Juancho-2 Sport Athlete

This is not a photo of me. This is a photo of the founder of the Tallahassee Rock Gym, my former employer. In the sale of the Rock Gym a couple years ago, a rider was attached to the contract granting a small number of Rock Gym Mafia permanent lifetime climbing privileges.

I am one of those mafia.

Mystery, the untameable stallion, also known as the hardman, insists that we must go climbing on our upcoming sojourn to the Blue Ridge mountains. Yesterday, I went to the gym to prepare myself-physically and mentally- for the challenges of rock climbing. I have already begun the physical preparations with the inclusion of pull-ups into my gym routine (Yes I still go to that pestilence-ridden creepfest, Thanks again S’quatchy!). I am currently working on 3 sets of 1 single pull-up. Very humbling, very embarassing, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was my swarthy physique. 3 sets of 1. Picture it.

I approach the counter of the Rock Gym yesterday, and I am greeted by a spritely alterna-cutie named Sarah. The new ownership has already made some strategic improvements.

“Hi, I’m Juancho Valdez. I have a lifetime pass to climb here”. I have never used this privilege because that statement sounds so obnoxious, but I am acting under orders so it must be done.

She gives me a scrutinous appraisal and says, “I’ve always wondered what you looked like, I’ve seen your card a thousand times”.

Well, get a good look baby, get a real good look.

Four painful trips up the wall later and I was cooked. It wasn’t so bad though. My fingers tried to remember. The rope felt normal in my hands. I only dazed off a couple of times while I was belaying Mystery and he never knew the difference, so it’s cool. I think I will go back. This variation is in keeping with my “Day Like No Other”.

I need to be mixing it up out there. This damn blog gets my best material.


3 Responses to Juancho-2 Sport Athlete


    O.K., I guess it’s time for some thoughts concerning my latest foray into the biking literature, which is “Need For The Bike” by frenchman Paul Fournel (translated by Allan Stoekl). This is a slim volume of short essays on growing up in France and loving the bike from first consciousness.

    My first thought reading this book is that cycling countries whose babies cut their teeth on the crank arms of their fathers’ bikes must HATE Lance Armstrong for dominating a sport he wasn’t even raised to think of as a sport.

    Following is an excerpt I particularly liked:
    “My world as a child was always more vast than my village. As soon as I knew how to ride I grasped the idea of the greater world. When I left to do a circuit, everything inside the circuit was ‘home.’ In that way I traced ever larger circles as my strength developed…”

    “My village is lodged in the valley of the Loire, in a little flat area, and to get out you have to go up. Curiously, the six or seven climbs that let you out have very different landscapes: if the Tiranges climb is a beautiful ascent up the side of the valley that opens out as it approaches the summit, the Saint-Hilaire climb is shady, regular, deeply hidden, and smells of moss and mushrooms. The ascent via Thezenec is clear, hot, steep; its upper part opens onto the spectacle of the rounded volcanoes and plateaus of Velay. In the distance, Mount Mezenc.”

    “Little by little I enlarged my circles, on my father’s wheel, faithfully; he sheltered me from the wind and silently taught me the cycling virtues.”
    Of course, growing up in Ellenton, Florida, my first circuit in the greater world involved leaving Highland Shores subdivision and braving a 1/2 mile stretch of sketchy sidewalk that ran along Highway 301, all the way to the “Lil General” convenience store. Once there, it was a plunge into air-conditioned heaven for the bit-o-honey, Bazooka bubble gum, now-and-laters,cherry blowpops and the frosty 6 1/2 ounce coca-cola. That was the ride to the village market. There was one way out of the subdivision, my dad was at work, and it smelled a lot like truck exhaust.

    Even so, it was a sublime experience of pure, sugar-promised freedom. I put my head down and rode as fast as I could, and the wind from the passing semi-trucks on that short stretch of 301 always made me feel drunk with courage. It’s all I’ve got, and I’m calling it a circuit. -S’quatch

  2. climbing’s a blast! But you really need to condition your fingers a bit before taking off to do some real-life rock climbing. I would suggest at least 3 more trips.

    I love to climb but found I was not able to both climb and bike. If you’re going to climb at all well, it has to be the primary sport and I already have one of those. Which is too bad because there’s nothing cuter than back muscles going over the roof.

  3. You’re right. It takes a lot of commitment. I’m much more blue collar. Get up, get down, get to the cooler. Mystery handles the leading. I handle the bitching.