Monthly Archives: February 2006

Mmmmmmmm, Munson!

24 hours of pattering rain, followed by a cool, sunny, breezy, 55 degree morning. That’s perfect surf conditions at Munson Hills. Bushy and I grabbed our boards and charged down the beach into the surf, where we spent an hour (or less) catching swell after swell of packed down pine needle sets, peeling off the Earth like ripping paper.

Catching Munson under these conditions is to know the sweetest, smoothest, ride in town.

The weekend had a festive air due to my brother, “Junior” turning 30. His cake was decorated with a cap and gown, a holy bible, and two wedding rings with the slogan, “THE FUTURE IS NOW”. Good fun, let me tell you, good fun.

I have to give a shout out to Mr. Tim Evans, who spotted us off the Live Oak Connector trail on Friday, with the Jamis upside down and in in distress. It was just turning dark and my rear derailer was shoved backwards through my wheel like a dislocated knee. Mr. Evans eagle-eyed us through the brush, turned back, hiked down the trail in his khakis and power tie, and offered to load up the damaged bike and haul me out of there. He had a bike rack and everything. Fortunately, Bushy and I were able to Frankenrig the thing into working for another 3 miles. Still, the cycling brotherhood is strong, and I thank Mr. Evans for being his brother’s keeper.

I’ve got nothing else for you this morning, in fact, this is a good time for me to take requests, suggestions, criticism, or whatever towards the improvement of the BRC.

And we all know a direct request for a response is a guarantee of silence around here.



Family Values II

Marines are tough. That’s how I knew my Uncle J wouldn’t lie down there in the dirt forever, but eventually he would get up, sigh heavily, and continue our slog through the Sun-n-Lake Preserve off road trail system in Sebring, FL. It was supposed to be a nice family outing, and for the most part it was. After an hour we had stopped beneath a copse of pines and scrub oak, to seek some relief from the blazing Central Florida sun. Uncle J was slumped against a spindly Slash pine, arms flat at his sides like a discarded marionette. “Go on without me” he said slugglishly. “I’ll be fine”.

Now, I took offense at this. just because Cousin T and I spent our twenties studying esoteric nonsense in college, partying, and frolicking in the Montana Rockies, doesn’t mean we leave a man behind.

Did we leave a man behind that time our AAA Driveaway car was a 2 seater and there were four of us in the Arizona desert? No.

Did we leave a man behind when we packed up in Portland and came back to Tally to crusade for Bosnians? No.

Did we leave a man behind that night at the Alachua Music Harvest after the James Brown show? Yes. And it was me, and I’m stilled pissed off. It was a long walk back to town.

But hey, accidents do happen.

One hour into this ride we had already crossed approximately 170 log jumps, slugged through muck ponds, and scratched our way over palmetto roots, often called gatorbacks by people who can’t admit their trail is near unrideable. Sun-n-Lake Preserve- sounds nice right?

Don’t kid yourself.

We discussed our options. Take the bailout to the road, or finish the loop we started. “I think heading straight for the road sounds great!” says Uncle J. “Yeah, we better get back soon or Mom will be mad at us.” says Cousin T. “That’s cool” I say. “I’m going to write this up either way, so it’s all the same to me, but the record will show I was prepared to continue.”

Uncle J’s brow furrowed, as he imagined the lies I would tell, the unflattering caricature I would render. I might even be low enough to share the fact that he actually said, “I’m two years away from Sixty” as if he was ready for the shuffle board court.

He got up. We rode on. End of story.

Semper Fi!


Triple Dipper

It is dark now, and our little mob crashes through the brush towards the limestone drop “Triple Dipper” to cheer our boy on when he rides through. It’s Bushy out there this time, and we’ve missed him every other lap, what with the golfing, the refills, the wandering around, and this time we are determined to raise the roof when he rolls by.

The problem is, it’s dark out there, really dark. At one point as we cross the racetrack, someone bellows “rider up!” and Hambone flings himself into the darkness in a panic to get out of the way. “I’m OK, I’m OK!” he is hollering- even as he continues crashing and tumbling down the bank. Riders are flashing by, headlights blazing, and hitting the drop with varying speed and confidence. Margo is on watch a couple dozen yards up as a spotter, but it’s going to be hard to tell who’s who out here.

Pretty soon, we are screaming Bushy’s name for every rider. “BUSHY’S NAME!” we yell. “BUUUSSSHHY’S NAAAMMME!” and it really catches on with the crowd. The crowd has galvanized around this. We have solved the confusing dilemma of what to yell when riders pass. Occasionally we yell, “TINA!” though I couldn’t, and still can’t, tell you why.

By the time Bushy arrives we have a well-practiced crowd of 40 people screaming his name. Margo makes the positive ID and we announce to the crowd that this indeed is the authentic article coming around the corner. They go crazy. Girls are throwing their bras, guys are lighting torches, and everyone is screaming, “BUUUUUUSSSSHY’s NAAAAAAME!” and it hits him like a bolt of lightning. It was like the volume blew him up the trail, or plugged into him like a Tesla coil. KaZAM! He was out of there.

