Friday, May 18, 2012

The Kids Are Alright

It is time to lighten things up around here. I need to open the windows and doors and let all that stale "trying to be a good writer" air out of the blog.

I am trying to think of activities that bring young and old together like cycling has for me. I get calls and texts from guys in our crew like Lil Ball and Ice Berg all the time. These are two guys (19 and 22 years old) that are real friends of mine. I am closing in on 49. We have real conversations, we are good friends and the bike is the vehicle that brought us together. I meet folks their age all the time and they never seem to be as together as our grommets are.

Now the next crop is coming up. My L.W.B.  and Treeman's B, have two guys to look up to that are both seeking degrees in architecture and sports medicine. They remember what it's was like to be juniors and they look after and harass our juniors accordingly. I am proud of Lil Ball and Ice Berg, even though I can take no credit for who they are. I am glad they are in our crew and glad they are my friends. Boys listen to their Dads because they have to, but they always look to the cool guys (one step up) for what they want to be. Thank (Deity of choice) that they are looking at Lil Ball and Ice Berg. There are so many bad examples out there.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Shadow

Hipsters, carbon racers,
Old school dirt hounds
Young, old, noobs,
The air is Mexican oil cooking
The smiles and chatter drift
Through the parking lot

The wheels of many tribes roll
Past the Capital
Past the the Thai restaurant
Past the BBQ guy
and the half priced chicken
Left at the Fairgrounds
The black hands wave from the porch and sing a single note
Past the log fence

Cars are polite
Cars pass
Cars beep
There are too many of us
They have no power
We ride in the comfort of the horde
We ride in rare total safety

All is quieting on Tram Road
It becomes a ride of silence
Weight of tragedy is with us now
We reach the spot
Under the sky that won't be ignored
Purple with back lit clouds
The fire of the setting
It was a beautiful day ending
with an explosion of light

Here on this shitty gravel strewn ground
Here in this shitty place to die
The trash blows across the monument
of paper and chain and white paint
A bike should never be a sad thing
It is today
Here a father left his son
His son saw it all
Here on this shitty ground
He had to sit on rocks and wait for help
My son is beside me, we rode tonight
It was all fine... till just now

The words drowned out by the cars
Jeep with big tires
Killed the sentences
Of respect
The cars are too close to us
They come at the worst time
They never stop.

A full uphill sprint
Shakes us out of the mood
I am out of my saddle
My son passes me
I am the last one through the red light
We all get stopped and laugh
We are all breathing hard and smirking
We couldn't help ourselves

Dave would have liked that


Thursday, May 10, 2012

This Must Be The Place

I have never really had a home. A place where people knew my father and his before. A place where our history and present shared the same back drop. It is some ancient curse that spread my family tree leaves to the wind and settled us like a darts thrown at a map. I left Massachusetts when I was five. So my familiarly within the area and it's customs is no more natural to me than the alien world of southerners I grew up with. My only allegiance to my friends growing up was based on the fact that they too were displaced refugees of the north, living in a white bread cultural stew called; Port Saint Lucie. I never looked around and had that unsaid kinship that people in any ethnic enclave would feel. I have always envied people that knew their grand parents, whose family histories were as known to them, as the air they breathed. Even my own father was a mystery to me. I have no idea what he was like a child. He and I never played catch or went fishing. He never shared his personal stories with us. We shared moments and memories, I was not neglected or abused, but I am the last of seven. He was weary of raising high strung people by the time I was born.

I am standing outside my back door at work. The cars are passing like ducks on hyper drive, in a shooting gallery. There is a gift of cool breeze blowing and I have the feeling I have had many times when I traveled; like I should look around, in case I never come back. I have been here fifteen years. I watch the old guard come and go like zombies who gave up. The young upstarts that need to fill a gaps in their resume' before going to practice law. They pass me without speaking on the way to their cars and the lunch hour they dream of like a lost lover. I want to believe that I am not one of them, but we are all in the same life raft, wondering who will go next.

I am on a roll again. Everyone tells you you should tip toe back into cycling, but suffering from deprivation, I launched my craft at full speed. The first twenty one days I rode seventeen. I walked like the Tin Man for three weeks straight. My body carried on movements and adventures while I slept. I reached back into memory of what it felt like to have worth. The pain in my legs and body validate every short coming I play on loop in my brain. I hurt therefore I am. This plan is not supposed to work but it did. I have lost eight to ten pounds (depending on the karma scales mood). I have lost my will to eat all the time. For the first time in a really long time, I feel like a cyclist. I am slow. I bonk. I have to constantly conserve to stay on anything resembling a group ride. The revelatory new development is: if I don't ride great, I don't give a fuck. This will probably not last, but for now it is the greatest vacation from my abusive inner voice I have ever had.

Everything is different now. I will not beat the dead BC horse because (Deity of choice) knows I have whipped that corpse long after it was cold. My support group and the folks I ride with have different colored jerseys, but the spirit lives. I am surrounded by folks that look out for me, as they always have. We share a ton of common interests in the two wheeled subdivision, but we all come from somewhere else. When we ride we are the same and off the bike we are as different as people can be. The gumbo simmers and it smells like home.

The tribes of many nations share the reservation. The next chapter has begun.

W.B.Z.N. (noise in woods)

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Road To Reno

I get a message about a road ride in Havana. Treeman promises it will be "easy, easy, easy". I have heard it all before, and I am not fooled. Big Worm, King Cotton and Zak decide to join after some delicate negotiations. Thank (Deity of choice) they are coming, I am allergic to wind.

The tarmac leaving Gadsden county is pristine and whistles under our wheels. I sprint for several yellow signs to get the gold rush started. After chasing L.W.B. and Worm for a sign, I decide to hide for the rest of the ride. My legs hurt and it's going to be a long ride. The day turns hotter and the sweet pavement turns to a rough gravel mix. We stop to drink the holy water of Reno Baptist Church and head back out with full bottles.

I hear Treeman yell, "right turn!" and I notice the pavement is ending and it has been replaced with orange talcum and rocks. Big Worm howls with delight, and starts cutting three inch trenches in the fresh pow. Treeman swears he didn't know that this road was dirt. I can't help but notice he and his son are both running fat cross tires. L.W.B. is laughing his head off, as I ride like W.C. Fields. I find a ridge in the center and slow to half steam. I'd rather be lost in South Georgia alone, than have a re-broke collar bone. I am screaming like a girl at each soft section. The road comes back and we meander through the picturesque countryside, like we have gone back in time. The next downhill is a welcome sight, until I see the "Loose Gravel" sign. I thought nothing could be worse than the clay shavings we survived, I was wrong. Again Big Worm is bombing the hill with abandon, with Zak and Cotton on his heels. I squeeze my brakes.

Six miles from the car the rivets start popping. The coke from the General store (where the sweet rotund woman looked at me like a dessert menu) and the holy waters of Reno Church have all run out. My neck will not hold up the bowling ball any more and every turn of the pedals is agony. Worm, Zak, and Cotton, are a distant memory. L.W.B. and B. smell the stable and ride away,  like I am a stranger. Treeman stays with me, out of some misplaced obligation he feels for organizing the ride. The scenes become familiar again and we find the car. I hose off next to the small brick police station. Next door, the congregation is nearing the end of a song, as five soloists break free from the chorus. The cold water is the greatest thing I have ever felt.

We change, we eat, and speed home just ahead of a storm front, straight out of "Twister". L.W.B. passes out on the couch ten minutes after telling me the ride wasn't that hard. Week four of my comeback ends not with a victory or even a tie, but it doesn't feel like a loss.

These days, that's pretty good.