikes (for my family and I) and became a junky. I took my kids out, walking behind them at first, then riding in the granny gear for years. My oldest gave it up early (after realizing he couldn't stand the sound of my advice) and is now a swimmer. My youngest has the bug and now drops his old man on a regular basis.

After getting lapped by the entire cycling community at the Dirty Thirty dirt crit last night, I figure its time I merge into traffic again. Number one sons car blew up and he and I are sharing my car. He needs to swim early and get to his lifeguard gig so I tossed him the keys and I will be commuting until further notice.

Even though I got my ass whipped last night, it was my first five day week with ten hours of saddle time. I was really shocked how slow I was last night and to be honest, it took a while to shake it. It is always better to think you suck and find out you are fast. Thinking you are in shape and getting rocked, is a little tougher to choke down. Still, I am going to call this week a victory. I have only been back on the bike four months, and I never thought I'd ever get back to where I am now.

Point it down the trail or road, throw a leg over, and turn the pedals. Say something supportive when you come around on the right.


Friday, July 22, 2011

For Everyman

This will be the fifth time I have tried to write a blog about Dave Baton. As others have said, we were not very good friends, but strangely I have had several heavy conversations with him. We shared a love for cycling, we both did low voltage stereo wiring, and we were both Fathers trying to raise sons. We talked a lot about the challenges of raising boys, of when to be heavy handed and when to do nothing (by far the biggest challenge all fathers face). I always seemed to run into him when he was on a peak or deep in a valley, and as such, our talks were weighted with the problems of life.

In the last few years he had really seemed to be in a good place. I never saw him without Jake in tow. If he was with Jake he was smiling, because seeing your kid do what you love, is one of life's great gifts.

After all my health issues, he followed my Facebook page and always seemed to know what was up with me. He had a blunt sense of humor and once asked me point blank if, I was going to live. I howled with laughter, for one of first times since I was out of the hospital. He was my kind of dude. I have a weakness for people that are incapable of bullshit and Dave was the king of that mentality. Some people are put off by that and it's not fun to be on the receiving end, but I always dug his intensity and honesty. The more blunt he was with people the more he made me laugh. That was just Dave.

I can't accurately comment on his life, or what it was like to be his friend, but I can say this: I was always happy to see him, and he was always seemed happy to see me. On the last Munson Monday ride, I extended my hand to him and said "there he is the legend!" He smiled, stuck out his hand and said: "I always read about your rides on Facebook, now I'm finally on one." He was proud to tell us all that Jake had been riding well. He never stopped smiling the whole time we talked.

The next day he was gone. When I found out Jake was with him when he died, my heart broke. I just can't imagine how much that little guy is hurting. I wish I could do something grand for Dave's memory and for Jake, but the hell of it is, we are helpless, except to begin the grieving.

Tuesday night my son and I saddled up and rode from our house, an hour after getting the news. Every time a car went by my shoulders hunched. We had to ride, it was literally all we could do. Had it been one of us, Dave probably would have raised hell when he heard the news, but I promise you, he would still ride.

See you at the finish bro.


Monday, July 18, 2011


Back in the in nineties I quit drinking for five years. I didn't have a drop. I realized the sauce was not my friend and not only got on, but bought, painted and drove the wagon. All went well for a long time. I didn't even drink at my wedding. Then one night I had a real beer. I had been going through the motions (with the near beer kind) and it was all fine till the McCoy went down my Irish gullet. My whole body Grand Malled in one exquisite seizure of recognition. All though I never went back to my "hey I wonder where my car is?" status, my days as a non alcohol devotee had ended. The O'Doul's would never heal my wounds again. It is one thing to abstain when you have never indulged, and quite another to taste the nectar and repent.

Dieting has been a similar exercise for me. I am fine once I find a thing I can eat and lose weight. The novelty and receding pounds distract you from the fact that you haven't eaten anything good in months. Then (quite innocently) you go to a Mexican restaurant with friends after a ride. That alchemy of Mariachi, Americanized, cheesy Eden hits your buds (which have been languishing in solitary at Gitmo) and you are officially F*#^+D! You will catch your reflection while you make your next salad and wonder if Tolstoy ever witnessed such misery.

And so kiddies this is the point I am zooming in on. Can one go back to his goat herd after a great vacation in Gomorrah? Time will tell. Jauncho had a burger. I had Mexican food. Who will return to the monastery, and put on the hair shirt first? What does it mean when Big Jim Slade tells you to eat a hamburger while he sheds 20 pounds in five weeks?

It is how we perform at the bottom of the curve that determines our eventual altitude.