We struggled and tripped through the smilac to the next waypoint.

And so it goes.


Play the High Fade

The race was under way by the time I made it to Reddick, and the Barnburner team was working like a Nascar pit crew. Massage table, lunch buffet, mechanic station, they didn’t need me, or Larry (who was official timekeeper) or Hammy, or Martin the Scot. I don’t know how the math works for you, but that added up to a foursome to us, so we headed back across the street to play a round of golf in the first ever Barred Owl Invitational.

There beneath the noonday sun, sangrias in hand, we passed around the old persimmon woods and enjoyed a primitive version of the great game. Martin the Scot went off the tee heroically, lofting the high fade over the 100′ pines and dropping the ball 10 yards from the brown. “Wow” I said, “beautiful shot there, you look like you’ve played some golf before”.

Squinting in to the distance, casually evaluating the shot he answers, “Well, we did invent the game.” Damn smug Scots.

To be continued…

Tomorrow is a good day to die

That’s what I would be thinking if I had to saddle up for the 12 hours of Razorback tomorrow. To your left is a picture of riders relaxing at the finish line at the end of the race last year. As you can see, they are very tired.

I have been waylaid by a bug, and hope to make it down to the race tonight or early tomorrow, when I will faithfully provide an accurate and entirely journalistic account of the proceedings. Either that, or I will rip around on Pa Ingall’s burly golf cart drinking beer and barking orders at race officials and riders alike. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

Ma & Pa Ingalls haven’t slowed down a bit. Word on the trail is that Man-gri-la now has “Bard Owl Pines” or something like that, a rough and rugged homemade golf course big enough to need the lumber. I’m bringing enough cash to get a skins game going. Do they use cash in Reddick?

Another compelling reason to make the event, healthy or not, is the opportunity to graze the buffet catered by the The Mad Housewife of Olive You Eat Well Catering in Gainesville, FL (Google all that and you might learn something!) That woman can flat throw down in the kitchen, or anywhere else for that matter.

Whatever happens, we all need to be rooting for J.B, Joey, Pete, and Danny, and it goes without saying, those are not their real names.

You might also be interested to know that S’quatch is down with the flu bug, and I mean the real one. Reports of a 103 fever came in this morning, and as you know, that is extremely dangerous for omnivorous humanoids. For you S’quatch, I offer the silver lining, think of all the calories you burn while you’re lying there sweating in misery. you will be back leaner and meaner than ever. If you pull through.

Have a great weekend everybody, and do something that you like to do. If anyone gives you a hard time, send them to El Juancho, and I’ll settle their hash.


Closing Time at Joe’s

Joe’s Bike Shop is a tiny place. A brick and stucco cottage about the size of a two-car garage. Therefore, about half of the inventory and all of the repairs get trundled outside and into racks every morning. If it rains they get hauled back in (most of the time) and at the end of the day they get stacked, like Lincoln Logs back in the shop.

This is a nice time to be at Joe’s. Sitting out front, drinking a coffee and ruminating on rides taken, not taken, or rides to come. The sun dips low and glaring off of Lake Ella, and the after work jogging set begin their laps.

Joe does the stacking, and anyone else still hanging around does the hauling.

Cruisers, Hybrids, Mountain Bikes, Three-Wheelers, BMX, and Freestyle, for once all bikes are equal, because they all have to come in for the night.


To Hell & Back 2006

Now, just because a thing can be done, that does not make it a good idea. I can hit my thumb with a hammer. I can rent the entire Keanu Reeves movie collection, and I can eat sand- but none of those things are a good idea.

Certain Joe’s Bike Shop affiliated riders are planning a 75 mile cross-swamp ride from the steps of the Old Capitol Building to Sumatra, FL a reclusive enclave on the other side of a swamp called Tate’s Hell.

I have crossed Tate’s Hell before, in a canoe, and it didn’t go so well for us. The New River eventually diffused into a maze of stillwater tributaries none of which resembled the map.

There was dissension among us, the type of nervous backbiting associated with a group of people resenting the decisions they had made which brought them to be neck deep in black swamp water dragging canoes full of gear over cypress knees. I had a machete, and I hacked at everything, not to ease our way through the clinging vines, but in the futile hope that I would kill whatever reptile was more than likely poised for attack beneath the cover of prehistoric water lilies and decaying moss.

Hours of this slogging went by, and the possibility of climbing back in the boats to hunker in place for the night became a real likelihood. This motivated us toward more fevered slogging.

We found some elevated, if not entirely dry land and the party split. Three of the crew walked off in search of the vehicles and three of us remained with the boats, sharing the last of the pop tarts huddled beneath an overturned canoe in a drizzling rain.

Darkness came, and we waited- silent, resigned, and miserable.

