Monthly Archives: July 2008

Hanna Park

I just ended one of my Juancho trademark wanderings. This one began at Hanna Park in Jacksonville, FL which I found with little trouble.
The subsequent rudderless effort to find my hotel took me to: the back entry gate of a military base, a substantial sample of Duval County subsidized housing, north then south on I-95, a return to the gates of the military base to start over and some good solid assistance from Eli and Jerome who were holding it down at the CVS Pharmacy. No matter. I needed toothpaste anyway.

I assume I need these moments off the mental grid. I watch myself make turn after turn with no idea where I might be going as if I am watching a rerun of Law and Order. I know the plot, but I still find the characters compelling.

I brought this same level of intensity and focus to my ride at Hanna Park. The rain was steady- like it aimed to stick around a couple days- so I put on the iron mask and sloshed out into unknown terrain. Slick and rooty, the trails here are lush with prehistoric palm fronds which doused me with their blessings every two or three feet. Situated right on the Atlantic Ocean, the coastal breeze and the rain brought goosebumps to the skin- in July!

No complaints about that.

2 hours of slogging and I declared every nook and cranny ridden. The afterwork crowd was filling the parking lot when I returned. Lots of dudes sitting in their cars wondering if it was going to let up. As I stripped my sloppy gear off and flung it on my red rental Dodge Charger, riders broke the seal and exited into the rain, insistent ding dinging of keys still in ignitions signifying doubt.

A rinse in the ocean with a view of belching smokestacks and murky roller waves under a grey sunset- talk about atmosphere.

I wouldn’t go out of my way, but I would never pass it up.


Sweat, Slime, & Good Times

All rides will now be rated by the number of peanut butter sandwiches necessary to complete the trip. I packed one sandwich yesterday, but it was probably a three sandwich day.

Before I get into any details, let me clear something up here. Last week’s post regarding Mystery, the Untameable Stallion,left an echoing, awkward silence in the room. Free of metaphor and innuendo I now give you the straight dope (you know, like Carlos Sastre probably uses): Mystery is getting married, in Hawaii, very soon. Yes, he is marrying up. He asked me to share the joyous news here so he doesn’t have to talk to all of you people directly because he doesn’t really like people so much.

The Tour de France is over and that means roadies everywhere are wandering around their kitchens this morning blinking and muttering. They click through the channels looking for a scrap of post-race coverage like a bum tossing your car in the night for loose change and cigarettes. I have a variety of doping scandal jokes to unload, but I am afraid we are at the “not funny anymore” stage so that even I, nemesis and gadfly to professional cycling hopes the winner is the winner and that is the end of the 2008 Tour.

Yesterday’s ride was glorious. There were no big air fireworks really, which I attribute to the Gu-sucking, race pace atmosphere created by joining any two riders who don’t pedal together on a regular basis. By the time the Johnson-measuring contest settled down the temperature was 110 and everyone was ready to bag it-except yours truly and longbow special guest Todd Simmler. After checking off the eastside trails: Fern, Tom Brown, and Cadillac we tacked north and picked off the Live Oak Connector and Overstreet. 5.5 scorching hours in the saddle.

Things sure have changed around here. I’m ready to ride right now this very minute.

Life has reached that full volume spilling over level of activity so I suffer from a bit of blog-paralysis. In my desire to capture everything, I can only manage to sketch and scribble the outline. Feel free to probe for details.


Mystery Solved!

Have you ever been in posession of a secret so astounding, so incendiary that releasing it to the world threatened to change such fundamental assumptions as calling blue sky blue or altering forever the taste of chocolate?

I have one of those secrets.

Mystery, the Untameable Stallion, is going to need a new name.

I don’t know what he was called before 1993, but I’m sure by then he already had a litany of nicknames that pre-date the familiar: Hardman, Powder, Goatboy, and Mystery the Untameable Stallion. What do you call a gunslinger who hangs up his guns for the plow?

I’m sure you all will help me figure that out in time.

At least some things won’t change. MtUS and I put our thumbprints deep in the eastside soil last night. I don’t know if it was the 90+ degree evening temperatures or a mutual exhilaration over the epiphany that by God things do not just stay the same forever, but we rode wrinkles out of those trails.

Perhaps some locals will chime in and help me paint a clearer picture of what the future holds for our ornery equine.

In other important news, Todd “never going to own a cell phone” Simmler arrives today. That means the Sunday morning air show hosted by he and Huck Shins is on. If you want to join us for a special ride on Sunday send an e-mail to and I will coordinate logistics.


The taste of blood

All good gunfighter stories end the same. The shooting artist, weary and misunderstood, has to draw down on some hapless tinhorn looking to make a name for himself. The kid must die, but the gunfighter finds no joy in ushering men to their graves. Always alone, in mind if not in vicinity, the gunman holsters his Navy Colt and turns to the horizon.

I had the best post going about S’quatch last night. I was going to call it “Pooh Bear” and then as meticulously as building a ship in a bottle I intended to describe to you the raspberry lemon cream slushy from Sonic and the immediate nap that followed when he came over to watch the Tour last night. It was to be the story of a man weeks off the bike in the grip of vacation lethargy and schedule-less torpor. Asides would have been pursued concerning showdowns with the Bryson City, NC law, then I would have set my feet and teed off on the tie-dye.

I wish I had stayed up and gotten that issue to print last night. The guy got his bike back this afternoon and showed up no questions asked for a last of daylight in the rain last tracks run at Munson tonight, and it was incredible out there.

Tinhorn don’t know how lucky he is.


The Round Up

Report in clowns, freaks, barkers, and carnies.

I spent the equivalent of 10 kids’ lunch money for an entire year to replace my front shock, which sounds like it might be a complaint. It isn’t, I am actually bragging. I am about to cut loose the shackles of adult responsibilities and go to Joe’s and make the upgrade of the year happen.

Tonight FOTL is hosting a full moon ride out at that godforsaken and endless trail of tears, the Twilight Zone. That ride jumps off about 8:00 O’Clock and beers are encouraged. There will be a campfire stop along the way and you have long ride vs. short ride options. This is a really fun bunch as you can tell by the group photo above. I’m thinking about getting involved-except that conflicts with my strict no getting involved policy.

Within tighter circles you can’t turn around without bumping into someone who recently got engaged or had a new baby. Congratulations to all of you for affirming the life cycle, those of us remaining in the warrior class will keep an eye on the perimeter.

Let’s all make the Wrecking Ball’s worst fears come true. I want everyone to commit to double mileage while he is away on vacation licking the icing off of french crullers and watching The Price is Right.

The winner of the most exciting stage win in the Tour got busted for doping yesterday. I am so shocked. Here’s to a grueling and entirely unremarkable honest race for the remainder of the stages.

Weekend plans? I have a sack of plums that says I’m going to ride damn near everything we have around here. Yesterday was a rest (golf) day so I feel ornery and chipper as this guy.

Other than that I will wrap up this sock-matching project I have been working on.