Then the headlights pierced through the hopeless horizon and there was our team! Relieved, if not triumphant, we loaded the boats on a trailer and jumped in the truck. As we took off the boats came tumbling down off the racks, as none of us had bothered to secure them. Composure had left us with the first report of “Something just crawled over my foot” back in the swamp.

To ride across the swamp? 75 miles of roads like the one pictured above?

I would rather try to paddle it again.

This doesn’t mean I’m not considering it, I just wish that I wasn’t.

Dumb as a bag of hammers-



Somone caught this picture of me out at the Redbug trail on my new FS Dakar Expert yesterday. After all the harumphing I have done concerning full suspension bikes and their lack of soul, it is pretty obvious to me now that was just so much sour grapes. The Redbug trail is historically known for pounding your kidneys until they are on the outside of your body and have to be reabsorbed later with a soothing pint of Guiness or two. Yesterday though, it was like riding a marshmallow sleigh down candyland lane. I could see the rooty washboard rolling beneath my tires, but it was more like an in-flight movie than a hindrance.

It’s (thanks Lib) 26 degrees here this morning, and before the Minnesota girl chimes in I have run some calculations. Comparative to year-round climate and human acclimatizability, 26 degrees Fahrenheit to a Floridian is the same as 238.7055556 degrees Kelvin to a Minnesotan and everybody knows that 238.705556 degrees Kelvin is fucking cold baby!

2 years ago around this time, Mystery and I rode on the coldest day of the year. A long frozen slog into the Appalachicola National Forest. Our toes were so cold we stopped and built a fire. We rode off and left it blazing away too, which was awesome because it was so windy.

I was hoping to sign him up for an encore tomorrow, as it will likely be the coldest day of the year for us, but he is claiming injury, and substantial injury at that. It looks like we should have purchased the extended warranty on that guy. Hindsight, you know how that goes.

And now since this is turning into a ’round-up’ post of sorts…HT, why will you not rise up and claim what is rightfully yours? The way you’ve been riding lately, I think you could grind S’quatch into dust. As for how you might ride against me, well, I have no opinion on the matter, but you definitely need to put the S’quatch down like Old Yeller.

Bushyhead Galore, formerly Taco, has finally joined the Circus. It only took him a year. He avoided this place due to his irrational fear that he would be(or was being) disrespected within these pages. Now that he’s here, I hope to make all his fears come true.

The 12 Hours of Razorback is next weekend, and I am really looking forward to the expected carnage. When you boil it all down, that weekend one year ago gave birth to this site. I was running a black market pastry ring at the race under the banner of the Big Ring Bakery, and well, I’m no baker, but I do like to write so I made the necessary adjustments.

Race weekend means another couple of nights under the stars, in the shadow of Man-gri-la (the pole barn) and lots of belly laughs with the boys as well as the local Reddick/ Lowell vixens who stop by. You’ve got to love it. And if loving it it wrong, well, then I guess I’m all wrong.

-Now get to work, I want an 8 hour day out of you people-


Heft on Wheels

The world stopped spinning for a day so I could read Mike Magnuson’s tell-all story of redemption cover to cover. The man gets it right. Outwardly the book is about how Mike went from obscene to lean with nothing more than his road bike* and a fanatical love of being on it.

A lot happens along the way, and this is no feel good self-help book, or maybe it is?

Certain moments in the book gave me shivers.

A good man dies and is honored in a rolling memorial.

Our hero gets hit by a truck.

A self-proclaimed hardcore party guy gives up the booze, the smokes, and the late-night blather that goes with it. Make no mistake about it, Mike Magnuson was running for his life. Much has been said in reviews, and by Mike himself, that his methods are not to be followed by anyone, and he took enormous risks by getting on a bike at 255 lbs. I’m here to tell you that is a bunch of bull. What about the risk if not getting on the bike? For this guy, it couldn’t have happened any other way.

The health thing, the redemption thing, that’s all great and good for Mike. Why you might enjoy this book though, is because it is a candid, blood and guts, love story about cycling. If bicycles could talk, his would probably take out a restraining order against him. It is when Mike talks about the pain, the grinding, the clicking and ka-chunking, and the rising up from the saddle to surge into battle that this book moves me.

While climbing Mt. Mitchell, NC in a cold, foggy rain, Mike passes another rider and says, “Man, this is torture”. The other rider (who is getting passed here!) responds, “Savor it, this is as good as it gets”. I know exactly what he means.

*Mike lives in Carbondale, Illinois and there are mountain bike trails there. I guess nobody’s perfect.


S’quatch is behind this reading effort. He is working his way through every published fiction and non-fiction account of cycling available on the planet. The last one he passed my way was so bad I’m still washing my hands to get the stink off. I would tell you the title but the author seems to monitor the internet and argue with his detractors, conduct most unbecoming in a writer. As good ones come along, you can count on me to give you the low-down and a brief review.

If you have enjoyed a book in this genre, please let us know. We will run it up the old flag pole and see what happens.